Superkid and the Mutant Plants

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The Hunt for Red Doctor

It seemed that there was nowhere to run, for every time the spider turned a corner, there was a horde of evil, mutant plants waiting for it. It didn't help much that it had a bunch of backseat drivers on its back.

"Go that way!" Derrick yelled. "There's a bunch of rhododendrons behind us!" Then he giggled and repeated, "Rhododendrons."

"No, don't go that way," Superkid barked, yanking sharply on the spider's hairs. "There are dandelions coming from that way!"

"What about that way?" Darrin suggested. "Those poppies don't look too tough."

"Perhaps we should stop and ask for directions," Dr. Rowenna E. Doublin suggested.

Finally, the gargantuan monster skidded to a halt and roared, "Everyone just SHUT UP! I'm the conductor of this crazy train, so I'M going to decide which way to go!"

Everyone was stunned silent, but the evil eight-legged fiend didn't take the time to appreciate it; it played a quick game of eeny-meeny-miney-mo before it took off down the street.

"Wait a minute!" yelled Superkid. "We just came from that way!"

"DON'T MAKE ME TURN THIS BUTT AROUND!" the spider bellowed angrily.

Never before had such a threat been so effective. Not usually do you have a threatening plant horde behind you to drive home its implication.

After running what seemed like miles of twists and turns through busy streets and dark alleyways, the spider-turned-cab stumbled to a road that Superkid recognized with cheer.

"Hey!" he said excitedly. "This is the way to Poison Pond!"

"Wonderful. I've always wanted to visit," grumbled the spider.

"No, you don't get it! We should be safe there."

"Safe in a toxic environment?"

"It's just a salt pond with concentrations so high that few living organisms can live there."

"And what about the ones that do?"

Black Belt responded, "It's as safe as we're going to get. Anything we do find there, I'm sure we'll handle without too much difficulty."

"Okay, but then what? What are we going to do to stop all these plants of evil?"

Derrick answered, "We're looking for Doctor Red."

The psychiatrist stiffened in surprise. "Me?"

"No, a different Doctor Red; but wait, your name is Doctor Red?"

"Dr. Rowenna E. Doublin," she answered. Which I guess explains the nagging feeling I've been having for three editions now. "PhD in psychiatry, specializing in anger management. My hobby is collecting plants that are rare or unusual."

Everyone stared at her. She glanced around at everyone in bewilderment. "Did I say something?"

"You collect rare and weird plants?" Derrick asked.

"Is that significant?"

Darrin said, "Did any of your plants… like, were any of them… weird? Like, weirder than weird?"

"Well, uh, I don't recall…"

"Are you suggesting," said Black Belt in her usual cold voice, "that Dr. Rowenna is responsible for the plants' uprising?"

Darrin raised his hands defensively. "I'm just asking!"

During all this, the Arachno-Cruiser (copyright infringement can be a messy business, but fortunately I'm quite good at catchy titles) had been following a downhill incline between high embankments of crusty dirt streaked with white. It followed through several switchbacks until at last it rounded the final turn and found itself at the shore of a large pond. There was the heavy scent of salt in the air. Unfortunately, there weren't any potatoes to go with it. All that was there was a salt-encrusted shack just off the shoreline. Also worthy to note was a significant lack of plants just as Superkid had said. They would be safe here… or would they?

Quiz time! Will the danger our band of heroes face be:

A. the ultimate mutated vegetation, second only to the mother of all mutants?

B. a villain met on previous occasions?

C. critical levels of toxins in the air that our hero had not known about?

D. no danger, it's going to be a horrible anticlimax

The results are in! The answer… will be revealed right after this long anecdote.

The gargantuan arachnid staggered to a halt and then collapsed, wheezing from exhaustion. Everyone slid off its back and began exploring the crusty beach. Only Dr. Rowenna E. Doublin bothered to say thanks for the ride to the spider, who muttered gruffly back, "No problem."

Derrick went to splash in the pond in his bare feet. Darrin went to investigate the white bands that ringed the pond where the salt water's levels used to be. Black Belt checked suspicious cracks in the ground in case some monstrous mutant plant could survive here. Dr. Rowenna drifted to a point on the beach where she could keep an eye on everyone. And the giant spider just wheezed where it had fallen.

With everyone drifting in random directions while a crisis was in effect, someone was bound to run into something that would send them running again. You probably noticed I neglected to mention what Superkid was doing because, naturally, he was going to be the one running into the aforementioned something that would send them running again - which meant he was headed for the most obvious site where the something that would send them running again would be hiding… the shack.

He climbed the creaky steps to the crusty door that sat askew in its frame. He pressed his hand against the faded wood then kneed it when he couldn't push it open. The flimsy door wobbled as it creaked inward and Superkid stepped inside.

It was dark… filled with shadows… with only a tiny shaft of sunlight coming through a tiny window set up high… and the wind whistled through chinks in the walls in a low moan… spooky. Superkid took a few steps inside. Unfortunately, he was wearing sneakers so he couldn't add ominous sounds of "clomp… clomp…" to the atmos…

Clomp.

Huh? I thought he was wearing sneakers! It couldn't be…

Clomp.

Oh. It wasn't him. He was holding perfectly still after that first clomp. Someone else was making that clomping noise in the dark, spooky shack… or something.

Pencils down, you guys! No changing your answers! Besides, statistics indicate that students' first answers are usually the right ones.

Superkid slowly took a step back. His sneaker squeaked when it touched the floor so the clomp definitely hadn't come from him. Now that he had determined that it wasn't him making the clomp, he set about to discovering what had - never mind the fact that it was a dark, spooky shack - potentially a place where dark and evil things lurked.

"Who's there?" our hero called out fearlessly.

Fearless, yes, but probably not very smart. At that instant, there was a "Zwing!" as something tangerine flashed next to his ear. He promptly ducked for cover, crawled underneath a charting desk, and then scanned the room for the threat.

Something large moved out from behind a tall cupboard and moved forward: clomp… clomp.

That clears that up, thought Superkid as he hunched himself a bit more. But what exactly was that that was fired at me?

He studied the form and noticed a portion of its shadow had glowing lights. The figure paused for a moment and then slowly clomped forward. Superkid racked his brain as he tried to decide what to do.

Then he heard the stairs creak outside. Before he could yell a warning, the door burst open and Derrick said, "Hey, Superkid! Whadja find?"

There was another "Zwing!" and tangerine flash. Then Derrick's voice broke off as he clutched his chest where the flash had hit him.

"Hey!" Superkid snarled, bursting from his hiding place. He tackled the figure, who was quite warm and bulky. The figure landed with a "Humph!" and when he was punched, he said, "Gah!"

"That'll teach you to mess with my friends!" Superkid yelled as he punched.

Just then, Black Belt appeared. She tried to push past Derrick, but he gasped and yelled, not budging.

"What's the matter?" she asked and tried to push him aside.

He yelled in pain again and then whimpered, "My chest! It feels like someone's pinching it and twisting it!"

"Can you move so that I can see it?" she asked, trying to push past him again but was met with the same result.

Meanwhile, Superkid and his foe rolled into the charter desk, snapping its flimsy brace. It tipped forward, dumping pencils, pens, compasses, and various other charting tools onto the wrestling duo, who paused in surprise. Then the desk itself fell on top of them with a solid thunk.

Black Belt lost her patience and yanked Derick backwards. He came away with a fleshy "spork" sound and a glass-shattering scream. She tossed him back to Dr. Rowenna who caught him and then drew back with a scream when she saw blood on her hand. The karate woman ignored the confusion behind her and made for the confusion in front of her instead. She was astonished when she stumbled backwards - that is, she stumbled backwards before she was astonished - for she had felt what seemed like a solid finger that had poked her just under the sternum. She looked down and then froze.

Dangling in front of her seemingly in midair was a scrap of cloth and skin dripping blood! Now she wasn't normally one to show fear, but she had never actually seen anything like this before nor had she ever thought something like this was possible in the real world. It did take a while but by alternating her gaze between the suspended scrap of cloth and skin and the annoying kid clutching his chest and yelling in agony, she eventually realized that the suspended scrap of cloth and skin had been torn off from the annoying kid's chest!

She stared at it for a second or two. Then she swatted it. She gave the tiniest grunt of pain and immediately withdrew her hand for it had felt like she had slapped a nail. And the suspended scrap of cloth and skin remained where it was.

She heard running behind her and a voice asking, "What's going on?" causing her to turn her head, which tossed out her hair - almost like a supermodel. The moment was ruined by a "Zwing!" right next to her ear, causing her to turn her head again like a supermodel… in fact, her hair seemed to be suspended in the air in slow motion as she turned, but it wasn't special effects. When Black Belt turned, she actually felt little pricks on her head. When she spotted something to her right, she took a closer look and discovered something tangerine glowing, with her hairs embedded within it - some of which had come off her head and others which were still attached! The tangerine glowing object had somehow tacked her hair in midair!

What the? She grabbed her hair and tugged. The hairs snapped taut but refused to come untacked.

Just then, there was another "Zwing!" by her ear. This time, she caught the tangerine flash in the corner of her vision. Following the trajectory of the afterimage, she realized it was coming from the two wrestlers on the floor.

She gave one last fruitless tug on her hair somehow tacked to the air and then undid her spider-whip belt.

"Enough!" She snapped her whip.

The wrestlers ignored her. There was another tangerine flash that tacked a spider to the air as it was lowering itself. The creepy yet unfortunate thing flailed its many legs as its thread continued to lower without it.

She had given a warning but she couldn't remember if there was something else she needed to do before attacking. She decided she didn't care and lashed her whip. It wound around the shadow where colored lights were blinking. She yanked, which brought it sailing to her. It was a little heavier than she had expected and it clunked at her feet. She recognized it as a gun - a strange-looking one to be sure, but the basic appearance of the thing was that of a projectile-based mechanism proportionally designed for hand mobility.

But this had not stopped the wrestling duo, who were still rolling, punching, grunting, "yeow"ing and all that. So she lashed her whip again, which wrapped around Superkid's arm. She yanked him back, which bounced him painfully on the boards. His foe, now free, scrambled backwards and to his feet. He breathed heavily from the tussle.

"What do you want?" he growled.

Black Belt stepped forward - then stepped back by both the finger poke to her stomach and the yank on her hair. So she raised her whip threateningly instead and demanded, "Who are you?"

"No one. Just a very territorial hermit who would like to be left alone."

"You've got a pretty good defense to keep you left alone, mysterious hermit," Superkid muttered aloud. "Not a lot of people - even hermits for that matter - use weapons that fire lasers."

"What do you want then? To satisfy your crave for action-adventure?"

"We've had enough of it, thank you very much. We want you to get rid of your evil plants."

"My what?!"

"Hold it," Black Belt intervened. "Are you the - uh… Doctor Red these kids were looking for?"

The mysterious hermit stepped forward where a shaft of sunlight, conveniently placed, illuminated his steamy features.

"What they're looking for is trouble," Dr. Red snarled. "Now if they - or you - had any kind of intelligence, you'd get as far from here as possible."

"Not until you get rid of all your plants!" Superkid retorted.

"My plants?! What makes you think they're mine?"

"They've been screaming your name every time they've died," Darrin answered, trying to push past Black Belt.

At this, Red's complexion paled until he looked very much like those of us who've been holed in our studies, working through the night to get our narrative written.

"How… peculiar… you sure it was my name they were saying?" he asked, trying to sound uninterested.

"Re-e-e-e-e-e-ed," Darrin imitated the rough, high-pitched wail of the plants. Dr. Red cringed but said, "That could be anything. They could just be roaring. Maybe you just imagined they were saying my name."

"Even if that was true," Superkid said, pointing an accusing finger at the malicious doctor, "you have a history of bizarre experiments: giant insects, weapons that fire green goop, that poison that actually gave me my power, my clone…" He paused.

Red's face grew purple. He was caught and he knew it.

"With all of that, an army of mutant plants is right up your alley."

The evil medical professional huffed irritably. "So what do you want?"

"For you to stop it! To tell your plant army to retreat and to go back to where they came from. To flip a switch so that they all die."

Dr. Red sputtered in amazement, "You think I'm controlling those plants? You think I can destroy them all with a simple flip of a switch? Were it only that simple! Do you know the horrors I've been through?" He began pacing - which is a little tricky when the distance between the walls is one pace. But the mad genius managed it. He wouldn't have been a mad genius without a mad genius's penchant for pacing.

As he paced, he ranted, "Wherever I went, plants came to life and I had to flee; I ran to the grocery store and the produce came to life; I ran to the lumber mill and the logs came to life; I ran to a steel warehouse and the little potted trees they used to brighten the place with came to life! There just wasn't anywhere for me to run…"

He continued his lament, which Superkid listened to with little sympathy. In fact, he checked his watch though he had never worn one. The karate woman stood with her arms folded and her foot tapping. She occasionally tugged at her tacked hair but it was no looser than before.

"…I lived in terror. Day after day, I huddled in dark basements, humid attics, dusty warehouses, and always they found me. She seems determined to hunt me down and I don't know why! After all I did for her: gave her the right amount of sun, fed her the juiciest insects, kept her pot watered…"

Superkid's interest should have piqued but he was still in his stupor, trying more and more obvious signs that he frankly didn't care: waving his hand over his mouth as he yawned, nodding his head to indicate dozing off, and throwing back his head and sticking out his tongue like a dead possum. It was Black Belt who caught on to the significance of his ranting.

"Wait," she said suddenly, startling the malicious man with an esteemed title into silence. "Who is after you?"

"I never said that!" the doctor protested - too quickly. "And I don't know where all the plants came from, so go away and leave me alone!"

"Wait a minute!" said Superkid, whose mind had to fast-forward to catch up. "They are after you! That's why they yell your name! That's why you're hiding! They're after you! Why are they after you?"

"They're not!"

"Your story isn't consistent," Black Belt told him. "You're lying somewhere. Now tell us the truth or I will bring this whip across your face."

Dr. Red hesitated for a second or two. Then he finally grumbled, "I suppose it wouldn't hurt to tell you." He cleared his throat and began in dramatic storytelling fashion, "It all began with a delivery mix-up…"

And he gave them the story. It was a long and tragic story - full of love, betrayal, and heartbreak - the unabridged version. Yes, it was the long version that ate up a lot of time, which I actually spent quite productively. I made myself a glass of lemonade - a little sour but not bad. Then I went to fix the leaky faucet. After I finished that, I went to the TV to see if any good episodes were on.

Two soap operas and three commercial breaks later, the diabolical doctor's lengthy tale of woe came to a close. "And ever since then, I've been in hiding, always wondering if she'll find me, always fearing she'll get me…"

Darrin - the only one awake after that - said, "So wait, all these mutant plants are coming from your Vena? A plant you didn't order?"

"Must be," the evil doctor replied. "When my formula mutated her, it must have also given her the ability to pass on this mutation to other plants."

"Huh?" Superkid snapped to consciousness, replayed the scene from when he was semi-conscious in fast forward, then responded, "Oh yeah, uh, where is this… Vena?"

"What exactly is this Vena?" Black Belt added.

"She's a Dionaea muscipula," Red explained. When Black Belt and Superkid gave him an odd look, he said, "A Venus flytrap." He added, "She's at the far eastern side of town in an abandoned post office."

"You'll have to come show us where," said Superkid.

"What?! Are you crazy? I can't go back there! She'll kill me!"

"But you can't keep running forever," Darrin told him. "She'll just keep mutating plants until she finds you… until there's nowhere left to run…"

Doctor Red fell into silent pondering. He had to admit that Superkid's little friend was right. Vena would just continue to send her underlings after him. She would continue to spread her roots - so to speak - until either the entire Earth was under her control or she found him… whichever came sooner.

But he didn't want to die! He'd sooner let the world succumb to the plant's evil influence than sacrifice himself! Besides, what had the world ever done for him?

Which was a rather ironic question to ask because at that moment the world was sending him a little present. A nasty little surprise actually… And his first hint of it came in the form of a terrified shriek. All heads turned immediately toward the sound.

"Doctor Rowenna!" cried Black Belt and rushed to save her. She winced when her hair was ripped from her scalp but did not slow down. Superkid and Darrin were slowed by it though. They stared at the sizable clump of dirty-blond hair suspended in the air. Then their imaginations shifted to where that sizable clump used to hang and they shuddered. Then, to escape any more mental scarring, they followed Black Belt outside.

Now you're probably curious to know what exactly had caused that terrified scream. But I'm not going to tell you just yet. Rather, I'm going to draw out the tension, prolong the dramatic reveal, and rewind a bit to the time when a portion of Derrick's chest had been ripped off.

Warning: the following narrative may be too graphic for some audiences. Reader discretion is advised.

No one seemed too concerned about Derrick. When he screamed in pain after a section of his chest had been ripped off, his friends just thought he was being a baby and overdramatic as was his tendency. Black Belt was a little too dumbfounded by the mysteriously suspended piece of flesh and cloth to be concerned - and perhaps a little, dare I say, heartless. The only one who took his agony seriously was the easily moved Doctor Rowenna E. Doublin. Only she noticed the huge, dark stain on his shirt and the dark blood seeping out of the hole in his chest.

You would think that it was fortunate - and convenient - she was a doctor, wouldn't you, and would immediately know how to patch Derrick up. But let me remind you that she was a psychiatrist and not a medical professional. Fortunately, she had seen enough television to know that the first thing to do was to stop the blood flow. She could accomplish this in a number of ways: using a strip of Derrick's shirt, using a strip of her own, or a strip from a curtain from the shack. But she went for the unconventional and quite surprising option: asking the spider for some of its webbing!

Derrick wasn't aware of her plan, distracted as he was by the hole in his chest, as she helped him along the sand. The spider was also clueless, wondering why she and Superkid's annoying friend were coming its way. It soon became clear when she spoke.

"I'm sorry to bother you, Mr. Spider, but could you lend us a little of your webbing?"

"My what?" the gargantuan arachnid responded in surprise.

"You see, this poor young man is bleeding and I need something to stop the bleeding with."

"Why do you need my webbing?" it grumped. "Why not use a strip of his shirt… or yours?" It paused a second for a wicked grin before becoming grumpy again.

"That's a good idea, of course, but I'm not strong enough to tear cloth…" she demonstrated on Derrick's sleeve, "…and he's not in any condition to tear a strip for himself. And your webbing is the strongest and won't soak up blood, and spiders are known for their skilled web work…"

The diabolical creeper was suitably flattered as the psychiatrist hoped - funnily enough, she had meant every word. It didn't want to seem like a pushover though, so it rolled its eyes a bit - then winced when it remembered one of the needles still stuck above its eye - and hummed a little.

The good doctor added, "I'll pull out the rest of the needles for you."

"Deal!" the spider exclaimed with glee then lowered its head so that she could reach the needles. It probably would be a better idea if the kind doctor asked the menacing, multi-legged crawler for its webbing before pulling out the needles, but she was such a trusting woman. She gently eased the first needle out and flicked it to the ground then moved on to the other ones. Derrick stopped gasping when he saw what she was doing and he cried, "Why are you pulling them out?"

"He promised to give us webbing if I pull them out for him," she explained as she pulled out the rest of them. She eased out the last needle and flicked it to the ground.

Derrick gasped out, "But…"

He didn't get a chance to finish. The diabolical critter cried, "Ahh! Relief!" then it bound to its feet and turned.

"It's getting away!" Derrick wheezed as he swayed.

"Thanks for the help," the eight-legged fiend called. Then it laughed and yelled, "See you later, suckers!" and began scuttling away.

"Wait!" Dr. Rowenna E. Doublin shrieked. "What about your webbing? You promised!"

"I tried… to tell you…" Derrick began.

Suddenly, the spider skidded to a halt and shrieked. White rope shot out its end and continued to shoot out as it turned and scuttled back toward the doctor and Derrick.

"What's wrong?" asked the doctor as the monstrous crawler zoomed past them, trailing webbing behind it.

Suddenly, Black Belt appeared beside her. Superkid and Darrin appeared soon thereafter. Dr. Red did not appear. He stayed behind in the doorway of the rundown shack, fearful that the shriek meant that Vena or one of her legions had found him. And he was right. It was that nasty surprise that the world had sent him: the telephone pole that had come to life by means of the dandelion's remains. It made a dramatic entrance from the road by plowing through the high salty banks. It had also changed into something to make itself more imposing: battle armor, looking as though it was prepared to slay a dragon rather than a bunch of puny humans… although, come to think of it, puny humans can get pretty darn mean when it comes to the fate of their existence, so it was probably appropriate.

It wore a giant walnut shell on its head as a helmet. On its body it wore pinecones laced together like a chain of mail. It wore a belt of poison ivy that wrapped several times around its waist. It protected its legs with bits of bamboo and it protected its arms with gauntlets made from hollow cacti with long vicious needles, particularly at the ends of the fingers. In its right hand it carried a shield made from the cap of a giant acorn, and in its left it carried an enormous pine needle with corrugated edges.

It slammed its pine needle sword against its acorn cap shield with a hollow trunk thunk, and it yelled, "RE-E-E-E-E-ED!"

"You want Red?" Superkid yelled. "Well, he's just right there!" and he flung his finger toward the wicked doctor.

Red's eyes flew open. The battle telephone pole looked up to where our hero was pointing, gave a start, roared out, "RE-E-E-E-E-E-ED!" and charged forward. Everyone scattered out of its way as it passed. On its way, it stepped on the webbing the gargantuan crawler was still trailing. It was yanked out of the spider's end as it was still running, causing it to leap with a yelp of pain. The web plopped to the ground, which Doctor Rowenna E. Doublin picked up and began unraveling for better manageability.

Meanwhile, the warrior telephone pole charged for Red at the shack, who panicked and ducked back inside before he realized his mistake. But it was too late, for the warrior stopped at the shack, drew back its pine needle sword, and then slashed it through the top half of the shack. The top half crashed to the ground, exposing the interior where the diabolical medical professional was cowering. He gave a squeak of fright when he saw he'd been found and brought out his odd gun. The warrior drew back its sword with the intention of slicing the doctor. But he managed to fire his gun where a tangerine flash appeared through the air and tacked itself to the telephone pole's elbow. The telephone pole, not knowing what it had been hit with, swung its arm only to find its lower arm tacked in place. Its upper arm swung down and the plant-themed sword spun from its grip to the ground where it plopped into the sand.

Doctor Red looked down at his weapon with gratitude. He couldn't believe it had stopped the thing's attack.

The thing roared in frustration. Then, with a splintering crack, it wrenched its arm from the tangerine midair tack and reached down for the really evil doctor.

He fired again, tacking its jagged middle finger in place. Then he fired at various other parts of the telephone pole's body, aiming strategically for optimal immobilization. Of course, he knew that "optimal immobilization" meant he only had a few seconds, so immediately after he was done, he dashed forward, skirted nervously around the plant warrior, and sprinted towards the copse of scraggly trees on the pond's left side where he had hidden his skeleton-like vehicle. He leaped into the driver's seat, his weapon taking shotgun. He fumbled with his keys until he managed to insert it into the ignition and twist it. He then jerked the shift into drive and slammed on the gas. It was a slow start, what with all the sand being sprayed by his tires, but at last his vehicle built enough traction to zoom forward. He sprayed the telephone pole with sand in passing just as it wrenched its leg free from the tangerine tack. He zoomed into the entrenched road that the warrior had conveniently widened. Then at last he emerged onto the asphalt and was zooming away to safety…

"So, you taking us to this giant Venus flytrap?" said a voice behind him.

He slammed the horn, which on this oddly shaped vehicle acted as the brake, sending them into a skid. He soon regained his senses and they were back to cruising as fast as possible. He turned to look in the rear and roared, "What are you all doing in my car?!"

"We need you to take us to this Vena," answered Black Belt, hopping into the front. She flinched, removed the clunky weapon from under her, and slid it under the seat.

Doctor Red glanced in the rearview mirror where the roaring telephone pole was visible. He ignored the squeals of the other plants monsters joining the pursuit and the thuds of the foolish fiends that thought they could intimidate him into braking for them. "And if I refuse?"

"We'll toss you out to these creatures that want you so desperately," she replied, coiling her whip threateningly.

"I'm not convinced." The bad doctor jerked the wheel into a new street, nearly taking out a mailbox that had somehow been jammed through the handlebars of a bicycle - the pole that had been holding it had decided to ditch the cold inanimate metal. "Either way, I'll be going to my death. I have a better chance of taking on you than an unlimited number of Vena's underlings."

"You may not think so when I'm through with you." Black Belt got to her feet, allowing her whip to uncoil like a temperamental snake. Red could not help but be impressed with her ability to balance herself upright in a speeding and wildly-moving vehicle.

The doctor was a tough nut to crack, but as they say, "Soft words win hard hearts." And who else to do this than the evil doctor's counterpart, the good doctor, Rowenna E. Doublin.

"Please, you must understand that we need you. We're all in this together. I understand that you feel that the world is against you, but I'm certain that if we all work together then we can stop this nightmare. Then you won't have to run anymore. You won't have to fear anymore. We'll be behind you to help confront this. You'll have our support. Together we can do…"

"All right, all right! I'll take you there! Just don't expect me to bond with any of you. My intentions are purely selfish and if I feel I'm in danger then first and foremost my decisions will be to save my own skin. Everyone got that?" He swept a stern glare over all of his passengers. Superkid nodded and retorted, "Why should we expect anything less from you?" Darrin nodded solemnly. Derrick gulped and avoided his glare. Black Belt got down from her stance, settled into her seat and replied, "Glad to see you've decided to cooperate." Doctor Rowenna E. Doublin beamed and said, "I'm so glad to see you've decided to confront your fear. This is the first step!"

Dr. Red groaned to himself, "I must be a fool listening to these fools. This may soon become my hearse." And with this dire prediction for the upcoming final confrontation with his monstrous creation, he turned the skeletal vehicle to the east where Vena awaited… the mother of all mutants… the harbinger of the end… the final boss…

All right, all right! I'm going, I'm going! I was only trying to impress on you just how epic this was! Where's your sense of adventure?

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