Superkid

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Doctor Red

I'm sure you've noticed, but it's only after the superhero comes along that the supervillains rear their ugly heads to wreak havoc on the world--the mutated giant spider is a case in point. But if you really think about it, if it happened the other way around then the hero would probably never rise up to save the day because there wouldn't be anything to rise up from! Well I guess there are some that actually do, but stories like that are called dystopias and who really wants to listen to all the griping about the lack of freedom, dismal living conditions, and downtrodden voices, eh?

Now you probably remember that I mentioned Doctor Red before. You know, in the first part of Chapter 1? That's right. We're going to be meeting him in this chapter.

Previously, in Chapter 2, Superkid had fought a monstrous spider that had been terrorizing Poolington. It hadn't been too long before our hero brought the gargantuan arachnid onto its back and thus saved the day. Then we met his mother who discovered what was going on and was now trying to find a way to banish Superkid from Aaron's ego forever.

She wasn't too successful, unfortunately for her. The doctor that she had taken her son to had studied him for hours and then pronounced that he was suffering from an unusual case of dissociation identity, which Mrs. Purn was furious to learn was simply a medical term for "split personality." It didn't help her temper either when she found reporters flocking around her property in an attempt to garner more details about her heroic son and his battle with the mutant spider. She did her best to repel them, using her super temper to threaten to sue if they continued to invade her private property. Nonetheless the media managed to scoop enough dirt from neighbors and friends to write an intriguing story about a fierce giant spider that had been spitting poison, reducing citizens to piles of melted goop, and had been stopped by a brave seven-year-old kid with his super-powered rattle. Some of the more "unbiased" reporters had attempted to find the monstrous arachnid to get its side of the story, but it had already been hauled off in a dump truck to the desert. It wasn't easy squeezing the monster in there, especially since the crew was trying so hard to keep it helpless on its back!

Without an opinion from the opposite side, the reporters had no choice but to write the story as Superkid being indeed a superhero and the monster indeed a monster and not misunderstood. The story concluded, According to reliable sources, this brave lad, who single-handedly defeated the monster, is known as Superkid. People may now sleep well at night, knowing that this superhero is on the case!

All evil villains beware… a new hero is in town!

"So it seems…" muttered a voice ominously. The owner of the voice carelessly tossed the paper aside where it plopped next to a rusty assortment of nuts and bolts, kicking up a thick plume of dust. Now you're probably thinking this person was too lazy to clean the house, but actually this person had better things to do with the time than to sweep up. And what sort of person was too involved in pressing matters to be involved in petty activities like tidying up the place?

This person… was the villainous Doctor Red.

The villainous Doctor Red pushed out of the swivel chair, which squeaked loudly, and began pacing. And while he's pacing, I'll describe him to you.

He was a tall man with broad shoulders over which was stretched a white lab coat over a gray shirt and faded blue jeans. He had short brown hair and brown eyes. I know, boring little details. I'll just skip ahead to the more interesting stuff like the fact that his skin was bright red. Most people when they see his skin assume that he has sunburn. But it wasn't the sun that gave his skin such a healthy color. It was actually the result of an accident he had with some unusual chemicals. And no, I don't think his skin color was the reason for his name. He actually claims that the name is an anagram for Really Evil Doctor. Yeah, it's cheesy, but don't go telling him that! He can get really testy.

Did he have superpowers? Well no. At least, not any as far as he knew. He did seem to be immune to mild burns—not anything too exciting. What was exciting about him was that he was an inventor. A mad scientist. And now you're probably putting two and two together.

That's right. The mutant spider was his creation. To be honest though, it really was an accident. His demonstration in front of the board of directors for the invention company had gone terribly wrong. Wasn't the first time a thing like that had happened either. His history was a long line of tragic failures. But we won't get into that. The important thing is that he is Dr. Red and he is an evil villain.

At this moment, steam was building in this evil villain's head.

"So this… Superkid comes and defeats my creation…" the evil doctor murmured, "…defeats my monster… my work… and he becomes a hero… a superhero… and I'm left a disgrace…"

The thought was boiling him up inside. Here he was trying to create inventions to amaze the world and some snot-nose little punk goes and makes a laughing stock out of it! Bad enough that no one appreciated his genius but now somebody had the gall to mock his most impressive creation!

Well, he'd teach them to laugh at him! He'd show them what he could really do!

He paused and looked up, an evil little smile curling slowly on his lips.

"We'll see who's laughing when I'm done with their little superhero," he said as he marched to his worktable. "We shall see very soon! And when they do, they will TREMBLE before me! Me, Doctor Red, the supervillain! The Really Evil Doctor! They will ALL learn to respect me!" And he topped off that diabolical rant with a very bone-chilling evil laugh.

Back in Poolington, everyone was blissfully unaware of the trouble brewing on the horizon. Although "blissful" was a rather strong word to describe Superkid's predicament. He was actually dormant. Mrs. Purn was taking extreme measures to keep this other person under control and one of these measures was to ground her son, Aaron, from hanging out with his friends.

…Hey, I said extreme measures not reasonable ones.

His friends weren't too thrilled at the news.

"She grounded you?!" Derrick's eyes threatened to pop out of their sockets.

Aaron nodded glumly. "I'm not allowed to talk to you anymore."

Darrin raised his upturned hands. "Why?"

Aaron shook his head. "I don't know. I don't dare to ask her."

Derrick was indignant. "That's not fair! She can't do that! She can't ground you just because you turn into…" He gulped when he realized what he had been about to say.

Aaron stared at him. "What? What were you about to say? What do I turn into?"

Derrick and Darrin exchanged glances. Darrin opened his mouth to answer…

…just as the bell rang.

"Ah shoot," Derrick said glumly. "See you, Aaron."

"Bye guys," Aaron said sadly.

"Now, let's see if it works," said Dr. Red. He cradled in his hands a small pistol fitted with odd little colored buttons and a barrel composed of various metals like copper, tin, aluminum, and steel. He turned to a hand-drawn target hanging on the tin wall of his laboratory.

"Laser pistol, Trial One," he announced and then fired.

The pistol gave a small pop. Immediately the target erupted with electricity that spread out in waves like ripples in a pond. When the electricity vanished, the evil doctor was astounded at the results. The target was shredded but that was due to the jagged metal shards thrust through it. The tin wall surrounding the target was also shredded, the metal twisted and jutting.

The evil doctor inspected his invention bemusedly. "Hmm. That's interesting." He placed it down on the worktable and picked up a bigger gun with even stranger doodads than the previous. He took aim at the decimated target, announced, "Vaporizer, Trial One," and fired.

A beam of blue light shot from it with a high-pitched buzz. It hit the target, which turned purple and buzzed louder and louder. Then suddenly the target was ripped into pieces and hurled back at the bad doctor as though some ghostly pitcher was throwing him a fastball. He stepped swiftly aside just in time. The fastball hit the opposite wall and exploded with a loud CRACK!

"Whoa!" Dr. Red exclaimed. "I've got to be cautious with this one! This could be really dangerous!" Looking down at his weapon, he grinned.

A week had passed and Darrin and Derrick were wondering if Aaron's punishment had ended yet. It had been dull without their favorite scaredy-cat and they were debating whether or not to ask his mom if she would allow him to hang out with them again.

"I don't think she ever liked me," Derrick said, "so I think you should ask her."

"I'm not going to ask her!" Darrin protested. "I'm too young to die!"

"And I'm not?"

"Better you than me!"

In the end, they decided not to risk their physical and mental being to Mrs. Purn's wrath. Which was just as well: she wouldn't have told them anyways. She hadn't even told her own son how long he was being punished. When he had asked, her only response was, "When I feel you've been punished long enough."

I'll need a cane by that time, Aaron had thought miserably and continued to scrub the wall.

Meanwhile, while our hero suffered under the questionable parenting of his mother, the villain was out on the town, painting it red… well purple actually—just before it was launched at him.

"Whoo! This is fun!" he whooped as he aimed his big gun at a delivery truck. He pulled the trigger and watched as the truck turned purple, came apart with a ghastly screech, and then shot toward him like a homing missile. He had gotten skilled at dodging these attacks, so he was having fun playing chicken with himself—waiting for the missiles to get close before he moved. And it was oh so satisfying to hear the crashes, the tinkling glass, the pattering rubble, and, of course, the terrified screams.

He laughed heartily as he whirled around and fired his pistol at a lamppost. It erupted into crackling electricity that quickly left it looking like the scratching post of a very large and very violent kitty.

Suddenly a commanding voice bellowed out, "FREEZE!"

Dr. Red turned to face a line of cops all pointing pistols at him. Calmly and deftly he fired his pistol at their firearms, quickly reducing them into ribbons of twisted metal. The officers promptly dropped them in surprise.

The doctor, seeing their weapons lying useless on the ground, grinned at them and asked in a pleasant voice one might use to comment on the weather, "So, any of you know where I might find Superkid?"

They all looked at one another. One of them finally replied, "Uh, we don't know."

"Oh really?" The evil doctor gave them a politely curious look. "But you have heard of him?"

"Well, yeah, who hasn't?" another joined in. "But we don't think he's here. I remember reading the paper and noting that the incident with him wasn't in our town."

"Oh." The doctor relaxed his grip on his guns. "It wasn't this town the giant spider attacked?"

The cops all glanced at each other. Then one of them said, "Nope."

"Ah." Dr. Red nodded. "Sorry then." He motioned with his pistol at the rubble and fire surrounding them. Then with a cheerful, "See ya!" he waded through the mess and went on his way.

The policemen exchanged yet another round of looks with each other as the evil doctor retreated, his coat fluttering behind him. One finally piped up, "Are we just going to let him go?"

"You want to get blown up by that weird gun of his?" another countered.

"But we can't just let him go blow up that kid!" the first officer cried, "even if he is a super kid."

"He did manage to take down a giant spider," another officer pointed out. "I'll put my money on that kid."

"But that guy's got a gun," yet another cop argued. "And he's a sharp shooter."

The cop who had put his money on Superkid asked him, "So how much are you going to bet?"

"Twenty bucks sound good to you?"

"Oh, you know you're going to lose, don't you?" one of the officers teased.

"I'm not exactly rolling in dough," the other said irritably.

"Fine," said the betting cop, "twenty it is."

"I'll put thirty on the kid," said another policeman.

"Hey!" said the poor cop, "I've only bet twenty!"

"You cheapskate."

They continued to argue about their bets as Dr. Red disappeared into the horizon in search of the town that held Superkid.

The next day, there was an article on the attack:

Evil Doctor's Diagnosis for Piner City: Destruction

Piner City was attacked yesterday by a mysterious man wearing a doctor's lab coat and wielding two unusual guns that created unusual effects in its targets. Officer Marshall was quoted today, "he had one that shredded our guns with some sort of electricity and another that turned things purple and then blew them up." He further stated that after learning that Piner City did not hold the legendary "Superkid," this madman turned right around and walked off.

When asked why the officers didn't apprehend this obviously dangerous man, Officer Marshall replied, "Our valiant officers were lucky to escape with their lives. They were knocked unconscious by shrapnel from his explosive weapon. By the time they came to, this crazed lunatic had gone. But rest assured we have every able-bodied man and woman on this case and we'll stop at nothing to see this man safely locked away."

Nonetheless, many express concerns that the doctor will find the Superkid and pray that he can triumph over the trials that will undoubtedly come.

"Are they talking about that evil doctor or Superkid?" Derrick asked.

Darrin folded the newspaper. "I don't know, but this is a problem."

"Yeah," Derrick agreed. "They need to say who exactly they hope can triumph over the trials."

"No, you blockhead!" Darrin said in irritation. "I mean the part about that guy looking for Aaron."

"You mean Superkid."

"Either one!" Darrin snapped. "They're both the same person! The point is we need to figure out how to keep that mad doctor from finding Superkid."

"You mean Aaron?" Derrick asked innocently.

Darrin demanded, "Are you being stupid on purpose?"

Derrick gave him an offended look. "I'm just trying to be helpful."

"You'd be a lot more helpful if you weren't so helpful."

Derrick shot him a dirty look. Then he said, "Well, we don't want Superkid to get shot, zapped, or blown up… nor us, for that matter."

"Exactly." Darrin nodded. "Is there any way that doctor could find him?"

The short and quite terrifying answer to that was a definite yes. The reporters had printed more than a few intimate details about Superkid. But even if the doctor was illiterate or allergic to newsprint, there were still gossips and their cousins across the valley. Just by talking to anyone within 100 miles of Poolington, he'd be able to triangulate the pint-sized hero's exact location… give or take an address.

"He's doomed," Derrick finally said.

Darrin said solemnly, "We've got to warn him."

"Where's Superkid?" Dr. Red demanded. He had his bigger gun pointed at the editor-in-chief of the Piner City Tribune.

"Who?" the guy asked, breaking out in cold sweat.

"Superkid!"

"Oh, him!" The man tried a smile and a chuckle but ended up giving a grimace and a squeak. "I don't know—but I'm sure my staff could tell you!" he finished quickly as the evil Doctor Red tightened his grip on the trigger.

Just then, a reporter walked in. The evil doctor whipped his other gun at her.

"Where's Superkid?" Red demanded.

She eyed him and his odd gun with calm disdain. "You mean that kid who beat up that giant spider?"

"Yes, that one."

"Hmm, if I remember correctly…" She glanced at the ceiling in thought. "I heard the staff saying he lives in Poolington."

"Poolington?"

"Yes."

"Poolington…" murmured the evil doctor thoughtfully. He finally concluded, "Weird name. Where's that?"

"If you'll just follow me, I can show you a map." She turned and calmly walked out the door as though she didn't have a strange gun pointed at the back of her head. Normally, such disdain would infuriate him into showing her just how disdainful of him she should be. But she was cooperating, so he begrudgingly let her appendages remain attached. To compensate for his irritation, he turned his larger gun at the phone next to the editor-in-chief and fired. Then he walked quickly out the door before the phone turned purple, fragmented, and then launched itself at the wall next to the door.

Dr. Red followed the reporter to her desk where she rummaged through the drawers until she pulled out a large but thin book. She slipped through the pages, muttering, "World atlas… United States… Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, mhm, mhm…"

Finally, she stopped flipping through the book and with her eyes scanned the page until she planted a long, tapered finger in its middle and announced, "Poolington right there."

"Right," he said. "And how do I get there?"

"Sothton is right here…" she moved her finger down the page, "which means you need to travel northwest to get there." She traced the line connecting the two towns.

Dr. Red smiled. "Thank you. You were most helpful." He patted her on the arm. She placed her hand on his and gave it a squeeze. He gave her a raised eyebrow but then gave her a nod and pulled his hand out from hers. After giving her a charming wink, he walked off, whistling a jaunty tune.

She watched him leave with a rather strange smile. It didn't appear to be a smile of relief. It was more of a… menacing smile-which probably has now alerted your suspicions.

Before we can ponder about that menacing smile of hers, the editor-in-chief peeked out of his office and whispered, "Is he gone?"

"He's just leaving," the reporter answered, still watching the evil doctor.

"Did you call the police?"

"They wouldn't catch him."

"Wha-what do you mean?"

"The last few who tried had their guns torn to shreds."

The editor-in-chief gaped in horror. He gulped and shook his head. "How do you know this?"

She turned to him and, for a moment, he thought he saw her eyes flash red.

"I just do." She grinned, sporting a wicked-looking set of teeth.

Somehow, Darrin had mustered up enough courage to knock on Mrs. Purn's door. Even more incredible, he managed to tell her when she opened the door and looked to be in one of her more unpleasant moods, "We have something important to tell you and uh—Aaron."

"Such as?" Mrs. Purn blocked the door imposingly and glared down at him. Derrick, who had found Darrin's shadow an excellent place to hide, shrank even further.

"Such as some evil doctor is going to kill Aaron," Darrin answered.

Her left eyebrow rose. "And how do you know this?"

"The newspaper," Derrick spoke up, still keeping within Darrin's shadow. "It said he blew up some cops' guns looking for him."

"You're sure that's what it said?" Mrs. Purn asked, zeroing in on Derrick like a heat-seeking missile.

"I think!" Derrick squeaked.

"This doctor… thinks he's some sort of supervillain? And he's coming after my son?" Without waiting for a reply, she growled, "I knew no good would come of that spider incident!"

"So what are you going to do?" Darrin asked.

She shifted her weight and pursed her lips in thought. Finally, she smacked her lips and replied, "We'll just not tell that so-called evil doctor that he's here. Don't let Aaron become… him."

"He's going to destroy this town looking for him!" Derrick cried, jumping out of the relative safety of Darrin's shadow. "He'll be calling his name!"

Mrs. Purn's eyes widened in panic. But then she brightened, "We'll go on vacation!"

Darrin and Derrick both gaped at her. "WHAT?" Darrin cried. "Run away and leave us at the mercy of an evil doctor?"

"It's not as if I asked him to come!" she snapped. "I'm just doing the smart thing and leaving before he finds us! You can do the same thing!"

"But we can't just leave!" Darrin protested. "He'll just keep hunting you until he finds you and…" He shuddered.

Mrs. Purn frowned at him. "What do you suggest then?"

The answer was pretty obvious but worth saying out loud. To really drive it home though, Darrin paused dramatically before he took a deep breath and said, "I think Superkid will have to fight him."

As for "him," Dr. Red was already on his way to engage in an epic battle with our diminutive hero, driving in an automobile that appeared to be missing half its parts. Not the trendiest brand choice, but what can you do? He built it. It did have its good points: 60 miles to the gallon, quality radio just about anywhere, and low maintenance. Heck, if this whole mad scientist gig didn't pan out, he could likely get a job at General Motors. This rattletrap was doing a heck of a job getting him to the site where he would do battle with the mysterious Superkid.

Not doing so great at its job was the crude map he had drawn. So far it had gotten him lost down old, abandoned roads; inside dark, creepy woods; and up steep, craggy cliffs before he finally realized he was holding it upside down. He had to backtrack all the way to the interstate that would take him to Poolington.

"At least, I hope this will take me to Poolington!" he grumbled, giving the wheel an irritable jerk. "And that Superkid better be there! I'm going through a lot of trouble to find this creep!"

He glanced over at his odd weapons lying in the passenger seat and smiled. He patted them and muttered ominously, "But if he's there, I'm sure it will all be worth it."

The town raced frantically to leave town before the evil doctor's arrival. They weren't quite sure when that would be, but being the day after his first attack, they weren't taking any chances.

But while everyone was packing their possessions into their vehicles, there was one batty, old lady who was spending her time on other things… more important things.

This batty lady was named Mrs. Terrell. She was sitting at her sewing desk working on a lion costume… that's right, a lion costume. You know, the kind you'd wear on Halloween or on a "Wizard of Oz" musical. What exactly she was doing with this lion costume, we'll soon find out.

Mrs. Purn suddenly dashed into the room, panting. "Everybody ready?"

"Just about," Mrs. Terrell replied cheerfully, tying off a stitch.

Mrs. Purn glanced around the room. She cried in dismay, "You're supposed to have your stuff packed!" seeing Mrs. Terrell's things still in their places.

"I decided to make Superkid a costume," she explained, holding up the lion outfit. I did mention that she's batty, right?

Mrs. Purn frowned. "Aaron won't need it, Mrs. Terrell."

"But all superheroes need a costume!"

"Aaron is not a superhero! And he'll never be if I can help it."

Mrs. Terrell warned her, shaking her finger the way old ladies do it best, "You're restricting your child's potential."

"My child's potential? He almost got himself killed by that giant spider!"

"I'm sure all superheroes need a little practice in the beginning."

"A little practice?" Mrs. Purn sputtered in disbelief. "If it hadn't been for dumb luck, he wouldn't have even survived!"

This was getting to be dangerously close to spelling the end for Superkid's career as a vigilante. Fortunately, Derrick chose this critical moment to poke his head into the room, binoculars hanging from his neck, and announce, "Strange-looking car carrying a single male passenger wearing a doctor's coat heading straight for us. Estimated time of arrival: fifteen minutes."

This resulted in a mad scramble for both women. Mrs. Purn grabbed the sewing machine and Mrs. Terrell grabbed the costume, which she flung at the startled eleven-year-old.

"That's his costume!" she cried. "Hurry!"

Derrick pulled it off of himself, examined it critically, made a face, and then dashed away.

"Welcome to Poolington," Dr. Red read as he passed the sign. He peered around the town as he drove through it, reading the signs on the buildings: Poolington Bakery… Poolington Post Office… Poolington Elementary… Poolington Junior High… Poolington Police Department…

"Small town," he commented. "And quiet."

He pulled into an empty driveway, parked, and then climbed out of the car, grabbing his two unusual but destructive weapons on the way.

"It's quiet all right," he said again as he turned, glaring suspiciously into the dark houses. "…too quiet."

He whirled and blasted a window with the blue beam of his large gun. The window turned purple, shattered, and then came down like deadly tinkling sleet.

"Oh Superkid!" he called as he strolled out into the street. "Come out, come out, wherever you are!" He blasted a house, which sent pieces of wood and brick flying.

"I know this isn't a ghost town!" he yelled. "Everything is in too good of shape!" He blasted a green lawn, which erupted into a mini-volcano of grass and dirt.

"Where are you hiding?"

His next blast sent a huge evergreen tree into someone's newly refurbished living room like a Christmas-themed missile. By the way, what Christmas parasite is explosive? A missile-toe! Ha! Get it? …Never mind.

"Somebody warned you all that I was coming, didn't they?" he yelled, blasting yet another house. "So now you're all hiding, trying to make me think this place is empty! Either that or you…" That's when it suddenly hit him.

"You ran away." He burst into laughter. "I don't believe it. You, the Superkid who defeated my monster, ran away! You coward!"

Laughing maniacally, he blasted things at random.

"You ran from me!" Bits of a tire swing went tumbling down the street. "A giant spider didn't scare you away, but little, ol' Doc Red sent you all running! Ha!" He blasted a door off its hinges—and then the hinges followed.

"But I will find you!" He targeted a kiddie's tricycle and it soon needed more than "some assembly required."

"I will find you eventually, Superkid!"

"Well, I'm right here," said a voice behind him.

Dr. Red whirled around and then stopped short.

I'm sure we've all had this experience. We finally get to meet our big hero and then we find out they're… much different than we imagined and not usually in the pleasantly surprised way. Don't worry though. When you meet me I'll be even taller, handsomer, and cleverer than you've ever imagined.

But Doctor Red wasn't quite prepared to meet his hero—or rather, his nemesis. He gaped. Then finally he said, "You're shorter than I expected."

Superkid cringed. "You know something? I get the nasty feeling that I'm going to hear that a lot." And he was indeed going to hear that a lot.

The doctor took in the rest of his shorter-than-expected nemesis. "And, uh… I was expecting your costume to be more…"

Superkid glanced down and saw his point. After all, he was wearing a lion suit with a large yellow "K" sewn onto the chest—not really the epitome of epic costumes. But if there's one thing we're learning in this chapter it's that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. Especially this book.

He replied, "Oh yeah, this is just something Mrs. Terrell threw together at the last minute. After this, she's going to make a more impressive one."

"Maybe I should come back later. I'd hate to embarrass you… well, any more than you already are."

"No, that's all right. I'd hate to have wasted your time in getting over here since I assume your lair is quite far. Plus…" Superkid added with a grin, "it would actually be pretty funny to see a guy getting beat up by a kid in a lion costume, don't you think?"

Doctor Red smiled malevolently. "But you'd have to get past my weapons first." He raised his guns.

"That shouldn't be too hard," Superkid assured him.

"Oh really? Tell me, have you ever been blown up and tossed aside by a beam of light?" The evil doctor pressed a button on his larger gun and lights began flashing on it as it whined to life.

"Obviously I haven't," replied Superkid. "Nor do I intend to." He bent his legs, ready to spring.

"There's a large gap between intentions and reality, my short friend," said the evil doctor and pulled the trigger.

Superkid dove to the side just before the beam buzzed past him. He bounced into the air, kicking up his legs to avoid the next beam that flashed under his legs.

"Wow," said Dr. Red. "You're quick, I'll say that for you." He fired again.

Superkid dove behind a bike just as a section of the sidewalk launched itself at the mad doctor.

"Come on, Superkid," the evil doctor laughed. "Are you just going to keep running away from me?" He fired another beam.

"I'm not going to run straight at your blaster," our hero replied, dashing away from the bicycle which was turning purple. It fragmented with a shrill screech and launched at the doctor.

"Well, you're not stupid then," said the diabolical medical professional. He took aim and fired. Superkid ducked and the beam hit a rusty old pickup. Superkid was on his feet, knowing that the evil doctor would be pointing his gun at him. But he was distracted when the old pickup fragmented with a shrill screech. He realized a second afterward what was going to happen and began to move. But then the truck fragments shot toward him. Most of it flew past him as he was able to get out of the way in time, but a side mirror beaned him right in the head. He stumbled drunkenly as his nemesis took aim.

"Nice knowing you…" said the maniacal medical professional, "…Superkid." Then he fired.

The beam shot from his gun and hit Superkid square on the chest. Our hero gasped and stared at the purple spot, which slowly began to spread.

"And so mourns his fans and family…" the malicious doctor recited in mock solemnity, "as the great Superkid awaits his doom…"

"No!" cried our youthful hero as he swatted the spreading purple spot as though beating back flames.

"He shall be remembered though he had only been with us a short time…" Dr. Red continued. "But it consoles us to know that he went the way he wanted to… with a bang!"

Right on cue—I love when we get the timing right!—Superkid exploded, sending yellow and orange scraps of cloth at the evil doctor.

But could it be? Could it really be that after only one epic battle our hero was done for? Couldn't there have been some convenient miracle that somehow spared Superkid from this rather harsh fate (and me from a possible ratings issue)?!

"Goodbye!" the bad doctor sobbed mockingly. "Goodbye, oh, Super—oh, what the?!"

The reason for this abrupt break in his mocking eulogy? Amazingly and wonderfully it was the sound of Superkid's voice, loud and clear! A voice that reverberated with his rage and was followed by these inspiring words, "My costume's gone! And I'm in my UNDERWEAR!" And I guess it also explains how he managed to survive.

Dr. Red wasn't at all pleased with it for a few different reasons. He defended himself, "Totally unintentional; I had no idea that would happen."

"You just keep your eyes closed, pal!" our costume-less hero snapped. "I'm going to find some shorts."

But rather than head toward his house for those shorts, an idea struck him and instead he snuck toward the evil but modest doctor. He slowly reached for the strange guns but was startled when Dr. Red said, "What are you doing?"

"Taking your toys away." Superkid slammed the heels of his hands against the butts of both guns. The pistol, being the lighter weapon, flew out of the doctor's hand and thudded to the ground behind him. The heavier weapon, however, the evil doctor managed to keep his grip on, which he swung around, smacking Superkid on the head.

"Try to steal my gun, will you?" he growled, swinging his head around but keeping his eyes closed. "You little cheater!"

"I was just trying to even the odds!" came Superkid's voice to his right. Red wheeled his gun in that direction and fired.

He realized he missed his target when he heard glass tinkling. He certainly didn't need the obnoxious boy's taunt, "Ha! You missed! Maybe I don't need to take your guns!"

"Are you suggesting that I'm too easy for you?!" he roared as he fired at the voice. "Put some clothes on and we'll see if I'm too easy for you!"

"All right, all right, keep your pants on while I get mine." Now it sounded like it was coming from inside a building. Dr. Red chanced a peek and then, seeing Superkid was not in sight, walked toward the house where he was sure he had heard the little snot's voice.

Meanwhile, in the house of Superkid, our hero was rummaging through the mess in his room for pants. He was alerted by an explosion downstairs that shook the house.

"Crap." He flung a toy army truck away and jumped to the closet where clothes spilled out. He churned through the clothes, murmuring, "Where are some pants?"

Three second later, he pulled out a pair of shorts so torn up that he had to wonder what animal had attacked his alter ego.

"These will have to do," he said after a moment's hesitation. After yanking them on, he grabbed a shirt and started to pull it over his head… and then he paused.

"Phew!" he exclaimed, wrinkling his nose. "Where'd this come from, the sewer?" Unfortunately, he could hear his nemesis clomping up the stairs, meaning he didn't have time to look for another shirt, so he pulled it on. He gagged at the smell but valiantly tried to ignore it. He turned to the door just as it cracked into tiny pieces and shot away.

"Are you dressed?" the doctor demanded from the demolished doorway, his eyes shut.

Ignoring the doctor's inquiry, Superkid rushed over, grabbed the gun, and elbowed Red right under his ribcage.

Red made an odd gasping noise that sounded like "Ah-boof!" and doubled over, using his elbows to clutch his inflicted stomach. He kept his hands firmly gripped on his gun as the hero tried to wrestle it from him.

"All right," the bad guy gasped angrily, "no more Mister Nice-Guy." He jerked the gun upwards from Superkid's grasp. In doing so, he accidentally pulled the trigger. The beam struck the top frame of the doorway and it turned purple. Superkid jumped backwards, tripping over the pile of clothes he had tossed. Fortunately, he had managed to escape the volley of wood chips that came from the doorframe. Dr. Red wasn't so lucky. He had looked up when he fired and so got a full face of slivers—so full in fact that he looked like a roaring mutant porcupine. And on top of that, the side frames fell on top of him, sending him sprawling into the room.

"Playtime's over, Doc," Superkid declared as he pushed himself to his feet and reached for the gun.

Playtime had been over for the doc before then and he was feeling murderous. With a roar of rage, he pushed himself up and swung the heavy gun like a bat, cracking Superkid in the face. Our hero collapsed. The doctor stumbled from the momentum of his swing, accidentally pulling the trigger.

The beam buzzed over Superkid's head and hit the closet door that he had left ajar. It turned purple and then cracked into pieces—leaving the mirror that had been hanging on it without any support now—and launched at the evil porcupine-faced doctor. He turned his back to it, flaring out his coat, which helped to minimize their impact. Still, there were a few that were now digging into his back, exacerbating his fury even more.

"TIME TO DIE!" He aimed his gun at the diminutive hero.

The diminutive hero immediately threw a shirt at him and then crawled away as fast as he could. The doctor blasted the shirt and then punched through the resulting projectile. He aimed his gun again only to find another shirt flying at him. He blasted that and then found a pair of pants heading his way and he blasted that.

Superkid finally reached the mirror that had broken when it had fallen off the blasted closet door. He grabbed a piece and raised it in front of him like a shield.

The malicious doctor aimed instead for his shirt. The shirt exploded and launched toward Dr. Red, leaving an odorous trail behind it that made both the hero and villain gag.

"Where has that thing been?" Dr. Red choked. "The sewers?"

"It was the only thing I could find on such short notice!" Superkid protested while holding his nose. But now he had nothing to protect his skin from being blasted by Red's weapon. So holding the mirror piece over his chest, he began sidling toward the window.

"Oh no…" the doctor began before he was overtaken by a vicious coughing fit. By the time it had subsided, Superkid was leaning out the window.

"—you don't," he finished and pulled the trigger.

Superkid thrust his shield forward. The blue beam bounced back and hit the doctor's gun instead.

"Nooo!" Dr. Red saw his gun turning purple and hurled it at Superkid. It was inches from hitting the fearless kid's mirror when the gun shattered and reversed its trajectory. The doctor was forced to dodge and the pieces clattered against Aaron's desk before embedding themselves in the wall.

Red stared at the pieces in disbelief. "You destroyed my gun."

Our hero pumped his fist. "Score one for the good guy!"

Dr. Red whirled to face his nemesis and the look on his face would have killed him instantly… if looks could kill, of course. He roared, "You destroyed my gun!" and then charged toward Superkid. Superkid turned to the window and started to climb out, but the evil doctor grabbed his shoulder and yanked him back in. Then he threw the diminutive hero onto the floor. It was fortunate that all of his clothes cushioned him! But before he could get up, the evil doctor grabbed his feet, swung him around, and launched him at the wall. Superkid used his hands to soften the impact but he still hit hard enough to see stars.

Dr. Red marched over for another attack, reaching down for our hero's legs. Our fearless hero brought in his legs and then kicked the evil doctor in his elbows. The evil doctor stumbled forward and Superkid kicked him in the chest, knocking him onto his hindquarters.

Superkid kicked himself upright and stepped toward his fallen nemesis. With an evil smile he yelled, "Elbow drop!" and threw himself down at his nemesis with his elbow jutting out like a wing.

Dr. Red threw out his hands to stop him, but Superkid's momentum drove him past the malicious man's defenses, hitting him just below the ribcage. All the air left the doctor's lungs in a loud "Oomph!" and he fell onto his back, cushioned by Aaron's clothes. Superkid then scrambled to his feet and then planted a foot firmly on the evil doctor's chest. He asked, "Give up?"

Red glared at him and gasped, "Never!"

Superkid shook his head sadly, "Bad guys like you never know when to quit," and then put more weight onto his foot.

"And snot-noses like you," gasped the bad guy, "always think they're so clever and witty when they're not."

Superkid's eyes narrowed. "Okay, now that was just mean."

The evil doctor made no move to apologize. Just then, a shout came from downstairs, "Superkid! Superkid, where are you?"

"In here! I've got Dr. Red right where I want him!"

"Who's Doctor Red?" asked a second voice.

"He's that guy who was—AH CRAP!"

Doctor Red had just sucker-punched Superkid in the thigh, causing him to collapse next to the angry doctor. They were now face to face. And what else would the evil doctor do in the face of such opportunity than punch his nemesis' face? Our hero reeled backward from the pain, landing on that ever-present pile of clothes on the floor. Both a blessing and a curse, for while it did cushion his fall, it also made it difficult for him to find purchase to get back to his feet. That's how Doctor Red managed to get his diabolical hands on our fearless hero after stomping over. He lifted Superkid by the neck into the air.

"You've annoyed me for the last time," he growled and brought back his fist.

Before the malicious doctor could follow through with his potentially devastating knockout punch, the door slammed open. He whirled around in surprise and spotted two boys gaping up at him.

"Are you Doctor Red?" asked Derrick.

Somewhat nonplussed, Dr. Red answered, "Correct."

"Oh, you must be who Superkid was talking about," Darrin said. He looked around the room. "By the way, where is he?" All they could see was the doctor standing with one of his arms behind the door.

"You mean him?" Red asked with a nasty grin as he swung the unfortunate hero from behind the door. Superkid was slowly turning red in the face and kicking his legs feebly.

The two boys gasped. Then Derrick demanded, "Hey! Let him go!"

"Or else what?" the menacing doctor sneered.

"Or else this!" cried Derrick and slammed into the evil villain as hard as he could. The three of them crashed into (where else?) the pile of clothes. As they all struggled to get to their feet, Darrin—who had been hanging by the doorway—rushed into the room and pulled Superkid and Derrick to their feet. "Come on!" he cried and turned toward the door.

"Oh no you don't!" cried Dr. Red, grabbing Superkid's shoe as he was making his escape. The shoe popped off, sending the hero flopping forward and the villain floundering backwards. Darrin and Derrick immediately grabbed their friend's arms and began to clumsily drag him out the door. Doctor Red rolled onto his stomach and lunged for his nemesis's leg but missed. So then he chucked the shoe. It clipped Derrick in the ear, who yelped and dropped Superkid's arm to clutch his ear in pain.

Superkid scrambled to his feet and the evil doctor did the same. Superkid ran out the door with Red in hot pursuit. Red caught up to Superkid, slamming into him like a quarterback and the two of them went tumbling down the stairs like a ball of cartoon characters.

"Come on!" Darrin cried, grabbing Derrick's uninjured ear and dragging him along, ignoring Derrick's cries of pain.

Meanwhile, the battling duo had hit the bottom-quite hard too. They would be sporting more than a few bumps on the head by the end of the day. But in defiance of the average person's pain tolerance, the two continued scuffling. Both were battling to gain the advantage, first with Superkid on top and then Dr. Red.

Just then, the front door burst open with a loud bang and a grating voice commanded, "FREEZE!" A force of law enforcement officers pointed their guns at Superkid and the evil doctor.

Superkid leaped to his feet and backed away from his nemesis. His nemesis climbed to his feet with his hands raised.

Then he seized our hero with a thick arm around his neck and yelled, "Drop the guns or this kid gets it!"

They did as they were told. Then Officer Pamerin said, "Now let the kid go."

The malevolent doctor grinned. He gave the fearless kid's neck a squeeze, making him gasp in pain, and then dropped him before charging at the police.

The officers attempted to scatter, but they weren't quite fast enough to avoid being bowled over. With all of them now on the ground, the evil Doctor Red made his getaway.

"After him!" cried Officer Pamerin as he reached for his gun. He had to pull it out from under Officer Chuble and by the time he had it and was on his feet, Dr. Red had vanished.

"Well," he sighed, scratching his head with a grim look on his face. He turned to the three boys who had come outside. "Probably the best thing to do now is to hide you all."

"Hide?" Superkid cried indignantly. "I'm not hiding! In fact, I'm going to follow him and beat the snot out of him some more!"

"But how?" Officer Pamerin cried. "He's already gone!"

Superkid pointed to a strange metal fragment on the road and replied, "We just follow the trail."

After finding another shirt-one that didn't smell like sewer—Superkid led the way on bicycle while the cops followed in their cruiser. He was following the trail of metal fragments and flakes of paint on the road left by Dr. Red's dilapidated home-made vehicle.

Dr. Red wasn't aware of the pursuit nor of the unintentional trail he was leaving behind, but he also wasn't so naïve to believe he was flying free just yet.

"That little creep... actually humiliated me… and enjoyed it too! Enjoyed it so much he's going to chase me down to humiliate me some more," he snarled. His temper wasn't much improved by the wood chips protruding from his face. He was plucking them out one by one. Not very comfortable.

He continued to vent his frustration. "He probably thinks he's going to take me by surprise! But he'll be very mistaken because nobody messes with the evil Dr. Red! Not even that little nuisance called Superkid!"

He jerked the wheel onto a lonely road that led to his secret lair and added with a snort, "Superkid… what kind of a superhero name is that?"

Our fearless hero skidded to a stop at an intersection where the trail of metal scraps and paint flakes changed course. Planted inside the angle was a sign:

LONELY ROAD

The police cruiser pulled up next to him. The cops leaned out the window and read the sign as well. Officer Pamerin murmured, "Well, what do you know? If I'm right, there should be an old, abandoned warehouse just down here. That might be where that villain is hiding."

"Typical," our hero replied. He took off, calling over his shoulder, "Meet you there!"

The evil doctor screeched to a halt, causing scraps of metal from his rattletrap to hit against his hideout with brain-rattling clangs. He leaped out of the vehicle and hurried into his lair, his lab coat flying behind him.

"I must prepare for Superkid's arrival," he said to himself, "a nice warm welcoming." He headed straight for his cupboards.

"A little of this…" He grabbed a tube full of sky-blue liquid.

"And a little of this…" He pulled out another test tube, this one full of gray powder.

"Oh, and let's not forget this…"

He pulled out tubes, bottles, beakers, and even a rusty old soup can and then dumped them all onto the table.

"Now we pour some of this in…" A strange yellowish goop like curdled milk went into an empty jar. "And some of this…" Gray powder was sprinkled in, causing the yellow goop to erupt into a chorus of burps. Next was added the sky-blue liquid, which caused that foul mixture to emit an eerie giggle like a little girl in one of those horror shows.

More potions and powders were added and a few zaps from a spoon-like gizmo went in too. A sprinkle of red mist from a pencil-shaped gadget and the final result was a green liquid with tiny purple bubbles clinging to the sides of the beaker. That diabolical doctor gazed in awe.

"Looks a bit like soda," he commented and laughed. From his breast pocket he withdrew a syringe.

"Time for the doctor to give the patient his shot," he chuckled and stuck the needle into the deadly concoction. When he had filled the syringe, he pulled it out and examined it in the light.

He was startled when the door clanged open and a small figure stepped in. Dr. Red wheeled to face the intruder, hiding the syringe behind his back.

"You came sooner than I expected," he said calmly.

"Yeah, well, your check-up is overdue," Superkid replied.

The evil doctor made a face. "Maybe you'd better leave the doctor wisecracks to me from now on."

"Fair enough. I'm more of a butt-kicker anyhow," said Superkid, walking towards him.

Dr. Red tensed for action but forced calm into his voice. "How'd you get here so fast?"

"I biked. I couldn't let you get away, so now I'm finishing up."

"What do you mean by that?"

Superkid explained, "I'll beat you up, tire you out, and then the cops can come in and take you away."

"Oh yeah? Let's see about that, shall we?" The mad doctor shot an arm for him but Superkid dodged to the right and threw his shoulder into Red's side. The evil doctor grunted and stumbled but quickly regained his footing and lunged again.

Superkid slapped his arm away, jumped backwards, and taunted, "What's the matter? Not as evil without your weapons?"

"I'm about to show you just how evil I am," said the doctor with a chilling smile.

"With what? I destroyed your weapons," said Superkid, dancing dangerously close. "So what are you going to do?" He topped that with a lunge meant to tease his nemesis.

It was just what the evil doctor was waiting for. "This!" he cried, snatching the fearless kid's arm and stabbing him in the back with the syringe.

Superkid gasped in pain. Dr. Red smiled as he pushed down on the plunger, forcing the toxin into Superkid's bloodstream.

Dr. Red stepped away to watch the twelve-year-old die. "You have just been injected with an interesting poison. It is a toxin that instigates the formation of CO2 bubbles in your bloodstream, preventing oxygen from reaching your heart and brain. Eventually, this will kill you."

Superkid didn't answer—couldn't answer, busy as was coughing and gasping weakly—clutching his throat—falling to his knees.

"My, my, how much we've learned from each other in only one day," Dr. Red sighed. "I must admit though, I didn't expect this to end so soon." He grinned down at the suffering kid. "Maybe we should have waited. Not just for your costume but for training as well… ah well… pity."

"I'm sure they'll have some nice things to say at your funeral," he continued. "Such as 'he was brave, loyal, willing to risk his life for others, had a cheerful disposition…'"

Superkid's coughs began to sound like choking sobs.

"But he threw away his life," the doctor continued, "by challenging the evil Doctor Red. Who will protect us now? Who?" He threw up his hands in mock despair.

Then he laughed, "Goodbye again, Superkid!"

Superkid took one last gulping breath and then…

BUUUUUUURP!

Superkid looked surprised. He smacked his lips. Then he grinned, "Wow, that feels much better!"

Red's mouth dropped open. "Impossible!" he roared and lunged at Superkid, who countered the lunge by head-butting him in the stomach.

"Oomph!" Dr. Red doubled over and fell on his end. Superkid grinned down at him, amazed at how good he felt despite the "poison" coursing through his veins. Maybe it wasn't poison after all.

"You should be dead!" Dr. Red hissed. "That poison should have killed you!"

Superkid shrugged. "Maybe you got the ingredients mixed up."

The evil doctor growled, "But it must have done something to you! Do you feel strange at all?"

"Maybe a little bit stronger," replied our fearless hero, flexing his arm. "Maybe you gave me superhuman strength by accident."

"Let's find out then!" The villain grabbed the hero by his shirt, hauled back and punched Superkid square in the face. Whatever that potion did, it didn't seem to have increased his pain threshold. It still hurt like heck so Superkid recoiled, cradling his face and trying to push away from Dr. Red. But the villainous doctor yanked him back and buried his fist this time into the hero's stomach.

"Ungh!" Superkid gasped, his wind knocked out of him. That very wind blasted onto Red's face. And the reason I point that out is because it caused the evil doctor to react violently. He clutched his own face and yelled in pain, "Your breath! It's burning my face!"

Superkid took the opportunity to scramble away though he couldn't let that offense slide. "I brush every day! It can't be that bad!"

"No! I mean your breath is like a furnace blast! I think you burned off my eyebrows!" Now if you remember, Dr. Red was immune to minor burns so that breath that Superkid had blasted onto his face must have been cooking!

Superkid was impressed with this implication. So the potion had done something to him after all!

He grinned. "Cool! I've got superpowers!"

"Oh, stop smirking. They're not even that impressive." With plenty of fight still left in him, the villainous doctor lunged once again at our hero, determined to finish him the good, old-fashioned way. But Superkid was ready for him this time, for he jumped backwards.

If only he had looked before he leaped because that was when he knocked his head. It left him pretty dizzy—and vulnerable. But fortunately, he had knocked his head into a shelf full of precariously perched pitchers of potions, which wobbled wickedly. Fortunate because it distracted Dr. Red.

"No!" Dr. Red lunged yet again-this time for the shelf to prevent the bottles from falling and shattering. After all, it was his life's work in those small glass beakers and bottles! And he almost succeeded too. But he missed a bottle—a short, fat one full of lime-green syrup. It shattered on the concrete, splattering its contents on Dr. Red's sneakers, causing them to swell up like popcorn.

"YOU IDIOT!" the angry doctor screamed as he made sure all of the potions were settled back on the shelf. Superkid took advantage of this by dodging past him and sprinting for the door. He yanked the door open and dashed out. But then, to his shock, he felt Red grab his shoulder. Man, this evil, crazy, maniacal, mad scientist was fast!

But he had made it, for just as the mad—mad, MAD!—scientist grabbed him, a line of police raised their guns.

"FREEZE!"

Dr. Red immediately turned tail and ran back into his lair. The police and Superkid went after him all at the same time. The result was a mess: everyone tripped over each other, pushed each other in every direction (except towards the door), and got in each other's way.

Superkid was the first to reach the door. He spotted Dr. Red running across the warehouse and chased after him.

Dr. Red heard the youthful vigilante. He glanced back and scowled. Then he made a beeline for the shelf full of potions, jammed the heel of his hand on the underside of the shelf, and sent the potions flying into the air. The bottles all shattered on the ground and the mixtures combined with a loud hiss and began spewing thick black smoke, effectively covering Red's escape.

"He's getting away!" Superkid yelled over his shoulder and ran faster. He jumped through the wall of smoke… or rather tried to but instead smacked into it and bounced off! It was like a solid brick wall!

Superkid shook his head and blinked in surprise. The police eventually caught up to him, all of them out of breath.

"What happened?" Officer Pamerin gasped.

"He got away. Used smoke that's like a solid wall!" Superkid pointed at the seemingly fluid smoke. One of the officers walked up to the smoke and extended his hand. His hand stopped at the smoke and wouldn't go through. It just rode along the ripples of the smoke.

"He's right," the officer replied. "We can't pass through."

"We've got to get to the other side of the building," said Superkid and immediately turned toward the door. The officers followed behind him, trying their best to keep up. They ran outside, dashed around the warehouse, and skidded to a stop.

The evil doctor was nowhere to be seen.

"He escaped!" Superkid grabbed his ears in fury. That's when he spotted something flapping on the rear door. He approached it slowly and saw it was a small, yellow sticky note with words scrawled hastily on it. He yanked the paper off the door and read:

I will get you someday, Superkid!

He muttered, "Not if I get you first."

He turned to Officer Pamerin and showed him the note. Pamerin read it and then said, "It looks like he got away then. If you want, we could provide you with some protection…"

"No, thank you," Superkid responded. "This is between him and me. Let him come. I'll beat him once and for all."

He had a hard glint in his eye as he turned toward the horizon. Dr. Red was somewhere out there. Keeping a low profile until things cooled down. Lurking in the shadows. Just waiting for his chance at revenge…

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