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The Vampire

Shortly after the karate woman left (and I mean very shortly! In fact, it was just moments afterwards!), the newest member of Superkid's rogue gallery appeared. She was probably the scariest villain he had ever or will ever meet… relatively speaking, of course, since our hero couldn't actually feel fear. Nonetheless, she left quite an impression on him during their first encounter.

This is what happened…

Rachel Meranst, the off-putting reporter with a preference for the color black, strode over to Superkid who had just landed gently on the ground. She pushed away the other reporters who had gathered around him and stood over him so there was no chance the kid hero could possibly miss her.

"Superkid?" she said in a tone that curdled blood more than the average high-calorie snack.

Superkid stared up at her. "Yeah?"

She flashed him her unusually long teeth in what could have been a winning smile—if you tilted your head a bit and squinted. She grabbed his hand and shook it heartily. "Pleased to meet you, Superkid. I'm Rachel Meranst."

"Pleased to meet you too, Miss Meranst," Superkid replied, working hard to remember his etiquette. It wasn't just the air she put off; for some reason, the instant the reporter had touched his hand his mind felt as though it had turned to gloop. He had barely enough control to construct the thought: Why does it feel like my thoughts are being sucked through my hand into hers?

Miss Meranst laughed. "Oh please, call me Rachel."

"Rrayy—chulll," the dazed hero slurred.

Rachel's smile widened, and it looked rather menacing but she had her back to everyone else and Superkid was too befuddled to notice. And while Rachel has our hero in his befuddled state, I'll describe her to you.

She was a forty-year-old full-figured woman with dark brown eyes and shoulder-length hair dyed black. No one knows what her original hair color was. No one's bothered to ask. No one really even wanted to get close enough to her to ask. There was just something about her that set off everyone's creep-o'-meter. But it didn't stop Rachel from getting close to everyone else.

Rachel told our hero, "That's an unusual ability you have."

It took our hero a little while to respond. "Oh… to cun-trolll thuh temp-rah-chur… of my breath? Uhhhh… yeahhhh… Doctuurrr Red gave thizzz powerrrrr to me… when he thought… he wuzzz… poy-zunning… meeee…"

"And you use this ability to inflate your cape into a balloon?"

Superkid's head drooped and he struggled to lift it back up. "Yezzzz…"

Rachel tightened her grip on the youth's hand and then glanced at the corner signpost where a bystander stood. That bystander looked a little suspicious had anyone bothered to check.

It was a struggle for Superkid to even tilt his head back, but he finally managed. What little energy he had left went into signaling alarm bells in his head, for he saw something strange in this reporter's eyes.

They had turned red.

He dropped to his knees and his head flopped down.

"Hey!" one of the reporters cried and charged forward. "Is he okay? What's going on?"

"Nothing to be alarmed about," Rachel responded, turning to face the reporter. "Just a little tired."

"We should probably get him to bed in that case," another reporter said and moved forward.

"I've got things under control," Rachel said smoothly, waving her away.

That's when another reporter screamed, "His eyes just rolled to the back of his head!"

This brought the reporters swarming. Rachel tried fending them off by crying, "It's okay! It's nothing to worry about! I've got it handled!" and waving her hands, but the reporters were now pitching their hands in, grabbing Superkid and tugging on him.

Now Rachel got vicious. Her fingernails - claws painted black - swiped at reporters, causing them to scream in pain and draw away.

But there were too many of them - many of them she couldn't reach and eventually Superkid's hand was ripped free from hers.

All of the energy that had been slowly draining from our hero suddenly rushed back into him. His response was rather dramatic: he shot backwards over the reporters' heads and landed some ten feet behind them.

"Don't touch her!" he shouted, pointing at Rachel.

"You idiots!" she screeched. "I had everything under control! Couldn't you just listen?"

The reporters turned perplexedly between the diminutive hero and the irate reporter. Finally, one of the reporters asked her, "Rachel, what's going on?"

Rachel laughed—and it wasn't a pleasant one either, "You want to know what's going on? Then let me tell you. I'm going to kill that shrimp."

Everyone gasped in horror. Rachel smiled wickedly.

Someone eventually asked, "Why?"

Rachel shook her head. "Oh come on. Don't tell me this really surprises you. You really think everyone calls me 'the Vampire' for nothing?"

This elicited gulps from her coworkers. They had only called her that when they were sure she was far beyond earshot. They should have known better though. Rachel Meranst was notorious for being able to root out the deepest and darkest secrets from anyone unlucky enough to be targeted by her. After she was done with them and their names appeared in the paper, their lives were ruined and devoid of purpose. And she thrived on it.

You can probably guess now where she got the name.

Little did any of them know just how apt the name was for her. No one knew that her secret to her unnatural skills for tilling up other people's secrets was in her hands—literally. By simply touching them, Rachel could siphon their thoughts, which meant their secrets became hers to play with however she liked.

She could siphon energy too. In fact, it came packaged with the secrets so she had to be cautious about how long she maintained contact with her victims. She had never actually drained anyone dry before but she had always wanted to try it. And Superkid was her lucky victim number one.

Oh yes. Unbalanced, scary, and very, very dangerous!

Rachel bared her teeth in a wicked grin at the stupefied gaggle of reporters. She glanced casually at her claws as she flexed them. "Now, if you idiots don't mind, I'd like to get on with the brat hero." And she marched forward, shoving the reporters so hard that a few of them landed on the ground, tearing their nice reporter suits.

Superkid immediately dropped into a karate stance and told her, "I warn you, I'm a skilled martial artist and I could bring you down before you can blink twice."

The Vampire didn't stop but laughed, "But you would have to get close to do that and you know what happens if I touch you." She swiped at him. He leaned back to dodge her claws and then twisted onto his hands and knees to scramble away.

"What's the matter?" taunted Rachel. "Don't you like me? I promise I don't bite." And she flashed him her fangs.

"But I do," said Superkid, once again posed in a karate stance.

"Ooh, listen to him bark!" she laughed as she went after him again. "I just want to eat him up!" She reached for him but Superkid thrust his arm against her hand and twisted it until he was gripping her arm instead. Then he twisted her arm as he ducked behind her.

Out of nowhere the Vampire's sharp heel hit him in the gut. Gray bubbles popped in front of his eyes and he fell to the ground, gasping for breath.

The Vampire turned to look down at our fallen hero. She smiled and reached down. She gripped Superkid around the throat and then hefted him into the air. She grinned maliciously up at our hero as he gasped for breath, pushing on her hand to ease the tension on his throat. But her touch was draining him of his energy and he wouldn't be able to hold out much longer. What was he to do?!

Since our diminutive hero was in such dire straits, it was necessary to bring in someone to aid him. That's why there was a shout behind her, "Let him go, you evil woman!"

Rachel turned and spotted two boys behind her. One of them had his fists balled and held up as though he intended to box her. The other one was behind his friend, trying to be invisible.

"How cute," she cooed. "Look Superkid," she swung him around to face the two boys, "your friends are here to save you."

"I said let him go!" Darrin insisted.

The Vampire sneered, "And what are you going to do about it?

Darrin rushed forward, determined to show her what he was going to do about it. He really hadn't a prayer though for when he got close, the Vampire lifted her foot and thrust the sharp heel into his chest. He staggered backwards, clutching his chest and yelling in pain.

But as the Vampire had kicked Darrin, she had brought Superkid close for balance. This was just the opportunity that he needed. He puffed up his cheeks and then blew into her face.

The Vampire screamed. She dropped the kid hero and clutched her right eye. Superkid hurried over to his wounded friend and asked him urgently, "Are you okay?"

Darrin grimaced bravely. "I think so." Then he cried, "Look out!"

Superkid spun around. The Vampire snatched him by the costume and lifted him again. Her right eye was bright pink and watery and her eyebrow had been singed. She hissed into his face, "You will pay for that!" and drew back her claws.

Thinking quickly, our hero grabbed the hose over his shoulder and puffed air into it. His cape ballooned and he rose into the air, slipping out of the Vampire's grasp. But before he could rise to safety, she snatched his leg.

"You're not getting away that easily!" she snarled.

He sure as heck was going to try his best. He puffed more air into his balloon cape. The Vampire tried to pull him down but was shocked when her arm straightened and then became absolutely terrified when she lifted off the ground!

"Eeeeeeeeeek!" she screamed, "What are you doing?"

"Rising up," Superkid replied a little obviously.

"Let me down!" She looked down at the receding ground and the people shrinking into ants and began kicking her legs furiously. She clawed at our hero's legs, which probably wasn't the smartest thing to do when he was your only ticket to getting to the ground safely. But then again, neither was kicking your legs.


Some villain she's turned out to be, our hero thought. A vampire who's afraid of heights!

Then a change in her voice caught his attention. She screamed, "I'M SLIPPING!"

As evil as she had made herself out to be, Superkid couldn't just let her just fall. It was against the hero's code! A hero never causes undue harm to anyone—even villains. Besides, he didn't have the heart for it. Especially when he looked down and saw her staring back at him - eyes wide and streaming with tears (never mind that he had earlier burned her there), face paler than usual, mouth open in a silent scream.

Succumbing to his better nature, he pulled the cord that would allow the air to escape from his balloon and so let the terrified old bat down.

Inexperience had a different idea, however. Thanks to it, our hero let out a little too much air and they dropped fairly quickly. Of course, the Vampire screamed. Superkid readjusted their speed of descent by blowing a little more air into his balloon. There was a jerk in their descent as the balloon slowed.

And thanks to that literal jerk, the Vampire lost her grip and plunged shrieking into the crowd. She hit the pavement hard and gave a short shriek of pain followed by whimpering.

Superkid felt a stab of guilt. He let the rest of the air out of his balloon-cape and dropped next to the Vampire who was holding her leg and gasping in pain.

"Are you okay?' he asked her.

"You broke it," she whispered, biting her lip to hold back the scream of pain. "You broke my leg."

Our hero felt another stab of guilt. He yelled to the crowd, "Call the ambulance!"

The villainess endured five agonizing minutes waiting for the ambulance while the reporters shouted their questions over each other and scribbled furiously on their notepads. When the ambulance finally arrived, the paramedics put her on a stretcher and into the truck while Superkid squirmed guiltily under her accusing glare.

The ambulance eventually went wailing on its way. Darrin stood next to him and spoke, "Well… at least that's one villain out… for a while."

"And it's my fault," said the kid hero miserably.

"Hey!" Derrick exclaimed from his other side. "She was a villain! What were you supposed to do? Let her kill you and then terrify the rest of the world with her life-sucking power? I mean, if there was someone like that on the loose, I'd want someone to take her out… I mean, just to make sure she couldn't… you know."

"She's probably going to seek revenge once her leg heals," Darrin said.

Derrick pointed out, "But that'll take a few months, so you should be safe."

"You forget that Dr. Red and my karate-teacher-turned-villain are still out there," our dynamic hero reminded them. As an afterthought, he added, "And that giant spider."

There was a pregnant pause as they considered the implications. Each looked to the sky for divination to the deep questions that ran through each of their minds. Who were they to be part of this great work of fiction? Who were they to be chosen to thwart evil in whatever gruesome (make that "bizarre") form it took? Who were they to be chosen to represent the forces of good?

In this great scheme, they knew they were insignificant little pawns that destiny moved around to finally beat the AI and prove itself superior to technology. They knew that at any time someone else could be chosen as the protagonist to stop the villainy of Doctor Red, the Black Belt, the Vampire, and the spider.

But destiny had chosen them. Probably just randomly—plopped names in a hat and then drew them out. But it had chosen them. And they would gladly carry this responsibility if only because fighting bad guys and saving the day was a lot more fun than going to school and trying not to get grounded.

They at last turned to each other. They all waited for someone to say something significant as an appropriate ending for this chapter of their adventures.

Derrick finally said, "So, what's for lunch?"

Hold on! The story isn't over yet!

The Vampire was in a hospital bed with her leg in a cast.

"You've had a simple fracture," the doctor informed her. "Your leg should be as good as new in a few weeks."

"But once it does, we'll have to arrest you for attempted murder," said the police officer next to the doctor.

The Vampire bared her teeth at him. The officer stared back, determined not to let her scare him.

They stared for a couple minutes, neither one blinking. Finally the officer turned away and the Vampire smiled in victory.

"I'll be back to check on you," said the officer in an effort to save face. He didn't look at her though. He still had chills running up and down his spine like hyperactive schoolchildren.

When the police officer left with the doctor following behind, the Vampire muttered ominously, "And I'll be back for you… Superkid."

We have now come to the conclusion of the story of the incredible Superkid, how he came to be, the enemies he made, and the adventures he had. But fear not, good readers! The adventures have only just begun! I can sense your eager anticipation for the further adventures of the youthful vigilante and his friends and you can be rest assured that I will…

What? What do you mean you have better things to do? Oh wait, I get it, you're joking right? Right…?


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