"The Bliss of Oblivion" Part I|
by Edward Beekman-Myers
(Editor's Note: We're doing something different this week—one of our illustrious reviewers is presenting the first part of a superhero yarn—gay, no less. Enjoy, but note that there is EXPLICIT LANGUAGE throughout!)
I had no idea my failure to save the world would be the best thing that ever happened to me. I had every intention of saving it; that’s what we do, me and the motley league of avengers I’d found myself thrown into. At least, that’s what we’re supposed to do. But when you spend every restless hour of your life with your mind’s eye over your shoulder, waiting for the threat of eternal annihilation to strike, you can’t help but wonder—what if the world isn’t worth saving?
* * * * *
I sit at the card table with the uneven leg that serves as my chic dining suite, staring lasciviously at the coffee pot but too fucking tired to concentrate enough to TK the pot over to the cup on the table.
Must’ve busted a dozen heads last night. This morning… whenever the fuck it was. I yawn. Life is nothing but an endless shadow of lunging fists and flickering capes and crackling eyebeams…
A knock at my door yanks my focus from the stale brew.
“Who the fuck’s there?” I slide back the aluminum chair with the stuffing bleeding out and pull myself up. Jesus! My hand grasps the gash on my lower back, a surprise dick-tease from the savage razor-claws of Bear Raid. Gotta remember to put some Bactine and a Band-Aid on that one.
Another knock, harder.
“All right, already! Keep your tights on!” Squinting away the early dawn, I stumble through the mess of newspapers, Doritos bags, and beer bottles to the entrance to my sanctum. “I’m a goddamn superhero. I’m always there when people need me.”
“A goddamn superhero who almost got his ass killed last week.”
I hear the words before my hand even touches the doorknob. Fucking great. I try to muffle a groan. The high and mighty Vector Vixen, come to spank me again. The door opens a quarter of the way. “What the hell do you want, Vix?”
“We need to talk.” She pushes her way inside. “Jeez, you look like shit. What the hell did you do last night?”
“Last night? I wasn’t aware the night had become a last yet.” I shuffle back to the card table. “Want some coffee? I can’t tell you exactly when it was made, but it’s definitely not fresh. If I can get the damn microwave to work, I can heat it up for you.”
Vix smirks. “Where’s Torch Song when you need her?”
“Fucking dead.” I fish under the waistband of my deep-blue leotard for my smokes. “But we all know she’ll be back.” I light up. “Again.”
“You won’t if you keep puffing on those cancer sticks.”
“I couldn’t get that lucky.”
“You almost did last week.”
“But isn’t that part of the job requirement? Aren’t we sworn to lay down our lives if necessary?”
“Yes, but we also need to learn when it is necessary. What you did was pretty fucking stupid, Bryce.”
“Tell that to the busload of nuns Wooly Bully almost crushed with his trunk.”
Vix’s eyes, which had been fixed on my face from the moment she barged in, flick to the side. “No one asked you to stand up to him alone.”
I shrug. “I was there, I had the shot.”
Her eyes lock on me again. This time they’re blazing—and it’s not just from the EM waves vibrating under her skin. “You’re a goddamn telepath! What makes you think the wondrous Mental Bliss ever had a chance against a mindless elephant?”
“Telepath and telekinetic,” I remind her.
“A TK who hasn’t yet reached his full potential. You couldn’t have known you could lift something as heavy as Bully.”
“Did you come here just to give me a tongue-lashing or is there a legitimate purpose for this visit?”
“Oh, there’s a reason for it.” She holds out her hand. “I want your cell.”
“What?” It’s my turn to glare. “You’re saying you’re—”
“It’s only temporary. You need a break. When was the last time you slept?”
“I’m a telepath, Vix. Even when I’m asleep I’m awake.”
“My point. You need to shut off your powers for a couple of days, give your mind some time to chill. In the state you’re in, you’re a liability to the team.”
“Yeah, right! I’m not like the rest of you. I can’t just sit on my hands and not think about running fast or shooting solar flares from my fingertips or that I can ram a javelin through my chest and not feel a thing. In order to shut down my powers, I’d have to shut down my fucking mind.”
“Maybe that’s not such a bad idea. I know a couple of supers who can induce temporary comas in—”
“Fuck that!” I toss my cell-comm at her, my very own Crusader Corps hotline that makes me more special than anyone else on the planet, and storm out of the kitchen. “I’ve been with the Corps since the beginning. The team’s not a team without me.”
“The team’s not a team unless every player is at his best.” In a blur of brown curls and Chanel, Vix teleports in front of me. “As team leader, I refuse to surround myself with people who can’t function.” She places her hand on my shoulder. “You have to believe me, it’s nothing against you personally. You want to save as many people as you can, yet you refuse to save yourself.”
“Isn’t that what being a superhero means?”
“Even superheroes are allowed to be a little selfish now and then.” She smiles. “Take this time. Think of it as an overdue gift. Go out and have some fun. Find some muscle-bound stud to bring home and fuck his brains out. When was the last time you got laid, anyway?”
“With or without someone else in the room with me?”
“See?” Vix pats my cheek and then heads for the door. “I’ll be back soon with this,” she waves my cell-comm in the air, “sooner than you think. I promise.”
“I know.” I nod at her. “Thanks, Vix.”
“You can thank me by taking care of yourself. See you in a few days.”
She pulls the door shut behind her, leaving me standing in a tornado of beer bottles and chip crumbs. “Fuck!” I kick a bottle across the room; it ricochets off my television. I didn’t even notice it was still on when I came home. It must be a slow news day, because the All-News Channel is running a retrospective on the many amazing ways the Crusader Corps has brought hope and ambition to the entire fucking world.
Even superheroes are allowed to be a little selfish.
Vix’s words itch my brain as I turn my back to the screen. She does make a damn lot of sense, really. It’s been fucking forever since I’ve made any time for myself. But hell, I’ve been doing this so long I’m not even sure I can remember how to be selfish.
I light up another smoke and move to the window on the other side of the room. Looking down at the sidewalk, I see Vix step out of the building. She glances around before folding her hands in front of her and bowing her head. To any old Joe passing by, she’d just be taking a moment to pray to God. But to those of us who really know her, she’s more of a god than God ever will be. In a subtle flash of pink light, Vector Vixen disappears. And suddenly I feel very alone…
* * * * *
Bryce Camden… are you there?
I must have fallen asleep as soon as Vix left, ’cause when she ’ported away, there was still a bit of overcast in the sky. Now it’s dark. Sitting on the window ledge, leaning my head against the frame, the world has been swallowed up by the oblivion that overtakes the ocean horizon when evening sets in. That’s one of the reasons I chose this overpriced studio. When it’s night, I can look out and see absolutely nothing. It makes it damn easier to pretend the world I pledged my life to save no longer exists…
Bryce? Please… I know you’re there. I can feel you…
I try to go back to sleep. I was in the middle of a sticky dream that involved me and my bulky Corps-mate Power Tool showering together after a steamy one-on-one training session. And I’d just conveniently dropped the soap.
Bryce, dammit! Answer me!
I stretch my arms wide, not realizing my TK had lifted my butt off the ledge while I dozed. I lose concentration and drop face-first onto a god-knows-how-old plate of lo-mein.
“Fucking son of a bitch!”
I’m giving you one last chance before I get nasty…
Lifting my soy-covered face, I sneer into the dark. “Who the hell invited you into my head?”
If I waited for you to invite me, you’d never let me in.
“Probably.” I jump to my feet and wipe my face with the sleeve of my uniform. “Sorry, Mind Fuck, I’m not in the mood to play psychic freeze tag right now.”
I’m not asking you to come out and play… although if the fate of the world didn’t hang in the balance, I’d definitely try and coax you. You’re pretty damn cute.
I can’t help but smile a bit. “Yeah, well, you’d be even cuter yourself if you weren’t a psychotic murderer.”
Murder is inevitable in the business we’re in… only you so-called heroes deny it to sugarcoat your public image.
“Whatever.” I plop down on the couch and fumble for a smoke. “Like I said, I’m not in the mood. Why don’t you go find a five-year-old girl to give bad dreams to?”
Because pretty soon no one is going to have bad dreams anymore. Dreams are dying as we speak. Except for one very frightening, very selfish, very unavoidable dream.
“Okay, what the hell…” I sigh out a cloud of smoke “…I’ll bite. Whose dream?”
I almost choke. “Bullshit. The Corps put him away long ago.”
“Not possible. There’s no escape from where we stuck him.”
Trust me. He found a way.
Of all the goddamn supervillains plaguing this planet, why is it the one who’s the most vicious and self-serving can never seem to be put down for good?
If we work together, we can put him down for good.
“Work together?” Why don’t I like the sound of that? “You mean the Corps and the Agents?”
Some, not all. Wooly Bully and Tiny Dancer are with me, but Hot Asp and Canni-belle… well, let’s just say no one can pry either of their lips off Bushwhacked’s dick. So what do you say? Will you at least talk to the Corps?
“Well, I’m not exactly a member of the Corps at the moment.”
What? Why not?
“Temporary suspension. Vector Vixen just came by and took my cell, said I needed to chill out and regroup.”
That flaky bitch always did have rotten timing. Still, though, I’d appreciate it if you’d at least try getting a hold of them. I told you—the fate of the world is at stake.
“So you say…” I guide my cigarette stub into the empty Diet Coke can on the coffee table. “But how do I know you’re not just fucking with me so I’ll lead my friends into a trap?”
You could always dig through my mind. It won’t take you long to learn I’m telling the truth.
For some reason, Mind Fuck giving me permission to pick his brain has given me a humongous boner. “Aren’t you afraid of what else I might find in there?”
Not at all. With you, I’m an open book.
“Why the sudden change of heart where Bushy’s concerned?”
He’s fucking insane.
Seriously. He’s gotten to the point where he doesn’t care who he hurts, as long as he gets his way. I may have chosen the role of bad guy myself, but it doesn’t mean I want to destroy the entire universe.
“So now you’re trying to sweet-talk me into helping you save it.”
Yes. I told you, I find you very attractive. From the moment we first locked minds, I wanted you.
My boner throbs. “But—but you’re a killer…”
Yes, I am. But you and I both know this time it’s going to take a killer to save the world.
I sit there in the dark, my body limp on the couch. I don’t even realize it, but my eyes are closed. I never close my eyes when I’m mind-linked with someone; I always like to imagine I can “see” their faces in front of me. But for the first time—the first time in a very, very long time—I’m completely relaxed.
Tell me, Bryce—have you ever had a fellow psychic give you head?
I don’t have a chance to answer him. He’s already inside me, caressing me with his thoughts, his warm, tender mental touches, lifting me to a bliss no physical connection could ever hope to match.
God help me, I think I could fall in love with this guy…
* * * * *
Morning comes again. The sun’s peeping over the ocean, playfully taking its time to reach its zenith. I sit on the ledge, still reeling as I gaze into the light. My body cries out for cigarette satisfaction, but the tension cannot even be swayed by the sweet nectar of nicotine. No matter how cold, how ruthless, how unethical Mind Fuck has been in the past, he’s utterly scared right now. It’s like a terminal patient who finally admits to a life of selfish debauchery; confess the sins, weep with repentance, and paradise is found.
I TK myself off the ledge, rehearsing what I plan to say to Vector Vixen and the rest of the Corps as I head to my bedroom. “Guess what, guys? I had psychic sex with one of our most mortal enemies, and he told me the world’s gonna perish unless I convince you guys we should hook up with him. So even though I’m still basking in the afterglow of horny passion, I think we should take him at face value and go for it.”
They’re gonna kick me off the team for good.
I fumble through my closet for something clean. I know I should shower, shave, and brush my teeth, but if we’re all gonna be dead soon, what’s the point of having pearly whites when you reach the pearly gates? Like God’s gonna banish you for halitosis?
I slip out of my uniform. Knowing how anal Vix can be, I’m sure I’d receive a major thrashing for showing up uninvited in costume. Throwing on a pair of jeans and my Erasure concert shirt, I head out of the apartment for the first time since my pas-de-deux with Bear Raid.
Normally, I’d use my cell to create a mini-wormhole from wherever I am to Corps headquarters, but since I don’t have my cell anymore, I take a taxi to the marina. Standing on the waterside of the dock, I stare across the waves to the atoll poking through the surface in the distance.
My eyes close, my breath goes short. I raise my hands and throw back my head.
My feet leave the dock planks. I’m walking on water, gliding over the ripples into the bright face of the sun. I could probably go faster, but I don’t want to push it. Better to take my time and make sure I get there than rush it and drown.
As I carry myself over the ocean, I can’t help but think about the first time I stood up to the hyper-intelligent, hyper-maniacal Bushwhacked… back when he was just starting to amass his Agents of Anarchy. He’d only recruited Hot Asp and Canni-belle so far. The three of them still managed to make themselves a major pain in the Corps’ ass, though—and we paid a major price for underestimating them.
I paid a major price.
I tried… tried damn hard to protect Torch Song from Canni-belle’s voracious bite, but I couldn’t hold her back. The bitch’s mind was too damn tough, her will too determined for me to break down. When an animal is hungry, there’s very little that can be done to pull her away from her feed, short of killing her.
But heroes don’t kill. Not even to save another life.
(This will be sorely tested as events unfold. Please join us next time for the thrilling conclusion!)
Edward Beekman-Myers is the author of several short stories and two novels, all of which contain a heaping helping of sci-fi/fantasy and a smidgen of ironic wit. He currently lives in Springfield, IL, where he is finishing his Master's degree in English, but his ultimate master plan is to move to New York City and take over DC Comics (a plan which is proving quite difficult to achieve, despite numerous attempts at proffering various forms of sexual gratification to the DC editorial staff).
Copyright 2006 Edward Beekman-Myers
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