“How did you get this number? Tell me or I’ll shove that phone down your throat as an appetizer and serve you your tongue as the main course.”
Brian clutched the handset. There was no turning back. He looked out the storefront window and, with trembling hands, tried to answer. “I’m, uh, my name’s-“
The phone disappeared from his hands mid stammer. He was partly grateful. He hated, Hi, Master Overlord of Evil, right? Remember that town you threatened to wipe off the map? We need your help. Because that sounded so manly and hero like. Thankfully, his cousin had more finesse. Not that he thought yelling at the person to get their villainous ass in gear and do something was going to actually help, but it sounded better than what he had come up with.
Brian vigorously rubbed his sweaty palms over the cool fabric of his jeans. All he wanted was a real family get together. The holidays seemed like the perfect excuse but what he thought would be the best surprise for the town, and his family, turned out to be the very possible end of their small suburban town.
A car sailed by the window and he quickly looked to the one normal person in his family of superheroes, Keke. The number he called had been scribbled in the margins of his great grandmother’s journal as The Wrangler. No extra notes. Nothing to discern whether this Wrangler was friend or foe. Nor could he recall a time when his great grandmother mentioned being on any kind of terms, good or otherwise, with a villain.
But when his cousins arrived, and the normal exchange of petty jabs of who contributed more to the greater good morphed into actual jabs, that number came to mind. The Wrangler.
“Wants you again.” Keke’s impromptu interruption got an unintelligible string of words that sounded more like groggy noises than anything else but it worked. She was handing the phone over and he was once again on the receiving end of a threat.
“I’m going to hang you by the laces of your foolish ideals. And if I get there to find Lizzie’s barrier was destroyed, you’ll be the sacrifice needed to erect it again.”
The line clicked.
Looking up, Brian’s frown deepened. Keke was grinning ear to ear. Their family was busy using the town as a battle ground for an age old family feud. There were bikes, chunks of debris, and fire hydrants hurling in every direction. Those that didn’t fight long distance were clashing at speeds that made them no more than a booming blur every time they hit each other. And then there were the ones with the powers – freezing, levitation, fire. They were terrorizing the town and did they care? Not at all.
The smart ones who knew his family took their leave as soon as the rival sides showed up. The rest either didn’t know better or they shared his misplaced optimism.
He must have made a face because the next thing he knew, his cousin punched his shoulder and he doubled over. “Shit.” He hissed. He gripped his throbbing shoulder and glared up at her. “What the hell?”
Shrugging, she went back to watching the mayhem outside the window. “You okay?”
“Not anymore.” He grumbled. Before, it only hurt when he moved his shoulder. Now? Now the throbbing didn’t stop. And did she have to use her super strength to hit him so hard? As he clutched his shoulder, he wished he never called for a family reunion of a bunch of superheroes.
Up Next – Was it just her or was there a pattern there?