"That'll be fifty-two dollars and thirty-two cents."
I looked up at my customers--a middle-aged couple--after I made my statement. I watched the man pull out a brown leather wallet from his jeans, take out his credit card, and swipe it through the card reader in front of him.
"Did you hear about Time Turner's encounter with that new guy, Hung Zhu?" he asked me, picking up the stylus to sign his name.
"Yeah!" I replied, pressing the buttons to print the receipt. "What did you think of it?"
"Well, I'm not completely sure, but I feel there are definitely better heroes out there than her," he replied. His wife nodded in agreement.
My jaw clenched ever so slightly, and a knot formed in my chest.
"Why do you believe that?" I managed, trying to keep my voice level.
"For one, she doesn't want to stand up to those villains," the wife said. "I personally would want someone tough to save the day, and that means being willing to throw a punch or two."
I nodded, taking a deep breath.
"And she just doesn't look intimidating," the husband added, shrugging his shoulders. "I want a hero that makes the villains shrink back at their presence, you know?"
"Yeah," I managed, forcing a smile.
I handed them their receipt, then watched them leave after muttering their "thank you"'s. I looked at the lobby clock for about the thirtieth time this evening: 8:58 pm. Subtly I kicked my navy blue bag closer to me, itching to leave the restaurant.
"Sarah Robinson!" Mr. Hendermeyer--my boss--said, coming from the kitchen. "You're leaving soon, I suppose?"
"Yeah..." I stole another glance at the clock. "I only have a minute left."
"Well, I'll tell Rick to take over for you when you leave. You’ll be back tomorrow at five-thirty, right?”
"Yeah, I’ll be here!” I said. I then strided out of Estrella Roja Mexican Cuisine and into its parking lot, where I was met with my Honda Civic. I slipped into the car and started it.
“Nicholas,” I said as I buckled my seatbelt. “Nicholas!”
I waited for a second for my car to respond, but I shook my head at myself when I remembered that Nicholas was only a feature of my supercar. I backed out of my parking space and drove back to the campus of the Captain Hope City Institute of Technology. I parked my car by the dorm building and walked inside.
I was immediately met with the aroma of spaghetti when I entered my room. Mrs. Jessica’s spaghetti, to be precise. I saw the plastic tub of the delicious pasta waiting for me on the kitchen counter, and I dug in without hesitation. After I was satisfied, I turned on the flat-screen TV (a lucky hit for me and my roommate) to the local news channel, where a bubbly news reporter was standing in front of the memorial statue of my dad, Hyper Bolt. He died several years ago, when I was only eight years old. Just seeing this made a lump form in my throat.
“…And we hope that his daughter, Time Turner, can begin carrying his legacy soon. Speaking of which, we have a report on her latest confrontment with Hung Zhu.” The reporter fumbled with some papers. “It has been confirmed that she was once again trying to avoid physically challenging this treacherous villain, and was instead timidly talking him out of setting fire to the fire station. I think we all agree that, as the innocent, powerless citizens of Captain Hope City, we need a hero that can protect us and be relied on. We need someone that can drive away supervillains for good.”
I turned off the television, tired of hearing this. Of course I drive away Villains for good; I’m a Time Hero!
Before I could go on, I felt the rhythmic vibrations of my super watch. Its SPS (Superhuman Positioning System) located the source of a signal sent by a villain. The blinking dot seemed to be pacing back and forth, the 6-character Villain ID #2B54BC labeling it.
Without hesitation I pulled out my laptop and launched the software program I always used to get the information I needed on Villains I faced. I entered my Super ID and PIN to access it, then searched the Villain’s ID.
“Terabyte...” I read out loud. I clicked on the result and scrolled through the posted information. It wasn’t much, but it was enough for me. All I really needed was the exact date when he became a Villain.
Once I was done, I transferred the data to my watch, closed down the program, and set my laptop aside. I took my backpack into the bathroom and pulled out my suit from an invisible pocket. I took a minute to pull it on, all the while thinking of how much easier it would be to just have my suit on under my human clothing. After I was done, I took a quick second to admire the suit in the full-length mirror hanging on the inside of the bathroom door. It was silver, with a large teal T stretching across my shoulders and down to my hip. I also had a dazzling full-length silver-and-blue cape, complete with blue boots and a blue mask.
I looked out the bathroom window for any passersby, and swiftly opened it and climbed out. I sat on the windowsill, mentally preparing to levitate down to the grassy turf twenty feet below me. I took a deep breath and dropped, landing softly on the wet grass. I sighed in relief. Although I always stuck the landing, I knew there would be a day when it wouldn't work, when I let my guard down. Or maybe I was just paranoid like that.
I looked around once again and ran to the parking garage next to the dorm building, where the students parked. When I was there, I found my car, looked around yet again, and pressed a button on the side of my key. I watched with eager anticipation as the panels of the pale blue Honda Civic folded out, in, and around each other until, finally, it was no longer a human car.
It was my supercar.
Vantablack and essentially a superhuman-friendly Lamborghini, just seeing it made my smile nearly reach my ears. I raised the door to the driver’s seat and dropped inside, immediately starting the ignition.
“Hello, Time Turner,” Nicholas, the computer system, said in his robotic English voice. “Where will we be going today?”
I glanced at my watch, which had the address in flashing letters. “3662 Factory Road.”
“Alright. Would you like me to drive?”
I considered it for a moment. “No.”
I left the garage and drove through the mostly-empty streets until I saw the old road leading to the abandoned factory. I drove down it, feeling every mound and divot as I did. Once that was over with, I parked in the big overgrown lot and activated the reflective shell for my car, which turned the normally hard-to-see silhouette invisible. I left the car and ran into the old, rusting building.
I quieted my steps as I came into the factory, trying to find Terabyte before he found me. Unfortunately, I heard footsteps behind me, and I turned around to find two of Terabyte’s henchmen speeding towards me, rope in hand. Before I could react, I was tied so that I could move neither of my arms. They then escorted me to a room that looked like something in there--something big--had exploded. Black scorch marks fanned out from the entrance, and the room itself was completely blacked out. A machine of some kind--an ultracapacitator--seemed to be the source. It had completely caved in on itself.
The sound of a creaking swivel chair nearly made me jump. The henchmen held me as the chair rolled into the view of the light bulb hanging above me.
“Well, well, well, if it isn’t Time Turner!” Terabyte exclaimed as I was forced into a rotting wooden chair. He got up from his chair and circled me. “I bet you want to know why I’ve invited you here.”
I rolled my eyes. He said that exact line every time.
“Terabyte,” I started, “I will give you one last chance at peace. For the last time, I’m not going to tell you the location of the Super Serum.”
I mentally recalled the reason he wanted it. According to him, it was to “accelerate his research efforts in the world of technology.” Of course, he being an adept computer hacker convinced me otherwise.
“Well, then, maybe this will help me get an answer!” Terabyte said, his hands starting to pulse with electricity. He then walked towards me, hoping to electrocute me. Of course, I didn’t know how many times it would take for him to learn my suit was shock-resistant.
I feigned fear as he came closer and closer to me. When his hand touched my arm, it sent him staggering backwards. I felt the ropes that held me loosen, but while Terabyte was regaining his composure, I still sat back in the seat.
“Ah, I see you have a new costume,” Terabyte hissed.
Now is the time.
Before Terabyte could react, I stood up, the ropes cascading off of me, and grabbed his wrist. I then twisted the frame of my watch counterclockwise, and a small bulb to the side of it lit up a brilliant green.
The factory around us seemed to reconstruct itself until it was a fully functioning facility, with workers running around performing errands and operating machinery. I immediately dragged a dazed Terabyte behind a machine and tied him with chains to a metal column. I then looked around for any signs of young Marty Benson.
“Marty,” a man said softly to a little boy of about ten years old. He got down on one knee and grasped his shoulders. “You know we can’t afford that. If we could, I wouldn’t be working here in the first place.”
I saw Marty’s shoulders tense up. “I hate you!” he screamed at his dad. “You’re the worst dad ever!” He stormed off into another room. I had dealt with this several times before with other Villains, but the part of this fit that concerned me was the sign I saw on the very door young Marty slammed shut behind him:
Risk of Electric Shock
Do Not Enter
I snuck into the room as quickly as I could and found the sulking boy leaning next to what I assumed was the main power box, complete with an ultracapacitator.
“We’re not meeting the requirement at this rate, Smith!” I heard the distant voice of a man saying. “We need to accelerate the production more!”
“But the machinery’s already working at maximum capacity!” the man I assumed was Smith protested. “If we accelerate it any further, the circuits might fry up!”
“Shut up and just do it! If we don’t meet the 10,000-battery demand by tonight, we’ll all be fired!”
There was a pause, which gave me enough time to put two and two together before taking Marty’s arm and pulling him away from the capacitor; the hum of electricity I had heard coming in had become much louder.
I had Marty stay behind me while I covered the both of us with my cape in the corner of the room farthest from the capacitor. It started sparking, sending jolts of power in every direction, some of which I could feel being repelled by my cape. After a little while, the force became weaker. Soon after it had stopped completely, and I stood up slowly and pulled Marty up.
We looked around at the damage it had done to the room. The walls were dented back, and the capacitor was so badly damaged it was no longer able to function; the frame had completely imploded on itself.
“Whoa...” Marty whispered. “That was awesome!”
I heard frightened voices coming from outside the room, and I quickly twisted my watch frame clockwise until the world rematerialized into the present. I exhaled in relief and leaned against the nearest wall in the factory. My eyes then focused on a newspaper article being tossed with the breeze coming from an opening in the factory’s walls. Curious, I picked it up and saw a picture of two men in suits shaking hands and smiling at the camera. The headline read,
“Marty Benson, His Company, and His Life Story”
I tried to read the article, but it was too faded. From what I could tell from the picture, though, Marty was shaking hands with his dad; the two had the same nose, broad forehead, and pointed chin. As I kept looking at the picture, I realized what truly undid Terabyte’s villainy.
With that thought, I smiled. I saved the day once again.