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Powerless

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Avatar for GreatGee
Written by   1
4 months ago

[WP] In a world of superhumans you are an anomaly who has always been powerless. One day, all powers are unexplainably stripped from their hosts, and you now host a therapy group for powerless superheros.


I sat in a dark room facing a video camera. I asked them to put one out so I wouldn’t have to repeat the story twice. Two agents that were once heroes for show in the gladiator games sat across from me. They never introduced themselves, but I recalled their faces. Their smug smiles carried over even now in their reduced way of life.


I smiled, took a deep breath, and started.


“Hi, my name is Star Fighter - shit,” the six foot five tooth pick of a man huffed.


“That’s okay,” I said from the opposite side of the circle. “Go again.”


The former super hero was dressed in oversized sweats and a hoodie. The clothing was ill-fitting, hanging off him the same they would if they were wore by an aluminum pole. He took a deep breath. “My name is Philip. I used to be Star Fighter.”


“Hi Philip,” the ring of twenty former super heroes, and myself, said together.


Philip forced a nod.


“Like all of you, I used to be a super hero. And, like everyone on the planet, I’ve been trying to find a new way to live over these last months.” He paused a moment. “I fought an alien horde - single handle - you all remember that.” The room gave little nods. “I was magnificent!”


“You were,” many agreed.


“Right, I was magnificent. And, well, being the only hero that could survive in space was who I was.”


“That was only part of who you were Philip, one half,” I said.


“Right,” Philip forced agreement through a clenched jaw. “The hardest part for me, and it’s taken six months to realize this, is not that I’m powerless. It’s that I’m just so damn average now. I mean, once upon a time I’d be bulging out of this sweatsuit - muscles the size of a greek god — and now I’m a narrow gawky weakling. A bitch.”


“We don’t use that language here,” I reminded.


“Sorry,” he said. “No. No, I’m not sorry. How could you understand?”


“Well Philip, as you all know, before the subtraction, I was the only non-super in existence, so I know what it’s like to be powerless.” I said.


“But that’s what you don’t understand,” he said. “Even when you were powerless, you were special. Because there was only one of you. Shit we all knew who you were back then, and you were useless.”


“Philip,” a woman who was once called Jungle Cat snapped at him.


“It’s okay Dorothy,” I raised my palms. “Let him share.”


She crossed her legs and arms and passively leaned back.


“I don’t mean to offend,” Philip said. “But you don’t understand. You couldn’t. You don’t know what it’s like to be a nobody.”


“You’re not a nobody,” I said.


“That’s bullshit,” Philip stood. “We’re all nobodies now. Sitting ducks, waiting for some villain to punch our ticket.”


“There are no villains any more, Philip. Only people,” I said.


“No,” he shook his head. “I don’t believe that. See, everyone - all of you included - have been too busy being selfish, trying to figure out how to not be so pathetic, that everyone stopped asking the big question. How? How did this happen? How?!”


“The unknown is a scary thing, Philip. But facing it - together - is why we are all here.”


“That’s nonsense.”


“Then why are you here?” I asked.


“Because unlike these cowards that sit in this circle and wine about the good old days - I refused to stop being a hero. Powers or not! I’ve never stopped looking for the bad guys. Or in this case, bad guy.” He starred at me.


“I’m just trying to help, Philip.”


“Now,” he said. “But what about before?”


“Like you said, I was useless. So I know what it feels like. What this feels like, for you - for you all now.”


“The most useless man in the world suddenly becomes the most sought after guru in the world - that’s some turn.”


The room was quiet.


“I’m not sure I understand,” I said calmly.


“I know,” he said.


“Know what?”


“Tell them.”


“Tell them what?”


Philip pulled a gun from his hoodie - it was aimed at my head. Everyone pushed their chairs back - some rose to their feet and Philip directed the gun at anyone who moved.


“Everyone just sit the fuck back down.”


Nobody listened.


“SIT DOWN!” He shouted with such power that for a moment I thought his powers were returning, and I was afraid.


The once heroes all sat, terrified.


“It’s okay -“ I told them. “Philip, what are you doing?”


“I want you to tell them, right fucking now!”


“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”


Jungle Cat huffed. “You’re ruining what little reputation you have left, Star Fighter.”


“Oh shut up!” He barked at her. “You got to keep your figure - your looks - you still have attraction! Look at me! I had the body of a god - now I can’t even open a fucking jar of pickles, and it’s his fault!”


“This anger is misplaced, I think we all just need to -“


I don’t remember hearing the shot. There was an explosion of heat in my stomach and I was on the floor. They tell me the others overpowered Philip and disarmed him. He was taken to a psychiatric ward, on my advisement.


I spent two weeks in the hospital, barely being kept alive by once magical healers that reinvented themselves as Doctors.


They were sub-par Doctors. I got an infection and nearly died.


As I laid on the floor, bleeding out, I remember hearing Philip shouting and cursing my name.


I don’t know how he found out the truth. I hoped sticking him in a padded room would discredit the former greatest hero on Earth enough to deter anyone from following up on his claims.


That was what I wanted.


I thought.


And it worked. For a while. Until the ward called and told me Philip started having a visitor. One visitor. Jungle Cat. And I don’t know why, but I was excited.


But I still worried and went over the details. There was no way it could be linked to me. The subtraction was my life’s work.


If I couldn’t be like them. They would be like me.


How the hell did you figure out the truth Star Fighter?


Months passed and I continued to hold groups. Host rallies. Promote the new way of life. Even publicly took to rehabilitating some villains. But always, in the back of my head, I worried Jungle Cat might show up. Or some other once great hero that rediscovered their courage.


But they never did. And in the loving fame I had achieved I knew the mistake I made. The flaw of my plan. I needed someone to know but I had realized it too late. I had done my job too well, and robbed myself of a reward I didn’t know I wanted.


Philip committed suicide a year later.


Jungle Cat published a book on lovemaking.


And I was still seen as the pinnacle of kindness. The man that selflessly shared his shortcomings and tales of inadequacy with the word, so we may be balanced.


It’s poetic really. That the greatest villain the planet ever had is one they never knew existed. And that’s what drives me mad. With all their powers and greatness, they’ll never know that while I was beneath them and powerless before the subtraction, I was not useless.


I changed the world. And I did it with no powers.


That’s why I confess now. I need everyone to know the truth. To know my greatness. It’s all that matters to me.


The agents sat in silence. After a beat one of them leaned over and turned the camera off.


The other looked at the two way mirror.


There was a long silence, and I must admit I was disappointed. I expected - no - I wanted an aggressive reaction.


I got none.


I felt a prick in my neck and woke up in a padded room in a straight jacket.


Everyday I curse and scream and tell the orderlies and nurses that it was me. That I ended the age of heroes.


They taunt me and call me crazy and feed me pills.


I never saw the agents again.


I can tell by the laughing reactions I get that no one ever heard of a confession tape. I hear them whisper and say it’s a pity what happened to me. A man drove mad by listening to too many sad stories.


And I sit, alone, day after day in a white room. I know out in the world there are at least two agents who live a lie. Who are keeping a secret to maintain the peace I helped create in the wake of the devastation I orchestrated.


At least they know the truth, I mutter every day. At least someone knows my greatness, I say again and again as these people keep me drugged up and laugh at my delusions of grandeur.


It was me. I scream as I kick and fight as they shove me into the white room.


It was me.

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