That was pretty good—Ah shit.
The moment I step out of the movie theater, my skin is blasted with wetness. Even at nine at night, the damn summer is so hot, so humid, that it lasts well into the darkness.
This is what it means to live in Georgia.
And I’ll have you know, it hasn’t rained a damn inch since June. How the hell it’s so humid is beyond my scope of knowledge. Any scientists out there, please let me know.
Well, besides all of that, I will still say—that was a pretty good movie, to be honest.
I finally saw Dogsitter after all this time. It’s been advertised across the city all summer, but it took until now for me to break down and spend the money to buy a ticket.
The movie really did start exactly how the ads said. A young woman is paid decent money to housesit for her friends while they’re out of town for a few days, then when some thieves break in on the second night, she uncovers some really dark secrets about her friends and about the whole neighborhood around her. So she’s got to keep this cute dog safe while also in the middle of some really tense thrills. I won’t spoil the twists to any of you who are planning on seeing it, but one of them really did get me. (It was the one with the barber, just saying)
I kind of wish I had watched this with Karina before she left. She’s the big movie buff, after all; I’m just some weirdo who goes to the movies by themself on a Tuesday night because there’s just nothing better to do in this world.
I’m already starting to sweat again… gross…
I better get back on the bus as soon as I can, or else I won’t be able to rewear this shirt tomorrow and I’ll have to do laundry a whole extra day sooner.
The nearest bus stop is about a five minute walk away from here. And to aid me on my journey is that ambient sound of Atlanta at night. Crickets chirping, cicadas chirping, birds chirping, car sirens chirping. The orange hue of street lamps illuminating the landscape across every street. Being Monday night and all, the only folks walking around this part of town by themselves are the ones who have to be. Also me, who does not have to be but is here anyway.
Maybe I just like basking in the humid air and the light bulb glow. I’m in my element here. No worries except the lurking threat of danger. No robots, no customers, no having to worry about the obligations of my life as a sorta-superhero.
Wee-oo, wee-oo, wee-oo…
Life’s cursed me.
I’m actually, literally cursed by fate.
Right down the very street I walk…
WEE-OO, WEE-OO, WEE-OO–
Are three police cars zooming by with all sirens and lights blasting.
—WEE-OO, WEE-oo, wee-oo…
It means I gotta follow, doesn’t it?
I mean, my bus comes in fifteen minutes, so I could theoretically check and then come back if nothing is wrong. But… There’s no way there’s nothing wrong.
So with as much of a sigh as I can muster, I take off running in the same direction as the police cars, trying my best to keep up with them.
It’s only a few minutes before I reach the destination, and it’s nowhere where I thought it’d be.
Instead of a burning building or a broken-in bank, instead of a gangster brawl or a maniac robot on the loose, it’s a bunch of police officers gathered around a crappy restaurant, pointing guns at the entrance.
Crappy because I’ve been there a few times. Ralph’s Lunch, a Vietnamese-American diner that sells some of the oddest creations I’ve ever eaten, including a rice noodle hamburger. And for some reason, Ralph’s Lunch is being attacked right now. Something inside of there is busting everything up, glass shattering and alarms blaring.
I approach the scene of the attack, but a police officer with a pencil mustache and blotchy skin pushes me aside. “No can do, bucko,” he says to me.
“What? I’m just strolling around town,” I say. “Just had my headphones in. What’s going on?”
He eyes me with disdain. Clearly, my lie about wearing headphones was a failed gambit considering I very clearly do not have any headphones on. Maybe I should have pretended to be deaf…
“Get out of here, kid. This is an active crime scene.”
“Can I help?” I ask.
“I’m a bit of a hero myself, you know,” I tell him. “I can help you out with anything you need.”
The officer is too dumbfounded to respond.
I waltz past the man and flex my (nearly nonexistent) muscles. “Don’t worry. I got this.”
Is the summer heat making me delirious, or did I really just say that?
Either way, in a brash turn of events, I rush past the police, jump over their barricades, and land right at the doorstep of Ralph’s Lunch.
“What the hell are they doing?!” one of the police shouts.
“My job,” I say back as loud as I can, but I’m pretty sure nobody heard me on account of the commotion in the building in front of me. Oh well.
I enter Ralph’s Lunch and try to see what exactly is happening that’s so dangerous here. Probably some villain robbing the place. Probably someone who is slightly pathetic and not incredibly good at being a criminal. Definitely not something completely unexpected, nope… Please don’t be unexpected…
The first sight I see in the restaurant is all the overturned chairs and stools. It’s like the attacker meticulously went about toppling each and every single one of them, even when they weren’t in the way of, uh, the safe I guess?
Everything in here is wrecked. The counter is smashed, the register is ripped apart (don’t mind if I do, loose $10 bill lying there on the floor), and the light fixtures have been damaged enough that the light bulb above me keeps blinking on and off. Kind of eerie, especially when the attacker doesn’t even seem to be out here.
I’ll have to go deeper into the restaurant, maybe the kitchen or the office. Wherever they keep the safe, perhaps.
But before I can even make much of an effort, all my questions are answered at once—
A safe bursts through the wall and flies right past my head. It goes out the window and lands thudding onto the hood of a police car outside.
Also out of that wall is… today’s villain.
She’s a large woman. I don’t mean overweight or anything, I just mean she is physically very big. Arms the size of her calves, broad shoulders, short black hair tied down in a ponytail. She’s wearing some ridiculous technological get-up; she has on some sort of electronic visor that looks a bit like R8PR’s face if I’m being honest, and she sports two large cybernetic gloves and boots.
This is the real deal. A real bonafide bad guy to beat up. And I just lucked into her right at this moment somehow!
“Who goes there?” I ask, striking a defiant and sexy pose.
She looks at me curiously. “Huh? Oh, me? I’m the Mighty Slammer,” she says with the thickest southern drawl I’ve heard in a long while.
“The Mighty Slammer… What kind of supervillain name is that?”
The woman steps a little bit closer to me. “The kinda supervillain who’s gonna do this—” She picks me up and throws me out the window too.
Right on the hood of a different police car.
By the time I come to again, The cops have already broken their formation and are actively firing shots at the Mighty Slammer. She’s taken off with rocket boots, jumping across the street in ten-foot bursts of speed. With most of the police cars disabled, they can hardly keep up.
Time for me to follow!
Yeah, I kind of botched doing the cool hero thing, but it was more exciting than waiting for the police to botch it themselves, you know?
Onlookers on the street, however few of them there are, are starting to notice the chaos and gathering at the street corners to watch the display. The Mighty Slammer lands on the sidewalk with a strong enough crash to crack the concrete.
Naturally, that sends the onlookers screaming fleeing the scene. I nearly run into an old Black woman who’s inexplicably dressed in her Sunday best.
The Mighty Slammer lives up to her name and crashes into a fire hydrant. The whole damn thing rips off and water gushes out onto the street. I leap over the stream so I don’t get my shoes wet, and then make one more leap just before a swerving car hits me head on. From the crashing sound right behind me, I figure that car just collided with the front window of whatever unlucky laundromat was placed there.
Where is this villain leading us? She’s going in a straight shot. It’s fast enough that the cops can’t keep up on foot, but I certainly can. I’m gaining on her by the second, even as she keeps doing these fancy rocket jumps now and again, and the remaining police cars are right on her tail. So why is she taking the main street like this?
I finally see it only when a second wave of cop cars comes barreling down the street in our direction. In an attempt to cut her off, the police are now coming at her at both sides. But that’s pretty stupid, because this woman has the ability to jump two stories into the air with a single bound.
And that’s exactly what she does. The Mighty Slammer boosts into the sky one more time… and vanishes onto the rooftop of a nearby building.
The police officers and their vehicles come to screeching halts before they crash into each other. There’s no helicopters on the scene yet so the chase is over… Except for me, of course.
I push past the blotchy mustache man and enter the alleyway to the side. He doesn’t have enough time to say anything like, “Hey, stop right there!” or “You know that alley is a dead end, right?” Because that’s irrelevant to a kid like me. I kneel down in a superhero pose, and jump!
Can I really jump high enough to reach the rooftop?
This is the first time I’ve jumped this high in a while—
—and no, nope.
I didn’t quite make it. About two feet too short to grab the ledge.
I’m about to fall back down and face a world of pain.
This is bad.
This is very bad.
I flail my arms around, trying to grapple onto anything that can possibly prevent me from splatting onto the concrete—
And one chipped-off hole in the brick wall is my saving grace. I grab it and hold on with the strongest grip I’ve ever given anything other than pickle jars.
If I had remembered to trim my fingernails this morning, I may very well be in the hospital right now. Instead…
I see a ladder up to a dingy second floor emergency exit. You know, the kind you see in alleyways. This latter looks so rickety and old that I fear it’ll come tumbling down the moment I touch it. But seeing as I have no other options, I swing my dangling arm and hoist myself over there.
The ladder shakes and rattles furiously, angrily. But it doesn’t collapse. I climb up the ladder and jump up onto the rooftop.
Luckily… the Mighty Slammer is still in sight, a couple buildings down. She’s no longer flying around wildly (probably to avoid being spotted by the helicopters that are surely on their way), and being a giant woman in hulking armor, that means she ain’t exactly fast.
I sprint with all the power of my technologically enhanced body and catch up with the villain just as she’s about to jump across another building. I grab ahold of her and yank her back—
But then she just pushes me off and throws me down. I skid along the rooftop for a moment, but I land on my feet. By the time I start running again, though, the Mighty Slammer’s already running in a completely different direction.
She’s trampling over a rooftop vegetable patch, stomping on the half-grown plants and toppling the bird feeders. Absolutely no sense of morality here. Who ruins vegetable patches?
Finally, I catch up to her once again. Before she even realizes I’m here, I leap forward and tackle her down, sending her tumbling off the building and down into another alleyway. Crash!
This would be a lot more perilous if it weren’t only two stories we’re dealing with. Also, that would probably be murder that I just committed if this were just another story higher.
I jump down and follow her to the ground. Instead of injuring myself, though, I slow my descent with a badass wall jump maneuver—I bounce back and forth between each building as I fall, right until I touch the concrete with a graceful foot forward.
The Mighty Slammer gets up and brushes herself off. The armor seems to have staved off the fall. But now that I’m down too, I have cornered her only path out. She could do another rocket jump, but I’ll be ready for anything. Ready to strike.
I beckon her forward, ready to tumble.
But instead of charging at me, she just laughs.
“Little one,” she says to me, “You ain’t got a clue, but you ran directly into my trap!”
[Remember, the next/previous chapter buttons will be added later but you can scroll a little bit down to find them too]