White ninjas. White people as ninjas! You think you’ve seen everything, and then you’re confronted with something so stupid.
“White people,” I said, tied to a hard wood chair.
“Tell me about it,” Blue said. She sat on my right, while Hellfire was on my left. I couldn’t see Cathect too well, but he was to the left of Hellfire.
“White people aren’t so bad,” Cathect said.
“Hmph,” Hellfire said.
“Oh, because white people are so much worse than demons,” Cathect said.
“Demons don’t pretend to be anything they’re not,” Hellfire said.
“What about Satan pretending to be a snake?”
“Wasn’t pretending to be a snake. He was a snake, when he talked to Eve.”
“What,” Cathect said. “Is Satan a sensitive subject for you?”
“Um, we’re missing the point,” I said. “Which is that white people are awful.”
“Sometimes I think Republicans hate my Hispanic half more than my demon half.”
“I hate you for your demon half,” Cathect said. “Hope that makes you feel better.”
“It does,” Hellfire said.
“Have you like fully mastered the art of irony?” I asked. “Jokes are a thing you’re into now?”
“Sh,” Blue said.
The knife-wielding ninja walked into the room.
“Well, well, well,” he said. “Look what we have here. Two bitches, two girls.” He laughed like a dumb tweenaged boy, walking up to Hellfire and thrusting his pelvis at him a couple times.
“Better a bitch than a mastiff,” Hellfire whispered. He looked over at Cathect, who was just shaking his head.
“That one didn’t even–” Cathect began, but he got interrupted.
“How does it feel to get fragged, bitch?” the ninja said, getting in my face.
“What are you, twelve?” I asked.
“No,” the ninja said. “I’m not twelve. That’s stupid. See? You’re stupid. You don’t even know.”
Ohmygod. Was he– No. That couldn’t be. I–
“Wait,” I said. “Are you actually twelve?”
“No,” he said, guiltily.
“You’re actually twelve.”
“Shut up,” he said.
“How does a twelve year old own a restaurant?” I asked. “How does a twelve year old become a ninja?”
“None of your business,” he said.
“You tried dealing us heroin,” Blue said. “You’re running a criminal empire, and you’ve got us tied to chairs. It’s our business.”
“Duh,” I said.
“I’m gonna fuck you up,” the twelve year old knife-wielding ninja said, walking towards me.
I kind of hoped Sotto Voce would pop up from the shadows. I looked at the shadows, but didn’t see any mysterious cloaked figures. I looked up at the ceiling. Wouldn’t it be cool if she flew down from the ceiling?
She wasn’t there.
The knife-wielding ninja came closer. Oh shit, was he actually going to stab me?
“Who lets a twelve year old buy a knife that big?” I yelled.
The door burst open. A tall woman with short red hair walked through the doorway, wearing a lab coat and goggles.
“You used my body-swapping machine to trade places with a gang of white people dressed as ninjas?” the scientist asked. “Your mother is going to kill me.”
“OK,” I said. “This is a lot to handle right now.”
“Who are these people?” she asked.
“Bitches,” the ninja said.
The scientist walked over to the ninja and slapped him.
“You don’t use that language around me. I’d wash your mouth out with soap, but that’s not even your mouth!”
“We’re just having fun,” the ninja said.
“You just took over a criminal empire!” the scientist yelled. “Not even a good criminal empire. A bunch of white racist people thinking they can be ninjas? How stupid is that? And you left me to deal with a bunch of middle school ninjas. You know how monstrous ninjas are when they’re in the bodies of middle schoolers? Thank God I had a freeze ray.” She looked back over at the four of us. “Who are these people?”
“Just bitches,” the ninja said. The scientist smacked him again.
The scientist looked at me. “Who are you people?”
“Superheroes,” Blue said
“Not good ones, by the look of it,” the scientist said. She turned back towards the ninja. “Untie them.”
“Aw, c’mon,” the ninja said. “They’re just a bunch of–”
The scientist raised her hand like she was going to backhand the kid. He didn’t say another word. Instead, he went and untied the four of us.
By the time he was finished, I think we were all feeling pretty awkward. Blue was probably going to say something, but I jumped in first.
“So,” I said. “You’ve got this covered?”
The scientist said, “Yeah.”
“You’re going to body-swap them back and then make sure the real ninjas go to jail?”
“Yes,” she said.
“Alright,” I said. “I guess we’re done here.”
— — —
“So,” Blue said, trying to break the silence in our apartment. “That was strange.”
“Yeah,” I said, looking for the right word. “Strange.”
“So they were kids who swapped bodies with older white people who were pretending to be ninjas. And they did all that by using–” Cathect began.
“Don’t,” I said. “Don’t try to explain it.”
“So what? How do I even deal with this?” Cathect asked.
“I know what’ll help,” Blue said. She got up off the couch and moved towards the television.
“No Barry Ring,” Hellfire said.
“Seconded,” I said.
“No Barry Ring,” Blue said. She opened the cabinet under the TV. It had a whole shelf of liquor.
Cathect started laughing hysterically. “Favorite teammate. You are now hands down my favorite teammate. If you ever doubt how much I like you, I’ll have a baby with someone just so I can give you my first-born.”
“Oh,” I said. “This is also kind of, uh, strange.”
“It’s after 5,” Blue said. “And we just got kidnapped by a bunch of ninjas. It feels right.”
“Okay,” I said. “Um, what are we drinking?”
She took out a bottle of Absinthe.
“Yes,” Cathect whispered.
— — —
“–so’s I was explainin’ to him how much I liked his work,” Cathect said, elongating all the wrong words and generally sounding like a drunk person. “I mean, I’m not usually into gay porn, but this guy was my clone, you know? My clooOOoooOOnnne. So’s it was nice to see what sex with me looked like, amiright? If you’re curious, it was pretty fuckin’ hot.”
“I wasn’t wondering,” I said.
“I actually saw that the day before I met you,” Blue said.
“What?” Cathect asked. “The poooorno?”
“Yeah,” Blue said. “I wanted to know a little bit about everyone before we met up. So I googled you guys.”
“And that’s what came up?” Cathect said.
“First result,” Blue said. “You didn’t know?”
“I figured it was on Google somewhere or somethin’ or somethin’,” Cathect said. “But I didn’t know it was the first result.” He hiccuped.
“It was,” Blue said.
“I didn’t think porn showed up on Google,” I said. “I thought you had to search for it.”
“I didn’t find the video right away,” Blue explained. “First I found a news article on him, which talked about how big this guy was–”
Blue continued, “–and then I had to go and search for the video.”
“You searched for it?” Cathect said. “Should I be flattened? Flat bread? Flattered? Flattered’s is what I’m trying to say. Should I be flattered?”
“I was curious,” Blue said. “I just wanted to know what it looked like.”
“You wanted to know what it looked like?” Cathect said.
“Don’t freak out,” I said. “It’s like staring at a train crash. You don’t want to look at it, but you can’t look away, either.”
“You,” Cathect said, sticking his finger out and waving it at me. “Are so ruuuuuude.”
“Comes from a place of friendship,” I said. “Or hate. One of the two.”
“Is there so much of a differance?” Cathect asked. “I mean really.”
“What do you get when you look up my name?” I asked Blue.
“Most of it is about when you were born,” Blue said.
“The first kidnapping?”
“Yeah,” she said.
“That was weird,” I said.
“I got that impression from what I read,” Blue said.
“What happened, you kooky crustacean?” Cathect asked.
“Basically,” I said. “Two of my moms’ enemies teamed up and kidnapped me, like, literally right after I was born.”
“Plastique and the Operator, right?” Blue asked.
“Yeah,” I said.
“But what happened?” Cathect asked.
“My moms went and stopped them. It wasn’t all that hard. Agent 09 had dealt with The Operator once already, and Charlie had only dealt with Plastique, like, a million times. We’re talking serious arch-nemeses.”
“Are they in prison?” Cathect asked.
“In and out,” I said. “Actually, if you look at a picture of The Operator from when he was younger, you’ll see that he actually looked really cool.”
“I’m not gonna do that,” Cathect said, standing up. “I’ve gotta– You know. Bed. Sleep. Alice in Wonderland. Charlie and the–” he fell back onto the couch.
“Cathect,” Blue said. “Are you alright?”
Cathect didn’t say anything. He just lay on the couch, head hanging back. He snored.
“Guess that’s the end of the party,” Blue said, getting up. She picked up the bottle of absinthe and put it back in the cupboard.
“What’ll I see if I Google your name?” I asked, taking my phone out.
“You’ll just get the water park.”
“Blue Bayou superhero,” I said, almost purring the last word, as I typed it onto my phone.
I didn’t realize superhero searches could be so boring. Literally everything I could find bored me to tears: Honors Society, soccer champion, Model UN Leader. Yawn, yawn, yawn.
“Ohmygod, you’re such a girl scout,” I said.
“It’s official. I hate you.”
Blue smiled. “In all fairness, photographic memory helped.”
“Yeah, well,” I said. “At least you’re an alcoholic. That makes me feel a heck of a lot better.”
“Oh, you,” she said. Go to bed. You’re drunk.”
“Yeah, well. I’m going to bed now, but I’m going to figure out what it is that makes you an awful person,” I said.
“What makes you so sure that I’m awful?” Blue asked.
“Because I’m awful,” I said. “And I can’t be the only one.”
With that, I got up and went to my room. I’d had a pretty fun day, thinking about it. I mean even the heroin-pushing ninjas hadn’t been that bad.
The room was pitch black. Walking inside, I reached for the light switch. One shadow grabbed my hand, another gagged my mouth.
“Promise you won’t scream,” Sotto Voce said, her shadow wrapped around my face, preventing me from saying a word. I don’t exactly know how she wanted me to promise, seeing as how my mouth was covered.
Still, even though I was pretty horrified, I couldn’t help but notice how soft the shadow was. It felt less like a restraint and more like a blanket.
I nodded my head and that seemed to do the trick. The shadow fell from my face.
“We need to talk,” Sotto Voce said.
“Obviously,” I said. “First off, you should probably stop following me? That’s pretty creepy?”
“I stopped following you,” Sotto Voce said.
“And yet here we are!” I said.
“I snuck in here because we need to talk.”
I wanted to argue with her, but she had a point. After all, I’d been in mortal danger this afternoon, and no one had barged in trying to save me. So if she was stalking me in an attempt to protect me, she was doing a really poor job of it.
“Who are you?” I asked.
“Sotto Voce,” she said.
“That’s not a real answer,” I said.
“You want real answers?”
“I’m with Metahuman Affairs,” she said.
I knew it. I knew Agent 09 was involved with me somehow.
“I was your mission?” I asked.
“I was supposed to protect you.”
“Then what happened?”
“You started asking questions,” she said.
“Why were you sent to follow me in the first place? Agent 09 didn’t think I could do the superhero thing by myself? She thought I needed protection?”
“No,” Sotto Voce said. “There’s been talk.”
“What sort of talk?”
“I don’t want to alarm you.”
“If that’s the case,” I said. “You have literally been doing the worst job. Like, I don’t mean to be a jerk, but step one of not scaring me would probably be not breaking into my room. Or how about not gagging me? These are both pretty basic–”
“Someone wants you dead,” Sotto Voce said. “They sent The Patriot and The Hound after you, and that’s just the beginning. That was just to see how you’d react.”
That shut me up.
Really, I should have been more concerned about The Patriot and The Hound wanting to kidnap me. But I don’t know. They’re just so bad at their jobs that I hadn’t been worried?
But I guess I should have been worried. Someone wanted me dead. D-E-A-D. Who? I hadn’t been a superhero for a full month, and already there was someone who wanted to kill me?
“Who?” I asked.
“We don’t know,” she said.
“Why didn’t you tell me all of this before?”
“I wasn’t allowed to.”
“And why are you telling me all of this now?” I asked.
“You deserve to know,” she said.
“Thank you,” I said. “I’m sorry I thought you were–you know–evil.”
“I understand,” she said.
“Agent 09 doesn’t know that you’re here?”
“That’s right,” she said.
“So,” I said. “What now?”
“You have to stay safe,” she said.
“How?” she said.
“I want to keep protecting you.”
“Even though it’s not your job?” I asked.
“I was given an assignment,” she said. “I want to see it through.”
“Alright,” I said. “That’s, uh. I appreciate that. I’m going to tell everyone else.”
“I wouldn’t,” she said. “One of them might be trying to kill you.”