The Dying of the Light

Wordcount: 539 words
Rating/Warnings/Genre: PG-13, Superheroes
Summary: Sleeping lions aren’t always dead– leave your poking sticks at home.

500 Words Story Index


“I’m going to miss the Farmer’s Market most, I think.” I helped my granddaughter to her feet, brushing off the dust that dances in the sunlight around my fingers. The other diners are screaming somewhere behind us, fleeing the rubble of a lazy Sunday brunch that’s turned into a battlefield.

“I– what?” The boy –they’re all so young nowadays– was in the middle of a dramatic monologue following his initial assault on what used to be my favorite bistro. Something about doing Evil in the name of Good, I think. Hearing aids don’t handle explosive decompression well.

“Gram, you promised,” Becca tugged at my sleeve as I turned, but there was nothing to say. How do you apologize for someone else’s mistakes?

“I’ll never get to see how the glazes turned out from the last pottery class either,” I glared up at him, squinting at the robotic form silhouetted against the sun. I miss the days when supers weren’t afraid to show their faces. “You don’t look like Robbie’s boy.”

“I’m not! Pottery? Why– I don’t care, just tell me where Sunbird is!” His engines whined as power began to build for another blast. “This ends today!”

“Have you forgotten who I am?” Vanity’s not my favorite sin– but I spent twenty years as the active apex predator, you think they’d honor my legacy a little longer. 

“You’re nothing. I’m not an idiot, I did my research! You haven’t so much as glowed since Heather took over your powers. Powers she’s going to give to me as payment for her crimes.”

Sunbird is the sort of anti-hero society could tolerate, having learned to dance the edges of respectability in a way I never could. She had fan clubs instead of henchmen, but they’re no less vicious– and much more likely to seek revenge.

I’ll be doing him a favor, if you think about it.

The whine dies off, small lightnings dancing around his recharged gun. “Tell me where she is. Either she dies or you all do.”

And there is was: the tipping point where promises, no matter how hallowed, shatter. 

I like to think they never felt it when they died, but this time– this time I hope it hurts.

There’s so many things I’m going to miss.

***

I died in that bistro, consumed along with whatshisname by the bright blinding light of powers called up one last time to defend my family. At least that’s what the cameras show, for the few frames that show anything at all.

That heroic last stand almost redeemed me in the eyes of the public– at least for one news cycle. Forty years of retirement and one selfless deed don’t quite sweep all my skeletons under the rug.

So I’m dead, for now, and if Heather’s a little more thorough in the coming months, they’ll overlook it. 

Eventually, we’ll have brunch again, in a few years when things die down. In another town in another state, we’ll pick up some local honey and heirloom tomatoes while Becca checks out colleges. 

Maybe I’ll give in and build my own kiln and try the blue-green glaze that reminds me of the sea. If nothing else, it’s a great way to burn the bones.


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