A bolt of white electricity shot out in the desolating darkness striking the thief as he ran. He dropped his bag of money and the papers fluttered around him like rain. The man screamed and shook in place. The current coursed through his muscles, convulsing him in a rapid, painful grip.
“I have you now, thief,” Bat Lightning said, staring at the nearly-escaped robber. Handcuffs materialized on the man’s hands, seemingly out of nowhere. This was one of Bat Lightning’s most powerful abilities – appearing handcuffs.
Bat Lightning was the ultimate overpowered superhero. No one stood a chance against his awesome might. He could shoot lightning from his hands like Zeus, the god of thunder. He could fly. He could shoot a black liquid that shapeshifted according to his whims. And, of course, appearing handcuffs. The bane of every bad guy that crossed his path.
“No, no, Dad,” James said. “I think he should have almost every power. He can fly….he can shoot lighting..what were his other powers again dad? I think he should also have force fields.”
James was five years old. He sat on the soft, plush couch next to his 30-year-old father. It was storytime, James’ favorite time of the day. Dad made up the best stories.
James was thin with a long face, big eyes and tan skin. His black hair was straight and well-combed. He wore a white long-sleeved dress shirt and brown khakis. It was Sunday and they had all just come home from Mass.
“Hmm,” Dad said. “I think that would be too much. If he had force fields too. Don’t you think he has too many powers?”
“Huh,” James said, with his hand in his mouth. “I think I should take out the ‘disappear’ power and add in the force field of lightning.”
“I don’t think he had the ability to disappear, though.” Dad scratched his head, puzzled. He crooked his mouth to one side.
“How about he can disappear and then come back?”James said.
“But…” Dad paused. He looked upward to the corner of his eyes.
“No, no,” James said. “I took away the disappear.”
Dad shrugged. “Ok, so his powers are to generate force fields, shoot lightning, make handcuffs appear, fly, and shoot black liquid goo.”
“And fly,” James said.
“Yeah, and fly,” Dad said.
Bat Lightning called the Police Commissioner John Graves. “Sir, I have another one for you. He’s handcuffed at 52nd and 4th, ready for pick-up. There is one slight problem.”
“What is that?” Commissioner Graves asked.
“The money,” Bat Lightning responded. “It’s flying all over.”
“Dad,” James said. “I just thought of a bad guy. I only have one power for him. He can take away powers.”
“Oh,” Dad said. “So he can take away Bat Lightning’s powers?”
“Yes,” James said.
“That’s a good idea.”
“What should his name be?” James said.
“How about Black…something,” Dad said.
“Black Ultimate,” James said. “It has to have ‘Ultimate’ in it.”
“Ok, Black Ultimate it is.”
Black Ultimate was an ordinary-looking guy. He stood at 5’ 9” and had dark black hair. He wore blue jeans and a black coat with a blue baseball hat.
He was the perfect bad guy. No one would have guessed his true identity. Black Ultimate would fit right in with any crowd. His face was plain, his choice of clothing normal and his demeanor rather friendly.
“He wore a black shirt underneath a black sweatshirt,” James said. “And black armor underneath his shirt with scales like a dragon.” James was adamant about this point.
“Ok, so he has super armor?” Dad said.
“Yeah, so his armor is like this.” James said waving his hands over his body. “Oooh, and he can shrink other things. And he can shrink himself.”
“He can shrink himself?”
“Yes, and also he can control your mind,” James said.
“Ok, so he can control your mind, shrink things, has super dragon armor, and he can take away powers. Does he get your powers after he takes them away?”
“Yes,” James said. “But then he will have too many powers. But I guess that’s ok.”
Bat Lightning’s phone shrunk in his hand as he spoke to Commissioner Graves. It shriveled into a miniature version of itself, no bigger than an apple seed. The voice turned on the other end turned high-pitched and then disappeared as the phone shrunk. All Bat Lightning could hear was a faint ‘chit-chit’ like a chittering insect.
“What in the world?” Bat Lightning said. How could his phone have shrunk so quickly? His eye widened. It could only mean one thing.
Before him stood the figure of none other than Black Ultimate, his arch-nemesis.
“Hey Dad,” James said. “I have another idea. It can be like we are telling a story and then we write it in the computer.”
“Great idea, James,” Dad said. “Isn’t that what I’m doing right now?”
“No,” James said. “You’re just writing the story.”
“I’m writing down what we are saying too though,” Dad said.
“Oh,” James said. “You can do that?”
“Ok, so the story goes like this.”
Black Ultimate stared at …
“Dad, I have another idea.”
“What’s your idea James?” Dad asked.
“We can tell a story. And then we can ask Santa for it.”
“Oh, ok. What would Santa give it to us?” Dad asked.
“The book,” James said. “Not like in the computer but in a real book. It would be a small book. I don’t think it would be with a bunch of pages.” He paused. His face turned and he stood up off the couch, distracted. “I’m just going to see something.” James walked into the kitchen to see what his mother was making for dinner.
The two were mortal enemies. They stared at each other from opposite ends of a long street like two cowboys preparing to draw their revolvers. But these foes packed superpowers that were far stronger than any ordinary weapon.
Much, much stronger.
Bat Lightning breathed in deeply. This had just gone from bad to worse. He extend his hands, black ooze flying outward like water from a firehose. It was a formidable weapon. The ooze shapeshifted as it flew, turning into a dark spear of death.
The spear-shaped ooze smashed against Black Ultimate, shrinking as it did into a thin, harmless web.
The bad guy had activated his shrinking powers. Again. “I have you know Bat Lightning. You will not stop me.” Black Ultimate held out his hand and clenched it into a fist and then cackled aloud like a crazed madman.
Bat Lightning responded with his second attack – lightning. Bolts of flashing, jagged light flew out from his arms hitting his enemy, causing Black Ultimate to jolt and shake like the thief from moments ago. Black Ultimate convulsed and shook. He looked like he was about to die. His baseball hat flew off and his hair stood on end. He let out a sound like an air propellor.
But then he stopped.
Black Ultimate let out a wide grin, his lips curling on each side. His eyes glinted and he let out his most hideous cackle.
What had just happened? Bat Lightning was confused. His powers had gone. His lightning attack had simply disappeared. It made no sense.
But then it hit him like a baseball bat to the face. Black Ultimate had stolen his powers.
Laughing crazily, Black Ultimate extended his own arms and fired. Electric bolts stormed out like a thunderstorm in full force. The light illuminated the dark city street, temporarily granting the illusion of daylight.
There wasn’t just one strike, mind you. Black Ultimate wasn’t one to hold back. Two dozen bolts hit Bat Lightning in full force. At the same time.
Bat Lightning screamed and shook from the attack. His own attack. Used against him by his arch-nemesis. His armor vibrated against his skin. He couldn’t take much more of this.
The lightning didn’t stop. It persisted like a rush of white current from a metropolitan generator. It was endless. Sometimes it wasn’t great being an overpowered superhero. Mainly when your own powers were used against you.
Screaming, Bat Lightning held out his hands and forced a giant ball of black liquid goo out. It eased the galvanic force of the attack, though not stopping it completely. Turning his head to the side, Bat Lightning noticed a sewer.
Flicking his wrist, sent a tube of goo into the sewer. The middle of the tube was hollow but very slightly so. As it dipped into the mucky water below, the water shot up the tube.
Capillary action. Bat Lightning had learned about it in science class. It was how trees and plants thrived. Small, miniscule tubes combined with water. The surface tension of the water forced it upward along the tubes into the branches of a tree.
The water shot upward. It was like a child slurping a milkshake from a straw. The water extended to the other end of the tube absorbing the lightning attack as it did, and channeling the electricity into the sewer below.
“Think you’re clever, don’t you,” Black Ultimate said. “I won’t make it so easy for you.” He didn’t release the electric shock.
An idea crossed Bat Lightning’s mind. Instead of channeling the electric shook through his goo into the sewer water below, he snaked it through the sewers below into another opening. Behind Black Ultimate.
The electricity surged in a blue and white fury. As the snake-like goo emerged from behind the crazed villain was tipping into pure madness. His eyes had turned blue from overusing the lightning attack.
The goo snake-attacked Black Ultimate, delivering his own surge of electricity into him and sending him flying forward. He screamed in pure confusion. It was a literal shock.
His mouth agape, the villain convulsed. This time for real.
Yet, he didn’t die. Ripping off his ordinary clothes, Black Ultimate revealed dragon-scaled armor. It provided some protection from the electric attacks.
Black Lightning curved his hands like he was wrestling a snake. This helped him focus his control of the liquid goo. The snake-like liquid split into multiple tendrils like that of a sea monster from the darkest depths of the Atlantic. It covered Black Ultimate, ensnaring him within its gaze.
Then he simply disappeared.
What had happened? He was just gone? Bat Lightning looked ahead in pure confusion. Teleportation was not supposed to be in the villain’s power portfolio. Had he missed something?
Stomp, stomp, stomp.
This wasn’t good. This was very, very, very not good.
Turning around, Bat LIghtning saw what he had missed. Black Ultimate hadn’t disappeared, he had shrunk. And then grown again. This time into a gigantic version of himself. One that was about to crush Bat Lightning.
The foot came down, flattening cars, fire hydrants, lamp posts into the ground, and Bat Lightning along with it. The car alarm sounded for a split second before giving way to a resounding ‘crunch.’
“Very well, it is finished,” Black Ultimate said, looking down at the destruction below. He smirked and narrowed his eyes. Then they widened.
Below his huge boot was an orb. A force-field. The glowing ball looked like a plasma ball from a science museum. Bolts of lightning flickered in a spherical motion, coating Bat Lightning in a protective shell.
“Ugh,” the villain said, shrinking himself down to normal size. “I shall have to do this the old fashion way.” He extended his arms with fingers protruding like he was planning to use some sort of magic spell. What was he up to now?
Bat Lightning back-stepped. Black Ultimate’s most powerful attack – Mind Control. He had to be within five feet to use it and needed to extend his arms forward. Bat LIghtning had been mindful of the attack and had kept his distance but now Black Ultimate had closed in. Once he used Mind Control, it was over. He had won.
Bat Lightning swooped backward to fly into the air but then stopped. His cape. It was caught in the ground. He was dead meat.
There was only one thing left to do. Staring at his arch-nemesis, Bat Lightning punched him in the face.
Howling, Black Ultimate fell to the ground and turned over. His body gave off a thud as it hit the pavement. His cheek turned black and blue within seconds.
“No armor there,” Bat Lightning said.
“Physical attacks, only go so far,” Black Ultimate said. He stood up to re-assert his Mind Control power but then paused. “What, what have you done?”
Black Ultimate couldn’t move. His hands were stuck behind his back.
“I’ll shrink my way out of these,” Black Ultimate said. He began to reduce in size until he was the size of a small child.
But the handcuff shrunk with him.
“No,” Black Ultimate said. “It can’t be.”
“It appears I’ve found your weakness,” Bat Lightning said. “Appearing handcuffs.”
James walked back into the room with his arms crossed. “Dad I’m handcuffed, please help me.”
“James you don’t have handcuffs on.”
“Yes I do, they’re invisible handcuffs. See I’m handcuffed. Can you help me?”
“Ok,” Dad said. Reaching over he grabbed James’ crossed arms. “You’re in a tickle trap,” he said, grasping his son and tickling his belly.
James laughed out loud and tried to wriggle free. His mouth widened in a broad grin, white teeth showing. He squirmed and laughed heartily within his father’s arms.