I love the idea in this one, but it was hard to write. In the end, I described what happened after the fact, because I couldn’t figure out how to write what I thought was the key scene (how do you write a description of “subtle”, anyway?). As it turned out, I think that approach worked better. My wife made some very good observations on the Chief as well. The revisions she suggested made this run a little more consistently to itself. I’m hoping you’ll tell me if it worked, and if not, where I went wrong.
This piece is also one of the few I worked over and really tried to edit.
Thoughts/Comments/Criticisms? Let me know in the comments.
12345The air split with a shriek. The piercing whistle drove back the crowds from its descending epicenter. With a massive CRACK, the concrete split, a cloud of dust pluming above the street. When it settled, the Exclaimator rose from his landing position, extending to his full height.
12345From his 6’9” span, he surveyed the crowd. Spotting the Police Chief, he headed in his direction.
12345“Well, Chief”, he boomed, “What have we got?”
12345The Chief shook his head, annoyed. Flamboyant and boisterous to an extreme, the superhero always left destruction and damage in his wake. “That’s quite an entrance you made. Again.” The Exclaimator laughed, a booming bass from deep within his chest.
12345“I like Evil to know I’m coming” he answered. The Chief rolled his eyes before starting to fill him in. Sure, the Exclaimator was full of himself and wanted everyone to be full of him too, but as a superhero, he filled all the requirements of defending his home city and upholding the values therein. But while the damage he caused in fighting villains didn’t come out of the department budget, the difficulties in navigating the parts of the city he wrecked strained the ability of emergency forces to get where they were needed.
12345Still, the mayor had asked him to treat the Exclaimator as an unofficial member of the force, so the Chief did his best to not let it get to him.
12345“Bank job gone wrong” he said, gesturing at the building in front of them. “Six went in. Crowded all the customers against the windows and emptied out the teller stations, the vault, and now three of them are in the safe deposit room.”
12345“How do you know all that?” asked the Exclaimator.
12345“They didn’t turn off the camera”, chuckled the Chief. “The bank IT guy was out getting an orange soda when it happened. He’s back in our Mobile Operation Center helping out.”
12345“Very well, Chief” boomed the Exclaimator. I will take it from here.”
12345The television cameras behind the police tape all swiveled to record him. “Citizens, behold!” he bellowed. His legs bunched, pushing him off the sidewalk into the air, leaving punctured concrete behind. He soared up, 30, 50, 100 feet, then plummeted back down, clenching. He smashed into the street at an angle, a divot of shattered concrete beneath him. He turned, clenched again and rocketed back up. Another 100 feet in the air, and back down, the crushed road spreading out from him in a spiderweb of gouges and cracks. He turned, and one last time shot into the sky, even faster this time. At 90 feet, he was going so fast he broke the sound barrier. The loud scream of a sonic boom ripped the air. Twelve stories of glass from nearby office towers exploded outward in a fusillade of deadly rain on the street below.
12345The Exclaimator landed with similar explosive force. The Chief shook his head. The superhero had covered the 60 feet to the bank in just three jumps – much less than the havoc he’d caused last month across a similar distance.
12345All eyes and cameras were now focused on the Exclaimator. No one noticed the non-descript man turning the corner as their hero took up a position directly in front of the bank.
12345“BE WARNED, EVIL DOERS!!!” thundered the Exclaimator.
12345Then he noticed the man.
12345“Excuse me”, he began, his voice almost soft. The non-descript man turned toward him.
12345“This seems like an awful lot of fuss”, he said quietly. He looked past the Exclaimator. “And that’s a lot of damage”, he said, gesturing toward the street.
12345The Exclaimator laughed, a deep sound that originated from the depths of his diaphragm. “How will the fine people of my city know that I am protecting them if there is no evidence of my progress?”
12345The quiet man shrugged and turned to leave. “Oh, one other thing”, he said fingering a dark pewter pin on the lapel of his grey overcoat. “You’ll find everyone inside the bank asleep. I sent sleeping gas through the ventilation shaft. They shouldn’t wake for another half hour or so. Have a good day”.
12345The Exclaimator sputtered, his mouth making unintelligible sounds as his jaw worked back and forth.
12345“But…but- Who are you?!?” he bellowed, deafening the other man.
12345The other man took the pin from his lapel and shrugged again, lips bending in a half smile as he handed the pin to the hero. “Me? I’m just this guy.” Then he turned and walked past the crowds.
12345Twenty minutes later, the EMTs were looking over the rescued hostages, while the police carted the robbers into a waiting van. The Chief walked over to the Exclaimator, still sputtering on the sidewalk.
12345“I have to say”, he began, “that’s the least destructive job I’ve ever seen you do! There isn’t even one overturned desk in there.”
12345The Exclaimator turned to the Chief, his cheeks red with rage. He extended his arm and dropped the pin, a small pewter piece in the shape of a small “w” in the Chief’s hand. “It wasn’t me”, he yelled. “It was the worst kind of superhero – the kind that passes without leaving a trace, who avoids the light and the eyes of his public” he continued, his voice rising. “One who doesn’t understand that the damage we cause is necessary for the mantle of superhero!”
12345The Chief looked from the pin to the Exclaimator, puzzled. “Who?” he asked. “Who was it?”
12345The Exclaimator spit out the name like a curse. “The Whisperer.”
12345In a small neighborhood bar on the other side of town, the door opened. A man walked in – a non-descript man in a long gray overcoat with a lighter patch on the lapel – where a small pin had stopped the elements from aging the coat he now hung on a peg.
12345“Alright, Joe?” asked the bartender, his voice rising over the tv reports coming from the bank.
12345“What’cha been up to?” came the question, along with a mug of beer.
12345The Whisperer smiled. “It was a good day – nobody died.” He raised his glass in salute.