Song is 'Superhero' by Johnny Hollow. I don't own that.
The phone rings.
Eryn startles as Imagine Dragons blasts through her studio apartment, and her eyes slowly draw to the vibrating device.
Her phone is ringing. Her phone never rings, unless someone wants something.
For a second, Eryn contemplates not answering. It's not the first time she hasn't answered when someone called, but the last time some fools managed to destroy most of New York fighting some type of rogue demon-thing, and she's promised herself not to make the same mistake more than once a century, so she picks up.
"We need you again." The voice isn't familiar, but the words are. The only words she hears from people these days.
The line closes.
Expected, yet disappointing.
It feels like they always need her.
It feels like they never need her.
Eryn takes the bus. It's sunny outside for once, and the hustle and bustle of living in one of the busiest cities in the United States is something she can never get used to. Sometimes she misses the serenity of the natives, their beautiful songs and star crafted poems, but continuation is the mother of evolution, and time has mercy on no one.
Well, almost no one.
She gets off when she reaches the building, towering above the others in a grand display of glittering windows. It looks redone, but to her, everything looks redone somewhat.
Maybe she's spent too much time away this round.
There's an eye-scanner at the front door, as well as a finger scanner, and Eryn leans in so the machine can do its work. The machine beeps, and when she presses her forefinger to the scanner it beeps again, and a computerized voice, gruff and serious as the day she remembers it greets her.
"Welcome back, Eryn." It's an automated message, but she smiles anyway as the door slides open with a metallic hiss.
The building is empty, yet the surroundings are nearly identical to when she visited nearly fifty years ago, around when a team of heroes started, and collapsed, and vanished.
She passes pictures; of a man with iron bound knuckles and leather strapped biceps, a cyborg with glowing grey eyes. There's a woman with a smile as deadly as the staff in her hand, and a girl, barely sixteen, with the soul of a beast trapped within her eyes. They're many more (of course there are) some she recognizes, others she barely remembers. They hang on the walls like icons, and Eryn suspects they will hang for all eternity.
It is the only eternity these heroes will receive.
The elevator dings. The bottom floor is cool beneath her feet (Eryn realizes then that she's not wearing shoes), air-conditioning set to max to keep the multitude of currently running monitors cool.
Scientists, mathematicians, middle-men for all inbetween are all flying around the room, yelling things, waving papers, pointing at the main monitor on display with wild gestures.
In the middle of it all stands a man that's the epitome of collected, dark eyes scanning the room until they land on her.
He does not smile.
She doesn't either.
They don't see each other in situations when smiling is appropriate.
"Infinity." He acknowledges her presence when she stands next to him.
"What happened this time, Omi?"
Omi turns to the screen, to what looks like an invasion of some sort; grotesque creatures with gaping maws and distended bodies crawl across the streets. Eryn watches as one of them bites into the neck of a woman, and her screaming dies in a bubbly, gurgling mess.
"Where are your heroes?" Eryn asks.
She knows. Of course she knows.
But she asks anyway.
Omi' face is an odd mix between a scowl and a frown, and Eryn takes cruel satisfaction in his anger towards her.
"These…things…they aren't going down. And we can't find the big boss anywhere."
Eryn turns, and heads towards the elevator.
"Eryn this is a matter of national crisis—"
"Yeah, I got it. Tell those guys in the infirmary to get well, will you? The world needs its heroes."
Eryn takes cruel satisfaction in the anger screwing his face up, but she lives on the deep rooted resignation in his eyes.
The elevator doors close and she heads back up.
The world needs its heroes.
The gravel is hard beneath her feet; careful steps across broken bits of concrete lead Eryn through the destroyed streets of Miami. It's mostly deserted, so she follows the trails of blood left on the sidewalks, on the store window of a toy store, soaking a pair of movie tickets. She hasn't found bodies yet, so she assumes the monsters are clean eaters.
Eryn hasn't found bodies yet, so she assumes Omi is right.
The silence is somewhat deafening, having come straight from Washington DC, so she hums a song to fill it.
'Waiting…we are waiting.'
Waves crash, somewhere near enough for her to hear, yet far enough that she can't smell the saltiness in the air over the scent of blood.
'Waiting, we are waiting for a—'
Teeth are in her arm the second she turns the corner. A warble caught in a growl erupts from the creature (uglier up close with murky green scales and bulging eyes and disjointed limbs), and the pain faintly registers as blood drips down Eryn's forearm.
She waits a second, then two.
No poison then.
Eryn brings back her arm and then flings it forward with all her strength, rocketing the monster off of her and into one, two, three buildings. The rest of it collapses on top of the creature, kicking up dust as Eryn passes.
She continues to hum.
'Waiting, we are waiting for a superhero intervention.'
"Please help!" A man is trapped between an ice cream store and three monsters. He catches Eryn's eye as she passes the broken shop's glass, and he begs again.
"Please miss, help!"
'Won't someone come, save us from this story line of mass destruction?'
He's staring at her, so the creatures turn to her, growling out that messed up sound.
Eryn takes a step forward.
She catches the first one by the throat and squeezes until she hears a crack, and slams it into the second, barrelling the two down the street. The third leaps at her, mouth wide open in a display of rows and rows of massive teeth, and Eryn grabs a handful from the top and bottom of the mouth and pulls. The thing rips in half, blood spraying her like a hose on her shirt, and Eryn realizes it is a horrible day to wear white as her shirt becomes unsalvageable.
Eryn licks her lips. The blood is fishy, and she grimaces at the bitter aftertaste.
The man is still staring. The fear is still present, despite the absence of the creatures.
Eryn takes a step forward.
He screams and runs past her, into the waiting mouth of a monster.
She huffs, and continues on.
'Won't they stay when they see what we have done, just to be free?'
The beach is empty, save for Eryn and the woman resting far out from shore.
She's beautiful, long silver hair, silver eyes and blue skin, long mermaid tail holding up her body on a rock out to sea. However when she spots Eryn, her face becomes ashen.
It's whispered. Somewhat reverently, mostly fearfully.
"Ceto. Been a while, hasn't it?"
"You're supposed to be dead!"
"And by whose hand?" Ceto flinches, but recovers smoother than their last encounter.
"What are you doing here? I didn't know you were a lapdog for the humans now. But, desperate times must be really desperate if you're here."
Eryn doesn't respond. Ceto's grin widens.
"My present to the humans for the destruction of my home is a meal for my babies. Beautiful, aren't they? I'm sure you've met them." Her gaze falls to Eryn's arm. The puncture wounds stand out, a shade darker than her already dark skin, and the dried blood splattered all over her makes it even more obvious.
"Most of this isn't mine, actually."
Eryn steps into the ocean. It curls and hisses at her feet, evaporating as she leaves bits of glass in her wake.
'Waiting…we are waiting…'
Ceto's smile slips.
"Stay back!" The ocean rises at Ceto's command, slamming with the force of a brick wall into Eryn. Wave after wave after wave comes, hitting her at all directions, engulfing her in water.
The water bulges, and then bursts outwards, scattering the ocean until sand can be seen for a second before more rushes in to the fill the void. Salt water sticks her hair to her cheeks and her clothes to her skin, but her shoulders are smoking and her eyes are burning.
Eryn extends her hand, now covered from her shoulder to her wrist in dark orange reptilian scales, her fingernails long and sharp like talons.
'Waiting…we are waiting for a superhero—'
Ceto laughs, strained, deranged, enraged.
"What? You're actually going to kill me? You? Don't tell me…you're a hero now?" She cackles on her rock, shaking her head. The sea roars with her, splashing and crashing. The waters around Eryn remain deceptively calm.
"Who would've thought the day would come when you, Infinity, would be a hero! Oh, how the mighty have—"
The last word dies as Ceto's windpipe and voice box fold under Eryn's palm like wet tissue paper. Her eyes bulge like the creatures she created, and she flails, helpless against Eryn's unrelenting grip.
Eryn neither falters nor hesitates as she ignites her hand on fire.
Ceto does not scream, and Eryn does not pretend that it's because of her pride. Ash sifts through Eryn's fingers, pulled by the wind, and disappears beyond the horizon.
Expected, yet disappointing.
Maybe she should go home. There's nothing for her here anymore. It's been far too long.
The world needs its heroes.
White clouds float across burnt orange eyes. Water laps at her feet, pink foam gurgling at her toes.
There's nothing holding her back; no lingering ties or guilty conscience stops her wings (imperfect red leather and shaped like a bat's) from unfurling.
Eryn isn't a hero—has never claimed to be, really. She's a drifter, moving from one existence to the next, spending lifetimes in dimensions then jumping to another, vanishing like an afterthought in the countless galaxies of people.
They rely on someone they don't remember until they need her.
A sharp talon tears a hole through space, and Eryn slips through quietly.
She sings, and it carries through the void, echoing off stardust and the twinkle of universes unexplored.
"I'm waiting for a superhero."
Thanks for reading.
Leave me your parting words?