Introductory post

As a ‘hello’ and a introduction to what nerdiness you can expect from me, here is a horribly bad short story I wrote in a fictional world where superheroes and villains exist. I wrote it a while ago, but never really did anything with it. If you spot spelling errors, half of them are because I’m Australian, the other half are because we spell differently. If I’ve done this right, the story should start when you hit ‘read full post’ or whatever it displays.

Enjoy.

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The polite applause died off as Doctor Masters approached the podium. He had been told to expect a strong turn-out for this lecture – after all, everyone wanted a glimpse into the lives of the super-powered, did they not? – and now was having to confront the reality that he was expected to talk for a couple of hours to nearly two hundred people. He had tried to prepare himself for this after he accepted a junior academic position at Millenium City University.

You’ve quite a crowd, be sure to say it loud spoke the little voice that was always in the back of his head.

“Good afternoon. First off I would like to thank Professor Vienari for allowing me to give this guest lecture.” Eric Masters took a sip of the glass of water helpfully left by the podium, glanced down at his notes, then nodded at the projectionist, the tireless assistant who’s job it was to press the button that started the powerpoint presentaiton. Masters glanced behind himself at the screen to make sure it was displaying, then turned back to the crowd.

“Today we shall be discussing super-criminology. While some people might claim that the greatly reduced number individuals in this area means this field should fall under psychology, rather than sociology, nothing could be further from the truth. I do not deny there is a large amount of psychology involved, but through super-criminology we can analyse the macro trends of the super-criminal element within this sub-culture and predict broad actions of the sub-culture, perhaps even attempt to neutralise the growth in the number of super-criminals.” The slide behind Masters flicked from the opening introduction to two mug shots of two different men, side by side. Both looked worse for wear as they stared at the camera, but with no real distinguishing features that cried out for attention.

“Can anyone tell me which one of these two is a criminal, and which one is a super-criminal?” He glanced around the room, looking for any sign that anyone could tell them apart. After a few seconds he smiled and continued. “The man on the left is the original Gargoyle, a power-armored hunter who murdered super-powered individuals on both sides of the law for sport. The man on the right is an armed bank robber. You were not expected to be able to tell the difference. The difference between a criminal and a super-criminal is not an easy distinction to make. Yes?” He pointed at someone with their hand up, about half way up the lecture theatre.

“Wouldn’t the distinction just be super powers?” said the girl hesitantly.

Masters nodded at the student before responding. “You’re partially right, but not completely there. I’ll get to your question in a second, and hopefully answer it to your satisfaction.” With a nod, the next slide came up, showing two graphs. The first graph, named ‘Criminal population’ showed a large blue selection labelled ‘Normal criminal’ dwarfing the small – less than two percent – red selection labelled ‘Super criminal’. The second graph named ‘Criminal impact’ was reversed showing the ‘Normal criminal’ section being dwarfed at twenty percent, compared to the eighty percent of the ‘Super criminal’ section.

“Working with psychological definitions of super-criminal – which we shall give in a moment” he gestured at the girl who had previously asked her question, before continuing, “we can see that the super-criminal population is a small fraction of the criminal population, which is in turn a small fraction of the population at large. Current estimates suggest that throughout the entire world, there is one point two super criminals for every million people. That is just over eight thousand super-powered criminals. Of course they congregate in developed countries more than in developing countries, that is where their plans can be acted out, after all. However, look at the destructive potential of this tiny portion of the world. Of course, these statistics are disputed, since they count actions done at the behest of a super-criminal by someone who would be classed as a normal criminal as the actions of the previously mentioned super-criminal. It is simply impossible for us to predict if these people would have done criminal acts without this encouragement.”

With a nod, the slide changed to a simple quesiton in bold letters.

WHAT MAKES A SUPER CRIMINAL?

When a mommy super-criminal and a daddy super-criminal… began that ever-present voice in his head before Masters mentally hushed it down.

“The answer is not an easy one. Super powers, as has been suggested? No. ‘The Great Painkiller’, his only power was a mastery of psychopharmacology and expertise in several forms of martial arts. Being the enemy of costumed heroes? Of course not, otherwise every mugging a hero stopped would create a super-criminal, or that there is an arbitrary point wherein one simply BECOMES a super-criminal because of interactions with a hero. No, the distinction is far fuzzier than we, as academics, like.”

Once more a nod triggered the next slide, showing the answer as Masters read it aloud.

“‘Super-criminals are individuals coupling potential for great (or terrible) acts with a strong element of entitlement’, Wielder, 2005. It is not a perfect definition, but it is a working start. This strong element of entitlement is the most powerful aspect of what they are. It can express itself in a number of ways. They may feel they are ‘entitled’ to wealth, leading to robberies. They may feel they are ‘entitled’ to the right to murder at will. Perhaps the most dangerous is where they feel they are entitled to the right to change whatever they want about society, without concern for consequences or the will of those they alter life for.”

Why don’t you just SAY it, began the voice, a Super-criminal is someone who gave up the right to be called ‘human’. Kinda like you, eh Eric? Again, the voice was pushed down as he nodded at the projectionist and continued on.

The only light in Eric Masters small apartment was coming from the kitchen, only turned on because he needed to make himself a drink. When the light was on, he could SEE him. Glass in hand, Eric Masters stumbled towards the mirror. A small amount of scotch spilt as he slammed the glass against the table he leaned on, looking up into the reflective surface. Eric Masters stared into the darkness of the mirror, but something else stared back.

“Leave. Me. Alone” he muttered, staring into the reflected eyes that were not him.

“Oh Eric, I LOVE it when you get all decisive. Sets me all a-quiver” came the reply in the voice that sounded like his, but was not him.

“I am Eric Masters. I am NOT The Harlequin.”

“Of course you are not, DOCTOR Masters. You’ve always been too afraid to be the Harlequin. That’s why you created ME.”

“I did not create you” came the words, forced out from behind his lips as his body shook with the battle inside him.

“Of course you did, who else would’ve? Last I checked only you had the keys to this head.”

“Get OUT of my mind”. Eric’s hands trembled, gripping the small table in front of the mirror.

“Oh Eric… Where’s the fun in that?” Without warning, Eric’s hand shot out and grabbed a candle from the table, turning around and flicking it towards the hallway light switch. Eric was frozen in terror as he watched the candle hit the switch perfectly, turning the lights on. His voice now choked with terror as he spoke.

“Please… don’t do this…” he felt his head slowly turning back to face the mirror. Then he saw it. It looked exactly like he did, though in place of Eric’s sombreness and seriousness was terrifying combination of cheerfulness and maniacal nature. Then their eyes met.

Eric stared out helplessly from within the mirror as his alter ego, the Harlequin, reached up and smoothed back his hair.

“Sorry to do this to you, Eric ol’ boy, but I really have to go for a walk, see the sights, y’know, have some ‘fun’.” He chuckled as Eric banged a hand weakly against the inside of the mirror. “Don’t worry. I know every time I go out and have a laugh you worry I’m going to be one of those ‘super villains’. I haven’t done so yet, Eric. There’s a good chance I won’t do it this time…”

The Harlequin walked down the hall to where he had his costume stashed in Eric’s bedroom, turning back to look at the mirror one last time, “probably.” He laughed that maniacal laugh, then disappeared into the bedroom. Eric slumped down in defeat as he heard the window open, and the Harlequin leap out into the night air. For a moment it almost felt like he could feel the cool night breeze on his face, but he quickly pushed that thought away as he slipped into despair.

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Author: AlphaSteve (10 Articles)

If you spot spelling errors, half of them are because I’m Australian, the other half are because we spell differently.

One Comment

  1. Comment by Pxl:

    I actually really dig the lecture part of this. Does that make me a lame grad student?