Posts Tagged ‘William Shotgun MacKay’


Image result for DC Comics Heroes in CrisisYesterday it finally arrived, Tom King and Clay Mann’s first issue of DC Comics’ next big event- Heroes in Crisis. Yes, another crisis arrives at the DC Universe (a title tagged onto big events since the end of the original multi-verse in the 80’s Crisis on Infinite Earths). This crisis brings the real to our fictional heroes, and perhaps demystifies and removes stigma– for it is set in a place called Sanctuary Trauma Centre.

You read that right. A place for Super Heroes to go to deal with the mental chakra sludge of life. I also hear there is a murder mystery (as you can see, I have yet to pick up, but it is on the read list).

It hits home, as readers know my Bionic Knight Pulps have been taking the Great Crime Fighters through a similar loop  as complex post traumatic stress disorder set in on the big three remaining in that universe. That being Rick Saturn, The Original Bionic Knight; William “Shotgun” MacKay; and Supra Agent Louis Regis. Three characters that have been travelling within my stories from the perspective of Rick for 33 years; Shotgun about 30 years and Regis, 14 years. Many adventures, many times when the old model of they are heroes doing heroic things, so it does not wear one down. Much like our world still looks at many, including charity workers who have rising rates of C-PTSD yet help falls through the cracks because the industry and individuals have a troubling time wrestling with it, but also when help is sought it is wait listed. This is due to the repercussions of Klein’s Third Way of health care having gutted what should have been on track by this point to be where European health care is, that being holistic and multi-pronged at once, not triage one symptom while forgetting or putting off the others.

In the Alberta system some choices can be removed due to heavy stigma, waitlists, or simply being constantly bombarded by the unhealthy Americanization of our heart-thought patterns to simply “buck up” or “white knuckle through” for it is all simply in your head.

That is what led to (spoilers ahead) the three outcomes for our long term heroes. One with their family vanishes without a trace and no one knows what happens. Another’s tipping point in the loss of his son, and saving the world one last time to protect the future pushing him beyond what the Working Mind Workplace Mental Health training would term “the red zone” (great system for usual office work)…and taking of his own life…and another simply resigns and walks away.

Neither outcome really looks like healing yet they are the choices made constantly in the vacuum.

Perhaps, our world will find compassion, and look to those who are in need and realize that when we debate costs it may look like a drain on the system. Yet that “drain” or rather INVESTMENT in our neighbour, grows a healthier Post Traumatic world.

Stories like Heroes in Crisis matter for it challenges the existing paradigm.

Perhaps challenging will cause fracturing.

Fracturing breaking.

From those pieces, a new reality of healing and belonging.

What do you think?


Some would say it is always dark and rainy. Lightning dances nicely, small pea size hail falls. Thunder shakes the foundations holding the double wide in place. The tumbler sits before me. Been many years since I took some stiff shots to steady up before a fire fight.

Though, when was the last time one was expected to lead an army against an invading. Well we were not rightly so what was invading. The ginger coloured liquid hit the glass. The aroma strong, and smooth. Scotch. Neat. Third glass. Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone had a rule he attempted to keep to of only 2 drinks at night to battle his addiction. I was smart, I switched to coffee. Somethings make you crave that which you had put away. For me it was knowing that the life had taken my boy, and there was nothing I could do to change the outcome.

I failed him.

Lightning illuminated the darkened trailer. Should turn on a light. The liquid burns the throat in a good way, goes down smooth Number four pours easily. Live rounds or hold to the standard Rick set out for me? Kayla, was so far down the grief spiral I was not going to hold her to coming. Beth, the new Bionic Knight, thinks I don’t trust her. She just doesn’t get what war, death, and choices of life and death can do to a soul.

They’re here.

-Enigma

Agent Regis had the Agency’s best on stand by for me. Five is a nice number. The top of my head is burning. Feels like someone has driven a spike through it.

I failed Johnny. My son. He is dead because I am worthless.

Rick and his family are missing.

Because of me.

The new mayor is running to keep Susan’s legacy alive, but Susan vanished, someone tried to kill her because I pushed her to make the city better.

Rick’s hand was young when he offered it to me. A chance at redemption for my soul. I screwed it up. Not the blood on my hands because I took lives, but blood on my hands because I couldn’t stop lives from being lost. Good kids, left to me to train.

Like Johnny.

My son.

From love they were birthed, from love the returned.

The trailer rumbles with the thunder. Hail and rain dance on the tin roof like the ratatatat of a tap dancer or an old machine gun from an action movie.

The door creaks.

I left George in his own piss and crap, cast out, due to his failure to back his team up. Should’ve been me cast out. But when you’re the boss, a multitude of sins can be covered up.

What if the legend of St. George and the Dragon was wrong?

Legend has it a dragon came, and claimed a village forcing them to sacrifice the best live stock, when that was gone. The Dragon still hungered. The beast asked for the first born. Until the day they ran out, and were left with the King’s first born, tied and left as offering. Rescued at the end of the joust and blade of Sir George…

What if it was wrong?

What if they both had saved the world?

The front door creaks. Move forward. Not fully locked the wind has caught it. The wood hits my face and I feel skin break a tooth goes loose and flies. The coppery metal tastes mixes with scotch and vomit follows the tooth out as I fly through a wall that separates my living room and kitchen. Hate wood splinters in the back. Pretty sure the ring a ding through the noggin’ is not going to help my concussed life.

Or falling through the kitchen retro- 60’s table.

Gun?

Leather flap of wings.

My phone is vibrating on the ground. Use my pinky and flip the old brick open.

The Story was right.

-Enigma.

The razor claws. Skittering across the floor.

George in the alley, left broken covered in his own soiling’s in the rain. Cut to ribbons. The cutter has returned home to roost. Not an armada, or invading force.

“Dragyn.” Judas betrayed for 30 pieces of silver. “Why?”

A toothy bloody grin. Recently fed. Someone’s dead. The piece of cloth. George’s blood. His supposed friend. “To simply feed.”

Mystical lightning always strikes different than regular. Glows green too. Little known fact. The front room bay window becomes shard as wind and rain fly through so does the shimmering gold armour.

Dragyn licks his lips. Bionic Knight lands hard, drawing her blade. My 12 gauge is just inches away. Begin crawling. Leg screaming. Look down. Wood through and through. If I pull out it will pump blood like an exploding storm drain, leave it in and hope. Just a few inches.

Knight and Dragyn battle as they have for thousands of years. A few claws. Armour chinks, some human blood. Armour gauntlets, magic blasts, and sword slashes.

A good right hook. It’s a fight, not boxing or MMA (major difference- rules). A knee up to where Dragyn’s breeding apparatus would be. The reptilian is down.

Bionic Knight freezes.

My hand is one the rifle. Push up with the good leg. Pop in two cartridges. Sawed off’s are nice for this reason.

Dragyn’s yellowy blood eyes stare up at her. “George was a fool. He had no guts. Could not destroy me. He was last of his kind. Now he is dead.” My former teammate (yeah he is so off the team), looks my way. “So easy to fool, through innocuous messages and identity of friends who vanish.”

Bionic Knight looks at me. I nod. It’s not rocket science, and one does not have to be Sherlock. Enigma, was the Saturns. They aided us, even when starting a family. Dragyn corrupted the last positive thing I had of my missing friend.

“Give me your hand Shotgun. You can be someone new.” Said Rick Saturn, the Bionic Knight.

Beth Venus, the New Bionic Knight swings her blade towards the Dragyn’s exposed neck. My one trigger barrel is faster.

Orange blood splatters her golden armour. Her helmet vanishes to reveal her face as she looks at me. Dragyn’s head is gone. “I had it.”

“Beth, you do not want death on your soul. You can be the greatest. Remember that.” She is gobsmacked as I hobble out the back door and into the rain.

Johnny, my son. Rick and Susan, my friends… all the others Kyler, Jack, John…hell even the bastard Zed, “I miss you.” Moisture on my face, not from rain. It is time for the pain to end.

“Shotgun!”

Her voice is lost in a thunder rumble. Used to tell my son when he was scared it was simply Thor’s goats racing Apollo in the sky.

The Dragyn is slayed.

The world is safe.

The hero’s soul is pure.

My second trigger and barrel are not as fast…

Thunder cracks.

 

 

 

 


Part of me still thinks I should have killed him. Just firing him doesn’t seem complete enough. Thought it does honour the path my son chose. Joining the Great Crime Fighters to side against the “heroes” that placed themselves as executioners. Siding with the code laid out and lived out by the Bionic Knight (Rick Saturn, my friend, not Beth Venus my protégé).

If the answer of any movement for response is to promote violence, hatred or killing against any person or group it is not healthy. Not only do those outside the movement need to call it out, but those within need to hold their own accountable. Only then can the darkness be removed from the public discourse and placed back in the shadows where it belongs so the light can shine through once more.

-Rick Saturn, The Bionic Knight

Knuckles are sore. Rain washed the rage away. Don’t know if George knows how lucky he was that Rick is still in my head. Quick stop by the Ashram to drop off weapons, the soothing warmth of shower and fresh clothes to replace those from the hunt before a return to the inevitability of the hospital.  My son supposedly in the limbo before life and death, but honestly closer to the Rainbow Bridge than Midgard. It is weird where your mind goes and how life could be different.

It is weird in the shadows riding an elevator up to my son’s death bed at this point what memories flood back from hospitals. Memories from childhood. I know my son fought well, and even left in this state he saved many and changed fate for some. Just like my Grandma did when she saved me. Family demons hide in the shadows through regression, memories fading, aging, and changing dynamics over time. Things can be forgotten. As a child not understanding what she stopped. Watching when the person was no longer there what fell apart until healing and reconciliation by light shining through the darkness. Truth revealed.

In my young mind not knowing how to speak up, for not truly comprehending in grief and death how to share my experience. Never fully understanding the weird dynamic bond created by my saviour for no one truly remembering what could’ve been.

This is what I see as I stand in the doorway of the private room, looking upon my son as machines breathe for him. My Grandma was one shimmering piece of light in a darkness that could have consumed me. That did consume me for a while. A piece of light that Rick, as no more than a kid himself, tapped into for my redemption. A redemption that led me into my shadow self once more.

The rainbow light reflecting through the window. STARS landing outside. My friend, Kyler’s daughter at his bedside. Holding his hand. Thunder and Lightning. Johnny Power and Speedster. Two great legacy heroes. Tears streaming down her eyes.

His hand.

Squeezing back hers.

She looks up through tears to me. “He’s not ready yet.”

I nod. The doctor looks at me. Sometimes a little light shine through before the Rainbow Bridge. To remind us of what heroism is. It may not be surviving. It may be standing up. May be speaking out. Maybe using all you have to squeeze your soul mate’s hand one last time so they know no matter what you are with them.

Epilogue 1:

George was a victim of the system he told himself that night. The shelters were full. They usually currently ran just under or at capacity, but unless it was excessive heat or cold (threat to life) they would not run over. Leaving him to find a spot away from others enough. Close enough not to become a victim of a beating or being lit of fire. Away enough not to have bylaw or the police called on him for the crime of being homeless.

How had it gone so wrong?

His body ached. It had not regenerated yet as his species would after a fight. He still held in his suit pocket the two shotgun shells. MacKay was mad at him for vanishing. He could not get a word in. He knew it was stupid. But Dragyn before getting sick had said he felt “it coming”. He was scared. Very unheroic of him, he ran.

Now he was alone.

The shadows cast by what little street light there was caused him to jump.

A creak.

Fireworks from the festival.

A scream.

He turns.

His voice catches in his throat.

George’s blue blood flies.

As his body is reduced to chex mex in the night.

Epilogue 2:

Kayla holds the Oak Urn in her hands standing on the mountain top. The run was exhilarating. Shotgun had told her to be the one.

Alone.

She could still feel Johnny squeeze her hand one last time.

The team at the Ashram, the family, making dinner to celebrate with cheeseburgers and wedges a life lived heroically.

But now, she stood. “You fought to save life. You fought to know we loved you. Your last breaths by machines allowed for your physical life to give life to others. Your hand…squeeze…I love you.”

She opens the box and lets the wind move…

Prologue 1:

I could blame the tears on the smoke from the BBQ, but everyone would know it was a lie. I miss my kid. I miss my friend. The world is a changing, and I am one of the last I feel.

My phone vibrates. Kayla wouldn’t bother texting her return, she moves to fast.

I flip it open.

IT IS HERE.

-ENIGMA


Enigma. Damn I wish we had truly figured out who that person was back in the day. His tips never proved wrong. Now the missing, George, the one that brought into existence the understanding of this great menace. The battle the has placed my son at the precipice of death’s door. Lying in a bed, where he is more machine than man.

It brings my mind to the show Rick always nattered on about, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, he even ran a discussion group off of it.

Gul Rusot: You’re still a Cardassian, Garak. You’re not gonna kill one of your own people for a Bajoran woman.

Garak: How little you understand me.

Tacking into the Wind

The rain is drizzling lightly. I roll the two shells in my sheep leather gloved hand, the rain drips off the brim of my cowboy hat-time to kill again. The oil slicker keeping me dry as I wait in the alley and watch. Using the mission Rick founded in his pastoral days to hideout. Rubber bullets. No. Sometimes the old ways are best.

He abandoned us. Rick’s last act before he vanished was to add him to the team. Hate the rain. It creates a natural white noise that blocks out the city. Blocks out the other sounds of the demons of my soul rattling about. All I am left with in the silence. He should be back soon, it will be check in time, and hasn’t been hiding out long enough for any of the staff to start hassling him under the push out for housing model.

Rick. Even when he was the kid hero, though we didn’t know under the armour and mysticism. He was the real deal. All earnest, honest. I thought fake self-righteous and faux humility. But nope. He truly wanted the best even for us.

George.

Stick the shells in my slicker pocket. He is dumb enough to walk past the alley mouth. The pudgy shell he chose to hide in. The collar.

My fist cracks face as I pull him into the darkness. He yelps as thunder cracks. Thunder is new. Blood washing off my gloves. Two six guns on my hips loaded. Shotgun on a holster sling in my back. My steel toed boot tip sends some alien tooth flying out of his mouth. We are into the darkness. The puddles he is splashing around not sure if it is rain or urine.

Boot heel cracks knuckles of his one hand.

Damar: To kill her and my son – the casual brutality of it, the waste of life… What kind of state tolerates the murder of innocent women and children? What kind of people give those orders?

Colonel Kira: Yeah, Damar, what kind of people give those orders…?

Tacking into the Wind

He tries to stumble up. Draw one gun. Aim. Pull the hammer back. A crack of lightning.

“My son you son of a bitch.”

He is coughing blood, spitting up blood, think he may have vomited. He has certainly soiled himself in what ways his species removes waste. Johnny. My son. A hero wins or dies. George’s cowardice left him in the world a hero is never meant to be in. Barely a live, awaiting the word if his organs will be viable for donation.

Two shots. His knees are out from under him. He is now crying. The shots stopped in front of him not into him this time he was lucky.

Lieutenant Ezri Dax: I tend to look at the Empire with a little more skepticism than Curzon or Jadzia did. I see a society that is in deep denial about itself. We’re talking about a warrior culture that prides itself on maintaining centuries-old traditions of honor and integrity. But in reality, it’s willing to accept corruption at the highest levels.

Lt. Commander Worf: You are overstating your case.

Lieutenant Ezri Dax: Am I? Who was the last leader of the High Council that you respected? Has there even been one? And how many times have you had to cover up the crimes of Klingon leaders because you were told that it was for the good of the Empire? I… I know this sounds harsh, but the truth is, you have been willing to accept a government that you know is corrupt. Gowron is just the latest example. Worf, you are the most honorable and decent man that I’ve ever met. And if *you’re* willing to tolerate men like Gowron, then what hope is there for the Empire?

Tacking into the Wind

In the silence, Rick always said is when your true inner Holy could be heard. Your inner self would emerge in and through the silence. The night is still fresh in my mind like it was yesterday. The Bionic Knight had me beat. The others were unconscious. Killer Face was doing his normal plotting. The wife was saying we needed money, didn’t know a baby was on the way.

He offered me his hand.

I had a choice to make in that moment. He had opened up and could’ve been killed.

I gripped the hilt of the Bowie Knife I strapped to my back to draw underhanded and end it.

He just stood there. He moved the helmet slits up. His brown eyes staring at me.

Time to kill him.

George’s reptilian eyes blink at me. Breathing out slowly squeezing the trigger. “You killed my son you coward.” This is who I have always been. In the silence of the rain, you come to understand your true core. Your resonance of self. What are optional connections. What are mandatory.

And who needs to die…

Colonel Kira: Oh, that was stupid.

Garak: Not at all. Damar has a certain… romanticism about the past. He could use a dose of cold water.

Colonel Kira: Well, I could have picked a better time.

Garak: If he’s the man to lead a new Cardassia, if he’s the man we all hope him to be… then the pain of this news made him more receptive to what you said, not less.

Tacking into the Wind

Rick’s eyes. His brown eyes. “I know you are not this man, Wil.”

His gauntlet retracts. Kill him.

Release the knife. Shake it.

George is sobbing. Begging for his life.

Ease back on the trigger.

Ease back the hammer.

Holster the gun.

Remove the two shells and throw them on the ground at his sniveling. “You are no longer welcome at the Ashram.” Damn it Rick, even in transition you still know me better than me.

A night when it wasn’t bullets we needed, but a cuppa with a best friend.


Beth was awkward generation Z awkward when she came to see him. Not knowing what to say to either of us as the machines pump life into him…and truly my surly old self just makes her uncomfortable for she believes I see her as a place holder for my friend, not as a hero in her own right. She is wrong on that, but how can you prove something so intangible?

Kyla cried. I cried. Shaddup. I am allowed to cry. He is my boy. Thankfully Dragyn came with her, and helped her. Not like his extraterrestrial partner, George, that bailed on us with this looming invasion threat from beyond the stars. The bailing that left my boy alone to fight when the first monster came. Don’t know what is worse the annoying sounds of the machines, his lifeline when others are around. Or in the silence. The stern look of doctors that won’t answer my questions, because well Supras are either to win or die, not be left in the limbo dance of a normal Homo Sapien. The nurses, they are nice, and attempt humour, but as one mentioned on her way out—didn’t expect the leader of the Great Crime Fighters to be such a surly A-hole. I pride myself on that.

As I read to him. Stories of King Arthur, Don Quixote, Lone Ranger, Star Trek, Robin Hood and Agatha Christie. Trying to get him back through the familiar stories. Getting him to latch on to my voice, or when she is up to it, Kyla (Speedster’s). Thought they were just friends, but she broke down and told me they were engaged. Johnny never saw me as the romantic caring kind. I know the one that was left to mentor.

My phone vibrates, I flip it open and click view. Don’t knock the flip phone until you have regressed back to its greatness and realize how much life and money the smart phone sucks from you.

WATCH THIS SPACE.

NEWS TO COME.

-ENIGMA

The weird computer voyeur that shared clues in the past is back. He shared my son’s last moments. The world thought he had died, but no, the Agency had found him barely alive and airlifted him back. His system is trying to repair, but it is sapping his power source to try to repair systems. It aids the additions of machines to keep him alive, as his invulnerability wanes, but he becomes more alive scientifically through acrobatics than through being, alive.

We are at the point where medicine can keep the body going in perpetuity until it can almost begin decomposing, as it is only the physical remains alive, at what point does one know when the cosmic spark has left?

My life was so much simpler before the Bionic Knight. Called him the pissant to further dehumanize him way back when. The odd time it was my scheme was few and far between, usually I was a hired gun by one of the bigger names. I could get away, if I couldn’t always had a breakout plan.

Back when the shotgun used real bullets.

“Wil, are you serious about this hero thing?” Rick said.

“yeah.” I said. As we sat having cokes after another fight out with baddies. Been on the side of angels a very short time, doing covert ops for the GCF rooting out the baddies.

            “Need to switch to rubber.”

“On my boot soles? Hell no.”

            “No Wil, bullets. Heroes don’t kill.” I watch Rick power up and fly into the sky.

Rubber bullets. Real heroes don’t kill. It was a crossroads night. Those times of belief systems people hit multiple times in their lives. Those moments of clarity when the world is not seen in black and white so much as its beautiful Technicolour existence. How I actually dream, in 1930’s animation style. That night was one of those moments, my change up followed shortly. The odd time the Agency would use me as a side gun on the side of angels, but my fists got more of a work out than my gun. My partner in those times of triggering in covert ops for the Agency was…Perhaps if I had stayed with real bullets and not rubber, Johnny would have wanted me with him in the fight. Not seen me as just some aging street fighter.

“Wil, we will take the body when you’re ready.” Said Agent Louie Regis. Standing behind me in the hospital as machines do everything for my son and I watch the mathematical numbers tell me that the cosmic spark is snuffing out. Protocol, Supras bodies are interned back in some vault in Ottawa. Just in case science ever progresses to try to clone a human, they cannot find the remains.

I nod. Watch the reflection in the window as he leaves. A doctor walks in.

“My son is an organ donor.” I say.

“The agent has.” The doctor attempts to interject.

“My son is an organ donor, the agent can be damned. He will die as he lived, how I am not sure he realized I truly saw him. A hero.”

My phone vibrates again.

I flick it open.

GEORGE IS BACK.

LOCATION TO FOLLOW. 30 MINUTES.

-ENIGMA.

“Keep him alive until tomorrow.” I say as I rise.

Time to get some real bullets.


 

I’m sorry Dad..I love you.

Said Johnny “Power” MacKay.

In a scroll across the screen in giant green letters.

FROM

ENIGMA.

They found a pulse. Very faint, barely audible. “Thank you, Louie.” Hate saying those words to an agent of the Agency, but Louie Regis, though appearing Columbo bumbling is quite proficient, and pro-Supra (well Pro being a decent human being). He nods to me; his greenish hued eyes say it all. He still is not sure if I am fully on the side of the angels. But he enjoys the fact that the resurfaced Enigma was wrong. Big bad monster taken out. Hero alive, if on life support. The beating “Thankfully” wore my kid out enough that his invulnerability had worn down enough due to open wounds to allow for the needed intubation and IV’s.

His body was burnt bad. He had what amounted to hopefully a temporary colostomy. Rumour he may have lost his spleen if not some severing of the vertebrae, and yes, the machines were doing the heavy lifting on breathing for him.  But my boy was here. And knowing the pain he must be in I was thankful for pharmaceutical pain killers and opioids being pumped into him. The hard part for a Supra. Always prepare for not coming home from saving the universe, but what happens when you return but almost gave all?

The Great Crime Fighters were getting through the Noro Virus. The enigmatic alien George was sill missing in action. None of that mattered. The short video I got on my tablet coming alive, I believed was the last thing I would ever hear my son say. We had fought through so much in life before the legacy power chose him. Even me being distant, his mother culminating her emotional-spiritual abuse of me and taking off with him so I lost touch until we reconnected when he got the power.

Regis taps my shoulder and nods. “Take care of him old man.”

All I can do is repeat the same phrase. “Thank you, Louie.” He leaves us in the hospital room. The slow-motion safety closure of the door stops the hard thump as it closes. A few moments before next rounds, the lights are already low.

“Tough like his pops Wil.” Said Rick Saturn. I do a double take at the voice by the window coming out of the shadowy dusk light. Rick the missing. Here. This is far to weird.

“You mofo where have you been!” Okay I may be a bit angry that the best hero—ever chooses now to pop back into reality.

The form shimmers a little. Not quite solid. Is this a weird cosmic-Camelot thing? Magic or aliens? When one holds to a belief someone will be real in their time of need, they can manifest them or something like that I remember Zed going on about, Tulpa? “I cannot help in what is coming, but I can help in the now.”

What would I need in the now? How ass backwards is this sitting with my son in ICU watching machines wondering if he will be strong enough to leave? He used to be able to bench press sky scrappers? And now, the cosmic evil that a child may pass before his father? Was Regis saving him a blessing or a curse? The doctors want to know the plan, I don’t have a plan. Super-heroes don’t plan what if they come back in this shape… they only ever come back whole or dead and then resurrect.

“Or crumble under magically induced neurological illness and PTSD.” Says Tulpa Rick. “But I am here for you, you struggle, your child is alive.”

He is right. I do struggle. At what point do I truly know my son is no longer here? Enigma rebooted to send me his “death” only to have him pulled from that fate. There is some warped interstellar thing coming. The alien who can explain it is missing. My friend and his family have vanished.

And I am here talking to the shadow of what my friend once was. Journalist-Activist-Pastor-hero, but what did he always say? “What did you always say?”

“Always the lighting to Susan’s lightning rod and…”

“Father of two amazing twins who will change the world.” I finish.

The machine beeps as it checks vitals once more. Numbers dance, lines squiggle. At one point another teammate years ago tried to explain it all to me. All I cared about was the simplicity, when does it mean they are alive and when dead? The shimmering Rick touches my hand as I sit in the uncomfortable hospital visiting chair holding my son’s massive hand. Wrapped as most of the skin has been burned off when he battled the first wave.

“As long as there’s numbers. There’s life.”

I look up as the setting son darkens the room naturally.

I lightly feel Johnny squeeze that space between thumb and index finger. Not much more strength than when he was first born.

But where there’s simple acts.

Simple breath.

Faint pulse.

Life…my son.

“I’m sorry Johnny, I should’ve been there.” I feel the tears begin again. “I love you.”

 

WE COME.

-Enigma


There has been a long history of computer hackers and brainiacs, artificial intelligences and uber geniuses involved in all layers of super hero and villaindom. Not to mention super spies. The Agency was what had been designed to work alongside, support and if necessary reign in or replace the heroes of Canada. C.D. (Compu-Death) was an erst while teen on the 1990’s computer genius back when it was a challenge, who was given a choice of service to his country or youth corrections and then adult jail. He chose service. One of those genius levels that was never supported enough in school so boredom led to his deviant behaviours.

I take a sip of coffee on the porch of my trailer thinking of the kid. My tablet is ready to click on an episode of Longmire. He served well, gave his life on a mission that, well, saved the world of course. There was also another computer presence that intersected with the Great Crime Fighter’s history. No one knew who they were. Just messages on a screen or a scrambled voicemail, dropping clues like the super heroes own Deep Throat if you will.

Last report of the three sick was that they were almost back to being in the land of the living. Still no idea where George vanished too. Hope Johnny is making a go with the monster, the receiver in my ear went down when…

The screen to my tablet illuminates. Weird. Pick it up. A simple message scrawls across in Comic Sands:

Your teammate’s last words.

A short video clip from the old Bunker, funny enough looks like C.D.’s command centre… Johnny in the midst of whatever burning energy and monster. He’s screaming something before everything goes black.

A garbled cleaned up audio clip comes through the darkness:

I’m sorry Dad..I love you.

Said Johnny “Power” MacKay.

In a scroll across the screen in giant green letters.

FROM

ENIGMA.

In the back of my mind a hollow voice as I feel a tear in the corner of my eye,

WE COME.


Johnny Power was the Thunder in thunder and lightning (lightning being the Speedster)…the muscle in the new Great Crime Fighters before the new Bionic Knight emerged. Third of three to hold the name. The first went down due to a bomb in a singing thong on a giant robot and the second died at the end of the scythe of the supernatural entity finally exorcised from reality who went by the name Ripper (sometimes Jack was the rumour).

This was the third…who stood the ground during the dark times, and cheered a little inside when the O.G. B.K. came back to silence the anti-heroes and renew the heroic age. The rumour that caused two new members, George and Dragyn, and the rumour that it would come. The cause of the extra-terrestrial exodus to Earth. What inevitable caused the vanishing of the weird old man and the mayor (yes he realized that Shotgun pointed out many times the term old was subjective).

BUT the ashram got a case of noro-virus that took out Speedster, the new Bionic Knight, and Dragyn (who knew reptillians were able to catch it?)—and George, well he had a habit of vanishing when needed. Shotgun offered to come to help him, but really what could the old guy with the shogun that fired rubber rounds do to help in this case?

The case?

It came from out of the water. Everyone was looking to the sky, so maybe it wasn’t the big bag prophesied in the McDonald’s. It was a bad though. One that rankled the environmentalist lobby (bunch of wankers who lacked science degrees, but it was all about marketing) who were being ableist with their ban the straw bullshit, while governments dumped raw sewage into the oceans. Oh and let’s not forget the fun hiking clothes they wore and the process of creating stainless steel, but Johnny pulls his mind back from the rabbit hole of anger. The mayor had two special needs twins that if the ludicrousness of the ban the straw had been launched with her around he could only imagine her blasting of it on safety grounds, and the targeting of a specific group via passive-aggressive legislation that showed underpinnings of extremism not usually seen in uber-lefties, but when the alt-right and uber-left circle about they connect in hate stupidity.

Now exploding out of the Pacific Ocean was the end result of uber-hate-stupidity. A giant extra-terrestrial something dripping in human fecal matter and other flushable (not a plastic straw in sight) threatening to decimate the Island. Shotgun scrambled all he had in Johnny. Johnny knew he could do it.

It was his time to shine.

His time to step into his legacy name.

The thing from below was scaly and shiny.

Razor teeth.

Fire in the eyes literally.

“What could you have done to help stop this thing old man. It needs the full power.” Johnny Power whispers under his breath. Although as see monsters went, it was only a step up from the rubber suit of the original Godzillas he had snuck out of bed to watch on late night CBC as a kid. There was some choppers, and voices. The military was rolling out.

His trench coat flapped in the wind as he streaked towards whatever it was. Some were saying it was a new life form. At times like this the lad wished he had the vision powers of Superman, not just flight, strength and invulnerability.  The code of the G.C.F. was fairly clear if it was living, subdue not kill. Part of Johnny hoped it was.

There. As he drew closer. The sound of a gears creaking. It was a robot.

A smile crossed his face. He could only imagine what Shotgun was saying at this moment. Yeah it would be fun to have the others with him, but truly with it coming out both ends, no one wanted them in the field. Even heroes deserve a sick day.

His fists slam into the sternum. He feels metal crunch. Bodily fluids from the ocean slap against him. Johnny grits reminding himself to keep his mouth closed. His mind raced and it unfolded in his mind. It wasn’t just the feces and other flushable had covered this thing. Something had animated the garbage from the ocean. He could feel the energy coursing through it. Shotgun hadn’t foreseen this happening, but he had kept going on about using science to do proper reclamation and cleaning work, well whatever was attacking had found away to use humanities own crap (literally) against us.

But…

Smash into the centre. The energy burned like fire on a marshmallow over a fire pit before being added to s’more completion. Power thanked whichever gods gave him invulnerability as he punched through to the centre. If the energy is drawing crud from the ocean to make its form, what if?

His home.

The prairies.

The story of the abandoned bunker just outside Balzac.

Time for flight.

A loud grunt. He feels something oozing over him as he flies upwards. Took about an hour to make it, so if adjust for weight. A 90-minute flight back to the province.

Clearing into canola country and the land of oil.

The bunker would be coming up. The monster’s energy had continued increasing the heat. Battling to hold its form together.

Johnny’s eye stung. He did not want to know what had mixed in with his sweat that ran into his eyes. A shriek into his brain that drove through like a hot dagger through flesh.

“WE COME!”

Johnny and monster fall downwards, into the sealed bunker he feels the energy burn. But he cannot burn.

The stop.

The form collapses.

A slew of sludge, garbage and other debris.

Not realizing he had been holding his breath as he crumbles to his knees Johnny exhales.

He looks at the burns on his hands. Pulls the smoking fecal covered coat off him.

“I did it.” Legacy. “I really am Johnny Power.

The dagger shot into the brain again.

“THE LAST OF YOUR KIND.”


City Hall. Mayor Susan Kobwash-Saturn’s office.
It’s raining. Lightning dances, as the gods goat hooves rumble through the sky. Why is it always raining on night’s like this in a story? Some cosmic writer must believe it sets mood or something. The office door creaks open, as lightning, and LED light illuminate the darkened room.
“Who the hell are you?!”
Should have expected that response. The day Susan became mayor, her and the council forced the administration to allow flow of ease for citizens in what her hope stated was “reclaiming the people’s buildings.” So things like check points, metal detectors, forceful non-loitering policies were cast aside. And her personal assistant knew me, so by the time I got up here he just let me in. Though it looks like he forgot to inform the deputy mayor before going home for the day.
“Deputy Mayor Lola.” I remove my hat and nod my head. “William MacKay at your service.”
“I go back to the original question, who the hell are you?” said the deputy mayor. She obviously did not keep up with news of most kinds if that question was till hanging. I point to a picture on the wall of Mayor Kobwash-Saturn, with the G.C.F. Her eyes go to the picture.
“Oh, you are one of those.” She states as she moves across the room, and glides into the seat behind the large mahogany desk. “So what do you want?”
I chuckle. Where to begin? The fact she was acting mayor for the next few months because of the Saturn family vanishing without a trace. Yet she had not filed papers yet to run. “Because the wolves are ready to devour the sheep, and you are on the sidelines watching.” Before Susan ran for office, the mayoral battles, like most elections within our province had been a vote against or to stop something. Not for something. She gave the citizens something to vote for.
I was battling the siege of the hatred and the darkness that tried to take deep root in this city on the vote day. It was not pretty, it was messy, but the vote rolled through. Hope won more than one battle that day. She had gone on to challenge the status quo. To get multiple levels from blaming one another in the round about avoidance game, to begin working together. To get county and civic leaders working together across the urban and rural divide. The politics of unity are not as lucrative as the politics of division. The capital on hate is a lot higher than hope. When she vanished, many were happy and started coming out of the woodwork.
“A bit melodramatic. The mayor will return, run and win. Another checkmark in a few months.” Deputy Mayor Said. Her eyes though fixate on the greying whiskers and jagged scar across my face. She really has no clue about who I am.
I wink at her and she seems unsettled. “I would suggest you google me. I am not prone to the melodramatic. Mostly I am called uncouth or a curmudgeon. I mean this with no disrespect.” I figure she must be interested as I am not being tackled by security, or the police constables I know had been assigned to each member of council since the vanishing. “I am not locked away as a dangerous offender cause the chap in the armour in that pic vouched for me. Trusted me to mentor the younglings that protect this city and this world. We are prepping for something that is major bad ass coming our way, but I like to multi-task.”
She laughs at that. Her android phone is out, and I see the tapping. She literally is googling me. Damn I’m old. I see her eyebrows arch in shock. “So, Mr. Mackay was it?”
“Wil is fine.”
“Wil. Why the visit if this big bad is coming, why multi-task over a civic election?” The Deputy Mayor is not stupid. She understands it looks ludicrous, technically municipalities have no constitutional rights or jurisdictions. “I mean we oversee roads, builds, emergency services, and waste disposal. What does it matter?”
“Simple Deputy Mayor. Susie, well, whether it was a hit, a kidnap, a cosmic or extra-terrestrial event or bloody magic—is gone. The void is there. We can either keep hope moving forward. Be the pebble in the pond with the ripple outwards, that may cause change further outwards to other levels of governance or we can let the ripples stop now. You believed in her?”
Deputy Mayor Lola pushes her hair back and tucks it behind her ear. Her young brown eyes fix on me. Studying my facial creases and crow’s feet. Probably wondering how one gets such bags under the eyes, cauliflower ears, and a nose that defies description. Very few scrappers left on this side of the ground. “You know the answer to that, Mr. MacKay.”
“I know what your actions showed, but now it’s time for you to act. Are you ready to step into the big shoes, or are you still Acting Mayor Rajni Lola?”
“You pretentious asshole my friend is missing!”
I pull a cigar out of my storm rider pocket, snip the end, and begin lighting it. “She was the only person that ever truly believed in my redemption. She is gone. So, will you be her legacy?” The Acting (Deputy) Mayor slumps into her wingback Corinthian Leather chair, looking very young as the lightning dances. “I am here for my friend, asking you to do what she cannot right now. Will you be the voice for the people against the wolves at our gates?”
I turn and begin leaving the office. I know the puffing cigar annoys the no smoking polices and I don’t really care. Was this whole people’s revolution of hope truly only propped up by one person? A very soft voice reaches my ear. “I believe in hope, Wil.”
I nod as I walk out. Who knew multi-tasking could work?


The Ashram. My front porch. The kid and me, two cups of coffee.

A plot of land I quasi-inherited, squatted upon with the demise of the immortal alien life essence that was Zeus existing as a bi-sexual Zen monastic. I wish I could say the history of life in this City got easier as the story went along, but well, it has been a journey-quest—what is more than a quest? Mystical experience of the super hero operatic variety.

The weird questions being the mentor of the new generation of hero. The Ashram is 3 double wife trailers, one is mine (that is, the home of William “Shotgun” MacKay as the papers call me, when I used to be the villain killing for a living, and for the past 20ish years being the hero). The other two are split between the young heroes that make up the Great Crime Fighters. Canada’s super heroes. They have had many incarnations, and there is the dark time, that brought back the core that then passed on their legacies before their own transitions. Our greatest hero was the Bionic Knight. He was a punk ass teenager I attempted to kill many times, before he helped me become a hero. As a middle aged man, PTSD due to a life of literally saving the universe and mourning took hold of him. He was struggling through some neurological challenge as well that we were never too sure if it was magical or electrical. The power source that made him a hero, check that, that gave him the super powers of Camelot (yes that Arthur bloke) was the PenDragon force. It found a new host. A new punk ass kid, working through her own mourning as the Opioid crisis claimed her little brother, almost lost her with that. Rick talked her back. That was his real name, Rick Saturn, the first husband of our city’s mayor, Susan Kobwash-Saturn, father of two beautiful special needs twins.

A few months ago in a McDonald’s two aliens revealed themselves, George and Dragyn, because what caused the exodus of the stars to earth was coming. A few scant weeks after that Rick vanished.

Not only him, but his family. A few months left on her term as mayor. A successful run.

“Shotgun, why me?” I take a sip from my coffee, leaning on the porch rail, Beth Venus, she’s the new punk ass with the power of Camelot. Also, very anxious and unsure of why she was chosen.

Remember it was a bit of the same conversation I had with Rick after my conversion to the light, and he shared who he was. He shared at 16 years old receiving the power scared the crap out of him, having to find his way. Thinking it was like a maze, but really it was more like a labyrinth. Only one path, however winding, to the source at the centre. A metaphor I have shared with Beth many times, but she is not used to long journeys. Like most in our technological age, she wants it now. Who knew there would be a time when I would think Johnny (Johnny Power- flies, invulnerable, super strong) and Kyla (Last name, Storm, her father Kyler was the Speedster, she is of the same super-speed, with an attention span to match, though Johnny’s can be worse).

“The PenDragon knows who it chooses, your path is to walk the inner Labyrinth to find the dragon within.” Believe that is the way Rick phrased it to me once, hopefully it sounds Yoda enough.

“Quit with the Spock crap. Why me?! Do you think I wanted to be the hero of all the multi-verse?!” Beth screams. Nights like this I am happy the Ashram is on its own little hill away from other neighbours.

Remember the argument when Susie (Susan, Rick’s wife) decided to run for Mayor. John MacCurtis, Rick’s best bud formerly PinBall, formerly Bionic Archer (of Herne and Hood variety) who gave his all had left vacant. He had started a path for a just city. Susan had the passion to complete it. Her concern was Rick stopping being a hero so she could do it, he trusted the power to find th te right host.

“Find you, and the power will co-operate.” I know great pep talk take away for a teenager. Find yourself. The purpose of adolescence.

Susan leveraged every connection she had made, John had politically and Rick had as a former journalist, politico and pastor. The Bionic Knight came out in favour of her, which also helped, and the G.C.F. backed her too. It was time to fully leave the dark, it was time to embrace the light. The Council and Administration were excited over more positivity where every person was seen as a citizen who shared the same rights of Canadians promised in our Constitution and Charter for a just society.

She moved beyond tweet policies, and quick solutions. She pushed for solutions that worked for the individual in community. Moving the conversation from simple accessibility and inclusion to belonging. From housing to homes. From work to vocational purpose. From debt to actual living wages and thriving. From reaction to pro-activity in building a world. Reconciliation and restoration not vengeance. Not looking at integration or reintegration for those who are coming from institutional life whether it be medical, mental health, addiction, corrections or shelters but true connectivity, belonging and living. She pushed hard (and had the death threats to prove it) to all levels of government that any relapse, recycle, recidivism or re-housing/re-shelter rate that was not absolute 0 had to be re-framed for what it was:

A RE-TRAUMATIZATION rate of the person and community.

Susie got the we were all in this together.

Beth is nervous because the council is pushing forward her agenda of transformation and other levels of government are working it as well with her missing. But the forces of darkness and hate are brewing.

“Fuck Will. Incels, Alt-Right, Whiteass sympathizers, So-Cons, its going back to the non-heroic age. We can’t keep the keel.” I love Beth’s passion for nautical movies.

The non-heroic age was a time when heroes rose up based around vengeance, where they played at being judge, jury and executioner. Where it was fuelled by institutional hate, misogyny, and more money makes right, privatization over public good… and every problem could be solved by the taxpayer paying low taxes, and when hit with a road block of any variety by bucking up and pulling themselves up by their boot straps. For you see we are not connected at all, we are all only individuals swirling in this world.

“And why does it matter to you girl? Just toss the ring, let it find another then.” I say.

Beth looks down at the Celtic cross ring on her righthand ring finger. She had ben through the ringer. She knew why her brother succumbed to drug use. The constant emotional and verbal abuse he had endured, and the non-heroic age, non-just society answers peddled onto him. The lack of belonging sapped him to the point of being nothing more than the chemicals that remained in the body after his soul had long crumbled into the darkness.

 

“Because I see through the political correct titles placed upon bullshit movements that basically mean, bully, abuser, Nazi asshat.”

“And?”

“And…I want the world we are building not the one we deconstructed.”

I simply nod. It’s coming, and these kids, may all the gods be with us, for what ever is coming looks to have taken the big guy off the board.

–and that scares the piss out of me.