Origin Story: How I Became a Superhero

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The last superhero was killed in Carbon City ten years ago when the League took over. Since then, the city has become a real craphole. I grew up in a place where if you don't watch your back, you'll end up flat on it. Believe me, I spent my fair share face down on the concrete. That I had a double-whammy of killer migraines and a head-full of voices didn't make life any easier.

But then I found out the voices in my head were real, and not only were they real, I could twist those voices, manipulating other people's thoughts. I had a choice to make... get myself out of the city that killed my parents or make a stand.

I'd always been lousy at running.

Every superhero has an origin story. Mine sucks. Don't believe me? Read on...

Fifty years ago, long before my time, Carbon City had their own pantheon of superheroes. These powered humans cleared out the villains, and the city thrived. Any criminals who didn't want smashed by Black Hammer scurried from the city like sewer rats.

Then, something happened that even superheroes couldn't fight. Time. Black Hammer got cancer. The AweSum twins retired and moved to Mexico. Slugger developed arthritis. Psy-On and Drago disappeared from the news. With the city crime-free for decades, no new superheroes arrived. Looking back, it's no surprise why villains returned to Carbon City.

The League took over the city on a beautiful summer evening three days before my tenth birthday. The League's sentries hunted down every superhero, pulled them from their retirement centers and townhomes, dragged them into the streets, and executed them.

Drago was gunned down before he could open his mouth to breathe his fiery flames. A few heroes put up decent fights and took down several sentries with them. Psy-On, my personal favorite, fried the brains of nearly a dozen sentries with her psychic attacks before she was run over by a drone tank.

Black Hammer died not long after. He'd donned his long cape once more, but after so many rounds of chemotherapy, he was weak and half the size he'd been the last time I'd seen him on TV. He could barely heft Hammer, the shotgun he'd used to clear the streets decades earlier. A single shot had knocked him back a couple feet, but he'd kept firing, blasting sentries until their numbers swallowed him. By the time the sentries had finished, Black Hammer was unrecognizable, except for his cape, now shiny with blood. He was the last superhero to be killed.

When it was all done, one of the sentries had picked up Hammer and presented it to a man wearing a white mask—the leader of the League. Later that night, I learned the villain's name was the Mad Mauler when he proclaimed his intentions on the news, in between videos of the day's slaughter. He made his point clear: the League was in charge, and if anyone disagreed, we'd suffer the same fate as our very dead superheroes.

Mom never came home. Dad, with red teary eyes, had said that she, like many other innocents, was caught in the crossfire, and that she'd never be coming home again. I don't know how he knew since no one stopped by the house or called to tell him, but he seemed convinced just from watching the news.

We had a funeral for her on my birthday. Her coffin was empty since her body had never been recovered, but Dad seemed to think that going through the motions would give us some kind of closure. It took me at least another year or so before I believed she was really gone, so I don't think the closure thing worked.

During that year, Carbon City became ever more ensnared in the League's web of control. Sentries patrolled the streets every hour of every day, and curfews were implemented from sunset to sunrise. In the early days that followed the League's arrival, people disappeared. Many were politicians, well-known businessmen, or other public figures. Dad had explained to me that the League was "cleaning house" so that they could run the city the way they wanted.

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