Shadow Sport - Coming August 2011.

Short Stories:

Among the Little Fishes

Among the Little Fishes

by Ethan Cobb
Every hero standing for virtue and justice needs a way to disguise himself.  Thick glasses and shaky fingers were “Standard Equipment” for Easton.  Having bottle rimmed glasses and a quiet demeanor could help throw any amateur detective onto a new, false trail.  The gawky frames and lens comprised hero disguise one-oh-one, but the penny loafers were a creation all his own.  Easton would do anything to be the best.  The loafers slapped the concrete in a spastic rhythm that even bothered him, another device to get noticed for all the wrong reasons then quickly forgotten.

The high school hallway was the perfect place to slide into the space reserved for nerds.  He smiled to himself as his textbook flew from his hands and crashed to the floor.  Outward he gave a surprised gasp as he tripped over his own feet and followed the book. 

“You okay?” asked one of the students over her shoulder.  Without waiting for an answer she continued to walk down the narrow hall.  She would forget about him before she reached her class.

Easton swallowed and with a shy movement pushed the hair from his eyes.  “Yes.  I am okay,” he muttered, just audible over the buzzing florescent lights.  Classic, practically Emmy nomination quality, he thought.  High school required finesse and the right touch of melodrama to keep from attention or dismissed as someone of no consequence. 

The world slowed, or rather, Easton sped up to sonic speed.  His eyes had nearly missed the spit wad flying through the air and dive bombing his outstretched palm.  His hand moved so swift no one would have seen the motion, even if they had focused on the geek sprawled on the concrete.  With a satisfying splat the watery wad squished onto the gum speckled walkway.  Limits had to be drawn somewhere for keeping appearance.  Flying spit was across that line.   

Easton let the air drag as he pushed his way through the crowd of backpacks, trapper-keepers, and various stereotyped cliques. “The super title is soon to follow,” he muttered under his breath.  This was his mantra now.  As his alter-ego “Mr. Terrific” he was unstoppable - or at least would be if he could find any work.  All he needed was his chance to prove himself against more than a petty criminal or villain.  He needed to thwart a competent nemesis, someone who had earned the title “Evil” in front of their name.

Easton examined his crumpled schedule for the room number, thankful there was only one class posted.  Introductory Chemistry taught by Dr. Winters, suspected alias Dr. Disaster.  Easton shuffled to the back of the dim classroom before daring to glance up.  Dr. Winters was at the front of the room straightening test tubes.  Easton squinted and tried to imagine what the doctor looked like bald and wearing a grim onyx cape.

“Hey Easton,” said a quiet voice from the next row over.  Easton turned and was surprised to see Avalynn, The Blur.  Her dimpled cheeks and curly golden hair was the perfect disguise for the tiny terror that could tie and gag a man before he blinked.  Some people were born for the business.

“What are you doing here?” whispered Easton.

“Same thing as you,” replied Avalynn.  She shifted her eyes towards Dr. Winters.

“You suspect him as well.”

“Of course I suspect him, and we aren’t the only ones.”

Easton gazed around the rows of students.  The room seemed unusually full of people with large, thick glasses.  One by one he picked out the heroes.  There was Stupendous Boy, Snakeman, Flower Power, and Chocolate Eyes.

“Even Chocolate Eyes?” groaned Easton, rubbing his temples methodically.  “All she can do is shoot chocolate from her eyes.  What is she going to do, smother Dr. Disaster into submission?”
*End of Sample*

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Last Rites 

Last Rites
By Ethan Cobb

Weldon sat in the snow contemplating whether the undead should receive last rites.  The seminary lacked the answer.  He would have to think more on the subject when he had more time, possible after Father Rupert’s Tuesday flower arranging class.  Until then he had other matters to worry about.  He rubbed the cross absentmindedly and tossed another garlic clove into his mouth.
Through a scream of wind, Weldon heard the slow crunch of plodding feet.  A man materialized through the clouds at the end of the street.  A bent and gnarled walking stick plunged into the snow covered walkway.  An equally twisted and bowed man gripped the old stick.  Only the spiked wood plunged through to the muddy base seemed to keep the man from blowing away.  His hat brim held fast like it had been nailed to his head like a horseshoe.
“You him then?” asked the old man.
“I’m Weldon Boniface III,” Weldon said.
“Well it’s not official yet, but I have taken oaths.  A little more time and I will be sent to watch over a town of my own.”
“Looks like almost-too-young-to-be–out-without-your-parents’-permission might be a better title,” said the old man.  “Well come on then.”
“And who am I serving today?” asked Weldon, biting back a less virtuous response.
“I thought that was God,” said the old man.  Weldon opened his mouth to respond, but was cut off.  “The name is Victor, but you may know me as Victor the Slayer.”
The old man turned and trudged down the village main street, avoiding the few carts and carriages left in the snow.  At the edge of the town, the base of another mountain ended.  The stick sank into the trail.  Weldon followed behind.
A gust screamed past.  Weldon’s hand braced against the elements.  The gale tugged at the robes.
“I don't see why I had to wear my robes,” sputtered Weldon through the flock of snowflakes blowing into his mouth.  “I can read the Bible no matter what I wear.”
“Tradition is needed.  The younger generation has forgotten,” muttered Victor.  He adjusted the cuffs of his aged suit.
“The younger generation is not going to have a chance to remember it if I trip over and get sucked dry, all because I wore baggy priest robes instead of a nice sturdy pair of running trousers,” replied Weldon.
“You don’t need to worry,” said Victor.
“I know.  I can outrun you.”
“I should have been more selective when I wrote for a priest.”
“I was the only priest willing to go.  The other two boys below me quit the parish first.  With my seniority in the parish I was ideally suited for this type of work.  God may believe in free will, but the parish doesn’t,” grumbled the boy.
“Priests used to line up for Victor the Slayer,” said Victor as he stopped.  He breathed heavily for a few moments, leaning against the gray conglomerate of stones beside the trail.  “They build these trails steeper every year.”
“Going down steep trails is usually a lot easier than going up,” said Weldon helpfully.  “It’s not too late to get into the inn.  I hear they have warm drinks and a glowing fire prepared at all times.”
The air had grown colder the higher they went and now each breath was expelled in great heaps of white clouds.  Victor the Slayer waved the milky fog of Weldon’s words aside. 
“Doesn’t it bother you?” asked Victor.
“The evil.  You should try to destroy some every day.  That’s my motto.”
“Believe me.  I do try,” Weldon said.  Victor snorted, but remained silent.
The icy trail narrowed almost to the point of needing to balance across the remaining patches of earth.  Chunks of the path had long ago fallen and tumbled down the mountain peak.   The trail spiraled to the culminating point, which gave a dim light through the winter haze.  The outline of a castle was just visible.
“We’re in luck, someone’s home,” said Victor.
“Yes.  We’re lucky,” moaned Weldon.  “Just curious.  What’s the point of going after vampires, especially at your age?”

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