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“All units in the vicinity of 19th and Dorchester,” the metallic voice said over the small speaker. “211 in progress. Fifth one this week.”

“That’s down a few blocks,” Sherman Wellsley said standing from his chair and turning off the speaker. “I can be there faster than the cops.” Reaching forward, he tapped three keys simultaneously, then pressed the large enter key. Yanking off his comic book themed t-shirt, he pulled the dark spandex shirt over his head. He smoothed the wrinkles over his narrow chest, making the dark red knuckle duster emblem visible. Kicking off his slides, he stepped into the thick boots and fastened the buckles. On his way out the door, he grabbed a small backpack stuffed to stretching and pulled the cords tight over his thin shoulders.

“I’m going to Brian’s for a few minutes,” he called out as he stepped out the kitchen door and into the cool night air. A muffled voice answered, but it wasn’t clear what was said. Sherman turned down the alley and reached back into his bag. Pulling the topmost item forward, he grinned. Stretching the item over his head, he muttered, “Crap! My glasses.” Stopping near the power pole, he placed his spectacles on the ground nearest the wooden pole. “They’ll be safe there.” He repeated the process and straightened the hood and organized the goggles so he could see. “I need to get prescription lenses for this. Mom’s not gonna spring for that. Something more I need to save for.”

His feet picked up in pace and he jogged to the end of his block. Darting across the street, his breath rasped as he went. “I’m might need my inhaler. I forgot it.” Pushing him faster and further, he passed two more houses and slowed. “These boots are heavy. I also need to work more in PE class.” Sherman’s pace increased to just faster than a walk and he cleared the block. He turned onto the sidewalk and moved to the corner. Placing a hand on the signpost, he looked at the street names. Wheezing and gasping for breath he noted the names. 18th and Dorchester. “Another block,” he said between gasps. “Just a little further. Man, this mask is sweaty, so is the shirt.” He pushed off the pole and went back to the alley.

Walking the last block, Sherman caught his breath. He passed four houses. “Stop where you are, villain!” The crackly voice came from the clump of shadows, which looked more like a large shrub. Sherman froze where he stood.

In a raspy whisper, Sherman asked, “Who’s there?”

With a rustle of leaves, a figure stepped from the dark spot. The silver light of the moon and filtered streetlights, Sherman saw the shape. It was taller than he was by a finger or two. However, the figure was bigger. The large gut strained against a zippered hoodie. A heavy shadow over the figure’s face was cast by the hood. The light showed some type of emblem on the chest, but a dark color on another dark color was hard to see. A work-gloved hand pointed at him. “I’m the scourge of the night. You are going to be thwarted by Dark Hawk.”

Sherman mumbled to himself, “Gloves. That’s a good idea.”

The crunch and snap of a stick, followed by a muted curse, jerked both heads further down the alley. “Shit!” Both bodies said the word simultaneously and jerked to a defensive stance.

“You’re not Dark Hawk,” a voice said. Another figure stepped into the dim light. His stance was wide and his fisted hands stuck to his hips. “I’m Dark Hawk.” The figure was clad in sweatpants and a tank top, exposing spaghetti thin arms and milk-white skin. On the head a backward ball cap and a bandana around the nose and mouth. A baseball bat handle poked out over a scrawny shoulder.

“Three vigilantes?” Sherman shook his head. “It don’t take three of us to investigate a burglary in progress.”

“You two can leave,” Dark Hawk One said. “I was here first.”

“No, you weren’t.” A female voice said above them, pulling all three boys attention. On the roof of the shed, a face floated. “I was. Sort of.” The face in the light was long with a domino mask, which looked like a long sports sock with holes poked through it. Shiny glasses flashed over the mask. A thick head of dark hair held back by a headband was the next feature they noticed.

“No way,” Dark Hawk Two said, shaking a hand as he walked forward. “You just didn’t see me. That’s how good I am.”

“We all go here about the same time,” the girl said, squatting down and throwing a leg over the ledge of the roof. Sherman saw she had on black ankle top sneakers and black tights. The tights snagged on the ledge and ripped. “My mom’s gonna kill me,” the girl said. Swinging her other leg over, she exposed a black tutu with matching bodysuit. The girl hung by her hands for a second before letting go. Her legs compressed under her and she landed hard on her rump, then her shoulders. A whoosh exited her mouth and she coughed. One of her hands went to a belt at her waist then to her mouth. The all-to-familiar sound of an inhaler being used met the boy’s ears. Scrambling to her feet, the girl turned to look at the boys. “We all got here at the same time. Trust me.”

“No,” Dark Hawk One said, thrusting a finger out. “One of us had to get her first and—”

A man, older than any of the four present, walked from between a fence and the shed. Under an arm, he held a laptop and a pillowcase slung over the opposite shoulder. He took two more steps and stopped before taking a third. His voice went high as he said, “What the hell?”

The ballerina girl put both hands over her mouth, fingers splayed. “OMG! IT’S THE BURGLAR!” She thrust a finger at the man.

The man turned his head taking in the sight of four masked kids surrounding his progress.

Sherman acted first. Stepping forward, he kicked with his heavy boots and connected with the extended shin of the man. The sickening sound carried fast. “FUCK!” The Burglar dropped the items in his hands, pulled his leg up, and clutched it with both hands. His balance shifted to the single foot easily.

Dark Hawk Two reached over his shoulder and pulled on the bat handle. Once it hit the light, an orange color was visible along with the sponge padding over its length. Dark Hawk Two brought the padded item down on the shoulder blades of the precariously balanced burglar. THWAP!

A bat of this caliber would normally be an annoyance, but in this situation, it was just the right size and force. The burglar toppled forward, his curse lost in the gravel of the alleyway.

The burglar’s hands pushed him up. “NO!” Dark Hawk One plopped on the back of the struggling burglar, forcing the body down. The last breath of the burglar left him in a hurry.

“Yeah,” Ballerina said. “We got him.”

Blinking red and blue lights followed by a whoop of a siren sounded at the end of an alley. Headlights followed and a police car stopped near the group. Two officers exited the car and dashed over.

“We got the burglar, officer,” Dark Hawk Two said, pushing his bat behind him. “You can arrest him.”

Dark Hawk One stood from the body.

“Stupid kids,” the burglar said, struggling to his feet. The officer grabbed him and cuffed him.

“How do you know he’s the burglar?” The other officer approached.

“He had those items there,” Sherman pointed the dropped laptop and pillowcase. “We saw him walk out from between the fence and shed.”

The officer pulled out his flashlight and peered down the narrow walkway. “It looks freshly trampled.”

The police officers took statements. Nearby neighbors slowly moved their way back to houses.

“I’m going home,” Sherman said. He held his mask in his hand.“I’m hungry.”

“Yeah, me too,” Dark Hawk One said.

“We should form a team,” Dark Hawk Two said. “I say we call ourselves Geek Sq—”

“We can’t use that name,” Ballerina said.

Published inshort storySuper ShortsSuperhero

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