"Damnit! I'll get him this time!" Rod Canton stood up quickly from his computer terminal in the corner of his downtown apartment, brick-red carpet scrunching under his shiny, candy-apple red boots, and turned on his heels, his gold cape snapping in the sudden movement. He ran to his closet, threw open a creaky, metal door that slid through troughs set into the edge of the closet space. A single, dirty white Oxford shirt hung on the rod. He reached to the shelf above the hanging waiter's uniform, blindly grasping for the yellow face mask scrunched up in the corner of the shelf. He stood on his toes to get his hand over the soft fabric, and yanked it down. He still wore his dirty blue jeans.

He pulled it over his face, stretching it over his nose and fattened, soft bottom lip. He did not notice the stain that showed over his left ear. Blood? Car oil? Urine?

He walked back to his computer desk, a rickety particle-board piece of garbage he picked up at a garage sale for $4. There was an old, rotary-style phone next to the root beer stained keyboard. He picked up the receiver while stretching the yellow spandex mask up on his right ear to uncover the organ beneath. Spinning the dial on the phone, he called the restaurant where he worked. "Jane? Oh. Who's manager this shift?" He put his left hand on his hip, scratched idly, shifted his weight from one foot to the other. "Oh. Can I talk to him? Thanks. Oh, this is Rod." His eyes traveled around the room distractedly, chewed a little on his bottom lip.

"Hey, Kutac, I might not be able to make it in today." Why not? "I'm not really feeling to well. I'll, uh, give it a bit longer to see if I turn around, but I'm feeling pretty damn sick." He faked a mild cough. You sure you're not doing some more of your stupid superhero crap? "Look, man, it's not stupid, and no, I'm really, honestly feeling bad." Okay, but this time I want a goddamned doctor's note. Goodbye. Rod slammed down the phone, back to chewing on his bottom lip. He stared at the wall again. "I'll show him. He just doesn't understand."

He put the handset back on the cradle, softly, suppressed rage contained in the slow but methodical movement. He stared at the device for a few long moments before turning to the kitchen. He grabbed a Coke out of the refrigerator, popped the top, took a long draw. Belched. Walked calmly back to his computer desk. He stretched out his hands, flexed his fingers, enjoying the soft cracking of a few of his knuckles. Went back to chewing on his bottom lip while typing furiously on the dingy keyboard:

CALLING AFPT MEMBERS. PROFESSOR PERK 
HAS LAUNCHED A NEW ATTACK ON THE COUNCIL 
OF ELDERS. PLEASE COLLECT IN THE MAUSOLEUM 
ON TOP OF THE HILL IN THE DARK REALM OF 
SHANGB'OT IN TEN MINUTES.

He read the various responses written immediately back to him, sent through the technology on which his strength depended. He smiled. Loaded up the correct game on his computer, and entered a place where he had power. Like nowhere else. How like a god he was.

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