I pulled out the plug--a big, industrial plug. Heroes League HQ had been designed with the assumption that you never knew where you might need a high voltage connector.

Well, okay… I tried to pull out the plug and it didn’t come. It was a twist-lock plug so I had to twist the thing first. After that, it really did come out.

The hum stopped.

“Is he still alive?” I began to walk toward the “Power Impregnator,” intending to undo the straps, but Daniel waved me away.

“He’s alive,” he said. The straps undid themselves and Vaughn’s body floated out of the chair, landing on the dusty, olive green carpet.

Vaughn moaned and one of his eyes flickered open for a moment. A bluish-white spark ran across it.

I suppose I should describe Vaughn.  He’s shorter than I am and cultivates what I’d describe as the “sensitive bad boy look.” Think black leather jacket, shoulder length hair and one earring. I’m told by reliable sources (well, Cassie) that he’s good looking, but I don’t see it myself.

On the other hand, no one’s at their best lying on a dusty floor, face awash in sweat and tears.

“Okay,” I said, “what do you think we ought to do with him?”

Daniel looked down at Vaughn’s body. “I don’t know.”

I knew why he didn’t know. Red Lightning had originally just been an inventor type with a poor way with words, fighting crime while saying things like, “I will stop you in the name of TRUTH and JUSTICE,” and crap like that. Beyond his “Power Elixir” and the abilities it gave him (flinging lightning short distances and a little bit of added strength), he didn’t have powers to speak of.

After being zapped by the “Power Impregnator,” his lightning power went from being little more than a taser to being capable of destroying small buildings. Physically he became considerably stronger and tougher than a normal person. Plus, he could fly.

Between that, his insanity, and his drug addicted, superpowered goons, he gave the League a hellish five year run as a supervillain.

After Red Lightning died, opinion was split as to whether it was the Power Impregnator, years of homebrewed drug use in the form of the Power Elixir, or simply native craziness that ultimately caused him to go bad.

Paranoid vigilante types in the superhero community would argue that we should kill Vaughn now and save everyone trouble later.

“We should take him home,” I said.

Daniel didn’t say anything. His face showed no expression.

“Daniel,” I said. “Hey? You there?”

“What? Sorry. I was trying to run through a few possibilities. I don’t sense any possibility that he’ll die from this. There is some kind of danger connected with him, but it’s not big… and not immediate. So yeah, we should take him home.”

“As superheroes or as ourselves? Personally, I favor being heroes. That way his mom won’t ask us as many ques—oh no…”

My suit has a line of readouts at the top of my vision inside the helmet. When I’m flying I can find out air pressure, altitude, speed and few other things--including the time. Just then the clock began blinking red. It was 10:55 PM—five minutes before curfew.

Or to put it another way, five minutes before I got grounded for neither making curfew nor informing my parents why.

My suit had a phone, but since I didn’t want to show up on the caller ID as “Grand Lakes Heroes League,” I took off my helmet and ran to the lab for my cell phone.

I began to call home, but remembered that I was in a concrete bunker a couple hundred feet below the ground. This does not do wonders for cell phone reception.

I ran to the elevator, shot up to Grandpa’s lab in the bungalow, and phoned home.

My Dad answered the phone. “Hello, Nick.”

In the background, I could hear an announcer and cheering crowds, leaving me to wonder which version of ESPN he was watching.

“Dad,” I said, “Something kind of bad just happened. Daniel and I were at Grandpa’s house… um… studying and we were just about to leave when we found Vaughn… Do you remember Vaughn? He was sleeping on the front doorstep. Would you mind driving him home?”

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About the author


Bio: Jim Zoetewey grew up in Holland, Michigan, near where L Frank Baum wrote The Wizard of Oz and other books in that series. Admittedly, Baum moved away more than sixty years before Jim was even born, but it's still kind of cool. Jim didn't attain his goal of never leaving school, but did prolong his stay as long as possible. He majored in religion and sociology at Hope College, gaining enough credits to obtain minors in ancient civilizations and creative writing—had he thought to submit applications to the relevant departments. He attended Western Theological Seminary for two years. He followed that up by getting a masters degree in sociology at Western Michigan University. Once out of school, he took up the most logical occupation for someone with his educational background: web developer and technical support. Simultaneously, he finished all but three credits of a masters in Information Systems, a degree that's actually relevant to his field. He's still not done. In the meantime, he's been writing stories about superheroes and posting them online at He's still not sure whether that was a good idea, but continues to do it anyway. He's also not sure why he's writing this in the third person, but he's never seen an author bio written in first person and doesn't want to rock the boat.

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