Monday, 21 January 2008

Secret Identity

The man pushes the glasses against the bridge of his nose with his middle finger. It is a practised, unconscious gesture that feels like it began because the man thought there was something attractive in the motion; something seen on TV, or a film with an actor a forgotten ex-girlfriend liked. Or maybe his glasses are just prone to slipping down, I don't know. Sometimes I over-analyse things. I sit and watch the people walking along the street, waiting for the the ones with a minute or two before they need to arrive where ever they are going and can spare the time for a cup of coffee. Then they disappear to buy their shoes, get to the meeting, see their friends, return to the office to get back to work on the presentation that needs to be done before the end of the day. It's all the same to me, especially in this deadzone of time after the early morning rush but before lunch. The only real change is when one of the regulars comes along, bringing a secret sign of complicity as the rare spark of recognition flares. Some of them talk to me but for others it is simply enough to know that we are connected in some human way amongst all the strangers. The man is not a regular. I haven't seen him before. I turn away at the sign of the flashing down the other end of the street. The row of skyscrapers are dull shadow in the mornings. There is a roll of dust and screams moving ahead of a giant, mechanical robot, all twisted metal and improbable arms. I swear as I see the bright yellow of the school bus raised above its insensate head. Perhaps because he is the last human in my mind I turn to where the man with the glasses was standing. He has gone. There is a blur of speed and darkness as something flies through the air towards the robot. The bus is torn from its grasp and I do not see what happens to it (I learn later it was deposited, safely, on a side street away with only minor injuries to the children). It is seconds later when the super returns, smashing his body through the robot's brain in a flaring of brilliant colours. I don't even see his logo to find out which one he is before he is gone, disappeared beyond the abbreviated city horizon, before the attack helicopters can scramble and attempt to bring him down. The robot is still falling, shattered, to the ground. There is grinding and sparks, the shattering of glass and more screams. Then it is over apart from the sirens.

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