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Monday, March 25, 2013

A Dose of Virtual Reality

A bell rang through the classroom. The black-haired teacher stood from her desk and straightened her snug, blue dress. "Today class, we will study the female anatomy."

Mickey stopped thumping his pencil against his desk and sat up. About time. Maybe we'll get to see some pictures.

Sirens wailed in the distance.

Mickey frowned. Probably nothing. Surely the authorities could handle it. Not like he could be everywhere at once. Well, almost, but not quite.

The teacher pulled down a graphic of the female reproductive organs. "First, we will go over the names of the parts."

Mickey sighed. What if it was something? What if Blue Nova could make a difference? Mickey rubbed his forehead before slipping his hand into the air.

"Okay, class. Repeat after me. Urethra."

"Urethra," the students echoed back like robots.

Mickey waved his hand. Did this woman think she was teaching kids instead of teens?

The teacher breathed in to say the next part when she turned her head. "Mickey, do you have a question?"

"Yes, ma'am. Can I be excused to visit the restroom?"

Snickers echoed across the classroom. Robert said, "I think he's scared of girls."

Laughter erupted across the classroom. Mickey's face grew hot.

The teacher snapped her pointer stick across her desk. The laughter died as fast as it erupted. "Class, that is quite enough." She frowned at Mickey. "You're excused. Don't be gone long or I'll send someone to check on you."

Mickey hopped up from his seat and headed to the door. "Yes, ma'am. Thank you." As soon as the door closed behind him, he raced to the bathroom, entered a stall, and seated himself on the toilet. He pulled his mask from his pocket and pulled it over his head.

"Hero game time!" He snuggled his body against the side wall and hoped he didn't fall over while out. "Suit, appear here as Blue Nova."

The stall faded out and then back in, except he now stood over himself, apparently asleep on the toilet. "Blue Nova to the rescue. Fast as light and just as bright!"

Blue Nova sped out of the stall, bathroom, and the school doors in less than a second. He zipped along the roads until he arrived at a row of flashing patrol car lights around an office. A group of officers huddled behind one car while individual ones pointed pistols at the office over the hoods of their vehicles.

Mickey stopped beside the group of officers. They jumped upon noticing him. He forgot from their perspective, he had appeared out of thin air. "Sorry, officers. Didn't mean to frighten you."

One of them gritted his teeth. "Get out of here, son. This is no place for you to play."

Play? Really? "What seems to be the problem, officer?" He'd always wanted to say that.

"You're becoming the problem. Do I need to escort you away?"

Mickey put his hands on his hips. "Officer, I'm Blue Nova."

"Is that supposed to mean something to me?"

Mickey's face fell. "You mean, you haven't heard of me? Fast as light and just as bright?"

The officer pointed at one of his men. The man reached out to grab Mickey. Mickey flashed around him to his back.

The man grabbed thin air. "What. . .  Where did he go?"

A man holding a gun to a young girl's head appeared at an open window of the office building. "You have one minute left, officers, to give me passage out of here, or the girl gets it."

Mickey smiled. "So that's the problem. I can take care of this guy."

The head officer pointed at him. "Don't you dare do anything. This is a delicate situation. We're trained for this. Now leave or I'll have you in jail."

This guy didn't understand what he could do. He'd have to prove it. "Just watch, sir. I'm faster than a speeding bullet too." Mickey cupped a hand around his mouth and yelled, "You might as well go ahead and shoot her. We're taking you down."

The officer's face turned beat red and he ground his teeth together. "You idiot! You don't know what you're doing."

The man poked his head out the window of the office building. "Have it your way, officers. I have plenty of hostages to go through." He ducked back in and the beginning sound of a gunshot hit Mickey's ears.

Mickey raced for the door. From his perspective, every movement slowed to a bare crawl as he fled through the door of the office. He saw the girl on her knees, hands tied behind her back. The man who had talked with the officers stood over her, a gun pointed at the back of her head about four feet away. A bullet inched its way toward the back of her skull.

Sweet. I'll just knock the bullet up toward the ceiling. Don't want to put my hand in front of it. He sped to her, stopping as the bullet neared her neck. He only had one shot at this. He swung his hand underneath the bullet to meet it about an inch from her neck.

He didn't connect in the middle of the flying metal, but only nicked it, causing it to wobble up toward the top of her skull. "Blast it all!" He only had one option left.

Mickey snagged the base of the bullet with his right hand, clamped down as hard as he could, and braced his right arm with his left. Then he pulled as hard as he could.

The bullet neared her skin. Mickey yelled as he pulled back, throwing his body into it. He could feel the bullet slipping from his fingers. I can't let it go! Mickey bore down and grunted. He could feel the edge of the bullet moving across his fingertips. No! It escaped his grasp.

Mickey watched as the projectile pierced her skin. Blood slowly shot out, though he knew in normal speed it was spewing. The bullet stopped moving. It didn't go into the head. He must have slowed it down enough it didn't totally penetrate!

As the girl's head reacted to the impact, Mickey raced to each of the armed men, pulled the gun from their hands, and gave them a blow to the back of their heads, collapsing them onto the floor in slow-mo. He threw the weapons out the window, then scooped the young girl into his arms and fled out of the office building.

He exited speed mode by a waiting ambulance. "She needs attention. A bullet is lodged in her skull."

The medics jumped into action. Mickey laid her on a rolling bed and they examined the wound.

"Is she going to be okay?"

One of the medics glanced over his shoulders. "Won't know for sure until we get some x-rays, but from the looks of it, the worst it might have done is fracture her skull."

The other medic shook his head. "But she must have one hard head to stop a bullet like that. Never seen the likes of it before. By all rights she should be dead."

Mickey's gut churned. A hand rested on his shoulder.

The head officer stood beside him. "Sorry, Blue Nova. I guess I was wrong about you. You did know what you were doing."

Mickey stared at the young girl as her eyes blinked open. "No, sir. I didn't."

"I'd like to get your real name, to give you a commendation."

Mickey realized he had been holding his breath. He sucked in air. "Exit, suit." The business district faded away to be replaced by the bathroom stall.

"Mick. Are you in here?" Robert's voice sounded as stall doors opened and shut.

Mickey yanked his mask off and stuffed it into his pocket. The stall door opened and Robert stood before him. Mickey sat up.

Robert put a hand over his mouth and tried to hold back a laugh, without much success. "I see your problem, dim wit. It helps if you take your pants off first."

Mickey knew he'd never hear the end of this. "Not enough sleep last night, I'm afraid." He yawned. "I must have fell asleep."

"Whatever. But the teacher sent me in here to get you. Are you going to come peaceably like or not?"

Mickey stood up. "Let's go."

"By the way, you missed all the cool pictures."

Mickey figured he toyed with him, but it peeved him off anyway to think it might be true. He followed Robert back to the classroom and settled into his seat.

The teacher stared at Mickey for a moment before continuing. "Now class, we will have a pop quiz over the parts of the reproductive system.

Mickey grimaced. A piercing pain grew in his bladder. She would never believe him now. He lifted his hand.

With Mickey's body safely in bed, he virtually sat in the control room at the Titan base as Vulture, watching blankly the bank of monitors displaying TV feeds from all over Earth.

"Hey, Mick." Jeremy as Astro Man sat in a seat next to him. "How goes it? What adventures are on tap for tonight's hero game?"

Mickey jerked his head around. "Those are real people, Bucko. Not some non-existent video game characters who will never care."

Jeremy backed away. "Hey. I know that more than anyone. What gives?"

Mickey returned to staring at the monitors. "Let's just say, I realized our 'game' isn't one to the people we're saving. We shouldn't treat it that way either."

Jeremy nodded. "I agree. But what brought about this realization?"

Mickey moistened his lips. "Knowing I can fail."

Jeremy patted Mickey on the shoulder. "Welcome to reality, Mick."

Read more about Mind Game and Hero Game, along with sample chapters and where they can be purchased.

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