Monday, June 25, 2012

Issue Two, Volume Four

From the Desk of the an Editor;
Hello and welcome to the spandex clad superhero issue of Larks Fiction Magazine! In this issue we are featuring the high flying adventures of metahumans in science fiction and fantasy.
In news our editing staff has been hard at work remolding our new office. Videos to come soon!
Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy it!
All the best,
Jessica Rowse
LFM Editor

The Neon Avenger
By L.D.Gliddon

If you are reading this then I'm about to share with you what some may consider as an honour, the truth and secrets of the man behind the mask of a legend.
My name was Adrian Roseman. I use the word “was” because it is not my surname anymore. I had to change it to protect my family and I will not disclose the one I use now (or my exact location) for obvious reasons. I was also known by another name. Let’s go back and start at the time where my little bubble of a life was about to pop and open my world to things I never thought were possible on that stormy night when my life changed forever.
I had been working late at my electronics repair shop. Ever since I was a child I had always loved taking things apart and trying to repair them. It seemed like the right career to follow as it suited me perfectly. It used to drive my father crazy when I would take the television remote apart, one of the few fond memories in my life.
Anyway as I said I was working late repairing an old video recorder for a regular customer of mine, Thomas. He was one of those people who didn’t like change and was really set in his ways and when I say set I mean in stone. He would bring his outdated faulty electronics to me and I would repair them for him free of charge. I didn't mind as he was getting on a bit and I could never bring myself to charge him. He passed away a long time ago of old age.
I remember the roar of the thunder that night in the workshop, it sounded like the gods were at war. I don’t know if the battle had been won but there was a flash of blue light and an almighty bang, as if the final blow had been landed. All the lights went out and my heart was in my throat. I stumbled through the darkness and made my way to the outdoor generator.
The generator, or what was left of it, was completely fried. It looked like a bomb had gone off. I wondered if the flash I saw was a bolt of lightning and if it had hit the generator, but strangely around the generator were these tiny blue crystals. I didn’t know what to make of it at the time. I had planned on phoning the fire department to be safe but I had left my phone in the workshop. As I made my way back through the pitch black shop I noticed a blue light coming from the workshop.
I opened the door to find the electronics equipment, what can only be described as, glowing. They were also giving off a kind of humming sound as if they were alive and singing. In a way it was quite beautiful to witness. At first only the equipment that was plugged into the mains was affected but as the glow shone across the room all the electronics began to glow and join the choir, so to speak.
 So there I was in the middle of the workshop surrounded by this orchestra of light, when all of a sudden I began to feel a tingly sensation all over my body. I noticed that the hair on my arms was standing up and I could feel the hair on my head starting to rise. Suddenly the humming got louder and louder the light got brighter and brighter, it was blinding to look at. The humming got so loud I thought my head was going to explode, something was about to happen and I didn’t plan on waiting round to find out. I tried to make my way to the exit but the light was so bright I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Then it happened the glow consumed me and my metamorphosis or rebirth if you will took place.
The next thing I remember was waking up on the workshop floor with the sun in my eyes. It was morning. All the equipment, except Thomas's video recorder, was destroyed (which I only found amusing sometime after). The equipment looked and smelt burnt. Luckily the only customer’s item I had in the workshop shop at time was Thomas's video recorder. I gave myself a check over and apart from being shook up I appeared to be fine.
Then the deafening sound hit me. I can only describe it as when you’re tuning a radio and it makes that frequency changing sound. It was like that but ten times louder. I stumbled out the side exit into the back alley.
 I closed my eyes so tight, praying for the noise to stop. I could hear car and nearby shop alarms going off. The street light at the end of the alley exploded. All of a sudden it just stopped and there was silence.
 The strange part was the image that appeared in my head. It was so vivid, like looking at a photograph. I could see in the image the back of a man standing in an alley, as if I was above him. Then the shock, the man was me. I remember thinking at the time that I was having an outer body experience. I raised my left arm and could see myself move from above, then I opened my eyes and everything was back to normal. I turned around and looked up and there on the wall was a security camera. I wondered if I had somehow been looking through that camera, by this point I was freaked out so I just drifted home like a zombie. I remember my mind and body being so drained; I literally passed out.
I awoke the next day to find I had slept almost 24 hours. The events of that night had really taken it out of me. I sat on the sofa thinking how on earth I was going to explain the damage to the shop to the insurance company when the television switched on. I assumed I was sitting on the remote control but there it was on the coffee table. It was raining out so I thought maybe somehow that affected the television. It must have been the rain hitting the window which got me thinking of the weather, which then lead to the television changing to the weather channel. This got me thinking. So I started to think about the news, nothing particular just the word news and again the channel changed, this time to the news channel.
There were reports all over the news about a blue light shooting across the sky the previous night. I remembered the blue crystals I had seen by the generator, I wondered if they were some sort of meteorite fragments. It wasn’t long before my shock had turned into excitement and curiosity. I had always been obsessed with comic book superheroes. Even as a kid I had tried to move objects with my mind.
 I spent the next week experimenting. I would turn the radio on with my mind, think of a specific station, and it would tune to it. I could make phone calls just by thinking it. I felt like a little kid again. I could operate anything electronic with my mind.
After a couple of days it became second nature to me. I barely did anything manually anymore—it was all with my mind. I can’t explain it but I felt that I understood the electronics and they understood me, we were one and the same. I had to control my emotions though, I remember I caught my toe on the coffee table and in my anger I blew up my cd player.
I returned to work to hang a closed for maintenance sign, when I got to the generator there were no crystals to be found and there were tire tracks leading away from the scene. The next day two military men knocked my door and asked if I had seen anything out of the ordinary at the workshop. I lied to them and said I was not working that night because of a stomach bug. I also said my generator had been damaged in the storm and I was in the process of replacing it. I really played the dumb act with them. They left without any hassle.
 I had contacted Thomas a couple days after and explained to him I was having some renovation work done in the shop. He was just happy to see his video recorder working. I decided to return to the alley by my workshop again. I was curious.
There I was in the alley, standing below the security camera, I know how it sounds but I could feel its presence. I closed my eyes and concentrated and just like before the birds eye image of the alley appeared. It was amazing I was looking through the camera lens. I heard a rustling sound and there down by the dumpster was a little rat. I could just make it out. I stared at him trying to make out what he was eating and then something happened. I thought I had been shrunk somehow because the rat was now a giant. It was terrifying for a second and then realized the camera had just zoomed in.
I opened my eyes and laughed. After the last week of experiences this experience had almost seemed normal but I use the word “almost”, because it was far from it. My next discovery would happen when I returned to work. I had to dip into my savings to buy a new generator and replace equipment. I wanted to keep the whole event a secret.
After I had reopened the shop my first customer wanted me to take a look at his television. I was in the workshop ready to dismantle it when I had a feeling. As I said before I felt one and the same with the electronics. I knew where to find the problem like the television had told me but not in words, in feeling. I could repair things twice as fast now. The month had been a rollercoaster of emotions and a journey of discovery and training to control these abilities.
I had always been a loner. I grew up in a small town and didn’t have any friends. When I’d get home from school I would go straight to my fathers shed and play with the old electronic junk that had been thrown out.
That was where I was my happiest. Even at such a young age I was trying to learn how the electronics worked and how to fix them. I was an only child and both my parents were tragically killed in a car accident when I was 12. It was nobody’s fault. It was just a bad snow storm which caused them to lose control of the car. I always think about them when it snows.
Anyway my aunty raised me until I was 18 then I took my savings and moved to Circuit City. And it wasn’t the name that attracted me to this city, I moved here because this was the place to be for the top electronics and gadgets and so best place to open an electronics repair shop. My aunty was a nice quiet lady who was firm with me but I could talk to her about anything. I used to drive her crazy when I took her electronics apart. She never married nor had children, so I was like the son she never had. She passed away a long time ago and was the last of my family.
As I said I was a loaner and spent most of my time in the workshop or at home. My only enjoyment and weakness was making a few bets downtown. Every Saturday I would spend a couple of hours there betting on the horse racing, trying my luck at the scratch cards and of course the city lottery. My luck was poor but I loved the excitement of possibly winning a fortune and changing my life.
My dream was to get enough money together, move out of the city and build a house in the country side. If the right girl came along in the future, start a family and grow old on a rocking chair. It had become a dream that just didn’t seem likely anymore.  The streets had become a war zone with the rival gangs and gun runners. I hadn't been a casino with all that had been happening in my life so I decided to go one Saturday to get back some normality in my life.
My luck was as poor as usual but I felt like my old self again. They had an electronic roulette machines but instead of numbers they had colors. I picked my favorite color, blue, three times in a row. As my luck was, three times in a row it landed on everything but blue. I was about to walk away when I got an overwhelming urge. It was too tempting to resist I sat back down and picked blue again I focused on the machine and willed it to land on blue and to my delight it did five times in a row.
It was so exhilarating to win a small bundle of cash but this was just small change. The greed had consumed me and I knew the big money was in the uptown casino. I could have used my power on a cash machine and made it pay out but there was more risk involved. The casino was the place to go. I planned to go the following Friday night. With these abilities I could walk out a millionaire.
Friday night arrived and the only thing on my mind was the casino and all the money I was going to win. I rented a tuxedo to really look the part; little did I know the events that waited for me that evening.
 When I was getting ready to leave home a breaking news report flashed on the television. There were scientists talking about a discovery that they had made. There they were in the scientist’s lab, the blue crystals I had seen. They must have taken them from my shop yard. The scientists explained that the crystals were not of this earth and entered our atmosphere like a meteor. They were conducting an experiment in which they placed a television in a room with them and run an electrical current through the crystals. The television switched on and began to flash violently and smoke until it eventually burned out.
 Those same scientists would later explain that the crystals were too unstable to control. After years of studying them they eventually faded out and were not heard of. There were rumors that the military had been using them against their enemies.
 Somehow they had changed me, when they hit my generator and had a massive surge of energy through them. That unworldly energy must have then travelled into the workshop through the mains and eventually into me. That was the only explanation I could come up with then and still to this day.
The only thing on my mind was money so I left. I was making my way to the casino on foot because I had never owned a car and can you imagine me turning up in a tuxedo on my bicycle.
I had just walked past an alley when I heard voices coming from it, I was just curious I guess so I had a look. It was dark but I could see three people standing under a street lamp; an elderly well-dressed man and woman and another younger man who was wearing a green bandana—a member of the Virus gang. The gang member hit the man to the floor and I heard him say that he wanted their money and jewelry.
This was nothing special in the city.
I checked my watch because I didn’t want to get to the casino late. I was at a crossroad decision, with the casino one way and the alley the other. Down one road was the opportunity to win money and change my life and the other led to possible harm to me or even a one way ticket to the afterlife. That’s the way I looked at it anyway.
I decided to go with the money road; it wasn’t my problem or my business. That kind of thing was exactly why I wanted the money to leave the city and find a quiet village to live. Not a day goes by where I don’t wish I could go back and change that decision.
 I had only walked to the end of the road when I heard it, the laser bolt being fired and the chilling scream that travelled from the alley, down the road and up my spine. That sound has haunted me to this day, my whole body felt paralyzed like waking from a terrifying nightmare. I had to get to that alley, I dug deep and with all my will I forced my legs to move and then run.
When I got there the woman was crouched over the man and hysterical, he had been shot and hurt pretty bad. I phoned an ambulance and managed to keep the woman calm until it arrived—even though I was far from calm myself. My head was spinning and I just had to get the thug responsible.
I ran up the alley and the next four streets but I was running blind he could have been anywhere by now. I wondered around like a lost puppy and tortured myself as I walked with guilt. With my abilities I could have at least tried to help. All of a sudden my foot caught something; an empty wallet. It was lying at the entrance to an alley which led behind an old closed down cinema. I thought it could have been the wounded man’s wallet; I had to have a look in the alley to see if the thug was there.
I made my way cautiously down the dark alley, my hands were shaking and my knees were trembling but I had to keep moving deeper into the darkness. Then in the distance I could just make out a silhouette and as I got closer it became clearer with every short nervous step I took that, it was the thug. He was counting the money that he must have stolen from the man he’d shot. I paused and stood dead still and I remember realizing that I had no idea what I was going to do now that I’d found him.
I crouched low beside a dumpster and reached for my phone ever so slowly and tried to breathe as quiet as possible. I was terrified of being heard and I almost jumped out of my skin when I heard a squeak beside me. There was a rat right next to me and I’m positive it was the same rat from the alley by my workshop. Its beady eyes stared at me for what felt like forever and then he darted off like a bullet and knocked a metal pole over which had been leaning against the wall. My heart literally jumped into my throat when the thug yelled, “Who’s there?”
I could hear him coming. I assumed he would have seen me crouching so I thought that I would stand a better chance against him if I stood up. By now he was close enough to see me and pointing a laser pistol at me.
He just chuckled and said, “Two paydays in one night” and demanded my wallet. I never carried one so I just said that I didn’t have one, I knew then I was done for. So there I was in this dark stinking alley, looking down the barrel of this weapon and faced with the grim reaper, when I felt it.
As I mentioned before with the security camera, I could feel electronic presence. Of course the gun was electronic. I didn’t have time before his finger was going to squeeze the trigger. I focused all my power and will on destroying the pistol and it erupted with a fiery energy and fried. The thugs face was burned and he collapsed. His name was Zyrus. From that day our destiny’s had been intertwined.
Anyway I phoned the police and explained to them about the thug robbing and shooting the man and that I had witnessed him at the scene. When the police and medical services arrived I told them that the laser weapon must have malfunctioned and somehow overloaded. They just said how lucky I was not to be hurt or worse. I asked the medics if they knew how the man who was shot was doing. They told me he was taken to the city hospital but they didn’t know what condition he was in. I felt compelled to find out if he was ok.
I remember walking down the hospital corridor and seeing the woman from the alley who turned out to be his wife. The doctor had just finished talking to her. I will never forget the look on her face it was as if you could see her heart breaking; a shattered empty shell of what was once a love-filled heart. That look will never leave me; it’s what drove my quest of justice.
The man had died on the operating table, another victim of this violent war zone of a city and also my victim. If I had intervened immediately I could have prevented this tragedy and the woman would still have a husband. But I was more concerned with money, greed, and the casino. I have to live with that decision for the rest of my life.
Even with my witness testimony Zyrus only got 3 years, for taking a man’s life. He ended up only doing half that time. The cities justice system was a corrupt joke. I got a life sentence and by that I mean a lifetime of guilt and a lifetime of protecting the innocent. If I wasn’t too old now, then I would still put on the suit.
I watched over the woman for a few years until she eventually passed away herself. I don’t think she wanted to live after her husband’s death. I always kept my distance, I didn’t deserve her friendship. She was my reminder of why I lived those separate lives and why I used my power for good and justice.
After that day in court, and that verdict the judge cast, I was tipped over the edge. I was out for justice on every crook in the city but first I needed a place to plan and to build and create my alter ego. My house wasn’t big enough so I was going to need a lot of money and I knew just where to get it. This time the money was for a meaningful purpose. I closed the repair shop down for good and gathered what money I had. I hit the casino the next night and walked out with six figures. Now I had the money, next I needed the place.
After scouting so many properties I came across an old abandoned mansion out in the woods, it was perfect. The wine cellar was huge—perfect for my training room and lair if you will. I had private contractors to renovate the inside and install the most high tech security system money could buy.
My training was ready to begin. I spent months training my body and building muscle, but more importantly my mind which was the key to my powers.
I didn’t sleep much, as I would have the same nightmare most nights. It would be of me walking down the hospital corridor again but this time after the doctor had finished talking to the woman, he would point at me. Then the woman would clutch her chest as if she was having a heart attack. At the end I would see her and her husband’s headstones dripping with blood.
 One winter I was on a training exercise in the woods when I heard a man cry out. By the time I got there it was too late and I could see the gang in the distance running off. They had beaten a man and left him for dead. He was in a bad way and unconscious. I could see he was no harm to anyone, just another unprovoked vicious attack by those heartless thugs. I carried him to the house and bandaged his wounds; he looked and smelt like he hadn't bathed for weeks or a haircut and shave for just as long.
 He was in and out of consciousness for days. Eventually he woke and started eating to regain his strength. He told me his name was Noah and he was homeless. He had been looking for a place to sleep in the woods when the gang attacked him. I asked if he had any family but he did not. I told him he was to stay as long as he needed. He couldn’t believe how someone could help him the way that I did. Noah was a lot older than me and in time he became like a father to me.
I spent my days training in the cellar while Noah found his feet upstairs and regained his strength. We would spend the evenings playing chess, and each night we would open up a past wound to share. Noah's wife and daughter were murdered when their house was burgled by a gang of thugs. Noah was working away on business; he blamed himself for never being there and working too much. After the funeral he walked away from his job and his home and had been living on the streets ever since.
After hearing his story and how personal and emotional it was, I decided to share my story. If he could be that open with me then he was worthy to hear it. When I had finished I had to give him a demonstration. I must admit he took it pretty well, he just held his cross which he wore around his neck and said it was the lords doing.
 I invited him down to the cellar and I shared my vision with him of cleaning up the city one gangster at a time. He had never got justice for his family and wanted the streets clean as bad as me. Noah and I were discussing one day about what I could wear to protect my body when I was ready hit the streets.
Noah told me his grandfather had been a sculptor and he had taught him all the techniques to mold and sculpt. With the money I had I could obtain the Kevlar that we decided to use and he could make a suit. He took all my measurements and made a mold of my head for the mask.
He spent many days and nights working on it. I remember the day he called me to the cellar to see it, I couldn't believe what he had created. It was so powerful to look at. The whole suit was a dark blue and on the sleeves and legs he had inlaid a pattern of green circuit boards.
The mask had the same pattern on the back and it even had a cape but I felt something was missing. I came up with the idea of attaching blue neon lights through the legs, arms, and chest armor. I didn’t need a power supply since I could use my power to light them.
The first time I put it on I felt like one of the comic book superheroes I had admired as a child. I lit the neon lights and Noah just stared at me. He said your enemies will see the light before you judge them, he was biblical like that. I bought a motorcycle, spray painted dark blue, stenciled the green circuit board pattern on to it and attached blue neon lights to it.
After all my training I was finally ready. I remember my first patrol. I must have looked like a ball of light entering the city. It seemed so scriptural, the light coming into the dark corrupt city. I’ll never forget my first patrol because it was the night I met her.
 I was staying in the shadows and searching the alleys for trouble when I could see a flower stall across the street. There were three virus gang members and her. She defined the meaning of beauty. The closer I got the more beautiful she became. The gang was giving her trouble and I could see that two of them laser pistols.
I could also sense that each of them was carrying a cell phone. So using my power I sent them all a message. It read “your time is up” and I short circuited their weapons. Flashing my neon’s once; they saw me and stared with a dumbfounded look. It was time after all the training—I was ready to emerge from shadows.
I lit up my suit and stepped out to face them. My body fuelled with adrenaline. I loved it. I only got about halfway across the street when they ran as fast as they could in the opposite direction. I must have looked pretty scary.
 I walked to the flower stall to ask the girl if she was ok. She told me she was fine as she stared into my soul with her enchanting eyes. As I walked away she told me her name was Maggie, I paused and the only thing I could think of saying was, “I’m Neon”.
 The next night I used a plastic rose and attached some fiber optic neon lights to its frame. I stood around the corner of the flower shop and gave a passing kid some money to take the flower to her. When she held it, I used my power and lit it up for her and she gave such a beautiful smile, it melted me. My anger and bitterness seemed to fade when I looked at her. She must have heard my bike as I drove off because when I looked in the mirror she was standing in the street. We both still talk about that after all these years and she still has the plastic rose. From then on, every patrol night at the same time I would drive home past her flower stall, just to get a glimpse of her.
 One night after about two weeks of this I was driving down the street where her flower stall was. I was later than usual because it had been a busy patrol and in the distance there she was, waiting on the pavement. She knew I’d be coming and I didn’t have much time to decide what I should do. There was something about this girl; I had to go for it.
 I pulled up beside her and she said in a casual way, “you’re late Neon”. I kept looking forward and just smiled. Then I swallowed my nerves and asked, “Wanna ride?” She got on my bike and put her arms around me, she probably could feel my heart pounding through my suit. I was so nervous. “What am I doing?” I thought. It was too dangerous to be around me, yet I couldn’t help myself.
I had never had a girl in my life; I was too wrapped up in my own bubble. She was special though and had a piece of my heart. I was powerless to do anything about it. We glided around the city like a shooting star, it was magical. When I dropped her back at the stall she told me it had been an amazing ride. Before I could reply, two police cars raced past me and I had to follow. I shot off like a lightning, later realizing I had not said goodbye.
 After about a week of patrolling the word of my presence had spread like wildfire and the newspapers came up with the name The Neon Avenger, I liked it.
On the anniversary of my parent’s death and I wanted to get some flowers to take to the cemetery. Normally Noah would run errands like that but he wasn’t well. I had to go as Adrian and not The Neon Avenger, which I hadn’t done for a while. I felt vulnerable and naked without my armor and extremely nervous because I knew I would see Maggie when I got the flowers. I grabbed the keys to the truck I had bought for Noah and headed out.
 Before I turned the corner to the flower stall I built up the courage as if I was going into battle and took a deep breath. I walked around the corner and the courage melted away when I saw her. I nervously walked up to the stall and asked her for some roses. I was half expecting to her to call me Neon because that’s who I was when we were together. She asked me if the flowers were for someone special and I said yes shyly. I explained they were for my mother as they were her favorite and how she joked that was the reason she married my father because his surname was Roseman.
We both shared a moment of laughter. I said how I placed them once a year on my parent’s headstones. She found this depressing. She related how her mother had passed away when she was little and her father had passed a year ago. I felt a deep connection to her as she too had lost loved ones like me.
I spent months getting to know her and falling in love. I must have spent a fortune on flowers before I had the courage to ask her out on a date.  
In the other part of my life, I was planning a way to find out who the puppeteer was pulling the strings on this virus gang. One night I followed two virus gang members to see if they would lead to me to their boss. They took me to a warehouse at the docks where I managed to climb undetected to the roof. There I could see inside through a high window.
There was about fifty gang members gathered around wooden crates. Then a black limo entered the warehouse. When the scarred face emerged from the limo my blood ignited and began boiling, it was Zyrus. I learned later he had made some connections in prison and he was now the boss of the virus gang. I had an effect on his fate and he had affected mine. They opened the crates and inside was full of packets of white power, drugs.
There was too many of them to take on but I couldn’t control my emotions. I got so angry I blew all the power in the warehouse, I could hear them panicking because they thought it was a raid. I was about to blow the window out and jump down into the center of all them but to my surprise I could hear sirens and helicopters. The police were actually doing their job for once. The gang members were scattering in all directions but I wanted Zyrus. The limo shot out of the warehouse like a bullet and I almost dove at it but I heard Zyrus’s voice down by the boats, the limo was a decoy.
I got there as fast as I could but I was too late, he was on a speed boat leaving and was out of range for my power to blow the electronics on the boat. I lit up my suit so he could see me and screamed his name. I pushed it so hard the neon lights on my suit blew. It had begun, a tale as old as time. Good versus evil and only one could remain standing; the rest they say is history.
 So that’s my story, the parts that are important to me anyway. If I was to write down every battle I had, I would be writing until the day I died. However there is a happy ending because after all the years of battles with Zyrus and the scars I picked up along the way. I’m now writing this, sitting here at our country house on my rocking chair. With the sweet smell of Maggie’s cooking lingering—who is still as beautiful as she ever was.
Our beautiful baby boy Noah playing at my feet trying to take the television remote apart. I named him after a truly great man. I have to say it’s been one hell of a ride on the rollercoaster of life but I’m finally living my dream.
If you’re wondering what happened to Zyrus—well I can’t go into detail because of my son, but let’s just say in the final showdown only one of us was left standing and only one of us could tell the tale.
As I come to final chapter in my life and the remainder of my powers fade away. Life still has more shocks in store for me. Because when baby Noah has a crying fit all the power at our home blows out. The legacy of the Neon Avenger will live on.
The End… for now
About the Author;
L.D.Gliddon has always had a wild imagination and dreams of the unreal every night. His passion is anything related to superheroes.

Thank you for reading! If your need for need more high flying adventures make sure check out Wonder Boy by Charles Martin and WillWeinke!

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