Superhero: A Tale of Reluctance


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1. Prologue

"I want out."

The words were uttered softly, but strongly. Uttered in a way that proved he would never back down. He knew what he want, and he wanted it now.

"Zale. Wait, please just hear us out!" An old man chugged along beside him, a few steps away from begging on his knees.

Old men do not usual submit to eight-year-olds. They are usually the wiser, the stronger, the far more jaded; unlike the carefree benevolence of young children. But this old man was willing to do anything to keep Zale with them. Because, of course, they needed Zale. He was the leader. 

Zale stopped walking and whirled around. "What do I need to hear? It's not right." He was a smart child, smarter than the others; stronger as well. The others worshiped him, he was the sun to their sky, the moon to their stars. He taught them right from wrong. The others needed him; without him they would fall apart. 

The old man's gaze darted around Zale's face. His jaw jutted out, and his lips pouted over just enough to make a point but not to appear whiny.

Suddenly, the old man felt tired. Tired in a way he had never felt before, a shuddering world-weariness that made him want to fall asleep and never awaken. He shut his eyes for a moment, willing it away. But nothing happened, and he opened his eyes again, prepared to take action. And action he took.

The old man kept walking, though said not another word as they neared the gates of the lab. Lab? he thought cynically. More like a prison. Where people went and never returned. At least, not as the same person. Zale, he realized, was smart, to want to leave. If he left now, he might even have scraps of a future. Away from here, where he would most likely live a life of incarceration, doing someone else's bidding.

Zale shot another look over his shoulder, surprised that he was not being challenged anymore. He met the old man's eyes and gave him a defiant look, trying to mask the uncertainty he felt inside. Zale had been here all his life, and while eight years may not seem like a lot, he would have to adjust. Zale had worked out a plan with his uncle, a plan to save him, and provide him with a house, if nothing else.

But no reply came from the old man, and so Zale continued through the gates. No one tried to stop him. No one could. He was stronger than all of them combined.

"I want out," he had said, and out he was.  

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