Chapter 2A: Reverb
Hitomu gulped down a thick sludge of coffee, his fourth one of the day (it was 10AM). See, when you had instantaneous healing powers, it healed everything. Getting shot in the head? Healed. The little click your elbow did when you bent it too much? Healed. It was amazing how got you felt when all the small bits of accumulative damage that had been done to your body over the years were fixed.
His pencil idly brushed over the paper in front of him, scribbling a mock-up of what his costume was supposed to look like. He’d used his last bit of pay to buy a piece of body armor that fit over his torso. It wasn’t bullet-proof, but he reasoned most people in Kyukei were too poor to afford a gun anyway, so he was probably fine. The black bit of armor (represented on the page by a black blob) fit snuggly over a green windcheater that he didn’t particularly like.
One hand held his magnetic glove while the other a normal glove, though the “glove” itself were actually just a mitten that had been modified to have separate finger holes. His reason for wearing it was purely aesthetic, as he was pretty sure someone could spit on his hand and the gloves would do nothing to protect it. The rest of his outfit consisted of boring dark clothes that he had picked to match the color palette and a black mask he’d used when he went as Zoro for a Halloween party a few years back (it was one of those cheap ones that included the bandana)
“Hitomu.” A slightly voice barked to his left, frigid tone implying that this was not the first time she’d had to try and get his attention.
“Mm?” He turned his attention to the girl, her hair a dark shade of brown. Himari something-something. She’d worked for Akemi Office Distribution a little longer than he had but was by no means a model employee. No, she consistently put in nothing but the bare minimum when it came to her work (which was admittedly better than Hitomu’s lack of any effort at all)If the company had been operating out of a non-shithole city, they both would’ve been fired ages ago but with the state of Kyukeis education, their jobs were strongly secure (maybe his less so if the following exchange was any indication)
“We’re running out of glossy stock, call up May’s and get some more shipped in. “
“Pass.” He quickly took his attention off her, dismissing the act of doing his job like it wasn’t doing his job.
“Wow, “passing” at your job. This is a new low.”
“Whatever.” He yawned back. Office work was always boring, that only doubled when you had superpowers.
“I love how you say “whatever” like you can afford to just lose your job.” Himari snapped back, not particularly liking Hitomu at the best of times and certainly not when he was refusing to make her life easier.
“Oh, you gonna’ tell teacher?” He quipped back, hazel eyes gliding backwards toward her with a smug tint.
“Yeah, I will, and then, when she fires you, you’re fucked.”
It was at this moment Hitomu realized he probably should’ve either just sucked it up and done the work, or at least blown her off in a less smug fashion due to that saying about glass houses and all that, as well as the fact that Himari was actually kind of scary when she was annoyed. Despite all this, Hitomu was either too stubborn or too vain to keep his head below the trenches, which predictably ended with him being shot.
“I’ve got a degree, I’ll be fine.”
“If you’d be fine, you wouldn’t be working here in the first-place idiot.” The way she delivered the last word was not one of endearment like she sometimes used. She was not calling him an “i-idiot” she was calling him an “idiot.” Hitomu took the hint.
“Just send me their email.” He said with a sigh.
“They’re our second biggest supplier, there’s no way you don’t have their address all ready.”
The silence that followed indicated that this statement was actually wrong.
“Fine, I’ll send it to you.” She groaned, walking away with an urge to place her hand over her forehead. That urge quickly manifested into one last pot shot at Hitomu. “Nice drawing by the way.”
Hitomu derived from her tone that she did not, in fact, think his drawing was nice. He’d have been worried that she’d be able to discern his identity when he inevitably appeared costumed on TV if the drawing hadn’t looked like a turtle wearing a bike helmet. Still, maybe it was for the best that he stashed the crumpled-up paper inside his pocket.
About a minute later, a loud ding rung out from his computer screen, with an email attachment bumping into his notifications. His natural slacker instinct told him to trash it on site, but his mind quickly echoed with the sound of Himari going berserk on him so the mail was opened up. Mindless mashing of the keys followed, with Hitomu going into cruse control, actual attention sitting squarely on the clock.
TICK TICK TICK TICK TICK TICK.
Hitomu’s bouts of nearly-narcolepsy had subsided after he got his powers. He didn’t know if it was some weird healing thing he wasn’t medically versed enough to understand or just the fact that his excitement to get off work was beginning to create a “Christmas night” effect. To latch onto the latter point, it was incredibly hard not to be excited when the world was allowing you to be a superhero with no risk of lasting bodily harm.
The train was late again, but that ten-minute delay was rendered only a slight inconvenience in the face of Hitomu’s nerves. He was going out tonight. It was his first time on patrol, and he was excited. Not at all nervous, it was hard to be when you knew you could get shot in the head and heal a few seconds later, although there was a sliver of doubt that maybe he’d analyzed his powers wrong. A more rational part of him felt it was presumptuous to assume that because he could heal from getting hit by a car, he could heal from any and all bodily harm (especially to the brain or heart). It wasn’t like he’d been stupid enough to go testing around with those…
Okay, maybe it was more than just a sliver of doubt.
The train ride felt shorter than usual, though in terms of actual numbers, it only arrived at Hitomu’s destination about twenty seconds earlier than usual. He practically ran home, throwing open the door and rushing to his room. Placed over his bed were the contents of his costume. Mask, armor, green windcheater, magnet glove, mitten and boring pants.
His formal ware was quickly discarded in favor of the suit. Each part he slipped on gave him an adrenaline rush, fueled by visions of fame and recognition. Even though he knew how drab it actually was, the costume instilled a sense of identity that he desperately needed. As he finally tied the mask around his head, a sense of pride filled his lungs.
Hitomu Abe, issue number one.
He took a pause at his own inner monologue. His superhero name wasn’t going to be Hitomu Abe, that would be fucking stupid. No, he needed a cool name, a proper hero name. Something relating to his power, which was the power of…rebirth. Saisei.
Saisei Man. That’s a good one. Yeah…I’m the Saisei Man!
It was completely unoriginal, but considering Kyukei had a superhero called “Big Glue”, it was more than serviceable. He was about ready to leave the house entirely, when a striking realization hit him.
It probably wasn’t even six o’clock yet.
He checked the shitty flip-phone rested in his pocket and it’s dimly-lit display confirmed his fear. No actual crimes were going to happen at six o’clock. It was all going to be, like, cats stuck in trees and stupid dumb little kids screeching about losing their balloon and old people who can’t cross the street less their geriatric bodies give out and they get hit. Those weren’t problems a guy with regeneration could solve, those were problems literally anyone could solve.
Once the sun went down, that’s when shit got real, but it was a way off before that happened. Nine o’ clock was prime crime hours, seven was the minimum, he couldn’t just go out now, despite the fact he so desperately wanted to. No, he had to stay home and…do something else.
“He’s coming home! Takeo Kaitomiya has returned from overseas” the news anchors voice spilled out of the TV with an obvious manufactured tone as a small square on screen showed a picture of an obviously scruffy, unshaven man. Hitomu scoffed a bit at just how disheveled he looked.
Takeo Kaitomiya had been all over the news since he got back from overseas. For some reason lost on the masses, the blue-capes (an endearing term given to the government by the Kyukei populace) had decided to send the dozen or so guys that made up their “military” overseas to aid America in whatever country they were bombing that week. They didn’t actually expect any of them to live, so Takeo had become something of a symbol of national pride for the government.
Wish I could have people sucking me off for capping a few guys in bumblefuck nowhere. Hitomu mused to himself, the sadness of the fact that he was making fun of a war hero while sitting in his living room dressed in a “superhero” outfit that made him look like the lovechild of a hockey player and a tortoise completely lost on him. The mask had been discarded to the side, letting Hitomus spiky black hair free from it’s confines.
He checked his currently charging phone again.
Not even seven thirty yet.
He groaned at the slow state of affairs, draping himself back against the couch, where he stayed for a few seconds before realizing that this would do nothing to pass the time quicker. If he was gonna lounge around his house until nine o’clock, he could at least do something productive for himself or his aspiring super career. Peeling himself off the couch like a piece of chewed gum, Hitomu lounged over to the bathroom, so he could evaluate his costume once more. Despite its frankenstiened components, the attire didn’t look awful, it just looked…kind of empty. Even reapplying the mask did nothing to sate this feeling. He needed something more.
He needed a cape.
Now, that sounded nice, but a cape was hard to come by. He needed a vast amount of material that was also incredibly light and flapped in the wind. A towel wouldn’t work, and would look stupid since the towel he owned was a fucked up yellow color. Curtains would be perfect, but the only set he had was over his bedroom window and he’d rather have no cape at all than let the Hobo that ran down the street every so often watch him jerk off.
But then again, he couldn’t not have a cape. Every cool superhero had a cape, at least in comics. In real life, capes went out of fashion as soon people realized you were giving people extra leverage against you which made Hitomu begin to ponder if he really needed a cape. Now he realized he not only needed a material that included the parameters set before, Hitomu now needed a cape that was easily detachable and, as by extension, replaceable.
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
The sound of the garbage truck backing out through the house gave him his answer on a silver platter.
Nine o’clock came, faster than he expected by the time he’d finished his costume. His cape flowed in the wind, clicking and clacking as the air pushed it upwards. In the nighttime glow, you couldn’t even realize it was a garbage bag that Hitomu had stapled onto his windcheater. Hitomu took in the humidity. Kyukei weather was usually spotty in summer, today having a mix of high heat and harsh winds. For a moment, Hitomu considered going back inside and adjusting his costume for a “short-sleeve” variant, but realized that he’d just use that as an excuse to procrastinate. In the interest of self-defense, he’d brought a spare baseball bat with him as he didn’t think he’d be able to effectively fight anyone without the aid of a weapon.
His sights were set on one place that he knew was consistently robbed: Sam’s Convenience Store. He ducked through the streets theatrically, for no other reason than the fact that it felt cool. In the confines of his mind, he was a deliverer of justice, sweeping the through the streets to keep them clean. If any one where to look out a window, they would’ve seen what looked like a malnourished teenager rolling around on the street with a Zoro mask.
Eventually, his antics subsided as he reached the storefront. Almost immediately, he was greeted with the sounds of an argument bellowing from inside.
“THIS IS THE FOURTH FUCKIN’ TIMES THIS WEEK, PICK ANOTHER STORE!” Sam yelled, hands crashing on the counter as the two masked assailants stood Infront of him. Hitomu recognized the grey, fading ink masks from one of the last times he’d been to Sams. They also had the same knives.
“I’ll cut the fuck out of you old man!” One of them said, quite generically in Hitomu’s opinion. Their yells and threats began to fade into white noise as the super began scouting his environment. He didn’t want to charge in, that wouldn’t be cool at all. With his costume on, he’d look like a complete eyesore walking into a convenience store. No, he needed to stay outside and wait for the robbers to leave but, once again, if he just stood there waiting for them, he’d look like an idiot.
He needed somewhere where he could wait without looking like a massive tool. A bench or something would be perfect with the whole “super casual stretched arms” look but the nearest one was pretty far down the street, so he’d have to just hope that the robbers took the 50% chance and ran left instead of right. He’d never noticed how barren the outside of the storefront was until now. The only thing that he could possibly use was…the bike rack that stood to his side.
Hitomu briefly thought about it, before beginning to perch himself on it, completely spaced out of the dispute that he was trying to assist with. It was a hard sell, but Hitomu could see how this would look cool. He balanced himself on the loop of the rack, crouching down with his hands on his feet (the magnet glove helping his grip tremendously). This way, he blended into the darkness like a creature of the night, giving him that fearful edge when they spotted him.
That was what it was supposed to look like anyway. What Hitomu hadn’t thought of, was the fact that there were lights on in Sams store, meaning not only was he not at all scary, but his garbage bag of a cape was perfectly visible as being exactly that. The realization came too late, as by the time Hitomu comprehended the lighting, the robbers had begun to exit the store.
As they forcibly opened what were supposed to be sliding doors, cash stuffed into their pockets. They locked eyes with Hitomu, freezing on the sight. For a brief second, he thought that they were somehow scared of them, before realizing that they were probably taken off guard by the bizarre sight before them. Hitomu very briefly analyzed the pair of crooks. The one on the left was taller, with long brown hair and beady eyes. The one on the right was slim, with similarly colored hair, only his was clumped.
“…Hey?” The slimmer thug said, in a very un-thug like manner. He definitely wasn’t scared, only confused. Hitomu’s ability to speak completely locked up, maybe because he looked like a doof, maybe because the guy in front of him had a fucking knife at the ready and the only reason he wasn’t on the end of that knife was because he looked like a doof. Seconds flew by like minutes to Hitomu, until he finally remembered he was able to talk.
“Uh, yeah, hey, I’m a superhero.” Hitomu said back, falling over his words, picking himself up, and then proceeding to collapse. The pronunciation of superhero definitely caused a noticeable clutch from the taller robber onto his weapon. The other just stared back at him with something that looked like pity.
“Are you?” The tone was somewhat soft, strangely so, Hitomu wondered why an actual gang member would-oh my god he thought he was mentally handicapped. Great, in an attempt to look scary, he’d managed to trick one of his foes into thinking he was disabled. At the very least it was enough to cause a sobering spike of anger in Hitomu.
“Yeah I am, asshole. I saw you robbing that guy up there and, gotta say, I’m not a fan!” This wasn’t a great one-liner at the best of times, but when it was accompanied by Hitomu reaching onto his back for his baseball bat and trying to dismount from the rack, only for his movement to be reduced to slight shuffling when the magnet glove refused to turn off…well, that took it from bad to worst.
What took it from worst to, I don’t know, worse than worst, is the fact that, with this display, any doubts surrounding Hitomus mental ability were dashed in the robber’s mind. There was no moral barrier between Hitomu and the knifes edge now.
“Fuckin’ pisstaker!” The slim man growled, lunging at the still stuck super. Hitomus eyes widened as he watched the thug launch at him. He wasn’t a fighting expert, (he didn’t think he’d ever actually thrown a punch since fourth grade when Kion Matsumari tried to steal one of his cartridge games and even then, Kion was two feet shorter than him) but he saw through the attack that had been launched against him.
His glove showed no sign of letting up it’s grip on the rack, which meant he couldn’t move sideways or he’d end up stabbed (It’d heal but he’d like to avoid that for the time being). Conversely, he couldn’t go forward as the man had already covered too much ground in his initial leap. The only way he could go was back.
Shifting his momentum backwards, Hitomu fell back through the air, sliding his magnetic glove with him, before using that same motion to swing through the underside of the loop and smash the robber in the face with his newly drawn bat. A loud groan of pain was accompanied by the sound of the robber falling to the ground, sounds of anguish translating as music to Hitomus ears.
Wow, that actually worked!
His joy was short lived, as he neglected to think about the cause and effect of why he’d knocked his foe silly. In other words, he forgot that momentum never ceased and as a result, went flying backwards onto the road like a fucking idiot. He hit hard as well, the glove deciding to switch off it’s magnetic properties at the very second that guaranteed the most air-time.
“Oooh.” He groaned, though he knew the pain would shortly cease thanks to his regeneration. He pressed up off the pebble-ridden road with what felt like a broken arm moments ago.
” AAAAAH!” Any concerns he had about himself were silenced in the face of the blundering war-cry that had been bellowed from the larger robber. He was charging at Hitomu with the force of a truck, only this truck had a knife at the ready. Instead of running away, the young man decided to face the assault head on. He’d seen this in the movies, the big guy, overconfident, underestimates his smaller foe, and his own mass is used as a weapon against him.
Squaring up into a fighting stance that lacked anything in the way of practicality, Hitomu waiting for the man to get just close enough for him to take advantage.
The crook lumbered forward.
The crook lumbered forward.
The crook lumbered forward.
Before Hitomu knew it, he had a knife shoved directly into his head.
A green thread twisted and winded under itself, eventually tearing in half with an audible snap.
A woman’s voice cried out in pain.
When Hitomu came to, it was with a knife stuck sharply in the side of his head.
Yeah that was probably a problem.
He heard echoed voices in the background, though after a few seconds of recomposure, their words lost their distortion and began to become more and more audible.
“The fuck you’d do that for?!” That was the scrawny one, he had noticeably higher inflection (not to mention he talked more often so it was easy to point out). Judging by the sounds of his feet, his positioning was pretty close and also implied that Hitomu couldn’t have been out for more than a few seconds.
“Hey, you tried to kill him too!” The larger one bellowed back.
“I was tryna’ cut him up little bit, you just straight up…killed him!” There was a noticeable pause, and then some shuffling as the thin man tried to whisper to his large partner (though his voice was so shot, whispering was useless) “Okay, grab the body, dump him in a bin somewhere, take the mask and the…WHAT THE FUCK!”
By time the two turned back to Hitomus corpse, it was no longer a corpse. Instead, Hitomu was on his feet, blood running up his back and into his head like dust with a vacuum cleaner. The knife was still embedded, though his tight grip on it’s handle was sure to change that.
“Get ready for a long night guys.” Hitomu eerily breathed out, ripping the weapon from his head. “Because this cat has way more than nine lives”
His quip was so, so lame, but the corniness of its contents was heavily outweighed by the fact that he’d said it while ripping a knife out of his head. He could’ve said literally anything and the two thugs still would’ve freaked out. They were appropriately frozen at his display, giving Hitomu a chance to center in on them while retrieving his bat from the pavement.
He smashed the baseball bat down against the scrawny one’s face, directly knocking him out this time. A sharp gaze unbecoming of Hitomus character turned to the behemoth next to him, though the giant was ready. His knee shot upwards and knocked the bat out of Hitomu’s grasp. The force in the disarmament was enough to send the bat mid-way down the street. Not too far, but too far for Hitomu to attempt a recovery.
Admittedly, it took him by surprise, enough that the hulking man was given a chance to strike with his knife. Unfortunately, his hands were shaky due to Hitomu’s prior outburst and the knife only connected with the shoulder instead of the head. This was still enough to elicit a pained reaction from Hitomu, but the wound quickly seared itself up, which only panicked the guard more.
His erratic palms began yanking at the knife that was now firmly placed within Hitomu, who now had an easy mental answer to “what’s the worst sensation you’d ever felt”. He didn’t let that throw him off though, instead pushing through the knife in order to get close enough to deliver a vicious headbutt to his enemy. In most fights, headbutts were ill-advised, due to the damage they could cause to yourself but this obviously wasn’t a problem for Hitomu. No, his attack only left a vague remembrance of head pain while the goon was dropped to the ground.
Any chance he had of recovering from the previous attack was forfeited as a rain of unsportsman-like kicks began to rain down upon him. Each one hit hard, Hitomu clearly not pulling any of them as the toe was repeatedly rammed into the back of the other man’s head. Usually superheros would throw wide punches to the jaw, accompanied by a gallant sound effect, but Hitomu was (quite reasonably) content to just kick the daylights out of his downed enemies, only halting when he remembered head trauma was a thing.
Hitomu began to walk backwards from the scene, slowly, just to evaluate what he’d done. Both of the robbers were knocked down, he wasn’t dead, Sam wasn’t dead (as far as he could see). He’d won a fight. He’d won a superhero fight.
It took literally everything he had not to burst out in a little victory dance, although maybe the fact that he’d just stomped on a man’s head multiple times made it a little inappropriate. Sam’s head popped through the smashed window; his eyes similar to Hitomu’s in how they surveyed the scene. There was a stretch of silence, before he finally turned around and asked:
“Did you do this?”
“Yep.” Hitomu replied, intentionally pitching his voice down so that it sounded like he was talking through a tin can. Sam’s gaze turned into one that he’d never seen before. It was one of recognition.
“Good looking out.” He said, voice quieter and more subtle than Hitomu had ever heard it in the three years he’d been frequenting Sam’s shop. There was a genuine appreciation of gratitude in his words, one that quickly caused Hitomu’s own to become ragged and stupid.
“…Yeah bro, just doing my job, you know how it is.” He replied, the ridiculous wording mixed with his blatant pitch-contusion draining the thanks from Sam’s face like a needled to a cyst. Hitomu didn’t stick around to look at it though, instead bolting off into the night and out of sight.
He made it two streets before mentally slapping himself as he realized he hadn’t actually told Sam who he was.
Hitomu didn’t even bother discarding his costume before he entered his house. His cheery demeanor was a constant but the adrenaline rush of his caped antics had quickly worn off and he was now somewhat worn out, although his wearing out was more comparable to someone who had run a light jog than someone who had been repeatedly stabbed.
On top of that, he felt he needed a shower, which meant preparing a shower, which meant he needed light. The TV, once more, would have to substitute. The screen lit up through the darkness of the room, settling on the news (which wasn’t hard to do, Hitomu’s basic TV set-up had 9 channels, three of them being news-related).
“-is story is breaking, repeat, breaking from downtown Kyukei.” There was a dramatic cadence in the newscaster’s tone that Hitomu deemed at least slightly worthy of his attention, so his plans for a shower were put on hold. “A medic was called after a woman suffered a large stab wound into the side of her head.”
Must be a slow news day (or just a normal day)
“The woman’s boyfriend reportedly called the police claiming that the wound had simply appeared on her out of nowhere. He was initially detained but has been released after CCTV footage surfaced that backed up his claim.”
In an overlaid box next to her, that same footage played and acted out exactly as was said. The two of them were walking down a sidewalk when out of nowhere, a stab wound appeared on side the girls head. She dropped to the ground in what looked like death, the man taking a few seconds before he even began to realize what was happening. At the sight, Hitomu’s eyes flickered with remembrance. The positioning of the wound…
His own hand rested on the side of his head, any touch upon the area bringing back the memory of the knife being stuck into it…and the wound appeared out of nowhere? It didn’t take a genius to connect the dots. The newscaster began to talk about a possible super connection but that was nothing but background noise to Hitomu. Only one string of information was running through mind right now.
Repeat ad nauseam.