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Grade
9

 

The hero walked back to his apartment that he shared with his girlfriend. He had just come back from another day of keeping his city crime free. Today’s job was difficult. His arch nemesis, Lotus, had been up to his usual tricks. The hero, a 24 year old man by the name of Nathaniel Wilks, climbed the stairs to his apartment door. He fumbled with the key in the lock, because it was a very foggy day, and was hard to see, but he eventually opened it.

 

“Hello?” He shouted. There was no response. Strange. Usually his girlfriend would have been home by now. There must have been some traffic on the way back from Mayton University, where she went to school. He knew she was in an accelerated chemistry course, but not much else. He decided to ask her about it when she came home. It was date night, and he was excited as always.

 

Settling himself on the couch, he flicked the TV on and changed the channel to the news program. His latest adventure would be on the news by now. Sure enough, there was a picture of his hero figure in action, punching Lotus’ arm hard enough to leave a bruise. The camera turned to a live feed of a newswoman, who began her report.

 

“Once again, our beloved city has been saved by Skryder, our beloved hero! Lotus attempted to cause mass destruction by repainting the lane lines on Malena Bridge to lead cars head on into each other. On a normally sunny day, this wouldn’t have done much, but with all the fog, disaster was inevitable. Only a few cars crashed before Skryder appeared and directed the traffic safely, allowing for time for the road lines to be restored. As soon as the coast was clear, he sprinted away to where he saw Lotus hiding, on top of a nearby building. They wrestled for a bit, and right before Lotus slipped away, Skryder managed to land a blow on Lotus’ arm.”

 

The screen cut back to the picture of him punching Lotus, then back to the reporter.

 

“Lotus is going to have a nasty bruise tomorrow. Even though Skryder scored this small victory, Lotus has still slipped away to his lair, where he will no doubt plan his next attack against Mayton. Stay tuned for witness interviews.”

 

Nathaniel turned the TV off and sat back on the couch with a satisfied sigh. He knew that, in a week or so, Lotus would be back with his next harebrained scheme, and when he came, Nathaniel would be ready.

 

        -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

The villain slouched back to her headquarters, her identity still hidden.

 

“Good, good,” she said out loud, even though she knew nobody was there. She pulled off her mask, revealing the lovely face of Veronica Shard. The world knew her as Lotus, the villain with the hidden identity. Many a hero before had tried to unmask her, but all were foiled, as Veronica managed to slip away every time. She was pretty sure that everybody thought Lotus was a man anyway, so it didn’t really matter.

 

Veronica led an active double life. She was a chemistry student at Mayton University. In her day life, she just wanted to get a good education in a subject that would pay well, so she could live well. Her night life, however, had a much more sinister plan. Veronica wanted to learn about different chemicals and how they worked in depth so that when planning something, she would be able to steal chemicals from her lab and put them to good use. For instance, creating a city-wide fog that would cause lots of car accidents!

 

Veronica laughed and started peeling off her black and grey body suit. Once she was changed back into her regular clothes, she picked up her phone to check for any text messages that might have popped up during her traffic fiasco. It was going perfectly, until that Skryder showed up, fixed the problem, and punched her in the arm! That hurt!

 

She wasn’t really sure why she kept doing bad things. She didn’t think she was a bad person, but then again, who did? There was just something about Skryder that really got to her.

 

Her phone beeped, and as Veronica picked it up and unlocked it, she gasped. The text was from her boyfriend. Boyfriend…. boyfriend…. BOYFRIEND!

 

“Shoot!” Veronica yelled while scrambling around her warehouse, hiding all her chemicals and her suit. He was probably worried out of his mind that she wasn’t home yet. She called his number, which was number 2 on speed dial, and slid into her car while waiting for it to ring. Tapping her fingers on the dashboard, she listened for the telltale click that told her the phone on the other end had picked up.

 

“Veronica, where are you? I’ve been home for a good 45 minutes, and I’m starting to get a little worried. Are you okay?” her boyfriend gushed through the phone.

 

“Oh, I’m fine. It was just hard getting out of the lab today,” she said, while starting her car. He laughed through the phone, and she gave an uneasy chuckle while rubbing the bruise on the side of her arm, where Skryder punched her. “There’s some traffic now, though. I think something big happened downtown, on the bridge it looks like. I can see a firetruck and an ambulance.”

 

The words slipped out of her mouth before she could stop herself. Stupid Veronica! Stupid! Why would she even bring that up? She could have revealed her secret to her boyfriend, of all people! Sure, she loved him and all, but he was a little slow, and she didn’t think he would be as understanding as she might be in that situation. Veronica forced herself to listen to the conversation she was having.

 

“Oh, yeah, I heard something about that. I think there was an accident and a fight. Some dude named Skryder was just on the news. What a name, huh?” The voice from the phone prattled on aimlessly, and Veronica nearly banged her head on her steering wheel, clenching her fist when her boyfriend said the name. She had to end this conversation before she really let something slip.

 

“Definitely. Anyway, I’ll be home soon. Bye Nathaniel!”

 

                 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

“Oh, yeah, I heard something about that. I think there was an accident and a fight. Some dude named Skryder was just on the news. What a name, huh?”

 

Nathaniel slapped his forehead after her said that. What an idiot, Nate! Why would you even say that? Might as well tell the world right now who Skryder really is! Veronica started talking again, so he figured he’d better listen, otherwise he’d be in trouble.

 

“Definitely. Anyway, I’ll be home soon. Bye Nathaniel!”

 

Veronica hung up, and Nathaniel dropped his phone on the couch, sinking down onto the pillows next to it. So close. He was so close to giving her an inkling of what he did, who he really was. She wasn’t exactly tight-lipped, if you get his drift. No way could she keep such a huge secret. The number of times he’d seen her gossiping with her friends was more than the fingers of all of them combined. Veronica was an open book, he could bet on it.

 

Nathaniel’s cover story was that he worked as a host in the fanciest restaurant in downtown Mayton, called Shadox. It was a perfect cover because he had a reason to be downtown a lot, which was a great thing because Lotus almost always struck downtown. It was easier to get from Shadox to wherever Lotus might be than from his apartment 2 miles from the Malena Bridge.

 

Of course, Nathaniel actually worked there most of the time, because he needed to back up his story in case anybody came snooping. It was mostly for Veronica though, because he really liked her and didn’t want to mess things up. Skryder had to stay a secret.

 

                   --------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Veronica parked in front of her apartment and got out of her car, closing the door and locking it behind her. After climbing the stairs to the apartment door, she double checked the armband that she had slid over her bruise. Didn’t want Nathaniel asking any questions. If he did happen to ask, though, she would say that it was from her chemistry class. He wouldn’t press the matter. Once she opened the door, she called out.

 

“Nathaniel? I’m home.”

 

There was no response.

 

“Nathaniel?”

 

Still nothing.

 

Strange. If he wasn’t here, he would have texted her. Or called. Or something. Veronica wondered if something happened, and if so, what. She decided to text him to make sure nothing was the matter.

 

“hey Nate, what’s up? Where r u?”

 

He replied in a couple of minutes.

 

“don’t worry Ronnie I just got called in for work. The host that was supposed to be here tonight got sick and the other girl is on vacation. It was an emergency, and I had to go. We can reschedule date night I promise. I’ll be home in a few hours. Luv ya”

 

“ok, bye. Love you too”

 

She waited for another response, but there was none forthcoming.

 

Veronica sighed. So much for stressing about getting home. She guessed she would just make some pasta for herself and watch some TV. She put the water on to boil and settled on the couch.

 

              ------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Nathaniel was thinking about his date night when his phone beeped. He reached for his cell on the pillow next to him, but then realized that it had been silent. It was his other phone. His hero phone.

 

He jumped off the couch and ran to his bedroom, where his other phone was. He could keep it in there because he and Veronica didn’t share a room. She had her own room down at the end of the hall. He was a firm believer in waiting until marriage, and Veronica didn’t object. They wouldn’t have to wait long, though. As soon as Veronica graduated, in a few months, he was going to propose.

 

Digging under his bed for his other phone, he unlocked it and read the report there.

 

“Alert. Alert. Skryder, the lair of Lotus has been found. Please report immediately in hero attire. Thank you.”

 

Oh shoot! Lotus’ lair! It had to be downtown somewhere. Nathaniel checked the phone, and sure enough, there was a GPS picture with the location pinned with a red dot. He committed the location to memory and began suiting up, completely forgetting about Veronica, and his date.

 

Rushing downtown, he sped past other cars and drove across the Malena Bridge, past the place of the day’s earlier disaster. He parked his car a block away and proceeded the rest of the way on foot. His phone dinged as he was walking, and as he looked down, he saw it was from Veronica.

 

“hey Nate, what’s up? Where r u?”

 

Oh shoot. Veronica. He totally forgot. What to say, what to say? Then he thought, and realized that he had a perfect cover.

 

“don’t worry Ronnie I just got called in for work. The host that was supposed to be here tonight got sick and the other girl is on vacation. It was an emergency, and I had to go. We can reschedule date night I promise. I’ll be home in a few hours. Luv ya”

 

He turned his phone off, no more distractions, and focused on the task that loomed in front of him. Going through Lotus’ lair, foiling anymore plots, and maybe even figuring out who he was.

 

As Nathaniel rounded the corner, the entire sight came into view.

 

Police tape surrounding everything, cops on walkie-talkies, people taking pictures, the whole nine yards. As soon as somebody noticed him, he was dragged through the passerby, under the police tape, and shoved in front of a camera.

 

The reporter standing behind the camera held up a microphone and said,

 

“Excuse me, Skryder, but I was wondering if we could have a quick interview for the late show tonight.”

 

Nathaniel looked around at the people before replying in the positive.

 

“Of course, fire away.”

 

              ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Veronica turned the TV on, reaching for the remote before realizing it was already on the news station. Why not watch the news, she thought. It might impress Nathaniel. She heard her water boiling from the other room, so she left for the kitchen. While stirring the noodles in the pot, she listened to the TV.

 

“I’m standing here on Depot Street-”

 

Veronica perked up, interested now. Depot Street was where her lair was.

 

“-in front of the abandoned, or so we thought, Cobet Warehouse.”

 

Veronica stopped stirring and listened closer.

 

“Just an hour ago, Cobet Warehouse was discovered to be the secret hiding place of none other than the notorious Lotus. I’m here with hero Skryder, who-”

 

Veronica dropped her spoon. No… it couldn’t be. How…? She had no time to waste. She had to get down there, but to go as herself or as Lotus? She didn’t know, but she did know that she couldn’t just let Skryder walk all over her work.

 

After turning the stove and TV off, she ran down to her car, locking the apartment door. Starting the engine, she tore down the street, headed downtown.

 

She couldn’t drive through the streets easily once she crossed Malena Bridge because of all the traffic, so she parked on a side street and trudged towards Depot Street on foot. There were a lot of people, but Veronica threw a few elbows and ended up in the third row of people from the police tape. It was as close as she could get.

 

The reporter was still talking with Skryder.

 

“So… I think I speak for us all here when I say that we want to know who Skryder really is.”

 

She turned to the crowd and motioned for the cameraman to do the same.

 

“Well? Do you want to know who Skryder is? Find out who this dashing man is?”

 

The crowd screamed.

 

“I’ll take that as a yes!”

 

She turned back to Skryder and held the microphone out.

 

“What do you say? Let Mayton know who you really are?”

 

Skryder looked at her, then at the crowd. His eyes scanned the people, and landed on her. Veronica’s eyes widened slightly, but then he looked back at the reporter.

 

“Yes.”

 

          --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Nathaniel scanned the crowd after the reporter asked him to reveal himself. He saw a familiar head of blonde hair, and locked eyes with his girlfriend. He thought, and then decided, he was ready for her, and the world, to know.

 

Turning back to the camera, he took a deep breath.

 

“Yes.”

 

There was a large amount of cheering from the crowd. He raised his arms, and the people yelled louder. He moved his hands to take off his mask.

 

When he did, he threw his mask to the ground and looked at the reporter.

 

“Hello. My name is Nathaniel Wilks, and I am also the hero you all know as Skryder. I have lived in Mayton for my whole life, and I have a wonderful girlfriend named Veronica Shard. She is right there, and she is my inspiration.”

 

Nathaniel pointed to Veronica, and her face flushed several shades of red before ending up very pale. She gave a little wave before disappearing through the hundreds of people clapping and cheering. Nathaniel figured he’d see her at home soon, so he decided to stay a little longer and answer any more questions people might have for him.

 

              ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Veronica couldn’t believe it. Him? The person she’d been fighting, plotting against, hating, was him? Her boyfriend? Her innocent, dumb boyfriend? What was she supposed to do now?

 

Should she tell him that she was Lotus and possibly ruin their relationship forever? She liked him a lot, so she didn’t want to do that. But then she would have to keep her secret. Let Lotus die. Stop stealing from her lab, and work hard to pass her class and graduate in a few months. Yes, that was the only option. She resolved to act as normal around Nathaniel as possible, even perhaps a bit in awe from his august character. Veronica would just have to avoid talking about Skryder, or who she thought Lotus was, and try not to let anything slip. This secret would have to stay with her for the rest of her life.

 

           -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Three months later, Nathaniel proposed to Veronica, and she accepted. They were married, and after their honeymoon, they returned to live in Mayton, where Nathaniel kept his job as a host and Veronica became a chemistry professor. Nathaniel was happy married to her, but something still bothered him. She had changed a little on the day that he revealed the identity of Skryder to the world, and he had never quite figured out why.

State
MI
Zip Code
48103