She tried to look nonchalant as she wandered into yet another dark and foreboding alleyway, her satchel temptingly full and not even properly closed.
“Come on,” she muttered to herself. “Nice easy target. Sweet little defenceless blonde chick walking home from school alone. Come and get me.”
Something clattered against a metal dumpster nearby and she paused, looking over. It was a big dumpster, with plenty of room for someone to hide behind.
“Well, well! What have we here?”
A voice, dripping with menace, came from the shadows. She bit her lip nervously and backed away.
“Looks like somebody got a little lost.”
Another voice, behind her, and figures now coming out of the shadows. She was surrounded.
“Go on, kiddy,” said a third. “Scream for help.”
She took a deep breath and did exactly that. It was loud, high pitched, and filled with the air of a maiden in despair.
It had exactly the effect she hoped it would. From a nearby rooftop, a familiar silhouette appeared. A hero who kept the streets clean, who was known only as The Masked Man. The gangsters hadn’t seen him yet, but in a mere moment he would be upon them, dispensing justice of the kind they would understand.
At least, he would if she gave him a chance. Her scream was followed by a swift kick to the nearest gangster’s groin, whipping his gun from his hands as he doubled over and using the butt to knock out the one beside him. Discarding the gun – lethal force was hardly called for against mere street thugs – she balled her fists and charged another gangster.
The Masked Man dropped down into the alley and smashed two of the remaining gangsters’ heads together. As they fell unconscious to the floor, he started walking away.
“That was foolish,” he said.
She took out the last gangster with a swift uppercut and ran to catch up with him.
“Foolish? Did you see what I just did?”
He glanced at her through narrowed eyes, barely turning his head at all.
“Unless you happen to be bulletproof, you purposefully placed yourself in danger.”
“Well, yeah,” she said, “But I had to get your attention, and you haven’t replied to any of my letters!”
He stopped. “You,” he said.
She grinned. “Me. Your new sidekick.”
He began to stride away.
“Oh come on,” she cried, running in front of him and walking backwards as he strode onwards. “Every hero needs a sidekick!”
He looked straight forwards, looking over her head. “What for?”
“Oh, you know. Witty banter. Company. Someone to share the burden of this duty to the city. Someone to watch your…”
As if on cue, she spotted a stray gangster peering out from behind a dumpster and pointing a gun at her hero’s back. She pulled a big book – probably her science textbook, not that she cared – out of her satchel and threw it, knocking the gun from the gangster’s hands.
“Back,” she finished with a grin.
He stopped walking and glanced over his shoulder as the gangster abandoned his weapon and ran away.
“Seriously,” she said. “You gotta admit, I’m in my element here.”
“What you’re in is…”
He paused, looking at her as if seeing her for the first time. She swallowed and waited for him to finish speaking.
“Inappropriate clothing. You will need something flexible, yet protective. No short skirts. And no cape.”
© Kari Fay
(Author’s Note: This week the words from Three Word Wednesday are Banter, Duty and Element. Since I’m still reeling from the news of the closure of City of Heroes, and the ongoing heroic efforts of the community to save it, my mind is stuck in superheroes mode, so these words fit pretty well.)