Origin Story: Part 6
"Is this a gang war? Oh... um... well, is there anyone who wants my protection? Like you want to opt out or something?"
Madeline put her fists on her hips and stood in her superhero pose. Her pink cape flapped behind her.
“There are a lot of superpowers out there, but remember that the greatest ability is... responsibility!”
The children in the classroom were staring at her wide-eyed. They couldn’t believe they had a real-life superhero visiting him. Madeline tried to feed off that energy and enjoy what she was doing (though the fan Faulkner was operating to make her cape flap seemed a little much).
Here was Madeline’s big finale. She made a spherical forcefield in front of her and then bent in one part to try to make it a heart shape. She didn’t quite succeed, but it at least looked less like a butt than previous attempts. “That’s supposed to be a heart,” she felt compelled to add.
The marketing team had decided to start things small for the Pink Princess, having her visit some schools in underprivileged neighborhoods. This was Madeline’s third school, and it seemed to be going well. All the children looked very impressed by her and her powers, even though she didn’t even have any good made-up stories about her heroics yet. When her little speech was done, all the children wanted pictures with her. One little girl was even wearing an official Pink Princess costume.
“Oh, how adorable,” Madeline exclaimed upon seeing her, but then muttered to herself, “and it looks more appropriate on a seven-year-old.”
After the event, she headed out back with Faulkner, her handler from marketing, to where Faulkner’s car was, a BMW as pristine as Faulkner’s outfit. This area was the inner city — the scary place Madeline had always heard about. The buildings were so close to each other with graffiti and trash in alleyways.
“What do you mean their wifi isn’t working!” Madeline could hear Faulkner shouting on the phone. “We can operate without wifi! We’re not prepared for third-world-country conditions!” Faulkner hung up and turned to Madeline. “I have to fix things for our next venue. You just wait here. It’s a bad neighborhood, so don’t wander around.”
“If something happens, hopefully, someone will come to my rescue,” Madeline said sardonically, but Faulkner was already heading back inside the school.
Madeline looked again at the neglected buildings around her. This really was a place that could use a hero — to have someone around who showed she cared. But Madeline looked down at her spotless, pink costume and knew how ridiculous she must look against the grit of the city.
There was a loud bang. A gunshot! And a yell. Someone was in trouble!
Madeline froze. This was it. A time for real heroics. And she was terrified.
Are you a hero or not, Madeline? she asked herself.
Madeline did her best to steel herself and get her feet moving in the direction of the gunfire. She had powers. This was her duty.
And she had imagined this scenario so many times in her head after she got her powers. First, she needed to find a side alley to change into her costume. But she again looked down at her pink outfit and realized she already was in costume — though she still wished she had a different one to change into.
Next, she needed to rush into the scene and announce herself. She soon reached an area behind some buildings where she saw a half-dozen of what looked like gang members pointing guns at each other. She didn’t want to stereotype, but they did have rather gang member-like outfits. Plus, there were the guns.
And the sight of the guns reminded Madeline of the real danger here, and she put up a pink forcefield around her without even thinking. This got the attention of the gang members, one asking, “Who the hell are you?”