Circle of Heroes, The

The Hulk


By Aardvark2

Joe Smith was average.

He was an average guy with an average name in an average town with an average job and an average home. He dressed in Wal-Mart duds, didn't work out, ate frozen dinners and watched sports for four hours every night. He was a computer fix-it-man who no one thought twice about. He was flat out boring.


Joe parked his car and walked to the front of his workplace - "Computer Solutions." He swung the door open, walked inside, and tried to make it to his cubicle without incident. It was not to be.

"Hey, it's Tubby." He hated that nickname. So he had some belly - not much of it! He was hardly fat, he was only 160. He just didn't wear it well.

The provoker, who of course didn't have a weight problem, approached. "Hey, Tubby."

Joe stared at the floor. "Hi, Rand."

"I have an appointment this morning but one of my car tires is flat. Mind doing the fix for me?"

Joe saw right through the lie. "I'm sorta busy too, and-"

"Great! Thanks, pal." Rand shoved the sheet with the home info into Joe's hands and walked away. Joe sighed. They walked all over him here.

Joe got to his cubicle, took out a pen, and scrawled out his morning route on a map. He took a sip from his coffee and booted up his computer.


On to the appointment Rand was supposed to do. He turned left onto Hilltop and pulled into the driveway. Man, this place was run down. There were weeds everywhere. This person must be doing something important enough that he didn't have time to work with his computer.

He rang the doorbell, and to his surprise, a woman answered.

"You must be from Solutions, huh?"

Joe tried to give a little smile. "Uh, yeah. What's the problem?"

She sure was stoic, he thought. "Nothing much. Come on in."

She led him to a very cluttered desk area with a nice computer system set up. She was some kind of programmer or designer or something, cause she had a lot of stuff here.

"I can't get anything to turn on," she explained. "Nothing's working."

Joe spotted the problem immediately. He was shocked she hadn't seen it. On top of her desk was a candle - and the wax was dripping onto the processor.

He smiled. "I see your problem, ma'am. You just have a little problem right here-" He reached back behind the processor. The woman gave a little shriek. "No! Don't -" He felt a slight shock, and then everything went black.


When he came to, he was in a hospital. A nurse sat in a chair watching him. He groaned. "Ugghhh...," and she gave a start. "Oh my goodness! You're awake! How do you feel?" She started hitting some buttons and doing hospital stuff he didn't understand. Joe managed to squeak out a "Fine." The nurse continued. "You were totally electrocuted by some computer, they told me. They're amazed you survived. Said they've never seen such high voltage in a PC before." She had a bit of a Southern twang to her speech. She asked again, "How do you feel." This time, Joe was wide awake. "I feel...great...better than ever." His eyes widened. He'd lost weight...a lot of weight. He pulled up the blankets and saw that the small paunch was gone. He didn't have washboard abs or anything, but he was lighter. ""How much do I weigh?" This question took the nurse aback. "Umm...we couldn't weigh you when you were unconscious...let me go get a doctor." She hurried out of the room, and Joe fell back to sleep.

Two days later he was out of the hospital and feeling good. He was still 160, but not as chubby. The weight loss had fascinated the doctors, but he had refused to be studied, and they checked him out.


Joe woke up the next morning and did his usual morning routine. Showered, dressed for work, made coffee. He poured the hot liquid into his mug and grabbed his keys to open his apartment door.

But his hands got too busy and a little bit of the coffee spilled. A couple of drops hit his bare arms.

The mug slammed into the hard word floor, covering it in Cafe de Columbia and shattered glass. He was so angry...he screamed and yelled and slammed his fists into the counter, trying to calm down. What was that? That wasn't him...he never got angry. He calmed himself down, though it took some work, and cleaned up the coffee. He poured himself a new cup and walked out the door.

He didn't even notice the two fist prints in the counter.


He got to his cubicle. Rand angrily approached.

"Hey Tubby! Had fun in the hospital?" He grabbed Joe's shirt and yanked him off his feet, throwing him onto the floor. "Cause of you getting shocked, there was an investigation. And guess what? They found out I'd passed my work onto you! So they're gonna fire me!" Rand was seriously pissed. Joe tried to keep his calm. He got up and tried to walk away, but Rand was on him. "You're worthless! You--" He was cut short by a strong hand on his throat shoving him against the wall. Joe growled. His lip curled. "Stop it." The voice Rand heard was deep and animalistic. It almost scared him. Joe loosed his grip, and Rand kneed him in the crotch. "Don't you threaten me, you piece of shit!" Joe was sweating profusely. "Stop it...pleeeease...stop it...I'm so angry...ARRRGH...UUUNNNGGGH..." By now, Joe was screaming in rage. Veins bulged from his neck. He dropped to the floor, roaring in pain and frustration. Rand stared in horror. Joe's shirt started to rip at the seams. His shoulders broadened, his voice cracking with terror. His pants started to stretch, reaching his knees before the split right in two. Joe's skin started to change in color. Rand started to back away.

The hands, slamming into the ground in loose fury, were now huge, deadly weapons. Joe continued to spasm violently, his skin and hair and eyes changing to emerald green, thick, amazing muscles bursting out of his clothing everywhere. His sleeves exploded with powerful biceps. Joe towered over Rand now by at least three feet. Rand was speechless with horror.

Standing in front of him was a huge, hulking, green monster. The Hulk sneered and stared at Rand. Rand tried to stammer out something, but couldn't manage anything. He stumbled and tried to run. A huge fist grabbed his torso and slammed him into the wall. He shut his eyes, waiting for the death blow. He heard a huge crash and a thunderous roar and then there was silence. He opened his eyes.

He was alone.

He looked up. There was a huge hole in the ceiling, and through the window he could see his van was destroyed. There was no sign of the Hulk anywhere.

He was loose. •

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