Secret Lives


By WBHunk

Jim stood there shivering, shaking, goose pimples all over his naked body, trying to stand……with a groan, he fell to the floor, his hand opening, the ring bouncing across the concrete floor towards me.

Milan sneered. “Draining, isn’t it, ‘Superbear’? I daresay you haven’t had that off since that stupid old bat gave it to you. Terrible thing to be back to mere mortal, isn’t it?”

Jimmy groaned again, with a supreme effort pushing himself off the floor. “Don’t you…talk about Matilda that way….she was a wonderful, caring person. She was—“

“A decrepit old pot-smoking hippie who I had the unfortunate circumstance of being related to,” Milan said, casually holstering the gun, walking over and scooping up the ring. He held it up to the light, pure unadulterated evil joy seeping across his features. “She didn’t even know what she had – and then she gave it to some artsy queer on her deathbed. Typical.”

“I’m also beginning to see why she didn’t give it to you,” Jim snapped back, struggling, trying to keep himself upright.

“Well, I’ll admit it would have been hard for her to get it into San Quentin,” Milan answered facetiously. “Then again, she didn’t know I was there – since my mother told her that her own grandson was killed in a car wreck rather than tell her he was a convict.”

“She mourned for you, Milan,” Jim gasped, losing his struggle and slumping to the floor. “She thought about you often – wished she had been there, that she could have helped you –“

“I don’t want to hear it, Gelber,” Milan snapped. He bent over and picked up the ring, a satisfied leer on his face, holding it up to the light. “Still in perfect condition. Thank you for taking such good care of it – especially since I’ll be using its powers to eliminate both of you shortly. Ironic, don’t you think?”

“Please,” Jim pleaded, “leave Dan out of this. It’s between you and me….he knew nothing about it.”

“Knew nothing about it?” Milan said, a wide smile cracking on his face. “You mean… never TOLD him, Gelber?” He shook with maniacal laughter as he turned towards me. “My god, you must be the most naïve fool, to let him LIE to you like that! Where on earth did you think he was going, why he was late to everything?”

“This may be a new concept to a conniving, evil twat like you, Milan, but it’s called TRUST,” I hissed, wincing as my vision doubled again, each word painful, feeling my strength start to ebb away. “I…I trust Jimmy….because…I love him. I didn’t HAVE to know, nor did it matter.” So…tired….weak. “Of course….a creep like you wouldn’t know a damn thing about love—AGGGGGHHHH,” I cried out as he kicked me across the ribs, doubling over, falling to the floor.

“Please, Milan,” said Jim, anguish written across his helpless face as he watched me writhe, “he’s not who you want. Let him go and you can do whatever you want with me.”

“Ah, but you see, Gelber, he may not have known before….but now he knows not only about it, but who has it,” Milan fired back….then evilly grinned. “And I’m not going to leave someone who knows MY secret identity running about – especially someone with a smart mouth,” he said, spitting on my prone form. He waved the ring in front of Jim’s face, taunting him. Jim groaned, his face contorting as he tried to reach out, grab it, only to collapse. “I can’t believe you didn’t tell him – probably because you’d have to kill him then, too. But—“ he took the ring…..his finger standing, waiting for it….”he gets to know for a few fleeting minutes who the NEW superhuman is!”

“No – DON’T,” Jim yelled as Milan slipped the ring on his finger……Milan grimaced for a second….then a triumphal grin…..flexing his muscles….”Oh…yes….I feel it….the power….I…. I….” his face twisted…”What….no….it……what’s….happening….” his fist clenching…”AGGGH….PAIN…..” he grabbed frantically with his other hand, yanking it away….then tearing at his ring hand, desperately pulling. “Must….get….OFF”….with a cry of agony, he flung it off his hand, the ring going over his shoulder……seeing its arc……it’s……coming…..without thinking, I opened my hand….and….the ring jumped SIDEWAYS in midair, falling into it!

Milan stared at his withered hand, now twisted and gnarled, looking like it belonged on an Egyptian mummy. “What…what….YOU…” he snarled at Jimmy, whose face was a curious mixture of sardonic smile and physical agony. “What….did….you…DO?”

“I didn’t do anything,” Jimmy chuckled hollowly. “Maybe you didn’t read up on the fact, but the ring doesn’t take well to people who will misuse its power. I tried to warn you, but--”

“But NOTHING,” Milan seethed, grabbing for his gun with his right hand, then howling in pain as it moved, chunks of decomposing flesh falling grotesquely to the floor. He fumbled with his left hand, reaching, trying to pull the gun out of its holster.

I stared down at the ring in my palm.........feeling its sparkling heft…..I’ve got to get it back to Jimmy…..change him back into Superbear…..but he can’t….Milan’s in my way..….I looked at my own finger…..shivered at the thought, the sight of my own hand withered and destroyed like Milan….but….I looked up in horror to see Milan finally yank out the pistol, leveling it at Jimmy’s helpless form,

Jim chuckled, wincing as he moved. “You’ve lost, Milan. Kidnapping, robbery, endangering lives, all to get something you can’t even touch without it destroying you.”

“Given that,” said Milan, his voice dripping with contempt, “I don’t feel too bad about adding murder to the list.” His hand tightened on the grip. “Say goodbye to your cub, Gelber, but don’t worry; he’ll be joining you soon.” He sighted, his finger clenching.

Oh god….no choice but to – I clenched my lips and shoved the ring onto my finger.

With a flash, the world seemed to suddenly go into slow motion. Milan’s words were clear, booming in my ears, but as if they were being played at eighth-speed….”Sssssssooooooo loooooonnnnggg, Ssssssuuupppperbbearrrrrrrr…..” as the gunshot cracked, a wisp of smoke coming out of the barrel as the bullet shot out, inching towards Jimmy. I yanked my hands free, hearing a groan as the handcuffs shattered… to….protect Jimmy…..diving in front of him, turning my chest……seeing the bullet strike, then COLLAPSE against my pec…….and bounce off towards the wall.

Milan’s eyes widened in shock. “No – NO – it CAN’T BE!” Frantically he squeezed the trigger, shot after shot firing forth….I felt the impact of the bullets against my skin, but like a mosquito or determined fly, stinging for just a second, then passing, the bullets zinging off, bouncing into walls, the floor. Without thinking, I squinted, staring at the gun barrel….he screamed again as the metal melted, sagging as twin beams of pure energy struck it. He turned and ran, sprinting desperately, trying to get away……I leaped into the air, swooping down and grabbing his shoulders…..he swung at me, crying in pain as his fist connected with my jaw.

His eyes burned with rage and hatred, staring at me. “You….you… can haul me off to jail, but every criminal, every police officer, every media outlet on earth will know who you are—“

“Will they now,” I said coolly, with a self-assurance I didn’t even know I possessed, meeting his gaze, staring back at him….his eyes widening, then becoming glassy. “What exactly will they know?”

“The true identity of….Superbear….and of you…..I will tell them all,” he replied, his voice dropping into a strange monotone.

I continued to stare at him. “Now how could you tell them that? You don’t know who Superbear or I really are, do you?”

His eyes flashed confused for a second…..”I….I…..” he shook his head, trying to resist….then suddenly relaxed. “I don’t know who you really are.”

“Very good,” I chortled. “And you’ve never known. You’ve never had any curiosity to know. In fact, the only thing you do know is that you have to go to the nearest police station and confess what you’ve done, don’t you? You don’t know WHY you did these things… just know you caused all these problems.”

“Yes….I….must confess….robbery….causing accidents….drugging….endangering lives….murder…….kidnapping—“

“You can leave out the last,” I said hurriedly. “Oh, and one more thing – the next time you have an inclination to call gay men names, flap your arms and cluck like a chicken.”

This is entirely too fun, I thought to myself. “Now—“ I pointed towards the door – “you need to get to the police station and confess, right? In fact—“ I cocked my ear, the sound of sirens headed this way clearly visible –“they’re coming to get you now. Don’t forget to turn in any thugs that you used along the way. Get going.”

Milan staggered towards the door as I instantly zoomed back to Jimmy’s prone form. He looked up at me, his eyes a mix of shock and wonder. “Dan…I….”

“Just lay still, Jimmy,” I said. The crunch of gravel outside instantly caught my attention; I looked at, then THROUGH the wall…..seeing a line of police cars pull up, Milan running towards them. I looked up at the broken skylight….then scooped Jimmy up, wrapping him in my cape – CAPE? I thought dimly – then lifting off, through the hole, ducking to one side, and flying off towards the house, one side of my brain in utter disbelief over the fact that I was airborne, the other thinking only of getting Jim out of there. •

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