Song: Spider-Man 2 Main Title by Danny Elfman
Welcome to my life.
I’m a husband by day, hitman by night, but one thing I do no matter the time is help. Which is why I’m sprinting through this crowd at Penn Station to chase down a thug.
“Outta my way!” the guy screamed as he stiff armed through people.
I raced after him, weaving through pedestrians sans stiff arm.
The guy rushed down the stairs, shoving his way through the crowd making its way up the steps. I would’ve gotten caught up in the foot traffic too and fallen behind him. But lucky for me I had ten years of gymnastics under my belt and I dove straight over the heads of everyone, flying above them in a full-on superman dive. I tucked into a ball when I was halfway over the staircase, flipped once, and landed in a smooth roll at the bottom, just as the thug came running past. I swung my foot and clipped his ankles, sending him crashing to the floor, and I caught the magazine as it flung out of his hand.
“Get lost, buddy,” I warned him, aiming my gun at his head as he stood. “Unless you want a rejection in your skull.”
He put his hands up in surrender and walked off. I squeezed my way back up the stairs then jogged past a few stores before finding a middle-aged woman crying into her phone outside of Dunkin Donuts.
“Here you go, m’aam,” I said, handing her back her magazine.
“Thank you so much!” she squealed, hugging my neck. “You’re an angel! Huh…?” she said into the phone. “No, don’t worry, officer. A nice young man got it back for me.” Then she pulled her pistol out and reloaded the magazine into it.
I stuffed my hands into my pockets as I walked away. It felt good helping people–really good. Which was why I was on my way to Four’s apartment with a surprise for her. We’d been best friends since middle school and her revolver had always been jamming in the middle of gunfights so she’d end up not being able to shoot out a feeling when she needed it most. But I’d gotten her something that would fix all of that.
I headed downstairs to the subway and stood on the platform to wait for the 1 train. There were about ten other people waiting with us and all of them were preoccupied: scrolling through their phones, flipping through newspapers, and listening to music. So no one noticed when a man in a dark trench coat grabbed a little boy and cupped his hand over his mouth. Until he spun and aimed his gun at the rest of us.
“Nobody move!” he demanded. “Anyone move and he gets a rejection in his head!” He pointed the gun at the boy’s temple and everyone gasped as the crowd took a collective step back.
As if on cue, the train roared up to the platform, packed with riders pressed against the glass. Once it stopped, people inside poured out, but no one on the platform poured in.
I slipped in once the first few riders stepped out and I watched Mr. Trench Coat enter the train a few doors down, keeping his eye on the crowd watching on the platform. There were too many people flooding out for anyone else to see the helpless boy. But we’d seen him. And I was going to help him.
“Stay clear of the closing doors, please,” the voiceover announced.
The doors shut and the train lurched forward. There were about twenty people in the car, with every seat filled and nearly every pole being held by two or three people. There were easily enough of us in here to take down this one man, but I wouldn’t need an army.
No one else suspected foul play as the man forced the little boys’ face into his chest and kept his gun hidden under his trench coat but still aimed at the boy’s stomach. No one was even looking in his direction.
I made my way through the crowd, swaying in sync with the subway car, and held one hand on my pistol on my hip. I made it within a few feet of the man and his head snapped in my direction.
“Get back!” he screamed, swinging his gun at my face.
The passengers closest to us gasped and pushed each other to move away. Some jumped out of their seats while others flattened themselves against the windows. Even though everyone in here had a gun and people shot and got shot with feelings all the time, no one ever wanted to get shot with a rejection. Believe it or not, I was probably the most afraid of those kinds of bullets than anyone on this train–rejections hit me way different than they did everyone else. But we’ll get to that later. What was important now was that this boy needed my help.
“Let him go,” I ordered the man, swinging my pistol at him.
“You get back!” he screamed back at me. Then he spun the boy around to face me and pointed the gun at his temple. “You take one step and I will ruin this kid’s whole childhood. That’s what you want? A gaping hole of rejection through his eight-year-old soul?”
“There is really no reason to go there,” I said as calmly as I could. But I wasn’t backing down. “Let him go or the rejection in this gun has got a hot date with the center of your forehead.”
“Don’t be a hero, buddy,” the man warned me. “You got three seconds to back away.”
I looked at the boy and tears were streaming down his cheeks.
“Don’t worry, kid, everything’s gonna be okay,” I told him.
“Three!” the man shouted.
“Listen to me, kid. What do squirrels like to eat?”
The boy frowned at me for a second. Then a glimmer of understanding flashed across his eyes.
The boy swung his fist back and knocked Mr. Trench Coat in the nuts, sending him folding at the waist. The second the man’s head lowered, I fired a rejection into him and his body flopped backwards and crashed into a pole.
The passengers erupted in applause and cheered.
The man lay there still as a stone, but we all knew he was feeling some serious drama inside. The rejection would flood through his system in seconds and he’d be reliving all the worst moments of his life–and given that he’d taken up child abduction as a hobby, I’d be willing to bet he had a lot of them to relive.
“You good?” I asked the boy as I walked up to him.
“Yeah,” he nodded. “Thanks, mister.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
I tossed Mr. Trench Coat’s body out at the next stop then the boy got off a few stops after that. I rode on for about another half hour until 215th street. I jogged up the stairs and pulled my hood up as I stepped onto the sidewalk, turned, and bumped right into the barrel of a gun. I looked up and a hooded figure in all black with a black mask covering their mouth was staring straight at me. I assumed it was a man, but looking back, there really was no reason to assume this assassin’s gender.
“Very well done, Two,” the man in the hood said. “You truly live up to your reputation.”
Bystanders walked past us without even a second glance. Pull a gun on someone in a train station and everyone lost their mind. But do it on a street corner and no one batted an eye.
“What are you talking about?” I asked, hands up in surrender. I didn’t know who I was dealing with and didn’t want to give them a reason to put a rejection in me.
“Catching the burglar, stopping the kidnapper,” the man went on. “You stepped in before even the police did. I must say, I’m impressed.”
“You did all that?” I squinted at him. “What was this? Some kind of test?”
“You could say that. But tests imply that you can pass. And I’m very well sure you won’t.”
In a flash I had my pistol aimed at his face, but he didn’t even flinch.
“Who are you and what do you want?”
He stared straight back at me and I saw a grin curl at the corner of his mask.
“You don’t have time for questions like that,” he told me. “The two people you love the most need your help.”
My heart froze and I felt my body go cold. “What?”
The man leaned in closer to my gun and whispered, “I hope you find them before it’s too late.”
I blinked several times, scrambling to understand what he meant, but somehow, by the time I collected my thoughts, the man was gone.