Green Gladiator left the EFB Building and punched the brick wall in frustration, hurting his knuckles in the process. “Owwww!!!” He wailed, swiftly looking around to see if anyone had either seen or heard him. “I’m such an idiot!” He muttered to himself, under his breath whilst massaging his hand. A discarded drink can lay on the pavement ahead of him as he walked, so he kicked it in anger, intending for it to move along the pavement, but somehow veering off to the left and into the wall. Once again he looked around for observers. Unfortunately, this time there was one.
“Looks like someone’s having a bad day…!” the scarlet-haired woman said, with an enigmatic smile. Dazzling green eyes shone in the evening light. “I can help you with that, if you like…”
Green Gladiator looked at the woman who was leaning against the corner of the building at the entrance of the alleyway that led to the Mid Recorder’s main entrance. He noticed her eyes first, then her hair, then the tight black silk dress she was wearing. His gaze continued down her legs (covered in fishnets) to her feet, delicately placed inside what looked to him like a pair of expensive shoes. He brought his attention back to her face very quickly. He caught a glimpse of his mask in the corner of his eye and thanked himself for not flinging it off, which was going to be his next move.
“Are you going to a fancy dress party?” the woman asked, looking at the Gladiator’s uniform. “What are you going as? Don’t tell me – a bush!” She giggled.
“A b-bush?” Gladiator was taken aback. “Do I look like a bush?”
“Well, you’re all green… with these bits bulging out here and there.” Gladiator noticed she was looking at the tops of his arms and his shoulders. “But you seem to be a little firm to be a bush. Let me try again. I know… you’re going as Envy!”
“Envy? How can you go from a bush to envy? I’m the Green Gladiator – the superhero.”
“Of course you are sweetness.” The woman giggled. “I’ll go to the party with you. You can be Envy, and I can be Rage.”
“Rage? Envy and Rage? No. Hang on… I’m NOT going to a fancy dress party!”
“I know you’re not, sweetness. Of course I know who you are. I do live in this town, you know. Can I take a selfie with you?”
“No. No selfies. No fancy dresses. Nothing.” Green Gladiator said sternly.
“I’ve upset you now.” The woman’s expression changed from excitedly happy to morosely sad.
“No. You haven’t upset me. You haven’t done anything. You…” Gladiator bit his lip to stop himself saying anything further.
“I can cheer you up, you know.” The woman’s friendly smile reappeared, her eyes big and bright again. Gladiator noticed something glistening in them; a pulsating light, pulsating at a constant rate… almost hypnotic. He quickly looked away, and over to the other side of the road to see if he could see where the light was being reflected from. The buildings were on the shaded side of the road, but there was nothing that would cause her eyes to sparkle the way they did. “Look at me!” The woman demanded, her voice filled with rage this time.
“I don’t know who you are, Miss, but I’m not getting a very good feeling about all of this.” Gladiator may not have had any superpowers like most of the others in the EFB, but he always trusted his instincts.
“I’ve told you who I am. Not ‘Miss’, but Rage!” She grabbed hold of Gladiator’s shoulders and tried to pull him around to look at her. He was too strong, and instead leant forwards, effortlessly lifting her off the ground. Gladiator had misjudged his stance however, and stumbled forwards, causing Rage to flip over his head and then fall headfirst down to the ground. Gladiator managed to somehow catch her before she landed, but in the process fell on top of her.
“You IDIOT!” Rage shouted “Get off me! What do you think you are doing?”
“I’m sorry. I fell…” Gladiator couldn’t believe what had happened. “You caught me off guard… off balance. Are you OK? Are you hurt?” He bumbled up from the ground and helped Rage up.
“I’m NOT hurt.” Rage now had a seriously sulky look upon her face. “And look what you have done to my dress.” She pointed to a large tear that ran from her thigh up the side to halfway up her body. “I don’t believe it! My underwear’s on show. And I’ve a hole in my stocking. Thank you Mr Green. Thank you very much.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean…”
“Stuff it!” Rage interrupted him. With her right hand, she tried to hold the tear of her dress together. She glared at Gladiator, looking squarely into his eyes. This time, her irises were a very deep green, almost black. “You’re just ridiculous. Just because you’re having a bad day doesn’t mean that you have to inflict it onto everybody else. Just get a grip. And get a better costume while you’re at it. Honestly.”
Gladiator stood open-mouthed as he watched the strange woman stomp away, stopping momentarily to take off her shoes, and then run around the next corner and out of sight. He thought about going after her, just to make sure she was alright, but then decided against it. He thought that he’d probably find himself being arrested for stalking her or something. “Besides, it isn’t dark, and she was in the alley on her own as I walked by before, so I think she can take care of herself.” He kicked the can again, this time causing it to veer right into the road rather than ahead along the pavement, and into the path of an oncoming double-decker bus.
“Oi! Idiot!” shouted the driver through the open window.
“Sorry!” Gladiator waved and rolled his eyes, shaking his head. He sighed. He caught a glimpse of his reflection in a window as he walked passed, noticing how ridiculous he looked in the mask and leather outfit he had on. He stopped and looked at himself a little closer. “It takes more than just muscle, leather and a mask to make a superhero. And I have to walk home looking like this. Maybe I should just give it up for good.” He laughed out loud at the evening’s events. “And I’m now talking to myself.” He looked around one more time, but once again there was nobody there to see him. With his head down and shoulders hunched forwards, he walked towards the High Street, not noticing the red-haired woman step out from a doorway after he’d walked by.