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Supervillainess (part on.., p.1
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       Supervillainess (Part One), p.1

           Lizzy Ford
 
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Supervillainess (Part One)
SUPERVILLAINESS

  Part One

  “It’s Not Easy Being Evil”

  By Lizzy Ford

  www.LizzyFord.com

  Published by Kettlecorn Press

  Supervillainess copyright ©2016 by Lizzy Ford

  www.LizzyFord.com

  Cover Design ©2016 by Lizzy Ford

  All rights reserved.

  No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.

  This novel is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events; to real people, living or dead; or to real locales are intended only to give the fiction a sense of reality and authenticity. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and their resemblance, if any, to real-life counterparts is entirely coincidental.

  Acknowledgements

  Special thanks to Emmanuelle Pensa for naming our heroine, Keladry

  and

  Miranda Evan for naming our hero, Kimber!

  One: Villains Always Wear Black

  General Savage Issues Reward for Insider Information About New Police Commissioner

  Supervillain Promises Quick Retribution for Anyone Aiding Police

  No Superhero Applications Approved During Last Fiscal Year

  Kimber stared at the headlines of the newspaper in his hands.

  Was this code? An inside joke, regional superstition or obscure vernacular that people like him – born and raised outside the Pacific Northwest – would never understand?

  He read the same few lines over and over, dumbfounded. His extensive traveling and eight years of medical school did nothing to help him explain how an entire city existed in a state of widespread delusion.

  “There’s gotta be something in the water,” he concluded. On nights like this, after a series of brutal double shifts, he found himself scrutinizing the bizarre headlines longer than they probably deserved.

  “Hey, Doc. Hope you saved a ton of people today.” The cashier managing the mini-mart at the bottom of Kimber’s apartment building greeted him the same way each night. “You hear about the new commissioner coming to town?”

  Kimber lifted the newspaper. “Just saw the headline.”

  “They said he’s responsible for bringing down the Gotti's in New York. How much you wanna bet General Savage boots him out within a week?”

  General Savage was the citywide name given to the alleged supervillain-mob boss, who was on the front page of the paper every day. Not just the tabloids, where one expected to see nonsense, but in the Sand City Daily, the Sand Journal, and every other major, respectable publication. Why would the local newspapers facilitate the ongoing glorification of mayhem caused by the city’s mob boss by comparing his deeds to a comic book character with superpowers?

  Kimber started to ask the cashier this question and then stopped, recalling the reason behind his cross-country move in the first place.

  I’ve found greater acceptance among my new peers than I did among my longtime friends I left behind in Chicago, he reminded himself. He had been given the rare chance to start a new life where no one asked about his past, or why, with his pedigree, he was working at the publically funded Sand City General instead of in one of the private hospitals catering to the wealthy, or for the local, prestigious clinics and research centers.

  Life got ugly fast. He couldn’t ruin his second chance by calling out the people who had welcomed him with smiles.

  “Yeah. Will be interesting,” he replied blandly instead. Replacing the newspaper, Kimber paid for his bag of groceries.

  “The city’s already crossed the gray,” the cashier said wisely.

  I still don’t know what that means, Kimber thought. Whenever he asked someone, he was laughed at, so he stopped asking. “See you tomorrow.”

  “Hey, Doc, if you have a minute,” the cashier called.

  Kimber paused in the store’s entrance. “Myra doing all right?” he asked, sensitive to the progress of the cashier’s daughter, who was in remission.

  “Great,” the cashier replied with a snort. “She saw an injured dog in the alley. She begged me to ask you if you’d take a look.”

  Kimber had rescued a dog once, five months ago. Since then, he had been entertaining requests by neighbors and other residents of his apartment building to help their pets and strays when needed. “Sure,” he said. “I’ll take a look before I go upstairs.”

  He stepped into the quiet night. The sun never shone for long in Sand City, and the rains and mists rarely dissipated for more than a few minutes. It had taken him months to acclimate to the dark and dreary city.

  It was close to midnight, and he was due back at the hospital at seven thirty in the morning. He still needed to go for a run before tossing some laundry in the washer and packing his meals for tomorrow. It seemed as if he would never catch up, let alone get ahead of his schedule. Rather than building a mental to do list, he found himself dwelling on the absurd news headlines again.

  As the son of a career diplomat, Kimber grew up in closely knit communities of expats in more countries than he had fingers. From Saudi Arabia, where he witnessed his first public beheading at the age of twelve, to rural Nigeria, where he lived without modern plumbing and spent his off time helping build homes for the poor. Germany, Pakistan, Russia, Argentina … he and his mother moved from place to place every couple of years.

  After his diverse upbringing, he felt uniquely qualified to adapt to the local customs of anywhere and everywhere he would ever live. At least, he did, until he arrived to Sand City.

  What if I told the five million residents of the city that villains don’t exist?

  Shaking his head, he dutifully walked past the entrance of his apartment building to the alley running alongside it. Usually, it was too dark to see much of anything, aside from the shapes of fire escapes and blocky dumpsters.

  Tonight, the alley was lit up bright as noon by lights lining the rooftops. A police officer stood on guard about a quarter of the way down the alley, and behind him lay a motionless body in black.

  “Good evening,” the officer said. He eyed Kimber.

  “Evening,” Kimber replied with a tired smile. “I’m not rubbernecking. I heard there was a stray dog in need of medical attention. But maybe someone else needs a doctor?”

  The police officer glanced over his shoulder. “Hospital refused this one.”

  Startled, Kimber’s tired brain was slow to respond. Sand City General, the nearest medical center, was a publically supported non-profit. In his year working there, he had never seen the hospital refuse anyone, regardless of insurance coverage, legal residency or condition.

  “He’s a criminal, one of General Savage’s henchman,” the officer explained. “He won’t come get the body, and the police and hospital won’t treat this kind of lawbreaker.”

  “So the solution is to let someone die?” Kimber asked, frowning.

  “Yeah. Then the coroner will take the body. He’ll pick up anyone.” The officer grinned.

  “I work at Sand City General. If I call it in, they’ll take him,” Kimber stated, not at all amused.

  “Nah. They’ll toss him back out in the alley.” The officer’s eyes narrowed. “You got a soft spot for villains?”

  “I have a human spot for those in need, criminal or otherwise,” Kimber replied firmly. He shifted to see past the officer. The body was clad all in black and surrounded by a pool of blood. The injured man’s head was encased in a black hood tied at the neck. No footprints marred the
blood surrounding the injured person. “How can you tell he’s a criminal?”

  The police officer’s eyebrows went up. “You fucking with me?” he growled. “Of course it’s a criminal.”

  “You’re telling me you can identify him without removing his hood?”

  “You don’t sound like you’re from around here.”

  When Kimber was tired, his accent was audible. “I’m from Chicago.”

  “Ah. So you don’t know the rules.”

  Did he mean laws?

  The police officer waved his hand in the general direction of the wounded man. “Villains wear all black.”

  “Villains,” Kimber repeated. Because an entire city living under the thumb of a mafia kingpin isn’t weird enough. “Whatever. I’m a doctor,” he said, not about to acknowledge the absurdity of the statement. “Let me take a look.”

  “Treating General Savage’s henchmen will put you on our list of potential sympathizers to watch,” the officer warned.

  “Last I heard, it’s not illegal to tend to the wounded,” Kimber challenged.

  The officer didn’t answer.

  “Your job is to protect people and help those who need it,” he added. “If you’re just going to watch someone bleed out, then why are you even here?”

  “To make sure no one messes with the body and the coroner picks it up before someone else does.”

  What was Kimber missing? Aside from the crazy gene everyone else in the city possessed?

  “I can’t, in good conscience, leave someone to bleed to death in the middle of an alley, even if he is a criminal,” he said. “If that means you arrest me, fine. But I’m going to examine him either way.”

  The officer studied him for a long moment. “You sound like a good guy, Doc. Not sure why you moved to Sand City. Everyone knows this is one of the many rings of hell.”

  “We’re all sinners,” Kimber replied quietly. “The least I can do is help someone else who is suffering.”

  The cop smiled. “All right, Doc. But I’m not sticking around to witness the aftermath. Whatever you do, you do without my knowledge.” He started forward. “Call me when you realize you’re in over your head, and I’ll get you out of town.” He flipped a business card out of his pocket and dropped it in Kimber’s bag. “Good luck.”

  Kimber turned to watch him walk down the street. As if on cue, the lights in the alley extinguished. He blinked until he could see in the dark and tugged off his backpack. Tucking his groceries in it, he then walked carefully towards the body.

  “You alive?” he called quietly.

  No response.

  Kimber nearly tripped over the injured person. He smelled blood, wet clothing and gunpowder, leaving him no doubt as to how this person came to be bleeding in the alley. Pulling out his phone, he turned on the flashlight app and evaluated the body before him critically.

  Black clothing was soaked with blood originating from too many different wounds for Kimber to identify which of them might be life threatening. It was impossible to gauge how badly the person was hurt or how long he had been lying there.

  He debated internally for a moment, unable to believe the hospital would refuse to pick up anyone for any reason. His phone went off, and with it, his source of light. The battery had been slowly dying the past few weeks. Too busy to pick up a new one, he had resigned himself to using the device when it felt like working.

  “Looks like I’ll have to go upstairs to call the police anyway. Or … more police,” he said, thoughts on the officer who had been guarding the alley. “Different police who don’t believe this supervillain bullshit.” He sighed. “So basically no one in this city.”

  In the end, he did what came naturally to him. Kimber strapped his bag on securely then bent down and gently maneuvered the person into his arms.

  “I’ve carried injured stray dogs to my apartment. Why not alleged villains?” he grunted as he balanced the wounded criminal in his arms.

  He entered the quiet lobby of his apartment building. The elevators, equally as finicky as his phone, had chosen this night to be out of order. Unfazed, Kimber went to the stairwell.

  Thirty minutes and fifteen flights of stairs later, he carefully lowered the bloodied mess of a human into his bathtub.

  “That’s my workout for tonight,” he murmured and wiped sweat from his forehead.

  In the understaffed hospital where he spent sixteen to twenty hours a day, Kimber had grown accustomed to becoming a one-doc shop for a new patient, though he often worked on a team with one or two others, staffing level permitting. On days with short staff, he handled triage, resuscitation, assessment and stabilization, even dressing patients in hospital gowns before flagging down someone to take them to the appropriate follow-up room. It wouldn’t surprise him if he one day ended up filling out the patients’ intake paperwork, too.

  Kimber’s body followed a mechanical, much practiced routine as he began to tend to his latest patient. He stripped off the clothing only to discover it was not a henchman in his bathtub but a henchwoman. Judging by the extensive scarring on her torso and legs, this wasn’t the first time she wound up near dead in an alley, either.

  Patient presents with multiple gunshot wounds, abdominal perforations, dozens of contusions, severe laceration wounds of the right extremity …

  He categorized her wounds and their severity as he worked. Three were from gunshots, and her right forearm looked as if it had been put in a blender. She sported two more, deep knife punctures in her torso. Her ribs were black and blue, probably broken, and too many bruises and scratches to count covered the rest of her. He didn’t know exactly how much blood she’d lost, but she shouldn’t have been breathing.

  Familiar adrenaline kicked in as Kimber realized just how bad of shape she was in. He worked as fast and gently as he could, afraid of traumatizing her body even more. He didn’t have the kind of supplies, equipment or diagnostic instruments here at home that he really needed. He had skimmed some materials from the hospital to create a robust first aid kit, but it was never intended to treat multiple gunshot and stab wounds.

  If she passed during the night, it would likely be because of the internal damage she had sustained, which, even as he was the best doctor in his graduating class, he couldn’t help when he couldn’t see it. His screw up in Chicago, the reason he fled the city, had nothing to do with his skills as a physician and everything to do with a flare up of faulty judgment.

  Kimber soon lost track of time. Every thought – except the burning urgency to help her – fell away.

 
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