Chapter 5:

Brightstar Arc 1 (Chapter 5)

Brightstar: The Rising Superhero

I looked at the toad man from up to down. There’s a ring on his finger: a wedding ring. I remembered what Mr Aariv said:Bookmark here

All you need to do is look at them and look closely. You may find it surprising how much the world affects them as much as they affect the world.Bookmark here

“Are you married?”Bookmark here

“Huh, why do you want to know?” The toad man turned his gaze at me while his eyebrow raised.Bookmark here

“You have a ring around your finger.”Bookmark here

He let out a sigh before answering, “I was.”Bookmark here

“Do you have any kids?”Bookmark here

“I do. A daughter.”Bookmark here

“If you have a kid then why are you trying to rob a bank?”Bookmark here

“My kid needed the money.”Bookmark here

“If you needed the money then why not get a job?”Bookmark here

“It’s not that easy, kid. Have you looked at me? I’m half toad. I was a delivery man and I lost my job because a woman accused me out of suspicious. She thought I was trying to scope her house for a robbery. Ironic, now I’m actually a robber. No one wants to hire me after that. All of them were disgusted by me.”Bookmark here

“I’m not disgusted by you.”Bookmark here

He looked at me with widened eyes. Suddenly, he started laughing his ass off. I joined in his laughter. Although it was painful for me to do so since all the small jittering movements strained my wounds. But, I still couldn’t help myself but be contagious by his impulsive joy.Bookmark here

When the laughter simmered down, I proposed a deal to him, “I can help you escape if you promise me not to get involved in any more crime.”Bookmark here

“You would do that for me?”Bookmark here

“Of course.”Bookmark here

“You are not like other heroes, are you?”Bookmark here

“I’m the one and only, Brightstar.”Bookmark here

The toad man let out a sigh as he rose from the floor. He extended his hand at me. I took it and was lifted off the floor. I groaned and grimaced at the ache. Suddenly, he wiped off the dust and fixed my hood.Bookmark here

“Uhm?”Bookmark here

“She is about your age. A hybrid too, but she ain’t like me. Headstrong, studious, and even braver than me. She told me that her dream was to take care of me when I’m old. She wanted to buy me a big house, so we could be together, and she even said that she would take care of everything, money and all. Such an idiotic girl. She should worry about her happiness than worrying about mine… still, I’m proud of her.” A tear ran down his cheek.Bookmark here

“She sounds like one hell of a girl.”Bookmark here

“She is. I have no other relatives to rely on, and I can’t support her with my jobless ass. It’s better for her if I was out of the picture. The government will take care of her.”Bookmark here

“Wait!”Bookmark here

“I’m turning myself in.”Bookmark here

“You won’t be able to see her. Are you sure?”Bookmark here

“I am---Thank you for stopping me. Robbing a bank? What in the hell I was thinking? I’m done disappointing her.” His smile was a sad one, but his gaze was full of resolve.Bookmark here

Behind the toad man, the robber I took out earlier awoke from his slumber. He had his gun out and aimed at us. I grabbed the toad man by the shoulders and was about to push him away when he pushed me away first. My eyes widened.Bookmark here

BAM!Bookmark here

The gunfire echoed, blood trickled across my face. He still had his smile as he turned and expanded his tongue at the other robber. He tossed the man against the wall, knocking him out and caused him to lose his gun. The toad man dropped to the floor. My jaw dropped as a puddle of blood emerged from underneath him.Bookmark here

“No!”Bookmark here

The front door burst open. A Japanese woman in a red and silver superhero suit appeared. No cape whatsoever and every glimmer of light reflected off her shiny suit. Her body was covered from neck to waist and hands, but her legs were bare except for her feet which were accompanied by the same theme high heels boots. When she turned to me, her bob haircut with the colour of black swayed slightly. I couldn't get a look at her face because it was hidden behind a silver mask that goes around her eyes.Bookmark here

I knew her. Who doesn’t? It is none other than the Crimson Diamond.Bookmark here

With pleading eyes, I gazed at her and back at the bleeding man within my arms.Bookmark here

“Help him!”Bookmark here

She kneeled beside me and immediately examined the toad man’s body. The woman let out a sigh of relief then turned to me with a comforting smile.Bookmark here

“He’s going to be fine. The bullet missed any vital organs. Here. Keep pressing this cloth against his wound. I’m going to make sure everyone else is okay. And hey, you did a good job.”Bookmark here

A row of police officers, paramedics, and firefighters entered the building. The toad man was taken care of by the paramedic. I kept myself close to the man, but when he entered the ambulance, our path diverged.Bookmark here

Staring at my bloody hands, I almost sight of the world when a bunch of reporters surrounded me. Flashes of light blinded me. I was trying to find Jake amongst them, but couldn’t.Bookmark here

“Are you a new Hero?” Several questions were thrown at me at the time, “What do they call you?’Bookmark here

“Uhm… My name is Brightstar.”Bookmark here

Around the corner, I saw Jake waving at me with the cat in his hand. “I need to go.” I turned to the reporters, nodding my head apologetically before leaving the area.Bookmark here

When I covered enough distance between me and the reporter, I turned around the corner and met with Jake. We walked toward the swings. Suddenly, a massive headache hit me.Bookmark here

“Are you okay?”Bookmark here

“I-I’m fine.”Bookmark here

The kid beside him tugged on my jacket.Bookmark here

“Thank you, Brightstar. You are an awesome hero.”Bookmark here

“Sorry, kid, but we need to leave.” Jake took hold of my arm and pulled me away from the park.Bookmark here

With no one else near us, Jake pulled me into a desolate alley. My breath was quick and short. I took off my jacket to let some air in. The look Jake gave me was worrying. Out of nowhere, I almost dropped to my knees, but at the last minute, Jake caught me.Bookmark here

“Are you sure you’re okay?”Bookmark here

“Exhausted, that’s all.”Bookmark here

“It looks like you are about to have another attack.”Bookmark here

“I’m fine…”Bookmark here

My sight went dark. Everything was black. All the surrounding sounds disappeared. Without warning, I fainted.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

In a dim and foggy world, a river stretched across the plane and was endless to a mortal eye. Near the river bank stood a two-story house. A white picket fence surrounded the front yard, vibrant green grass, and a single flamingo decorated the lawn. The house’s walls were built with individual bricks stacked on top of each other. Built like a brick outhouse, strong and unwavering.Bookmark here

A hooded robed skeleton appeared out of thin black smoke. She hovered to the gate, pushing it open, and walked up the lawn toward the front door. Knocking on the door, she waited for a couple of seconds before turning the knob and revealed the living room behind it.Bookmark here

“I’m home,” said the skeleton with a feminine soft voice.Bookmark here

“Welcome home. I’m in the kitchen.” A man greeted her from the back of the house.Bookmark here

She turned to the crow perched on top of a branch stand in the corner of the room. It looked as if it was resting, and that was exactly what the bird was doing, having a nap. She walked up to the bird first, petting its head before making her way to the kitchen counter. She took a seat and watched as the man in front of her cooked something.Bookmark here

Wearing an open shirt and an apron, the man was comfortable in his home.Bookmark here

“How was your day, honey?”Bookmark here

“It was---how about we start with yours first?”Bookmark here

“Oh yeah? I had the strangest dream today. He appeared while I was fishing.”Bookmark here

The man took a pinch of herb and spread it in the pan above the fish fillet. The aromatic scent rose to the ceiling. In a few minutes, the house’s air was infused with the whiff of a seared fish.Bookmark here

“He did? How was he?”Bookmark here

“The boy likes to ask questions. He was also bad at fishing. Anyway, he does look happy and healthy. I couldn’t ask more than that. One more thing though, he does look adorable. All confused and whatnot.”Bookmark here

“I would like to meet him one day.”Bookmark here

“Maybe we could, but who knows?”Bookmark here

“I don’t think that’s a good idea. I might scare him off.”Bookmark here

“Don’t be silly. He would love to meet you, Aeterna.”Bookmark here

He presented a plate of well-cooked fish before her. Almond-shaped eyes and thin lips. Slick black hair with a ton of grey on each side.Bookmark here

Not for a single second, he glanced away from her eyes. Like staring into the universe itself, black, but filled with twinkling lights. With a gentle smile, he rested his hand on top of her skeleton’s fingers.Bookmark here

“You are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever laid my eyes on.”Bookmark here

“That came out of nowhere.”Bookmark here

"Your eyes are like the universe. So beautiful and so vast. If the mortal worship the stars. They would worship you, and I would too.”Bookmark here

Aeterna pulled her hood down, covering her eyes while lowering her chin. If a skeleton could blush, she did, somehow without the blood coursing her non-existent cheek.Bookmark here

“What is with you today?”Bookmark here

“Nothing. I want to compliment the woman I loved. Is it wrong to do so?”Bookmark here

“No… but it does come out of nowhere.”Bookmark here

“Do you not like it?”Bookmark here

“I do.”Bookmark here

“Then I shall continue--maybe all complement could lead us to the bedroom. If you prefer it that way?”Bookmark here

“Haru?”Bookmark here

“Ah, using names already. You’re fast.”Bookmark here

“Haru...”Bookmark here

Aeterna’s expression was driven by fear. She took hold of his hands and pulled his attention back to her gaze.Bookmark here

“It's about them, isn’t it? That’s why he was there.”Bookmark here

“I tried everything, but the wheel of fate has started moving. However, there is another way. I know someone who could help you. Yet, the price. I don’t think you can afford it.”Bookmark here

“You know I can afford any price if it’s for them. You, on the other hand?”Bookmark here

“I don’t want to see you get hurt, but I know that pain won’t stop you.”Bookmark here

“Aeterna… then I will stay here with you.”Bookmark here

“What? How about your family?”Bookmark here

“I won’t help them without your blessing. Besides, you’re a part of my family.”Bookmark here

Haru walked over to her and gently pulled her head against his chest. She laid her hands against his chest, gripping his apron.Bookmark here

“You dummy.”Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

Home.Bookmark here

A blanket over my body as I lay on top of my bed. Exhausted, I can’t even move my arms or legs. Every inch of myself felt cumbersome as if something humongous was sitting on top of me. I stared at the ceiling.Bookmark here

Jake took a wet cloth and wrung it before wiping the trickle of blood off my face. He did it so gently and carefully. After cleaning my face, Jake took the jacket and the scarf then stored them in my wardrobe. Letting out a sigh, he sat against the side of my bed.Bookmark here

“Thank god, no one is home right now. They would freak out if they saw what happened to you.”Bookmark here

“You were always there, Jake. When I needed you the most. I always trouble you, don’t I?” My voice was quiet as I tried to get the words out.Bookmark here

“Not at all. You would do the same for me.”Bookmark here

“I fail. I am a failure. I should have been faster. I should have taken the bullet. Not him.”Bookmark here

“I don’t know what happened, but you didn’t fail. You stop the robber. Nobody got hurt. Isn’t that what you wanted?”Bookmark here

“Someone else got hurt.”Bookmark here

“It wasn’t your fault. You tried, Kenn. Besides, it was his fault. He is the one who robbed the bank. He knew the danger.”Bookmark here

“You don’t understand. He got a kid.”Bookmark here

“What do you want me to say, Kenn?”Bookmark here

“I don’t know.” My grip tightened on my sheets.Bookmark here

“You got out. Hurt, but safely. What more can I ask? I don’t know what you wanted to hear. So, I ask you again. What do you want me to say?”Bookmark here

“I don’t know, okay? I’m sorry. It’s just, I tried so hard, but no matter what I did...”Bookmark here

“You tried your best, and what’s wrong with that?”Bookmark here

The front door opened and shut. Two people made their way through the living room. One of them went straight to the kitchen while another knocked on my bedroom door. Jake turned his raised eyebrow at me. I covered my head and body with the blanket. Jake let out a sigh and reached the door.Bookmark here

“Kenn? Why is your door lock?”Bookmark here

Aunt Kusagi was on the other side of the door. Jake unlocked the knob and opened it slowly to reveal the half rabbit woman. She raised her eyebrow at Jake and peeked out to see me. Jake raised his finger in front of his lips, gesturing to her to stay quiet. Aunt Kusagi nodded her head. Jake stepped out of the room and gently closed the door.Bookmark here

“Is he okay?”Bookmark here

Even though the door was closed, I could still hear them talking.Bookmark here

“Kenn is a bit under the weather. He’s asleep for now.”Bookmark here

Another set of footsteps entered the conversation.Bookmark here

“Hm?”Bookmark here

“Oh. Catty asked you: ``Did anything happened?”Bookmark here

“No. Nothing. He---you know.”Bookmark here

“Know what?”Bookmark here

“You didn’t know? It happened a while back. Way before I met Kenn.”Bookmark here

“Catty, you know about this?”Bookmark here

“Why did you never tell me?”Bookmark here

“Out of proportions?! I deserved to know. It’s my right. He is...”Bookmark here

“I am calm!”Bookmark here

Suddenly, it went quiet then the door opened. Aunt Kusagi entered the bedroom with Mom and Jake. She walked to my side of the bed and took a knee. Her hand was above my shoulder, but she stopped and retreated, letting Mom be by my side.Bookmark here

Mom caressed my shoulder. All my worries and ache slowly dissipated, her hand was gentle and caring. I wanted to say something to her, anything, but for reasons unknown to me, I stayed silent the whole time.Bookmark here

Her gentle caress left me. I felt the creeping void slowly getting to me. Everyone had left the room. I should have said something to make them stay, but I didn't. I hated myself for that. The ache and cold dawned over me like a blanket. Sooner, my thought left me and there was nothing but emptiness.Bookmark here

Tick-tock, the time goes.Bookmark here

Bam!Bookmark here

The door bursts open out of a sudden. The cold desolate air was washed away by the sweet smell of delicious meals. Like a ray of sunshine, a sense of warmth poured into the room. I peeked out of the blanket with widened eyes.Bookmark here

Mom, Aunt, and Jake with a big smile on their face brought trays of food into my room. They began setting it up beside my bed. The madness of it all, Aunt even brought in a short table into my room and the living room TV. I was perplexed.Bookmark here

“W-What are you doing?”Bookmark here

-Having dinner as a family.-Bookmark here

“Isn't it obvious?” said Aunt as she plugged on the TV and opened up a Korean Drama show.Bookmark here

The silence and isolation are gone, replaced by their rowdy nature.Bookmark here

“You’re joining us, whether you like it or not.”Bookmark here

Jake grabbed my arm and pulled me out of the bed against my volition. Jake sat me in front of the table with my ass on the floor. Mom took out a plate then filled it with roasted chicken legs and mashed potatoes. With a cup of gravy, she poured onto it like a waterfall. A glass was orange set beside the plate by Aunt. I watched as they set up their plates.Bookmark here

“Well, then my job here is done.” Jake was about to leave when Aunt grabbed him and sat him right next to me.Bookmark here

“Me too?” said Jake with widened eyes.Bookmark here

“Yeah, you too.”Bookmark here

-It won't be as much fun without you.-Bookmark here

“I don't want to be rude, but isn't this more of a family event?-Bookmark here

“We just met, but judging from the way Catty and Kenn treated you. You are pretty much a part of this family. Or, do you not like it?”Bookmark here

Jake let out a defeated groan and took a sip of the orange juice. Aunty patted his back then took a seat beside him. With her big proportions, she wobbled the table a bit as she slid her legs underneath it. Mom made sure the plate and glass didn't fall over. Aunt let out an apologetic smile and turned her gaze at me, and so did everyone with their smiles.Bookmark here

-Let’s eat.-Bookmark here

“How was your day, Jake?” asked Aunt as took a sip of the drink.Bookmark here

“Ah?! Hm. Nothing much. Kenn and I mostly hang out at the park.”Bookmark here

“That’s boring. Did you at least try to skip school?”Bookmark here

-Sister!-Bookmark here

“What? It’s normal for their age. I skipped school a lot back then, and look where I am now.”Bookmark here

-Don’t listen to her.-Bookmark here

“Have you skipped school before, Miss Catty?”Bookmark here

-Never.-Bookmark here

“As expected from straight A’s students. Boring… There’s nothing wrong with a bit of rule-breaking.”Bookmark here

-We shouldn't break the rules. The rules are there for a reason. It was made to keep us safe and enforce the order. If there was no rule, there would be only chaos.-Bookmark here

“The rules are flawed. It was made by man, and man is flawed. It shouldn't be made to restrict us from doing the right thing.”Bookmark here

-Doing the right thing doesn't justify the means to an end. There’s a proper way to achieve something without collateral damage.-Bookmark here

“Said the girl who broke the law before.”Bookmark here

-That was a long time ago. I was young.-Bookmark here

“I still remember it to this day. Huh, whatever happened to that boy anyway? What was his name again?”Bookmark here

-Hugh?-Bookmark here

“Yeah, him.”Bookmark here

“Wait, Hugh?” asked Jake.Bookmark here

“Yeah. Catty had a thing for him back then. They both were such a sweet couple?”Bookmark here

“Mom, you had a boyfriend?”Bookmark here

-Of course, I did. It was before I ever met your father.- Mom let out a bittersweet sighed as she recalled the memory with her previous lover.Bookmark here

-He was always good with his hands…-Bookmark here

“Mom?! Gross!”Bookmark here

“What kind of skill, if you may? In detail, please.” Jake took out a notebook and a pen.Bookmark here

“Jake?”Bookmark here

“I know right? That was one hell of an experience. Who knew, he could do us both at the same time?”Bookmark here

“Aunt? Wait, what?!”Bookmark here

-It was back then. Like I said we were both young and your aunt and I aren't blood-related anyway. So...-Bookmark here

“Oh, geez! I thought we were having dinner. Not talk about your sexual experience.” I shook my head while facepalming.Bookmark here

“It was a joke. Calm down.” Aunt shook her head and rolled her eyes.Bookmark here

After I removed my hand, I noticed all of them were looking at me with a gleeful smile. They look back at each other and back at me, still smiling. I raised my eyebrows and glanced around me.Bookmark here

“What?”Bookmark here

-Nothing. You look much better now.-Bookmark here

“That’s the Kenn I know.”Bookmark here

“Welcome back, best friend.”Bookmark here

Oh. I was smiling the whole time. I never realized it before. It must have formed by itself. They all are a bunch of idiots. I was just smiling, nothing more. Truly idiotic. My idiots.Bookmark here

-Anyway, I got a date tomorrow.- A smirk appeared on my mom’s face.Bookmark here

“Woo, you go girl!”Bookmark here

“What!?” Both Jake and I were wide eyes at Mom.Bookmark here

“Damn it. Someone beat me to it.” Jake clicked his tongue while Aunt laughed.Bookmark here

“With whom?!”Bookmark here

-That’s a secret.- Mom winked at me.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

Hanging cat poster, a complete tea maker set, and hidden astray in his half-open drawer. Mr Aariv leaned against his chairs as he tapped the pen against the clipboard. His thinking glass, that what he called them, rested near the tip of his nose. He laid his gaze on me with a raised eyebrow then turned to Jake right beside me.Bookmark here

“Kenn has a session with me, but you on the other hand, why are you here?”Bookmark here

“Yeah, why are you here?” I asked Jake.Bookmark here

“You needed the company. Also, here, for you, Mr Aariv.” Jake set a piece of half-crumbled paper on the desk.Bookmark here

Mr Aariv lifted it then read the content. He proceeded to let out a sigh and stored it in his drawer.Bookmark here

“Anyway… how about we start with you, Kenn? So, how are you doing?”Bookmark here

“My mom has a date, today! Do you believe that? Ugh. I don't even know the guy. He could be some jerk, or a nutjob, or worse, a cultist. I don't want my mom to join some creepy cult. Oh yeah, sorry Mr Aariv. I didn't mean to let it out on you. The answer to your earlier question was I’m fine.”Bookmark here

“It’s okay. We can continue with this. So, why does the notion of your mom dating again anger you so much?”Bookmark here

“I’m not angry. Who said I was angry? Pfft.”Bookmark here

“He’s totally angry right now, Mr Aariv,” commented Jake as he hid his laugh.Bookmark here

“I don't know, Mr Aariv. It just felt like…” My eyes wandered to the ceiling as I tried to find the perfect word to describe my feeling.Bookmark here

“Betrayal?”Bookmark here

“Kinda.”Bookmark here

“How long has it been?”Bookmark here

“Excuse me?”Bookmark here

“She’s been alone, right? After your father passed away.”Bookmark here

“She’s not alone. She’s got me. I’ve always been there. I just don't understand why she needs a random guy around when she has me?”Bookmark here

“Ah, I see. This isn't about her. This is about you.” Mr Aariv and Jake had a smirk on their face as they looked at me with judging eyes.Bookmark here

“You’re wrong. This isn't about me. This is about her. You know what? I don't need this.” I pushed the chair behind me and was about to leave the room when Mr Aariv stopped me with his words.Bookmark here

“A fire that is too bright will never show its source. Ponder on what I said. We’ll continue again in the next session. One more thing, I worry about you, but you do look...better. Keep it up, but don't push yourself too hard. Lately, I've been seeing you with more bruises and cuts. Don't do anything dangerous, okay?”Bookmark here

“Okay, Mr Aariv.”Bookmark here

I left the office to find myself in the hallway. My eyes wandered at the long winding and desolate hallways. Stuck in the middle of the corridor, I didn't feel like going back to class. However, what Aunt said last night spoke to my heart.Bookmark here

“Maybe a little rule-breaking won't hurt.” Only the empty air heard me as I started walking toward the staircase.Bookmark here

Not one single soul was present, not even a teacher. It is so quiet here and almost feels like a ghost town, but my empty reality when I heard the lecture from the class besides the staircase. Sneaking past it, I climbed the stairs until I reached the highest floor of the school.Bookmark here

A door separated me from the rooftop, I grabbed the handle and pushed it open. Behold, the blue sky above the vast city. A couple of trails of white clouds can be seen as an airplane or a superhero soaring without limits.Bookmark here

This view would be great for a picnic, mom and the gangs would love to hang here. I can imagine the freshly squeezed juice and the vibrant stacked sandwiches. Mom always cut the crust off and shaped it into a triangle. She probably has a good book in her hands while Aunt does her meditation. Jake, hahaha. He probably ate all the sandwiches before I could.Bookmark here

However, I was not alone.Bookmark here

A brown-skinned man in a white tight-fitting shirt with folded sleeves underneath a black and blue vest coupled with a nice black tie that goes underneath the vest. He looked formal along with his black leather gloves, but his hair was messy. That unkempt hair throws off the formal get-up. His eyes though, his inner iris was red, but the outer border of his iris was brown.Bookmark here

“Shit, did I get caught?”Bookmark here

He let out a gentle chuckle, with a thick British accent, he said “Don't worry, I’m not a teacher. Kenn Tashikawa Johnson, that’s your name, right? I thought you would be taller.”Bookmark here

“Have we met before?”Bookmark here

“Of course not.”Bookmark here

“Haa. So, how do you know my name?”Bookmark here

“Oh, call me Bradford.” He walked toward me and extended his hand for a handshake.Bookmark here

I hesitantly took it, he had a tight grip before releasing me.Bookmark here

“Who are you?”Bookmark here

“I’m Bradford.”Bookmark here

“Who?” I tilted my head to the side with confusion.Bookmark here

“I’m with the government. Have you heard of E-HAD?”Bookmark here

“Nope.”Bookmark here

“Of course not. If you did, you wouldn't be standing here right now.”Bookmark here

I took a step back. This man, even though he said it so casually, but in reality, this man just threatened my life right this very instant.Bookmark here

“Don't worry, I'm not here to hurt you, instead, I’m here to congratulate you on your earlier heroic deed. It must have been tough saving all those people by yourself, Brightstar.”Bookmark here

Wait, did my cover just get blown?Bookmark here

“How?”Bookmark here

“Oh, I forgot to explain: E-HAD stands for Extra-Human Accommodation Department. We specialize in helping heroes in their day-to-day activities. We monitor, secure, and enforce the regulation that was created by the government along with the help of Delta. We are like your lawyer, slash, nanny, I guess. Don’t worry about your secret identity, only I held that information.”Bookmark here

“Ha…”Bookmark here

“Here.” He handed me a card with my superhero name on it.Bookmark here

“Your probationary licence. Also, here.” He handed me another object, but this time, it was a small handbook.Bookmark here

“In this small book are the guidelines of what you can and cannot do as a Superhero. Read it. I highly recommend it.”Bookmark here

“All of this is too much to process.”Bookmark here

“Take your time, by yourself that is, because I need to go.” He walked past me.Bookmark here

“Wait!” I stopped him.Bookmark here

“What is it?”Bookmark here

“One of the robbers. Did he…?”Bookmark here

“He is fine. Don’t worry about him,” said Bradford with a smirk before turning, but he suddenly stopped.Bookmark here

He turned toward me, placing his hand on my shoulder. I raised an eyebrow at him. A sudden explosive burn shot up to my head causing me to fall on my knees. Out of nowhere, Bradford planted his fist in my gut. I almost threw up but held it back at the last moment by sheer will.Bookmark here

“W-What the hell man?!”Bookmark here

“Advice for you: never touch me again. Also, pain is a great teacher, think about that because you will face a lot much worse than this if you want to stay on your path.”Bookmark here

Bradford left me as I squirmed in agony.Bookmark here

Who is this guy? What kind of man just gut-punched someone out of nowhere. I almost fainted from the pain alone. I didn't even realize he had moved his hand before it was too late. That wasn't just a normal guy, he’s dangerous. Mental note on that.Bookmark here

I stared at the card laid on the floor while my face was sleeping against the warm concrete. A smile suddenly formed.Bookmark here

“I’m officially a hero now. Hell yeah.” It was a mini cheer, small and quiet, but nothing less in sprite from a regular one.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.