MISC: TRANSPARENT COMICS - Mr. Transparent #2: "Home Invaders"

Frumpy jmturner at fuse.net
Mon Aug 20 11:19:13 PDT 2007

	Several months had passed since Vincent Solomon had first became the
invisible crime fighter Mr. Transparent, and he had brought many
felons to justice.  At every crime scene, he left a small business
card.  He had printed them up himself on his home computer.  The cards
said, "This injustice was thwarted through the courtesy of Mister
Transparent."  Anonymous phone calls from Vincent had led the police
to all sorts of locations where they would find a lawbreaker along
with one of the cards.  Local reporters had picked up on this, and
Mister Transparent was often featured in the local newspapers.
Vincent enjoyed reading about his exploits in the paper.  They always
sounded far more interesting through the author's exaggerated
accounts.  Vincent realized that none of his adventures thus far could
ever compare to the stories he had read on the internet about other
superheroes around the country.  Those heroes had encountered and
stopped super criminals with powers equal or greater than their own.
Vincent hadn't dealt with any threats like that.  He knew he should be
grateful for that.  No powerful criminals meant a safe city.  Still,
he couldn't help but wonder how he would do if pitted against a super-
powered criminal.
	It was summertime now, and there were no chemistry classes for
Vincent Solomon to teach at State University.  He was able to fully
devote himself to fighting crime as Mr. Transparent.  So far, it had
been a relatively quiet summer.  Vincent had stopped a few minor
robbery attempts, and that was all.  Vincent had been sleeping most of
the day and protecting the city at night.  He would roll out of bed
around five o'clock or so.  Then he would head to Dante's Café for a
bite to eat before resuming his duties as Mr. Transparent.  There was
an elderly man who always ate dinner at Dante's around the same time
as Vincent, and they had become friends.  They even started sitting
together each evening.  One particular evening, Vincent sat down with
his friend, but the man wasn't in his typical good mood.
	"What's bothering you, Hank?," Vincent asked.
	"Oh, it's this business about expanding the city," replied Hank.
"Have you heard about it?"
	"I'm afraid I haven't," Vincent admitted.
	"The mayor announced plans today to expand the city," Hank
continued.  "They're going to mow down all the trees in the outskirts
of town to make more apartment buildings.  I hate to see those woods
go.  I can remember playing in them as a boy.  With the way apartment
buildings keep popping up in this country, there aren't going to be
any trees anywhere before long."
	"Wasn't it dangerous for a boy to be playing in those woods?,"
Vincent asked.  "I'm sure a lot of mothers will be relieved to see
them go."
	"Yep," Hank chuckled.  "My mama never wanted me to fool around out
there, but that just made it more fun for me.  It wasn't dangerous at
all, but people did used to tell stories about some kind of creature
that lived there.  They were good stories.  There wasn't a bit of
truth to them, though.  Anyway, it's already been decided.  The woods
are going to go, and there's nothing we can do about it.  Some people
are going to try, though.  I heard that when the bulldozers show up
tomorrow morning that there will be some protestors waiting for them."
	"Tomorrow?," Vincent asked in disbelief.
	"That's right," Hank told him.  "The mayor's not fooling around.  He
wants it all done as fast as it can be."
	Vincent and Hank ate their dinner while Hank recounted memories of
playing in the woods in his boyhood.
	After dinner, Vincent excused himself, walked a few blocks, ducked
into a deserted alley, and put on a bright orange ski mask.  He had
decided to start covering his face just in case he became visible at a
bad time.  He wanted to eventually get a nicer, understated color, but
he hadn't gotten around to it yet for some reason.  He then took the
invisibility formula in the new capsule form he had developed.  The
night patrol of Mr. Transparent was underway.  He walked along the
downtown streets, and everything was normal.  Unseen among the crowd,
he climbed into a bus for a free ride to the other side of town.
Vincent had often debated with himself as to whether it was ethical to
use his power to board the buses without paying.  He had decided to
label it as one of the benefits of protecting the city.  After all,
his role as Mr. Transparent wasn't financially rewarding, so what he
was doing saved him a great deal of money.
	Things were reasonably quiet on the other side of town, too.  Vincent
didn't come across anything that required a superhero's attention that
whole evening, so he decided to go home early.  That way, he could get
an early start the next day.  The situation with the protestors in the
woods might get ugly in the morning, so he wanted to be there just in
case he was needed.
	Mr. Transparent was on the scene in the morning.  About thirty
protestors were already gathered in the woods, singing songs and
holding signs.  Three bulldozers arrived a short time later.  The
three drivers all stopped their vehicles.
	"What's going on here?," one of the drivers demanded.
	"We're not going to let you do this, man!," a skinny protestor
vowed.  "It's time to stop pushing Mother Nature around!"
	"The public already voted on this," the driver replied.  "The time
for protesting is over.  It's too late now, so you all need to just go
on home."
	"No way!," a female protestor chimed in.
	The three drivers dismounted.  They huddled together for a minute.
Then the same driver spoke again.
	"If you won't go, then we'll be forced to call the authorities," he
threatened.  "We don't want to do that, but we will if you don't
	In response, one of the protestors threw a small rock at the
drivers.  It nearly hit one of them, and that driver became very
	"That does it!," he cried, and he climbed onto his bulldozer.  The
other two drivers urged him not to, but he started the engine.
Vincent prepared for the worst.  The driver headed toward the
protestors.  Luckily, the protestors were smart enough to get out of
his way.  The driver stopped the bulldozer.
	"So much for your big talk!," the driver bellowed.  "Now get out of
	"You're nothing but a bully, man!," one protestor cried as he ran
away, but five of the thirty did not leave.
	"You five get lost, too!," the irate driver told them.
	"Quit acting like a fool, Cliff!," the head driver yelled at his
comrade.  "You've already caused enough trouble without threatening
these five people!"
	"I got most of them to leave," Cliff said proudly.  "What did your
talking do?"
	"You could have killed someone, you idiot!," the head driver
exclaimed.  "Get off that dozer!  You're fired!"
	Those words only made Cliff more angry.
	"Fine," said Cliff.  "I will get off it."
	With that, Cliff started the engine again and jumped off it.  The
bulldozer was unmanned and out of control.  It plowed into a tree.
Vincent hopped onto the back of it, climbed into the seat, and managed
to stop it as it collided with another tree.
	"Thank God," the head driver said softly.  "I don't know what stopped
it, but that could have been a disaster."
	Cliff stared in amazement.
	"How did you stop it?," Cliff asked the other drivers.
	Before anyone could say anything else, a noise came from back in the
woods.  It was a sound of movement, and it was coming closer.  Looks
of horror appeared on everyone's faces as a brown creature dove out of
the trees.  It looked sort of like a man with two arms and legs, but
it was hairy with quills all over its body.  The only way Vincent
could think of to describe it was to call it a humanoid porcupine.
Three of the protestors and one of the bulldozer drivers fled the area
as soon as they saw it.  The other four people were frozen with fear.
To Vincent's amazement, the creature spoke to the people.
	"This is my home!," it said.  "Take your blasted humanity away from
here forever!"
	"B-b-but..we have a j-j-job to do," the head driver said nervously.
	"Fool, would you let someone destroy your home?," answered the
porcupine creature, and he pointed to the bulldozer and the two fallen
trees.  "I see what your work is, and I'm not going to allow it!
Leave now, or I'll have to defend myself!"
	"Oh yeah!," the hotheaded Cliff responded.  "What can you do to us,
you freak?"
	Cliff foolishly charged the creature.  The creature turned its back
on him.  The creature had a long tail that it swung at the reckless
man.  Cliff got a face full of quills from the tail.  They dug deep
into his flesh.  One even went into his eye.  Cliff fell to the ground
in agony.  Vincent knew he had to act fast if he wanted to save
Cliff's life and protect the others.  Still sitting in the driver's
seat of Cliff's bulldozer, he started it up.  He headed straight for
the porcupine creature in it.  The creature moved away as fast as its
short legs would carry it.
	"What's controlling that thing?," the creature wondered aloud.
	Vincent chased the creature away from the others with the bulldozer
until it disappeared into the trees.  Vincent turned the bulldozer
back around.  He saw that the last two protestors had gone, but the
head driver was trying to help Cliff.  Vincent stopped the bulldozer
beside them.
	"You need to get out of here," Vincent told the head driver.
	"Who said that?," the driver asked.
	"I'm Mr. Transparent," Vincent answered.
	"The invisible superhero?," gasped the driver.  "I never thought I'd
meet you.  Of course, I never expected to see a human porcupine
either.  Well, believe me, I want to get out of here, but I can't just
leave Cliff here.  As dumb as he is, I don't want him to die, but he
won't let me help him.  He's out of his mind with pain."
	Vincent saw that Cliff was in fact squirming around on the ground in
agony.  He was mumbling and cursing to himself as if the other man
wasn't even there.  Vincent took a quick glance around.  He found a
cell phone stuck between himself and the seat.  He quickly dialed
911.  As Vincent talked to the operator, the creature made a surprise
return.  The creature quickly grabbed the head driver, and the two of
them vanished into the woods.  Vincent banged his fist against the
bulldozer in frustration.  He couldn't let his guard down for a second
against this strange enemy, and now the porcupine creature had a
prisoner.  That's if the creature didn't kill the other driver before
Vincent could find them.  What should he do?  If he went into the
woods, Cliff would be unprotected.  If he stayed with Cliff until help
arrived, the creature could seriously harm the other driver.  Vincent
figured he would at least know Cliff was safe if he stayed there for a
few minutes until help arrived.  Going into the woods would make both
men unprotected.
	Six minutes seemed like an eternity as medics finally arrived on the
scene.  Vincent knew they saw Cliff, so he took off into the woods
after the creature.  He wasn't sure what he could do to help the other
driver, but he had to do something.  Vincent saw them up in a tree.
The porcupine creature didn't seem to be hurting the driver.  He was
just talking to him.  Vincent moved a little closer to get a better
look at the creature.  Vincent knew that porcupines didn't have quills
on their bellies, but this creature seemed to be completely covered
with them.  No, that wasn't true.  Vincent eventually did notice a
very small area without quills.  It was where a human's belly button
would be.  That tiny, little area seemed to be its only vulnerable
	Vincent rushed back to where the medics were.  He nearly scared one
of them to death when he spoke.
	"This is Mr. Transparent," Vincent said.  "I know you can't see me,
but please listen to me.  I need to use your radio to contact the
	The medic gathered his wits and led the unseen hero to the radio.
Vincent managed to get an officer named O'Leary on the radio.
	"I need you to bring a tranquilizer gun out here immediately,"
Vincent told the policeman.
	"A tranquilizer gun?," O'Leary asked.  "Are ye daft, man?  Now listen
here, Mr. Transparent.  I know ye've helped the force and all with a
lot of cases, but ye haven't got any right to be calling me up with
crazy demands."
	"It's not crazy," Vincent said.  "It's the only hope we have.
Please, Officer O'Leary.  Can you bring me a tranquilizer gun?  You
know I've been there for the police.  Now I need the police to be here
for me."
	"Okay," O'Leary sighed.  "I'll see what I can do.  If I can get it,
I'll come as quick as I can."
	The medics sped away.  All Vincent could do now was wait for Officer
	Up in his favorite tree, the porcupine creature munched on leaves as
it talked to the bulldozer driver.
	"That's exactly what's wrong with humanity," the creature said.  "You
make plans without thinking about the consequences.  I know that from
experience.  Now you want to use your machines to destroy my home.
Well, where am I supposed to go?  This is the only home I've ever
known, and I won't give it up!  All I wanted was to be left alone, but
humanity had to disturb me.  Maybe they won't be as quick to bother me
now that you're my prisoner!  It looks like all the other people are
gone, so you're alone with me.  Don't worry.  I won't hurt you unless
humanity forces me to."
	It was nearly an hour before Officer O'Leary showed up with a
tranquilizer gun.
	"I've got it," the policeman said.  "Now what the blazes do ye want
it for?"
	"Officer O'Leary, there's a creature in these woods," Vincent
explained.  "I know this is hard to believe, but it's some sort of
mutant porcupine."
	"Me boy, nothing is hard to believe when it comes from an invisible
man," O'Leary told him.  "Do ye think this tranquilizer gun can stop
	"Yes," Vincent said.  "It won't be easy, though.  Are you a good
shot, Officer O'Leary?"
	"Is green beer green?," O'Leary said proudly.  "I'm one of the best
shots on the force."
	"Great," Vincent said.  "I'm going to try to get him to come this
way.  When he does, shoot him with the tranquilizer gun.  You'll have
to hit him in a small spot on his stomach.  It's the area where a
man's navel would be."
	"I'll do me best," O'Leary promised.  "Good luck."
	"The same to you, sir," Vincent said.  "I believe we'll both need
	Vincent returned to the same tree.  The porcupine creature and his
prisoner were still there.  Vincent made a moaning sound.
	"What's that?," the driver asked.
	"I don't know," the creature replied.
	"I am the spirit of the trees!," Vincent lied.  "Climb out of my
branches, and stop eating my leaves!"
	"I've lived here a long time," the creature said.  "I've never heard
any tree spirit before.  Do you think I'm a fool?  This is all some
sort of trick of humanity, but I won't fall for it!  My prisoner and I
will stay right here.  If you try to get us out, I'll kill him.
That's the way it is, so-called tree spirit."
	"You're right," admitted Vincent.  "I'm a man--not a tree spirit, but
you can't see me.  I could be anywhere.  How can you defend yourself
against someone you can't see?"
	"I don't need to, foolish man," the creature warned.  "If I feel
threatened, I'll kill this human, and you can't touch me because of my
	"Perhaps there is a peaceful resolution to all this," Vincent
suggested.  "Maybe we could find you another place to live."
	"If we did, someone would just come along in a few years to try and
tear it down for more of your blasted buildings," the creature said.
"No!  If I give in now, I'll never have a home!  I won't do it!
Humanity can't have my home!"
	Vincent couldn't help but sympathize with the creature.  It seemed to
be more human than animal.  Didn't it have a right to a peaceful
home?  It was really just acting in self-defense.  Vincent hoped the
human and the creature would both come out of this situation unharmed.
	"Bring the man down out of the tree, and we'll talk all this out,"
said Vincent.  "There's no need for more violence."
	"There wouldn't have been any violence if humanity had minded its own
business!," the creature fumed.  "Only one fool has tasted my tail so
far, but there will be more if you don't leave me alone."
	Vincent became visible.  The porcupine immediately spotted him in his
blue sweat suit and bright orange ski mask.
	"How did you do that?," the creature wondered.  "You must be a
scientist.  Scientist are the worst of humanity!  Why did you make
yourself seen?"
	"I propose a trade," Vincent said.  "Let that man go.  Take me as
your prisoner."
	The creature thought it over.
	"I accept your trade," the creature said.  "You're a scientist, and
humanity treats its foolish scientists like kings.  That makes you
more valuable to me.  We'll be down in a minute to make the exchange."
	The porcupine creature clicked its teeth as it climbed down the tree
with its prisoner.  Vincent knew he had to act quickly.  He slipped an
invisibility capsule between his teeth, but he didn't swallow it.  The
creature was busy climbing, so it didn't see him slip his hand under
his mask.  The creature kept his prisoner close to him as he stared at
	"Put your hands in the air," the creature ordered.
	Vincent obliged, and the creature released the bulldozer driver.  The
man ran away as fast as he could.  The creature tried to grab his new
hostage, but Vincent surprised him by swallowing the capsule to become
invisible again.
	"What's this?," the creature demanded.  "It's a cursed humanity
	The creature didn't know where Vincent had gone, but it could still
see the bulldozer driver.  It took off after him.  It almost caught up
to him, but the invisible Mr. Transparent tripped the creature with a
stick.  The creature scrambled to its feet, continuing to pursue the
driver.  Vincent ran alongside them.  They passed through the trees
into a clearing where Officer O'Leary was waiting.  O'Leary fired the
tranquilizer gun, but he missed.  The tranquilizer dart went between
the creature and driver before hitting a tree.  Disgusted, O'Leary
threw down the tranquilizer gun.  He pulled out his pistol instead.
	"That thing is too big and clumsy, but I won't miss with this," the
policeman swore.
	O'Leary was true to his word.  The bullet from his gun went into the
creature's weak spot.  The creature let out a horrible shriek.  It
fell to the ground.  The driver and policeman celebrated, but Vincent
wasn't happy.
	"Do you have a first aid kit or something?," Vincent asked.
"Anything at all that I can use to help him."
	"Sure, but why would ye want to help that thing?," O'Leary asked.
	"Just give it to me," insisted Vincent.  "I wanted to stop him not
kill him."
	The medical kit seemed to float through the air as Mr. Transparent
approached the fallen porcupine creature.  The creature surprised
Vincent by snatching the kit away from him.
	"I'll...take care of myself," the creature said weakly.  "Humanity..has...
won today, but mark my words.  Someday..I'll..take all your
homes..away from you.  I'll have...my revenge."
	The wounded creature ran away with all the strength it could muster.
The plans to turn the woods into apartment buildings resumed the next
day without any interruptions, but Vincent knew that one day the
mutant porcupine would return for revenge just as he had promised.
Thinking about that day made Vincent uneasy.

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