MISC: Thunderclap #4 - Philosophy
rickhindle at gmail.com
rickhindle at gmail.com
Wed Jan 17 18:41:02 PST 2007
#4 - Philosophy
by Rick Hindle
[cover: Thunderclap is sitting on his couch in the background, watching
a man wearing a suit, mask, and fedora fighting a woman dressed in a
black spandex suit]
All I wanted to do was sleep on my stomach. It's the way I'd slept
since I was a little kid and it's how I felt most comfortable sleeping.
But the self-proclaimed "nurse" Kenny wouldn't let me, instead, he
forced me to sleep on my back by going to Target and picking up a bunch
of pillows to surround me.
I felt like an infant in its crib as I tried to flop around
unsuccessfully in my own bed. Kenny's idea was sound, and it was
really nice of him, but my shoulder was feeling better. "Gretchen
says you have to stay like this," Kenny stated.
"And do you always listen to what Gretchen says?" I responded,
somewhat annoyed at the whole situation. For the last three days, the
only time I'd been out of bed was to take a leak. I was surprised
Kenny hadn't offered to carry me there with the way that he and
Gretchen had been hovering over me.
Kenny thought for a second. "Well, when it comes to your health,
Gretchen knows best," he finally replied.
"Kenny, she's not a doctor. She's in grad school getting her
"Well, that's better than either of us."
"Yeah, and he at least went to class," Gretchen said as she
entered the room. She was sipping a cup of iced coffee from Lido's
down the street. My taste buds were watering - one of the
"doctor's" orders had not to give me caffeine - I hadn't been
three days without coffee since I was in middle school.
"I went to class," I protested.
"Going to football meetings and getting cheerleaders to take tests
for you does not constitute 'going to class', Clay," Gretchen
responded as she sat on the edge of the bed.
I was staring at her coffee cup so intently that I thought it was
going to burst into flames. "What are you staring-" Gretchen began
before a hole appeared in her plastic coffee cup, dumping ice and
coffee onto her white skirt covered lap.
"What the hell!" she exclaimed. She jumped up, looking down at
herself. She looked up at me and cursed before running off to the
Kenny was laughing hysterically, "How did you do that?" he managed
to squeak out.
I was sitting that, in shock and awe. I'm just not sure what I was so
amazed at - my powers or seeing Gretchen that embarrassed. "I
didn't even know I could do that."
A few minutes later, the bathroom door creaked open, and Gretchen
stuck her head out, "Um...Clay, do you have any shorts?"
I started to get up, but Kenny pushed me back down. "Stay," he
ordered before going over to my dresser. "Which drawer?" he asked.
"Second one down," I replied without looking away from the brown
haired girl standing in my bathroom door.
"These fine?" Kenny asked, holding up the shorts.
"Sure," Gretchen and I responded in unison.
She turned her attention from the shorts Kenny was holding to me, and
I glanced away quickly. I felt stupid - I wish I could hide under a
table or something. But no, I was stuck in my bed with nowhere to go.
Eventually, Gretchen came walking out of the bathroom. She was still
wearing a blue spaghetti strapped top, but now was wearing a pair of
gray Loyola lacrosse shorts that I liked to wear to the gym in place of
her wet skirt.
"Much better," she proclaimed as Kenny went to work cleaning up
the coffee from the floor. He had left the coffee sitting there for
too long - some of the sugar was beginning to make the floor sticky.
The room was silent except for the scrubbing. I was staring at
Gretchen, who was in turn watching Kenny clean. Whenever she would
look over at me, I would quickly look down at Kenny. I was being more
obvious than a junior high kid staring at his crush. Was I attracted
to her? That was obvious. But did I have a crush on her?
As Kenny scrubbed the hardwood floor in my bedroom, he looked up at
me. "Clay," he said, breaking the silence, "Why don't you tell
us why you've decided to go risk your life in the pursuit of truth,
justice, and whatever else you superheroes do?"
"Why does it matter?" I responded. In truth, I knew this question
was going to come up one day, but I honestly did not know the answer.
Both Gretchen and Kenny stared at me. "Was this a set-up of some
"A bit," Gretchen answered, blushing slightly. "The whole
coffee thing wasn't, though."
Kenny smiled sheepishly. "Honestly, we just want Suzie to shut up
about you being Thunderclap and how it's going to ruin everyone's
I chuckled softly. "Does anyone really like her?"
"Other then Tommy, you mean?" Gretchen replied.
"I don't think Tommy likes her all the time, either," I responded,
which drew a laugh.
There was then silence as Kenny finished cleaning. "So, did you find
anything in those books?" Kenny asked as he sat down on the opposite
side of my bed.
I looked over at him, "What books?"
Kenny looked at Gretchen then at me, "The books that Tommy said you
were picking up from your mom's. I think he said something about them
being your dad's journals."
I clenched my jaw, my lips grew tight, and I swore deep down in my
throat. "Is there anything I can tell Tommy without it becoming
Gretchen and Kenny exchanged glances. "No," they responded in
"I swear to God," I said, looking straight up at my white-painted
ceiling, "I should start hanging out with 12 year old girls. At
least they can keep secrets better than Tommy can."
"Then you'd be crazy and a freak," Gretchen said.
I looked over at her. "Well, which am I right now?"
"I'm still trying to decide."
~ ~ ~
Bakker Industries owned a number of research facilities throughout
Pinnacle City. From their massive military research and development
complex at MacHammond Airport to their small laboratories spread in
seemingly random places throughout the city, Bakker Industries tried to
keep their hands in every known business just out of sheer volume.
She was dressed all in black except for a thin hoop of silver around
her waist. The Spider was thin enough to maneuver through tight spaces
and athletic enough to climb buildings with limited equipment. Her job
was a simple one, according to her employer - steal a formula from
Bakker Industries, one that they would never even notice being gone.
So over the last three months, the Spider had schemed and engineered
ways for her to get close to the ParaX-13 formula. All in all, it was
one of her more simple plans: get hired at Bakker Industries as a lab
assistant, find out where the formula was stored, and then figure out
exactly how to get in.
A quarter million bucks for a job she could have done in her sleep was
something that made her smile. She chose not to at this moment,
however, as she ran her fingers over the many tiny vials in the lab.
The Spider smiled as she picked up a tube labeled "ParaX-13".
After tucking it safely away in her padded belt, she moved silently
over to the computer where she inputted her password and began to
download the formula to a disk. All in all, a nice, easy little job.
"I'd like you to nicely log off of that computer, step away, and
keep your hands where I can see them," a man's voice stated firmly,
yet calmly from behind her.
The Spider wheeled around to see the Fedora standing there. He was
dressed in a business suit that she knew was specially designed to
limit the potential for injury. The man wore gloves that matched the
black suit, as well as a domino mask, and his trademark brown fedora.
"Ah, the Spider, so good of you to drop in this evening," the
Fedora said, a smile on his clean-shaven face.
Without resorting to banter, the Spider simply swiped her hand out and
slapped a group of vials towards the floor. As the glass shattered and
the liquids within mixed, a fireball erupted, catching many of the
other vials in its wake.
Flames suddenly began to appear everywhere in the lab as the Fedora
struggled with his choices. He could stop the Spider and bring her to
justice, true, but he could also stop the fire from spreading
throughout the rest of the building.
The Fedora made a halfhearted gesture towards the Spider, who moved
out of the way with ease. She reached back for the disk she had been
downloading the formula to, but the Fedora knocked her hand away.
"I'd leave now, if I were you," he told her. "There are bigger
problems then you here," he said as a watched the flames grow closer
to a gas tank.
The Spider glanced towards the flames and made up her mind. She
turned quickly on her heel and sprinted out of the door.
The Fedora gave one glance at the flames as they neared the gas tank.
As he turned to run, he could only think, "Dad is not going to happy
~ ~ ~
Tommy stared at the television while sipping his beer, his mind
whirling at a thousand thoughts per second. He had just had another
fight with Suzie about Clay's decision to become Thunderclap, and it
was all wearing on him. After all this time together, Tommy still
couldn't figure out what bothered Suzie so much about Clay becoming a
superhero. After all, Tommy thought, she had been so gung-ho about his
adventures when they had started dating.
Suzie sat next to him on the couch, just changing channels. She was
wearing shorts and a long sleeve t-shirt, her legs tucked under his
body, her blond hair tied high on her head. Eventually she settled on
the news, where a dark woman with unnaturally bright blond hair was
talking about the sudden appearance and now disappearance of
"...and after only a brief moment as Pinnacle City's newest
superhero, has the rumored new Thunderclap gone the way of Velocity or
the Magic Princess?" the reporter asked. "Back to you Tim and
Tommy cringed at the mention of Velocity. It had been a while since
he had heard that name, and it still brought back memories, both good
"I hope he's come to his senses," Suzie stated. Tommy just shook
Suzie looked over at Tommy, "You know I'm right. He's just crazy
for doing something like that."
Tommy clenched his jaw, "Why's he crazy for wanting to help
people?" he spat, "Why don't you get up off your ass and help
Suzie's eyes widened, and her face grew red. "He's risking his life
for people he doesn't know."
Tommy shrugged, "Don't cops and soldiers do the same thing?"
"Yeah, but they get paid for it," she said coldly.
Tommy was shocked, but not surprised. Suzie came from big money over
in Westinvale. She had gone to Smith, and then come back to Pinnacle
City where she barely worked. "So, that's it. If he was making
money doing it, you'd be fine with it?"
Suzie shook her head, "No, you're misunderstanding me, like
"There's not much for me to misunderstand," Tommy retorted. "It
sounds like you're the one who's gone to start learning things."
"Why's that?" Suzie replied, "Because I don't know what's it's
like to be a superhero?"
Tommy nodded, a slight, almost sarcastic smile on his face,
Suzie's lips formed one small, thin line on her over-tanned face.
"Or is because I don't know what it's like to walk away from being a
It didn't phase Tommy, not at all. Not like all the other times she
had asked that question. "You never got it, did you? You never got
why I walked away."
She shrugged. "It's because you're a quitter, Tommy."
Tommy stood up quickly, almost in a blur. He was seeing red. Of all
the things she had ever said to him on this topic, she had never, ever
called him a quitter before. Tommy tried to calm himself before
responding, "I stopped because I didn't want anyone I cared about to
Suzie smiled and again shrugged. "Yup, you're a quitter."
"Do you want to die? Do you want some crazed lunatic like the Red
Samurai or Blood Wraith, or some other wacko coming in and holding a
knife to your throat?"
"I can take care of myself."
"Really? Daddy's money can do a lot of things for you, Suzie, but
it only attracts wackos who know who I am. Want a better way for them
to become king of the ball?"
"Whatever," Suzie replied, not daring to look away.
"No, 'whatever'," he told her. "I gave it all up because I
wanted to make everyone in my life happy. Even if you can't be happy
in it. I quit because I cared."
Without another word, Tommy turned and walked out the front door,
slamming it shut behind him.
"Tommy..." Suzie said quietly, her eyes not moving off of the
~ ~ ~
The Fedora silently opened the apartment window and slid into the
room. It was a nice apartment, slightly messy. But he knew where he
was and who lived here. And that was the important part.
There was a girl on the couch, sound asleep. She was attractive, with
brown hair and long legs that were obvious beneath the blanket draped
over her slumbering figure. Moving silently, the Fedora tried not to
wake her, but he was laboring to breath, possibly because of the ribs
he had just cracked.
After getting out of the burning Bakker Industries lab before it
exploded, the Fedora had tried tracking to Spider back to either her
hideout or her boss. Either one was good enough for him. Instead, he
had stumbled across a hideout belonging to Isaac Foss, a major member
of the criminal underworld in Pinnacle City. It turned out that Foss
wasn't employing the Spider. But something made purely of energy was
definitely working for Foss.
Shoque, or whatever Foss called it, had broken his ribs and probably
had given him a concussion, not to mention the burns he had. How was
he going to explain this one to his old man?
As he moved quietly through the apartment, the Fedora was caught up
too much in his own thoughts when he tripped over a haphazardly thrown
skirt. He tripped and fell, grunting loudly when he landed, trying to
brace his mid-section.
~ ~ ~
Gretchen sprung up from the couch, her senses suddenly aware. She had
gone to self-defense classes at night at the Y - she was fairly sure
she was going to be able to protect herself from some average burglar.
Gretchen stepped up onto the back of the crouch and jumped towards the
burglar, and used her elbow to cushion her fall into the guy's
The burglar let out a loud howl as more ribs broke.
The lights in the room suddenly went on as Clay ran out of his
bedroom. "Gretchen, are you..." he cut himself off as Gretchen
stood up and stretched.
"I'll call the cops if you want to tie him up, Clay," she said
Clay looked down at the man lying in a fetal position on his living
room floor. "Um, that's not a burglar, Gretchen."
"Huh?" she looked down at the guy on the ground. "Oh crap.
That's the Fedora, right?"
Clay nodded. He knelt down next to the crime fighter and helped him
get to his feet. "What are you doing here?" Clay asked.
"I'm looking for help," the Fedora responded as he tried to catch
his breath. "Hopefully your help is a little better than your
Clay's brow furrowed "Why here?"
The Fedora looked at him from behind his mask. "Because, you're
~ ~ ~
Next Time: "Secrets"
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