Author: bloodyshadow1 PM
This is a story of Hector Wise, a man that used to be hero years ago and his struggles between his pride and safety in the world today. For the longest time he accepted a life that was peaceful if degrading, but when his aid is requested by a beautiful and scared woman he is dragged into a world that he tried so hard to leave. Please read and review anything would be helpful.Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Adventure - Chapters: 4 - Words: 15,243 - Updated: 02-06-13 - Published: 11-27-12 - id: 3078070
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Modern Hero Chapter 2
My pride had suffered indignities often in my long life during my attempts to keep my life peaceful, this night was nothing new. Beaten in my own business by a drunk who decided to prematurely smash my skull in before a couple of Aphrodite's toys did, well it had been almost a year since I suffered that, but I was alive so no harm no follow. Truthfully, Bacchus probably saved me from worse punishment at the hands of the Greek god of war and Aphrodite's other admirers, even if that wasn't his intention. There was no malice in the wine god's actions so I didn't bother to consider holding a grudge, grudges were never worth it in the long run, and the long run was all that really mattered when you're going to live forever.
I'll admit, the way I suffered the indignities at the hands of my 'patrons' burned me, but I turned it aside and tried to make something productive out of it as I tried to decide what to do trapped in my office. If I went down stairs and waited tables like before everyone would know I wasn't really hurt from the beating Bacchus gave me, which meant that I could take a lot more punishment than I had let on all these years. That could be a problem, and that was assuming Aphrodite's entourage left, more likely they were still down there laughing at what just happened, it would be even worse if they saw me walking around unhindered.
No, it would be better if I just stayed up in my office and got some of the more boring work that I'd been putting off for a while done. Bills, orders to refresh my stock, inventory reports, it was all important, but nothing that anyone would write a story about. I would much rather be behind the bar, or even waiting on tables than being stuck up here with this boring work, but it needed to be done. So I waved Debbie off of me, since Olaf was a Viking he didn't think I needed to be coddled and just told me to lie down. He's a good man. But Debbie, Debbie was just Debbie like I said before, there is more to her story but I don't really feel like getting into it just yet. She was, as far as you know, just a very sweet girl… I'm probably lying but hey, what do you know. She was barely twenty five as far as I could tell, and far too sweet for this line of work, yet somehow she survived without making a certain choice. That choice will also become more important later on.
She tried to baby me, wet washcloth cleaning the blood off my face and everything, I appreciated it, but I finally managed to convince her that I was fine. "I promise Deb," I only call her that when I want her to do something for me, it usually works, "I'm fine, I've experienced worse. You know I've experienced worse, I just have a small headache from getting my head smashed, but other than that I'm fine." The headache was actually quite bad, but I didn't let her know that. If I did she would spend all night trying to make me feel better.
"Okay boss," Debbie said obviously not buying it, but you can't really call your boss out on things like this. She left to man the bar, which was important, so I could get up and do the paperwork that was also important.
But first, I needed someone to fill in for the boss who was supposed to fill in for Sandra who called in sick. Debbie, Marley, Chris, Oak, and Olaf Bloodfang came in today like they were supposed to, on a slower night that would be all Wise Magic would need, but for some reason every Abnormal in the city decided to pick this Thursday night to go out and party; our D.J. wasn't even here during the week yet they still flocked here, maybe it was a holiday tomorrow or something. Normally, I had at least seven people, a regular bartender, and myself acting as a barkeep, but this week was just bad for most of his staff. Sweetums had asked for this weekend off months ago, Orin had taken off for religious reasons, the Wandering Horror was visiting its in-laws, Xaclan got lost in the area between planes and wouldn't be back for a while, Dirk the Swift was on vacation, Maple was off fighting an evil wizard, Sandra, Emily, and Lance all called in sick. That left only Nightshadow and Coyote who both had day off; I hated to call one of them now. They were two of my best workers and they tended to work more than anyone else in the club except for me and I wanted to let them enjoy their free time, but we are especially understaffed now that I was banished to my office so there was no other choice.
Don't get me wrong, I like my office, it's as cozy as an office of a nightclub owner could be. It's a pretty big space, I think I was am claustrophobic at least a little, so it was good to have enough space to get up and pace if I needed to think instead of being trapped behind a desk. Speaking of, I made sure to furnish my office how I liked, made for my pleasure instead of hopes to look professional. I have a big oak desk with a lot of fancy drawers that held important papers and stuff, with a swivel chair that lets me go anywhere in my office without getting up. I have three comfy chairs in front on the other side of my desk for any important business meetings I have, during those I usually hide my Bugs Bunny phone, because Lance says that it doesn't look quite professional. What does a medieval knight know about business meetings anyway, probably a lot more than me but still, it kills me inside each time I put it into one of my desk drawers. I also have a couch and a coffee table, apparently all nightclub owners need one to do drugs on or something, but it's kind of a nice table, dark wood carved with intricate figures of Susanoo fighting the Orochi with a glass surface to put stuff on, so I don't feel like tainting it by pouring drugs on it. I don't even do mortal or Abnormal drugs I'm certainly not going to ruin my nice coffee table simply because it's what I'm supposed to do. The one thing in my office that I didn't put in myself was the bar, that was put in by Anubis a hundred years ago or so when he took over the tavern for me, and I thank him every day for it. When Revazal owned the place, she used to stock it with whiskey, I don't mind whiskey, but I prefer wine so that's what is there now.
I grabbed my Bugs Bunny phone and called up Coyote, he was a good worker is a bit sarcastic, he also always had free time so he was a better choice than Nightshadow; she would be working tomorrow anyway so there was no point in bringer her in early, besides, her fiancé would be upset with me, they don't have enough quality time together as it is. I typed the number in and waited for him to pick up, "yeah," a voice on the other side answered. He sounded kind of annoyed but he didn't sound like he was sleeping so that was a good sign.
"Hey Coyote, its Hector," I'm not sure how many Hectors he knew, I personally know a few, but I'm sure he knew it was me.
"Oh hey boss, what's up," he sounded a lot more cordial now that he knew it was his boss calling, but I wasn't fooled. Coyote only worked for me because we were friends, I don't have any power over him, not even the power a boss has over an employee, but that might be why he's such a good worker. "Do you need me to come in tonight?"
"How'd you know," but I guess that it was a stupid question. Coyote was a New World god he's weird like that; he probably used some strange power that they didn't have back in the old world to see what's going on.
"I checked my caller ID and it said that you were calling from the club, usually means that you want me to come in," he said like he was talking to a child. Or he could just do that I suppose; magic would have been cooler though. "Don't pout, and don't say you aren't because I can tell," stupid New World animal god, knows me so well he can already guess what I'm about to do. "You aren't the only one I can read, in fact you're one of the hardest, must be those centuries of lying." Oh yeah I almost forgot that Coyote knew who I really was, damn it, far too many people knew my identity already.
At first I think discovering my identity was just a weird game for him, to see if he could find out the mystery that most people didn't even know existed. Most Abnormals didn't know each other's culture, so when they ran into someone who they didn't know they just assumed that they were from some other place that they've never been, if they were important enough to now they would have heard of them no matter where they were from. This mindset had helped me a lot over the years after the clash since everyone assumed I belonged to another group other than their own and let it drop.
Unfortunately, that didn't apply to the New World Abnormals, to them, every Abnormal who came from across the seas were strangers and belonged to one group, even if they crossed different oceans. Some of them were curious about the new arrivals and wanted to learn as much as they can about the new comers stories. That was fine for most, Abnormals tended to be vain and desperate to cling to their fame, they were more than happy to regal everyone with tales of heroic, power, and other things that people tend to brag about, I don't know. However, there are others like me who saw coming to the New World as a fresh start, a way to leave the past on the other side of the oceans. "I must be good at it you're the only one who actually found out without me trusting enough to tell," apparently I'm something of a celebrity in the circles they run since so few know my true identity and even fewer are willing to talk about it, another reason why I moved around so much even here.
The way Coyote found my identity was not a way I enjoyed, it was far worse than all indignities that I had suffered in my line of work. "Yeah, I'm sorry about that," he said and I knew he really was, which is why he is still able to walk around after forcing me into such a situation.
"Water off a duck's back," I say trying to let that particular memory remain buried, "you've tried your best to make up for it, I can't ask you to do any more. But can you come in or not, I need someone here to cover for me and you and Nightshadow are the only ones available."
After a staying quiet for a few seconds he spoke up, "yeah, I'll be there in 15 Warrior King," he said before hanging up. Well there was that nickname he gave me after finding out; I suppose that means he was out of his funk which was good for a waiter.
That just left me alone with just my thoughts and a big stack of boring, if necessary, paperwork. Unlike a lot of my peers I don't have what would now be referred to as ADHD or ADD, at times like this I wish I did, it would have given me an excuse to slack off. But no, poor me has to be one of the few warriors from my day that wasn't completely off my gourd with excess energy 24/7. It took a few hours and several glasses of wine, but I finished what I could until about an hour before closing. My headache got worse by that time, but it wasn't enough to really hinder me.
I took a few minutes to relax and get up to stretch, but I was interrupted, "Boss," Debbie called from the other side of my door. "D.J. Seven-Seventy is here to talk to you about tomorrow," she said coming in not even bothering to knock. It was a policy that I established with all my new employees, my door was always open to my employees… even when it was closed… metaphorically. I don't know get off my back I'm tired and old; I have other things to worry about.
"Thanks Debbie, I could use a break after finishing this boring paper work," I say walking back behind my desk ready to meet my weekend D.J.
"No problem boss," she said giving me that almost sweet innocent little girl smile that so many men in this day and age find incredibly sexy on a twenty year old woman. She led a blonde man into my office, okay just a warning, this guy was good looking, I'm friends with a lot of pretty men, but this guy was like, beyond handsome. That is going to raise some questions that I don't really feel like answering right now, so I'm going to sweep them under the rug for now. He walked in with the confidence of seven larger men, with robot arms, glancing back to catch a glimpse of Debbie when she left the room after bringing him in. He did a bit more than linger before sitting down, but so did Debbie when she walked out to look at his backside at the same time, she was aware of it and so was he. If neither of them minded, I wasn't going to say anything. But eventually he did sit down, with his head still facing the other way; he had been here enough times to navigate the room without having to look.
"So what's up Hector? I heard you had a rough night and Almighty Zeus," the D.J. exclaimed when he finally turned around and saw me. Okay I will admit it, I look like a mess, but did I really warrant this guy bringing Big Z's name down on me. Yeah, I kind of did. My clothes were all unruffled, my shirt was unbuttoned, my hair was a mess all unruly and what not, and I was covered in my own blood still. To be honest, since I became immortal, my own blood seemed less important, all I know is that it is tasty and red. It should be golden, but I take great lengths to conceal my identity I drink a potion to make sure it stays red when it comes out instead of the golden color of ichor. I know for a fact that my blood is tasty though, Oak my vampire employee told me so and the other vampires I owe favors too let my pay in my extremely tasty blood so I know it's a good vintage …I have odd things that I take pride in.
But getting back to my original point, I looked like a mess and I wasn't trying to hide it. That was the good thing about my office being up here above the club with one-way glass windows let me see out, but they couldn't see me up here in my sorry state. I'll admit looking down at my club, all the people, Abnormals, Normals, down there like they were below me made me feel good. I wonder if the gods of each walk of life felt like this staring down at us puny mortals and are toils. If so, I can forgive their arrogance I bit I guess, I often stare down at two stories for a few minutes and feel so powerful and great, if I did it for years, I could get a little full of myself. But I wasn't one to let such things cloud my mind so I rarely stood in front of the scene when I didn't have to check on things. "It's not that bad, is it," I ask knowing already that I look quite the mess, and now that pretty boy is in the room I look even worse in comparison.
"It's pretty bad boss," he said, he seemed pretty hesitant to go into detail, which I was grateful for I guess, "it probably isn't as bad as it seems but since you're wearing that ridiculous mask it probably amplifies the way your wounds look." He explained, it didn't make me feel better though, it only reminded me that another person knew who I was underneath this mask.
"Let's forget about how awful I look now and talk about business. Are you ready to go on," I ask him. We go over this every Thursday night, and it's always the same thing, but I try to keep it professional.
"Of course Hector, D.J. Seven Seventy is always ready to perform," he proclaimed stressing the last syllable of Seventy so it almost sounded like Sevenday. It was how it was supposed to sound, but I still found it a bit weird, but hey, I'm not hip like he is.
"You're still going with that name," I tease a bit.
"Laugh it up, you're not the best person to make fun of someone's name Hector Wise," he stressed my alias like it was just as absurd as his own. "At least my stage name is my name backwards and upside-down; you took yours from someone you fought a long time ago and the word wise. I guess I could preform on as D.J. Apollo, but I want people here to respect me for my music, not for my name."
I wince, not because of what he says, but how he says it, stressing some words louder than they should be with no warning. Each time it's like a nail stabbing into my brain, stupid headache. "So any lasting damage from the beating Bacchus gave you," Apollo asked. "Come on," he gestured for me to get closer even though I shook my head no, I probably shouldn't have done that, since at the smallest shake brought out more pain, it's possible my headache was getting worse, "God of medicine and healing over here. Put aside your pride and let me fix you up, it won't even take a minute," after a few more clichéd, 'get over here so I can help you on,' his part, and a few clichéd, and some 'no I'm fine,' phrases on mine; I relented and let him heal me. He walked over and placed both hands on the sides of my head, my temples I think, and whispered a few words in ancient Greek that rhymed and glowed a bit, after I could feel the pressure in my head instantly lessen. "There," he said when it was done, "all better bossman, and it didn't even take a minute." He said a bit smugly, but I let him since he did me a kindness. I'm old I can say things like doing a kindness.
"You know, you probably wouldn't need to get your butt kicked so much if you took off that mask every once and a while and showed off the man underneath," he suggested. "I know for a fact that even Ares would think twice before bullying you again, quite the feat seeing as most of the time he doesn't think once."
"Or, if I reveal my true identity I could run the risk of having the much more dangerous foes that I've made, who haven't even sniffed of a connection between Hector Wise and the man I once was, come down on my head. No, I would rather keep up the constant minor beating that at worse give me a headache, instead of facing down creatures that could and would level Grand Haven just to hurt me," I say a bit more snappish than I wanted, but it's not like I haven't had this conversation with like every single person who knew my real identity before. You know the ones that actually liked me.
Listen; to be honest I wouldn't mind if most Normals found out who I was, most of them wouldn't know me anyways. There are literally thousands of heroes that have been forgotten by history, and I was one of them. Unfortunately, that is not the case for the Abnormal community, we tend to have long memories and hold grudges. In this world, I have formed and cultivated many relationships, not all of them good; in fact I've burned several hundred bridges in my time. Several hundred expensive and angry bridges that have both political and smash you like a bug with a nose twitch power. I have a good thing going would like if they did not come into my city to in an attempt to kill me, being immortal means they can't do so, which then leads to a lot of destruction and my friends getting hurt in the crossfire.
"Whatever you say bossman," Apollo said getting up from his chair, if I offended him I couldn't tell, but I didn't want to say anything else to risk it. Apollo is not a friend, we can be civil and often on the same side, but I would be a fool to assume that we were anything more than allies. "Just a warning though Hector," he said before he walked out the door. He turned to me and his eyes glowed golden, "Just because you don't want to remove your mask and show everyone the real you, doesn't mean you'll always have a choice in the matter." Then he left and closed my door behind him, and then he stuck his head back in, "oh and Debbie wanted me to tell you that Aphrodite's party left so if you want to go down and work the bar for the last hour before closing you should be okay, tootles,"
When a god, especially the god of prophecies, says something like that to you, you take notice. I scrambled out my door to ask him what he meant, but by the time I reached the door to open it Apollo was gone. I'm not sure if he did the whole, godly teleport thing that everyone but me seems to be able to do or if he just moved at super speeds, but there was no trace of him anywhere. Oh well, he would be here tomorrow, that was something good about the sun god, he was always there when he said he would be, just as the sun would rise each day. Like I said, oh well, I'm going to be aware of what he said, but I wouldn't let it take over my life, prophecies man, can't fight um, can't understand um.
I walked down to the bar after readjusting my mask; the spell on it seemed to put my fake face back in order after I moved it around a bit. I was still covered in blood, but at least I didn't look like an elephant stomped on my head anymore, so I fixed up my hair a bit to cover the worse parts and went down to man the bar. Most of our patrons had left by now, only a few of the more competitive drinkers remained, but I served them all happily, I was glad to be able to get out from under the paperwork and see people. After I distributed the round of drinks for last call I walked over to Aidas one of my regulars. He had been coming here since Wise Magic first opened in fact, back when I opened it as a tavern wearing a different face and using a different name. He was an Abnormal that I didn't recognize, but I knew he was some sort of god, I could tell that much. He came here almost every night, normally he would order one glass of something rare and expensive and would nurse it all night. he would always have the one, but I didn't mind. Aidas was an interesting man to talk to regardless so we tended to have a chat whenever I was working and he was here.
"I see you're up and about after that asskicking you took earlier Hector," Aidas said with a smile. He was an older man, or at least he looked older than I did with and without my mask, but he didn't look old. Age rarely mattered though in the Abnormal community, especially with the divine members. He was in good shape, not overly so though, more like a runner than a bodybuilder. He also had hair darker than the night, not that uncommon in my world. I guess you could say Aidas was handsome, again, not overly so, but I doubt his wife complained if the wedding band on his fingers was any indication of his marital status. But at the wedding band and his wife I tried to distance my thoughts, I would be busy enough with a different wedding in little more than a week, I would prefer to keep that at the back of my mind as I could. "As always," he said raising his glass in a toast to me.
"What can I say, I'm a fast healer, as are most of my patrons," I said not wanting to give anything away. Aidas was a good person to talk to, friendly, understanding, noninvasive, etc. what more could a person ask for. But that didn't mean that I trusted him enough to reveal who I was. Most who knew, knew because they figured it out or have known me all of my immortal existence; I can count of two hands the number of people alive today that know my identity.
"That's true I guess," Aidas said taking another sip, "but I'm just wondering why you do it," he asked me.
"What get my butt handed to me a couple of times a week," I ask pulling a cork out of a wine bottle with my teeth and then I took a sip from the source. It was terrible, poor vintage and mediocre body, it wasn't something I would serve to my enemies much less my customers, but it fit my mood just fine. I took another sip and didn't grimace, I was use to swill like this. Truthfully, I was more worried that he would start preaching to me about standing up for myself. I liked Aidas, I had known him forever and he was a good person to talk to. We had fun swapping stories with eachother like the old men we didn't look like, but were. But I had enough people telling me what to do without recognizing my reasons for pretending to be weak.
"Well yes, I just want to know why you put up with it," he asked. He was just holding in glass methodically, as if he was unsure if he wanted another one or not.
"What, the bullying? What else am I supposed to do fight," I was baiting him now. If he said anything about fighting it would be my fault, at least it would take away my reason for getting angry at him if the conversation drifted that way.
"Well yes, I suppose you could fight them off if you have the strength, I know you do," he started the same as Apollo and Coyote. However, he sounded different like there was a 'but' coming, "But," see, "that wasn't what I wondering about. Why are you still here, Hector? You've run away in the past, back when you were John, and Mickey, and when you were Derek, and several others. You've always run away when you wanted to or you had to, but why do you keep coming back every time?"
When I started Wise Magic up as a tavern I made because I was sick of being alone after what happened. I don't know why I keep coming back I had never really thought about it before to be honest. The only reason why I always came back to Wise Magic was, probably because I knew that it was mine, and remained so for over three hundred years. I couldn't say the same for most of the things I own today.
Maybe it wasn't even Wise Magic that drew me back each time, maybe it was just Grand Haven. Like I said earlier, for some reason the Abnormal folk gather here in Grand Haven. I have heard all sorts of reasons and theories, from leylines to everyone sense the calm before the storm of a personal grudge brewing. I never really put much stock into them, we were the stories the Normals made up, I don't think that we need crazy stories of our own. "It's the closest thing I have to a home on this side of the ocean, that's why I come back," I decided out loud.
But Aidas seemed to take it well as he nodded and said, "well I suppose home is of good of a reason as any to come back." He had a knowing smile on his face though, like he knew a joke that I didn't hear. "Well, I guess that's that," he said finishing the last of his drink with one gulp, "good night to you Hector, and remember what we talked about okay." He paid and left quickly without much fuss.
He was the last customer tonight as usual, so I locked up the place, it would be fine until the night crew arrived to clean in about an hour. I took a couple of burgers and fries from the kitchen for my roommates and me. I had called home during my ordeal with the necessary documents and asked if they were cooking anything or if I would have to bring something home. I had to. The burgers were kind of cold, but hey, they're free and if my roommates weren't going to cook than they aren't going to complain.
I didn't live that far away from Wise Magic; my apartment complex is actually just down the street so I always walked home. For some people it probably wouldn't be safe to do the same, but I always make sure to run off the gangs out of this of the city area before they can lay down roots. I always wear a mask of course, often times the gangs are just Normal kids trying to get what they think they deserve, but I still wouldn't want any news about a local bartender dispatching his own brand of vigilante justice. That would be pretty cool to be a superhero though, I freaking love comic books and am not ashamed to admit it.
But no, I was already a hero once and it didn't turn out good for anyone involved, if I get actual superpowers, who knows what I could screw up. Life's been pretty boring recently, even for me, but hey, it could be worse. It's better to leave things the way they were, I'm perfectly content to let things go at their own pace, without hoping for some big catastrophe to occur and shake things up.