"My God! Somebody's stealing the SteamPig!"

People in the streets stopped and stared at the massive metallic swine that was usually held down by steel cables. Murmurings began as, one-by-one, the cables broke free of the clockwork creation and tumbled to the ground. There was a scream from someone in the crowd and heads turned this way and that. They were unsure if they should look at the panicking wife of Joe Jensen; the co-creator of Parsifal-the steam driven swine-or if they should look at the pig which was slowly beginning to rise into the sky.

Joe stood there, mouth agape, as his multi-million dollar creation soared upward with a loud roar and a great burst of steam from the engines. "Where's Tom?" he shouted over the rising noise of the crowd and the pig combined. His wife shook her head and at that moment, fainted.

Thomas Birks was standing by the windows of his apartment, completely and utterly flabbergasted. His jaw hung down low as he watched the pig float, not-so-gracefully, past his view. At first a tiny smile appeared on his lips.

"The fuckin' thing can fly." He grinned at this point, and whirled around to say to Nessie, the world's most gorgeous and mud-free pig, "I can't believe it. Joe got it flying!"

Nessie snorted and rubbed her snout against her front little hooves. Just as Tom reached down to pat the pot-bellied creature, he felt the phone in his back pocket vibrate uncomfortably. He pulled it out and flipped it open to see a new text message from Joe. It read: Tom u flying P?

Tom quickly texted back, smiling brightly. Nope. U?

It took his brain a few seconds to register what just occurred and the smile was zapped from his face by a cloud of horror. Then, with a possibly overdramatic gasp, he dropped his cellular device. He didn't have any time to waste. Somebody had to stop the SteamPig thief of Grand Rapids! And that somebody, Tom decided without another seconds hesitation, was him. He ran for the door, making a death-defying leap over Nessie who was sprawled out on the carpeted floor without a care in the world. He threw open the door, grabbing the keys to last year's creation on his way.

"Nessie, hold down the fort. I'm going to get Parsifal," he said to his beloved bacon-on-hooves.

The pig snorted and turned away from the door. He sniffed in heartbreak over his friend's disbelief in him and slammed the door behind him. He took the stairs down to the ground floor two-at-a-time, making it downstairs in just under 17 seconds. A new personal best, he thought to himself with a cocky grin.

He skidded down the hall of the ground floor, kicking the door open to the back parking lot. He stopped a moment to admire the scene before him.

"There she is," he said to himself. Forcing his inner-monologue to be heard by the surrounding air, birds and trees.

There she was indeed. However impressive the SteamPig actually was, the SteamArmadillo was always number one in his eyes. Sure it was nearly a quarter of the size of the magnificent hog but it packed a powerful punch when it came to speed and steering. It was the sports car of steam-driven flying machines whereas Parsifal was merely the SUV.

He darted over to Andy, as the creation was aptly named, and pulled open the door to the cockpit with a loud scream of the hinges. They required some TLC but, as much as Tom wanted to clean up his baby and make her shine again, he didn't have the time. He slid into the cockpit and shoved the key into the ignition. The SteamArmadillo came to live with an angry hiss. The engines sighed in misery and turned to face the ground in preparation for take-off.

Tom wasn't indifferent to the machine's groans of protest but he couldn't do anything about it. He switched the engines over to full-power capacity and, something like a rocket, Andy leapt off the ground and into the day's still air. Letting out a whoop of glee, Tom swiftly turned his creation towards the direction that Parsifal was headed.

"To the water, Andy!" he cried even though the metallic monster couldn't respond.

The tail whipped around, carving the air as a ship's rudder would carve the water, and sped off in the direction of the colossal pig. He watched the ground below him zoom past at a grand speed of forty miles an hour. At this rate he was sure to burn out the fuel cells but he couldn't be bothered with that now. He had to catch Parsifal!

"I'm coming, Par!" came his shout over the roar of Andy's engines and creaking metal.

He spotted the massive sow just as it reared it's massive snout over one of the ugly skyscrapers that festered like an oozing wound all around the city. Tom could hear the hum of the porker's engines over Andy's. I wonder if we need to upgrade the back engines. It looks as though Parsifal's dipping a bit towards the back end.

"Focus," he said loudly, cutting off his thoughts. He caught up quicker than anticipated, he was within range of the pig's power bursts of steam. If he flew too close to the swine he'd likely be subjected to a burst of wet, hot air that would certainly be a set-back as far as clear skin were to go.

"We might get the third degree eh, Andy?" he joked, elbowing the door of the SteamArmadillo.

Naturally the craft said nothing as it zoomed along just beside its older sibling. Tom sat in the cockpit, allowing the engines a break as he was no longer racing to catch up with the magnificent metal ship, and thought. He thought for quite a few long moments. His mind raced through scenario after scenario.

One of which involved him hanging precariously from a long rope as he hoisted himself on top of the SteamPig where he would cut himself free the rope, rip open the top hatch of the swine and land safely inside the contraption. There he would be face-to-face with the mysterious villain where they would be forced to battle to the death and Tom would, obviously, come out on top then he could safely bring the SteamPig down to the ground where the city's entire population would be waiting for him with bouquets of gratitude and unquestioning devotion. Unfortunately, he realized that would never work solely because then Andy would be left sky-bound until the fuel cells ran out and she crashed into the ground.

"I would never let that to happen to you, my darling air-madillo," he said out loud, grinning at his own joke.

Finally, he came up with a plan that would undoubtedly be the best for everyone. He decided to pull out the big guns. Literally. Unbeknownst to Joe, Tom had installed a pair of great big...well...alright, rather smallish rocket launchers. They slid out from inside Andy's mouth and had enough power in them to, hopefully, take out two of the engines that would allow the SteamPig to float gently down to the ground.

But, Tom didn't account for how close he was to the pig nor did he account for how powerful the rocket launchers actually were when he pressed down on the little red button right by the steering wheel. There was a groan as the SteamArmadillo's mouth opened and there was a whoosh of air as the rockets flew towards the pig. There was a crash, a gust of air that threatened to send Tom and Andy cascading out of the sky, and then there was a massive puff of smoke. Tom cleared the smoke just in time to see the great SteamPig of Grand Rapids headed straight for the river that ran along side the city.

"I got him, Andy! We got him!" Tom's excitement nearly bursted out of the cockpit.

He lowered the vehicle slowly but surely, the metal tail whipping back and forth behind the body of the craft as it tried to keep everything steady. He landed on the pavement of the street with an uncomfortable jolt and he was quick to turn the key in the ignition to off and climb out of the SteamArmadillo like the hero that he was. He braced himself for the screaming of his fans and the hugs and warmth that would envelop him along with the love of the people of the city. After all, he had saved the day. He had defeated the thief who stole the SteamPig and all was right with the world once more.

Joe was the first one to come face-to-face with him. He came up riding in a motorized, three-wheel bike-type creation. He tossed off his manly biker's' helmet and stormed over to his friend.

Tom, practically beaming with happiness, opened his arms for a hug from his best friend. When no hug came he lowered his arms and cocked his head quizzically.

"I defeated the thief!" Tom said proudly.

Joe's face was red. Likely from how proud he is of me, Tom thought, feeling ridiculously giddy. Joe lifted a hand and pointed a finger straight into Tom's face.

"You..." Joe hissed. Tom grabbed his friends finger and shook it, still smiling.

"I know," Tom said, "it's a lot to take in. Me being a hero and all. But don't worry, you're still the main creator of Parsifal and I'm sure no one will forget you so you don't have to worry about it."

"Worry about what?"

"Oh, you falling behind me."

"What are you talking about Tom?! You...you...you just-"

"I know," Tom laughed, "I saved the day. Can you believe it? Me? Thomas Birks. The hero of Grand Rapids, Michigan."

"You're not a hero Tom!" Joe finally snapped.

"What? What do you mean? Of course I am."

"No, Tom, you're not. You stopped the thief but you shot the SteamPig right out of the sky! You plunged a metal craft right into the river!"

"Well when you say it that way..." He glanced over, casually at an abandoned fruit cart. It seems as though the owner had fled when he saw Parsifal coming down. Or perhaps he had fled long before that. Tom squinted and noticed the flies buzzing around the rotting produce. He wrinkled his nose and looked back over at his cohort, wishing that he had landed in a much cooler place.

"There's no other way to say it!"

"I mean, c'mon, I did a pretty good job at taking down the thief, huh?" Tom elbowed his friend in the stomach.

His mind wandered a bit and he wondered if it would be possible to move the rotting fruit cart away from the site where he would have his picture taken and would be signing autographs in mere minutes. He'd be damned if he was going to be seen on the over of tomorrow's paper standing next to some rotting fruit cart. It was a disgrace! It would have to be moved. Alas, it seemed as though he would need assistance to move it and Joe seemed as though he was in no mood to do any physical labor.

"Do you know how much money we have to pay the city now because of your little act of heroism?!" Joe screamed. "The city has to pay for this!"

Tom shrugged, "Money. What use is that when you're a hero?"

"Not only that but you...you polluted the river! You remember that 'glue' we used to keep Parsifal together?! That stuff just happens to be toxic! Putting that in the river is like...murdering fish! And the...oh Tom, the railing?!"

Both Tom and Joe glanced over at the river where, even from their mild distance away they could see the bobbing corpses of nearly one hundred salmon. Tom gulped, perhaps he was in dangerous territory. But his mind was carried away as he saw a large crowd of people rushing towards him and his colleague.

"You-you...Tom, are you even listening to a word I say?!"

"Yeah yeah, I hear ya. Hey look Joe, here come my fans," Tom said, smiling and leaning back on Andy, trying to look as cool as he possibly could.

"Fans are you-" Joe took a deep breath. "Alright Tom. Alright."

Joe took several large steps away from his comrade and folded his arms as Tom's 'fans' came rushing up. They stood there for a moment, almost dumbfounded as they stared at the destruction that the pig had caused. It had crashed right into the delicate and hundred-year-old railing that had been carved out of the finest wood all the way from China as a gift to the city from the city's first ever mayor. The railing had splintered and shattered, destroying nearly the entire thing just from the hole that Parsifal had created. Then they noticed the floating fish in the river and the strange greenish substance that was swirling on the surface of the water and they turned back to Tom almost simultaneously.

Tom grinned and made to step towards them but he was hit with what appeared to be a severely rotten grapefruit. Within seconds Tom's dearly beloved fans were pelting rotten fruit and vegetables at the city's hero. The throwing and exploding of rotten produce continued until there was nothing left to throw. Then the mob of people left, feeling victorious and leaving-in their wake-poor Tom. He was coated in a disgusting mixture of murky, puke-green, diarrhea-brown, and puss-white liquid that dripped from every inch of his body.

It took Tom a minute to wipe his face clear of the slop that had nearly sealed his eyes shut. When he did he looked over at his bemused friend and said, "You know Joe, I don't think I like being the city hero very much."