Major Mathias was a comic book hero that everyone adored back in middle school. I didn't really keep up with the series, but learned about most of it from some of my friends. In it, the series detailed Major Mathias, a hero the likes of Superman; a jack of all trades with very little, if any, weaknesses. The fanbase was split between the boys and girls; the boys enjoyed the masculinity, the girls more so- but for a different reason, if you catch my drift.
In every issue, Major Mathias would battle his ultimate enemy -the grotesque looking Calamity Carlisle- and peace would reign again for another issue. It was a really predictable formula the more you thought about it. The formula for each comic book issue was the reason why I eventually lost interest in the series. I made fun of my friends for actually being surprised for the twist that C.C. had been disguised as a friendly character in a bid to trick Mathias. Like, no, you obviously knew that idiot was not who he said the moment he glared at the hero a funny way. It was, like, a calling card or something.
I completely fell out of the series once we got to high school. I still had a few close friends that were interested in the series, but they knew better than to tell me what was happening. It worked out pretty well, actually. For the bulk of high school I never heard a word about Major Mathias and it was an absolute dream.
But then something happened.
In an issue published on June twentieth 2016, Major Mathias went missing. And, apparently, not even the writer knew where he had gone. It was just like Mathias had just up and disappeared from the series without any input from the writer at all. Now, I'm not talking about that old 'my character made me do this while I was writing' trope that writers talk about; according to the main writer, Major Mathias was actually gone from something they had already written. Any reference to Mathias was replaced with empty space and an occasional threat from Calamity Carlisle. There were photos uploaded to the publisher's Twitter and Facebook feeds that gave before and after comparisons.
A lot of these looked like a really poor Photoshop edit.
While my friends all freaked out about this mystery, I laughed it off as an elaborate ARG the publisher was doing to drum up hype for some new storyline or another. At that point, Major Mathias was a dying series anyway. Writers switched hands every other week; there were even rumors that some artists didn't even make it to the end of the issue. They always felt 'too sick' or 'felt like they were being watched' while they worked in their private homes. It was always some excuse after another- but the publishers would just refuse to let the dumb series die and have at it.
Now with Major Mathias 'mysteriously' disappearing from his own series, it looked like the perfect time to finally pull the plug. It was a brilliant excuse, honestly, and one that I admired in a 'fuck you' kinda way. Why give your series a proper end when you can just make your hero go away?
I'm sure you're sick of hearing about Major Mathias by now. What else more could I say about a comic book hero I lost interest in? I bet you're curious about who I am, and why I'm telling this story. Or not. Maybe you liked Major Mathias or something, good on you. But I want to be narcissistic now and you're going to like it.
My name is Philomena Jasper Nikoya. You can call me Fili if you'd like, it's usually easier to remember for most people. If you haven't noticed, I like writing- at the same time, I completely despise it. You can thank the dumb plots of Major Mathias for that; I used to write a lot of fix-it fanfictions back in middle school. Most of them involved Calamity Carlisle to actually win for once. Others involved Major Mathias actually recognizing that paper thin disguise because, my god, how dumb do you have to be to keep falling for that?
When I got to high school, I started doing some work for the school newspaper. At first, I was doing main articles with the help of a small team. It took me a whole year to convince the vice principal to let me do a column all on my own. You're looking at the proud writer of 'Superhero Nonsense', a very popular column in the school paper detailing superhero tropes and cliches with a mildly sarcastic narration. Our English teacher occasionally cites it when going over literary devices to help advance or enhance the plot- you could say that it's my crowning glory.
You can absolutely bet that I made a ton of riffs on Major Mathias. My friends gave me enough context to still harass the series even though I no longer read it.
I really annoyed them.
I usually work on my column on the weekends at a local comic book shop. It's a real cozy place, kinda like those cat cafes I hear are all the rage in Japan. Except for the stunning lack of cats. Which is good- I'm allergic. Any way, our local comic book shop has a pretty good range of books; from the classics, to visual novels, and even official art books in every shape, size, and fandom. Located in the back corner is a pop-up cafe of sorts that offers simple coffee brews and light snacks- like cookies and donuts. Along that wall is a bunch of seating for us loafers.
My favorite place is a small recliner near the window. The recliner itself isn't much to write home about, but out that particular window you could see the busy street outside. It was nice sitting there, spacing out occasionally to watch the other people go by, as I worked on my column. If I had to pick a happy place, I think it would be there.
That is, until he showed up.
"Huh?" I wondered in a far off voice. I had been in the middle of an incredibly awesome writing groove and didn't feel the need to look up. When I finally did, I was looking up at a rather handsome looking young man. We're talking the whole nine yards, guys; a strong jawline, chocolate brown eyes that you could have melted to, and beautifully tanned skin that I couldn't quite place the ethnicity of. Not that I really knew what color I was on a normal day; but know this, it was not saltine cracker white.
"FiliJazzPhone99." the guy repeated. "Fili. That's you, isn't it?"
As cute as I found this stranger so far, he was starting to creep me out. I started to carefully close the lid on my laptop as I looked him over. He was wearing the uniform the comic book shop employees wore when they were on the clock. So he worked here? Must have been new, because I knew practically everyone at this place.
"Even if I was," I told him, humoring him for the moment, "Who wants to know?"
The stranger puffed his chest up, placed his hands on his hips, and grinned at me with a wide, cheesy smile. "Major Mathias, ma'am!" He relaxed his position a bit before going on. "And I really need your help Fili. Calamity Carlisle somehow forced me out of my series and into your world. They want to reboot my series from the ground up, and they want to do it without me! I need your help to get back to my world before their plans can come to fruition!"
For a moment, I just stared at him. This dude couldn't be serious. Sure, on second glance, he kinda did look like the hero. But a lot of normal people had really uncanny resemblances to fictional characters every now and again- the internet (and very dedicated cosplayers) was a testament to that.
I must have been taking far too long to respond because this not-Mathias made a stupid whining sound before forcing me to my feet.
"What do I need to do to make you believe me?" he asked. "I still have my powers- I can do anything you want!"
With a grimace, I forced myself out of his grasp. "First of all, you don't touch me." I spat. "That would be a nice start."
Not-Mathias recoiled a little. "Sorry..." he mumbled. "I just… You're the only one that can help me, and I just need a way for you to..."
Suddenly, a thought came to his mind; his eyes shot with a determination that almost intimated me. In a firm, certain voice, he said, "Archive of Our Own user, FiliJazzPhone99. Writer of 15 works. 2 for DC Superhero Girls, 2 for The Longest Journey, 1 for Dragon Age, and 10," (he puffed up his chest in pride here) "For Major Mathias."
I wish I could have seen the look on my face. I must have looked like I wanted to strangle him, or call the cops. Maybe both. I could feel my face boil over in white hot anger though. No force on earth could have stopped the profanity that came out of my mouth next.
"MY SHIT BIO ISN'T A DATING PROFILE YOU CREEP!" I screeched. "Just WHO the FUCK are you?!"
"I keep telling you! I am Major Mathias, and I really need your help Fili. Please!"
"You have a really shitty way of trying to convince me that you're real!"
"I know!" he shot back. For a moment, I thought I saw his eyes glisten over with tears. "You have no idea how confusing it is to be here! I have no idea how to get back, but you're the only one I know that can help! I could go to my publishers, or my writer, or… or anyone else but you if I could! Fili, I..."
Not-Mathias made a movement that he was going to take my hands again, but in remembering that I didn't like the last touch, he didn't do so.
"Who's going to believe me?" he asked, the desperation well laced into his voice. After a pause, he added in a small tone, "Who's going to believe you?"
I recoiled. Was it that obvious that I was ready to turn this guy over to the next looney ward the moment I was able to get my phone?
"Even if I did believe you," I challenged, defiantly folding my arms, "Why me?"
"I've read your fanfictions." he said, as if it were the most casual subject in the world. "I could see potential. I could see that you have a broader imagination that what you let on. You know what you're writing and you do so with excellent precision."
I held my arms tighter against my chest. "There were better fanfictions than mine." I heard myself grumble.
Not-Mathias let out a rather impatient sigh. "You're right." he agreed. "But yours was the one I liked the most."
"So you'll help?"
Not-Mathias gave another impatient whine before noticing the time. "I gotta get back to work." he mumbled, more to himself than to me. He turned his direction to me before saying, "Please Fili. If you even remotely believe me, can you come back around 7? I should be getting off work around then."
"And if I don't?"
I didn't get an answer. Instead, the young man deflated a little before starting to walk away. I watched him leave with a neat raise of my eyebrow. He had a very cute butt, for someone just two eggs shy of a dozen.
"God damn it." I mumbled to myself before reaching into my backpack for my phone. I needed to tell my parents that I was going to be late for dinner tonight. Turns out, I was just as stupid as he was.