Sick Man

Theme music: Heroic, orchestral, booming.

Voiceover: He was once a normal scientist, but after being hit by a blast of experimental radiation Tom Powers became... Sick Man!

This episode takes place at the DOWNTOWN BANK. Masked robbers have taken hostages and are in the process of emptying the vault. The LEADER barks orders. All the cash into sacks! No funny business! Nobody's gonna get hurt unless someone wants to be a hero!

Oh? a voice rasps off-screen. Someone like me? SICK MAN hobbles into the bank. He wears a dirty hospital gown with an "S" scrawled on the front. He is pale and gaunt. He looks like a stack of used tissue paper held up by tooth picks. He looks like a thin plastic bag filled with sour mayonnaise. 

The Leader jumps down from the counter and steps over a few quivering and sobbing innocents. What? he says. I can't understand you. Sick Man lunges forward into action and launches an empty pill bottle toward the masked villain with all of his strength. It lands with a soft, hollow clatter at the Leader's feet. The Leader bends over and picks up the orange container. Tom Powers, he reads aloud. That you?

Sick Man thinks to himself: Tom Powers. Yes, that's the name I was given at birth. But Tom Powers is gone. Ever since the accident I've only known one name. Sick Man. So they've learned your secret identity, but so what? The people of this city don't know you by the name you sign on insurance forms, but by your deeds. They know you by your strength, your bravery, and your dedication to Justice and Truth. Those things which are more powerful than any name -- even more powerful than these ingenious rogues and their ability to sniff out your greatest secret, the long sought-after prize-jewel of the Criminal Underworld. Things will change now, of course. I'll have to move the Sick Cave to another location. Perhaps the arctic, or in a floating fortress hidden in a raincloud, or outer-space. And I'll put off the search for Sick Lad. True, the city will need a guardian after I'm gone, for evil never rests. But now is no time to put a child in danger, even if in the necessary service of training them to eventually replace me when I fall in the line of duty, or, more optimistically, retire to an island in the South Pacific (where I will monitor the city from afar using a wall of screens which show even the forgotten shadowy corners of my former home, for that is where Crime most often bubbles up from; and wherefrom I will direct my former protege when necessary and offer wisdom, for although he will be an expert in the art of crime-fighting, mostly due to my intense and demanding training regimen but also because I will have selected the ideal orphan to adopt and enlist in the battle against evil, which is just to say that no amount of training will turn a dud or weak-hearted individual into a Hero and so it's of great important to select that person which, even as a child, a vulnerable and orphaned child, displays the resilience and courage and wit necessary to face darkness and absorb those lessons bestowed upon him by a patient, fatherly mentor, he will still seek my guidance from time-to-time, for example when he is facing his greatest nemesis, whom may very well be the son or apprentice of my greatest nemesis, in the very likely scenario that my evil counterpart also selects an orphan child to inherit his moniker).

The Leader approaches Sick Man and points a gun in his face. Get down on the ground, ya fruit. Sick Man coughs up a wad of dark, sticky blood onto The Leader's pants and then falls face forward onto the marble floor and bangs his head with a loud WHAP. Christ, The Leader says.

The hostages whisper among themselves, saying someone should call an ambulance. The Leader looks around for something to wipe the blood off his pants and grabs a stack of deposit slips. Oh man this is gross, he says. We got a doctor in the house? This guy's gonna die or somethin'. All the bank robbers stop what they're doing and come over to look at Sick Man as he asphyxiates in a slowly growing pool of blood.

Just then -- the POLICE barge into the bank with guns drawn, catching the crooks off-guard. Sick Man's inventive yet risky gambit paid off. He counted on the villains having some humanity left in their cold hearts, and this is precisely what led to their downfall. The criminals surrender peacefully and are quickly hand-cuffed and marched into waiting police vans to be driven off to prison where they will be rehabilitated into productive members of society. Another job well done, thinks Sick Man as the blackly glowing empty field surrounding him seems to come alive and rush inward like violent waves toward the last garrison of willful consciousness in the center of the universe and memories vanish like stars in morning light; black morning light that comes from no sun or like black rain that falls from the ground into the sky or a massive black eye that snaps open as your eyes shut for the last time like the birth of a black cloud at the end of a moon-colored tunnel at the end of an infinite spiral in time.