Blackjack Villain

Part One



I sensed him well before I could see him. A man in my line of business learns to respect every random anxious feeling, or he doesn’t last long.

This guy had the subtlety of a category 5 hurricane. He also had powers and an ego to match. No sooner had I come out onto the balcony of my Malibu home to take in the sunset and down a cold beer than the entire landscape changed. It transformed from the warm purple and orange, to darkness, swept through by shadows, as a whole storm front moved in too fast to be a natural occurrence. The slight breeze turned into a gale, and the clouds above coalesced into the outline of a cruel smiling face, eyes illuminated with white-yellow lightning.

I dropped my beer and threw myself through the sliding glass door as the first crackle of lighting tore into the balcony, exploding inward along with a cloud of wood and glass. I flew through the air like a rag doll flung by an angry child, spearing through a wall into the kitchen and coming to a rest atop the shattered remains of the center island.

The air crackled electrostatically, and my lungs burned as every breath felt like a surge of wafting energy. I came to my feet and glanced over my shoulders through the wrecked wall at the wide chasm that lay beyond the smoldering balcony. I shook the glass and dust out of my face, and noticed the hairs of my arms standing on end as he entered, carried aloft by his god-like powers and after looking around his stern gaze settled upon me.

I blinked my vision clear, but the world still had a bright white tinge. It illuminated him like an angel as he touched down into the remains of my living room. He was tall and powerful, wearing ridiculous blue and yellow tights. He called himself Atmosphero. Yes, Atmosphero. My real name is Dale McKeown, but I’m known as...

“Blackjack,” he said “fancy meeting you here.”

I should have jumped out of the way, or maybe I did but he was faster, lancing his horrible powers at me through the hole in the wall, raw lightning crackling through my body. I screamed, overcome with rage, impotence and pain, as I watched him destroy the remnants of the wall in front of me and shatter the entire kitchen around me. Light exploded in the back of my mind, and I thought bitterly of the sunset I enjoyed a minute before.

A gust of wind lifted me off the ground, like an overgrown marionette, as lightning racked my body like a thousand pulled muscles and tendons all at once. He cackled, reveling in his power and tossed me across the room. I careened into the dual steel refrigerators, destroying them and bathing their contents as I fell to the floor. Caked in milk, juice and egg, I was momentarily out of sight, and that was the only chance I needed.

Because Atmosphero wasn’t the only one in the room with super powers.

He was hidden by what remained of the wall between my living room and kitchen but I could feel where he was, and imagined him strolling forward casually to finish me off.

I buried my dislike for the peacock and flung a massive piece of marble through the wall. It was effortless, like throwing a Frisbee. The huge shard of countertop tore through drywall and studs, like a tank rolling downhill and I laughed, thinking I had him.

Hopping through the wide hole, I saw him standing there, unharmed, the marble countertop floating in the air a few feet from him. His mocking smile dripped with disgust, as if he expected more of a challenge from me.

He flung the countertop back at me but I intercepted it with a punch, detonating it into a hailstorm of marble fragments. I rushed forward, but he took to the air to avoid me and my hairs stood on end as he charged up again.

“Come down here, asshole,” I roared. “And let me give you a proper welcome.”

I was bigger than him, bigger than most people, and a lot stronger. I usually depended on my bow and trick arrows, but in a straight up fight I could crush him.

“Aw, are you mad I beat you so easily last time?” I taunted, hoping he’d get reckless and rush me, but despite our growing grudge, he was a pro. Atmosphero was going to fight me on his terms.