semi-final votes:
19

 

fearless
youth

BRAVE/LESS

by BerryAsAnabiosis
Rhode Island, United States
genre: Fantasy

“I’ve always wondered what type of person doesn’t get a funeral,” Kipling- er, now the vigilante, Hypersthene, blurted out to Kate. Kate, the top hero, known as Forgive, wasn’t really paying attention, and Kip could tell. 

“Kip, c’mere,” Forgive ushered for them to come closer. Hypersthene inched closer to her, and Forgive placed a hand on her shoulder.

The two looked down an alleyway. Someone was slowly approaching their victim. 

Hypersthene slipped into the alleyway in silence, keeping close to the wall. 

They approached the person carefully. 

In a trice, Kip pulled out a rose gold dagger and held the offender in a headlock, knife to their throat. 

Kipling nodded to the victim, who shortly ran out of the alleyway. 

“You’ve got three options,” Hypersthene told the person. “Fight, flee, or freeze?” they asked curtly. 

The person thought for a moment before whispering “freeze”. 

Hypersthene let go of the headlock, and decided to punch them hard in the temple to knock them out, not wanting to cause any severe injuries. 

They scooped them up into their arms, heading back to Forgive. 

“I don’t like how you do the ‘fight, flee, or freeze’ thing,” Forgive told her. 

Hypersthene smiled. “It at least gives them a choice. Who knows what they’re going through.”

Forgive sighed, silence soon befalling the two. 

“You’re very brave, Kip. I’ve noticed that much.”

Hypersthene hummed in response.

“What do you think bravery is?”

Hypersthene didn’t know how to respond to that. 

When Forgive knew she wouldn’t get an answer, she started walking away, saying “I need to go back to the hero tower. Come to me if you have your answer.”

Hypersthene watched Forgive walk away, then sprouted their wings. They took a running jump to get themselves into the air, heading to the police station. They flew over buildings quickly, eventually dropping them off at the establishment.

Something within Kipling clicked.

To be brave was to acknowledge that there were consequences to actions.

                    ~~~

The walk to the hero tower was oddly quiet. The only thing that Kip could hear was strong winds howling against buildings.

Kipling entered the main building of the hero tower, where Forgive was. 

Kip took a deep breath before entering the building.

    “Hey Kipling,” the receptionist Crimson greeted, his voice still remaining as smooth as the wind, even though he was visibly exhausted. His red hair was ruffled and messy; his red and yellow eyes seemed to be dragging him down. 

“If you need to see Forgive, she’s in a meeting right now, so you’ll have to wait.”

Kipling nodded, sitting down on one of the waiting chairs. 

Within a trice, an explosion sounded higher in the building. The lights flicked off, and then there was the collective sound of computers and other technological systems shutting down. 

Kip sat there in silence for a moment, collecting their thoughts. Crimson, as a fire manipulator, sparked and held an ember in his hand, though the light only reached so far.

“Kipling?” he called out into the void of the room. Kip got up and stepped closer to him. “Right here.”

He sighed. “Usually the tower has an automatic replenishment system, but it seems like everything is offline.”

There was another explosion, and the ember went out. 

They looked up at Crimson. Darkness surrounded them. “My power went out,” he murmured. “It won’t resurface.”

“Flashlight,” Kipling replied, reaching behind the counter and into a drawer, grabbing it, and handing it to him. 

Kip replied, rubbing their eyes to readjust them. “You need to get out of here and to ANYWHERE you have a phone so that you can call 911. I think it’s a villain attack. They cut off the service.”

Crimson nodded, and the two parted. He ran out of the building and Kip went to the right, beginning to scale the stairs. They evacuated everyone on their way to Kate.

Xavier, the 2nd top hero, paused beside them as everyone filed down the stairs. “Where is Forgive?” Kip asked, panicked.

“Top floor,” he responded, taking heavy breaths. “Shouldn’t we fight them?”

Kip shook their head, continuing up the stairs. “SAFETY FIRST!” They yelled back, darting quickly up the stairs.

They got up to the 10th floor, the last floor, when the ground beneath them began to shake. Kipling found Forgive scrambling through papers in the meeting room.

She looked up at them. “Kipling-”

She got cut off as the ground shook more. They could feel the ability deactivation crawling through the air, weighing them down. Of course the villains did that.

Forgive- no. Kate and Kipling huddled close together, the backlash of the ability deactivation putting way too much force on Kip.

Luckily for the two, their job of evacuating everyone else worked.

Now they wanted to get out.

They needed to get out.

Another explosion set off, and they could feel it this time. It was right under them. The building began to disintegrate, staggering sideways. All that was left was them- on the new top of the building. They did their best to stand their ground. 

Kipling came here to tell Forgive what bravery meant, as they asked before, and they want to explain about earlier, but they had a haunting feeling that they wouldn’t be able to.

No. They couldn’t lose hope.

They were going to get out.

Both of them.

The building staggered so badly that they slid sideways.

Kipling slid, using a hook to gain balance.

Kate, for a moment, was by her side.

Until she wasn’t.

Kate was about to fall.

Kipling latched on her hand.

Kate was hanging on for her life. 

“Kate, get up here, you can’t-”

“I-I’m trying-my powers won’t work-”

Kate tried her best, and then realized the efforts were useless.

“Get out of here, Kipling,” she yelled.

“No!” Kip replied. “You aren’t going to leave me!”

“Kipling, listen to me.”

Kate was hanging by a thread.

Kipling was the thread.

“Get out of here. Alive. Or at least try to. Live for me, okay? I’m so sorry, please, Kip. Be brave.”

Don’t fall.

Kate smiled.

Kip’s voice got caught in their throat.

Please don’t fall.

The thread broke.

Kate fell.

    Kip’s hand went cold. Their entire body went cold.

Distantly, Kipling could hear sirens.

Distantly, Kipling could hear screaming from below, layering over the sirens, but it wasn’t coming from Kate.

Distantly, Kipling realized that they were screaming, too.

~~~

They didn’t have time to collect themselves. They were shaking, crying, and had no voice remaining.

Kipling made their way back to the top of the building, where the ground was more stable. They could no longer see Kate.

Kate. Kate was dead, wasn’t she?

Kipling couldn’t save her.

It was their fault.

They heard a gunshot in the distance.

Everything paused. 

They felt some sort of energy fuel them.

They could feel rushes of blood leave their body.

Everything stung.

They felt their consciousness start to leave.

They wanted to look down.

They couldn’t look down.

They expected their vision to fade.

Instead, it became more vibrant.

The stinging left.

Their consciousness stayed.

They still cried, but the tears didn’t feel wet.

In fact, they couldn’t feel anything.

“I’m sorry, Kipling,” a voice whispered in front of her, as silky and light as some sort of velvet feather. “It is your time. You’re safe now.”

Many feelings came over Kipling- none being of pain.

Her breath unhitched from her throat. She was being hugged.

She couldn’t see who was standing in front of her, but she felt them.

They felt a silky cloak surround them. The voice belonged to a Reaper.

Kipling cried.

She’s always wondered what type of person doesn’t get a funeral.

Now they realized.

It was them.


get on the list!

and we'll let you know when the winners and our next contest is announced!

User Notifications