Writer’s Note: Writer’s BLOCK.
I’ve been away for a while. A LONG while. New job, new friends (no girlfriend – YET), life has been coming at me so much that I’ve been neglecting this site. I now have a new goal.
… At least for an hour.
So, this is what I’ll be doing.
The reviews will continue, thooough, not as many as one per day.
Instead, reviews will be
My writings, of course, will be here, and now.
I recently wrote a Marvel-inspired (inSPIDERed?) story that I’d like to share, based on a writing prompt from reddit (LINK HERE) before I do another review.
And thank you.
By Jesse Hecht
Based on the characters created by Marvel
The Avengers sat in the Conference Room. It was mostly empty, and spotless. No dust, no lint, and more importantly, no cobwebs.
The Avengers were currently engaged in the hardest battle of their lives, with an enemy that no hero, villain, or normal human being could ever hope to defeat:
And the worst part was, going against their code, they had to kill it.
Captain America, also known as Steve Rogers, knew all about killing time. Having to spend more than half a century frozen in an iceberg gave Cap all the patience he needed to wait for their meeting with Spider-Man.
The Incredible Hulk, normally the scientist Bruce Banner, was already fighting his own battle of patience, staring down Thor, god of Thunder. Sweat rolled down his brow. Drip… Dripp… Drippp…
“Ah-ha! I win again!” Thor said, triumphantly.
Hulk growled. “Best five out of nine?”
“Come on, Hulky,” said the master archer Clint Barton, aka, Hawkeye, waving his hands in a wave motion, “Let it go. You’ll get to fight him after we see what “The Spectacular Spider-Man” has to tell us,” he said, air-quoting. Hawkeye had all the time in the world. He joked, laughed, and had a lot of patience. You had to, in order to get the right shot. He could fire his arrows incredibly fast, and loved the sound as they hit their targets.
Plink, Plink, Plink, Plink, Plink.
T’Challa, the Black Panther, rapped his fingers against the table. The stoic King of Wakanda had no patience for this waiting game. “Any sign, Stark?”
“Let me check,” Tony Stark, known also as Iron Man, tapped a few keys on his Iron Man wrist gauntlet. Stark had patience, and a lot of time. As the sole controller of Stark Industries, he was a billionaire, and had a lot of time and patience to create his many Iron Man suits, robots, and artificial intelligences as he pleased. A holographic image of Vision, a reformed android originally created to destroy the Avengers, appeared, “No sign of Spider-Man. I am tracking arachnid movements within a ten-mile —” Vision paused.
“There is activity.”
“Keep us posted.”
Tony took off his wrist gauntlet and rubbed his arm and sighed. The boy he helped mentor and train to become a hero, now a twisted shadow of what he once was, at least according to the news:
“THAT SPIDER-MAN IS A MENACE!” The loud voice of reporter J. Jonah Jameson bellowed on the screens, “NOT ONLY IS HE DOING PSYCHOLOGICAL DAMAGE TO THE SO-CALLED ‘SUPER-VILLAINS’, BUT HE’S ALSO RUINING OUR BEAUTIFUL CITY!” A slideshow appeared, showing the city covered in spider-webs from penthouse to basement, and images of several villains being overrun with spiders or outright surrendering to police for fear that Spider-Man would suddenly appear. “‘THE AVENGERS’ ARE DOING NOTHING, LOCKED UP IN THEIR TOWER, WHILE THEY LEAVE OTHER VIGILANTES, AND OUR BELOVED POLICE FORCE, TO CLEAN-UP FOR THEM!” Jameson was referring to other Avengers members Ant-Man and the Wasp, who were using their shrinking powers, super-strength, and soldier ants to deal with the spiders on the arachnids’ level. “THE AVENGERS ARE A MENA—”
“Ugh, every day… The same old thing,” said super spy Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, turned off the tablet, shoving it across the table. “Give it a rest, Jameson…”
She thought to herself, “He’s not a menace, he’s just…” She sighed. She didn’t know Spider-Man that well, but this was not him. Spider-Man was similar to Hawkeye, always quick on the pulse of a joke. He was on-par with Captain America, not only in strength, but in heart as well. He had the honor of Thor and Black Panther, the technological prowess of Iron Man, Black Widow’s stealth, the shared “bug theme” of Ant-Man and the Wasp, and… He likes playing online games with Hulk from time to time. He was the best pieces of the Avengers placed into a hero.
And now he wasn’t.
Someone close to Spider-Man once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Somewhere along the line, power overrode the responsibility.
Somehow, this happened.
And some—“Why is there a spider on the floor?”
Hawkeye got up and shot an arrow at the spider as the Avengers assembled, readying their weapons.
The arrow hit and released a glass bubble that centered around the spider. The arrow then centered itself at the top of the bubble as it rolled back on its own towards Hawkeye. He picked up the arrow, the glass magnifying the spider’s features, “Eugh! Hey, Hulk! I found something uglier than you!”
“Your reflection?” Hulk grinned.
Hawkeye glared, then turned his attention towards the door. Iron Man looked up at the ceiling as Vision phased through it, “A massive arachnid is approaching. It appears to be crawling through our plumbing.”
The door shuddered, as if it knew with a heavy heart what was coming.
It shook, scared at what was about to come.
The door then opened, giving way to thousands of most unsavory creatures that poured out from the doorway.
“It’s like something from ‘The Shining’,” said Stark, his Iron Man armor forming around his body.
“Be ready everyone!” Captain America ordered.
The spiders stopped at the base of the conference table, and a literal wall of spiders blocked the doorway.
The wall separated as a figure emerged from the mass. The body was cloaked in a swaying mass of interconnected spiders, like a horrifying Barrel of Monkeys. A figure all-too-familiar was enrobed by the arachnids.
“Well this is a friendly neighborhood! Jameson shouting at me even worse on the news, the cops are after me, and now the Avengers… Not letting me in their tower!” said Spider-Man, extending his arms out towards the heroes from the spider cloak. The Avengers gasped. Out from the cloak extended not two, not four, but six arms, the usual shoulder-connected pair covered in spider-suit while the others on his abdomen left bare. The stench coming from the six armpits was unbearable, and even Hulk covered his nose. The suit was worn and tattered, held together by spiders’ silk, and definitely unwashed.
Spider-Man continued, “I just took a nice trip through your sewers to get here,” The spiders behind him shifted, and the Avengers prepared to fire, only for the spiders to form a throne under the arachnid leader, “And now, it’s squeaky clean.” Iron Man looked down to notice tiny sewage track marks left by the spiders. A particularly large spider rested itself on Spider-Man’s lap and he started to pet it, the throne shifting forward to seat itself at the table.
Tension filled the air.
Black Panther spoke first, “Why are you here?”
“Well, I was thinking…” He paused, stopping his spider-petting, “We got this!” Six arms pointed a six thumbs at Spider-Man all at once.
“What do you mean, ‘we got this’?” Thor said, puzzled.
Spider-Man resumed petting for a moment, then realized that he was with people, “Oh. We don’t need you anymore.” He looked up from his spider pet and squinted his eyes, “All of you.”
Hulk stood up, “Let’s see how many spiders I can squash before ‘we’ becomes ‘me’!” He pounded a fist into his palm.
Black Widow stood up and put a hand on Hulk’s shoulder blade, “Spider-Man… Why?”
“I was told, ‘with great power comes great responsibility’. I have great power, and now I’m being responsible with it. All of the villains are in jail, the city is safe, and you can retire! Go on, live your lives!”
He leaned over the table, his ‘throne’ tilting forward, “We got this!”
“We got this, huh?” Hulk pointed at Spider-Man, “What about all the 2-player games we beat? We got that.”
“And when we infiltrated AIM HQ because we were small enough to fit in the vents to save Ant-Man and Wasp? We got that.” said Black Widow, standing up beside Hulk.
“Aye, and when the blackout hit the city… You, I, and Vision all helped to repair the city’s electricity. We got that.” Vision stood up next to Thor and nodded, “I always thought that was…” He paused, searching the internet for the appropriate phrase that Spider-Man would use, “Quite ‘cool’.”
Black Panther was the next to stand up, “When Ulysses Klaue tried to take my embassy’s supply of Vibranium, you were there to help those to safety while I fought Klaue,” he paused in thought, “Our combined efforts even stopped him and put him in jail. We got that.”
Captain America was next, “When Peggy died and you helped plan her funeral with me… Sent me those flowers…” He wiped a tear from his eye and smiled, “We got that.”
Everyone then looked to Iron Man. Even Spider-Man, engrossed in petting the spider, slouched with his knees over the armrest, his cloak retreating into the ‘throne’, had his interest piqued in what Stark had to say.
Stark slowly advanced towards Spider-Man, taking his armor off bit by bit, “Growing up, my father always instilled in me a sense of good work ethic. He always made sure that work was not only done right, but done fairly, with a sense of honor. But he never did it alone. I may have inherited Stark Industries from my father, and with it his legacy, but I have never done it alone,” He quickly glanced towards his fellow Avengers, and towards the small domed camera in the corner of the room, where he was sure that his fiancée Pepper Potts was watching. And then he saw it, reflected on the camera dome.
He continued with vigor, “Even with my technology, even with the robots I have created, I have never discounted my human friends… And my father didn’t either. Everyone working at Stark Industries was as valuable as Howard Stark himself. From the first employee to the last.”
Stark was within a few steps to Spider-Man by now, the armor removed except for the boots and gauntlets. He activated the vents on the sides of his boots to push the spiders away as he entered the crowd. He placed his hands on Spider-Man’s shoulders. Spider-Man recoiled.
“Enough!” The spiders retreated, all of them covering the walls and ceiling, blocking the exits. The Avengers readied themselves for battle as Spider-Man ranted, “No! We are all that is needed! We are the only ones that can save the world!” The spiders rapped their legs against the walls in an intimidation tactic.
“WE GOT THIS!”
Stark pressed on, “…P—Spider-Man, I only can impart the lessons I have learned from my father… And now I impart a lesson from all parents to you, so you can teach others.”
He embraced Spider-Man in a hug, despite protest.
Stark placed his palm on the back of Spider-Man’s neck and fired a repulsor blast.
Spider-Man woke up. All around him, he could see the Avengers clearing the Conference Room of spiders, yet his vision couldn’t focus on them clearly. He fell back to sleep.
He woke up to see the Avengers around him. He was now in a hospital-like setting, though he knew that he was in…
“You’re in the med bay of Avengers Tower,” said Black Panther, “You’re doing better. Your vitals are improving.” Spider-Man got up, his sides cold from exposure. He looked down to see two rips in his suit, but no sign of what caused them. He looked around through his mask to see Vision at a monitor. Ant-Man, the Wasp, Black Widow, Thor, Hulk, and Hawkeye, were all waiting outside the room, looking through the window. They waved, and Spider-Man waved back. With one of his two arms. He looked to see Captain America in the doorway.
“What happened?” He asked.
“What do you remember last?” Captain America replied.
“I was fighting the Green Goblin in his lab. He caused an explosion… I couldn’t find him in the smoke…” He took a drink of water and put a hand to the back of his neck. It stung. “I felt a pain on the back of my neck, crawled out of the lab, passed out from the smoke…. Then I woke up here.”
“You were infected.” Spider-Man turned to see Tony Stark sitting in a chair on the other side of the room, still in Iron Man gauntlets and boots. In his hands he held a bubble arrow. Inside was a cracked-in-half metal broach shaped like a spider, the legs digging inwards. Where a jewel would normally be, was a glass casing, broken. Encircling the broken broach, was a red and black liquid, moving over and over the broach like a slug.
Spider-Man gasped, “A Symbiote!”
“So you know what it is…”
“It’s an alien that takes over your body. It’s happened to me before, but not where I can’t remember anything…”
He paused looking to Captain America and, realizing, “How long was I out!?”
“A month. You webbed up more than half the city and caught every villain. Some fled the country, others surrendered willingly, while others still…”
“Others went insane, more so than usual.” Black Widow showed the tablet slideshow to Spider-Man. He reached out and swiped through it, giving it back, hanging his head. He turned to the Avengers outside.
“I’m sorry I did all of that. I abused the power I had. How long did it take to fix the city?”
Hawkeye held up some fingers, “Three days, but don’t worry, we got this!”
Hulk punched Hawkeye down the hallway.
Stark put a hand on Spider-Man’s shoulder, “The important thing is that you’re safe.”
Stark went in for a hug, and for a moment, Spider-Man instinctively hesitated, but hugged him anyways.
“Thank you, Mr. Stark,” said Spider-Man.
“You’re welcome. You can call me Tony.”
Spider-Man broke the hug, and looked out at the Avengers…
… And he took off his mask.
“I’m Spider-Man… But my friends call me Peter Parker.”
Hawkeye weakly called out from the hallway, “We’re you’re friends, right?”
“You’re not mine,” said Hulk.
“Yes, you’re all my friends. I hope we all can work together more often.”
“I hope so, too,” said Captain America.
“I as well,” said Thor.
The rest of the Avengers shared their agreement.
“Yeah, me, too!” Hawkeye limped into the room, “Move over, Stark! Agh!”
Hawkeye tripped upon getting to the chair, “A little help guys? Guys?”
Peter encouragingly and kindly said, “Don’t worry, you got this!”
Black Panther stifled a chuckle. The room suddenly erupted into laughter.
“Not funny guys!” Hawkeye managed to sit down as the laughter continued through the night.
A man wearing a suit walked through the recently cleared streets dragging a rolling suitcase with him. He smelled the night air and stepped on the edge of a puddle, muddying the green visage within.
He checked into a motel. The clerk, recognized him, surprised, “Hey! You’re N—”
“Check me into the most remote part of your motel. I need quiet tonight.”
“Understood, sir!” The clerk looked at the wad of money given to him, and showed the man to his room, on the other side of the motel.
“Is anyone below, above, or around me?”
“No, sir, I—“
“Good.” The man cut him off. He looked around the empty room. A bed, a radiator, television, dresser, and a window were the only furnishings, along with a bedside table and a lamp. He handed more money towards the clerk as he took the key, “Leave me. I wasn’t here.”
“Of course, sir,” said the clerk, and he closed the door.
The man walked towards the window and closed it. He went over to the nightstand and brought the Bible inside with him to the restroom. On entry, there was a vanity with a mirrored cabinet, and a full bath. The man stared into the mirror, starting to sweat. Trembling, he took a few pills from his jacket pocket and took them with water from the sink. The trembling subsided as he stripped down to his underwear and socks.
“The Spider is alive, Osborn.” The voice came from within him. he looked up at the mirror, seeing the twisted reflection of himself he knew all too well by now.
Green skin, pointed ears and chin, yellow eyes and teeth: The Green Goblin.
“You were supposed to ruin his name further. Corrupt him farther. We gave you the tools to do it, and you failed.”
“We were not prepared to reveal ourselves, but now we have no alternative,” said a different voice, echoing through Norman Osborn’s mind. It sounded like several voices speaking as one. A demonic chorus.
Norman turned to see a visage similar to the Green Goblin but worse, covered in an undulating, ever-shifting mass of red and black Symbiote.
“We will do what it takes to secure order on this planet. We will make everyone just like us.” The Red Goblin in the mirror looked at the Green Goblin in the other mirror. The Green Goblin cowered as the Red Goblin enjoyed its counterpart’s fear, “Just. Like. Us.” A large red tongue smacked across red lips, running over sharp yellow teeth. It made Norman pick up the Bible, and opened the page to Second Corinthians 11.
“We will no longer hide behind your visage Norman.”
It made Norman’s finger underline Verse 14, and spoke, “And no marvel; for Satan himself transformed into an angel of light,” The Red Goblin made Norman throw the Bible in the toilet, and flush.
“An angel of light, a human, you will no longer be. There is just us now.”
Norman buckled as the transformation took hold. First his body changed and shifted to accommodate the Green Goblin’s form, then the Symbiote slithered from within Norman to envelop the Green Goblin.
“You will not fail us Norman. Not you. Not the Green Goblin. No one will stand in our way.”
The Red Goblin reached into the jacket and pulled out Norman’s cell phone. It entered a passcode different from Norman’s, an account unknown to him. He pressed a single app that locked onto his location as he made his way to the open window.
From inside the Red Goblin, Norman internally screamed in protest.
The Red Goblin replied, “Don’t worry, Norman…”
Onto a small bat-winged glider and he flew out into the night.
“…We got this.”