Carly plopped down on the couch, remote in one hand and a tub of microwave popcorn in the other. It was her regular weekday routine after school. And her weekend routine. Carly spent a lot of time by herself, usually in front of the TV or her laptop or her tablet. She didn’t have many friends. Actually, she had just one, Edith, who was sick with the flu. Her parent weren’t around much, either.
Carly’s dad was an investment banker. She didn’t really understand the specifics of what that meant, but she did know that he was hardly ever home and the only time she saw him not wearing a dark suit was in old photographs. Her mother had her own catering business, which meant that she had the luxury of working for home if she wanted to. But she didn’t. For the most part, Carly only saw her parents for dinner, but sometimes not both on the same night.
She didn’t mind, though. She liked spending time by herself. It gave her time to think and gave her imagination free rein to run free. Carly was an artist, or so she liked to tell herself. Whenever class got too boring, she would start doodling in her textbooks, lost in her own world. That’s how it was at home, too, and luckily, she didn’t have the distraction of parents or siblings to deal with.
She did as she pleased, which really just amounted to lazing around and designing comic book characters. Carly had wanted to make a comic book since she was eight. Six years later, it was still a distant dream.
A pale young man in a gray shirt runs past a clump of dark trees, trying to outrun the shadow chasing him. A white haired girl screams right into the camera.
An unseen crowd erupts into laughter as a middle aged man in a blue sweater stammers his way through an apology to his thin, mean-looking wife.
Another crowd, visible this time, applauding as a young man spins a large wheel in front of him.
Late afternoon TV was hit or miss. There weren’t any good movies on, most of the shows were reruns, and Carly had no interest in watching the news. She kept flicking through channels until she came across one she hadn’t seen before. It had a logo she couldn’t recognize. She put the remote down for a moment as she shoveled a handful of popcorn into her mouth, a few kernels spilling onto her T-shirt.
The skyline of a city at night. Sweeping orchestral music. A darkened building. Criminals breaking in, their path lit by moonlight. Suddenly, a shadow. They turn around, fearful. A dark figure swoops down and takes them out one at a time. She stands up after knocking the last thug down, her profile briefly illuminated by the moon, and then she’s gone.
Carly’s mouth dropped open. It was Onyx, the superheroine she had created a year ago. How could that be? She leaned forward on the couch, eyes obscured by the reflection of the screen on her glasses. She knew this story.
The Fearmongers, a mysterious group that wants to sow terror throughout the world. A plot involving a beloved public figure and a citywide celebration. The perfect occasion for panic. Unless Onyx can do something to stop it. She fights hard, faces her own fears, and triumphs. But the Fearmongers get away. She’ll get them. Next week. Same time.
As the episode drew to a close, text flashed across the screen:
Carly’s hand landed on the remote by accident, changing channels. She swore and changed it back, but the channel was gone. She couldn’t find that strange logo again, and there was no trace of Onyx anywhere.
She stared at the blank blue screen in confusion, trying to make sense of it all. In a flash, she was off the couch and running up to her room. She pulled her notebook out of her desk drawer and sat down to draw. She had a story to tell.