Synopsis: An insurance worker’s terrible day takes a turn for the weird when a team of superheroes offer to help him.
Today is the worst day of my life, thought Gary Greyson as he trudged his way back home, memories of earlier replaying in his mind in a constant loop. A part of him hoped that if he kept thinking about it, he’d eventually figure out what went wrong, but it was no good. All it did was make him feel worse.
He checked his phone, fully expecting to receive a call from his boss to tell him he was fired. Maybe even a cold text message, but there was nothing apart from the time and his phone’s steel-grey background.
With a sigh, he forced his head up. Ahead was a small, dimly-lit bar. Gary had walked this path home for the last fifteen years and had never noticed it before. It didn’t look brand new, but Gary had never been a fan of drinking or going to bars.
He walked towards the bar to get a closer look. A sign that read “The Haven” was placed above the entrance. Despite its rather rough exterior, with a few small cracks in the walls and places where the paint was clearly fading, something about it enticed Gary; the direness of his situation perhaps making him reconsider his stance on alcohol. The light coming through the windows seemed like a shining beacon to Gary, who felt very much like a sailor stranded at sea. With a small shrug, he pushed open the door and made his way in.
The interior wasn’t anything particularly special. Simple wooden flooring, simple wooden tables and chairs neatly stacked throughout, and a simple wooden counter at the back. A jukebox quietly played from a corner. If not for some smokers outback and the barman himself, the place would’ve been empty. Gary kind of preferred this.
He slowly made his way to the back and popped himself down on one of the stools. The barman – a middle-aged, balding man with a thick moustache – put down the glass he was cleaning.
“What’ll you be drinking?” he bluntly asked. Gary couldn’t help but hesitate.
“What do you recommend?”
“Depends. What’re you in the mood for?”
Gary rested an elbow on the bar-top and placed his head in his hand. “I don’t even know,” he sighed.
“Rough day?” asked the barman, genuine concern in his voice as he glanced at Gary’s somewhat dishevelled suit. His tie was loosened, and his shirt hung over his belt.
“How about we start with something light?” the barman recommended, heading further back to grab a bottle of something and a glass. “I’ll get ya a vodka seltzer. How’s that sound?”
Gary closed his eyes and nodded. “Sure.”
“You wanna slice of lime or lemon with it?”
“Uh, no thanks. Just ice.”
“DID SOMEONE SAY ‘JUSTICE’?!”
Gary nearly fell off his stool. Out of nowhere, another man now stood next to him. He was younger than Gary, at least in his early 20’s, yet he had a boyish face with a childish grin plastered across it. He was wearing a loud, yellow outfit.
“Come on, Cheesecake, leave the guy alone,” muttered another man, who walked up next to the gaudily dressed one. His hair was black and messy, and the bags under his eyes were worse than Gary’s. His attire was completely normal though he was quite unkempt, with lots of stubble on his face and a slightly worn, blue backpack on his shoulders. “I thought we agreed to go straight home.”
A third man sat next to Gary, the stool creaking under his impressive weight. He was a giant of a man, with broad shoulders and bulging biceps. He wore dark green trousers, black army boots and a simple tank-top that only helped show off his defined abs. He politely nodded at Gary, who was too intimidated to respond.
“S’up, Frank,” the barman addressed the large man, placing Gary’s drink in front of the now shaking suit. “What’ll you be having?”
“Scotch on the rocks and an Appletiser, please, Bill,” said Frank, his voice surprisingly soft and relaxed.
“Coming right up,” said Bill the barman, “As for you, Cheesecake, I thought I asked you not to harass the few customers I actually get in here.” The man now identified as Cheesecake gasped, dramatically.
“But how can I ignore the cries of a man desperate for justice?!”
After a couple of seconds of sputtering, Gary was able to get his voice back. “No, I was just asking for- They don’t even sound- I’m sorry, who are you?”
Cheesecake gasped again. “Surely, you must know who I am?” He stood straight and puffed his chest out with a smirk, “Is it not obvious?” Gary looked him up and down. His curly, blonde hair perfectly matched the outrageous costume he was wearing – a form-fitting bodysuit that came with white, finger-less gloves, boots and a cape. The letters ‘CC’ were emblazoned on the front. Next to him, Frank casually sipped the Appletiser in his hand. The scotch sat on the bar, untouched.
Gary continued to stare at Cheesecake. “… I have no idea.”
For a moment, Cheesecake’s lips thinned in annoyance, but he quickly cleared his throat and repeated his earlier pose.
“Okay, well, clearly that’s because you’ve not heard my full title. I… am Captain Cheesecake!” He paused dramatically, clearly expecting applause, but Gary remained confused.
“Are you one of those mascot characters – like some kind of gay baker or something?”
“I’m not a gay baker!” yelled Cheesecake. Apparently, this wasn’t the first time he had been called that. “Let me be more clear. I am Captain Cheesecake, leader of the Glorious Justice Initiative League! Or GJIL, for short.”
“Guh-jill?” repeated Gary. He was beginning to wonder if maybe this was some weird, performing arts group, before a more horrific realisation dawned on him. “Oh god, you’re superheroes, aren’t you?”
“Not just any superheroes,” said Cheesecake, “We’re the Glorious Justice-“
“You already said that bit,” interrupted the scruffy man.
“Let me finish!… We’re the Glorious Justice Initiative League! Or GJIL, for short,” Cheesecake repeated, the scruffy man rolling his eyes before Cheesecake gestured to him. “This is Captain Backpack!”
“I have a backpack,” said Backpack in an almost monotone voice. Cheesecake then pointed to Frank.
“And this is Frank and Francine, but you can call them Captain Unity!”
Frank silently waved whilst Gary looked for this Francine woman, but there was no sign of her. He also noticed that Frank still hadn’t touched the whiskey.
“So, tell me, friend, what kind of justice do you seek?” asked Cheesecake, his face uncomfortably close to Gary’s.
“I-I’m not after any justice,” claimed Gary. He tried to make eye-contact with the barman in a desperate plea for help.
“If you’re gonna bug him, at least buy something, mate,” said Bill.
“Oh, then I’ll have a cherry coke,” said Cheesecake, “And get Backpack a sparkling water.”
“Regular water will be fine,” said Backpack.
“Oh, live a little, why don’t you?” complained Cheesecake as Bill went to get their drinks. Backpack just muttered something about how sparkling water tasted like crap anyway as Cheesecake turned back to Gary. “What were you saying?”
“I was saying I don’t need any justice!” said Gary, eager to just get up and leave. “I’m perfectly fine, thank you!”
“I thought you said you were having a rough day,” said Bill, having already come back with the drinks. “The roughest, I remember you saying.”
“W-w-well, I-I, uh, it’s not- it’s not that big of a deal. Nothing you can, uh, solve anyway.”
“Ridiculous!” proclaimed Cheesecake, “There’s nothing we four can’t solve, because we’re GJIL – Middletown’s very own superhero team!”
God, just go away, thought Gary. One of the few things he liked about Middletown was the distinct LACK of super-powered people. They were practically everywhere nowadays; you couldn’t so much as walk down the street without some costumed weirdo chucking lightning at a mugger or some guy in a lab coat standing atop a ridiculous looking machine armed with laser cannons, demanding he be made ruler of the Tri-State Area or something. Some unfortunate cities were being run by supervillains, and those that weren’t had at least one superhero wrecking the place. Gary’s last hometown nearly got vaporised during a fight between two heroes trying to assert dominance. It was what prompted him to move to Middletown. Now it turns out there were FOUR of them here… though Francine was still nowhere to be seen.
“I sense you don’t think we’re the real deal,” said Cheesecake. “Well, allow me to show you what I’m capable of.” With a twinkle in his eyes, Cheesecake snapped his fingers. There was a loud pop, followed by a thud, and there on the bar sat a large cheesecake. Gary had to blink a few times before realising what just happened.
“That’s my name.”
“No, I mean, it’s cheesecake. You summoned cheesecake?”
“Yes, I did!” Cheesecake seemed elated at his own ability. The barman had barely reacted, pulling out a plate and knife to cut himself a piece.
“Where did it come from?!” Gary asked incredulously. Cheesecake just shrugged and helped himself to a slice of cake. “But how? … Why?!”
“The hows and whys don’t matter,” said Cheesecake, waving a nonchalant hand. “You should see what Backpack can do!”
“What can he do?”
“He can carry that backpack!” Cheesecake’s words were so full of grandeur and amazement that it took Gary a while to fully understand what he said. Cheesecake seemed to think that was all the explanation he needed, and he started to noisily chew on a slice of cake. Before Gary could ask the obvious question, Backpack chimed in.
“It’s coz I’m the only one who can lift it. Apparently, that means I’ve got super strength or something. Also, the backpack’s got the universe inside it. I’d show it to you, but I can tell you’re already having a bit of an internal crisis and seeing all of creation inside a backpack may drive you insane.”
He stopped to drink his water, leaving Gary with more questions and a burning desire to not ask them. He decided to settle on a simpler one.
“What about him, then?” he gestured behind him to Frank.
“Ah, Captain Unity’s interesting,” said Cheesecake, inadvertently spitting a few crumbs into Gary’s lap. He spoke with such eagerness, as if he had been waiting all his life to talk about this. “See, Frank’s got what we believe to be a minor case of super-strength, whereas Francine has mild super-speed, but those are only their secondary abilities, meaning they technically have THREE superpowers!”
Gary looked back at Frank, and then turned back to face Cheesecake. “I’m sorry, but who is Francine?”
Gary swung back to see Frank gone and, in his place, a slightly shorter but still rather tall and athletically built woman. Her brown hair was tied back in a bun and she wore her own perfectly fitting tank-top and the same kind of trousers and boots. She even had the same hazelnut eyes as Frank. She smiled at Gary before knocking back the glass of whiskey in front of her.
“Where did the other guy go?!” Gary asked, his eyes wide with confusion.
“THAT is Captain Unity’s main power,” Cheesecake spoke with pride. Francine tapped Gary on the shoulder to grab his attention.
“Me and my bro technically exist in the same space but only one of us can interact and move about in this plane of existence at a time. Our power is that we can swap places,” she explained, matter-of-factly. She noticed Gary’s slightly horrified expression. “Oh, don’t worry, Frank’s alright. You can’t hear him, but we can talk to each other. Ain’t that right, Frank?” If Frank replied, Gary certainly didn’t hear him. He just wanted to leave.
“With our powers combined, we can solve any problem! Thwart any villain! Save any person! For we are the Glorious Justice Initiative League!” Cheesecake held his fist in the air, as if he was addressing an enamoured audience. “So, come on, help us help you get that justice you so desperately want!”
Gary took a deep breath in a failed attempt to steady his nerves. He had long since begun to regret coming in here. If he tried to leave, Cheesecake would probably continue to insist on helping him. He might follow him home like an annoying puppy, and Gary certainly didn’t want him knowing where he lived. So, was there a way to make Cheesecake leave? Maybe, if Gary told him about what happened, Cheesecake would find it too boring? After all, it didn’t involve the fate of the world or stopping some crazy supervillain. As disastrous as it was for Gary, it was pretty mundane stuff for a superhero.
“Well, to be honest, something really bad happened at work today,” started Gary. Cheesecake leaned in. Meanwhile, Frank had apparently popped back into existence and was sipping at his Appletiser again. Backpack seemed completely uninterested and just stared into his water.
“I work for Insura-Lot…”
“And what do they do?” interrupted Cheesecake. At first, Gary thought he was joking but the serious expression on his face showed that he wasn’t.
“… They insure people,” he explained slowly. “A lot. And, earlier today, all my clients’ information vanished from my computer, and we weren’t able to recover them. We think it’s some virus, but I don’t know how one could have even got on there.” His shoulders sank as he continued. “And since we stopped keeping paper records a couple of years ago, those details are all gone. I’m probably going to lose my job as a result.”
“Hmph, that sucks,” said Frank.
“Well, there’s nothing you guys can do about it,” said Gary. “So, sorry for wasting your time.”
“You heard the man, Cheesecake,” said Backpack. He gulped down his water and made his way for the exit. “C’mon, let’s go.”
“Wait, Backpack!” said Cheesecake, “We can’t abandon… what’s your name?”
“We can’t abandon Gary in his moment of need! Clearly, someone is trying to sabotage him. And I, for one, will not stand for it!” He swirled round, with his cape fluttering behind him and hitting Gary in the face. “Come on, team, let’s head for the Insura-Lot offices and investigate.”
Backpack groaned but followed Cheesecake out of the building, lazily waving goodbye to the barman. Frank left some cash on the counter before switching back to Francine, who wasn’t particularly enthralled either.
“Oh goody, possible insurance fraud. This is why I became a superhero.” She grabbed Gary by the shoulder and dragged him out. “See ya, Bill!” Gary, meanwhile, could only helplessly stare at the vodka he never even got to sip as he was pulled away.
By the time they had reached the looming office building, it was pitch black outside. Gary’s stomach was tight from stress and seeing Cheesecake fail to open the obviously tightly locked doors wasn’t helping.
“So, it appears the doors are locked,” Cheesecake mused, rubbing his chin as if it was some brilliant deduction on his part. “Backpack, break them down.”
“Unity, break them down.”
Frank cracked his knuckles and took a step towards them but stopped short. “Really?” he said to no one in particular. “Are you sure? You know I’m stronger… Fine.” Suddenly, Francine stood in his place, bouncing on her heels. She was ready to deliver a flying kick until Backpack intervened.
“You know, Gary here could probably just let us in since he works here.”
The group turned to Gary. Every fibre in his body was screaming at him to not let them in but he believed that Francine would totally have kicked the glass in at least. So, he got out his key-card and swiped over a nearby panel. There was a beep and a click, allowing Cheesecake to push the door open. Francine pouted.
“Spoilsport,” she muttered. Backpack didn’t even react as they followed. Gary almost hesitated before rushing after them.
The inside of the building was dark, too; their only source of light came from the moon through the windows.
“Where are your offices?” asked Cheesecake. He was bizarrely serious for a change.
“Um, the 19th floor,” said Gary. Cheesecake strolled up to the nearby elevator and hit the button. The doors opened immediately, and they filed in. As Cheesecake hit the next button, Gary found himself stood behind Backpack and his… backpack. Gary thought back to what he was told in the bar.
“You, uh, weren’t serious earlier about the backpack, right?” he asked with a chuckle. Backpack turned to face him; the light in the elevator highlighting his sunken-in eyes. Without a word, he took the backpack off his shoulders and placed it on the vibrating floor.
“Go on then,” he gestured. Gary felt oddly threatened by the remark. With some cautiousness, he reached down, grabbed the backpack’s handle and lifted. He nearly popped his arm out of its socket. The backpack wouldn’t budge, even with both hands. But Backpack had it effortlessly draped from his shoulders the whole time. Was he really serious about it containing the universe? How would that even make a backpack heavy? Gary’s suspicions got the better of him and he was about to unzip the backpack to take a peek when the elevator came to a stop and dinged.
“At last, we have arrived,” Cheesecake needlessly announced. Backpack swept his backpack off the floor with no effort as the group marched out into the barely-lit offices. Gary quickly felt his way down the nearby wall to reach a light-switch, though not before Cheesecake banged his knee on a table corner.
“So, what exactly are you three going to do?” asked Gary.
“Four,” said Francine.
“There’s four of us.”
“… Uh, right. What are the four of you going to do?”
“Simple,” said Cheesecake as he rubbed his sore knee. “We’ll access your computer, hack into the mainframe, analyse the megabits and then download the data-logs.”
“Cheesecake, did you even understand half of those words?” Backpack asked, pinching the bridge of his nose.
Backpack seemed about to challenge him when the group heard a light thump from behind a nearby closed door. The blinds draped across the nearby window fluttered slightly.
“You’re right, Frank,” said Francine. “Someone’s here. Gary, what’s behind that door?”
“That’s… my boss’ office,” said Gary. Even he was curious. Who else would even be here? Did someone else break in?
Cheesecake silently rolled across the floor until he was crouched beneath the glass window. Or rather he attempted to be silent; he instead made a bunch of fumbling noises and groans as he bruised himself. Backpack just walked over and joined him, whilst Francine and Gary placed themselves against the wall on the other side of the door.
“Alright, Francine, looks like you get to kick in a door tonight after all,” whispered Cheesecake.
Francine pumped her fist and, with a wide grin, faced the door. She took a deep breath, placed one foot behind her, leaned back and then, almost as quick as lightning, shot her foot forward. The door flew off its hinges and crashed onto the padded carpet inside. Despite the build-up, Gary wasn’t prepared for it and jumped slightly from the noise. The others, meanwhile, rushed inside, with Cheesecake obviously at the front.
“Stop right there, evildoer!”
His declaration was followed by a high-pitched scream and the sound of a chair falling over. There, stood behind a desk with a hand to their chest and a horrified look on their face, was a somewhat elderly man with thinning grey hair and an obvious liver spot on his head. He wore thick-framed glasses and, much like Gary, the suit he was wearing was rather dishevelled. Gary recognised him immediately.
“Gary!” Manger gasped, clearly just as surprised to see him. “W-what on Earth are you doing here?”
“No offence, sir, but I should be asking you the same thing.”
“Exactly! Tell us everything you know, villain!” demanded Cheesecake, needlessly slamming his hands on the desk. “Ow.”
“He’s not a villain; he’s my boss,” explained Gary.
“A-and as your boss, I order you to get out of my office immediately!” said Manger; his quivering voice failing his attempt to sound authoritarian. He completely clammed up when Frank stood right next to him. Meanwhile, Backpack swung the computer monitor on the desk round.
“Looks like he was just working overtime,” he said. “Bit odd to be working at this hour, though.” Gary stood next to him and his mouth fell open at what was being displayed.
“These are all my clients’ details! Mr. Manger, I thought these were deleted. Why do you have them?” Gary wanted to feel relief that his earlier crisis had been resolved but his confusion was stronger, and he was compelled to get answers.
“What can I say?” Manger nervously chuckled, sweat dripping down his brow and his hands awkwardly flapping.
“So, they weren’t deleted but moved to your boss’ PC?” asked Backpack, his usual deadpan-tone now a lot more curious.
“I guess but…” Gary began before taking a closer look at the monitor, “Wait, this isn’t right.” He pointed at some of the numbers, “This client should be paying £500 for their car insurance, not £750. And this family’s home insurance has gone up by about 42%.” He grabbed the mouse and scrolled further down the list. “Every single one of my clients has had their premiums increased.”
Everyone turned to look at Manger, who had started to turn red from holding his breath, before he finally burst. “Fine, I admit it! I copied all of your clients’ details and then deleted them from your PC so I could increase their premiums! I was going to put them back the following morning and move you onto a new set of clients so you wouldn’t notice!”
“Wow, dick move,” said Francine.
“Despicable really,” said Backpack.
“Truly, a heinous scheme of epic proportions,” said Cheesecake. “But maybe someone should explain what the scheme actually means in case there’s anyone around who doesn’t understand how insurance works.”
“It means,” said an exasperated Gary, “That he was going to make all my clients spend more money than they actually needed to. Or maybe you planned to have them spend the usual fees and keep the extra money as a profit for yourself!” Gary was rarely angry but, after being made to feel like a failure that day, he couldn’t help but be venomous towards his cowering boss. “And why the hell did you single me out?!”
“I was going to do the same thing to everyone else!” Manger wailed, “But you don’t understand! He forced me to do it! My wife went missing recently, and he said that something bad would happen to her if I didn’t help him!”
“Aha! A malicious mastermind working behind the scenes, like some sort of… master of puppets or something,” mused Cheesecake. “But who could be responsible for this?”
“THAT would be me!”
Everyone swerved round at the sound of the new voice. In the doorway stood another gaudily dressed man, draped head to toe in purple and black. His outfit almost resembled Cheesecake’s, cape and all, except he wore a hood that cast a shadow over his green eyes and a belt with numerous pouches and satchels attached to it.
“Dr. Fruitcake!” cried Cheesecake, stepping forward. “I knew you were behind all this!”
Fruitcake’s devious grin immediately faltered. “You literally just asked ‘Who could be responsible for this?'”
“… No I didn’t.”
“Yes you did! I was around the corner, I heard you say it!”
“I know you are but what am I?”
“THAT DOESN’T EVEN-,” Fruitcake stopped to compose himself, taking a few deep breaths to calm himself down. “No, no, I’m not going to let you rile me up.”
Gary looked back and forth between Cheesecake and Fruitcake, “Is he a gay baker then?”
“I’m not a baker! I am Dr. Fruitcake,” the purple-clad man took a dramatic stance similar to one of Cheesecake’s, “Middletown’s primary supervillain and archnemesis of Captain Cheesecake and his Glorious Justice Initiative of Losers!” Cheesecake clenched his fists and gritted his teeth.
“That’s not what the ‘L’ stands for and you know it!”
“Wait, so YOU’RE the one who orchestrated all this?” asked Gary, “Your plan was to increase peoples’ premiums and steal the difference?”
“What? No,” said Fruitcake, seeming almost offended by the accusation. “My plan is much more diabolical.” He began to strut back and forth as he monologued. “See, I always intended for your clients to discover they were being overcharged. How do you think they’d react?”
“Well, I imagine that they’d-“
“It was a rhetorical question! Don’t interrupt me!”
“Yeah, Gary, don’t interrupt!” said Cheesecake. Fruitcake cleared his throat and continued.
“They’d be outraged, of course. They’d demand recompense. Insura-Lot will find itself in the middle of a huge scandal; it will no longer be considered trustworthy, resulting in its forced closure. But with it gone, there will be nowhere for people to find insurance.”
He spun round with a flourish and a mad glint in his eye. “That’s where I come in, with my own insurance company! I’ll charge people extortionate rates but as the only insurance company in the city, they’ll have no choice but to come to me! I’ll make millions! MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”
“I knew you were depraved, Fruitcake, but this is a new low!” said Cheesecake, “Your sinister scheme ends here!” He was about to click his fingers when Manger chimed in, with desperation in his voice.
“Wait, he still has my wife!”
“That’s right, if anything were to happen to me, who knows what… unfortunate circumstances may befall her,” Fruitcake chuckled.
“Kidnapping, Fruitcake? That doesn’t sound like you,” said Backpack.
“That’s coz he didn’t kidnap her,” said Francine, who was looking at her phone. Her comment caused everyone’s’ heads to turn. “Your wife’s Vanessa, right?”
“Uh,” answered Manger. “Yes, why?”
“Do you use Instagram?”
Francine showed him what was on her screen. “She posted this about ten minutes ago.”
Manger glanced at the screen, and his worry turned to confusion and then outrage. “Is she in Barbados? She said we couldn’t afford to… IS THAT STEVE?! I knew it! I knew she was still seeing him!”
His face bursting beet-red, he stormed out of the office, angrily tapping buttons on his own phone. The rest of the group stood in uncomfortable silence as they heard him take the elevator down; Fruitcake fidgeted awkwardly.
“So, what happens now?” asked Gary.
“Now,” cried Cheesecake with renewed vigour, “We apprehend this villain and send him to jail.”
“Oho, you can try if you like,” said Fruitcake, who had just as seamlessly switched back to his smug demeanour, “But you don’t stand a chance against me.”
“You do realise we outnumber you, right?” asked Francine. “Like, you’re completely alone.”
“Am I, though?”
With a flick of his wrist and the snap of his fingers, a fruitcake materialised in the air and was flung into Cheesecake’s face. This distraction was all that was needed for Fruitcake to escape.
“He can do that too?!” asked Gary, whilst Cheesecake hurriedly wiped the cake from his face.
“No! I summon cheesecake! He summons fruitcake! There’s a big difference!”
“There really isn’t.”
“Everyone loves cheesecake! Nobody likes fruitcake! That’s the diff- Ugh, oh no, I think some of it went in my mouth. I can actually taste it. Damn you, Fruitcake!”
Cheesecake rushed out of the room, with the rest in hot pursuit. But the moment they exited the office, they were met with what looked like a small army of similarly suited individuals, all carrying blunt instruments like pipes and shovels, with Fruitcake stood in the centre of them.
“Check it out, Cheesecake! I have minions!” boasted Fruitcake.
“Are we supposed to be threatened, Fruitcake?” asked Cheesecake, “By a bunch of random, suit-wearing… suits?”
“Wait!” cried Gary, “Those aren’t minions; they’re my work colleagues! Did Fruitcake brainwash them or something?”
“No, he just promised us all jobs with his new insurance company and a better salary,” piped up one of the suits, who was brandishing a baseball bat with nails in it.
“Yeah, he even said we could set up a union and get double the vacation days,” said another. She held a plank of wood in one hand and a golf club in the other.
“Wait, really?” Gary was legitimately intrigued. Fruitcake reached inside his jacket and pulled out a contract.
“Of course, I’m not a monster. I want to make sure my employees are taken care of, Mr… ?”
“Mr. Greyson, care to sign up with us?”
The crowd of his colleagues all murmured with genuine approval, but before Gary could even say anything, Cheesecake stepped forward.
“Gary will not be swayed by your trickery, Fruitcake!”
“I mean, I wouldn’t mind giving the contract a look-“
“It doesn’t matter how much money you throw at him; he’d never give up his integrity to work for a villain like you!”
“I already work for an insurance company; it wouldn’t be that much of a diff-“
“Who cares if the pay and the hours and general working conditions are better? Gary will forever remain loyal to his company, forever and ever and ever and ever.”
“He does not speak for me!”
“All this talk is boring, I’m gonna start fighting now,” groaned Francine. She suddenly lunged forward and kicked a guy right in the chin, sending him flying upwards and over the crowd. The whole scene quickly descended into panic, as Gary threw himself under a nearby desk.
From there, he could see Cheesecake expertly snapping his fingers to fling cheesecake into peoples’ faces with enough force to knock them flat on their backs. Those that hit their stomachs caused them to keel over in pain.
Backpack slowly walked way his way through the sea of grey suits and jackets, casually grabbing people by their wrists and throwing them over his shoulder. Some swung their weapons at him, but he just grabbed them and ripped them out of their hands before kicking them back.
Unity, meanwhile, would shift back and forth between Frank and Francine seamlessly. He threw a fist into one person’s face, then Francine came out and swept the leg. She stood back up, whirled round and slammed a palm into another’s chest, before Frank grabbed their frying pan off them and swung it down on their head. Throughout the whole fight, Frank’s face retained its stone-like appearance whereas Francine had a toothy grin, clearly having the time of her life.
When one of his colleagues collapsed unconscious near him, Gary pulled his knees to his chest and waited for the noise to end.
“Well, I’d call tonight a success,” said Cheesecake. The group was now stood outside the building; a mildly chilly wind brushed past Gary, who stood unblinking as the faint sound of police sirens drew near.
“How was that a success exactly?” he managed to ask.
“Okay, Fruitcake did manage to slip away again, but his plan was foiled, and you’ll be able to return to your job in peace once you inform the police of your boss’ involvement. And any day where justice is served is a good day indeed!”
“You also critically injured several of my co-workers and completely trashed our offices.”
“Yes, it’s a terrible and unavoidable side-effect of this job. But don’t worry, Fruitcake will pay for his crimes, and we will continue to protect this city, no matter how many bones need to be broken or workplaces need to be trashed!” He, Backpack and Frank all then turned to leave.
“Wait, you’re not going to stay and inform the police what happened?” asked Gary.
“I’m afraid not. The police refuse to see us as the heroes we are. They don’t understand that we must work outside the law in order to help people, and so they unfairly treat us like criminals,” explained Cheesecake.
“The constant property damage doesn’t help,” added Backpack.
“But you, Gary, you can tell our story! Spread the word that GJIL only wishes to aid the downtrodden and the needy! And remember us fondly!” Cheesecake carried on, before taking off down the street as fast as he could, with Backpack and Frank close behind.
“Farewell, Gary! May we meet again!” were the last words Gary heard, before a number of police cars skidded to a stop and several stern-looking officers stepped out. As Gary stood alone, with his harrowed appearance and bits of cake crumbs stuck to his suit, he could only mutter one thing.
“God, I hate superheroes.”
- This story is based on a concept my proofreader and I came up with called GJIL.
- I was originally going to split the story in two, with the first part ending when they leave the bar but I was enjoying writing it so I figured I’d just combine them.
- Gary Greyson is a character from an old game idea I briefly worked with a friend on at university, about a boring businessman who gets involved with holiday characters.
- The sparkling water bit is a reference to how my proofreader thinks it tastes disgusting while I personally like it.
- I considered having Gary actually get to see inside the backpack but figured it’d be best if I left its contents ambiguous.
- The hardest part of this story was coming up with Fruitcake’s plan, since I wanted something ridiculously convoluted and silly but still made some sense.
- My proofreader questioned why Manger’s wife would casually post a photo on Instagram of her cheating on her husband, so I threw in an extra line about Manger not using Instagram so as to justify it a bit.
- There was going to be a cliffhanger ending involving Fruitcake but I decided to cut it.
- A massive thank you to my proofreader, Josh, for his feedback and helping improve it.