Too Many Long Boxes!
   
   

End of Summer
 

When Crooks Attack

by Jesse Stratton

“I hate the rain.”

Standing on the corner of a New York City intersection, which one she had no idea, Linda stood cold, wet, and bored. Next to her Buzz leaned against a lamppost, the smirk on his face mocking her discomfort. Linda Danvers should be one of the most powerful people on Earth, if not the universe. That no longer is the case. Since the struggle Linda lost that which made her special, she lost the essence of Supergirl. Now paired with long time enemy and demon Buzz, a pairing she is not thrilled with at all, Linda undertook the quest to find Supergirl and make her whole again in the process.

“You sure the Chaos Stream runs through here?” Linda asked Buzz. The Chaos Stream, the trail Linda was to follow, led to the lost essence of Supergirl. Her quest, to find that lost essence and regain the full might of Supergirl. Unfortunately only Buzz could sense the Chaos Stream.

“Actually, luv, I lost it hours ago.” LOST IT HOURS AGO! He lost the Chaos Stream hours ago! A pissed Linda glared down at Buzz.

“You mean to say we've been traipsing through New York for the past FIVE hours and you lost the trail. Lost the trail. You didn't think this important enough to mention, say, when you lost it?” Even now, containing only part of Supergirl in her left Linda feeling incomplete. A part was missing and she was determined to get it back. Buzz's stupidity didn't help any.

“But you're so cute when wet 'n angry. The way your eyes…”

“Buzz, shut up. I'm sick of your crap. Why He sent you I'll never understand.” Linda needed a break, the type of break that only a woman would understand. Across the street Linda found her sanctuary.

“Screw this. I'm going shopping.” Linda turned and headed for a small clothing shop across the street, Arecy's Fine Clothes. “You coming?” a question she almost feared asking.

“Shopping? With a female? You think I'm outta my bloody mind?”

“So what, you just going to stand out here in the rain?”

“Beats spending time with you.” Linda tried to understand men. She didn't bother with demons. Enough of that, Linda crossed the street and headed to a bliss only half the population understood.


Leaning against a lamppost, looking out at the rain bouncing off car tops and windows, Buzz sighed a deep sigh. It wasn't like he was a bad guy, well maybe a little bad but nothing compared to the major demons. It wasn't like he killed millions or led nations to fall. He just did the small time corruption. To be enlisted in the forces of Heaven and sent to guide someone he hated, that's just down right cruel.

“Why'd you do this to me?” questioned Buzz to the heavens above. “Like it's my fault she lost Supergirl. Making me her guide is crazy.” Buzz felt foolish talking to nothing. “Forget this. I'm leaving.”

As if on cue the heavens opened up, parting as a crackle of thunder broke through and rocked the sky, knocking Buzz off his feet. Deposited in a puddle half his butt high, thoroughly soaking his pants and making him look toilet-challenged, Buzz shook his head while pulling a soggy cigarette from a drenched pocket. “OK. I was going to stay here and wait for her anyway. No need to get pissy.”

As if things couldn't get any worse an old woman in a tattered coat knelt beside him. “Have faith and the lord will deliver,” she spoke before griping her shopping cart of trash and moved on.

Being knocked on your butt by the Almighty was one thing. Mocked because of it by a mere mortal, that just upset him off. Now he couldn't even get his soggy cigarette lit. Bunch of savages, these mortals.

“Demons get no respect these days,” he muttered.


Now this was more like it. Linda Danvers stood surrounded by shopping bliss. Rack upon rack of clothes spread out, further then the eye could see. People moved back and forth between shirts and pants and jackets picking only the items perfect for them. Some people had weird fashion sense. Linda didn't mind that. There was a huge sale and she wasn't about to let it pass without her.

Searching through rack after rack of shirts, grabbing the ones that looked interesting, Linda's thought drifted back to Buzz. No ways to spoil a good time then think about those you hate. Sometimes he really pissed her off. Today was one of those times.

“Can't believe he lost the stream and continued to make me stay out in the rain,” Linda muttered. Just thinking about Buzz when there was shopping to attend to made her mad. His actions earlier didn't help matters.


Outside Buzz still tried to light his cigarette, though the small flame from his lighter did little more then singe the soaked tip. “Damn rain. How long's that girl going to take? I'm getting soaked and my cig won't light.” Buzz wondered if he maybe should have gone with her, if only to get out of the rain. The thought of a shop full of female shoppers cured that.


Hands full with a pile of shirts, pants, and undergarments Linda thumbed through one final rack before heading off to the dressing room. Though she enjoyed the shopping still thoughts of the quest seeped in.

It's been months. Hope I find Supergirl soon, Linda thought. This half power stuff really ….

“Sweet,” she'd wanted one of these for months.

Dropping the other clothes to the ground Linda held up a high cut tee-shirt with the words “Brittany Spears” written across the front, chest high and surrounded by a red heart. This had to be the find of the day, if not her lifetime. And it was 75 percent off. Life couldn't get better then this. Every girl's dream held tightly in her hands.

Stack of clothes rising just over her head, making maneuvering difficult, Linda stumbled her way to the nearest female dressing room.

Just feet from the changing room Linda barely avoided collision with a pair of trench coat clad youth hastily pushing their way through the store. The nerve. She wanted to stop them and give them a piece of her mind but decided to get to the changing room. After all, this was a time to sooth the stress, not increase it.

Setting her mountain of clothes on the dressing room bench, all that was forgotten. Now the fun began.


Moving towards the counter, after a barely-avoided collision with some dumb broad and a tower of vision-blocking clothes, Larry and Harry prepared for the festivities ahead. The plan was for Larry to deal with the cashier while Harry took care of the shoppers. Harry would be ready for his part. This was his first job and he wasn't about to goof it up. He just didn't understand why they had to wear trench coats. They were large, bulky, and containing. Larry always said they wore them precisely because they were large and bulky. Better to hid the shotgun in, Larry continually reminded him.

“You need to wait your turn in line,” stated the receptionist as Larry walked up to her, moving the people in line ahead of him out of his way.

“This is an emergency,” said Larry, devilish smile on his face. “I just had to speak with you.” Though the receptionist was attractive with shoulder length red hair and a body to grovel over, Harry wished Larry wouldn't flirt with her. They had work to do. Larry saw the matter differently.

“Well, if you put it that way, can I help you with something?” Larry's charm worked wonders.

“Yeah, I think so. I have a bag here and would appreciate it if you filled it with the cash in your register, love.” All his charm went the way of winter. Scared of death or worse the receptionist eagerly complied.

On cue Harry pulled the shotgun from his coat and lifted it up in the air. “Everyone down and no one gets hurt. NOW!!!” Scared people dropped to the ground, cries shouting out.

“And Larry, stop flirting.” The receptionist wanted to cry.


In her dressing room Linda shook her head, wanting to smash it on the wall but knowing that would do little good in a situation like this other then place a head-sized whole in the wall. “Why can't I just have ONE day of peace and quiet. Is that too much to ask? I don't think so.”

With a grumble Linda did what she knew she had to do, what she always did in such a situation. No, that wasn't to run and hide, though the thought did cross her mind. People were in trouble and she acted. Anyway, it wasn't like this was going to be a difficult task. Two non-super powered barely legal youth didn't make for mastermind criminals. These two weren't even worth her time.

Having switched into her costume, contained in that place where superheroes keep costumes while engaged in alternative identity activities (no, not her bra), Linda burst from the dressing room yelling,

“This looks like a job for Supergirl.”

Turning, shocked, Larry and Harry could hardly believe their eyes as Supergirl burst from the dressing room, exclaimed her presence, and tripped over a rack of clearance priced shirts. Supergirl tumbled to the ground in a tangled heap of Brittany Spears tee shirts and contorted metal.

“What is this?” asked Larry. “I thought you were all told to get your butts on the floor, though it looks like your nice butt doesn't want to get up any more.” Pulling a gun from his trench coat, a semi automatic pistol of some sorts though Supergirl wasn't sure the make, Larry pointed it at her. “Now keep yourself there.” Larry shook his head. “I've heard about you Supergirl wannabes.”

Edging slightly closer to Larry, Harry looked nervous. “Uh, Larry, what if she really is Supergirl?”

“Supergirl? That? Didn't you hear Supergirl died a few months back? Anyway, this isn't her.”

“How you so certain.” Harry still wasn't convinced.

“I saw her once. She had a much finer rack.”

“Yeah…I know…should…taller,” slurred Supergirl from her tangled position. “Just wish people….stop it with the breast thing….not like…just a piece of meat.”

Struggling, Supergirl planted her hands on the floor and pushed herself up. About half way there her hands wobbled, then gave out, and she fell back to the ground with a thud.

“Meant to do that.” She couldn't believe this happened, so much for her returning reputation as a superhero to fear. The pain was intense.

“Hehehe…Supergirl? Funny.” Larry turned back towards the receptionist. “Now get back to filling that and I might have a treat for you later.” Supergirl wanted to puke, not at the pain but the bad pickup line.

Shaking her head she couldn't believe it. What happened back there? This should be easy. She was invincible after all and even though she couldn't fly anymore she could still leap tall buildings up to an eighth of a mile high, though the landings were a bit rough. She was Supergirl. Woman of Steel. Protector of Justice. Being able to barely rise off the ground wasn't part of the job description. She lost her powers and no one warned her. Could this day get any worse?

In her tangled mess of self-pity Linda missed an old lady approaching her, helping remove torn tee shirts from on top her.

“Now, now. Young ladies shouldn't dress up as superheroes and try to fight crime. Leave that to the professionals like Superman.” Though her voice was sweet and she meant well Linda didn't feel any better.

“Yeah, maybe your right.” This just wasn't right.

Back at the register Larry supervised the receptionist. “Cindy, that's a lovely name. What say you and me get together after you get off work tonight?” Cindy looked mortified but too scared to decline.

“Sure…whatever you want…just don't kill me.”

“Kill you. A lovely dish like you. I wouldn't think of it.” Larry looked proud of himself, Linda felt sick. Cindy vomited, none landed on the money.

Harry franticly looked through rack after rack of jeans, getting more upset the more racks he looked through. “What's this, no size 36 pants in this whole store? It's not like I'm fat and need special clothes or anything.”

“Hey retard. You an idiot or something,” Larry piped in. “We're in a female clothing store.”

Linda couldn't believe this was happening. She lay hurt in a store with two reject criminals and an old grandma helping her up. She didn't know what went wrong. Her powers had been working steady for most of a month and a half. Now she lost them. Must be some side effect of losing the Supergirl essence. Linda groaned. “Need a Valium or something for the pain? I think I have some in my purse,” asked the old lady.

“I think I'll be fine,” she answered as a shot of pain hit her. “On second thought, maybe I will.” It had been a while since Linda felt pain like this. Being invulnerable kept you from feeling pain…when it worked. What else could go wrong?

Sirens blared through the relative quiet. Never ask a question you don't want to know the answer to.


Outside the clothing shop three police cars pulled up, blocking the road to the shop. Along with them was a swat van, the 51stswat team. Buzz looked on amused. What did poor Linda get herself into this time? Curious, Buzz walked across the street.

The swat team poured from the van and gathered around one of the police cars. They had papers of some sort spread out, though the rain made visibility poor and he couldn't tell what they were. Probably blueprints of some sort. Buzz wondered if this had anything to do with the store Linda walked into.


Finally in a seated position Linda grumbled. Should have never opened the big mouth. The police were something this situation didn't need. Already Larry and Harry, the mastermind criminals behind this store robbery, looked nervous. Apparently they didn't think the police would have responded. They were wrong.

“Crap, Larry, what we do now? You said no police would care about two small time criminals in a city with super powered freaks.” “Just calm down Harry. I'll think of something.”

Just then, over a loud speaker from outside the building the police boomed. “Give it up. We have you surrounded. Let the people inside out and surrender.”

“Better think fast Larry or we might as well surrender.”

“That's it Harry. We use the people here as hostages. They won't come after us if we threaten to hurt them.” The situation just got a lot worse. Something needed to happen and even without powers Linda Danvers was Supergirl and needed to act the part.


As Buzz approached one of the officers noticed him and broke to intercept his path. The grim look on the officer's face made the situation seem serious.

“Sorry, this place is off-limits. We have situation.”

“What type of situation is that?” asked Buzz.

“Can't go into details but apparently two crooks are holding up the clothing store across the street.”

“Seems like a large response for two crooks.” Supergirl should've dispatched the situation by now. What kept her?

“Just fulfilling our orders. The mayor wants a harder stance on crime so the chief sent us to send a message. Now if you'll step back we have work to do.”

Buzz took a few steps back. Two crooks shouldn't warrant a response like this. If the cops got involved he felt sorry for the mortals inside, not that he should care about them. Maybe he won't need to be her guide anymore. Here's to hoping.


Larry and Harry yelled back at the police. “Hey police. We got hostages in here. You come in after us and you'll be sorry.” That very statement made matters go from bad to worse. Shock and fear gripped the customers turned hostages. Whatever precarious order, build on assurances of safety, vanished. Larry moved quickly to calm the people down.

“Get back down on the floor,” yelled Larry to a group of scared people rising. “Just calm down and we all get out of this OK.” Those words had little help besides getting the people back to the floor. Linda needed to do something, something quick. The question was what. Without Supergirl she was little better then the people cowering on the floor.

Booming over the loudspeaker the police answered Larry and Harry's demands. “We will not negotiate with criminals. You have fifteen minutes to comply or face the consequences.” “Consequences” doesn't sound good.

Hearing the rebuke of the police agitated Larry and Harry more. If ever there was a time to catch them off guard, this was it. Linda needed to act, and she knew it. That knowledge didn't make it any easier though. Slowly, so as not to attract attention (and due to the pain in her side) Linda rose off the ground.

“What do you think your doing?” whispered the old lady next to Linda.

“Someone needs to stop this and I'm the only someone here who can,” answered Linda. She knew this wouldn't be easy. Without Supergirl to back her up she was on her own. A proposition she didn't much like. But, like most things, life rarely was fair. You had to deal or get off the train. Linda wasn't ready to die now, not to a group of two-bit crooks or some over zealous cops. The people here deserved better then that.

Harry, the shotgun wielding crook, started walking near her, just a row of clothing ahead. If she jump out and knocked the rack of jeans on him she'd have time to deal with the leader. Given his youth and lack of cool in dealing with the cops he should be distracted. She hoped. If she was wrong…well… if she was wrong her quest would have a quick conclusion.

Harry was just on the other side of her. Linda flung forward, biting back the pain coursing in her side. This wasn't the time to buckle. This was the time to be strong, even if she faked the strength.

Clothing flew everywhere as the rack collided with a startled Harry. Shotgun flew out of his hands, skidding to rest on the floor away from both Harry and the now turning Larry. Larry's momentary shock and Harry lying unconscious on the floor gave Linda more then enough time. She flung at him, shoulder first, thinking to knock him down with an old fashion shoulder block.

With a grunt Linda collided into Larry's side with less effect then she desired. Giving the shoulder block her all wasn't enough. Larry looked down in disbelief. He hadn't budged. Not even an inch. Without her super strength Linda didn't have the power to take Larry out. The momentary shock was just that, momentary and ended as quick as it came.

With a shove Larry flung Linda to the floor. “The Supergirl wannabe. Thought I told you to stay on the floor. Have a hard time following instructions?”

“I'll show you a hard time following instructions,” retorted Linda, having trouble standing back up.

“I don't think so.” Larry pulled the pistol out of his coat. “I gave you a chance. Now it's time I showed the cops I mean business.”

Linda's heart skipped the next beat. Normally bullets only ruined her clothes and kept the shopping bills high. Without powers they were fatal. Quick, have to think, get away. Linda turned to scamper behind a rack of clothes, hopeful the cotton and polyester would protect from bullets. Even that small relief soon proved illusionary as Harry, recovered from the falling clothes rack, stood blocking her way.

“I don't think so lady. You caused us enough problems. Now we cause you some.” She always knew she'd die sometime. She just never thought it would be in such a lame way. Larry lowered the gun, aiming it at Linda's head.

BANG.

As soon as it started, it ended.


“Sir, shots fired in the shop.” Buzz knew bad news when he heard it. Supergirl should have stopped two crooks without problems, before shots could be fired. Now New York's finest were sure to charge into the situation. Anytime the police got involved a situation worsened.

“OK, we send in the swat team,” the commanding officer confirmed Buzz's fear.

“Swat team move forward. Ready tear gas. Wilson, take out the window.” The swat team leader barked commands as they prepared to raid the shop.

The swat team charged forward. One shot took out the glass at the front of the building and another deployed tear gas canisters to quell the crooks. So far so good, everything went as the police planned. Across the street came the forms of eleven swat team members, rifles in hand. Out of the shop window flew five tear gas canisters, irritating gas dissipating in the outside air.

“Crap, they got to the tear gas. Be careful,” yelled the captain. Two more shots fired from inside the building.

In seconds the swat team stood at the shop door. With a heave the door gave way under force and into the room the swat team poured. A quick look around registered disbelief on each of their faces. Larry and Harry lay tied up in the middle of the shop floor. Standing over them stood Supergirl; upset her day of shopping got interrupted. Picking up both Larry and Harry in one hand, Supergirl tossed them over to the incoming swat team. At least her powers returned, and not a moment to soon.

“There you go officers. Next time might I suggest you be more cautious.” Supergirl walked towards the door, turning to face Larry as she past him.

“Too short and without a nice rack my butt.” Larry just shook his head in disbelief. It wasn't supposed to go down like this. It was just a clothing shop. How was he to know Supergirl would be here? He didn't even know superheroes shopped!

Gathered up by the police Larry and Harry made their way towards the shop exit. Passing the Cindy, the receptionist, Larry tried to have a confident look on his face. “You'll come visit me in jail, won't you?” he asked.

She looked at him furiously. Her hand raised and shot forth, a slap across the face his answer.

“She loves me Harry, she really loves me.”

“Get over it Larry. Mom's gonna kill us.”


Once out of the store Supergirl made the quick change back to Linda Danvers before meeting up with Buzz at the street corner. It still rained out and Linda still glared angrily at Buzz. If he hadn't lost the Chaos Trail and not told her none of this would've happened.

“What took you so long luv? Supergirl should've had those creeps in no time.”

“Buzz, back off. It hasn't been a good day and it's your fault.” Linda moved down the street not waiting for Buzz to follow.

“Wait up.” Buzz ran after her, catching up after a few seconds. “What happened back there anyway? You lose your powers or something?”

“Buzz, shut up.”

 
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