Mr. Eugene Bookbinder was an unfortunate man who struggled throughout his life with mental illness. A lover of great literature, he spent hours of his young life escaping from the painful reality of a broken home and an abusive stepfather by spending countless hours devouring the works of greatest authors. By simply opening a book, Eugene could transport himself into a different place and time, far removed from his own. As time wore on and Eugene became a teenager, the line between reality and fantasy began to blur. Often times, Eugene believed he was actually participating in the adventures he read about in books- even adopting the persona of the characters in these stories. These split-personality episodes grew more frequent as Eugene became an adult. Most of his time was spend acting out as the characters he adored from the novels that became his whole life.
Eventually, Eugene was committed to a mental health facility in Gotham, Gotham State Mental Hospital. Several years of intense therapy helped Eugene moderate these episodes where different characters emerged sporadically, overtaking his own personality and replacing it with that of say, Charles Darney or Huckleberry Finn. Doctors were convinced that Eugene was cured of his mental disorder and encouraged him to make use of his great knowledge of classic literature. He took a job as the head librarian at Benjamin Harrison High School and began to rebuild his life.
Since Eugene did not have any violent episodes in the past, doctors had little concern that he was a risk working at a public high school. Eugene, however, was not completely cured. He found himself daily fighting the demons that wanted to come out and control his personality. Mr. Bookbinder had successfully controlled those demons, but they grew stronger and more intense by the day. Eugene knew it was only a matter of time before he lost control and gave in to the characters in his brain that crawled their way to the surface.
Christine Hansen, an 18 year old senior at Benjamin Harrison High, was lounging in the apartment she shared with her guardian, her Aunt Jessica. Jessica, a aerobics/gym teacher, was away at a conference out of state and Christine had the whole place to herself.
Upon first glance, Christine was barely noteworthy. She had a natural beauty and would be described by her classmates as “cute,” but no one thought of her as a knockout. Christine wore her blonde hair short in a bob, but she didn’t have the glamourous long locks of many of the other girls, including her aunt. Perhaps it was her unflattering baggy clothes that would look better on a girl much heavier than her. Perhaps if Christine tried some makeup and highlighted her best features, she’d draw the attention of the boys. Her Aunt Jessica, a statuesque raven haired beauty, always attracted the attention of men and boys alike. It wasn’t uncommon for her appearance in the halls of Harrison High to stop everyone in their tracks as they admired her beauty and her curvy fit body in spandex leotards.
What her classmates didn’t know was that Aunt Jessica and Christine were really the famed spandex-clad superheroines, Batwoman & Flamebird. Christine went from bland to beautiful, forgettable to fox in a swift change into her red leotard and tan pantyhose in her secret crime fighting guise of Flamebird.
This afternoon, Christine wasn’t worrying about popularity or fighting crime, she was simply exhausted after a long day of classes. Christine hadn’t gotten much sleep in the last few weeks. Bringing the likes of Glue Girl and Web Woman to justice at night while going to school during the day was tiring work. The only nap Christine took during that period wasn’t exactly what she would call restful. As Flamebird, one of Web Woman’s KO gas emitting toy spiders caught her while stuck in one of Glue Girl’s sticky paste traps. Luckily, her Aunt Jessica in her guise as Batwoman was there in the nick of time to free her and wake Flamebird with her universal bat antidote. It seemed luck was on her side, as with Aunt Jessica out of town and Glue Girl & Web Woman behind bars, Christine could sink into the plush couch and get a few hours of well-earned shut eye. Her luck seemingly ran out as the emergency bat-beacon, a flashing red light on the telephone, came on incidating that Police Chief Roberts had an assignment for Batwoman & Flamebird.
Christine dragged herself from the comfy couch that beckoned her moments ago and reached for the phone.
“Hello Chief Roberts,” Christine said in her most authoritative voice, “This is Flamebird.”
“Hello Flamebird. Is Batwoman there?,” Chief Roberts replied impatiently.
“Batwoman is on another assignment, but I can handle things in her absence.”
“I was hoping to reach Batwoman,” Chief Roberts shot back rudely, “This isn’t a job for a teenager girl, even if she is the Girl Wonder, Flamebird.”
“I’ll tell you what, Chief,” Christine replied in a sarcastic, annoyed voice, “You tell me what’s going on and I’ll pass it along to Batwoman. Then we’ll deal with it together.”
“Well, alright, some freak dressed like a deep sea fisherman is robbing the petty cash fund in the main office of Benjamin Harrison High School. He’s got a harpoon and he’s blathering on about needing the cash for a great quest. There are hostages and you and your partner need to act now. Chief Roberts- Out!”
An annoyed Christine Hansen hung up the phone. The lack of respect for her crime-fighting ability and playing second fiddle to her Aunt Jessica/Batwoman was wearing a bit thin. Wasn’t Flamebird in the thick of the battle right alongside Batwoman? Didn’t she face the same peril each with confrontation as the sexy and capable Batwoman? The chief didn’t even have the courtesy to say goodbye. The angry young woman moved swiftly to her closet where the costume of the quite capable Flamebird hung. Despite her aunt’s advice never to take on any of Gotham’s nefarious kinky villains alone, Christine would make her appearance as Flamebird and show everyone how skilled a crime-fighter she really was.
Gone were the unflattering baggy t-shirt and pants as those clothes were replaced by the dazzling sexy costume of Flamebird. Christine emerged from the closet in a clinging sleeved red leotard. Bright yellow boots, gloves, and eye mask made for a delightful contrast in color. The sexy shiny tan pantyhose were the kicker- showcasing a glamourous pair of shapely gams. Once the yellow utility belt was snapped on her waist, boring Christine was but a memory and the sex bomb spandex super Teen Wonder Flamebird was ready for action. Now everyone would see she was more than a second fiddle sidekick.
Jessica and Christine’s apartment was merely one block from the campus of Benjamin Harrison High School. A quick, discreet bounce over the fence brought Flamebird within seconds of the scene of the crime. She cautious approached the main office building, knowing any sudden moves or actions could jeopardize the lives of the people inside. As Aunt Jessica taught her, the element of surprise was the most important weapon. Drawing her Batarang from her utility belt, Flamebird cast the metal boomerang on the roof and climbed the wall. A roof entrance and a drop through the open skylight would allow her to get the drop on his harpoon touting hostage taker. Police units surrounding the area recognized the Teen Wonder and stood down as she made her approach.
Once on the roof, Flamebird cleared open the latch to a skylight directly over the Dean’s office. A quick peek down revealed that no one was in there and if she could only stick a clean, quiet landing on the floor, Flamebird could enter the crime scene undetected. A booming deep salty voice could be head in the distance. Obviously, the action was occurring in an area of the building away from the Dean’s office. Flamebird dropped and like an expert diver, which she was, she hit a quiet landing on the floor of the office. Fearful of losing the element of surprise and risking the lives of the hostages, the Teen Wonder snuck lightly through the halls in the direction leading to the booming voice.
Flamebird approached the last wall between her and the hostage situation, took a deep breath, and reached for her Bat-Stun gun from her utility belt. With a deep breath and a burst of confidence, our teen superheroine bounded forward and confronted the villain straight on.
“Freeze, put down your weapon and step back…you’re under arrest,” Flamebird shouted in her best heroine voice as she stood before the hostage taker with the Bat-Stun gun poised at the ready.
The group of 8 hostages, 3 students and 5 school secretaries, gasped and even let out a muted cheer as the famed heroine Flamebird was on the scene. The panicked hostages relaxed a touch as Gotham’s most capable crime-fighters were there to save them. If Flamebird was there, could Batwoman be far behind?
Flamebird stood before a strange figure who looked, to her estimation, like the Groton’s fisherman. He wore yellow rain gear, the heavy yellow overcoat and baggy yellow suspended pants. He wore a fake beard that wasn’t secured well enough to fool a casual glance. Heavy black waterproof boots, a yellow fisherman’s hat, and a large harpoon in his right hand completed the strange garb.
“Aye, young lady,” the strange fisherman bellowed, “I’m here to secure the funds for my greatest quest ever, to fulfill my life’s destiny…the death of the great white whale that took my leg. And you sure won’t be interfering!”
Flamebird stood stunned, trying to decipher the crazy message from the strange costumed character.
“And who are you?,” a confused Teen Wonder asked, “and it looks like you’ve got both legs to me.”
“You don’t recognize the great Captain Ahab, young woman?,” the fisherman shouted, “Anyway, I figured one of you costumed do-gooders would come to ruin my quest…”
With that, ‘Capt. Ahab’ pressed a button on the shaft of the harpoon. A stunned Flamebird never anticipated the heavy fishing net that fell from the ceiling above her. The thick rope and heavy netting dropped Flamebird to her knees as the weight was too much for her lithe body to withstand. The spandex clad teen heroine fell, struggling mightily under the entangling webbing that ensnared and trapped her.
“Can’t…move…net…pinning me…tangled…up,” Flamebird muttered weakly as the heavy fishing net was binding her movement and pinning her to the floor.
‘Capt. Ahab’ stepped forward to the entangled young heroine, rolling helplessly under the net, and pointed the tip of his sharp harpoon right at the portion of the net where Flamebird young masked face could be detected.
“Let this serve as a lesson to ya, lassie,” ‘Ahab continued, “Never get in the way of a man and his life’s mission.”
‘Capt. Ahab’ pressed another button on the shaft of his harpoon and from the sharp tip shot forth a plume of yellow knockout gas. The yellow gas filled the face of the young crimefighter and forced a loud cough from the constricted Teen Wonder.
“Knockout *cough* gassss… *cough* right…into….a…*cough*…tttrappp….,” Flamebird weakly said as the yellow gas invaded her nose and mouth.
The gas attack after wrestling with a heavy fishing net was too much for the teen heroine and she quickly succumbed to sleep as her eyelids collapsed under her mask. Her sexy figure struggling under the net grew limp and Flamebird was helpless.
“Let that be a lesson to ya,” ‘Ahab’ said laughing as he grabbed the cash box on the counter. “The next time you won’t be so lucky.”
‘Capt. Ahab’ fled the scene, taking the money and leaving the knocked out teen spandex heroine to sleep off a dose of whale gas.
Two hours later, Flamebird awoke as two Gotham City policemen attended to her. The groggy heroine tried to shake the cobwebs and still felt like she’d been Rip Van Winkle. She tried to adjust her eyes to the light and her surroundings and she could clearly see she was in the same place the strange fisherman had left her, the mian office of Benjamin Harrison High.
“Wha- What happened?,” the drowsy teen wonder asked the policeman at her side.
“Well, the suspect dropped a heavy net on you and then gave you a powerful sedative,” one of Gotham’s finest responded.
“Yeah, now I remember. I had to ask,” an annoyed Flamebird shot back as she rubbed her head with her gloved hand.
“Well, it looks like you’re O.K.,” the policeman said, “Perhaps we can call Batwoman to get you home. Where is Batwoman anyway?”
“Hmm…she’s on the way,” Flamebird thought as she produced a whopper of a lie, “I’ll make my way out front to catch her so we can track this guy down.”
A shaken and still sleepy Flamebird left the building and snuck back to her apartment, tail between her legs, and was contemplating the confrontation. “How could I have been so careless? Batwoman never let some amateur get the drop on her like that. Anyway, I guess I’m lucky he only wanted to give me a warning- I was helpless as a kitten under than net,” the Teen Wonder thought as she made her way to her front door.
“Something tells me I’ll be seeing him again,” Flamebird thought as she opened the door and retired for the night.
TO BE CONTINUED…