“What!?” MaxBlaze asked. He was surprised that anyone was still downtown, much less a junior high kid. A chorus of laughter picked up behind the kid and MaxBlaze stepped closer; he recognized the voice. Five figures, all chuckling, emerged from the rubble of a nearby coffee shop. Each of the five looked exactly alike – black spandex and masks with a large green number ‘1’ in the center of the outfit. MaxBlaze moved to put himself between the boy and the villain he was currently facing.
As the figures approached four of them shimmered, then disappeared. The villain pulled his black mask up to reveal a handsome tan face and chiseled jawline.
“He asked why you think you’re better than me,” Juan Million said. “I’m curious about the answer myself.”
“It’s dangerous here,” MaxBlaze said to the boy. “You should get to safety.”
“He’s safe until I get an answer from you. We promise, right guys?” Juan shouted.
“RIGHT!” about 20 voices, all exactly like Juan’s, responded. MaxBlaze took a quick look around to try and spot all the clones, but he knew there were more than he could see.
“So, c’mon Max,” Juan said. “Tell us why you’re better than us.” Max had known Juan since their school days. Villain or not, Juan was as good as his word. Max sighed and looked at the boy.
“What’s your name, kid?” Max asked.
“Eddie,” the kid replied. Max nodded.
“Alright Eddie, I’m going to answer your question. But first, I have a question for you. Why are you asking me that, and not him?” Max asked. Eddie laughed instantly and obnoxiously.
“Because he’s a villain, duh,” Eddie’s high-pitched giggle was bolstered by a chorus of laughter from a dozen Juans. “Bad guys are supposed to do bad things.”
“Okay,” Max nodded. “That answered why you didn’t ask him. But why are you asking me and not anyone else?” Eddie rolled his eyes.
“Because you’re the hero, idiot,” he replied.
“Well, who told you I was a hero?” Max asked. “Unlike Juan over there….,” Max waved his hands in the general direction of a group of clones. “…and over there…,” he added. “I don’t do any advertising.” Eddie let out a heavy, frustrated sigh.
“You said you were going to answer my question!” he said. Max nodded.
“I am. Just answer that last one. Who told you I was a hero?”
“The city says you’re a hero, so you’re a hero,” Eddie grumbled. Max locked eyes with Eddie and gave him a friendly nod.
“I don’t think I’m better than anyone,” he said. “Every day is just me trying to do whatever good I can on that day. Some days are easy, some days buildings get destroyed,” he shrugged. “The city calls me a hero because of what I do. And Juan gets called a villain because of the choices he makes.”
“Oh. Okay,” Eddie gave a half-nod. Max wasn’t sure if Eddie understood or if he gave up on the question; but, he seemed to be processing the lesson.
“Will you get somewhere safe now?” Max asked. Juan spoke up as Eddie nodded in agreement.
“Forget it,” Juan said. He was walking in the opposite direction while his clones shimmered out of existence. “I’m going home to think about stuff.”