She was screaming something at me, probably some sort of plea or suggestion, but I had no time to stop and listen. We had to keep moving. We had to get as far as possible from the people I once called companions.
I could hear their increasingly distant bickering. By some stroke of luck, they were still arguing over whether Gray Herons or Great Blue Herons were endemic to this region, but it wouldn’t be long before they got back to work. Unfortunately, their work involved my untimely demise, and the end of the bound and gagged superhero I held in my arms.
Okay, so, I guess we’ve started my story at a bad time. You probably have a ton of questions by now, and I’m going to try my best to answer them all before I inevitably get filled with lead. I suppose we should start with my name.
Moving along, I’m a goon. Or, I guess, I was a goon. Technically I still am though. It’s kind of confusing. Whatever! All you need to know is that the job market isn’t all that hot right now, and the criminal underworld offers a lot of well-paying work in my area, even if their employee benefits are nothing to write home about. So, I figured I would run with those guys until a better opportunity presented itself. That’s how I became a goon.
Criminal job security admittedly wasn’t all that great, but the openings just kept coming. I spent a year or two jumping from crime boss to crime boss, all the while gaining workplace experience and dodging justice’s sword with each new gig. After a while, I was knowledgeable enough to know a good workplace when I saw one, and that was when I came across Big Sal.
Sal was quite possibly the best illegitimate employer I’ve ever had! He ran a profitable enough racket for each of his henchmen to earn a livable wage, but he wasn’t ambitious enough to give himself a gimmick and go full-blown supervillain. The cops were one thing, but taking on the superheroes was a hassle that both he and I could go without. I was overjoyed when I landed a job in his gang. For my first day, I wore my finest crony outfit, and gave myself a real ‘deadbeat’ haircut. I looked like a dirtbag, and I couldn’t wait to get started.
Me and some of the other goons carpooled over to this sketchy dock at the edge of town. A really dank place with rust-stained tin on the walls, and weathered wood on the piers. It was there that we met up with our supplier, a smuggler named Rodriguez. He and his crew looked pretty rough around the edges, but Sal didn’t seem to mind at all. He welcomed Rodriguez like an old friend, and the rugged smuggler responded even more kindly. They actually asked how each other’s families were doing before getting down to business. I’d never seen that before between the higher-ups.
It was Rodriguez who started the deal. “Yo dawg, lemme show you what I’ve got for you this time!”
Sal smiled warmly. “You seem more excited than me, Roddy.”
“Oh, just you wait. This is some grade A stuff, dawg! The kids on the street are losing their minds over this! You’ll be sold out in a matter of weeks!”
“Even faster than your last shipment?”
“No cap, homie! It’s as addictive as it is hot! They can’t get enough of it!”
He put an arm over my boss and walked him over to a wooden crate that his guys had hurriedly brought in from their boat. It had a bunch of vague warning labels plastered to the side, but we all knew that the outside of the box didn’t mean squat. It was the inside that mattered, and I couldn’t help but get a little excited when they pried it open and showed Sal its ‘grade-A’ contents.
There was a pool of shredded paper inside, covering the product as well as protecting it. Sal brushed the paper aside and revealed rows upon rows of Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs.
“Very nice, Rodriguez, but you know I wouldn’t be much of a dealer if I didn’t have the stuff sampled for appraisal.”
Our supplier spread his arms and said, “Be my guest.”
Big Sal unwrapped an egg and broke its shell between his teeth. “The perfect blend of white and milk chocolate, as always.” He then opened up the little plastic capsule inside the egg, assembled its contents based on the included instructions, and tested out the resulting toy. “A little monkey riding a tricycle. Not bad. And he even pedals when you roll it! You weren’t kidding, old friend! My kids are gonna love this!”
Rodriguez grinned. “Everybody’s kids are gonna love this. Shall we talk numbers while the cholos load up the trucks?”
“STOP RIGHT THERE!”
Everyone, including myself, spun around to the entrance of the warehouse, there, in the moonlit doorway, stood an angel. At least, she looked like an angel at first glance. Her pink costume glittered with all the magnificence of a shimmering geode, and her magenta hair somehow glowed with an even greater brilliance. I guess I could say the same thing about her eyes… and her face… and her skin. Let’s just say that she was really pretty. She marched with authority to the center of the warehouse, and upon closer inspection, it became quite apparent that she was no angel.
She was a superhero.
I’d lost a couple of bosses to the capes as well as the cops, but I’d rarely ever been this close to one before. I had no interest in being fodder, and my rule of thumb had always been to run for the hills at the first sign of capes and cowls. But for some reason, I stayed this time. Maybe it was because I was literally attracted to this pink knight, or maybe it was because nobody in the room seemed particularly concerned.
Sal certainly didn’t look worried. If anything, he looked irritated. “Of course, what transaction wouldn’t be complete without a visit from Crims--”
“Step away from the illegal goods and put your hands in the air, or face the wrath of CRIMSON CARA!”
Well, she sure was theatric, but that didn’t get much of a reaction from the guys. Big Sal just rolled his eyes and said, “Alright boys, you know the drill. Circle around.”
I was so confused. Why weren’t my coworkers worried at all about a freaking superhero?! Why did a cape care about illegal chocolates? What did ‘circle around’ mean? It was at that point that I wished I had gotten a training day or something.
Nobody waited around for me to make sense of the situation. Without a word, every one of Sal’s goons hustled around into a giant circle, surrounding the solo superhuman. This was a standard goon formation. I’d seen this exact situation dozens of times, and I wasn’t about to stick around to watch it unravel. Inch by inch, I crept towards the emergency exit, ready to bolt once things started to--
A rumble of loud footsteps filled the building as everybody charged all at once. In all my years as a crook, I had never seen this before. Normally, us goons charge at the superhero one at a time so that everyone has equal opportunity to win employee of the month, but this gang actually utilized its strength in numbers. Why hadn’t I thought of that?
The fight was on, and it… was actually going really well! I expected someone by the name of Crimson Cara to have some kind of energy-based superpower, but she was just throwing hands and snarling threats of justice. She landed some blows of course, but the henchmen were actually getting back up after taking a hit. I didn’t know we were allowed to do that!
She was completely overwhelmed. Some older goon with a greasy ponytail pulled her hands behind her back, and two others pounced on her with coils of rope. I realized a bit late that I might actually get to witness lowly goons take down a superhero. Now that would look good in my resumé!
“Unhand me,” Cara yelled. “You crooked scum will never get away with th--mmnnm!”
Someone stuffed a rag in her mouth mid-sentence, almost as though he was ready for it. It all happened faster than my flustered mind could process. Of course, my partners in crime got by just fine without me. They had the meddling pest bound and gagged before I knew it. A red cloth was tied between her teeth, and she snarled viciously into it as she writhed around. To my amazement, she wasn’t breaking free. There was no last-second power buff or anything. They really had her!
A quip from the boss snapped me out of my stupor. “Oi, new kid!” He pointed to the greasy ponytail guy and said, “Wanna help Roland out instead of just standin’ there?”
“R-right,” I shouted!
The boss didn’t look impressed, but he didn’t look disappointed in me either. Maybe I could still establish myself as a motivated employee if I hustled for the rest of the day. Greasy Roland had Cara in a bear hug whilst she thrashed around her tied up legs. I threw myself into the ring and grabbed hold of her legs, successfully putting her in a two-person-carry.
“Nice,” Roland commented. “We can take it from here, boss!”
“Alright,” Sal said casually. “Take her and the kid out back. He’s your apprentice today.”
“You got it!”
I awkwardly let Sal know that my name was Greg on the way out the door as the two of us carried our disgruntled captive away. We took her out of the warehouse and to a small outbuilding. It was really more of a shack. We sat her down, and I looked around the shack. Just about everything in there was dusty and squalid, but there were enough tools and material for me to work with.
I turned to Roland. “So are we gonna throw together something with a timer? ‘Cause I can rig something up with that clock over there!”
Roland sat on a barrel and looked at me like I had ten eyes. “Excuse me?”
“You know, a perilous deathtrap,” I answered. “Isn’t that what happens with captured superheroes?”
Roland laughed at that, which would have been embarrassing if he didn’t sound so sincere. “Look, kiddo, I know that this is an unusual situation for goons like us, but you gotta relax, man. Cara’s harmless! This happens every time we run a job.”
I was dumbfounded. “Every time?!”
“Every single time,” he nodded. “She doesn’t even have superpowers. She just knows karate.”
“It’s true. She’s the most worthless supe you’ll ever lay eyes on.”
“Grrrrm…” Cara cast a wicked glare at Roland, but he didn’t seem to notice.
“I guess she holds a grudge against us or something,” he said. “We never try to off her though, ‘cause a dead cape is the kind of thing people call The Revengers over. So, we just hold her here while the others work, and we watch her ‘til they’re done.”
My heart sank. “Watch her ‘til they’re done?”
“Yeah. She may be a bottom-tier supe, but even she usually breaks out once or twice and needs to be tied up again.” He reached inside his jacket and pulled out a book. “So leaving her alone would be the most illogical thing we goons could ever do, now wouldn’t it?”
Terrific. I’d been shafted to guard duty! One little misunderstanding had just put me at the bottom of the criminal totem pole, and now I… “Is that a children’s book?”
“What,” Roland snapped defensively? “I’ve been feeling nostalgic lately!”
“The kid’s turning into a spider…”
“Hey, screw you, man! Animorphs is the greatest!”
He didn’t say much after that. Some apprenticeship this turned out to be! I don’t even know how that guy could read while Cara made so much noise struggling. She pulled at her ropes until it made her groan into her gag. Seriously, what kind of superhero was she if she just kept walking into the same mishap over and over?
That actually gave me an idea. If Roland wasn’t gonna teach me anything, then I might as well use the time to learn from Google. If this was par for the course, then maybe I could impress management with some efficient rope skills next time around. I pulled out my phone and searched ‘BEST WAY TO TIE SOMEONE UP’.
Man, the sites that I found…
Don’t get me wrong, I knew about that kinky stuff already. I was aware of its existence. I just figured that those weirdos used neckties and fuzzy handcuffs while real bad guys like us used ropes and chains. Boy, was I wrong! Those fetish freaks could run circles around my coworkers!
Cara only had rope tied around her wrists and ankles, but the kink guys used so much rope that their models were damn near covered in it! They definitely had some more… creative gags than us too. I found myself looking at one video where the girl must have been bound with a hundred feet of rope! She couldn’t move a muscle!
In fact, she was barely even struggling. She looked as though she was just struggling to get off. Not at all like Cara. Well… actually, a bit like Cara. At least, the moans of our hostage were kind of similar to the moans of that horny model.
I’d glance at the video, then at Cara, then back to the video. With each and every glance, I spotted more and more similarities between our hostage’s struggles for freedom and the bondage model’s struggles for pleasure. Looking back on it, it’s kind of embarrassing that it took that long for me to figure it out, but when I did, it clicked like you wouldn’t believe!
“Hey wait a minute!”