by Paul Evans
I wrenched my eyes from a gap between the buttons of Lisa’s shirt just as she turned to face me. The tantalising glimpse of her small, full bra was etched in my mind’s eye.
“Worm Man?” she giggled.
“Worm Man,” I reaffirmed with the smile I’d been perfecting in the mirror.
“That is so gay!”
“You can’t say that!” I hissed, glancing around us. “Lee might hear.”
With a gentle swish of brunette hair and school bag, Lisa half pirouetted to walk backwards next to me.
“Lee! LEE!” she broadcast.
Twenty yards behind, walking with a group of boys from our year, Lee cupped a hand to an ear and cocked his head slightly.
“You don’t mind me describing Felix’s lame superhero as ‘gay’ do you??”
Lee shrugged and re-joined his conversation.
With an economical sweep, Lisa returned to face her direction of travel.
“There,” she said with comical triumph, accompanied by a backward flourish at our homosexual colleague. “Not a problem there; the problem is that your super-dude is … well … he’s crap.
I never minded being put right by Lisa. Our parents often pointed out that we were each other’s oldest friends. Having been born weeks apart (our parents had met – as many do – at antenatal classes), it followed that we were taken to the likes of baby-massage (no, really) and crèche together. There’s a particularly embarrassing video edit of me taking toys out of a basket and Lisa telling me which to keep and which to give to her; I dutifully acquiesced, as I would today.
There’s been a tipping point. With each transformation of her body into womanhood, and as our banter has refined, Lisa has elevated from sister-like friend to the focus of my most private desires. Not in a (literally) seedy capacity, like the girls in the 900+ channels on Satellite TV: the ‘Nine Hundred Club’ as we call them at school. There are the ‘girl-next-door’ ones during the day, and the slutty ones at night. The night ones are better to look at, but I wouldn’t marry one. She’d probably be at it with the milkman while I was at work or something.
Lisa’s a ‘girl-next-door’ girl and I know I’m in love with her. One day we’ll get married … after she has voided her system of dating older boys, and similarly acknowledges me as a potential life partner.
“Worm Man’s better than ‘Gravity Girl’!” I defended with wavering honour.
“Take that back! What are his powers?? Does he aerate the soil in the name of justice? Or will he survive if cut in half, unable to chase baddies as he wriggles around on the floor? How did he get his powers? Did a radioactive worm bite him? You really haven’t thought this through!”
For once I had an unnaturally well-informed response:
“The are over a hundred thousand worms per cubic metre of soil.”
“A lot of worms.”
“Thank you.” I pressed on: “Worm Man can summon them.”
“Ah. Won’t that take some time?”
“Well … and bear with me here: he can summon them from the ground and cause them to levitate!”
“As I said: gay.”
“But think of it,” I continued, realising that nothing I could say was likely to alter Lisa’s articulate opinion of my hero, “with that much semi-amorphous mass, he could ride them through the air, form a shield, smother villains …”
“So ‘Limited Telekinesis Man’ would be more appropriate,” interrupted Lisa. “Do you have any lunch left?”
I hurriedly rummaged through my rucksack to provide for my princess.
“Cheesy puffs?” I offered.
As is the law, we walked and talked as ineffective vampires, before consuming the pair of orangey corn snacks protruding from our top lips.
Lisa laughed, re-igniting my soul for the last time.
We turned down meadow lane – a shortcut to our housing estate – as a dense cloud obscured the sun.
“Ah. The frigid bitch.”
Four of last year’s school leavers, who have clearly neither embraced work nor further education, suddenly surround us. One is the brother of ‘Darren’: one of Lisa’s ex-boyfriends.
“Too good for my brother are you? Or just a prick tease?”
The questions were slurred. I looked back to gauge the proximity of our school mates, but – looking past a flanking lout – we’d turned off the beaten path alone.
“What are you looking at?” he spat, taking a threatening step forward.
I looked at the floor and shook my head, my guts suddenly in chemical turmoil.
“Piss off Jim,” said Lisa.
She was immediately rebuked by a punch in the mouth and nothing was the same again.
As her body hit the fence behind her, Lisa’s face registered surprise, pain and the realisation that this would not end well; an expression that must have mirrored my own.
As firm hands gripped me, the three remaining assholes descended on my angel. I heard the ripping of clothing and a frightened scream. I attempt to punch my captor. Thrown to the floor, I was stamped repeatedly on the head.
As my world collapsed I focussed.
Through approaching unconsciousness I was aware of the ground shaking. I heard the horror in the voices of our assailants, before their mouths, noses, eyes and anuses were choked with writhing annelids.
* * * *
Lisa lost her sanity. I remain in a coma, avenging her through my sensory link with the most abundant life in the planet.