by Martin Maenza
Black Lightning slipped into the abandoned tenement building. This place was condemned last week and is slated to be torn down, he thought to himself. And given that it’s dark and dusty, I just might be able to get the drop on Power Fist, here. He darted up the old stairs, which creaked as he went.
As he neared the top of the landing, a rotted-out step beneath his foot gave way with a loud snap. “Whoa!” Black Lightning said as he quickly moved forward to avoid falling. “I’ve got to make sure I don’t get myself caught in my own trap.” As he continued up, he could hear sounds coming from downstairs.
Power Fist knocked in the old front door. It slammed to the floor and kicked up a cloud of dust. “Don’t think ya can — koff! — hide from me!” the villain coughed. “I’m on your tail now, and there ain’t no shaking me!” He looked around quickly, trying to determine where his prey had run to.
It took him a few moments to notice the bootprints in the dust on the stairs. Power Fist smiled. See, ya can’t out-fox me! he thought to himself. He carefully ascended the broken stairs.
Black Lightning, meanwhile, worked his way around the second floor. To make this work, I need to find the central supports, he thought. Only then can I bring this whole place down on him, literally.
As he quickly ducked into one room, he came face to face with something unexpected. “Oh, no.”
Before him stood a small young boy, roughly seven years old or so. Dressed in dingy clothing and holding onto a ragged stuffed bear, the black boy stared at the hero with wide eyes. “What you doing here?” he asked.
Black Lightning hurried over to him with his finger to his mouth. “Shhh,” the hero whispered. “We have to get you out of here now, son!”
“But…” the boy began to say aloud. The hero quickly scooped him up, covering his mouth for a second. The boy then continued to say more quietly, “But I don’t have any place to go. I live here.”
Black Lighting hurried toward the back of the building. “We’ve got to get you out of here, son,” he repeated to the child as he carried him along. “It’s not safe here. This building has been condemned. Do you know what that means?”
The little boy shook his head no.
“The city’s gonna tear it down soon. It’s not fit for folks to live in. You are in danger here.” They reached a window, which opened up to an old metal fire escape.
“But where will I go? I’ve got no family and nowhere to live,” the child pleaded.
Black Lightning helped the boy out the window. “You just get out of here for now, OK? You know where the church is a few blocks away?”
The boy nodded. “Uh-huh.”
“Good,” Black Lightning said. “You go there, and I know they’ll try and help you. I’ll try to get you some help, too, OK?”
The child nodded and slowly climbed down the old fire escape. The hero watched him go until he was sure that the child made it to the ground safely. When the boy turned back, Black Lightning waved him off. The child took off down the street, his doll still in tow.
Whew, Black Lightning thought as he slipped back into the building. That could have been messy. I’ll have to see if I can get Two-Bits to find some way for us to help him out. He turned to head back to the main supports but was stopped suddenly by what he saw.
Power Fist stood in the room’s open doorway. “See, I told ya that ya couldn’t hide from me! It’s clobberin’ time, sucker!”
Black Lightning kicked in his force-field and then charged the obstacle in his path. “Let’s get it on, Puny Fist!”
The man in yellow and blue thrust his arms forward, using the hero’s own momentum to toss him over his shoulder. “Hey, I call the shots, here, Lightning!”
Black Lightning tumbled into the next room and rolled to his feet. “You call the shots? Hell, I doubt you could call someone to dinner!” he laughed tauntingly.
Anger started to well up in Power Fist, and the veins on his neck began to bulge. “You better shut your face!” he yelled, springing forward suddenly, catching Black Lightning off-guard. His right hook knocked the hero to the center of the room. “I’m runnin’ the show here!”
Black Lightning, still on his hands and knees, looked up as the villain came forward. “If you’re running the show,” he said slowly, “then I guess you’ll be taking the floor.” The hero lurched up quickly, his hands starting to crackle with glowing energy. He clasped his hands together and brought his combined fists down hard.
The electrical energy generated by his power belt smashed into the old flooring, causing the entire floor to tremble and crack. Suddenly, the old flooring in the room gave way, sending both men tumbling down to the floor below.
Dust kicked up everywhere as the two bodies and materials from above rained down onto the first floor.
Having poor lighting to begin with, the dust made seeing in the old building rather difficult.
Power Fist rose to his feet, coughing as the dust tickled his throat. “Where are you, Lightning?” he called out, coughing some more. “Show yourself!”
“Right over here,” Black Lightning’s voice called out from across the room. “Come and get me, you big lummox!”
Power Fist squinted and made out a form in the air. He smiled and began to charge, his fists ready to connect where he saw Black Lightning’s outline. “You’re going down, sucker!” he announced as his fists lashed forward.
The punch connected solidly, but it was not a human body that they tore through. Power Fist heard the sound of wood snapping as his fists plowed through a large floor-to-ceiling support. “What the–?” The villain could not stop himself from tumbling to the floor, hard.
He turned his head around quickly and saw two glows in the settling dusty air. “Playtime’s over,” Black Lightning announced, his fists crackling with electric energy.
Power Fist laughed. “All I gotta do is put my feet down flat, and there ain’t no way you can hurt me, sparky!”
Black Lightning grinned. “Wanna bet?”
The hero thrust both fists into the air and shot a wide blast of energy into the remains of the ceiling above. A loud rumble could be heard as the whole structure felt the brunt of the blast. In a second, Black Lightning was bringing the entire tenement down upon Power Fist.
The villain barely had time to cover his face and scream, “Nooo-ooo!” before he was hit with a barrage of wood, plaster, pipe, and more. Most of the condemned building came down hard on Power Fist, burying him beneath many layers of rubble.
Through the combination of his force-field and his quick agility, Black Lightning managed to clear out of the structure without getting caught in the fallout. The hero stood silently on the sidewalk, watching for any signs of movement.
Did I overestimate how tough he was? Black Lightning thought to himself. Surely he could have survived that. Concern began to overtake the hero, and he began to move closer to the pile. He barely took three steps when a few boards and tiles at the top of the pile began to shift.
A hand appeared, poking through the rubble, slowly pushing pieces away. Then another hand appeared, and together, slowly, they widened the opening. After a few moments, the figure of Power Fist wearily emerged from the destruction.
Black Lightning stood with his hands crossed in front of him as the man slowly stood to his feet. “Ready for another round?” the hero said.
Power Fist started to open his mouth but couldn’t muster enough energy to toss another verbal barb. The large man started forward, took two steps, then fell forward onto his face. He collapsed from exhaustion.
Black Lightning smiled. “I didn’t think so.” He headed over to the man that had tried to kill him, hoisted him over his back, and carried him down the street to the local precinct.