“The superhero life is way overblown. The risk of injury, the need to always hide a secret identity… isn’t it, Chris?”
“Yes, of course,” I replied wholeheartedly.
It was true. The superhero life was way overblown. Sure, it comes with prestige and adulation beyond anybody’s wildest measures, but I’ve seen what happens to supers when a new and better one rolls into town. Like an old piece of technology, relegated to doing menial tasks and lowly biddings.
I agreed. But Christopher Lombarg wouldn’t. Right now, Lombarg was likely flying high above the city as Featherflight, decked out in a white and silver suit with a pair of feathered wings drifting off his back. Purely for show, of course.
See, I’m not Christopher Lombarg. OK, I am. I look like him. I am currently masquerading as him. But my real name? Renee Senara. Also known as Shapeshifter.
I know, I know. Not the most original of names. But I wasn’t a superhero. Not in the traditional sense, anyway.
The problem I’m currently having is that while I’m currently trying to do my job as well as I could, there’s an incredibly wary woman that’s sitting in front of me, casting a rather suspicious gaze whenever she thought I wasn’t noticing, followed by the most pointed leading questions I’ve heard in my career. Her name was Rachel Grey, Christopher Lombarg’s current girlfriend of three months.
“Chris,” Rachel asked, this time batting her eyelashes in what I would assume to be a seduction technique. “Are you sure about that answer? Don’t you always mention superheroes are awesome?”
“They can be awesome and I still would never choose to be one, darling,” I flashed an outward grin.
“Look, darling, Featherflight is on the news again!”
The worst part? She doesn’t even have the right guess as to Christopher Lombarg’s identity. When I directed her towards the screen, where Featherflight was currently shown grappling with Ravenwings, all she did was cast a cursory glance towards it. This usually worked and dispelled all concerns almost immediately. It was easy to tell. Usually, a moment of silence followed. A careful check would reveal the face of dawning realisation, almost always followed by the other party quickly offering to be excused and bringing back “my” favourite snack or drink. Which I was currently consuming. Salt and vinegar chips suck, by the way.
“Chris, darling,” she laid her head on my shoulder. “Are you sure you don’t have something to tell me?”
“Darling, Rach, I really don’t,” I said. “Really, I’m just enjoying my time here with you, aren’t I?”
“Really?” she replied in an overly sweet voice. I steeled myself. Something was coming.
“Then, why did you cheat on me with that Scarlet Steel bitch?”
Woah, woah, woah! I turned to her. Her eyes are now wide open, glaring daggers at me. She raised her head from my shoulder and stood up, cutting an intimidating pose in front of me.
“Rach, what? No. That’s not true!” I stammered. This was way, way above my paygrade at this point. When Lombarg told me she was suspcious, this was completely not what I was expecting.
“Then how do you explain your texts! And your camera roll?” She had her phone out at this point, finger pointedly jabbing at her screen in rage, her entire body shaking from anger.
Oh my god. Featherflight was one of the best heroes in the city. And he saves Anna’s name as Scarlet Steel? Took pictures with her?!
“Honey, I’m a fan! I’ve told you this before! I just like her, that’s all,” I was scrambling for straws now.
“You liar! You literally just sent her a text two hours ago!”
I read the text. It said: “see you there. secret outfits ;)”
I tried and refrained from facepalming my entire arm through my head. How careless could this guy be?
“Rach, darling, but I’m here, aren’t I?” the moment the words left my mouth, I realised the colossal mistake that I made.
“So it’s true? You chose me today, but what about the other days? The other day when you blew me off and told me you were busy with work? Or that time about dinner?!”
Goddamn. I wondered if it was almost easier to reveal that I wasn’t Christopher.
She was in tears now. She pushed me to the couch, slapped me across the face, and stormed out of the house.
I sighed. Well, guess I have to break the news to Chris. I turned to the TV screen, seeing the screaming headlines saying that Ravenwings had been subdued and Featherflight zooming off.
I turned on the earpiece that kept me in contact with Chris.
“Chris, you there? Done with your mission?”
“Renee? Damn, I can’t ever get used to hearing my own voice talking back to me. What’s up? I’m just finishing up.”
“Look, your girlfriend… this wasn’t the usual suspicious case man. She was suspicious of you cheating, not of your superhero identity! At least give me a heads-up for this kind of stuff!”
“So… what happened next?”
“I think Rachel broke up with you, man. She just stormed out of your house.”
“Oh my god, thank you!” an elated whoop followed.
“Thank you?” I asked.
“Yea, thanks! I really wanted to avoid the ugly break-up. Thanks Renee! I’ll transfer you a bonus later.”