They Sold Me A Dream
Entry for Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: They Fight Crime. Based off the randomly generated text; ‘He’s an underprivileged arachnophobic boxer with a robot buddy named Sparky. She’s a cynical paranoid angel from a family of eight older brothers. They fight crime!’ from theyfightcrime.org
They Sold Me A Dream
‘And it was all just a dream.’
They were the words writers used at the end of the story to sell the audience a lie. To protect innocent minds from the harsh truth of a reality they just weren’t ready to handle. Other lies of reality included ‘if you eat your vegetables you’ll grow up to be big and strong’, ‘if you treat people nice, they’ll return the favour’ and, of course, ‘if you leave a tooth under your pillow, the tooth-fairy will take it away and leave you a quarter.’ The truth of reality was much, much simpler. Some people were destined to never grow up no matter how many vegetables they ate. Some people walked all over you even if you were nice as pie with a cherry on the top; sometimes they did it especially if you were nice as pie (including mandatory cherry). And, in reality, the tooth-fairy was a vicious little bastard who just wouldn’t quit. People thought they lost their baby-teeth as they aged. They simply didn’t see the tiny, winged monstrosity who snuck into their bedrooms at night and quietly chipped away at those little teeth with a minute pick-axe.
For Avril, the lies were of a different nature. ‘Of course there is a purpose to your existence.’ And, ‘yes, you can certainly make a difference in people’s lives.’ But that’s what you got when you were the youngest of nine children, and the only girl by simple virtue of the fact that Dad wanted to ‘try something different.’ So she’d spent eight or nine thousand years sitting on her cloud in heaven, looking down at the green and blue marble her family called ‘Earth’, watching her brothers given human after human to guide and protect. Dad’s excuse was always the same: “But this one’s a very important mortal. I need <insert name of random brother> to handle it. You can have the next one born, Avril.”
After nine-thousand years, she’d been forced to confront her own harsh truth, the bitter reality of her own existence. Dad just wasn’t going to let her do the job her brothers had been doing since the beginning of time. For whatever reason, he didn’t trust her to see it through. So, armed with her newfound insight which she’d teamed with unrepressed disappointment, she’d done the only thing an angel could do when planning to rebel against God. She’d run away from home.
Now, her view of the Earth was no longer obscured by clouds. Standing atop the generically bland New York skyscraper, she could see it all. Humanity, in all of its glory, in all of its filth. It had been the filth which had affected her most. As a righteous being of virtue, crime and corruption were an affront to her, a mockery of all that heaven stood for. Taking on the responsibility of fighting those twin demons had not been so much a decision as a calling which had been literally thrust upon her the first time she’d walked down one of the streets at night, and some thug had thought she would make an easy mark because she was a woman alone (or so he had mistakenly believed, before she had been forced to terminate his existence for the greater good).
From her vantage point, her steely eyes picked up the shape of her partner, former heavy-weight boxing champion Jimmy Alessi. He, too, loathed the corruption. Fed up with the match-fixing and crooked gambling that went on behind the scenes at the boxing rings where he’d made his name, he’d given it all up to oppose it, and now his fists punched for justice instead of fame. For Jimmy, who had been raised to believe in hard work and sacrifice by his widowed mother even whilst she had struggled to put shoes on his feet and food in his belly, to see his passion turned into a parody by those who cared only for the achievement regardless of whether they had earned it, was more than he could bear.
Avril stretched out her wings and flew down to his position, gliding past unlit office windows, landing silently beside him before folding her feathery appendages behind her back. Jimmy glanced at her briefly but said nothing.
“All is in place?” she asked at last.
Jimmy nodded, the spider tattoo on his cheek moving along with the motion. The spider had been a joke. Arachnids were the only thing Jimmy feared, so Avril had suggested he have one tattooed in a place he could see, so that he would be forced to confront — and hopefully, overcome — his fear. That was the day she had learnt that you couldn’t use throw-away lines like that when Jimmy was around.
“Yeah. Sparky’s monitoring the exchange. He’ll let us know when we can swoop in.”
Sparky. The robot Jimmy had bought from a junk sale and turned into his own personal spy-bot. One of the duo’s greatest tools in the fight against crime, and Avril still had no idea how he’d reprogammed the damn thing.
“D’ya think we’ll ever get them all?” Jimmy asked. But there was no hope in his dark brown eyes, and Avril wasn’t going to even attempt to lie. Jimmy deserved more than that, and for some people, ‘it was all just a dream’ was not a worthy ending. Some people deserved to see the harsh truth, no matter how bitter it tasted. For some people, the story never ended, it just continued on a new page.
In silence they stood, waiting for the robot’s cue.