May Parker opened her eyes and saw the sun.
Burning brighter and hotter than anything she’d ever seen in her life, May couldn’t help but feel insignificant, floating in its presence. The orange, yellow, and red hues that swirled around the only thing keeping our solar system alive was majestic. She reached out a hand towards the giant ball of light and started to drift towards it. As she flew through space closer to the sun she could feel her clothes, hair, skin, muscles, and everything within her disintegrate until she was just a skeleton. Despite the danger this held May could not stop herself from getting closer; faster; faster; faster; FASTER!
As May collided with the sun it exploded into a billion particles of glowing rock and dust. She held out her arms as she floated in space and drew the particles onto her body, recreating her human form out of the former pieces of the sun. Now, in this cold, dead solar system she could see each planet as clear as anything she had ever seen before in her life, and watched each as they succumbed to the freezing death that awaited them. She floated down to Earth and with just a touch obliterated entire skyscrapers, decayed cars until they were piles of rust, and toppled trees with just a small blow of air.
May stood at the door of a large cathedral and created a throne out of vegetation and wires, metal and stone, and sat upon it, but no smile was on her face as she surveyed the chaos left in her wake. It was in this moment of weakness that her arms began to falter, sliding off one at a time, soon her legs would follow until she was just a torso and a head. In the distance a swarm of ants came charging out of the darkness and enveloped her entire body, running down her mouth and coating the inside of her throat. She tried to let out a scream but nothing would come out, and soon she was nothing more than a pile of cloth and bone, and the ants continued on their way.
May Parker opened her eyes and saw the sun.
She was lying in her bed in the RV Peter had borrowed from the Richards family. Outside she could see the sun hanging in the sky, shining its bright ray of hope on her face. She squinted a bit, but then smiled, for she was alive, and that was good enough for right now. She stood up and started to get dressed in the private room that Peter and Isaac had been kind enough to let her take. As she left the room she saw Peter sleeping soundly in his cot and did not see Isaac anywhere. She grabbed her coat and walked out of the RV. After sitting in the darkness last night she was finally able to see what exactly the camp ground looked like. The area itself was uneventful, a picnic table with an awning covering it, a fire pit, a trash can that hadn’t been emptied in quite some time, and a water spigot. The surrounding forest, however, was majestic. As she stopped to take it in she heard a large “WHOOSH” from above and caught a glimpse of what she assumed to be a rather large bird of some kind, maybe an owl. Once she collected herself she looked out into the forest again and saw a deer. May hadn’t really seen a deer up close before and wondered if they were nice. This one looked like a doe so she figured there was no harm in trying to pet it. May started to walk towards the deer but it turned and walked into the woods; not a huge gallop or anything, just a leisurely pace, almost as if to say, “Come with me”. A light rain began, causing May to raise the hood of her red jacket, and she started towards the woods in search of her doe friend.
As she heads into the forest, a dark figure is perched in a tree high above her, watching intently.
Firestar, Angelica Jones, watched her race companions, The Human Torch and Cannonball, flying below her. By her guess they were somewhere in Pennsylvania.
“How are you doing down there Sam?” she asked, “Need another break?”
Sam Guthrie, Cannonball, held his hand over the wireless communications device in his ear that Johnny had lent to them. “I’m doing just fine darlin’, and I’ll have you know we ALL agreed that starting a race at 11 o’clock at night was probably not the best idea. Besides, aren’t you glad we were able to sleep in a fancy hotel bed last night instead of a cramped RV?”
“You having second thought about the RV my love?” she asked.
“Not a chance!” he replied, “Don’t forget, when I win, our vacation is extended by a week. We’re going to drive all over Kentucky!”
“We’ll see about that.” Angelica thought to herself, and sped up.
Johnny laughed, “Looks like she really doesn’t want to take that extended vay-cay Sammy. You better hurry up”.
Cannonball used some extra strength to propel himself forward, he had to win this race. Johnny laughed again and continued to fly at a steady pace.
“Damn, stupid zapper. Flew too fast, gotta keep it steady!” Peter was sitting up in bed playing a game on his phone. He was awake when May walked into the main living area of the RV but didn’t want to talk to her after their argument from the previous night. He decided that he had enough of the little jetpack guy and his dumb game and put his phone down. Getting up, Peter fixed himself a small breakfast of a muffin and coffee. He watched the news for a bit, caught up on the baseball scores, and decided he’d go see what May was up to. He couldn’t avoid her forever and was also anxious to get back on the road.
Peter opened the door, saw the rain, and grabbed a coat before heading out of the RV. He didn’t see May anywhere, just the simple campsite they had rented. “May!” he called. After waiting a few moments in silence he called out to her one more time, in the distance he heard some idle chatter and laughing. Peter started to walk towards the noise, following a dirt path with rocks on either side.
Eventually the path led to what looked like a common area with a bunch of kids all sitting down in various types of lawn and camping chairs, all looking at their cell phones watching, what he assumed was, some kind of video game streamer. He had heard of the phenomenon but did not understand it. Why watch someone play a game when you could just do it yourself? The concept was ludicrous to him. Just then his phone buzzed, he checked it and saw that the Yankees game was delayed due to inclement weather. “Hey, that’s great! Maybe I’ll be able to listen to it on the next stretch of our drive!”
As Peter continued towards the kids watching their phones he noticed that there was only one adult around, a man with black hair who looked like he was in his mid-40’s. Seeing as he was the only adult in a group of kids he decided to ask him if he’d seen May, but the man appeared to be sleeping, and also he had no arms. Peter was not going to insert himself into this and decided to let the Children of the Corn and their arm-less leader be. He walked back towards the RV and thought he might see if Isaac was around. The sooner they got out of here, the better.
“How’s your day going Dale?”
“It’s going alright, but the sooner I get out of here, the better. You know what I’m saying Alice?”
“Ha, sure do Dale, sure do. Alright hon, you take care.”
Alice, a middle aged woman in a waitress’ uniform walked out of her good friend Dale’s general store. Dale opened the shop 40 years ago with his brother Jim, just outside of Glengary, West Virginia, when they were both in their twenties.
The bell on the door rang, “Hey Alice, you forget something?” Dale asked, looking down at the register as he unbundled a stack of one dollar bills. A hand slammed on the counter, “I need sugar”, a raspy voice said to him. Dale looked up and saw James Sanders, the Speed Demon, panting and gasping.
“Son, I think maybe you need some water. Sugar is just going to dehydrate you”.
James gave him a nasty look, “I need…sugar.” He said again, this time with a sound in his voice that indicated he wasn’t messing around.
Dale put the money in the register and closed it, his hand almost reaching for the pistol he kept under the counter, but not thinking he had anything to worry about from a dehydrated loon asking for sugar he thought against it. “Alright friend, we’ll get you some sugar, but I really think you ought’a get a bit of water in you too. You don’t look wel…”
Speed Demon grabbed the old man by the throat and screamed in his face, “GET ME SOME GOD DAMN SUGAR RIGHT NOW BEFORE I SLIT YOUR THROAT!”
Dale grabbed the pistol and fired it point blank in Speed Demon’s chest, but the villain was too fast for that and zipped around the counter, grabbing the old man from behind and pointing the gun directly at his temple; the bullet flying through the skull of the poor clerk. Speed Demon let go of Dale and let his lifeless body drop to the floor, a look of agony was on his face, “I just said I wanted the sugar, old man! Why didn’t you get me the sugar!?” he screamed at the body on the floor. “SON OF A BITCH!” he screamed, doubling over with guilt and anger.
James Saunders made his way through the store looking for any kind of sugar he could find, candy bars, donuts, soda, and devoured it all as fast as he could. As he sat on the floor, leaning against the door to the cold beverages refrigerator, he heard the bell on the front door ring.
“Dangit, Dale, wouldn’t you know it but I forgot to pick up some raisins for the kid. He’ll flip if I don’t…AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!”
Speed Demon stood up from the floor and looked at Alice the waitress, a cold look was in his eyes. He frowned and then smashed the glass door of the refrigerator with his hand, grabbing a piece of broken glass before speeding over to his next victim.
May felt like a lion stalking its next victim as she searched for the doe she had seen enter the woods earlier. She had been wandering for about an hour now, but it was okay because the woods held its own kind of beauty. The trees were so tall and foreboding, she had been around skyscrapers for a long time, but trees held a different type of awe, there was something more impressive about a living organism reaching such heights than there was about an inorganic building being erected by humans.
As she continued through the woods she came across a creek and was struck by its movement. Nature was a marvel and she hadn’t really stopped to appreciate it for what it was, life, coming together, and creating a system of moving parts, working together as an ecosystem that did not require anything to work on its own. As long as there was rain and light, nature would be nature.
Just then she heard a series of small splashes as the doe walked across the creek. Had she passed it and not even noticed? May started towards the doe, but this time it got spooked and ran up the side of a hill. May was determined to meet it and started to run after the deer, but finding the hill too steep to walk up she decided to climb some rocks that had formed into a make shift wall, that led to the top of the hill.
Slowly and steadily she climbed up, one rock after the other, until she finally made it to the top. As she lifted her head over the rock wall and onto the ground above she looked up, and there it was, the doe. It was beautiful and moved with a delicate grace. The clouds parted for just a moment and the sun came out and created a silhouette of the doe; it was a moment May would never forget. She continued to lift herself up and reached out a hand to the deer. It started towards her, but then let out a cry and bolted away with incredible haste. Suddenly, out of nowhere, an earthquake happened. May lost her footing and slipped, falling perilously towards the ground. In an instant she heard the same “WHOOSH” from earlier and felt her arms being grabbed by a pair of scaly talons. She looked up and saw that a demonic, yellow, creature had grabbed her with its feet. Was she dreaming still? What was going on? When May realized that she was awake, and being lifted higher into the sky she let out a scream, and then fainted.
Aunt May could hear a muffled voice calling her name, “May? Aunt May, wake up. Aunt may!” It was Peter. He was standing over her as she laid on the ground just outside their campsite.
Peter had just gotten back when he noticed his aunt lying on the ground. He rushed over to her and tried to get her to respond. May finally opened her eyes and looked around, “Where is it?!!? Where’s the demon?”
Peter had a puzzled look on his face, “Demon? What are you talking about Aunt May? Have you been reading those weird little Jesus comic books that Isaac brought?”
May slapped Peter in the face, “Stop discounting me when I say something! You’re not listening to me Peter. You never listen to me.” She said, tears starting to roll down her face.
Peter rubbed his face in an attempt to pretend that the hit hurt, even though May knew it didn’t, “I don’t listen to you? Maybe it’s because you say such stupid things! Let’s get an RV, let’s go to California! Let’s hang out with this guy we’ve never met! Let’s stop at a campsite for a day even though we’re in a hurry! Oh Peter, there’s a demon! Enough May, just enough! I knew this would be a bad idea from the start, and I knew you wouldn’t be able to handle this, so I’m taking us back home. Isaac can figure it out on his own, he’s a big boy. Get in the RV, we’re leaving”.
May stood up and let out a defiant, “No.” She moved towards him and grabbed his face, “You don’t get to decide my life, and you don’t get to decide what I do or who I do it with. You want to know why I brought you along. You want to know the truth, it’s because I missed you. I never see you anymore Peter and I never get to talk with you. I’ve got no one at home and I’m lonely”, the tears continued to roll down her face, “I thought that for a couple weeks you could just let yourself be the kind, loving boy that I’ve always known you to be, and indulge my request to spend time with me, but you can’t do that, can you? You’ve got to control the situation, and you’ve got to assume that I’m just being a crazy old dingbat. Well you know what Peter, I’m dying”.
The words hit him right in his heart, “What? I mean, how, when? Is it cancer? We can work on something in the lab, we’ll beat this…”
“No boy, I don’t have a disease, I just mean that I’m old and I’m going to die sooner rather than later, and I thought this would be a good experience for us to have together before I really start to settle down and await the inevitable.” May felt the pain in those last words, why was death inevitable?
Peter sighed with a bit of relief, “Phew, okay, well I’m glad you aren’t sick, and look, I know I’m being difficult right now. You’re right, I haven’t been a good son”, he caught himself and wondered why he said that,”I mean nephew, to you recently and if this is what you want to do, then let’s do it. I’m taking you on this trip Aunt May”.
May Parker opened her eyes and saw Peter, “Thank you…son”.
Just then May felt an intense heat fill the air, she looked around nervously and started towards Peter, “What is it?”
“I don’t know Aunt May, but it’s not dangerous, no spider-sense tingling.” Peter didn’t think there was anything to be worried about but just in case he readied himself. Suddenly Johnny, Angelica, and Sam touched down on the ground.
“Oh yeah! Johnny Storm with the win folks, whoop whoop! What did I tell you, slow and steady wins the race.” The Human Torch was not above rubbing his victory in other people’s faces. “What are you smiling about Angel?”
Angelica looked radiant, “I might have lost to you, but I beat Sam, so that means the RV stays with Pete. Oh boy, speak of the devil, hi Peter!” Angelica ran over to him and gave him a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. “Wow, why are you so red? Do I really make you blush that much?”
Peter let out a nervous laugh, “Heh, no, um, I was just having a kind of heated talk with Aunt May”.
Angelica gave him a stern look, “Heated talk, with this saint? I swear Peter, you had better treat your aunt with some respect because she’s a wonderful, strong, important woman. I swear, if you made her upset in any way I’ll shove a fireball so far up your…”
“It’s fine Angel, really”, May said. “We just had a little tiff, but we made up and I think things will be okay. It’s going to be normal from here on out”.
Just then Isaac came up to the RV and saw the three super-heroes and his jaw dropped.
“Oh, hey Gargoyle! Long time no see, let’s see, when was it, umm, Peggy Carter’s retirement party?” said Johnny.
Peter looked at Johnny, then Isaac, then back to Johnny, “Wait, you two know each other, and you both went to a party for Peggy Carter, and I didn’t get invited?! Angel, Sam, did you two get invited?”
“Yes” they both said in unison.
“I don’t understand, why are you calling him Gargoyle, and how does Isaac know The Human Torch?” May said.
Isaac let out a sigh, “I’m sorry, I didn’t think I’d have to tell you who I really was or what I could do”. Isaac closed his eyes and then morphed into the yellow demon that had caught May earlier. “My name is Isaac Christians, but I’m also known as the Gargoyle. Ta-daa!”
Peter’s jaw dropped, and then May fainted.
13-year-old Derrick was riding his bike near the campsite common area and thought he might faint from dehydration. He saw all of the kids on their cell phones and the middle aged man sitting in the chair sleeping.
“Kind of creepy”, he thought.
He walked around to each kid and tried to say hello to a couple but no one answered, and then looked over at the man in the chair who now had both of his arms and legs. Derrick noticed a shiny object in the man’s coat, and while he wasn’t a bad kid, he certainly wasn’t going to let an opportunity pass by. He crept over to the sleeping man and gauged his level of success in trying to lift whatever this thing was out of the man’s pocket. When he got closer he realized that the man wasn’t asleep, but instead his eyes were rolled back into his head and he appeared to be in some kind of trance. Suddenly he found himself surrounded by the group of kids, all still watching their cell phones. They pushed him closer to the man in the chair who was now opening his coat wider, revealing a swirling black cloud that engulfed Derrick, pulling him into the man’s chest. Derrick was gone, the children sat down, and the man they only knew as “Master” opened his eyes and saw the…