I wrote this a couple years ago. It has been formatted and edited for your, well, not convenience, since it’s on a blog and not, like, printed out, but. Er. Here.
The business major from Austin stood outside the large deep blue steel door that served as the entrance to the Fortress of Justice. Generally, the only people who came to the Fortress of Justice were annoyed police officers who drew the short straw and had to alert the Justice Trio that something was ripping the city of Houston to shreds (ninety percent of the time, the Justice Trio’s phone was out of order). Matt Thomas, the business student from Austin, was here because he was tapped to take part in the Federal Superhero Internship Program. According to his advisor, lucky students from across the country—two from each participating school, all ten of them—were chosen to assist American superhero groups with their day-to-day tasks, including ledger-keeping, PR appointments, and coffee runs. Matt’s friend, Ashley, was lucky enough to be shipped off to Nashville to work with one of the rising superhero groups, the Ryman Seat-Fillers.
For his part, Matt didn’t know anything about the Justice Trio (if he had, then chances are that he would have refused to come in the first place), and being chosen was a mixed blessing. On the one hand, he had the good fortune of staying in the state, in a city where his family owned two houses. This meant that it would be a significantly less-expensive internship, since it was unpaid. On the other hand, he knew nothing about the Justice Trio aside from hearing that they recently defeated seventeen different incarnations of Friedrich Nietzsche from, apparently, seventeen different dimensions.
Getting to the Fortress was hard enough. All he had been told was “The Fortress of Justice is in the warehouse district right next to the Gulf. Hard to miss. Look for the warehouse.” Matt assumed that the vague directions he had received from the Federal Bureau of Superhero Affairs would clarify themselves when he finally arrived in the warehouse district, but, having never been in that part of Houston before, Matt didn’t know how impossibly wrong he was until he arrived in the mammoth stretch of mostly abandoned warehouses bordering mostly abandoned docks (over the past three years, the warehouses had been steadily and speedily abandoned as rumors swelled through the area that the region was haunted by the vengeful ghosts of a Nordic hunting party that had discovered a temporal and spatial warp leading from Newfoundland to Houston and died in the process, and only a sixth of the seven hundred previously functioning warehouses and docks were functioning). He parked his BMW on the top level of a parking garage and looked out at the stretch of crumbling warehouses. When he reached the two hundred mark in his counting, he gave up and wept at the looming task of hunting down his new employers.
It was sunset by the time Matt reached the front door of the Fortress, and he had to work up the nerve to knock on the door after being roughly five hours late. As he moved his fist back to knock, the doorbell rang itself and Matt remarked, “Er,” before a laser shot out of the top of the door, hitting his car and causing it to explode. Matt shielded himself as debris scattered around the gravel area and the door opened. SquidJew, dressed in a Led Zeppelin t-shirt and jeans, blinked at him. “Who’re you?” he asked, his breath reeking of whisky.
Matt put down his briefcase and stuck out his hand. “I’m Matt Thomas, your intern. Um, my car just blew up and I wonder if I could use your—”
SquidJew burst into laughter. “You’re not Matt Thomas any more, Archibald!” His eyes contorted into giant orbs, bloodshot from drink and shining with madness.
SquidJew then punched Matt Thomas on the side of the head, rendering him unconscious. He then dragged the business student inside the Fortress and locked him inside a dark room.
The thing about warehouses is that they’ve got this habit of being places without a lot of light—unless there are light bulbs, of course. For whatever reason, whoever built the warehouse that would become the Fortress of Justice did not see the point in putting in a lot of light bulbs, and, after the government converted it into the Hero Residence Quarters – Division 3F, there were many rooms that did not have any lighting at all.
The former Matt Thomas woke up in one of these rooms, opened his eyes, and immediately thought he was mistaken and tried to open his eyes again. The resulting discomfort shooting out of his eyelids told him that he was right the first time, and he was simply in a very dark room. He shifted in the very cold chair. It felt like steel. The various pokey sensations on his wrists told him that there must have been something tying his hands together. Since he was bound in a completely dark room, tied to a chair, it wasn’t too far-fetched to assume that his wrists were bound together with rope.
Just wait until the Business Department hears about this, thought Matt.
His eyes adjusted a bit to the complete darkness. Nothing much to see. There was a crack of light shooting out from what had to be a door. He coughed and was disgusted by the wetness that immediately soaked his lips. Great. He was tied to a chair, his hands were bound, and he was gagged.
There was a sound outside. An argument. Two voices, one shrill, yelling rapid-fire in a tone that meant that the voice could only be hurling obscenities. The other one laughed, responded at a much slower rate, and was probably drunk. The door shook, and the shrill voice receded away. Matt gulped.
The door swung open and he was temporarily blinded. When he was able to look back towards the light, his vision was filled completely with SquidJew standing above him, grinning and holding a lit electric lantern. “So you’re the intern,” SquidJew said.
Matt responded in the affirmative, “Feff ah am, fmmfam meffunff—”
SquidJew slapped him upside the head and pulled a steel chair over from the wall against which Matt had been leaning. The screeching of the steel against tile made Matt wince. “Don’t speak,” said SquidJew. “Don’t speak just now. We know why you’re here, Archibald. We know who you were.”
Matt responded: “Muerf—”
SquidJew slapped him upside the head again. “You rich bastards in the Business Department sicken me! You know what I did at Austin? HUH?! I WAS AN ENGLISH MAJOR AND WE HAD SHIT FOR FUNDING! NONE OF YOUR FUCKING TOUCH SCREEN DESKS FOR US, NO SIR!”
This wasn’t Matt’s fault. He squirmed in the chair to try and tell SquidJew this.
SquidJew reared back his head and barked laughter again. He stopped, took a swig from a flask he produced from his jeans, and leaned in close to Matt. “You are no longer Matt. You are Archibald the Intern and you do nothing but make us juice. You hear me?”
“I don’t believe you,” SquidJew said. He walked back over to the door, opened it, took a rolled-up newspaper from the hallway wall and smacked Archibald in the head with it. “Listen: You’re gonna accept that you’re Archibald. We’re gonna tell the Business Department that you died and we have the burned-up car to prove it. Fuckin’ government didn’t give us enough funding to have a proper laser defense device.” SquidJew took another swig from the whiskey and reeled. He got a little green in the face. “Listen, Archie. I don’t want you to come out of here until I say so.” He stood up in the chair to leave. “We’re gonna get you a nice blender, you hear me, Archie? A nice blender and a gift card to the grocery store so you can get plenty of produce.”