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Ain't No Place for A Hero

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Kuebiko: a state of exhaustion inspired by acts of senseless violence.

*****

“Class C Hero, Tanktop Tiger, at your service!”

The hero flexed, making his muscles bulge tantalizingly underneath the striped tanktop from where he got his name. His hair and eyebrows had also been dyed to resemble a tiger’s stripes.

You supposed that it was to make him look ferocious. But in your opinion, that he looked absolutely ridiculous.

The man’s impressive physique, however, prevented you from rushing in and punching him in the face. In fact, you doubted that you could even reach his face.

Tanktop Tiger was well over seven feet tall and built like a brick outhouse. You had the feeling that even if you did manage to punch him, you’d just end up breaking your hand.

At the hero’s feet, a man lay unconscious. Blood oozed sluggishly from a cut on his forehead. His eyes moved beneath closed lids, making you wonder if he was dreaming.

Well, at least he’s in a better place than here. In the middle of B-City, in broad daylight, with a Hero beaming down at you and expecting you to fall to your knees and kiss his shoes.

Which was most certainly not happening.

You took a deep breath. Counted to five.

Didn’t work. Counted to ten instead. You were beginning to feel sort of faint.

“Excuse me, Mr. Tanktop?”

“YES! NO NEED TO THANK ME! I’M JUST DOING MY JOB!” Tanktop Tiger flexed at the end of every sentence, making sure that the small crowd that had gathered around you heard every word he said.

“No, really, thanks for saving me but—”

“LIKE I SAID. NO NEED TO THANK ME. BUT IF YOU INSIST, YOU CAN VOTE FOR ME ON THE ONLINE POLLS.”

“Okay but—”

“AH!! YOU’VE FALLEN IN LOVE WITH ME! I UNDERSTAND, HOWEVER! DUTY COMES FIRST FOR TANKTOP TIGER!”

“Did you really have to use my camera to knock the guy out?” you finally asked, pointing at the remains of your poor camera. Tanktop Tiger had thrown it at the man who was trying to mug you, knocking him out, but also destroying the camera in the process.

Tanktop Tiger visibly deflated at your words when he realized that you weren’t going to fall to your knees in gratitude.

Then, looking around at the growing crowd, he seemed to have found his bravado again.

“NOT EVEN A THANK YOU?! I SAVED YOUR LIFE!”

At this point, you felt your temper—always so close to the surface these days—burst.

“I could have handled it!” you yelled back at him. “And he wasn’t going to kill me, he wanted my purse, which had five hundred yen in it!”

“HE HAD A KNIFE TO YOUR THROAT!” Tanktop Tiger roared.

“He was saying sorry as he mugged me, I didn’t need a hero to jump in!”

The crowd was beginning to talk among themselves now.

“Should be more grateful—”

“Didn’t even say thank you—”

“How can she—”

You resisted the urge to scream. That was when you heard a soft moaning. You looked down to see that the mugger was slowly waking up, holding his head and shivering.

“Oh god, what hit me?”

Tanktop Tiger seized this opportunity to once again show off.

“WHAT’S THIS?! THE VILLAIN AWAKENS!”

“No, wait, don’t—!” Your protest died on your lips when the hero’s mighty fist came crashing down on the mugger’s face, putting him to sleep once again.

“What have you done, you MANIAC!” you shrieked. “You could have killed him!”

But Tanktop Tiger was done listening to an ungrateful citizen and had turned his attention to the cheering crowd.

Sighing, you turned away from the crowd and pulled out your phone.

The mugger was going to need an ambulance.

*****

So you might have sounded a little ungrateful. Maybe you were.

You had been “rescued” by heroes exactly three and a half times.

The half part was because you managed to cap the woman who had taken the bank hostage—a particularly unimaginative brood named Ultraviolet—in the face with your umbrella, knocking her out.

So all the Blizzard Group had to do was escort the hostages out and pose for the pictures.

The first time you’d been rescued, it was something out of a movie. The hero barely managing to get to you in time to push you out of the way of a speeding car. The way he seemed to move in slow motion as he reached for you.

Then with his strength, combined with his momentum, pushed you several feet away, much farther than you had anticipated. You had stopped only when you hit the soft, fluffy surface of a stone building.

Doctors said you were lucky that you didn’t break your spine.

The second time was when Terrible Tornado was battling a giant lizard that had somehow grown huge from radioactive waste. She had lifted an entire car up into the air with her powers and threw it at the modern dinosaur.

She had shielded you from the blast, yes, but—

Your cat had been in that car.

And your insurance company never did replace the car. Instead, they told you that they didn't cover Acts of God (which most S-Class Heroes certainly fell under).

You had buried Binky in a box, along with the side mirror that was all that remained of your once-functioning car.

The third time…well, you really didn’t want to think about it anymore.

Suffice to say, you weren’t all that fond of heroes.

It was always about them anyway. The heroes. The ones with the six-pack abs and wear skin-tight leather that somehow almost always showcase how big their penises were.

Or the heroines with triple D breasts who leaped through buildings and fought giant aliens without a good jogging bra—and somehow manage to remain perky.

You were none of those.

You worked as a journalist for a newspaper that worked you like a slave and paid you for less. You were a resident of B-City.

You did not possess the power of flight, speed, superstrength or enhanced endurance. You did not have an IQ of 2000, nor did you have any particular sort of intelligence that could turn you into some sort of science genius.

Your bra size was…underwhelming, to say the least.

You weren’t a hero or a villain. You weren’t even a sidekick.

You did wish that they’d leave you the hell alone.

*****

Your jaw dropped when you reached your apartment building or rather, what’s left of it. Someone or something with a giant foot had stepped on your building, crushing it. Along with several other buildings in the vicinity.

“You have got to be kidding me.”