Supervillain High

Gerhard Gehrke

7 min.

1. Daddy Was a Bank Robber

“See that guy there in the purple mask robbing the bank? That’s my dad.”

Brendan stopped the video on his phone and waited for a reaction. Mr. Childes, his school counselor, nodded as if this was something he had heard before. The older man took his reading glasses off his slender nose and considered the student sitting across the desk from him.

“How interesting,” Mr. Childes said flatly. “So, your father is one of these superheroes who dresses up and gets into a lot of trouble.”

“Not a hero. One of the bad guys. He robs banks, armored cars, jewelry exchanges, and the like.”

“And for how long has he done that?”

Brendan looked for any sign that the counselor was asking something he already knew the answer to. Having been examined by more than his share of psychologists, Brendan hated that. Besides, didn’t everyone keep up with supers? Most people knew who the Drone King was, didn’t they? But Mr. Childes’s droopy face didn’t waver.

“He tried a few anonymous robberies about ten years ago when I was a little kid. Even back then, a few people in costumes were starting to show up, and it was like a fever took hold of him. He was one of the first. He made his debut as the Purple Wing a year later when he heisted a gold bullion delivery in New York. He was arrested two weeks after that robbery. Went to prison for two years.”

“A short sentence?”

Brendan shook his head and grinned. “He escaped. He’s been on the run since, but hasn’t been smart enough to not show his face in public. He calls himself Drone King because, well, he uses drones. Lots of them. I thought since he hadn’t been seen in over eight months that maybe he had retired. Then this showed up online last week.”

Mr. Childes nodded. He read from a monitor and worked a mouse on his desk. “Your records show that you were raised by your mother, Teresa Garza. No siblings. How much contact have you had with your father growing up?”

“He was either in jail or a fugitive. My mom heard more from the Marshals than from him, and the last time he called a couple of years ago she told him never to call again until he turns himself in.”

“And what about you? Did he ever try to keep in contact with you?”

Brendan remained silent.

Mr. Childes cleared his throat. “Brendan, I appreciate that you came forward with this when you didn’t have to. You’re new to this area and to this school. But I tell you in all sincerity that what we talk about in this room is confidential. I’m your counselor. Your counselor. I don’t tell other faculty or staff or even the school headmaster anything that you say. I’m not even allowed to tell your mother. My job here is to care for you and your needs. If this is something you don’t want to discuss, then that is fine with me. I want you to feel comfortable while in this room. Thank you for sharing what you have shared.”

Brendan shifted in his chair. He had never been with a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist that wasn’t assigned him by the city or state of New York. They had never treated Brendan as a patient, but as a problem. He also wasn’t used to anyone talking to him like this. It sounded so sincere that he immediately became suspicious that he was missing something. But Mr. Childes’s credentials were on the wall, and Brendan had checked him out online. An actual doctor of psychiatry who had graduated from Yale. And he was working at Dutchman Springs Academy as a counselor. His counselor. He bet his mother would have killed for him to have access to a guy like this back in middle school, when the anger had been at its worst.

“No, it’s okay,” Brendan said. “He hasn’t kept in contact with me. I try. I keep trying. He occasionally leaves a voicemail from a throwaway phone but never replies when I call back. The few times I pick up, he only has a minute before he has to hang up. It’s the same conversation every time. ‘I love you, I’m thinking about you, I hope we can get together soon and catch up.’ Stuff like that. I keep telling myself that I won’t get my hopes up. I haven’t spoken to him in person maybe ever. When I was five doesn’t count. I don’t know the man. So then when I see this video…”

Brendan felt a rush of frustration choke him up and hated himself for it.

“Take your time.”

Brendan shook his head. “I hope they catch him is all. And I read through the school handbook and know that there’s a strong ethics policy. So I thought I should talk to you. I don’t want this to be something that comes up later and spoils things.”

“You’re very conscientious. That’s admirable, and exactly what we want to see in those coming here. I must admit that this is a unique situation I would never have imagined helping a student with. I’m glad you brought it to me, even though you don’t know me yet. I assure you that the things your father does and has done will not affect you.”

“But it might. My mother could never have afforded to send me here, not in a million years.” Yet here he was, in a private preparatory high school in California, despite a juvenile record, expulsions, and mediocre grades.

“I see. It says here you were awarded private tuition through a grant. The details of the grantee are not known to me. But the school only accepts grant money from legal entities, so if this is indeed something your father might have set up, I must imagine that it’s legal. We didn’t accept a large briefcase full of cash, if that’s what you were worried about.”

Mr. Childes smiled. Brendan wasn’t reassured.

“But again, you haven’t seen your father for nine years or more?” Mr. Childes asked. “How can you even be sure that the man behind that mask is him?”

Brendan picked at a fingernail. He decided he wanted the interview with his counselor to just be over. He needed to go to his dorm room and unpack. And he was tired. Jet lag and a long Dallas layover added up to not having slept in twenty-five hours.

But Brendan had watched the video over and over, had watched all the response videos and read the comments. His father’s name was known, even though it wasn’t the same name that he’d had when living with Brendan’s mother. Myron Reece was a famous felon. While these other sources provided little in the way of concrete proof to the criminal in the purple mask’s identity, the knowledge lodged in his gut and weighed heavy. His daddy was back in New York, and the crime business was good.

(Here ends chapter one of Supervillain High. I hope you enjoyed it! The rest of the novel is available on Kobo, iBooks, and Amazon. For updates, freebies, and an exclusives, sign up for my newsletter at gerhardgehrke.com.)

Copyright © 2017 Gerhard Gehrke

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About Gerhard Gehrke

Gerhard Gehrke is the author of several science fiction novels including The Minder’s War series, Nineveh's Child, A Beginner's Guide to Invading Earth, and the YA Supervillain High series. He's written and produced for local TV and currently creates story content for a video game company. When not writing, he can be found hiking the hills and trails of Northern California with his wife, looking for snakes, insects, and raptors to annoy, and poking dead things with a stick. You can keep up with him at gerhardgehrke.com.

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