**Fictional Original Work**
We were across the street but walking toward a small electronic store that had all glass windows. There was an older SUV parked on our side of the street. A young boy was in the passenger seat unbuckled, alone, and staring out the window towards the electronic store as he held a spider-man action figure.
We stared at the boy perplexed by what had him so fascinated, so we turned to look at the store as we crossed the street. A woman stood in the middle of the store, everyone else was on the ground flat or on their knees. She waved around a silver snub nosed revolver. No one seemed hurt at this time, just scared.
We paused as she made eye contact with us. She was clearly making a judgment call on if we were going to be a threat or not. My friend began calmly walking to the left and past the store as if he had not seen anything, the woman nodded as if saying “good decision” before turning back to the crowd in the store. I caught up to my friend and was like, “Dude, are you seriously just gonna ignore it and not do anything?”
He continued walking “All that my intervening would do is exacerbate the situation, I would like cause someone to get hurt and not save or stop anything anyways,” He paused for a second then continued. “Besides, she won’t hurt anyone. That was her kid in the car; They had the same nose and same eyes.”
Shocked that my friend would not do anything, “You are the one person that could do something… Damn it.” I muttered to him quietly. We were not but two stores down from the store. I stopped, I turned and walked into the shop next to me. I had a plan. It was but a cheap store of knock off products. I went to the toy aisle. found a kids cheap plastic spider-man mask and took it.
I asked the portly shop owner if the stores were connected, he narrowed his eyes and simply said “Yeah”
“How do I get to the back of the electronics store?” the words raced out of my mouth.
“Why not go through the fron-” He started but I immediately interrupted with a “Tell me where the back entrance is!” He gestured to the back of the store.
I raised the mask to him and told him “I will be back to pay for this.” I turned to quickly exit out the back of the store. As I head into the alleyway I feel a hand grasp my shoulder. I am convinced the shop owner has called the cops. I turn defeated, to find a familiar face. My friend had followed me, I felt relieved. I jumped into a loud whisper immediately, “I have a plan!”
His face lowered, “I can’t let you do this, someone is gonna get hurt. Let’s just go, I already talked to the shop owner, we can just go. He will call the cops.” I immediately felt regret of that relief that I had found second ago.
“I can’t just leave it, You shouldn’t either. Why do nothing with your gifts? If I am willing to risk it being merely mediocre, how do you just pretend that it’s not the right thing to do?”
He simply shook his head at me, “I have to go man, do what you gotta do, but I am not here to clean anyone’s self inflicted blood off a pavement.” He turned to walk back down the alley.
One last verbal jab thrown at him, “Those people didn’t choose to get held up by gun point… I would not call that self inflicted.” His feet silenced for but a moment to reflect but soon you could hear the wet steps expedite away.
I did not care, I had a plan and I was confident that it would work. I reached the back of the store. I raised the mask to my face, it smelled of cheap plastics, the band stretched around the back of my head. It pulled tight, clearly for a child, but it would work. It had to work.
A deep breath as my trembling hand grasped the cold damp metal door knob. Twisting it slowly as if listening fine tuning a wristwatch. It was unlocked and reason to be pulled open. All the confidence of the plan escaped me with the realization that I was not statistically planning something but enacting it instead.
No turning back as I quietly swung the door open. It was much quieter than I anticipated. Yes this was a stocking area but only one door was between me and the gun-woman. There was no one speaking. as I snuck as low to the floor as my knees would allow me. The swinging door’s warning signs were eye level with my currently. I did not want to risk peering through the window, but I was now concerned that people were hurt. How could it be this quiet, I asked myself.
Then I heard it, a soft quiet whimper. Following by a mother hushing their scared child. It was time, “I am in the stock room, and I am going to come out! My hands are raised. Please do not shoot” I yelled out.
The door swung open to the right as I pushed through, raised hands taking small steps forward. The small eye holes meant for a child limited my vision, however I could see the shooter distinctly. The shooter was a short unkempt African American woman, wearing tan and red flannel shirt. Her voice scared and reflecting a look in her eyes of fear, “Wh- Who Are you? Are you the cops?”
I shook my head, “No I am not the cops, just a friendly- caring- neighborhood Spider-Man. What is your name?”
Her lips purse tight, clearly not like the sarcasm that I had injected. “Why are you here?”
“I just don’t want you to make a mistake that you can’t come back from. I don’t know how you got here, but this couldn’t have been how you planned it.”
As if I had struck a sensitive subject, “Of course not! Lunatics plan robberies!” She paused, “Desperate people just do them.”
Nerves could be heard in my voice as she pointed the gun directly at me, “What do you want to happen now? How do we get you and everyone out of here safely?” I took this as an opportunity to look around and see how many people were here and if they were all okay. Easily twenty five people on the ground. Some covering their heads, other holding their loved ones, all frightened.
“You tell me super-hero.” She tried out some of the sarcasm that I dished out earlier. “What do I do next?”
“I think you should-“
This was immediately interrupted by loud sirens, as if signaling my doom, or at least that is how it felt. The shooter tightened her body spun around cawing out “Who called the police?” She stopped her vortex of spinning to rest the gun pointed directly at myself. “-You wasn’t it?” She shook the gun in my direction. My eyes, hidden behind the masked closed but I held my body stiff to not jump or startle her.
The impasse that I was at, I had a decision to make, and it had to be quick. Truth or Sarcasm.
“I believe my friend told the store owner next door to call the cops, but he did not follow me in here. He wanted me to not get involved. I just couldn’t not do anything.” I trailed off quieter in the end.
“I don’t believe you, he is back there isn’t he?”, She was getting more upset. “COME ON OUT!”
“There is no one there. I am telling you the truth.” I could see past her and I saw her son across the street in the car, he was clearly confused as to what was going on. Cop cars began arriving and blocking off the street. “Just let them go. It is what your next step is. I am going to stay with you. Just let them walk out and as they filter out and distract attention; you can take your chances out the back door ”
Maybe something in my voice convinced her, maybe she was just knew everything was going to come to an end, “Ok.” Her pistol moved from my direction to wave everyone up to their feet, “Everyone get out.” She said quietly. When everyone hesitantly shuffled slowly not taking their eyes off her. One little girl refused to stand up, her father had to lift her into his arms and carry her out. “NOW! Get out NOW!”
Everyone began quickly moving to the door opening it, a breath of fresh air filled the stale room finding it’s way through this horrible mask. With that brief moment of refresh, she pointed her gun back at me, and encouraged me towards the back room. We started that direction, but as we got close to the door, a clear sound of something falling over in the “empty” stock room hit our ears.
I did everything that I could to hold back a sigh, as I clenched my jaw with the tightest grip. She was going to shoot me right here and now. “What happened Super Hero? You still convinced you ain’t lying to me?”
“There was no one else there when I came through. Honestly” I watched as the last of the people exited the shop, leaving just us in the front. I turned back to her, she held the barrel pointed directly at my head. It was time to use my plan, now that we were the only ones in the shop and knew no one else could be hurt for it. “What is your son’s name?”
Her jaw dropped, “What did you just say?”
I firmed my postured and looked at her in the eyes, “You son. What is his name?” Her face asked the question how did I know, “He is across the street, in what I assume is your car. He has your eyes and nose.”
For a split second she almost smiled at the comparison that I made to her. “Tyler, his name is Tyler. He is my world, and when we came to this city.. We were suppose to escape to this city. Have somewhere to stay and be safe, but everything went wrong and we have been in our car for months. We have no money, my car is out of gas, I was given a ticket yesterday for not moving my car. I snapped. I just couldn’t let him continue to live that life. I wanted him to have more…To have everything…”
Tears ran down her face, remorse drooped from her cheeks. She raised the gun to my head once again using both hands. “If you hadn’t come in here, I could have gotten out. Why did you do this to me?” Her finger quivered over the trigger.
“Please don’t shoot me. You love your son, Tyler. Don’t make him watch you gun down his favorite superhero. There is no coming back from that.”
She lower her arms, as she began to cry she dropped the gun. He hands went to her face as she sobbed into them.
“Let’s go.” I said as I slowly guided and pushed her towards the door. The muffled sounds of police chatter and their boots rushing to meet us at the door as the clear glass doors swung in towards us.
They pulled her away immediately and cuffed her. She looked up one last time to see Tyler in their car but it seemed he was not there any longer. The police had already found and collected him. Shame filled her as she had no idea when she would see him next.
I was taken and hand cuffed as well, or at least until I answered some questions for them.