Sarah sat in the alleyway. She wore clothing she’d bought from Salvation Army and Value Village. She had a big down coat with holes in the lining. That was over a woolen sweater that looked like christmas had vomited on it. She wore an old pair of woolrich bib overalls, dirty as all hell, and a pair of old sorels with three pair of socks underneath. She wanted no one to recognize her, so she stuffed her wild curly hair into a knit cap and put that under a the big fuzzy hood of the jacket. She wore a pair of giant, bug eye glasses, too, which covered more than half of her face. It was cold enough, and she wanted to look crazy enough, to wear a huge dirty tan scarf around her neck and lower face.

When she tried her new costume on at home, she thought it would draw attention, rather than divert it. It was big, puffy, bright in allt he wrong places, and dingy in the rest. But out here, in the corner with the other boozy lost people, she looked right at home. Best place to hide, she thought, is right in plain site. And, to be totally honest, it was freaking cold. She knew that most people would pull a dead rat over their head, and fashion be damned, when it got this cold.

It was early evening, and dark already. Wintertime in Alaska made for lots of hiding places and darkness. Exactly what rapists wanted. Dark, cold, not a lot of witnesses. She made a mental note to add some padding to the seat of her overalls, as her ass was starting to lose all feeling from sitting out here this long. She made forays into coffee houses and the like to warm up, but was dismissed as so much trash. She thought she’d play the part, anyway, just to get used to blending in to the city people.

Sarah had visited Peter earlier in the day, just to sit by him and hold his hand. She needed to tell him about her plans, about her vow. She owed him that. He had been so willing to take a fall for her, and she had ignored his obvious crush for too long.

“Peter, I’m not ready to take on anything with you other than friendship.” she said to his slowly breathing, peaceful looking face. “But I promise to you, that when I am ready, you’ll be the first to know.”

Sarah held his hand in both of hers, sitting by his bedside, listening to the beeps and boops of the monitors around his headboard. The antiseptic smells of the hospital were fading as her nose became sensitized to them. The rough blanket scratched her wrists as she rubbed her thumb up and down the ridge of his hand.

“I…made a decision. All on my own.” She laughed, self-deprecation coming easily. “I’m going to save the world. Sounds like something you’d do, yeah?”

Sarah’s eyes narrowed, and she looked at Peter with force. “I’m going to get the fuckers that do that to people, Peter. I’m going to get them, and stop them, and….make them. Shit. I don’t know.”

It was easy to want to kill them all. Sharpen up some chain-link fences and shove them ALL through. Assholes deserved nothing better. Make them watch as she slowly diced them into little cubes of fresh meat. She had dreams, lately, of doing just that. Waking up sweating and growling, though, made her pause.

Peter would point to the comic book heroes he loved. None of them killed anyone on purpose. She still felt sick whtn she thought of that homeless guy she had flung under the SUV. And while the dark inner part of Sarah felt nothing but joy at killing the icy-blue rapist bastard, she really didn’t think it fixed anything. The point was to stop it before it happened. That’s what being a comic book hero was all about.

“And, Peter, that’s what I am, isn’t it?” she whispered at a volume low enough that if he were awake, only he would hear. “I’m a damn comic book superhero. Except it’s not like the movies. No real person looks good in spandex, and you KNOW I’d be put in jail for anything I’ve already done. And if I just ran away, or threw police cars, that would just be worse, wouldn’t it?”

“I just don’t see…” she began, “…how it could be like the comics. It’s too fake. You never see Batman taking a crap, or Wonder Woman buying tampons. Somehow, I’ve been given this…gift, see? And I still need to wash the dishes, and do the laundry, and make money, and pay the rent, and shower, and shit and shave my legs, and put my pants on one leg at a time.

“But I can make this city a better place. And if i can get rid of all the rape her, I’m moving on. And I’m taking you with me when you…” Sarah’s eyes filled with tears. “…when you wake up. Because you’re gonna wake up, dammit. You’re gonna see how much you’ve helped me. You’re gonna see it, allright?”

She stopped, grabbed an almost see-through tissue with chunks of wood pulp still in it it was so low quality, and blew her nose in one big honk. She used the same tissue to wipe at her eyes, managing to not smear any snot into her tear ducts as she did so.

Sarah came back to herself in the alleyway, almost-tears almost returning as she thought of Peter, lying there, being turned every hour or so to prevent bed sores. He deserved a better friend than her, and she would put things right, even if it killed her.

She stood up, looked around for any curious eyes, and ran to the opposite corner of the city, to sit in another alleyway, looking for rapists. She hadn’t found any, yet, but she would. And then, he’d pay.

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