The Golden Angel sat hunched over on a tree stump with a fiery look in his wild eyes. His bright yellow spandex, his dazzling angel wings, his flowing blond locks, they were part of an image that was all for nothing. He kicked a stone across the dirt into a nearby lake as he thought about what Pastor Jane had said over those airwaves. All of those homophobic slurs, every suggestion of violence, every invocation of hellfire and brimstone for the LGBT community, they caused his blood to boil like a witch’s cauldron. He kicked even more stones into the lake, every shot more aggressive than the last. Goldie even pounded the side of the stump with his fist and sat there in his grumpy state.
Normally the sounds of a woman screaming for help would send Goldie into an adrenaline fueled frenzy in an attempt to be the daring superhero he once was. With super strength and the power of flight, he could have won those fights in record time. But all he did was place a fist under his chin and stew angrily. The woman’s screams were more ear-piercing by the second and Goldie’s indifference turned to irritation. “What the hell’s going on around here?” he asked rhetorically.
Sure enough, a woman in gray sweatpants and a cyan hooded sweatshirt came screaming like hell as she leapt into the Golden Angel’s hulking arms. “Help me!” she cried. “He’s after me! The Dark Paladin is after me! He wants to give me his demon baby! Dear God, help me!”
Behind the drenched tears and bubbling snot of sorrow, Goldie recognized that face as clear as day: Mia Jane, the pastor’s twenty-something daughter. Same long black hair, same dimpled face, same gray eyes, and the same silver crucifix around her neck. Goldie glared at her before dumping her on the ground and causing her to crab walk backwards into another stump. “You’ve got some serious balls asking for my help, Miss Jane. Oh wait a minute, I forgot, women can’t have balls because that’s just an excuse to shower with little girls in the locker room. That is what your father said on the radio the other day, right?”
“Listen, Goldie, I’m begging you, please!” said Mia on her knees with her hands together prayer-style. “I’m sorry for everything my dad said about you and your…people. But you have to help me!”
“My people? What do I look like to you, a fucking alien?!” snapped Goldie as he shot up to his feet. “You think gay people like me are invaders from another planet? Oh wait a minute, they’re just Satan’s creations, which is something else your genius dad said.” He approached her with more muscle in his step. “You know what else he said? He was the one who outed me on national television! He’s the reason I’m hiding out here! What good is being a superhero if I can’t live in the fucking city where all the nasty shit is going on?! In fact, how do I even know The Dark Paladin is out here?! I didn’t hear him at all!”
“He’s here, Goldie. I saw him chase me. You have to believe me!” said Mia through a stream of tears not unlike the one rolling through the forest. “I was out here on my morning run and he flew right in front of me. He said he wanted to…” Her sentence was interrupted by an even bigger storm of tears.
Goldie’s furrowed eyebrows straightened when he knelt beside Mia and placed his pink gloved hand on her shoulder. “I desperately want to be a superhero again. But as long as your dad is spreading his ignorant bullshit around, nobody will let me in. The gay bar has been burned to the ground, transgender folks are being lynched, and I’m just another piece of this puzzle. If I wasn’t for my powers, I’d be a dead motherfucker by now. Just another footnote in
another body freezing at the morgue.” Paulson
“You’re more than that,” sobbed Mia. “You were an inspiration to us all. And now you’re just going to throw it all away because your feelings got hurt?”
Goldie’s hand slowly traveled up the back of her neck before he grabbed a handful of hair and snapped, “This is more than just emotions! People are dying! People are being beaten! They’re being tortured because of your father’s work! You’re damn right my feelings are hurt! But I bet you’ll be the quintessential tough bitch when it’s a member of your family that has to suffer through the torture!”
Trying to steady her chattering teeth from both the cold morning air and her sorrow, Mia said, “People are dying anyways because you’re out here doing nothing! You’re too good for them! Not everyone in the city is like my father!”
“But you are, Mia. I know you are,” whispered Goldie angrily. “You hang on his every word. You claim to be about love and honor while casting aside those who dare to be different, those who dare to be themselves. I’ve seen a million of your kind come and go, but I’d never thought you’d give up on your city’s only superhero just because you don’t like the fact that I fuck men!”
Mia’s brow furrowed as she smacked away Goldie’s clutch on her hair. “Who’s giving up on who?”
The two of them shared a moment of intense glares when the Golden Angel was blasted off his feet and into the creek, suffering a burn mark on his chest. Mia Jane screamed in horror once again and kept Goldie conscious long enough for him to pull his face out of the water to take in the view of The Dark Paladin. There he was with bulging red muscles, black metal armor, devilish horns, and yellow fangs dripping with the blood and flesh of a forest critter, potentially a squirrel.
“Miss Jane, I personally want to thank you for leading me to the Golden Angel. This couldn’t have been more perfect!” chuckled the Dark Paladin in a throaty voice.
Goldie glared evilly at Mia and whispered, “You bitch! This better not be true!”
“It’s not true! I would never do that! He’s lying!” yelled Mia. “I didn’t even know you were out here!”
“Bullshit!” roared Goldie as he leapt to his feet and took to the skies with his flapping angel wings. Every time Dark Paladin’s eyes radiated with red energy and he shot another scorching beam, Goldie would punch and kick them away like they were dodge balls. Having had enough of the demon’s laughter, the angel zoomed down upon him and threw heavy fists against his already contorted face.
Not one punch cracked bones or loosened teeth. “Is that the best you can do?” Darkie taunted. “Why don’t you try slapping me on the ass instead, lover boy?!” After throwing a mock kiss Goldie’s way, the superhero kneed Darkie in the balls and doubled him over, but only got another throaty laugh for his efforts. “Shouldn’t you take me out to dinner first?”
Dark Paladin attempted an ear clap, but Goldie ducted down and threw rapid fire punches against his stomach, each of them more powerful than the last, some of them cracking the metal armor, but not ribs like he intended. Goldie military pressed the Dark Paladin in the air and slammed him down against a gigantic stone, crumbling it into powder. The demon refused to sell his pain and instead gave a wicked grin.
“I’d say you fight like a sissy, but that’d be a little redundant, don’t you think?” said Darkie with a wink before throwing a knee against Goldie’s ribs and sending him rolling into the creek once more.
Mia Jane shouted, “No!” and ran by her would-be hero’s side. “Are you okay? Please be okay! I never wanted this to happen!”
“Get off of me!” shouted Goldie as he stood back up and attempted to dive bomb Darkie again with flying fists and feet. Instead all he got was a head butt to the skull upon landing. Dark Paladin grabbed the Golden Angel by his shin and twirled him so around so powerfully that the resulting whirlwind took Mia off her feet. Darkie slammed his nemesis against multiple trees and shattered them into beauty bark before tossing Goldie’s limp body on the ground, bloody and bruised.
Mia crab walked backwards in a shaky attempt to get away from the stalking Dark Paladin, who grunted at her, “Time to get my jollies, little lady! You’re giving birth to my child whether you want to or not! Don’t even bother going to one of those special clinics afterwards. Daddy dearest wouldn’t approve!” The last sentence was accentuated with a wink before the Dark Paladin dropped his metal pants and revealed not only his worm-infested meat, but also a familiar crucifix tattoo on his shin.
“D…Dad? Is that you? No…no, it can’t be! That’s impossible! You can’t be the Dark Paladin!” cried Mia while pounding the leaves on the ground with her fists.
“That’s right, honey! The Golden Angel ain’t going to help you this time! Not that he ever would, the little coward! Open wide, sweetheart!”
The Golden Angel’s vision was stained with blood and pieces of dirt, but he was conscious long enough to hear the entire conversation. It all made perfect sense to him now why Mia’s demonic father wanted to get rid of him. All the propaganda. All the lies. All the hate. Every one of the newly minted Dark Paladin’s dangerous words haunted Goldie’s mind like schizophrenic voices. Every time he said faggot, queer, or hell in the same sentence lit a hellish flame inside Goldie’s belly, a flame that burned brighter than the bloody pain he was feeling.
He watched Mia Jane crouch on the ground and close her legs as tightly as possible. He watched Dark Paladin’s rotten meat get harder and larger with every close step he took. The more Goldie watched, the more his heart was ready to explode in a volcanic burst. His eyes welled up with hot tears, his blood burned like acid, and his head pounded with a sledgehammer’s fury. He saw red for more reasons than Dark Paladin’s skin and the blood in his eyes.
In one swift motion ignorant of pain, Goldie flapped his wings and buzzed over to the Dark Paladin with a sharp stone in his hand. Before the demon knew what hit him, Goldie smashed the flat stone against Darkie’s groin and sliced off his monstrous genitals. Screaming agony and bloody fountains aside, no genitals meant no demonic birth, and no demonic birth meant the Dark Paladin’s plans for world conquest were ruined.
“You haven’t won shit, Golden Angel! I’ll see you in hell yet!” snarled the Dark Paladin before elbowing Goldie in the chest and sending him rolling backwards. With blood pumping out of the demon at a rapid rate, Darkie held his wound and flew away, dropping pus, maggots, and redness onto the ground below him. Mia Jane had been saved…for now.
The grateful preacher’s daughter, still bubbling with tears and snot, crawled quickly towards the downed Golden Angel and hugged him tightly, unintentionally aggravating his bloody wounds. “Thank you, Goldie! Thank you so much! I’m so sorry everything happened the way it did!”
Groaning painfully, Goldie wiped the blood off of his mouth and said, “Don’t be sorry, Mia. This isn’t over by a long shot. He’ll come back stronger than ever and we have to be ready.”
Mia gently stroked Goldie’s battered chest and said, “I’ll tell everyone the truth. The whole city will know who my father really is. I promise I will undo the damage he has done! This is not the loving priest I know! This is a monster!”
“You? You’re going to bring the people of
together? You’re going to end the hatred?!” scoffed Goldie. The two of them
shared an intense stare together before the superhero said, “You’d better do
it, Mia. You’re going to use your loudest voice possible. All that hellfire and
brimstone crap? You’re going to use it to end this senselessness. You’re going
to be the voice for positive change. You’re going to be the voice of the
voiceless. Are you ready for that shit?” Paulson City
“Ready as I’ll ever be, Goldie. Ready as I’ll ever be!” said Mia as she wiped the tears and snot from her face with her sweater sleeve.