Stand 23-Vignette

Our Choices.


“Jesus!” Rebecca Watts yelled involuntarily, as the building rocked and shook around them. “Devin, are you still-”

“Still filming, yep,” her cameraman confirmed grimly, staring down at his camera’s screen. “I got it.”

Rebecca composed herself, placing a steadying hand against a wall. “Alright,” she said, stretching the word out and chewing it a little. “Let's switch to me now, Carlo is going to give the call in a few.” She licked her lips. “How now, brown cow. Howwww nowwww, browwwwwwwn cowwwww.”

They were set up inside an empty office on 15th floor of the McElroy building, access to which had taken no small amount of wheedling on her part. When Carlos had sent her down to cover reports of a “monster” attacking 5th Central, he'd probably expected her to go to the station itself. She'd learned pretty early on in her career, though, that when the big stuff was developing, it helped to be the one network with footage of the big picture.

It also meant that if there was a “monster”, she'd be safely out of the way. If she wanted to be in the thick of danger, she'd take those postings in France that management was always trying to thrust onto her.

A new voice crackled in over her headset. “Watts, you're on in three… two…” Devin swept the camera over to her as she stood in front of the window overlooking 5th Central, and her earpiece crackled as it changed channels.

“ from the scene,” the anchor, Nnedi was saying. “Rebecca?”

Showtime. She nodded confidently. “That’s right, Nnedi. As you can see behind me, 5th Central has been evacuated, as have the surrounding buildings. Police have cordoned off the street, but as of yet, have not made any statements about the situation inside the station. Whatever it is, though, we can feel the impacts even from all the way up here-” as if to prove the point, another tremor shook the building.

She knew if she was down near the cordon, she’d be able to interview some of the people who had been evacuated. Carlos would probably get on her ass about not doing so later. She saw it as a trade, though; less information now, for better shots later.

“So it’s still not known what’s happening inside?” Nnedi asked.

“No,” she confirmed. “There’s-” Devin suddenly swiveled the camera, and on the attached screen, she could see him zooming in on the station. “Hold on,” she said, staring at the picture as the focus adjusted. “It appears…” It stabilized, and only years of broadcast experience let her hold back her gasp. “It appears someone has... jumped from the platform.”

A figure in pink and white flew outwards from the platform, holding something in their arms. Rebecca distantly heard a gasp from Nnedi, but she was too intently focused on the screen. The angle of the jump didn’t look right, she realized; it was too lateral.

The camera tracked the figure as they crossed the distance between the platform and the next building over, and Rebecca waited with bated breath. They hit the building on the other side, and immediately began slowing as they grabbed it with one arm, something no normal human could do without tearing their arm off. “As you can see,” she said into her microphone, “we’ve just had confirmation that superhumans are involved in this event. The question remains, however; is this figure the cause of the evacuation, or merely responding to it? And where is the Tower?”

The figure reached the ground, hitting the ground in an awkward roll, before clambering to their feet. The object they’d been carrying still lay on the ground, and they leaned down-

“Is that-”

“It appears,” Rebecca confirmed, “that this unknown superhuman has rescued a child from the station. The child appears to be unharmed, and… yes, successfully reunited with their family.” Devin got an excellent shot of the reunion, and she gave him a silent thumbs up. Thank god for the ridiculous zoom on the camera.

“Well, that’s certainly a relief.”

“Indeed, but the issue remains: we still don’t know what was causing all the commotion in the first-” Devin swung the camera up again, and her jaw hit the ground.

“W-what,” came Nnedi’s stuttering voice, “w-what is…”

Rebecca managed to get her voice under control again. “S-some kind of giant, golden monster has just leapt from the platform, and-”

She wasn’t glad for the zoom feature anymore.

“We’ve cut the feed,” Carlos’s voice barked in her ear. “Keep filming, we’ll cut it later.”

She and Devin shared a nauseated glance. “Yes, sir,” she replied shakily.

She forced herself to keep watching the screen. The figure seemed to be attracting the monster’s attention, and it let out a roar that made her wince even from far away, and charged.

“Jesus Christ,” she whispered as she watched them clash amid the mutilated corpses of police officers. “What the fuck is that thing?”

Devin didn’t respond. “Where are they going?” he asked instead, tracking the figure as they ran inside the building that had the train station’s support built in.

“Get some footage of that… thing,” she told him as the figure disappeared, and the monster charged into the lobby. He nodded, focusing in on it as it began tearing the entrance to pieces.

Then, a groan, loud enough that they heard it. “Wha-” she began to ask, but Devin was already sweeping the camera up to the station platform, just as it began to collapse.

“Jesus,” she repeated, watching the collapse, and the massive plumes of dust it was putting out. “Did... they do that?”

“I’m not really getting anything anymore,” Devin said, once the station had finished collapsing. Sure enough, the screen was mostly just dust. “Should I keep filming?”

“Yeah,” she said, not entirely sure why. “Maybe we’ll get-” Another cacophonous roar shook the building. “Is that thing still alive in there?!”

“What the hell could survive-”

In an instant, a hole appeared in the centre of the dust cloud. A second later, the rest of it was blown down the streets, as a giant gust of wind carried it away in an instant. An awful, visceral crunch reached them a second later.

Standing on the pile of rubble, in the very centre of where the hole had appeared, was the monster. It was frozen in place, in a pose that made it look like it had been charging forward. For a moment, it just stood there. Then, it began glowing, brighter and brighter and brighter, until it was almost painful to look at.

Then it shattered.

Golden fragments, and what looked like pieces of flesh, rained to the ground. Standing in the middle of them was the figure, braced with one fist outstretched. Where they were standing, they would have been basically inside the monster.

Suddenly, they sagged, staggering backwards. They caught themself, and wearily looked around at the remnants of the monster around them.

Then they toppled slowly backwards, dissipating into smoke before they even hit the ground, and were gone.

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