Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Fire-fighter (10/05/06)
TITLE: The Last Super Hero
By Deborah Bauers
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Christus strode briskly until he came to a tiny door tucked in between a bakery and a Chinese laundry. Easily missed, it was the ideal location for a storefront time portal that would be here today and gone tomorrow. The fireman raised his hand and caressed the emboldened brass letters on the shingle bearing the name, "Heroes Hideaway, a Place Where Legends Still Live". As he pushed the door inward, a single chime announced his arrival. An old man hurried out from the back room, wiping his hands on his work apron.
"Ah... you have returned so quickly. It is done, then?"
Christus sighed deeply. "The city is ashes and rubble, but those that were given to me... have been rescued."
The shopkeeper nodded, satisfied, and turned to a pile of comic books that lay scattered across his work table; paper stories that would never be seen by a customer, never be read by anyone other than one of the heroes. He gathered them into a stack and tenderly placed them into the fireman's hands.
"I'll be in the back room unpacking the latest shipment."
Cristus made a pretence of rifling through copies of The Epic of Hercules, Paul Bunyan, and Odysseus, until he came to the one entitled Mose the Fireman, and Other Tales of Heroics. An inexplicable breeze stirred the room, ruffling the pages of the comic book...and then Cristus was gone.
The shopkeeper returned moments later and gently picked up the story of the legendary Chicago Fireman and put it back in the stack. As he did so, he pondered the names of other celebrated heroes that had come to life from the pages of his comic books. Hercules, Florence Nightingale, The Apostle Paul...ah, yes, the Apostle Paul was the closest he had ever come in his search for the ultimate hero, his quest for the greatest comic book story ever told. And the most recent of his acquisitions, Cristus, whom he believed was now safely back inside the comic from which he had sprung. The shopkeeper couldn't quite put his finger on the subtle difference, but he sensed that the firefighter was much more than what he had appeared; was capable of doing more much than any of the others had done. Christus might well be a super hero with untapped potential--a powerful champion who would return another day.
Over the next decade the time portal moved from place to place as heroes and heroines materialized to leave their indelible marks of hope on humanity. The aging shopkeeper was always on hand to greet his time travelers and to make certain that each returned from whence he had come. But though he watched and waited...hoping, Cristus never came again.
It was mid-December in the province of Judea. The old shopkeeper was hard at work unpacking crates of comic books that would not be seen or read for another two thousand years. Today he felt an inexplicable excitement and anticipation as he sorted through them, one by one. Abruptly, he found himself staring down at the comic book of a lifetime...the one story that would herald the coming of the greatest hero of all time! The old man looked hard into the eyes of the baby lying in the manger. He remembered those eyes...He'd seen those eyes at another time, in another place. His hands began to shake as his mind put it all together.
"Ah, it is you, little Firefighter! You are coming again to my bookshop, eh? Once, in the future, you came for a remnant. Now you are coming for the whole world."
From the front of the bookshop soft mewing sounds, like those of a newborn infant, were heard...
Authors Note: History records that there really was a firefighter named Mose who distinguished himself as a rescuer during the New York City fire which broke out in the mid 1940s. The author also wishes to acknowledge the reality of Old Testament appearances of Christ, known as "Theophanies," which gave birth to the purely fictional notion of time travel which is developed in this story.
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