Fireworks in Hudson City
by Jeff Baker
(July 4th, 2022)
Fireworks were popping around them in the city, bursting in the dark sky as the two young men raised their lit sparklers and tapped them together.
“Careful! Don’t burn your fingers!” Tommy Oliverez grinned, the light from the sparkler glinting off his dark hair and bright smile.
“Don’t worry!” Kip Starkwell said grinning broader. He was tall, lean and pale with stringy blonde hair. He wished he had more definition but he made up for it in other ways. Besides, Tommy liked him. They’d been going together for months. The neighborhood Fourth of July block party counted as a date.
“Hey, guys! I just heard on the radio…” Jayse Robbins pointed at his i-phone. “Big fire in a warehouse in Old Town.” As he spoke the three of them heard the distant sound of fire sirens, definitely more than one.
“Hey, Tommy, hold my sparkler, okay?” Kip handed the nearly burned down sparkler to Tommy and rushed off, yelling over his shoulder. “I gotta go take a leak.”
Tommy stared. “Shoulda done that before you left the house,” he muttered.
Kip ducked between two of the tall old apartment buildings and darted into the alley behind them, quickly shucking off his duster, t-shirt, shoes and jeans. He pulled a pair of welder’s goggles out of the duster pocket, wadded the clothes up and tossed them behind a dumpster. Quickly donning the goggles he muttered
“Fire, fire, blazing way
Carry me to the sky today”
In an instant, his skin radiated heat, then fire, then a sheen like molten rock, rippled with streaks of flame. In another moment, a twister of fire surrounded Kip and he swiftly rose into the sky, what was left of the clothes he’d been wearing reduced to cinders.
The shorts and socks were a total loss but I hadn’t washed the socks since yesterday, Kip thought. And he had to break himself of his habit, a crutch, of reciting rhymes like magic spells since he found his powers weren’t magical after joining the Crisis Squad Auxiliary as a full-fledged member a year earlier.
Flying over the city, Kip headed towards the orange glow over the older part of town.
“Yeah, there you are,” he muttered. “Let’s see if I can stop this before it goes any further.”
Gliding over the burning building he started to say a rhyme, then grit his teeth and concentrated. The flames on the upper floor suddenly leaped upward. Kip channeled them towards the sky where they burst like a firework.
But the buildings below him were still on fire.
Kip couldn’t hover, he had to glide so he landed between the two burning buildings. He’d have to channel that much fire in stages. At least he saw no sign of people, the buildings were deserted. But the buildings across the street had a night shift. The fire trucks were pulling up as Kip began to channel the fire.
Suddenly the flames in the first building were covered in a glassy sheath and in another instant, they dissolved in a burst of steam and smoke.
Ice! But from where?
“I’ve got this,” said a voice. “You get the other building.”
Kip quickly began the process of willing the other flames to rise away from the building and dissipate into the evening air. He was sure he heard somebody go “Oooooooh! Ahhhhhhhh!” like they were watching a fireworks display. The flames were gone in a few minutes when he yelled to the waiting firemen: “You guys better check that building! I can keep it from combusting but it’ll take a lot of effort.”
A half-hour later, Kip sat on the ground, nearly exhausted, still maintaining the molten covering around his face. All done, no one hurt.
A tall man in a silvery uniform and white cape walked up to him, the man who was the source of the ice.
“You did good kid,” he said. “Between us, we kept things from getting worse.”
Kip stared. He recognized the man.
“You’re the Silver Eye,” he said.
The man bowed with a flourish. “At your service.”
“But you’re one of the bad guys?” Kip said.
“And I’m also a city-dweller,” the Silver Eye said. “I was a kid 140-some years ago when my city of Chicago burned. I couldn’t let that happen again.”
Kip stared as a silvery mist surrounded the Silver Eye.
“But be careful, we are not on the same side.” Wind whipped around, dust and ash blew, Kip blinked and the Silver Eye was gone.
In another ten minutes, Kip managed to fly himself back to the ally where he could grab his clothes. Naked, Kip reached behind the dumpster.
Kip wheeled, startled. Tommy was standing there, holding Kip’s jeans, shoes and duster. His face was wearing a slight smile.
“Then, then you know?” Kip said.
“Yeah. I figured it out a while back.” Tommy said. “No big deal. I always thought you were hot. This just cinched it.”
Kip laughed and put on his clothes.
“Y’know, I could probably figure a way for you to wear clothes that won’t burn,” Tommy said.
“Maybe later,” Kip said. “Party still on? I could use a soda. Maybe a beer.”
“And then we could go upstairs.” Tommy said.
“Sure.” Kip said.
“You got any, what do you call them, young protectors?” Tommy asked.
“In my dresser,” Kip laughed as they walked out of the alley.
“My boyfriend the superhero,” Tommy said, his arm around Kip.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I planned on a totally different story from the picture, but it was too gloomy and besides it was a rehash of something Kaje Harper had done so well here in this June 26, 2022 story titled “One More Time.” https://www.facebook.com/groups/208207893795147 And Kip Starkwell first appeared in this earlier July Fourth story https://authorjeffbaker.com/2018/06/28/friday-flash-fics-for-june-29-2018-by-jeff-baker-fourth-of-july-weekend-sort-of/ I posted in 2018. One of three stories I have written about the superheroes of Hudson City. This one written with fireworks popping outside.