A thin line separated them. They stood facing each other, ready to unleash the deadliest weapon. The Superhero closed his eyes as rings emitted from his Cape attacked the evildoer. Supervillain was not going to stay put, his wand casted a cloud that struck the hero’s body. The rings and clouds created a blaring effect, one that the abandoned building could not take. The cracks grew wider and wider, the dust blinded their field of sight and in one swift blow, the building nearly collapsed, causing them to fall from the terrace. Both lost their consciousness in a snap.
An unrelenting pain woke the superhero up. As he lay down covered in gravel, glass, and bricks; he was unsure if his arch-nemesis survived the fall. Somehow counting on his strength, he reached the outskirts of the city.
“Area 0.123 sealed off.” He further read the notice. “Due to a sudden surge in cases of the virus, the city shall observe a strict lockdown of two months.” His hands trembled unsure of anything, but they gave up when he read the date. “Till 31st December 2021.”
A month? A month has passed since he lost his consciousness? And a virus had taken over? He muttered sprinting towards the city. “I must save the people.” But when he tried stepping in, his body experienced a burning sensation, a voice marked its presence, “No outsiders allowed. The city is locked.”
As he dragged himself dejected with the thought of isolation and apprehension over staying in a broken building, he found himself in an even bigger pickle when he saw his nemesis casually slacking off without a care in the world.
“You didn’t die?” The superhero yelled “you must be happy; the city is in trouble. Go and celebrate somewhere else- “
“You will get cramps in your tongue if you use it so much, just zip it. I am not interested to stay here either…. it’s…just that….” Supervillain fumbled.
“Say it!” the superhero yelled.
“I DON’T HAVE A PLACE TO GO EITHER.” The corner of the supervillain’s lips fell.
Superhero gasped “still…We can’t stay together.”
“Good, hope you find a place soon.”
“I can’t leave this place. It’s broken here and there…but with the right energy on board. I can stay here.”
“Fight me then.” Supervillain rolled his fist.
“Great idea, so this half-broken building collapses entirely.”
The Superhero sighed sitting down on one side of the room, there was no celling, only a decent room amidst other broken rooms covered in glass shards.
“Fine, only 30 days right. Let’s make it work.” He looked at the supervillain.
They divided the room into two equal parts, no one crossed the line made up of broken shards. Two days passed without a single exchange of words, but on the third-day supervillain had to ask “from where do these snacks come from?”
“My power. Duh!” Superhero said in a snap.
“Then why don’t you save the city?” Supervillain laughed curiously.
“My powers have a limit without my cape…which is burnt now. Thanks, to- “
“So, I can kill you?” Supervillain wore his cheeky smile.
“You could, and then be food to death yourself. Without food and company, you will go insane.”
He laughed “Solitude is not the same as loneliness.”
“Same difference “The Superhero stated.
“Ah! What an annoying phrase. How can the difference be the same? Language itself makes communication complicated. I hear people say ‘awfully good’ how can good be awful or how news can be old in old news.”
“Sometimes the words that contradict one another can complement each other too, Oxymoron!”
“Whatever, you like making everything into a pep talk. Good night.”
After minding his own business for 2 whole weeks, the superhero could not resist, so he confronted him “What do you mean by pep talk? Do I look like a person who likes monologues?”
Supervillain woke up from his mid-afternoon nap in panic, “why are you disturbing me?”
“Can you do anything besides sleeping?”
“Don’t forget we still have electricity because of me. If it weren’t for my powers, you would- “
“Big deal. You are putting your energy to the right use. If you would have done this from the start, people would have thanked you.”
Supervillain scoffed “No thank you, depleting my energy by saving fools is not my way to live.”
“Helping others is always the greatest way to live.”
“Is that so? Then why are you under constant stress?”
The superhero was taken aback. “Because… because I care about others.”
Supervillain laughed again “Good for you! Keep caring about everything not in your control. Keep running into others’ tangled web of wires. Spread yourself thin, keep impossible standards for yourself and then blame the world for being unkind. The world is not unkind, only you are…to yourself.”
Supervillain saw the superhero’s dejected face, and he had to see it for two nights in a row, he couldn’t take a second anymore. He asked, “are you sulking because of what I said earlier?”
The superhero stopped sanitizing his hands “no!”
“Come on now, it’s bad enough I am staying with you. And now it’s worse because of your stupid sad face. Why do you care about what I say?”
“Because.” superhero snapped.
“Yeah-yeah you care about everything.”
“Forget it, not arguing with someone who loves to argue.”
“I don’t- “
Superhero sneered “a little preview.”
“Laugh all you want, any moment now the news will flash on television.”
“It yet says no signal.” Superhero mocked him.
Supervillain ignored the superhero’s pessimism. “I’ll be watching the news soon.”
“Good, watch the mess you created.”
“I didn’t create this trouble; I am not the only one who causes peril.”
“Rich coming from a person who makes everything about him.”
“Says the person who thinks the entire world is on his shoulder.”
“Don’t cross the line” superhero clenched his fist.
“I will, because I don’t care.”
“I don’t expect the guy who derives pleasure from others trouble to care. That’s how you get the power. Belittling others.”
“At least my tragic backstory doesn’t give me compassion fatigue.”
“Your tragic backstory has made you a bully. You can’t deal with your issues, you are scared.”
“Of you?” Supervillain laughed.
“Worse, of your esteem. Your esteem is a prisoner to your anger. You think aggression will bend things your way.”
“Shut the hell up.” Supervillain roared in anger.
As they stood facing each other, a made-up line separated them. Any moment a fight was about to break. But a voice startled both of them.
“…Door employment, Now coming up next…” the news anchor read, as they stared at her in anger. “As the president addressed the nation tonight, he announced locked will be eased throughout the country from tomorrow.”
“What?” Superhero’s anger vanished into thin air.
“Does that mean, we are free from this horrible place?” Supervillain loosened his balled fist.
“Can’t wait to get out!”
Whenever their eyes met, they smiled cheerfully. But when in private, a sadness loomed. Both didn’t understand what was bothering them, Supervillain flipped through channels although he was deep in his thoughts, while superhero ate his meals absentmindedly. There was a reason to celebrate then why the atmosphere was gloomy. No more sharing the room with a mortal enemy, no more taunts. No more will the superhero teach supervillain words to explain his brain, no more will the supervillain divide the load. No more will the superhero and the supervillain live like humans and not a representation of something.
“Ready to leave?” Superhero asked.
“Not yet, you?”
“Uh….” He fumbled. “I’ll leave in someday”
“Why?” Supervillain raised his eyebrow” Don’t you want to save people?”
“Yes,” the Superhero straightened his back, unwilling to show his disappointment.
But the supervillain saw right through it “you don’t want to, do you?”
“If I don’t. Who will?”
Supervillain mumbled under his breath “it’s their job to be there for themselves”
“That’s not how things work. You put them in danger, I take them out. They need me. They need good in their life.”
“If that’s the case, why are you going? Do you have to be evil?”
“I am not entirely evil, what if I cause peril to an already horrible person.”
“But who are you to decide the moral code, what is virtue and sin?”
“Exactly! So why do you decide who needs to be saved, who is good and bad? It’s all relative.”
“Then why do you cause them trouble?”
“I…I don’t know, I think that’s what I amount to. That’s my job. That’s what I represent. Evilness. You depict goodness.”
The superhero sat down at the edge of the line dividing the room. “Can’t you stop?”
“I…I want to.”
Supervillain stood in front of his arch-nemesis.
“What. You don’t want to inflict suffering?” Superhero slowly stood up.
“I don’t know, I just think we are staying here like we don’t exist, and still the world is revolving. Things are getting better; they are getting worse. Who are we?”
“Now don’t screw this up.” The superhero laughed in worry.
“Think about it.”
“I don’t want to.” Superhero took a step back.
“Why the hell not?”
“BECAUSE THAT WOULD MEAN WE DON’T EXIST” the superhero yelled, throwing a glass shard to the wall. It crushed causing a piercing sound.
“But we do…. maybe not in the way, they want us to.” He looked at the rest of the broken shards dividing them.
Superhero had tears in his eyes “I am so tired of cleaning the mess.”
“They are humans, they make mistakes.” Supervillain could not believe he said that.
“Why on earth are you rationalizing their horrible behaviour?”
“I am not, I am no one too. I am only saying, nothing is so bad that it can’t be redeemed.”
Superhero didn’t say anything after that, neither did the supervillain. They stayed in silence. The battle of good and evil was as old as time. It was a never-ending discussion. Hell, or heaven. Good or bad person. But in what proportion? And who created the benchmark for each?
“So many questions are running through my mind.” The superhero confessed.
“I hope none of them are directed towards the weird smell in this room because it’s not me.”
Superhero chuckled “ignorance is bliss.”
“I suppose so” the supervillain smiled “It was good…. good… sharing this place with you.”
“You weren’t so bad either.”
“Ah! So, I am not so bad then.”
“I guess we all are equal parts of good and bad. It’s just how we react.” The superhero stood up standing on one side of the glass shard line. “And I am choosing to react, not live as a construct.”
“So, you aren’t the all-mighty superhero now.” The supervillain laughed standing in front of him.
“No, I am a human. Who are you?” He brought his hand.
Supervillain looked away smiling and then laughed loudly “this is so stupid…. but I accept my flaws. Because I exist for better or for worse. I am a member of the human race. And I’ll choose better.” He shook his hand.
Good vs bad is a myth, it was always us vs them. Our good and bad perception vs the world. Good and bad are characteristics, not the entire character.
With smile touching their eyes, they left ‘the superhero and supervillain’ inside the broken building. They walked out as two humans, not an illusion of good and bad.