“So the Librarian. What’s his deal anyway?” Davy asked.
They were walking down a dimly-lit urban street. At least, Davy was walking. Olivia was dramatically, leaping from shadow to shadow with a look of exaggerated determination. She was currently leaning against the brick wall of a building. She peered her head away from the wall, eyes squinting with focus, and leapt behind a trash can two feet away.
“Whoosh!” she whisper-shouted as she leapt. Hearing Davy’s question, she popped her head out from behind the trash can.
“The Librarian?” she asked. “His real name is Doole E. Decimalsystem. A long-time librarian for the Heaven’s Head mob, his life changed forever when was hit in the head with a radioactive book. After that, he decided to make the world hi library and became a supervillain and a perpetual enemy…”
Davy had multiple questions about this explanation. He decided to just ask one.
“The radioactive book? Did it give him superpowers or something?”
The Night Retcher was now crouching behind a fire hydrant, hugging it with monstrous tendrils that a second ago had been her hands. “No,” she replied. “But it did give him bad radiation poisoning. It’s actually really sad.”
Davy nodded a continued walking, but before he could pass the fire hydrant, Olivia shot out her arm in front of Davy, transforming it into what looked like a malformed bat wing, blocking his path.
“Hold on,” she whispered. “We’re here.”
Davy looked to his right at the small townhouse they had stopped in front of. Olivia stood up and looked at Davy. “Welcome to my secret lair,” she said with a grin. She then dropped to the ground again and scuttled like a centipede up the steps to the front door. Holding her cape up to her face, she looked around at the deserted street before knocking on the front door. Davy came up behind her, not sure what to expect.
After a few seconds, Davy heard someone undo the locks on the door, which opened a second later. In the other side was a woman who looked virtually identical to Olivia, only with lighter colored hair, and non-gray skin that actually looked human.
She looked at Olivia and smiled. “Hey sis,” she said. Olivia beamed as tendrils erupted from both of her sides and enveloped the woman in a hug.
The tendrils then retracted as Olivia turned to Davy. “So this is my sister, Sarah,” she said. She turned back to her sister. “Sarah, this citizen is Davy.” Under her breath, she added in a gravelly voice, “He needs my help.”
Sarah laughed and matched Olivia’s tone. “I understand,” she growled. “Please, come in.”
Olivia sidled past Sarah into the house. Davy followed behind.
“Nice to meet you,” he said as he walked through the door.
“Thanks, nice to meet you too,” Sarah replied, closing the door.
The interior of the home was small enough that Davy found himself in the living room. Davy saw a stack of medical textbooks on the coffee table.
Olivia pulled the straw hat from underneath her cloak. “Davy’s on a quest to save the world, but the Librarian kidnapped his friend,” she began in an exaggeratedly serious growl. I’m going to take this to the lab and see if it can point me to his hideout.”
Sarah nodded. “I understand,” she growled playfully. “I made some hot chocolate, in case you believe it will aid in your investigation.”
Olivia paused. “Yes, hot chocolate is a valuable ally in the fight against injustice,” she finally said.
“Great,” Sarah responded, returning no to a normal tone of voice. “I’ll go get you a cup.”
As Sarah made her way to the kitchen, Olivia turned to Davy and returned to a more reached stance.
“Yeah, Sarah’s like, my confidant and stuff,” she said, once again abandoning the dramatic growl. “She also takes care of my secret lair.”
Sarah returned with a cup in her hands. “Here’s the hot chocolate,” she said, handing Olivia the cup. “Good luck in the investigation.”
“Gracias,” Olivia said. She began to move towards the staircase behind her, but stopped and looked at Davy.
“Davy, you can stay down here with Sarah if you want. I’ll come down once the analysis is complete.”
“Sure thing,” Davy said. He hadn’t completely grappled with the current situation yet, but he was just going to roll with it.
“Awesome,” Olivia replied before launching her arms towards the top of the staircase. In a flash, she had shot out of sight.
“Here, I’ve got some more hot chocolate,” Sarah said, handing him a cup. “Feel free to have a seat.”
“Thanks,”. Davy replied, taking the cup. He sat down on a couch behind him. Sarah sat down at an armchair to his right.
“So you look a little out of it,” she said. “I’m guessing you haven’t seen someone like Olivia before.”
Davy laughed. “It’s been a weird day,” he replied. Sarah nodded understandingly. Davy wasn’t sure how to ask his next question. “So are you also, well, able to do what she can?” he began.
Sarah laughed. “No, Sarah St. Bartholomew is 100 percent human,” she answered.
“Okay,” Davy replied. “So, how do you know Olivia?”
“Oh, she’s my sister,” Sarah began. “Just not in a technically biological sense.”
“I feel like there’s a story there,” Davy said.
“Heh, it’s a pretty good one too,” Sarah said. “I guess you could say we found each other when we were both alone.”
Davy suddenly felt like this was probably going to get pretty heavy. He took a sip of his hot chocolate, out of a sense of impotent empathy.
“I grew up going from foster home to foster home,” Sarah continued as Davy took another sip of his hot chocolate. “I was about eight, and the home I was in, it was bad. I ran away and made it here to Heaven’s Head. I didn’t know anyone here, so I decided I was going to live on my own. Naturally, I found myself living in an abandoned apartment building. There was trash everywhere, and there was a massive hole in the roof. One night, I was sleeping on the cold, wooden floor, and there was a thunderstorm. I was pressed against the wall, trying to stay away from the rain coming through the roof. There was a plastic trash bin by that wall that I had largely ignored, but that night, I could see it shaking, so I looked inside. And that’s where I met Olivia.”
Davy put his cup on the coffee table. He had finished it a while ago. “You met Olivia in a trash can?”
“Sure did,” Sarah laughed. “She didn’t look anything like she does now. The best way I can describe it is that she looked like a mound or a blob. A shapeless blob, covered in eyes and teeth. And the first thing I noticed when I saw her was that every single one of those eyes looked so scared. So I took her out of the trash can and we just sat with each other and endured the thunderstorm together for the rest of the night.”
Davy wished he had more hot chocolate. “So you became close?” he asked.
“We became inseparable,” Sarah answered. We lived in that abandoned building for months, and in that time, I got a better grasp on Olivia’s…” Sarah paused, trying to come up with the right word. “…abilities,” she finally said.
“You mean…” Davy began.
“Yes, I don’t know how to describe it other than that she can apparently, ‘engineer’ body parts for herself,” Sarah stated. “Organs and the like. I don’t know what her natural state looked like, but when I first saw her, with those eyes and teeth, it was seemed she was trying to look like a person. But she could never get close enough to really grasp what they looked like.”
“But then she met you,” Davy said.
“Exactly. And as we spend more time together, she slowly started to take on a human shape. First, she managed to get the facial features right. Only two eyes. One mouth. Then she started to get the arms and legs. Over the course of several months, she was able to use her abilities to finally look like a real person. And it just so happened that person looked exactly like me.”
“I guess you were her only frame of reference,” Davy commented.
“I suppose,” Sarah replied. “When the authorities ultimately found us, they just assumed we were twins, and we continued to grow up together. She may look like me, because at the time I was the only human she knew, but after all these years, what you see now is essentially her true form. She may have looked different at one point, but for all intents and purposes, she is Olivia, my sister.”
Davy nodded. “I understand. Also, I’m sorry if it sounded like I was trying to downplay anything. It’s been a long day.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Sarah answered. “I’m just happy to see you here.”
“What do you mean?” Davy asked.
Sarah wasn’t sure where to begin, “Well, Olivia, she doesn’t do well around other people. I think she lingers on the fact that she isn’t quite human. Growing up, I think she noticed that despite her abilities, other people still sensed something was well, different. She eventually kept to herself, and, aside from me, barely interacted with anybody. That changed a couple months ago—I don’t know what happened, but she decided to do the whole superhero thing.”
“The Night Retcher,” Davy said.
“Yes, and she’s good at it too. And while I think the city is grateful for what she does, I think she still get hung up on how afraid they get whenever she shows up.”
“I’m grateful she stopped the Librarian from shooting me,” Davy replied.
“Yes, and, if you don’t mind how strange this may sound, I’m grateful that you showed up,” Sarah responded.
“How so?” Davy asked.
Sarah looked directly at Davy. “Because, since she decided to be a superhero, you were the first person who didn’t run away when you saw her,” Sarah said.
Davy didn’t know how to respond to this. Fortunately, he didn’t have to, as Olivia slowly peered her head from behind the kitchen counter. Her face was currently one giant eyeball, staring at Davy. She launched her arms towards the couch and within a second she was seated next to Davy. Inches away, she turned her eyeball face right at Davy and stared. Davy didn’t know how to respond to this either. Finally, a mouth appeared below the eyeball with its tongue sticking out. It made a fart noise.
“Pbbbbbbbt!” Olivia bleated, as her face returned to normal. “I call that one, ‘Eyeball Face.’ It is my third favorite face.”
Sarah laughed. “I think she likes you,” she said.
Olivia grinned. “Eyeball Face is a friend to all,” she replied.
Davy wasn’t sure what just happened, but he decided to laugh as well. The Night Retcher pulled out the straw hat again. “Okay,” she began. “So using the power of ‘Internet Search’ I was able to deduce that this hat was purchased at a costume shop here in Heaven’s Head.”
She turned back to Davy, “Comrade,” she said in a bad Russian accent. “I suggest we go undercover, try and see if anyone there knows where the Librarian could be hiding.”
Davy nodded. “Okay, but why do you think anyone there would know this?” he asked.
Olivia put the hat back under her cloak. “Because this costume shop doubles as a bar. A bar apparently frequented by almost all the supervillains in the city.”
Davy paused. “That makes no sense,” he said.
Olivia made a wide-eyed smile. “I know, right!”
Sarah stood up. “Well, I think that’s my cue. Good luck to the both of you.” She looked at Davy. “I hope you find your friend.”
“Thanks,” Davy responded, shaking Sarah’s hand again. Things had gotten heavy in the past few minutes, and Davy, despite his empathy, didn’t know what to do when things got heavy. Interrogating the inhabitants of a supervillain costume shop and bar seemed like the perfect stupid thing to do to next.
Olivia was already at the front door. “You ready to aid me in the fight against injustice?” she asked, holding her cape over her face.
“Absolutely,” Davy responded.