River Smalls sat on the ledge of the Empire State building, feet dangling over the edge as he looked down upon the city. The busy streets of New York City were a sea of flashing red and blue lights and sirens blaring. The city was calling River, but unfortunately, as much as he wanted to, for his safety, and the safety of the rest of the world, River simply couldn’t answer the call.
“I swear, I miss the good old days when kids used to just get drunk in the woods and set shit on fire. I’m all for experimentation, but this is getting out of hand.” River said as he walked into the mayor’s office one morning.
River tossed a small baggie onto Mayor Jeffery Hall’s desk just before flopping down into the seat.
Jeff pocketed his phone as the baggie landed on his desk with a wet splat.
“The hell is this?” Jeff asked, inspecting the baggie.
Whatever was inside had the consistency of Vaseline or hair grease.
“The Devil’s Cum.” River answered, moving his hand from left to right, as if he were unveiling the title for a new book or movie.
The mayor’s face crinkled, like he’d just smelt something foul.
“I’m sorry the devil’s what?!” He asked, poking the baggie with his pen.
“The Devil’s Cum. You put it into a drink, and you knock it back and it gives you crazy lucid dreams. It’s pretty awesome until those dreams become nightmares and you start to realize that the only way to stop them is to keep getting high or get the antidote for it.” River said as if it were the most casual thing in the world.
Mayor Jeffery tossed his pen into the trash before opening one of the drawers of his desk and grabbing his hand sanitizer.
“How many have died?” He asked, squirting hand sanitizer into his hands.
“So far, I’ve counted thirty-five bodies, in the last two days.” River said.
“Jesus Christ! Why isn’t the paper talking about this?!” Jeff shouted.
River never liked lying; he saw no use in it, and found that lying often ate away at his relationships, but River also knew where the truth would get him; not very far. The paper wasn’t talking about this because most of the people dying from The Devil’s Cum where black and brown people, or sex workers. Of course, everyone was doing it, but politicians and other high-status folks had quickly learned that the drug made for a great date rape drug. The Devil’s Cum could be swallowed or simply rubbed on the skin, and boom, all two hundred six of your bones turned into puddy.
Between the hush money circling the city, and the money generated from the drug, the economy was booming.
“I think we both know the answer to that question.” Said River.
The mayor, who was still rubbing the hand sanitizer into his hands, slowed his movements. Jeff’s eyes narrowed as he looked at River.
“What are you insinuating River?” Jeffery said.
Lately River had felt a shift in Jeff. The pair had grown up together and bonded over their desire to burn the system down and start over. Both men’s parents were activists, and River and Jeffery agreed that when they grew up, they would follow in their families’ footsteps.
For River, his life’s mission became clear, at eight years old, when he’d learnt that he had superpowers, his parents sat him down and told him what they really did for a living.
A single accident in a lab gave River’s parents, Sam and Martha, the ability to fly, walk through walls, and change the weather, among other things.
From the moment River got his powers, his parents began his training. Sam and Martha spent hours upon hours talking to River about responsibility, and his duty to his community. And when River came out to them as trans, Sam and Martha found other transmasc heroes who could tell River all about how testosterone would affect his powers.
All the while, Jeff’s parents, Sarah and Martain, began preparing their son for the day he’d take office. For years, Sarah and Martain’s families had protected people like Sam, Martha, and River. Few people in their society had powers, and Sarah and Martain felt that it was their job to protect those who did have powers so that they could better do their jobs.
Sam and Martain passed laws, worked with the police, and even started programs to help repair the city after epic battles. Sam, Martha, Martain and Sarah had a system and it worked well.
But greed, and Jeff’s desire to wield his authority over River, and use him to not only fill his own pockets at the city’s expense, but also destroy the city in the process; made River say enough was enough. He’d rather tap out and leave the city to fend for itself than allow Jeff to use him to burn it all to the ground.
Abandoning his city was painful, but extremely necessary for River; otherwise, he’d end up in a lab somewhere where he’d be used to make only God knows what.