THROWING SHADE • by Robert Pipkin

“Leave me alone, freak. I’m not breaking any laws.” The man in the formidable-looking space suit was manipulating a disc of flexible black material the size of Rhode Island.

“Technically, no. Maybe littering. What exactly do you think you’re doing up here, Dr. Nismo?” A serene, caped, blue alien floated in space somewhere between the earth and the moon. He surveyed the area around him. He faced Nismo.

“It’s none of your damn business, Mergathon,” Nismo muttered with quiet irritation. He went on about his business of flying to various points around the disc. He adjusted it. He moved it. His rocket pack kept his movements large but graceful and fluid.

Mergathon effortlessly matched Nismo’s movements, flying naturally in space as Nismo did artificially. He spoke calmly and evenly. “C’mon, Nismo. You did your time, you’ve paid your debt to society, you’re stupid rich. What’s behind all this?”

Nismo shot to one edge of the disc and pointed. “What’s behind all this? It’s the moon, moron. I’m taking the moon.”

“No, you’re not. Not even close. This is a tarp.”

“Yes, I am. I’m taking the moon. And yes, it’s a tarp. What difference does it make to you?”

The alien shrugged. His gills quivered around his communications mask. “None, I guess. Though I have to admit I’ve started liking you since you reformed. I’m concerned. How are you taking the moon?”

Nismo went back to his adjustments. “You never were the smart one.”

“Can’t argue with that. Back home, Brainfeld found the only thing you appear to be doing is creating a very focused shadow, blocking the moon from just one particular house on Earth. Like how a kid might burn an ant with a magnifying glass, but backwards.”

Nismo looked at Mergathon. “He’s good. He’s got the address then?”

“Yes. He was equally impressed at your calculations. Apparently you’re not going to blind anybody with what you’re doing.”

“Evil genius is as evil genius does.”

“You’re still corny and this is just sad.”

Nismo paused. “Go back to your stupid hero team. I’m not doing anything illegal and you can’t defeat me anyway.”

Mergathon nodded, then looked Earthward. “We know about Clare.”

“Who’s Clare?”

“Seriously?”

“I know. Sorry.”

“So you wanna explain exactly what it is you’re doing?”

Nismo stopped working on the disc. “He stole her.”

Mergathon’s tone dropped an octave in Nismo’s helmet. “She fell in love with him.”

“He stole her! There’s no way she’d ever fall in love with someone like that!”

“He’s a good man.”

“He’s nothing!”

“He’s a schoolteacher, he treats her right, and he’ll never put her in danger. He leads a normal life.”

Nismo zipped to Mergathon. The alien never flinched. “Normal? How can she possibly ever want normal? We would’ve ruled the world together.”

“She never wanted that. That’s what you wanted. You forced her to be your sidekick.”

“I didn’t!”

“Nismo.” Mergathon shook his head, disappointed.

“Ok, I did. But she loved me!”

“She was nice to you and you took it the wrong way.”

Nismo went silent, then went back to his work.

“This was all settled in court years ago,” Mergathon said. “She’s finally found some happiness, some normalcy, and you’re continuing to abuse her.”

“No. I’d never do that.”

“Uhhh…” Mergathon looked around. “Okay, technically you’re throwing shade on her new boyfriend’s house.”

“I’m wired for revenge. You know that better than anyone.” There was a subtle, but present, hitch in the villain’s voice.

Mergathon sighed through his gills. “I guess I do.”

“I know what I’m capable of,” Nismo said softly. “I still have feelings for her, and I know what you say is true. It’ll never go any further than this.”

“I can’t leave it here, Nismo.”

Nismo paused, gently touching the moon-tarp as only a man that could actually hide the moon would.

“I used to say to her, ‘But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun. Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon, who is already sick and pale with grief, that thou, her maid, art far more fair than she.’”

“Yeah, I know, Nismo. Everybody knows. She hated that. You know that.”

“Yes, but that’s how I felt about her. How I still feel. I’ll never bother him. I’ll never bother anyone. I’ve failed at everything I’ve ever tried to do, even with her, and I’m tired of trying, but I still have this need. You won’t have to worry about me again, Mergathon. Let me kill this envious moon, even if it’s for just a little while. Let me have this one last shake of the fist. Let me have this token of closure.”

The two foes floated among the stars silently for a moment.

“Nismo, you’re a hopeless romantic. I hope you find peace.”

Mergathon left.

Nismo finished his work.

For one single night, no moonlight shone at the home of the man Nismo hated.

No one was home.


Robert Pipkin writes in North Carolina, USA.


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