An excerpt from
by Aaron Rosenberg
(From The Side of Evil)
“Those stupid do-gooders will never— aw, come on!” Walter C. Shticklemeyer whined as the costumed duo burst into the heart of his lair. “How’d you even find me?”
“Seriously, Eraserhead?” Twilight the Shade Prince asked, sharing a surprised but amused glance with his mentor and partner, Midnight King. “You stole the second-most valuable gem in the world—Number Two—from the Ticonderoga Museum. And now you’re holed up in an abandoned pencil factory?”
“Let’s face it, chum,” Midnight King added in that distinctive growl of his as he strode across the room toward where Walter cowered behind his desk, “you’re predictable. But then, evil always is.”
“Oh, yeah?” Walter straightened as the dark-clad hero approached. “Well, predict this!” he raised his voice. “Pencil-necks, get them!”
Twlight giggled, arms crossed over his chest. “We already took care of your henchmen,” he reported. “So you can go ahead and write them off.” He laughed at his own joke, and Midnight King joined in with his raspy chuckle.
“Curse you, Midnight King!” Walter cried. The hero reached for him, but Walter managed to pull free, wailing—and punched Midnight King full in the face.
“Owwww!” The skinny little villain cradled his injured hand as the hero dragged him from the room. “That hurt!”
“Crime always does,” Midnight King rasped down at him. “Crime always does.”
~ * ~
“You’re who, now?” The big bruiser who’d just cut in front of Walter asked, peering down at him with beady little eyes. “Erasermate?” Several of the other inmates in the prison cafeteria laughed.
“Eraserhead!” Walter replied indignantly, hands tightening on his lunch tray. “Eraserhead!” he pointed at his hair, which stood up several inches and was still cut in a perfectly circular flat top, thanks to First City’s policy of letting inmates retain their distinctive looks as much as possible. Looking around him, he could see plenty of others with unique hairstyles, face paint, eyewear, and even a certain degree of jewelry. The big guy in front of him, however, had none of those—he was completely nondescript in his orange prison jumpsuit, just another giant slab of muscle as he slowly shook his head.
“Never heard of you,” the bruiser declared, turning toward the cafeteria workers and holding out his tray to receive large scoops of nondescript prison food.
But Walter wasn’t ready to let it go. “Never heard of me!” he practically screeched. “I fought Midnight King! Repeatedly!”
Now the bruiser laughed. “You? Fought Midnight King?” Again the dismissive once-over. “What’d you do, threaten to bleed on him?” That got more laughs. “Listen, pal,” the big guy added, “most of us went up against that cowled clown, or worked for guys who did. That’s how we wound up in here. That don’t make you special.” The conversation over, he took his now-loaded tray and headed toward the row upon row of tables for someplace to eat in peace. Plenty of others moved aside to let him pass.
“I am special,” Walter insisted, but in a much quieter voice, nearly a whisper, as he surrendered his tray to the cafeteria workers. “I’m Eraserhead.”
But even he wasn’t sure he believed it anymore.
~ * ~
“I’m not special,” Walter declared, slumping on the stool in front of a threefold standing mirror. “Hardly anybody’s even heard of Eraserhead, and those who have think I’m a joke.”
“So change,” the woman at the long sewing table against the far wall replied. She glanced over at him and frowned. “You need a new—”
“Don’t say it,” Walter warned. Growing up, all anyone ever called him was “Shtick,” and he hated that nickname, and the word in general. But she was right. Look at how easily Midnight King had found him last time. An old pencil factory? Could he have been more obvious? “I really am a joke,” he decided, slumping even more. “I’m pathetic.”
“Stop putting yourself down,” his companion and hostess snapped. “Every time you do, you owe me twenty push-ups.”
“What?” That made his head jerk up, at least, as he stared across the room at her. “But, Launi—”
Her glare stopped him cold.
“Right, sorry—Seamstrix.” It was amazing how cowed he was by someone who was only five feet tall, but for all her short stature Launi Rombach, seamstress to the super-villains, was no one to mess with. And despite her height, with that long, straight silvery-white hair and her stern expression, not to mention her own costume—a leather dominatrix outfit, all buckles and straps, but covered in pockets filled with scissors and tape measures and needle and thread and lots and lots of pins—she was actually really imposing.
Which made sense. Why would you commission a super-villain costume from someone who couldn’t even make a convincing one for herself?
The Seamstrix was the go-to choice for every super-villain in First City. And Walter had been going to her for years. They’d even developed a sort of friendship. In fact, in a lot of ways she was his closest friend. Which was why, as soon as he’d gotten out—which had only been after a few months, since even with First City’s rather lax view toward costumed vigilantes it had still wound up being one costumed nut’s word against another, because like most super-villains who’d managed to survive, Walter was at least professional enough to blank out all security cameras first, and to wear gloves the whole time—Walter had gone straight to her.
But his days of wearing a striped yellow turtleneck and matching leggings were over. Eraserhead was dead.
That hated word aside, Launi was absolutely right, Walter realized as he wearily climbed down off the stool, stretched out on his stomach on the floor, and began slowly, wretchedly doing push-ups.
He needed something new.
~ * ~
Read the whole thing in The Side of Good / The Side of Evil releasing November 21, 2015.
Everyone loves a hero…but sometimes we can’t help but root for the villain…
Indulge both impulses with this nostalgic flipbook anthology—The Side of Good / The Side of Evil. After all, everyone is the hero of their own story and sometimes a change in perspective can make a world of difference.
Superheroes inspire us to be more than we can be, and on the flip side, Supervillains are reminders of the potential for darkness within us all. The Side of Good / The Side of Evil looks at the best and worst that über-mankind is capable of.
With stories by comic book and literary masters: James M. Ward, Bryan J.L. Glass, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Aaron Rosenberg, Robert Greenberger, Gail Z. Martin, Janine K. Spendlove, James Chambers, Walt Ciechanowski, Neal Levin, John L. French, and Kathleen David this collection is guaranteed to be super…no matter which side you pledge your allegiance to.
Featuring a never-before-published Furious(TM) short story!