I really enjoyed this writing assignment since I’ve always been a creatively-minded person. When I was younger I used to make up characters that I would draw and write stories about them. My favorite types of stories to write and read always involved magical powers so having the chance to write something about a superhero’s day was really fun. My superhero is named The Terrific Dazzler; she used to be an archaeologist but during an excavation the ancient Egyptian sun god Ra cursed her with the powers to control light. Now she works as a superhero in Tokyo, Japan, fighting human traffickers. I hope I didn’t go too overboard with this assignment and reading it is enjoyable.
I have not gotten enough sleep for this. But none of us have. Nervous energy flows between us, our minds racing, flipping through the calculated steps of the plan. I’m to enter first, blind them, then the rest of the team with the police are to storm in to arrest the criminals. Chiroko, my field mate, nudges me and asks in Japanese if I’m ready. I nod—I have no other choice but to be ready. There are lives on the line.
At 5:02 am exactly I break down the door of the brothel. My body, bright as the sun illuminates the cramped, dirty space. Young girls’ faces, none older than 15, squint up at me in awe, mouths agape. The men some only a few years older than the girls but most grown adults, with bleary eyes and faces contorted, jump up and sprint for the doors. They’re not quick enough for my team. Faces and bodies smack the floor as police tackle the traffickers. The high-pitched screams of young girls fill the space. I soften my light so the girls can see better. I sit down near the closest girl to me. She’s perhaps 10, wearing a pale yellow dress that doesn’t fit her. Tears stream down her face. I ask her in Japanese, what her name is and she tells me, barely audible. So I ask her if she wants to see something magical and she nods her head. I hold out my hand and from it a white horse jumps out of my palm and gallops around the girl and I. She giggles with delighted awe, reaching out to grab for the horse but her hands go through it. Her eyes meet mine, a question forming. It’s just light I tell her. Soon enough the other girls group around us, laughter lights up the dingy space. I wonder when the last time they’ve been this happy was.
Chiroko and I head for a ramen place for lunch. We’re both tired and cold, needing something warm to forget our morning. As we sit down, all eyes are on us. Despite my heavy coat covering my hero costume, none can mistake the white-blonde hair, too light eyes and a soft light glowing from my body. I stick out like a sore thumb. My hair used to be dark, my eyes used to be hazel. But all that changed a few years back when I upset the ancient Egyptian god Ra while excavating a tomb of the Old Kingdom. I remember the voice, old yet timeless and the blinding, too-bright light, hot and boiling. He cursed me then to possess his powers, powers too great for a human to hold without going mad. Or dying. Against all odds I did neither and found myself in Tokyo, Japan, having reunited with an old college friend who was doing work on human trafficking. I was barely a hero then, much less a superhero. But I needed something. I needed to feel like I could do good—save someone—with these powers. I used to hate them; they didn’t feel right in my body, like another person, another soul, took over when I used them. It’s been years of work (and some therapy) to get used to actual light emitting from my body but I finally feel complete. I’ve virtually forgotten what my life was like before these powers.
After lunch I can finally head home. My apartment is small—quaint is how my mom describes it with a tight-lipped smile. But it’s sufficient and it’s mine. I take a hot shower, put on a sheet mask and lay down on my sofa, listening to music to drown out my thoughts. After 20 minutes of the mask, I take it off and rub the serum into my face. It’s supposed to be anti-aging. Then I wait to put on moisturizer and SPF. An unconsidered side effect of my powers is sun damage. Growing up I never had any freckles or got sunburn but now freckles cover my face and body with more popping up every week no matter how much sunscreen I put on. I’d be fine with it but her in Japan, the flawless complexion look in very in.
Suddenly the ringing of my phone pierces my peaceful relaxing. I answer it with a quick hello. A deep voice, heavy in authority replies on the end. It’s my squad captain, Orochi Mau “Terrific Dazzler, I have a mission for you.” “Yes sir,” I say, stifling a yawn. “Tonight a cargo ship will arrive at Dock 11. They’ll report that they’re carrying produce but we’ve gotten intel saying they’re bringing more than just that. This must be quiet, you cannot notify the dockworkers, we suspect they’re in on it. The ship arrives at 11pm sharp. Be there beforehand to stake out the area. You will not have backup.” The call ends and I’m left alone again. I check the clock, it’s about four so I’ll have time to eat at least.
Another ping emits from my phone: an encoded email with the intel I need. This is not my first mission by myself but it seems to be the largest. They’ll be a lot of bad guys to take out and people to keep safe. I can’t help the growing knot in my stomach. To get my mind off things, I watch television until about seven o’clock. The night has set in but in Tokyo the light pollution means darkness is never an absolute. Time to get ready.
I pull my suit on, one leg at a time and zip up the back. When I first became a superhero my costume was pants and a heavy jacket but soon enough, I was supplied with a real costume from an organization for real superheroes. It’s too dark and tight for my taste but I had no real choice in the matter. When it comes to costumes, it’s take what you can get and don’t complain. Fortunately the suit came without any gaudy embellishments or large lettering on the front. It’s a dark royal blue with a slick finish that prevents light from showing through. The final step to my costume is the most important. After Ra cursed me, I collapsed and found hours later, almost too late, with a scarab jewel clutched tight in my hand. I keep it with me as a reminder of the ancient sun god and the burden I carry.
The journey to the docks takes hours. Once I’m there I set up a post on top of one of the shipping crates, about ten feet above and well hidden from any eyes below. The clock slowly ticks by. Slowly men begin to arrive, trickling in some alone, some in groups, to wait together for the arrival of the shipment. Ten minutes till 11 the sound of a ship’s horn sounds through the night. Only a few more minutes left.
Men are yelling back and forth, hustling to get the ship docked. Things proceed as normal, the crane lifting crates from the ship’s deck and placing them in the yard. On the eighth crate, the crane diverts its course and lowers the crate, slowly, carefully on the ground in front of the men. Now’s my chance.
I leap down from my post, hitting the ground and rolling, pop up and run. “Hey!” My voice screams. The group of traffickers turn, guns cocked and quickly aimed at me. Shoot, I should not have yelled. One of the traffickers yells, “It’s the White-Haired Devil! Shoot her!” Light radiating from my hands are precise lasers into the eyes of my enemies. The smaller the beam, the more it hurts. Soon there are screams and men clutching at their faces in pain, collapsing around me. The smell I’m never used to, one of burning flesh wafts the air. In a matter of minutes the 11 traffickers are on their knees or cradling their heads, pleading for it to stop. I yell out with my best enunciation that they are all arrested for human trafficking.
“Hey!” A woman’s voice comes from behind me. I whirl around to see Chiroko with Chief Mau. All round us armed police emerge from the shadows, ordering the traffickers to put their hands up. I hear more yelling and see police on the ship, arresting the ship’s crew.
“Did you think we’d really leave you alone?” The Chief asks me once they’re in ear shot. I can’t help but grin. Chiroko gestures to the crate and I nod; I had almost forgotten. We pry the doors open and give earnest smiles to the dozen women and girls huddling together in the dark.
“You’re safe now, there’s nothing to be worried about. We’re with the police,” I extend my hand for help and comfort. One of the women, holding tight to a baby replies, “Who are you?” I give her a smile. “I’m the Terrific Dazzler. But you can call me Kara.”