Flash 2000: Bridesmaid

Photo by Brands&People on Unsplash

The cement stairs carried echoes of footsteps throughout the unfinished floor of the abandoned structure. Members of your group freeze, ready to scatter, until someone with your face pokes their head through the fraying plastic saying with your voice, “It’s only me.” You go over to Mirror-Mirror to get the materials she had scavenged. Bouncy slides down your body and hops over to Thornskin’s two youngsters; the weasel more interested in playing than in watching you cook.

“What’chu got?” you ask as you take one of the four small plastic bags.

“Not much.” Mirror complained, her face shifting to Sickness. She had been in your form for most of the day, exhaustion forced the change. “They sprayed the fresh vegetables to prevent homeless from taking them. I managed to get a few cans before they came out though. The rest I got from dumpster diving before it got too dark to see in the alleyways.”

“I hate you risking like that, but thank you,” you say. You and the others needed the food, but your face would have been picked up by any cameras in the area.

Sickness glared at the metamorph from the nest the group had set up for her in one corner, away from the children. The strongest power of the group, she hated the other taking on her face. Mirror-Mirror winced. Sickness could give food poisoning or other bacteria disease, like pneumonia, if she put her power behind her glare.

Slowly, reluctantly, Mirror modified their form into Thornskin. Mirror preferred to look like a normal whenever possible, but he had run out of options for the moment unless Sickness nodded off. He helped you get the food cooked but held back while you delivered the food to Thornskin and his family. You choose to ignore the wife’s eyes skidding over Mirror Mirror in uncomfortable fear, a doubleganger of her husband.

You nod and smile at the children as they slip Bouncy some meat and vegetables, the dark-furred weasel distracting them from the innate adult horror. After making sure Mirror is eating, of all you, he needs calories after using his abilities all day, you take a can of warmed soup and some bread to Sickness.

“How can you stand him wearing your face?” she hisses.

You shrug. “It’s the only way you believe that I have power.”

Mirror can only copy people who have powers, but he can’t copy their powers, thank the universe for small favors. When you first hid with the group, they had immediately taken your form, proving you had abilities even when you refused to show them other than the ability to control Bouncy’s actions, somewhat.

Right now, he appeared to have thorny growths over all his body which on Thornskin were sharp enough to draw blood and transmitted a mild paralyzing agent, but Mirror’s bumps carried no danger. What Mirror couldn’t do was duplicate normals, like Thornskin’s wife, or return to their original appearance. They used to carry a picture of their original form, but at the last hidey hole a pyro had hit the group and burned the memento up.

“Well, I don’t know why you don’t register. They would take Thornskin’s kids and they kill the plague-givers on sight since COVID, but you barely got anything. Just register as a one or two with your animal control and go home.”

“Home is a long way away.” You smile at grouchy old woman, pulling a spoon from your pocket to give her, being careful to touch her hand while you do so. You are the only one in the group, even before it got cut down by the pyro and hunters, to touch her regularly. Her eyes simmered with a combination of confusion, hate, and thankfulness. “And it comes with complications.”

“Everything does now-a-day.”

You stay by her until she finishes her soup and drifts off, burying herself deep in the grimy blankets to hold off her perpetual fever and chills. Her emergence had given three city blocks food poisoning; it was a wonder she had survived the Regional Acquisitions. Sixty-eight is a horrible age to lose everything you ever known.

So was thirty-four. Twenty-six for Thornskin, the youngest of the lot, and thirty-two for Mirror Mirror.

You check the propane, making sure it is off for the night, then head to your nest. The others didn’t like you near them for at least an hour after you dealt with Sickness. They continued to be amazed you never got sick dealing with her. You shrug and say it is just a byproduct of your powers, claiming many animal handlers develop immunity to bacteria and viruses. It’s true about the developing immunity and about it being a byproduct of your powers, just not that particular cause and effect.

Night in the building carried eerie shadows from some of the skyscrapers nearby, making taking a piss in the middle of the night a long debate of crawling out of the blankets into the weird. But eventually the bladder won, as it always does, and you stumble toward the staircase. Bouncy curled deeper into the warm fabric, the traitor.

The hand covering your mouth woke you up immediately and got rid of the need to piss instantly. You bite the hand, making someone yelp.

“Fucking bitch.” The brick yanks you easily away from the stairs, three other people coming in behind him. The pyro was back with his sidekick and two new people.

“Where is the witch?” The pyro asks one of the new people, who points to Sickness’ nest with a drawn gun. The female of the group makes a beeline toward her.

“No,” you shout, leaving your flannel behind in the brick’s grip, stumbling into the gunslinger, trying to knock the gun out of his hands, hanging onto his wrist to throw off his aim, among other things.

The brick drops the jacket and grabs you back. “None of that you. Leave Gunner alone.” You squirm until you get skin-to-skin contact. “Don’t know why you even bother, it ain’t like you had power. All that hand waving last time pretending you got big voodoo and you ain’t got shit.”

“Unlike that morsel over there.” The pyro says. “She owes us after killing Mabeline.”

Oh, did their infiltrator die of something bacterial? So sad. Hope it was slow and painful after they killed JackieBox and took the rest of the refugees away.

The outside supers manhandle everyone to Sickness’ area. Thornskin is easy to direct when the pyro threatened his family of normals. There you discover the woman is a Suppressor. For the duration, Sickness has no powers, but Mirror Mirror has taken on your face and Thornskin’s thorns were black and green evil dripping goosebumps. You slip Mirror a sleepy Bouncy and tell her to cover for you before curling down and starting summoning.

The supers pull out black cuffs. You’ve seen them on television when Regional Acquisition Teams collect emergers unable to contain their powers.

With the energy forming into another weasel under your hands, you dare some distractions as they work on getting the old lady out of her blankets. She wasn’t going quietly, bless her. “That is some mighty fancy equipment.”

“Shut up,” yells the brick, taking half-hearted swipe at you. The angle is all wrong and he misses by a mile.

Mirror gets the hint though, and takes up the question, proving once again why her day job before emergence had been an elementary school teacher. “Where did you get those? I thought that was restricted technology.”

The brick turns to the new talker and realizes there is two of you, dressed different, but two. “You … you shut up too.”

“I don’t think so,” you say, feeling the fur become reality as you pet the new animal winding around your arm just like Bouncy is winding around Mirror. “You got a capture, not kill action here. But you ain’t doing nothing like a Regional. Who you working for?”

“Shut up!”

Gunner and the suppressor finally got Sickness out where they can put on the cuffs. You are running out of time.

“I’m betting someone collecting powers. The question is it a government, corporation, or another super?” Mirror strokes her weasel.

“You really want to know?” teases the pyro. “Let me burn off a finger and I’ll tell you.”


The weasel is fully formed. Do you wait for names or keep Sickness free?

“You are the one I burned last time, right? Lit you up like a torch. Yet you look perfectly fine now.” The pyro leans in, his hand lighting up. “The Charmer would love to know how fast you can recover, shifter.”

You got the name. Charmer. Fuck.

That is someone you really can’t fall into the hands of.

You look into the black eyes of the newly created weasel. “I’m sorry,” you whisper before breaking its neck. Gunner and the brick both fall like puppets with their strings cut. The black cuff in Gunner’s hands sinks into Sickness’ pile of blankets.

“What?” “Are they okay?” “Who did that?”

Mirror had been waiting for the opportunity and jumps at the energy super. But a fireball sends her dodging to the side. Bouncy slides off the arm a little singed but continues to move. One less death on you conscious for now. You don’t know how long your weasels live, but the normal creatures they mimic live three to ten years and Bouncy is four and the life she is tied to continues to breathe somewhere far away from you for now.

The suppressor manages to grab Sickness and removes her powers again.

“Who. The Fuck. Knocked out my team?” The pyro goes full flame and rises on the heat waves. Fortunately, the unfinished building is nearly all cement and there is nothing to catch fire.

“That would be me,” you admit, unwilling to let him have any other targets.

“She touched them earlier.” The suppressor points out.

Mirror is learning against a column, her arm hanging at an odd angle, her form switched to the suppressor, the closest being using powers near her. The pain reverting her abilities to the least effort. She raises one red plucked eyebrow.

You shrug then nod. “No cap.”

“How soon will they wake up?” The pyro asks, floating toward you.

“Who says they will wake up?” You smirk.

“You killed them?”

“That would be saying.” You toss aside the dead weasel and stand. “Go away, and you won’t have to find out the hard way.”

“Well, it is nice to know you got something too. Something useful. We collect a bounty for every power we bring in. And potential assassins get bonuses.” He lifts his hand and starts forming a fireball. “Now you have given away too much about your powers for me to worry about it. You have to touch to do it. It takes a long time for it to take effect. And,” He looks to the weasel body, “you have to sacrifice a life for it. Now you pick up the black cuffs and put them on everyone, then yourself.”

You let fear crawl across your face and slope your shoulders inward before shuffling over to where Gunner had fallen. The suppressor gives you a dirty look when you bend down to dig out the cuff. She tightens her hand around Sickness’ throat; bruises will be visible in the morning. “Uh, uh. The shifter first. Don’t try to be clever. No touchy touchy,” she says when you approach with the cuffs in hand. “or I will drain her. Can she handle that? Yes, that is my secondary power,” the suppressor whispered in Sickness’ ear, “I can take you down to a coma. Can you handle that?”

The angle was wrong for the suppressor to see the fire in the old woman’s eyes. Sickness may be tired and the cancer she had before her power emerged is still killing her, but she plans to live every second of life she can until the end and woe be to the beings who try to make her life end early.

You stumble over to the column where Mirror Mirror is leaning. Bouncy is curled in a ball away from you as he always is after you kill one of the life weasels. Helping her, you move her behind the column in an apparent attempt to put on the cuffs without hurting her broken arm, once she is as safe as you can get her, you stand tall and spin to face the pyro who had landed near Thornskin and his family, but banked most of his fire, leaving only a small fireball hovering over his palm.

“You know, making assumptions is bad. Makes an ass out of me and you.” You grin and toss the cuff far away. “And I love being an ass. One last chance. Leave now.”

“What are you going to do, kill the other rodent?” The firemaker laughed. “Think you can do that before I burn you and everyone here to a crisp?”

“Yep, well, nope. I’m sure if I was doing another weasel, you can beat me. But all I really want is for you to…Die.” Taking out groups without collateral damage takes finesse, but killing a single person is simple for you. The fireball and the light in the pyro’s eyes both wink out when you say the last word and he falls on the cement like a pile of rags.

“You have Powerword Kill as your secondary?!?” The suppressor screeches, sending her power rushing at you.

Unlike you, who had only seemed to give away how your power works, the suppressor had showed it title, book, and chapter. Only one high level power could be suppressed at a time. Unfortunately for her, you were a 9 and would take all her concentration, and Sickness was an 8, an aura you had been hiding in the shadow of. An eight who the suppressor still had in a choke hold, giving full skin-to-skin contact, and a powerful super which was no longer suppressed.

A biohazard, not a body, fell into the old lady’s nest.

You collapse, shaking, dropping your heartrate so blood drained from your face. All those years of yoga at the gym were useful for something.

Mirror comes over, her face now yours again, back to the limited choices of the group now that the invaders were all dead. “You okay?” In their eyes was raw fear of you for the first time.

Shaking in your piss smelling pants, you lie in a soft, harsh whisper, “I can’t do the verbal too often. It takes everything I got. Last time, the only time, it took months before I could even make a weasel. I’m just glad Sickness could take care of the last one.”

If Mirror upset them with faces and Sickness kept others at bay just by breathing, how would everyone react to know you could kill with a touch, a word, a single look, whenever, wherever you wanted. Your power was only about death, and there was no reprieve. The only death you could not arrange was your own, and you tried after the horror of your emergence. Drowning, COVID exposure, burning, jumping off a building, guns. Didn’t matter. They hurt, but they weren’t permanent.

You were the bridesmaid, never the bride to Death.

(words 2,564; first published 6/30/2024)

Hold Me Against the Dark series

  1. I want you beside me… (12/31/2023)
  2. Someone who cares if you come home (3/31/2024)
  3. F is for First and Foremost (4/7/2024)


  1. Bridesmaid (6/30/2024)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *