The red and blue clad alien smashed his fist down into the purple monster one final time. The battle was over and he had won. The shining city he called home was safe from the menace once more. At least for now. He hovered above the damaged street, winked at some onlookers, and flew off into the robin-egg sky. And then he kept going. He kept going until the blue pastel turned slowly into black velvet, sprinkled with twinkling white.
He turned at looked down on his city from thousands of frozen miles above. There was no escaping the sound. The city's roar came to him. But it wasn't a roar to him. It was a million pleas.
"Come on Adam, we're going," the alien could hear a woman say.
"No mommy, I want to stay with daddy," he hears a young boy reply. The alien could hear the tears splashing on the floor.
"We're going now, Adam!" she yelled.
"Mary, you can't take him," he could hear the man beg, "you can't leave. I'm sorry. Please don't leave."
"It's over, Peter," the alien heard the boy scream and the door slam. He heard the tears fall still, from all three of them. He didn't need to use his eyes to know that the woman wasn't going back up those stairs tonight.
The alien wiped his own eyes, but his tears didn't fall. They floated for a second in the gravity-less vacuum and then froze. He looked down at his city from space. He saw into a window high above the street, into an office. There was a friendly-looking man with glasses and brown hair typing away at a desk. The alien could hear him humming a song.
"Hey John," said another man who walked up to his desk. "I have some bad news."
The man named John stopped humming and looked up.
"What is it, Bob?" he asked, trying to hide the worry in his voice.
"I don't know how to say this, John, so I'll just come out with it. We're getting rid of you. You do great work here, and everyone loves you, but the company is taking a hit in this economy, just like everyone else. And... well, we have to make cuts. I'm sorry, John, I really am."
"Bob," John said holding back tears, "I can't lose this. Jen can't work because of the cancer. How am I supposed to pay for her treatments? How will I feed my kids?"
"I'm sorry John. It wasn't my choice."
The alien looked away. He blocked the noise out as best he could. He could defeat monsters and villains. He could stop bullets. But he wished more than anything, that he could save people from the real things.
"Come on, hand it over, Jack," he could hear a young boy feign a deep voice. The alien honed his ears to it and looked down at the city. "Hand it over!"
"It's mine, Tyler!" another boy yelled.
"Not any more it isn't. Don't make me hit you," the alien could see a boy cornered under a tree by a larger boy. The small boy was clutching his lunchbox tightly to his chest. The alien flew back to the city as fast he could. Faster than a bird. Faster than a plane. Faster than a speeding bullet.
He landed on the grass behind the larger boy forcefully, causing the earth to shake. The larger boy stumbled and fell to the ground. The alien stood tall over the boy, his bright red cape flowing magnificently in the breeze. Tyler screamed loudly and sprinted out of the park. The alien extended his hand to Jack and helped him to his feet. Jack's lunchbox was blue and had a yellow and red "S" logo on it. Jack smiled up at the alien.
"Thank you," Jack said. He then took half of his sandwich out of the box and handed it to the alien. The alien smiled brightly. They both sat in the shade of the tree, on that warm, beautiful summer's day and ate lunch together.
The sandwich, the alien decided, made it all worth it.