Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Microstory 1698: Benedict’s Purpose

Benedict Stewart was an odd duck, and though no one would argue he was the best person in the world, he wasn’t evil. He was a high school science teacher, who was forced to leave for engaging in an inappropriate sexual relationship. She was not one of his students, but she was pretty young, and his behavior reflected poorly on the school. She was a college student, who was there as a pre-service teacher, so she could gather enough supervised experience to become a certified instructor once her own schooling was complete. As her supervisor, he was considered to be in a position of power, even though he assured the district that he did not take it into account when evaluating her performance. The student teacher stuck up for him, and declared it to be a fully consensual relationship, which probably prevented the situation from becoming a news story, and also kept him from being fired. He would have been free to apply for work elsewhere, and while no job was guaranteed, he likely would have eventually found some place fitting. Instead, he chose to work at the soda bottling plant on the edge of town. It wasn’t as rewarding, and it was below his education and experience, but it was a decent living. His girlfriend, meanwhile, stayed with him for years, eventually becoming his wife. A week after the wedding, she was the victim of a drunk driver, and ended up in a coma. Benedict was distraught, and could no longer function. He became careless in his duties, and his boss had to let him go. The money wasn’t that much of a problem, as the drunk driver was the son of a wealthy businessman, who agreed to a hefty settlement in exchange for keeping this quiet. But Benedict was still alone, and he was still sad.

His boss was a good guy, who understood how traumatic this whole experience was. He hired him in the first place, fully aware of his past transgressions. He couldn’t let him keep his job for the time being, but he intended to kind of leave it open until Benedict got the help he needed. He recommended a support group, so he could work through his grief, and find some way to move on. Benedict got a lot of help from them, but he didn’t realize until later that this support group had a bizarre secret. It turned out to be the source of recruitment for a budding superhero organization, and they wanted him on the team. Him? Really? Why? Well, he wasn’t just any ol’ chemistry teacher. He was known for creating little gadgets to illustrate scientific concepts for the kids. He helped bridge the gap between all the sciences, including physics and biology, and even other subjects, to facilitate a more well-rounded education. So the leaders of the superhero group suggested he come up with some non-lethal weapons, and use them to protect the city. It would give him purpose, and help relieve the depression, and some of the suicidal thoughts he was suffering. So that was what he did. He wore a magnetic suit that could steal guns from an aggressor, a taser, striking gloves, a sonic eardrum burster, chemical explosives, a heat ray, blinding laser lights, and a slingshot. The idea was for each weapon to demonstrate one of the ten types of energy, excluding nuclear and gravitational, because he didn’t actually have any powers, and he didn’t have genius-level intellect. As time went on, and Benedict pursued missions for his team, he shed some of the excess from his persona, and focused on the more important features. He also learned that maybe the people who recruited him had been lying about being heroes all along. And now Benedict...would have to choose a side.

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