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Original artwork by Anthony J Powers

The Adventures of Doom Boy and Hellfire Girl

Nick Gregorio

Doom Boy, after stopping his third mugging of the evening with his elbows, fists, knees, feet, and forehead—which, even he felt was a touch excessive—stopped off at the pizza joint on the corner of 20th and Fairmount. He asked that the two slices be added to his tab; felt the need to apologize once again that he couldn’t keep a wallet on him as his hero suit was tight and afforded no pocket space beyond pouches and clips for things like high-tension wire, grappling hooks, Neosporin, Band-Aids, a bottle of Motrin, a slapjack, and a pair of brass knuckles in case things really got dicey.

He would send a representative over in the morning to settle up. He made a big show of setting a reminder on his phone to pop over in plainclothes the next day—otherwise, so said Manny the manager, there would be no further slices of goodwill pizza. In doing so, it was confirmed that the notification vibration he’d felt when he first walked into the place had been nothing more than a flash flood alert rather than a text from Hellfire Girl.

That was okay. He would make his way back to the Doom Mobile a few blocks down and wait for her. The pizza might cool off a bit in the interim, but the gesture wouldn’t go unappreciated. That was certain.

Doom Boy held the door for a couple whose arms were wrapped around one another so tightly that he was uncertain how they were able to remain standing, much less walk. Not that it mattered. One day, he would maybe have the opportunity to discover how they accomplished such a feat with Hellfire Girl.
He stepped into the rain, hopeful.  

Hellfire Girl, chasing a lead that took her to the side of the city opposite Doom Boy and into the immediate suburbs, flung herself from the Hell Cycle and clobbered a pair of armed guards to the pavement. She’d text him her location and her ETA once she’d made sure this situation was good and taken care of. She struggled, however, to recall in which of the Bryns this particular brand of scum had decided to set up shop. Bryn Mawr. Bryn Athyn. One of them. The one closest to her apartment. The flurry of action clouded her mind. She’d allow the adrenaline to siphon itself off before texting.

She went about her business in typical fashion: breaking jaws first, kneeing balls second, kicking legs crooked third. And while she took down the third guy, the fourth guy, the fifth guy, her phone pinged away in her utility belt. Doom Boy’s usual string of texts, no doubt. A statement regarding the location he’d parked the Doom Mobile. A comment about being flexible. A self-deprecating joke centered around the flawed logic behind Hellfire Girl’s decision to spend time with him in the first place accompanied by a laughing-face emoji sent as sort of a balm just in case his texts were beginning to bug her. They weren’t. They never did. Still, she had a lot to do.

Hellfire Girl restrained all of the now-injured street-toughs by tying them to support beams, pipes, and all manner of foundationally imperative whathaveyou that would prevent 99.9% of all potential modes of escape. She grapple-hooked her way to the roof to avoid having to talk to the police over the whole vigilantism thing, but watched as they cleared the scene. Just to be sure. She didn’t do all of that work just to have her efforts stymied by a bunch of cops on the take. She’d follow up with the station in the morning, posing as a concerned nearby neighbor who’d been hearing all sorts of suspicious sounds coming from that warehouse for weeks.

The rain was now coming down in earnest. She’d be soaked by the time she’d reach Doom Boy and her cooling slice of pizza. Still, just before repelling down the side of the building, she texted him her location, Bryn Athyn, then about how long it would take to get to him. Hopping onto her Hell Cycle, she sped off toward Doom Boy. 

It had been wishful thinking, the two of them getting together like this.

Doom Boy was all too aware of the number of times they’d tried to set something up. And all of the times where they’d nearly managed to pull it off, but then needed to change plans last minute. But that was okay. There would be other opportunities. Hopefully. And he couldn’t be too disappointed anyway, she was already nearly home. He couldn’t expect her to come back all this way after taking down a whole drug ring, or mob hideout, or whatever the sort of psychopath convention it wound up being. The hero business was a lot. They saw mostly bad things nightly, and that has taken a toll. They didn’t lead normal lives and they never would. The nice thing about someday, though, is that there’s always a chance that it’ll be the next day. Or the day after that.

Not wanting her slice to go to waste, Doom Boy ate the now-congealed pizza while listening to the Doom Mobile’s police scanner. Just in case something popped off before he began making his way home for the night.

A follow-up to Hellfire Girl’s last text never came. It was a relatively quiet night crime-wise. And there was only so much static and police code one person could listen to in a single evening. So Doom Boy fired up the Doom Mobile and began heading toward home.

He’d text Hellfire Girl in the morning. Or maybe sometime in the afternoon. Or maybe he’d wait to hear from her first.

He decided not to use the Doom Mobile’s turbo engine. Just in case.

Hellfire Girl was soaked all the way through when she arrived where Doom Boy said he’d be.

But the Doom Mobile was nowhere to be found. And it wasn’t as if a vehicle called the Doom Mobile was subtle or all that easy to hide.

She began typing a new text asking Doom Boy where he’d gone, but discovered she was now adding to the tail end of her sentence regarding her ETA that had sat unsent in her text box.

She cursed, deleted what she’d written, started again.

But Doom Boy was a responsible driver,. especially driving around an armored hotrod with a jet engine strapped to the back. He wouldn’t see her text until he arrived wherever he was going.

She called instead.

Doom Boy tapped the green phone icon on his steering wheel when he saw Hellfire Girl’s real name pop up on his dashboard display.

“Hey,” he said, a smile in his voice.

“Hey,” she said. “I’m here.”

“Where? Home?”

“No, the parking lot near the pizza place.”

Doom Boy screeched the Doom Mobile to a stop and threw it into park.

“I’m almost home,” Doom Boy said over the phone.

Hellfire Girl didn’t say anything for a moment, began walking back to the Hell Cycle. “I forgot to hit send.”


“The text that told you I was on my way to you. I didn’t hit send.”

“That happens to me all the time.”


“I ate your slice of pizza if it makes you feel any better.”

It did. A little.

She almost asked how long it would take for him to come back.

She stopped herself.

The second time that question bubbled its way back up from deep within her chest, though, she said, “Do you think maybe you’d—”

“I could come ba—”

“What was that?”

“Sorry, you go ahead.”

“No, no, you first.”

They both laughed a little.

Then there was a pause.

Then Doom Boy said, “I’ll see you tomorrow night, right?”

Hellfire Girl nodded to no one, said, “Yep. You know where I’ll be.”

“I’ll stop by.”

“Get home safe.”

“You, too.”

Hellfire Girl snapped her phone back into her utility belt.

She started up the Hell Cycle and zipped her way through the streets, back the way she came.

Tomorrow night, she’d reach out first. Pummel a couple of muggers near Doom Boy’s patrol. Maybe even run into him for a team-up. Their banter during team-ups was always a dance between near-innuendo and vigilante-esque scratchy-voiced professionalism. The baddies were almost always thrown off their game—or at least were annoyed as Hell by it—which gave Doom Boy and Hellfire Girl the upper hand.

Yes. That was what she would do. Let this thing happen naturally by just letting it happen. It would happen. Someday.

Doom Boy had never been able to go right to sleep after patrol. It never mattered how tired he was, it never mattered how late it was, it never mattered how soon he’d need to wake up and make his way to his day job—and the pizza place to settle his tab. Still, his typical veg-out-on-the-couch-whilst-staring-at-infomercials-on-the-television session was, by all intents and purposes, not that at all. He couldn’t keep himself from picking up his phone and nearly texting Hellfire Girl. Couldn’t stop thumbing messages into the text box that read, “Next time I’m turning around,” and,

“Next time I’ll wait for you,” and, “Heard about the warehouse on the police scanner on the way home…amazing!” Couldn’t not delete them all.

He made his way to bed while devising a plan. Tomorrow night he’d go through his normal routine the same way he’d done it for years. He and Hellfire Girl would run into one another—seemingly by chance, but not really. They’d talk for a bit. He’d tell her he’d see her in a little while, go take care of some stuff, put himself in a place where she’d typically be at the time he’d seen her arrive there a dozen times before. Perfect. That’s exactly what he would do. And if any of the plan couldn’t work out tomorrow night, it would work out the night after that. Or the night after that. And just like every night, it would be Doom Boy and Hellfire Girl. Together one way or another.

Doom Boy fell asleep, hopeful.

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