The hum of the engine as the van sped down the highway was the only noise that broke the uncomfortable silence, though it wasn’t doing a very good job of making it less uncomfortable. In the back laid an unconscious Zimmerman, dried blood crusting on his neatly trimmed goatee. Though James had insisted that a good blow to the head would keep him out until they got him on the plane, Edmund disregarded his friend’s advice and administered a needle of tranquilizers. However, this disagreement was not the cause of the awkward silence in the van. Another unspoken one was.
“Would you care for some music?”
The Gladiator jumped at the harsh shattering of silence. The Captain glanced over at him, pointing to the quiet radio. James rubbed his eyes to remove the daze that had settled in them and snorted, “I don’t care. Do what you want.” Captain Incredible reached over and flicked on the radio. Static erupted through the speakers. The Captain fiddled with the dial for a few seconds and after finding only more channels with static, flicked it off again, returning the van into its uncomfortable silence once again. Trees, cars, and signs flew by the window in a blur. The Gladiator sighed heavily, furrowed his brow and turned to his friend in the driver seat.
“That could have happened to the best of them. It’s not your fault.”
The Captain shook his head slowly, closing his eyes briefly to emphasize his disappointment in himself. “Face it, James. We’re over the hill.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean we…I can’t keep doing this anymore,” he replied, hesitating and stumbling over his words. “I almost fell into a trap that ten years ago…I’ve got kids, James. And Sara! How am I going to help…I just…”
“Ya? What about me, Ed? What am I gonna do without this? I’ve got no dame back at home to return to, no brats to pamper, not even a friggen dog. I have you, Ed. You’n this. That’s it.” James was glaring at the Captain, which was made that much more intimidating through the golden helmet for his costume. Ed glanced over at the fuming man beside him, which only increased his guilt. All he could muster to say was, “I can’t. Not anymore.”
Neither one said anything for a few moments. The silence was spoiled a soft moan from the back of the van, followed by a cough. James whipped his head around at the noise, in case his particular set of skills was needed to return their captive to his previous state. When the need did not arise, the Gladiator turned back around and stared out the window, watching the blurs of colour flash past.
“The age of the super hero has ended, James,” comforted Ed. James continued to stare out the window at the mesmerizing colours and lines. “Every kid I’ve known who has discovered they had powers has enlisted in the army, or police force, or become a doctor or fireman. They want to help people, but the bright spandex just isn’t that popular anymore.”
“Seriously?” retorted James. “It’s the 90’s. Bright is all you can buy.”
“We just don’t stick out anymore.”
James snickered at Ed’s joke. It was true. To dawn a costume and fight crime was passé. Heck, when they started in 1975, crime fighting was on its way out. Though they managed to recruit a few other heros in the 80’s, all of them were gone now, too. Costumed villains were replaced with organized crime rings and corrupt leaders that were difficult to secretly defeat. To fight this crime, it was better to not stand out, but rather to fight it from the inside. Everything was becoming more secretive. It was bound to effect heroes eventually.
“So this is it, huh.” James said finally.
“I believe so.”
James paused. “At least we got to send someone to Serbia. I’ve been waiting a long time to use these connections.”
Ed smiled and blinked forcefully to remove the tiredness that had built up from the long drive. It was time to go home. For good.