“Don’t you get it? They’re just people!” Ben said.
“People? What is people?” the Being’s tone was as flat as its large black eyes that stared down at the young man struggling to keep his cool.
“I am people. They are people. WE ARE PEOPLE!”
The tall being nodded at the television screen. “But these are your heroes? Iron Man, the Hulk?”
“Yes, but they’re not real!”
“What do you mean they’re not real?” An image appears on the television showing Iron Man, and the Hulk flying through the air. “That is real.”
“That is a movie!” Ben yelled. “Wait, that’s why you’re here? Because of some characters in a movie? They’re not real. None of it’s real!”
“I can see it. Their powers are significant. Not as significant as mine, but significant enough. Enough for the Ruler to send me to extinguish them.”
“You’re going to kill them? But they’re just people. Regular men and women in dress up.”
“I don’t know what you’re speaking of with dress up, but it seems almost too easy.”
“Look, look. Wait a second,” Ben scrambles for the remote control and begins flipping through channels trying to pull up different movies, TV shows. Every time he pulls one up there’s a fee. “$14.99? Fuck that.” He runs to the closet and pulls out boxes and a DVD player. He throws them on the ground, hooks it to the TV, then sticks a movie in- fast forwards. “See? That’s Robert Downey, Jr. Right there. See? Not Iron Man.” The being focuses on the television screen leaning in closer.
“You see?” Ben asks, “He’s just a person playing a part. He played the part of a comedian here. See? And Iron Man…that’s just a part he plays. It’s not real, it’s make believe.”
The being leans back his eyes looking up as he ponders the new information. His eyes close for several moments.
“You mean, there is an Iron Man, and there is a, what you say? A comedian?”
“Yes, yes. He’s playing a part.”
“But he is Iron Man?”
“Yes,” Ben says hesitantly.
“And there is a comedian?”
“Well, I’m here for the Iron Man.”
“It’s the same person! He’s just an actor playing a part!
“There are three? Iron Man, comedian, actor.”
“No! There is one man- a person, playing the role of Iron Man, comedian, actor. None of it is real. It’s fake, make believe.”
“For fun, to pass the time, to laugh, cry. Telling stories, don’t beings tell stories where you’re from?”
“Yes, but it’s based on stuff we’ve actually done.” The being steps forward. “Interesting, but my mission remains.”
“But you can’t go around killing people,” Ben said. The being said nothing. “I mean not for something that’s not real. Why kill people that are no threat to you?”
“It’s my mission,” he said. A screen appears out of thin air and four faces float on its surface. Only one of the faces is darkened- Iron Man.
“Whoa,” a loud voice breaks the silence followed by a door slamming closed. “What the hell?”
“Jeremy, get out of here.” Ben said, but the being ignored the new arrival.
“What the hell is that,” Jeremy said looking at the being before turning back to Ben, “and that?” pointing to the hologram screen still floating in the air showing the four faces.
“Why is Iron Man’s face dark?”
“Because he’s dead,” the Being answered.
“What?! Ben screamed, “You killed Iron Man?”
“That’s what I said.”
“Why? How? When?”
“I have a mission. It wasn’t hard, actually. This morning.”
“But you can’t do that!”
“He says he did,” Jeremy laughed.
“I did. If these are your protectors, it’s a wonder that your planet hasn’t been annihilated prior to this.”
“Something tells me he’s not from here.”
“Shut up Jeremy.”
“I’m from Pato. A couple of light years away. We received signals from your solar system, and I was sent to take care of the so called heroes by our Ruler.”
“Just you?” The being shrugged. “Respect,” Jeremy said.
“You can’t just come and start killing people. These are people that haven’t hurt anyone. They are no threat to you!”
“You’re right.” the being said making an adjustment to his screen causing it to flicker. Images and symbols scroll through.
“Yes.” The screen stops flickering. Several symbols are on the screen but the language doesn’t make any sense to Ben. The being is quiet as he reads through until suddenly he stops and the screen disappears.
“The mission has changed.” The Being goes to the kitchen and opens the refrigerator door. He starts pulling things out and placing them on the counter.
“You hungry? I mean we don’t have much, but I can pull something together,” Jeremy’s voice faded as the Being helped himself.
“How has the mission changed?” Ben asked.
“Are there any people more powerful than Iron Man, the Hulk?” The Being says through swallows of food he shoves in his mouth.
“The Hulk? Naw, man ain’t nobody stronger than the Hulk.”
“Remember, it’s not real, the Hulk’s not real. Shut up Jeremy, you’re only going to confuse him.”
“I don’t get confused. You just haven’t been giving me the proper information. Jeremy? Is there any real person who is strong like the Hulk?”
“Naw, man. I mean we got some boxers, athletes who are strong, but no one can leap over skyscrapers and drop from a plane and land on his feet. Naw, we ain’t got that.”
“Hmph,” the being says before sticking a chicken leg in his mouth whole. There are several loud crunches as he bites through meat and bone.
“Damn, you real hungry, huh?”
“How has the mission changed?” Ben asked.
“There is no mission now.”
“But your ruler, he want’s our heroes dead.”
“Negative. You have no heroes. Hence you have no planet. This is my planet now.”
“What? You can’t just take a planet.”
“Whose gonna stop him?” Jeremy laughed.
“You can’t just roll up on some place and stake your claim and say this is my planet now.”
“You can’t?” Jeremy scoffs.
“No, you can’t.”
“Negro in what world do you live in?” Jeremy said grabbing a piece of chicken. He hesitates when the being looks toward his hand. “May I?” The being shrugs. “White folks been taking land and setting up whole civilizations on the bones of the people they killed.” The crunching of bones stops suddenly.
“Who are these white folks,” the Being said intently.
“White people, like the guy that plays Iron Man. Oh, he don’t get it? You see, we,” Jeremy said rubbing the skin on the back of one hand with his other hand, “are black folks, POC, brown what ever, but not white. White folks are in charge of this world.” The Being stands, frowning.
“I thought you said there were no heroes.”
“Oh, white folks ain’t no bodies heroes. They just decide they want a spot and then they take it. They will kill by any means necessary anyone who gets in their way.” The being stops eating again as the screen returns and starts flickering again.
“Jeremy, shut up.”
“What, Bro? I’m just trying tell him about white folks.”
“But you see that screen, it’s giving him the run down of history, running numbers, everything he needs to know for strategy.” The screens stops flickering. The being turns back to Jeremy and his brother. He now has a look of respect on his face as he stares at the two young men as if for the first time.
“These white people- where are they?”