1 Work, Comics, Chaos #1

Dragging myself back from another long day at the office, I tossed my worn-out shoes aside and flopped onto the couch. Grabbing the nearest DC comic, I dove into the colorful pages, the routine comfort of escaping into a world where superheroes battled villains.

Work, home, comic book—rinse and repeat. It was my version of Groundhog Day. Even weekdays felt like an endless loop of exhaustion and little else.

I hustled day in and day out, all to pay off those pesky student debts that seemed to have taken out a mortgage on my life. But hey, soon I'll be debt-free, right? That's gotta count for something.

Turns out, that single-minded focus on work wasn't as cool as I thought. It's like I put on blinders and zoomed past the friendships station without even realizing it. Lost touch with old pals, didn't make any new ones at work. Oops.

Family-wise? Zilch. The foster care system was my Hogwarts, except there were no spells or broomsticks, just a bunch of kids trying to figure it all out. No family ties, just me, myself, and my stubborn independence and will to make something of myself simply to prove that I can.

Who am I trying to prove it to, you might ask? Family? I have none. Friends? I don't have any left who would care. To strangers? To myself? Heck, I really don't know anymore.

And now, cue the classic mid-life crisis at 20-something. It's like I woke up one day and realized, "Oops, I might've pushed everyone away." But who has the time or skill to just stroll into a new friend group like they're joining a book club?

Debt-free dreams are within arm's reach. But on nights like this, when the comic's storylines start to blur with my thoughts, I wonder, will it be worth it? Will financial freedom fill the friendship-shaped hole I dug myself into?

Guess I'll find out soon enough. For now, it's me, my comics, and the faint hope that maybe, just maybe, I can figure out this whole 'life' thing without crashing and burning.

That's what I told myself as I dozed off, so tired that even the comic book slipping through my fingers and smacking me in the face couldn't startle me awake.


Feeling a breeze wash over my face, I slowly opened my eyes to find the blue sky stretched before me, pages of my comic book flying in the air, obscuring my vision. Confusion swirled within me as I realized I wasn't lying on my comfy couch, but on something hard and jagged.

Beside me, screams filled the air, piercing through the chaos. I turned to witness a massive crater surrounded by upturned flaming cars and frantic men and women running for their lives, panic etched on their faces.

It was like something out of a blockbuster disaster movie. I couldn't help but let out a silly chuckle at the absurdity of it all.

"These dreams of mine are getting out of control... maybe I should stop reading comics before going to sleep..." I muttered, trying to remain calm despite the chaos unfolding around me.

I scratched my head, trying to make sense of the bizarre situation, and soon enough, I realized how stupid it is to try to make sense out of a dream, so I just gave up.

With a yawn, I reached out and plucked one of the comic book pages from the air, thinking that maybe if I read myself to sleep within this dream, I'd wake up back on my couch. I needed a good night's sleep, especially with an early morning ahead.

I alternated through the pages, the vibrant colors and heroic battles feeling oddly comforting in the midst of this surreal scene.

Continuing to leaf through the comic book pages, swapping one for another like a pro, I found myself engrossed in the whole escape-from-reality routine. But then, out of nowhere, a light bulb flickered in my head.

"Wait, isn't there something about words looking funky in dreams?" I muttered, eyeing the comic page that, weirdly enough, had perfectly readable English. Brain, stop messing with me!

Distracted by my own thoughts, I pulled off a move straight from the slapstick handbook—I pinched my cheek, which hurt like hell!

"Fuuuuck..." I muttered under my breath, a realization suddenly dawning on me. Suddenly, the chaos around me cranked up to eleven, finally registering into my brain with alarming clarity.

Peeking over the comic book page, I was met with a scene straight out of a blockbuster disaster movie. High-rise buildings, some eerily familiar, stretched into the sky, each seemingly on the brink of collapse.

Windows shattered, walls with person-sized holes, and some structures on the verge of collapse. Amidst this ruinous sight, a battle waged on.

Each one of these whacky characters seemed dead-set on tearing the city apart, the only thing getting in their way being the dude in the red and blue tights, who was starting to look more familiar the more I looked at him.

"That's Superman, isn't it?" I muttered, eyeing the figure soaring through the chaos in his trademark tights. No sooner had I spoken than the guy in red and blue blasted a laser from his eyes, slicing a peculiar robot clean in two. Its halves thudded to the ground, confirming this was anything but normal.

Not heeding the lessons of my pinching experiment, I impulsively went for my cheek again, giving it a firm pinch, regretting the move instantly once again.

'Okay, definitely not a dream. But come on, there has to be a reasonable explanation for this insanity....'

Hallucinations? Nope, not my thing. I've never dabbled in drugs, and my life isn't a highlight reel of exhaustion-induced visions. So, if this isn't some bizarre dream or a hallucination, then what the deuce is it?

I was desperate for any plausible explanation other than this reality being, well, reality. I mean, there I was, witnessing Superman, the legendary Man of Steel, duking it out with a horde of mish-mashed villains that wouldn't even make sense in a comic book setting—above my head, no less.

And me? There I was, still wishing fervently that this was just some surreal dream and not an insane reenactment of a superhero movie gone totally haywire.

Before I could even begin to piece together a coherent thought, one of those erratic dots in the sky—those zany characters on a rampage—suddenly expanded, hurtling straight in my direction.

Panic surged through me, snapping me out of my stupor. I scrambled to my feet, but it was too late. The creature, an alien, maybe even demonic entity, with scaly skin and a face that even a mother wouldn't find handsome, landed right in front of me.

I gawked awkwardly at the creature, feeling the weight of impending doom. As it grinned at me, I had a crystal-clear realization—I was deeply and royally fucked. FUCKED, I TELL YOU!

The thing charged at me, and in that moment of sheer terror, all I could do was shut my eyes and brace for the inevitable collision. What else is there to do when you're about to faceplant into something straight out of a nightmare?

But instead of pain, there was nothing, and I'm not talking about the bad kind of nothing where you just pass away into nothingness, more like nothing changed. Bewildered, I cautiously peeked through half-opened eyes to find a towering figure with a broad back and a familiar red cape.

Superman to the rescue! The creature, seemingly unimpressed by the Man of Steel, growled. "You are mighty... but you are one man..." it said, and let's be real here, it definitely wasn't talking to me—I wasn't even wearing shoes, for crying out loud!

"You cannot protect everyone, and if you do try it... it will be your death..." The creature's mocking words echoed through the chaos.

In response, Superman smiled. At least, that's the impression I got from the way he spoke, even though I couldn't see his expression.

"A great many interesting and powerful people have stood exactly where you are right now..." Superman's voice resonated with unwavering confidence as he began effortlessly pushing back the creature, his raw strength on full display.

"And they made the same mistake of taking my empathy for weakness..."

The Man of Steel stated as he tossed the creature into the sky, causing its massive frame to disappear before I could even blink.

Witnessing this showdown up close, I was speechless. It was like watching a classic Superman comic come to life. Heck, I'm starting to think that's exactly the case.

But when Superman turned his gaze toward me, I immediately shut my gaping mouth and tried to compose myself. Attempt failed, especially judging by the amused glint in Superman's eyes.

Smooth, man, real smooth.

"Best not to linger here. Find somewhere safe to hide while I handle these invaders...." Superman's calm words snapped me out of my awe-struck stupor.

Without another word, he raised his hands and soared back into the fray, leaving me to deal with the fact that I had just had a face-to-face chat with Superman and that I probably looked like a stunned deer caught in headlights while doing it.

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