From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
I hear this, or its innumerable variations, many, many times a day. And every time, without fail, without hesitation, I answer that call. Most of the time I succeed, but not today.
Not this time.
He's maybe nine or ten, the life ahead of him placed in jeopardy by a single thought a half an hour ago: How high can I climb that crane?
And now, here he is, hanging by his fingertips, on the other side of King's Row, screaming so loud that I could probably hear him even without hypersenses.
And so I go, flying as fast as the atmosphere will permit. Flying as fast as I can and still dodge the buildings. And no matter how fast as I fly, no matter hard as I push myself, I know that this time, it won't be enough. Despite my gifts, despite my advantages, I know this immutable fact for certain: he's going to fall, and there's nothing I can do to stop that.
Fair enough, I think to myself. I adjust my path to intercept him in mid-fall, already visualizing how I'm going to grab his wrist, plucking him from doom as gently as time, physics, and gravity will allow. I'm seconds away now, though, so for a brief moment I harbor the hope that maybe that won't even be necessary. Maybe I will be there on time.
As if on cue, he falls. In that one eye blink, I reach out, grabbing at his hand as he somersaults through the air. My fingers dart towards his as I pass; I know I'll only get one shot at this.
And I miss.
And he falls.
For an eternal moment, he plummets, eyes wide, voice screaming, heart beating its final tempo. It's a split second that I know I will never be able to get past, one that will haunt me forever. Even as I turn for another attempt, I know with terrible certainty that he'll have hit the ground before I can save him.
Still, I try anyway.
Never, ever, give up. After all, that's what makes heroes, right?
However, by the time I arc back to save him, he's not where I thought he would be. He's not a red stain on the pavement, a mute testimony to my failure.
Instead, he's floating in the air, safely ensconced in a light green bubble of energy. I don't recognize the woman on the ground, but her brightly colored costume makes it clear why she's here. Her arms are outstretched in effort, and the boy in the green bubble lands gently on the ground, scared, crying, but most importantly, alive. Satisfied he's safe, she smiles, then, seeing me hovering above, weakly gives me a thumbs up.
I awkwardly wave back, and that's when I rediscover the miracle of this place once again, as I do dozens of times each day.
I'm not here alone.
I'm not fighting the Good Fight all by myself.
There are other Heroes here, others striving to make changes, others putting their lives on the line to make a difference.
And I marvel, once again, how fortunate I am to live in a City full of them.
And I wonder, once again, why anyone would choose to live anywhere else.