Diary of a teenage superhero. 07-10-2002 Ive been training for over half a year now, and Im starting to think that Im never gonna be ready for this gig. Its funny, when I started, I was so .so sure of what I had to do. Im not making much sense here, am I? Ill start with the basics, my names Marty, Im a student, I have a part-time job, and in my spare time Im training to be a superhero. Not like Spider-Man or Batman standard superhero mind (heh, I can just see ol Spidey trying to web out to West Belfast, thatd be some sight, given that the highest building is about three storeys) , just .trying to do my bit to make the world, or at least my part of it, a bit safer. I suppose the best way for me to explain my reasons would be to start at the beginning I actually cant remember the exact date, which is surprising, given that this is when the whole thing started. All I know for sure is that it was around mid January, and the only reason I know that is because I had university exams coming up. All told, it was a real ****ty night, dark, pissing rain and freezing gusts of wind. Id been at a mates house up in Stranmillis Road, in the University area of town and was on my way home. Like I said, it was a dismal night weather wise and didnt have enough taxi money, so I was walking the four and a half miles to my house. My shoulders were haunched, hands deep in pockets, and my monkey hat over my ears, trying desperately to retain some semblance of warmth within my layers of clothing when I heard a woman scream. I stopped walking, frozen in midstep. I imagine it looked quite comical, like a cute animal caught in the headlights of a mach truck. The woman screamed again. I remember thinking something along the lines of so this is what a real scream sounds like. Not that Ive never heard a scream before, but you know how in movies theyre always so melodramatic. I was halfway between Malone Road and Lisburn Road, two busy main roads, but there are a number of side streets in between. Now, this is where it gets a bit hazy, cause this is usually the part of the book (or movie) where the hero comes across a woman in distress, single-handedly beats seven shades of ****e out of her attacker(s) without breaking a sweat and then has her fall in love with him. By the end of the book (or movie) theyre shagging like rabbits. But this wasnt a book (or movie). It was real, and it was happening right now. After a third scream, I came to my senses and ran towards the general vicinity of the screamer. I got to the end of the street and peeked round the corner to see what appeared to be a woman being held down by one guy while another was unbuckling his belt. I almost crapped my pants right there. This was real, it was happening right in front of me. Two guys were about to rape a woman and I was terrified because I didnt know what to do. Options raced through my head like lightening. Help her, Run away, Call the police .i had no clue what to. I Just re-read that there, and I have to confess that yes, for a brief second I considered the option of simply turning around and walking away as if Id seen nothing. I got that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. You know the one that everyone goes on about but can never properly describe? The sick feeling. Like a mishmash of fear, depression, terror, shock and adrenaline. I thought Id felt like that once before, when my mum caught me reading a porn magazine back when I was about 15, but this feeling was a hundred times more intense. I almost did it. Almost decided to play it safe and back away. Out of sight, out of mind so to speak. The guy who was holding the girl down had his back to me, while the other was slightly turned away. The guy unbuckling his belt now had his jeans halfway pulled down. The woman had been trying to back away, and I could see her face in the cast of the overhead streetlight. I heard her mumble No, no, no over and over, like she was trying, not only to convince her would-be rapists to leave her alone, but also as if she was denying the very fact of the event itself. There were tears streaming down her face, and I saw properly that she couldnt have been more then 20 or so. This was someones daughter, someones sister, someones girlfriend. I thought of my own girlfriend, and something in me just snapped. Cliché I know, but any fear I had simply vanished. Not drained away, not faded. Vanished. Poof! As if it had never existed. I dont know why, but I pulled my hat down so that it was almost covering my eyes and kept my head low, so that my face was in shadow. I darted forward pretty much before I knew what I was doing and kicked semi-naked guy from behind, right between the legs. Before he could crumple to the ground, I pivoted and kicked the other guy in the face, snapping his head back. He fell onto his back and I kicked him in the side. I was about to kick him again, when I realised he was out cold. The first guy was bent double, holding his groin, so he didnt see me swing back to give him the mother of all uppercuts. He slumped to the ground, still holding his crotch. The whole thing must have taken about 3 or 4 seconds. I breathed heavily, my breath ragged and shaky, relief setting in. To tell you the truth, up until that night, Id never been in a real fight before. The woman was still lying on the ground, eyes closed and sniffling softly. I held out my hand and squeaked George McFly style - Are you ok? Yeah. Real smooth. The girl opened her eyes and looked at the two limp forms on the ground then up at me, taking it all in. I coughed to clear my throat, then lowered my voice slightly. Miss, are you alright? She nodded, and took my hand. She pulled herself up, but avoided looking at me directly. When she got to her feet, she turned and ran away. She was gone round the corner so fast, a bystander would have sworn it was me who tried to rape her. I stepped back, slightly put out, but elation was beginning to creep in. Like I said, Ive never been in a real fight before, save sparring matches at my local ju-jitsu club, so this (although I had surprise and blind luck on my side) was one hell of a first victory. I turned round and looked down at the two guys, savouring my feat. It was almost a minute before I realised that I recognised the one who was half naked. His name was Gerard, and he was my best friend. I turned and ran. I sprinted full out for a good five minutes, not really caring where I was going, just running. Shortness of breath eventually got the better of me and I stopped at a bench just outside a chemists. I sunk to the ground and lowered my head between my knees, clasping my hands behind me head. This wasnt happening. Gerard was my friend! I thought of last week, wed been downtown clubbing and a girl standing beside us had been rejecting some other fella all night. Eventually he got quite nasty about it and Gerard stepped in and said I think youre finished with her. The fella tried to square up to Gerard, but Gerard just calmly looked at him, and the guy backed off. Gerard grinned at me and turned to the girl. I think youll be alright now. Ok? She smiled in relief at him, that was that. I thought of that night, then of what I had just seen. That wasnt Gerard back there. It couldnt be, he wasnt like that. Hell, hes the ladies man out of out little group of friends! It didnt make sense for him to rape someone. But a voice inside me said, It was Gerard, and you know it. I shook my head, it wasnt, it couldnt be! But it was, and I did know it. Id seen it with my own eyes. After an age of sitting there on the ground, I stumbled to my feet and went to a pay phone and dialled 999. When the operator came on, I remember exactly what I said, not so much of the words, but because of how hollow defeated they sounded. Police. Theres been an attempted rape. Corner of Park Street and Sandy Avenue. Then I hung up and ran home. The days after that were a blur. The girl came forward and told the police what had happened. It actually made the papers, you might remember reading about it. Something about rape cases in university area escalating. The police had picked up Gerard and his friend but had let them go that night. But when the girl came forward, they were rearrested and the girl picked them out of line-ups. All I could think about was how I could have been so wrong. I thought Id known Gerard. Wed been friends since primary school and knew virtually all there was to know about each other. It was that that got me to thinking some more. How can any of us truly know everything about someone else? In fact, how can any of us truly know everything about ourselves? For the next few weeks, I became very introspective, pondering things like this, brooding and withdrawn. Any time someone asked what was wrong, I just grinned and said I had a tough university course. Even that made me think. The fact that it was so easy for someone else to believe whatever lie you spin them, as long as it sounds plausible. Im sorry, Im rambling here, trying to describe what my thoughts were back then, because maybe youll understand what I did next. Suffice to say, I felt betrayed. But also, I blamed myself, for not knowing that Gerard was like that. Had I been a better judge of character, I might have been able to prevent Gerard from doing what he was going to do. After a while of this introspection, brooding and general depression, I came to a decision something had to be done.