By Adrian Tullberg
The observer picked up the remote, and aimed it at the TV.
The screen showed a man with greying black hair in front of a desk, in the manner of news anchors everywhere.
"Hello, and welcome to the Daily Show! Today's top story - the passing of the Super Hero Registration Act. As of midnight tonight, all superheroes will be required to sign on the dotted line." His grin rose a notch. "That's right, bitches! No longer will you fly around and lift cars without a license! You have to have an offical accreditation that makes it legal for you to wear tights in public!"
The image of a rotund man in a spandex suit materialised over the man's right shoulder. It appeared somebody had used Photoshop to put the face of Vice President Dick Cheney on the body.
It was evident that the newsreader wasn't paid enough for situations like this, as he raised his hands to his face and screamed like a little girl.
"GAHHH! My eyes!"
The image disappeared, and the newsreader slowly lowered his hands, giving a sheepish grin to the audience.
"Also, in a stunning move today, New York hero Spider-Man publicly revealed his identity, as one Peter Parker, former photographer and now high school science teacher. Finally - a science teacher that can get away with wearing spandex. This revelation caused a spate of reactions, most noticeably from newspaper publisher and Hitler mustache fan club member J. Jonah Jameson."
A picture of a blonde in a bikini, artistically draping herself over a chair appeared on the left of the screen.
"Not that Jameson."
The image promptly vanished.
"Did I say to take it down?"
The image quickly reappeared. The newsreader slowly turned, facing the photo, stroking his chin for a full ten seconds. Then he turned back to the camera, dabbing his forehead with his maroon tie.
"Okay, now take it down."
The blonde was – test audiences would later state 'regrettably' – replaced by the image of a man standing behind a desk, iron grey hair, cheap cigar jammed in his mouth, and a suspect mustache nestling on his lip.
The man spoke, the air of a man who demanded attention and usually intimidated his way into getting it. "That attention grabbing, sideshow freak..."
As the man started what was an undoubtedly impressive tirade, the newsreader produced a TV remote control.
"You know what? Let's skip this part..."
The newsreader aimed the remote over his shoulder, and the man started moving at frenetic speed for roughly seven seconds, then suddenly stopped at a certain point.
"... this menace! This man has defrauded this paper for years!"
The newsreader gave a faux sympathetic smile to the camera. "That's right ... Peter Parker took photos. Of himself. And sold them to this man who never, ever wondered why this one guy could get nearly all the photos of Spider-Man ... all the time."
The newsreader turned to the left side of his desk "In Washington, we have Senior Superhero Correspondent, Ed Helms."
The shot switched to a man in his thirties, wearing wire-frame glasses, trying to give an air of gravatas. The standard shot of the Washington Monument looked somewhat suspect.
"Ed. Can you explain to us what Registering means for the average superhuman?"
The correspondent took a breath before launching his opening spiel. "Well Jon, the instant you get thrown into a vat of radioactive waste, a vat of nanotechnological mutagens in a water solution, or just drink the water in Mexico - you've got to go and fill out a form, stating your name, address, your social security number, and the phone number of the hot super-villianess that's secretly your co-worker that's just been wearing a chunky sweater and a pair of glasses for the whole time."
The newsreader nodded. "And what is the progress of finding the supervillain Nitro?"
The correspondent's expression twisted into one of confusion. "Jon, this isn't about Nitro."
"Ed, wasn't Nitro the guy who blew up in Stanford? Who actually committed the criminal act?"
"Perhaps. But it isn't about some random supervillain with a proven history of violence and the inherent physical ability to cause destructive explosions at will. It's about the heroes. Those freaks who were there at the time."
The newsreader didn't seem too happy with that explanation. "So by that logic ... we should arrest the SWAT team when some guy shoots up a shopping mall with an AK-47…?"
"You haven't been to L.A. in a while, have you?"
The newsreader decided to segue into a different topic. "Who's heading up the enforcement of the Superhuman Registration Act?"
"Tony Stark has been officially appointed, and is determined to hunt down any of those who violate this new law. President Bush has complete confidence in Iron Man and his colourful bunch of superheroes who just want to help people, who are hunting a colourful bunch of superheroes who want to help people down like dogs, saying they were doing - 'a heckuva job'."
"Will the Government guarantee the privacy of those who have Registered?"
"Jon, this is the safest set of secret records in America."
"Will it be as well guarded as, the names of those under the Witness Protection Act?"
"Better. It'll be as safe as ... the details of a CIA Deep Cover Agent in the Middle East. Those guys are protected!"
"And with those who have already public outed themselves; more specifically, what about spokesperson for the Superhero Registration Act, Peter Parker?"
The correspondent shrugged. "What about him?"
"He's made a huge sacrifice in order to build up goodwill after Stanford. Will the Government take steps to ensure his safety?"
"Ahhh ... yeah. Sure. Whatever."
"Ed. Come on. This guy has some really screwed up people wanting to ... you know, kill him."
The correspondent rolled his eyes. "Okay, so some of the most dangerous, powerful, uncontrollable criminals in the world now have a name, a face to put to the person who single-handedly made them the bitch of Cell Block Eight. But you need more than that to track someone down. You need … information that can only be held in ... computers. Lots of computers. The type of unassociated, random collections of data that could only be accessed if they were ... linked. Linked by a series of dedicated, continually active interconnected computer networks..."
"An ... Internet?"
The correspondent nodded sagely. "Yeah ... something as far out as that."
"Ed, this 'yeah whatever' attitude the government has towards ordinary guys like Peter Parker..."
The correspondent jumped in. "Ordinary guy? Jon! Have you seen who he's married to? Supermodel slash…" the correspondent used his fingers in the ever popular expression of placing quotation marks around spoken words "… 'actress' Mary-Jane Watson! Why should you or I sacrifice our tax dollars to a guy who's 'arach-nads' gets a supermodel workout every night?"
The newsreader's expression turned into weary resignation. "Ed?"
"When does that restraining order she filed against you expire?"
"Three weeks, four days and…" the correspondent checked his watch "…thirty-three minutes. Hopefully one of those super-powered psychos will use a gigantic newspaper on that guy - and I'll be consoling the lovely widow. Back to you Jon - and soon on her back Mary-Jane."
The shot switched back to the newsreader, who had a cell phone at his ear, shouting down the receiver. "Buy as much Spider-Man merchandise as you can get your hands on. I swear, it's gonna jump sky high when..."
The newsreader suddenly noticed the camera was live again, and lowered the cell phone to his desk.
"... Thank you Ed."
The shot switched back to the correspondent. However, he was lying on the ground, while some man in red-and-black spandex was holding a baseball bat. "Jon! For God's sake, he ... AGGHHH!"
The man in spandex stopped his judicious application of the bat. "That's for looking at Samantha Bee, bitch!"
"We just work together! I swear, she ... AIIIEEE!"
"The only woman worth bringing into bed with me and Bea Arthur! Me, Bee and Bea, and YOU POLLUTED HER WITH YOUR FILTHY BEADY EYES!"
"Jon, for God's sake, call the ... sweet mother of mercy what's ... AGGHHH!"
The view changed back to the newsreader. "We'll be right back."
As the shot faded out, the newsreader raised the cell phone back to his head "…and use rubber gloves when touching it!"