It All Comes Down to This
Emily Tilderbrook's life has been reduced to this.
Forget 6th or 7th greatest superhero team in the world. In the wake of Weevil's departure, they were down to 9th or 10th. Hell, even the Bondage Buddies had been more successful than the Specials lately, something that the local newspapers had taken great care to point out. It wasn't easy to save the world when you were wearing a gimp suit.
That's embarrassment in a nutshell.
The Pentagon. Giant ants. Emily could deal with that. She'd beaten up Thor once; no easy feat when he trying to summon lightening. Of course, that had been before she'd joined the Specials. Back when she'd been a solo superhero, trying to take on the world.
And then she'd met Ted.
She'd thought him charming at first. A little naïve, sure, but a sweet guy. After a few months, though, she had realized how narcissistic, how self-important he was. Ted Tilderbrook, on a mission from God.
And she'd married him anyway.
It's for the same reason she'd joined the Specials.
When you beat up a God on live television, you tend to get team offers thrown at you from every direction. She'd turned down offers from the Crusaders, the Annihilators, and even the League of Supreme Awesomeness. They all had flair, had prestige. The Specials started off in the basement of Ted and Tim's mother's house.
That's what the Specials stand for. The oddball, the rebel, the outcast, the geek.
Being indestructible isn't all it's cracked up to be. And even then, the name is a bit of a misnomer. Her skin can't be pierced, but there are so many other ways to do damage. There are the eyes (thanks Deadly Girl), there are the bones, and then there are the organs. There was that other time, fighting the Incredible Hammer. He broken a few of her ribs, and one of them had pierced her lung. Surgery isn't an option if the scalpel snaps the moment it tries to break through the flesh. In the end, the doctors had been forced to shrink a surgical team to repair the damage from the inside.
And her mind; that can be damaged too. But Emily Tilderbrook – Ms. Indestructible – thinks she went mad a long time ago.
Not everyone just wakes up one morning with superpowers. Some people have the fluoride in the water; some people have the photo-processing plant. Emily has puberty. The process had started at fourteen, when all the other girls already had their hips and their curves, and all those other important things. Emily had been a "stick on legs" as described by her mother. The first sign that this gangly girl with pointy knees was anything other than normal came when her (drunk) father had crashed the car. He had died instantly, but Emily, dazed and bruised, had survived with barely scratch. Six months later, not even the sharpest of knives could pierce her skin.
She's been nigh-invulnerable since then, but she doesn't expect anyone to care about that, least of all the Weevil. He's a complete narcissist after all, but not in the way that Ted is.
Ted didn't sell out.
He's done a lot of stupid, crazy, fucked up things, but he didn't sell out. Not like the Weevil did. Not like she did.
At the time, cheating had seemed like a good idea. He was better-looking than Ted, and not quite as insufferable. At least, not at first. And then when he had left the team to join the Crusaders, Emily had come to the crashing realization that she knows she should have seen from the start. The Weevil only really cares about one person. The Weevil.
And it's true, that while he does have his own Pez dispenser, while the rest of them can only boast inaccurate action figures with Double-D cups and out-of-place fishing rods, at least the Specials care about each other. And they're not out trying to seek attention, or to make the headlines. They're just out for the oddball, the rebel, the outcast, the geek.
After all, slitting your wrists is hard when you can't break through the first layer of skin.
But she's moved past that.
Now she's being crushed beneath giant ant pincers on live television. Seven broken ribs, collapsed lung, fractured collarbone. It's time to shrink the surgical team again.
And still, she wonders.
…Where did I make the wrong turn?
The downfall of the Specials. It hadn't started with that fucked up toy thing, or with the Weevil, or even with any of the stupid crap that had followed. After all, you can't really have a downfall if you never made it as a team. Because they didn't, not really.
And her downfall?
The downfall of Ms. Indestructible – of Emily Tilderbrook, wife of Ted Tilderbrook, sister-in-law to Tim Tilderbrook, mother to no-one, role-model to no-one.
That had begun a long time ago.