September 1st, Cloudy
Welcome to the start of a new year at Coast City High School. My name is Carol Ferris, an ordinary second-year high school student. At least I was. Last summer, though, something amazing happened! Something so huge I don't know where to begin! So I guess I'll start with Hal Jordan. Mmm. Hal Jordan, the boy without fear. Brown hair, strong arms, eyes to get lost in, and a butt that . . . never mind. I should probably cross that last bit out. Anyway. He's a junior now and I've had a crush on him since last year. Not that he noticed. I think he likes blondes (bimbos!) better and it's against school rules to dye your hair. Damn it. So, long story short, my love goes wasted for now. And maybe it was for the best, because during the summer, somebody noticed.
"You have shown the ability to give great love," it said outside my bedroom window. Damned right, I do. Oh, and "it" was a ring. A magic ring, bathed in violet light. How nobody else in the neighborhood noticed, I have no idea. But it offered me a choice. To "remain alone in the darkness" or accept the ring and defend true love whenever it was in danger. Some choice, right? And there are supposed to be thousands of girls with these rings all over the universe!
So now, whenever there's trouble, the ring lets me transform into the Magical Girl Star Sapphire! I added a few things to the name. I think it sounds better. The ring lets me do . . . pretty much anything. I can fly, which means no walking to school (sweet!), I can make stuff, and . . . well . . . anything. Nothing too terrible has happened that I actually have to work out so I guess that's a good thing. Still, some real adventure would be
"Yessir!" Carol responded in shock to Professor Savage, her history and homeroom teacher. He was a thick man with a thick black beard and looked, to Carol anyway, like either a caveman or a supervillain. He was apparently brilliant, too, having written the textbook they, and many other schools, were using.
"If you're quite done with your scribbling, may I please continue taking attendance? Unless you would like to give the class an exert?"
"No, sir!" she yelped in a panic and promptly crammed her little pink diary to the very bottom of her book bag.
"Very good, then. Now, since Ms. Ferris is most definitely here: Gardner, Guy?"
"Hand, William? Jordan, Harold?"
Upon hearing that name, Carol's poor bleeding heart skipped a beat. Hal Jordan, her sweet baboo, was one year ahead when last she checked. Further investigations would be needed. Assuming, however, this was because of her lucky stars, then she would be raking in (she quickly did the math in her head) at least an hour and five minutes a day of precious Hal time. She let herself have a contented sigh and preemptively declared this a good day.
"Allen, do try to be on time, would you?"
Solomon Grundy, aside from being a fairly grim nursery rhyme, has an urban legend attached to him. They say—children a four-hour drive away in that pit, Gotham City—that a greedy and miserly man named Cyrus Gold was robbed and killed by highway men about a hundred years ago. They dumped his body into the black sludge of suicide swamp, where it would never be found again, even if anyone cared to look. The robbers got away clean and their crime was left unpunished, until a week and a day later, on a Monday. No amount of putrid earth and stagnant water could keep Gold buried, and up he rose, now as big a monster on the outside as he was on the inside. He found the men who did him wrong and paid them back tenfold. The police could only find pieces, splattered across each of the victims' homes. Such fury isn't easily satisfied, though, and for the next four days, the brute Solomon Grundy continued to murder and steal and hoard the wealth that Cyrus Gold longed for in life until, as the rhyme goes, he died on a Saturday.
This is the end of Solomon Grundy. It was always great fun, though, especially around the campfire, to say that Solomon Grundy would be born yet again on a Monday. Unfortunately for Coast City, today is Monday and Gotham City is only a four-hour drive away.
"Thank you for joining us, Barry! And only fifteen minutes late for class. How fashionable." Science teacher Dr. Arthur Light and his verbal lashings were soon combined with the roar of his peers' laughter. Barry wished he were made of sterner stuff as he blushed his way down to the farthest empty desk.
"I was just about to assign you all lab partners," Light continued, the scrawny man stroking his scrawny goatee. "Five more minutes late and I would have assigned Barry to one of the lab rats." His next joke still got laughs, but fewer, as it soon dawned on his class that he was a spiteful jackass.
Carol Ferris, in the front row as always, noticed none of this. She was too deep in prayer to notice much. On and on she chanted "Hal Jordan Hal Jordan Hal Jordan Hal Jordan Hal Jordan" once Light mentioned the words "lab partners." So, when Light started announcing the pairs, by complete accident, Carol blurted out, in her not-indoor voice, "HAL JORDAN."
The class was once again in stitches. Carol now wished for a meteor to strike the school.
"If you insist," Light sighed, tired of this weirdness.
Carol now wished to take back her previous wish. She was up with books in hand and parked next to her sweet baboo before he could blink. This was mainly because his eyes were closed, face down in his arms, waiting to truly die of embarrassment. But death never came, class began as normal, and Hal cursed the Grim Reaper, calling him "lousy" and "ineffective."
Eventually, and here, eventually means two minutes and thirty eight seconds later, Jordan fell asleep. Light droning on and on about the scientific method and the comfort of his leather jacket sleeves saw to that. In fact, most of the classroom was either asleep, getting there, or wishing that Light would learn to shut his trap. Only Carol was diligent with her note-taking, hoping to impress the object of her affection with the quality of her studies. Delusion is sometimes a wonderful thing.
"Star Sapphire of Sector 2814" was what broke the awkward silence of fourth period science class, which was exactly the opposite of what Carol would have wanted. The alert came from the special ring she wore, which now wouldn't shut up and "Sector 2814" happened to be the little sliver of the universe that was her jurisdiction. She quickly stuffed the ring into her pants pocket, hoping her butt would muffle the sound.
"Carol Ferris of Sector 2814." Damn it. Now it was louder.
"I have to admit, Carol," Light spoke with a sneer, marching toward her with a detentiony look on his face, "that may be the most creative ring tone I'll hear all year." Funny he should put it that way, she thought, now sweating bullets. Nervously, she asked if she could take the call, since calling it an "emergency" wasn't technically a lie.
"I suppose. Make it quick." It was not a request. She was already out of the door by the time he finished talking, yelling "Thank you, sir!" behind her.
"Carol Ferris of Sector 2814."
"Yes! Yes! I heard you, I'm here. Shut up! What is it?"
She was in a full run as she shoved her Chatty Cathy power ring back on her finger, heading down to the only place she thought appropriate to change: the girls' locker room. Her ring ensured her that the coast was clear; or, as the ring put it, no sentient life in the vicinity. So, with a single thought and some magic words, her apparel changed from business casual to superheroic battle garb, all a brilliant light violet. The original uniform was, she thought, far too slutty for both her tastes and her figure. A redesign was in order, which she took care of her second night on the job.
The first thing she changed was to drop the form-fitting look, as she lacked the necessary hourglass. A skirt was added next, with stockings and low-cut boots to match. A mask was included for the whole "secret identity thing." The tiara on top she kept for two reasons—one, it was too cute to leave out, and two, her ring wouldn't let her get rid of it. Apparently, it was part of the set.
"Okay, Ring. What's so important you have to—" She was interrupted by what sounded like an explosion and felt like an earthquake.
"True love is in jeopardy. A heart is being attacked in your sector."
"I bet. In the school? Downstairs?"
There was another rumble, just as sudden as the one before, followed quickly by a third and fourth. They were gaining in frequency, so Carol ruled out natural disaster, which only left some kind of attack. She flew downstairs, hoping she was right and ready to prove herself. At the same time, however, assuming she was, in fact, right, her apprehension grew, fearful of performing well. By the time she was down where the action was, the school's entrance and main hall, Carol was officially ready to hand in her ring and resign.
The atrium itself, which was once a beautiful mix of marble and mahogany, full of plaques and statues of founders and alumni, was now shattered to bits, leaving nothing but piles of debris, as if a few grenade pins were pulled. Standing in the middle of the wreckage, dragging its feet with each step, was a monster.
The beast was rancid and looked much like a human, if badly decayed. It was chalky gray from head to toe, wearing a suit many sizes too small, its warped muscles bursting out of failing seams. Its movements were clumsy, but swift, simply bulldozing its way through a hallway meant for people half its size. In fact, Carol's trembling ring hand remained on target due to her target taking up her entire field of vision. On a side note, it also took up her entire capacity of smell.
"Excuse me," she tried to make it sound like a roar, but it only came out a whimper, "as acting Star Sapphire of Sector 2814, you are hereby ordered to cease any and all activities that would threaten sentient life on this planet and retreat to your place of origin . . . or nearest convenient parallel dimension." That sounded so much cooler in her head.
"You green light?" It could talk. She would have been amazed if she wasn't terrified. "Then die."
That was not a request. Its fists, more powerful than a locomotive, were proof of that. For its size, it was quick on the draw, Carol barely having enough time to raise a protective bubble between her and the oncoming knuckle sandwich. She was safe, but the force of impact still knocked her through the floor and into the basement gym.
"Ring," she asked, still counting the stars floating around her head, "did I suffer any damage?"
"Negative," it responded, giving her some confidence back.
"Cool. I guess it's my turn now."
Back up through the hole in the floor, she once again flew in front of the monster, blocking its path. It looked confused. Usually when it hits someone, they stay down.
"You green light?" it asked again, giving Carol the impression of it being about as sharp as a sack of wet mice.
"Listen, Dumbo," she lacked any better insults, "if you want a green light so much, why don't you go play in traffic?"
With a literal burst of inspiration, her ring conjured for her a Chevy Corvette, bright pink, which drove on a collision course to the zombie. Payback was indeed a bitch and the crash knocked it through the wrecked doors and onto the street outside.
Time for a celebratory "woohoo," she thought, proud of a job well done. Merrily skipping outside, all the while making sparkles and streamers for herself, her ring patched her through to the PA system of the school. Everyone inside heard the following:
Attention students and faculty of Coast City High, this is Star Sapphire! Magical Girl of Love and Justice! Please remain calm and stay in your classrooms. I've dealt with the monster threat so there is no need to— Pink light hurt Grundy! No one hurt Grundy! Grundy smash! Grundy kill!
The broadcast cut off with Star Sapphire screaming bloody murder, the superhuman battle going into round two. Anybody by a street-side window was in for a treat.
The "pink light," as Grundy called her, made tracks once she pried her hair out of the frying pan-sized mitts that seized her. Once out of arm's reach, Carol clenched her teeth and unleashed the power locked inside her ring, now with complete disregard for how sturdy the creature may or may not be. As a result, Grundy staggered, but only his funeral attire received any real damage.
"Turnabout is not fair play," Carol whined, now playing catch with the furious beast, whose Herculean strength was pitching nearby cars at her. Every van and sedan could have been dodged with little effort, but she took care to avoid collateral damage. Her attention was soon split between seven violet oven mitts (because she didn't know what catcher's mitts looked like), each lowering their fully-loaded four-wheel drive contents to the ground with the same finesse given to newborn kittens. It was this very same attention that made her blind to the eighth car that came her way, which hit her with full force and knocked her down onto the concrete. Her light soaked up little damage this time and she was left broken, but still breathing.
"Solomon Grundy, born on a Monday," Carol heard, but saw only stars. She also discovered, upon thinking aloud some curse words, that her breathing was labored. Her ring could compensate to a point, filtering her air intake to deliver more oxygen and even binding up the busted rib it found. The quick patch was much appreciated, since now she could see straight, but a doctor would be needed soon.
"Solomon Grundy, born on a Monday."
Make that a mortician. The prey was wounded and the predator knew it. Out for blood, Grundy picked up the first pointy rock he could find, ready to finish her off Cain-and-Abel style. All that was going through Carol's mind was her injuries; meanwhile, the monster was ready to splatter her brains out onto the perfectly manicured school lawn. She definitely did not have enough presence of mind to use a thought-based weapon fueled by love.
"Hal Jordan," she announced, trying to realign her jumbled mind. The reward for her efforts was a construct of her beloved, well oversized and a little fuzzy on the details, striking Grundy across the jaw with a mean right hook. The image vanished on impact, which was fine. It only made Grundy angrier.
"Carol Jordan!" she shouted next, remembering what she was fighting for. A vision of her future husband appeared, clearer now, in a formal tux,delivering two more blows to the brute before fading. Still, the monster approached.
"Mrs. Carol Jordan," she said in a cold defiance of the murderous undead now that it was right on top of her, "married on a Wednesday." With great love in her heart, Carol fired a last resort: a thin beam of light with enough raw power to pierce the beast's black heart. Grundy dropped his rock with a look of horror on his face now that there was a smoking hole going completely through him.
"Solomon Grundy, born on a Monday."
No, Grundy, was not dead—or not dead again, as the case may be—and yes, Carol was out of ideas. Hopeless, she stared up at the monster, wondering for a moment how much the end would hurt. Then she saw that green light Grundy wouldn't shut up about. The beacon shined brighter than anything she had seen before, growing stronger until all she could see was green. The beacon was flail-shaped and as it collided with Grundy's massive frame, it only made a sickening crunching sound on impact. Grundy was knocked back, his chest now filled with even more holes.
"They still don't train actual soldiers on Zamaran, do they?" the green light asked, sounding wonderfully cocky. "Green Lantern of Sector 2814," he introduced himself, telling her "stay put" as he would "take it from here." Carol was then left behind, in emerald wheelchair, she discovered, and wondering what a Green Lantern was and what it was doing in her territory.
Solomon Grundy was as furious as ever, now presented with his true target. He attacked the hero with a savagery he hadn't shown before, his fists echoing off force fields and shattering nearby glass. The Green Lantern surprisingly attacked on equal terms, like an "actual soldier," as he had put it. Half a dozen medicine balls of concrete-cracking weight were chained to Grundy's ankles, slowing his movement and preventing escape. Missiles were launched from the green ring and Carol even though she saw three miniature F-15 fighter jets fly by and open fire. Solomon Grundy, to her amazement, took every blow, with more than enough strength left to fight back. His tactics were far less pretty, but no less effective. The longer Carol watched, though, the more it looked to her like an impasse. Kicking her wheelchair away, she decided to "step aside" no longer.
She took to the sky, with plenty of distance between her and the fight, and let gravity do the work this time. She created an anvil of ridiculous proportions with her ring and allowed it to drop. Carol could see the results clearly in her mind: the anvil would squash the monster once and for all, she would get praise from the mysterious stranger, and best of all, praise from Hal for rescuing the school. Perfect, she thought. All perfect, except her cartoon antics squashed the wrong guy.
Carol made her toy vanish, screaming "Ohmigod ohmigod ohmigod" as she panicked her way down to the wreckage, digging furiously through rock and gravel to try and unearth the Lantern. She found not a trace of the Green light and realized too late that Solomon Grundy was still behind her. She only saw the bottom of his size sixteen boot before everything went black.
"—sure this will help—"
"—my magnets never fail—"
"Oh, thank God! It's a miracle! Carol, baby!"
After a bit of stirring and a lot of light stroke, Carol cracked open her eyes for the first time in hours. Both of her parents were there and both were in hysterics over their little girl. Their hugs and kisses felt like pins and needles. Carol was thankful, very thankful, that Dr. Emerson, the school physician, called them off.
"Now, now, I'm a doctor, not a miracle worker. Give the little lady some more time to recover. Please, let's give her some time alone."
"No!" Carol immediately refused. "Please. What happened?"
With reluctance, the three adults in the room went on to explain. There was a terrorist attack by some unholy abominationcalled Solomon Grundy. That much, Carol knew. A hero called Green Lantern killed it by beheading. That, Carol did not see. They said nothing of another hero called Star Sapphire. Carol suddenly wished Grundy had finished her off.
Under the guidance of some of the teachers, Green Lantern even helped repair the school. Carol now wished Grundy had finished him off, too. Finally, she was told that Hal Jordan carried her from the wreckage to safety. Carol now thought she could die happy.