Wallace West stood in the center of his bedroom, or what was left of it. The light yellow walls were finally exposed, after years of being hidden behind a shell of Flash posters. Areas were the walls once peeked from behind the posters were a darker yellow, dappling the room with a strange pattern of rectangles. Next to the ajar door, suitcases were neatly stacked with Wallace's collection ironed shirts and argyle sweater vests, his beloved choice of clothing. Though at school he was often ridiculed for his stereotypical "nerd" attire, Wallace, was unfazed and continued to sport a new argyle sweater daily, heeding to his parents' mottos of individuality and sticks and stone breaking bones and the harmless effects of words.
A large vintage suitcase, a gift from Wally's late Great Aunt was carefully reserved for his vast collection of Flash merchandise accumulated during his life in Keystone City. Its worn-leather exterior was decorated with Flash stickers, ranging from shiny large lighting insignias to stickers of the Flash himself, striking various heroic poses. While most teenage boys collected Playboy magazines and other explicit content, Wallace collected as much Flash merchandise he could get his hands on. In his case, living near the Flash's Central City was a boon, for it granted him access to a multitude of Flash stores.
Wallace inhaled the dusty air deeply, and let out a large sigh.
He knew moving was a difficult process—he had read enough books about a character immigrating or moving from one place to another, at first hating the move and then liking it in the end. But until now, he was never able to empathize. Surely, a move from one block to another wouldn't be as intimidating, but a move from the small Keystone City to the notorious Gotham was overwhelming. His father was given an unexpected and large promotion, which would pay double, if not triple his current salary (which was quite a good salary itself). But like all good things, there was always a catch; with this catch being quite unpleasant, in Wallace's opinion.
Yes, they had found a nice mansion on the upper-end of Gotham, equipped with an in-ground swimming pool. But what use was a swimming pool to a young man who was too immersed in comic books and conducting byzantine chemistry experiments? To the red-headed teen, a middle-sized backyard for lounging with a novel at hand was good enough, thank-you very much.
Wallace walked to his window and looked at the faint Central City skyline against the blue sky. Sure Wallace would miss Keystone City, which served as the location of his birth, as well as his home. He would miss loved ones like his Uncle Barry, who always brought home a new piece of Flash merchandise form a "secret source" (which was never disclosed), as well as his Aunt Iris, who always announced his birthday every year on the news. But most of all, Wallace would miss the Flash.
Memories clouded Wallace's eyes as he recalled the day when the Flash had made his debut. Even at six, the flame-haired tot had been fascinated at the Scarlet Speedster's ability to save the day, almost effortlessly with a single stride. He had been inspired to an extent to where he had chosen the Flash (along with numerous other young fan-boys) for his 3rd grade "Role-model" project (and received a gold star and an A+). Gotham's protector was the dark elusive Batman, who was the stark opposite of the light-hearted camera-loving Flash. Batman had a side-kick as well, the young Robin. Though both the Dark Knight and his protégé rarely appeared on TV talk shows or interviews, it was obvious that Robin was no older than Wallace himself. Pausing, the young teen took a moment to imagine what it would be like to be the Flash's sidekick. He would be called something cool like Flash-boy or Speedy—wait that was already taken by Green Arrow's partner.
Shaking his envious thoughts away, Wallace focused on the task that was at hand. Gingerly with great care, his peeled the tape off of his last Flash poster. It was a small, mundane poster with the Flash insignia, colors fading, divided with a plethora of creases. On the corner in messy cursive scribbled with black sharpie it read, "Happy Birthday, Wally". Uncle Barry had given it to Wallace on his 10th birthday, and gotten it signed when he was saved from some thugs from the Flash himself. What increased the poster's value was that Flash had signed it "Wally" and not "Wallace". This small detail was most likely the Flash writing in shorthand, but it made Wally feel special and closer to the vigilante since it was a pet-name only his relatives and friends used.
A soft, barely audible knock on the door startled Wallace from his fond recollections.
"Um… Hey Wally".
It was Linda Park, a demure slender girl with flowing black hair and almond eyes. Linda had first been acquainted with Wallace as his lab partner in AP Chemistry. To Wallace's dismay, she had proved to be a klutz, mixing up the 2M and .5M HCl acids for their first lab. But through Wallace's expertise and guidance, she had mastered the techniques of "heating to a constant mass" and "reacting to completion" quite nicely. Since then, Linda and Wallace had become close friends, despite her being more of a Superman fan than a Flash one. To Wallace's dismay, their friendship had been just that: a friendship. He was pushed to in infamous "friend-zone" despite his attempts to make their acquaintance something deeper. Attempts of flirting had usually ended up as poorly told chemistry jokes and pickup lines like "If I were an enzyme, I'd be DNA helicase so I could unzip your genes" or "You're hotter than a Bunsen burner set to full power". But Linda just smiled and changed the subject so Wallace wouldn't further embarrass her and himself and so their friendship would remain intact.
"Hey Linda," Wallace replied cheerfully, but his voice came out hoarse and cracked, since he hadn't spoken to anyone all morning.
"Look, I really hope we can keep in touch… But I—we will all miss you" she replied, light heartedly.
"Yeah, we-we'll definitely keep in touch" Wallace cracked a small grin.
Linda took a small step towards Wally before running (much to his surprise) enveloping him in a warm hug.
"Wally, I swear, if you don't call or chat with me on Facebook, I will hire Batman to hunt you down!" she scolded. Her voice was shaky but she kept her façade, so Wallace's departure wouldn't be as painful.
"Don't worry Linda, I will," Wallace replied coolly. He could feel heat rising to his face and his glasses fog up. He didn't want to let go of Linda, Keystone City, Aunt Iris and Uncle Barry, or her rhubarb pies.
The tender moment wasn't prolonged.
"Wally! Come bring your bags downstairs! The movers are here!" his Mom's shrill voice sounded downstairs with an excited and impatient edge.
Linda was the first to break away from the hug. Her cheeks were flushed and her eyes were watery, but with a small sniffle, she still kept her smile, which forced Wallace to do the same.
"Coming Mom!" Wallace shouted back, his voice still abnormally hoarse.
Wally closed the Flash-merchandise suitcase and carried it as well as another exceptionally large suitcase downstairs. Despite being a comic-book "dork", Wallace's mom had forced her son to exercise and stay in shape, so she could feed him as many pies as he wanted and she could make, since the teenager had quite a large appetite (he was a growing boy, of course!).
"Do you need any help?" Linda questioned as Wallace carried the suitcases precariously down the steps.
"I'm good, babe," he grinned, flashing his pearly whites at Linda, who simply rolled her eyes in a jocular fashion.
Wallace climbed the steps of the mansion to pick his room. The house was bigger than he had anticipated, with a perfect green lawn and trimmed hedges. The plane ride was long—approximately three hours, but to a boy with a short attention span, it felt like 10. Most of the ride, Wallace had spent re-reading his comic books, watching tedious sitcoms and (attempting to) flirt with the air-hostesses. But since one of the air-hostesses glared quite murderously at the sweater-vest sporting teenager, Mrs. West had given Wallace a look that had left him mum for the remainder of the journey.
Gotham City was crowded, maybe too crowded for Wallace to handle. Being from Keystone, Wallace was accustomed to the occasional zephyrs and uncontaminated air. But in Gotham, the sky was darkened, and sunlight barely penetrated through the tall towering skyscrapers. The whole scenario reminded Wallace about the rainforest documentary he had viewed on the Animal Planet—how the forest floor was dark and littered with decaying plants, shielded from sunlight due to the foliage overhead.
Thankfully, the Wests had purchased a home in the more "suburb" part of Gotham, a place where the pollution was significantly less, and the sunlight a bit brighter.
Wallace climbed the final step and looked down the dark corridor. There were five doors, all closed. But some instinct guided the ginger teen to the last one of the right. Hesitantly, he turned the brass knob. The white-washed vinyl door opened without a squeak of a hinge, a sound he was familiar to when he entered his bedroom back at ho—Keystone City. The bitter-sweet memories rose like bile in Wallace's throat but he pushed them back down.
This is my home now. He reprimanded himself. Gotham City…