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Capes and Masks

by Richard Helms

About the Author: Retired forensic psychologist and college professor Richard Helms is the author of twenty published novels, numerous short stories, and four screenplays. He has been nominated eight times for the SMFS Derringer Award, winning it twice. He has also been a finalist for the PWA Shamus Award six times; twice for the ITW Thriller Award, winning it once, in 2011; and once for the MRI Macavity Award. His Pat Gallegher novel PAID IN SPADES was the winner of the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award.


“You know the story. Stolen by aliens who crashed my fourth birthday party. Returned when I was seventeen, but I was somehow … different than when I left. Well, duh. I was thirteen years older, had all this weird hair growing where it never had, and my voice sounded like I was shaving a cat with a cheese grater. Had never seen a human girl naked, but by gods I wanted to for some reason. Hey, you try spending your entire childhood with cold-blooded amphibians from the planet Flax and see if you don’t return a little bent. I still can’t eat fish.

“Of course, there were … other differences. My foster parents, Koxm and Borquash, allowed the Flaxigians to experiment with my DNA. They tweaked and modified, and before I knew it, I was able to do all this stuff.

“Like the flying thing. What’s up with that? I don’t have wings. I weigh two hundred pounds, and yet I only think about flying and I’m levitating two feet off the ground. It can get really unnerving. I don’t care how long I’ve done it, I’m still queasy hovering ten thousand feet over the city, waiting for someone to do something illegal. I mean, if I suddenly lose the powers, I’m coming down like a cannonball, and I’m screaming like a little girl all the way. Bet that would make some headlines.

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