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Alyssa Henson hates that super-powers have become real.
She had once dreamed of exploring outer space but kept her feet on the ground and settled for a more conventional life. And now, people are soaring overhead, outracing sound, transforming into photons, and so much more.
It’s unnatural. It’s weird. It’s dangerous. And it needs to stop.
The villainous Doctor Hades agrees. When Alyssa acquires power of her own, she joins forces with the Terrific Trio’s archenemy to erase all superhuman abilities—even those of her heroic best friend—in order to save the world.
In this exciting sequel to The Flying Woman, a new vigilante emerges as The Silver Stranger, a mysterious mind-reader who would rather spy on the thoughts of others than examine her own.
“A relatable protagonist, a believable journey of self-discovery, and a wild SF world.” — Kirkus Reviews
“Sherrier manages to capture that fine line between being a super hero and just being super human.” — Reedsy Discovery
The Silver Stranger won second place in Superheroes category in the spring 2022 BookFest Awards.
Copyright 2022 Daniel R. Sherrier
All lanes on the Poseidon Bridge stopped dead, though not due to any obstructions in the road. The winged unicorns were fighting the Terrific Trio in the sky, after all, leaving drivers free to proceed. But whether entering the island of Olympus City or exiting to Santa Monica, they all rated their destination far less compelling than the spectacle taking place high above the water.
The rubberneckers were perhaps hoping for any passing glimpse of Ultra Woman overpowering a creature with her impossible strength, or Mr. Amazing repelling another with his telekinesis, or Fantastic Man blinding one with a burst of dazzling light. Several spectators poked their heads and arms out windows or emerged from their vehicles entirely and congregated along the guardrails. Some photographed. Some filmed. Some simply watched in wonder. All enjoyed the show. It was entertainment plus a jolt of adrenaline. More than likely, the fate of the city was at stake, maybe the fate of the world, but wasn’t it spectacular?
Alyssa Henson held her gaze straight ahead, her narrow face resting in a frown. She sat in the back of a taxicab, one piece of luggage at her side and the remainder in the trunk, as she waited for forward momentum to resume and carry her into Olympus, to her new life. Right now, though, she could focus on nothing but one little girl.
The child had climbed up the concrete guardrail and was holding onto the metal bar—the only thing separating her from a hundred-foot plunge into the Pacific Ocean. The hazard did not deter her. The fearless child watched the sky as the superheroes flew higher, directing the creatures’ energy blasts upward, away from even the most imposing skyscrapers in the center of Olympus.
A few adults stood nearby. None issued a warning to get down right this second, young lady. They faced the other way, toward the battle in the distance.
The girl wobbled, then steadied herself. The momentary loss of balance failed to alert her to the reality of her own peril.
Alyssa’s heart thudded.
The little girl leaned forward, sticking her head out over the railing. She couldn’t have been more than seven. No one paid her any attention. All they had to do was tell her to get down before she fell. If they were expecting an instant superhero rescue, they were neglecting the fact that the superheroes were preoccupied battling unicorns thousands of feet away.
The girl stood tall on the guardrail, and her hand vacated the bar to shield her eyes from the sun.
Alyssa jumped out of the cab. And stopped immediately.
A potbellied man, presumably the father, tugged the girl off the guardrail and hoisted her onto his shoulders. From this improved perch, she waved at the superheroes.
Her assistance not needed after all, Alyssa slunk back into the cab, appreciating its warmth. She wrapped her black leather jacket tightly around her bony torso. The January air was a touch too cold, but still more comfortable than back home. With her fingers, she brushed auburn hair away from her piercing eyes.
“How was the view out there?” asked the cab driver, a bearded, heavyset man.
“Oh, I was just—” She decided not to get into it. “Not much better. It’s all pretty far away.”
“I met them once,” the driver said with a proud nod. “The Terrific Trio.”
Alyssa reminded herself to be polite. “That’s … nice.”
“They saved my life. I was driving my cab here, and all of a sudden—bam! This huge guy, one of those supervillains, lifts my car into the air with me in it, and get this, he throws me.”
Alyssa got the impression the driver had told this tale a few dozen times already. His broad smile shone from beneath abundant facial hair as his hands illustrated the trajectory of the thrown car. Becoming a supervillain’s projectile was the greatest thing that ever happened to the poor guy, judging from his exuberant tone. The story went on for a few minutes. Meanwhile, the cab’s fare meter ticked upward; the odometer did not.
“—and then Ultra Woman swoops down and clocks the big guy right on the—look! There she is!”
The driver peered up through his windshield and pointed, his finger quivering in unbridled excitement, like he had spotted Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.
Ultra Woman wrapped an arm around a unicorn’s neck as they swerved over the bridge, though it was unclear which of them was steering. They twirled, and Ultra Woman’s cape billowed as they tipped toward the water.
Green tights and a scarlet cape, plus a fierce bird symbol of some sort on the chest. A twenty-something adult was wearing, essentially, pajamas. Alyssa wondered how she showed her face in public dressed like that.
She didn’t. She wore a mask, as did the other two.
Nevertheless, as Ultra Woman tamed the aggressive creature, avoiding its horn blasts while ensuring no one got hurt, Alyssa had to admit—it was kind of impressive, in a way.
The driver certainly thought so. He pointed his cell phone at the action and snapped pictures, even though said action was drifting farther from the bridge and rising ever higher above the water. And he was hardly the only bystander angling for the perfect shot.
The unicorns herded around Ultra Woman. Each one’s hide was a different color, and a vibrant color at that, while their wings sported the entire rainbow, shifting from red on one tip to violet on the opposite side. They seemed too bright to be menacing.
One unicorn tagged Ultra Woman with an energy blast from its horn, but she swiftly recovered and slammed her fist against that unicorn’s hide, moving so fast that she became a blur. One second later, four unicorns plunged toward the water.
Alyssa wondered what such power would feel like. She imagined herself flying as Ultra Woman—the rushing wind against her face, the confidence of knowing she possessed greater physical strength than any person living or dead, the lack of fear that came with such might. The speed would be the best of all. Such a practical power. A super-fast person would never need to rely on a taxi, for example.
The fare meter crept ever higher.
More unicorns flew from the city, pursued by Mr. Amazing. He had a cape, too, and his mask shrouded his entire head. Unlike Ultra Woman, he dressed almost in monochrome, clad in a dark gray up and down with the exception of a ruby letter A on his chest. His appearance was slightly less ridiculous, though the blank mask didn’t help; it looked like someone stuffed a tight bag over his face and he somehow failed to notice.
Mr. Amazing waved his arms in multiple directions, batting unicorns away without touching any, while Ultra Woman swirled around them at super-speed, hammering her opponents from all sides. The pair fought the whole relentless herd while the bridge spectators treated this as a thrilling gladiatorial contest. Alyssa wanted to know if the superheroes could hear their fans’ cheers, and whether their egos required it.
The cheering spiked when a thin beam of light streaked across the sky. But this light was no ordinary collection of photons. Sometimes, this light was a person, a guy who answered to the name Fantastic Man.
Fantastic Man’s ability to manipulate light may have had some practical uses, too, but his ability to transform his entire body into light … Alyssa found that unsettling. She watched the shimmering beam swerve around the unicorns, and she shuddered.
The light pulsed directly at several unicorns’ eyes, disorienting them while Ultra Woman and Mr. Amazing attacked.
“Aren’t they great?” the cab driver said.Alyssa wanted to think so. She wanted to get swept up in the excitement with everyone else. She felt the tug; it threatened to lift the corners of her mouth into a smile as Ultra Woman knocked out three unicorns with a single mighty blow. But a little girl could have died today.