Category Archives: Tales of the Dim Knight

Origin of the Dim Knight, Part Five

Continued from Part Four

Before Dave’s softball game, Coach Paul, the long-time skipper for the Benny’s Bar and Grill softball team, waved him over. Dave grinned. After starting at first for six seasons, would he finally make captain? He jogged over. “Yes, Coach?”

Coach said, “Dave, you’re going to be a back-up next season.”

Dave choked. “What?”

“We all like you, but this team is supposed to bring positive publicity to Benny’s. What exactly do you think a 3-18 record means to the public?”

“That we’re good sports.”

Coach shook his head. “No, that we’re losers! I’m playing Larry Gray at first, so we have a shot at advancing in the playoffs. Next season, you can back up and coach third. Maybe pitch an inning if everybody else’s arms are tired, or if we’re ahead or behind twenty runs.”

Dave jogged to the dugout and slumped on the bench. What happened to the days when winning wasn’t as important as camaraderie and friendship? Sure, he had two hits and six walks in a hundred at-bats this year; sure he had given up twenty-five runs in ten innings pitched, but what about loyalty?



Naomi took her seat in the stands. The chance to be within a hundred feet of her oft-absent husband had made her a softball fan.

 In the third inning, Dave walked up the steps and sat beside her. She pointed at him. “Do I know you from somewhere?”

The gullible little boy in a pudgy man’s body stared at her. “Um, Naomi . . . .”

“Yes, I was wearing a white dress and weren’t you the gentleman in the tuxedo?”

“They’re putting me on as a back-up.”

What? Dave had been starting forever. “You’re not injured, are you?”

“I’m fine, but I’m not going to get played anymore. I’ve played every game since I joined this team. Remember when I went 3-for-4 with a couple singles and a triple a few years back?”

Naomi touched his face. The poor thing must be devastated. “I’ve seen all your games, Honey, and as much as you love the game, you’re not Lou Grant.”

Dave blinked. “From the sitcom? You mean Lou Gehrig, don’t you?”

“Oh, there’s a difference?”

Through the next few innings, Naomi tried not to grin as she sat with an arm around Dave. Maybe, if he didn’t get to start anymore, he’d spend more time with her.

A cry of pain echoed through the ballpark over the crowd’s applause.

Naomi glanced down at the field. Dave’s replacement at first limped to the bench. Looked like he’d made a great catch to end the top of the sixth, but twisted his ankle in the process. Coach Paul screamed, “Johnson! Get down here!”

Dave ran down onto the field and into the dugout. Naomi sighed. That was her life. These moments never lasted long enough.

Continued Next Tuesday

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Origin of the Dim Knight, Part Four

Continued from Part Three

The back door slammed. “Hey, Dad!”

Dave sighed in relief. Maybe now he could focus on something besides whether the cylinder’s power was magic or science.

That night, Dave took his janitor’s cart back to his closet. He dumped the dirty water down the drain, still feeling that same tug towards the vault, almost like the cylinder was calling him.

Opening the crate would be a breach of trust. If anyone found out, he’d lose his job, but the chances of discovery were almost nil. The FBI came by maybe three times a year. The security guards were supposed to do rounds inside the warehouse, but hadn’t in years. He could pry it open for a peek and nobody would know.

Yeah, one little peek. One little peek wouldn’t hurt.

He grabbed a crowbar and snuck into the vault. Bingo. He pried open the crate and pulled out the cylinder.

Wow. Imagine the power it could give him . . . the power to make the news a little less depressing. Instead of, “three children died in a three-alarm fire,” reporters would say, “Today, a Real Life Superhero rescued three children from a three-alarm fire.”

He slid the cylinder up his arm. Maybe this wasn’t a good idea. Dave didn’t have time to fight an evil symbiot. He had a softball tournament on Sunday.

The world swirled around him. His stomach lurched and he closed his eyes.

Once the dizziness subsided, he peeked and gasped at a waterfall before him. Six moons reflected in the still waters lapping at his feet. Beside him, a neon-orange tree grew parallel to the ground. “Where am I?”

A gray-skinned man at least eight feet tall appeared before Dave. In his black armor and green cloak, the giant looked like he could snap Dave in half with his pinky. And Dave wore a 2XL in shirts.

“Who are you?” asked Dave.

“Zolgron, Champion of the Karonites. Fifteen hundred years ago, I was one of eight of my kind. We were a powerful race with strength and abilities far surpassing those of the other inhabitants of Gorlen.

“I resolved to make myself King of the Karonites and vanquish the champions of the seven other nations and take their land for my own. Before I even raised my hand to do this, my Creator seized me. He said he had made me and my brethren as guardians, not lords. He took a common, weak Gorlen and made him the new Champion.

As for me, he said I was too dangerous and must learn a great lesson before I could wield such power again. Until then I can only empower others.

“I’ve had more than three thousand hosts on fifty planets. When I attach myself to a host, I become part of it. When the host dies, I live on, taking another form. The shape-changing ability is the one thing he has left me.”

Dave’s jaw fell. “You’re the cylinder?”

“That is the shape I took. I can be as small as a mouse or as large as a dog.”

“How did you travel from planet to planet?”

“The Creator has transported me, as part of his ‘great lesson,’ apparently.”

“So, with you attached to my arm, I get some great powers.”

Zolgron nodded. “You can run faster than one of your sports cars. You have the strength of a hundred ordinary humans, can change shapes, and materialize objects at will.”

“Can I fly?” Dave flapped his arms.

“Not naturally. You could materialize a jet pack on your back, though.”

“This is so cool!”

Zolgron buried his head in his hands. “Creator, have I learned the lesson yet?”

“Wait a second.” Dave folded his arms. “How do I know you’re not evil?”

“I’m neither good nor evil. I’m simply a tool to be used as my host sees fit. I’m like one of your handguns.”

Dave protested. “But guns are evil!”

“Oh, one of those. Let me try this again. I’m like your mop. Your mop can be used for good or for evil.”

Dave laughed. “How could mops be used for evil?”

Zolgron smiled. “Watch.”

Several mops appeared and began to bludgeon Dave.

“Vile cleansing instruments, you shall not defeat me!” Dave fought one of the mops off, throwing it to the ground. He jumped in mid-air and decapitated another. He turned. Hundreds, no thousands of mops were coming after him from all sides. This was like a horror film shot in a cleaning supply store.

He cried out and mop heads repeatedly bludgeoned him.

The world spun. Again his stomach lurched and he squeezed his eyes shut.

Dave opened his eyes and stared at the shelf in the vault, crowbar in hand. He hadn’t even taken the cylinder out of the crate. It had been all a dream. A lousy, stinking dream. “I’ve got to stop eating Hawaiian pizza.”


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The Origin of the Dim Knight, Part Three

Continued from Part Two

Dave stared at the hollow cylinder filling his computer screen. This was like something out of a Steven Spielberg movie. He looked at the Styrofoam cup with the bottom punched out.

“This means some-” Dave cupped his hand over his mouth. “No, I’m not going to be sued for the contents of my own life!”

He pulled up a search engine and did a search for “Terrorist, Albuquerque.”

Hits came up from so-called legitimate news sources claiming terrorists had planted bombs to blow up buildings. Dave shook his head. Fox, CNN, and the rest of the mainstream press lied all the time. He needed a reliable source of news.

Dave smiled. “Superhero fan forum!”

He stared at the abandoned thread from two months ago, started by Crazy Al in New Mexico. Crazy Al’s name, and his avatar’s three chipmunks morphing into beautiful blondes, hadn’t been too impressive at the time, but with what Dave overheard from the suits, Crazy Al seemed far more credible:

The media is spreading so much bowl. Those lamers aren’t reporting the truth. There’s a terrorist blowing up the buildings, but he’s not using bombs. I saw him downtown, and I nearly wet my pants. The guy is superhuman, they have the entire National Gourd out. He’s a freakin’ real life super villain.

Man, where’s Spider-Man when you need him?

Dave read his own response. “Well, I wouldn’t put much stock in someone who can’t even spell ‘bull’ right. Besides, a guy like that would beat Spider-Man. You dork, Spider-Man’s in New York. He’d be useless with all the cactus in New Mexico. What skyscrapers do you have out there? It’s like adobe houses. The Flash could do the job, maybe with help from Iron Man.”

The next 350 comments were a debate over who would be the best superhero to fight in New Mexico.

“Crazy Al was right.” Dave paused. “Well, not totally, the Flash would’ve done much better than Spider-man.”

Dave returned to his graphic. The cylinder was the source of the terrorist’s power. What if it had made the guy a terrorist? What if it hadn’t? What if it was neutral?

Only one way to find out. He could tell Agent Polk, but Polk wouldn’t believe him. Besides, Polk was too weak. Only Dave had read enough comic books to know how to defeat an evil symbiot.

But it’d be so cool if it wasn’t evil.

Continued…next Tuesday

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Origin of the Dim Knight, Part Two

Continued from Part One

At eleven-thirty, with two hours left in his shift, he settled in his janitor’s closet with the latest Spider-Man comic, half an hour earlier than usual. Sweet. Two hours to spend rescuing Mary Jane, then off home to bed, and he didn’t get started until a quarter past five. That was the best part of this job. No one stood over him, cracking the whip if he wasn’t working his whole shift. So long as he got their storage facility squeaky clean, the FBI was happy.

Still, he had left the door open wide enough to view the entrance, just in case.

From the corner of his eye, Dave spotted Agent Polk coming. Dave stood, grabbed his broom, then went out and began sweeping the already-swept floor.

Behind Polk came an agent who looked like he’d just graduated from the academy and another whose hairline had retreated even farther back than Polk’s. The strangers carried a rod that was slid through the center of a blood-caked metal cylinder.

“You absolutely sure this will be secure here?” said the bald agent. “I still say it’d be safer in DC.”

“Don’t worry,” said Polk, “the director figured the last place the terrorist would look for an item from Albuquerque is a small town in Washington State.”

“The odd thing is that the boys in the lab say it’s just a cylinder.”

The young agent spoke up. “Why didn’t you have them study it more?”

“We didn’t want it out in the open.” The bald agent glanced at Dave then glared at Polk. “Why didn’t you get this guy out?”

Polk laughed. “Dave’s not a problem. I’ve known him twelve years. He’s loyal. And even if he said anything, nobody would believe him; he’s got a wild imagination.”

Polk lowered his voice. “The guy wears Spider-man underwear and uses an X-men lunch box.”

At least he had an imagination! Polk lived his entire life in a suit. That guy could use a few X-men comics.

The other agent sighed.  “Okay.”

Polk grabbed the young agent’s end of the rod and yanked the cylinder free. Above cries of protest, he handed it to Dave. “We need to pack this. Can you wash it off?”

“Sure thing.” Dave carried the blood-stained cylinder into his closet. No worries about contaminating evidence; they didn’t store that sorta thing here.

At the sink, he shifted the cylinder into one hand and turned the water on. He picked up a scrub brush and maneuvered it towards the end. It grew to the exact size of his arm and slid up onto it.

Dave screamed, “Get off!”

The cylinder released its grip and splashed into the sink.

When he returned with the cleaned cylinder, Polk was alone. He waved at a packing crate on the table. “All right, Dave, just put it in the crate.”

Dave did. Agent Polk snapped off some pictures before sealing the crate. They placed it in the vault with the top secret stuff. They had everything in here but Bigfoot, the Roswell spacecraft, and Captain America’s remains. “There you go, Agent Polk. I’ll get back to cleaning.”

“Dave, say, would you like to go out for a drink?”

Since when did Polk drink? Dave stared at his watch and then at Polk. “No, thanks. My wife would kill me.”

Polk grunted. On his way out, he flipped out his cell phone and speed dialed someone. “Hey, want to get a drink?”

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Tales of the Dim Knight, Part One

Superman fell from the sky, crashed on a building, bounced off as it toppled, and hit a green dinosaur. Mild-mannered janitor Dave Johnson set the building upright again then sent a scolding glance at his dimpled nine-year-old. “You shouldn’t have dropped him like that, Derrick.”

Derrick scratched his head. “But, Dad, you said Superman got hit with a missile.”

When would his son learn?

At least Derrick still cared. His older brother had sided with his mother. Naomi insisted mastering pre-algebra was more important than those brave souls that saved the world. “A missile isn’t going to knock him out of the sky, son. He’s invulnerable. He might be fazed, but he’d pop right back up.”

Derrick nodded. “That makes sense.”

“All right, so get him back in the sky.”

Derrick lifted Superman back above the cardboard model of Metropolis.

Naomi called, “Dinner!”

“But, what’s going to happen to Lois Lane?” asked Derrick.

Dave mussed Derrick’s hair, black like his own. “We’ll find out tomorrow, Champ.”

Upstairs in his bedroom, Dave stripped off his vintage Superman PJs and changed into the stone gray coveralls Naomi laid out for him. His gaze swept over the ten red milk crates filled with comic books waiting to join the rest of his collection in storage. Where was his government-issued navy blue baseball cap?

Ah, there. Atop his collection of every super hero DVD box set known to man.

After setting his baseball cap askew on his head, he patted his breast pocket and hit thin plastic. Good, he had his security pass. Not only would it be embarrassing if he lost it a third time this month, he’d incur another $25 fine and Naomi wouldn’t let him buy the Wonder Woman action figure he needed to complete his Justice League collection.

He opened the door. Naomi stood outside. Trouble brewed in eyes nearly the same color as his wife’s favorite Starbucks brew: a half-caf, non-fat grande latte with sugar-free chocolate syrup and exactly four packets of Splenda. “Dave, we need to talk.”

In other words, she had an irresistible yearning to nag. “What about?”

She folded her arms. “How about our life and supposed marriage?”

Dave grunted. Sometimes, he hated being right. “I don’t have time for this.”

“You never have time! You get up after I leave for work and leave yourself a few minutes after I get home.”

Dave walked down the stairs. “Wait up for me and we’ll talk when I get in.”

“At 2 a.m.?”

“That’s as good a time as any.” Dave fled to the kitchen and grabbed his X-men lunchbox from the fridge. He headed for the door to the attached garage.

Naomi ran ahead and blocked his getaway. “We talk now.”

He looked at his watch. She was making him late. “Fine, two minutes.”

“I’m concerned about the kids.”

Dave stiffened. “What? You don’t think I’m a good father?”

“You’ve been great teaching them to be little boys, but you can’t play Superman with them forever. They need someone who can help them through difficult times. Someone who can show them how to be men.”

Dave scowled. “And why can’t I?”

“Look at yourself, Dave! You make me pack your dinner in the same lunchbox James used in kindergarten! You don’t buy all that superhero stuff for the kids.”

Dave crossed his arms. “I work hard for this family!”

“You’ve been at the same job a decade. You’re not twenty-three anymore. You need to grow up for the kids’ sake and for me.”

“And for you?”

“Yes, and for me! Do you know how long it’s been since we’ve been together? Nine months. It’s like all you wanted were James and Derrick and as soon as you got them, you forgot all about me.”

“I’m the same man you married. You’re the one who’s changed. What happened?” He glanced over her navy pantsuit and pink polished nails. A sandy-haired Mary Jane met him at the altar twelve years ago, so how did he end up married to Lois Lane?

“I grew up, Dave.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow.”

She took the hint and moved out of his way. “This isn’t over!”

Dave slammed the door behind him in reply. Why couldn’t she understand? These heroes did things he could only dream of. He wasn’t just playing silly games; he was sharing his dreams with the kids. It wasn’t like the dream kept him from working. He always brought home his paycheck, and he never complained about the tight hold Lois-er, Naomi-kept on the purse strings.

Continued…Next Tuesday

Subscribe to Laser & Sword by Email to get the next part and all the rest of our free offerings delivered to you. To find out what happens sooner, visit the Laser and Sword Online store and download  Issue 1 for free or purchase the Annual Edition containing 11 action packed stories.