Maven looked at everyone who surrounded him and reminded himself that everything would be okay.
The children that Tianado had saved were running about the top floor of their building, filling the floor with the sounds of joy that only children could make. Their parents were with them too, and he watched as Tianado, Carley, Finley and the other superheroes talked with them. When Maven heard the sound of laughter, he turned to see Sandoz creating a structure out of sand in the palm of his hand, then letting it fall apart again. A boy sat in front of him, no older than four, and the child’s face was filled with so much pure joy. He saw Dez making the other kids laugh by making their drinks perform acrobatics in the air in front of them. They must have thought they were witnessing magic.
It had been Tara’s idea to invite the parents and children over to their headquarters so they could all celebrate what they had overcome. She didn’t tell them about what had happened with Max Shadow, but just assured them that everything was all right and that the crisis had been averted.
Everything was okay, sort of.
Maven could feel Max Shadow within him and could see the shadow monster every time he looked in the mirror. If he blinked rapidly a few times, the dark black of Max’s eyes would fade and Maven’s own dark brown would show again, if only for a little while. Every so often, Max Shadow would press against him, and Maven could feel Max trying to see how far he could stretch himself. Tara and Carley were trying to keep Max in check, but Maven was also growing accustomed to having another person inside of him. It took some getting used to, though. He had yet to lose control of his body, but Maven knew that it may be an eventuality. Tara said that there was no way of getting Max Shadow out of him, that Max had to leave on his own. Maven thought that was unlikely to happen because if Max Shadow did try to leave his body, he would cease to exist.
Gregory came up beside Maven and, taking his hand, pulled Maven into an embrace. “You look like you’re full of thoughts.”
Maven let out a snort. “Too many if you ask me. I’m not sure where mine begin and where the shadow’s start.”
“It’ll be okay,” Gregory said. “You’re not alone in this.”
“I know.” Maven said, kissing Gregory lightly on the cheek.
Looking at the people around them, Maven marvelled at the fact that they had become a family, all of them together fighting against evil for the good of Ottawa. “I guess fighting for good forges a bond, doesn’t it?”
“Yes, it does.” Gregory said. “I owe you an apology, Arnold.”
“No, you don’t.”
“But I do. I had no idea what you really did. I’ve never been on one of your escapades before.”
“You make us sound like stars on ice or something,” Maven said jokingly.
“You know what I mean. I didn’t understand. The fact that you put your life on the line every single time-”
Maven quieted Gregory with a kiss. “It’s okay.” He said and meant it. “I love you.”
“I love you, too.” Gregory said.
Maven would have to deal with Max Shadow eventually. He had no idea what the future would bring, but he knew that as long as Gregory was in his life, the future was bright indeed. Captain Maven pulled the man he loved closer against him and watched as Finley started handing out eggnog, and Sandoz began a round of carols with the kids and their parents. Outside, it started to snow, and it looked as if the world was full of sparkling light.
Inside of Maven, the shadow man raged.
I live with Cerebral Palsy and Multiple Sclerosis.
After my last MRI a few months ago, they found new lesions in my brain caused by the Multiple Sclerosis. I was put on a new drug called Mavenclad. Its purpose is to wipe away the immune system so that when it rebuilds itself, it will hopefully do so without the lesions. It’s a chemo drug normally used to treat leukemia.
When the medication arrived, it had a red sticker on it with a big white cross. I’d never received something with a medical symbol of any kind on it, but for some reason it stuck with me, that big white cross. I’m not sure how the subject came up, but when I was talking to my Wonder Mom one day during the treatment, she mentioned the fact that I was like a superhero and maybe the Mavenclad was going to ramp up my powers.
“I would totally need a cape,” I told her.
“Yes, a red cape with a white cross.” She said.
“No, not red and white. I would need a purple cape with a sparkly silver cross. That would be more my style.”
“Yes, you could be Captain Mavenclad!”
“Hmmm, what about Captain Maven?”
“That does have a nice ring to it.”
I couldn’t get the image of Captain Maven out of my head. I asked the very talented Cait Gordon if she could draw me a Captain Maven portrait. She did so, giving him a cup of power (I had to drink a lot of water when I took the Mavenclad) and a sceptre of light (I sometimes walk with a cane, and I like to sparkle). To say that I loved it is putting it mildly. It put the whole chemo med thing into something that I could draw light from, something that brought me joy.
Then it occurred to me, if my Mavenclad medication could be a superhero, what about all the other medications that I take? I ended up settling on Finley (Baclofin), Tara Dawn (Trazodone), Sandoz (Sandoz Solifenacin), Dez (Apo-Desmopressin), Tianado (Apo-Tizandadine) and Carley Bravo (CBD oil). They would be a group of superheroes who would do battle against Cracklepuss (Cerebral Palsy) and Max Shadow (Multiple Sclerosis), protecting the streets of Ottawa and keeping the people safe.
I normally write a story for Christmas every year and give it away for free. I thought it would be neat to write a story with this group of supers and set it during the holidays. It never occurred to me that I would write a full novella and I’m already thinking of other stories that could happen with the characters.
I can’t tell you what joy this story has brought to me and how much fun it was to create a world of superheroes that are really just like ordinary people…with a bit of something extra. I do hope that you enjoyed this tale as much as I enjoyed writing it.
I want to thank a few people while we’re all still here together.
To my Wonder Mom and Cait Gordon to whom this novella is dedicated. Without either of you, I would not have had the inspiration to write this story or to lose myself in this world. Thank you for the light that you both bring to my life. Captain Maven is alive today because of both of you…well mainly me as I did the writing of the story, but you know what I mean.
Thanks also go out to my beautiful husband Michael. Thank you for loving me completely and for coming with me on this journey that Multiple Sclerosis has brought us. Thank you for truly seeing who I am and for walking beside me. I love you more than words can say.
And to all of you who have read this far, I thank you for reading this tale. I wish all of you a beautiful Christmas, a glorious Yule and a marvellous New Year. Here’s to the beginning of something awesome, yes?
Captain Maven and crew will return! Just watch the skies…