By Seth Gottlieb
It was time.
From his chamber in the Rock of Eternity, the old wizard adjusted the historama to locate the young boy he had observed for over a week. He found him in a back alley, seeking shelter from a storm. Instantaneously, he cast a spell, in which he summoned a shadow creature. Immediately, he gave instructions to fetch the young boy.
He would do.
He was all alone, wandering the city streets, in the rain.
It hadn’t been a week since he was living off the streets. Everything had changed his parents were… gone. He felt so alone, so helpless.
The young boy did not know exactly where he was, nor did he care. He found shelter from the rain near an abandoned subway entrance. There he hoped to spend the night.
It was then, he realized he was not alone.
From the depths of the entrance came a shadowy figure who came up to the boy. “Where are your parents young man?” Inquired the shadow.
“They’re gone” said the boy sadly. I’m all alone.
“Follow me!” commanded the shadow, and the boy reluctantly obeyed.
The shadowy figure led the boy to the abandoned subway track. Momentarily, there came a rumbling, and an ornate subway car carved with strange and arcane symbols approached the platform. As the pair entered the car, the train started to move. From out of the car window, the boy noticed strange mystical energies surrounding the vehicle.
“Where are we going? What’s happening?”
“Do not worry young man, everything has been prearranged.”
Shortly they arrived at their destination. As they exited, the boy noticed that they were in what appeared to be a strange ornate cavern. At one side of the cave were seven hideous statues, each with an inscription; Pride, Envy, Greed, Hatred, Selfishness, Laziness and Injustice.
“These are the seven enemies of man!” said an ancient voice coming from past the statues. The boy proceeded, and noticed, at the end of a cave, an old man, seated on an ancient throne. It was then that he noticed that his ‘companion’ vanished.
“Welcome young man. I am SHAZAM!”
At the mention of his name, a magical bolt of lightning struck on a nearby wall. As if magically etched, words suddenly appeared. Six names, which formed as an acronym for the wizard’s name. Solomon, Heracles, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury. The boy recognized them as mythological gods, and ancient beings.
“For nearly three thousand years, with the help of the powers and abilities of these incredible beings, I have my time fighting evil in its many macabre forms!”
“Three thousand years!” said the young boy, awestruck.
The old man clapped his hands. Instantly, a nearby wall shimmered. The young boy noticed it was forming solid images, almost like a television.
“Behold, the historama!” said the wizard.
“I have observed you for some time young man.” The historama immediately adjusted to reflect his words. It focused to show the boy when he was younger, and happier…, with his parents. Then came the day when they…, were gone. It continued to show how different his world became afterwards, and how quite recently, he found himself all alone on the streets.
“Despite the bitterness you feel about your hardships, I… detect a sense of nobility, and a need for righteousness. All my life, I too have desired a need for righteousness, and have fought in the name of all that is good. But… my time has come. I seek a successor for my cause. Would you, in your heart of hearts, be willing to accept such a responsibility?”
The boy pondered. Since that horrible day, he had felt so helpless and alone, but what could he, or anybody do? He wanted to learn more… “What could I do?” he inquired.
“Simply speak my name!
The boy hesitated, not understanding the old man’s intentions. Then finally, he spoke. “SHAZAM!”
Instantaneously, a bolt of lightning struck the young boy. Rather than be struck down, it had felt as if a tremendous surge of energy poured through him. After gathering his senses, he checked himself, surprised at what he saw…
When he brought his hands in front of him, they were not the small hands he grew up with, rather, strong, powerful maws. Another quick examination revealed that the young boy somehow gained in height. From behind the wizard, he observed the historama reform itself, acting as a mirror. However, rather than viewing his familiar form, he gazed upon the image of a truly mighty being, one that appeared to have pride in himself and his abilities. Certainly a far cry from the scared young boy from before!
He was speechless.
The old wizard continued. “You now bear a great responsibility young man. With these powers, come great responsibilities.” At that moment, a deep rumble emanated around the cavern, becoming louder as the old man continued. “Use them wisely!”
Around him, the young hero noticed the cavern shake. Parts of the ceiling started to collapse. However, the wizard remained oblivious to this danger. “Sir, something’s happening, you must get to safety!”
“My time has come, my friend. Ponder my words! Speak my name again!”
After pausing for a second, he replied. “SHAZAM.” At that, the bolt of energy struck him again, this time, not only transforming him, but transporting him from danger.
The old wizard observed these events with satisfaction. As the cave around him completely collapsed, his final thought was that he hoped he made the right choice.
He was outside the subway station again, where it still rained. As if in a daze, he tried to make sense of what happened. It SEEMED like a dream, yet deep in his soul, he knew it was for real. As he pondered this, he walked towards a lone lamppost. A few seconds later, a limousine pulled up near him, and two figures came out.
“There he is!” said one. “I knew we’d find him here!”
“Master Bruce!” said the other one, taking a warm coat to cover the boy. “Is he okay Dr. Thompson?”
“He seems fine Alfred.” She said after a quick examination. “You poor dear, you had us worried!”
“I had to go back. I had to…” he then coughed abruptly.
“It’s okay Bruce.” She said in a soothing voice. “We’ll get you home.”
As the threesome road back to Wayne Manor, Bruce stared out of the window. “I had to go back. I had to…”
“I know dear. It’s hard. But there was nothing you could do.”
“Now there is.” said the young boy in a solemn voice. “Now there is.”
As if on cue, lightning struck nearby, illuminating young Bruce Wayne, as if foreshadowing his destiny.