Category Archives: SuperHeroes

Friday Flash: 53

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Ronald spent most of his life trapped in the business world, placing a small noose around his neck each day and laboring under the lash of his inferiors. That was until the knowledge of his impending death liberated him from his humdrum existence. The revelation was unexplainable, but he knew it to be true.

 

Most people wouldn’t have considered the balding, pot-bellied, middle-aged man to be much of a threat. Until he’d glimpsed his inevitable doom, he wouldn’t have considered himself much of anything. He had no family, no children, no prospects except his looming fortieth birthday.

 

However, the gift of his single premonition changed everything. Once he’d glimpsed the end of his life’s path, he was as upset as anyone else would be. Childhood dreams that he hadn’t thought of in years suddenly seemed incredibly precious and unattainable. He only had thirteen years left.

 

When the ticking of the clock sounds like the footsteps of doom, thirteen years is all too brief. After a lifetime of mediocrity, he thought himself incapable of breaking his self imposed mold. He lacked the funds to travel the world. He lacked the charisma and intellect needed to charm his way to the top of the business world. How could he ever live in Hawaii at the tip of a volcano? He would never even live past fifty-three.

 

Yet, didn’t age also hold promise? His time was limited, but it was also a CERTAINTY. Just as nothing could prevent his death, nothing could hasten it. He was indestructible. He wasn’t a risk taker by nature, but for the next thirteen years death held no sway over him. Rather than a death sentence, it was an emancipation.

 

With this in mind, he realized the one childhood dream within his reach. He became a superhero. With iron-on numbers, blank t-shirts, and surprisingly comfortable tights, he created a costume to wear beneath his work clothes. He started wearing more comfortable shoes to work and carrying a few ‘accessories’ in his briefcase. With his new persona hidden neatly beneath his worn suit, he could transform in an instant into the dreaded Number 53, the Middle-Aged Marvel, defender of the innocent, bane of evildoers.

 

He used his invulnerability for the first time during his morning commute. He’d noticed a woman being followed into an alley by a shady looking character. The man pulled something out of his pocket as he followed the nervous looking woman. No one else seemed to notice.

 

Ronald looked around. Not a phone booth to be had. Damn cell phones! He’d just have to do with his mask.  He walked into the alley and slipped it on quickly. He could hear voices.

 

“I told you, Dan, that’s all I have! I can’t give you anything else. Now, it’s over. Please let me go.”

 

“Listen, doll, I think you’ve got something else I want, and I intend to get it.”

 

‘Doll?’ Didn’t that slang go out with speakeasies and guys named ‘Bub?’  Ronald thought.

 

He heard the woman gasp. “Get your hands off me!” A sharp slap echoed in the alley.

 

By now Ronald, shrouded in darkness, stood behind the thug. He feigned bravado. Stepping forward, he boomed in the deepest voice he could muster, “YOU HEARD THE LADY. LET HER GO.”

 

The man pushed the woman to the ground and turned, his incredulity writ large. The woman sat, sobbing quietly behind him. “Who the hell are you?” His jaw dropped as he took in Ronald’s mask, business suit, balding pate, and unimpressive physique.

 

“I’m ’53!'” said Ronald.  He thrust out his chest and pulled open his button down shirt to reveal the iron-on letters beneath. Damn, there go my buttons, he thought, as he heard them plop onto the wet ground. He’d really need to think up a better way to undress in these situations. Buttons weren’t cost effective.

 

The man looked him up and down, then started laughing. “I didn’t ask your age, moron! What are you going to do to stop me?”  He pointed a gun at at Ronald’s chest and snickered. “Looks to me like your days are numbered.”

 

Ronald dove at the man’s feet just as he pulled the trigger. The recoil and Ron threw him off balance, the bullet aimed high, ricocheted off the wall, catching the man in the shoulder. With a cry, he fell heavily, cracking his head on the pavement. He was out cold.

 

“My days ARE numbered,” said Ronald proudly. He turned and offered his hand to the woman. She’d stopped crying, took his hand, and let him pull her to her feet. Despite her tear-stained face and swollen eyes, she was rather pretty.

 

“Just so you know, Miss,” he added. “I’m not fifty-three years old. It’s just my alias.”

 

She smiled at him, and for the first time in his life he felt truly alive.

 

THE END.

 

*image courtesy of BigFoto.com
**Going through some old files, I rediscovered this flash that I’d stashed away and never published. Enjoy! Polite feedback is always welcome and appreciated.

 

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Friday Flash: Superpowered

newyork11

 

Harvey Draper strolled down the street, eyes glued to the screen of his brand new phone. At last, his teacher salary was paying off. His first raise! Of course, it was the standard cost-of-living increase his contract demanded, but he didn’t care. He took that extra money and bought – for the first time in his adult life – a brand new smartphone. He rationalized the extravagance as a necessary home phone number coupled with the advantage of unlimited information at his fingertips! He was a TEACHER, for God’s sake. What business did he have not owning a cell phone, like some sort of luddite? It was about time he made use of this technology – for the good of his students, of course.

His thoughts pulled him into previously unknown heights. True, his girlfriend had seemed unhappy with him lately, accusing him of being “emotionally inaccessible,” – whatever THAT meant. He felt things strongly, his emotions almost overpowered him at times – but he could never put what he felt into words. At least now, she couldn’t complain about not being able to reach him. Maybe he should call her? As he continued walking to class, he decided to cut through the park. Buoyed by bliss, his feet barely touched the ground… And then he realized they didn’t.

Caught off guard, he gasped. The shock reflexively caused him to extend his arms, why he couldn’t guess. Maybe some evolutionary throwback or reflex, an insane impulse to flap his arms like a bird or kick as though he could swim through the air… Though there wasn’t even a breeze on this cool, clear, sky blue day. He realized he should be panicking, but he merely glided up into the lower branches of a nearby tree, like an errant balloon. Luckily, the park was sparsely peopled this time of day, the only witnesses to his aerial feat were birds and a few puzzled squirrels.

His mind strayed back to the cell phone, still clutched in one hand. Wildly, he realized that he could google “squirrel facial expressions” while stuck in a freakin’ tree. How cool was that?

How was he going to get out of this tree?

No, it wasn’t panic that filled his soul but elation! Pure joy in the power of his flight, no matter how dangerous or uncontrolled. Perhaps he would join the pantheon of the world’s super-powered defenders, be one of those proud individuals marked for greatness! His body moved upward with each blissful thought, imagining his future heroics and how impressed his girlfriend would be. Noticing the correlation between his philosophical heights and his physical one, he took a chance, gave a quick glance around to make sure no other humans spotted him, and pushed off from the tree’s embrace.

He wondered if there was a cell phone tower close by. Would he get better access if he flew closer to one? How would he even get there?

What the hell was he thinking?

Spitting out a few leaves, he was amazed to discover he soared higher and higher. Birds gazed at him quizzically as he floated past. He spread his arms once more, but this time concentrated on the direction he wanted to go. He whizzed past apartment buildings, soared to the heights of the city’s tallest skyscraper, swooped down with his arms angled before him as though aiming for the ground before sailing back up into the blue.

Flying round a cell phone tower, he realized that through all his experiments he had instinctively held on to his new electronic gadget, the impetus for his latest discovery. He soared a bit higher as he realized he could now text his girlfriend, why hadn’t he thought of that before? Yet another new achievement! – though markedly less impressive than his new super-powered flight. Harvey soon found himself outside the window of her ninth-story apartment, floated outside its drawn curtains, texting her to come to the window “because there was something she just had to see.”

Her reply was succinct. “I don’t care. I’m breaking up with you.”

The moment Harvey read those glowing words, the wind refused to support him. He plummeted to the concrete below. Soon, his girlfriend heard the sound of sirens outside her building and drew the curtains to see the tragedy below. Apparently another would-be hero had failed to survive discovering his superpower.

Poor, flat bastard.

 

 

*image courtesy of BigFoto.com

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Friday Flash: All Happy Families

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All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

 

What a load of rubbish.

 

Georgia was willing to bet that most ‘happy’ families were not happy, merely appeared so to outside observers. At least, this was true for her own family. Sure, she was gifted with looks, wealth, and plenteous magical abilities, but all that meant was you had more to worry about losing. Were her friends really interested in her or simply what she could do for them? It was like the lottery. Once you won, you had more friends than you could count, but were they really?

 

In a way, it was worse, because she had no basis upon which to judge. At least lottery winners could reasonably suspect that strangers suddenly turned chums might be posers. But the lottery of life had been in her favor since birth. Her father was a powerful wizard, her mother a wealthy socialite and self-funded superhero. None of that hidden identity nonsense from them, they didn’t believe in it. But oh, how Georgia wished they did.

 

She fiddled with the chemistry set her best friend, Montana, had given her for her sixteenth birthday. Another unfortunately-famous child, her parents were equally well-known, though in a different way. She felt, with a reasonable amount of certainty, that at least Montana could be trusted. Well, with one glaring exception.

 

“So… when do you think your dad is getting out of super-prison?” asked Georgia, mixing another potion in the transparent, glass beaker.

 

“I don’t know,” Montana fumed. “It’s bad enough that he hasn’t been there for most of my birthdays, but you think he’d at least want to be there for my sweet sixteen!”

 

“Well, it’s not for another month,” said Georgia, consulting her father’s secret potion book, the one she’d snagged from the crystal cave below their mansion. He may have been a master of the mystical arts, but he was crap at keeping secrets – from her, at least. A few magical phrases and she’d easily enchanted her way into his “secret” workshop. She dropped a bit of purple dust into the beaker, a miniature rainbow briefly poofed above the glass container, and a tiny dove the size of a pencil-eraser flew out of its liquid contents before the colored prism dissolved back into the glass. “And he’s been on good behavior, right? Maybe the parol committee will cut him some slack.”

 

“Hmmm,” said Montana, observing the tiny display thoughtfully. “I think it needs more cinnamon.” She leaned back and grabbed a bottle from the spice rack they had borrowed from the kitchen. “But maybe you’re right. There haven’t been any incidents, other than that toad thing – which hardly counts.”  She added the cinnamon to the potion, but nothing happened.

 

“And that was just a small incident, right?” said Georgia cheerfully. “I mean, he didn’t really hurt the guy.” She shook the beaker and frowned at its contents.

 

“Well, he threatened to dissect him, but nothing ever came of it.” Montana took the spell book from her friend, tracing the spine with her finger as her eyes skimmed the book’s contents.

 

“So he changed him back?” asked Georgia, putting down the glass container.

 

“Nope,” mused Montana, glancing up from the page before her. “He said the guy was more agreeable that way. Besides, there’s worse things that can happen then getting turned into a toad.”

 

“Hey!” said Georgia brightly, “I’ve got an idea. We haven’t included nearly enough Ingredient X in this. Just a sec, I think my mom left some in her lab.” Quickly, the girl exited the room, leaving Montana to brood over her father’s fate. Only two weeks left until her sweet sixteen. Why did the bastard have to knock over that billionaire’s cruiseship? So what if it would have funded his research. She wanted him with her. She was his daughter. She deserved to have her father around, even if he was a brilliant, insane, amoral scientist.

 

“Got it!”  Georgia plopped back down on the plush carpet and added Ingredient X to the beaker. When purple foam began to overflow the glass container, she joined hands with her best friend, and they began chanting.

 

Soon, the foam dissolved into a small rainbow-colored unicorn with brightly sparkling wings, but the girls continued chanting. Montana smiled. She’d never been much of a girly-girl, but if that was what her friend wanted on to give her for her birthday…  “Congratulations,” she said. “It’s a… horned pegasus?”

 

Georgia grinned broadly. “You mean, it’s an escape plan.” She thought directions to the tiny creature. The glittering horn drew a large oval on the container’s side, which burned away like acid, then delicately stepped outside and laid down in front of Montana. “He can help your father get out for your birthday,” she said. “Do you think I’d let my one and only friend be sad on her special day?”

 

Montana gasped in feigned astonishment, even forgiving her friend for calling her birthday her “special day” – what was she, five? She hugged her tightly. “And he’d have to go back afterwards?”

 

“Well, of course,” answered Georgia. “We can’t have him running around unsupervised. It’d be far too dangerous.” She didn’t have the heart to tell her friend that the tiny little monster would dissolve shortly after it helped her father escape. For a girl with dastardly parents, Montana was far too kind-hearted.

 

“Of course,” said Montana, contemplating how to hide her father without her friend catching on. She would never send her father back to prison. However, with her burgeoning superpowers, she felt confident she could control him. Implanting the escape plan in Georgia’s mind had been easy enough, and – after all – he was far older than her friend.

 

Montana grinned, contemplating all the while how she could use her developing mind control powers to help make the world a better place. Hell, at the rate her abilities were progressing, she might even be able to use them to make everyone happy.

 

All it would take was a little concentration.

 

 

 

 

***I’ve decided to write several flash stories that are inspired by famous first lines. This one is inspired by the first line in Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.
*Image courtesy of Horia Varlan via Flickr using a Creative Commons license.

 

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Filed under fantasy-magic, Flash Fiction, Super Villians/Mad Scientists, SuperHeroes

My Writing Niche- Episode #51: Flash- “Captain P”… and Inspiration

Play or download episode *here*

Welcome to My Writing Niche, a podcast for new writers. Today I’ll talk about inspiration, as well as read my latest piece of flash fiction, Captain P.

Thank you, as always, for your time. Polite feedback is both welcomed and appreciated. Have a lovely week.

**image courtesy of hiddedevries via Flicker.

***Slow Burn from the album Blues Sampler courtesy of Kevin MacLeod via Creative Commons Attribution license. More of his music can be found at FreeMusicArchive.org or at http://incompetech.com.

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Friday Flash: Captain P

Captain P

When he’d first been exposed to the toxin, the doctors’ incredulity matched his own.

Perry had never been extraordinary in any way. In fact, his coworkers might have described him as ‘easily forgettable’ if they had given him any thought whatsoever. Work related accidents were an infrequent occurrence in his profession, but then he rarely took his students on a tour of the local research facility. However, his natural clumsiness, a toxicologist’s workstation, and a student’s poorly placed whoopee cushion inevitably led to disaster.

He survived.

Whether or not tragedy was averted depends largely on your point of view.

To his doctors’ amazement, his internal physiology evolved to incorporate the new chemical, though his outward appearance remained the same. His physicians tested him repeatedly. However, he had never been wealthy, and his increasing hospital bills soon forced his doctors to discharge him.

Perry returned to his meager apartment, relieved at the prospect of resuming his normal routine. However, he soon faced an angry landlord and puzzled plumbers as the result of his recent near-death experience became alarmingly clear. Faced with eviction, he returned to the hospital and demanded that something be done.

Fate, however, was not kind. The very day he returned ‘for further testing,’ a distraught mental patient took Perry hostage along with several of the hospital’s staff. At the point of a gun, they were herded into a first floor storeroom and locked inside. It seemed hopeless.

Perry’s doctor nudged him. When the patient shook his head, the physician shot him a meaningful glare, which he resented.

“Alright, FINE,” he said, and unzipped.

Everyone stood safely behind him and watched, in fascinated horror, as he created an exit. Soon, despite their shock, the sound of nearby gunfire convinced the hostages to flee through the freshly smoking hole in the hospital’s side. They had escaped the mad gunman, though the trauma of the escape itself would remain with many for the rest of their lives.

Perry had finally managed to become unforgettable.

With mixed feelings, he took the reward money (along with custom-made undergarments, courtesy of the hospital). The mayor managed to keep the details discreetly out of the papers.

#

Perry bid the contractor goodbye and stepped into his new log cabin. The view from his modest home was spectacular, here at the summit of Schmidt Mountain. From the front window, he surveyed the countryside, imagining himself master of all he saw. Luckily, the State Park Service – whose property he overlooked- couldn’t read his thoughts. It would have disturbed even the most hardened bureaucrat.

The reward money had allowed him the financial freedom to live in near isolation – near enough to avoid the penury from nonstop plumbing bills; yet his condition had proved as much a blessing as a curse. That’s what he told himself as he scanned the headlines of the newspaper neatly pinned to the wall of his newly installed outhouse.

He crumpled the latest headline with one hand while shaking himself dry with the other. Then he tossed it into the steaming hole and wondered what his Superhero name should be. Somehow, “The Urinator” didn’t have quite the right ring to it.

*This story was inspired by one of our weekly D&D sessions, where we frequently spend large amounts of time debating Superhero abilities.

**If you are interested, I also have a review of ‘Ender’s Game’ up at the Functional Nerds website.

 

**image courtesy of Bigfoto.com

 

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Friday Flash: Free Comic Book Day

Free Comic Book Day

Dandelions might be pests to some and heralds of Spring to others, but to Barbara they always announced the coming of that most special day of the year. She pulled her costume out of mothballs and dressed with care, pulling on her knee high red boots and carefully fixing her tiara. Her boyfriend, dressed in black spandex and a cowl, met her outside the Comic shop where they signed autographs.

The canopy shielded them from the sun as well as the occasional drops of rain that fell and would otherwise mar the free comics they were there to celebrate and distribute. People of differing ages, costumed or otherwise, milled about the table to pick out their complimentary fare.

“Did you have trouble parking your invisible jet?” said Bob.

“No, but I see you parked your car rather conspicuously,” she said, pointing to a long black sportscar with fins that would make a shark jealous.

He signed another comic and pointed the visitor in the direction of the free balloons. ‘Free Comic Book Day’ stood out in bold letters all around the parking lot – from the sign above the pavilion to the pins worn by the attendees. The child bee-lined for the balloons.

“Well,” he answered, “I don’t think anyone really minds.” He jerked his thumb at the car. A family posed for a photo beside the sleek monstrosity. A man – wearing a cape, black mask, and elbow length gloves – peered at them through the lens of a camera. After the flash, the father changed places with the photographer so the rest of the family could have their picture taken with the intergalactic menace. He stood a full 2 heads taller than them.

“Do you do parties?” asked the man.

Heavy breathing echoed through the caped villain’s mask.

“Okay, nevermind.” The man snapped the picture and went inside the store with his family.

The dark lord wandered over to the canopy, grabbed a comic and flipped through it. He muttered under his breath, “Man, I thought that guy would never leave.”

Bob whispered something to Barbara, and she answered back. Bob laughed. “Well, don’t complain, man! I’d like to get up and stretch a little, but I need to sit here and draw for the kids. I said I’d do it for another hour at least.”

He chuckled. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. ‘Least I’m warm enough with the cape and all.”

Barbara nudged Bob. “What are you complaining about? You know you love this! Besides, you’re warm too. At least you’re wearing layers and your head’s covered.” She shivered. Her bustier and leotard didn’t offer a lot of protection from the elements on this chilly Spring day.

“What’d you say?” asked Bob.

Barbara repeated herself, only louder and closer to him. She turned to the Sith Lord. “He has trouble hearing through the rubber cowl ’cause it covers his ears.”

The dark lord nodded and flipped another page.

“What?” asked Bob.

“I said,” said Barbara, almost shouting, “that you… oh, nevermind.”

A short, greyish creature approached the comic table, perusing the lit with interest. “Go ahead, little guy. You want one of these?” said Barbara, handing him a comic illustrated with her own likeness.

“This. Is. You?” asked the creature through a silver voice box strapped to his face. His large black eyes blinked as he pointed to the cover.

“Yes, hon. You want me to autograph that for you?”  Without waiting for an answer, she leaned over and scribbled on the cover, then handed the comic back.  “You dressed as a new character?”

The creature looked up at her. “Character?”

“You better behave yourself, or I’ll have to come after you in my invisible jet.”

The creature blinked again. “I. Was. Unaware. Earth. Possessed. This. Technology.”

“Oh sure,” said Bob, handing him another comic. “Don’t even get her started on the lasso of truth or my secret arsenal.”

“Arsenal?”

The Sith Lord bent down so he was face to face with the grey creature. He breathed heavily through his mask. “Do not fail to consider the power of the Dark Side of the Force.”

“Dark. Side?” came the metallic reply. “I. Shall. Report. My. Findings. To. The. Council.” He left quickly, grey cape flapping in the wind.

Barbara beamed at her friends.  “I just love when the kids get into character. It’s so cute.”

*

On the mothership, Garthrubrck scanned his free comics into the translator. Over the coming weeks, as he studied the data, his pointed grey ears quivered with fear. He dreaded handing in his recommendation to the council, but there was no choice. Earth was clearly not the easy conquest they had anticipated, and with intelligence of their hitherto unsuspected defenses an invasion fleet was obviously suicide. He only hoped that his superiors would spare his own life. On Rathjubk, sparing the messenger was not considered a virtue worth cultivating. Perhaps he should return and ask one of the caped defenders to aid him when he made his recommendation.

He adjusted the coordinates and turned the ship around.

THE END.

*I originally wrote this for the Land’s Edge Holiday Contest, but I misfiled the story and missed the deadline. The inspiration for writing this was for the contest though, so I wanted to give credit. The winners are posted on their website now, so you should check them out.

As always, I beg for welcome feedback. Thank you!

**Monsterbat graciously agreed to pose for the above photo.

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Filed under Flash Fiction, humor, scifi, SuperHeroes, Writing Corner