The latest Play with the Prose challenge required us to write a story about a character with a superpower, in 300 words or less.
|I woke to the insistent ringing of a cellphone. It was the HSA’s scrambled line – great. I cleared my head and answered.
“Is your end secure?” asked the voice on the other end. “One of our generals reported this week’s Atlantic submarine fleet movements have been stolen – can you find them?”
Yes, of course I could. After studying my cuticles for a few seconds, an image formed. “Locked in the top drawer of the second filing cabinet in the general’s anteroom. Probably left them sitting out, and his secretary secured them for him.” Idiot.
“Thanks, we’ll get back to you if they don’t happen to be there.”
“Oh, they’re THERE alright, sitting on top of three phone books.” I hung up before he wasted more of my time. Another idiot.
I got up, took a leak, then switched on the coffeemaker (what good is the timer when I wake up before it?) and the laptop. Geez, 47 emails already.
Josh, can you help me find a gift for Ginger and Ronny’s wedding? Thanks! -Aunt Cynthia
You’re kidding me – even my family is piling on! I took two deep breaths. I’ve told you before, I can only find a specific item, not something vague like that. Another deep breath. Buy them a coffeemaker. With a timer. –Josh
Why couldn’t I have a real superpower? A costume? A name? I’m just “the finder”, and not even with capital letters. Crap, even The Kidnapper wears a cape, and how stupid a “superpower” is that, being able to get children to sleep?
Checking the pile of mail by the door, I saw the plane tickets, and couldn’t help but smile. Who else could find the perfect location to finally get away from everyone?
The judges’ comments:
K: I really like this character. He’s cynical and he’s funny. The touch of “finder, but not with capital letters” alone gives this character more depth than some Marvel superheroes. GOLD
P: Ha! “Kidnapper” is my favorite gag this week, and it’s just a throwaway line. The little touches in this one go a long way. The hero gets a vacation in the end! It’s stakes are low, but damn, that ‘kidnapper’ gag. SILVER
Solidly in second, knocking on the door for first place: THE STANDINGS
- The only two superpowers I considered were this one and my personal fave, the guy who could explode at will.
- I wanted a second superpower for the story (a lame one), and catching part of a news story about a kidnapping was just the mental slap that I needed.
- When I considered that the guy would be swamped with requests on a daily basis, and that he’d want to escape somehow, the last line just fell into place.
- I like to work from a skeleton framework and then flesh the story out; still, the initial completed draft came in at 335 words, so some paring was required to fit the word limit.
For the next challenge, I’m going to have to think on a smaller scale…