Tagged: superhero

Thin Air

Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 22

“Is there a doctor on board? Anybody?”

The flight attendant looked around, absolutely dreading having to follow that question up. There was no response.

“Okay. Then, does anyone…um…does anyone know how to fly a plane?”

The cabin erupted into mass screaming. This was exactly the response she’d been hoping to avoid. She ducked back into the cockpit and locked the door, just for a chance to think through what the heck to do now.

“What is it?” asked a woman who’d inexplicably turned up in there. “What’s wrong?”

“Aaaaaah!” screamed the flight attendant. Right now the main thing that was wrong was that the aircraft seemed to have gained a passenger mid-flight. Continue reading

Smallholding

Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 4

Challenge #2: Write a story in which someone or something is living somewhere unexpected and a small, everyday object is re-purposed in some way. Optionally, there must be a problem that is both caused and solved by the main character.

“Stop, good citizen!” cried the complete stranger who had just burst through the door. “Sign not that paperwork!”

“What?” yelped the estate agent. “What are you doing here? Who are you anyway?”

“Why, I am Apartment Man!” proclaimed the intruder, who wore a hat on his head shaped like a house’s roof.

“And I his loyal sidekick, Rent B—” Apartment Man’s young ward stopped himself. “Rent Wrangler! I’m the Rent Wrangler. I dispute terms in contracts that would cause tenants to pay excessive amounts of rent.”

“Well that’s lovely,” said the house-hunter, “but right now I’m more worried about the fact that you’ve just ripped the door off its hinges.”

“Ah!” cried the estate agent, fluttering over to the doorway. “But that’s the beauty of these doll houses. This door will snap right back on. Perfect for the modern micro-pixie on the go!” Continue reading

Who is Spiderguy?

Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 2

Challenge #1: Write an editorial piece including precisely three questions. One must be answered with a lie, and at least one of the others must remain unanswered. The story must also include an existing headline and two of the following items: a sudden disappearance, an ‘expert’ witness, a talk show host, the phrase “off the record,” a banana.

“Friendly” neighbourhood superhero Spiderguy is once again the talk of the town following his sudden disappearance in 2014. But who is Spiderguy, and is he truly friend or secretly foe? The answer, undoubtedly, is foe.

The caped crusaders of our fair city fall into two categories: those who serve justice openly, and those who hide behind a mask. Who is Spiderguy? Is the figure who returned in the wake of Major Megaton’s spectacular demise the same one as before? Despite years of tireless photojournalism, even I cannot say. But what I know for certain is that true heroes have nothing to hide. The openly superpowered Astounding Welt – host of popular talk show Wednesdays with Welty – had this to add:

“The main reason I never seriously tried to conceal my identity is that I’ve got a very distinctive face. I didn’t really expect a little domino mask would do anything, but I’m not sure I could fit one of those full spandex deals over my head. Broccoli Man has much the same problem: if you grow a giant green afro as part of your costume, it’s not as if you can just pop a hat on top of it and hope nobody notices the rest of the time. You’re pretty much committed to making your superhero identity your only identity.” Continue reading

The Dearth of Superman

Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 20

“Today we remember Therm O’Nuclear,” announced Captain Caulk, with tears in his mighty eyes. “Though to those present now, he was perhaps better known as Major Megaton. He will be most dearly missed.”

“Oh, sure,” muttered Tsar Kazm. “I mean, it’s not as if any of us have ever turned up after dying before. Like, that’s not a thing superheroes are known for doing or anything.”

Captain Caulk glowered at him.

Suddenly, the church doors banged open. A lone figure stood spandex-clad and silhouetted in the space between them.

It was Spiderguy.

“Sorry I’m late!” he whispered as he edged his way awkwardly down one of the pews at the back. “Kind of embarrassing: I got stuck in the bath.”

Captain Caulk cleared his throat. “As you will all probably be aware, Major Megaton’s body was sadly never found—”

“Also not a massive hint he’ll be back!” said Tsar Kazm, less quietly this time. Continue reading

Terms and Conditions

Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 13

“Stop, good citizen!” cried the complete stranger who had just burst through the door. “Sign not that paperwork!”

“What?” yelped the landlord. “What are you doing here? Who are you anyway?”

“Why, I am Apartment Man!” proclaimed the intruder, who wore a hat on his head shaped like a house’s roof.

“And I his loyal sidekick, Rent Boy!”

“And we are here to tell you…” Apartment Man pointed dramatically at the prospective tenant, “that your security deposit should be nowhere near the value of three months’ rent. Not for an unfurnished apartment!”

“Sorry,” said the landlord. “What did you say?” Continue reading

Going Out With a Bang

Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 12

Challenge #6: Write a story involving a wannabe character in which it is implied someone dies in a spectacular fashion.

It was a beautiful evening, the tranquillity of the gentle pink sunset marred only slightly by the battle raging on between every superhero in the city and the skyscraper-sized fire-breathing dinosaur that had emerged from the harbour an hour or so earlier.

“Hi, Mr. O’Nuclear,” said Tina, rather suddenly.

Mr. O’Nuclear jumped. He hadn’t realised anyone else was on the roof.

“You know you can just call me Therm, right?” he said.

“My mum says it’s rude to call grownups by their first names,” explained Tina, opening the door of the pigeon loft.

Therm considered this. “I think that’s a bit old-fashioned, but it’s good that you do what your parents tell you.”

Tina began to feed the birds.

Therm watched a cloud drift lazily across the horizon.

The dinosaur fired a ginormous laser beam from its face.

“Why are you wearing a big green onesie?” asked Tina. “And a cape?”

“Well,” Therm chuckled. “I suppose there’s no harm telling you this now. The truth is, I’ve been a superhero for about six years now. Ever since I jumped into the path of an intercontinental ballistic missile to prevent World War Three.”

“Oh, cool!” Tina walked over. “Do you have a superhero name?”

Therm swept a hand in front of him as if revealing invisible words in the air: “Major Megaton.” He paused. “I was pushing for Colonel Kiloton myself, but they didn’t want to promote me that far just for the name. Come to think of it, I reckon that’s probably why so many superheroes are ‘Captain’ something-or-other.”

“Got any superpowers?”

“Besides having a 100 kiloton warhead lodged in my ribcage, not really.”

“Oh.”

The dinosaur in the distance demolished the headquarters of the Daily Bungle with a swipe of its tail. On the bright side, Therm considered, the thing was getting farther from the city centre.

“I’ve always wanted to be a superhero,” said Tina. “But there aren’t a lot of girl ones out there.”

“Well…a lot of superheroes start out as soldiers, or scientists, or billionaire CEOs, and since women are still under-represented in those fields there’s kind of a knock-on…” Therm realised this probably wasn’t a helpful way to address the issue. “But I mean, that’s all the more reason for you to do it!”

“Do you really think I could!?”

“Yeah! You can do anything you put your mind to!”

“Can I help out with the dinosaur, then? That would be so cool!”

“Ooh. That’s… Look, that dinosaur’s a biggie. Literally. I mean, you don’t want to tackle something like that on your first try. They wouldn’t even have called me if it wasn’t really, really serious.”

“Oh.” Tina looked at her shoes. “Okay.”

Therm watched the last little snippet of the sun vanish below the horizon.

The dinosaur swatted at a biplane peppering it with machine-gun fire.

Therm wondered when the historical aviation society had gotten involved.

“So…why aren’t you there now?” Tina asked.

“I need to let the other heroes draw the creature a few miles from the city before I can…you know…do my thing,” explained Therm.

“So it doesn’t fall on anyone when you defeat it?”

“Umm…” Therm gave a nervous smile. “Something like that.”

“Superheroes spend more time waiting around than I thought.”

“Oh, it’s not like that! I mean, sure, it is for me. And anybody who relies on one of those big searchlight symbols pointed at a cloud. And then there’s stakeouts…” Again, Therm felt as though he wasn’t exactly doing his bit to encourage the next generation of superheroes. “But there’s much more to being a hero than just waiting for a bank heist to foil. For a supervillain to punch. For a fire-breathing dinosaur to blast to smithereens. The most important things are the small things. Speaking up when someone does something bad. Recognising when they do something good. Being there for your friends. Making new friends! It sounds goofy, but those are the things that are really important.”

The sun, at last, dipped below the horizon. The dinosaur was well out into the suburbs by now. Therm figured that if he had anything else to say, now was the time to say it.

At last it came to him: “The big stuff…” he began. “The big stuff will turn out okay as long as there’s at least one person there to do it. But the small stuff, that’s up to everyone.”

The dinosaur was moving at quite a pace—whoever was in that biplane really seemed to have riled it up—and if Therm was honest with himself he knew he’d already put off leaving longer than he had to.

“Why do you want to be a superhero, Tina?”

“I want to punch bad guys and shoot monsters with eye-beams and use a grappling hook to climb a building!”

Therm nodded. “Those are all really good reasons. But you have to remember that as much of a difference as those things make, what really matters is that people know you’re looking out for them. Because then they’ll look out for each other too.”

“Okay,” said Tina. “But I still think shooting eye-beams at monsters is important too.”

“It is,” conceded Therm, “but that’s not something I can help you with.”

He took an item from his utility belt.

“Maybe this’ll do instead.”

“No way!” Tina took the grappling pistol. “Can I have this? Really?” Then she thought for a bit. “Don’t you need it?”

“Naah. I’m sure you’ll get more use out of it than me.”

Therm dropped off the edge of the building and landed in a dramatic pose before sprinting off towards the dinosaur in the distance.

Tina watched him until he vanished between the buildings.

“Still feeding the pigeons?” asked her mother, stepping out of the stairwell. “Come on. It’s time you went to bed.”

“Can I heat up the hot chocolate with my eye-beams?” asked Tina, excitedly.

“Only if you’re very, very careful,” said her mother. “I’m not replacing the fridge again.”

If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can find my work from previous Flash Fiction Months collected in these books:

OCR is Not the Only Font Cover REDESIGN (Barbecued Iguana)Red Herring Cover (Barbecued Iguana design)Bionic Punchline eBook CoverOsiris Likes This Cover

Click any cover to find that book in your choice of format.

Are You There Captain Redundancy? It’s Me, Captain Redundancy

Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 4

“Haven’t we already done time travel before?” asked Captain Redundancy, inquisitively.

“Only once,” answered Tautology Boy. “Three years go, in 2015.”

“Good, good.” Captain Redundancy nodded. “Nice and redundant. So what year is it now?”

“67,000,000 BC,” said Private Paradox, swinging his machete through the thick Cretaceous foliage. “We appear to have…what’s the word?”

“Overshot?” suggested Tautology Boy. “Jumped? Skipped? Missed?” The vengeful masked avenger’s sidekick was rather good with synonyms.

“Overshot?” suggested Captain Redundancy himself, since it seemed the most likely option.

“No,” said Private Paradox. “What I was going to say was ‘…deliberately travelled millions of years into the past because my promise of a redundant expedition through time was in fact a ruse devised to ensure you would furnish me with the enriched phlebotinum necessary to make this journey through time and step on a butterfly.’” Continue reading

The Story of Captain Redundancy’s Origin Story

The following was an entry for the Hampshire Writers’ Society’s December 2016 competition – “introduce a new comics character” – in which it took 3rd place. You’ll find the judge’s response at the end of the post.


Mild mannered jobseeker John Johnson by day, by night Capt. Captain “Redundancy” Redundancy is a superhero whose superpower is redundancy! Wherever there is crime and somebody is already dealing with it, Captain Redundancy will be there, his sidekick Tautology Boy by his side.

A dark and brooding figurehead of justice, Captain Redundancy spends his nights staring out over the city he is sworn to stare out over. As a symbol of his calling as a hero, he wears a pair of underpants over his tights in addition to the usual pair worn underneath. The outer pair are redunderpants. They are red. Captain Redundancy wears red redunderpants.

John Johnson gained his powers after a bite from a radioactive mosquito caused him to stumble into the path of a chemical truck full of vacuum cleaner cleaner. Following this workplace accident—which granted him the incredible powers of redundancy—he was made redundant. Having accepted Tautology Boy as his sidekick, Captain Redundancy’s sidekick became Tautology Boy. Tautology Boy’s powers of tautology are a natural and direct consequence of being Tautology Boy, whose power is tautology.

Villains across the city fear Captain Redundancy, for by the time they see him it is already too late: the arrival of his dreaded carmobile guarantees that some other superhero has doubtless foiled their plans already. Captain Redundancy will never respond to a crime unless his presence is completely redundant, and thus—in doing pretty much nothing of any consequence himself—he is a beacon of hope in dark times: not the hero the city needs, but the hero it doesn’t.

Also Tautology Boy is there too.


Catherine Wild: It has not gone unnoticed that this submission seeks to parody the comic hero concept and indeed this competition itself, which I found to be quite refreshing. That said, the character is effective, as is his side kick Tautology Boy. The submission itself is very dry and errs on the side of metafiction.

And I Would Write 500 More

Flash Fiction Month 2017, Day 18

Challenge #8: Write a story at least 500 words in length including no unnecessary details whatsoever.

“Banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana,” proclaimed Captain Redundancy.

If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can find my work from previous Flash Fiction Months collected in these books:

OCR is Not the Only Font Cover REDESIGN (Barbecued Iguana)Red Herring Cover (Barbecued Iguana design)Bionic Punchline eBook CoverOsiris Likes This Cover

Click any cover to find that book in your choice of format.

You might also be interested in my sci-fi murder mystery novella, Ten Little Astronauts, which is currently crowdfunding at Unbound. Most pledge levels include all the books shown above, and all will include your name in the back of Ten Little Astronauts itself as a patron of my work.

Support it here!

The Shawshank Deception

Flash Fiction Month 2017, Day 17

“Uh-oh! Uh-oh!! Uh-oh!!!”

“What? What is it?” Mullins came running. The sound of the food tray clattering on the floor had been a bad sign. The “Uh-oh!”s might as well have been written in neon tubing with bells on.

“It’s Count Erfitter,” said Harris. “Or…I mean…it’s not.”

Mullins took a look through the bars of the cell. “Oh geez.” He breathed in through his teeth. “Oh geez. Oh man. We are so fired.”

“Hey, hey, let’s not go nuts. We’ve let plenty of supervillains escape before and Warden Burt’s always been remarkably understanding about it.”

“Yeah, but they had psychic powers or robot tentacles or acid pee! This guy had…he had…” Mullins gestured to the thing standing in the cell. “What even is this?”

“I think it’s pizza boxes, mostly?” Harris squinted at it. “There’s some toilet paper in there too. And I think the eyes are blue M&Ms and toothpaste.”

Mullins put his head in his hands. “We are so fired.”

“To be fair, I don’t think anybody could have anticipated he’d be able to stockpile that much cinnamon chewing gum. And he was known for his cardboard cutouts.”

“Yeah! When he had a full set of paints and hours to use them! But I wouldn’t have thought you’d be so easily fooled by something he cobbled together with bits from the guards’ lounge bin!”

“In my defence, it’s pretty convincing at a glance.”

“No it isn’t!”

“Yes it is. Look, it even talks!”

“That’s a speech bubble, Harris! When was the last time you said something and the words came out of your mouth scrawled in ketchup on the back of a cereal box?”

“Well, there was last year’s Christmas Party.”

“I thought we’d agreed to never speak of that again.”

For a moment, the two of them simply stood there in silence, watching Count Erfitter’s left eye slide down his cheek.

Mullins said nothing.

Harris said nothing.

Count Erfitter said “Salut, mon ami!” but technically he hadn’t stopped saying that since it’d been stuck on the oval-shaped bit of card next to his suspiciously square and corrugated face.

“Okay, serious talk: would it look better or worse if we’d just found the cell empty?”

“What, like he didn’t bother with a decoy and just did a runner?”

“Yeah.”

“Better. Definitely better.”

“Okay.” Mullins shook out a black bin bag. “I’ll chuck this thing in the dumpster, you…punch yourself in the face or something. Just tell the warden he got the drop on you when you went in to give him his food.”

“Hey! Why do I have to be the one to punch myself in the face!”

“Because you were the one who was supposed to go in the cell and if you don’t punch yourself I’ll do it for you!”

“Okay, okay!”

Mullins stepped inside the cell and took one last look at the hastily-constructed junk effigy of Count Erfitter before sweeping it into the black bag. He tutted. “Seriously, man, this is just embarrassing.”

Mullins carried the bag down the stairs, out the back, and heaved it into the dumpster by the prison wall. It was a thankless job at the best of times—dangerous, poorly paid, and with nowhere near enough support from city hall—but sometimes, every once in a while, he wondered if he and Harris were to blame with the steady stream of supervillains escaping their custody. Well, Harris anyway. Basically just Harris.

He turned to walk back to the cell block, and as he did so he spotted Warden Burt running towards him waving his arms. That too was a bad sign. That was the sort of bad sign that couldn’t be any clearer if it was written in blood, set on fire, and Godzilla was spinning it around with its tiny dinosaur arms.

“That was Count Erfitter!” yelled Warden Burt. “You just binned Count Erfitter!”

Mullins turned around to discover that the pizza box, toilet roll and chewing gum dummy had torn free of the binbag and was now climbing the prison wall.

“Au revoir!” he called, as he vanished over the other side.

“Oh…” said Mullins, as Burt finally reached the dumpster. “That’s not good.”

“Captain Caulk is coming to check on the prisoner in ten minutes,” said Burt, still catching his breath. “We’re all so fired.”

“Not necessarily.” Mullins reached into the dumpster and picked out a distressingly squashy watermelon.

Warden Burt stared at it.

“So we draw a face on this and stick it in the bed…”

If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can find my work from previous Flash Fiction Months collected in these books:

OCR is Not the Only Font Cover REDESIGN (Barbecued Iguana)Red Herring Cover (Barbecued Iguana design)Bionic Punchline eBook CoverOsiris Likes This Cover

Click any cover to find that book in your choice of format.

You might also be interested in my sci-fi murder mystery novella, Ten Little Astronauts, which is currently crowdfunding at Unbound. Most pledge levels include all the books shown above, and all will include your name in the back of Ten Little Astronauts itself as a patron of my work.

Support it here!