Thursday, July 07, 2011

Self-Taught Superheroes, Part One

The shower stall would probably have felt cramped even if I hadn't been sharing it with Susan. With both of us in there, I barely even had room to wriggle.

Okay. I should probably mention that we were both fully clothed. And the water was on. And it was really, really cold. And Susan was only about an eighth of the way awake, and getting less so every minute. Which was, natch, why she was under icy cold water with Yours Truly holding her upright and giving her a good slap every few seconds.

At least, that was the plan. It had a few flaws.

The first flaw was that, as I mentioned, there was not much room. If Susan tipped about six inches one way, she was leaning against the wall. If she tipped six inches the other, she was slumped onto me. That leads me naturally to mentioning the second flaw, which is that she's a good head and a half taller than me. And, um, she's kind of...I'll say "full-bodied", because you might get the wrong idea if I called her "stacked", seeing as how I'm already describing the two of us showering together. Suffice to say that I could barely see the face I was supposedly slapping because there was a massive wall of breast practically smothering me at about mouth level.

You could probably say that this wasn't turning out to be my favorite day ever.

It hadn't started that bad. Word was really starting to get out about the Academy, and we had three new recruits show up that day. I didn't get to see one of them, but Adam did; he said she was calling herself Skreem Queen, and he talked about her like he couldn't think about anything else. But that's Adam. I think he falls in love once a day and twice on Sundays. He'll move on to the next girl soon enough. (Or at least, he'll move on to hitting on the next girl soon enough. Guy's been shot down more often than Snoopy.)

The other one called himself Blue-Collar, and he seemed nice; he was an older guy, maybe in his forties, but he didn't act all overconfident and try to pretend he knew more than everybody just because he was older than most of us. He was polite, listened a lot, and he even told us his real name. There are people who have been here longer than I have that haven't given a real name yet.

The last one kind of...okay, not kind of. There's no real way you can "kind of" creep someone out when you're a walking corpse with a metal plate that covers half your face and a giant freaking katana you carry around with you everywhere. He gave his real name, but everyone started calling him "Zombie Samurai" within about thirty seconds. It's probably going to stick way better than his real name.

But yeah, three new people. Recruits, teammates, roommates, whatever you want to call them. That put us up to twenty-five. I started to feel like maybe we were hitting a critical mass of some sort, like maybe Josh's big plan was starting to work. (He just calls it The Plan. I swear, you can hear the capital letters.)

But then the Destructors hit Los Angeles. The first time we fought them, there was about four of them. This time, there was nine...and we were already split into three teams because the Grand Finale was laying waste to Seattle and we needed about seven people just for him, and the Shadow Confederacy had just broken through into our dimension right on top of the Mall of America. Twenty-five people didn't feel like nearly enough some days.

We did alright, though. A couple of the new Destructors were just wannabes, guys who heard about the "super-villain" craze and thought they could use their training or skills or whatever to hang with the gang and commit mayhem. One of them wasn't even wearing a cup. I have official news for you. When you're fighting someone who can hit you three hundred seventy-two times in the instant that you blink, you definitely want to be wearing a cup.

I thought it went well. Admittedly, I thought that the guy fighting Susan seemed to have a strange attitude and one of those creepy, weird auras that screamed, "I have mental powers!" But I also thought Susan wrapped him up in tangle vines and cut off his oxygen before he could do anything. (One of the weird things about actually having real-life superheroes is that you find out that all the powers that sounded really lame in the comics, like plant control, turn out to be terrifyingly bad-ass. "Weather control"? Nobody ever picked it in my gaming group, but Stormcrow has made grown men piss themselves. And she's younger than I am.)

But when we got back to the dorms, Susan started acting...funny. Just staring off into space, with this sad look on her face. Which wouldn't have seemed out of place on Stormcrow or Goth Grrl, but Susan was always cheerful. I started to worry about her, then. When she went into the bathroom and didn't come back out, I decided to go with my gut. (Rule Number Thirty-Two of the Academy, as contributed by John Q. Public: Always go with your gut.) I kicked open the door and went inside.

I found Susan slumped down on the floor with a bottle of sleeping pills next to her. Most of them were gone. It did not take a nuclear scientist to figure out where they went. (We actually have a nuclear scientist on the team. But I was not about to go ask him right then, obviously.) Whatever that guy was, he must have had some sort of...I dunno, psychic sting or something, some sort of delayed-effect blast that hit her hard and made her suicidal. Which meant that in the long term, we needed to figure out if it would wear off, or at least find someone who could reverse it. In the short term, though, I needed to keep Susan awake and alive.

It wasn't going well. I had managed to manhandle--okay, womanhandle--her under the shower head, and the cold water was going full blast. But I had no idea how to get her to puke up the pills, which was kind of important if she was going to live through this. Everyone else had gone downstairs to talk (Josh says it's a "debriefing". We all just say we're talking about how we can do better. Josh is awesome, but he takes himself a little too seriously sometimes.) The long and short of it was, I was soaked to the skin in icy water, my best friend on the team was barely conscious, and my original plan--shout myself hoarse and pray someone had super-senses they hadn't mentioned yet--was not working.

So I did the only thing I could think of. I punched her in the stomach.

Not hard, or anything. I mean, I'm only sixteen, even if I do hit a little harder than your average sixteen year old girl. When it comes to brutality, I'm a "quantity over quality" kind of kid. But it turned out that with a belly full of pills that Susan's body was already trying to get rid of, that was enough. She let fly with a big mouthful of ick, all over the top of my head.

It added a lot of extra suck to an already sucky day. But at least I was already in the shower.



Eric TF Bat said...

Cool. A good start. Having just finished re-reading the first twenty-odd episodes of Irredeemable, it gave me the same feeling of a whole complex world of superheroics in a few deft brushstrokes. The only criticism is that I didn't pick up that the narrator was female. A small edit to emphasise that would help: maybe some mention about how her bra was really uncomfortable when it got wet or something. Apart from that, bravo; looking forward to the rest.

Eric TF Bat said...

(Oh dear, apologies for the dangling participle in the previous. I thought I was above that sort of thing.)

Gareth Wilson said...

Nice, I'm looking forward to reading more of this. A cold shower won't actually help this kind of poisoning, but I assume the character isn't a doctor so it is a reasonable mistake. (Angel from the Joss Whedon TV show did the same thing, and it actually worked).

Anonymous said...

I'll echo Eric's comment. Unless there's some reason you specifically wanted to keep it unclear (and I don't see in what you've written so far that it's any big reveal) make it clear that your narrator is female earlier.

The opening bit with teh shower and the unfortunate/awkward placement of the narrator's eyes at breast height really had me picturing a male narrator. That it's a teenage girl isn't made clear (unless I missed something) until the second to last paragraph.

Other than that "Huh? I've been picturing this wrong all this time?" bump in the road (kinda pulled me out of the story) I really liked it. Very Astro City in the casual mention of other characters making it clear there is a real, complete world out there.

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