Monthly Archives: January 2014

No. 524

Being a superhero in 2014 is ridiculously easy. That’s mostly due to the fact that the current crop of villains have had years of lackluster support in school, and most are functionally illiterate.

The Inquisitor left me a clue the other day that was just “LOL WUT!” scrawled on a wall, and then there he was, standing right next to it. I locked him up along with his nefarious partner The Seagull.

I’m pretty sure the only one out there who is halfway educated is Kitten Girl. The last time we were fighting she mentioned she’d recently completed a correspondence course that got her a diploma. I suppose that’s something.

The only reason that my nemesis, Jester, is so dangerous is that I think he was raised on some kind of commune and they taught him to prepare for Y2K. I assume that, anyway, because every time he goes on a crime spree, he’s stealing canned goods and bottled water.

Anyway, the Commissioner is calling, so I’ve got to run.

Do yourselves a favor. Don’t drop out.

No. 523

The boulder fell to earth with an enormous noise. It landed on the corner of Hershey and Lyon, square in the heart of the city. Nobody knew the origin of the giant rock, and even the scientists who rushed to the scene were baffled.

“It’s not from space,” said an astronomer. “We would have tracked it.”

“I can’t drill it,” said a geologist. “It’s too hard. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

The only clear consensus was that, now, after it had come to rest, it was unlikely to cause any further damage.

“It’s a rock,” said the police representative. “Until we find a way to move it, it’s going to be a part of our lives.”

“There’s no radiation?” asked a person in the crowd.

“It’s not some sort of monster egg?” asked another, more paranoid citizen.

“No,” said the policeman. “It’s been thoroughly tested.”

 

The boulder proved more difficult to move than anybody had initially expected. It was so heavy that all efforts to raise it had failed, and still it resisted penetration by drills. Explosives were brought in to be set off in controlled detonations. These had no effect on the surface of the rock. Months had passed, and it was still in the same place.

And still, the public asked questions.

“Why do I feel different?” asked a person in the crowd.

“When will it hatch?” asked another, more paranoid citizen.

“Don’t worry,” assured the policeman.

 

It was three days before the one-year anniversary of the arrival when the first worker became sick. He collapsed and began to speak incoherently. His crew rushed to his side.

“I can see it,” he mumbled. “I can see inside.”

“Inside what?” the others pressed. “Inside the rock? Relax. You’ll be ok. The ambulance is coming.”

The fallen man began to twitch, his entire body shaking. “They’re here,” he screamed. “I can see all of them!”

No. 522

Mr. Delainey stumbled slightly as the bullet passed through his impeccable gray jacket and into his heart.

Normally, the wound would have been a killing one, but the heart is a strange thing. If it is never used, it dries up, becoming shrivelled and useless. Thus was the condition of Mr. Delainey’s on the day of his attempted murder.

The bullet smashed into the organ, blowing the heart into a fine dust, and came to rest in the cavity left behind. Mr. Delainey put his hand on his chest, more worried about his suit than his health. He was not yet aware of the unfortunate method of his salvation.

The doctors couldn’t see any of this on their x-rays. Tests were inconclusive, and it was assumed that the bullet had merely missed doing any major damage. The suit and skin were mended, and Mr. Delainey was sent home to go about his business as usual.

 

It was many years later, when Mr. Delainey was stepping out of the front doors of the opera house, when the true extent of his injuries became apparent.

A woman, strong and confident, was exiting a car at the curb. She intrigued Mr. Delainey in a way he’d never felt before.

But his heart, destroyed so long ago by neglect, was no longer present, and no longer able to sustain Mr. Delainey’s newfound feeling.

He felt a searing pain in his chest, and fell to his knees. His vision began to fade as the woman rushed toward him.

She reached him just as the bullet completed its work. He lay, sprawled on the marble steps, a broken and tragic figure.

Not knowing what else to do, the woman kissed him gently on his forehead.

Mr. Delainey’s eyes snapped open, and breathe roared back into his lungs, because the heart is a strange thing. However damaged it may be by disuse, it will always be healed by love.

No. 520

The man slid up next to me at the bar.

“What are you drinking, miss?” he asked.

I took a look at him. He seemed normal. “Beer,” I answered. But I was confused. Who didn’t know what beer looked like?

“That’s nice,” he said, strangely, as if he was following some kind of script.

I wasn’t sure what to do. “Would you like one?” I asked hesitantly.

“Beer,” he said again, sounding the word out. “That’s nice.”

Now I was worried. “Are you ok? Do you need help?”

He wobbled slightly on his stool, and I instinctively reached out to steady him. I felt a solid band of something metal beneath his shirt. When I touched it, he shifted away quickly.

“No,” he said. “You can’t do that.”

There was a brief flash of light from beneath the fabric, as the metal band began to blink.

“See?” he scolded me. “That’s not nice.”

“I’m sorry,” I apologized. “I didn’t mean to hurt you. I thought you were going to fall.”

His eyes focused past me, at something I couldn’t see. “It would have been nice to have a beer,” he remarked before he disappeared with what I can only describe as a “blip”.

I stood up and looked for the bartender. Surely, someone else saw the strange interaction.

I was alone, with only my beer as company. I finished it and made for the exit, still uncertain about what happened. I’d probably return, but only because they have a decent happy hour.

No. 519

The Andrew that Andrew wrote about was very different than real-life Andrew. Written-down Andrew was a crime-fighter, and a world-travelling ladies’ man. Written-down Andrew had a flashy car, and had been to space.

Eventually, real-life Andrew became jealous of written-down Andrew. Real-life Andrew tried to kill off his literary doppelganger.

It proved difficult. Written-down Andrew was just as smart as real-life Andrew, and kept somehow escaping the carefully-laid-down traps that were set for him.

Real-life Andrew slept on the plan. The solution came to him at 4:56 in the morning. He made a note on the pad of paper beside his bed and closed his eyes again.

Early the next day, after his cup of coffee, real-life Andrew wrote real-life Andrew into his story to finish off his pesky alter-ego.

No. 518

“I’m going to stab you.”

“Are you sure this is a good idea?”

“Yes, just hold still.”

“Could we at least use a smaller knife?”

“It wouldn’t be realistic. Why are you still squirming? We talked about this.”

“I don’t like this plan anymore.”

“That’s what you said about the last one, too.”

“That one had dynamite!”

“See? This is safer.”

“There has got to be a better way of getting free stuff from the grocery store.”

“If there is, I haven’t heard of it. Now, I told you, it’ll hurt more, the more you wriggle.”

Around Gray Publishes Presents – Lisa Dugaro – The Identical Children

Once upon a time, the True King and Queen of our Land suffered from infertility, as did the king and queen of our neighboring land. The neighbor’s State Witch had a spell to relieve them of their childlessness, but it would require the cooperation of all four royals. When the spell was fully realized, both Queens gave birth at the same time on the same day to two sets of identical twins each. Each queen had two boys and two girls, and all four boys were identical and all four girls were identical.

Late on the night of the children’s thirteenth birthday, the neighboring king paid a secret visit to our Queen in her rooms. He admitted that he hadn’t believed that the plan would work, but now that it had, there was no need for eight royals where there had been only four before—and there would be no need for two kingdoms now that he had enough progeny to rule the entire land. He revealed that at that very moment our Queen’s children were being killed in the next room.

He vanished. Despite our Queen’s agonizing wailing and screaming, no one heeded her cries to check on the children. She was assured that they were sleeping peacefully in the rooms down the hall. The next day there was no sign of the children or their bodies, just fine silt on the floor of the nursery and a few small pieces of white rock. No DNA samples had yet been taken of the children, and there was nothing left to compare it to anyway. Likewise, there were no other clues leading to the perpetrator of the children’s disappearance. Hearing these things, our Queen’s heart and mind broke.

In time, the neighbor’s children grew up and, after a series of battles against our King’s army, the neighbor-king’s identical boys inherited and shared the rule of the land. Our True King and Queen were deposed and dispatched, our Queen never having regained her sanity.

Her True Highness has never stopped looking for her children, and searches for them to this day, letting nothing, including death, including the passage of hundreds of years, stop her.

No. 517

Randall Thompson checked his watch for the third time to confirm that time was indeed still moving forward. The black, digital numbers were counting up far too slowly for his taste, though.

The ornate clock on the wall of the lobby wasn’t moving any faster.  2:19.

When he’d arrived, the secretary at the reception desk had told him to expect to be buzzed in at “around two”. Certainly, it was now beyond that.

Randall sighed. He liked to be on time. He began to wonder if he could really work for someone whose idea of “around two” was closer to 2:30. Or later.

Seven minutes later, Randall heard his name called on the intercom by the desk. The secretary looked up at him and nodded.

Randall collected his coat and bag, and headed toward the inner office for his interview. 2:26. They would have to make a compelling case to recruit him.

No. 516

Cindy woke up with weights firmly attached to each ankle, and a crudely-scrawled note pinned to her wall that said “Run”.

When the panic subsided, she heaved her legs out of bed, tromped down the hall to her roommate’s room and began to bang on the door.

“What?” was the muffled reply from inside.

“No,” said Cindy loudly.

Her roommate opened the door, decked to the nines in expensive exercise gear. “Come on! Please?”

“No,” Cindy reiterated. Then she shuffled back to her bed and went back to sleep.