Writing Prompt: Day 239

239.jpgDay 239 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: Create a new superhero.

Erin: Ology was the controller of her victim’s emotions. By manipulating their highs and lows and she could twist them into thinking the decisions they were making were their own. When they followed her wishes they were rewarded with a high inducing level of dopamine. If they did the opposite she could inflict a debilitating dose of sadness. No one realized the full pull of their emotions and that made it easy for her to play puppet master in the shadows.

Shannon: The florescent lights above my head shattered one by one as I ran down the hallway. No one could find out that I was the true cause of the school’s sudden electrical malfunction. I hoped as soon as I was out of the building the chaos would stop, but when I turned back to check I spotted a new problem.

“It’s you. You’re The Spark,” a classmate had been following me. I didn’t know much about him, besides his name and what I’d observed about his intelligence. He was a bit of a nerd, so if anyone in the school was going to find out who I was, I wasn’t surprised it was him.

“What are you talking about? I’m just getting the hell out of the school before it blows up,” I spewed the first excuse I could come up with.

He smiled, like I’d confirmed his suspicion. “How does it work? I’ve never seen electricity function the way it does when you’re fighting. It’s beautiful,” he stepped closer. “I’ve tried to figure out your secret, but I found out it’s impossible to harness that kind of energy. Please, I’ve got to know how you do it.”

I sighed and closed my eyes, giving myself a second to breathe before I opened them again. “Why would,” I paused to air quote the name the media gave me, “The Spark tell you her secret.”

“Well,” he adjusted his glasses, as he thought, “I guess…because I care.”

He managed to get his reason out before the rest of the school started evacuating the building. I took that as my chance to get away, even though it wasn’t a bad answer on his part.

What power does your character possess?

2 thoughts on “Writing Prompt: Day 239

  1. She’d gone unnamed for so long that I suspect she lost herself; the heroine who shot down any attempt to pin her down with a superhero name because, “she wasn’t really a hero, just a normal citizen who happened to be in the right place, at the right time,” as she put it. Newspapers had plastered the blurry images of a caped crusader zooming through Vainville’s cityscape on their front page for two weeks when she first shot onto the scene, but since then they’d been struggling just to get a tabloid name she wouldn’t dis on live television. This new breed of hero would call in to television shows from payphones around town to remind their viewers she didn’t approve of the names because she wasn’t a hero. At some point, she had to know, the tabloids would simply stop printing her if she continued on. Now that they had, though, she was, if possible, saving more people than before.
    Of course, she wasn’t the only one with such an aversion to publicity; there were at least seven others from different cities around the globe who refused to have any pictures taken of them, or names used in their place. Most of these new heroes had the same kind of MO, in that they appeared very suddenly in the middle of a horrific crime wave, wouldn’t take credit for anything they did, and no one could dig up any kind of information on them at all. Normally, someone somewhere knew something about the heroes who we relied upon, even if it was something as silly as their hair colour. These guys, though, were like spies.
    That’s where I come in. I wouldn’t be so bold to say I was a professional in the line of learning heroes’ secrets, but I don’t think you could find anyone who did it as well as I did. Under my belt were the real identities of twenty-three superheroes from across the globe, though three of them were in the same league of heroes who helped each other.
    As I wandered the dirty streets of Vainville I made mental notes on my computer implant to check on the stories of survivors who this hero had saved. In an emergency, these people tended to give away a little too much just because of the adrenaline and thrill of the save. That was how, last year, I figured out who the Aviator really was before he became the greatest villain we’d ever seen; of course, that didn’t help much since his identity wasn’t going to help anything anyway. Villians, it seemed, weren’t easily affected by their loved ones, even if they had them, so broadcasting their real names wasn’t as effective as it was with heroes. That wasn’t to say I even blackmailed them, but it wasn’t to say I didn’t.
    At any rate, I was in search of an address I’d gleaned off a cop who was a real lightweight when it came to his drinking, but he’d garbled the street name and I’d been too concerned with anonymity to ask twice. Standing in front of a skyscraper that housed a café the size of my parent’s estate and a law firm that catered to those who’d had property destroyed by a superhero, I thought back to the first time I’d been here. Three years ago I was standing in line for a mocha when the Aviator had destroyed the entire law firm as well as half the next three floors trying to stop a long-gone villain who used the weather to force everyone indoors for three weeks. Since then the firm had grown by about eight-hundred percent with customers seeing how much money they won in their own lawsuit.
    When I entered the café, I noticed that half of their screens were turned to the news; a minor villain was keeping our newly-risen unnamed hero busy with a disintegration ray she was able to deflect handily. With a chuckle, I entered the line to grab a coffee before getting to work, and admired the local artwork hanging on the walls with a non-artist’s eye. If I managed to find anything out about this chick, I’d come in and buy one of these hangings, I promised myself. From where I was, I could see that the price tags were all much higher than I’d ever considered purchasing a piece of art, but I felt it would be a positive memory for me.
    The barista asked what I’d like and I stuttered out the name of a drink I wasn’t sure I wanted, passing her a plastic card for payment and standing back on my heels. Breathing in the smooth scent of freshly-ground coffee beans, I stepped around the partition to wait with the other non-caffeinated people for my drink. This was my third cup today, but I couldn’t seem to pick up my eyelids lately, no matter how much caffeine I put through my system.
    As the line of yawning customers waned in front of me and waxed behind me, I became very aware of a woman staring at me from across the café, who was very noticeably not drinking her beverage. Finally, I grabbed my coffee and added an egregious amount of sugar as I watched the woman out of the corner of my eye. Putting the lid on my drink, I glanced back at an empty chair and an untouched cup.
    When I wandered over to the table, pretending to look at a rough painting of a flower that appeared to be radiated and losing its fluorescent petals, I noticed a card resting under the cup. Yanking it carefully from the table, I hiked up my messenger bag and spotted an empty table to sit at. Though I wanted to look at what the card said, I let it sit in the pocket of my bag for a good half hour as I mindlessly flipped through page after page of stories about heroes in different countries around the world. I was just skimming an article about a necromancer in Spain who brought victims back from the dead instead of saving them, and the trouble he was in with religious groups, when I felt the sudden inexplicable urge to read the card.
    Taking a small sip of my over-sweetened coffee drink, I yawned and slipped the card out of the pocket and in front of my phone screen. One side had the address I was searching for, with the correct street, and a name I wasn’t familiar with. Scrawled on the other was a short, decisive note, “I know who she is. If you want to know, just ask.” My breath caught in the back of my throat as the quickest search for information was about to come to an end.
    I stuffed the card and phone back into the bag, took a couple more swigs of coffee and left through the back door, heading for the bank of elevators I could still see chopped in half. As I waited for the lift, I leaned against a cold metal wall panel that felt freezing against my warm skin; I could feel the fatal combination of adrenaline, caffeine and sugar coursing like rocket fuel through my veins. Without a warning, the doors slid smoothly open and vomited a small family of grumpy people who refused to make eye contact with each other. Pretending to have not noticed the black eye on one of them, and the bloody knuckles on another, I waited until they were out of eyeshot to step into the box.
    As I punched in the twenty-third floor and let the doors shut in front of me, I pulled out my phone and began going over what little notes I had on this unknown hero. All I had were the little snippets reporters had gleaned from her voice over the television, though it had been heavily altered so even those thoughts were debatable. I put the phone down and checked my recorder to ensure I’d charged it just before the doors opened again. When I stepped off onto the deserted corridor with slatted windows at the ends of the hallways I took in a deep breath of damp air and headed down the right hallway at a fair pace. In my experience, if someone had to be this sneaky about their information, someone was watching.
    The unassuming door to the unit was just like every other one on this floor, though it held a secret behind its panels that could destroy an entire city if it fell into the wrong hands. As the potentially-wrong hands knocked on the surface, I swallowed and couldn’t help staring at the elevator bank to make sure no one was watching me. After a minute, I was about to give up when someone breathed heavily on the other side and the lock clicked aside.
    Swinging in as far as the chain would allow, the woman I’d seen earlier peered out at me with wide eyes and whispered, “You weren’t followed?” in a tense tone.
    “No, I wasn’t followed, ma’am,” I assured her, continuing to eye the elevator doors as she undid the chain and ushered me quickly into the apartment. As soon as my appendages were free of the doorway, she slammed it shut, put the chain across and bolted three different locks; two of which appeared to be relatively new based on the sawdust shavings on the floor and the untidy job. Across the small room, the windows were blocked out completely by heavy black fabric, and there weren’t any computers or televisions present in the entire apartment.
    After watching the hall through the peephole for a minute or so, the woman moved away and headed into the living room with a slight limp. “Glad no one followed you. They’ve been on me for a week now; I can barely leave the apartment without them following me,” she explained shortly, sitting down on a covered sofa and gesturing to the chair across from her. Nodding, she added, “I don’t want you here long, so if you want information, you’ll want me to talk fast. Ask your questions and get out.” In my years at this job, I’d never encountered this level of secrecy before, and I was more than intrigued.
    “Alright, I’m recording this conversation,” I stated, bringing out the recorder and placing it on the table as I took my seat. Sniffing, I asked, “Who is this woman hero who doesn’t want to be known?” If she wanted short, I could do short.
    Grinning with a set of coffee-stained teeth, she replied, “She’s no woman. None of the new ones are. Those heroes who seem to not want anyone to know who they are, they aren’t human.” She waited a second for that to sink in as a million things flashed through my mind. “They’re robots. I know they are. My mother used to work on automatons when she was younger, and she used to bring some home. These are robots pretending to be humans, pretending to be heroes,” she stated without a glimmer of the insanity I would have pegged her as having. “It’s them following me. Now, out you go,” she added, standing on wobbling feet and throwing my recorder in my lap. “Out!” she bellowed, shooing me toward the door.
    “Okay, okay, I’m going. But, look, are they intelligent? Are robots following you?” I asked, holding the recorder out as she shoved past me to check the coast was clear.
    With her eye on the hall, she answered shortly, “No. No, they’re with the agency responsible for the robot heroes, of course. I’m not crazy.” Fiddling with the locks, she yanked the door open and shoved me out without another word.
    I stood, stunned, in the empty hallway for a while, watching the sun glint off the next skyscraper out the window as the truth sank in. If I hadn’t been around this kind of thing for so long, I wouldn’t have believed it, but it seemed to make a lot of sense. That was when I noticed the well-dressed guy standing beside the elevators; I knew I was screwed then.

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  2. “Okay,” Josh sighs, “Jacey.”
    She perks up, grinning.
    “If you are going to be helping us…”
    “Yes?”
    “You need a name.”
    “…Uhh, like…?”
    August stands straight, from where he was leaning against the wall, “Like how Josh is Emerald Tiger, and I am Night Ghost.”
    “A hero name,” Josh answers.
    “Ohh…” Jacey states, “So… hmm…” she cradles her chin with her forefinger and thumb. “Well… I can shape shift, so…”
    Rick, who still isn’t happy with this, pipes up, “Changling?”
    “Way to channel your inner Star Wars,” Jacey mutters, “No.”
    “Hmm… Animorph?”
    “That’s a book series, Josh,” August reminds him.
    “…I got it!” Jacey snaps her fingers, “Animalia.”
    The three boys look at her, considering it.
    “…Not bad.”
    “The animal touch is a bit redundant,” Rick states.
    “Huh?”
    “If you are Animalia, and he’s Emerald Tiger…” he points to Josh at the end, to emphasize.
    “…I never liked that name,” August notes.
    “Hey, it’s a great name!” Josh turns to his brother, genuinely offended.
    “I get the green portion, but tiger doesn’t fit…” Jacey muses.
    “Emerald? That’s not a name,” Rick tells her.
    “I know… What about… Nah, we’ll figure it out later.”
    “Hey, Emerald Tiger is my name,” Josh puts his foot down, “Now we need to design your costume, Animalia.”
    Jacey drops the name topic and settles on finding what could work for her. In the end, it’s not a superhero costume, but an outfit with a mask. But it’s all she can do right now.

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