Flash Fiction Challenge: Superheroes Plus

It’s been too long since I’ve done any writing so I decided to try a Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction Challenge. I didn’t follow all the rules (this is 2701 words, not 1000 words; also, I haven’t finished it and my little superhero doesn’t even mention what his power is yet). But hell. It’s fun, cute, and the best part is it’s there. In existence. On a page. So yeah. I win. Failure loses. Yay me! I’m in a space where I’m gonna just give myself permission to be creative in any way I want. Just gonna start a bunch of stories and not finish them, if that is what I want to do. I’ve been roadblocking myself for much too long now cuz I’m not meeting my own expectations, so I’m just putting those expectations aside and writing.

Anyway, here’s my unfinished little bit, untitled, first draft, mechanical/grammatical errors, straight from the brain. Read or don’t, whatever you like 🙂

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Timmy Tony had a special power that no one knew about. This was pretty phenomenal in itself, since he lived on a space ship with about 1000 other people, and even with 1000 people, when you live in a confined space for years, you get to know everybody, plus every nook and cranny. Or at least, Timmy Tony did.

Timmy Tony’s special power was something not even his parents knew about. Timmy had been born on the ship. This was because the state of Louisiana had suddenly shocked everyone and decided to launch a space ship into space and send a delegation of Louisianans to Mars. This, despite the fact that everyone knew they were only a few years away from mastering technology that would turn the space trip from 30 years to 30 days. Louisiana didn’t care. Some spoon-fed dumb-dumb politician with something to prove–Republican, no doubt, said Timmy’s parents all the time–had decided he wanted to be the first person to set foot on Mars. He’d rounded up a group of Louisianans, as he called them, based on his own criteria, and had paid for the ship and launch out of his own pocket, which really meant out of his investors’ pockets (said Timmy’s parents also).

So this rag-tag and strangely mismatched group of 1000 people from Louisiana had climbed aboard a space ship on their way to Mars, pumped up by the promise of fame (for being the first people on Mars), fortune (because the politician had bribed some actually qualified people to join his mission), or the simple promise of shelter and food for the next 30 years. After all Louisiana was still in ruins from Hurricane Katrina, despite the fact that the entire world had forgotten about them years ago.

Timmy’s parents, Timothia and Anthony, were of the latter two groups. They had owned a beautiful family home in Louisiana that had been destroyed by the hurricane. While they were educated people with a great deal of prospects, or perhaps because of this, Timothia and Anthony, had spent years trying to recover from the financial loss they suffered as well as the emotional toll of the extreme tragedies around them. Rather than pack up and move to a better place, the pair had, in their young idealist phase, opened up an aid organization and had put their time and effort and all of what remained of their money into helping others survive in the wake of this tragedy. They had been locally lauded many times in the state, recognized as philanthropists for their efforts and clapped on the back by rich people across the country, who then agreed to trickel down a little more cash to keeps things going a little longer–though never enough to make a real difference, grumbled Anthony sometimes. By the time Vain Wayne got to them (the couple’s nickname for the politician, Wayne Worlington), the couple was exhausted and beaten by the pain of their world, burn out with philanthropy and ready for a change. Vain Wayne had caught their sent of angry desperation like a terrier chasing a rat and begun a dogged campaign to recruit the two to his mission because he felt it would then gain a humanitarian light and help to rebrand his proposed mission, which people had nay-sayed since its conception.

Vain Wayne hoped to be rebranded as the philanthropist of the century who scooped up two talented philanthropists for a humanitarian mission to Mars that could save humanity (‘from what’ reporters asked Vain Wayne and then amongst themselves when he blew the question off). Instead, the media and political pundits simply called it like it was, a desperate attempt to save face and give meaning to a meaningless and dangerous voyage that was sure to become the cruel joke of the century.

But Vain Wayne stuck to his misguided guns and the mission went ahead in the face of public scrutiny, criticism, protests and anger. The media remained confused as to why Timothia and Anthony Hartz would associate themselves with such a farce, but the Hartz were done with the outside world, so burnt out and heartsick they’d become, and they refused to speak to the media except through Vain Wayne’s authroized press conferences that had a media wrangler to tell them what to say to the nosey reporters who stuck digital recorders in their faces and the paparazzi who snapped photos of them mowing their lawns and baqrbecuing in the back yard. One especially nosey paprazzi got a heinous picture of Anthony picking his nose while sitting on the toilet, and it was splashed across tabloid pages along with headlines like ‘Worlington mission members train with intensity’ and other mean-spirited thigns meant to shame, embarass and stir up controversy. The Hartz, to their credit, neglected to respond outright, though neighbours overhead Anthony shouting words that made their ears burn once he saw the stories. They let Vain Wayne play his media game and huddled closer in on themselves, counting down the days until launch.

And in the week before the launch, Timothia and Anthony, in their late 30s, sat down face to face on their couch and had the talk they hadn’t had yet.

They discussed the insanity of this trip and both acknowledged that they probably had PTSD from dealing with so many down and out people in Louisiana. Timothia and Anthony acknowledged this trip for what it was in thier minds: little better than a suicide mission and certainly a way to escape this terrors of the world they had become blinded by. The couple new there must be good things left in the world but were unable to see them, and this mission, if it didn’t kill them, might save them simply by giving them a new lease on life and a different perspective. Plus it would help a lot to releive the guilt they fought every day that they had enough to eat and a roof overtheir heads though their circumstances were by no means ostentacious. they lived in a one-bedroom apartment that they’re firends refused to visit because it was so distubring. But to Anthony and Timothia, it was more than they should have and more than they deservedin the face of the suffering they dealt with every day.

And so, burnt out, awash with pain and guilt and deep agony, Timothia and Anthony Hartz boarded this crazy space ship on a desperate suicide mission to Mars wihtout qualms. Their families and friends would receive letters akin to suicide notes, though never saying that they were killing themselves, and the couple would never look back, never try to contact anyone on Earth. As they stepped onto the space ship, hearts frozen in despair, they moved onwards and upwards to some manner of escape.

Timmy came onto the scene about a third of the way through the launch. After 10 years, the Hartz had recovered. They had been involved in a gardening initiative on the ship, and the years of connecting with the earth (ironic though it was) and helping create life before their eyes that made a real difference in the lives of their shipmates had a wholesome healing effect and Timothia and Anthony began to see the beauty of life once more.

After a particularly hard-to-grow type of pepper finally produced one beautiful vegatable, the two finished the day of excitement and invigoration with a night of passion in their private room. The next day, Timothia knew something was different, but she kept her suspicions to herself for two months, glowing away in the gardens with her own little special seed germinating inside of her. Finally, when one day Anthony asked how the hell she was gaining weight on the disgusting space ship food, Timothia shared the news with Anthony.

One might expect he would have been terrified, shocked, angry, disturbed, but he wasn’t. His lined, tanned face filled with warmth (the gardens had artifical sun lights) and he tool his wife into his arms and they held each other, full of love and the promise of new life and the beauty of it all.

The rest of the ship’s population had varied reactions, however. Mostly there was fear about sharing food and space, some anger that the fact had been hidden, much discussion about abortion and whether or not abortion laws applied on the ship.

But the hubub died in the face of the Hartz’ quiet patient loving joy, and over the next nine months, the communtiy accepted with excitement or reluctance, that there would soon be a new arrival.

On the day that Timmy Tony was born, the ship passed through a cloud of something. That was how the ship’s navigator reported it to the captain–sir, ummmm, we seem to be passing through a cloud of, ummmm, i don’t know, sir. It’s a definitely a cloud…ummm. of something, sir.

And his statement was recorded in the black box and so that was how it was logged, and little investigation and follow up was given, since the news that Timothia was going into labour was annouced through out the ship and many of the community gathered in the theatre which had been set up as a birthing room so that the communtiy could be part of this joyous occasion. Anthony was a little jealous and perturbed that his little family would have to share this very personal moment, but Timothia had pointed out that this truly was something they could do that would irrevocably change the lives of everyone on this ship, and he eventually accepted this last little act of humanitarianism. Plus, when he saw his son’s head crowning in the midst of the scary bloody gunk, he forgot everything else in the world but the most beautiful woman in the universe and the most amazing gift she was giving him right that moment. When he held his little mewling son in his grown-man’s arms, Anthony knew he’d actually died the day they left Earth and now he was happily spending eternity in Heaven. It was the best day of Anthony’s life, though there was certainly more good to come.

Life for Timmy was, obviously, unusual. He was the only child for a few years because no one else had the courage to bring a child into such a strange, cold and unpredictable atmosphere. But as more people got to know the Hartz family and saw the warm and beautiful life the couple created for their child, the fear dissapated and finally other pregnancies were announced. When Timmy was five, there were three new babies born, and the ship blossomed with new life. Arrangments were made for child care facilities, reassigning an unused room which was then decorated in child-friendly ways. The ship’s community moved into a new era of creativty and play, as the arrival of children opened up a softer, sweeter side of the men and women who now called this tin can home. New divisions also formed. Some people didn’t relish the presence of children and forbade them from entering certain areas of the ship. At first, the parents wer outraged and the word discrimination was tossed around, but Timothia and Anthony calmed their shipmates, pointing out the fact that it was only fair there be areas where those who were not fond of children could escape to. We must be tolerant of everyone’s desires on this issue, was what the Hartz told those who knocked on their door. The community had begun to really look up to the Hartz and often consulted them on community matters. It became clear that people were beginnign to choose the Hartz family as the leaders of the community, the unofficial mayor and mayor’s wife and son, which pissed Vain Wayne off to no end. He had appointed himself the leader of the mission, and despite the fact that in the past 10 years he had faded into the background of life, it finally became clear that the Hartz family was becoming competition. He regretted his choice to include them on the mission.

The truth was, though, that Wayne Worlington didn’t really care. He’d lost any political motivations to lead anyone about two years afte the launch, when it became clear that Earth had pretty much forgotten about the ship and gotten on with their lives. Oh, they’d probably attempt to help if the ship ran into trouble, but there was little Mission Control could do from Earth. Once the ship dropped out of the media eye and Wayne stopped receiving messages from the press for interviews and invitations to connect via sat phone with politicans to give glowing updates, there was really very little for Wayne to do. He lost sight of why this trip had been so important to him, and spiralled very quickly into an existential depression that involved a lot of booze and chasing what few women were available on the ship and willing to talk with him. He’d brought a efw prostitues with him in his personal entourage, but all of his authority had dwindled and died before the five-year mark, and these women had found other passions to pursue.

Of course there were no drugs available on board. The screening process for illegal substances had been stringent, since the psychologists for the mission had insisted that drugs could be disastrous and deadly for everyone if one druggie got out of hand. Wayne had never been into drugs much and so had allowed the stringency, but now he regretted it. He found himself craving drugs, though he’d never tried them. He yearned for the oblivion he’d heard they provided, and the ship-made alcohol just didn’t cut it. It was tasty and you could definitely get a good buzz on, but he wanted black-out oblivion that could shut him away from the deep sense of failure that plagued him in sober moments. Instead, he drank as much of the tinny ship’s swill as he could and resorted to trying to bribe one of the ship’s nurses to give him some of the limited sleep meds so he could go unconscious for a while. Some days and depending on the nurse, he could convince them, buttering them up with whatever charm he could muster from his political training. Or so he though. Mostly, they just felt sorry for him or annoyed by him and gave him the meds so he would leave them alone. Wayne was in spiritual agony and he was doing his best to run from it in this confined and limited life he had sentenced himself to.

Wayne was not the only one who had signed on for more than they could handle. A number of people haunted the ship’s bar, agonizing over the lives they had lost, unable to see any good in the present lives they led. Many of these people had been down and out on Earth and thought the trip would make them rich, or famous, or change their lives into the dreams that they’d always had and had never achieved. They, too, drowned themselves in the ship’s alcohol, trying to escape the reality knocking at the door of their individual lives: wherever you go, there you are. they were sentenced to always be the people they’d always been, and without ambition and self-esteem and the will to make something for and of themselves, these people lacked the imagination to create their new lives. And so they fell back into old habits, and when these habits were unavailable, they foundered deeply in the weakness of their characters.

It would not be long after Timmy’s fifth birthday and the spate of new births that the ship would also experience the first suicide. It rocked the community that was rolling with the happiness of babies. This sadness tempered the joy of new life, but those who were strong enough took the pain in stride, determined to make the best of what they had. And for many it was easy to find things to be thankful for–the shelter and daily meals, a community of like-minded people that they’d learned to call friends. And the prospect of of a new and exciting future for either themselves or their offspring.

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One Response to Flash Fiction Challenge: Superheroes Plus

  1. ajbauers says:

    This is a fun start to a story. I really enjoyed the charcter changes you already established. The line about the cloud of something lease me laugh, especially when you noted it would be in the black box history.

    Do you plan on posting the remainder of your story on here?

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