flash fiction — about 780 words.
The problem with being a super-hero is the number of gadgets that get lost, or broken beyond repair. Oh sure, it sounds good: save the world, play with the latest tech. but the truth is, it’s dangerous out there; and when things go wrong, you have to act fast and count up the damages afterwards.
Kevin groaned as he checked his on-line banking site with his phone. There was no way he could afford to replace his rappelling harness; that meant he’d be back in the old suit for at least a month. He shifted his legs in uncomfortable rememberance of exactly how much that old harness pinched. Ah well, nothing to be done about it. The surveillance mic he could probably fix, the way the static was intermittent led him to believe there was just some kind of loose connection. And the night-vision goggles were too important to put off. Thinking of which… Kevin grabbed a pair and hid them behind the counter to ring up on his employee discount later. Too bad he couldn’t fit in working at the outdoor store too, or he could discount a new harness. Price he paid for choosing a night job with no, well, pay.
In the comic books, all the super heroes were independently wealthy, financed by the government, or didn’t need jet packs to fly. Well, you worked with what you had, and there is no turning down destiny. Kevin thought back to the day he realized that he had to don a mask and protect the world.
It had been summer, and he had just figured out that summer dresses plus the little bridge between the library and the rest of downtown made for better entertainment than the movie theater. With half of school break over, and the other half still sitting comfortable before him, Kevin had fallen into a routine of sleeping late, eating a large brunch, and then bicycling down to spend the rest of the day under the bridge with his best friend, Freddy Kaplington. Freddy always had Redvines in his pocket, so the two would chew thoughtfully and wait for the girls from school to pass over head.
On that particular Saturday… Kevin’s head hurt as he tried to remember. The hazy gold of a perfect summer day swam behind his eyelids, as he tried to hold on to the story.
“Hello?” The woman in front of him looked irritated, and Kevin wondered how long she’d been trying to get his attention.
“Sorry, ma’am, I didn’t have much lunch, I guess.” She looked suspicious, and Kevin hoped she wouldn’t think to mention his odd behaviour to his manager. This place gave the best employee discounts he’d ever gotten. He rung her up, in what he hoped was a competent and efficient manner, and smiled at her as she collected her credit card, purse and shopping bag.
Once she was gone, he slumped agianst the register, and rubbed his eyes. They burned and itched most days. Sometimes he put drops in them, but he’d just run out and if the mobile banking site hadn’t lied, he’d better not get more until he was sure his rent check had cleared.
In a way, it was like the day he first realized that superhero-dom was his destiny. He had been out of a job for almost four months, and had gone from applying to interesting ads to applying for anything that he thought he might possibly be able to fake his way into. He was in default of his student loans, and the gas had been shut off for weeks. He was standing in his kitchen, looking out of his many-stories-up apartment, and contemplating the way the pigeons could land on window sills but not the tops of buildings, because of the spikes people built in up there when…
The headache which had been threatening suddenly decided to split Kevin’s head open and conquor his body with one well-timed attack. Retching, Kevin slammed the keys that would lock his register, made a vague gesture at the only other cashier on duty, and dashed for the bathroom.
Watching the ramen noodles swirl and disappear from the toilet bowl, Kevin had trouble thinking of anything at all. Had he really eaten ramen for lunch? Maybe that had been breakfast. It was hard to remember. He used one hand to hold his skull together. It had been a long time since he last slept. For several nights running now, he’d gotten home just in time to hear the alarm clock going off.
Right, he needed a new alarm clock too. That was the problem with being a super-hero. All the gadgets that got lost or broken.