I don't really have any preface this week. We lost a team member last week, and another nonsub bit the dust.
The challenge this week was to write a short story about a person in a comic book universe who has a truly useless superpower. The person could use that superpower to their advantage, or be messily destroyed when the superpower proves just as useless as it seems.
Here's what I came up with:
…Meanwhile, on the other side of town….
With Ironfist and The Human Torpedo chasing wild geese in the warehouse district, their arch-nemesis Riboflavin has broken into the vault of the Central Trust. Having incapacitated the guards and deactivated the security system, it seems nothing can stop the madman. The villain’s victory assured, he doesn’t even notice the man in tan spandex approaching the vault.
“Ah! Holy cow, you scared me. What are you doing here? And what on earth are you wearing?”
“I’m here to stop you, evildoer, and the particulars of my super suit are none of your business!”
“Charming. Before I brutally murder you, what’s your name?”
“I am Tapioca!”
“I heard you the first time. What would motivate you to come down here and get slaughtered? Do you even have a super power?”
“I can conjure pudding from thin air!”
“Did you hear what I said?”
“How much pudding?”
“About 4 or 5 servings”
“That’s all I’ll need”
“Enough of this, I’ve got to get moving so….glurk…gak”
“I didn’t say where I’d be conjuring the pudding, did I?”
Riboflavin’s response is drowned out as his lungs begin to fill with precisely 5 servings of chocolate pudding. His horrified expression is etched permanently onto his face, with a small brown river dribbling out of his nose. The grateful (if slightly disturbed) security guards ask Tapioca how they will contact him if they need him in the future.
“Wherever there is crime that can be stopped with 4 or 5 servings of pudding, that’s where I’ll be.”
K: This had me at “Riboflavin” and I giggled throughout. Another useless superpower comes through (sure, it was more of a “kryptonite” thing than a clever use of something stupid, but it’s all good). Just about every line of spoken dialogue was chuckle-worthy, but I have to single out the specificity of “4 or 5 servings” as my favorite. This gets four or five points. You know what? 5.
B: Is it supposed to be “man in tan spandex?” Either way, this made me laugh out loud. This entry is made by “4 or 5 servings.” If it’s just “4 servings” this is half as funny. 5
I really liked the idea of this challenge, but it stumped me like none other (except for maybe the Battle of the Mimes last year). I came up with dozens of awful ideas, one semi-great idea (that I came up with while slightly drunk that I couldn't remember the particulars of the next morning), and absolutely nothing that stuck. With one hour left til deadline, I had written absolutely nothing. At that point, I did the sensible thing. I panicked.
One constant I'd had all week (other than an idea of the "British League of IndePendent Supers" which I thankfully discarded) was the idea that the less than useful ability was going to be making some seemingly benign substance appear out of thin air. It was all I had to go on, and I was eating a pudding cup at the time, so I went with it. The dialog came pretty naturally, though I was worried that basing the entire gag around the dialog might be a little risky (an unfounded fear, apparently). The much heralded "4 or 5 servings" line just seemed to flow with the rest of the dialog and seemed funny, so in it went.
The hardest part was naming everyone. I liked Riboflavin as a villain name (what kind of power, if any, does that guy have? It certainly isn't the ability to breathe pudding.) The A-list heroes were the hardest to name, as most of the good, or even cliché ones are already taken in some form or other. By the time I got to naming the hero, I only had about 30 minutes left, and I hadn't even proofread anything yet - hence the unimaginative, but oddly fitting "Tapioca". In all, from concept to finished product, it came off in about 30 minutes. After a quick proofread to make sure I hadn't made any glaring grammar errors, I sent it off. Sometimes I'll agonize over certain sections and re-think things for way too long; I didn't have that luxury here, and I think that actually worked for the best in this case.
Again, a nonsub on our team means we'll be sending someone careening out of the game, but after that, it looks like we might actually have ourselves a game. The game really starts on Tuesday.