Flash Fiction: The Last Superhero

Ok, here’s another piece of flash fiction in response to a Chuck Wendig challenge at terribleminds.com. We had a list of 8 words and 4 of them had to appear in the story. This one came to me almost as soon as I read the list, thanks to some other ideas that had been floating around my brain recently thanks to a recent interview The Roundtable Podcast did with Matthew Wayne Selznick (website / twitter). You can find that interview here.

The Last Superhero

For a moment the whole country was silent. Every mourner, whether present in person or following along on TV, watched as the casket, covered in an iconic cape, made its way to the place of honour. Their greatest hero had fallen and everyone gathered with who they could to share their grief, and their fear.

Isaac watched the broadcast alone, surrounded by his fantastic, near magical, technological creations. He mouth curled ever so slightly when Senator Fitch stood up to give a speech. Perhaps it should have been you Senator, he thought. Or, at least, you too.

The senator struck a dignified pose as he began. “Today we mourn perhaps the greatest loss we will ever mourn,” he said. “These have been, sorely trying times. Our heroes are being cut down. The greatest of them lies before us today. We have almost none left. Though they surely deserve the rest and reward they have gone on to, I, like all of you, fear they have been taken from us too soon…”

Isaac turned off the funeral coverage and stood to stretch. There wasn’t much time left, and his final appointment would arrive momentarily. He took a step forward into a sunbeam and closed his eyes to enjoy the simple pleasure of its warmth.

That was how Jenni found him when she crashed through the roof like a falling star, and he felt thankful for her predictable need to restrain her rage long enough to seek answers.

“Did you think you’re so smart I wouldn’t realize it was you?” she said.

“No,” he said. When he opened his eyes he saw she wasn’t wearing her costume, but her aura of power wavered and rippled around her like sun-baked air on the horizon. Jenni Franz, better known as The Comet, looked ready to kill him.

“He was your brother!” Her aura pulsed and a table to her left exploded.

“Yes, Anthony was my brother, and the others were my friends.”

“So how could you kill them all? Jealousy? Madness? I keep hoping Dr. Hypno will pop up and tell me he made you do it, but that’s just a sad little fantasy to help keep me sane.”

“Actually, Dr. Hypno was the first one I killed. He’d been trying to go straight in a quiet little Canadian town on the Ottawa Rive.” He could tell his casual, matter-of-fact, discussion of murder, serial murder at that, was crushing her. He wished it could have been another way.

“Tell me why!” This time the force of her anger was directed square at him and Isaac flew 10 feet backward and crashed into a display case filed with framed photos of he and his friends’ triumphs. “You got the others with subtle plans and your twisted genius, but I’m here, face to face with you, and I know you for the monster you are now. You aren’t winning Isaac. So tell me why you did it, before I do something I regret.”

Isaac laughed weakly and winced as the many shards embedded in his back and arms cut him a little more. “Oh, I could tell you a thing or two about regret Jenni. Try realizing that to save billions of strangers you need to kill the people you love and care for the most. You couldn’t possibly carry the regret I have.”

“So it’s insanity. You’re delusional. I can’t forgive you Isaac, and I don’t know what they’ll do to you, but I am sorry for you. Maybe humans were never meant to handle your level of intellect.”

“Now you getting it. We aren’t heroes Jenni, and Dr. Hypno, Tiger Claw, Laser – they weren’t villains. We were all just cancer. A cancer in human evolution. A mistake. We aren’t a leap forward, we aren’t the future. We’re the weird growth in the species holding it back, weakening it from the inside. As long as ‘supers’ are around the rest of the world stagnates. We’re supposed to handle everything bad that comes along for them and when bastards like Senator Fitch start seeing the results we become a tool for keeping the people in line. Making sure everyone remains a good citizen while their superior leaders and exemplars take care of everything for them.”

“This is your excuse? I can barely understand what you’re saying!”

“Too bad. It’s the only one I’ve got. Now Jenni, I’m sorry, really I am. But you’ve made two big mistakes,” Isaac said as he stood up and straightened his clothes, despite the pain.

“No, Isaac. You can’t win. It’s over. We both know you can’t escape me now.”

“First,” he said holding up a finger, ignoring her words, “not only am I smart enough to keep you from learning this was all me, but I’m smart enough to make sure you figured it out exactly when I wanted you to. Second, your theory that I can’t escape you assumes I want to. I’m not trying to win Jenni, I’m doing what has to be done. Thank you for showing up on time. Even you can’t escape in under two seconds.”

Confusion gave way rapidly to understanding and then fear on Jenni’s face. She wasn’t as smart as Isaac, no one was, but she was damn bright in her own right.

Tears filled Isaac’s eyes. “I’m sorry,” he said as the bomb exploded, killing the last two supers on earth, and a new era began.

***

For the record the words of the random 8 I chose were: Cape, Senator, Funeral, Laser

If you liked this (or didn’t) feel free to sound off in the comments below. If you’d like to check out some more of my freely available fiction the master list can be found here.

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8 thoughts on “Flash Fiction: The Last Superhero

    • Yeah, standard 1000 word cap. I find with a lot of these flash pieces I could definitely write much more of the story that came before, or after. For some of them, I might. I’ve also got a brainstorm of an idea for a self-publishing/kickstarter project that would play heavily on the fact that these stories have so much room for expansion, but I’ll need about 31 stories of an average 800 words each and something of an audience (to make a even a very small crowd-campaign viable) before I can seriously think about attempting it.

      Oh and Nathann, this is the current contest, running until this Friday (the 31st). If you’ve got some spare time you should pop over to terribleminds and check out the full list of eight. I’d be interested to see what you came up with.

  1. Great concept, and you caught the comic-book plotting vibe very nicely. I wish there had been a little less Diabolical Monologuing, but I suppose that’s part of the comic book conceit. Personally, I’d rather have had the problem shown to me with the (not so) good Senator’s speech – what I got from him was generic politician speech (well played) – a few marching jackboots and pale frightened faces in the audience might have gone a long way to avoiding the need for Isaac telling Jenni the why of things. I did really like the fact that he’s killing “villains” and “heros” and there wasn’t much difference between them, though. Watching Batman tear up a city chasing down the bad guys really puts that in relief…

    • Thanks for commenting Jon. I definitely fell into the the Diabolical Monologuing cliche. Though, I think one reason for that is they’re kinda fun to write. Good points about the Senator, the story would be a lot better if it showed some fascism in action.

  2. Good story. I like the logic of why superheroes were bad for humanity. Maybe Jenni saw that at the end.
    Certainly see potential in here too, even in the small space. That’s what I like about these challenges, that you’re forced to focus on just one aspect of an idea.
    I’ve almost done 60 of these since last December, and am starting to go back and tweak them. Tweak for submission to some Flash publications, or to expand into a longer story.

    • Thanks Mike. I do find these challenges get me writing with all sorts of ideas. I too might go back to some of them in the future. Some of them, like this one, I could see full stories (novella, novel) coming out of. I’ll have to stop by your site and check out some of your writing, thanks again for stopping by mine. I love readers, and comments.

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