But I promised a superpowers genre tale for Flush the Fiction, so here you go:
He billed himself as the Human Fireball. Generic name for a weak pyrokinetic. All that he could really do was light things he was touching aflame. He could light himself too–but that cost him a fortune in clothes, so he usually didn’t.
Lorelei was tending bar that night when he got drunk and lit it. All of those flammables—first thing, she tripped the sprinkler system. After the fire was out, she took his face between her hands and kissed him deeply.
When he crumbled to arid dust, she swept him into a dust pan. Don’t upset an aquamancer.
Oddly enough, this tale was inspired by this image:
That turned up on Google’s first images page with the search term “image”. That’s random, no? (Hell No.)
Rick removed the ring from the crumbled debris of his meteorite. It was highly polished and contained multi-colored metallic flecks. He brushed the remaining fragments of meteorite rock away, and rubbed the ring clean with his fingertips. It appeared to be the perfect size for his ring finger.
Without really stopping to think, Rick put the ring on.
And jumped back in surprise. His hand turned black. Jet, pitch, ink—the complete and utter absence of color. His other arm, his legs, his stomach, his whole body was now as dark as the deepest shadow, just a hole punched out of the corn and dirt and color of the world around him. Now that’s just eerie-looking as hell, Rick thought, and his heartbeat skyrocketed.
He turned his hand over, he could feel the muscles moving it, but he wasn’t getting any visual cues. No sunlight on the top or shadow beneath, no color at all. A hole shaped like a hand. Light behind it, cornfield and dirt and sunshine, normal.
Curious, Rick glanced down. He wasn’t casting a shadow. Light seemed to strike him and just disappear. Heat—no, he couldn’t feel any heat from the sun, but he didn’t feel cold either. Temperature neutral? What do they called that, thermal equilibrium? Is that even possible?
He touched his hands together, and that still felt normal. No pain, no discomfort. And he felt—yep, he slipped off the ring.
And jumped again, dropping the ring in the dirt. Color just turned back on, *snap*, and his hands were back to normal. He stooped and picked the ring back up, his hand shaking.
Whatever this thing is…
“Think it landed over there.” A voice, shouting from over in the corn field, maybe a hundred yards away.
Osterman. Without a doubt, the Frankenstein Brigade was headed this way.
Rick slipped the ring into his pants pocket and slipped deeper into the standing corn. Time to exit stage right before the Jocks found his meteor site. Once he felt far enough away, he turned in the direction of the corn rows and began running.
We’re knocking on a thousand words, and there’s so much still to explore. I’ve reached the conclusion that this tale can’t be told without at least a novelette. YA novel, probably; they tend to fall in the gap between long-form short stories and short novels.
So it’s inappropriate for Flush the Fiction. Going to just back-burner this project (for now).
This last week had been a small slice of hell. Osterman and his Varsity buddies were all football players, and of course they’re all massive and bulked up. Steroids, Rick thought, I bet they have the tiny winkies to match their tiny brains.
Best avoided. Meeting the Frankenstein Brigade again would only lead to more bruises and pain. So Rick peddled his bike around the strip-mall and toward the corn fields today, instead of his regular route.
Thinking dark thoughts and plotting impotent vengeance schemes Rick knew would never happen. Not in the surrealist world at Beacon High. He pedaled along in silence, thinking about the math homework and what Mom might be making for dinner.
Suddenly he heard the eardrum-piercing low-flying military jet sound, almost directly overhead. Looking up, his eyes just registered the impression of a fireball, roaring past and into the cornfields. Just a blink, and it was already gone.
Then the boom, and an explosion of dirt and plants and flaming corn cobs. Expanding into the sky, and falling back just as quickly. What the hell was that?
Dumping his bike at the side of the road, Rick pushed his way through the rows of corn plants. Came from over here, he thought, just as his foot bumped against a sizable and charred clod of dirt.
Rick started moving more cautiously as he passed through the corn plants. Some still smoking, but too green to really burn. Not any real danger of a cornfield fire. He could see a clearing in the plants just ahead, and he pushed aside the last corn still standing around the–crater?
A hole in the dirt, twenty or thirty feet wide. Must’ve been a small meteor. The field was pushed up around it, forming walls of earth. In the cavity inside, Rick could feel heat, and saw a small, glowing rock about the size of a fist.
The glow was diminishing quickly as the rock cooled. Rick approached, carefully testing the earth with the toe of his tennis shoe. Reaching down, feeling residual warmth of the earth around the rock. Carefully, he tapped the rock with one finger—hot, but not enough to burn.
This is awesome, Rick thought. How many guys get to find meteors?
He scooped up and examined the rock, tossing it from hand to hand as it cooled down. It looked vaguely volcanic, like something that had been melted and burned. In science class Mr. Scott said these things were supersonic, how fast is enough friction to melt rock?
As he turned the stone over, Rick noticed that bits and pieces of it were flaking away. Sandstone or sedimentary? Organic? It flaked and broke off like charcoal or graphite, my meteor is crumbling!
Just the tiniest pressure of his hands and the rock broke cleanly into several pieces. Among them lay a shiny, colorful ring.
First Draft, obviously, and more yet to come. Just concerned I may have to leave this story alone until after work. What’s the story behind the mysterious ring? What happens next?