Tag Archives: flash fiction

Sweat Man (the worst superhero ever) [flash fiction]

I wrote this after seeing a prompt on a writing community. Prompt: “You have THE most useless superpower. Write about a day in your failed / hilarious / successful / ludicrous attempts at heroism.” Here is the result.

# # #

“So, you’re telling me you woke up yesterday morning with a new superhuman ability, and your power is that you get sweaty?”

“Yep, but there’s more to it than that. I can do it regardless of my physical state. Lounging in bed, riding in the elevator, standing in line at the grocer, I can sweat during the most mundane tasks you can imagine, even ones requiring no physical effort. I can stand in a walk-in freezer and sweat as if I just completed a triathlon.”

“That is so dumb,” my friend Keith replied, shaking his head and rolling his eyes. “What’s the point?”

“The point? Watch this,” I said. I closed my eyes and felt the perspiration manifest on my forehead. I wiped my hand across the expanse of skin, gathering a handful of my salty excretion, and slapped Keith in the face.

“OW!” Keith exclaimed. He wiped his face with the sleeve of his button-up shirt. “Dude, what the fuck?”

I smirked. “That’s right, bitch. Don’t diss the Sweat Nap.”

I was surprised by the volume of Keith’s laughter. After he stopped laughing he said, “Sweat Nap? Is that your superhero name? Wow, man.”

“Yeah, it’s like wet nap, but with swea–”

“No, I get it,” he interrupted. “Still stupid.”

“Look, it’s still a work in progress. Think you can come up with anything better?” I demanded.

Keith looked up at the ceiling, rubbing his chin with his hand. “Hmmm,” he said. “Sweat is salty, right? Like sodium chloride? How about ‘The Psycho Sochlo’? Or maybe ‘Lean Mean Saline’?”

“Jesus, Keith,” I said, pounding the countertop of the bar. “I want villains to be scared of me, not seek me out when they need to clean their contacts. Come the fuck on, dude.”

Keith opened his mouth to reply, but before he could speak there was a slam from the front of the bar. Both of us turned to see the door resting against the wall, open. In the entryway stood two men dressed entirely in black, wearing balaclavas and long jackets. “Shit,” Keith whispered. “Anarchists.”

“Oy mate, we’re the black blocheads,” the taller of the two said. He swung his arm out from under his coat. He held a sawed off shotgun in his hand. “And we’re here to free you from the bonds of your capitalist oppression.” The shorter man standing next to him grinned lecherously and brandished a knife.

“Uhhh,” I said, unsure of how to respond. “We’re both unemployed, guys, so we’ve pretty much already been freed from our capitalist fat cat overlords.”

Keith laughed. “Yeah, what he said. Plus, we already spent most of our money at the bar.” He motioned across the wood platform that separated us from the rows of bottles. We all looked, but the bartender who’d been standing there was nowhere to be seen.

The taller man stomped over to Keith and slammed the barrel of the shotgun against the back of his head. “Shut the fuck up, cunt, and give us your wallets!” he yelled.

Keith rubbed the back of his head. He glanced at me pleadingly. It was then that I knew I had to make an attempt to save us with my new-found power. I closed my eyes and began to summon the sweat. I could feel it gathering on my forehead, on my upper lip, even under my eyes. It began to run down my face, but I knew I’d have to do something more drastic if Keith and I would make it through this night alive. Focusing all my concentration on the liquid that was sliding toward my chin, I began to imagine it as a stream–no, a mighty river–springing from my forehead.

I opened my eyes and felt my head forcefully jerk back as a stream of sweat with the diameter of my forearm burst from face. It washed over the two men, drenching them with liquid. Thinking quickly, I aimed the stream at the eyes of the taller man, then those of his shorter companion. The two men started screaming and rubbing at their faces.

“It burns!” squealed the shorter man. He dropped his knife with a clatter and hopped around, rubbing his eyes with both hands.

The taller anarchist grunted and started shaking his head wildly. I stood up and smacked the shotgun from his hands, then bent over and grabbed it. The two men rubbed at their faces for another minute, and when they opened their eyes they were staring down the short barrel of the shotgun. They looked at me with shock and I said, “You two are all washed up.”

“You’re so bad at this,” Keith groaned from behind me. “But, uh, thanks for saving me.”

I turned to him and replied, “Of course, man . . . don’t sweat it.”

 

Stay tuned for the next episode of Sweat Man, wherein our intrepid hero is trapped in a box of silica gel by his newfound arch-enemy.

Punk rock story

I subscribe to /r/WritingPrompts. I don’t usually write anything based on the prompts, but I really liked the one today so I decided to write a short story. Warning: It’s a little dark.

The prompt:

Write a short piece using delusion to accelerate something very every day until it breaks down to absurdity. Use illness, or drugs, or sleep deprivation as your device, any stress that will degrade your narrator’s sanity until ordinary events assume profound weight and drama. Enter the story quickly like a punk rock song. Establish your authority by keeping every detail specific. Keep your secondary characters vague-make them serve their purpose and make their exit. Build to the absurd, quickly, and get out fast. -Writing prompt from Chuck Palahniuk.

The story:

The sixth hit of acid punches more intensely than the five before. I remember placing it in my mouth, bittersweet tang mixed with the taste of chlorine after it has sat out for several days. Is this shit mixed with something? I wondered. The half dozenth hit rests against my tongue, soaking in saliva, as my hand pulls away. Is this my hand, or is someone dosing me, plying me with drugs to reach some nefarious end?

Fuck it, I think. At least I’ve got entertainment. My wall, usually stippled and off-white stucco, becomes a movie screen, The Big Lebowski playing where a blank canvas normally lives. The Dude is drinking a white Russian. The Dude always drinks white Russians, and it puts me at ease as I shrink into the warm embrace of my easy chair. The padded arms provide support as I sink into the crease where the back cushion meets the seat.

Shut the fuck up, Donny! No, wait, Donny’s dead. Shit. I watch as The Dude and Walter tip over the coffee can. A fucking coffee can, Jesus Christ. What an end. A god damn roasted human coffee bean ground up and tossed to the wind. The breeze turns and carries Donny across my face and into my already dry mouth. His acrid taste sticks in the back of my throat, making me sputter and choke.

My roommate appears to my right, seemingly from nowhere. “You aight, bruh?” he asks.

Frat boy piece of shit. “I’m fine,” I groan in response. It comes out as a throaty warble that would convince no one. I’m still shrinking, ever smaller against the fluffy folds of the chair. I know that this is somehow my roommate’s fault. He gave me bad drugs, that fuck. I try to escape through the dark crevice where the back cushion meets the seat as the roommate’s eyes are carving through my skull.

He knows.

I flick my eyes back to the wall. No more Lebowski, no more Walter, Donny’s still dead. In their place I see the woodchipper scene from Fargo and I know that this is my judgment. There’s a feeling of free-fall, a sickening moment when my stomach starts its ascent into my throat, and then the crease of the chair pulls me in. It has become my death, and I feel the blades of the woodchipper cutting and whirring at my back. Flesh ripped from bone, sinew exposed.

As I explode against the wall behind the chair, a gory sneeze of blood and guts spread evenly in a fine mist, there comes a loud pounding from the front door. My roommate bounds across the room and throws the door violently against the adjacent wall. He pulls out a wad of cash and hands it to a dark man standing in shadows, trading it for a mysterious box. The roommate closes the door and places the box on the seat of my comfy chair. I feel an incredible heat where my legs had been just moments before. From my vantage point as a stain on the wall I see steam begin to rise, and I know that this box is melting through my lap. How is this happening? I wonder. I don’t even have a lap. I’m nothing more than a stain on the wall.

The pizza–ordered decades before, maybe even in another life–is finally here. What the hell am I supposed to do with this?

Great Moments in American Business: Truck Nutz

Originally written for and posted on my friend Steven’s blog, Carl Sagan’s Dance Party.

INT. SKYSCRAPER – BOARD ROOM – CLOUDY LATE AFTERNOON

The room is full of executive-types wearing suits. JENKINS stands before them, giving a presentation, artist rendering laid against a whiteboard along the wall. All eyes are on him.

     JENKINS
(nervously)

So, it’s like a ballsack, but for your truck!

Some of the suited men murmur. A few look at each other and slightly nod their heads.

     JENKINS  (CONT’D)
(with more confidence)

I call them ‘Testicars.’ The idea is that you can hang them from the front of your car to intimidate people when they look in the mirror and see you behind them.

SULLY, a man with an immaculately cut suit, stands and looks at Jenkins with narrowed eyes.

     SULLY
(angry, slightly raised voice)

Jenkins, this is a terrible idea, even for you. Worse than the Bike Boobs. No one wants tits on their bike, just like no one wants balls on their car. You’re such a fucking moron.

Jenkins hangs his head, a defeated look on his face. His partner, JEFFRIES, stands and points at Sully.

     JEFFRIES
(loudly)

Now wait just a minute, Sully. As usual, you run your mouth before you know all the facts! These aren’t just some crudely made scrota, these are cast in a mold made from a Brahma bull. Two men died getting the bull’s imprint.

One man in the room gasps. Another laughs and makes a poor attempt to act like it’s a cough.

     JEFFRIES  (CONT’D)
(with pride)

Not only that, but this product performed strongly in several focus groups, particularly among the 24-39 rural male demographic. We think the product will perform well on the market.

Sully looks cross, like he’s been told he’s been signed up to volunteer at a soup kitchen or adopt a stray animal.

     SULLY
(sarcastic)

Yes, I’m sure high school dropouts will be lining up to buy something called ‘Testicars.’ I still say it’s a stupid idea. You could at least give it a better name.

COLLINS interrupts.

     COLLINS
(enthusiastic)

How about ‘Truck Nuts?’ It’s vulgar and also plays up the idea that trucks are masculine.Truck Nutz

     SULLY
(reserved)

That could actually work… But what if we put a ‘Z’ on the end? Makes it more edgy. And they should hang off the back, maybe from the trailer hitch.

Heads nod in agreement. Excited whispers echo across the table. Several of them look toward the head of the table, where THE BOSS sits.

     JEFFRIES
(hopeful)

Well, what do you think, sir?

     THE BOSS
(with vigor)

Billings, give Jenkins and Jeffries a quarter million dollar advance to split for their brilliant idea! Give a million to Sully for being a hardass and giving the product a name that’s not total shit.

Collins opens his mouth as if to protest, but thinks better of it when he notices the glares from half of the men seated around the table.

     THE BOSS  (CONT’D)

Notify the rubber casters in Malaysia that we’ll need an initial run of eighteen million, enough to cover the Dixie states. Those rednecks are gonna go… nuts.