We’ve picked the winners of our June 2016 short story contest and you’re in for some great reads. Kelly Sturtevant won third place with her ‘super’ response to our prompt “Forging Colossal Character.”
Gregg forced his large hands to stop twisting nervously in his over-sized lap. The chair felt too small; the room felt too small; or maybe he felt too big in the ticking silence. So far “Ms. Felix”, as she had brusquely introduced herself, had not been very warm or inviting. Even her brief handshake had been all bones and sharp nails in the back of his hand.
He was suddenly acutely aware of how loud his breathing was, but trying to take slow, easy breaths while she frowned at his resume right in front of him was making him light headed and woozy. Her furrowed brow made him nervous that she did not like what she was reading. She was so imposing, he was even afraid to think to himself that the scowl might be a squint and she may need reading glasses. He was certain It was disappointment on her face, not myopia.
Were there too many jobs on there? It was not always his fault that he had to change positions. Things happen. Was his education not good enough? He had a hard time finding a school that fit his needs. Was she unimpressed by his references? None of them were superheros like her. Shame was starting to heat his face bright red. Was……
She suddenly put the papers down and folded her hands together on the desk in front of her, interrupting his train of thought.
“So, … Mr. Rhodes (an almost imperceptible check of the resume for his name), What do you think makes you a good candidate to be the next Colossus?”
“Other than my size?” The joke, meant to be an ice breaker, fell absurdly flat.
Looking supremely unmoved she said, “Yes”.
“Crash and burn.” He thought as he winced internally. He knew showing his discomfort on his face or in his posture would be an even worse move than that “joke”.
He took a deep breath, to mask his swirling thoughts and gain a moment to think. He had been trying to prepare for this very question from the day the slim green “man” had brought the silk wrapped note card with the interview date to his door.
What did qualify him to be a superhero? It is all he ever wanted, but what made him stand out? Before finding the ad in the newspaper left on the weight bench at the gym he worked at, he never thought it was even a possibility to be one. That it was something you even apply for. At that moment he knew it was Kismet/Fate/Karma that he find that ad and get this position! But now he had doubts. What made him special?
Gregg knew he was big. Very big. And broody. But that alone was not enough. He had toyed with saying he felt the city needed to be cleaned up and protected, but that could be taken wrong. “Our lady of the cats” across the big shiny desk might think he meant they were not doing a good enough job. “I want to help” was too trite and overused. He had to make a mark and leave an impression. A big one!
He had always been driven to be a superhero, but he needed a way to communicate that right now at this moment. He knew he was taking too long to speak and was starting to sweat. His breath came in shorter bursts and his heart raced. This is how he felt the night his family died in the fire. That was the first time he heard the voices clearly. They told him his destiny was to keep this from happening again.
How could he tell her that? He was also comfortable at crime scenes. He was there when the police found those boys, broken in the gully. They thought a wild animal must have attacked them they were so damaged. One policeman tried to keep him from looking, to keep him from getting upset. He was not upset. Those boys had been bullies. Picking on him about his size and scars from the fire. The voices told him his Destiny again as he stood in twilight enveloped by the red and blue lights of the emergency vehicles.
He could not really tell her that either. Or the one about the time he pulled his only friend from the collapsed warehouse. The official ruling was a very localized earthquake had caused the building to fall in on itself. The voices really sang that day. He was on his way!
He had to speak! The silence must have been going on for hours now! It had to say something, do something…
He was looking down at a very startled women in cat ears who was watching papers float gently down onto her overturned desk. It took him a moment to realize he was standing over her and the desk. If she spoke, he could not hear. The voices were too loud, congratulating him on making a big impression.
Thanks for reading! Check in next Friday for our second place winner.