Since we are all social distancing for the next few weeks, we here at Bad Shakespeare, Inc decided that to pass the time we should have weekly writing contest. The twist is, everyone is a winner! That’s right, every week we will are throwing out a writing prompt, and whoever answers the call by sending me a short story will be posted here.
This week’s prompt: “Everyone in the world has superpowers except one person.” Below are the stories.
by Molly Claflin
The midnight rush was about to begin in Hareton. The streets were empty except for one car. The car of Sarah Serpentine. The skies lit up with the lights of millions of people flying across the sky. Sarah watched in amazement, as the superheroes of the city took to the skies.
Hareton was always known in history as the epicenter of superheroes. Maybe this was from its lush wilderness or it’s global restaurants, but they always found their way to this Northern New York town. Few normal humans moved here, as it was in the middle of nowhere. The community revolved around superpowers, so they weren’t too friendly when they met Sarah.
Both of her parents were superheroes, and they assumed that she would be one too, but when her powers didn’t arrive, they knew she wasn’t one. Sarah didn’t mind not having powers. You could say she actually enjoyed it. She didn’t have to deal with falling to her death when she ran into someone by mistake, there was no traffic on her morning commute, and she didn’t have to deal with being struck with a lightning bolt whenever she let out an accidental attack.
Her day was not that different from a normal citizen in Hareton. She started by going to a local café for breakfast to get some coffee and a croissant with the normal crowd. She went back to her apartment, got in her car, and drove down the road.
Her boss greets her at ‘The Cape Corporation’ where she is an accountant. She works with people to set up investors to sell hats to random strangers. Once she arrives at work, its all MEETINGS, MEETINGS, MEETINGS, MEETINGS. Then she had a twenty-minute lunch break. Then MORE MEETINGS, which went on until she basically went insane.
“IT’S A MIRACLE!” Sarah shouted once she left the office. The meetings were finally over. Once she arrived home, she ordered some noodles of Grub-Hub and crashed onto the couch. Her work was finally done. This is how a day goes by in the life of Sarah, the only powerless person in the city of Hareton.
Just for humor- A poem written by Sarah about meetings (because I have nothing better to do)
Sleeping, moaning, watching
Counting down the many hours
How Everything Changed for Samuel Roberts
By Charlotte Garretson
The daily routine for Samuel Roberts has been mostly consistent his entire life…until it wasn’t. The date was July 23, 2014, and Samuel woke up drenched in sweat, he’d had a nightmare. Samuel had dreamt that he was cussed out by all his peers, that he didn’t fit in anymore. That was his biggest fear, not fitting in.
Samuel pulled himself out of bed to go take a shower. After he got out of the shower he got dressed and went downstairs to make his coffee. Before he left for work he was listening to the radio and what he heard would change his life forever:
“We interrupt this program to bring you and important message.” Samuel looked up from his breakfast and tuned in, concerned. “A YouTube-famous New York City family has caught what we believe to be the first-ever captured aliens. When the FBI tried to confiscate the other-worldly lifeforms they exploded, leaving a black cloudy sky all around the world.” Samuel shrugged it off, he didn’t believe in aliens much less anything the news was blabbing about.
Samuel went to work that morning to find a cockroach running around his desk. He took off his shoe to squish it, when it seemed to morph from a cockroach to his coworker Karen. “What the hell!!” Samuel screamed. Karen started screaming at the top of her lungs and ran out of the room. Not a minute later, another one of his coworkers turned into a fox.
It was all over the news the next morning: “We have multiple strange cases around the world, people have apparently been shape-shifting into different animals. We have reason to believe that this may be related to yesterday’s alien cloud.” Samuel was starting to get worried. He was wondering – and hoping – that everything would be OK.
ONE YEAR LATER…..
It was all the news could talk about all year. Everybody had powers, everyone in the world could shapeshift now. Everyone except Samuel. Samuel’s biggest fear was coming true. He didn’t fit in at all. Samuel became incredibly depressed. He never left the house and he even stopped going to work. After he had skipped work for two weeks his boss called and threatened to fire him if he didn’t come in.
Samuel went into work the next morning, terrified. Nobody said anything to him the whole day, so he asked his coworkers, “Aren’t you going to say something about me not having powers?”
“Wait, you can’t shapeshift?” his coworker Jake asked, confused.
“Yeah,” Samuel responded.
“Oh my god I wish I was you! I hate having powers!” Karen exclaimed.
“Yeah! Me too, we don’t know how to use them right. They are SO annoying!” Jake yelled.
“Once I was leaving the dinner table and accidentally turned into an elephant,” Karen said.
“Wait, you hate your powers!?” Samuel asked.
“Yes! You shouldn’t worry about not having them, they aren’t an advantage and people will probably look up to you if they find out,” Karen told him.
Over the next couple years Samuel became happier and more accepting of the fact that he didn’t have powers. Samuel was finally able to overcome his greatest fear and he was later promoted to CEO of his company. Nothing can hold back Samuel Roberts.
by Mike Sullivan
Four days after everyone but Barry got superpowers, things were intensely weird.
At first, Barry had almost felt left out. People were flying, turning invisible, blasting stuff from their eyeballs, and teleporting. It was chaotic, but joyous, like watching a baby take their first few steps in a row. When The Light had flashed, it was like everyone had a brand-new lease on life. Everyone wanted to know everything they could learn about the limits of their new powers (to some folks’ detriment; apparently, flying burns up 200 calories a minute at 100kph, meaning a lot of people whose bodies had consumed all the fat, muscle, bone marrow, and water inside went crashing like mummified test dummies into the Pacific, although Barry supposed they probably had a fantastic view before their eyeballs desiccated completely). And there was kindness and naïve curiosity, too, because everyone wanted to know how everyone ELSE’S powers worked, too.
By Day Two, things took on a clearer picture: an eerie purple light, origin unknown, had flashed across the entire world (maybe the universe?) and altered every human on the planet’s DNA, probably permanently.
Everyone, that is, except Barry.
Barry had taken great pains to keep from advertising that he, alone, had not received superpowers, for reasons he figured ought to be pretty self-explanatory. Barry worked at a small camera shop as a salesman, and he harbored some dreams of publishing a book of his own photography one day. He particularly loved the work of Eugene Atget; his work in Old Paris was, Barry thought, romantic and haunting, and hardly could be replicated today, which made it special and dear to Barry. He had done some of his own work in his home city of Washington, DC, but had a lot to accomplish, he thought, if he wanted to live up to Atget’s example.
By Day Three, humans did what humans do. Super-powered factions formed, and the so-called War of Superiority had begun. The Air Lords felt their flight made them akin to angels or gods, while the Eye Blasters crowed that nothing could stand up to their power. The Transparent touted their ability to spy and engage in reconnaissance (they’d have been formidable, thought Barry, paired with the Air Lords, but no one seemed interested in teamwork). The Bamfers argued that they were almost literally untouchable as they blinked out of existence in one place and reappeared in another (whether they dematerialized and rematerialized or traveled in some kind of pocket dimension where time behaved differently was unclear, and the Bamfers weren’t talking). Everyone was convinced they’d been granted their specific power as part of a grand destiny they were to fulfill. Barry just did his best to keep his head down and stay out of the way.
So the Transparent, superior thieves, hoarded all the food so the Air Lords stayed grounded for lack of calories, while the Eye Blasters levelled city blocks to flush out the Transparent. The Bamfers attacked everyone with impunity, when they weren’t getting flattened by Eye Blasts or having their throats slit by the Transparent. It was the most violent and bloody twenty-four-hour period in human existence.
Day Four began with a global armistice. And then, the aforementioned weirdness.
The Eye Blasters all started going blind, then brain-damaged, then brain-dead. Turns out you can’t fire hot plasma through a human pupil forever without doing some damage, and it’s only worse if you stop firing and let the plasma back up.
The Transparent started disappearing and never coming back. Apparently, every time you make yourself invisible, you lose some of your structural integrity. Your atoms get bonded to photons, and some are carried away forever at the speed of light, until there’s simply not enough matter holding your body together.
The Bamfers opened up about their powers. It was a pocket dimension, after all. The trouble is, it was inhabited, and the things that crawled in the fringes of that dimension realized they had something of a taste for Bamfer meat.
The Air Lords, having tasted the firmament, couldn’t give it up. One by one, they killed themselves, exceeding the sound barrier and disintegrating in massive, fiery arcs. The last Air Lord, before accelerating to her doom, claimed that the Wendigo was carrying them all off, its whispering promise of the sky driving them all to madness.
On Day Five, Barry woke up as the only human being left on Earth. He made himself some breakfast and resolved to get to the hardware store for topsoil and seeds, as he was going to need to plant a pretty large garden on the Mall. Of course, he would move into the Smithsonian Castle. He would take the purple flashbulb he had built, whose incredibly complex design had occurred to him in a dream, as well as the bismuth coffin in which he had placed himself before triggering it, and entomb it in the catacombs below the U.S. Capitol, where he would lay himself to rest once he got too old to farm and keep himself going.
But, most importantly, he would take his camera. Eugene Atget had miraculously captured the empty, haunted streets of Old Paris before it had tragically become a bustling, human-infested metropolis, with faces and hair and bodies ruining the perfect, clean lines of the buildings and streets and edifices. Barry had always thought it was unfair that he, possessed of such a keen eye for form and structure and such a yearning to see the city stripped naked from its hideous, meaty garments, would never get to truly follow in his hero’s footsteps.
And then, the dream. The bulb. The Light.
Barry smiled, and went off to shoot, develop, and hang his masterpieces in the Corcoran, tearing down the old, flawed, human-focused nonsense and exercising his vision, his talent. His superpower.
by Emma Horn
It was one of those days for Susan. The day started with alarm screaming at her and then getting snoozed a dozen or so times until it was late enough to be a dry shampoo and extra deodorant sort of day. That whiskey she had last night wasn’t enough to make her hung over but, it was just enough to make her not want be moving very quickly this morning. Normally she would’ve woken up at the first alarm and spent time scrolling thru social media to see what sort of amazing and enviable adventures her friends were getting into. But that day she just wasn’t in the mood to see how amazing everyone else’s lives were and chose not to even look.
Finally she pulled herself out of bed, did the minimum of effort to look presentable and headed to work. But, like so many, the green siren beckoned her with it’s sweet caffeinated goodness, and she took a detour, knowing full well that it would make her even later to work. “Dirty chai and extra toasty bagel for Susan!” the barista called out as soon as she entered the door. While she thought it was a little weird, she decided that maybe she needed to just visit a different At the first sip of the spicy slightly bitter beverage, her day seemed to get so much better. After paying, she went to walk out of the door, a door she would always accidentally walk into leaving, distracted by her coffee. Today though, the door was open and before she knew it, she was standing outside holding her coffee and breakfast without carefully balancing it all just so as to avoid the all too common spills on her shirt. Maybe someone nice had actually held the door open for once, she thought, and brushed it out of her mind and continued her quick walk to work.
Finally at her work, Susan sat and booted up her computer. As waited for it to load, she stared out the windows on the far side of the office and noticed something strange. When she was walking to work it was a beautiful day, 75 and sunny, with out a cloud in the sky. As she looked out the window though, she kept seeing these strange shadows and dark shapes appear and disappear, sometimes with flash of what looked like color. She heard just the faintest of noises, not thunder or rain or anything else normal but something all together different. Shaking her head, she thought how she must be seeing things and really should get two shots of espresso in her dirty chai tomorrow. Putting her headphones on, she got to work. Inputting data into spreadsheets was not the most exciting job in the world but it paid the bills and it gave her time to listen to all of her favorite podcasts, ones all about true crime.
She knew from the very start of the that today would be one of those days when she eats lunch at her desk so that she could get thru the load of reports she was already incredibly behind on. Susan had never really been a water cooler gossip type of person and would rather listen to her podcasts that gossip with her coworkers about who was winning the most recent reality show or who had brought the questionable jello salad to the work potluck last week. In fact, Susan generally didn’t talk with her coworkers at all, interacting only when she absolutely had to for “team building”.
All during the work day, Susan kept her head down and head phones on, plugging thru the reports, not really noticing that some of her coworkers were moving incredibly fast from one place to another, that Steve three cubes behind her seemed to have scales instead of skin, or that Paige (the one with the absolute perfect hair) kept phasing in and out, shimmering for just a moment and then disappearing. Leaving her desk only for restroom or quick stretch breaks, Susan was much more focused on finding out the true story behind her favorite true crime legends. Finally, it was five o’clock. Time to go home. She booted down her computer and plugged her headphones into her phone and started the walk home.
Arriving home, she decided that tonight she wanted pad thai delivered from her favorite place. Finally stretching out on the couch, as she waited for her food, she decided that it was time to see what her friends were up to on social media. As she scrolled thru her feed, she was shocked. “Look at this video of me flying!” one of her friends posted. “I have laser vision” posted another. Blurry photos and videos of what was supposed to be showing super speed seemed to be every other posting #Iamasuperhero tagged in almost every one. People were bragging not about their enviable lives but about their newly found powers and abilities.
Susan, being a little confused, tried a few things herself. First, removing her thick glasses. Nope, no laser eyes. She tried opening the door with just her mind. Nope. She tried super speed, but could only walk and run the same amount. She checked her appearance. No scales or shiny metal skin or extra arms or legs or heads. Everything seemed normal. No extra powers or abilities. But, it was ok with Susan. A quiet life of podcasts, coffee, work and pad thai prepared just right seemed just about perfect to her. Although tonight did end with a couple extra glasses of whiskey, toasting herself over how strange the world was an how absolutely normal she found herself.