Category Archives: Potpourri
In a certain city at a certain time, people started developing superpowers. Here are their stories.
His daughter pouted. “I just want to hold hands.”
He reached over to press a finger against the old magazine left on the bedside table. Where skin touched paper, the magazine disintegrated.
“Is this what you want your hand to become?” he asked.
“But you can control it, right?” she said.
“Not always. And all it takes is one slip up. So the answer is still the same. No.”
His daughter pulled her blanket up over her nose, leaving only her expressive eyes visible.
“But my friends get to hold their daddy’s hands,” she complained.
“Your friends don’t have daddies with hands that can destroy anything they touch.”
His daughter fell silent, and he thought that was the end of the conversation.
“Mummy says when there’s a will there’s a way,” his daughter declared.
“There’s another saying. Prevention is better than cure,” he countered the familiar statement.
His daughter’s eyebrows quivered as she fought back tears, and it made him feel terrible, even though his caution was for her own good.
“You can hold my hand,” he said.
His daughter perked up.
“But you can’t touch my palm or my fingers. And if I tell you to let go, you let go immediately. Understand?”
His daughter nodded excitedly, throwing the blanket off her face.
Carefully, he offered one arm to her, resting the back of his hand on the blanket. He pointed out the safe spots on his hand, quizzing his daughter multiple times to make sure she had them memorised before he let her place her small hand anywhere near his own.
Little fingers rested lightly on his skin. It wasn’t quite handholding, but it was enough for his daughter. She beamed at him, and he couldn’t help but smile back.
“Are you ready to sleep now?” he asked.
“Yes, Daddy,” she said and wriggled back into her blanket cocoon.
He kissed her on the forehead, keeping track of where his hands were at all times.
“Goodnight,” he said.
With the back of his hand, he flicked the lights off and nudged the door closed behind him.
Genre: family, fantasy
Part of Hands of Destruction.
No one was an island. Everyone’s lives were intertwined with someone else’s, for better or worse.
For her, her relation to her husband had caused her to become a chronic hostage.
It wasn’t his fault… but it was. Her husband was one of the rare superheroes who didn’t keep their identity secret. Not by choice, but because he couldn’t for the life of him hide his love for his family, even when hiding his face behind a mask. The moment he kissed her, in public, while in costume, on live TV, everyone knew who they were.
So her husband ditched his mask, and she resigned herself to getting her life interrupted by her husband’s enemies and other enterprising criminals.
Fortunately, her husband wasn’t the only person in the family with superpowers. She had her own special ability, and she was much better at hiding it.
While her kidnappers talked among themselves, she reached out telepathically to her husband, as she had done periodically since she was kidnapped.
How far are you now?
Five minutes away.
Be careful with the roof. It conducts sound very well. We could hear rats running on top earlier.
Got it. See you soon, love.
See you soon.
Genre: fantasy, superpower
Takes place in the Potpourri universe.
There were three types of people.
People who received superpowers and used it to help people.
People who received superpowers and used it to earn money.
People who received superpowers and abused it to get what they wanted.
These people were the third type.
For the better part of the past hour, they harassed the lecturer.
“Give me good grades.” “I don’t want to do the assignment.” “This is booooring.”
They complained as they threw furniture around, tore up the floor, covered the lecturer and anyone who got too close in goop, and generally be a huge pain in the butt for everyone.
He had sat back, expecting a superhero to come and kick these people out, but no one came, and no one in his class wanted to step in and become a target. Who would want to if they didn’t have their own superpower to protect themselves?
But this had gone on long enough. If no one would step in, he would.
His fists trembled on the table in sync with his shivering legs.
If no one would step in, he would. He would.
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
The sudden whisper behind him made him jolt.
“Don’t move. I’m Kisme, a superhero.”
“If you’re a superhero, why aren’t you down there?” he asked without turning his head.
“I can create illusions, but I’m not a fighter. You can fight, but you’re not doing anything, and I’m guessing it’s because you want to protect your identity. We can help each other.”
Well, he had planned to go out anyway, identity hidden or not.
“How do I know if your illusions work?”
“I’ll create a full body suit for you. On your left arm, I’ll put a timer for you. As long as you can see it, you know your identity’s safe.” She stretched out a hand. “Shall we?”
He shook her hand. “Let’s do it.”
Without letting go, she presented him with the back of her hand.
“My superpower is one kiss for one minute’s illusion.”
“How many times should I kiss you?”
“How long do you need?”
He recalled his observation of the troublemakers.
He kissed the offered hand ten times.
A dark suit encased his arms and swept over the rest of his body. Ten lines wove themselves on his left arm.
“Ten minutes. Go.”
He launched himself down the lecture theatre, heading straight for the biggest threat to maximise his element of surprise. One solid hit to the jaw, and the telekinetic went down. He followed up with a kick to a gut next, then a chop to the neck, keeping to their blind spots as he struck them down one by one.
With eight lines left on his arm, he had them all out cold on the floor. With three lines left, he borrowed or salvaged enough to tie all the troublemakers up. With two lines left to go, an invisible hand tapped his arm.
“Don’t hit me. I’m going to turn you invisible so you can go back to your desk.”
His arm vanished from sight, along with the rest of him. The light pressure shifted into a firm grip that led him back to his seat.
Then like watercolour on paper, his body faded back into view. Everyone’s attention was on the commotion at the front of the lecture theatre. His secret was safe.
Invisible lips pressed to his forehead before all pressure vanished.
He looked around him.
But there was no one.
Genre: superpower, fantasy
Related to the Kisses series.
The end of a rope stuck out from underneath the sofa. She reaches down to grab the rope and pulls.
A small takeaway paper bag slides into sight.
She gags. How long has it been there? She can’t bring herself to check, but she needs to be sure. She reaches for the knot tying the bag close.
“Mum!” Her youngest dashes to her side. “Gimme.”
“What is this?” she asks instead.
Her youngest shifts from foot to foot, then dashes off once more to return with her eldest.
“Oh. You found it,” her eldest says, “Thanks, mum.”
He reaches for the bundle and she hands it over without a thought. By the time her mind catches up, the bag is already in her eldest son’s hands.
“What’s in it?” she asks.
“A surprise. You’ll see.”
And she does. Two weeks later, when her two boys present her with a set of handmade earrings and necklace strung together with the materials they had hidden in the bag.
“Happy birthday, mum!”
Genre: slice of life
Once, when he was a student, he studied supervillains for a school project. Specifically, how some supervillains, despite doing horrible, atrocious things, still managed to have a large fan base rooting for them to survive (or even win) in the movies.
How did they do it?
Why did people like them?
He observed and studied, half to get good grades, the other half to see if there was any magic secret he could apply to his own life.
His conclusion, in the end, was that a supervillain’s popularity boiled down to three ‘good’s: good writing, good acting, and good looks. That, and they lived in a fictional world that didn’t affect the readers/viewers, and there were plenty of things that they could get away with that would never fly in the real world.
So he didn’t learn any magic secret to popularity, but he got a good grade for that project. That was nice.
Then supers started to appear, and with them came superheroes and supervillains.
The school project, which he had thrown away but never quite forgotten, sprang back to the forefront of his mind.
This time, he would find what he was looking for.
When she stretched out her hand, her fingers looked translucent. That was how thick the fog was.
And the kids were playing hide and seek in this.
She hoped they had enough sense to stop hiding in the thick fog, but even if they did, it wouldn’t be easy. This area was chosen because there were plenty of hidden spaces. Great for hide and seek. Not so great for search and rescue.
They called for the children, but the fog swallowed their voices, and they still had to check every space they passed, just in case. Despite the challenges, they found the children, one by one, and brought them back into the building.
But two remained lost.
She continued the search, tucking her cold fingers into her sides for warmth. Her throat hurt from all the yelling but she couldn’t stop. Wouldn’t stop until both were found.
“You were right. You’ve been watching out for us since we were kids.”
A man stepped out of the fog, familiar yet foreign. Something nagged at the back of her mind but the thought slipped away like the fog around them.
“This is a memory. You found us hiding in the shed and no one was hurt. That was fifteen years ago. We’re all grown ups now. Follow me and you’ll see.” The man held out his hand.
It was strangely difficult to think. She stared blankly at the hand as her thoughts scattered like spilt marbles.
The man made the decision for her instead by gently wrapping his fingers around her wrist. Step by step, he led her.
Reality slammed into her with too-loud sounds and too-much action. Brown eyes watched her, familiar even behind a superhero’s mask.
“Shh,” he cut her off before she could finish his name. “Save your breath and rest here for a bit. You were just attacked by a supervillain but you’re safe now.”
She nodded numbly as memories trickled back into her mind. Her little cousin gave her a one-handed salute before throwing himself back into the fight.
Her little cousin was a superhero!!??
Genre: fantasy, superhero
What would make a man turn his back on the law to work for a supervillain?
Well, he couldn’t say for everyone else, but for him, it was all about the money. Righteousness wouldn’t put food on the table. Ideals didn’t pay the bills. Only a paycheck could do that. No matter where it came from.
Also, working for a supervillain wasn’t as unlawful as people might think. The controversial Alignment Register of ‘superhero’, ‘neutral’, ‘supervillain’ basically acknowledged supervillains as part of their society. And if supervillains were legal enough to be given rules and budgets for their plans, then it was legal enough for him to work for one.
No. That wasn’t it.
Why did he choose to work for a supervillain?
Because he loved the thrill of doing the impossible, which was his supervillain boss’ goal in everything she did.
And it paid the bills. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Genre: fantasy, superhero
After ten years, she finally painted the guest room.
Before the paint even dried, two supers crashed through the wall.
“I won’t let you get away with this!” declared one to the other.
“As if you can actually catch me,” the other crowed.
They circled each other in her damaged, still wet room, braced for another battle.
Not on her watch.
She grabbed them by the ears and pulled them to sit seiza-style before her. Years of motherhood and teacherhood had her falling into the familiar rhythm of lecturing naughty children. It didn’t matter that these were young men strong enough to rip her house apart with their bare hands, they needed to learn to respect other people’s property and to take responsibility for their actions.
And that was how she ended up kinda-semi-adopting two supers. After they fixed her home first.
Genre: fantasy, superpower, slice of life
Warning (and spoilers?): includes graphic descriptions of acne.
She had telekinesis. The power to do things other people did by hand using just her mind.
That meant that she could extract those annoying white blobs out of her pimples, clear out the gunk in her pores, remove unwanted hair to the roots, all without leaving a single mark on her skin. How handy!
Her friend looked at her.
“You get excited over the strangest things.”
“Can you extract my blackheads?”
Genre: superpower, slice of life
Everything would burn. By the time he was done, there would only be ashes, and even that he would scatter in the wind.
A hand gripped his sleeve.
“Stop. You’ll kill them,” she cried out.
He looked at the blood on her torn clothes, the tear tracks down her face mixed with grime and more blood, the missing…
“If they’re dead, they can’t hurt anyone else.”
“There are other people here too. Like me. If you burn this place down they’ll die too.”
“Then I’ll just burn them.” He reached for the scum who had hurt his friend. Flames flared from his palm.
The grip on his sleeve moved to his arm.
“You told me you wanted to be a hero,” she said desperately, “If you have their blood on your hands, it’ll haunt you for the rest of your life.”
“But they hurt you.” Fire burned in his chest, expending and pushing until he couldn’t breathe.
“That doesn’t mean you hurt them back!”
Sirens cut through the air. The police had arrived. Too late for his friend, but in time to save the scum from him. He bared his teeth, but let the fire in his hands die and allowed his friend to pull him back.
Inside his chest, his anger continued to burn. That fire was harder to smother, but he stamped it out. Not because the scum deserved it, but because his friend wanted him to.