Genre: fantasy, superpower
Features a character from Little Acts of Kindness.
Every superpower was unique, be it in terms of effect, cost, or even how the bearer interacted with it. With such vast diversity, it is only natural for some superpowers to be better than others. Her ability to heal anyone with just a touch without paying a price ranked it indisputably above them all.
Some people argued that surely such a miraculous ability would have some sort of drawback. Maybe the price was the patient’s own life, who were basically exchanging their longevity for immediate gain. Maybe the price was her own life, and she had been unknowingly giving her years away to heal others.
Whatever it was, it was important enough that they had a longitudinal study to examine the long term effects of her healing power.
Personally, she thought that her price could be more indirect than that.
Her freedom sat a the top of the list. Where once she could walk wherever she wanted, it was no longer safe for her to wonder in public without protection. As she became more recognisable, even the people close to her came under risk.
Choice was another price. Not the lack of it but its abundance. So many people wanted to be healed, but she could only reach so many. Who did she help? Who did she ignore? Regardless of who she chose, there would always be those who couldn’t make it, and she could only live on under the weight of the lives she couldn’t save.
But why the focus on the cost? Why couldn’t they just focus on the relieved smiles and the happy tears as a family’s future is change from despair to hope? Who could stop her if she wanted to heal someone ‘just because’ without worrying about the ‘what if’? This was her superpower, and she would listen to other people’s input, but ultimately, it was her right to use her superpower as she saw fit.
She checked her disguise one last time before the mirror and slipped out of the bathroom. Her favourite bodyguard followed her out, but that was fine. He would keep her safe without interfering with her plans. That was why he was her favourite.
Now, time for some random kindness.
Genre: family, slice of life, fantasy
Features the family from Parenting Pains.
Sometimes (all the time), she wishes it is her calm, mature older son who developed superpowers instead of her temperamental, rebellious younger son.
“I’ve told you before. No.”
The furniture rattles. A few cushions rise in the air. She pretends not to notice her youngest’s impending temper tantrum and instead of fighting head on over the same issue again, diverts his attention to a different target.
“Your brother needs to rest. Don’t wake him up.”
The furniture settles silently back into place. Even the cushions are lowered with care. As expected of her eldest. Even when he was bedridden, he could still keep her younger son under control.
“I’m going to make jelly for your brother. You want to help me?” she offers.
“Pineapple jelly?” her youngest asks.
She nods. “Pineapple jelly.”
Her youngest considers it.
She offers her hand and take it, movie (hopefully) forgotten in favour of the jelly they are about to make for his favourite person in the world.
She hides a relieved sigh.
Genre: superpower, family
Includes a character from A Different Kind of Hero.
He didn’t know if that piece of fabric was a scarf or a shawl, but she loved that thing. Worked it into as many outfits as she could in as many styles as possible.
Now it had red steaks splattered across it.
She played it off, but he knew her long enough to recognise the loss hidden in her smile.
So he stole it.
He only meant to take it for short while. Just long enough to bring the thing to miss I-sing-stains-away and back. He expected the high price. He didn’t expect the massive waiting list or the unhelpful staff who refused to point him to anything useful.
Obviously, if he wanted anything done, he needed to make it happen.
He climbed the building, checking each window he passed until he found a lady singing to a room of clothes. Carefully, he lifted one hand off the wall and pulled out the fabric. Like magic, the stain lightened then vanished without a trace.
What was so tough about that?
He exchanged the fabric for cash and knocked on the window.
“For the cleaning service,” he said and slip the cleaning fee through the gap in the window.
Before the lady could respond, he climbed away and headed home.
“Here.” He dropped the scarf-headband-belt-thing on her head.
“Is that…” She launched herself off her bed onto him. “Thanks big bro!”
“That’s all your presents for the whole year.”
“OK!” She squeezed him so hard he thought his spine would break then dashed off to do something new with her belt-neckerchief-hairtie-thing.
He escaped before she tried to use him as her model again.
The arm guards had massive, clunky bulbs at the end that worked by creating a large, empty space around his hands so he was physically unable to touch anything to destroy it, even the arm guards themselves. It wasn’t the best solution, but it worked, and that was all that mattered.
He hated them.
He might have to wear them for the rest of his life.
The door to his cell opened.
“Yo. Missed me?”
It was the counselor who had got him out of the facility years ago.
“Oh? That’s a better reaction than last time,” she said as she walked in with her briefcase. “In a more years you might even give me a handshake.”
“Too soon? Sorry.” She unlatched the briefcase and opened it. Two shimmery somethings sat inside. “So, how have you been?”
“Pretty good. Until…” He shrugged.
“If it helps, Sweet Medic brought his arms back, so all good. We just need to deal with you.”
He looked at the open briefcase.
“What’s going to happen to me?”
“You have a choice. Stay in here like last time, or wear these at all times.” She tapped the briefcase.
“What are they?”
“Specially commissioned gloves by Spellweaver. They’re basically cooler looking seals to nullify your powers. So, freedom or power?”
“Freedom.” Hands down. Every time.
“Well then. Arms on the table.”
He did what she said. She reached over and released his arms from the guards.
Seeing his bare hands again made his breath catch. Tentatively, he touched the shimmering light in the briefcase.
The seal rippled, but otherwise remained unchanged.
Carefully, the counsellor put the seals on his hands. They sunk into his skin like tattoos.
“Right now, they completely block your powers. Spellweaver requests that you visit often so he can refine the seals so it keeps everyone safe but you can still continue your work.”
That sounded good. Too good.
“What’s the price?” he asked. In hindsight, he should have asked that first before accepting the seals.
“A special piece for his sister, who’s been a fan of your work even before you got your powers, who also happens to be me.”
“Deal?” She smiled.
If you like this, you can also check out the related Retrospective Introspection.
It was an act of self defense. The other guy attacked him with a hammer. Of course he would protect himself.
The part where he completely vanished his attacker’s arms was a complete accident.
His attacker screamed obscenities at him as the paramedics and police swarmed around them.
“It’s not his fault. The other guy attacked him first. I saw it,” said a passerby who had witnessed the whole thing.
Her words disappeared into the cacophony of swearing and sirens. He quietly clamped his hands out of sight, away from everything and everyone.
Someone approached him. One of the agents who were supposed to keep an eye on him.
“I’m sorry,” he mumbled.
The agent pulled out a pair of familiar arm guards. “Me too.”
Without a word, they put the guards on his arms, sealing his destructive touch.
“What happens now?” he asked.
~Continue the story in Third Chance~
The indoor thunderstorm came from one source: a little girl no older than twelve. The superpower, despite how destructive it looked, wasn’t actually dangerous, if she could actually control it.
In the past, they would have locked her away for everyone’s safety. Now there were laws against that, so they had to get creative. Considering her age, they decided to lock away her powers and keep it dormant until she was ready.
For years, it was the perfect solution. Then she finished high school, and her parents requested for her powers to be returned so she had some form of self-defence when she moved out for college.
Except, the power wouldn’t wake up.
~Continue the story in Return Storm~
Genre: fantasy, superpower
Patricia thought she could do it. Really, she did.
Her first kiss wasn’t as special as she hoped it would be, but that didn’t stop her from treasuring the rest. If she was going to kiss someone, she wanted it to be meaningful.
Inna thought she was silly. Patricia thought they had different values.
After much stubborn persistence, she managed to substitute the price for her power with a kiss on the cheek, and later a kiss on the hand. With her greatest barrier gone, she used her superpower more freely, and her skill grew. She learnt to ‘store kisses’ so she could use her power even if she collected the price hours before. She became more efficient, so one kiss could power two minutes of illusions instead of just one.
Her superpower alter ego changed as well. The price was still one kiss for one minute of illusions, but she had more freedom in how the price was paid and could even give ‘discounts’. No more kissing little kids (she wasn’t a cradle snatcher), no more kissing girls (she didn’t swing that way), no more kissing married men (she wasn’t a family breaker).
She could live with that.
Genre: fantasy, superhero
She glanced at her wrist. Only one purple band left. If they didn’t finish soon, she would run out of power, and the rubble she was holding up would fall and crush the people still trapped underneath.
“Hurry up,” she said.
“We’re trying.” The other supers, heroes and villains alike, sped up.
Not long ago, they were fighting. The supervillain team wanted to kidnap another rich kid, and they, the rival superhero team, refused to let that happen.
No one expected the building to fall apart after a hit from a stray attack.
Without hesitation, both teams dropped the battle and rushed to the victims’ aid. They may be rivals, but when it came to people’s lives, they were on the same side.
Alone, it would have been tough to save everyone, especially when they were still exhausted from the unfinished fight, but with both teams working together, they managed to get everyone to safety. She even had half a purple band of power left.
“We still want the kid,” the supervillain team said, even though everyone looked ready to drop where they stood.
“We’ll still stop you if you try,” the superhero team said, using bravado to cover the fact that they were running on empty.
“But not today.”
They nodded and turned away from each other, both sides eager to return to base and crash for the rest of the day.
Genre: fantasy, slice of life
He was always tired. No matter how much he slept, he couldn’t replenish his energy fast enough to replace what his superpower sucked out of him.
Because he was a minor when the ability first appeared, his parents were notified when he participated in the government’s secret super census. He hadn’t been too happy then, but now he was thankful.
They might be nosy and naggy, but they also cared enough to make sure all his teachers didn’t bother him when he slept in class, explaining his constant exhaustion away as a medical condition.
A light touch on his shoulder stirred him from his doze.
“Don, we’re moving,” Patricia said.
“Thanks.” He slid his book into his bag and followed the group out of the classroom. As he turned the corner, his phone buzzed three times in quick succession. He tapped Patricia’s back to get her attention.
“I’m not feeling very well. I’m going to go back early.”
“Ok. Take care.”
Once out of sight, he pulled out his phone. Thundude’s message was a short call for backup from the rest of the team. He changed into his gear and stashed his personal items. All the energy he had been hoarding was for this moment.
Enhancer, on the way.
In response to July’s prompt ‘change’.
Genre: superpower, superhero, family
~No Going Back~
Once he made the choice, there was no going back. But if his sister died… there was no going back from that either.
He reached for the little bubble of power within himself. It had been there for as long as he remembered, and like a caterpillar spinning its own cocoon, he crushed the seal he placed on it years ago.
Markings tore through his skin, think blue lines that swallowed most of his body. With newfound speed, he dashed over to his sister and his greatly strengthened arms pummeled all the falling debris into dust. Threat dealt with, he turned to look at his sister.
Time to pay the price.
“Sorry, little sis.”
The power swallowed his mind.
~The story continues in The Price of Sacrifice.~