I’ve always loved superhero mythos—they’re just so much fun! At some point, I may end up writing a superhero novel (though The Rift is definitely priority for now). This morning, in a burst of inspiration, I did a little exploratory writing on a story concept. Enjoy.
Two dreams had always consumed Jim Smith: to be a captain of industry and to be a superhero.
The biggest obstacle to the former was that he lived in a dilapidating house with his ailing Grams. Against the latter, his lack of superpowers.
Jim walked home—well skipped home, but he refused to admit he was skipping. The boys at the factory would give him hell if they found out about him skipping. He clutched a paper bag against his chest. The contents were warm.
He frolicked into his room. Grams was hard of hearing, but there was no sense taking chances. He reached into the paper bag, the warmth of the metal gentle, relaxing, almost therapeutic. He put it close to his face and peered at the rough face of the dark, almost blackish metal. It was the stuff of his dreams: U-238.
The Butt Kicker had inspired him, as so many others. Butt Kicker—mightiest of the American supes. Mightiest in the world, because no one beat the good old USA. The BK had been a POW in Nagasaki when the bomb dropped, and the radiation turned that crass Texan into a crass Texan with god-like powers, including a death ray that shot out of his butt. He’d initially called himself the Ass Kicker, but during the Korean War, when his exploits started appearing in headlined across America, a letter from President Truman had gotten him to tone down his language. At least in his supe name.
Jim took the hunk of uranium— a black market purchase from a friend of a friend working on building a nuclear power plant—and rubbed it under his shirt against his skin. He wasn’t really sure how radiation worked, just that it gave you super powers. Or killed you. It was worth the risk. Maybe if he took a bath with it, the warm water would open up his skin pores…
The Butt Kicker’s story had inspired countless copycat attempts: thefts from uranium refineries, missing cesium from college science labs, and attempts to split atoms with a hammer and icepick. The third, of course, was impossible. Jim wasn’t stupid.
He tucked the miracle metal under his mattress. It would leave a nasty lump in the bed, but it would maximize his exposure—eight hours a night. Also, less chance of someone finding it. Intentionally exposing yourself to radiation had been outlawed in the early fifties amid the rising body count of men trying to follow in the footsteps of the BK and the other great American supes. Not all superpowers came from radiation, but it was the easiest origin to reproduce—at least, if it left you with the ability to reproduce.
His mom had always told him: Follow your dreams. Sometimes, they’re all you have. He carried those words. He’d carry them forever.