Last week I decided to accept a flash fiction writing challenge from www.terribleminds.com blogger Chuck Wendig. I randomly selected a superhero, a meth lab and nanotechnology as prompts. Needless to say, it was an interesting week as I tried to figure out how they were all going to blend into one story. Here’s my attempt:
“Fuck it,” Lillian thought and tipped the bottle.
Warm Jameson cracked the ice as it ran into the plastic kiddy cup. She craved a low ball, but dirty dishes filled the sink. She had to remember to do them when she returned home. Whiskey needs a glass to relax and get in the mood.
As she rummaged through her closet, she sipped her drink and let the alcohol settle on her tongue and massage her taste buds. It’d been at least two years since she indulged. She knew what came next—a few more drinks to relax and then she’d head off to work.
Lillian threw on her outfit: black cape and face mask and a blazing insignia—all very cliché, but she had to be recognizable.
“Image is everything,” her marketing rep had said. That and something about tweeting status updates of her missions, but manipulating Twitter was definitely not one of her super powers.
She had little use for self promotion these days. Two years ago, the United Superhero Coalition stripped her of her powers and suspended her from duty when they finally found out about her relationship with Frank.
Lillian was six months pregnant at the time.
Since then, she’d been labeled NONOPERATIONAL. However, today she the received notice she’d been waiting on:
“Suspension lifted. Powers withheld.”
Although she was disappointed that she wasn’t completely reinstated, the letter meant one thing: time for the field.
As she stared in the mirror and examined her ass in tights, she realized they didn’t make toy figurines in her mold—the post-partum superhero. Thank God she hadn’t worn this disguise since before the baby or she’d have had smeared snot on one shoulder and ground-in oatmeal on the other.
She laced up her black boots and peeked in on Samuel and his father. Sleeping soundly. Time to go
The Coalition made her mission perfectly clear: recon only. It couldn’t risk an insurance claim if a confrontation were to occur. To minimize liability, they even sent her on a brainless observation assignment. She was to gather intel on METH-od’s evolution.
Before the rise of METH-od a few years ago, Lillian learned all she knew about meth labs from three episodes of Breaking Bad.
Now production of the drug—refined through the advances of nanotechnology—had been exported to China, and thanks to new legislation, people could buy a 30-day supply over-the-counter.
Lillian remembered how the lines at her local CVS curled out the door and down the sidewalk. Hundreds of people—couples touting curly-haired children, men and women on lunch breaks, even a teenager with a red balloon. It brought all kinds.
The world had changed since she last wore her cape.
Danny Lee, the chemical engineer behind the METH-od revolution, created his first makeshift meth lab in Independence, MO almost five years ago.
When Lillian arrived to the site she found what she expected. A broken 10-gallon paint bucket tipped to the moist earth and spilled into the fallen leaves. Clear tubing and old Mountain Dew bottles lay aside drain cleaner and broken batteries. Dirt covered everything in a thick layer.
She scanned the premises. Something had to have sparked his creative genius, but she didn’t see anything but dead branches, a decayed old fence post and …
“Fuuuuuck,” she said, lifting up her foot to examine the bottom of her boot and smelling a load of fresh dog shit. “Superman doesn’t have to deal with this crap.”
Using a log and a long stick she wiped the poop off her sole and flung it into the forest.
Lillian quickly became disenchanted.
It was obvious the Coalition didn’t trust her anymore, she thought. As if the two-year ban didn’t make it clear, the group made its point with this bogus assignment. Her punishment did not fit her crime. In writing, the Coalition frowned on superhero/mortal relationships, but her male co-workers’ affairs were glorified in the pages of newspapers. Such a double standard.
She’d finally had enough. She had to get out of here.
Lillian took out her camera and snapped some quick pictures of the site. After all, she didn’t want to get fired for incompetence.
She seethed as she stood over her sink. Her hands were wet from soapy water and dish funk. They moved mindlessly as she concentrated on the wording for her final letter.
“After two years of blatant misogyny and sexual bias, please consider this my letter of resignation,” she wrote in her head.
She wiped off her hands and sat down at her laptop. She typed the letter at superhuman speed and was doing a quick proofread when she heard a knock at the door.
With Samuel still napping she rushed to it before the sound woke him.
Lillian flung open the door, allowing entrance to her visitor’s sweet ether smell.
“Hello,” he said, opening his mouth to a rotten-toothed smile.
The visitor handed her a glossy brochure and several other handouts.
“I was just in the area and wanted to make sure President James had your vote this election,” he said, pulling a cinnamon candy from his jacket pocket and putting it into his mouth. He smiled again, letting the grin linger as he swayed back and forth and looked her deep in her eye.
The man unsettled her.
“I’m not sure who I’m voting for this year,” she lied. “But I must get back to work. Have a great day.”
She shut the door and watched the man leave her front step. Her turned around and caught her gaze in the window.
He smiled again and left.
Lillian sat down at her computer.
She took a breath. The drug isn’t going to go away on its own, she thought.
Her mouse remained motionless over the SEND tab.