Here’s another flash-fiction story I wrote by way of setting up the second week of our Marvel superheroes roleplaying campaign.
Wednesday, in the not too distant future
Sidney Malloy puts her strawberry protein smoothie in the cup holder, wipes the sweat off her brow, and turns the treadmill up a notch. On the curved, wall-to-wall TRUtelligence 3d holographic screen in front of her—one of very few extravagant expenditures she’s allowed herself—mile after mile of a tree-shaded country road stretches out ahead and beneath her feet. Being invulnerable to harm is definitely a bonus, but there’s no substitute for good, old-fashioned exercise when it comes to physical fitness.
The morning news runs in the bottom corner, the chatter of the anchors and reporters mostly ignored. Sidney is in the zone.
Still, the events of the previous week keep bouncing around in her head. Paparazzi and news reporters have been hounding her nonstop. They’ve been asking the same questions about the attempted kidnapping over and over and over again…
“Did you see the elephant girl?”
“You mean you didn’t see that gigantic elephant?”
No, I didn’t say that. It was kind of hard to miss.
“So you did see the elephant girl?”
The girl? No, I already told you, I didn’t notice her.
“Do you remember anything about her at all?”
No. Well, that wasn’t true…but the girl wasn’t talking, and Sidney didn’t figure she should give up the secret.
“Witnesses say she just disappeared. Did you see where she went?”
I already told you, no. I was busy getting punched in the face at the time!
Sidney takes another swig of the smoothie and glances down at the news window—and suddenly wishes she hadn’t.
…in light of the bizarre nature of the incident, rumors have arisen that the kidnapping attempt on Ahria Swann may have been faked by a troubled friend—former child star Sidney Malloy—as a publicity stunt.
Troubled? TROUBLED? Sidney wants to reach through the screen and strangle the newscaster. Sure, she got arrested once…after taking advantage of her invulnerability to take down a friend’s lunatic stalker ex-boyfriend. The boyfriend’s bottom-feeding family hired a publicist and called her a celebrity vigilante, but since he had attacked her and she had only ended it, the incident was ruled self-defense and no charges were filed. But hey, “former child star fakes a crime” gets more eyeballs on the news than “helps her friends and supports the arts.”
Well, hold onto your hats, because Channel 38 News now has exclusive video evidence that the “elephant girl” the whole city has been talking about may in fact be…real. Security cameras at a nearby business captured some of the scene that unfolded last week. Take a look at this!
She spits out her smoothie. There on the screen, a bit fuzzy at the periphery of the security camera’s view but unmistakable, is an elephant swinging its massive head and throwing three blurry figures aside like rag dolls. Sidney can’t see herself in the picture; she’s hidden by the burly figures that are trying to pull her away from Ahria. The news puts the video in slow-mo to focus on the elephant deliberately placing a foot on the front fender of the kidnappers’ car and crushing the sheet metal down into the tire. A few moments later, the elephant shimmers and shrinks, and in its place stands a girl with blond hair.
The girl’s face is partially obscured, but Sidney knows exactly what it looks like. She sees this girl at her door every time she orders pizza delivery from Mario Boys.
We’re reaching out to experts to see if these images can be enhanced. Stay tuned to Channel 38 Impact News for more…on the Astonishing Elephant Girl!
Sidney slows the treadmill to begin her cooldown routine. The police have been investigating the kidnapping attempt for a week now, and Ahria says they’re getting nowhere. Unless pestering her about potentially troubled acquaintances counts, that is…
Maybe it’s time she ordered some pizza from Mario Boys and compared notes with her favorite pizza delivery girl.
We’re using the classic Marvel Super Hero Roleplaying game system produced by TSR in the ’80s. It’s long out of print (I’m using books I got secondhand back in 1991), but the good people behind the Classic Marvel Forever website have provided all the resources you’ll need if you want to give this excellent old game system a try.
Featured image credit: Love-and-mascara at Deviant Art