Unfortunately for me, the day I became a superhero, so did everyone else.
There’s almost certainly going to be a glut of pompous asses on television claiming they became aware of their power when they leapt to save a child from a runaway truck or some bullshit like that. The truth is that I bet most people found out doing something mundane, just like I did.
I was at home on a Saturday morning, watching re-runs of Happy Days, when I suddenly broke the toenail clippers mid-snip. They crumpled against my now steel-hard keratin like the iron bars that never managed to hurt Curly Howard’s shaved head.
“What the hell?” I asked no one.
My next act was to trip over a wayward sock and slip right into my brand-new flatscreen television. The appliance and I tumbled face-first over the stand with a loud crash that would impress a Foley artist, leaving my legs flailing in a comical butterfly kick.
Steadying myself after a few moments of wearing my favorite possession as a hat, I wrenched the ruined thing away, wondering why I wasn’t in incredible pain. Cautiously, I touched my face. There wasn’t even a scratch. Apparently, I really was one of the Three Stooges, or so it seemed at the time.
My God, I thought, I’m a freak!
If only that had been true.
I decided I had to find a cheaper way to experiment in secret, so I scrounged up a hammer I rarely used and, throwing caution to the wind, slammed it right into my left eye.
The hammer turned into an accordion. My only reaction was an involuntary blink, followed by a simple statement: “Cool.”
Just to be sure, I experimented gleefully a few more times until the living room looked like a miniature junkyard. As the chainsaw finished tickling my ribs but nothing more, I started thinking about what I should do next.
My first thought was joining the police or the FBI, or if I had to, the CIA. Then I remembered I had three busts for possession, an unpaid speeding ticket that was approaching its first birthday, and a probable no-fly ban for entire Google account’s worth of hate e-mails directed at George W. Bush. Powers or no, I was an unlikely G-Man.
It was about then that I started hearing a commotion outside.
“Run me over, dude!”
“Only if you do me next!”
I hurried to the window and saw several teens lined up across the road. They were the green fauxhawked, Goodwill-clothed, C-average-at-best losers who could be found pretending to skateboard at the park most afternoons, trying to delay the reality of a nine to five job. I knew them well, as they were my pot suppliers. The brains of the operation — and I use that term loosely — was behind the wheel of his father’s Cadillac. He gunned the V-8 engine, and floored it.
I started to scream, powerless to stop them. The car moved faster than it should have in such a small space and was over them in less than a minute. The sound was awful, like someone slapping a side of beef against a wall over and over again. I closed my eyes instinctively.
“That was awesome!”
“No, my turn!”
They sprung up like dandelions after a spring rain, laughing harder than the time they’d tied firecrackers to each other’s legs trying to win a video contest online.
I slumped down, realizing I wasn’t as unique as I thought.
Checking social media confirmed this. There were reports all over of the miracle, both its good and bad effects. For every person who did the impossible, like go over Niagara Falls without a barrel and write a blog post about it, there was a tale of tragedy, such as the dozen heart patients in Pittsburgh who died on the operating table, picking the worst possible time to gain an impenetrable heart.
I think my favorite might have been the enterprising soul who, with an oxygen tank in tow, allowed a giant boa constrictor to eat her. The snake died, of course, which is going to land her in hot water with the animal rights crowd, but no one can accuse her of small-minded thinking.
So many people were out there experiencing the world. It was unbelievable to me what they came up with. Three men in Texas, Montana, and Virginia respectively kept trying to outdo each other to set the record for having the most things shot at them at once, their videos going viral at each posting.
What should I do? I racked my brain, trying to come up with an idea no one had thought of before. Invulnerable did not mean you couldn’t die — the person trying to brave the ocean depths suffocated for lack of oxygen, but was not crushed. I spent hours alone, while the world had an orgy of sensory experiences like none before.
Defeated by my own lack of imagination, I went to bed. By morning, I was sure I’d have a great idea.
I must not have slept well. I found the bedframe broken and collapsed when I awoke, my alarm smashed to pieces. Rising, I banged my head against the remnants of my nightstand.
“Ow, damn it!” I cursed.
That should have been the tip-off but I was too busy planning my day. Sleep had improved my mood, and I was ready to accept that while I couldn’t be unique, I could at least have fun, starting by cooking bacon off my belly once I found the lighter fluid.
With sliced pork flesh in one hand, and lighter in the other, I touched the flame to my skin, ready for a feast.
“YEOWWW!” I screamed, and reverted to childhood lessons about stop, drop, and roll, insuring I wasn’t getting back my safety deposit as I ruined the kitchen floor.
So much for the bacon.
About the Author
Rob McMonigal is a freelance writer and tutor, recently relocated to Portland, Oregon. He manages the indie-focused comic book blog Panel Patter, and modeled the character in this story after one of his creator friends–don’t ask him which one! A fan of the speculative in all its forms (prose, comics, and film), he grew up on the Three Stooges, Spider-Man, Ray Bradbury, and Universal Horror films. (Explains a lot, right?) Rob lives with his wife, fellow writer Erica Satifka, and entirely too many cats. You can reach him on Twitter @rob_mcmonigal