16 comments

Funny Fantasy Urban Fantasy

“SPLASH!” Was the sound of once living flesh and bone being transformed into water molecules, soaking into the dry, parched floor of the desert planet – some twelve light years from Earth.

“Hydro, what have you done?” The elder-looking statesman alarmingly asked. “That was the high priest of Orr. There will be repercussions now from the Orronauts.”

“So what!” Came the impetuous reply. “If their guards get anywhere near me, I’ll lay my powerful hands on them and turn them into vapour.”

“Stop! Wait!” Came the outcry from the furrowed brow wizard. “That’s not your superpower, Hydro-Man. You turn people into water when you touch them. You are water, not vapour. And why are we so far from Earth?”

A small curious crowd mingled, listening to the bickering voices of an impromptu skit taking place on a small side stage at Oz Comic Con 23 - Melbourne’s ultimate pop culture event. Showcasing all the latest studio activations, comics, anime, cosplay, and video games, it provided an ideal escape for visiting fantasists of all ages to act out an alter-ego existence within a safe environment.

“Yeah, nah, mate.” Hydro responded. “When I heat up, I turn people into steam.”

“Have you even read your backstory?” The wizard-looking statesman rhetorically quizzed.

“Yeah, mate. But I thought I’d just improvise.”

“That’s not how it works,” Nico, the grey unicorn declared while watching on. “We’re all given role guidelines and rule nine-dash-three states cosplay improvisation is encouraged but not at the cost of cross-character spillovers. If you had done any research, you’d know that when you heat up, you evaporate. Heat is your weakness.”

“If we’re sticking to the rules, mate. Where’s your handler?” Hydro immaturely demanded to know.

“Why do I need a handler?”

“Well, mate. The rules also state that large costumes must have a handler with you as a guide.”

Dumbfounded, Nico huffed an exasperated frustration toward the self-appointed leader of their sector of the convention.

“Whizzo?”

“He’s new.”

Turning to quietly address Hydro; Whizzo explained the sensitive and iterated issue of Nico’s predicament.

“Look Hydro. First experiences aside, Nico’s costume is a… how do I put this politely? It’s a form hugger.”

“What’s that, when it’s at home, mate?”

“It’s true to size.”

Hydro’s elucidated eyes darted from Whizzo to Nico, then back to Whizzo again – taking a moment to digest the sensitive explanation. Then, quickly darting his eyes back toward Nico once more, he took in Nico’s whole appearance from head to toe, then back up to head.

“So, he’s a fat bastard, then.” Hydro commented.

“We don’t call Cozplay performers, fat. We say worldly – on account of his broad girth.”

“Yeah, nah mate. Fat is fat, and he’s a porker.”

“That’s Blackfacing, Hydro,” explained Whizzo.

“He don’t look like a black fella to me.”

“No, Hydro. That’s just an idiom for a derogatory term,” Whizzo calmly clarified, before explaining further in a staccato cadence. “And it’s against the rules to Blackface – verbally or cosmetically.”

“You mean, there’s some Drongos out there that try to pass themselves off as…”

“Yes, Hydro,” Whizzo intervened - preventing Hydro’s lack of political correctness from offending anyone listening. “But they always get turned away at the door.”

“Yeah, nah mate. That would defo put me in a cranky way, as well.”

“Nice to hear you share our sensitivities,” Whizzo smiled.

“Yeah, nah mate. If I’d spent hours of hard yakka sewing up a costume and applying black make-up to me face, travelled days to get here, only to be knocked back at the door, coz my face was the wrong colour, I’d look a right Galah. So, I reckon my fist would be in someone else’s face, mate.”

“That would be extreme,” Whizzo dismissed. “But race reversal is a serious matter at Comic Con. We want everyone to enjoy their time here, without discrimination toward their chosen character or costume. Some visitors may look menacing in their home-made attire, but this is a safe place where participants can mingle with like-minded people – without judgement, without prejudice, and without the threat of violence.”

“What about Nico, over there?” Hydro questioned, while still scrutinising Nico’s appearance. “He falls on anyone, mate, your safety record is out the window.”

Whizzo’s exasperation snapped back at the flippant comment.

“In such a scenario, that would be an accident, Hydro. We’re insured for that.”

“I could turn him into water,” Hydro joked. “But I reckon he’d drown the whole place and everyone in it.”

“Stop it! You’re blackfacing again.”

“Nah, yeah mate. Apologies.”

“So,” Nico interrupted impetuously. “Are we going to continue the rehearsal or not?”

“Too right, mate. I’m ready. What’s your character’s name, again?”

“Nico,” he insolently spat out.

“Oh, I thought that was your real name.”

“It’s short for Unicorn.”

“Oh, yeah. That explains the horn sticking out of your lemon spread. With the size of yous, I thought you was a rhino.”

“A grey rhinoceros with hoofs, wispy white mane, and a bushy tail?” Nico intolerantly asked.

“It’s Comic Con, mate. Earlier on, I saw a rainbow-costumed He-Man posing as He-She-They, Non-Binary Person. There’re all kinds of weirdos here.”

“There is indeed, Hydro,” Whizzo interrupted. “But we don’t call them that. Everyone here is a Cosplayer.”

“Nah, yeah. Reckon I’ll use that word when someone back home does something strange. You bloody Cozplayer! I’ll yell. That’ll get ‘em thinking.”

“As a matter of fact,” Nico pointed out priggishly. “I am a returning champion.”

“That right, mate?”

“It is,” Whizzo confirmed. “Two years ago, he was Jabba the Hut and won best costume and best cosplay skit competition.”

“Yeah, well in that current horse’s costume, he’ll probably win the best shit competition this year.”

“I am not any old horse,” Nico protested. “I am Alphabittle from the My Little Pony series.”

“Well, not to boast myself, but I’ve made today’s cosplayoff. Against you, you oversized donkey! They’re reinforcing the stage now, to support your heavy hooves later on.”

“Aren’t you a bit too old for all of this?” Nico tried an insult.

“Mature is the word you’re looking for, mate. Didn’t see no age limit on the application. If anything, and by the looks of yous, you lot shouldn’t be out without your parents being present.”

Irked at the derogatory nature of Hydro, Nico trotted aggressively towards him, but Whizzo managed to intercept, before any feelings were further bent out of shape.

“Nico,” Whizzo playfully intervened. “Why don’t you canter along and brush your mane for the cosplayoff. Get a nose in front of Hydro-Man.”

Smiling at Whizzo’s intended puns, Nico threw a snout up at Hydro, then headed off to get ready for the skit competition. Watching him trot off with real and animated legs in perfect harmony with each other, Whizzo commented on his impressive costume.

“Amazing mechanics inside the belly of that thing.”

“The costume or the bloke, mate?” Hydro flippantly asked.

Ignoring the comment, Whizzo continued to espouse the genius of Nico’s costume.

“Notice how all four legs move in synchronistic poetry. The way his head bobs up and down and the fly-swishing tail swinging from side to side. It’s going to take something spectacular to beat that costume.”

“Yeah, nah mate. Typical horse’s arse, he is. Needs to grow up. Wait until he finds out that I’m packed with water balloons that burst when I touch my finger to someone.”

“Bursting water balloons,” Whizzo pondered. “What happens, then?”

“…They get wet.”

“Oh? Nothing more?”

“They turn to water. What more do you want?”

“But that’s just cosplay, Hydro. What other features come with your costume? Can you levitate?”

“Can anyone?” Hydro countered.

“I mean, can you appear to levitate?

“Mate, I’m literally one big shower of wet. You lift me off the ground and it’s gonna rain. Every padded six-pack looking stomach, bicep, and thigh muscle on this costume, is a water chamber. I can soak people for hours on end with these water pistol rings, see?”

Pointing to one side of Whizzo, a spray of water escaped from the palm side of Hydro’s hand, sprinkling the small, assembled crowd, which prompted the last few hangers-on to disperse – giggling and feinting fear of getting wet.

“That’s entertaining enough,” Whizzo admitted. “But isn’t that a lot of weight to carry around?”

“Nah, mate. It’s all evenly distributed. Plus, I’ve been weight training for the last three months, carrying thirty-kilo weights on my back while bushwalking.”

“Like I said,” Whizzo repeated. “You’re going to need something spectacular to beat him.”

Dropping in on the two men unexpectedly, another Cosplayer in a very impressive Spiderman costume fell dangling from a wire-like device onto the small stage, then took up the typical one arm, two-legged crawl pose normally associated with the comic book hero. Positioned almost parallel to the ground, Spidey looked ready to do a one-handed push-up.

“Look, Whizzo!” Hydro exclaimed in an amateur dramatic way – trying to create an improvisational moment. “It’s me arch-nemesis, Spiderman!”

“Other way round, you clown,” the fully costumed comic hero belligerently spat through their face mask, while standing up. “I’m the superhero, so that makes you the villain. Superheroes can’t be an arch nemesis.”

“Yeah, I knew that,” Hydro embarrassingly contradicted. “Was just testing to see if you knew.”

“How d’ya like my entrance, Whizzo?”

“Impressive, Spidey.” Whizzo complimented.

“I’m the wildcard entry.”

“To what?” Hydro enquired.

“To today’s best costume and skit.”

“I thought that was just between me and fatso?”

“This your first Comic Con, wet boy?” The not-so-friendly neighbourhood superhero teased. “The skits are always full of surprises.”

“Does everyone just make up their own rules, here?” Hydro lashed out.

“He’s still getting his bearings, Spidey.” Whizzo inserted. “But he’s done well for a first timer to get to the cosplayoff.”

“Step aside, Hydro Man.” Spidey musically commanded. “Let a professional through.”

Pushing a button situated on Spidey’s wristband, the webslinger leapt into the air and disappeared over the stage backdrop.

“How’d he do that?” Hydro asked Whizzo.

“Cirque De Soleil. Came with an accompanying entourage who have rigged the hall at certain points to create the illusion of swinging from spider silk.”

“Yeah? He allowed to do that?”

“Within reason, as long as the apparatus doesn’t endanger anyone. Spidey covered the insurance premium and signed a waiver of indemnity. If anyone gets hurt, Spidey pays.”

“Bloody hell, mate! That’s defo pro, there.”

“I told you.”

“Well,” Hydro enthusiastically stated. “I can’t hang around here chewing the fat all day. I’ve got a competition to win.”

“Let me show you the way,” Whizzo kindly offered.

Guiding Hydro to the performance stage, the water-carrying anti-hero, laughed, berated, and marvelled at some of the cosplayers he passed along the way. There were numerous Star Wars characters – including a very impressive Mandalorian who shot sponge arrows from his arms, a witch on a broom that made her look like she was flying just above the ground, a collection of Doctor Who Daleks, and a plethora of fantasy characters from cartoons to video games created a surreal but juvenile atmosphere of fantasy role playing. There were characters from Chainsaw Massacre, Ghostbusters, Game of Thrones, Scream, Harry Potter, IT, The Matrix, Alien, Predator, and many more. To Hydro, it looked like every character of every popular comic, movie, and tv series was passionately represented. However, the one that caught his undivided attention was Harlequin, and Hydro shared his approval with the whole floor by pretending to dry-hump Whizzo’s leg - as he watched her pass by.

“Hydro,” Whizzo corrected him.

“Blackfacing?” Hydro presumed.

“Blackfacing also covers behaviour,” Whizzo pointed out - while unpeeling Hydro from his leg. However, there was no time for lectures, as the Tanoy system interrupted them, inviting the skit finalists to the stage.

Hydro Man!” Came the call through the speaker system, as he ascended the eight short steps to the tall stage.

Alpha…Bittle!” The announcer introduced the already in place Nico, prancing and using his front hoofs to mimic counting, by scraping them on the stage platform.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” continued the announcer. “Guys and Ghouls. Presenting a first for this year. Swooping in on their own apparatus, I give you… Wait! Do you feel that tingling at the back of your neck? Like you’ve just been bitten by a radioactive spider? Yes, she’s back from last year’s best cosplayer as Poison Ivy... casting a tangled web of deceit, by switching allegiances from DC to Marvel, it’s Spider Girl!”

“Crikey!” Hydro shouted down to Whizzo – who was standing at front row centre. “A girl…! Had me sucked in, mate!”

“We cater to all,” Whizzo directed back his reply to Hydro. “There’s no preconceptions here at Comic Con.”

“With that high-pitched voice, I just thought his balls hadn’t dropped, yet.”

A crowd converged around Whizzo, in front of the stage, grouping together like room to stand was running out. It wasn’t. Mob rule had taken over the youthful excitement of escapism, and jamming themselves like someone had lassoed them together, increased their level of fervour.

This was a convention for the young, where they could dress up and behave as someone completely removed from the humdrum of daily life. Where the abnormal is imitable and fantasy is the new reality. So Hydro thought - before his mental summation of the crowd was abruptly interrupted by the feet of Spidergirl clipping his head, as she swung down and onto the stage to a raucous reception.

“Outta my way, Wet Boy,” she sang. “You’re in the big league, now.”

“Let’s hear it for Spidergirl!” The announcer yelled, prompting more cheers and whistles of approval to ring out. “Can we please have the cosplayers on stage walk in a single-file circle. It’s time for best costume award!”

Complying, the three contestants walked in an encircling pattern around the stage. The crowd cheered Alphabittle, screamed at Spidergirl and playfully booed Hydro, irking him just enough for him to stick his tongue out at them and grab his crotch.

At the announcer’s command, the three competitors lined up arms-length from each other for the judging. Hydro found himself stuck in the middle of the other two – who were hamming it up for the audience by acting out various poses associated with their characters. Hydro just stood with arms raised slightly above waist level, squirting water at the audience – annoying some of the satin-wearing cosplayers when staining sprinkles of water landed on their costumes.

“The judges have voted for best costume,” the announcer commented. “In third place is… Hydro Man, and the winner is… Alphabittle!”

Nudging the disappointed Hydro, Nico took a pony-styled bow.

“Not bad for a grey Rhino, hey?”

“Well done,” Spidergirl congratulated Nico, as the announcer initialised the Cosplay Skit part of the competition. “What a waste of sowing thread, Hydro,” she added. “Now, watch what I have in store for these amateurs.”

“That’s Blackfacing,” Hydro replied - right before he spitefully leaned across and pressed Spidey’s wrist button.

Before Spidergirl could react, the wire she was attached to recoiled and yanked her off the stage, swinging her screaming in a circular direction. Then, returning in an arc back towards the stage, she swung straight down toward the panicked Nico, whose four hoofed extremities scrambled to get out of the way. In a microsecond of regretful malaise, Hydro threw himself in-between them and was hit full force by Spidergirl’s momentum. The impact burst every water chamber on Hydro’s torso, creating a wall of water flung into the air, masking the fallout of the impact. Teetering at the back edge of the stage, Nico fell backwards and out of view of the audience, while Spidergirl slid and landed on him unceremoniously.

The crowd hushed, some brushing themselves down from being splashed. Hydro stood alone in a pool of water that began to drain from the slightly tilted stage.

“Cosplayers and alike,” the voice from the stage speakers announced. “This is a first. Staying true to his superpower by touching his opponents, Hydro has turned them into water, and I don’t think anyone in this building will deny that Hydro is the winner of the sewing machine prize!”

Before Hydro could argue that only he can turn himself into water and not anyone else, the crowd erupted into a frenzy of cheers and whoops that silenced his protest. He had won something, and he was determined to revel in it.

“A few words, Hydro.” The announcer prompted him, as she passed him her microphone.

“Nah, yeah. I erm just wanted to thank me erm, mum for the use of her sewing machine.”

Accepting an envelope from the announcer with the prize claim coupon inside, Hydro tearfully waved it in the air.

“This is for you, Mum!” He shouted loudly. “Sorry I broke yours when it fell off the back of me Ute, but I’m bringing home a new one for ya! Latest model too!”

As the crowd began to disperse, Whizzo greeted Hydro at the side of the stage.

“Congrats, Hydro. That was spectacular.”

“Yeah, nah. One use only, mate. All the chambers have split. I’m done. There’s no time to come back for the grand final tomorrow. Are Spidey and Nico okay?”

“Nothing but pride dented. They’ll regroup,” Whizzo replied. “No doubt, one of them will win it all.”

“I reckon I would have given ‘em a run for their money.”

“There’s always next year, Hydro.”

“Yeah, nah. Too many immature ankle biters here thinking they’re more than what they are.”

“Hydro,” Whizzo admonished. “Remember your decorum.”

“Yeah, nah mate. Fuck that. I won, mate! Whoo! Yous can all kiss my wet bum!”

Disappointingly shaking his head, Whizzo watched as a drenched Hydro squished his way toward the exit, waving his prize coupon at every cosplayer he passed. Turning to shout back to Whizzo, a child-like expression decorated his face.

“Me mum likes me singing. So, next year, I’m off to X-Factor as Elvis.”

Faking a smile, Whizzo muttered under his breath,

“God help Simon Cowell…”

 

 

September 01, 2023 05:49

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

16 comments

Amanda Lieser
02:29 Oct 06, 2023

Hi Chris! While I confess, I may not have noticed all of the little details that you packed this piece with. I surely appreciated your characters who I got to along on the ride with. As always, you delivered wonderful dialogue and I appreciated that acceptance speech. Sometimes writing can feel that it needs to be so serious, but I love that you add humor to your repertoire on a regular basis. It’s an admirable skill because it’s a difficult task to create some thing that can be universally humorous however, this piece has certainly rose to ...

Reply

Chris Campbell
14:09 Oct 06, 2023

Thanks, Amanda. I'm trying to move to comedy writing as my genre. I'm so glad to have my humour come across as universal. I try hard to write inclusively for all to enjoy without offense.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Kevin Logue
20:24 Sep 02, 2023

The lads in the factory are going to be well confused when I start calling them cosplayers with no context! Really funny, and although its clearly Aussie for me it read as Belfast, obviously being from N.I I would add my own accents, but the Aye, Nah's and calling everyone mate is so Belfast. Great story Chris. Two small typos I noticed: Your missing a closing inverted commas on this line: “Outta my way, Wet Boy, she sang. “You’re in the big league, now.” And I think 'he only' should be 'only he'? : Before Hydro could argue that he on...

Reply

Chris Campbell
04:02 Sep 03, 2023

Thanks, Kevin. I also see similarities between the two cultures. Being of Irish descent, it probably comes to the fore in my style of writing. You'll definitely throw your older colleagues for a loop - if you use the Cosplayer insult. Although, the younger ones might get it. Thanks for pointing out the typos. They have been corrected. Cheers.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Michelle Oliver
14:07 Sep 02, 2023

Haha, god help Simon. I love your Aussie based tales. You pull people in with such wit and humorous dialogue. Another great story.

Reply

Chris Campbell
03:55 Sep 03, 2023

Thanks, Michelle. It's taken me a while to tackle the nuances of my new home of 12 years, but I think I'm getting the hang of it.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Joe Smallwood
21:20 Sep 11, 2023

First and most important are the lol's: “So, he’s a fat bastard, then.” Typical horse’s arse, he is. Yous can all kiss my wet bum!” Just what I needed, a funny story about nothing at all, just people pretending. Thanks, Chris.

Reply

Chris Campbell
01:58 Sep 12, 2023

Joe, Thanks for the great feedback. So glad to have made you laugh.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Michał Przywara
20:35 Sep 07, 2023

Ha! Very funny :) The star attraction of course is Hydro, who both does and does not fit in. Nico might be the unicorn, but Hydro's the dark horse. He disrupts everything and ultimately basically screws up, but in a twist of serendipity it leads to a scene where he wins. And icing of course is, he wins a sewing machine to replace his mom's, which he busted. It's almost wholesome, but then, "Yous can all kiss my wet bum!" I like the mundane approach to the prompt too. Neat interpretation. Thanks for sharing!

Reply

Chris Campbell
03:14 Sep 10, 2023

Thanks, Michal. Yes, Hydro is trying to play in a playground that he's possibly too old for, but it doesn't dampen his spirit. At the end, I suspect that his contemptuousness is due to the victory of his fish-out-of-water experience.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Delbert Griffith
15:11 Sep 07, 2023

Dude, you touched on the "woke" culture and tolerance through the hilarity, simultaneously poking fun at and honoring the new sensibilities. I love how you can represent both sides of the comic-con coin to show how the world views wokeness. Fantastic stuff, and the dialogue, Aussie to the end, was spectacular. Yeah, God help Simon Cowell - in more ways than one. Great, great stuff, Chris. You know how to spin a terrific tale, my friend. Nicely done. Cheers!

Reply

Chris Campbell
03:57 Sep 08, 2023

Yes, mate. Had to put myself into competing headspaces for this one. When I got to the pint of arguing with myself, I decided to end the story. 🤣 Delbert, thank you once more for your great feedback.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Lily Finch
19:42 Sep 04, 2023

I agree with Kevin, Michelle and Mary from below. This is a great story. But they have kind of said it all. Thanks for the good read. LF6

Reply

Chris Campbell
00:23 Sep 05, 2023

Thanks, Lily. Had to do a little research on the industry but had fun writing it. Thanks for the great feedback.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Mary Bendickson
19:32 Sep 01, 2023

😎 cool!🤣💦

Reply

Chris Campbell
00:48 Sep 02, 2023

Thanks, Mary.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.