Comprehensive Superhero Insurance

Submitted into Contest #205 in response to: Write about a character who breaks free from a tradition to create a new one.... view prompt

72 comments

American Science Fiction Sad

TW: A pinch of swearing.

“I’m sorry ma’am, your fight with Cad Bury cost fifty thousand dollars worth of damage and your insurance only covers forty-nine.” She smiles at me as if that’s good news, sociopath.

Why can’t I fly or run super fast like the A-list guys? At least then I could work in deliveries for a side hustle. “Can’t you pay the forty-nine and I can get a loan for the rest?” I ask, leaning over the counter in my ripped uniform. She eyes the torn fabric covered with patches and sponsors with disdain.

“If only Cat Fight, but the policy you signed is only triggered if costs are equal to or less than the cover you’ve paid for.” That smile again, teeth that are veneers hiding enamel as rotten as her soul. Why does my ex have to be such a, Cad?

“What if my sponsors helped out?” I asked, pulling at my top that’s emblazoned with logos and fine print. Lots of people stare at my tits, some of them are just reading, few.

“We have spoken with your sponsors and the bad news is that two of them have withdrawn your support. The Church Heroes Alliance were upset by your actions downtown.” Her suit is the kind of grey that tells me that she loves nothing in life.

“I saved a priest,” I protest.

“And a man who then kissed his boyfriend in the resulting interview.” She says it's my fault. Like it’s wrong.

“What’s wrong with that?” I ask, my voice lowering to a growl.

“You lost their sponsorship, that’s all.” She doesn’t care. Does she care about anything?

“Thanks for your help,” I say, laying the sarcasm on thick.

“Comprehensive Superhero Insurance is always here to help,” she says as if it’s a pre-recorded message, face plastered with a fake smile that’s more plastic than a Halloween mask.

This kind of shit is why there are so many heroes on heroin. This is why the good guys turn bad. The bank across the street looks like an all you can eat buffet to my cash strapped blue eyes. My broad shoulders slouch, making it easier for people to read CSI adverts I have across both. I look at the print for CHA and I want to tear it off, but then I’d be done for indecent exposure. Spandex is part of the job, no bra. No one wants to be relying on one for support and then unhooked mid battle.

My foot clatters on a discarded can. I pick it up, crush it into the negative space inside my fist. The meta starts to warm under the pressure. I throw. It sails gracefully through the air, over a busy street. The metal twists as it passes over yellow taxis and heads straight towards a recycling can emblazoned with the smiling features of Awesome Alien. Our most patriotic immigrant has teeth that make the sun look dull as my can sails towards him. I see the crushed metal arc towards the gaping maw of the trash can. It dances off the top and hits the wall behind with a bang.

Fuck.

I wait for the green light. Like a schmuck. Like any other human. Never mind that I can bench press a taxi with the people inside. No flying for me. No Rat Mobile like Rat-A-Tat Man.

DONT WALK. Hurry up.

WALK.

Old boots with the printed sponsors scraping off clap on the tarmac. I stoop to pick up the can. It scratched the paint on the trash can. It dented the wall. I glance around, toss it in and walk away as fast as I can.

Fifty grand. Where’s an arm wrestling competition when you need one?

A rumble in the distance draws closer, a storm on the wind. Grim Ripper, another hero that turned to crime years ago, rides a cloud. The cloud is in the form a of a horse. Posters of him covered my wall as a child. Back then he was Laughing Lightning. Flashes strobe across the sky. The signature chortle became a cackle. Now his mask is a skull. He wears black robes.

I watch him sail overhead, powerless.

“Why are you just watching? Cat Fight?” A girl dressed as Zeppelin Zoom watches me with hope dripping down her cheeks. “Stop him. You can do it.”

“I can’t afford to.” I say. “Can’t fly anyway.”

“But you’re the hero?” Her voice is indignant. I can hear her dreams dying. I see the birth of a cynic and my heart breaks again. I was that girl once. Full of hope, trusting the righteous.

The rumble of thunder and the flashes shrink away. I leave a broken dream behind me. She’s crying. I’m crying. The walk home is long, but I don’t have money for a bus or the subway.

Old wood creaks beneath my boots on the steps to my apartment. The elevator was broken when I moved in seven years back.

White paper with red writing is taped to my door.

EVICTION NOTICE.

Dear Tennant,

Eve Solution, we regret to inform you that due to missed payments on repeated occasions, the Super Homes for Superheroes Group PLC must ask you to leave within 30 days. Debt consolidation advice is available if you call the following number.

I stop reading. My key still turns in the lock. The swinging door reveals the kind of minimalist shithole only shared by drug addicts, stereotyped starving artists and heroes who can’t pay their way.

My boots leave prints on envelopes printed with the words FINAL NOTICE.

No shower for my sweaty body, the water was shut off yesterday. I sold my bed so a mattress welcomes my weary muscles. Constellations of green mold speckle the ceiling. Printed memories are scattered along the skirting board because I can’t afford frames. I was never allowed to ‘damage’ the walls with pins.

A creek in the ravaged living room sets off my instincts. I leap to my feet with a bang. Dust falls from the ceiling.

“Who’s there?” I ask, clenching my fists.

“An old friend,” says Malcolm Tennet. His voice is a contradiction of reactions for me. Joy. Despair. Love and hate.

“Cad Bury,” I say with a voice of ice. “What do you want? I’m already beaten. I can’t afford another fight, fiscally speaking.”

“I’m just here to offer you a job.” He holds up hands that don’t have the callouses they used to. Being a villain seems to have health benefits. He gives a playful smile that used to tick all of my boxes. I’m betrayed by a warm rush of pheromones that feels like my mother telling me I’m not getting any younger.

He looks younger. Dick. “I don’t want anything you have to offer.” I wanted your babies. I wanted to grow old with you. I wanted to know why you would betray me with that bitch. I wanted to wrap my hands around your head and hear it crunch like cereal. I want to forget you. “Get out.”

“I paid this.” He holds up the yellow envelope for my mother’s nursing home. His blue eyes hold mine like handcuffs on Valentine’s.

I couldn’t.

I’m a terrible daughter.

But he did.

“I always liked your mom.”

 He means it. “She hated you. From the start.”

“That only made you forbidden fruit. Sweeter.” He hangs his head with the somber innocence of a boy taking their emotional break mid song. He’s got the ‘00s look, long hair over one eye. Black shirt over a black long sleeve T. Muscles bulge beneath.

Don’t think about his chest. Don’t think about your arms around him in the morning. “You paid it?”

He nods. His eyes scan my body like they always did, but they don’t linger like they used to. He’s moved on, or learned tact. “I know what she means to you. You couldn’t pay it. She was going to be tossed out on the street. No nurses on call. No medication for her pain. She wouldn’t have anyway to stay because you’re being evicted. You’d watch her die in a shelter or on the street. You can move mountains with your bare hands but because this country holds us responsible for the cost of saving lives, we can’t afford to.” He shrugs. “I never wanted to turn, Evie. I just hit the same wall you have. Sued for saving a jumper, mid leap. That’s the world we live in. They’re not grateful. When was the last time someone said thank you? When was the last time someone asked you if YOU’RE OKAY?” His voice is turning bitter. “They don’t care. If they did, you wouldn’t have to save the world wearing rags.”

He fishes a card from his back pocket.

I take it.

“You can’t catch us using that number. You can call if you want to see what it’s like being with people who understand you.” He hugs me. I melt into him before I can swing a fist.

“I hate you,” I sob. My nose fills with the scent of his skin, it takes me back years and picks open every wound that was nearly done healing.

“I know. I know.” He rubs my back, then holds me at arms length. “Think about it, Evie. That’s all I ask.”

The floorboards creak as he walks away. I hold the card with the number. I look at my mom’s paid bill.

One photo faces the wall by the skirting board in my room. I have the biggest smile with my arm wrapped around him.

I look at the number on the card and then the envelope. Lying back on my dirty sheets, I weep.

July 07, 2023 14:10

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72 comments

Michał Przywara
20:37 Jul 14, 2023

Very nice, and quite thought provoking! We love heroes, because they do what we can't. But now I wonder, maybe we also hate them for the same reason. If they help us once, we're thankful. If they do it again, it's expected. We've raised the bar, we've taken a mile. The whole idea of heroes paints the world in black and white and doesn't leave any room for nuance, but if we consider these are also people, with real people issues - like paying rent, or aging mothers who need medical assistance and supervision - then things get murky. This st...

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Graham Kinross
20:46 Jul 14, 2023

Thanks for reading and taking time to comment in such detail. Yeah, like people have said this has parallels with burnt out teachers and medical professionals who get overlooked and then give up because it’s too much. Then there’s the CEO’s increasing their profits and salaries while they increase the working hours and let wages stagnate.

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13:00 Jul 14, 2023

As a story on its on, this is interesting and has a powerful message. The little veiled parallels to modern life take it above. I see here teachers leaving the profession for all the crap they get blamed for and doctors ordering unnecessary tests to cover their asses. The sponsorship dropped over the subsequent public kiss was the best hint that this is an indictment of modern life. Very cool story.

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Graham Kinross
13:19 Jul 14, 2023

Thanks, Anne. I hate the two faced attitudes of corporations that want money for being just the right amount of progressive, to strike the middle ground and have the most customers.

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Kevin Keegan
10:21 Jul 13, 2023

I really liked your story Graham. The tempo is set at the right speed and the story is very interesting from beginning to the end. I thought it was very well written. A great story.

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Graham Kinross
12:47 Jul 13, 2023

Thanks, Kevin.

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Benja Catton
05:50 Jul 11, 2023

This was a fun read! It has a hint of The Incredibles, but grittier and sexier. Evie's frustrations with the disincentivizing of moral choices are relatable. We want to do good, but it can be so costly (time consuming, emotionally draining, expensive, etc.) Her picking up litter and recycling it only to feel threatened was a clever way to help the reader relate.

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Graham Kinross
10:09 Jul 11, 2023

Was it sexier? Wasn’t the word I thought would describe this but thank you. The way the world makes being a good person harder than just letting bad things happen disgusts me sometimes. Mostly because I feel complicit. It’s too easy to be jaded and give up on doing the right thing because you’ve tried and been burnt for it. People sometimes even look at you with mistrust when you try to help, because it’s so rare that it seems suspicious.

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Michelle Oliver
14:31 Jul 09, 2023

Now this is an interesting twist on the superhero story. In a world where bureaucracy and red tape had gone mad. Where you have to pay to do your job and insurance companies will pay out only under limited circumstances hidden behind clauses. It seems crazy, but somehow so true. This is an insight as to how someone may become so disheartened by trying to follow their dream/conscience/goal, so beaten down that they may consider alternative life choices they would never even contemplate otherwise. -When was the last time someone asked you if Y...

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Graham Kinross
05:23 Jul 12, 2023

Thanks for your kind words Michelle. Thank you for reading.

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Kevin Logue
07:15 Jul 08, 2023

I think this is my favourite of yours so far Graham. Evie's struggle is palpable, and although we aren't superheroes we can all relate to financial problems and dealing with insurances companies could make anyone a villian. Great descriptions in here too, this one in particular rally stood out to me, His blue eyes hold mine like handcuffs on Valentine’s. Well done and good luck 🤞👍

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Graham Kinross
10:30 Jul 08, 2023

Thanks, Kevin.

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Mary Bendickson
04:44 Jul 08, 2023

Insurance companies control even super- hero worlds.

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Graham Kinross
10:33 Jul 08, 2023

They’re the real villains.

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Lily Finch
17:24 Jul 07, 2023

Graham, a poor washed up super hero becomes a wannabe. A relationship that failed because of infidelity. A responsibility taken on regardless of their relationship. Pretty deep stuff Graham. It all worked out in the end. he retreats to the bed and weeps for what he could have had. Realizing what he was missing. Interesting and well done. Thanks for the good read. LF6 “I hate you,” I sob. My nose fills with the scent of his skin, it takes me back years and picks open ever wound that was nearly done healing. - every

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Graham Kinross
21:57 Jul 07, 2023

Thanks, Lily. How are you?

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Lily Finch
21:59 Jul 07, 2023

I am ok. And you? LF6

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Graham Kinross
22:00 Jul 07, 2023

Had a rough time at work recently that inspired this a bit but it’s the weekend now so I’m fine.

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Lily Finch
22:02 Jul 07, 2023

Oh man, sorry to hear that. But now that it's over, you can relax maybe a bit?

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Graham Kinross
10:35 Jul 08, 2023

A bit. Turns out I have a dental issue that’s going to take a while to sort. Fun…

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Tommy Goround
22:50 Jul 23, 2023

What a title and concept. Clapping

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Graham Kinross
23:33 Jul 23, 2023

Thanks Tommy. I hope you enjoyed the story as well?

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Tommy Goround
23:42 Jul 23, 2023

Can you put email on your bio at the top? I couldn't find it. This 205# and so no opinions I could give are useful. Best concept I read out of over 20 today. (Off to hunt houses for a few hours) tpgoround@gmail.com

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Philip Ebuluofor
15:41 Jul 20, 2023

Fine work here. I am sure not part of the series. But I think I am trying to go that serial way with my blogs. I ask, is there a way you line things up initially before tackling them in that format?

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Graham Kinross
22:03 Jul 20, 2023

I usually think of a Plot that will take a few stories to resolve and then try to think of sections that end on some sort of cliffhanger or resolution to hopefully make people want to read on or give resolution to a problem.

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Mike Panasitti
19:44 Jul 17, 2023

I enjoyed this for all the reasons Michal has given, plus it was a visceral read full of disillusionment, as well as hope: the hope that comes with seeing that the bad guys aren't necessarily bad, just victims of circumstance like the anti-heroes here are (or the heroine in the process of becoming an anti-hero here is). Nice work, Graham.

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Graham Kinross
23:42 Jul 17, 2023

Thanks, Mike. It’s a shame that this resonates so much with people but there’s a reason people end up jaded and cynical I guess.

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Mike Panasitti
00:08 Jul 18, 2023

There's some of that in my piece this week, but it ends on what's hopefully an upbeat note. Not exactly what you might want to read if you're down in the dumps, but I find that optimism, when it's done well, is a salve for the soul. Take care, Graham.

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Graham Kinross
00:08 Jul 18, 2023

Thanks, take care yourself, Mike. Have a good day.

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L M
11:43 Jul 15, 2023

This felt like something from The Boys.

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Graham Kinross
13:02 Jul 15, 2023

I love the Boys so I’m taking that as a compliment. Thank you. Definitely inspired by the way it gets into the nitty gritty psychology of them. It also explains how they get their fancy costumes and their PR so I like the deep dive it does when most depictions of superheroes are fairly shallow. Superman should have been fired from the Daily Planet a hundred time for skipping out of work early.

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L M
05:56 Jul 30, 2023

Superman did go awol a lot didnt he?

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Graham Kinross
08:00 Jul 30, 2023

Mostly in Louis and Clark.

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L M
12:40 Aug 10, 2023

Havent seen that

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Graham Kinross
22:44 Aug 10, 2023

It was a cheesy but very good show about Louis Lane and Clark Kent’s relationship. The best cast Superman in my opinion. He suited Clark and Superman equally, Dean Cain. Terri Hatcher as Louis might be the best as well.

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Unknown User
23:15 Jul 11, 2023

<removed by user>

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Graham Kinross
05:26 Jul 12, 2023

Thanks Joe. All that is necessary for evil to prosper if for the good to nothing.

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Martin Ross
20:38 Sep 12, 2023

Love a good superantihero story, and this one takes a nice thematic side-route. And i always KNEW Cad Bury was a bad egg.

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Graham Kinross
19:14 Sep 17, 2023

Do you think we will ever reach superhero saturation. A lot of people who are bitter about the dominance of the MCU at the cinema think we’re there already.

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Martin Ross
21:38 Sep 17, 2023

I’m getting burnt-out on the MCU. I actually enjoyed Flash more than the last few releases, despite the occasionally cheesy CGI and Ezra Miller’s nationwide crime spree. Don’t know if I care whether there’s another Phase.

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Graham Kinross
00:16 Sep 19, 2023

I suppose everyone is going to reach their limit with the MCU somewhere. They’ve missed a few steps here and there but I’m still going with it. Do you watch any of the Star Wars shows?

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Drizzt Donovan
11:01 Jan 10, 2024

I don’t think he got your Cad Bury bad egg joke but I did and I tip my cap to you sir.

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Aoi Yamato
03:53 Aug 24, 2023

I listened to this. cool. https://soundcloud.com/grahamkinross/derelict-reserve-by-graham?si=ed4f9b18847b4c87ba7ad5530c4cc1e2&utm_source=clipboard&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=social_sharing

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Graham Kinross
21:41 Aug 25, 2023

Thanks. That was a long time ago now.

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Aoi Yamato
01:00 Aug 29, 2023

welcome.

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Luca King Greek
17:21 Aug 12, 2023

Unique perspective and great execution. Vivid language, occasionally poetic.

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Graham Kinross
02:29 Aug 13, 2023

Thanks Luca.

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Amanda Lieser
16:21 Aug 05, 2023

Hi Graham, Boy oh boy do I hope you’ll make a series out of these characters. I like the concept of super hero insurance and a part of me has to wonder how “American” the concept is. With the majority of the world, we have universal insurance available. As an American myself, I’m not certain exactly how that system works-is it just universal healthcare? Even so, you brought up the health issues of a protagonist’s parent so a part of me has to wonder if the burden could be lifted if they lived in another country. Something to muse on, I suppo...

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Graham Kinross
23:43 Aug 06, 2023

Thanks Amanda. Doesn’t the world have enough ever branching superhero series? Maybe I’ll write more. Maybe. Probably, eventually.

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Aoi Yamato
00:47 Aug 01, 2023

is there more like this?

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Graham Kinross
02:19 Aug 01, 2023

This one is a standalone story.

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Aoi Yamato
00:57 Aug 02, 2023

i see.

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Carol Banks
16:05 May 09, 2024

Mickey to that mouse... call that missus danger.... I like when he treats me nice.. buys me chocs and flowers. Then he sends me to resorts... call that human nature ;)

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Graham Kinross
10:13 May 10, 2024

Thanks for the comment Carol.

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Drizzt Donovan
11:03 Jan 10, 2024

Wow, she’s screwed. What a life. Read your comments though sir, you have some without responses here. That’s bad form.

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Graham Kinross
23:43 Feb 03, 2024

Including yours, sorry Drizzt. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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