The Hero and The Cramp

I usually write horror stories, but it’s good to leave your comfort zone every now and then.  This one is just light and fun, and is my secret homage to Superman…as portrayed by Tom Welling on Smallville.  😉

Author’s Note:  The Writer’s Cramp is an online, daily writing contest found on Writing.Com.  They give you a prompt, and you have 24 hours to write a short story in 1000 words or less about it.  The winner receives 10,000 GPs (Gift Points) which is the virtual “currency” of the site.  Additionally, you may have readers on the site who will read and review your story and give you feedback. 

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It’s two-thirty in the morning when inspiration hits.  I’m in front of the computer looking at today’s prompt for the daily Writer’s Cramp competition. When I first see the prompt, I think it’s a goof:  Superman, a pair of scissors, and fifteen minutes.  I mean, really, what kind of thing is this?  But the more I look at it, the more things become clear, and a vision starts to appear in my head: the fluttering red cape, Kryptonite string, and Lois trapped in a cellar somewhere in the wine country with a maniacal Lex Luthor threatening to destroy the world’s finest vineyards.  Oh yea, this might work.

But time is ticking away, and when I glance at the little clock in the right-hand corner of the computer screen, it’s suddenly three-thirty and the noontime deadline is looming over my head like a dark shadow.  Technically, I’ve got about eight and half hours to write this thing, but in reality, I’ve only got about an hour left, because I really should be sleeping now.  I do have to go to work in the morning.  After all, the ten thousand GPs are great, but it sure doesn’t pay the rent.

So I start typing away, my fingers all a-flutter on the keyboard (who knew I could type so fast?) When I check the word count, I’m at 276.  Great.  I’ve got 724 words to go, and although the Man of Steel is in a little bit of trouble (damn that Kryptonite string!) I anticipate he’s going to pull out of it a-ok.  Of course, Lois may not fare so well, but Superman will get over it.  There are other fish in the sea…

So I take another quick peek at the clock.  Damn it!  It’s four-forty five already.  Way past my targeted sleep time.  But hey, with 518 words to go and some cleverly placed scissors, the Kryptonite string is history, and while Lex is passed out drunk from too much wine, Lois, who has managed to avert catastrophe, is thinking fifteen minutes to sabotage.  Yep, it’s all coming together.

Except for all the damn typos.  I wonder for a moment if any of the reviewers would notice those few misspelled words in that paragraph over there.  And do I really need to fix that run-on sentence?  Damn it, did I forget to indent?  I really want to just keep moving forward with the story, but the little mistakes are starting to taunt me, because I’d hate to turn in something less than flawless if I can help it.  And so perfection drives me to halt Superman’s advance on Lex’s lair to make some corrections and a few tiny revisions (I’ve decided that Lois is going to suffer some bodily harm after all, mainly because sometimes she just gets on my nerves) and then that’s when it happens.  I get stuck.

I check the clock again.  Five-thirty!  Oh my god—am I ever going to get this done and go back to bed?  And I was doing so well.  I sit in front of the monitor, watching the little cursor blink with expectation (because I know it, too, is curious to see what’s going to happen next) but my fingers are motionless on the keyboard.

Man, I can’t believe it!    Writer’s block, and I was so close to finishing!  I do another word count check:  just 359 words to go.  How can this be? How can I be this close and get stuck now?

While I’m thinking about what to do next, I look at what I’ve written and I decide it’s pretty good so far:  there is rhythm and flow, a little bit of humor, and a whole lot of drama.  It’s the classic tale of good versus evil, even if it is a little tongue-in-cheek, and of course, the hero getting the girl…but does Superman really need to get the girl?  Does he have to have Lois?  The guy is so good-looking, after all, so dreamy, and he could have any woman he wanted.  I mean, for Pete’s sake, I could be his heroine. Hell, I should be his heroine.  I’m sweet, I’m sexy, and I’m intelligent, and unlike Lois, I can actually type and spell, and I can do it all at the same time.

And so that’s when it happens.  That’s when I take Lois’ place in the grand scheme of things and suddenly the story is back on track again.  There’s a horrible explosion, and although Lex escapes, Lois is in a coma, never to awaken again.  The new reporter on the beat—me—is there to pick up the slack where the poor Ms. Lane left off, and when Superman gets a load of me—well, let’s just say that things get super heated.

When I look at the clock again, it’s six-thirty in the morning.  But who needs sleep when I’ve got the world’s greatest superhero on my arm?  I’m at 864 words and even though the clock is ticking, I know I’ve got this.  Ten thousand GPs, come to momma.

With Lex an alcoholic and Lois out of the picture, the story can only have a happy ending.  I write about our pending nuptials in Paris and as we stroll down the Champs-Elysées, fans wish us well.

“Superman!  Congratulations!”

“Superman! You lucky dog, you!”

“Good luck to you both!”

Some spectators pat me on the back and on the arm.  “Hey, are you going to wake up?” That’s odd. This is what you say to someone getting married?

Tap, tap, tap. “Honey!  Wake up!”

I sit up suddenly and I look around.  On the TV, the DVD player is running over and over the opening menu of Smallville, waiting for me to pick an option, and next to me, my laptop is open.  The word document on the page is filled with random words, sentence fragments. Story ideas and little phrases.

I look at my husband sleepily.  “I was writing about Superman.  For The Cramp.”

He smiles at me gently and with amusement.  “Yea, I think that’s enough of Clark Kent for one evening, babe.”

He pulls me to my feet. “But he’s my hero!” I mumble groggily.

He scoops me up into his arms.  “How about I’ll be your hero tonight.  Okay?”

I lean my tired head into his shoulder.  “Yea, okay.”  I wrap my arms around his neck and let him carry me up the stairs.  I give a little sigh.  “That makes a better story anyway.”

COPYRIGHT 2012 © ELIZABETH MICHAUD JOHN.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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