This story was written for the terribleminds flash-fiction challenge. The aim was to smash two sub-genres together and somehow come up with a story out of the messy remains. My genres (randomly generated) were: Sci-Fi Humor/Satire and Superhero. (Many thanks to Burning-liquid for the image of the planet.)
Man of the Hour
His cape glittered in the light thrown off by the fire. To the screams of the crowd, the Golden Hawk smashed through a window of the burning school. A gout of flame exploded out behind him. Someone in the crowd fainted, whilst others quickly made bets on how many of the children the Hawk would rescue. The worst odds were on none, but those who bet the Hawk would manage to save all twenty were also playing a risky game.Ambulance sirens wailed and throbbed. Mrs Jones, wrapped in a dressing gown and wearing fuzzy cat slippers, launched into a long monologue about each of the children trapped inside — focused mainly on their predisposition to take her bin and move it halfway down the street on bin day.
Then, to gasps of wonder, the Golden Hawk reappeared. Children clung to his arms, his legs, his torso, like scorpion babies clutching their mother. His cape fluttered over them.
Bookies groaned as they counted the number of children, but started to pay out. Winners grinned and praised the Hawk. Paramedics rushed to get oxygen masks on the children. The Golden Hawk saluted as the photographers rushed to get their shot, then gently lifted the last child, kissed it on the top of its head and passed it to a reporter. Before anyone could ask any questions, the Hawk leapt into the air and zig-zagged away.
“I’m telling you,” Chambers said. “The reporters don’t give a damn how that fire took hold. All they are talking about is the same old, same old. Who is the Hawk? Where does he come from? Where does he go? What if he turns into a super-villain? They don’t care about the financial situation of the school, and how come it ended up with exposed wires and plywood so old it was turning into dust.”
The Prime Minister opened a bottle of incredibly expensive water and sniffed it dubiously. “I do wish we would hurry up and arrive at this Alpha Centuri 95-whatever it is.”
“Another twenty five years yet,” Chambers said. “And in the meantime, the deficit must be kept down. You know that, with all due respect.”
“Of course, of course,” sighed the Prime Minister. He carefully poured the bottled water into the cat bowl on his desk. Jessie, his Russian Blue, jumped onto the table and started to lap the water. “The bloody deficit. I just don’t understand why we had to sell off the whole of England to make a repayment on it.”
“We owed twenty-five trillion pounds to the Chinese,” Chambers said. “And they cashed their IOU.”
“Yes, but I thought one of those, you know, African countries owed us a pretty penny or too.”
“The previous government,” Chambers said. He poured himself a glass of port. “You know that too, sir, with all due respect.”
The Prime Minister brushed down his suit. “The Hawk won’t satisfy them forever,” he said. “We need to get something else in there. The Sentinel has been asking difficult questions again.”
“You didn’t answer them, did you?” Chambers said, horrified.
“Of course not,” the Prime Minister said. He scratched Jessie on the head, and watched her eyes crinkle up. “But all those children died when they reached the hospital. Some mix-up with the paperwork or something. They ended up going in for a heart bypass, and then half of them caught some kind of super-bug and the other half starved to death. We need more nurses, Chambers!”
“Well, if you’d bloody privatised it when I told you to, it wouldn’t be our problem, would it?”
“They public wouldn’t go for it,” the Prime Minister stood up and paced uneasily. “Look, Chambers, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking…”
“Bad for your health, sir,” Chambers said with a frown.
“Well, here’s the thing. If we sold off England to pay our debt to the Chinese, how come the Chinese still had to head off to Xerion Han 45-whatever it was?”
“Oh,” Chambers said. “Because the Chinese owed three hundred trillion to the Japanese.”
“But the Japanese are on their way to—”
“Delta Five, yes, I know. You have to understand, sir, that the debt situation on Earth had become very complex.”
“All I want to know is…”
“Who exactly is left on Earth?”
Ricardo Brandon threw his champagne glass at the wall.
“No, no, no!” he said. “I want England to be a hedge maze, get it right! The biggest hedge maze in the world! And I want lions in it, real lions mind you. Not ones made out of bushes.” He glowered at the map in front of him. “America… you might as well leave Las Vegas alone. Good memories. But get rid of the other cities. Actually, build me a palace in New York. We can go there on the weekends.”
The butler bowed and hurried out to make sure the servants were aware. With a staff of five hundred, it was difficult to co-ordinate people across the whole of Bandon’s vast estate, but the butler couldn’t help feeling pleased. Thanks to his position, he’d been able to stay on Earth when almost ten billion people had been evicted.
Brandon sat down in his leather chair and stared gloomily out of the window. He’d won. He was the richest man in the world. In fact he was one of the only men in the world.
Then he brightened up. He had an outpost in Alpha Centuri 957, and had set up a Real Estate company there. He phoned them now.”
“Hey Brian, how’s it going? Just wanted to check up on the profits.”
“Great news sir,” Brian replied. “Profits are up 12%!”