This week I’m sticking with the theme of “Witnesses” to practice writing from alternate perspectives. Not every major event in a story needs to be told from those involved and can sometimes give greater insight when told by an outsider.
I always find it interesting seeing how regular people adjust to superheroes in stories so thought I’d take a crack at writing that kind of short story myself.
Objective: Write from the perspective of someone witnessing the use of powers they don’t understand. This can be via superheroes, supervillains or any other kind of power that is commonly perceived as unnatural.
The Cleanup Crew
I began reading comics when I was a kid and they lasted all the way into my adult life. You’d think that would give me the creative imagination to accept something like superpowers in the real world.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot the comics missed out back then. Things that you never think of, things you wouldn’t want to think of.
When they showed up on the news, it was amazing in a funny kind of way. People flying around, stopping bad guys and saving the day. We all felt like we were in a movie or something. So long as it didn’t mess with our lives, why would we care about it all beyond the entertainment?
Things started getting tense once the governments started giving them official jobs I think. It began with the term ‘civil servants’ and began to spiral downwards. Soon the “Specials” were putting the enforcement in Law Enforcement.
Even then, it wasn’t too bad. We had a few “accidents” at the start but things began to quieten down…until the war began.
I don’t remember why Europe and America came to blows but it certainly had something to do with the Specials. Their existence was more terrifying in war than a stockpile of nukes, now all we needed for that were radioactive people.
I don’t think any of the Governments were happy with that but somehow they all fell in line, at least until their armies were jam-packed with militarized Specials.
Now I’m walking through London City. The fighting here has stopped, for a time. In another war I’d be the kind who gets drafted automatically. I should feel lucky that the Specials are around to fight my battles for me… but looking over London City I feel a weight in my stomach like I’m gonna hurl. Amongst the destruction there are men and women, casualties on both sides. They’re mainly Specials, London City was evacuated before the showdown began but that makes it worse.
You don’t know what you’re going to get when you pull up a body. They’re all burned but some don’t burn the way they’re meant to. Buckingham Palace got blown up yesterday by the glowing purple man they were carrying out. He was confirmed dead but his skin just kept glowing. They threw him onto the back of the body truck and suddenly they were blinded by complete darkness. That’s what they saw anyway but what we saw was something crazier.
One minute it’s a typical cloudy day in London, the next a dark shroud forms around the palace. The wind starts to pick up, drawing towards it and we all brace, gripping whatever we can find. My fingers felt like they were tearing off around the time I realized that it wasn’t wind.
That dead man had left us with a black hole, slap bang in the middle of Buckingham Palace.
It was gone again in seconds but when the darkness lifted, the palace was a shambles. All the men working down there weren’t just dead, they had disappeared. All but the one who told us what happened.
When they found him, he was already close to bleeding out. There was no way we were saving him, with his legs gone the only thing stemming the blood was the huge chunk of rubble that had crushed him from the waist down.
They never told us about that in the comics and it wasn’t even the worst part. The worst part was dealing with the ones who were still alive, especially if they weren’t one of ours.
An American Special called Solus had been one of the guys to lead the charge on London. A few days into the cleaning up we found him. He had a bum knee but he was alive and his temper was fierce. We followed orders to keep back and call in the Specials to take care of him.
They were good and proud about catching someone from their most wanted list, too proud to remember how dangerous he was. Not that I can blame them, we all thought his bum knee would be the end of the fight for him. Idiots.
Two of them start dragging him off explaining he’s a classic prisoner of war while four more follow close behind. Just as they’re giving the signal for us to carry on the cleanup, they get engulfed in flames. Solus goes full power, clearly he’d rather die than become a prisoner of war.
The flames miss my crew by inches but it’s getting bigger. We’re about to turn tail and run when suddenly it all goes out at once. All that’s left is Solus, passed out on the ground and six of our own writhing Specials, screaming as the flames eat through them.
This time, I really did hurl. They sure as hell never showed us anything like that in the comics…