Another prompt from Sue Vincent’s #writephoto stable
Magnetron the Magnificent (that’s what his webpage said, though the poster outside the theatre had been changed to the Marginalised, which, while true, hurt a lot) told himself to get a grip. He knew he still had what it took; he could still make the sparks fly, literally as well as metaphorically. It’s just… no, he wouldn’t give in to self pity. If the internet generation wanted their spectaculars to be CGI then that was their loss. There were still people willing to come out on a wet Wednesday in Peebles, even if most of them might need his services as an occasional human defibrillator rather than professional titillator.
‘Message For Battery Man.’ The spotty youth grinned at the tired old sobriquet. Like so many before him, he thought Neville Workbench a fraud, using a clever trick to deceive the public, even though Neville had undergone many attempts to discern how he could create mini storms and indoor sunrises while stark naked. No, his secret had never been unravelled because they couldn’t get their puny minds around real super powers. The abnormal gene that allowed Neville to generate excessive static was beyond their ken. Like Doris Waterbed (superheat) and Rodney Pluckjumble (magnetic knees) he was deemed a cheat. Of course, that interview with Graham Norton hadn’t helped. Why oh why had he compared his critic’s lack of belief to the ridicule heaped upon Josef Pujol, Le Petomane, who’s ability to create wind symphonies with nothing more than a tin of beans, a rock hard set of abs and a super-elastic anus had stunned Paris 100 years ago, but led to accusations of hidden bellows.
‘Yes this is Nev… Magnetron. Who’s this?’
Neville listened, at first sceptical and then intrigued. After all, what did he have to lose?
And so it was that Neville, sporting a new super-conductive suit (sponsored by Eponymous Power, a newly created fuel conglomerate) stood just below the crest of the chosen hill, waiting to be given his cue. All he had to do, on the count of ten, was generate a set of sparks, direct them at the Eponymous gas feed as an insulated assistant (some unpaid and presumable expendable intern) turned on the tap, to create a spectacular arc of flame to light up the horizon.
In the event the practise run – without the suit which was being modified due to a wardrobe malfunction earlier – went without a hitch so the director decided to go for a single take.
Neville shifted uneasily in the tacky tight onesie. The combination of friction and a focused outlet for all power via his right hand created a unexpected pressure that sent his arm waving wildly, directing huge sparks across the ridge. On that ridge, in case more than one take was necessary, the crew had a store of spare canisters. As Neville’s super powered arm pointed at each stack, the heat and power combined to ignite the fuel.
On the other side of the ridge the cameras rolled. A spectacular multitude of dawns exploded across the sky. The director purred. The crew gaped. A collective ‘Wow’ left their lips.
Neville looked at the devastation. He’d ruined everything. Now he’d be a laughing stock. Uneasily he dragged himself to the hilltop to take his punishment.
At first he couldn’t grasp the faces turned to him. They were… awe struck. They cheered; they clapped and hooted and hollared. Stunned, he headed for the cameras, his back being slapped as he passed. ‘Man, you’ll be like famous,’ said one geeky youth with a backwards cap and perfect smile.
Neville looked at his hand, the tips of his fingers charred beyond recognition. He’d not be sparking again, at least for a while. He’d need to be careful for a while, make sure they recovered. As they say, he thought, it’s not reaching the top that’s hard; it’s staying there, that’s the real challenge.
A hand gripped his shoulder and spun him round. The director. ‘My hero.’
Neville began to smile when he registered the look of horror on the director’s face. He was staring at Neville’s hand. At where he’d gripped Neville’s hand to shake it. At the dust that was all that remained of his fingers.
‘Oh god. What have it done?’
Neville took in the distraught face. ‘It’s ok,’ he said. ‘It’ll grow back.’
The director looked astonished and then annoyed. Neville had seen that before. The disbelief. Morons. They never could grasp what having a super power meant.