Written by conceptfan :: [Wednesday, 07 December 2005 14:18] Last updated by :: [Friday, 28 December 2012 15:59]
WRITTEN FOR SGI WORKSHOP 1.6
Another Time, Another Place
The crystal chamber gleamed, its pure white surfaces a perfect contrast with the black canopy of star-speckled sky above. Unseen machinery hummed inside and below the pristine walls but the sterile cleanliness of the room belied its age which would be more conveniently measured in centuries than mere years.
Inside the vast space, the two figures deep in conversation appeared almost insignificantly small. Even the crystalline space craft beside them was dwarfed by the massive dimensions of the chamber. Once, the room had been filled with people and activity – the greatest minds of a proud civilisation engaged in scientific endeavour. Now, as that civilisation entered its final moments, the pair were almost alone.
"Sor-El! You cannot just send our only daughter out into space like that, all alone through the galaxies to live on another world! She's just an infant!"
"You cannot believe that it is better to keep her here and watch her die with us?"
"But … but why must we send her to Earth? She'll be a freak there … They'll never accept her!"
"She'll be special. She'll have abilities … she'll help them. They'll
come to love
her in time. And it's our best hope. There is no future here."
"Why will she help them? Without our guidance, with the abilities she will have under a yellow sun, in the moral sewer of Earth, maybe she will follow a dark path."
"No, my dear husband. She will have our guidance. I have prepared lessons for the vessel that will take her to Earth. We will be there in spirit if not in body to educate her in the ways we hold dear and to explain what her place will be in her new home, before she even gets there."
"But-" The man's protests were cut short by a tremor that caused the entire gigantic chamber to rattle violently.
"There is no more time for discussion," the woman observed. "We must prepare the craft for launch before it is too late…"
Same Place, a short while later
The couple stood, the woman's arm reassuringly around her husband's shoulders as he covered his tear-filled eyes with his palms. She spoke, her voice calm and soothing.
"It is done. Our daughter is in the hands of the universe now. You must not cry. It was our only option."
"I know," the man sobbed, "but I can't bear to watch."
"It is for the best. At least she has … hope."
Another violent tremor ripped through the chamber, almost knocking them off their feet. A tiny crack appeared high in the crystal wall beside them, spreading rapidly downwards like a fork of black lightening. Deep, ominous rumblings echoed from the ground below as a second and then a third fissure appeared.
The man removed his hands from his face and looked at his wife. The expression on his features made his words redundant. "I'm scared," he confessed. "Hold me." Wordlessly, his wife pulled him close to her, enveloping him in her arms one last time.
Over the next few moments, the tremors grew in frequency and strength. The man pulled away slightly to look, terrified, into the beautiful, bright eyes of his wife. She returned his gaze with one of her own, a look full of tender love. A heartbeat later, the planet on which they were standing tore apart from its core outwards, shattering into a billion fragments that were dispersed into the cold emptiness of space for all eternity.
Earth, 2 years later
Wisps of cloud hung motionless in the still blue sky overhead. The couple sat on a rug on the edge of the field by the narrow road had long since learnt to enjoy one another's company without the need for conversation, and it had been a while since either had spoken. Empty cups and plates in front of them told of the meal they had enjoyed and of the impending conclusion of the outing.
The male half of the duo, becoming aware of a hint of emotion in his wife's face, broke the silence with small-talk. "This is a beautiful spot for a picnic."
"You know, when we were first courting, I used to dream of being older, having picnics with you, out here …"
"For someone living their dream, you look so sad. What's wrong, dear?"
"Oh, it's nothing. It's just that … well … in the dreams, there were always children running round. I know you hate to dwell on what might have been, and I mean it when I say that you give me all the love I ever need, but … I'm sorry. I can't help feeling sad about it sometimes."
The man put his hand upon her shoulder wordlessly, offering her emotional support while he struggled to find the right words to offer comfort. He was glad of the celestial distraction that suddenly presented itself. "Look!" he pointed. "Up there! In the sky! I think it's a comet …"
"Where? Oh yes. It's beautiful."
"You should make a wish."
She smiled at him. "I already did," she admitted.
"It's … it's coming down. Between those two fields!" He made no secret of his relief at the opportunity to change the mood. "Let's check it out. Maybe get our pictures in the newspaper …" Climbing to his feet he held out his hand to his wife, helping her up. They walked briskly, hand-in hand, through the young corn towards the smoke rising in a column the middle distance.
She saw it first when they approached. "Oh my word … it's … it's …"
"A child!" he finished the sentence for her. "A girl," he added, displaying a basic knowledge of human biology. "Where did she come from?" They stared, confused, at the tiny figure next to the strange car-sized glass-like object that had crashed down, tearing a long scar in the field. Smoke continued to rise from the object and the ground that it had torn up, but the infant seemed unperturbed.
The woman snapped to her senses. "Pull her out of there!" she cried to her husband. "Look at all that smoke… it's so hot the poor thing must be burning!"
The man took two steps towards the child and then stopped, shielding his face with his arms. "I … I can't get close!" he spluttered, stepping back. "It's too hot! Try and find a branch or something!"
"Where?" asked the woman, looking around at the field of corn that surrounded them.
"I don't know … try over-"
"The child!" she cried, making him snap his head back to see. "She's crawling! Look! Here! Come here! Quickly, little one, don't get burnt!"
"I … I don't think she's getting burnt, dear … Look! she's smiling … smiling at us."
"It's a gift!" the woman said, quietly.
"A gift?" he asked, confused, not taking his eyes off the infant for even a moment.
"Yes, a gift. From above. Just like the wish I made …"
Earth, 16 years later
"There's one more present." The kind-faced, grey-haired man smiled at his daughter.
"Another?" she asked, amazed. Hadn't she already opened three other gifts from her father?
"Well, it is a very special birthday, an eighteenth,” he told her, handing over the package. She took it from him. The gift was rectangular in shape, about half the size of a breakfast cereal box. Just like all the others, it had been appallingly badly wrapped, bits of bright red paper sticking out from the edges, the whole thing held together with too much poorly placed sticky-tape. She smiled as she turned it over, looking for a suitable place to start peeling the wrapping. She had to be careful. With her strength, it was far easier to tear a solid iron plate in half than it was to tear open a birthday present without damaging the gift inside. Her father had never learnt to wrap properly. She assumed it was just another task her mother would have always done for him. The ways in which father missed wife and daughter missed mother were too many to count.
Using her powers of X-ray vision, she located the best place to insert her finger into the package and slice open the layers of clumsily stuck plastic tape without also cutting through whatever was inside. The torn, overly-folded paper sprung open and fell away and she carefully separated a fake-leather photograph album from the un-reusable packaging. “It's lovely, Dad,” she said.
“Open it,” he father urged her. She obeyed even though she'd already seen what was inside when the gift was still wrapped. She paged through the album slowly, stopping to examine every photograph he had inserted. This was more for his benefit than her own, as her visual abilities and speed of thought had allowed her to long since complete a thorough study. But the act of pausing over each picture touched her within much more deeply than her super-speed scan had done. Image after image of herself at all ages, growing up on the farm, most of them featuring her mother somewhere in the shot. Despite herself, she found tears welling up in her eyes. It was almost six years since her mother had died, and the loss was no less painful than on the day she passed away.
"Your mother would have been so proud of the way you've grown up,” her father said, seeking to provide comfort. “How you've handled all the challenges your … abilities have caused you."
"What good were all those abilities when she needed me?" she sniffed, the edge of self-recrimination in her voice making her father shake his head.
"Now, Clara,” he said, “we've talked about this a thousand times. Your mother had cancer. There was nothing you or I, or the doctors or anyone could do for her. You can't live your life with your head in the past. You have an amazing future ahead of you and a unique opportunity, with your gifts, to help ease the suffering of other people, to save other lives. Your mother would want you to honour her memory by being the best person you can be, not by foolishly blaming yourself for her death."
"I … I guess you're right, dad,” she choked back invisible tears. “I will make her proud of me."
“I know you will, Clara.” He held out his arms, and she willingly returned the embrace. When they separated, he said: “There's something else I should give you. It's not a birthday gift. It's something I've been holding on to for years, waiting for the right time.”
He left the room. She could hear his steps as he moved about the house, and could have watched his every movement regardless of the intervening walls if she had chosen to do so, but she respected her father's privacy too greatly to do that. After a few moments, he returned, clutching in his hands a large, semi-spherical red crystal. As soon as she saw it, she felt a strange tingle of excitement, almost as though the object was radiating an energy to which she was particularly sensitive.
“Your mother and I picked this up near the comet that crashed when we found you. It's the only thing I can offer that has any link with … with wherever you came from. Your mother wanted you to have it when you were old enough.” He held out the object out to his daughter. She took it into her own smaller, but vastly stronger, hands and cradled it. Instantly, the crystal began to glow, softly at first, but with a steadily-increasing brightness. Neither she, nor her father, appeared particularly astonished by this.
Clara closed her eyes as the red crystal pulsated with light in her grasp. "Dad,” she said softly. “I … I have to go."
"Where?" he asked, as if he had been expecting the announcement for some time
"South,” she replied. “A long way South."
Tears rolled down his cheeks as he spoke "I always knew this time would come.” he confessed. “But are you sure it has to be now?”
“I have to go, Dad.”
“Yes, I understand. But are you ready for the world, Clara? It’s a big place. You’ve only known the farm and your family and-”
“-I know. But it’s time. I must go.”
“Clara, there are some things … some people … out there that you have no experience of. I’m worried for you.”
“Dad, it’s alright. I can’t be hurt, remember!”
“There are more ways for a person to be hurt than just the physical … But you will have to learn that some day. You must make your own decisions. Just promise me you'll always do what you know in your heart to be right."
2 months later
In the almost exclusively white surroundings of the Antarctic, against the snow-covered landscape and snow-filled white-clouded sky, the dark-haired girl's presence provided a welcome break in the monotony. The ferocious wind whipped strands of her thick, long, straight black hair across her face. Her features were beautiful, her blue eyes bright and clear, lips naturally red and full, her complexion perfect despite the bitter cold. She appeared woefully under-dressed for her surroundings, her modest jacket and jeans little protection against the forty-degrees-below-zero gale-force winds, but she showed no signs of discomfort. Her cheeks were no redder than normal. Her ungloved hand was perfectly steady as it clutched the red semi-spherical crystal her father had kept for her. Her long legs strolled briskly, despite sinking deep into the snow with every step.
From time to time, she glanced down at the crystal in her grasp. It's internal glow had been growing ever brighter since she had begun her epic journey. Now, it was giving off a light almost as bright as that reaching her from the sun. But then, even at midday, the sun had barely risen above the cloudy horizon. As if obeying an unspoken command, perhaps issued by the crystal itself, the girl dropped to her knees, her hands brushing aside the freshly fallen snow in front of her. Her fingers sunk into the cold ground, now heaving aside increasingly large piles of frost and ice. If she even felt the cold, she showed no sign of it on her face.
The snow in front of her shifted and suddenly collapsed into a deep shaft in the ground. Without hesitation, she stood up and leapt into the shaft, the red crystal still clutched in her hand. She fell a hundred feet through the shaft to land, perfectly balanced on her feet, in the centre of a cathedral-sized underground chamber of ice. Turning slowly, she took in her remarkable surroundings. It should have been dark – very dark – down there, but the very ice seemed to be glowing with faint light. The crystal glowed more intensely than ever, shafts of red light emanating from it as far as the walls of carved ice all around her. Although she had never been there before, something about the place felt familiar to her. More than familiar. It felt like home.
Without warning, a powerful feminine voice echoed throughout the chamber, seemingly from nowhere "My child. You do not remember me. I am your mother. When you hear this message I shall be long dead and you will be an adult, more at home on an alien world than the planet of your birth. The world I and your father know, where we were to raise you is gone, destroyed by a terrible calamity. We could only save one of our kind. That is why we had to send you, alone, out into the universe to make a life on another world.”
The words affected her deeply. She felt a deep recognition of the voice. She knew then that she had been called to the South Pole, to this place, in order to receive her destiny.
“Although we cannot be with you,” her birth-mother's voice continued, “I can still pass on to you your birthright, the uniform of your ancestors. Wear it to show where you come from." She blinked. Her clothes – her jacket, jeans and boots from the farm had disappeared. In their place, a bright, skin-tight red-and-blue outfit had appeared. It seemed to fit her perfectly; a top which clung to every splendid curve and nuance of her just-ripened body and a tiny skirt that just about protected her modesty in front and behind and little else. Knee-length, red shiny boots adorned her feet. A long, red cape flowed from her shoulders and over her back.
So accustomed to dressing modestly, she was astonished by the way the shape of her large, round breasts was so apparent beneath her tight top. Even the outlines of her perky firm nipples were visible! A logo, emblazed across the front of the top seemed to draw even more attention to that part of her anatomy, so deformed was the design by the dramatic shape of her chest. How could she go out in public in such a provocative outfit without drawing … attention to herself?
Her mother had apparently anticipated such a question. The voice continued: "You are not like the other people on your new home. Do not be afraid to be different. You are special. You have abilities and powers that separate you from those around you. Let them see that you are unique. And use your gifts in gratitude for the home they have given you. Help them. But do not interfere in their ways. Do not judge them. Protect them. Remember, under the yellow sun of Earth, you can never die. Likewise, you must never take the life of another.”
A million questions began forming in her mind. But before she could give voice to any of them, her mother's voice cut her short. “This is all I can give you. You must guide yourself from now. I and your father are long dead, my child. We cannot be with you. Go now, and meet your destiny!”
In the few moments of silence that followed, the crystal in her hand rapidly lost its light, fading from brilliant radiance to a dull glow to nothing. Suddenly, her hand seemed to be clutching nothing more than a piece of dull red glass. Clearly, its function, to lead her here, had been fulfilled. She no longer needed it. She let it drop, and was surprised to see it drop past her feet and continue to fall for another yard before landing on the ground. Only then did she realise that her feet – indeed she herself – was floating on air. She had the power to fly!
Turning her face to the sky, she rose, confidently towards the gap in the ceiling so high above through which she had originally entered the chamber. She knew her purpose now. To wear the uniform of her ancestors and protect the people of her new home.
As she soared upwards, high above the world, she became aware of a tremendous feeling of power within. She had always know she was different. Always understood that she had special gifts – unique abilities. That there were things she could do that no-one else could. She was stronger, could run faster, never seemed to get hurt or fall ill. But now that feeling was hundreds of times more intense. Was it the ancestral clothing she now wore? Or the effect of her birth-mother's words, or perhaps something to do with the red crystal's radiation? Something had made her more powerful than before. Vastly more powerful. She could feel it.
Her senses too, seemed so much keener than before. Her eyes could look down on the world spread out beneath her and pick out with ease tiny details. She could pick up scents and tastes carried on the swirling wind from other continents, separate each one from the others, even determine the direction of its origin. Her ears detected a billion sounds on the air which her brain filtered. Noises, conversations, screams. It was as though she could suddenly hear every sound on the planet. The entire atmosphere was alive with cries for help!
It was her destiny to respond to those cries. She chose one and steered herself towards its source with determination, her slender body carving through the air faster and more gracefully than any object had ever done before. She found the climber hanging from the icy ledge by his fingertips. She swooped down on him, gathering him in her arms and flying him to safety. She placed him carefully back onto solid ground. “Thank you” he muttered, stunned, his gratitude addressed, it seemed to her, more to her prominent chest than to her face.
There was no time to dwell on the intended recipient of the climber's thanks, however, as further desperate shouts assailed her sensitive hearing. In a moment, she was airborne was again, leaving the climber to wonder whether his life had just been saved by a flying girl with magnificent breasts under a skin-tight costume, or whether he'd been hallucinating.
Similar stories began to be heard elsewhere. A civil airliner lost its wing to lightening but managed to land safely, according to the pilot, because of a “angel” who had miraculously held that side of the craft until it was on the ground. A train ran over a broken bridge instead of plunging into the ravine below when a “foxy chick” – the driver's words – laid her body down and allowed the locomotive and all its carriages to run over it. A bus full of school children, spinning out of control across a major road, was lifted to safety by a girl who flew like a bird and picked up the whole vehicle with her slender arms as if it was weightless before setting it down by the side of the road and waving “goodbye” to the delighted kids. A group of campers, trapped by a forest fire, spoke of a “totally hot babe” swooping down out of the sky and blowing out the flames like a candle on a birthday cake, leaving a partially charred trees hung with icicles.
As the tales multiplied, all featuring the same description of the same girl, the public's imagination was captured worldwide. Inevitably, photographs began to appear in the media – some real, others most definitely not. She was hailed as a heroine – a “super” heroine. She became an object of mass fascination. It seemed everyone wanted to know everything about her.
Some of the interest she understood, and coped with well. She would pluck some lucky individual from impending death and the grateful rescuee would ask “Where are you from?” or “What's your name?” But some of the fascination left her uncomfortable. She knew she was attractive to the opposite sex – greatly so. She had always been desirable, what with the perfection of her face and the glory of her figure. But in her costume, almost all men – and quite a few women – seemed unable to look at any part of her beyond her chest. They would try and press themselves against her when she rescued them and stare unashamedly at her curves even after she had saved their lives.
Increasingly, she felt uncomfortable with her role as a public figure, leered over by billions of males, relied upon by a whole planet to save those in trouble. She possessed the power to do anything, but her life was hard. There were times when more than one call for help came to her attention, and she had to chose who to save and who to ignore. There were huge natural disasters where she could only offer limited help to some victims, while the rest suffered and died. And there were times when people cried for help when, in truth, they did not need it. On occasions, she did not provide assistance where it was badly needed because she was elsewhere, drawn by an apparently desperate plea that actually did not deserve her attention.
Through all this, she clung to two things: firstly, her destiny as laid out by her birth-mother – to help the people of her new home. The second pillar of support was her Earth-father's words. She always did what her heart said was the right thing to do. She continued to help when she thought help was needed, not allowing her judgement of the world around her to be clouded by the lies of those who cried wolf, or by the lusty stares of those she was helping.
But the lies and the lusty stares went on unrelentingly. She continued to give tirelessly of herself to fulfil the wishes of her ancestors and honour the memory of her Earth-mother, but she derived ever less satisfaction from her role as a protector and saviour. It seemed that every act of kindness she carried out was repaid with dishonesty, intrusive questioning or base leering.
Some incidents were especially discouraging. She swooped down over a woman trapped in a car that was on the brink of a precipice and pulled the stricken female to safety, only to be berated for allowing the empty car to fall to its destruction – a fate which the woman would have also met had it not been for Clara's timely aid. Instead of gratitude, the woman shrieked “My briefcase! My briefcase! It took all night to write those notes! Don't fly off! Go after my briefcase!”
One night, she saved a young man who was cornered in a dark alley by placing herself between him and his attacker at super-speed, allowing two bullets intended for the soft flesh of the lucky fool to ping uselessly off the only-superficially-soft flesh of her own body. In a flash she ran up to the shooter, removing his gun with care before crushing it to a useless ball of metal in her small hand and then knocking its former owner unconscious with a gentle tap of her forefinger, a blow precisely measured to cause no lasting damage.
Now that he was no danger, she took off to locate the nearest police patrol and inform them of what had happened. Twice, she had to ask the two officers she found if they were taking in her words. There was no eye-contact with them. As she spoke, they merely stared, unashamedly, at the portion of her skin-tight costume that covered her breasts while leaving their hypnotic shape fully visible. She told them of the incident, and the location of the alley where they could pick up the failed assassin. After too long a pause the senior partner told her chest “OK, we're on our way,” before adding with an almost drooling grin, “Would you like to ride with us?” Politely, she replied that she had her own transport. “Shame” the policeman muttered to her nipples.
Feeling anger at such disrespect, she took to the sky before rage got the better of her. Descending towards the alley to check on the man she had saved, she found him running three blocks away. She intercepted him, the soles of her red boots coming gently to the ground right in his path. “Get out of my way, bitch!” he shouted. She grabbed his arm, holding it – and the rest of the body attached to it – immovably in place. “Let go, you're hurting me!” the man spat. She knew that she wasn't. She was holding him exactly firmly enough to prevent his escape without causing any damage to him.
“Sir, you need to give the police your statement.” she told him.
A minute later, the would-be target was propped up next to the would-be assassin, both men equally unconscious. Then she had to wait for the police in order to explain the latest turn of events to them as they once again feasted their eyes on her upper torso. When she was finished, the younger officer, in lieu of giving her his thanks chose instead to ask her breasts what they were doing when his shift finished. And these were supposed to be the upholders of respect and decency!
Such events were common. On another occasion, she found herself at the scene of a major fire in a tall building. A crowd of helpless office-workers had gathered on the roof and she was doing her best to fly them safely to the ground. She grabbed two men and soared off with one held securely in either arm. Halfway to the ground, she noticed a change in the feather-light contact of the pair against her body. Glancing down, she saw one of the suited men touching the outside curve of her generous left mound. As he so blatantly groped her, his tongue protruded from his mouth. The man on the other side of her was also pressing his own chest unnecessarily firmly against the edge of her other breast. Meanwhile, she could clearly feel the points of two erections poking insistently at her thighs. This was their gratitude for being rescued?
It was all she could do not to drop the men and let them fall to their deaths there and then. “Gentlemen, please have the decency to keep your hands and your, um, other appendages to yourselves,” she told them, with remarkable restraint. There was a slight shifting away from her, but no word of apology. She put the pair down on the pavement and took off immediately.
Instead of returning to the roof for their colleagues, she flew half a block down the street to a building site, snatched up an empty dumpster and carried it to the top of the burning building. She set about ferrying the remaining office workers to the ground in groups of ten inside the huge metal container, the weight of nearly a dozen people and a dumpster as nothing to her. This method of conveyance had little to do with efficiency and plenty to do with the fact that it was a good way of maintaining physical distance between the people she was carrying and her body.
On her last visit to the roof, she became aware of a news helicopter hovering close by the side of the building. Whilst the final few trapped workers climbed into the dumpster, she turned briefly to look. She only needed a split-second to take stock. Three people inside. A pilot in the front and two others in the back – one a woman in a smart suit, a microphone clutched in her hand, the other a cameraman. The latter held his all-too-familiar-to-her telephoto-equipment, pointing it right at her. “Move back!” she shouted to the pilot, when she realised that he was flying the craft too close to the building for his safety. Additionally, he had positioned the craft right in the path through which she was intending to fly the dumpster-load of office workers that she had just effortlessly lifted from the roof.
The chopper began to move away until the woman in the back, her voice perfectly clear to Clara's superhuman ears, instructed the pilot “Stay close! Stay close! We're getting some fantastic footage here!”
“Get back!” Clara countered. But she was being ignored. She had to fly the dumpster the long way around the hovering craft. All the way down to the ground, the helicopter followed her closely, the camera's lens tracking her insistently. The flames leaping from the midsection of the building licked out towards the craft, touching its blades.
“Please! For your own safety! Move away from the fire!” cried Clara
“Maybe we should pull back a-“ shouted pilot.
“Stay close! I can smell Pulitzer,” screamed the reporter
She had no choice. She adjusted her grip on the dumpster so that she was holding the entire container and its human cargo at the end of a single slender arm, and used her free hand to grab one set of the helicopter's landing skis. Easily overpowering the force of the craft's engines, she pulled it down, away from the burning building.
The winds generated by the rotating blades created havoc below amongst the emergency service workers tending to the fire and the people she had already brought down from the building. A short blast of frozen superbreath stopped the chopper's engines and locked its propellers in place. She touched down to the street, lowering first the dumpster in her right hand and then the helicopter in her left. She could see the tiny monitor screen inside the craft that showed the image being captured on the camera: a close-up shot of herself, zoomed out just far enough for the profile of her chest to be in picture.
The woman in the back leaned over and called out to her, microphone in hand, “Miss, our viewers have some questions they'd like you to answer.” Clara ignored her and made sure that the last of the rooftop refugees was safely out of the dumpster. “Can you tell us where you come from? Are you affiliated with any particular political grouping? Are you currently in a relationship?”
Clara's could feel herself of the verge of erupting with anger. She had just saved the lives of this woman and her colleagues – not to mention the office workers trapped on the roof. Why was she being rewarded by being pestered with questions she clearly did not want to answer. She turned, walking briskly towards the reporter, her lithe, sexy body drawing every eye in range as her long, exquisite legs carried it to within a few yards of the well-dressed woman with the microphone. "Madam," Clara spoke, her voice perhaps a little too cold, "you are in danger if you remain here. Please make your way behind the safety cordon."
"My viewers have a right to know," said the reporter, pompously.
"A right?" thought Clara. "What right?" Was this, perhaps, some ancient law that set out the right of every citizen to hound her? Maybe it was another part of the same almost-forgotten piece of legislature that proscribed all men freedom to leer at her, to try and touch her chest and rub their bodies against hers whilst she carried them to safety? A law, which everyone on the planet bar her knew of, granting all those she protected and saved permission to treat her as if she was public property? And even if that was the case, what of her rights? Her right to privacy. Her right to have a perfect body and to wear her skin-tight ancestral garments without having to feel like a loaf of freshly-baked bread in a famine-stricken land? Her right to save the lives of these ingrates daily without telling them her life-story or favourite television programme.
Clara opened her mouth to reveal her thoughts to the uncooperative journalist and stopped herself at the last moment. Losing her air of unflappable civility was not what her heart told her was the right thing to do. Neither was lecturing a reporter on the frustrations of being a superheroine what her birth-parents had intended for her. "Please go back." she said, simply, before rocketing straight up towards the solitude offered by the skies.
"At least tell us your real name!" the reporter called after her as she cleared the tops of the city's buildings. She continued her ascent, not for the first time deeply grateful that she alone on this planet had the power to fly. At least here in the clouds, no other person could ask her questions or attempt to interfere with her. The relief was hollow, however, as it was tinged with the knowledge that the respite was only temporary. She should have to go amongst people again soon to save them, as was her duty. She knew that when she did, she would once more be questioned and quite likely groped. The latter she resolved to avoid forever more by no longer allowing direct contact between her body and the people she saved. She would use tools like the dumpster she had employed earlier to handle people so that they could not touch her. But how to stop the endless flow of questions?
She knew enough about Earthlings, having lived among them all her life, to realise that their unquenchable curiosity was never going to fade by itself. Should she start answering the queries that were endlessly thrown at her, just to make the questioners stop? How many times would she have to say the same things to these people? The answer to that was: more than enough times to frustrate her as much as the present situation did. She had to find a way of putting an end to the questions for good. Perhaps, if she publicly answered a few of them people would understand enough about her to leave her be …
Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of distant screams which was brought to the forefront of her mind by her superhuman sense of hearing. Clara was so finely-tuned to the noises of human suffering that she barely needed to listen out for them. They would always find their own way into her conscious. She turned to look in the direction that the screams were coming from. Her eyes peeled away layers of cloud, zooming in with stunning speed and accuracy on a mountainside hundreds of miles away from her. In one instant, she saw the cable-car, packed with people, that was plunging towards the rocky ground a thousand feet below. In the next instant, she began to dive, faster than any man-made machine could ever manage, towards the falling capsule.
She swooped beneath the plummeting cable-car, holding her hands up above her head and carefully adjusting her speed so that she could bring the capsule's descent slowly under control. There were only a few dozen yards to spare as she drew to a halt, hovering in the air, her slender arms comfortably supporting the steel-and-glass car and the twenty-two terrified passengers within. Gently, she floated down to the ground, placing the huge box on terra firma with a degree of control which made clear just how effortless handling such a weight was for her. Some of the people inside were already staring at her. With a finger, she pulled the car’s door free of the rest of the structure, allowing the previously trapped passengers to climb out, but she did not help them out. She couldn't bear the thought of touching them, or worse, them touching her.
"Hey!" a man shouted up at her as she was already taking to the air to alert the authorities of the situation, "At least let me thank you by taking you out to dinner!" Clara groaned internally. She knew that the dinner invitation had nothing to do with the man's gratitude and everything to do with his sexual desire. She shuddered at the thought of such a liaison. Why did these fools think that she would entertain any congress between her superhuman perfection and their weak, fragile imperfection? Her mind returned to its wondering from before the cable-car rescue. Wasn't there some way she could make it clear, once-and-for-all, to the entire planet, that she was not, and would never be, available for sex?
The answer to her question was obvious. Once she had realised that it was the only thing that she could do, it was only a question of making the arrangements. In between rescues, she flew by the offices of a major television network, hovering outside the window of its most high-profile interviewer. She signalled for him to open up, and he did so immediately. Despite being accustomed to appearing in front of millions, he seemed surprisingly nervous in front of her, fumbling awkwardly with the catch, speaking hesitantly. She hovered in the air, three hundred feet above the traffic, telling him of her plan. As she expected, he was only too keen to assist. "This is the only interview I will ever give," she explained, "and there will be certain ground rules."
"Er … yes, yes, s … sure, whatever you want."
"The first rule is that if I catch you staring at my chest one more time, the whole deal is off."
"Right … yes … sorry, it's just that they're so … I mean you don't see ti … I mean, of course."
"The second rule is that I will not shake your hand or kiss you at any stage."
"R … right. Sure."
"Also, I won't be taking my clothes off in private or public, so save that for your own dirty fantasies. Got that?"
"Absolutely. I never would have suggested in a million years that-"
"Save your lies for someone who doesn't have X-ray vision and super-senses." she told him.
For the first time in decades, he actually felt himself blushing with embarrassment. He had thought he was immune. "Lets … er … schedule the interview for taping next Friday evening." he suggested, keen to change the subject.
"No, the interview will be conducted live." she announced.
"Live?" he said. He never worked "live". Not since that time when he did that telethon on Channel Eight and that damn orang-utan slipped his leash, climbed up into the lighting rig and urinated all over everything. Eleven years ago. And they still kept dragging that clip out for bloopers shows. He was sick of pretending how "funny" it all still was. It wasn't "funny" the first time. There’s nothing “funny” about being pissed on by a monkey. No, he swore then that he'd never, ever, do anything "live" again.
"'Live', or I'll find another interviewer," the stunning woman hovering in mid-air outside his twentieth-storey window said.
"Of course, we'll do it 'live'." he agreed. "Next Saturday?"
"Fine, fine, Thursday it is then. Ten o'clock, after the drama show?"
"But that's when we run the early evening bulletins across the network …"
"Fine. I'll find another network."
"No … no, eight o'clock is great. Come to the studios at seven so that
"-I'll see you at one minute to eight on Thursday."
"One minute to eight it is. Perfect. Um, perhaps you could -" he never got to finish the question. The girl was already streaking away across the city.
For the rest of that week, the network saturated its schedules with promos for the "interview of the century". "Live! On this station! Thursday evening at eight! NBS' Gary Reno will be your host for the first ever interview with Superwoman! Find out what's under that famous red-and-blue costume exclusively here! (In association with Trans Continental Airlines – your "super" travel partner and Pancake Princess – it's the extra sugar that makes 'em "super" sweet.)
Whilst the television network went into marketing overdrive, it was "business" as usual for Clara. She saved a village from a volcanic eruption by blasting the advancing river of lava with cold superbreath, solidifying the seemingly unstoppable stream of molten rock in seconds. None of the villagers came to thank her when she was done, but she did spot a teenaged boy observing her from a nearby hillside. She fled the scene a second later when she noticed how he was holding a crude telescope in one hand and his sexual organ in the other.
The next day, she rescued a parachutist whose canopy failed to open; not by catching him in her arms, but rather, staying true to her intent not to allow anyone to touch her, by grabbing his pack at arms length and lowering him to the ground by it. He was still fifty feet from safety when he saw fit to extract his cell-phone from his pocket, dial a number and shout into the mouthpiece "Hey Frank! Guess which super hot babe is taking ME for a ride right now?" She dropped him the final yard and flew away in disappointment and disgust.
Hours later, Clara single-handedly averted a disastrous oil spill at sea by temporarily lifting an enormous tanker completely out of the water and welding the breech in it hull shut with her heat vision before placing the massive ship carefully back into the brine. The entire crew lined up on deck, not as she hoped to salute her or offer their thanks, but rather to regale her with a barrage of wolf-whistles and invitations to join them in all manner of degrading pastimes. Overcome with displeasure, she landed on the deck, her hands angrily planted on her curvaceous hips. "Gentlemen," she spoke, certain that she had the attention of every one on board even if that attention was focussed considerably more on the shape of her breasts than her actual words, "a little more respect is due to the woman who has just saved your cargo, not to mention the environment."
"You are quite right, madam." A single man spoke up in reply, stepping forward from the rest of the crew. His uniform revealed his rank as much as his assumed role as spokesman for the vessel.
"I am a woman, Captain." Clara chided, "Not a sex-object."
"Absolutely," responded the skipper. "Please rest assured that I shall be fully reprimanding my men for their disgraceful behaviour." She merely tutted and rose rapidly into the sky. The bulge in the crotch of his captain's white trousers had utterly negated the value of his promise as far as she was concerned.
That Thursday, at exactly one minute before eight, she strolled into the NBS television studios. A crowd was there to greet her. To cheer. And leer. And wolf-whistle. She shot them an angry glance, and followed the network executive who lead her to the auditorium. "Can I just say how pleased all of us are that you chose our network for this historic interview?" he asked.
"It'd mean a lot more if you told it to my face rather than my boobs, perv." Clara sneered in retort. For the first time in his life, the executive found himself totally at a loss for words. He was relieved when the show's producer appeared.
"Honoured to meet you Superwoman. Gary's just completing his introduction. When you hear the applause just go through this curtain." He indicated the pieces of thick hanging black fabric with a sweep of his hand. Clara strode past him to stand in front of the entrance to the hastily-rigged set.
"You'd better not be checking out my rear." she hissed.
"Of course not. The thought never entered my mind!" protested the producer, guiltily, before resuming his study of the roundest, firmest ass on Earth.
The producer did not have long to indulge his eyes. The strident, over-confident tones of Gary Reno could clearly be heard from beyond the curtain. "… as well known and loved for her looks as for her superhuman abilities." Clara groaned silently. Ray went on: "Someone who needs no introduction …"
"Why are you bothering then?" thought Clara.
"… please welcome the one-and-only, the beautiful, Superwoman!" Enthusiastic applause and cheering broke out. Music blared. Clara walked through the curtains, a scowl on her face. As she appeared on the set where the audience could see her, a number of whistles saluted her. Not wanting to show her angry face – a reaction to the behaviour of a small portion of the crowd – to the entire audience, she instead chose not to acknowledge the public in any way as she walked over to the empty chair next to the desk at which Reno was seated.
The network top brass had wanted a simple set, something to reflect the uniqueness and significance of the interview. The original plan had been for Superwoman and Reno to sit facing each other on chairs on a small raised platform, with nothing between them. The presenter had adamantly refused to entertain this. At one point he'd actually said "Either I'm behind a desk or I walk on the whole deal!" The executives gave in, assuming that their man was nervous and wanted to use the familiar set-up that had served him so well for so many years. Truth was, Gary Reno was nervous: nervous that viewers at home might get to see the obvious erection that appeared whenever he so much as thought about Superwoman. How much worse would it be, the presenter had wondered, when he was sitting opposite her in the flesh?
The interview did not start well. Reno, veteran of thousands of interviews, automatically held out his hand to shake Clara’s as she approached his desk. At least he had remembered not to try and kiss her, but offering his hand was no lesser sin in her mind. Didn’t this jerk remember? She did not want any of “them” to touch her. She returned the proffered palm with a steely glare that momentarily terrified the presenter. He withdrew the offer instantly, and fumbled for words for a few moments as they both sat down.
“Woman – er… Welcome, Superwoman. Sometimes it’s um.. Some of our guests are … I mean some of our guests have trouble getting to the studio on time with all the traffic there is downtown these days, but -”
“-Not me. I flew.” Clara interrupted, dryly, stealing the thunder from the gag Reno’s writing team had come up with.
“Great! She flew, ladies and gentlemen!” A roar of clapping, cheering and whistling filled the auditorium. Tens of millions of TV viewers saw their beloved Superwoman glancing irritatedly at the ceiling. “I’ve got to say how great it is to have you here this evening. We’re so thrilled that you agreed to come on the show!” Reno got back into gear as the audience calmed down again.
“The interview was my idea.” Clara pointed out.
“Yes, of course,” the interviewer acknowledged, awkwardly. “So, why after all this time have you decided to come on my show?”
“Well, I decided to do a show – not yours in particular, Gary – to answer some of the questions I keep getting asked and to put an end to some misconceptions about me once and for all.”
“Well I’m just delighted you’ve chosen to break your silence here. Perhaps we could start by talking about your background. I mean, I gave my researcher the week off for this show, because there was nothing for her to do. Nobody seems to know anything about where you come from…”
“Look, let’s gets this straight from the start. My private life is private. For the record, so that people can leave me alone, I came from another planet when I was about two years old.”
“Did you come alone? Who brought you up?”
“I’m not prepared to talk about that.” She met Reno’s eyes with a glare so intense, the interviewer found himself swallowing hard and taking a deep breath before continuing.
“OK – some other time perhaps.”
“No. Never. My private life is my business alone.”
“Yes, yes, of course. I totally respect that. Um, let’s move on then. You grew up here on Earth. When did you first realise that you were, um, special?”
“I’ve always been special.”
“Well, of course you have. But, was there a moment when you realised you had superpowers, that you could do things that no-one else can?”
“No. Not really.”
“O. K-a-y … Let’s talk about your role as a heroine. Um … was that your chosen career?”
“It’s my destiny.”
“Right. Wow. So you always knew that was what you were going to do with your, um, gifts?”
“That’s what ‘destiny’ means, Gary.” The audience laughed nervously. Reno joined with then. Clara showed no hint of mirth on her beautiful face.
“So … um … you’ve never been tempted to follow a different career path?”
“Such as what?”
“Well, I’m sure you’d make a world-class model.” Cheers and a host of wolf-whistles made the audience’s agreement with Reno’s suggestion more than adequately clear.
“Never!” Clara exclaimed, silencing the room immediately. “When will you people understand that my body is my own! I don’t want to be a sex object!”
“But it is quite some body, and the costume that you wear-”
“-This outfit is my birthright! It was what my ancestors have worn for countless generations. I should be entitled to wear it without having to constantly deal with stares and remarks and -” she turned to face the studio audience directly, “-wolf-whistles.”
“Well, I can see that this is a touchy subject, and I completely respect your feelings on this matter, but you must appreciate that you are an exceptionally beautiful and – I’m just being honest here – attractive woman.” This time, the public signalled its backing for the statement with a strong, but somewhat sustained, round of applause.
“That’s not what I am about!” Clara snapped angrily, cutting off the clapping as if a switch had been pressed.
“So, um, er,” Reno, aware that he was not only dealing with the most difficult guest of his entire career but that he might also be angering the most powerful being on the planet, struggled to keep going. “what are you all about? In your own words …” The best option seemed to be to give her the platform and for him to take a back seat for a while.
“Saving lives. Protecting people. Isn’t that enough?” she turned as she finished, so that she addressed the question both to the host and the audience. The public responded with a burst of applause that was warm but far less enthusiastic than earlier.
Reno was disappointed to find himself having to speak again so soon after he thought he’d bought himself some time. “That’s plenty for me,” he answered Superwoman’s question sycophantically. “So, do you have, like, an inner drive to help people? Does it fulfil some kind of psychological need in you?”
“Are you suggesting that I am some kind of mental deficient in need of counselling?” Clara demanded, infuriated by the tone of the inquiry.
“Good gracious, no, no, no.” Reno backtracked, hurriedly. “Um … let’s move on … is it time for a commercial? Not yet … right … well …” his eyes scanned the desk in front of him desperately, like a drowning man looking for something to cling on to. He found it in the form of a stack of cards. “I, er, think I’ve done enough damage, heh, heh-” He’d hoped to lessen the tension and get the audience on his side with the attempt at self-depreciative humour but it seemed to backfire, making the public as nervous as he was. He picked up the bundle of cards. “- can I, er … I mean let’s move on to questions set in by our viewers. Is that OK, Superwoman?”
“Sure, I’m here to answer questions, and put the record straight.”
“Great, then, let’s start with-“ Reno narrowed his eyes to focus on the top card in the stack “How big are your br- Er… no, not that one.” He moved on to the next card “What’s your favourite se- Perhaps not.” He began shuffling through the cards, briefly reading what was on each one, and rapidly moving it to the back of the stack.
“Hurrumph!” snorted Clara. “I can see what’s on those cards, you know. I have X-ray vision. Why are people so obsessed with my body?” She turned and looked sternly directly into the guest camera. Her face stared angrily, full-on, from millions of televisions. Millions of men subconsciously crossed their legs.
“Cannot you all not just accept me as a saver and protector of lives?” she went on. “Why do you find it so hard to respect me? Look, you want answers, I’ll give you answers, tonight and tonight only and this is the last I ever want to hear of it. Mr. C. Smith of Baltimore: 38DD. Mr. S. Peabody of Chicago: I don’t have a boyfriend or a husband and I never have and I never will. Mr. T. Radski of Atlanta: I don’t have a favourite sexual position. That’s because I don’t have sex. Did you all hear that? I don’t have sex.”
“Listen.” She seemed to be calming down, as if finally getting the frustration off her – fabulous – chest was immediately therapeutic. “This is for the men: I know your genetic programming makes it very hard for you to ignore the shape of my body. I know you desire more than perhaps anything else to go to bed with me, but understand this: I do not want to go to bed with you. Any of you. Not now, not ever. We are different species. Incompatible.”
“You mean …” Reno asked, sensing the partial lifting of her anger, “… that you can’t have sex with any man on Earth?”
“You’ve no idea how many million hearts you’ve just broken, Superwoman.” Reno chuckled, still desperately trying to lighten the mood.
“Well, perhaps now, people – men especially – will accord me a little respect. Now, do you have any further questions, Mr. Reno? I think we’ve covered pretty much everything I wanted to cover.”
“Um, well …”
“Good. Well, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a plane in trouble over the Rockies.” She didn’t bother waving to the audience, let alone shaking Reno’s hand as she stood up and walked briskly off-stage.
“Great interview!” cried the network executive as she strolled past him. “Thank you so much for choosing our network to -”
“-Goodbye.” Clara cut him off, as she pushed open the fire-exit door, her feet already leaving the ground. Two seconds later she vanished from sight amongst the clouds. Twenty minutes after that, she was carefully lowering a fully-laden 737 to the ground to the cheers of the grateful passengers and a suggestive wink from the pilot that made her think for an instant about incinerating him on the spot with her heat-vision before she thought better and took off for the refuge offered by the sky.
Her interview did not pass unnoticed. She was congratulated in many quarters for speaking up for her sex and demanding respect. Elsewhere, however, her performance did not have the effect she had desired.
“So, Superwoman told Gary Reno on network TV that she can’t have sex with any Earthman because we’re not compatible …” that was how a stand-up comedian began his set on another chat-show the following evening. “… Well, I have sex with her all the time – in my head. In fact, I’m having so much sex with her in my head that I’m losing my eyesight and I think I’m getting a repetitive strain injury!” Cue much laughter.
“But seriously, what does she mean by ‘incompatible’? I mean, what the hell has she got down there? Some kinda weird alien ray gun?” More laughter. “Frankly, most guys I know wouldn’t mind. I mean, you don’t really care about the fireplace when you’re admiring the ornaments on the mantelpiece, do you? Know what I mean, guys?”
The print media were worse. Seizing on the comedian’s question, magazines appeared with her portrait on the front with a large question-mark super-imposed over her groin. “Just what IS under the suit?” said the headline. And then, in a smaller font: “Our panel of sexperts give their
Magazines featuring female nudes began comparing the statistics of their models with those given by Superwoman: “Lovely Larissa is a 36E, making her a full cup-size bigger than Superwoman”. “Cianti’s 40F mammoth melons put even Superwoman to shame”. And “At 36C, Katie’s no match for Superwoman in the bra department, but the good news is that she’d like to assure readers that she is FULLY compatible with earth men.”
A columnist in one men’s magazine wrote: “I don’t know just in what way she thinks I’m incompatible, but like many of you reading this, I’m prepared to do whatever it takes to make myself 100% compatible. Let me know what needs doing, Superwoman, and I’ll be waiting outside the plastic surgeon’s office before he arrives first thing in the morning.”
One month later
“Everyone’s talking about Superwoman!” her Earth father wheezed with a smile that could not have been easy in his condition. Clara was visiting him incognito, playing the dutiful daughter as he lay in a hospital bed, his breathing laboured, counting down his final days.
“I hate it, Dad. Why can’t they just talk about all the rescues and heroics and not about … other stuff?”
“Oh, my little girl! You grew up so isolated on the farm with us. You never got to see the big bad world until you were eighteen. You must understand that no-one means any harm by any of it. It’s just the way men are. You should enjoy it.”
“But … I don’t!”
Her father coughed, painfully. Clara felt a wave of guilt. She shouldn’t have been weighing him down with her troubles at such a time. But who else could she talk to? Certainly not Gary Reno!
“Clara,” her father was clearing finding it increasingly difficult to speak, “doing what your heart says is right means listening to your heart first. Do that and I promise, you will find happiness.”
There were no tears on Clara’s face, because tears were not a feature of her race. But she was weeping in her own way. She knew she was about to lose not only the last of her family, but also the only person on Earth whom she could call a friend.
“Take … care … Clara …” he wheezed. And then she was alone. An alien, utterly alone on a planet of six billion souls.
She should have hidden away for a while. She should have gone to her chamber in Antarctica or maybe into outer space for a couple of days. Somewhere she could have grieved for her father in peace. She should not have thrown herself back into her superheroine role so quickly. But it was all she knew. She thought it would be a good distraction. She had powers beyond the imagination of most humans. But she lacked wisdom …
She’d already rescued a pair of stricken balloonists by carrying their basket to the ground at arm’s length and stopped a leak of poison gas at a factory by sucking nearly a million gallons of toxic emissions into her lungs – all in the space of an hour. From high up in the atmosphere, her remarkable eyes spotted a crowd gathering at the foot of a tall building in a city far below her. An even more impressive feat of vision revealed the reason for the crowd. A man was standing on the edge of the tower’s roof. It seemed he was preparing to jump.
She swooped down, hovering static in the air a yard in front of the potential suicide and a hundred yards above the crowd below. The man’s eyes shifted instantly from their downcast gazing on the scene at ground level to a much wider gazing upon the contours of her body. “Leave me alone,” he told her chest, “I don’t want to be saved.”
“I can’t let you jump.” Clara informed him. “Why don’t you just step back from the edge …”
“I said ‘leave me alone.’”
“I can’t do that.”
“I want to die. Go away and save someone who wants to live.”
“No. I’m going to save you.”
“I don’t want to be saved. Go away!”
“I.. I can’t do that.”
“Why? Why can’t you?”
“I … I have to save you. I have to save everybody. It’s what I do … It’s what I have to do.”
“But … I don’t want to be saved.”
“But … I have to save you.”
“Why do you have to?”
“Because … because it is my destiny. It is what I was sent to this planet to do. It’s what my parents wanted me to do.”
“So that’s why you do it? Because other people said you should? Don’t you like saving people? I thought it’s what you loved.”
“That … that’s none of your business. I’m here to save you. You should be grateful!”
“Yeah, well, I already told you I don’t want to be saved. And I reckon you don’t particularly want to be saving me, either. I can’t believe with all your superpowers you gotta do what your parents tell you to do. What are they, like, super-superheroes or something?”
“They’re dead.” Clara answered, angrily.
“Then why are you still doing what they wanted you to do? I’d have thought you could do whatever you wanted!”
The sound of an approaching helicopter engine made Clara turn around for a moment. There, in the distance, but nearing all the while, was a familiar white whirlybird with “Channel 8” painted on the side. She recognised the three occupants immediately. The same cameraman, zooming his telephoto lens in on her body. The same pompous female reporter clutching her microphone.
“Tell me one thing before I jump,” the suicide requested, causing her to spin in the air to face him once more.
“You’re not going to jump. I’m going to save you.”
“Yeah, yeah, ‘cos dead mummy and daddy said you have to. Well, why don’t you grow up and do your own thing. And let me do mine.”
“Who are you to talk to me like that?” Clara demanded, planting her hands on her hips, her crystal-clear eyes full of fury.
“Touched a nerve, did I? What’re you going to do about it? Kill me? Well, go on then!”
“You … you … bastard!” she yelled, her voice more than loud enough to drown out the sound of the hovering chopper.
“Superwoman! Over here! I’m Carol Thomson from Channel 8 news.” Clara threw her head over her shoulder to see the ungrateful reporter whose life she had saved the last time they had met. She was leaning dangerously far out of the side of the craft, shouting into her microphone. “What’s happening here? Why haven’t you brought this man to the ground yet?”
Clara could not believe it. The woman was putting herself in serious danger – no doubt assuming that “Superwoman” would save her if she fell – merely to pester her with her pointless questions when she was trying to save someone’s life. She had enough trouble dealing with the arrogant suicide. The last thing she needed was the kamikaze Channel 8 news crew.
“Get closer to her!” the reporter screamed at her pilot.
“I can’t! We’re too close already!”
“Get closer dammit or I’ll make sure you’re out of a job before we even land!”
The pilot obeyed, nervously edging the helicopter closer to Superwoman. The man standing on the roof was suddenly buffeted by the powerful wind, lost his balance and toppled forward. Clara dived after him, catching him by the back of his jacket, still dozens of floors above the gasping crowd. Already, the new chopper was descending towards them.
“Let me go!” the suicide screamed up at her. “Screw your parents! I want to die!”
“Superwoman!” the reporter was practically dangling about of the side of the chopper. “How does it feel just after you’ve saved someone’s life like that?”
“Back off!” Clara shouted up at the news crew. The suicide wriggled at the end of her hand, and, taking advantage of the incomplete hold she had of his actual body, and managed to slip his arms out of his jacket. She was left holding the empty garment as its former wearer resumed his groundward plunge.
Once again she took off after him, this time catching him by his ankle and letting him hang, upside down and at arm’s length, from her small fist.
“Why won’t you just let me die?” the suicide screeched.
“Sssuuuupppeeerrrwwwooommmaaannn!” Clara looked up just in time to see the reporter tumbling helplessly out of the helicopter and falling fast towards her. She couldn’t move fast with the suicide hanging from her grasp, but she did well to catch the reporter’s ankle in her other hand. In silent fury, she carried her dual cargo down to the waiting crowds below.
“Superwoman! Can you answer a few questions for our viewers?”
“Let me go! Let me go! I want to die!”
“Shut up you, I’m trying to do an interview!”
“No, you shut up bitch. I’m trying to kill myself here!”
“Superwoman, how does -”
“Fucking let me die!”
“Superwoman, can you shut this guy up so I can record an interview with
“Let me go now before we get too close to the ground.”
They were only a few dozen feet up now. People in the crowd began to
shout up to her.
“Superwoman! Can I have your autograph?”
“Superwoman! Over here! I love you Superwoman!”
“Hey Superwoman! I need you to save me!”
“Can’t you all be quiet? I’m trying to do an interview here!” the reporter called out as she came to rest, lying on her back on the ground, moments before Clara’s booted feet touched the pavement. The suicide lay on his back on the other side of her. She was still holding the two ankles in her fists.
“Hey! We’re down now! Let me go so I can go and kill myself!”
Clara opened her hands and let the two legs she had been holding fall. She placed her palms over her ears and closed her eyes. Then she screamed “Will you all just SHUT UP!!”
The force of her voice sent the entire crowd reeling backwards. Windows smashed on the far side of the street. People cried out in shock.
“Superwoman! Help! I’m bleeding!”
“Superwoman! Over here! I’ve hurt my leg!”
She glanced around at the scene in front of her. Some people did look as if they had, genuinely, been hurt by the power of her shout. She was shocked by what she had done. Why had she allowed herself to be driven to this? Why hadn’t she allowed that idiot to kill himself and avoided all this? Why did she feel she had to save him, even against his will? Why did she always have to save everybody? What about what she wanted to do? What DID she want to do?
“Superwoman! Help! Help me please! I’m trapped! Please help me!” Instinctively, she turned to see the source of the male scream. A middle-aged man, well-dressed, sitting on the road, with one of his legs underneath the front of a car. She used her X-ray vision to examine his foot. It seemed OK, his toes barely brushing the vehicle’s chassis. Was he really trapped? It was impossible to tell with people. They were so weak, so fragile compared to her … Always in need of her help. Even when they had just one foot hardly even touching the underneath of a car.
She rushed over to his side. “I’m so glad you came!” he said as she bent, preparing to lift the vehicle carefully off him. “I’m the editor of a highly respected gentlemen’s publication. I can offer you a million dollars to pose nude for us.”
“What?” Clara shouted. “Are you even stuck at all?”
“Well, no, but, hey! I had to get your attention somehow, beautiful!”
“You pig! How dare you! I am a saver of lives! A gift from another planet for all mankind!” She felt the rage rising within her as she spoke.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. It was crass of me. Two million dollars.”
“Is that what you want from me?” She stood up to her full height, her hands on her hips and floated a few feet off the road. “Is that what you all want from me?” she yelled, loud enough to knock people off their feet thirty yards away from her. Those nearer, including the man under the car, clutched their hands to their ears. But it was too late to save their hearing.
“Is that all that matters to you people?” She continued to shout, the shockwaves of her voice breaking more windows, sending those already on the ground rolling further away from her. “I keep saving your miserable lives and all you care about is my body! Is that what you want? My body?” She gripped the seam of her skin-tight costume between her fingers. “Don’t you care how many of you are still alive because of me? Is that it? Do you want my body more than you want to live?”
With one long, glorious movement of her hands, she pulled her ancestral garments from her body and tossed them into the air. Suddenly, she was completely naked, surrounded by a staring crowd. “There!” she yelled. “There you are! That’s what you want! Take a good look! See my breasts! My big, perfect breasts! Are they as good as you hoped?” She looked down at the man who had made her the preposterous offer. “Well, are they?”
His eardrums permanently damaged by Superwoman’s yells, the magazine editor could not hear her question to answer it. All he could do was stare in shock and lust at the two most magnificent, round, firm globes of flesh on Earth. “Well, do you like them?” she demanded, floating towards him. “Do you? Do you?” She arched her back pushing out her amazing chest towards him. “Answer me! Do you like them! I said answer me!”
She was no longer in full control of her actions. She was dimly aware of the moment that she felt the contact between her breasts and the editor’s face. Her anger drove her on. “Are you happy now?” she asked of him. She felt him momentarily stiffen and then go limp. Surprised, she moved back, away from him. His face was bruised purple, his nose, crushed almost flat, was bleeding profusely. She had killed him.
For a moment, nothing happened. She didn’t know what she was expecting – a bolt of lightening sent across the ages and the universe from her ancestors? The voice of her Earth-father calling out in admonishment from beyond the grave? Instead there was nothing. Nothing but the silence of a thousand on-lookers still staring. Still gawping at her body. Why should she feel guilty about taking the life on one of these … these pathetic creatures?
“So now you know what my body will do to yours!” She spoke firmly, no longer shouting, more in control of herself now. Her voice was strong enough to be heard by all those who sense of hearing was still intact, but it did not break any more windows. “That is why we are incompatible! Look! Between my thighs! There it is! She bent her legs, so that she was almost sitting on the air, opening her knees, showing her most intimate space to the world. Slowly, she rotated, hovering with her sex exposed, so that every last gawping fool could see it. “See! It looks just like yours! That’s what you’ve been obsessing over! But you're all too weak, too soft to get inside. It would crush your pathetic pricks if you tried. Come on, take a good look at the place you can never, ever go!"
Dozens of flashbulbs flickered around her. Men stared, jaws open, some tongues even hanging out. No-one said sorry. No-one begged her forgiveness. No-one broke down in tears, telling her they were not worthy of her. Instead, they took photographs. And stared.
She flew too quickly to be followed up to a man in his late forties with a camera in front of his face. A sweep of her hand knocked the machine clean out of his grasp and smashed it into a million pieces. “You want a souvenir?” she asked.
“I … I … I …”
“Here!” she said, pulling his face down hard to her chest, smashing his skull against her feminine perfection before pushing his suddenly lifeless body away from her. The crowd withdrew nervously all around her.
“Who else?” asked Clara. “What about you?” she demanded of a teenaged boy. He turned to run, but she flew over his head, turning in the air to land right in his path. Before he could react, she had grabbed the back of his skull and ground his face to pulp on her proud, erotic breasts. “And you?” she enquired of an older man, frozen to the spot nearby.
“P … P …” he started, terror robbing him off both the ability to speak and the ability to move.
“There you go!” Clara said. “Live your fantasy!” She placed her palm on the back of his neck and used it to press his head into her cleavage. She released him a moment later, to fall in a heap by her feet.
And then, to her surprise, she found herself smiling. She felt … good.
She felt no shame at breaking the code of her ancestors. Only a sense of utter liberation, as if a huge burden had just been lifted from her shoulders. She was free. Finally. She had listened to her heart. Found what she really wanted to do in life, what truly gave her joy. It was time for her body to take its revenge on all those who had stared at it and obsessed over it. Removing her accursed costume had freed her. Freed her body. To do what it really wanted.
She rose up above the now panicking crowd, placing her hands on her hips and looked down on the people scattering all around her. So weak. So ungrateful. They did not deserve protecting or saving. Proudly, she thrust out her magnificent, murderous breasts, licking her lips as she gleefully selected their next victim …