Thursday, January 27, 2011

THE LOCAL HEROES: Holding For A Hero

Holding For A Hero
Al Bruno III

“Thank you for calling Prime Computer Technical Support. My name is Vince, how may I help you?”
The customer was ranting and raving from the moment the greeting was over. Vince Marlowe adjusted his headset, leaned back in his chair and let the complaints wash over him. Years of experience had taught him that any attempts to move the conversation forward before the end users litany of grievances was over only aggravated matters. Sadly upper management didn’t understand that, they lived and died by the call times.
“Well I am very sorry to hear about this. Now when you say your computer ‘Doesn’t Go’ what exactly do you mean? The monitor says ‘No Connection’? I see...”
A faint buzzing sound began to echo through his half-cubicle. Thankfully no one else noticed. Pagers and cell phones were forbidden on the call center floor- as were snack foods, reading materials and just about anything else that might make the day bearable. Vince pulled the flashing badge from the pocket of his slacks.
“Excuse me madam,” he said, “could you please hold?”
The Blue Bolt sped through the streets of Megalopolis City. His costume was bright blue, save for the clear visor of his helmet, and it was made from a special reenforced friction-resistant material that helped him reach speeds of over 700 miles per hour.
Not that he ever moved that quickly within the city limits, he was very conscious of property damage and shattered windows.
There was a mass of figures up ahead, all dressed in shades of black and brown and marching in tight formation. It was the Vole Men, they were attacking the surface world once more. The Blue Bolt put on a little more speed, he had to act fast. His team, the Legion of Protectors, was currently shorthanded. He still couldn’t believe the Maven had just up and quit and moved back to River City.
The Vole Men were pale and noseless, they wore armor made from stone and carried lances that fired bolts of magma. There was a giant monster bringing up the rear of the strange army, it was scaly with an oversized mouth. It was called a thrombor and the Blue Bolt had never seen one on the surface before. A giant saddle had been chained to its back and Emperor Burrows, Lord of the Inner Earth, was seated there. The strange little man shouted orders from an elaborately designed megaphone.
The front lines of the invading army saw the super speedster heading their way and fired. The Blue Bolt wove easily around each blast of lava. A fifth of a moment later he was in the midst of them. He pulled the magma lances from the first dozen Vole Men’s hands before they could react, then he brought them down with a flurry of punches.
The rest of the Vole Men fired, more afraid of the wrath of the Emperor than they were of hitting their fellow soldiers. The Blue Bolt ducked and weaved but a splash of lava caught him on the shoulder. Pain and heat flared but the velocity he was moving at quickly cooled the molten rock down.
The Blue Bolt ran to the edges of the Vole Man formation and began to run around it in tight circles, moving faster and faster creating an artificial tornado. It sent Vole Men flying in every direction.
The invading army began to break formation, trying to retreat. Emperor Burrows cursed with outrage and then shouted something at his monstrous mount.
The thrombor roared and a wave of heat washed out from its mouth. It destroyed the last remnants of the Vole Man army but it also turned the asphalt of the street into a thick liquid goo. It caught the Blue Bolt by surprise. He stumbled and fell.
Emperor Burrows goaded the giant beast into a charge. The ground shook, the thrombor smashed cars underfoot. The Blue Bolt raised himself to his feet, the asphalt clung to him dragging at his legs like quicksand.
Thinking quickly the Blue Bolt began to spin his arms in tight circles until he heard the familiar POP of the sound barrier breaking.
Twin shafts of concussive force arced out from his hands and caught the thrombor at the knees. It crashed forward knocking itself unconscious. The impact sent the Emperor of the Inner Earth flying from his saddle.
The Blue Bolt drew back his fist and threw a left hook at normal speed. He wanted Burrows to see this one coming.
“Thank you again for holding ma’am,” Vince Marlowe said as he sat back down in his seat. The timer on his phone told him he had been gone for a little more than five minutes. There would be Hell to pay with his supervisor later but there was nothing he could do about that. He paused before he spoke again and looked down at himself to make sure everything looked OK. The worst thing about changing your clothes at super speed was that you would sometimes throw your shirt on inside out or worse yet put your boxers on outside of your briefs.
Mistakes like that were what had led to his divorce.
“Well, please let me explain,” Vince continued, “what you are seeing is the monitor’s way of telling you it isn’t getting any signal from your CPU... a CPU is a computer... yes the thing under your desk...”
The other members of the Legion of Protectors had arrived just as he was leaving. Vince had been glad to leave them to clean up what was left of the Vole Men’s forces. He’d never had the patience for repairs and talking to the Press.
“Yes ma’am, the computer needs to be turned on. The button should be...” Vince’s voice trailed off as he heard his Legion of Protectors badge start to beep once more. He rolled his eyes, so much for this month’s performance review.
“Please hold.”

Rebecca Whitaker does it again!

Another great bit of art from 'Becca'. This time she has brought The Legion Of Protectors to life, sometimes she visualizes my characters better than I do. Be sure to stop by her site if you need some artwork.

And for the record these guys are Mighty Woman, Nova Flame, Peregrine, the Mathmagician, Commander Infinity, the Blue Bolt, Dismembro and the Fedora.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

(Recommended Article) ADVENTURES IN NERDLINESS has succumbed to the charms of Amanda Palmer!

I am a fairly new fan of Amanda Palmer's. I first came across her in a video she did satirizing the David Bowie/Jennifer Connely classic Labirynth (see below), and then from her song "Map of Tasmania" (video below, not necessarily safe for work). Of course, you all know my dislike for Katy Perry, so a particular Palmer live bit really turned me on to her...

click here to read the rest