Brissy writer and all-round wonderful sort Melanie Edmonds has started posting weekly writing challenges over at her site. Because friends support each other, and more writing is always fun when you’re trying to hit 2k of writing daily, I’m gonna give it a crack on top of my other challenge work. Expect things to get weird. So without further rambling, here’s this week’s challenge:
You are so tired of burying your friends. It’s time to make a change.
They’re crying, but then, it’s a funeral. We’re meant to be crying. But the heaving sobs are a little melodramatic for my tastes. There’s a bet going between Cass and I on who’ll throw a fake faint into the mix. Must be the cameras. Makes everyone act a little more pantomime than usual.
Or maybe, just maybe, it’s wondering who’ll be next. Superheroes are falling from the sky like hail these days. It’s a bad time to be a hero in the Captain’s crew. But then, given the assholes I work with? It’s not necessarily looking likely there’s a good time for it, either. Oh, sure, they’re friendly enough. Throw us in front of cameras and they’ll hug me, tell the world we’re the best kind of besties.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m tired of burying my friends. I just wish they were actually my friends once the lights and cameras are gone for the day. It’s hard to cry for Mandy- code named the Viper for reasons beyond her lightning fast reflexes- even though the squishy bits of her are mouldering in a leak proof box right now. Sweetness and light when interviewed, the cow was only too happy to put a knife to Cass’s throat when she suggested, politely and professionally, that perhaps the reason Viper’s legs kept getting injured in battle was the utterly unhelpful battle properties of fishnet stockings.
Cass isn’t a fighter, she’s the armourer. No doubt she’s been worked to death making sure everyone has suitably sombre costuming for the event. But Cass? She’d spent weeks designing a replacement that looked like fishnets without, y’know, actually being stupidly pointless in battle. Do you know how much eye strain goes into designing filamented motion activated battlewear that looks exactly like fishnets until a second before impact? How much energy goes into creating a force field sentient enough to anticipate a strike and react instantly? Do you know how smart you have to be to take that technological leap in weeks instead of years?
Do you think anyone was impressed with little Cassy’s efforts?
Of course not. Mandy took that prototype and threw it into the furnace. Weeks of work ablaze because Mandy didn’t think the world deserved to lose the chance to peak at her ass-cheeks when her stupid leotard rode up.
And when I tried to shut off the furnace, to save Cassy’s work? The viper threw me straight in after the prototype, didn’t even matter that the furnace was full of freakin’ flames. Cass barely yanked me back.
So, no. I’m not crying for the little snake. Or the assholes who laughed, who treated it like an attempted murder was just a giggle between friends. Murderer’s remorse is a patheticness I’m not likely to suffer through. Even if Cass is shooting me little looks like she’s worked it out. If anyone would, it’s her.
It’s possibly mean of me to note that it takes four dead heroes for the team to go ahead and order themselves mourning costumes- their garish, ugly as sin outfits in pure black, little veils added to the girl’s hair like we’re in some B grade cartoon. Leotards and veils, stiletto thigh-high boots, weapons forged black for the occassion- Cass would have been a wreck trying to get it all done.
Unlike the rest, she’s in a simple black dress, veil there to cover her features from the media rather than draw more attention to herself. She’s smart, Cass. Too smart to show her face to the media when she’s the best and brightest tech developer in the world. You can’t kidnap someone you can’t find, and that girl has managed to keep herself hidden while living the high life with the rest of the crew. Even the team aren’t quite sure what she looks like.
A whole world of admirers, and I’m the only one who knows who she is behind the mask. Then again, the same’s probably true in reverse.
It’s hard not to laugh at the holier than thou competitiveness of the team, of eulogy after eulogy promising that they were Mandy’s bestest friend, the one who knew her best, all the while spewing the generic facts the media already knew. There’s nothing here that you couldn’t find in a quick Wiki search, and I don’t doubt that’s all the effort that’s gone into the speeches. God knows, they needed to focus their energy on filling the oversized, garish church with the most sickeningly cloying flowers known to mankind, and the airwaves with statements about their grief and their refusal to give up the fight. They’ve got the best minds (mine, and Cass’s) on the case- it’ll be broken soon.
Cass’s hand sneaks out to grab mine, to cling tightly. Before the end of the service, her face is buried against my neck, her breath warm and stuttering against my skin. It takes me far too long to realise she’s laughing her ass off.
Cass’s office is chock full of the kind of tech bad guys would cream themselves for. Once she’s set the code, she’s the only one who’ll ever know what’s said or done in there. She hands me a wine, bloody red in the dim light, and settles in beside me on the couch we’ve both spent far too many nights curled up on.
‘Why’d you do it?’ There’s no judgement, no recrimination. Just mild curiosity, like she’s asking why I drank the last of her milk and didn’t bother replacing it.
‘Why do you think?’ She sips at her wine, nods to herself, and fixes me with the sort of intense, amused look I hadn’t expected from the little do-gooder.
‘Whose next?’ It’s the anticipation in her grin that gets me.