I am exhausted. I’ve spent the last few days touching up and editing the alpha copies of all the stories from Unusual Events, but as I was going over the last of them tonight, a thought struck me. I’ve talked a lot about what Unusual Events is, and mentioned what’s in it, but never, not yet, save to Patreon Supporters (who get their own, special, early looks), have I shown off anything.
That needs to change. It’s time to get a taste of what you’ll be reading before long!
So, with that in mind, here’s a sneak peek at a few paragraphs from SUPER MODEL, one of the stories from the upcoming Unusual Events! Enjoy!
I was six when I first saw him. Not in person, no. That didn’t come until much later. The first time I saw him was on the television; our old, beat-up, projection TV. One of the big ones with the screen that made a fun zip noise if you pulled your fingernail across it? Nowadays such a large screen doesn’t seem like much, but at the time it was my father’s pride and joy.
Anyway, I was six when it happened. I was sitting in the living room of our small apartment, my toys scattered across the floor as I played with them. I was acting out superhero rescue of some kind, saving of one of my toys from a burning building or a wrecked car or something else like that. Even as a young girl I was always fascinated by the idea of heroes.
That was when the news report my father was watching switched, and my world changed. At that age, a television was just so much mindless droning most of the time unless there was something I wanted to watch on it. But for once, for the first time in my little world, the newscaster had said something I’d wanted to hear. She’d said the word absolutely guaranteed to get my six-year old self’s attention.
Looking back, I don’t honestly remember much. I’ve seen the video dozens if not hundreds of times since that breaking story, memorized every frame and every detail. I can tell you exactly what was going on and what was stolen—or at least what the investigative reports concluded. But at the time, to my six-year old self? That didn’t matter. Words were words. Boring grown up stuff.
No, what mattered—and what I remember—was that shining grey figure striding across the street. I remember pressing my hands up to the screen in excitement, my father chiding me to get away from the screen before I ruined my eyes. I remember watching in awestruck amazement as this armored figure, this … superhero … took down a whole contingent of black marketeers. At the time, I didn’t even know what “black marketeers” meant, only that it had to be bad because a superhero—a genuine, honest, real superhero—was going up against them, right there in my home city. I watched with childlike glee, cheering as he casually took down each one of the “bad guys” with quick, almost-impossible-to-see strikes. Bullets bounced off of his armor, a fact that one of the newscasters kept coming back to.
I didn’t care. All I cared was that our city—my city—was home to something amazing. An honest, genuine super hero.
I talked about it for days. Looking back, I’m fairly certain I must have driven my parents nearly mad with my constant babble. As a six-year old, I’d already been heavily invested in the global phenomena of superheroes: I had their posters, their action figures, even the little children’s books talking about who they were and what they did. I could already recite most of the origin stories from memory—or at least the ones we knew. I could tell you how many pounds-per-square-inch Acrobat’s fists could hit with, or how many annual crimes per year Magma was associated with stopping … not that I honestly understood what some of that meant at the time. But it was cool, and to a six-year old, when something is cool, it’s everything.
And all of the sudden, here was this new addition to the collection. There was a new superhero for me to be obsessed with. And he was in my city. My toys took on new identities, new personas, one of them always “The Hero in Grey,” as the city had started to call him (after a particularly lengthy civil lawsuit involving a newscaster’s poorly chosen temporary superhero moniker, news agencies had wisely decided to ask heroes what their names were rather than assigning them one, and so “Hero in Grey” was as close as we got for the next year or two).
My parents, bless them both, just rolled with it. I seem to recall there was some discussion about my newfound fascination, but it didn’t matter much to me at that age. Plus, I don’t think my parents saw any harm in it. The Hero in Grey had done something good, after all. He’d interrupted a heavily-armed heist of expensive, hard-to-find scientific equipment and helped capture most of the criminals involved, though some of them still got away with a selection of valuable devices. Still, he’d done his best. He was a hero.
But to me, most of all, he was our hero. And even at a young age, I knew we needed it.
Life moved on, and eventually the furor died off for most. The news found new stories, new events of interest to fixate on. There was this thing called the internet that promised to be the next big step in business. There were cute animals to report on. Weather.
But every so often, our hero would show up again, and every time my little heart would soar.
I’m pretty pleased with how this one turned out, guys. It’s quite the tale.
You’ll be able to read it in full when you pick up a copy of Unusual Events late this summer.
More teasers coming your way in the next few weeks!