In our ongoing lessons on story development, I give you part 7 of “Wanted, A Superhero to Save the World.”
Now that Eddie has failed in his first goal, I needed to make sure the failure led to a new goal, something bigger and concrete. (I discussed successive goals in this writing tip.) Early goals, whether they are achieved or not, are stepping stones to bigger goals. Also, with each conflict that comes to pass, the hero needs to gain something that will help him or her in a quest for the next goal.
As you read this excerpt, you will see that Eddie’s failure leads directly to a huge, seemingly impossible quest. Yet, something equally huge has happened that will help him achieve the goal–the transformation of his sister. Of course it’s usually better to complicate matters. It would have been overly simple for Eddie to be the one with superpowers, so endowing his quirky little sister with them instead makes the fun increase.
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Do Little Sisters Get All the Breaks?
Barely able to keep from shouting, I nodded at Sam. “That’s good. You can relax now.”
She let her arms flop to her sides. “I’m hungry. Did you bring home something to eat?”
I shook my head. “No wonder you’re hungry. Your metabolism is probably a roaring furnace.”
“Then let’s see what’s in the fridge.”
“Wait. I want to try the generator on myself.”
“Whatever. Just hurry up. I could eat a horse.”
“Tell your stomach to cool it for a minute.” I walked into the closet and flipped on my generator switch. The light in the ceiling panel flashed. Like Sam had said, a tingle ran across my body. After a few seconds, I flipped the switch off, walked to the desk, and tried to pick up one end. Two legs lifted from the floor a couple of inches, but I couldn’t get it any higher. It was just too heavy. Maybe I needed to wait a little longer for the actuator to recharge.
I set the desk down. “Okay. Go raid the kitchen, but be real quiet.”
“Do you want anything?”
I shook my head. “Maybe later.”
The moment Sam left, I withdrew Damocles’s cowl from under my shirt and laid it on the desk. The empty mask sent a shockwave through my body. The greatest hero in the world was dead, and I couldn’t do anything to stop the fiends who killed him.
My hands trembled. My stomach felt like a ball of knotted ropes. But I couldn’t let grief turn me into a bowl of jelly. I had to do what Damocles asked. Nothing was more important.
I turned on my computer, retrieved the thumb drive from my belt, and pushed it into the proper slot. A program automatically started. Damocles appeared on the screen, three-dimensional and lifelike, dressed in the same outfit he was wearing only moments ago, his cowl in place as well as his weapons belt, complete with Mastix. He stood next to a table covered with beakers, test tubes, and other laboratory equipment.
A voice emanated from the speakers. “Camera and microphone detected.” The camera on top of my monitor flashed on. The image of Damocles blinked. “Ah! I can see you now.”
“You can?” I blinked back at him. “What’s going on?”
“I am an artificial intelligence replica of Damocles. Since you activated me, I assume that I somehow met my demise.”
I nodded. Leave it to Damocles to write such an amazing program. “It’s true. You died a few minutes ago.”
Damocles squinted. “You appear to be quite young. I planned to turn this technology over to a brilliant scientist, not a boy.”
“I’m twelve, but I’m …” How could I say it? Call myself a genius? That wouldn’t be a good idea. “I know a lot about technology. I built my own computer from parts I got in trade from a friend, because my mother can’t afford to buy one.”
Damocles cocked his head in a skeptical way. “Do you know anything about holographic imaging?”
“Plenty. I invented my own projector. Like I told Damocles, I can project anything that’s digitized.”
“Well, it looks like I chose the right person.” He lifted a thumb drive from the table. “You will find data on the drive that will give you the ability to project a hologram of me in case you need to make it appear that I am still alive.”
I touched the outside of my pocket. “He … I mean, you also gave me a key and a wallet. What am I supposed to do with those?”
“I have no idea. I must have left those details out of my database for security purposes. If a villain had stolen this program, he would have no knowledge that he needs those items.”
“Needs them? For what?”
“I don’t know that either, but I can provide a clue.” Damocles opened a drawer in the lab table. “Do you have Internet access?”
“Yeah, but it’s pretty slow.”
“No problem. This is low-bandwidth stuff.” He withdrew a glowing sphere from the drawer and threw it at the screen. It splashed across the monitor and brought up a web newsfeed. “The program should now be accessing my unfinished business. I chose you because I believed you to be capable of replacing me and completing these tasks.”
Samantha walked into the room with two sandwiches, one with a big bite taken out of it. “What’s this?” she asked, her voice muffled by peanut butter and jelly.
“Shhh. Just watch.” I read the top line of the newsfeed—Filtering for Mephisto news. The next line appeared to be a link to an online newspaper, so I clicked on it. A new window opened, a full-page advertisement with a photo of a man sporting a crew cut and glasses with thick lenses. I read it out loud.
“Wanted, a superhero to save the world. I am Chet Graham, president of Quasar Nuclear Physics Laboratory in Nirvana. A man who goes by the name Mephisto contacted me to let me know that he has stolen plans from our computer vault that he could use to create a device that is able to destabilize the planet’s tectonic plates, an event that could cause worldwide earthquakes. When I checked our files, it became clear that someone, indeed, hacked our security and gained access to the plans. He is demanding one billion dollars in ransom.
“At the risk of causing panic, I am revealing this theft publicly in order to call upon Damocles to meet with me. He and I must plan how we will stop Mephisto. My hope is that he will acquiesce and help me stop this menace. If not, I will reveal to everyone why he has avoided meeting with me so far. It has been two weeks since I first tried to contact him about this, so now I hope that public pressure will force him to be the superhero most people consider him to be. Damocles, I beg you. Help me stop this catastrophe. You are the only one who can save the world.”
Categories: Story Development