In our ongoing lessons on story development, I give you part 8 of “Wanted, A Superhero to Save the World.”
During this excerpt, the new goal clarifies, which allows some back-story tidbits to come to light. Notice that the back story is revealed a little at a time in a way that is natural. The story itself brings it out without dumping information.
This revelation time also allows the characters’ traits to come to the surface. We learn that these kids love each other and need each other’s comfort and support. They are needy and vulnerable. Such revelations cause readers to empathize and attach emotionally, and that bonding incites readers to turn the pages.
If you have any questions or comments, please post them.
“Wow!” Sam said as she continued chewing. “So Mephisto is real.”
“I told you so. And I saw Damocles tonight.”
“Really? Did you talk to him?”
“For a little while.” I couldn’t tell her that he died. That had to stay a secret for now. “We kind of ran out of time.”
“I wonder why he won’t meet with that guy.”
“I’m sure he has his reasons. Maybe Chet Graham is really working for Mephisto, and they’re setting a trap for Damocles.” Even as I spoke, the image of Damocles getting caught in the net came to mind. Had he agreed to meet Graham at the bank? Maybe that was bait for the trap. “Let’s see what else we can find out.” I clicked on Damocles’ program window and spoke toward the microphone. “Did you schedule an appointment to meet with Chet Graham?”
Sam pointed, her mouth still full. “Is that him? Is that Damocles?”
Damocles bowed his head. “Yes, I am Damocles, Miss …” He paused, prodding for a last name.
Sam swallowed her mouthful. “Hertz.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. What sort of injury did you sustain?”
She giggled. “No, silly. That’s my name. Samantha Hertz.”
“And I’m Eddie Hertz.” I leaned closer to the monitor. “Listen. It’s getting really late, and we need to figure out what happened. I read the ad that asked you to meet with Chet Graham. Did you or did you not agree to meet with him?”
Damocles picked up a small notebook from the lab table and flipped through the pages. “I have a meeting scheduled tomorrow night at midnight with Mr. Chet Graham on the roof of the Stellar building.”
“The Stellar building.” I blew out a sigh. “That’s downtown. I’ll have to take a bus.”
“You’ll have to?” Sam asked. “Why do you have to be there?”
“Because …” I looked her in the eye. She wouldn’t rest until she learned the truth. I let my gaze shift to her bulging arms, then to my arms, still as thin as usual. My generator hadn’t worked for me yet. Maybe I would need Sam as a backup.
During the next few minutes, I told her everything—about my adventures as Archimedes, the superhero generator in the closet, the fencer in the alley, Damocles’ death, and my need to replace him so Mephisto wouldn’t know that he had died. I even showed her his cowl as proof.
She listened carefully, chewing and nodding. For a young squirt, she was really smart. She could memorize stories in just one telling. And her vocabulary often stunned me, though some of her new words came from the Princess Queenie show she watched every time it came on.
When I finished, she flexed her bicep. “Then I should be the superhero they need to stop Mephisto.”
“You?” I laughed under my breath. “You wouldn’t last five minutes in the real world. It’s dangerous out there. It’s not like you’re Wonder Woman. You’re just a girl.”
“No, I’m not Wonder Woman. My superhero name is Princess Queenie Unicorn Iris Ponyrider Buttercup Olive Lover Rosey Is Posey.”
I mentally recited the name. The least I could do was memorize it and humor her. “Is it all right if I use the initials and call you Princess Quipbolrip for short?”
“No.” Staring at me, she chewed on.
“Whatever.” I rolled my eyes. “Listen. I have to go to the Stellar building alone. The fencer I told you about might come by, so you need to stay here and protect Mom. The generator hasn’t worked for me yet, so you’ll have to be the muscles for our superhero duo until it does.”
She smirked. “So I’m Superman, and you’re Wonder Woman.”
“Don’t get a big head. The superhero generator probably needs to recharge. By this time tomorrow, I’ll be able to kick your butt.”
“I’d like to see you try it.” She crossed her arms and flexed, obviously enjoying the bulging muscles.
“We’re not going to fight. We’re a team.” I glanced at the clock on her dresser—almost two am. “Let’s get some sleep. We need to be wide awake for tomorrow night.”
Sam stuffed the rest of the second sandwich into her mouth. She waved at the monitor and whispered in a garbled voice, “Good night, Damocles.”
Damocles gave a half bow. “Good night, Miss Hertz. I hope you feel better soon.”
“But I’m not—”
“Shhh.” I pushed Sam toward her bed. “He’s just an artificial intelligence image. He can’t figure everything out.”
She slid under her covers and stared up at me, her eyes wide in the dim light. “I think I’m going to like being a superhero.”
I sat on her bed. “Why is that?”
She looked at a corner of the ceiling where a crack ran down the plaster wall a couple of feet, then at her dresser and its three missing pull handles. “Maybe I could make some money with my super strength.”
I lowered my voice to a whisper. “We’re not all that poor. At least we have a place to live.”
She shook her head. “While you were gone, I heard Mom talking on the phone. She was asking someone for rent money. She sounded scared.”
“Who would she call at this time of night?”
“Someone called her. I heard the phone ring.”
“Did you catch the name?”
She nodded. “Milliken … or something like that.”
“Milligan. That’s the fencer.” I squinted. “How could you hear all that?”
“Well … she was crying.” Sam looked away and sniffed. “Maybe that made her louder than usual.”
“Hey.” I turned her head back toward me. “What’s wrong?”
“I wish …” Her chin quivered. “I wish Daddy was still alive.” She threw her arms around me, pressed her head against my chest, and cried. “Why did he have to die?”
Fighting my own tears, I closed my eyes and patted her on the back. “I don’t know, Sam. I just don’t know.” How many times had I asked that question myself? Even Mom couldn’t explain why the brakes failed a day after they were inspected. And since Milligan mentioned avoiding Dad’s fate, the failure seemed more suspicious than ever.
I whispered to myself, “Maybe he was murdered.”
“Murdered?” Sam slid her arms away. Tears sparkled on her cheeks. “Who would murder Daddy? He was the nicest man in the world.”
“Of course he was. I … I was just thinking too much.” I rose from the bed, stepped back, and looked her over. She had heard my quiet whisper and Mom’s phone call. What could it all mean?
I cupped my hands over my mouth and whispered as softly as possible, “Princess Queenie is a space alien.”
Sam crossed her arms and scowled. “She is not! She’s a fairy!”
I lowered my hands. “Well, Miss Fairy Princess … it looks like you have super hearing.”
Categories: Story Development