I bring you a little excerpt today. Within the world of Superpowered, heroes vie for fame and money constantly. Oh sure, there’s the whole fighting crime thing and vigilante justice and blah blah blah blah. They don’t care about that. You’re nobody if you don’t have your own feature comic book, or a TV show. Only the most popular of supers get their own movie deal. It’s almost a race to see who can have the most merchandise, or the longest line for signatures at the big superhero convention “Supercon”.
So of course Supercon is a huge spectacle that draws supers from all over the world. It’s the purest example of pomp and extravagance. Massive video monitors, colorful characters flying through the air, rabid fans masquerading as their favorite heroes (or villains), and everyone partakes in the revelry. Let’s not forget that the bottom line, the reason for all of this, is of course money. Oh yes, fame and admiration and all that, but there are boatloads of cash to be made from those with superhuman abilities. They’re so willing to line up and be exploited.
Without further ado, here’s an excerpt from the chapter involving Supercon, and Dennis’ dream sequence:
I love my son, but his squeaky voice sometimes makes me want to strangle the life out of him, in a loving way of course. I saunter out of the bathroom and rummage through the luggage strewn around the room until I find a proper fitting T-shirt that doesn’t have a super hero on it. My choices are limited, but luckily I packed a few plain navy blue shirts. The one I grabbed is kind of tight, but I think it compliments me well. After slipping my shoes on, Zack is practically dragging me through the doorway. I had to stop him to make sure it didn’t look like he was dressed by a monkey. He mostly passed.
“Daddy, can I get Femme’s autograph? She’s my favorite!” He’s practically jumping up and down with excitement.
“Of course, and maybe if you’re lucky you’ll get to punch Ogre in the face!” I make a mean face at him and ball a fist. Ogre of course is one of the villains that had cropped up over the years. He was nasty, ugly, and a mammoth of a man that loved to paint himself green, wear heavy jewelry, and smash anything and everything he could get his terrifying hands on. They roll out dummies of him for the kids at events like this so they can go to town and feel like super heroes themselves.
“I’ll punch him SO hard he’ll wish he was never born!” Zack throws a few boxing style punches at the air for effect.
When it comes to huge conventions like this, having money makes everything easier. I was able to book a hotel room months in advance just a couple blocks from the main staging area. The parade even goes right past our room at one point. Those festivities aren’t until later today. According to Zack, we’re supposed to meet the rest of the family in the “Hall of Heroes” which is a fancy way of saying “place where heroes that need money sign autographs, for money.” That’s not fair of me though, not all of them are there for the money. Some are already filthy rich and just want to pander to their fans. There are few supers I have respect for, but the ones that I like are the ones that give back to the communities they’re a part of.
We walk the 2 blocks while taking in all the amazing sights. There are so many normal people walking all around while dressing in garish and terrible superhero fashion. Supers fly through the air flashing smiles and waving at the crowd below, many while carrying banners with ridiculous self promotion. Tons of street vendors are trying to sell knock off capes (real ones are trademarked), colorful masks, and fake weapons. Even the homeless have dressed up, and the ones with a good sense of humor are sporting “Will punch evil in the face for food” signs. If you’re going to capitalize on something like this, at least you can do it right. Even as much of a tightwad as I am, I slip a five dollar bill into the hat of one homeless man dressed up like the superhero Zeus. May he rest in peace.
The approach to the “Hall of Heroes” (the main lobby of the convention center) is fantastically decorated with all kinds of video screens, streamers, super hero shaped balloons, and large speakers that are blaring thematic music and sounds of supers battling it out. It feels so garish and overdone to me that rolling my eyes is essentially a natural reflex at this point. The giant holographic “HALL OF HEROES!” sign makes me want to scrub my eyes with soap and steel wool. It’s so bright and over saturated that pain and eye bleeding seems far more appealing to me right now. Fortunately Zack is so eager to get inside that I don’t have to be subjected to that for very long.
Crossing the threshold out of the bright sunlight and into the darkened lobby doesn’t reveal a scene that’s much better. At least there aren’t any really bright flashing signs in here, but the crush of people is really starting to trip my social anxiety. I remember this part vividly as I had to will myself to move through the crowds and get to the individual supers so Zack could get the autographs he wanted so badly. In quick succession we hit the booths for Vaporo (he can turn himself into mist, yippee), Rock Boy (late teens kid that can turn his skin hard as a rock), Mercader de la Muerte (Merchant of Death, specializes in dark purple energy projection. He’s actually kind of cool for a good guy), and of course Femme for Zack.
Despite knowing that this is a dream, I’m still impacted by the boredom of standing in line for what seems like forever. The look of excitement and anticipation doesn’t seem to be fading from my little boy’s face. It kinda reminds me of a creepy little grinning totem, but hey, if he’s happy that makes me happy. I check my watch and it seems almost like this dream is turning into a nightmare as time practically refuses to pass by at a decent rate. The chubby idiot at the front of the line won’t shut his mouth so others can get on with their lives and get their stupid junk signed. Okay, calm down Dennis, it’s just boredom.
“Daddy!” I hear a squeaky little voice yell excitedly, right before I feel something clamp onto my right leg. I look down to see cute little Adeline looking up at me with her big, bright blue eyes. “I’m so happy to see you! Mommy let me ride the ponies!”
“Did she now? Did those mean little ponies try to bite you?” I snap my teeth and growl at her. She shies away from me and giggles.
“The ponies were awesome! I rode on Lightning Pony and got to pet all the other ones! I liked their outfits! Daddy I want to go ride some more!” She’s jumping up and down in excitement.
“Zack still has one more superhero he wants to see, then we can go back to the ponies. I promise.”
“Do you swear?” she made sure to elongate the last word for emphasis.
“I’ll swear on a bear!” I hold up a fist in front of me and make an angry face.
“But bears don’t like swearing, dad.” She loves playing this little game with me. The girl is bright.
“I’ll swear on in your hair while eating a pear, so there.” I purposely put on a smug expression for her.
“Nope. That doesn’t work for me. Pinky swear!” She holds out her pinky finger.
“Fine, fine. We’ll pinky swear.” I feign exasperation and present my outstretched pinky, which she takes with enthusiasm and shakes vigorously, then follows with a satisfied facial expression.
I glance around the room and don’t see Kylie anywhere, which is surprising, especially considering that it implies that she left Adeline alone.
“Adeline, where’s mommy?” I try to hide my concern.
“Oh, she had to go to the bathroom. As soon as she saw you she told me to go to you and not move until she got back.”
I run my fingers through her hair, and despite knowing that the real Adeline isn’t in any danger from my dream, I’m relieved. “Good girl.”