By Scott Wilson
An ad on the front page of the Courier Mail stated boldly in a full-page feature, ‘Want to be a super hero? Come try out for the latest reality TV show – My Hero.’ Splashed across the bottom half of the page were a variety of costumed characters arrayed in all the colors of the rainbow and all manner of zany outfits. According to the ad, the auditions would be held on the weekend at the distribution warehouse of Dark Idol comics between eight in the morning until five that evening. Founding editor and storywriter, Jack Idol, would be judging the auditions himself.
“Take a look at this,” Chris said to the group of nerds hanging out at his flat. “A full page, color ad. That must have cost a fortune.”
“Guy must think he’s Stan Lee, throwing that sort of money around.” Ivan, Chris’ friend with an unnaturally large red afro said in a nasally voice.
Chris’ other two friend, Charlie and Shaun, paused the Star Wars Jedi Knight game they were playing online, and looked at the ad with childlike excitement.
“We should enter,” Shaun said.
“Yeh,” replied Charlie. “Use the characters we created in Champions.”
Ivan pulled out his superhero role-play game book and took his well-worn character sheet from the page. He held it up beside his head, looked at it then looked at his three friends.
“I look just like Transistor,” he said mockingly. “Don’t I?”
The rough sketch on the piece of paper held the image of a muscle-bound superhero wearing a tight, bright blue, spandex costume with a silver T across the chest. The three friends burst out laughing at the ridiculous comparison between the hero on paper and their wiry framed friend with thick, black rimmed glasses. The absurdity of even thinking they could dress up like their heroes caused immense amusement to the four friends.
“What have we got to lose?” Shaun said. “The auditions are on next Saturday, so we won’t miss work. Don’t have to tell anyone we are going.”
“Yeh,” said Ivan. “It’ll be a blast. Dressing up as our characters will be super fun.”
Charlie threw a Spiderman figurine at Ivan, hitting him on the forehead.
“What did you do that for?”
“To bring you back to your senses. Where are we going to get costumes in three days?”
Chris opened his laptop and Goggled costume hire in Brisbane. He sifted through a dozen or so possibilities, excluding those that specialised in B&D outfits, until he narrowed it down to four that looked half descent.
“I’ll give them a call, see what we can get sorted out,” Chris said, picking up the cordless handset on his desk.
By the third phone call, Chris tracked down a costume hire shop that could supply four different superhero type outfits that could have symbols, letters or emblems Velcro’d on in a range of styles and positions.
“Okay, “Chris said cheerfully. “Let’s go check these costumes out and get ready for the auditions.”
First thing Saturday morning, the four friends drove along Ipswich Road, through the industrial precinct until reaching the address of the auditions. The four friends dressed in their super hero costumes, under their normal clothes. Outside the warehouse, a large crowd of costumed men, women and children gathered already.
“I thought we’d be here before the majority of other contestants,” Chris said.
“It’s cool,” Ivan said reassuringly. “I’m sure we will be just dandy. The amount of time we’ve played these characters in Champion will give us a better knowledge of the powers and characteristics than the others.”
After waiting in line for two hours, the four friends finally reached the entrance to the warehouse. Seated at a shiny, stainless steel table were Patricia Shields and Justin Smoke, two assistant editors for Dark Idol comics.
“Name and powers,” Patricia asked Ivan, who was first in line.
“Transistor,” said Iva. “I have the power over radio waves.”
Charlie was next in line.
“Speedball. I have superhuman speed and can run so fast I barely touch the ground. Water is not a problem, as I can run so fast my weight does not make me sink.”
“Next,” Justin said.
Chris stood forward and flexed his biceps, or lack thereof.
“Iron Law,” he said. “My superhuman strength is the result of an accident in a foundry. Now, my skin is as tough as iron and my strength, that of a dozen men.”
Shaun was the last of the four to enter the warehouse.
“Fire Fly. I have the power to fly and shoot fireballs from my eyes.”
“Together, we form the HAAS; Heroic Alliance of All Stars,” Shaun added.
“Oh,” replied Patricia. “A super group. We have not seen one of those today. Jack will be very excited.”
“Follow me,” said a gorgeous, red head in a tight latex bodysuit.
She lead them further into the warehouse, through a maze of passageways and corridors, all constructed in the same shiny, stainless steel that the desk outside was made of. Pale blue fluorescent lights hummed softly in behind the opaque diffusers in the ceiling.
“How much further?” Ivan asked their host.
“The secret lair is at the heart of the building. It won’t take us much longer to reach it, gentlemen.”
“She’s sure in character,” Charlie said to his friends.
“Where are the other contestants?” Ivan said, looking around the corridor.
“Each contestant has been allocated a host to evaluate their character. Once the ten are chosen, you will regroup in the arena for the final stage of the audition.”
They followed their host to a small auditorium, where she instructed each of them to sit in a stainless steel chair, which looked more like a modern electric chair than anything of comfort.
“I think I might stand,” Ivan said to the host.
“I’m sorry. You must take a seat for the interview process. They look uncomfortable but you will understand why shortly.”
Ivan reluctantly sat down, joining his three friends on the cold, hard seats in front of the host. She stood on a small platform in front of them and asked them personal questions individually. After almost an hour Ivan, Chris, Charlie, Shaun and Ivan felt like they had been interrogated by ASIO. The host left them in the room by themselves.
“Some of those questions were just weird,” Chris said.
“A bit personal to, I thought,” said Ivan. “I felt like I was being grilled for a crime I had committed.”
“I suppose it has to be very thorough for legal reasons,” Charlie said. “I mean some of the stunts and stuff we will be attempting might be pretty dangerous.”
“Yeh, I suppose.”
The host re-entered the auditorium.
“Please sit back down in your chairs,” she said. “We will now proceed to the main arena.”
When Ivan, Charlie, Chris and Shaun took their places back on the sterile chairs, the host clicked a button on what looked to be a DVD remote control. Thick, steel cufflinks shot out of the arms and legs of the solid chairs, locking the four friends into place.
“Hey, what’s this all about?” Shaun yelled.
The chairs began to vibrate, and then lift an inch of the floor, before turning around to face a doorway opening in the wall to the left.
“Let me out of here!” Ivan yelled.
The host walked down and ran her hand across Ivan’s arm.
“You’ve been selected as part of the final ten contestants. Now, you will get to meet the great Jack Idol.”
The chairs slowly moved on a track in the floor through the doorway, then into a dimly lit passage. The momentum picked up until the chairs moved at a nice even pace of twenty kilometers an hour.
“We’ve got to get out of here.” Charlie yelled over his should to Chris, who was in the set behind him.
Chris struggle and wiggled in the shackles but they did not budge.
“Look, we must almost be there.” Shaun shouted, seeing a white light approximately the same size as the door they left the auditorium through.
The chairs flowed out of the tunnel into an even larger auditorium, capable of seating over one hundred people if packed in. There were six other solid stainless steel chairs situated around the outside of the lower level. Sitting on each seat were other superhero fans, dressed up as their own hero.
“Ah, the last of my super team.” Jack Idol said in a jovial voice that echoed in the large, empty room.
“You have all passed the auditions and will participate in my quest to create real superheroes.”
“I think you can unlock these now,” Chris said, rattling the shackles on his wrists.
“Oh, I think we might keep them on for a little bit longer now, Iron Law. I am going to try and turn you into the character you wish to be.”
“What the...” Shaun yelled.
“Each of you has given me the story of how your character gained their powers. I am going to try and replicate this scenario and see if I can actually give you the powers.”
“You’re crazy,” yelled Ivan. “You’ll kill us.”
“Perhaps, Transistor. However, imagine if I don’t. You will be real heroes.”
The Fringe is open to submissions of poetry, flash fiction and short stories of any genre. Stories accepted will be published online in our Ezine and also in the monthly pdf magazine.
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Here at The Fringe Magazine we publish Short Stories, Flash Fiction, Poetry in all genres and reviews of books, roleplay games, music and movies.
Our variety seems to be hiting the mark with over 100,000 views of our Online Magazine with a good spread across all articles.
Our variety seems to be hiting the mark with over 100,000 views of our Online Magazine with a good spread across all articles.?xml:namespace>From surveys we've conducted, our readers are like most people and enjoy reading all kinds of books, both fiction and non-fiction.
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