The Birth of a Hero


For this week’s challenge, Chuck Wendig asked us to include ten random words into our story (Funeral, Captivate, Deceit, Brimstone, Canyon, Balloon, Clay, Disfigured, Willow and Atomic). The result is below.

It is somewhat shorter than usual (less than 500 words), but I don’t think it would be wise to stretch the story in this format. The lack of context and speech tags requires a greater amount of focus by the reader, and we all know attention span is a scarce resource ;).

It turned out to be a very weird story, and an unusual take on the challenge (or so I hope).

Tell me what you think!

The Birth of a Hero

“Working late, I see …”

“The old man wants something brand new, and he wants it tomorrow morning.”

“Well, judging by that blank page in front of you, it is not going well. Tell me, what have you got?”

“All heroes need to overcome some kind of difficulty, right? So I thought I could make him a mute.”

“So you will replace each speech balloon with a thought balloon. It’s a one trick pony. It’s fun for a little while, but it will get old fast. And then you’ll have nothing.”

“Well, I can make a guy who suffered a freaky accident as a child and hides his disfigured face behind a clay mask.”

“Yes, and he lives underneath an opera house. Next!”

“How about a guy who is immortal? A guy that after his funeral rises from the grave?”

“Isn’t he a bit overpowered? How will that captivate the reader? Besides, someone has already done that, about two thousand years ago.”

“Overpowered … That gives me an idea. What if our hero has no superpowers or gadgets and only uses deceit and trickery?”

“Are you sure you want a politician in your comic?”

“Good point. We could try a fiery demon that spews fire and brimstone and is seeking redemption for its past crimes.”

“Just make sure his horns are sawed off. Oh, and don’t forget to call the legal department.”

“Point taken. I think we could do something symbolic. Something with a message. Like the ghost of an Indian warrior that rises to protect the sacred willow tree that rests at the bottom of the sacred canyon.”

“That’s a great idea, if you are trying to make a cheesy low-budget horror movie script.”

“Why not something classic? Something like being bitten by an atomic animal of some sort?”

“That’s a bit behind the times, isn’t it? I mean, look at today’s heroes. Everyone is getting reboots that replace the radioactive animals with genetically modified ones. I suppose splicing genes is sexier than splitting atoms these days. Besides, it’s predictable and ultimately boring. You can do better than that.”

“Hum … Do you have any ideas?”

“It’s almost midnight. I usually run out of ideas at half past five.”

“Shit. If I don’t have something in the morning, the old man is going to skin me alive. I’ll just go with my original idea: a dinosaur-riding pirate ninja robot from outer space that fights injustice and dispenses medical advice on the side.”

“Yeah. What could go wrong with that …”


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