Last night I was playing around with a little flash piece about a super-speedster. I’m not sure it’s working out, and I think maybe the point of view is the problem. I think this might be too introspective and too slow for a character defined by speed. It feels like it should have more energy. I started off like this because I imagine the world must seem like a very slow, still place to someone who exists between the seconds. Anyway, here’s a section of it. I may actually finish it like this, then as an experiment write it in the third person, just to see the difference. I also have a tendency, in first person, to stray into present tense, which is just irritating.
I’m not so sure about his name, either, but that’s another matter. Less than 500 words.
Shotguns were tricky. I counted twenty pellets. I would almost have to hurry.
Six years ago, I was fascinated with how a bullet looked in flight. There’s a spark as it exits the barrel. The bullet spins and spins. I used to walk around them, checking the bullets out from every angle. They’re quite hot. At first I would just push them a little off course, direct them into the nearest wall or up toward the sky. The first time I tried to actually stop a bullet, by snatching it out of the air, I sliced my hand open. I guess it’s sort of like jumping out of a falling elevator at the last second and expecting to survive. Took me weeks to figure out I needed to match the velocity first. But even that’s a pain – bullets travel at different speeds depending on the gun and the type of bullet. Not to mention that if I slowed down to just a thousand meters per second, I might be seen. I just wore heavy gloves now. Who knew hyperkinetic physics could be so complicated?
The novelty eventually wore off. I deflected dozens of bullets a week. Once you’ve seen one, eh? Occasionally I almost slowed down enough to let the bad guys see me, but thought better of it. Every gunman in the city thought he was a terrible shot. None of them knew The Quickness slipped among them. When I pushed a child out of the way of a careening truck, that was the wind, or simply a miracle. Whenever I funneled a fire harmlessly into the sky, that was some bizarre microburst occurrence. Or a miracle. There were apparently a lot of religious folk in this town.
I swept in front of the young girl at whom the shotgun had been triggered. Her face had only just started to register the shock of the event. Muscles slowly rippled beneath the skin of her arms as she instinctively began a cringe. Her eyelids began to droop, and her lips peeled back across clenching teeth. I’d seen this expression a thousand times. You know when someone takes your picture at the worst possible moment? In the middle of taking a bite, or just before a sneeze? That’s how I saw people. All. The. Time. Thankfully, hilarious expressions never get old.
I swept the bullets together into a tight clump and shoved them just a few inches from the fresh fruit. In a fraction of a second they would shred some innocent watermelon.
The gunman was one of three, and wore a black mask. Beyond the frayed edges of the eyeholes, young terrified eyes flinched at the kick of his shotgun. His comrades stood at the nearby register. One shoved at the manager, another held a bag open for the cashier, who obligingly stuffed it with cash. I planned to be gone before they even heard the sound of the shotgun.