Astro Jack

I’ve been in a bit of a writing funk, so I thought I’d put my mind toward a writing prompt. Virginia provided this gem for this month’s prompt contest:

Write a story poem or scene about someone discovering/becoming a superhero at the age of 32.

I thought this would be a fun opportunity to write a little bit about Astro Jack. I haven’t done much with Jack, but the basic concept behind him is that he’s basically the grandfather of the superheroic age in which all my other heroes live. He was the first big hero, the one who made it big and popular. Sort of the Superman of my ‘verse. Most of his adventures take place in the ’20s through the ’50s.

Aside from that basic concept, I haven’t really fleshed him out. So why not start now?

This is just a little bit, just a starting sketch. Maybe if I can get this blasted space western done I can move on to this afterward. Who is this Jack Martin, and what happened to him in the savage trenches of France?

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Jack Martin noticed that he stared at the stars differently now. Strictly speaking, the stars didn’t do anything different. But now he knew they stared back. Jack shook his head. Ridiculous thoughts. He lifted the dumpster lid and dropped in the trash bag. As he walked back toward the house, he scratched at his chest. It still ached a little.

Marian still sat at the dinner table, coaxing the baby to eat some mashed up green goop. Jack half-heartedly shifted some dishes around in the sink. The fan on the ceiling lazily stirred the air, but it was still hot.

“Don’t know how he eats that stuff,” Jack said. He tried a smile, but it didn’t fit him. “Our field rations were better than that.”

“Oh, it’s fine,” his wife made funny faces at the baby, their nephew, who didn’t look impressed. He squelched some mashed peas in his mouth and most of it dribbled onto his chest. Jack stared at the green smear for a second, then forced his gaze to the dishes.

Marian eventually got the baby to eat, or at least enough to satisfy her matronly instincts, and put the child to bed. She curled up alongside Jack on the couch. She stroked his hair. On the radio, Raymond Swing talked about the first meeting of the League of Nations in Paris. Jack tensed as Marian leaned close to softly caress his cheek with her lips. She drew back, her forehead wrinkling.

“I…I’m sorry, Jack,” she whispered. “It’s just…you’ve been back for a week and you’ve hardly touched me…I-”

“There’s nothing wrong,” he said, more harshly than he’d intended. He closed his eyes a moment and tried to relax. “I just…I feel like I’m sitting still, and the world keeps going. Or like I’m moving too fast, and the world can’t catch up.”

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