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Author Topic: EP348: Nemesis  (Read 4307 times)
eytanz
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« on: June 08, 2012, 02:24:08 AM »

EP348: Nemesis

By Nathaniel Lee

Read by Mat Weller

An Escape Pod Original!

---

It was the middle of second-period Spanish when I felt my cell phone go off in my pocket. Three pulses, then two. That meant one of my alerts had hit paydirt. I’ve got newsfeeds filtered for keywords, pairing “emergency” and the names of every local school and business I could think of, plus I got Kenny from sixth period computer Science to cobble together a kind of hack on the actual first responders’ radio channels. If my phone had gone off, then there was trouble.

If there was trouble, then the city needed Atom Boy.

So where was he?

Well, if I was in Spanish, then he was in History. No, wait, he’d dropped the AP course. Did he have some kind of math now instead? Crud. I had no idea. I’d lost our hero.

“Miss Ramsey?”

“Ahem!”

“Uh, um, I mean, uh, Señora Ramsey?”

” Sí, Quentin?”

“Yo, uh, yo poder uso el baño?”

“Puedo. Y sí, se puede. Andale.”

I clapped a hand over my pocket to keep my phone-bulge hidden and ran out of the classroom, careful to turn to the right as if I were heading for the boy’s room. A couple of months ago, that wouldn’t have been a bad idea; I’d discovered Adam’s secret when I walked in on him trying to get out of his tights at the end of fourth period. Which he’d missed, by the way, and I’d had to cover for him and pretend like I’d gotten a text from his mom about an emergency dental appointment.

Nowadays, I made him use the locked room in the old elementary school building, next door to the art room. I had a key because Mr. Adelaide trusted me to use it only to work on my project. I felt bad about abusing that trust, but I figure helping a superhero save the world every week counts as some sort of civic duty. I checked there first.

Adam was sitting at one of the old desks, his feet sticking out about a mile because it was designed for five-year-olds. He had his suit half on. His pale chest was bare, exposing those three wispy little curls that he was so proud of. He didn’t look up when I came in.

“Adam? What’s wrong?”

“I’ve lost my powers.” His voice was dull, his eyes unfocused. He sounded grim and deadly serious.


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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jenfullmoon
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« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2012, 11:36:37 AM »

I like that this story didn't end in the way I was expecting it to.
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InfiniteMonkey
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« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2012, 07:34:00 PM »

First of all, thanks for a month of superheroes. I've had a rough couple months, and (hopefully) this will help. Do I detect a new Union Dues story in the offing as well?

As for story, I really liked the sweetness of it, the coming-of-age of the superhero sidekick (and that is essentially what the narrator is), and all the angst and awkwardness of adolescence. I also liked that he was an "art kid".
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schizoTypal
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« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2012, 05:45:04 AM »

Count me in on hoping for a new Union Dues!

I also saw the generic coming-of-age story retold as through as superhero side-kick's view. There also seemed to be a lot of anger and frustration expressed throughout, and I found myself caring quite a lot about the narrator. All in all, the story didn't seem to be particularly complex or out there, just a classic tale told through new eyes. I liked it.
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matweller
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« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2012, 11:54:36 AM »

This story blew in so many ways...
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flashedarling
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« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2012, 08:18:16 PM »

I like that this story didn't end in the way I was expecting it to.

That is exactly the same reason I liked it. I was waiting for the narrator to turn bad due to his jealousy and isolation. Sympathetic villian origins are just so played out. When he ended up deciding to give up his powers and just go be normal I was really happy.
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schizoTypal
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« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2012, 09:38:23 PM »

This story blew in so many ways...

Care to expand on that? Like ... well, by saying anything at all?
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Scattercat
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« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2012, 10:30:40 PM »

This story blew in so many ways...

Care to expand on that? Like ... well, by saying anything at all?

I think he was trying to make a pun on the color of Adam's powers.
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Coolbreeze44105
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« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2012, 10:51:36 AM »

 Grin
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Coolbreeze44105
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« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2012, 10:55:56 AM »

 Grin

Liked it. The whole character arc was good, from wimpy side kick to potential super villain with the discovery of the mystery device worked well on many levels. I especially liked the thinking ahead of what the girl's reaction might be to a superhuman show of power. That was insightful writing.

I liked that the super hero character was clueless. I think many superheroes are preoccupied with other things such that the mundane aspects of life (homework, high school crushes, etc.) evade them completely. It's not their fault. They're just in a different place in their development.

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Kaa
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« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2012, 03:29:11 PM »

I really enjoyed this one. I liked the high school angst played under the kids having superpowers. The clueless superhero and the only slightly less clueless potential supervillain who gets diverted from what we think is his impending fate/doom by ... the kiss of the girl he likes. Loved his self-reflection on how he could get her attention by doing all the stupid boy-stuff of 'look how powerful I am' or 'look what I can do,' and finally clued in on the fact that he didn't need to impress her by blowing stuff up or flying but just by being himself.

I think I might like to see more stories set in this universe.
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Scattercat
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« Reply #11 on: June 10, 2012, 04:18:30 PM »

Well, it's not explicitly the same universe (in that there's no shared names or events), but my other superhero story, "As Fast As You Can" is still available in full at Daily Science Fiction's website.  That one's a little darker overall.  I think of it as my "comic book world" in a Marvel/DC/Astro City kind of way.
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Kaa
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« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2012, 05:51:52 PM »

I like that one, too. Smiley
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I invent imaginary people and make them have conversations in my head. I also write.

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matweller
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« Reply #13 on: June 11, 2012, 08:13:10 AM »

This story blew in so many ways...

Care to expand on that? Like ... well, by saying anything at all?
I was just teasing to make sure Nathaniel's head didn't get to big from all the worthy praise he would be receiving for this story, while being self-depricating about my narration at the same time. Wink

In all seriousness, I loved the story. It was engrossing, detailed enough to be interesting and not so detailed that the story suffered as a result. It was perfectly suited for this format.
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HoopyFreud
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« Reply #14 on: June 12, 2012, 12:01:06 AM »

Anyone care to explain that last paragraph, during which the narrator says:
Quote
Maybe that was part of the test, to see if Atom Boy was worth inducting into the ranks of the real superheroes.
I have no idea what it even.
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Cutter McKay
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« Reply #15 on: June 12, 2012, 04:17:19 PM »

This story had me for about 90%. The characters were fun, the writing was witty and engaging. I laughed aloud several times, (note that I have to say 'aloud' because I can't stand the phrase 'Laugh Out Loud' anymore). In all, it's a well written and fun story. Props to Nathaniel.

However, the ending killed it for me. I think it was at about the '10:00 left' mark on my iPod, when I realized that there wasn't enough time left in the story for any kind of reversal. The kid really was just going to get the girl. It's not that I don't like happy endings, I do. But when they're so fairytale that I'm left with the sickly-sweet blue aftertaste of Atom Boy's energy surge, it's too much for me. No way does the poor, shy, art geek get the hot girl in the end. It never happens. I know. If she is so in to him, where has she been all these years, playing hard to get? I think the story could work if he managed to win her over with his art and his personality right then, while in the forest, but to have her pretty much just throw herself at him out of nowhere, because she's loved him all along, was anti-climactic to me. Shoot me with the gizmo.

That said, I'm thrilled for Superhero Month and can't wait to see what else is in store for us.
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timprov
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« Reply #16 on: June 13, 2012, 07:03:02 AM »

I'm glad the story didn't go where I thought it was going to, the best friend turns into arch enemy (which is what I thought was going to happen) but, at the same time, I wish there was a just a little more depth in the turn around.  I understand the power of girls at that age but still, his jealousy toward Adam was getting pretty serious, at least he could have kept the device just in case. 
But, that's a nit pick, as it was this story was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed it a lot. 

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matweller
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« Reply #17 on: June 13, 2012, 08:35:04 AM »

But he did keep the device. He didn't turn it in, he didn't tell Adam about it, and only he knows where it is. I think that's one of the best parts of the story -- the sinister and honorable are both left hanging out there as possible for future episodes. People in general--kids especially--turn emotions 180' on a dime. No hormone-addled freak is going to feel the same way for long. This is a wonderful intro to a whole comic series...someone illustrate for this dude right now!
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timprov
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« Reply #18 on: June 13, 2012, 09:31:06 AM »

Quote
But he did keep the device. He didn't turn it in, he didn't tell Adam about it, and only he knows where it is

That's true, but I got the impression it would eventually be found by Adam, still, good point. 
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InfiniteMonkey
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Clearly, I need more typewriters....


« Reply #19 on: June 13, 2012, 09:49:44 AM »

No way does the poor, shy, art geek get the hot girl in the end. It never happens. I know.

I agree completely.

But I wouldn't have it any other way.  Cheesy
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