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When a Bunch of People, Including Raymond, Got Superpowers

Luc Reid writes fiction, non-fiction, and plays from his home in Vermont, where he lives with his wife, Janine, and their three children. He's a Zen Buddhist, an amateur musician, and a black belt in Taekwondo. He is also obsessed with finding ways to make a positive impact on the climate.

Luc's fiction has appeared in Writers of the Future volumes XIX and XX, Daily Science Fiction, Abyss & Apex, Escape Pod, Nature, and other venues. He's also the founder of the online writers' group Codex.

His current books include a new, expanded, and illustrated edition of Talk the Talk: The Slang of 67 American Subcultures (lucreid.com/ttt); a YA novel about curse-keeping in a small town in Vermont, Family Skulls (lucreid.com/FamilySkulls); and Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories (lucreid.com/bam), which covers topics like Cinderella's divorce, talking pie, breaking a friend out of Hell, hydras in zoos, disco zombies, and dinosaurs inventing the steam engine. His Web site is lucreid.com.

There was this bunch of people, like maybe fifteen or sixteen of them, who just out of the blue suddenly got the superpowers of their choice. Raymond chose the power to make really delicious food that's also good for you.
Some of the other new superpeople laughed when they heard his choice. "Ha ha!" said Laser Eyes Guy. "Mom power!"
"That's not what your mom said her power was last night," said Strength of a Million Strong People Man, just before Laser Eyes Guy fried him to a crisp. Strength is not the same as constitution, as any D&D player can tell you.
"Steve!" cried Laser Eyes Guy in dismay. Then, while weeping, he accidentally melted and then blew up his own car.
By the way, this is before they all came up with their cool supernames. Well, not all of them. Raymond just stuck with "Raymond."
Anyway, Raymond threw a party and made some really delicious food that's also good for you. Only three people came (including Laser Eyes Guy's mom, who truth be told really was a bit of a floozy) but all three of them had their socks knocked off by Raymond's spinach bean bites and strawberry meringue bread. They also felt so great after leaving that they went out and had more fun. They additionally told all kinds of people about Raymond's amazing party.
Raymond's next party was a bit more crowded. There were fourteen people there. He joked that he'd have to stop throwing parties because his apartment was too small. The next day, one of those fourteen people, who owned a business that made blades for meat slicers, paid for Raymond to have a much bigger apartment just so he could keep throwing parties. This was happening just as Raymond's muffin cart business was really taking off.
Raymond's third party had forty-seven people at it, including a bunch of people Raymond didn't know, including a compact, fit, funny, brilliant, sweet-tempered gourmet named Gene. Gene, as it turns out, was Raymond's soul mate. They made some really funny jokes about this when they found out, but I only know they were really funny because I saw them laughing so hard (and so sweetly) at the party. I have to tell you, by the way, that the spirulina puffs there were to die for.
Laser Eyes Guys was at the party too, but he'd had to gouge out his own eyes by then, which is a terrible thing to happen to anyone, even if they do make fun of your main character just two sentences into your story. However, he was working the pity date scene and doing fairly well, so we shouldn't be too concerned about him.
Mr. Invisible lost all of his friends because they became convinced he was spying on them all the time, whereas in reality he was only spying on the couple of his friends who were attractive women.
Time Turner actually did pretty well with her power until she accidentally let slip a few details of her parents' divorce when she was visiting 1964. Then she was never born, which would have been a very instructive lesson for her if she had ever been born to learn it.
Super Flyer was very happy with his power. I mean, yes, he had to buy expensive winter camping gear to fly in so that he would be warm enough, and he got bugs in his face sometime, but seriously, being able to fly is awesome. At least, it's awesome as long as you don't bring anybody up with you and drop them, as he learned the comparatively easy way when his iPhone fell out of his pocket at 1,500 feet.
The Cure changed her name (her regular name, not her supername) and fled into obscurity when she realized that despite how wonderful it is curing people of disease, injury, and old age, people can be really demanding about you doing that to them, and also somebody has to die sometime if we're not going to smother the planet in people. Hell, even with people dying at the regular speed, we're still on our way to smothering the planet. Too late, The Cure realized that the power she actually would have liked to have was sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. If anybody gets the chance, please take that power. As it is, we're kind of screwed.
Raymond had to eventually close his muffin business because he was getting too famous, which was making it difficult to spend as much time as he wanted with Gene. They adopted a baby girl whom they accidentally raised to never leave home even when she grew up because she could never stand to eat food except for her dad's. When Raymond passed away, she almost starved to death until she discovered Nutella. Until she reconciled herself to normal food, there were some other medical issues for a while, as you can imagine.
This all goes to show that if you're suddenly able to choose a superpower, you should totally choose something that will make you happy. It should be a simple choice, but we don't seem to be wired for it, you know?
I think I'm going to have another spirulina puff and think that over some more. When my turn comes, I want to be ready.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, February 16th, 2015

Author Comments

This story, and Raymond with it, appeared on my screen as I was just trying to jot down the idea. It struck me that superpower choices as a rule tend to the martial and the cosmic, which I think reflects some confusion about what really matters in our lives. Yet if I really understood this point properly, would I be thinking about superpowers at all? I sometimes suspect I hold myself back from being a better person just because being a slightly worse person is more interesting.

I continue to be intrigued by the idea of really useful superpowers: like the ability to pick perfect romantic partners or automatically qualify for all discounts and free passes... well, you can already tell you're likely to hear more of this nonsense from me in the future. I'm curious what really useful superpower you'd choose.

By the way, if you're interested in more stories about people suddenly getting superpowers, I recommend Mistfits (available on Hulu Plus and sadly nowhere else I know of), even though it sometimes falls short of what it could be and loses its compass by the end of the series. Warning: the show gets a little rough and inappropriate from time to time. Warning #2: zombies!

- Luc Reid
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