This story began as a response to the latest Flash Fiction Challenge from Terrible Minds, but it didn’t go where it was supposed to go. The genres were supposed to be superhero and conspiracy thriller, and the required elements were a bottle of rare liquid and a perilous journey. Most of that got totally lost. Here’s to not following the rules:
“But I’m a Superhero!”
“‘You’re going to need braces,’ he says to my mom, all calm and collected like he’s not scared I’m going to punch him through a wall. I’ve never wanted to break the code so badly in my life!” Shawna grabbed a chunk of granite and squeezed it to sand while her cousin Alison lounged on a nearby boulder and smirked.
“Oh yeah, your life is so hard; cutting class to save lives, being awarded medals and the keys to – how many cities is it again?”
“Thirteen and a half.”
“Yeah, Spokane wanted to award me and Roddy both for that Sasquatch incident and you know what happens when that little assbite has to share the spotlight.”
Alison rolled her eyes.
“Of course. So, you need braces, it’s not like anyone’s going to dare tease you about it. Was that all you flew me up to this mountaintop for?”
“Maybe.” Shawna sighed, blowing Alison’s hair back in a gust. “Oops, sorry.”
“Whatever. Come on, if we leave now, we can make it back before dinner.” Alison stood up and gave Shawna a hug before hopping on her back. “Giddyap!”
“If you say that one more time, I swear I’ll drop you in the Grand Canyon!”
Saw this ad and thought of your issue – you can take the pain, so why not get things done quick?
Shawna clicked the link and gasped. Orthodontics for Super People! No way! Why hadn’t Doc Quigley mentioned this option?
“Mom!” Shawna yelled, shaking the house on its foundation.
“Modulate your voice, dear,” her mother said when she came to the door.
“Mom, look! One visit and they’ll have my teeth straightened and I won’t have to wear braces, please, please, pretty please with sugar on top?”
Her mother scanned the website over Shawna’s shoulder.
“They’ll have to put you under general anesthetic. I’m not sure I like the sound of that. They might not even be able to knock you out with the constitution you have.”
“Can’t we just visit them?”
“I suppose it won’t hurt- oh!” Shawna picked her mother up and twirled her around the room.
“Young lady, put me down.”
Shawna did, smiling so hard that the room was noticeably brighter.
Shawna flew her mom’s car over two states for the appointment. Shawna and her mother entered a dusty looking office building. The business listing in the lobby had more blanks than offices. Insurance, lawyer, lawyer, accountant and the offices of C. Soto, DDS, MS, room 211.
The door from the hall opened directly into the doctor’s office. Framed diplomas and certificates vied for wall space with pictures of toothy white smiles in beaming young faces.
“Welcome, hello, hello. You must be Shawna. I’ve read so much about you- so many exploits for one so young. Truly, you are super, my dear. And I will help you have a super smile to go along with your super abilities, yes? Please, sit,” said the doctor, a small woman wearing dark framed glasses. Her accent was faint, just tinging her words with the music of another native tongue. Shawna noticed that she dyed her hair, but it wasn’t to cover gray. Instead, Shawna’s penetrating vision discovered blonde locks under the seriously dark hair.
“We haven’t actually decided yet,” her mother said, clearing her throat. “This is just a consultation. I’m particularly interested in what kind of sedative you think will allow you to work on her.”
“Oh, that, my dear, is the beauty of it. There will be no need for a special sedative. I have a technique that will allow me to manipulate the girl’s energy levels in such a way as to allow her to respond to normal drugs. Proprietary, of course, so you understand I cannot go into specifics.” Dr. Soto smiled. Shawna didn’t like her smile. It seemed to make the room darker.
She tuned out as her mother started asking her motherly questions. The more they spoke, the less comfortable Shawna she felt. All the answers were fine, right, perfect. And her mother was nodding. Wasn’t that good?
“Just sign here, and we can get started right away, yes?”
Before the ink could even dry, Dr. Soto whisked the paper away and pressed a button on her phone.
“Sugar, come get Shawna Petersen prepped.”
“Prepped?” Shawna said. “Now?”
An even smaller woman wearing scrubs that matched canary yellow curls walked in and led Shawna away from her nodding smiling mother. This is what I wanted, Shawna thought. I’m not going to get braces. She smiled, but it wobbled and slid off her face as she ran her tongue around the crookedness of her teeth, the small gap to one side on the top that had always bugged her.
Sugar led her to a small room with a dental chair and gestured for her to sit. Shawna looked at the room. There was something wrong. The ceiling was too low. The walls didn’t quite fit.
“Please have a seat,” Candy said. “The doctor will be with you shortly.”
“You like working for Dr. Soto?”
Sugar walked to the door and pressed an intercom button.
“Spice, please come to room 1.”
A woman who could have been Sugar’s twin walked through the door a moment later, dressed exactly the same, but with hair a lighter shade of blonde. They joined hands and stepped over to Shawna, using their free hands to push her down onto the chair and hold her there.
Shawna felt her body grow heavy the moment they touched her. She blinked, though it shouldn’t have surprised her that someone planning to treat supers would employ nulls. But just because they were touching her didn’t mean that normal drugs would be able to knock her out.
Dr. Soto walked through the door and ignored Shawna on her way across the room. The walls recessed and revealed a large machine to Shawna’s right. Pumps thumped and liquids swirled and swished through rainbows of glass piping. A metal halo was attached on an arm that Dr. Soto swung over Shawna’s head.
“In three, two, one,” she said. At one, the nulls let go of Shawna and stepped back. Shawna felt a strike of vertigo lance her skull, shifting her vision to a double view for a moment before sliding back into focus. She felt dizzy as Sugar and Spice proceeded to hook an IV needled in her arm. Before she could recover from the zap, the room went dark.
“It’s time to wake up!” Alison slapped Shawna’s cheeks.
“Where am I?” Shawna asked. She blinked, but her vision stayed blurry.
“I, I, I, me, me, me, that’s all you ever think about isn’t it? How can I save the orphans from the burning building? How can I prevent massive flooding in Calgary? How can I get my stupid crooked teeth fixed without having to wear braces? Selfish little bitch.”
Shawna tried to sit up, but found herself bound by straps at wrists, ankles and waist. Leather straps. She should be able to snap those with hardly a thought, but… something was wrong.
“What’s happening?” she asked, blinking rapidly. There was a light overhead shining right in her face. She couldn’t see the rest of the room.
“It isn’t about what’s happening, bitch, but about what’s happened. Feeling a little off, are we? A little weak? Mortal, perhaps? Don’t bother answering; you might strain yourself.” Alison slammed a fist down on Shawna’s midsection, forcing the air out of her lungs. Shawna struggled to breathe, going red and then purple before she could get air to whoosh back into her starved body.
“Carmela was right. You’re just like me now,” Alison said into Shawna’s ear. “And that’s the way you’re going to stay.”