Plugs

She didn’t understand why I had wanted to go to college. She thought I ought to be out there. A special boy like me, finally using his specialness for good. “Don’t be so shy,” she’d hiss, pushing me toward the burning building. “Go save the nuns. Go on!” But I could never do it. Not when everyone was looking at me. Wasn’t that what fire fighters were for?

She figured, once I was 18, once I was a mature adult, I would see that I was put here on earth for a purpose. I wouldn’t hide my light under a bushel any more. Maybe college would just be a phase. She clicked her tongue against her teeth every time she came home and saw me sitting on the couch, when she turned on the news and saw that North Korea still had nuclear weapons, that trains still derailed, that small children everywhere were trapped under various cars.

I said, “What am I supposed to do? There’s no ‘Superhero’ section in the Classifieds.” And she sighed in that disappointed way and waved her hands around her head. She looked old and tired in her nurse’s uniform. She said, “Haven’t I taught you anything? Haven’t I taught you how to make your own way in the world? To forge your own path? When your father left us, didn’t I take care of everything?”

I had to agree there. She had. And I lifted heavy rocks for her, and took care of the gutters—I didn’t need a ladder, and I wasn’t afraid of falling. I cleaned out the sewage drain, because I could hold my breath indefinitely. My x-ray vision found her missing earring; my superspeed saved her cat. And I washed the dishes after dinner, never breaking a single one. But I think the only reason she didn’t kick me out of the house was because she was afraid I’d kill her with my heat vision.

“I got an A on my midterm,” I said, almost hopefully.

“You’re wasting your gifts,” she said. She took the remote and turned off the television.

“I want to be a marine biologist,” I said quietly.

She pursed her lips. “At least you might save a whale,” she said, and went to her room. I don’t care what anyone says–disappointment is way worse than a super villain.

The old Lightcrafter shifted his wands moodily, propelling the illusion of a pirouetting girl back and forth across a weathered stone by the river. Young Cvoa shifted his own wands, although nothing additional appeared in front of them.

“It’s all worthless,” murmured the old man. “You should give up lightcrafting and find an honest trade. Shadow and glimmer, lies and the hollow promises, that’s all it is.”

“Please, not this again,” said Cvoa. “Teach me something new.”

The old man didn’t seem to hear. “When I was your age, I thought the illusions were just the beginning. That’s the way it feels, eh? Just a prelude to something marvelous around the corner. Well, there is no corner, boy. Just a wandering path that ends in a desert.”

Cvoa finally gave up. When the old man started in like this he would sometimes go on for hours. Cvoa stared off into the broken bits of sunlight that shimmered on the surface of the river and let his wands drop–making the old man disappear.

Luc Reid

“Rumpelstiltskin. Final answer.”

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When the Princess married the pirate Bluebeard, he warned her never ever to open a certain door. And she didn’t.

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“A Kevlar sock?” said Achilles. “Cool!”

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Witches proving to be a more durable building material than gingerbread, Hansel and Gretel were soon millionaire contractors with ties to the Mafia.

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“My, what a big schlong you have, Grandmother,” Red Riding Hood said, triggering the proofreader’s seizure.

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When Paul Bunyan was born, he weighed a hundred pounds. Oh, his poor, poor mother.

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“Go ahead,” said Lot to his wife. “Look back. See if I care.” So of course she didn’t.

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That night, the lion caught the soon-to-be-late mouse sticking thorns into the paws of the rest of his pride.

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“I’m going to have to let all of you go. There are elves willing to work cheaper in a sweatshop overseas.”

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The princess tossed; the princess turned. Finally she rolled off the soaring stack of mattresses and broke her neck.

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“Here is my curse. On her eighteenth birthday she will prick her finger on an iPod headphone jack and die.”

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And when the cat said, “A cat may look upon a king,” he was burned as a witch’s familiar.

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“First wish, bring me every other item or being capable of granting wishes, with complete instructions.”

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To pass the Sirens, Odysseus was tied to the mast while his men put melted beeswax in their ears. After a trip to the emergency room, his men were treated and released.

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“Frogs legs! We eat tonight,” said the princess.

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When Babe the Blue Ox was born, his mother exploded.

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Someone’s been sleeping in my bed. And she tasted <i>just</i> right.

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He wasn’t even a very pretty swan.

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