Characters: Edgar Frog, Alan Frog, Sam Emerson
Synopsis: What super power would you want to have? It's a question every comic
book fan asks at some point in their lives...
“I'd be Superman, obviously,” Sam said. “He's super strong, he can fly, x-ray vision... there's not a lot the guy can't do.”
“Yeah well, I can tell you don't have his super hearing, Sam,” Edgar told him. “I said what super power, not super hero. You're only allowed to pick one.”
“Oh, right.” Sam frowned thoughtfully, glancing around the store for inspiration. The covers of a hundred different titles displayed a thousand different possibilities in paper and ink. “Well, right now I'd probably go for controlling the weather.”
Outside, the summer downpour was bouncing off the surface of the suddenly deserted boardwalk. The few people still outside sprinted away, still clad in their shorts and bikini tops, sandals kicking up a spray of water in their wake as they attempted to find shelter. The usually blue sea beyond had grown suddenly as gray and foreboding as the clouds in the sky. Only a few minutes earlier, there had been blue skies and sunshine.
“Although, maybe someone already did that,” he added.
“Yeah,” Edgar agreed. “I think Storm's pissed about something.”
Alan, standing nearby as he arranged the new comics on the display shelf, shook his head. “Controlling the weather might be fun, but it wouldn't be very useful in a fight,” he said. “I guess you could throw a lightning bolt or something in the right direction, but you'd probably end up burning down half the town in the process.”
“I dunno, Sam's got pretty decent aim,” Edgar said, “Have you seen him with a bow and arrow? I think he could pull it off. You on the other hand, Alan, maybe not.”
Sam turned away to grin, thrilled at the compliment but not wanting to make it too obvious. “Plus,” he added seeing an opportunity to gain extra hunter kudos, “Storm can fly. That'd put me on a more level playing field with the vampires.”
“I said one power, dumb-ass,” Edgar told him. “You don't get to be Storm any more than Superman.”
“Oh, yeah.” Sam turned back to the conversation, the complement now negated, and hoped that the warmth he could feel on his cheeks hadn't translated into a visible blush. “Sorry.”
“So what would yours be?” Alan asked, directing the question at Edgar.
“Super strength,” Edgar said immediately, not even taking a second to think. “No vampire would ever be able to beat me.”
Alan shook his head again, folding his arms and looking at his brother as though waiting for him to realize something.
Puzzled, Edgar glanced at Sam as though he might be able to provide an explanation. Sam shrugged in reply.
“What?” Edgar asked eventually.
“Hunting is about skill, not strength,” Alan said. “I mean, yeah it'd be useful, but vampires are way stronger than us and we still managed to beat them. Besides, what's the point in being super strong if a lucky punch can still knock you out?”
“The point is to be able to beat the vampires in a fight even if they manage to disarm you. Without weapons, we're helpless against them and I don't know about you, Alan but I don't like that.”
“Invulnerability would be better,” Alan said. “Even if a vampire gets close enough to put its fangs in you, it wouldn't be able to. Even if you're completely unable to fight, it can punch and scratch and bite all night and it wouldn't be able to hurt you.”
Sam nodded. “He's got a point, Edgar.”
“Yeah, so does my best stake, but it doesn't make a whole lot of sense when you talk to it either.” Edgar shook his head. “Defensive powers are great, but only when they come with offensive ones.”
Sam smirked, “Offensive powers? Like the ability to make people's clothes fall off or something?”
“No, like the power to inflict a bit of damage. There's no point being invulnerable if the vampires can still capture you. So they can't bite you, so what? There's nothing stopping them biting themselves and forcing you to drink their blood. Then what would you have? A vampire that's impossible to kill. And you wouldn't even be able to stake yourself to stop it happening. Great idea.”
“You're just pissed because my idea was better than yours,” Alan told him, and went back to arranging the comics while Edgar tapped his pen repeatedly on the order pad for next week.
Outside, the rain had slowed to a drizzle and blue was beginning to re-emerge from behind the clouds.
Sam found his eye drawn to an old issue of the Uncanny X-Men that someone had left on top of one of the back issue boxes. “How about telepathy?” he asked. “I don't know about you guys, but I'd love to know what's going on in some people's heads.” He glanced quickly at Edgar, prime example number one, and then away again before his friend could notice and start to wonder what the look meant.
“Actually,” Alan said, “that's not a bad idea.”
“It's not?” Sam said, surprised. He thought it was a great idea, but he hadn't expected either of his friends to agree. It wasn't exactly a fighting power.
Alan nodded. “You could always be one step ahead of the enemy, you'd know what they were going to do before they did it; which way they were going to move in a fight; who their next victim was going to be. You could even mind control them, make them stake themselves.”
Now it was Sam's turn to shake his head. “Nah ah,” he said. “Mind control is a different power. Right?” he glanced at Edgar for confirmation.
Edgar considered it, and nodded once. “Yeah, telepathy is reading minds. Mind control is something else.”
“Do you think a vampire's minds work like a human's though?” Alan mused. “Would telepathy work on them?”
“If it didn't, you'd be able use it to tell who was a vampire,” Edgar said. “Just carry a stake everywhere and use it on anyone whose mind you can't read.”
“Maybe the ability to tell the future would be better,” Alan said. “Just a few seconds would be enough, you'd still know what the enemy was going to do in a fight whether they were a vampire, a werewolf, a ghoul or whatever.”
Sam frowned, shaking his head. “What if you looked into the future and you found out the vampire was about to kill you?” he asked.
“Then you'd dodge,” said Edgar. “That's the point.”
“If you could. It depends on whether the future can be changed. Some TV shows and comics say it can, some say it can't. There's not much point knowing what's going to happen if there's nothing you can do about it.”
Edgar made a kind of low growl in the back of his throat. His trademark sign of frustration. “You know, Sam, sometimes you're too smart for your own good.”
That one might have been a compliment, or it might not. Sam decided that it was, and glanced away again to enjoy it.
“I know,” Edgar said. “What about immunity to becoming a vampire?”
Alan hit him with an perfect sneer. “Immunity? I don't know, it sounds a bit like a defensive power, don't you think? You wouldn't really want one of those, would you?”
“At least this one doesn't run the risk of making a truly immortal vampire.”
Alan shrugged. “Fine. Immunity to becoming a vampire. Sounds good.”
“Good choice.” Sam said, nodding his approval. Finally they had found something they could all agree on. “Doesn't Blade have that power?” he added.
Both Edgar and Alan's eyes widened as they turned to look at him, at each other and then back at Sam. “What?” Edgar said.
“Blade. You know, the vampire hunter. I'm sure he does. I guess it's because he's already part... uh...” he broke off, noting the almost identical expressions of disgust on the faces of his two friends. “...vampire...” he finished, swallowing.
“Um,” Edgar tapped his fingers in a fast rhythm on the desk in front of him. “You know what Alan, maybe you're right. I don't want a defensive power. You can have that one, I'll choose something else.”
“No way,” Alan told him. “It was your idea, you keep it. I'll think of a different one.”
Sam watched the exchange with confusion. “You don't get to be the character, remember?” he said.
“I still don't want a vampire power,” Alan said.
Edgar nodded vehemently. “Yeah, me neither.
“Suit yourselves,” Sam told them. “You do know we don't really get the power, right?” He sighed, shaking his head. “You guys take this stuff way too seriously.”
Silence fell, the discussion killed in its tracks. Alan turned back to his task of displaying the new comics, Edgar to tapping his pen on the order sheet. Sam reached idly over and swiped a comic from the top of Alan's pile, opened it and began to read.
“So,” he said after a few moments. “Who do you think would win in a fight, Superman or the Hulk?”