Tina Gibson, a fellow writer and poet, gave me a little editing, some advice, a neat story idea about boyfriend stealing, and a karate demonstration. Thank you, Tina. Guess who the Karate Queen resembles (except for the hair, Tina is blonde, and I prefer one blonde per story.)
I intend to have it edited, but for now, comments are very welcome.
SUPER HOLLY HANSSON IN: THE POET AND THE SUPERSPLAINER!
SEASIDE CITY, CALIFORNIA. THE APRICOT COMPUTER CAMPUS. THIRTY FEET FROM THE ENTRANCE TO THE APRICOT THEATER. A FRIDAY. 3:17 P.M.
Supersplain: Verb. Instruct a superhero (usually a female one) on how to perform every single detail of her job as though she’d never punched a supervillain, or saved a civilian, or even read a superhero comic book in her entire life! Usually performed by a male superhero, usually the Batman variety, and Super Holly Hansson gritted her teeth at how Cal “The Intellectual” Critbert was doing it as they raced through the Apricot theatre parking lot.
“Stay behind me Holly, the one who inpires fear must go first!” Cal’s grim voice in Holly’s audio-perfect Intellecta-earphone sent a shiver up her spine despite the bright warm day. And ooo, a quick smile at how his body armor shaped his buns!
Still, she was the Superman! “But I’m bulletproof!”
“So is my Intellecta-body armor!”
“I’ve got super-strength!”
“I have super-speed!”
“Only in short bursts … what are you doing?”
Holly landed behind Cal. He was hunched at the theatre door, his hands hidden by his black cape and cowl, so intense, so scary, so … Batman! He murmured dark-alley low, “Picking the lock.”
Holly preferred the direct approach. She smacked her palm on the door.
BAH-WHAMMM! Thick steel doors flew off their hinges.
Cal’s big brown eyes bored into Holly’s. “I calculate a 67.3 percent probability that our insurance rates will go up. Now let me analyze the battlefield.” He ran inside, his black cape billowing like a thundercloud about to engulf evildoers.
Holly used a touch of her telekinesis to put a little extra flutter into her red cape. Even with her lifetime of reading comic books and writing superhero stories, she still hadn’t adjusted to her new day job, while Cal slipped into the dark knight role with ease. Were movie critics more adaptable than writers? She levitated to peek over Cal, opening her eyes wider to adjust to dimmer light. “I’ll size up my own battles—”
Cal beat her to it with his quick-adjusting eyes and even quicker mouth: “Victims: check!” Unconscious reporters, security guards, and cops were stewn throughout the auditorium.
“Minions: check!” A couple dozen ninjas were charging at them. Ho hum.
“CEO with the lead supervillain: check!” Tall, slim, black-turtlenecked, and arrogant CEO Chris Jobz was kneeling by the center stage podium before a white karate-gi-robed lady. He held up to her his latest A-phone prototype. That was really weird!
Cal said, “You take the minions, I’ll take the Karate Queen.”
“Oh no, you don’t!” Holly flew over Cal and the charging ninjas and at the main event.
Cal barked, “Holly! The Karate Queen is a category ONE super!”
Category one? Capable of hurting her? Well, Holly could hurt army tanks! Still, she had alighted ten feet from the lady. And tugged at her blue supersuit’s rear, the last thing she needed now was a wedgie.
The Queen scratched Chris behind the ear, making him wriggle like a puppy. She was brunette, several inches shorter than Holly’s six-foot-one and about five years older than Holly’s mid-twenties. She smiled way too confidently at the mightiest super on Earth and chanted, “Just one of you against one of me? You abandon your partner with careless glee!”
“Does he look like he needs help?” said Holly. She and the Queen faced the buffalo herd rumbling in the auditorium.
Cal was a dark whirlwind tearing through the evil horde. BIFF! BOP! POW! KA-ZANG! An increasingly unhappy evil horde. “Ouch!” “Oof!” “Ugh! I thought this guy only had normal strength!”
Holly’s headset howled, “Eyes on your opponent!”
“All right, all right!” Holly gave the Karate Queen her complete attention. “Now stop petting the CEO and surrender.”
The martial arts mistress smoothly chanted to Chris, “Continue to unlock the A-phone, my boy, here’s a blonde Barbie that I shall destroy.”
Chris kissed her feet, MMWAH, MMWAH, MMWAH! “Yes, my goddess, yes!” He danced his fingers on the phone with Silicon Valley intensity.
Holly ground out, “This blonde can punch through battleship armor! If you don’t have super-strength, you better have super health insurance.”
Holly gave her best fear-inspiring glare, Cal having fine-tuned that in her during last week’s sparring lesson. Holly, hold nothing back, not your gaze, not your fists. You’ll subconsciously pull your punches with normal-strength people so you won’t pulp them. I know that, you know that, but villains need not know that!
The proud poet grinned. “My spiritual chi powers me. Does your super-strength hold up your triple-D’s?” She raised her arms in a karate pose, legs slightly bent, a come-get-some gesture with her right hand.
That was strike two! Holly’s face heated up. She got bust-line cracks from the paparazzi, now this kung-fu quack? She cocked her arm for a super right hook. “Talk—”
But before she could finish her “Talk to the hands” catchphrase, Cal’s command ice-picked her diamond-tough eardrum. “NEVER announce your upcoming move, this is NOT a comic book! FIGHT HER FROM A DISTANCE!”
“I wasn’t announcing!” Holly frowned. Cal, as a movie critic, should be okay with fighting banter! Oh well. Holly reached out as if to straight-arm clap. From her arms and hands extended giant transparent arms and hands. She’d see how super-telekinesis grabs her majesty!
The Karate Queen gave the most cursory of glances left and right at the two seven-foot-wide, transparent telekinetic hands surrondering her. She sighed, then …
She snap-kicked! Spun! Roundhouse kicked! Perfectly cat-quiet landed! And triumphantly smirked!
The giant hands rippled and vanished.
Holly flapped her flesh-and-blood hands as if chasing away wasps. “Ow, owww, OWWWITCH! Do you have any idea how much telekinetic feedback stings? HEY! LOOK AT ME!”
But the Karate Queen was ogling Cal tearing through the ninjas like J. Wellington Wimpy admiring a hamburger. “Your boyfriend brawls extremely well! Compared to him, your fighting smells!”
Holly reared up to her full height. The Queen did not look impressed. For the first time in her life, Holly wished she was wearing high heels. “Tell that to Harry Headbutt, or the hundred super soldiers I clobbered, or Dan Mann, or—”
BUMP WHUMP BUMPLE-THUMP! A ninja had been thrown onto the stage. He tumbled past Holly, sprawled at the Karate Queen’s side, and before he passed out, he coughed, “Medic.”
Chris drank the sight of his queen. “First layer of encryption gone, my goddess.” He boogied on the phone again.
Holly’s eyebrows shot up. What the heck had this martial mama done to him? She cocked for a left jab and a right hook. “Let’s see how your super-karate fares against my stronger-than-steel fists!”
Holly’s blood pressure shot up. “WHAT?”
“Do I have to?” But she reached into her yellow hip and again wondered how other supers carried their stuff. Except for Cal and his Intellecta-utility belt. She nodded to her opponent. “Gimme a moment. You can use it to edit your rhymes. Even though that stuff went out with Underdog cartoons.”
Karate Queen’s face flinched for an instant. Touchy about her poetry? Or maybe jealous of Holly’s writing success? The queen recovered fast and put her hands on her hips. “Certainly, Barbie, take your time, while I compose my superior rhymes.”
With a blue scrunchie, Holly tied her long blonde hair into a ponytail. “Cal’s been bugging me about my hair getting in the way during close combat. Most supers know to keep their hands off my hair if they want to stay healthy.”
The Karate Queen nodded sagely. “So he tells you how to fight. Does he think he’s always right?”
Holly boxer-bounced on the balls of her feet. Her fists orbited each other, revving up. “He’s super-intelligent. He’s my teacher and my sparring partner.”
Cal’s voice came so compassionate and caring that Holly came close to falling for it. “Holly, please, let’s trade places before you are hurt. There are still thirteen ninjas you can clobber.”
A couple of ninjas chimed in. “UGH!” “ERK!” PLOP. THUD.
Cal said, “Make that eleven.”
The queen kept her casual karate pose, ready to swat away a super fly. “He’s so tough, yet so talky! Methinks he could be a bit less bossy!”
Holly smiled ruefully. “Tell me about it. Yesterday I was making my lunch, and Cal instructed me on how to correctly cut my carrot strips.”
The villainess gasped in obvious gals versus guys sympathy. “He did? You kid!”
For the moment, Holly felt in tune with her. “Not kidding! When I asked him what difference does it make how I slice them, he gave me a two-minute lecture about exposing the maximum of the carrot’s cellular structure, thus,” Holly took on a condescending tone, “increasing its impact upon my taste buds by 86.7 percent!”
Karate Queen stroked her chin, her face thoughtful. “Over-precision can be quite a bother! But how to fix him?” She smiled like an evil sorceress, and not the ugly variety. “A better lover!”
Steam puffed out Holly’s nose. “He’s MY boyfriend!” She raised her fists and cocked her right leg. Pull her punches? Like hell she would!
Cal spoke fast. “Holly, I beg you, BACK OFF! I shall quicken my combat!” He did so. BIFF BAP BOP BAM WHAM!
Ninjas whined. “EEP, OOP, ORK, OW OW!”
Holly flew at the Karate Queen. And then wondered how that woman moved so FAST! In less than two seconds, a guarding block to Holly’s left forearm deflected her left hook, a knife-hand blow to Holly’s right ankle parried a roundhouse right kick, and a reedy body bend dodged Holly’s vicious head-butt, all of which put those gymnastic butt-kicking babes in the movies to shame. The Karate Queen’s glowing, darting hands reminded Holly of summertime fireflies. Another childhood summertime memory ruined.
Holly jabbed and kicked, snarled and growled, and missed, MISSED, MISSED! “Lemme land just one blow, you … you …” Insults boiled in Holly’s throat. She swallowed them and spat out the nastiest of all. “You William Topaz McGonagall clone!”
The Karate Queen reared back like a cobra and hissed. So, she knew of the worst poet in history! But her mongoose-fast hands continued to parry Holly’s every blow. Then she yawned. “Bored now.” She jabbed Holly’s right arm, leg, and ear. “Sore now?”
Invisible porcupines back-scratched Holly’s right limbs, which flopped into limp, wet noodle numbness. Holly backed off and levitated to keep from tipping over. “What the heck was THAT?”
The Karate Queen bowed deeply. “I struck your nerve clusters with super-chi power. You’ll throw no right hooks for about an hour.”
Cal sounded angry and heartbroken. “I calcualte fifty-three minutes, fourteen—” BZZZPP!
Holly’s earphone fell out and shattered on the floor. She silently mouthed at the Karate Queen, Thank you. She spoke aloud, turning toward the auditorium seats. “You win, Cal. Let’s switch.”
A dark shadow turned its back upon seven whimpering ninjas. They shuddered in unison at the FFFLOOOFFF of its dark shadowy cape.
Holly floated away from the Queen and toward the ninjas. As Cal somersault-leaped onto the stage, he slapped something onto Holly’s face.
Oh no, no, NO! The Apricot Goggles activated. Cal’s cowled, transparent face zoomed into Holly’s vision, a ghostly Batman head. “Testing, testing.”
Holly’s right limbs wobbled as she floated before the ninjas. “No advice, Cal, I can clobber minions with one arm tied behind—” Wait. She was one-armed already.
She glanced at the stage, where the dark-caped man and the white-robed woman were dueling propellers. She asked, “Cal, are you all right?”
“I did not utilize my Intellecta-gun, I calculate a 98.9 probability that you’d catch the projectiles and … I’m fine, Holly. Finish the ninjas. I’ll have her checkmated in 31.8 seconds.” His cowled, floating face in Holly’s goggles was Batman-grim. “Madam, keep your guard up on your left.”
Holly sighed. Always the teacher. She turned to the ninjas and shook her left fist. “I can bench-press an army tank with one hand. So—”
A ninja grabbed his head. “Ow! Your telekinesis!” He fell sprawling into an auditorium seat and shut his eyes. “It knocked me out!”
Huh? But Holly hadn’t … Oh! Who said henchmen were dumb?
The remaining ninjas pratfalled onto the floor and into auditorium seats like dominoes: THUD PLOP THUMP WHUMP PLOP PLOP! A flat-on-his-back ninja looked hopefully up at Holly. “Um, we’ll just lie here now?”
Holly lowered her fist and smiled benignly. “Sure, boys, take it easy.” Then a gasp turned her blood to ice.
Cal’s floating fearful face choked out, “Can’t move … due to unexpected brain-numbing super-karate blow!”
A victorious villainess went opera singer! “Lady kung-fu beats male kung-fu!”
Holly spun toward the stage, hissing at phantom razors slicing her right side.
Cal stood statue rigid. Karate Queen stroked his cheek with one finger, licked her lips, and purred into Cal’s face, “A better henchman I do crave! Prepare to become my lust-soaked slave!”
Holly freight-trained at the Karate Queen like a blonde missile with rubber right-side fins. “KEEP AWAY FROM HIM!”
First eyeblink: Karate Queen ducked a cannonballing telekinetic left fist! Second eyeblink: She parried a left-leg kick that could have shattered a safe! Third eyeblink: She slipped behind Holly!
A million icicles exploded from Holly’s spine and shrapnelled throughout her body. The floor swung up and clubbed her face. Her beaky super-nose dug a divot into the hardwood stage floor.
Holly tried to roll over. All lines from her brain to her body were tingly-numb busy. Except her face. She could only move her face. She moved her eyebrows together, moved her lips back to expose grinding teeth, and moved her face in every way she could think of to show that her blood was boiling.
The Karate Queen cooed, “Time you faced your utter defeat, only heartache shall you reap!” Like an amorous caveman, she grabbed Holly by her long blonde locks and dragged her to the front row of the auditorium. Holly could hear her body bump on the floor, but she could not feel it and she could not MOVE!
The happlily humming queen threw Holly’s dishrag body onto a front-and-center auditorium chair. She gently adjusted Holly’s posture, was she being polite? No, that vicious vixen was making sure that Holly had a perfect view of Cal! Holly locked her eyes on the villainess and growled like a rabid dog on an unbreakable chain.
The queen sweetly smiled down at her handiwork. “If looks could kill, I’d be sixty feet under. Now watch me tear his soul asunder.” She slinked to the stage, a seductive lioness about to dine.
Holly wished with all her soul that she had heat vision, or freezing breath, or even projectile snot! But no. Just super-strength, super-toughness, super-telekinesis, super-healing that was not kicking in, and … flight! She willed herself to fly, fly, fly … she rose … and plopped back into the chair. DAMMIT, DAMMIT, DAMMIT!
Chris Jobz slid on his knees toward his Queen and handed the A-phone to her. “An unencrypted gift for my goddess.”
The Queen pocketed the phone and stilled Jobz’s lovesick murmuring with a touch of her finger on his lips. She grabbed Cal’s head like a cat grabbing a mouse. Her ruby red lips glowed. “My darling, now taste my super-karate kiss! Watch closely Holly, this you don’t wanna miss!” She glommed hungrily into Cal’s mouth.
Cal’s floating face before Holly went desperate. “Mfff … foul temptrefff … won’t … luf you … luf … Holly … luf … luf …” The light in his eyes dimmed.
So weak! So helpless! SO MAD!!! Steam firehosed from Holly’s nose! She blinked. Her superpower was still there! But her telekinesis worked through pantomime, what the heck could she do, super-pout at the queen— THAT’S IT! But she had to time it JUST RIGHT! She yelled, “Hey, you stuck-up, mousey-brown, Xena-wanna-be! My graphic novel is a national bestseller, while your puny poems wouldn’t last five seconds in my writer’s critique group!”
The Karate Queen jerked head-to-toe, breaking the kiss. She turned her furious face toward Holly.
NOW! Holly stuck out her tongue: “BBNNNNNNNNN!”
The Karate Queen screetched, “YOU TAKE THAT BACK-KFFFFTTT!” as a titanic translucent telekinetic tongue torpedoed onto her kisser. Her head snapped back-forward- back-forward-back-forward like a punching bag. She swayed, then fell flat on her back. Her legs kicked up, twitched, and plopped onto the floor. GOT HER!
Cal looked like he was hanging on by mental fingernails. “Won’t … love … I … Holly …”
Holly blinked to clear her teary vision. Fly, c’mon, FLY … ow, ow, OWWW! Limply, agonizingly, she rose. Slowly, wobblingly, she drifted towards her beloved. At last, his breath puffed upon her lips.
She kissed him. Or rather, she lurched her body forward and mashed her lips on his.
Cal moaned, “You … luf … oh … Holly … lllllloooooovvvvvffffffmmmmmmm.”
After a long, loving time, Holly floated back to look deep into Cal’s eyes. “Are you okay?”
Like a half-Vulcan science officer, Cal raised his right eyebrow. Like a movie critic after feasting upon Casablanca, his eyes twinkled thankfully. “Your soulmate kiss jump-started my Intellecta-brain.” He took Holly’s limp hand and kissed it. “You saved me. Thank you.”
Holly pouted. She didn’t care for the worship in Cal’s deep brown eyes, even though his cowl made them so dreamy. “Okay. Now can you save me a few hours of super-healing? This pincushion numbness is killing me!”
Cal flexed his fingers like kung-fu scalpels. “Certainly. I have calculated the Intellecta-pokes to your nerves that will restore you. Don’t worry, our soulmate connection will prevent your super-toughness from harming my fingertips.” He moved behind Holly. “This will hurt a little. I’m sorry.”
She heard but did not feel the blows: THMMP BMMP FTTT POOMP! Burning needles leaped out of Holly’s body: “AAAHHHOOOOOOOWWWWW!” Then she stretched like a cat: “AHHHHHHH!” And gave Cal a hug. “You can thank me by letting ME calculate tonight’s date!”
Cal nodded. “Deviate from my plans? Yes, ma’am.” He looked toward Chris Jobz, who was weeping over the unconscious Karate Queen. “Two Intellecta-pokes to his head should restart his brain’s arrogance lobes.”
Holly giggled. “I thought you’d have to kiss him.”
THE SURFVILLE CINEMA. THEATER SEVEN. 7:37 P.M.
Cal noted that Holly raised the armrest between them even though the upcoming movie was not a cuddly one. He leaned at her and whispered, “I had planned to review the movie in theater four. ‘My Philosophical Autumn in Montegood Mansion.'”
Holly’s dark, knotting eyebrows telegraphed her dislike of “artst-fartsy” movies. But he had to admit, she had taught him a lot about waht was good and bad in the superhero genre. She whispered, “Review this one instead. Your readers love when you trash bad movies.”
Holly had insisted they dress in street clothes for the date. Didn’t stop people from recognizing them, but Holly’s hometown did not make a fuss over supers. The title zoomed onscreen in towering bloody letters, accompanied by a bombastic bass blast: CREEPY CRAWLING COLOSSAL SPIDERS IV: THE SUCKENING!
“But Holly, you hate spiders.” Last week, six super cops barely held back a clawing, kicking, howling Holly after Tarantula Man shot a gallon of webbing into her hair. Bennie the Rubber Cop said he’d never seen a perp beg to go to jail so fast.
Two teens—shirtless guy and ditzy girl—pranced onto the screen and into a dark forest. The ditz mewed, “Are there spiders out here? They’re like totally icky!”
Cal mentally composed his review, his Intellacta-memory recording it for later transcribing. Will dead teenager movies never die? Will idiot writers ever stop writing idiot scripts? This is a bad movie where it would NOT be more interesting to watch the actors having lunch, because the cheekbones are so impossibly high and the faces so smooth-skin vapid—I’m not talking about the actresses—that I suspect movie producers tossed Barbie dolls into the giant cauldron of bubbling DNA from which they scoop out the latest boy bands— HEY!
A car-sized spider had leaped across the screen in all its slimy-fanged glory. Audience girls had squealed. And Holly had grabbed Cal’s arm and buried her face in his shoulder.
Cal looked down at her. Holly looked up at him. Cal calculated that he could swim for 3.72 hours in those big blue eyes.
Holly’s smoky smile could have melted a glacier. She whispered, “I like to be saved too.” She kissed his cheek and glued her eyes to the screen. “Hold me!”
The critical crimefighter wrapped his arm around the superwoman’s strong, soft shoulders. He continued composing. But I can love a bad movie when—
Right on cue, cinematic spider fangs plunged into nubile teenage flesh. Holly finched. Cal hugged her close. Holly nuzzled closer. Silky, strawberry-scented hair caressed Cal’s cheek.
—it is womansplained to me.