A whimsical look at the unseen struggles of a super-hero.
An extract from Droidal
(The Lords of Misrule: a short story)
By Andy Graham
Dizzy could feel the damp tiles vibrating under his feet as the machine rattled. More water snaked out from under the once white plastic, carving lines through the suds. No one had been able to find the leak, certainly no one he could afford.
He blinked again. The washing machine jumped as the drum lurched into motion. Behind the cracked glass, the hypnotic rocking of reds and blues was broken. The green numbers next to the control dial seemed to be stuck. He could change them easily, but that wouldn’t get his suit clean.
“It is a suit, not a costume,” he repeated firmly. “Kids wear costumes, adults suits.”
It was part of his public identity now. He’d have changed it if he could to something less . . . obvious. He just wasn’t sure how the public would take such a rebranding. Despite what they said, not many people really wanted change, apart from the terminally poor or chronically ill.
Yawning so hard he thought his skull would split, he fought the burning tiredness back down. Maybe he should try and get a few minutes’ sleep after all. He sighed and pushed the thought aside. He wanted to hang his suit up the moment the machine finished. Another night in the cold air, in a damp mask, with a wet cloak slowing him down would be the death of him. The bulb flickered above his head and he blinked to switch it off. He could stretch to replace it; he just couldn’t be bothered.
Finally, the washing machine seemed to be doing something. As soon as he got any money, it was going to be the first thing to go. He had his eye on a washer-dryer that wasn’t too pricey. Granted, it was going to drive up his fuel bills, but at least he could save the city without wet pants chafing the insides of his thighs. Another suit would be the cheaper option, if he could find another seamstress he trusted.
He screwed his eyes shut as the images flashed back though his mind. He could still see the disused kitchen, strewn with shreds of cloth. Old appliances had been dusted off and turned into makeshift tailor’s dummies. Migs was standing there. She was fresh out of college, bright-eyed and eager. That gaudy butterfly clip he’d bought her had always twinkled in her long blonde hair no matter what the light was doing. She’d explained how she wanted to do something retro, something old-fashioned. The little money she made from her creations and repairs was enough to pay the rent. “For the time being that’s all I want. Well, not all . . . “ she’d added, looking up at him though lowered eyelids.
The image changed. It always did. Her words, floating in the air like petals, lost in a maelstrom of machine noise and screams. The smile that had held the fresh smells and promises of spring slipped into a skeletal rictus.