Monday, February 23, 2015 2 comments

Blink: Superhero Summer Camp, episode 10

Blink’s earlier adventures:

Blink
Blink’s First Adventure | 2 | 3 | 4

Superhero Summer Camp (this one): 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9



This isn’t too bright, Stevie thought, walking down a highway dressed in black. At the moment, though, he didn’t care. I’ll go home, and forget this superhero crap ever happened. And her. After walking past a pair of eighteen-wheelers parked on the side of the road, he veered farther onto the shoulder, away from the occasional car or truck whizzing by. He could tell when they didn’t see him until they were on top of him; tire noise would change as they veered away and hit the brakes. He was forgetting something; he couldn’t shake that feeling, but the adolescent mantra whatever pushed it aside for a few minutes at a time.

He had gone perhaps a mile when a vehicle rolled by him, then slowed and stopped. A Jeep with a camo paint job. Reverse lights came on, and the Jeep edged back and stopped alongside.

“Need a ride?” a man called from the open window.

“I guess,” said Steve. If the dude turned out to be a perv, he could pop away fast enough. He climbed in, and the driver wasted no time getting back up to speed.

“Where you headed?” the driver asked. He matched the vehicle: muscular, buzz-cut hair, wearing a light camo jacket.

“I dunno.” It was out of his mouth before he could stop it, and he realized it was true. He couldn’t go home; there would be too many questions. Hanging out at Chris’s or Lashaun’s house was a possibility for a day, but there would be phone calls (and the questions again) if he tried to stay there. Maybe he could find some of those homeless kids he’d seen on the news. Maybe he could steal food for them, that would get him in with them—

“One place is good as another, huh? I guess the thing with the big Zero didn’t work out?”

The question jerked Stevie out of his thoughts. “What? How?” Can I pop out of a moving car? “Who are you?”

The driver grinned. “I’m the Warmonger,” he replied. “I got a nose for trouble, and it smelled something going down out this way, so I came out to have a look. I didn’t figure it would be Zero’s boy wonder flying the coop, but what the heck.”

Anger flared up inside Stevie. “Let me out. Now!”

“Whoa, whoa, don’t do that!” Warmonger braked hard, almost throwing Stevie into the dashboard. “Get out. Do it now!”

Confused, Stevie jumped out and ran to the back of the Jeep. Warmonger did the same, but grabbed the bumper and lifted the Jeep off the pavement. “This is my superpower, kid,” he said, puffing as he pumped two tons of iron. “I feed on anger. But if I’m not in a fight, I gotta blow off the energy somehow. It can get kind of awkward. As you can see.” He slowed, then stepped away from the Jeep. “Better. But don’t do that again, okay? I just want to talk. Explain how things really are, out here in the real world. Hey. You like Dari-Freez?”

“Yeah.” Stevie was still wary, but interested all the same. It’s not just my superpower that’s a pain in the butt, he thought.

“Okay. Let me take you there. We’ll get ice cream, cool off, chat like two supers, then I’ll take you anywhere you want. Including back to Zero’s place. Fair enough?”

Stevie thought a moment. What could it hurt? Free ice cream, and he could pop out of there any time if he didn’t like the situation. “Yeah. Sure.” He and Warmonger got back into the Jeep, and Warmonger got rolling again.

“You think we’re the villains, right?” Warmonger asked after a long pause.

“What? You are, aren’t you?” Stevie regretted saying it, but it was already out, as his mom would say.

If Warmonger was offended, though, he did not show it. “That’s what you call us. What the media calls us. Hell, we even call ourselves that, we’ve heard it so much. But think about it. You ever hear about one of my side rolling a little old lady for her purse? Nope. How about knocking over a gas station? Restaurant? We ever kidnap a regular person?”

Stevie shook his head. “But you rob banks and jewelry stores. And what was that thing with the oil refinery last year?”

Warmonger barked a laugh. “Yeah. Way back when, they asked one of the big-time outlaws why he robbed banks. You know what he said? ‘That’s where the money is.’ True, but that ain’t the point. You ever get the feeling that the game is rigged against normal joes?”

Stevie thought of Mom, struggling to keep a roof over their heads while Grimes Financial kept breathing down her neck. Every time they almost got on top of things, something happened and they were right back in the soup again. And that was why Mom hadn’t lived a little just yet… “Yeah.”

“Remember that thing with Pulse last year? When he messed up those big banks, everyone thought he was a hero all of a sudden? Yeah, it’s true. We’re the heroes, kid. My side. Your side takes on the mob, sure, but so do we. In our own way. You know it was one of ours that gave Captain Heroic the info your friends needed to take down Republic, right?”

Stevie jumped in his seat. “I didn’t know that.”

“That’s because the media didn’t want you to know. Or the ones who run ‘em, anyway. The real villains are the one-percenters, the ones who own everything and still want your stuff, too. That’s our targets. Not because that’s where the money is, but because it’s the right thing to do. They own the government, so the government won’t break their grip on stuff. It’s up to us. Hey, here we are.” Warmonger pulled the Jeep into the Dari-Freez parking lot. “What’s your poison? Don’t worry about the money. My treat.”

“Choco-Peanut Explosion,” Stevie replied without thinking. That was his absolute favorite, the one he’d only had twice in his entire life.

“Good taste. I kinda like that one, too. But I’m going old-fashioned tonight. Banana split. Grab us a table, and I’ll order.”

to be continued…

Wednesday, February 18, 2015 2 comments

Cover Reveal: Michael (Path of Angels #1) by Patricia Josephine


I'm usually ready to help out a friend with a cover reveal, so here we go!

There is only one path.

Born mortal along with his three brothers, Michael is an Archangel with a specific role: hunt fallen angels and send them back to Hell. He is determined in his mission, never straying from his appointed path, until he meets Lake Divine, and discovers there may be more to his beliefs than blind duty.

But Lake is not who he seems. Offspring of a human and a fallen angel, a Nephilim, Lake must choose his own destiny: give in to the coldness and embrace the dark, or seek the light and rise above the sins of his father.

Two paths lay before them, but only one has the potential to destroy them both.

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24836590-michael

Nice cover, eh? So we've talked about the story a little, let's talk about the author.

Patricia Josephine never set out to become a writer. In fact, she never considered it an option during high school and college. She was all about art. On a whim, she wrote down a story bouncing in her head. That was the start of it and she hasn't regretted a moment. She writes young adult under the name Patricia Lynne.

Patricia lives with her husband in Michigan, hopes one day to have what will resemble a small petting zoo, has a fondness for dying her hair the colors of the rainbow, and an obsession with Doctor Who.


Links:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/plynne_writes
Website: http://www.patricialynne.com
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/108938106639683446081/posts/p/pub
Wattpad: http://www.wattpad.com/user/patricialynne07
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13460894.Patricia_Josephine

If you read the comments on TFM, and you'll find most of the comments are anything but horrid, Patricia's a regular here. I thought it might be nice for her to have a little more than a comment for a change. ;-)

So go add her book, and (if it's your kind of story) grab it when it comes out!

Monday, February 16, 2015 3 comments

Blink: Superhero Summer Camp, episode 9

Blink’s earlier adventures:

Blink
Blink’s First Adventure | 2 | 3 | 4

Superhero Summer Camp (this one): 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8



The next four weeks went by quickly. Captain Heroic led them on a morning jog outside, or in the Sim Room if it was raining. After breakfast, Blink had classes in public speaking or Improv. He ate lunch with Nixi most days, then spent afternoons in conditioning, combat training, or experiments in the Sim Room. Sarika would talk to him during their infrequent training breaks, but she talked to Nixi as well.

In a way, it was like school, except for no homework—and Improv was like a pop quiz every time. Still, it was amazing what he could do with a multi-tool and a big pile of junk. He found himself able to run farther, lift more weight, and hold his own in a fight (even if Ms. Ma obviously held back).

He found himself spending a lot of time with Nixi, at lunch and during the morning jogs. Talking to her became easier as the weeks went by, and he found himself looking forward to the time they spent together.

Then one afternoon, at the end of a frustrating Improv session, Professor Zero poked his head into the lab. “Is he about done?”

“Yeah,” Captain Heroic replied. “I need to give him a re-do on this one.”

“Good timing, then. Blink, why don’t you knock off for now? Run back up to your room and grab a shower before supper. Montana Rack is going to swing by this evening, after her newscast, to interview you and Nixi.”

“Oh. Okay.” Blink glared at the unhelpful junk heap. “Sarika, too?"

“No,” the Professor replied. “Her parents don’t want her on camera just yet. Besides, someone might recognize her. It would be like giving away her parents’ secret identity.”

“Yeah, that makes sense.”

“Sure it does. Don’t forget your hoodie. You don’t want to put your own face on camera, either.”


“Good to meet you, Blink,” Montana Rack greeted him. She looked distracted, and Blink thought she laid the makeup on pretty thick. She was pretty old—older than Mom, anyway. “And Nixi, the computer genius?”

“I’m not a genius,” Nixi insisted. “I just like the work.”

“Okay. Let’s make sure we have this exchange again on tape.” Montana gestured at two of her entourage. “Sam, Bo, take them and get them prepped. We’ve got time.”

“Hi, I’m Sam.” Sam was a young woman, wearing a black hoodie of her own, and Blink instantly felt comfortable with her. “I’m Montana’s intern.” She ushered Blink and Nixi out of the news room and into an adjacent conference room. A thin man followed them, carrying a satchel.

“What’s going on?” Nixi asked.

“It’s all part of the sausage factory,” Sam grinned. “Everything has to be just so. Bo here’s going to put some makeup on you."

“Makeup?” Blink and Nixi both looked skeptical.

“The lighting we use tends to wash out faces,” the intern explained. “You’ll look more natural. I’m surprised they didn’t mention it in your training.”

“I can’t let anyone see my face, anyway,” said Blink, pulling his hood up. “Mom would lose her shorts if she found out I was here, instead of summer camp.”

Nixi and Sam snorted at the metaphor. “All the same. Anything that does stick out won’t look so pale,” Sam continued. “You’re not Count Boris.”

“Whatever.”

“If he can do it, I can do it,” said Nixi.

“Good. Let’s get started." Sam opened the curtains, letting the evening sun pour into the room. “Oh, perfect. Strong lighting!"

The makeup artist did his work on them both, studied their faces as they looked toward the window, then nodded to Sam.

“Yup, looks fine,” said Sam. “Montana won’t be ready for you guys for at least twenty minutes. You can hang in here. I guess that makes this the Green Room. Bo can do any touch-up work on you guys before we start taping.” She helped Bo pack his gear, and they left.

“Man, what a sunset,” said Blink, crossing to the window. “Not the beach, but the woods make it look nice.”

“Yeah.” Nixi stood next to him. For several minutes, they did nothing but watch the sun light up the clouds as it dipped into the trees.

Blink turned to look at Nixi. The sunset lit up her face… without thinking, he reached out and put an arm around her.

Nixi gasped and froze. “What the hell?” she sputtered, pushing him away. “No—jeez, I don’t—what are you thinking?”

Blink stood gaping under the verbal onslaught for a moment, and then he disappeared. Nixi huffed and pulled the curtains shut, and sat at the desk.

“You guys about ready?” Professor Zero asked, poking his head in. “Hey, where’s Blink?”

“I don’t know,” Nixi grumbled, then thought Oh, crap.

“You don’t know? What happened?”

Nixi stood to pace the room, then stuck her head through the curtains to look outside again. “Jeez. I thought he liked Sarika. He… he put his arm around me, I told him—I said I wasn’t into him like that, and he didn’t take it good. He disappeared.”

“What? What did you say?”

“I don’t exactly remember.”

“Oh, great. Why couldn’t you have just played along?”

What?” Nixi jerked her head out of the curtains and rounded on her uncle. “Do my feelings not count? Am I just part of the—the amenities around here?”

Zero deflated. “You’re right,” he said, looking at the floor. “That was out of line. You have any idea where he went?”

“I guess he’s back in his room.”

“Yeah. You don’t have to stay in this room if you don’t want, but stay close. I’ll let the news crew know there’s a delay. Then I’ll talk to Blink and give him a little time to cool off. We’ll see if he’s learned to do the public thing for real.”


I’m outta here, Blink thought, wiping the makeup off with a towel. He had not brought much with him, so it wouldn’t take much to pack. His few clothes and the iPad fit in his pack with room to spare.

Shouldering his pack, he visualized the driveway: the defenses, the tree-gate, the foliage on either side. Out.

“Blink?” Professor Zero opened the door, but the room was empty. “Why do supers have to be such… divas?”

Monday, February 09, 2015 3 comments

Blink: Superhero Summer Camp, episode 8

Blink’s earlier adventures:

Blink
Blink’s First Adventure | 2 | 3 | 4

Superhero Summer Camp (this one): 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7



After lunch, Captain Heroic took him back to what he called the Improv Lab. “Pull up a seat,” he said, sliding a plastic chair across the floor. “We’re going to start with a training video.”

Instead of a DVD, Captain Heroic picked up a black rectangle about the size of a big paperback, and stuck it in a matching slot on a device below the TV. “What’s that thing?” Blink asked.

“A VCR,” Captain Heroic chuckled. “Never seen one? Back in the day, they were like a Moxi. You could play rented movies, or your own home videos, or record stuff for later. Then fast-forward through the commercials.” The TV started playing a grainy video, definitely not HD.

“What is this?”

“An old TV show called MacGyver. You could drive a truck through some of the plot holes, but he was a master of improvisation. Every episode, he gets in some kind of jam, and improvs a gadget to help him get out of it.”

“Yeah. Was he a superhero, then?”

“Not like you or me, no. But I guess he could have been a Type III, if he put on a costume and used a different name.”

Blink laughed, and settled in to watch the show. During the part where MacGyver built his gadget, Captain Heroic would pause and rewind the tape to point out certain things. “You need to get in the habit of looking around, wherever you are,” Captain Heroic pointed out. “You never know when you’re going to have a crisis, and you need to be thinking about what anything around you—and I mean anything—could be used for in a pinch.”

“At least I won’t have to do that now,” Blink replied. “There’s a little of everything in here.”

“Well, sure. The first few exercises are gonna be simple. You probably won’t need to hack anything, just find something and use it. Think of it like a puzzle. But in the real world, the puzzle will kick your butt if you don’t solve it.”

“That just fills me with confidence,” said Blink, and Captain Heroic laughed.

“Take a look around the room,” said Captain Heroic. “If anything stands out to you, pick it up and check it out.”

“Sure.” The room was full of junk, like someone had taken the contents of a thrift store and dumped it on the tables at random. Blink poked at some of the stuff, then picked up a mini-Super Soaker. “Hm.”

“Okay,” said the old superhero. “What could you use that for?”

“A buncha stuff.  Short out electrical junk. Squirt someone’s face to blind them for a minute. Put a little vinegar in it to make it sting. Lashaun put glass cleaner in one once, to nail this dog that kept trying to attack him. A few shots of that, and the dog left him alone.” He picked up a thin strap with a camera company’s logo. “Use something like this to keep from having to hold it when you don’t need it.”

“Good thought. Are you gonna just tie it on?”

“It would be better if there was a loop, but yeah.”

“Modify it. There’s glue and a utility knife on the table behind you.”

Blink picked up the tools. “What do I use for hey, can I use this decoration thing?”

“That’s what it’s there for. Whatever you need.”

“Cool.” Blink got busy cutting and gluing. “How much time do I got?”

“For today, as much time as you need. But I’m gonna put you through the wringer later.”

“Great.”

Captain Heroic laughed. “While the glue’s drying on that, let’s do a quick exercise.” He pointed to a whimsical target hung on the wall, a zombie in a three-piece suit. “That zombie is shambling toward a little kid. How are you gonna distract it?”

Blink grunted and looked around. “Yeah.” He picked up a fragment of brick. “Hey! Zombie! Over here!” He threw the chunk at the target.

“Okay, now it’s coming for you. Take it out.”

“Oh, crap. I don’t guess you have a sword laying around in here.”

“Nope,” Captain Heroic chuckled. “Good thought, though. What else could you use to take it out?”

“That squirt gun ain’t gonna faze it.” Blink looked at the junk arrayed on the tables. “If I was a weight-lifter, I could use that bowling ball—”

“Try it out! It’s almost on you!”

Blink picked up the bowling ball, and found it lighter than expected. “Yeah. I pop behind him and bash his head in.”

“Good thinking. You have an actual superpower, so that can make a big difference when it comes to improvising. Type III heroes like me, we like to carry a bunch of stuff around. I can usually figure something out, though.” Captain Heroic laughed. “That utility belt isn’t a movie prop. For me or Ultra Woman.”

“I guess.”

“You won’t have to guess by the time I’m through with you. Let’s try another exercise…”

Monday, February 02, 2015 4 comments

Blink: Superhero Summer Camp, episode 7

Blink’s earlier adventures:

Blink
Blink’s First Adventure | 2 | 3 | 4

Superhero Summer Camp (this one): 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6



The next morning, Captain Heroic came by Blink’s room. “Down to F-2,” he said. “Just wait in front of the elevators.”

Blink yawned, got dressed, and took the elevator. Nixi was already there. She gave him a nod, and he mumbled a greeting. There wasn’t much more to say at this time of morning, after all.

The elevator chimed, bringing Sarika and Captain Heroic. To Blink’s mild disgust, Sarika sounded alert and even cheerful. She chattered to Blink and Nixi as Captain Heroic led them to a golf cart and drove them through the holographic boulder.

“Here we are,” he said. “Let’s stretch a little, then we’ll get started. Blink, you can be Nixi’s jogging partner. Stay with each other, got it? Nixi knows the path. Don’t get to racing, either one of you. I don’t want you getting cramps. There’s water in the cart, everybody get a drink and we’ll go.”

Nixi and Blink jogged along in silence, Nixi puffing but holding up. To Blink’s surprise, she spoke first. “Am I holding you back?”

“I could go a little faster. How could you tell?”

“You’re not even breathing hard.” Nixi stopped talking a moment to catch her own breath. “I wanna be jealous, but it’s my own fault.”

“What?”

“I got into computers a couple years ago. One of the ads said something about dates in my town, and even got the name of the town right. I got to wondering how they did that, and found a site that explained it some.”

“Cool. You’re a kind of genius on this stuff, I guess.”

“Not really.” Nixi paused again. “I just got into it. It’s not really all that hard. I learned HTML, then scripting, then databases and stuff. I just like it, it’s not like I’m a wizard or anything. You know, twenty years ago, kids our age had businesses doing Web development.”

“Wow.”

“Yeah. I was born kinda too late, you know? My parents won’t let me do this full-time. I got a lot of homework during the school year, so I make a little extra money doing maintenance. Rebuilding Zero Point’s intranet is the biggest project I’ve ever tackled. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it. A reference like that is worth a ton.”

“Yeah.” Blink thought Lucky your uncle’s Professor Zero.

“So yeah, I got connections,” she continued, making Blink wonder if she had just read his mind, “but I got the job and I gotta get it done right. But that’s not what I was talking about. Instead of getting outside and playing with the other kids, I started studying Web development. So I got way outta shape. It’s kinda cool, though, having Captain Heroic for a personal trainer. He’s making sure I’m not sitting at a desk all day. Okay, I need a breather.”

Nixi stood bent over, hands on knees, while Blink paced around. “That’s my story,” she said. “What about you?”

“My mom and dad split up two years ago,” Blink replied. “I dunno why. I remember they used to yell at each other a lot, but I figured that’s just what grownups do, you know? But I remember, it was a Friday. Dad left for work, and he didn’t come home. I asked Mom about it, and she said he left us.”

“I’m sorry,” Nixi whispered.

“It’s better. The first year, Dad kept his end up. He came to see me most weekends, and said he wanted to be part of my life. Then… I don’t know what happened. Mom got laid off from the electric company, and all she could find was a job at Slaver-Mart.”

“Slaver-Mart?”

“That’s what she calls Saver-Mart,” Blink explained. “She says they can sell groceries real cheap because they don’t pay their people crap. But that was all she could get. Then Dad started missing support payments. I dunno, maybe he lost his job, too. He stopped coming to see me around then, so maybe he just decided he was over the whole family thing. But then we got a little help. Captain Heroic did some stuff behind the scenes, found her a better job and stuff, and Dad sent a double support check just before I came here. Mom says there’s a lot of bills to catch up on, but now maybe we can pay ‘em all.”

“That’s good.” Nixi stood. “You ready to finish this run?”

“Sure.” They got going again.

Friday, January 30, 2015 6 comments

Scarecrow 2.0 (#FridayFlash)

Image source: openclipart.org
“Hi, Allie,” Bob said into his cellphone, turning to shade himself and the phone from the summer sun. The corn wasn’t high enough for shade just yet.

“On the way back,” his wife told him. “I saw something interesting at the feed store, though. It might help with the crows.”

“Sounds good.” The crows had been especially bad this year. Bob was afraid they might eat up the whole crop before it was ready to pick. Not that the rats were much better, mind you. Or the raccoons.

“You at your best right now?”

“Yup. Out standing in my field.” This was their little running joke.

“Good. Anyway, I got this flyer. I really think you should call.”

“Will do.” When Allie said I really think you should, there was always an unspoken or else.

• • •

“So here’s the bottom line.” The young fella was earnest enough, but he talked kind of quick and his outdoor clothes didn’t look comfortable on him. “We set up a Scarecrow Two Point Oh system for you. You let us know how it works, and let us come on your property to maintain the thing. Maybe once a week, unless something breaks. If it damages your crops or your property in any way, we make it right.”

“There’s gotta be a catch,” said Allie. “What’s in it for you and your people?”

“Well, ma’am, we do need to field-test the system,” he admitted. “You can do a lot on a test plot, and we fixed some problems that would have had you taking a shotgun to it.” That got a chuckle from Bob. “But we won’t know for sure how well it works until it’s deployed on a real, working farm. We’re sure enough about it to try it, now. If we thought there was a good chance it would damage your crops, we’d still be testing it on our own plots.” He slid a paper out of his folder. “This is the contract.”

Allie looked the contract over. “Huh. Not that legal gobbledygook? This looks pretty clear. Maybe we can work together after all.”

“Great.” The visitor gave them a happy smile. “Just show me a place to put the system, one where there’s lots of sunlight, and I’ll get to work.”

“You’ll need power, right?” Bob asked.

“Nope. It’s all solar-powered. Even we know there’s no outlets out in a cornfield.” All three laughed together.

• • •

A week later, Allie and Bob were congratulating themselves for taking a chance on this “Scarecrow 2.0” thing. The robot patrolled the cornfield and blasted varmints with its laser. Even better, it cleaned up after itself, depositing dead critters in a bin, where Bob counted them up and sent the tally to SC Research. Its best day was the third, with 147 kills; the tally was declining now, but Bob figured it was making a dent in the varmint population and finding fewer targets.

But by the end of the third week, Bob was seeing telltale signs of feeding again. There were only a few critters in the bin each day. “I think we need to call ‘em up,” said Allie.

“Okay,” they heard over the phone. “We see it in the telemetry. It’s tripping a ‘low battery’ fault, then it’s not getting much of a charge in the base station. Probably a defect in the charging system. We’re scheduled to come out tomorrow, we’ll check it out.”


“Holy sh—holy mackerel,” said the technician, wobbling atop a stepladder. “The solar panels are covered in guano.” He took out a rag and wet it with his water bottle. “Man. I’ve never seen one like this,” he grumbled, wiping bird crap off the panels.

Once the panels were cleaned, the charging system jumped right back up to normal, making the technician as happy as the farmers. “Yeah. Keep an eye on this, okay?” said the technician. “Maybe squeegee the panels every other day. I guess the engineers will develop counter-measures to keep that from happening.”

The next morning, Bob went out to check on the Scarecrow. He took a cellphone snap of what he saw, then called the company again. “I got a picture,” he said. “The damn crows are sitting on the solar panels and holding their wings out. It’s like they know what to do or something.”

“This is the kind of real-world info we were hoping to get,” said one of the engineers, after taking them off hold (Allie figured they were cussing the crows). “Sounds like we need to come up with better counter-measures than a wiper. But hang in there, we’ll beat this yet.”

Allie hung up the phone, looking pensive.

“What is it?” asked Bob.

“Well…” Allie trailed off, looking out the window at the cornfield. “They’re gonna come up with something to keep the crows off the solar panels, right? Makes me wonder what the crows will come up with to beat that.”

Monday, January 26, 2015 4 comments

Blink: Superhero Summer Camp, episode 6

Blink’s earlier adventures:

Blink
Blink’s First Adventure | 2 | 3 | 4

Superhero Summer Camp (this one): 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5



In the weight room, Blink found Captain Heroic waiting for him. Nixi was already there, puffing as she jogged on a treadmill. To his surprise, Sarika came in behind him.

“Hi!” she said, giving Blink that smile.

“Hey,” he replied. Sarika was wearing sweats, but he was too busy trying not to look like a dork to check her out anyway.

“Let’s get started,” said Captain Heroic, tapping at a clipboard. “I want to see what you two are capable of before I concoct your workout regimes. Nixi’s been here for a week already, so I have her working on her stamina first. We’ll all be up before breakfast for a morning jog, by the way.”

Sarika moaned, and Blink joined her. We have that much in common, a hopeful voice told him.

“Nothing strenuous,” the old superhero assured them. “Just something to work up your appetite for breakfast. Okay, let’s get started with some stretches.”

“What do you think he’ll have you working on?” Sarika whispered as they sat on the floor, grabbing their feet.

“I walk pretty much everywhere, so I’m not in that bad of shape,” Blink whispered back. “Probably weight lifting. What about you?”

“I see a lot of time on a treadmill in my future. I don’t walk or run much.”

“But you probably won’t need much weight training. That backpack looked heavy.”

Sarika giggled. “Twenty kilos, maybe. I bet your bookbag for school is about that heavy.”

Blink did the mental calculation—forty-four pounds was about half of what he’d guessed, but… “That’s ten pounds heavier than my bookbag.”

“Not that much heavier. Not even five kilos.”

“Okay,” said Captain Heroic. “You guys feeling limbered up?”

“Sure,” they both said. “Jinx,” Sarika whispered.

“Great. Let’s start you out on the weight machines, then we’ll try you on the exercise bikes.”

The two of them were able to lift a similar amount of weight, but Blink strained to keep up with Sarika. This is stupid, he thought. There were several girls at school that he knew were stronger than him, but he didn’t want to look weak in front of Sarika—or Nixi, who was watching from the treadmill.

The exercise bikes left him feeling a little more sure of himself. Captain Heroic adjusted the resistance, but Blink set a comfortable pace that he could manage for a long time. Sarika puffed and gasped, and stopped pedaling after a few minutes to catch her breath.

“All righty, then,” said Captain Heroic. “I think I’ve got it. Sarika, we need to work on your stamina. I’ll put you on a treadmill with Nixi, and maybe the two of you can keep each other going. Blink gets weight training. I’ll work up your training programs this afternoon, and you’ll get started tomorrow. Remember that jog in the morning. I think Ms. Ma is waiting for you in the rubber room.”

to be continued…

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