Flash Friday 10/03/2017: Don’t Have A Cow
A knock came from Doctor Jarvis’ door.
Doctor Jarvis stood from his leather chair and crossed his office, red room lined with books and old portraits, a fire in one end keeping everything warm. Sometimes, Doctor Jarvis felt the fire was all that kept his aging muscles and bones from locking up forever. He found no trouble, however, making it to the door and opening it.
Behind the door was a meek young man, who looked as if he didn’t quite fit in with the situation.
“Ah,” Doctor Jarvis said, with a smile. “You must be Paul, correct?”
Paul nodded. “Yeah, but you really should have asked me what my superpowers were before inviting me here.”
“Nonsense. Out there are people hunting for budding superheroes such as yourself. If you had even spoken a word about your potential, you’d have villains dangling you over comically-sized pits of acid in no time. This was for your own good.”
“But you’re wasting your ti–”
“No, no, nonsense. Come, take a seat and we’ll talk more about it within…more protected walls.”
Doctor Jarvis sat back within his seat. Paul sat in the chair on the other side of it, looking far less relaxed than Doctor Jarvis was.
Doctor Jarvis took out a shot glass and whiskey from a drawer. He was about to pour himself a glass when he froze. “Oh, how rude of me. Did you want one?”
“No thanks,” Paul said. “I don’t know if whiskey triggers my superpowers, or something like that.”
“Fine by me, but a lot of our superheroes find themselves relieved that a little alcohol never messed with anyone’s powers. Well, there was the instance with Gadgetman taking his stealth jet home after one too many beers, but you can’t say that was the superpowers that got messed up in that scenario. Even though it left a crater within the Institute.
“Regardless, I understand you might want some mental clarity. After all, this is where we talk about your future as a superhero within the Institute of the Gifted. I’m sure a very bright career is ahead of you.”
Paul rubbed the back of his head. “Yeah, about that…”
“So let’s get into it. Do you recall any reactant or event that gave you your superpowers?”
“Yeah, it’s hard to forget. Radioactive bite on my right arm, see?”
Paul rolled back his sleeve to reveal quite a large bite mark on his arm. The teeth marks were stained green, with roots of emerald creeping around them like veins.
“Ooh,” Doctor Jarvis said, grimacing a little at the sight of the wound. “Yes, that’s one way people get their superpowers, albeit it’s never the prettiest. So this means you’ve inherited traits from the radioactive animal that bit you?”
“What animal was it?”
Doctor Jarvis stopped mid-sip of his whiskey. “Sorry?”
“A cow,” Paul said, a little louder. “I was bitten by a radioactive cow.”
Doctor Jarvis paused in hopes that, somehow, the situation would make more sense the longer he waited. It didn’t. “I didn’t know cows bit people,” he said, putting the shot glass down.
“Me either. I mean, I was investigating a radioactive sewage spill into a small river, and I found a cow drinking from it, and I run up to it to chase it off, and it looks up with me with these big, green glowing eyes, and before I knew it, it’s the one chasing me off. It managed to give me this nasty bite before I managed to run over a cattle grid and leave it for dust. Thank goodness the radiation didn’t give it the power of flight.”
“Yes, well. That’s…definitely one of the most interesting origin stories. What powers did it give you?”
“I…” Paul began, then sighed. “I’m very, very good at eating and digesting grass.”
“…like the four stomachs that a cow has?”
“Yes, except I have just the one. At least, I hope that’s the case. On the plus, I’ll probably never go hungry ever again.”
“I see. So this is why you wanted to tell me earlier. Did you get any other powers?”
Paul looked around the room, as if looking for any eavesdroppers. Then, he locked eyes with Doctor Jarvis, leant across the desk, and muttered, “I haven’t had to buy pints of milk for months.”
Doctor Jarvis’ face went slightly white. “Well,” he managed. “I see. Very well. Is that all you wish to declare?”
Paul nodded slowly.
“Very well. You’re very welcome to live within the Institute of the Gifted for protection against villains who…might want you dead, for whatever reason.”
Paul leaned back, with a shrug. “I might make a good steak.”
“True. Best if we don’t let them find out. You’ll find your room in the residential halls, room 45, down the West Hall. The next time the lawns need a trim, we’ll let you know.”
“Thanks,” Paul said, with an uncertain tone. “But I’ll let you know now that I’m leaving the moment I hear the first milkshake joke.”
Doctor Jarvis nodded as Paul stood from his chair. Maybe now wasn’t the best of times to make a joke about his residential hall room being lined by electric fence.