Terribleminds sub-genre mashup challenge

Over at Chuck Wendig’s most excellent blog Terribleminds, there’s an ongoing flash fiction contest every Friday. Submissions must be posted in the entrant’s blog–which I now have, woohoo!

So the challenge this week was to pick any two of the following subgenres, and create a mashup under 1k words:

Steampunk.

Superhero.

Noir.

Erotica.

Farce.

Men’s Adventure.

Chuck will choose the winner this Friday, and personally critique up to 5k words of their current WIP…quite a prize! So without further ado, here is my humble Superhero-Noir mashup attempt:

Luck’s Demise

To say that Joe Trumbull was a desperate man was like saying the Pope was a little religious.

Joe needed cash, and he needed it fast. Like yesterday fast. Otherwise, Frankie was going to cut off more than just another toe. That part was made crystal clear.

As he rolled down the street, eyeing the well-spaced McMansions, it occurred to him that this might not be the best plan. He was a grifter, not a thief. And definitely not a home-invader. Just a small time con with a big time gambling habit.

Then he remembered the cold steel of Frankie’s cigar cutter and shuddered.

He finally chose a big one that sat back a ways from the road. A middle-aged man answered the door, studying Joe over the chain lock.

“Mr. Collins?” Joe asked.

“No,” the man said with a tilt of his head.

“Is this 26 Cedar Drive?”

“Well yes, but there’s no one living here by that name…”

“I’m sorry. Do you know Paul and Jenn Collins? I know they live on this street somewhere.”

“Hmm.” He adjusted his wire-rimmed glasses. “Are they long-time residents, or recent arrivals?”

“Actually I’m not sure,” Joe said. “Our sons are in Cub Scouts together, and I need to drop off money for their den leader’s thank-you gift.” He held up the twenty in his hand as proof.

The man unlatched the chain and held the door open. “Come on in. I have a neighborhood directory here that may help.”

He disappeared into a hallway as Joe walked in and shut the heavy door behind him. A striking, dark-haired woman–the man’s wife?–came in from another room, smiling.

“Hi,” Joe said, doing his best to seem friendly. “I guess I have the wrong house, I’m sorry…”

“Yes, I heard. It’s no problem.” Her voice was deep, husky. From her accent, he guessed she was from somewhere in Eastern Europe.

The man returned with a small three-ring binder. They flanked Joe on either side as they perused the laminated pages, each containing a large color photo of a house on their street, with the address and owner’s name printed below.

They made it to the end without seeing the name Collins. “Huh. Let me make sure I have the right street…” Joe pretended to reach for his cell phone, grasping the handle of the Glock in his pocket instead. But before he could pull it out, his world exploded into a white flash of pain, and he was on the floor without even knowing what hit him. Then everything faded to black.

***

            When he awoke, he found himself bound to a folding chair in the basement. A strip of duct-tape covered his mouth. His head throbbed like a Vegas hangover.

In the room above, he heard shouting. “I don’t care what you read in his mind, I could’ve handled it!” the man yelled. “And we’re not going to kill him. Who cares if he saw your face? Do you really think he has any idea who you are? Or who I am?”

“Fine,” the woman screamed back. “Just go ahead and let him go, mister nice guy. Hey, maybe you could even change your hero name to that! Or maybe Mister Stupid, because that’s what you are…nice and stupid!”

Shit.

Of all the places to rob, he’d picked a fucking super’s house. Talk about bad luck.

He wondered which one the man could be. Generator? The Raptor? There was no way to tell. Could even be the great Quantum Man. But the woman…as far as he knew, there were no female supers with black hair. Unless it was wig. Either that, or–

No way. Was she was a villain?

He heard her say something that he couldn’t quite make out. There was a pause, then heavy footsteps stomped over to the basement door, knocking dust from overhead. The door flung open and the lights came on.

Joe mentally kicked himself. She can read your mind, dummy!

The man stormed down the stairs, with the woman close behind. Joe’s heart was in his throat. He was a goner for sure this time. At least he didn’t have to worry about a slow, painful death at the hands of Frankie. He squeezed his eyes shut.

“Wait,” the woman said. He opened his eyes enough to see her whispering something into the man’s ear, who nodded in solemn agreement.

She sauntered up close to Joe with a seductive look in her eye. When she reached out and caressed his face, another flash of white knocked him unconscious.

***

            This time, Joe awoke to the sound of chirping birds, with the morning sun in his face. He was still gagged and bound to the chair.

Squinting at the run-down parking lot in front of him, he was puzzled. If they’d decided to let him go, why was he still taped up? He twisted around and saw a yellow brick building at his back. With a sinking feeling, he recognized it as one of Frankie’s strip clubs.

The sign on his chest said “F. – Better your problem than ours. You’re welcome.”

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Minor fail.

Here’s a 69-word ditty I submitted for a little user-ran contest on the forums over at Scribophile (which is an awesome place for aspiring writers, especially for honest critiques). Yes, it had to be 69 words, and no, I didn’t win.

The grating sound of the door woke him. He winced at the light.

A girl stumbled in, pushed roughly, then the door was slammed and locked behind her.

“He-Hello?” she whimpered into the darkness.

Her fear smelled incredible. She crept towards him, feeling her way along the wall.

At first he fought the urge. He knew she wouldn’t survive. But when she was nearly upon him, he took her.

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