Prompt Images

Listen, Cole. We’ve been friends for a long time, right? And you trust me, right? OK. I’ve got a confession. This is hard for me to say, but I’m going to just come out and—I’VE-HAD-STRETCHING-POWERS-FOR-LIKE-SIX-YEARS-BUT-I’M-TOO-EMBARRASSED-TO-USE-THEM-TO-FIGHT-CRIME.

Phew. God. It feels good to let that out. I’ve never told anybody before. My wife doesn’t know, Cole. I only use them when she’s out of the house. I live in constant fear she’ll come home and see me, pants around my ankles, arm stretched 50 feet across our beautiful ranch-style home to grab another roll of TP. Can’t you just hear her now? “Chris! What is this? How long have you been able to do this?” There’s no way I’d have the heart to tell her that I’ve known I was a rubber man ever since I got shot by that mugger.

Cole. Cole. Shut up. I get it. It’s tough to understand. “Chris,” you say. “Why haven’t you used these powers for good?” OK, first off, you’re being a little judgey right now. Second off, did you not hear my origin story? I got mugged, Chris. With a gun. One that shot bullets. At me. Sure, they just bounced harmlessly off me and then back into the gun-owner, but what if it had been a dangerous weapon? Like some scissors? I would have been kaput! Dead! Snapped like a rubber band! Have you been outside lately? It’s scary.

Also, it’s not like you can just walk out into the street and stop crimes, dude. Have you even heard of due process? Who am I to pass judgment on people? I’m just some guy who hides his fantastical, possibly magical powers from his wife. Do you want vigilante justice from a man who can’t even admit to his wife that his flesh can expand and contract at will? I thought not.

It’s also just been hard to come to terms with having a power where you don’t look cool. Sure, I can get shot to no harm. I do that like, every day. Just for giggles. But how will I show my face around town if doing good makes me look like Wile E. Coyote? A pathetic creature, stretched like I’m a horrible living cartoon? Twisted beyond recognition, as if hoisted by my own Acme-branded petard? I don’t have that kind of clout, and I certainly don’t know what a petard is. My wife already thinks I’m useless based on my own, normal, private shortcomings. Publicly failing at something with stakes this high? She’ll leave me.

Anyway. Let’s cut to the meat and potatoes of this situation: the reason I brought you here. I’m looking into the whole crime-fighting thing. I’ve been doing research. The thing is, I’m pretty sure that nobody is on board for non-costumed, non-named vigilante justices. As far as I can tell, those dudes traditionally just go to jail, accompanied by headlines reading “World’s Biggest Moron Does Terrible Thing, Everybody Angry At Him.”. And while it would be like, super easy for me to just squeeze through the vents and escape prison, I don’t want bring that kind of shame on my family. At least not with my name and face and mugshot attached.

This is where you come in, Cole. I need you to design me a costume. One that won’t look silly, even when a grown man’s terrible pale skin shoots out of it, leaving behind only comically ill-fitting clothes. So whaddaya say? Should I reach across this excessively long banquet table to shake on it?

John Barnes

John Barnes has a B.S. in geography and recently severely burnt his thumb playing with fireworks in a storm drain in Northern Virginia.

learn more
Share this story
About The Prompt
A sweet, sweet collective of writers, artists, podcasters, and other creatives. Sound like fun?
Learn more