In which our hero does a lot of things and nothing much at all, a blank page is filled, we learn a thing or two about the process and realise that Dream Girl doesn’t screen her calls.
“Dream Girl sighs, alone in the tunnel.
She’s wasting all her energy holding back the blood, stopping it from bursting forth through the long gash stretching its way across her stomach. A rat crawls closer, noisy and nosy, curious and hungry. Dream Girl obliterates it with a well-aimed Flame Burst. The stench of burning fur and blood is in her nostrils, all over her skin. One arm hangs lifeless by her side.
She’s weakening, the steady pulse of blood forcing it’s way between her fingers, staining her hyper boots a deep scarlet. She pictures the sunny beaches and quiet solitude of her desert island, but her ultra beam flickers, powerless. She is weak. The dank concrete floor is her resting place, grimy and fetid. There are eyes in the inky darkness watching her writhe in pain. She can hear the steady drip of leaking pipes, of blood.
Dream Girl dies, alone in the tunnel.”
From her vantage point
above his desk
the artist’s impression of Dream Girl
seems to raise an eyebrow.
As if to say,
I deserve better
than a cliffhanger ending.
You can’t end this now.
He tears up another page
aware of how typical he is
surrounded by a thousand stories
crumpled on the ground.
“Dream Girl sighs, lost in the moment.
Her hyper boots are difficult to get off, the price she pays for figure hugging designer looks. She stands on one leg, pulling it loose, giggling like a schoolgirl again. She can feel the hairs on the back of her neck tingle and rise, electricity arcing through the air around them, the power of the Energy Sphere hiding them from the prying eyes of the city.
Her breathing is low and deep; she’s taking in the scent of his aftershave, of leather and hair product. There’s a drop of sweat resting just above his top lip and when they kiss she can taste him in her mouth.
He’s taken his gloves off, reaching for her, a spark of pure power jumping from his fingertips between them. She can feel it coursing through her as he touches the base of her spine, electricity crackling, a shiver passing involuntarily up her back. They’re floating now, above the backstreets and dark alleys. Flashes of lightning illuminate the darkest corners, blinding in their perfection. Her cape flies up above them, covering them, bathing them in a red glow; the colour of blood, of fire. The colour of her lips.
Dream Girl flies, lost in the moment.”
He puts his pen down.
Above his desk
the lines of Dream Girl’s cheeks
seem to grin.
As if to say,
Am I that cheap?
I’m not one of your obsessions,
I am not a plaything.
He rubs his eyes,
she needs better.
His hands are stained and dirty,
black with ink.
“Dream Girl sighs, under the surface.
For the first time in weeks she’s finally got a few moments to herself. She’s run a steaming hot bath, and as she sinks deeper into the bubbles she can feel her bruised muscles relax. Aching joints rejoice. Of course the phone rings.
She pulls on a robe and pads slowly down the hallway, little puddles of water forming in her wake. She picks up the handset before it can ring again.
Her power suit is still drying on the rack. She notices a blood stain that hasn’t come out and reminds herself to buy the more expensive detergent next time.
“I represent the members of SHREW: Super Heroes as Rolemodels for Equality and Womanhood. We would love to chat to you about your name.”
Dream Girl catches a glimpse of herself in the bathroom mirror. The black eye Pyro gave her looks even worse today, yellowing around the edges. She touches it softly and winces.
“We just feel labelling yourself ‘Girl’ is setting the wrong example for our children. It might be misconstrued.”
The bath is still hot. Dream Girl tries to listen as she settles back down but she’s really running through a list of things to do in her head. That letter for the President. Mr Freeze needs sorting out sometime too.
“We hoped we might convince you to change your name to something more… powerful. Dream Responsible Adult? Dream Confident Modern Woman?”
The line cuts out as Dream Girl slips further under the water line. It’s quiet down here. Silent and still.
Dream Girl lies, under the surface.”
He doesn’t bother
Knowing exactly what she’d think.
He drops his eyes,
as if to say,
What would I know?
A vast empty page before him,
waiting for lines.
He rubs a hand
across his brow
leaving a sweaty black smudge,
and has another try.
“Dream Girl sighs, rising again.
This guy can’t take a hint. Three Flame Bursts to the ribs and even Deaths Head himself would need a rest; this guy just picks himself up and comes again. Dream Girl is getting annoyed, impatient. They’re flying in and out of the buildings so fast the Police choppers can’t keep pace. On the fifty third floor of an office block people stand at their windows, transfixed as the two flashes of colour clash and part. Dream Girl stops chasing suddenly and doubles back, powering up for a Mega Blast. He spins in an instant and flies straight at her. She waits until the last possible moment before releasing the built up power.
He hits her with the force of a road train, breaking ribs and pushing the air out of her lungs as she slams into concrete. She can’t breathe properly, gasping for oxygen. She tries to focus her beams on his moving form but her eyes aren’t working. She’s feeling real human pain again, like she hasn’t felt for years and frowns, suddenly unsure. She glances down at the tiny cars miles below. Suddenly Dream Girl is falling.
Windows zip past on all sides as she clutches at the air, desperately searching for a handhold. She catches a glimpse of horrified faces looking out at her in the glass, then realises it’s her own face she can see reflected, screaming for help. There’s hair in her eyes, in her mouth, choking her. She’s trying everything now, but her powers have deserted her. Only the pavement is rushing towards her, hard and fast. She hits with a deafening thud, the street cracking with her bones.
She wakes with a start, drenched in sweat.
Dream Girl rubs her eyes, rising again.”
He doesn’t bother
throwing this one on the floor
with all the rest.
He’s tired now,
and knowing she deserves
only perfection is weighing
on his chest.
His hand cramps,
eyes sting in the light,
an inky black tear staining
the page a mess.
she’s standing next to him.
Dream Girl bends and whispers in his ear,
puts a single kiss
upon his cheek.
But when he turns
Just the artists impression glancing down,
a dream that’s always
out of reach.
Originally published 2011.
Artwork by Natalie Vincent.
Artwork by Fiona Burrows @ www.fionaburrows.com
In 2011 I gathered a group of artist friends from around Perth and asked for their help in illustrating my 5-part superhero poem Unmasked.
Originally, Unmasked was to be published as part of a series of zines by a small Perth literary magazine. Unfortunately, that magazine fell apart before our hard work got to see the light of day. I had a few copies printed and gave them to family and friends, but the full project was never fully realised.