- A Serialized Novel -

This isn't a superpower. It's a curse.

Couldn’t Resist the Flames

Kids love Larabee. Probably because Larabee himself is a big kid at heart. He’s the mad scientist who would be a superhero’s sidekick after all. Still, watching him as he entertained April’s classroom, it made me a bit sad to think that Larabee didn’t have any kids of his own.

I gave brief thought to trying to find Larabee a girlfriend, but that was something that even a real superhero could do—or at least, I thought maybe April would be better at doing that. Maybe one of the teachers here would appreciate a man with a few delusions and a tendency to forget pants?

No, they were teachers. They were smarter than that, right?

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“There. Now everyone has their costume, right?” Larabee asked, looking around the room. He looked to April, and she nodded. There were still a couple of the kids behind the curtain changing into their costumes, but he’d gotten one to each of the kids who had come to class today.

And, of course, he was wearing one of his own costumes. He’d come as Magenta Man, and he’d tried to talk Clayton and April into costumes, but they’d refused. April had claimed that she needed to be appropriate for the students and any other teachers that might come by—having a superhero party was kind of rare and special and the others were curious—so she was not dressing in anything. Clayton had simply reminded Larabee that if he ever wore spandex, he would kill himself.

So the kids got their spandex, running around madly and calling each other by superhero names.

“This is… the best idea ever,” Clayton had to admit, wrapping his arms around April and watching her class play. “You know, this is what we should do. Go around and organize cool parties like this where all the kids can be superheroes for a day. I can do a little ‘trick’ and you can put some kind of life lesson into it, and Larabee can make the costumes.”

“It would make him very happy,” April agreed, bumping back into Clay as one of the kids ran by chasing the other—who was apparently a super villain instead. “Is that what you’re going to do with yourself after you quit the CIA? Go into the little kid superhero party business?”

“It sounds so absurd when you put it like that.”

She laughed, stepping up to give him a brief kiss on the cheek. “You are absurd, but I like that about you anyway.”

“And now,” Larabee announced, leaping onto the chair and wobbling, looking like he might topple over any second, “the very best of my collection!”

“Larabee, I thought we agreed that you weren’t going to model any of the costumes,” Clayton began, and April elbowed him. He shrugged. He couldn’t believe she was willing to watch that again or let the kids in her class see it. Those poor children, scarred for life.

“Clayton, sometimes I wonder if you’re really a friend.”

“And most of the time you know I’m not.”

Larabee gave him another look, and April elbowed him again. He winced, and the kids giggled. They really did like Larabee, more so than their so-called hero that April insisted that he was. He had to wonder if she’d put them up to the drawings.

“Ahem, as I was saying, the best of my collection! The highlight of our exhibition today,” Larabee said, smiling as he jumped down again, hopping over to the side. Clayton winced. April shook her head, but then her mouth dropped open as Larabee unveiled the best of his collection: a rather bright white and rather… unique wedding dress. “See the best part? It has flames* on it.”

“Oh, no…”

“Put it on, Miss April! We can see you marry Super Clayton! Please!”

“No, honey, that’s not how it works,” April began, trying to explain even as the crowd of little kids pulled her away from Clayton and toward the white dress of doom. “I know that you all want to see me dress up nice, but—”

“Hey, anyone want to see me turn into a really old man?” Clayton called, and the crowd around April stopped for a moment. “I can turn into an old man, too. If you want to see that, though, you’ll have to let Miss April go and sit down at your desks.”

“But we want to see Miss April in the wedding dress, too!”

“Well, first we can see my little trick. It’s not like you wouldn’t have to wait for her to put it on anyway, right?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

April shook her head. He walked over to her as they sat down. He put his hands on her arms and lowered his lips to her ear. “Run while you still can.”


“Hey, I’m taking one for the team here. Go. Run. Now.”

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*To see the flame dress, go here.

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