Excerpts for Grateful Fred

The Superhero's Lab

Superhero Melvin Beederman was in his tree house taking it easy. Well, sort of. At least he wasn't chasing bad guys. The McNasty Brothers were once again in prison and so Melvin decided it was time to invent the world's best-tasting ice cream. After all, it was an unwritten part of the superhero's code to eat snacks when they weren't saving the world.

So ice cream it was. And not just any ice cream...pretzel-flavored ice cream. Melvin had converted his tree house, which usually served as his good guy hideout, into a superhero's laboratory. All around him were sacks of sugar and cartons of milk.

Let's see, Melvin said to himself, 68 cups of sugar, 111 cups of milk. That's 179 cups in all.

Ah...math. When Melvin wasn't saving the world or pounding on bad guys, there was always a good math problem just waiting to be solved.

He mixed up a batch of pretzel-flavored ice cream and spooned some to his pet Hugo. Hugo was a rat, but right now he was a guinea pig.
The rat licked his lips. He twitched his whiskers.

"Squeakity squeak squeak?" Melvin asked Hugo. This either meant, "How does it taste?" or possibly, "Does your belly button itch?" Melvin had once been fluent in gerbil, but he wasn't so sure about rat.

"Squeak," the rat said. This either meant, "This is the best ice cream ever," or "Don't quit your day job, mister."

No problem there. Years ago Melvin had been plucked from an orphanage and sent to The Superhero Academy. He was now the superhero in charge of Los Angeles. Along with his superhero assistant, Candace Brinkwater, he kept the peace. No, he wouldn't be giving up his day job, not as long as his town needed him.

Melvin looked around at his hideout-turned-inventer's-lab and decided to clean up. He wasn't giving up on pretzel-flavored ice cream, but he had things to do. First he cleaned up, then he checked his email.

From: grateful@fred.com
To: melvin@beederman.com
Dear Melvin,
We need your help. Someone has
been sending us threatening letters.
We don't know who it is. Please come
to our concert tonight, just in case.
Fred of The Grateful Fred

"Holy trouble-is-brewing!" Melvin said. "Someone is out to get The Grateful Fred. I love those guys."

Holy trouble-is-brewing indeed. He did love them. The Grateful Fred was his all-time favorite rock and roll band. Melvin had to get going. The email was a cry for help, and The Superhero's Code told him what to do in such situations. Melvin knew he had to be at the concert. He had to keep the peace. And if he could do so while listening to great tunes, well, all the better.

He turned on the TV so Hugo could watch The Adventures of Thunderman, their favorite show. Thunderman and his assistant, Thunder Thighs, were the second-best superheros Melvin knew.

"Gotta go, Hugo," he said as he dove out the window and--
Melvin hardly ever got off the ground in one try. He got to his feet and tried again. "Up, up, and away."
"Up, up, and away."
"Up, up, and away."

Finally he was up and flying--on the fifth try. This was par for the course for Melvin Beederman. At least he was flying.

Now if only he could learn how to turn off his x-ray vision. He really hated seeing everyone's underwear. But as he zoomed between the tall buildings of Los Angeles, looking down at the people, that's what he saw--underwear.

Lots of it. Too much of it. In every shape, color, and size. It was nauseating, really. He had to remind himself not to eat before going to work.
Copyright © 2006 Greg Trine
This text is from an uncorrected proof