He never looked forward to that question; even after waiting on the line for twenty minutes, through the hold music and ‘please hold the line’ recordings.
“Superhero.” Unconsciously dropping an octave.
Static hissed across the line, he could picture the call centre operator’s mouth agape. “Sorry?”
Clearing his throat, he tried again; “Super… I’m a superhero.” Face flushing red, wishing that one of his super power’s was the ability to evade embarrassment.
Another pause on the line, the conversation normally went one of two ways; either the person refused to believe him or he had to deal with a gusher. “Really? Wow. What’s your ability?” H2O had a gusher.
Clearing his throat, he told the operator that he could control water.
“Control water? That’s not really a super power, is it?” The kid on the other end of the line smirked.
H2O hated nitpickers; those hard to impress faction of civilians that expected all superheroes to be like those on the news that could fly or run at amazing speed or be impervious. So controlling water wasn’t right up there with the rank and file of Lightning Man or Fireball, but he had helped to contain a pretty bad chemical spillage at a factory nearby last year and had managed to curtail a small blaze that broke out after a chip-pan fire went out of control next door a couple of months back.
“Next time you need the fire brigade, just remember what you just said.” He was seething; all he wanted was a new insurance quote. He should have just gone online and used one of those comparison sites.
“Tetchy.” The operator remarked under his breath. “Okay, you’ll need flood damage cover.”
H2O could see where this was going; he could control water so he was a flood risk, ha ha. “Actually, no I don’t; there’s no body of water within two miles of my property.”
“But you just told me you could control water? What if you had a cold and sneezed out a waterfall?”
H2O had to laugh at that one; “It doesn’t work like that.”
“How do we know that? We are an insurance company, our job is to assess risk and you, sir, pose a substantial risk with your super powers.” He said the last two words in a sardonic tone that was probably accompanied by a set of air quotes.
With a huff of exasperation, he informed the operator that the only water he could control was that contained within his own body.
After a pause the kid kicked up a belly laugh that rocked the phone from his ear. “You retain water, then?! What are you, in league with crime-fighting pregnant women everywhere?” The mocking laughter wound down to a gurgle of contempt. “Seriously, mate; if you’re just doing this whole ‘Super Hero’ caper for tax reasons, you’re wasting your time.”
He’d had enough. “And what do you do, then, eh? Sit in a call centre all day from your high throne, passing judgement on those worse off than yourself? You’re a joke, mate; I wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire!”
That set the kid off again; “Well, apparently, that’s the only way you’d be able to put the fire out!”
“Whatever, goodbye.” And, H2O put the phone down, completely unaware that the kid on the other end of the line could spot a liar when he spoke; that was his ability. And, the only reason he had laughed so hard was that he knew it was all true.
Mark Robinson‘s previous writing has appeared on Thrillers, Killers n Chillers, Sunk Island Review, Microhorror.com, Hackwriters.com, Manchester’s Transmission Magazine, Birmingham’s Raw Edge Magazine, Short Story Library (US), Txtlit.co.uk, Post Card Shorts, Enigma and the Lulu Anthology, Never Hit by Lightning, Edited by Tucker Lieberman & Andrew Tivey. Forthcoming publications include Powder Burn Flash, A Thousand-faces & Delivered.