Weekly Flash Contest #8: Write about what super-heroes and super-villains do in their spare time or on their days off. Feel free to make it funny: maybe Voldemort enjoys yoga, or Wonder Woman writes a blog.
The week commencing May 18th (Daily Creativity prompt #41) was our eighth week of flash contests, with another record number of entries. It was also the second contest based on Stone Soup contributor and reader Molly Torinus's writing prompt, which meant that we got to work with her again to judge the contest. Thank you Molly, for your great idea that inspired such a range of entries, and for your wise decisions and enthusiasm in the judging process!
This week, we are announcing our 5 Winners, whose work is published below, plus 5 Honorable Mentions. We also unexpectedly received a few art entries responding to the writing prompt, and we have chosen one of those as a special Honorable Mention for art, too. Congratulations, everyone!
(work published on this page)
Enni Harlan, 13, Los Angeles, CA
Julianna Muzyczyszyn, 13, Warsaw, Poland
Lucy Berberich, 11, Oxford, OH
Samuel McMullin, 10, Portland, ME
Sophie Yu, 12, Houston, TX
Honorable Mention (writing)
“Captain America's ‘Normal’ Day” by Alice Xie, 12, West Windsor, NJ
"A Day With Voldemort” by Yutia Li, 11, Houston, TX
“A smell of burning” by Daniel Shorten, 9, Mallow, Ireland
“Batgirl's Day Off” by Isabel Bashaw, 10, Enumclaw, WA
“Super Hero Hobbies” by Em Jay, 10, Austin, TX
Honorable Mention (art)
"Super Zoom!" by Chloe Mancini, 9, Glenside, PA
Remember, we are running the Flash Contest every week during the COVID-19-related school closures and shelter-in-place arrangements. It is always based on the first Daily Creativity prompt of the week. The prompt is posted on Monday, entries are due by Friday, and the winners are chosen and announced the following week.
A Villain's Consolation
Enni Harlan, 13
The following records contain corresponding letters between myself and Lady Catherine de Bourgh who, in my opinion, is the super villain of Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice. In such letters, I have acted to be an intimate friend of hers so that I may have access to her innermost thoughts and daily activities.
My Dear Lady Catherine de Bourgh,
It was with great pleasure that I met with your daughter, Miss Anne de Bourgh, on occasion yesterday. As it so happened, I was on a shopping errand for some new fabric for Mama when I happened to have the joyful coincidence of seeing your daughter. At long last, we were reunited as the most intimate of acquaintances. Indeed, Anne and I have been ever the best of friends for so terribly long that I have been away far too long. Ever since my visit with Miss Georgiana Darcy at Pemberley Estate, I felt the urge to call upon you and Anne. As I have no future occupying activities at the moment, simply name the time and I shall be most obliged to call. I apologize for the recent delay; my brother has been busy remodeling our garden of late.
My lady, your nephew Mr. Darcy has expressed his apologies for not being near you as recently as you may have liked. He also wishes to let you know that he will not marry your daughter as you liked, but that is another affair that I shall not get meddled in.
On quite another note, I would like to inquire after yourself. How have you been these past weeks? Dear Anne tells me that you have been most terribly vexed over this entire Mr. Darcy affair. She says that you do not wish him to marry this young lady you have mentioned in the past. What was her name– ah, yes, Elizabeth Bennet. I hear that she most definitely is lacking wealth and fortune.
I shall not give you my opinion on this matter, but simply shall ask your own. How have you been able to cope with such tiring issues? Do you have activities that ease your aching mind at the moment? I most dearly hope so.
As for my own family, we are quite fine. My eldest brother, as I explained previously, is busy with remodeling. Mama is busy making a new dress for Susan, and Papa is occupied in purchasing yet another estate. I fill my time with music, and practice daily at the pianoforte. I hope to one day be so skilled as your own daughter at music, but until then I am afraid I must continue to practice. But enough of that.
I apologize that I feel the need to cut off this terribly short letter so horribly soon. Please let me know how you are, my dear lady, and I shall call on you someday soon. Oh, and my dear Mama wishes to invite you for tea. She says you are welcome any day of the week, anytime. We shall expect you whenever you like.
My father sends his respects to your ladyship as well, and wishes to know if you are well. It has been a while since we all met with you, but please know that you are always in our minds.
As always, I remain to be
Your most humble friend,
* * *
My dear friend,
I thank you for inquiring after me. My daughter Anne has informed me of her meeting with you, and we wish for you to come to tea this Saturday. As for my coming to call on you, I must remind you firmly that I do not call on anyone of late. I may reconsider, however, in a fortnight or so.
As for the topic of my nephew and this young lady, I am indeed most thoroughly vexed of such news. I cannot believe that my own nephew would share his fortune with a lady of such low rank. I believe he is most definitely out of his mind, and am continuously trying to talk sense into him through my countless letters. Alas, he is still ignoring me, but I am trying, I assure you. My nephew has a mind of his own, and so do I. In fact, I believe we will eventually come to a compromise.
It has always been understood that Darcy is to marry my daughter, Anne. I am currently working terribly hard to break off Darcy’s acquaintance with this young Elizabeth Bennet, but believe me, it is difficult. I have found such affairs most terribly tiresome. Yet I believe it is my duty to find a suitable match for my nephew, as he has no father nor mother of his own to advise him. But, of course, were his father still living, he would not have advised him so sagely. His father was such a simpleton!
I have found such comfort to my ails as you might expect. I have taken up knitting, old as I am. I find it most relaxing. Of course, I do not expect to make my own clothes as those of the lower class do– I have my own servants to take care of such tidings. I also take the time to write letters. I get a dreadful many letters from the adoring public, and I fancy that it is only my duty to write them back. Isn’t that so?
My greatest hobby, however, is a mystery to all but myself. Even my own daughter does not know it. Yet I suppose I must tell you, considering all that you and your family have done for me. You are my greatest advisor, and Anne’s greatest friend. I shall inform you that the activity that brings me most comfort is playing soldiers.
Yes, playing soldiers. You see, my nephew’s acquaintance, Mr. Wickham, used to play with small toy soldiers made of lead when he was a small child. They were small, trivial toys that I would often stumble upon when visiting them. Their servants were always scrambling about, rushing to pick up the toy soldiers. I would always laugh at the sight, as they had a vast amount of servants, what with their sum of ten thousand pounds a year.
Due to a sudden turn of events, the soldiers ended up in a basket which landed within my hands. Just a fortnight ago, I discovered this basket in a dusty corner of my own bedroom. I took them out, and shouted at the sight. It was terribly ridiculous and most unladylike, but I am afraid that I picked one up and began to arrange the toy soldiers in a battle scene. I played that they were attacking one another, and had the most fun I had in ages. I even made noises to play that they were shooting one another. In half an hour, one of my servants knocked upon the door to check in on me. I was most terribly frightened and shoved every single soldier under the bed. I have fired that servant since, as she was very bad to disturb me during my play.
Oh, dear me! I fear that I am descending into madness as I describe such a hobby to you. I wish I had never written it, but there is no going back now. Please promise that my secret is forever safe with you, my friend! I shall be much more inclined to inform you of such clandestine activities in the future if you promise to keep this secret.
Your most intimate friend,
Lady Catherine de Bourgh
Magneto's Day Off
Julianna Muzyczyszyn, 13
“Rise, my child.”
The world was cold and dark, lonely and stinging, and all of a sudden a beam of light, sharp and blinding, cut through the darkness. Then another, and another, and suddenly the world was light and warmth and freedom.
“Your beginning was humble, as was that of many great men. But that no longer matters. You will one day rule the world by my side. It is in your destiny.”
The puppy shook its wet head, spraying cold water all over the man’s face. He leaned away in disgust, frantically trying to protect his impossibly polygonal grey beard. Carefully, he lowered the writhing ball of damp fur in his hands into the warm water tank to rinse off the rest of the doggy shampoo.
“Are you almost done with that one, sir?” the young volunteer asked. The man glared at him suspiciously.
“Perhaps,” he said finally.
The volunteer beamed.
“That’s excellent, sir!” he said. “There’s about 60 of these pups that we still need to wash up. There must have been at least 200 in that kennel. It’s terrible, the way people mistreat animals.”
The man glared at the volunteer, defying him to keep talking. He went pale, and walked away nervously.
“I wish some of these pathetic humans would just be silent sometimes,” the man muttered to the puppy as he resumed rinsing his matted fur with the warm water. “You dogs are an inherently superior species.”
The man froze.
“Is that you?” the person asked again. She had a familiar voice.
Magneto considered his response carefully. “No,” he said finally.
“What are you doing?”
Magneto wasn’t sure how to respond to this without giving himself away, so instead, he chose to remain silent. The woman walked up to him and leaned over his shoulder to peer at the puppy he was vigorously cleaning. Magneto didn’t look up, but he was pretty sure he knew who this was.
“Isn’t he a little cutie?” Jean Grey asked, reaching out to pet the dog’s head.
“Don’t touch him!” Magneto snapped at her. Unsurprisingly, Jean took no notice. The puppy tilted its head, exposing its ear, panting happily.
“Get lost,” Magneto huffed.
Jean didn’t look like she was planning on getting lost anytime soon. Magneto looked up and wrinkled his nose in disgust.
“Is that a Starbucks frappuccino?” he asked, nodding in the general direction of Jean’s other hand. She pulled it closer defensively.
“So what if it is?” she asked, her eyes flashing orange. Normally, that wouldn’t have intimidated Magneto, but he took one look at all the pathetic human civilians and especially the harmless, innocent puppies around them and decided it instigating a fight wasn’t worth it.
He huffed to express his disapproval, and gently removed the puppy from Jean’s hand. “Don’t spill it on him,” he warned as he lifted the dog and began gently drying it with a towel.
“I won’t, I’m not an idiot.”
Magneto looked around for an escape route as Jean started talking again.
“What are you doing here?” she asked. “I thought you hated Earth.”
“I do!” he cried. “I just. . . come here sometimes. . . to check up on them.”
Jean snickered. “Why do you care how Earth is doing? You keep saying how little you care about humans.”
“There are other species of animal on this planet too. I like to make sure the humans haven’t killed them all off yet. That would be a huge loss to the biodiversity of this universe.”
Jean snorted with laugher, spilling some of her frappuccino. “You don’t really care about biodiversity, do you?”
Magneto looked at her impatiently.
“Why else would I even be here, taking a personal interest in the faring of this pathetic planet?”
“Because you’re a lonely old man and you like to come down here to play with small animals to keep you company?”
Magneto huffed again. “What a ridiculous, baseless accusation.”
Then he walked off to hand the clean and dry puppy over to one of the volunteers for the vet inspection. As he turned to walk over to collect another filthy little dog that needed cleaning, he noticed out of the corner of his eye that Jean wasn’t leaving. He returned to his station with another little puppy and began to rinse the filth out of its fur, making a point of ignoring Jean.
“I don’t think that’s a very ridiculous accusation,” she said finally.
“I could ask you the same question.” Magneto snapped. “What are you doing on Earth?”
Jean gave him a weird stare. “I literally live here.”
Magneto said nothing, turning his face away from Jean to avoid giving anything away, then called over the young volunteer who had been bothering him earlier.
“Young man!” he croaked, doing his best old man impression. “Could you please tell this lady to stop bothering me? I don’t know her!”
The young man approached Jean, looking slightly apologetic. “Ma’am, please leave this gentleman alone. He’s such a sweet, harmless man.”
Jean raised her eyebrows.
“He comes in to help us whenever there’s a situation with the dogs. He’s almost like a grandfather to all of us. Please back off, I don’t want to have to call the police.”
Jean’s eyes went from a flash of orange to a fierce crimson. Magneto gave her a stern look, nodding in the general direction of the puppies. Jean angrily dumped her Frappuccino on the ground and turned away huffily.
“Whatever, Magneto,” she said, sounding remarkably like an eight-year-old who just lost a fight. “You suck anyway.” With that, she walked off, mumbling to herself under her breath.
The Dark Lord of the Switch
Lucy Berberich, 11
He was Voldemort. He was the Dark Lord. He was evil. He was feared.
He also loved his Nintendo Switch. What was the harm in that?
Okay, okay. It hadn’t always been this way. He had been at the prime of his evil reign. The height of his success. He hadn’t had time for petty things like video games.
But… when he was going through his Death Eater’s bags to make sure they weren’t hiding anything, he stumbled across a particularly intriguing item. A Nintendo Switch, they had called it.
He was an evil lord, so whenever he found something he wanted, he just took it. He was proud of that fact. However, this particular theft was proving to be quite toxic indeed. For the past month or so, all he had been doing was playing on that cursed machine.
He had accomplished so many things in the world of the Nintendo Switch (e.g. visited twelve other islands on Animal Crossing, built a mansion in Minecraft, became a ninja in Skyrim), but in the real world he was falling short. He had done absolutely nothing in his spare time but play on the Nintendo. He was a disappointment to the realm of villainy, he realized that. . . but at least he had his Animal Crossing friends to keep him company.
When the door opened, he didn’t even look up, waiting for the visitor to speak.
“Ah. . . my lord . . .” He recognized the voice, he was the newest addition to the Death Eaters, and it was obvious. The rest knew better than to bother the Dark Lord when he did not want to be bothered.
“What is it that you want?” Voldemort inquired coldly, still staring at the screen of the device.
“Your presence has been requested by the team, my lord.”
“Tell them to wait.”
“Do you want to live?”
Cobra Commander takes a day off
Samuel McMullin, 10
It was a sunny Sunday morning and Cobra Commander was waking up. He stretched his arms and took off his chrome mask and changed into his favorite pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt.
Being the head of an evil organization was fun, but it wasn’t as fun as a lazy Sunday.
Downstairs, his fat tabby was still snoozing.
He opened the fridge only to find that all he had left was a cup of yogurt.
He shrugged and took it out of the fridge and sat down in front of the TV. He flipped on the news, only to find a special report about the attack on GI Joe the night before.
He quickly changed the channel to Hallmark and nestled into his favorite chair. For hours he sat there, doing absolutely nothing. He even denied a call from Destro, his arch-enemy and ally. I guess you would call him his frenemy. Finally he looked at his watch to realize that it was already 11:00! He checked the calendar see his schedule for the day:
11:30: grocery store
5:00: book group
He headed to the grocery store first.
He got on his mask and stormed the grocery store yelling,“COBRA!” (Out of force of habit).
First he stormed the organic foods aisle for fresh produce. Next he led his invisible men to the butcher counter and yelled, “FOOL, I WANT 3 POUNDS OF SLICED HAM!” He then pulled out his blaster and destroyed the counter. (Again, force of habit.)
And as he checked out he yelled “RETREAT, FOOLS!”
When he reached his Cobra-Copter he took off his mask and said to himself: “Wow, that went extremely well and I might have made a couple of new friends.”
Next he went to his meditation where he had trouble centering himself and every time he did he yelled out, “COBRA!”
Finally the instructor said quietly to him:
“Mr. Commander could you quiet down a little?”
To this Cobra Commander replied with his usual, loud:
Next was his weekly therapy where he vented about how everybody always failed.
And finally he arrived at his book group which consisted of a lot of old ladies who were stunned by his views on Harry Potter. To him, Voldemort was the real hero. And when one of the other members pointed out his flawed view he quickly responded with, you guessed it: “SILENCE, FOOL!”
Her coffee table did not survive the book group, but what really upset all of the other members was that he destroyed a doily which quickly got him kicked out of the group.
And as he lay in bed later that night he thought to himself, “This has been the best day!”
And he fell asleep dreaming about his next lazy Sunday.
Sophie Yu, 12
The sun peeked through the airy curtains in Wonder Woman's peaceful room. She squinted her eyes and combed her fingers through her coal-colored mane. A quick glance at her clock tells her it’s 9:00 AM. Still only half-conscious, she trudged into the bathroom to take a quick shower.
Darth Vader awakens to hear the sound of his theme song blasting off from his alarm clock. As usual, he smashes the clock into pieces. Immediately, his high-tech clock rebuilds itself back into its original form, and the deafening music has stopped. He rubs his eyes and sits up. His room is shady and dark. The curtains are pulled closed so that no light can seep in. His lamp is a lightsaber, the only light in his room. Finally, he changes and gets up. It was thunder storming hard outside and he listened to the crackles of lightning joyfully while chomping on his burnt eggs and toast.
Since it was Sunday, Wonder Woman doesn’t have to wear her uniform. She puts on a robe and dries her locks. She sips her coffee slowly and watches the cars pass by on the streets. After eating a hearty brunch of waffles, scrambled eggs, and bacon, she quickly changes and pins her hair up into a bun. Swerving aside her job of saving lives, she decides to have some spare time to herself this peculiar Sunday morning. Soon enough, she pulls up to the dance studio and glides in, but soon her look of joy is turned into horror as she peers in.
Being always very in charge of things, Darth Vader is unusually hesitant on what to wear today. He puts on some shorts then decides that they're too baggy and loose. He then notices his handwritten schedule taped to the wall next to his wardrobe. He realizes that he’ll be late! Stuffing the shorts back into his drawer, he quickly combs his hair that recently popped up on his head (he hadn’t had a haircut in a while) and puts on another pair of clothing instead. He actually makes it on time and rushes into the dance studio. Though he loves to kill, his top hobby (strangely) is dance! Then, his jaw drops open to see Wonder Woman standing at the barre.
Wonder Woman glared at Darth Vader and turned her head back to the ballet barre, ignoring his shocked stares. After a few sets of plies and pirouettes, she glances back at Darth Vader. He is now onto jumping. His stubby legs don’t let him go high and Wonder Woman snickered at the sight. She then began on her adagio combination and continued to practice.
Darth Vader pretends not to hear any laughter though he admitted his cheeks did turn red with embarrassment. His legs were very short and he didn’t look like someone who would dance. He brushed the criticism off and continued with his sissonnes and leaps. Wonder Woman was also back to her usual combination. They both danced together in a huge studio at 11:45 on a partly sunny Sunday morning.
Somehow through the bright sunny weather in Wondersville and a thundering hurricane banging at Vadersville’s door came a partly sunny elegance of weather that pleased both Wonder Woman and Darth Vader. And from then and on, every Sunday was partly sunny.