Searching for inspiration for today, I found August’s Subgenre Mashup list and picked Superhero Heist as a possibility for a Christmas themed story. Raccoons feature again – they seem to get everywhere. It’s 1300 words, and I hope you enjoy it.
The SuperClaus Catastrophe
Nicky leant on his elbows, nose pressed up against the window pane, looking out on the blue snow and the orange lights twinkling from the road below. Then he pulled back and rubbed his nose to prevent frostbite.
Last Christmas had been such fun, helping the elves as they stored all the gifts away on Santa’s sleigh. Now he’d grown up enough to go to school, and he had to live in an ordinary house, in an ordinary street, where only ordinary things happened. Surely he had the power to turn this humdrum waiting-for-Christmas time into something magical, just like the tv programmes promised?
He climbed back into bed, pulled the duvet over him, then struggled to push the end of it back over his bare feet. He turned over a couple of times, then fought to unwrap his pyjamas which had got tangled underneath him. Superheroes shouldn’t have these basic problems. A vision of Superman flitted into his mind and he giggled over the underpants over tights problem. At least he didn’t have to cope with that.
The tapping at the window came as a welcome distraction. Never doubting for a moment that it was friendly, he leapt out of bed, and threw up the window. Apart from a blast of cold air and several inches of snow crystals, he also let in a large squirrel. He pulled the window down again as his visitor shook himself off and preened his tail.
“Just as well I saw you there.” The visitor glared at Nicky, who reached for his dressing gown and started putting it on. “Could have been out all night, and they’d have got away with it.”
“Who would have got away with what?”
“The raccoons of course. Masked bandits attacking the toy store. Are you ready?”
“Come on, for goodness’ sake. What are you waiting for?” The squirrel hopped back onto the windowsill and pulled the window up. “I wish these would open from the outside,” he muttered.
Nicky stopped staring. It must be time for action, although he’d have liked more detail, and from an official source. Raccoons, though, this could be serious. He pulled out his special black shiny wellies and pulled them on. “Ready when you are!”
“Is that your disguise? Pretty pathetic, if you ask me.”
Nicky scowled. “Just lead the way!”
The squirrel jumped, and Nicky jumped after him. Instead of landing in his boots on two feet of snow, he bounced as if on an invisible trampoline, and flew into the air, transforming into a fully red-clothed and bearded young Santa Claus.
“Wow,” said the squirrel, as Nicky came alongside him. “That is pretty neat, I’ll hand you that!”
“Just call me SuperClaus.”
It took more than ten minutes to reach the toy store. Nicky told the squirrel to slow down, and approach cautiously. “I need to case the joint,” he explained.
The squirrel raised one eyebrow. “Whatever.”
Nicky flew over the deserted car park, around the trash cans, to the loading bay at the store’s rear. All seemed quiet. He did another two circuits, to check out the front, sides, roof, air-conditioning unit, staff canteen, water and oil inlets, and drains. No sign of any forced entry, and nothing seemed to be open.
“Where are these raccoons then? There’s nobody here.”
“Of course they’re here, can’t you hear them?”
“I reckon they’re over this way, at the games section.” Squirrel landed on the roof at a certain spot, put his ear to the corrugated roof, and shut his eyes. “Yes,” he murmured, tapping his toes in a certain rhythm. “Minecraft 17, by the music.”
Nicky frowned, but put his ear to the roof too. He couldn’t hear anything, but watching the squirrel move to the music made him think it must just be his hearing. Santa was going deaf, so SuperClaus might just have a certain weakness in that department. “Ah, I hear them now.”
“So what’s the plan then? Going to surprise them? Drop in on them?”
“Well, I might go in the back door.”
“They’ll have that covered, surely? Any self-respecting raccoon would place a look-out on all the normal entrances.”
“What do you suggest, then?”
“Go in here!”
Squirrel pointed to a sliding panel only a few feet away. “It’s a roof access panel. Here, I’ll help.”
Using toes, teeth and tail, the squirrel moved the panel half an inch. Nicky slid over to him and peered through the crack. “I can’t see any raccoons.”
“But you hear the music, right?”
“Yes.” Having made that decision, Nicky took the next step. He slid the panel open, wide enough to allow both the squirrel and himself to get through. He dropped down onto a metal walkway that ran the length of the roof, presumably giving the electricians access to all the light fittings.
“Come on then,” Squirrel called as he swung down through the wires, girders, streamers, and strands of decorations festooning the store.
Nicky shrugged, and jumped after him, flying down and using his arms to swerve around the pillars of the frost palace, brushing through the curtain lights, and going through numerous signals at red as he traversed both the train system and the motor GP course.
“I still don’t see them,” he called to Squirrel, who was investigating the nut fountain.
“You soon will.”
It was as Nicky approached the games area for the second time he realised he’d been had. A stream of raccoons was pouring through the roof panel that he’d opened, down the chains and decorations, landing on the consoles, and manhandling them back up again. Another group were storming through the racks, throwing the contents out in all directions, including into the sack one of them carried. It was a well-planned raid.
“Hey, what are you doing?” he yelled, but they just chittered at him, and continued stashing their goods and attaching them to ropes they’d let down from the roof. Bags ascended into the air as Nicky heard the wail of a police siren in the distance, getting closer.
Squirrel heard it too. “Quick! They’ll be here soon!”
Nicky wasn’t sure that Squirrel had actually spoken to him; it seemed just as relevant to the raccoons.
As flashing lights illuminated the storefront, the last of the raccoons made his escape up the ropes, and Squirrel grabbed hold of one of the last bags, to be drawn up into the roof space and out into the night.
“Hey, wait for me!” Nicky leapt into the air, clawing his way upwards, only to bang his head on the roof panel as it slid shut. The impact knocked him sideways, onto one of the walkways. He lay there, panting, as six law enforcers streamed though the front doors and scurried around the store.
“Here!” one yelled. “The games area!”
“There!” yelled another, aiming his torch straight in Nicky’s face, which he hid in his hood to avoid recognition.
“What?” said another, not believing what he saw.
“It’s a santa suit!”
“Why would someone leave a santa suit up there?”
“Maybe the burglars dropped it.”
“Maybe it’s a disguise. Go up there, Joe.”
A disguise. Nicky thought very carefully, then slid out of his magical suit, and up the nearest girder. If they found the suit, they might not look for him. But his suit would be found, and maybe they’d discover its properties. How would he ever regain his superpowers without his suit? Then he realised that so far, so good, as he was sneaking up a girder to the roof with no apparent difficulty and without being seen. He waited till the officer had bent over the suit, picked it up, and was returning to the others, then shinned up to the roof panel, slid it open and shut it behind him just as quickly as he could.
How a butt-naked small boy would get from the roof of the toy store to his home across town without being seen, or frozen, was another matter.
This was a catastrophe.
And he could swear he could hear raccoons chittering with laughter in the trees behind him.
© J M Pett 2016