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DanielF
December 13th, 2013, 11:07 PM
“Ok then group, gather round now,” said the gym instructor Ebenezer Clarke. He was strictly Mr Clarke to the boys though, as he was rightly sure they would make a mockery of his name if they knew it. He was born on Christmas Eve, and according to his parents, he was named after the Charles Dickens character from A Christmas Carol. His mom said it was one of her favourite films, but Mr Clarke despised it.

“What we are going to do today is some push ups to get us all warmed up, so get down on the floor and do as many as you can.”

The twenty young boys, in their first year of secondary school, collectively groaned as they flattened themselves to the floor and started lifting themselves from it.

One of the boys, Matthew, could barely manage one, but some of the others were still going strong even after a dozen repetitions.

“Well done lads, keep it up!” shouted Mr Clarke in encouragement when only two boys were left. “You’ve done forty each, that’s fantastic!”

Then, through exhaustion, Tommy conceded defeat and got a congratulatory pat on the back from his teacher. But one boy was still going strong.

In fact, he was going effortlessly well, and he had now exceeded sixty press ups without even the slightest hint of breathlessness. Mr Clarke stared hard at the boy.

After some minutes, the entire group had crowded around the boy in astonishment.

“How many has he done so far, Mr Clarke?” asked James.

“152,” he said.

Finally, after reaching 200 press ups, the boy stopped, and rose to a stand, amazed by the mass of eyes glued to him.

“Why did you stop?” asked Mr Clarke.

“Oh, sorry Mr Clarke, it’s just that I thought we were only doing a warm up. Shall I do some more?”

Ben was no ordinary boy.

At four years old Ben had picked up one of his father’s dumbbell weights, which he had left on the floor of his bedroom after an after-work session. He had left the weights unsupervised to splash his burning face with water, and he almost screamed when he returned to find his son carrying a 20kg dumbbell above his head.

Three years later, at the age of seven, Ben’s dad challenged him to a friendly contested arm wrestling match. He had a great bond with his son, and he loved their games with each other.

But he wasn’t smiling when he lost the arm wrestle.

“Ok, that was just a warm up,” he said with a chuckle. “It’s best out of three, so get ready now!”

At the next attempt, Ben’s dad clenched his teeth together in determination, and when he felt his arm drip towards the table his eyes almost bulged from their sockets. He lost again.

When Ben was ten a school ground bully had decided to pick on the quiet boy. Ben had never been particularly self-confident, although academically he was bright for his age he lacked a certain self-belief. This bully had thought Ben would be no match for him when he positioned himself nose to nose with the boy.

But then Ben done something which amazed everyone watching. He gently pushed the aggressive boy away from him. But the bully didn’t just stagger backwards slightly, he seemed almost propelled by the force, and found himself flat on his bottom some ten metres away.

Ben wasn’t picked on again.

Now aged twelve, although he didn’t seem noticeably muscly, Ben had the strength of two men.

“Well then,” said Mr Clarke, “boys I think we’ve got ourselves a new school record. Well done Ben, I don’t think anyone will be beating 200 press any time soon!”

The rest of the day went without drama. Ben was friends with another lad called Michael, and they shared most of the same classes. Michael hadn’t been in the gym class that morning, and he felt rather paranoid later on in the afternoon when other kids kept glancing towards them both.

“Do you keep getting the feeling that we’re being watched today?” he asked finally.

“Oh that,” remarked Ben off-hand. “I broke some sort of school record doing press ups in gym class today. No big deal, but I think I’ve got some new admirers or something by the looks of things.”

Michael laughed and gave Ben a friendly rap on his arm.

Seeing at though Ben lived four miles from his school, Ben would often get a lift from his mom to get back home. It saved the tiresome bus journey, where the bus would forever stop to pick up more people until there hardly seemed enough air for all of the crammed passengers to share. And Ben liked his mom’s company, so he always wore a smile when he found his mom’s car outside the school’s gates. Today was one of those days.

But this journey was unlike any other.

It seemed to happen in slow motion. Ben and his mom were driving along the country lane at a steady sixty miles an hour and were talking about what they were going to have to eat that evening. But the next moment would remain in Ben’s mind for all time.

A black Ford Mondeo was beginning to creep up alongside their car to overtake them. But they were fast approaching a right-handed bend and in horror Ben knew what was going to happen next.

A huge lorry was going around the bend towards them. In panic, the driver of the Mondeo slammed on the brakes and hooked his car to the left, heavily clipping the rear of Ben’s mom’s car and careering it into the path of the huge lorry. Ben’s mom howled as the lorry smashed into their car, sending it hurtling off the road and thundering into the roadside, flipping over and over until it finally came to a smoking rest.

There was silence. A complete nothingness swept over Ben and he hurt in every being of his body. He was only vaguely aware when two strong arms gripped themselves around his waist and hauled him from his crumpled seat.

“Are you ok!” shouted the man, but Ben didn’t answer him. He couldn’t answer him. Instead, he found himself happily caressing the grass beneath him when he was placed there by the burly man. “Oh my God, she’s going to burn to death if we don’t get her out right now!”

Ben suddenly came to his senses as if someone had poured freezing water down his back. He looked towards the wreck that was his family’s car and realised in horror that his mom was still trapped inside. She was vaguely moving and smoke was fanning itself from the upside-down engine.

Without pause, Ben clambered from the ground and pursued towards the car.

“Kid, stay back!” roared the man when he saw Ben stride towards the turned-over car. “You can’t do anything for her!”

But Ben wasn’t listening. He was zoned out. He wrapped his arms around the side of the car and with every last bit of strength he had left in his body, he raised the vehicle from the ground and roared as he pushed it over, so its wheels were on the ground once more. Then, he pulled at the door handle to reach inside and pull his mom out of the wreckage. But the door wouldn’t budge an inch, as it had folded itself inwards.

So, Ben grimaced once again. Sweat poured off his forehead and his eyes strained against their sockets. With another monstrous roar, Ben ripped the door from its hinges, and pulled his mom from the car.

She was only faintly conscious. But she was aware that her son was dragging her away from certain death. She finally allowed herself to drip into unconsciousness as the car exploded into flames.

Gargh
December 14th, 2013, 12:10 AM
Hi Daniel, I like the idea of this but I think you may have given too much away too soon. On first read, a lot of questions arise about why his friends and family didn't make more about his strength before. Have you considered making most of his school day, prior to the accident, a little more mundane? Perhaps he could be quite reluctant to participate in any sport? If you make him quiet and ignored then his actions at the end (which I'm assuming is a beginning?) seem more remarkable and interesting by contrast. Something as severe as his mother's life under threat would force him to act and uncover/reveal his remarkable strength. Perhaps it develops because of this incident? If that were true then you could have him previously humiliated by falling out early in the gym class trial. Otherwise I feel that the fact he is remarkably strong isn't remarkable because you have introduced it at the outset as a given fact. I would also suggest you experiment with bringing in some more detail to that critical crash scene. By which I mean, go deeper into what you already have.

ThornhillD
December 14th, 2013, 07:00 PM
oh man, i liked this story a whole LOT! well done! kept me reading and wanting to know what happened next. good job! cant wait to see more form you!

Roobearrr
February 23rd, 2014, 09:38 PM
Unfortunately this type of story has been done way too much and the only way you're gona get readers is if your book has something different. Obviously from this one excerpt we didn't get this but this piece needs to be seriously re-written. The punctuation and grammar etc needs a good look at but if this was just a draft then that can be overlooked. The most important thing i felt that was lacking in this was emotion. The story escalated so quickly i didn't realise what was happening. You need to stay on one thing for the chapter to draw in the reader. So, for example, you could start with the accident, that could have been the moment which brought forward his 'super strength'. You sortof diluted the amazing talent he had by everyone not really reacting that much, why weren't the school kids harassing him? I know i would have been!

Anyway, some food for thought, and don't forget, this is just my opinion.

KindaNice
March 3rd, 2014, 09:39 AM
Surprisingly, there's no simple link (neither Wikipedia nor tvtropes) about the Superman problem.

To me, it seems like your character is perfect - polite, intelligent, humble, "bullied" exactly once, and incredibly strong. There is a problem with this. The problem is this character will have no problems, and will remain static forever. Actually, I'm totally generalizing here, and maybe you have some awesome plot set up for this guy, but it wouldn't fit the tone of your writing. To make this character interesting to me as a reader, you would have to do some impossibly mean things to him so I could see him grow and change.

This is the Superman problem - Superman is perfect and unchanging. He doesn't have to deal with fear or feeling helpless (unless the plot device that is kryptonite appears, but it usually gets spirited away before anything that can permanently affect him happens). Superman doesn't make mistakes. More than having a lot of really strong superpowers, Superman has a perfect moral compass and never has to compromise between what he thinks he should do and what he actually does. I don't read a lot of comic books so my knowledge in this area is probably wildly out of date, but the essence of the problem is that perfect protagonists make boring characters.