Comic Competition

Write Brothers and UcreateComics are sponsoring the Write Brothers Become Extraordinary Competition and I have officially entered. The overview and guidelines can be found on the competition page I just linked to, but here is some info from the site:

The Challenge
You are being asked to to create a scenario comprised of 4 characters and the superpowers that you ascribe to them. The time and setting for your scenario is up to you. Give us up to a two paragraph synopsis of the storyline.

Synopsis of SUITZ
A man arrives at 4 different doors in the same town. He delivers a simple package. A black box with a strange icon on it. Whoever receives it finds there is no way to open it – but once the icon is touched, the box dissolves, embedding itself into the person touching it. The unsuspecting holder of the box blacks out and wakes up with no memory of what has happened. Over the next 72 hours, each box recipient starts to manifest superhuman powers and transform into a costumed hero – or villain.

SUITZ is a morality tale about power, corruption, failure, and redemption... the human condition. In the background, someone is watching, monitoring, and controlling the SUITZ and its players who controls the delivery men and their super powered black boxes.

That should give you a pretty good idea of the parameters I had to work within. So, without further ado, here is my submission:

City: Seaport, MA (fictional major coastal city)
Time: Present Day

Synopsis: Seaport has always been home to both tenacious law enforcement agencies and ruthless organized crime families, but the struggle for control between these foes has never been greater. The city has reached critical mass and its fate has been put in the hands of four major players in the war for supremacy, courtesy of SUITZ. Will good triumph over evil, or will Mickey’s thirst for revenge overpower his desire to do what’s right? Could a man like Big Sal, destined for a life of crime since birth, see his new ability as a chance to change sides and fight for the good guys? What will Agent Starkey do with her newly acquired powers, other than try to make the Seaport PD look bad? So many questions, but one answer is certain; Seamus Mullally will remain a brutal killer with his eyes on the prize. Only now, he has the ultimate weapon.

To make things interesting, SUITZ has added a twist; our four “enhanced” characters may find themselves powerless against each other in battle or able to combine powers to work together. They could even involuntarily swap powers with an ally or a foe. All bets are off in the epic war for the City of Seaport!

Character 1: Mickey Sullivan. He’s 44 years old, tall, sturdily built, and comes from a long line of Irish Seaport cops. Detective Sullivan heads up the Organized Crime unit of the Seaport PD and has a personal stake in the cause; his father was assassinated by mob hit men when Mickey was a boy because he wouldn’t take a pay-off to look the other way. His sole mission in life is to put every member of the Mafia family responsible for the murder behind bars, starting with the son of ailing Don Companetti, Big Sal.

Power after touching SUITZ glyph: Able to morph into and/or take control of any living organism (bringing undercover police work to a whole new level) with limited regenerative powers based on the strength of his host.

Character 2: Salvatore “Big Sal” Companetti, aged 38. At 5’9” and 268 pounds, it’s not hard to see where this first generation Italian American mobster gets his nickname. With his father’s health failing, Big Sal has been forced to step up his role in the Companetti family’s illicit activities, making him a primary target for the Seaport PD, local FBI agents, and the rival O’Connor crime organization. No one knows his inner struggle; Big Sal desperately wants to be on the right side of the law but is deathly afraid of disappointing the family…and ending up in a landfill.

Power after touching SUITZ glyph: Possesses Jedi-like mind control and agility with superhuman resilience to injury.

Character 3: Agent Jill Starkey. She’s a 29 year-old glory hound who cares more about getting press and promotions than actually saving Seaport. Jill spent her childhood on the west coast immersed in gymnastics and has the diminutive stature of a true competitor. However, what she lacks in size she makes up for in brains, graduating at the top of her class from an Ivy League university and acing the FBI academy. In the war for the city, the only side Agent Starkey is on is her own.

Power after touching SUITZ glyph: The ability to see the recent future and move at hypersonic speed to get her to the scene of the crime before it happens, giving her the jump on the bad guys, her fellow agents, and the Seaport PD.

Character 4: Seamus Mullally, aged 31. This heartless hit man of the O’Connor crime family had already made a name for himself in Seaport by the time his was 19; by 24 he stopped counting his victims, as math was never his best subject. Not the sharpest knife in the draw when it comes to most things, Seamus is practically a genius at taking out his quarry. He has to be, because at 5’7” and 156 pounds, he can’t count on brute force to get the job done. With each murder, Seamus is trying to bring himself one step closer to the top of the O’Connor food chain.

Power after touching SUITZ glyph: Can manipulate matter to make almost anything a lethal weapon, from a playing card to the sidewalk under his feet. Also comes in handy when he needs to hide or escape before and/or after a hit.

Timed Out

It turns out that the writers behind Prometheus were prophets, in a way. The human race here on Earth was indeed created by Engineer-like beings from another universe that shared their DNA to make us. And, like in the movie, these Engineers also created a method to wipe us out should the need arise, like we start destroying the planet with pollution and overpopulation. Sound familiar?

However, the method of our extermination was not supposed to be so Hollywood as creepy black goo and acid drooling aliens bursting from our chests. Despite their best intentions, though, life on Earth is now very much like a science fiction film.

From what scientists and doctors can piece together, the end of the human race was designed to be somewhat of a non-event. The Engineers apparently added a little something to their DNA before they seeded Earth; a timeout feature similar to what we use with software licenses and such. A ticking time bomb, if you will, that was set to go off at a certain point unless the Engineers deactivated it.

The population would suffer something like a collective aneurysm and that would be it. No drama, no alien invasion, no post-apocalyptic world to survive in, etc. Just BAM! and we all drop dead in our tracks. Nature reclaims the planet and we are written off as a failed experiment.

As you have probably guessed by now, deactivation didn’t happen. We assume it is because of the mess we have made of this planet, but it could just as easily be because the Engineers are extinct or maybe focusing their energy elsewhere, forgetting about the little project they started so very long ago. The BAM! moment didn’t happen either, at least not like it was supposed to.

On February 3, 2020, life on Earth changed forever. Approximately 90% of the population suffered a catastrophic and fatal medical event...but only 10% stayed dead. The other 80% experienced a kind of reanimation after being clinically dead for a short time. Lack of oxygen during what we now call the “suspended period” caused brain damage but not the typical impairment associated with oxygen deprivation.

The most affected parts of the brain were the hypothalamus (which controls, among other things, body temperature, thirst, and sleep) and the frontal lobes (responsible for regulating the sections deep within our brains that deal with our most primitive urges: hunger, aggression, and reproduction).

We still haven’t figured out exactly why 10% of the population was unaffected, but it is most likely due to a mutation or unique combination of genes that somehow turned off the kill switch. Another thing we haven’t figured out is how many of the 10% are still alive. Less and less every day is a safe bet.

What we know for sure is that Earth is overrun with crazed, highly aggressive creatures that are trying desperately to quench their insatiable primal needs. You’ve seen enough zombie movies to know what that looks like so I will spare you the gory details. Suffice it to say that the Engineers may very well get their extermination in the end, albeit a drawn out and bloody one.

I hope the Engineers are still alive and watching us, and learn from both our mistakes and their own. As Edmund Burke once said, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it”.

Shining Through

So...the end of the world didn’t come on December 21, 2012 as so many thought it would. However, I’m pretty sure that the “physical or spiritual transformation” that others believed would happen has started. I think it is both physical and spiritual; the past is finally catching up to us, one person at a time. The event that started my investigation into the matter involved my 9 year-old son, Sam.

I was working out using the weight set in our basement playroom, listening to Black Sabbath like I usually did. Sam would often hang out with me while I lifted, playing with his Legos on the floor. He knows We Sold Our Soul for Rock ‘n’ Roll backwards and forwards and loves every song. Or, at least he used to.

War Pigs came on, that slow, distorted guitar filling the low-ceilinged room. Sam seemed oblivious and continued building his latest creation, a heliport for the chopper he had cobbled together. Then the air raid siren started up in the song and all hell broke loose. Sam dropped his Legos, clamped his hands over his ears, squeezed his eyes shut, and began rocking back and forth. A look of pure terror distorted his handsome little face.


The fear in his voice turned my stomach; no father wants to hear his child scream like that. I ran over to the stereo and killed the power, then scooped Sam up and held him tightly to my chest. He wrapped his arms around my neck and began to sob, his face buried in my sweaty t-shirt. Between muffled breaths it sounded as if he were mumbling “want my mom, want my mom” over and over. Turns out it was “no more bombs, no more bombs”.


A South African man, born and raised in nearby Cape Town, was surfing the South West Coast when he wiped out, hitting his head on his board. Luckily, his friends saw that he was unconscious and got him safely to shore. When he awoke, the man was shaken up but spoke fluent Russian.

Blind from birth to poor, uneducated parents, a young Chinese girl from the rural province of Qinghai never learned to read braille; there was no one to teach her and no books for a hundred miles or more. No electricity for television or radio, either. Despite all of this, she was able to describe, in precise detail, the layout of Washington, D.C. and its numerous historic buildings and landmarks to a Chinese-American Peace Corps volunteer visiting her village.

A nursing home in Birmingham, England is home to a large number of former factory workers from the Sutton Coldfield area. Many of its residents were forced to leave school at a young age and go to work to help support their families. Needless to say, music lessons were not a part of childhood there. So how could an 87 year-old man suffering from dementia, with no prior experience, wheel over to a piano brought in for a party and flawlessly play a piece from Gaspard de la nuit by Maurice Ravel?


Those are just three of the countless stories I have discovered since I began researching this post-12/21/12 phenomenon (plus the one I witnessed first hand, of course). My theory thus far is that there has been a shift in our universe and, somehow, our past lives are starting to “shine through” for lack of a better term. The fabric separating the journey of our soul through its lifetimes here on Earth from the present has worn thin, my friends, and there is no mending it.

What will be the impact when Atilla, Stalin, and Hitler rear their ugly heads? Better yet, what if it happens to be you?

Black Hat Man

Have you ev-er seen the Black Hat Man?
If you do, run as fast as you can!
He’ll grab you and take you a-way!
Be-low ground where he likes to play!

Have you ev-er seen the Black Hat Man?
If you do, run as fast as you can!
Big round head and pitch black eyes!
Stay a-way if you are wise!

Have you ev-er seen the Black Hat Man?
If you do, run as fast as you can!
He is gon-na make you cry!
You will beg PLEASE LET ME DIE!

~ Old hopscotch rhyme

I have seen the Black Hat Man. I was 11 years old and hiding in the woods behind my house. Father was pretty drunk and angry as hell that day. I knew enough to leave and let him drink himself to sleep. My secret spot was between a huge boulder and a fallen tree. I had spent countless hours there, sitting unseen with a spy’s view of my backyard, waiting for the right time to go back home.

He looked normal at first glance; an old man in a black topcoat and pork pie hat. Then I saw that his arms were too long, his fingers extending below his knees as he shambled between the trees. And wasn’t his head larger than it should be…and kind of shaped like a ball? I’ll never forget the absolute terror I felt when that schoolgirl chant began to play in my head. “Big round head and pitch black eyes! Stay a-way if you are wise!”

The Black Hat Man made his way to the base of a massive, old oak tree. He raised a knurled hand as he approached the trunk and the ground just…parted. I don’t know how else to describe it. The earth opened and he descended as if walking slowly down a flight of stairs. I watched in disbelief until his bulbous head moved out of sight and the ground closed over him.

I was too afraid to move; what if he could hear my steps from under there? The sun sitting low above the horizon finally snapped me out of it. I quietly slid out of my spot and crept toward my house, giving the oak tree a wide berth. Once in my yard I sprinted to the house, charged up the stairs, burst through the back door, and ran headlong into my drunken father.

He was a big man and I ended up flat on my back on the kitchen floor. He glared down at me with bloodshot eyes as I hurried to my feet. Based on past experience I knew what was coming and braced for it. What happened instead was something I never would have guessed.

“You got a look at him, didn’t you, son?” My father asked softly. I lifted my eyes to meet his and what I saw there frightened me almost as much as what had happened in the woods. All I could do was nod.

“I was about your age the first time I laid eyes on him,” my father sighed as he pulled a chair from the table and sat down heavily. “Just about scared the life right out of me. Except I wasn’t lucky like you are. I went down that hole kicking and screaming”.

He exhaled and ran a large hand through his thinning hair. I could smell the whiskey oozing from his pores. I stood there with my mouth hanging open like a fool.

“Things happen to children down there, son…horrible things. And now, no matter how much whiskey I drink, I can’t make the guilt go away.”

Wait…guilt? What is he talking about? I didn’t dare ask.

“When I reached manhood he stopped taking me, and I did everything I could to forget him. But when you were born I knew he would come for you one day. I couldn’t let my boy go down that hole - I just couldn’t! So I made a deal with that monster. I did it for you, son…”

The realization hit me like a ton of bricks. Why the neighborhood kids didn’t play on our street. Why I had no friends. Why my father drank himself stupid every day.

The sacrifices he made to keep me safe from the Black Hat Man.