Never Too Late For Popsicles
- This story was initially submitted to the Prose Challenge “Write Ugly” (https://theprose.com/post/380974/never-too-late-for-popsicles)
This story was inspired by the Reedsy.com prompt “Write a story that begins with someone’s popsicle melting.”
*There was a man named Hugh from another world, who came to the Earth to defeat evil. He created a network of heroes all over the Earth, bound by crime fighting technology. This is a story of one of those heroes*
Today I started my day at a park, and I bought 50 other people popsicles. We were enjoying our popsicles when we felt a whoosh, and all of a sudden all of our popsicles had melted. I looked up and saw a floating man with red body armor and an orange helmet. A menacing voice generated from the orange helmet.
“Jirk! You took my joy from me when I was little! Now I am going to hurt everyone here! All of the pain here will be due to the pain you inflicted on me as a child!”
Looks like we need to get some backstory in for context. As you probably guessed, my name is Jirk. When I was a kid I would pick on others just for fun. I was always very strong, and I loved tormenting those that were weaker than me. I can’t count how many kids I stuffed in lockers, kids I stole lunches from, kids I hit for no reason, kids I threw food at - I could unfortunately do this all day. When I turned 17 I was walking home from a convenience store run, when I noticed a lanky, nervous looking fellow about to walk past me. He was eating a hot dog.
“This could be fun.” I thought. “Hey man, is that a grounded hot dog?” I asked.
“What is a grounded hot dog?” The awkward guy stammered.
“LET ME SHOW YOU!” I yelled, gleefully charging at him, ready to send him and his snack flying. Before I could reach him, he stepped aside, and I tripped and landed on the sidewalk. I looked his way and a dark helmet appeared in his hand. Awkward guy put on the helmet, and then he was fully covered in body armor. A confident voice came from the dark helmet.
“So what is a grounded hot dog again? Not going to show me after all?”
I was speechless, which was out of character for me. I was usually quick to hurl out an insult, but this time, I had nothing.
“You have been bullying others, and finding a sick joy from it. Should I show you how it feels? I am far stronger than you, would you like to see how it feels to be weak and tormented?”
I braced myself for what was next. I no doubt deserved what I was going to get, but what happened next surprised me.
The armored figure reached out a hand to me. I accepted the hand and stood up.
“You don’t have to live this way anymore Jirk. I can show you a better way to use your strength. I can even make you stronger.”
“How do you know my name?” I asked, a bit taken back.
“I have been watching you. We could use you in our network. With your natural abilities, you could help make this world better through heroics, instead of making it worse through bullying.”
I felt overwhelmed. I could have been beaten to a pulp, but this non-awkward guy was showing me mercy. I was inspired by his kindness, and I suddenly wanted to be just like him. So since this is supposed to be a short story, I will make a long story short. He ultimately gave me the same kind of armor generating helmet, which generated the same kind of body armor in my size. He trained me to join their ranks, and I abandoned my bullying. Now I am in my 30s, I help others that are being bullied, and I teach anyone that will listen that there is a better way to live.
Back to the current situation, I looked up at the menacing orange helmet guy floating in the air. So apparently this guy was a victim from my past. What did I do to him? Did I create this foe from my mistakes?
“What do you want?” I called out, surveying the crowd and our melted popsicles. “I will take responsibility for whatever I may have done to you. But leave these people out of it. Don’t be the monster I once was.”
“Too late!” Orange Helmet guy said. “I am this way because of what you did to me! You ran up to me when I was 8 years old, and you knocked my popsicle out of my hand! You laughed in my face, then ran away!”
I shivered at this revelation. I don’t remember all of my sins, but I definitely remember this one. I have been doing hero work for the past 15 years to atone for my past, but unfortunately there was damage I left from that life. Maybe I can change this life I ruined?
“I melted popsicles with this device!” Orange Helmet said, holding a remote in his right hand. “Now let’s see what melts when I dial this up and use more power!”
“NO, DON’T!” I shrieked, putting on my dark helmet and gaining my armor. I had to stop this guy from doing any more damage, not just to popsicles or people, but to his own life. He was going to make a move that would only hurt himself in the end. My helmet and armor also hold weapons, and I can summon things like a laser gun, a sword that can become a laser sword, even a couple of grenades. Pulling a weapon might aggravate this situation though. I decided to try something else. I lept up at him and wrapped my arms around him. Locked in a bear hug, he wasn’t going to be able to effectively use the remote. We both drifted down to the ground.
“I did some horrible things to others, including you.” I told the man. “I wish I could take them all back and undo all the damage I did, but I can’t change the past. I can only do things differently now. Tell me, have you hurt anyone else with your tech you have here?”
“No, this was my very first scheme.” Orange Helmet said. “I never forgot your face, and heard of your heroics. I spent years planning this, and I wanted to take you down in a similar way that you took down my popsicle. I was going to hurt these people, and you. I would have been no different than you were. But you stopped your wicked deeds. I want to stop mine before it is too late.”
I let him go, hoping he wasn’t going to pull a fast one on me. Orange Helmet dropped his remote and crushed it with his foot. He then took off his helmet and dropped it to the ground.
“Thank you.” I told him. “And I’m sorry. I can’t change what I did back then. And this won’t change that either. But could I perhaps buy you a new popsicle?”
The man smiled. “Only if I can buy one for all these people here.”
“Deal!” I told him, shaking his hand. And as the cold melted from one heart, we all enjoyed popsicles after that. And none of them melted. It is never too late to change, or enjoy a popsicle....