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I Won At NaSuHeMo!

Marissa Lingen's superpowers include an uncanny affinity for tisanes and the ability to change topics in a single bound. She is a science fiction and fantasy writer living in the Minneapolis suburbs.

October 30. I am soooo excited for this year's NaSuHeMo. I know we're not supposed to do any of the work in advance, but that doesn't mean you can't prepare your strategies, and I definitely am. I've read all the forums from previous years to see who had the most success. I even made a spreadsheet. It looks to me like radiation is the best option, but it obviously depends on what kind of radiation you can get access to. The mecha suit options are the most reliable for people with engineering degrees, but mine was in Communication Studies. Knowing how to communicate is valuable in any field, so I'm sure it'll make me an important member of whatever superhero team I join.
Once I get my powers.
Which will be before December 1, if everything goes according to plan. I can't wait for the first meetup. Part of the point of pursuing superhero powers in November is to have a community to encourage you and keep you accountable. I've always felt sure that I was destined for powers. This year I'm finally going to make it happen.
November 3. I slathered myself with aloe lotion before heading to the coffee shop for the meetup. Two days of radiation experiments have left me with nothing more super than a sunburn. HARUMPH. But at least today I could meet some of my forum friends and fellow strivers after the super life.
Anastasia was not at all what I expected. She was so full of energy, so cheerful, so perky! It was hard to believe that she wasn't super already. Maybe it was all the espresso. She also came prepared with syringes of radioactive spider venom.
"It has to go into the bloodstream," she told me. "The online forums put all forms of radioactivity exposure together when they calculate success rates, but the skin is an effective blocker of the most potent types of radioactivity. Injectables give you far better odds. It's science."
She had injected Laurel and Fran before the Non Sequitess barged into the coffee shop bathroom and confiscated the syringes. "Sometimes," Anastasia said darkly to the rest of us, "the established super community is less supportive than we might hope."
It's okay, though. There are already three people with that radioactive spider venom--more if Anastasia gave some to Luis before they got to the coffee shop. I saw how they look at each other. Those people will all have the same powers. I have a plan that will make me a completely unique new force on the super scene. Tomorrow.
November 8. Five days of testing the irradiated rattlesnake serum. I guess the pet shop clerk really meant it when she said that much radiation would render it completely inert. At this rate I will turn up for the next meetup with no powers again. This is terrible.
November 9. Panicked and played puzzle games on my phone all day. This cannot continue. I'll stay up all night before the meetup getting my next plan into shape. I can sleep when NaSuHeMo is over and I have my powers. Or maybe I'll get powers where I don't need to sleep! That'd be awesome.
November 10. I talked to Luis at the meetup, and he said Anastasia's radioactive spider venom had not worked for anybody. Unless you count an evening of fever and chills and a nasty rash "working." I thought maybe it had worked for Anastasia herself, since she wasn't at the meetup, but no, she was apparently home trying to coax more venom out of the spiders. Sad how she's retreading the same ground over again. It's too bad she doesn't have my star map updated with the likeliest exoplanets to support life.
November 13. It occurs to me that almost every alien superhero was an alien to start out with. I can't think of any superhero that was turned alien and got powers that way. Maybe if there were any alien artifacts... but there's a better way to get superheroic artifacts I think.
November 17. Missed the third meetup due to travel. The search for magical artifacts keeps turning up nothing. Everyone has already stolen all the good magical artifacts by the time I get there, which is totally not fair. One woman chased me away shouting about her land. I know it's her land. I just want the magic artifacts on it. It's not like she's using them. She had to use a shotgun to chase me, which is not very super.
Kind of scary, though.
November 22. Still traveling. Am going to miss family Thanksgiving later this week, but it will all be worth it when I find the Ring of Power. Or the Helm of Might. Or whatever.
They don't have a lot of these things lying around Laguna Beach. It's really inconvenient. But NaSuHeMo is for people who are ready to take their superhero power quest seriously. If you could just buy a Sword of Justice out of the Williams-Sonoma catalog, everyone would do it.
Note to self: check Williams-Sonoma catalog anyway, just in case. It may be listed as Limited Edition Heirloom Santoku Knife or something Rustic Pumpkin. I bet nobody else has a Rustic Pumpkin Sword of Justice. So that'd be pretty cool.
November 30. The last day of NaSuHeMo. It's too late to build myself a mecha suit--maybe next year? Maybe community college classes to get there? Thinking out loud here. But I was really bummed to have poured my heart and soul into this for a whole entire month and come out of it without any superpowers. I went for a walk on the beach to clear my mind. The beach is not that warm and fun in late November. I brought the metal detector just in case. Still no Rings of Power, and only 57 cents in change.
And what's worse, there were jellyfish out on the beach where I was walking, and I didn't notice until I couldn't get clear of them. My feet got stung so badly I could barely walk home. I'm going to finish this final failed diary entry and go to bed without any great new magical powers. SIGH.
December 3. I woke up with my head feeling five times its normal size. Apparently I slept through two days. Ooooops. I guess NaSuHeMo took a lot out of me!
Went into the bathroom without turning on the light and discovered that I glow faintly. What. What is this.
My thumbs also have tiny stinging tentacles along the inside, and I'm really hungry for caviar.
Take that, Anastasia. Spiders have been done already. Jellyfish are the way to go.
The Non Sequitess and Birdbrain tell me that it's very rare for powers to intensify after they show up, so I'd better explore what I got out of this. I tried to go in swimming to see if I had any superpowers related to that, but I came up sputtering and coughing. Apparently not.
I don't care, though! I am Cnidaria Girl! Maybe the name needs a little work (Jelly Woman sounds like I make jam, though... must brainstorm), and I still have to figure out the costume. But I won at NaSuHeMo, and that's what really matters.
The End
This story was first published on Friday, November 3rd, 2017

Author Comments

I'm always comparing other creative pursuits to writing for the sake of useful analogies: "Well, it's like making brownies," "It's like practicing the piano," and so on. This time I flipped it: in a universe where superpowers were a thing, why wouldn't people work on them like they do on writing novels? I once heard an earnest aspiring writer say that a famous pro could inject a critique into their skin in snake venom just to get the critique from them. Ew. Don't say stuff like that, kids. But the two combined and here we are.

- Marissa Lingen
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