The superhero America needs

Anyone who follows me on Facebook knows that I can apply snarky one-liners for most occasions.

Never did I imagine that one of  them would be a literary inspiration.

Author and journalist Warren Bluhm opens his latest e-novel with:

In January 2013 I began work on the tale that became The Song of the Serial Kisser, the first new Myke Phoenix story in many a year. I posted a Facebook post dropping a hint about the project by saying the first line of the story was, “The Astor City Mall was bustling with weekend shoppers.”

A few minutes later, Steve Prestegard wrote, “Until the giant spiders spat flame and set everything on fire.”

That was not exactly how I planned to continue the scene, but it was such a delectable image that I tucked it away as a premise for a second new Myke Phoenix story. And here it is.

And so: To Steve Prestegard, who made a suggestion.

My off-the-cuff suggestion during apparently a bad day became Firespiders, which begins with …

It was quite the festive night until the giant spider spit flame and set everything on fire.

There actually was some debate over whether it actually was a giant spider. Most everyone agreed that a stream of flame flashed through the night and set the decorations over the open deck on fire, which in turn set everything flammable on the deck on fire,which spread to the rest of the vessel. Not everyone believed that the stream of flame came from a giant spider in the water. Also, and this might not surprise you, some people who did see a giant spider in the water emphatically refused to say that’s what they saw.

Everyone agreed that the ship leaned precariously to starboard (or to the right, if they didn’t know their port from their starboard, or to the left, if they were facing the back of the ship when it leaned), pitching a couple dozen well-dressed people into the river and almost capsizing the boat (although some people objected to calling the ship a “boat”). Not everyone believed that the unexplained tilt was caused by a giant spider trying to climb on board. And some who saw spidery feet clinging to the rail refused to call them spidery feet.

Matt Metroleo, a staff member for the caterer, insisted that he wasn’t drinking on the job and, more important, that he saw a giant spider start to climb onto the railing on the main deck and spit fire at the decorations on the upper deck, which caused the blaze that gutted the ship and nearly killed a bunch of people. A small handful of people, who had been drinking, vouched for Matt’s veracity and accuracy, but a combination of factors strained credulity.

For example, no one before that night had ever seen a spider the size of an elephant.Everyone knows that spiders do not, as a rule, spit fire. And everyone assumed there was a more reasonable and logical explanation for the ship to tip dramatically on its side and catch fire.

The protagonist is Myke Phoenix, “Astor City’s resident superhero,” whose alter ego is journalist Paul Phillips, the best term to describe someone who has “moved from radio anchorman to newspaper reporter to news blogger.” Sounds sort of like Super Steve, Man of Action, doesn’t it? (But it’s not.)

Head to Bluhm’s site for Myke Phoenix novels as well as novels about imaginary physics and some libertarian thought.

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