Where’s Superman When He’s Needed?


(600 words)


Took the coach to Skegness with mother. I loathe the place, all crowded streets, tacky ‘souvenir’ shops and the ubiquitous smell of frying, but she wanted a day out. The tide was in, so the beach wasn’t wide. We sat on the sand in an area of large black boulders. I think they’re to stop erosion. She read her latest book-circle title, Superman – A Retrospective. l listened to Tommy Bolin’s Teaser, the brilliant legacy of another heroin ‘victim.’ What a waste.

There was some sort of mist that made our eyes sting. We came back early. Others on the coach were complaining about it. One lady’s eyes were red and streaming, other people were coughing.


My eyes felt sore today. Mother complained too. Read on the internet that hundreds were affected. People told to keep away from Skegness and other places along the coast. Authorities haven’t a clue what’s going on. A chemical ‘spill’ at sea the most likely culprit, apparently.


Well, the ‘mist problem’ seems to have got worse. It’s now affecting the whole coastal area, with people being told to stay indoors whilst the authorities find out what’s going on. My eyes are OK now but Mother coughing a lot. I told her to see the doc, but she says she ‘doesn’t want to be a nuisance’! She seems confused, talking about Christopher Reeve as if he’s a close personal friend! Dementia is cruel.


This thing is serious! Sky’s even changed the headline from ‘Mystery Mist’ to ‘Killer Fog,’ on account of the number of car crashes there’ve been. It’s affecting the whole East Midlands coast and has come up to fifty miles inland. Authorities say they ‘are working on identifying the problem.’ Tossers!


Well, the fog’s reached us here in Welby. You can’t see anything out of the windows and it’s impossible to drive. You can’t have the headlights on – too much reflection – and you have to keep the windows closed. Mother’s saying that Superman will sort it out. She’s gone completely doolally, poor old soul!


Donna called round on horseback – with gas masks! Seems she’d bought a ‘his ‘n’ hers’ set of WW2 gas masks at auction a few years ago and found they’re still OK. Amazing!

She’d brought Jamjar on a tether. I hadn’t ridden for years but he’s a gentle soul. The horses’ eyes don’t seem affected but they’re a bit spooked by this bloody fog. We rode into town to try to get some bread and milk. It was so weird riding down the high street. You couldn’t see the shops until a few feet away and it was deathly quiet. All closed, but the Co-op windows had been broken. All the fresh stuff had been looted but we found some dried milk and Ryvita.

I managed to bring back a boxload of CDs, well if I hadn’t taken them, someone else would’ve. A mixed bag, including some ancient stuff. Been listening to the Beach Boys’ Surfin’ U.S.A. Still sounds so good, but don’t think there’ll be much surfing going on around here for a while.


PM on the telly saying there’s no need for panic. Silly cow, she should come out here! The source of the fog’s still unknown, but they’re now saying it might be some kind of chemical warfare. Great! It could be the Russians, the Chinese, or even North Korea, not that it makes much difference. It’s reached the East End now though, so everyone is finally taking it seriously. Mother’s still asking if Superman is coming to the rescue. If only!

Featured in the book and audiobook, To Cut a Short Story Short, vol. II: 88 Little Stories

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6 thoughts on “Where’s Superman When He’s Needed?

  1. The authentic voices and description especially of Skeggie kept my in the moment. The gas masks and horses were a hoot. But in todays world the underlying fear of some evil retribution is very real. A great read

    1. Thank you Ellen! Like most of my stories there was a fair amount of factual stuff in there. I actually have a ‘his ’n’ hers’ set of WW2 gas masks, bought at an auction and did go to Skegness with my mother. I also have a horse-riding friend called Donna! There was a case on the south coast last year where an ‘unidentified’ mist descended on a beach and everyone had to leave. AFAIK it was never explained what had caused it, despite the disruption caused. People said it smelt like chlorine, the authorities said ‘ozone.’ There’s quite a difference!

      Then we had severe snow (for England!) the other week and all the roads round here were deep in snow and impassable and chaos quickly ensued. I just combined the two in my story. Not hard to see that society would crumble VERY quickly under those circumstances, and as you say, it’s certainly not out of the question, unfortunately.

        1. Oh, that’s interesting. I’m twenty miles to the northwest of Skegness. I’ve only been there a couple of times plus once to look at some dead whales (maybe a future tale?) and I was quite polite about it in my story! Some people like it though. And the beach is good.

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