Samantha X looked Siberian Husky right in the eye. “So, it has come to this.”
“Uh, yeah?” Si blinked.
Sam giggled. “Sorry. I just love saying that every chance I get. I had a wonderful evening, Si. Thank you for taking me out again.”
Si broke out into a large grin. He scratched the stubble on his cheeks. “I’ve really enjoyed taking you out.” He opened his mouth, but no words came out. “I’m sorry. I’m not good at this goodnight-at-the-door stuff.”
“Oh! So you think you should be saying goodnight inside my house tonight?”
“No! Um, I mean, well, no, I guess, I—“
Then Si caught the gleam in her eye.
“Not yet, Si.” She caressed his wide cheeks with her cool, slim hand. “I’ve dated a lot of people since coming to Barrelbottom. A lot. But I have to say, you’re special.”
Si felt the heat on his cheeks. Sam still didn’t move her hand, though.
She kissed him.
She kissed him!
She didn’t wince. She didn’t hesitate. She didn’t give some half-hearted pity kiss. Full on the mouth, a little pressure, both lips –
And then she pulled away. “Good night, Si. Let’s do this again. Soon.”
And then her door shut, leaving Si standing on an average porch on an average street in Mundania.
Oh, but Sam! Sam was no average girl!
Four dates! And she hadn’t left revolted yet. She hadn’t rejected him. Was it possible?
Could Si be in love with the most average girl in all of Barrelbottom, the woman known as the Unremarkable Samantha X?
Was it possible she didn’t hate him?
That was the best kiss he’d ever had. Maybe for someone else it would be average, but for him? Oh, better than the winter blizzards of the Siberian plains!
He was still standing on her porch. He should probably go home.
Siberian Husky waltzed down the street. He was a few blocks from a bus stop, but he didn’t mind. He hummed a little song. Nothing much. Just some romantic trash that Magisaur taught him a few weeks ago. Maybe he should sing it for Sam? No, he had a terrible voice. No need to scare her away.
Then again, she hadn’t been scared away yet. Maybe she couldn’t be scared?
Si turned the corner.
An average-looking house spouted flames. Crackles filled the air. On the lawn in front of the house, a family of stooped people watched in horror.
Si ran to them. “Is everyone out safe?”
The woman—Si now saw that she had the head of a mole with pinched-shut eyes – she cried out, “My Diggory! He’s in there! My poor Diggory!”
Si grabbed her by the shoulders. “Is that your son?”
She nodded through her tears.
“Have you called the fire department?”
The man – her husband? – answered, “All the neighbors have already. They’ll be here soon, but our Diggory!”
Si gave a curt nod and turned toward the inferno. He tugged at the tight blue spandex that encased his blubberous body. Oh. His tie. He still had on that horrid yellow tie from his date. Best take that off. He tossed it onto the plain green lawn. Air hissed in his nostrils as he breathed.
Si barreled to the front door, putting all his weight into his shoulder. It shattered under his charge. A chunk of wood got between his feet and he fell to the ground.
Just in time. The gust through the now-open door fed the fire. A cloud of flame billowed over him and out the front door. Over the sound of the fire breathing, he heard the family cry out in fright on the lawn.
The heat on his back – was it possible for spandex to melt? He was an arctic superhero, not a fire-based one! What was he thinking?
Somewhere ahead, someone yelled.
Ignore the sweat. Just crawl. Stay below the smoke. Go.
Paintings on wall dripped. Smoke swathed the ceiling. A lounger over there burned. The fireplace seemed untouched by the cataclysm.
Si scurried through the room to a hallway beyond. Where was the yelling coming from?
Stupid sweat. Well, at least the burning his eyes kept his mind off the spandex.
Seriously. Would that melt?
Second door on the left. That one. It was shut. Si knocked on it. Someone inside opened it a crack.
“Diggory?” Si shouted over the fire’s breathing.
“I’m here to save you! Let me in!”
The doorway widened, and Si scrambled into the room. The door slammed shut as soon as he was in. Si coughed. Oh, that didn’t feel good on his throat. Was he coughing up blood already?
A little boy with a mole’s face stared at him. “Whoa! You’re a real superhero! Is a supervillain burning down out house? Is that why you’re here? You’re saving the innocent victims while the bad guy gets away? That’s so awesome! Who’s the villain?”
Si gasped for air and glanced around.
A small bed lay in the corner. Clothes littered the floor. On the walls all sorts of posters hung, but most of them were for superheroes and a band called the Moloids.
Si didn’t see himself on any of them.
“Diggory, we have to get out of here fast.”
“No way! I’m not leaving my collection! You stop the fire, and I’ll keep safe in here!”
Si glared at him. “What color is my uniform?”
“Thank you. Does it look like I control flames?”
“No way! You control ice! Just freeze the flames! That should be easy!”
Si rolled his eyes. Could he just pick up the kid? No, probably not. Kid would just thrash around if he really wanted to stay.
“Look, my villain is getting farther and farther away. It’ll be faster to save you than save the house, and then I can go chase after him, ok?”
“What villain is it?”
Si blinked. Think fast! “Cranium King.”
“Whoa! I’ve never even heard of him! Is he powerful?”
“Powerful enough that I need to save you fast.” Si lumbered himself up to stand. “Your room doesn’t have any windows.”
Great. Si reviewed his superpowers: withstanding cold. Not exactly helpful here. Standing firm when someone was trying to get him to move. Yeah, he needed to actually move! And having an incredibly strong grip with his mouth.
He really wished he had superstrength. Or even cold powers.
“All right. Here’s the plan. I’m going to tear down a wall. If I remember right – this wall should be right next to the front door, right?”
“Yeah. I think so.”
“Well, this should be fun.” Si walked to the wall and punched it. His hand sunk in a quarter-inch into the drywall. He yelped.
“What’s wrong?” Diggory shot to his side. “Did Cranium King hurt you in your epic struggle?”
“Yeah. Epic.” Si shook his hand out. “Stand back.” He bent over and pried some of his teeth into the shallow hole in the drywall. Well, that’s not awkward at all.
The drywall came loose. He tore a strip from the wall. All right! It was a start. He got his mouth into the new hole. He tore more out. And more. Soon he could get his jaw around a two by four. It came out. A second two by four.
The entire wall creaked.
“Diggory, there should be just a thin drywall layer between us and the front door. I’m going to run through. You chase after me as close as you can, ok?”
The mole-boy nodded.
“Here goes nothing.”
Si rammed the thin wall. It crumbled before him. The opening to the front door beckoned. He barreled out.
Digory raced after, passed him, and flung himself into his mother’s waiting arms.
Si puffed out onto the front lawn and belly-flopped onto the grass. Oh! He didn’t think it was possible to sweat this much. Good thing Sam wasn’t around to see this.
“You rescued my son!” The mole-father stood beside him. “You’re a hero! You saved my son!”
And others joined the cheer. A whole crowd.
Si propped himself up on an elbow. The entire neighborhood had gathered. They all clapped and whistled.
A completely average crowd, cheering an under-average superhero.
It didn’t matter. The kid was safe. That’s all that mattered.
Diggory rushed over. “You got to go, mister! Cranium King is getting away!”
This is a Barrelbottom Tale.
Siberian Husky was last seen in Siberian Husky on Report.