Jessica smiled as the woman sat down opposite her. She took in the woman’s appearance: Average brown hair, up in a not-sloppy, not-perfect bun. Average brown eyes that looked just a little tired, but not noticeably so. An average build – not too overweight, but not fit, either. The woman was marvelously average.
Jessica cursed to herself. Why did she have to pick a dumpy woman to shift into? Was it too late to take a new form?
Well, for this job, she probably could get away with another shift.
Jessica wondered if she might be able to make the woman fall in love with her. An average woman from an author’s imagination probably wouldn’t be interested in a dumpy woman, but Jessica had seduced more difficult targets in worse forms than the one she wore now. And it’s not like she couldn’t choose someone else in between – a target more to this woman’s liking.
Sam offered a half smile. “Hello? You wanted to interview me?”
“Hm. Yes. I apologize. I zoned off for a moment!” Jessica smiled a broad smile. “I was just noticing your lovely features! I’m quite jealous.”
“It’s not good to be jealous of someone who’s unremarkable,” the Unremarkable Samatha X replied. “It doesn’t speak very well of you.”
Jessica looked down at the table. “Well, maybe you’re not as normal as you think.” She looked up through her lashes, shook her head, and readjusted her posture to something more resembling professionalism. “I’m sorry. We’re not here to talk about me. Tell me, Samantha, what attracts you to the superheroes of Barrelbottom? Nearly every hero mentioned that you were in their backstory, since coming here.”
“Really? I’m that remembered? I’m surprised!” Samantha sat back in the cream-colored chair, lacing her fingers together. “That makes me happy. I always have to be reminded, though: unremarkable and forgettable aren’t always the same thing!”
“Yes.” Jessica stood. “Can I offer you something to drink? We have icewater, tea, some lovely beers…?”
“Just some water, thank you,” Sam answered. She glanced around the office. “So, is this part of your story? I’m a little surprised your author rejected you; superhero journalism is a unique idea I’d think an author would pursue.”
Jessica walked to a low table near a wall. “Hm? Oh, I’m just renting.” She poured a glass of water from a sweating carafe.
“And your interest in superheroes? Were you written that way?” Sam accepted the offered glass and took a sip. She looked at the glass. “I always hate how the ice gets in the way.”
Jess tipped her head, a strand of mousy brown hair getting in her eyes. “You’re here so I can interview you, not the other way around.”
“Oh! Of course! I apologize.” Sam set down her glass. “Ask away!”
Jess glanced down to her notes. “What attracts you to the superheroes of Barrelbottom?”
Sam shrugged. “Nothing much. I’ve dated a lot of people since coming here. It’s basically why I was rejected.”
“I’m the average girlfriend. I don’t cause any big wounds and I’m not the one who got away. No writer needs an average girlfriend in a backstory. For your characters you need someone remarkable… not someone like, well, like me.” Sam shrugged.
“And you’re content with that?”
“It means that as I live out my character, I get to meet a lot of nice people.”
“But you’ll never find love. Your author condemned you to live alone.”
Sam squinched up one eye. “I suppose. If you wanted to take it that way. Or I get to live an average life, enjoying the sights and sounds of the world.” She took her glass in hand. “But it’s not the superheroes I’m interested in. I’m average. I like hearing about, getting to know, people who aren’t average. And that’s just about anyone here.”
Jess pressed her lips together. “Except me.”
“Oh, hush! Everyone is interesting. It’s just that some people hide it better than others.” Sam leaned forward to place a hand on Jess’s. “Tell me your backstory, Jess. What did your author want you to be?”
Jess looked away, but allowed her hand to stay below Sam’s. “It’s not important.”
Sam waited a moment. Her eyes strayed to a clock. “Listen, I have a date to get to. But you know how to get a hold of me. Call me sometime; we’ll do coffee and we can talk about your life. It sounds like you could use someone to talk to.” Sam smiled. “You don’t have to pursue superheroes to be someone special.” She stood and paced out of the room.
Jess leaned back, plucked up her pen, and began writing. “She’s a linchpin. With all her connections, if we can bring her to our side, we’ll have much leverage.”
This is a Barrelbottom Tale.