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Today’s fiction is in honour of this

*

Emily stood at the top of the abseiling tower and peered over the edge.  She clutched at the rope running from her harness to the attachments in the roof and swallowed.  The ground seemed a long way down.  Why had she agreed to this?

She looked over at Susan.  The seven year old was grinning like a maniac, practically bouncing on her toes as she looked down at all of her friends.  Her harness, as tight and secure as Emily’s own, she was sure, was carefully arranged so that you could see her uniform beneath. 

“Are you ready?”

Emily and Susan looked at the instructors and then at each other.

“As I’ll ever be,” replied Emily.  She patted her pocket and winced as she pricked her finger on the open end of Susan’s new badge.  “Are you ready, Susan?”

“Yes!”

Together, they backed up to the edge of the tower, leaned back, and let the ropes take their weight.  Emily swallowed again, suddenly aware of how thin the rope looked.  She began to shuffle her feet, walking backwards down the side of the tower.  Beside her, Susan was bouncing, bending her legs and jumping in giant steps.  Emily shuddered.  Half way down, they stopped.

Emily glanced up at the instructors and saw that they were tieing off the ropes.  Satisfied that they wouldn’t be plummeting to their doom in the middle of a sentence, she turned her attention to the girl beside her.

“Susan,” she began, “you’ve been coming to Brownies for a while now, and you’ve decided that you’re ready to make your Promise.  Do you understand that once you’ve made this Promise, you must do your best to keep it, everywhere, every day, for the rest of your life?”

As she spoke the familiar words, she felt herself calming.  As long as she focused on what they were doing, and not where they were, she thought she could do this.

Susan nodded.

“Ok, then please make the Brownie sign, and make your Promise.  Nice and loud,” she added, “so everyone can hear you!”

Emily pried her right hand from the rope and held it by her head, three fingers raised towards the sky.  Susan did the same.  The child took a deep breath, and then recited loudly.

“I Promise that I will do my best,
To be true to myself and develop my beliefs,
To serve the Queen and my community,
To help other people,
And to keep the Brownie Guide Law.”

Emily smiled widely.  “Well done!”  She carefully switched her hands on the rope and held out her left hand to her newest Brownie.  Susan grabbed her hand and dragged herself closer, then held on to Emily’s harness while she fished out the Promise badge and pinned it on to her uniform.

Once they were done, they separated again and Emily shouted up at the instructors to let them down.

As the ropes began flowing again, Emily started to lower herself down the tower.  She glanced down at Susan, bouncing again and now far below her.  Feeling slightly silly, she took a deep breath and bent her knees before jumping out into space.  Just a little.

At the bottom, she placed her feet on solid ground and took a moment to enjoy the feeling.  Unscrewing her carabiner with trembling fingers she left the rope to dangle and helped Susan with hers.  Susan grinned up at her.

“You’re the best, Brown Owl.  I’m going to remember this for ever!

Oh right, thought Emily, that’s why.

 
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I was a little (all right, a lot) worried before I went to see this film.  I had been looking forward to it for a long time, and had hyped it up so much in my mind that I was afraid that it would be a massive disappointment.

I’m happy to report that I was wrong.

From almost the very first moments I was on the metaphorical edge of my seat.

Kal-El

We open on the birth of Kal-El.  The room is clearly alien – the floating machines and the clothes give that away.  After the birth, Jor-El holds his new son in his hands – and we cut to one of those scenes which, once you’ve seen it you can’t un-see it.  An impressive alien vista is shown, with a large beast in the foreground.  It raises its head and bellows towards the sky.

You’re more likely to understand what I’m saying if you have children, or were a child yourself around 1994.  If you need a hint, click here.

I really love what they’ve done with Krypton’s architecture.  Not for them the overly traditional ice palace motif.  Instead we have a truly advanced race, with flying cities and technology that can change shape at need.  The development of their tech followed logical lines, too – their designers had clearly been influenced by the natural world that was around them, four-winged creatures and all.

Once he’s been sent off into the void (and the story of how that happened was very exciting, with its high-speed chases, theft, treason, and attempted coups) we cut to 30-year-old Clark living on Earth.

His youth is told through flashbacks, but it doesn’t feel forced or out of place.  What I loved about his childhood was that he struggled.  He didn’t fit in, and he knew it.  From the terrified “what’s wrong with me?” to the plaintive “can’t I just keep pretending I’m your son?”, this was a child who was desperately afraid of being different.  He couldn’t fight back when he was bullied, not because he was afraid of being hurt, but because he was afraid that everyone would find out that he couldn’t get hurt.

When he learns how to fly you can see the pure joy on his face.  Here at last is something that makes it all worth it.

Lois Lane

Finally, a Lois Lane who is not the most unobservant reporter ever.  Bravo!

 am not an expert at drawing on the computer.

A normal Lois response to situations.

Dru-Zod & Friends

General Zod was very much a victim of his upbringing, and I liked that he wasn’t just evil without reason.  The one problem with his reasoning that I had was not at all the fault of the film.  It was this line:

“Everything I have done, I did for the Greater Good of my people.”

Which is fine unless, on the way to the cinema, you have had a conversation about Hot Fuzz.  If you’ve seen it, you will see what I mean.  If you haven’t, I pity you.  Go see it.  And then try to listen to that line with a straight face.

This is not a picture of General Zod.

Zod’s friends, however, had some interesting ideas about how nature works.  Evolution always wins, does it?  Hmmm, and all of those extinct species which evolved and then died out?  Still, one dud line in a film of that length is a pretty good ratio.

What next?

There were no major loose ends that screamed “insert sequel here”, but there were a number of avenues that could be explored in future films.

The first is, of course, Lex Luthor.  He wasn’t mentioned at all in the film, but there were several occasions where buildings and vehicles with “LexCorp” splashed all over them were seen (and often destroyed by the fighting).  Whether this was a taste of things to come or simply good background remains to be seen.  I for one wouldn’t say no to a film in which Lex was irritated at all the property damage.

The other idea I’d like explored is the question of Clark’s children.  For reasons which I won’t go into for fear of spoiling things, this would be very interesting.  And with his clear interest in Lois already demonstrated, we just need to discover whether Humans and Kryptonians are compatible in order for it to be a perfectly valid plot.

Conclusion

Five Stars.  If you haven’t already seen it, go as soon as you can.

Anyone who has spent any time on the internet will have come across the acronym “FAQ”.

Almost all websites (ones for companies anyway) have a FAQ section.  In theory, they list questions which have been (as the title suggests) frequently asked – so that people can easily find the answer to their question without bothering the admin staff with the same question as a hundred other people.

Fair enough so far.

However, I recently received a notification from a service I use that their process has been redesigned.  This is a new change, no public person has seen it – and yet I was provided with a list of FAQs.  My question is not answered in them, and is simply this:

Who has frequently been asking these questions?

Burble, verb.
Flow in an irregular current with a bubbling noise.

*

The brook burbled over the smooth stones, splitting and rejoining as it meandered towards the larger creek.  Anthony followed it with a heavy heart.  Occasionally he glanced back, hoping against hope that the sight would have changed, but each time he was disappointed.

The woman stood by the house, a shotgun in her hands.  A shotgun pointed directly at him.  Every time he paused to look, the figure scowled and gestured with the metal tube.  Behind her stood a small group: her neighbours and friends, come to support her in her time of need.

He wondered how it had come to this.  How had it gone so far, so that everyone had turned against him?  Would not a one of them help him?

Apparently not.

He turned back to the stream and trudged onwards.  It sounded so merry, running along without a care in the world.  Anthony envied that stream.  It knew where it was from, and it knew where it was going, and if something got in the way it just flowed on around it, not worrying.

He approached the edge of the property, where the brook entered the woods.  Turning back, he took one last look at the house he had grown up in, at the people he had known all his life.

At his mother.

He entered the woods, never to return.

The Author

Nicola Higgins is a 30-something martial artist who runs two Brownie packs and works full time. She somehow still finds time to write.

Her favourite genres are near-future and alternate world science fiction and fantasy.

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