[MISC/ACRA/CONTEST] What Can A Cockroach Do? HCC14

Saxon Brenton saxonbrenton at hotmail.com
Sat Nov 6 19:17:36 PDT 2010

[MISC/ACRA/CONTEST] What Can A Cockroach Do?  HCC14
'What Can A Cockroach Do?'
A vignette under the Miscellaneous imprint for the 14th High Concept Challenge
written and copyright 2010 Saxon Brenton
     The Cockroach crawled across the ceiling.  In keeping with his 
insect motif he referred to this as scuttling, but to be honest the 
hero didn't have enough limbs to normally be able to pull off 'scuttling'.
The closest he came was when he was 'crawling serpentine' in an attempt 
to dodge.
     Dodging wasn't something that he was engaged in just at the moment.  
Instead the Cockroach carefully poked his head down and took a look 
through the next door on his search itinerary.  Ah, there was the 
assistant District Attorney.  Tied up, gagged, and currently making 
urgent "Mmf! Mmf!" sounds.
     The Cockroach looked around carefully, and seeing no one about 
quickly crawled in and down the wall.  As he reached for the man's gag 
he said, "Yes, I know it's a trap, but is it an *immediately* dangerous 
     Dustin Thrombsby had enough time to gasp, "Yes!  Mister Roboto has 
a stealth cloak!" before the evil and effectively invisible robot ran 
the Cockroach through the guts with a large, jagged piece of metal from 
     The Cockroach saw the rictus of horror on the ADA's face.  It was 
one of a number of competing impressions searing through his mind.  Pain 
was the other of course, but the main one that had somehow managed to 
claw its way to prominence was 'fake death'.  He tried to mouth the words 
"play along" to Thrombsby, completely forgetting that because of the 
mask he wore there was no way the other could decipher the words.  Then 
he fell to the floor.
     Mister Roboto flickered into visibility and stared down at the 
fallen hero.  For an entity that had no moving facial features it 
nevertheless managed to project an attitude of contempt.  Then, just for 
good measure, it added, "Disgusting squishy thing," before turning and 
leaving.  The door of the room slammed and locked behind it.
     "Cockroach!?" whispered the ADA.
     "'m here, Mr Thrombsby," the Cockroach managed.  He didn't move 
however, it hurt far too much.
     "Oh, thank God.  Shit," he breathed, a random cuss word that 
falling from his lips.
     "Pliss listen....  This hurts like f@*&... and I might loose 
consciousness.  I'm gonna try and get this outta my guts.  If I black 
out... I'll need you to get it out instead."
     "I'm kind of tied *up* at the moment, hero," the ADA replied, a 
touch of hysteria to his voice.
     "Yeah... but Roboto helpfully left this jagged piece of metal nice 
and close for you to use as a cutting tool."
     "That'll make your wounds worse," the man protested as he realised 
what the Cockroach was asking.
     "Not by much...  Lissen.  I don' make a big deal of it... but I'm 
as tough as a roach.  Superhealin's... onena my powers.  If it hasn't 
killed me, then it's not gonna...  Blacking out from pain is the big 
problem.  So if I don't make it... cut yourself free, then get this 
thing outta me.  Pretend I'm dead if Roboto comes back.  I can getta 
tetanus shot later."
     Thrombsby stared at the superhero lying in front of him.  Okay, 
that all made sense.  The Cockroach had a reputation as more of a super 
agile wall crawling hero, and tactically fast healing wasn't as flashy 
as invulnerability.  "Okay." 
     "Cool.  Now, I'll try not to scream," joked the Cockroach as he 
painfully levered himself up into a sitting position and tentatively 
gripped Mister Roboto's impromptu spear.
Author's note:
     Written for the 14th High Concept Challenge: surprisingly awesome 
animal hero.
     {sits stroking an evil white cat}  "That was careless, Mr Russell.  
You assumed that that people were writing at a fixed rate and therefore 
that adding an extra week to the Challenge's duration would ensure that 
they finished on time.  Wrong.  It simply gave us more time to 
procrastinate with!  Bwahahahahhahaha!!!"
     I spent some time going through natural history books looking for 
'icky critters' to use as the theme for a costumed hero - particularly 
Australian natural history - but I didn't find anything that appealed 
to me.  After pondering on the issue on-and-off for several weeks, I 
simply decided to go with the Cockroach as a default.  And despite the 
congruence of names, in my head the Cockroach doesn't have much of a 
matchup with the Roach who turned up a number of times in Dave Sim's 
_Cerebus_ to make a pest of himself under a variety of semi-related 
nom de plumes.  Mainly because the Cockroach is a wirey little guy 
compared to the muscle bound Roach.
Saxon Brenton   University of Technology, city library, Sydney Australia
     saxon.brenton at uts.edu.au     saxonbrenton at hotmail.com
"These 'no-nonsense' solutions of yours just don't hold water in a complex
world of jet-powered apes and time-travel." - Superman, JLA Classified #3     

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