52 in 52 Story 4 “Super-Beings and the Fall of the United States: An Oral History”

This story marks my first incomplete story of the challenge. Posting this was a tough decision for me to come to. I had an idea in my head about using super-heroes as a cipher for multinational corporations. Originally it was going to be a first person story re-telling the history of the rise of the super-heroes, how they helped to build up the country, and then describe their downfall and turn to villainy using the Great Recession as a cataclysm akin to DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths. Very epic in scope and requiring a good deal of research to get the broad facts correct.

I was really excited about it.

But it was a tough write, especially on a deadline. Things weren’t going as well as I hoped. But then I had a stroke of genius: make it an oral history so that some of the disparate ideas can be brought together in different voices that make sense to the facts! A general, a banker, a history professor, a personal assistant and a blue collar guy. These voices would be able to tell the story from a variety of angles and it would help broaden the scope of the story. That worked a lot better.

But then it was Saturday…

I said “screw the deadlines!”

Then Sunday…

Then on Monday and Tuesday I had no time due to schedule (it’s part of the reason why Monday is my post day).

So here we are, Wednesday, and the story isn’t finished and another is due in just a few days. I had to call it. I’m not ready to fall behind on all of my deadlines yet.

I’m taking a lesson from this about deadlines and how it’s important to find a way to work within them. This story was a bit too ambitious for the week that I had. It would have been better saved for when I had more free time – and maybe I’ll revisit it when I have that time – and I should have done something a bit smaller for a week that I knew ahead of time would be short.

All that being said, here is what there is of the story and, as usual, your thoughts and comments are welcome.

– Curtis

Super-Beings and the Fall of the United States: An Oral History
Dr. Robert Lanager, Professor of History, Harvard University –
It was the downfall of America. Sure, the rest of the world felt it, especially the Euro Zone, but the U.S. was hit hardest of all. They had the most sway here, most were headquartered here and those that were headquartered in other parts of the world made regular trips to the United States. It’s like the U.S. was the eye of the storm, so when the damage and destruction started we noticed it too late to do anything about it. They were super-beings with far more power and almost inexhaustible resources which allowed them to do just about anything they wanted and we, wanting to benefit from what they did, allowed them to doalmost anything they wanted. Oh, God, how foolish we were! I look back on the early days now and I get so angry at myself and at the country as a whole. In hindsight it’s so clear what was happening, where the road would lead and yet we didn’t listen to the people who warned us. They were derided and laughed off; completely dismissed by people, who thought they knew better, but none of us really knew and now it’s too late. The damage is done and, frankly, I have no idea how we’re going to get out of this one.
Walter Smith, Retired Banker –
I’ve been around since the beginning; I remember when they first started to show themselves. Bear in mind that we know now that they were always around, but they obviously they weren’t operating as publically. Actually, I take that back, there were a few that were active in the late 19th into the 20th century, I remember my father telling me about them. The beings helped build the infrastructure of the country. They had their hands in the railroads, minerals and energy. In some cases they even helped to report the news of the time. For the most part things were fine, but a few of the beings got a bit big for their britches and some started to consolidate power, keeping everyone they could under their watch. The fall could have come then, but the government put together legislation that seemed to bring them under control and, with those controls in place, most of them started going about normal, proactive lives – generally contributing to society without attracting attention – and then just fading away into the background.
Gen. Thomas Black, Retired Army General –
At first we called them super-heroes. Here they were these amazing beings with amazing powers that could defend us from enemies thousands of miles away. With the help of hundreds of thousands of human soldiers, they fought in every major combat through history: World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Afghanistan, The Gulf Wars, all of them! And, in most cases, we won those fights and we couldn’t have done it without them. But that was part of the problem; really, we truly couldn’t do it without them. We knew it, they knew it and for while it was actually ok, a mutual appreciation society. They’d work for us and we’d work for them, building things together to keep this nation great.
Leslie Howard, Office Assistant-
                When they first started to appear, at least when I was growing up, people weren’t ready to believe it. I mean, who would? Suddenly, as if from nowhere, you had these magnanimous beings coming down from the sky to save us. It wasn’t even the powers they showed, movies prepared me for that, hell I expected it… but in real life, seeing people fly and having energy flowing out of their bodies… Sometimes it was too much to take.
Gen. Thomas Black-

If you look at it, the whole thing is kind of generational. We had our heroes start off loyal and patriotic. They believed in the people and what they could do. These were the folks that helped build the America that we call “The Good Old Days.” But as the heroes got older they were replaced by newer heroes, super-beings with different ideas about their contribution to society should be. Now, I want to be clear, these were not villains. While there were always a few of them that worked against society, by and large the heroes were no worse than anyone else. And I guess that’s the rub, they were like us. As the modern times made the world smaller, suddenly our heroes were branching out. They would go to foreign countries, establish headquarters there, and make alliances with the beings that were there. Were we worried in National Defense? A little, but frankly they were still something that we relied on so much that as long as we were the ones getting their “A” game we chose to turn a blind eye. I think that carte blanche may have hurt more than we realized. 

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