Upville, Episode 10: Blackout

“Wait,” Fern cautiously posed, “You don’t know what your power actually does?”

Blackout inhaled through his nostrils in preparation for the explanation he had given to more people than he cared to count.

“I touch their skin.  They normally pass out.  I don’t know how long it takes for them to wake up.”

C.K. looked up from his tablet, and then he brought his feet cross-legged onto the Lazy-Boy.  “How long do they usually lose consciousness?”

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t have an estimate?” C.K. pressed.

“Is there any way to run an experiment, C.K.?” Blackout joked.  “‘Hey,’” he put on his best advertisement voice, “‘everyone who wants to pass out for an indeterminate amount of time around a bunch of strangers line up over here.’”

“God forbid a villain lie to people about something,” shot Fern, rolling his eyes up to the ceiling.

Blackout took offense, “Does it matter how long they pass out for?  It gets the job done, doesn’t it?”

“It would be helpful to have some empirical information about your ability, Blackout,” C.K. suggested.  “That way we could construct more effective heists.”

“Look,” said Blackout, “It’s not like making people pass out is what people wanna see on TV, anyway.  I touch their hand and they sleep like babies.  From what I understand they usually don’t remember anything about the time they were unconscious.  Although there have been a few comments about feeling like it was Saturday…”

C.K. looked pensive, “Have you tried touching their faces?”


“What about their hair?”

Blackout sifted through his memories.

“Do they always pass out when you touch them?” Fern asked.

That was an interesting question, indeed.  Passing glances didn’t seem to trigger his ability.  Nor did kissing or booty-grabs when he was doing the dirty.  It took a special kind of focus, like dribbling before a free throw.

“No, it’s more active than that,” he began.  “I have to want them to blackout.  Then I touch their skin, and they go down.”

Fern rolled his eyes, again, “What a wealth of information that was.”

“Hey,” Blackout said, “I don’t see you keeping piles of notes on your ability.  You don’t even know if you can shoot fire out of your big ass mouth.”

“How would that help anything?”

“It could be of use if your hands were immobile,” C.K. said holding his index finger in the air.  “Or as a surprise attack.”

“Plus, if you could get that filthy, smoke-breathing habit under control than I wouldn’t have to keep airing the living room out all the damn time.”

“What?” Fern scowled. “Does it bother your bitch-ass allergies?”

“See,” Blackout shook his head, “that attitude is why Lil’ Miss Racist knocked you on your flaming ASS!”

“I’ll show you exactly what a flaming ass looks like,” threatened Fern.

“Would everyone just agree that they have no idea how their power actually works!?” screamed C.K..

Blackout and Fern paused; that did certainly seem to be the case.

“This is where I come in,” he explained.  “I’ll give you the data you need to increase your overall effectiveness, and then we’ll all be better for it.”

“Super-Genius does have a point,” said Blackout.

“Even though all those brains can’t help him change one tire.”

C.K. ignored the last comment. “Blackout, let’s have you activate your ability while I run some tests,” he said.

“Sounds good to me,” Blackout shrugged.

“Okay,” C.K. sighed.  Finally, they were getting somewhere.  “Fern, you’re up.”

Fern’s eyes opened in immediate alarm, “What?”

Blackout got to his feet from the love seat and took a step over to where Fern was standing in the doorway to the kitchen.  C.K. readied his tablet.

“No!” he protested.  “How come I have to be the test dummy??”

“Stop being such a baby,” said Blackout, coming closer.

“I have to run the tests,” C.K. said.  “Blackout has to do the blacking-out.  That leaves you.”

“Go put Gram to sleep or something!”

“Are you honestly hiding behind my grandmother?”

“That’s pretty lame, man,” C.K. said through his teeth.

“It’s not gonna hurt.”

“You don’t know that!” charged Fern, taking a step backwards into the kitchen.

“You’re exactly right,” Blackout agreed.  “Which is why we’re doing this experiment.”

“I’ll…I’ll go pick someone up around the neighborhood and you can put them to sleep,” said Fern, sounding more and more desperate.

“It’s best if they have an ability,” said C.K. Then he got up and stood a pace behind Blackout, camera function already rolling.  “That way we can see how it’ll work against other Supers.”

Blackout couldn’t help but let a grin sneak across his face.  “Don’t worry, Fern,” he said.  “I promise not to draw anything in permanent marker on your forehead.”

A quick look around told Fern that he wasn’t getting out of this.  “If I wake up and anything weird or…or fucked up has happened,” Fern lit his hands, “you know what I’m gonna do to you, right?”

“Shhhh,” said Blackout. “It’s gonna be okay, Fern.”  He took another step forward, the same grin still pasted on his lips, and then quickly shot his palm to Fern’s forehead.  “Everything is gonna be just fine.”

That same instant, Fern collapsed on the linoleum with a dull thud.

C.K. and Blackout locked eyes over Fern’s limp body.

Then C.K. said, “Let’s hurry up and get the markers.”


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