Survey

“Hello?”

“Hi! My name is Cheryl, and I work for SFTW, a worldwide survey company. May I take up a few minutes of your time, Ma’am?”

“Huh? Wait a sec – PICK THAT UP, TOM! – sorry, this is a survey?”

“Yes, Ma’am. Would you like to participate?”

“Uh, sure, it’s not long, is it?”

“No, not more than a few minutes.”

“M’kay. Just a second, the cat’s on the table… GET OFF. Good boy. Yeah, I’m with you.”

“Here we go. What sort of cereal do you own?”

“Uh, let me check, let’s see… Cap’n Crunch, Cornflakes, Kellogg’s, and wait, we had one just this morning – TOMMY, WHAT CEREAL DID YOU FINISH THIS MORNING? OH OKAY, THANKS. Yeah, and Quaker Oat Squares.”

“Thank you. Now, how would you rate each of those cereals – let’s start with Cap’n Crunch. Would you say Cap’n Crunch is a very good brand of cereal, a good brand of cereal, a mediocre brand, a bad brand, or a very bad brand of cereal?”

“It’s okay, I guess, I don’t eat the cereals, my kid does.”

“I understand. I still need you to answer the question to the best of your ability. As far as you know, is Cap’n Crunch a very good brand of cereal, a good-”

“I get it, I get it. It’s good, okay? Are you going to do this for every brand?”

“Yes, ma’am. So let’s move on to Cornflakes-”

“Can you just list them all as good brands? I really don’t have a lot of time here, sweetheart.”

“Well, I’m really sorry, but I really have to read you each of the questions. It’s the survery policy.”

“Well, honey, I can’t stand around here listening to you read each of those brands and if they’re good or not. No offense or anything but – TOM, WILL YOU GET YOUR SHOES ON, WE’VE GOT TO GO SOON! – I’ve got to drive my kid to soccer practice soon.”

“Alright, okay, just for you, ma’am, let me just write the brands as good… Okay… Yup… Now, let’s continue.”

“There’s more?”

“Not much, ma’am, please stay with me, just another couple questions.”

“Fine…”

“Out of the cereals you mentioned, which you would say is your favorite?”

“What? I just told you, I don’t eat them, my kid does – TOM, HURRY UP – and I really need to go.”

“I understand that you don’t, but still, to the best of your ability, please. Which is your favorite?”

“Lord, I don’t know – darn I need to fill the cat’s food bowl, hang on a sec, I just need to get – ouch! TOM LEONERD DAVIES, I TOLD YOU NOT TO THROW YOUR GREENS IN THE CATFOOD!”

“Ma’am?”

“Listen, hon, this isn’t a good time, let’s say it’s Cap’n Crunch, okay?”

“Okay, now I just need to ask some statistical questions for our database, okay? I’ll be quick about them!”

“How many of those are there?”

“… Just twelve.”

“…”

“Hello? Ma’am? Hello?”

“…”

“Damn. Lost another one.”

Dramatic Scene…?

“I know what you’re thinking,” shot Max at Deirdre. “You’re always thinking the same damn thing. You’re thinking that I shouldn’t go. You’re thinking that I’m being stupid. Just say it already!”

Deirdre looked coolly back at Max’s angry expression. She could have scratched her face off, for plainly showing her thoughts and emotions as it so clearly was. It was too late to fix the expression that had jumped unwillingly to it when Max had told her he was going out. She settled for pretending innocence instead.

“I’m not thinking a blessed thing, boy.”

“The hell you’re not,” Max spat back.

“Well, I’ve got nothing to say to you when you’re in such a foul mood,” Deirdre didn’t give up her act, but gave Max a bland look before turning her back to him. He knew everything she could say to deter him already. It was true that she thought him a fool for going, yet again, and there was no point in having another argument on the subject. Max would do what he wanted, and that was that.

A few minutes passed. Deirdre sat at her vanity, staring blindly at her own reflection. Finally, she heard the sound that she’d been expecting. The front door slammed with a force to shake the very panes of glass in it. She shut her eyes tightly for a moment, screwing her face up in pain.

 

Max waited outside the front door, wondering if this time Deirdre would come after him. But no, the minutes passed and still there was no sound of footsteps inside the large, boring suburban box of a house. He sighed and ran a hand over his face. Taking his car keys out of his pocket, he strode off down to the curb and unlocked, with an unobtrusive beep, the luxurious car parked in front of the closed garage door. He climbed into the front seat, put the key in the ignition, and turned it.

The effect was immediate. His seat bent down all the way back, several contraptions started moving around and making metallic noises, and the car began to pull out of the driveway and zoom down the street on its own.

When Max’s seat came back up, he was dressed in a black, skintight outfit, with a white mask covering his entire face except for a slit for his eyes.

Off to save… someone, Max thought, tiredly. Damn it.

He thought of Deirdre, her shimmering blonde hair running down her back in dripping strands as she took yet another hot shower. She always took showers when he went out on jobs. She seemed to like the sensation of heat when she was upset. Max took cold showers when he was upset. It was one of the many ways in which they differed. Another, rather crucial, point of difference, was that Deirdre wasn’t a superhero. Max was. He was really very tired of it.