The Amazing Adventures of Sara Corel
A novel by Toomey

Midnight Madness

        In the late, still darkness of my little office, Sara's unexpected, "Whatcha doin'?" made me leap at least six inches from my chair.
        "Jeez, Sara! Wish you'd walk, this late at night. Make some noise. You know, 'the pitter-patter of little feet'. Sneaking up like that is rude."
        "Sorry," she said, but didn't mean it. Her eyes twinkled in the light from the monitor. She was curled up in a cozy little ball with her arms around her knees, nightshirt trailing beneath her like a ghostly shroud, not quite touching the floor. "Didn't want to wake Dinah."
        The faint thunder of Dinah's snoring could be heard all the way downstairs. "Yeah, right."
        She peered over my shoulder. "More e-mail?"
        "Uh-huh. It's getting pretty interesting. There's this physics professor from Stanford  who's been trying to explain to me how you violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics…"
        "Uh-oh! Do I have to go to jail?" she said in mock dismay.
        "'Fraid so. Unless we can figure out a loophole. He's workin' on it. Says you weigh too much, too."
        She made a pout. "Not that 'degenerate matter' stuff again. Those scientists are just prejudiced against aliens."
        "No they're not. They're so excited about meeting one they just can't help themselves. Anyway, that was my idea. Personally, I don't think anybody's ever gonna know for sure what you're made of."
        "I know," she said brightly.
        "You do?" My eyebrows shot up. I thought she was as ignorant about her own makeup as everybody else.
        "Sure. Sugar and spice and everything nice."
        I laughed, "You got me."
        She nodded her head as if accepting applause.
        "OK," I began again, "Here's a nice letter. AK, who writes the Julie stories, liked the basketball game. He says, 'It's got to be harder for a supergirl to not show off too much, instead of just taking over the game. It would have been easy for her to use her quickness and power to drive the lane, going over everybody for a dunk. Instead, she's trying to play within the 'rules'.'"
        I couldn't help thinking, what rules? I was still sore.
        "Ooh. I like the Julie stories. Wonder what 'AK' stands for?"
        I was annoyed. "I thought I told you not to visit those sites."
        "You said yourself they weren't as bad as they used to be. Besides," she said, "what with you and Dinah every night…"
        "Sara!" I was embarrassed. "You promised you'd keep your kreening to yourself."
        "Kreen, schmeen. You two make enough noise, Mrs. J could hear you in the 'A' unit."
         I was speechless. Well, probably most parents have contributed more to their children's education than they intended. We'd have to talk more about this some other time. I tried to regain my composure as I went back to the e-mails.
        "Ahem. Sharon relayed one to me from some fellow in New Zealand. Wants to know why I called the last chapter 'Roundball'."
        "I was wondering about that myself," said Sara.
        "It's just a slang term for basketball. That's what the guys at Fonde call it most of the time, so I thought it'd be appropriate."
        "Like you're so hip."
        I shrugged, "It's part of the atmosphere. I wanted to make a big contrast between the chapter about the swanky Petroleum Club and the down- to-earth rec center. To show the range of your experiences as you grow up."
        "I haven't been to New Zealand yet. Maybe I'll go down there tomorrow."
        "That's where they film Hercules and Xena. If you go, see if you can get me their autographs."
        "Sure." She'd probably get 'em, too.
        "Leanna writes, 'Love to all.'"
        "That's sweet."
        "And Ron says he wants to see more of the girl."
        Sara giggled musically.
        "Tom T. says, 'Thanks for sharing.'"
        "My pleasure, Tom," she said to the screen.
        "Here's one from some guy that's not too happy with my writing about 'Evil Empire has-beens' living in America. I think he's Russian, or something. Kinda sounds like the old midnight knock on the door from some big guy in a cheap suit, saying, 'Telegram for Meester Toomski.' Don't think I'd want to open that door."
        "Maybe Mrs. J should send Jesus and Rudy over to have a talk with him."
        "Nah," I said. "Probably just a prank. You can be anything you want on the web. It's kinda funny, really"
        She pointed at the screen, "Oh, look! There's one from Macbeth! Infinity Bridge!"
        I glared at her again. It's no use. The Aurora Universe webring sites were as close as she'll ever get to her own kind. I should be glad she enjoys them so much. I just hope I wasn't contributing to the delinquency of a minor. After all, she's only two years old. Or maybe sixteen. It's very confusing.
        "Well," I said, "Mac's e-mail is a response to a little rant I posted about DC Comics. It was all in fun, but I got a little carried away. Something about locking their writers and artists in a room with a browser until they've seen every jot and tittle of the AU, pictures and everything. And beating some sense into them."
        "I could do that if you want me to," Sara offered.
        I considered it. "No, that would be interfering. Prime Directive, you remember."
        "Oh, that's just Star Trek. I don' need no stinkin' Prime Directive." She stuck out her tongue.
        "Anyway, he writes, 'DC doesn't really know what they want to do with Supergirl, do they. I thought they had something with the Elseworld version, but I guess they felt a basic Hollywood-concept Egyptian hair thing works much better. Okay. I confess. I don't understand the comix bizness'."
        I showed her the scans John had made of 'Lois and Clark's daughter' from DC's latest, Alt-Tabbing to Sharon's What's Coming In the Comics section of the AU.
        "Looks like a cross between Xena and Supergirl. That's a wig?"
        I nodded.
        "That's silly," she said, "It would just burn up on re-entry."
        "That's what I said," I told her.
        "She's cute, though. But I like my uniform better, I think." Sara always called it her 'uniform'.
        "Well," I yawned, "It's getting late for this old boy. I just had to stay up until I read the mail. You know, for the amount of traffic we're getting to the story site, it looks like most people don't bother even saying a word. Hearing from readers is what keeps most of the authors going. It's not like we're getting paid, or anything."
        Sara drifted behind me and started massaging my shoulders. It felt wonderful, after the beating I took the other day. I closed my eyes and tried to relax.
        "I seem to recall that you never wrote any of the writers, either," she chided, "until you started writing yourself."
        "Yeah. I feel bad about that now."
        Sara considered for a while, then said, "Maybe Sharon could do something about it to let people know."
        "Like what?"
        "Oh, I don't know. Something like putting up a story about what it means to an author to read these letters. How important it is. The feeling of getting something meaningful back for all the hard work you guys put in."
        "Hmm… That's an idea. But how would you write such a story?"
        "Oh," she said, "I wouldn't. You would. You're the author. I'm just the figment of your imagination."
        We both laughed.
        "You know," I said, "I think you're right. I'm gonna write that story and send it to Sharon."
        "Oh, goody!" she exclaimed, clapping her hands.
        I hunched over the keyboard and began typing furiously, with Sara hovering over me like the perfect embodiment of a Greek muse.
        "In the late, still darkness of my little office, Sara's unexpected, 'Whatcha doin'?' made me leap at least six inches from my chair."

Proper Waffles
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© Patrick Hill, 2000