Short Story: Susy the Speech Bubble

Susy the Speech Bubble
Indeed.

Right, we’ve had this absurd short tale idea in mind for a while. We finally got round to it this week and it all came spewing out at once like a [insert suitable simile here].

This is a tale about a speech bubble and her quest to find some meaningful work. But, hey, life is tough – things don’t go as planned. But Susy is intrepid. She is daring. She thinks outside the bubble.

Susy the Speech Bubble

Susy is a speech bubble. She is pretty, young, idealistic, and wants big things to happen in her career – fame, fortune, and excellent dialogue to bubble herself around.

She lives in New York city in the Speech Bubble quarter, not far from Chinatown. There, speech and thought bubbles from across the globe congregate in the hope of making their big breaks into comics, newspapers, magazines, and websites.

Susy lives with her friends Doreen and Sledge McDooby. The former is a dimwitted thought bubble, the latter an enthusiastic speech bubble of considerable intellect. But he labours under an absurd name, which he refuses to change via deed poll – the result is he finds little work.

“I shan’t change my family name!” he roars really rather regularly. “Yeah, but, like, something like Max Excellence would be better, like…” chips in Doreen. “Never!” he roars back. And so he remains borderline unemployable, applying for roles in polemical newspaper cartoons… but always falling flat.

Susy’s ambitions are different. She wants to be a perimeter around funky young women in compelling comic books. She wants to border statements such as, “You go, girl!”, “You said it, sister!”, and “You’d better dump that zero and find yourself a hero!”

But the life of a speech bubble is hard. Such roles do exist, but there’s a vast community of emerging young talent battling it out to be the next bubble thing.

Two years into her career and Susy has only endured the following roles:

  • Circulating a, “Fuck the bloody hell off, you utter bastard!!” exclamation of a drunkard in a periodical about the dangers of beer consumption.
  • Announcing, “What toilet paper? Oh, no… there’s no pooping toilet paper! Oh, poop!” in a children’s comic embracing scatological humour.
  • Landing a “Hahaha!” for a character in a comedy book called The Big Book of Laughs (one critic labelled it as, “A clusterfuck of unfunny, cretinous garbage.”)
  • Snaring a “LOL!” and “ROFLMAO!” in a government propaganda leaflet about the dumbing down of language.
  • Securing an ellipsis “…” from an edgy feminist character in a book about women dealing with difficult eyelashes.

And that final one was more of a thought bubble role. But she landed it thanks to her good looks, which she was embarrassed about having to exploit to further her career.

But with a résumé like that, she was in need of all the help she could get. And that’s why today she is attending an audition for a thought bubble.

The requirements are for at least three years experience in the thought bubble industry, plus the ability to channel pertinent feminist ideologies. In her application, Susy lied – she said she had seven years’ thought bubble experience, plus an Emmy nomination, and referenced her elliptical role about the eyelashes.

It worked! She has an audition. And now she sits awkwardly in Manhatten feeling a tad out of place. In the waiting room she stares across at the various thought bubbles, all of whom glare back at her obvious non-thought bubbleness.

Well, despite their contemptuous looks she feels like she has a chance. So long as her ability to carry herself with confidence comes across. Plus, she has these looks! And that’s why she applied the slap that morning, plus a tight top gripping the tail of her bubble to really get bubble heart rates racing.

The task ahead is to arrange herself around a woman depicted in a comic book – a superhero of the name Mary the Magnificent.

This individual can fly, but her main superpower is the ability to navigate through online dating sites without being sent penis pictures from amorous males.

The role for Susy is to cover this thought:

"Gosh darn it, I'm sick to death of all these bloody annoying men!"

That statement follows a date with a human male who insists Mary must pay for their “romantic” dinner (and hail him a cab – plus, fund the taxi fee).

Susy wants this role desperately. It has the potential to be her big break.

To her left, a thought bubble leans across suddenly. “Oi!” she whispers threateningly, “What do you reckon you’re doing here, ya bitch?!” Susy ignores the rude individual.

Whistling to herself, she picks up a magazine off the waiting room table. She skims through the pages of Thought Bubble magazine, stopping momentarily in shock at the lurid details of the world’s most famous thought bubble – Mz. Thoughty (a pop singer) – and her affair with Hollywood hunk Brad Pitt.

But the rude one persists. “Bitch!” she whispers, “Damn, you ain’t no right being here. I see you. You see me. I say, you get da fuck outta here, girlfriend. This ain’t yo’ territory!”

Susy smiles sweetly before announcing loudly, “Don’t prejudice me, you thoughtless piece of shit!”

A calamitous gasp sounds out across the room, with a stunned silence following.

Susy knew how to defend herself, even if it meant issuing bubble-based slurs that could land her in jail. Everyone could recall the Thought & Speech Bubble Riots of 2009, after which amicable laws were enforced to ensure the speech and thought bubble communities didn’t clash.

Under the Thought & Speech Bubble Pacification Act 2010, calling a thought bubble “thoughtless” could result in a decade-long prison sentence.

But here, for once, Susy was standing her ground, “Those goddamn thought bubbles aren’t blocking my career progress!” she, ironically, thought. After all, why should they have sole access to thought bubble roles and not speech bubbles? Why? It wasn’t right!

From amongst the mass of auditioners awaiting their turn Susy hears a stern, “That bitch goin’ down.”

Susy ignores it, choosing to wait for her moment – the shot at stardom. That’d show these goddamn thought bubbles. And she smirks to herself. She is smarter than the rest; bold, daring, unique, good looking. Not like these drab thought bubbles who look like a camel with 17 too many humps! And that thought makes Susy laugh, which she does – cackling so emphatically as she did for her role in The Big Book of Laughs: “Hahaha!”

The audition room door slams open. In tears, a smartly dressed thought bubble stumbles out. She’s on the phone wailing about her failure and how her mother was right, she should have just gone into a career of welding.

From out of the room appears a thought bubble sporting an impressive hipster beard. He looks across a flipchart and sharply states, “Susy the thought bubble. You’re up!”

Susy stands up. She notices the hipster’s thought bubble sag in suspicion.

“Wait a minute!” he says, “You’re not a thought bubble at all! What’s the meaning of this?!”

Susy drops to her knees and grips at his bubbly thought humps, “Good sir, I implore you! I demand my right to audition, you acknowledged my résumé! This is my born right to play this part with utmost conviction!”

He looks down at her with disdain, “Good grief, what a specimen! The bad news is I’m legally obliged to allow this, unfortunately, but I must warn you that under the Thought & Speech Bubble Pacification Act 2010 you’ll only receive one shot at this. You’re the first speech bubble to take advantage of that loophole… I don’t know whether to congratulate you or curse your very existence.”

Susy looks up at him with tears in her eyes, “You can do both, good sir, you must hold me in admiration and contempt!”

There’s an awkward silence before he says, “How the Hell does that work, exactly? It balances out in middling indifference? Whatever, let’s get this over with. Get off the floor. Get into this office.”

She obliges immediately, tucking her tight top around her bubble tail for maximum desirable effect. She follows him into the room and the hipster sits behind a table. The room is quite bare, other than the female thought bubble sitting next to him. She leans across and enquires to him with the hint of a German accent, “What’s this speech bubble doing here? It’s a thought bubble role.”

He rolls his bubbly eyes, “I know that, Gertrude, but what else am I supposed to do? It’s the law. We have to give her one shot.” To which she replies, “But why? This role is specifically for a thought bubble, the author said ‘No speech bubbles!'”

He rolls his eyeball bubbles again, “For the love of God, Gertrude, just let her audition, then we kick her stupid speech bubble ass out of here. Okay? Right…” and he looks at his flipchart again, “Susy! That’s it. Let’s get this over with.”

Having heard all of the conversation, Susy’s nerves are somewhat dented. But she rallies herself, puffing out her chest to respond with a triumphant, “Readier than you’ll ever be, sir, yes sire!”

He stares at her confusedly, mouth hanging agape in mockery. “Riiiiiiiight. Okay… that’s just swell. Moving on, picture the scene! A flash! Boom! You’re Mary the Magnificent! A man has just told you to pay for his meal after a most disappointing romantic dinner. Outside the restaurant, he insists you hail him a cab and hand him a $20 note to cover the costs. Okay… line!”

Susy braces herself, welling up with all her emotional talent. She announces, “Gosh darn it, I’m sick to death of all these bloody annoying men!”

A silence follows. Then the hipster, his hands fumbling through his bubble humps in stress, shouts, “What the Hell was that!?”

Susy is aghast, “Sir… good, sir! I said the line exactly as it says in this script!” Hipster thought bubble rolls his eye bubbles, “Need I remind you this is a thought bubble audition?! You don’t say anything, you silly speech bubble. YOU THINK IT! Christ, I knew this would be a waste of bubbles. We’ve got, what? Twenty more thought bubbles to see for this role! And you give us that?! You’re in way over your bubbles here, I’m afraid, Susy. Go on. Be off with you.”

Susy bursts into tears.

“Oh, Christ!” hipster announces whilst Gertrude tuts loudly. “What are you after, a fucking Oscar? Come on, tidy yourself up and beat it. We’re very busy!”

Susy ignores them, gathering herself to quickly land a second shot at the role (even though it contravenes Section 337(a) of the Thought & Speech Bubble Pacification Act 2010). She plucks up the courage, wipes away her tears, and bellows, “Gosh dammit, I am, like, sooooo fed up to death of all of those annoying males!”

Gertrude laughs hysterically. Hipster follows suit, the pair of them delirious in merriment – some snot dribbles out of the hipster’s nose onto his bubbly beard. The former drops onto the floor holding her head in howls and cackles.

Eventually the hipster is able to get his professional act together, “Jesus fucking Christ!” he roars, “Best laugh in ages! Well, cheers Susy, we’ll be in touch with your agent on that one.”

Susy beams from one side of her bubble to the next. Persistence won the day! “Oh, marvellous, that is wonderful news!” Meanwhile, Gertrude lays prone on the floor in continued hysterics. But hipster walks over to Susy and puts his arm around her bubble curve to guide her to the exit, “Yes, a magnificent performance. That could land you an Emmy! I’d be very proud of that if I were you… although thankfully I’m not.”

Susy is still smiling ecstatically as he opens the audition room door. But there, outside, is a police officer. A human male of 6ft with an enormous beer belly – the copper wanders over, “Ma’am, are you Susy the Speech Bubble? We’ve received a report of you slurring thought bubble hate language. I am placing you under arrest.”

Hipster chips in behind her, “Officer, she also just contravened Section 337(a) of the Thought & Speech Bubble Pacification Act 2010, participating twice in a thought bubble audition – despite being a speech bubble.”

The officer looks at hipster in horror, “She did that?! Holy shit! That’s a recorded first! Damn, lady, you’ve landed yourself in it now. You can get the death penalty for that offence. You better get yourself a balls to the wall lawyer.”

Susy is horrified, “The death penalty!? I just came here to audition!”

The officer retorts, “Yeah, well, for the wrong role, miss. You don’t have the right to do what you did today. I’m normally against capital punishment, but I’d be glad to see you shot at dawn for that gross breach of American legislation.”

Panicking, Susy thinks of a way to get out of this. She decides to try and flirt with the policeman. “I… I… I… if you want a date, big boy, then just say the word! I’ll put out on the first date and everything!”

“Ma’am, you’re breaking further laws with such behaviour. I remind you that I’m an officer of the law. But I’m also not attracted to speech bubbles. Nothing personal. So I’ll have to turn down your offer.”

Susy, in desperation, fumbles with her purse and brings out $200. The officer grunts in disgust, “Ma’am, that’s bribery.”

Next she brings out her pepper spray. The officer hits the floor with a dramatic roll, whipping out his pistol and aims it directly at Susy’s speech bubble tail. “Ma’am, drop the spray! Repeat, drop the spray before I shoot you dead!”

And Susy, realising the game is up, lets the spray drop to the floor. She bursts into tears (again) and is arrested.

A long and arduous court case awaits. The death penalty hangs over her.

An answer is clear to all and everyone – know your bubbles. 

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