How to Catch a Glassman (New Short Story Prequel!)

I’m delighted to share a new Glassman superhero short story here on my blog today!

(This takes place before A Night in the Life of Glassman, the other short story about this character so far, so you can read today’s post even if this is your first time meeting Restoren/Glassman.)


About How to Catch a Glassman

Even superheroes have to pay the rent.

When Restoren “Glassman” starts receiving broken things to fix with his repairing powers, it may be just the job he needs. But not all his clients are as they seem, and he may find himself in a fix he can’t…well…fix.

A prequel to A Night in the Life of Glassman


This short story is dedicated to everyone who loved A Night in the Life of Glassman and asked for more. Here it is at last. (Even if it’s a prequel!)

How to Catch a Glassman

(A Short Story)

by Deborah O’Carroll

Superpowered people break things. It’s just a fact. That’s where my power comes in. Another fact: I can only make things remember what they were before they broke. I can’t make new things. That’s where my sister’s power comes in.

Unfortunately, she often breaks things to make new ones. And I, being her brother and therefore the nearest target, am often the one whose things she breaks.

“Techra, what are you doing?” I demand as I take in the scattered metallic and electronic parts strewn all across the stone floor of our cave. (Side note: a cave may not sound nice, but believe me, as home to superpowered siblings able to repair anything or build anything technological, it has all the comforts of home. Which is what it is for us.)

She doesn’t even glance up at my question, focused on her work, her eyes just visible under her short sheet of blue hair with the black streak in it. “I’m making something for you. You need it.”

“What I need,” I say, picking my barefoot way gingerly across the room through the metal pieces, “is for you to not get broken things everywhere and completely decimate my—my—is that my headlamp? And my workbench surface? And my…motorcycle? Please tell me that is not my motorcycle.”

Was your motorcycle,” she supplies helpfully. “It’s not like you go out in public. Except to fix things after big supers battles. So you don’t use it.”

“There’s a point and that is next to, as in beside, it,” I say.

“Don’t be a baby,” she says, completely ignoring the fact that I’m the one who’s thirty minutes older than her. “Anyway, I told you: you need this. So I’m trying it out. You’ll like it, trust me. And if it doesn’t work, you can always repair it back to how it was.”

“Remember that metaphorical point I mentioned? This is another thing beside it. They’re just lining up,” I say, and sigh, running my fingers through my black hair with the blue streak—our mirrored-opposites hair. “I need coffee.”

She glances up at me. “On your workbench. Or—” She glances between it, currently missing the table part, and where said surface is propped on some rocks which are part of the floor. “Oh, right. It’s somewhere over there, then.” She waves a hand in the general direction of the corner kitchenette.

I head that direction, calling over my shoulder, “I thought you had, you know, actual paying work to do instead of destroying my belongings.”

“Eh, that project fell through. Turns out the company couldn’t get the funding to hire me after all.”

I shoot her a searching look. Well, that’s less than super.

Even superheroes have to pay the rent.

Even when they live in a cave in a remote part of the world, to avoid— Well. Anyway. Our friend and fellow super, Portia, had found us this place, as far away from everything as possible, which is perfect for us. But we still rent it from someone.

“It’s fine. Something will turn up,” Techra says with forced lightness. “And I’ve been meaning to do this, so I might as well do it between jobs. I was going crazy with nothing to fiddle with.”

I know how that feels.

After some hunting, I find the coffee maker—full of steaming coffee—resting on the floor beside a tray piled with chipped dishes that look like they were once a fancy tea set. A shattered teal-colored coffee mug and a few taped-shut cardboard boxes are also strewn about.

“Where did these come from?” I nudge the tray with one bare foot and rub a hand against my jeans to resist repairing the china set then and there.


“All of it.”

“The mug, I dropped last night. The tea set is from Portia’s landlady and Portia wondered if you would mind fixing it for her as a personal favor. She left it for you this morning along with those boxes. Before she portaled off, she said Avery found the boxes at the Supers Memorial, addressed to you.”

“What in the—” Eyeing the boxes, especially an alarmingly large one that’s nearly as tall as me, I distractedly pass one hand over the coffee mug, blue light glowing from my palm and trailing over the broken shards. The teal pieces come together and the cracks seal shut. In a moment, the mug is, literally, as good as new.

Rather than step over the tea set, I pick it up, tray and all, and balance it on top of the tall box out of the way. Then I move to the sink and rinse the mug I’d just fixed, and fill it with coffee, trying to ignore the grinding metal and sparking sounds coming from Techra further destroying my property with her technology-melding powers.

It’s a lot to wake up to after the night I had. It was a long night in a city halfway across the world from my home cave (yay for Portia and her portal powers making instant travel possible), fixing the aftermath of a small skirmish between Avery—the superhero known as Airman—and some up-and-coming wannabe supervillain. More like an averagevillain. Just, you know, an averagevillain with superpowers. The guy’d had lightning abilities, so I’d spent most of the night fixing fried power grids and (as usual) so. much. shattered. glass. It’s like supervillains have something against windows or something. Portia had portaled me up to the higher stories of a skyscraper, level by level, to make it easier for me to concentrate on repairing the window glass. It had taken ages.

Screech! I flinch and take a hasty sip of coffee to avoid looking over at Techra’s sounds and flashing lights.

Only when I’ve consumed half the mug of life-giving aromatic caffeine do I shuffle over to the boxes and inspect them.

Each of them is neatly labeled with a return address and are addressed to—

I recoil.

“Glassman?” I say aloud.

I briefly flash back to when I was fixing a traffic light and some kid on a bike called, “Thanks, Glassman!” before Portia had portaled me away.

I remember telling her, “Glassman? Stupid name. Hope it doesn’t stick.”

And Portia shaking her black ponytail with the purple streak in it and laughing.

Oh. Blast.

“What?” Techra asks.

“Glassman?” I repeat. “That’s really what they’re calling me? I thought it was a joke.”

Techra grins at me. “Sorry, Stor. Superheroes are at the mercy of whatever name the general populace thinks is best. You’re probably stuck with it.”

“The general populace is rubbish at nicknames. What’s wrong with Restoren?” I grumble.

Supers’ real names are already related to our powers. My name—Restoren—is for my ability to restore things. Techra was named for her technological power, Portia for her portal ability, and even Avery for his flying powers—though that one was kind of a stretch in my mind.

Why does the general populace still need to give us extra nicknames like Glassman and Airman? Okay, Airman’s a stupid enough name that I like it for Avery since he’s kind of annoying and deserves it. Portia’s “Portergirl,” though, and I think it’s a miracle she didn’t turn supervillain just for that. Woman’s a saint to put up with it. And also to put up with me. Best girlfriend ever.

“Apparently Restoren’s hard to remember,” Techra says cheerfully, turning back to her project, a flash of blue light exploding from her hand and lighting up the cave’s interior even more than the lights set in the craggy stone ceiling.

I flinch from the flash and cut the tape on one of the boxes with a utility knife, itching to repair something to distract myself from the urge to restore the things Techra’s fiddling with to their former states.

The first box contains a small horse statue. I think it’s hideous, but to each their own. The faded porcelain item resembles a lawn ornament or something from a curiosities shop. Like a smaller, stockier carousel horse, with a chipped green mane and tail—which is snapped off. The horse is cracked in half through its saddle which is painted a kaleidoscope of colors. Two legs lie in the bottom of the box with the tail. It looks like somebody smashed the face in with a hammer. (I honestly don’t blame them if they did.)

I open the envelope propped on top and read the note.

“Dear Glassman—”

Ugh. I hate that name.

The very polite note details the long history of the horse, its meaning for generations of local kids in some little town, and an elaborate story about its demise—involving scaffolding to fix a town sign, a certain bird’s unfortunate timing of flying into a workman’s face, and a falling tree branch. (I still think somebody smashed the horse with a hammer for creeping them out, but whatever.) It ends with profuse thanks in advance and a request to fix it, please, Mr. Glassman. (Mr. is even worse! I’m in my twenties. Come on.)

A P.S. at the end adds (before another batch of effusive thanks), “We hoped this would be able to reach you at the Supers Memorial, as we don’t know how to find you or where you live.”

An icy tingle jolts down my spine. The last six words on the paper stare back at me. A memory rises up in a sinister voice that still haunts me. “You’ll never escape me, Stor. Wherever you go, I’ll find you, wherever you live.”

I don’t realize I’ve staggered an instinctive step backward—as if I can escape the taunting words in my own mind—until I bump into the tall box and it tips over. The delicate pink-and-white china tea-set flies off the top of the box and shatters in a million pieces on the rocky floor. The box careens over as if in slow motion, mocking my too-late reach to steady it, and I spill steaming coffee on one bare foot in the process. The tipping box impacts against the floor, bursting open, and flings a hundred different mangled pieces of metal across the room with a deafening clamor.

I freeze.

The crashing, shattering sounds have Techra instantly on her feet, in a fight-or-flight stance that melts away the moment she sees what happened. Someone who didn’t know her well never would’ve noticed that brief flash of panicked readiness. Her shoulders relax.

“Stor, what—?” she begins, a half-teasing tone in her voice as if she’s going to joke about my clumsy move making more work for myself. The half-smile fades away when her gaze meets mine, as if she sees something reflected in my eyes. Something that I see all-too-often in shattered windows or mirrors before and after repairing them. Something of haunted echoes of the past.

“What is it?” she asks gently—too gently.

I blink and jerk back a quick step, shaking myself into the present. “Nothing.”

My response is too quick and we both know it.

“Nothing,” I say again, so she’ll know there’s no real danger. “I—ow!” The fact I burned my foot with a splash of coffee finally works through to my brain. “I spilled coffee on my foot,” I yelp, which is not what I’d meant to say, but it works to distract her from the current conversation. Which was the goal. What happens next, however, is not.

I’m telling this story, so it’s my absolute right to draw a discreet curtain over the next few minutes. For honesty’s sake, I will allow they involved some undignified hopping due to said burn, and the expected poor outcomes of combining bare feet, sudden movements, and the fact that there really was a lot of shattered porcelain on the floor (entirely my fault, I will also confess).

“For somebody who spends so much time fixing broken glass, ‘Glassman,’ you sure go around barefoot a lot,” Techra says as she finishes the bandage on my foot while I perch on the edge of my bed.

“Duly noted,” I growl, and pointedly yank a pair of sneakers on. “I’ll also have you know I fix plenty of things that aren’t glass.”

“Well, you’ll have to,” Techra says cheerily, picking her way across the room. “Preferably pretty soon, since I can’t finish my project while all those other metal bits are lying around.”

I sigh, surveying the mess of two different disassembled metal-and-electronics projects mingled and scattered across the whole cave floor, not to mention the broken tea set and the sad teal mug broken again—and with spilled coffee this time.

Techra flicks a flash of light from her hand at the coffee pot and the display changes instantly, the pot going from hot to chilled coffee in a matter of seconds—a heating/cooling upgrade she’d invented. She fills an unbroken black mug and hands it to me as I limp over.

“Good luck,” she says lightly. Under the carefree tone, she’s still watching me closer than usual for any remnant—or return—of whatever caused me to knock everything over in the first place.

I give the humorless grimace/smirk combo she’s probably expecting and say “Thanks,” in a slightly sarcastic tone. But I also mean it. And not just for the coffee.

I finish the cold coffee, leave the mug in a safe place away from me or Techra, and then link my fingers and stretch them outward. I crouch by the shattered tea set and let the blue light from my palms trail over the shards of porcelain. They re-join and remember what they were before, like time turning backward, and a few moments later they’re cups and plates and saucers etc., scattered across the floor but whole. Techra gathers them up for me while I fix the teal mug again and mop up the spilled coffee before turning back to the creepy carnival horse.

The weird metal bits from the huge box look pretty complicated and I like to warm up on smaller projects before taking on something like that. Like warm-up stretches before a race.

“Not that you’ve ever raced in your life, Mr. Homebody,” Techra says playfully, making me realize I’d said that aloud.

I grandly ignore her and send my repairing power glowing blue into the weird horse. “Here’s hoping this improves on acquaintance once it’s not broken,” I mutter. The broken tail, legs, and other shattered pieces in the box melt back together, cracks sealing up. I fish it out, and Techra and I tilt our heads sideways, inspecting the completed piece.

“Nah,” we say in tandem.

I laugh in spite of myself, returning it to the box. “At least it’s not just me.”

“It could be cute,” Techra says, “it’s just…not quite there. Do you ever decide something should stay broken?”

I shrug. “Not usually. But some things ought to stay that way, probably including that one—too late.” Although if I had lost control partway through fixing it, it either would have gone back to its shattered state from before I’d started working on it, or I would have taken it back in its memory too far and it could have returned to the raw materials it used to be. That was always disastrous, and returning things to their repaired state after I did that taxed my powers too much, leaving me exhausted. “I just…can’t usually leave things broken. It’s like an itch that’s hard to resist. Doesn’t mean I always like it, though.”

“Well, you can still give it a low score on your inner roasting system,” Techra says.

I smirk. “Exactly.”

After taping closed the box with the horse—and good riddance—I cut open another couple of boxes.

“You could clean up that mess,” Techra hints. “So I can get back to my work…”

“In a minute.” I’m not sure what the metal thing is, which is bugging me. I can nearly always see what something used to be but what it’s telling me doesn’t make sense. And anyway, I have a couple smaller things here to finish my warm-up.

One is a broken cell phone, the screen spiderwebbed with cracks, the back dented and scratched, split open, and the interior electronics visible. Yikes. It almost hurts my eyes to see such a mess. I can even ignore the word Glassman on the green sticky-note asking for help. I hastily fix the phone, a flash of blue light restoring it to pristine straight-off-the-shelf condition.

“Do we have any bubble wrap?” I ask.

Techra grabs some from my workbench where I’d forgotten I had some, and I wrap the phone in massive amounts of bubble wrap to protect it when I’ll have Portia return the phone’s box. She can be…enthusiastic.

Techra returns to her project with a sigh and starts pushing her own broken metal pieces—excuse me, pieces formerly belonging to me; RIP my belongings—across the floor, pointedly away from the massive box’s pieces.

I’ll get to it in a minute.

I open the last cardboard flaps and am met by—what is that? I haul the white substance from the box, instantly enveloped in a waterfall of…lace?

“What in the universe,” I say flatly.

Techra looks up from where she’s crouched amid the circle she’s created of parts away from the mess I still need to collect.

“Aww, I didn’t know you and Portia were ready to shop for her wedding dress yet—how nice.”

I shoot Techra and her teasing tone a scowl. At least I know what it is now.

An extremely elegant cream-colored envelope falls out of the shredded nest of white lace and silk. The envelope is addressed in flowing script—is that actual ink from a nib pen?—to Restoren.

“Oh, look, somebody knows my name. None of this Glassman ridiculousness,” I say in satisfaction.

A devious grin appears on Techra’s face. “Maybe it’s a proposal.”

Sisters, I swear.

“I,” I say frostily, “am already dating.”

The letter details a long story in fancy ink about the wedding dress being an heirloom, in some high-end family (which still has titles and an earldom or some such even in these modern times), worn at all the women’s weddings from time immemorial blah-blah-blah.

I skim it.

The dress was removed from storage in preparation for an upcoming wedding and was accidentally clawed to shreds in a cat-fight. Whether actual house cats or other women in the family were at fault is unclear. I show the paragraph in question to Techra, but she’s too busy laughing harder than necessary about my question to share her opinion, so I shrug and return to skimming.

Apparently the dress was deemed irreparable by normal means—No kidding, I think, squinting through the shredded material dangling from one hand—and if I can repair it, I’ll evidently have the eternal gratitude of this titled family, and of course a rewar—

My eyes snag on the word. A reward?

“Paid handsomely for your services” swims across my vision in looping million-dollar script.

I twitch and uneasily set down the letter.

I glance furtively at Techra in case she’s still paying close attention to me, but it’s fine—her focus is currently on the glowing lightning-ish stuff connecting several of the pieces surrounding her.

A reward could help our rent issue while Techra looks for more jobs. But I’ve never charged anyone for repairing things. I’d never thought of it as something I could charge for.

Techra makes new things—shiny, valuable, technological things. Of course people want to pay her for that.

But me? I just fix stuff. Usually things supervillains break.

That’s just something I do. As…as a good deed. What kind of person would I be if I could fix that kind of destruction but didn’t? I know exactly what kind of person that would make me, and it’s exactly why I fix things. To…atone—

There’s a mild explosion from Techra’s direction. “Blast,” she remarks.

I glance at her again. She’s propping her hands on her hips, glaring down at several metal pieces which seem to be smoking.

I can fix those, I can fix those… I remind myself, hoping she’ll give up and I can have my stuff back.

Looking back at the letter, I rub a hand across the back of my neck. I can’t just…charge people to fix things. Can I? Then again, no one had sent me anything to fix before, and it’s not like a villain broke these things. With the possible exception of the cats (if they were cats).

Can’t worry about it right now.

I quickly turn back to the mess of tangled lace and eviscerated silk and let delicate streams of blue light from my palm swirl down like smoke over the dress. The light runs between the shredded lace which already was full of holes (because lace), making it difficult to see what’s happening. Good thing my powers are pretty good at autopilot and don’t depend on doing each part manually. The repair would definitely have been impossible for any ordinary human.

Ordinary. What’s that like—

I push the thought away, trying to retain my concentration. Don’t want this turning into a pile of thread or—worse—cotton fiber and silkworm webs.

I finish repairing the dress, carefully place it in its box, then turn to the mess of metal from the tall box. Can’t put it off any longer.

I dump the rest of the twisted pieces from the broken box, and stand with hands on hips, staring at the broken bits encircling me on the cave floor. Fortunately Techra has moved her stuff away—at least, most of it. I think.

“What’s eating you?” Techra asks distractedly over the zapping sounds she’s making, when I stand motionless for a minute.

“I don’t know what it’s supposed to be,” I say slowly. My powers are confused and sort of telling me it’s a…box? But an already broken box? It doesn’t make sense.

“You can still fix it, though, right? You just have to take it back to its memory of what it was. Easy-peasy.”

“Yeah. I guess so,” I mutter. A scrap of paper flutters in the wind of another small explosion Techra causes. I lean over and pick up the note written in angular letters.

“Dear Glassman—”

I grimace.

“I would be grateful if you would repair this.”

It’s unsigned and has no long story about the item’s importance, history, how it broke, and reason I should fix it. Huh.

I shrug, set the note aside, and let my hands glow. The blue light cascades down around me as I spin in place and let my power play over the metal shrapnel surrounding me. The metal unbends, uncrumples, twists back from its out-of-shape forms and into straight lines. Slowly, a box builds itself around me, but its sides are lattice-like, not a solid structure. Maybe it was an old lift or something? There’s a door in the side, so I’m not worried about being unable to get out.

I raise my hands over my head as the repaired part grows around and above me and finally seals shut, finished. I lower my hands and turn to say something to Techra through the metal grate.

“Glassman—detected,” a vaguely feminine electronic voice says.

Red lights flash and I instinctively throw my hands before my face, ducking, as I shut my eyes against the blinding brightness.

The floor jolts violently and I struggle to keep my footing. The metal lattice door clicks. It takes me a moment to recognize the sound of a lock. Stillness abruptly replaces the shaking.

“Glassman—detained.” The robotic voice sends chills down my back.

My eyes snap open. I straighten, slowly lowering my arms from their defensive position. The red lights still flash around me.

But the worst part is that I have no idea where I am.

Oh, I’m still in the metal lattice box—which is starting to feel suspiciously like a cage—but I’m no longer home. Techra is nowhere to be seen, nor the comfortable mix of lights and shadows playing across our cave.

I’m in a dusty, shadowy warehouse or workshop back room, illuminated by a single flickering fluorescent light strip overhead and a number of twinkling lights on a circular device on the floor by a nearby workbench, which are the only non-dusty things in sight besides the cage I just repaired. Tall shelves surround me, covered in dusty, shadowy shapes.

An equally dusty, shadowy figure approaches out of the darkness and I take an involuntary step back at his words.

“Welcome, Glassman.” His voice is soft and sinister, not electronic like the…cage…light…trap…thing.

“That’s not my name,” I snap automatically.

“It’s the name I know you by, so you will answer to it while you’re here. Which is to say, forever.”

The hair on the back of my neck prickles. Oookay.

“Where am I?” I ask cautiously.

“In my repair shop. Which is now also your repair shop,” the man says, stepping out of the shadows, glittering pale blue eyes peering at me from a lined face under a black hooded cape. (For real, doesn’t he know people don’t wear capes in modern times? Okay, except especially dramatic supers like Avery.)

“You see,” he continues, “I’ve studied you and seen how you throw away your talent”—he spits the word like it’s as dusty as the drab room around us—“for free, for worthless people. I’ve seen your ability’s potential, and if you won’t use it properly, I will. Starting this moment, you’re my personal repairer, and I’ll make a mint off the wealth people will pay me for your repairs of priceless objects.”

He’s going to…keep me. In a cage. To fix things for him.

A sudden chill freezes my heart.

No. I can’t do this again.

“No.” My voice sounds like crushed glass on concrete.

I jerk back a step and my sneaker stumbles over an object. I trip and catch myself against the cage’s side, digging my fingers into the bronze grate. With a sound like a bug zapper, red lightning arcs from the metal, and it snakes, burning, up my hands and wrists. I hiss and recoil. A faint red forcefield hums through the cage’s walls.

I can’t get out. The room’s shadows feel like they’re swallowing me.

“What is this thing?” I snarl, but my only internal thought is, “No, no, no,” on repeat.

“The trap I built for you. After studying you, I made a Glassman-proof trap which you can’t escape from, even with your powers. Then I broke it and sent it to you, knowing you’d be unable to resist fixing it. Trapping yourself. And it worked, didn’t it?” His self-satisfied tone digs into me like broken glass as he smiles through the crisscrossing metal down at me where I crouch in the cage’s center, away from the charged grating.

I can only fix broken things. Or break them further in the process of fixing them and take them too far back in their memory to raw materials. But I just fixed the cage . . . so it’s not broken. Which means I can’t even make a small, broken part of itself remember a previous time when it used to be in a more raw material state—say, molten metal—to attempt escaping with the help of my powers. And even if I had something I could use to try breaking it, I can’t touch the cage without getting zapped. Unable to fix it too much, unable to break it.

I really am trapped in a perfect trap that I can’t use my powers on.

Ignoring the fact that he’s right, I fold my arms to distract from the tingling burning pain in them. “You can’t make me fix things.”

“You will.” He shuffles over to the workbench. “You’ll get hungry enough.”

Blast. So that’s his angle. Starve me until I work for him.

“If this cage is so escape-proof,” I say, “how are you going to get things in here for me to fix?” I’m unsure how my mouth is saying things when my brain is still just repeating “No.” I try to drown myself out with snarking but nothing comes out. That’s a first.

“Simple. I’ll send them in with the same teleportation device I used for moving you and the cage here. No opening the cage necessary. You see,” he says, waving a hand at the object I’d seen earlier by the workbench, “my plan is foolproof and there’s simply no point in you attempting to escape.”

He unhooks a display screen from the side of the drum-like circular object, fiddles with buttons on the small device in his hand, then steps onto the glowing circular platform and blinks out of sight.

An instant later, he appears in the cage, looking down at me. “It would be best for both of us if you accept your fate and work for me without a fuss.”

I snarl and lunge at him and his smug red-lit expression. He pushes a button on the control device, vanishes, and reappears outside the cage, where he steps off the circular platform.

Clearly it’s a sort of transportation device, with portal-like qualities, that can bring the user back to where they started, I muse. But that’s as far as I get while flying through the air, because—due to the sudden lack of a solid body in front of my leap—I smash headlong into the cage’s side.

When I wake up I’m lying on my back on the concrete, with the cage’s walls stretching up all around me toward its crisscross grating roof. Everything hurts.

“Let it be noted that you did that to yourself.”

I’m not sure how he knew I was awake until I realize the obnoxious groaning is coming from me.

His tone isn’t gloating—in fact, almost the opposite, like a slight reprimand. “I’m not unreasonable. As you appear to be,” he adds as an afterthought.

I grunt wordlessly. I have to get out of here. Getting knocked out seems to have knocked the repetitious screaming in my head into sense. Thanks, creepy cloak dude.

Feeling for my pocket, in case I had the presence of mind to pocket my phone this morning, I come up empty. Blast. Is there anything in my jeans pockets I could—I don’t know—break and then repair too far, reverting it to something helpful for escaping? Nothing. I let the back of my head thud against the floor.

“If you’re looking for this…” he says.

I glance over as he tosses me something and I automatically catch it. A handkerchief. I blink at him, uncomprehending.

He points impatiently at his own face. “You hit the side pretty hard.”

I grunt again and use the handkerchief on my bloody nose, but my mind’s not on the task—it’s latched on to the fact that the bars in the cage’s door have enough space between them, unlike the lattice grating of the cage’s sides, for a handkerchief to be tossed through at me. That means items can pass through the red forcefield—just not, apparently, me without getting zapped. I can work with that.

I cautiously sit up and my leg bumps something. I glance down at the object I’d tripped on earlier. It’s one of the metal pieces of Techra’s project. She must have missed it among the tangle of cage pieces. His teleportation device apparently transported the cage and everything inside it, including me and the piece of metal. I curl my fingers around it, testing the satisfying weight in my hand.

I glance up at my captor. He’s moved out of range around the cage. Wrong angle for throwing something at him. There is, however, something directly in line with the door’s bars.

Well, here goes nothing.

I hurl the piece of metal through the bars with all my strength, into the delicate-looking display on the circular platform’s side. Glass shatters and crashing accompanies short-circuiting sparks.

“System—dow-w-w-nnn…” the robotic voice says. The display goes dark and a faint glowing circle on the platform winks out with a winding-down sound.

“Bad news,” I say, folding my arms and belligerently staring down my cloaked captor who’s wearing mingled expressions of shock and fury. “Looks like you’ll have to learn how to use doors again.”

He sends me a cold, furious look, then pulls a handgun from under his cloak and points it at me.

I involuntarily take a step back. Broken items, I can fix. Bullet wounds? Not so much.

“You’re going to fix that, and if you don’t, I’m going to shoot you,” he hisses softly.

I force a smirk that I’m not really feeling at the moment. “I can’t fix things if you kill me.”

“I didn’t say kill, I said shoot.”

Blast everything.

“Fine!” I snap, sidestepping away from the door. “But I can’t fix it unless you let me out.”

“I’m not falling for that. You’ll fix it inside the cage.” Still aiming the gun at me, he again detaches the broken display from the platform’s side with one hand, avoiding the jagged glass edges.

“I thought you need me to fix the whole thing,” I hedge, fishing for information to confirm my suspicions about how the contraption functions, and trying to shut down the part of my mind panicking about what will happen if this doesn’t work, if I can’t escape. I can’t do this. I can’t do this.

“You only broke the controls,” he retorts. He switches off the glowing red forcefield around the cage and unlocks it. “You didn’t damage the transport platform, just the remote control device that powers it. You’ll fix it for me, and then I’m going to take it back out this door. And if you so much as twitch toward this exit, you’ll find out what lead feels like.”

“Oh, believe me, I know,” I say coolly, stepping back as he shifts the door open just enough for him to enter with the shattered control device. “Amazing how often people shoot superheroes.”

He snorts, still training the gun on me, and sets his burden by my feet. “There’s nothing superhero about you. Just super.”

My heart-rate speeds up. His words twist deep, as painfully as his bullet might have. I swallow hard. How much did he research me? I lower my head, shoulders slumping, and hold trembling blue-sparking fingers over the broken device.

“Don’t distract me,” I whisper, hating how my voice shakes too. “If I lose control while I’m repairing it, it could explode.”

“I’m not doing any distracting, just watching you like a hawk to ensure you don’t make any sudden moves,” he says curtly.

I inhale deeply, pushing the past to the back of my mind where it belongs. I cautiously pick up the device, despite not needing physical contact to fix something—but hopefully he doesn’t know that. The blue light from my other hand trails over the broken bits of circuits, glass, wires, and metal. It slowly re-forms, the cracks seal, and lights start to flicker back on…and out of the corner of my eye, beyond my captor, the light on the circular platform glows back to life.

Yes. My heartbeat speeds up again, for a totally different reason.

Please let this work. I’m standing exactly where he was when he popped in for a moment, and clearly the transportation machine has a memory of where to pull people from.

I move my blue-glowing hand closer to the control device as if I need to touch it, despite it now being entirely fixed. If I stay too long on it, it’ll start to reverse too far and revert to raw materials, but I think I have just long enough to unobtrusively hit the correct button before he notices what I’m—

“System—back onli—”

Stupid robot voice! I slam the button I’d seen him press earlier. There’s a disorienting flash and a mildly nauseating whooshing feeling like stepping through one of Portia’s portals. The next moment, I’m outside the cage and standing on the circular platform.

I drop the control device on the workbench and dive off the platform toward the cage’s door, which I slam against his shoulder just as he swings around, presumably disoriented at my disappearance. The door knocks him farther into the cage, the lock clicks shut, and the red forcefield around the cage flickers into existence.

Just as he’s swinging his handgun toward me.

Which is fine. Because the forcefield stops—

Oh, wait.

Oh, blast.

I have just time to dive toward the workbench before gunshots echo through the room. A bullet grazes my cheek. From the top of the workbench I’m sheltering behind, glass and metal bits rain down on me, pieces of the transportation control device which I just fixed. Forget superheroes and supervillains; why do even ordinary villains want to break glass so much? Ignoring the fact that I did, myself.

I curl my arms over my head and hunker down, wincing at the shards biting my forearms, but at least the workbench has a solid enough back to block the gunfire. Despite the chaos, I keep track of the shots fired, counting down the maximum number of bullets he can have with that type of gun. I became intimately familiar with every imaginable weapon when repairing them for the last unwilling job I’d had, when I’d worked for— I shove the thought away.

Silence finally falls as the last shot is followed by clicking.

Here’s hoping he doesn’t have extra ammunition in his pocket. I wait a few beats of my hammering heart—why couldn’t I get invulnerable superpowers like Avery’s instead of repairing ones?—before cautiously peering around the workbench.

The cloaked man isn’t looking at me, instead scowling at the cage’s locking panel. Oh no. Does he have some override if he gets trapped in his own cage? Surely he has to. Nobody would be unintelligent enough—

He slams the butt of the gun’s grip against the inside of the door’s lock, then curses and drops the gun in a fizzling array of sparks, clutching his likely-burned hand. See how he likes it. The handgun falls through the bars to the outside of the cage.

I take it back about nobody being that unintelligent.

He could still have a trick up his sleeve, but at the moment I inhale a long breath and edge out from my cover.

His eyes burn into me. “You. You’re through. You’ll pay for that.”

“No,” I say tiredly, inching gingerly around the broken glass decorating the floor and moving the gun from the floor to the workbench far out of his reach. I trail a glowing-blue hand over the destruction. “I may not be a superhero, but I do have friends who are. You’re the one who’s through.”

I repair the control device, keeping an eye on him, but he just glares, pacing within the cage. I also repair the workbench; I can’t help it. A few distorted remains of lead from the bullets separate from the workbench and join up with bullet casings which sweep across the floor from where they had fallen on the floor of the cage, re-forming together as the separate pieces remember what it was like to be bullets before being fired. A moment later, perfectly-whole bullets line up neatly on the repaired workbench’s surface. Old habits.

I grab a cell phone off the desk and punch in Avery’s number which I sadly have memorized for problems like this.

“Airman speaking,” Avery’s annoyingly perky voice responds. He’s probably flexing his super-suit-clad arms, flipping his silver cape over his shoulder, or running fingers through his perfect blond hair with the scarlet streak in it.

I suppress a sigh. “Hey. This is Restoren.”

“Stor! Glass! My man! What can I do for you?”

I studiously ignore what sounds like he picked up some version of a glass-related nickname for me—ugh—and hold my voice level while keeping one eye on the glowering figure in the cage. “Hey. I’ve apprehended a dangerous person who’s been capturing supers to use their powers. I need you to take him into custody.”

Avery’s tone goes up a notch. “You apprehended Shade?”

I flinch, nearly dropping the phone. “No,” I snap. The phone’s edges dig into my hand as I grip it too hard. “Just some—some guy,” I grind out through gritted teeth to keep my voice steady.

“Ah. Well, what’s this guy’s power?”

“He doesn’t have a power, as far as I know,” I say, thinking of the guy’s gun and further confirming my theory when he scowls, as if angry with the fact.


I try not to let Avery’s surprised tone get to me. Yes, I know I don’t have your type of superpowers that mean normal people aren’t a threat to you, Avery.

“Why can’t ordinary police take care of it, then?”

“Because I don’t know any here,” I snap.

“And where is ‘here’?” Avery asks.

I pull up the location on the phone and can’t help rearing back slightly. Halfway across the world from home. Not that I should be surprised…but still, this guy really wanted me. I read the coordinates to Avery.

“What are you doing there? Never mind, I’ll ask when I arrive.”

“Don’t bother. I’m going home. I just want you to come get this guy.”

I can almost hear his blond eyebrows rise. “That’s a ways. How are you getting home? Is Portia with you?”

I shake my head before remembering he can’t see me. “No,” I say shortly. I glance at the repaired transporter next to me. “I have a ride home.”

“You know, you could save me the trip if you just contact the local authorities—I have contacts there and I could give you their inf—”

“No,” I snap again.

Avery pauses.

I inhale a breath to calm myself down. I just want to get home and have as little contact with anyone else as possible. Especially authorities. But I do want Avery’s help. I try to reach for the right words to explain—without, you know, explaining. Nothing comes out.

“Right, you are pretty introverted I guess,” he says finally with an awkward chuckle.

I grunt noncommittally. “Anyway, it’s a supers-related crime, even if he doesn’t have powers,” I finish lamely.

“Oh, right, you said he was kidnapping supers. Well, can you give me their names so I can ask them for more information if you’re going home?” Avery asks cheerfully.

I don’t respond.

“You still there?” Avery says. “Wait. Oh. Ohhh. He captured you?”

“I’m fine,” I growl.

“Glad to hear it, but come on, how did a guy without powers—” Avery’s slight laugh carries over the connection. “Stor, I’ve got to hear this one. Did—”

I hang up. He has the information he needs.

With one more wary look in the direction of my silently-glaring former-captor, I leave the phone on the desk for Avery later. Picking up the control device, I quickly punch in the coordinates to my cave. Based on my captor’s earlier appearance in the cage, and the way the transport device summoned me when signaled by the cage, it’ll be able to send me back to my cave without the device moving from this spot.

Then I locate and punch in a control that I knew would be there given the style of its owner.

“Teleportation pad and control panel self-destruct initiated,” the robotic voice says far too cheerfully. “Self-destructing in five minutes. Countdown: begun. Goodbye.” Still way too cheerful.

“You can’t do that!” the guy in the cage yells furiously.

“Watch me,” I say tiredly. It’s one thing I intend to break and not repair. I have no intention of anyone using it on me or anyone else again. Instant kidnapping from anywhere in the world? Not my thing.

The transportation seems to happen pretty instantly, so I have time to use it before the countdown finishes. I pass a brief glance down at myself and at my reflection in the shiny surface of the controls to make sure my scraped-up arms and face aren’t too alarming for Techra. Eh. On par with when I lose focus while fixing a large glass window and drop the broken glass back on myself. Ask me how I know. On second thought, don’t.

I set the control device down on the workbench so it won’t come with me, square my shoulders, and step onto the transportation platform.

My surroundings blink around me as the same weird displaced feeling jolts through me, like stepping through a portal. A moment later, the welcoming surroundings of my home cave appear as the world settles with no sign of the transportation devices. Which, hopefully, will be self-destructing back in that dusty back room I’ve seen quite enough of, any minute now.

I’m home. It’s over. Relief crashes in on me like a broken mirror and I inhale to sort through the pieces.

Nothing’s changed—my sister’s still in intense focus mode, fiddling with her project.

“Techra—” I open my mouth to explain.

“Stor! I finished it for you,” Techra says without looking up. She straightens and observes the shiny, flat, rectangular metal contraption in front of her, hands on hips. “You’re always complaining about how much work fixing those skyscrapers is without having flying powers like Avery’s. So I made you a platform to stand on. It flies and hovers. You’re welcome.”

I shut my mouth. Ready to put today’s misadventure behind me, I study the invention, impressed despite my earlier misgivings. It looks absolutely awesome. Not that I would ever say that. “So…it’s a glorified flying carpet, then,” I say casually.

“Is not.”

“Thanks, I love it.”

She finally looks up to smile at me—and the smile fades at my battered appearance. One blue eyebrow rises. “What happened to you? Did you drop a repair project on yourself or something?”

I open my mouth again. My phone pings. I pick it up from where I left it by the coffee maker and find a message from Avery.

“Stor. Are you okay?” Techra asks behind me.

I tap the message. “Got him. Thanks for the tip.”

I turn back to her with a faint smile. “I am now.”

“Oh, that reminds me.” Techra nods at the phone, eyes brightening with cheerfulness, but with a sharp look beneath that means I’ll be explaining myself to her before long. “I got a new job offer.” She continues but her words fade into the background as that nudges a thought.

Something about what the cloaked man said sticks with me in spite of myself. Maybe it was the things people sent me to fix. Maybe it was Techra mentioning the rent that morning. I think about how she uses her powers for her job. Can I…maybe…use my powers for a living? Instead of just for the greater good, to atone for— No. Not thinking about that.

But can I use my gift to help others, and also make money on it? In a fair way, not a manipulative way like the man was going to use me. Can I be free to choose my own path?

Can there, possibly, be a value to what I can do?

“Do you think I should charge for this?” I muse aloud. “For using my power for people.”

“Sure,” Techra says with a half-shrug. “Why not? I do.”

“So what do I owe you for the flying carpet?” I ask, smirking and nodding at it.

She smacks my shoulder. “Nothing, you big idiot.”

I push down a brief smile then look contemplatively at the boxes I need to have Portia return to their owners. “If I did this as a business,” I muse, gears turning in my head, “and noised it about that I do, we can’t have any more of this leaving stuff at the Supers Memorial nonsense. I’d better get a real post office box.”

“Post office box?” Techra asks with a startled look, side-eyeing me.

“I’d have Portia check it for me and bring the stuff here, of course,” I add quickly. The thought of regularly being somewhere people can find me makes my skin crawl, especially after the…er…Glassman trap. I shudder. It will be better for everyone if I stay here where no one can find us.

“You need a name for your business,” Techra says, fortunately breaking into my spiraling thoughts. “Restoren Restoration.”

I tilt my head. “I like it.”

“Got Glitches or Ground Glass? Glassman’s Gotcha,” she says with a grin.

I scowl at her. “Man, I hope that Glassman name doesn’t stick,” I mutter.

And yet, if it’s people I help and that’s how they know me, maybe it’s not so bad…

Nah. It’s that bad.

“Speaking of, you missed a box that came for you,” Techra adds, jerking her chin toward one lying open on the floor by my workbench.

I could’ve sworn it wasn’t there earlier, but I sigh and go over to it and peer inside, ready to fix one last thing, then find some food and possibly a nap. Definitely a nap. Being kidnapped by a creepy cage to be somebody’s personal repairman for profit is exhausting.

I squint at the glass shards glittering in the box.

Is that…a…glass slipper?

Oh, for crying out loud.

Yeah, I definitely need to get paid for this job.

Author’s Note + Links

If you enjoyed this short story and haven’t read the other Glassman short story (or want to revisit it), you can find A Night in the Life of Glassman (which takes place shortly after this one) HERE.

I do have inklings of more possible Glassman tales to write someday…if Stor cooperates. No promises, but if I write more about these characters, the surest place to hear about it (and other writing news and life adventures of mine) is on my quarterly (ish) newsletter, which you can sign up for HERE.


Special thanks to Hazel B. West, whose blog Tales from A Modern Bard hosted the original Glassman story. Without Hazel’s “A Day in the Life” challenge on said blog in 2019, Glassman’s story would have remained unwritten, and without her Story Jam challenge on Discord in August 2022, I still wouldn’t have started this second Glassman story. Thanks for being the spark to kick-start both stories!

Thanks to those who were my own Restorens, helping me fix the cracks in the story!

  • Firstly, my family (especially my sister and mom). Thank you for your feedback and invaluable help throughout the process (excitement included), and for keeping me going!
  • And Christine Smith, whose FicFrenzy writing challenges helped me finish writing this story and start editing it. Thank you for cheering me on through each stage of getting this story from idea to finished, and for your insightful beta-reading notes (and fangirling)!

Thanks also to everyone who read and loved my original Glassman story, inspiring me to return to Restoren and his friends.

And another thank you to everyone who cheered me on while writing or editing this (whether in person, by email, or in response to snippets I posted during the process).

Thank you for reading!

Whether you’re an old fan of Stor/Glassman or are new to his adventures, I hope this story can bring a bit of joy to your day.

Thank you, reader, for joining me!

Feel free to leave a comment below! (I’d love to hear what you think!)

12 thoughts on “How to Catch a Glassman (New Short Story Prequel!)

  1. IT’S HERE IT’S HERE IT’S HERE!!! *tackles Stor and Techra and everybody and everything* I just love it all soooo much!

    And AWK. I’m so honored to be mentioned in the acknowledgments. :’) It was an absolute and utter JOY getting to read this story early. I’m sooo happy it’s available for public reading now. It just gives me such a smile! <333

    Liked by 2 people

    • Aaaahh! You are the nicest bean! ^_^ I’m now imagining Stor and Techra and co. being tackled. XD Stor wouldn’t be a fan of hugs, but he wouldn’t be as hostile as Tare, at least, and I’m thinking the other superheroes wouldn’t mind at all. XD THANK YOUUU! I’M SO GLAD YOU LOVE IT! And thank you again for all your help. Of course I had to mention you! Aaahh, you’re just making me beam! Thank youuu!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This was AWESOME, Deborah! It was fun to get to see Restoren and company again, and I loved the cleverness of the villain’s trap and Restoren’s escape. SO GOOD! I would read a whole book about these characters, if you ever felt so inclined.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh my word oh my word oh my word! Thank you SO MUCH! This all makes my day and makes me so happy to hear! AAAHH! So glad you enjoyed returning to these characters, and that you thought the trap/escape were clever — ahh! High praise. Eep! I definitely have another short story idea (it might be fun/fluffy but knowing Stor he’ll get in some scrape even if I just want it to be fun. XD) and I’m starting to brainstorm possibilities of exploring more of his story in a novel…someday… *adds it to the stack of so many things I want to write* But the fact you’d be interested, again, MAKES MY DAY, so thank you so much! (And thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts!) Your comment is making me smile so big! 😀

      Liked by 2 people

    • Aahh! Thank you so much, Madeline!! That makes me so happy! I’m so glad Stor amuses you (he is way too much fun to write. 😂) and that you enjoy the worldbuilding too! Thank you so much for reading and for your lovely comment! 💚

      Liked by 2 people

  3. DEBORAH. THIS STORY WAS TOO SHORT. I NEED MORE. (Not to be demanding or anything, just so we’re clear.)

    Seriously, this was SO GOOD. I love Stor so much—his whole attitude and vibe are just perfect. The way he snaps back at the villain with all his witty quips is honestly one of my favorite tropes. Gotta love a snarky hero. (My favorite line was about the averagevillain instead of a supervillain. XD)

    This whole universe is so unique and fun and a really great twist on the superhero genre. I used to hold Marvel as the golden standard for hero stories, but they’ve really dropped the ball lately. Stuff like this gives me hope, in a way, that it’s not the genre at fault, just the writers. You’re clearly bringing a lot of fresh air and life into it, and I would absolutely devour any further stories you write in the superhero genre.

    ALSO. Lowkey wanna draw some fanart at some point . . . I may have to ask you for more character details/references when I eventually get around to it. 😀

    Thanks for sharing such an epic story! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aaahh! Your comment made my day! THANK YOU for reading and for sharing all these great thoughts!

      Haha! I’m glad it felt too short because I guess that means it wasn’t boring. XD But it was still, surprisingly, 3K words longer than the original one…

      Aaahh I’m so glad you like Stor and his attitude/snark/quips! He’s so much fun to write. XD It makes me so happy you like him! (Averagevillain, yes. XD)

      Okay but the fact you enjoy this universe and feel like it’s fresh and comparing it to the older Marvel stuff and want more in this world. :O Thank you! I hope to write another short story and maybe a novel one of these days!

      That would be so cool! It also makes me feel like I should FIND some references. XD The characters are still very much in my head at this point but I would love to write more with them. Whether you get around to it or not, just the idea that someone would want to draw fanart of my li’l Glassman stories makes my week!

      Thank you so much for reading and for your super-nice comments! ^_^

      Liked by 1 person

  4. So nice to get more insight into Stor’s story. This had great pacing and a strong narrative voice. While I have not read much of Diana Wynn Jones, this felt like it was inspired by her storytelling style. A fun, imaginative, and intriguing work. So glad you wrote it and shared it here. Perhaps if we get enough of these, you might have the makings of a novel on your hands? I’m interested to see where your writing adventures take you next.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for reading and for your delightful comment!! And aahh, all your thoughts are making my day! I’m so glad you liked it (and getting more of Stor’s story), and being compared to DWJ — ack! That makes me so happy! I do have some more ideas for future Stor stories so there very well may be a novel in the works one of these days. Thank you so much!


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