I wanted to make a page that held the story in chronological order and so here it is. It will continue to update this page as more posts come out.
It was a dark and stormy night. Well, that’s not wholly true and hopefully I’m not that cliche. It was raining and it was getting dark. I was on my bike headed home from work. I had stayed late at the Waddling Duck Cafe grading papers.
So, in case you had grand ideas after that first epic “It was a dark and stormy night,” you now know that it really wasn’t stormy, it was only kinda sorta dark and that I am some sort of teacher. And hey, remember that bike I am riding? It ain’t no harley, but it does have twelve speeds.
But don’t forget Indiana Jones was an educator.
Anyway, I’m pedaling my lame and boring self back home, its a ride I know well and have selected because it has a bike lane all the way to my house. Today I can hardly see, squinting my eyes against the not stormy rain and the almost dark makes the lines hard to see. Sill I’ve made the same ride countess times and in these conditions half a hundred times.
Then the sky flashed a bright red.
I could feel my insides being to heat up as if someone had reached inside me and turned the knob to up to broil. Looking up into the sky I saw a huge ball of, well, red. I would say fire but it didn’t appear to be burning, but it was obviously moving because of the glowing trail of red that was left behind it, sort of like waving a sparkler through the air on the Fourth of July, but much much bigger.
My body continued to heat up until I could hear the rain sizzle and evaporate on my skin. Then it stopped, I felt cool but I tingled all over as if my whole body had fallen asleep instead of just a leg or a foot. Everything in me felt disconnected and far away.
The light from, what I suppose was some kind of comet began to die away and then was barley visible behind the cloud cover.
I had just been sitting too long, I told myself, the sudden activity caused the burning feeling in me and the red ball, comet, thing was a symptom of increased blood flow to the head. Reading the same damn history report two hundred times will cause a lack of brain activity for anyone.
Thats when I heard the horn.
How long had I been staring up into the sky?
Too long. The maroon minivan, god ugly as it was, was bearing down on me. My body seemed to spaz and snap on the inside as everything reconnected again. For a split second I was whole again, but the maroon minivan had other plans.
I stared down the headlights racing toward me from my right. Well, I thought to myself, the kids didn’t kill me after all.
Then that knob was turned up again, I heated up, faster this time, the van was mere feet away when I leaped up from the pedals, kicked off the seat of my bike and watched wide eyed and dismayed as my bike was smashed to bits below me.
It was no harley, but I really liked it. It had twelve speeds.
There was a horrible crashing sound and the squeal of breaks seemed to finally reach my mind though they had long since found my ears. Time slowed down for me, as time seems to do every so often, as I watched the sudden and rapid dismantling of my beloved twelve speeder from ten feet in the air.
The minivan went by and I dropped from my apex along with the rain, splashing down in a shallow puddle. My body temperature was still high but it was bearable, like a low simmer rather than a rolling boil.
I stood up looking around, trying to get my bearings. Tall tress, a wholesome dark green were thick on either side of the intersection, the traffic light above me changed color, first yellow, then red reflected in the ever growing puddles all around me.
The only car in sight was the minivan, now stopped cockeyed on the far end of the intersection. No driver had yet emerged. Probably sitting there preparing for the carnage outside, or perhaps this wasn’t their first run in with a cyclist and they were already on the phone with 911.
Should I Call 911? I thought to myself reaching into my pocket and pulling out my phone. Eight fifteen read the digital display.
The door to the minivan opened and out stepped a woman. SHe had vlonde hair and must have been in her mid to late twenties, but it was hard to tell with all the mascara running down from her eyes. I could hear here sobs over the soft pattering of rain.
She stood there staring at me sobbing. The puddles changed from red to green to yellow and back to red before she spoke.
“Did I hit you?”
“Yeah, but I’m pretty sure it was my fault.”
She looked as if she tried to smile but instead croaked out another sob. “Are you hurt?”
“No.” I answered.
We still stood on opposite sides of the intersection, I think she thought I was a ghost.
“I don’t really know how, I jumped, but I don’t know how. Here, let me give you my information.” I said reaching into my back pocket.
She let out the loudest cry yet, “No, No!” she said fleeing back to her damaged van and driving away. Reversing out of the wreckage that was my bike.
I stood unmoving. The puddles began their color cycle again but this time I saw something different. In between the red, yellow, and green I could see myself and I was glowing, it was faint, but I was glowing.
I picked up the now zero speed remains of my bike. It was a crumpled wreck of aluminum with one wheel hanging loose and the other nowhere to be seen.
The walk home was long and wet I was soaked through by the early spring showers, but never once was I cold. I had watched the faint flow emanating from me die away as I walked but the heat never left.
As soon as I got home I striped off my wet clothes and went straight to bed.
I sat on my couch watching the morning news and drinking a cup of coffee, lots of cream lots of sugar, as was my custom. I sat there in a daze, probably shocked from the night before. As the caffeine kicked in my disbelief grew more and more. How had I jumped off my bike at all, not to mention I had somehow managed to clear a speeding minivan. Then I remembered the the strange glowing and rushed to the bathroom mirror.
I debated calling in sick to work, but I didn’t relish the idea of having spent the better half of the previous day grading papers to not return them to their owners. By the way, thank god for waterproof backpacks.
I grabbed a granola bar and slung the still damp backpack over my shoulder and headed out the door. Just as a turned back to flick off the TV I caught a glimpse of the big red ball I had seen in the sky the night before then the station cut to a commercial. I stood for a minute waiting to see what they had to say but I couldn’t afford to wait any longer. Last night’s violent destruction of my mode of transportation left me with no other choice but to ride the city bus.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy the fragrant smells of urine, or the panhandlers at every stop, or the constant tardiness of the bus itself, I just prefer to ride my bike. So I was forced to leave my apartment so I would be on time for the bus that would surly be late giving the bum on the corner just enough time to come ask me for a cigarette before dropping his pants and pissing on the wall behind me. And all I have at the end of the dark tunnel that is my commute to work is a classroom full of hormone infused teenagers. Nice.
My first class begins with me handing back their papers on what the civil war was about. Almost every single one of them wrote that it was about slavery. So almost everyone of them got a B, despite my burning desire to write F on every single one of the pages that had a thesis consisting of ‘The fundamental reason for the Civil War was slavery.’ Really burns my toast. I spent a whole week explaining how slavery was only a part of it.
Anyway, I like to stand at the front of the class for a few minutes after returning a test or a paper, just let the kids stew. I stand there as if I am the disappointed parent, after a minute of awkward silence only interrupted by the occasional nervous shuffling of papers I give my class the same speech I give every year about how I am disappointed by a few of the students efforts, but on the whole it was a good turn out. Which is of course a lie, but the principle has been on me recently about low student moral and grades in my class. A total bureaucrat.
I repeat the routine for my other two US History classes and then assign a ten page paper to my Comparative World History class to the audible dismay of my students. I don’t get it they signed up for the damn AP class, they knew it was supposed to be college level. I suppose its because all the other teachers treat it like any other class.
The day wraps up and I decide to walk the ten miles home. Portropolis can be a beautiful city if you take the time to look for it. I wasn’t looking and so I only saw the dirty side walk and the malicious drivers. I kept seeing the maroon minivan in the corner of my right eye but each time I turned there was nothing there.
My temperature had felt normal all day and I was glad to have put last night’s oddities behind me but when I stopped into a local coffee shop for a cup of joe I caught the rest of the news report I had missed that morning.
“Last night a large meteor broke through the earth’s atmosphere, since then it has circled the earth twice. Scientists have said that the object, refusing to label it as a meteorite, isn’t technically orbiting the earth as it is inside the earths atmosphere and thus moving of its on accord.” The man on the screen had tidy blonde hair greased back with flashing pearly whites. “The meteorite, or object, is moving too fast for anyone to get close to it, but as yet it has not caused any problems and is maintaining a healthy distance from the earth. Survival junkies known to many as ‘preppers’ have already gone into hiding. Claiming the earth to be at its end.”
I got my coffee, emptied half the bottle of cream at the counter and added a generous portion of sugar before heading back out onto the street.
I taught on the very edge of Portropolis and the ten mile walk back home took me into a primarily residential part of the city. Enough so that I was able to see the big red ball fly across the sky. It was closer today and it didn’t appear to be a ball anymore. More of an oval. The oval came to a stop about three quarters of the way across my line of sight, paused for a moment, then plummeted straight down.
The earth shook and I was knocked off my feet. A car going by jumped over on the road a good three feet before its tires came screaming back to the ground as the driver slammed on the breaks. I picked my self up off the ground and reached for my phone. This time I knew I needed to call 911. Shit, I should probably call the President himself. But my phone screen was black. No matter how many times I hit the little black button at the bottom the damn thing wouldn’t turn on.
I was standing there, mindlessly mashing the on button when the dust wave hit me and knocked me down again.
Dust forced its way into my mouth blotting out what sun had been above me. Luckily I had closed my eyes in time but the screams coming from across the street told me that someone else hadn’t been so quick. My temperature rose as I felt the the world around me change. My phone lay on the ground next to me, screen cracked and powerless. Everything was covered in a fine layer of dust, I left a trail as I rose to my feet and began back down the street.
My body began to simmer like red curry again, and it was growing ever hotter as I moved along the street. People were coming out of houses or peering out of windows all around me, a few even stared at me. I could really feel myself heating up now and when I looked down at my hand I found that my finger nails had begun to glow. They shown agains the brown dust covered land around me.
Panic filled me, I had to get home. I never liked the spotlight and now, quite literally, I was a spotlight. I ran, as fast as I could and found that it only added to my fear, I was moving faster than an olympic sprinter and my temperature only continued to rise. I found it to be a comfort. Something was happening to me, that was obvious now. It hadn’t been some sort of weird brain illusion from the day before but an actual physical, well, situation. Disease? Ailment? Cure?
I suppose once I stopped trying to explain it I embraced it. Racing down the street I decided to try another jump like the day before. Running at a parked car I leapt onto the hood and kicked off. I was practically flying.
Until the brick wall of the building on the other side thought better.
My hands went out in front me as if I was falling rather than moving through the air horizontally. The light in my finger nails grew until my whole hands were glowing. A faint luminescence bubbled out from them and the brick wall exploded in front me as I came crashing thought it.
I was standing in what looked like a young boy’s room. Airplanes hung from the wall and a small twin bed lay askew in the corner, I must have rearranged the room slightly during my entrance. I was starring at my hands when the door flew open knocking an airplane from the wall. A large man stood there, his face was as red as a beet. In his hands he held a golf club.
“Sir, I am truly sorry for this inconvenience…” I began, but if the earthquake and dust wave hand’t been enough to put him on edge a strange man bursting through his young son’s brick wall seemed to have done the trick. He swung the club like Tiger, I could see the vein pop on his forehead and watched the muscles in his arms spring to life in slow motion. It would have been terrifying expect the slow motion made him look like a cartoon character. I was tempted to try and catch the club in my hand but didn’t want to push things too far and decided to step to the side instead.
Things sped back up and the man gave a grunt as he followed through on his swing crashing the club into the floor, bending its shaft. Before he could swing again I turned and leaped out of the second story hole in the wall and landed nimbly on the ground. I could hear the man screaming, but I won’t repeat his words to you, suffice it to say that he was royally pissed.
In my brief absence from the street things had changed dramatically, people had moved from the windows and doorways out onto the street gaping and gawking at their brown world. I found myself again drawing unwanted attention, so deciding to use my new found talents I leaped up onto a car roof then to a building top. From there I continued on down the street, but this time moving from rooftop to roof top. And boy, let me tell you. I was feeling cooler than Batman, flyer than Superman, and just about as goofy as Spidey.
I was making good speed back home, the steep roofs of every third house or so didn’t slow me down a bit and they were all about the same height and close enough apart for me to keep jumping along. Three, maybe four blocks from my cozy little home a strange thing happened. All the street lamps flicked on simultaneously. I had been operating under the idea that all power had been knocked out. An EMP like blast from the giant red ball’s impact with earth. Seemed reasonable enough when you considered I was having these thoughts while making the normal walk home thirty feet higher than usual.
Anyways the lights turning on changed my mind about the EMP theory, but the weirdest part of it was how they all turned on at exactly the same time. Have you ever seen that before? I sure haven’t. One flickers it’s way to life while another jumps into action immediately the third doesn’t turn on at all most of the time. But here on this block they all jumped into life together. It caught me off guard and I half lost my footing as I landed on a rather steep roof. I debated going back for my phone which I had so casually left laying on the sidewalk. My life seemed to be moving rather fast, too fast, I wanted to get back to the safety of my humble little home.
I entered, from the second story window I always left open, grabbing onto the roof and swinging my feet through first. I had been a fairly athletic person my whole life but this was a whole new level. Again I thought of an olympian, not a sprinter this time but some kind of crazy flipping, stretchy gymnast. I couldn’t help smiling to myself. My heart was beating powerfully in my chest as I made my way downstairs, I was only remotely surprised to see that all the electronics had been switched on. The radio was blaring “Hot for Teacher” when I switched it off. The TV was still on the news channel but there was a new talking head on the screen, I switched it off without registering what they were saying. Later I would find out how big a mistake that was.
I was really beginning to miss my phone as I fixed myself a sandwich. Channeling athletes was tiring work. I had disabled my land line the year before but the phone still hung on the wall in the kitchen, taunting me as I spread mustard onto my bread.
I hardly tasted the pastrami as I wolfed down the meal. Was anyone else experiencing what I was? Probably, I hadn’t done anything special in my life and I had actively avoided toxic pools of nuclear waste and stayed out of gamma radiation chambers. There was nothing that I could think of that would have caused this change in me. So somebody else out there must be feeling it too. And what was up with that ball? Did it give me my powers? I had made up my mind to go investigate for myself when a knock came at my door.
“Clyde!” Yelled a voice in between pounding fists. “Open the damn door.” I knew the voice and was immediately filled with a mix of emotions. I was glad that he was ok, strange things were happening out there but his gruff voiced filled me with fear as well. It was Mary, my girlfriend’s father.
“Mark,” I said opening the door. “Its good to see you.” He barged into the small living room and shook his head as if irritated or disgusted. Probably both. He turned to face me.
“I know I haven’t been the most welcoming to you,” He began, “but its only going to get worse from here on out. I have some tough words for you and I doubt your manly enough to stomach them standing so sit down.” I did as I was told. His hard blue eyes had a way of piercing straight into my soul, all previous strength I had felt drained away. “Good, now I suppose your feeling a little different. Thats good and if you don’t feel any different stop me now because I have little time.” I nodded and opened my mouth to say yes but he talked right over me.
“Thats what I thought. First, you need to man up from here on out. No more whining about your lot in life. Now is the time to put some hair on your chest and get your hands dirty. Second, obviously my daughter loves you,” He shook his head again, grumbled under his breath, sighed and continued, “and so it is your job to protect her. She is more important than you can imagine and not just to me, or to you, but to the whole world.
Third, stay away from the egg. Keep Mary away from the egg. Understand?”
“I am not currently a man but need to quickly become one. Mary is extremely important. And finally there is a bad egg around.” I repeated. I could only assume that the big red oval shaped ball was, in fact, the egg he was talking about. “I do have a question, why me?”
“Because Mary loves you. Now I must go, I need to find the others.”
“Wait, wait, wait. If I get my powers from Mary’s love then how are there others?”
“Past loves.” He said as he walked out the door.
Great, I thought to myself, exes.
Once again, I sat on my couch with my cup of cream, sugar, and a hint of coffee. I had known I needed to find Mary the first second that ‘bad egg’ hit the ground. I had known not only because I loved her and felt a traditional sense of protection that those feel for loved ones but something more too. That hand inside me that kept ratcheting up the thermostat had seemed to tug and pull me towards her. Sort of like when a young child steals a cookie from the cookie jar, their moral compass is screaming “No! Go the other way!” Only now it wasn’t a moral compass tugging at my consciousness, it was a Mary compass.
I set down the half empty cup getting ready to leave, did I need to bring anything? I tried to think of anything that might be helpful. I never owned a gun and unlike my disgruntled friend in the brick house I wasn’t a fan of golf. Shrugging and heading out the door I decided that the glowing force field hand trick would have to suffice.
My Mary compass told me to head back into town, away from the egg. For a moment I paused, hand half way in the cookie jar, and looked toward the egg. Then headed back into town. The sun was getting ready to drop from the sky now, already long shadows were growing across the streets and covering the houses. The dust that had dominated the landscape was slowly moving on, taken away by the cool spring breeze.
The streets were empty now so I didn’t bother with the rooftops though I had thought about it. Instead I sped down along the road, the houses that I passed all revealed people crowded around their TV screens. Faces pale, eyes glazed. I longed for a radio. My phone had an app for that.
And then it dawned on me, my Mary compass was taking me right by where I had been when the egg crashed. Just my luck. As I approached the intersection near where I hoped my phone was I heard a scream.
A thought blitzed its way through my mind. Just one word but it bore though me like a mole through a hole. Mary.
I turned and leaped onto the nearest building. The scream came again. I flew in its direction, two rooftops later I was looking down at the most bizarre sight I had ever seen.
A foul collection of creatures, crawl-walked their way toward a family of four. A husband and wife and two young girls. The creatures were like none I had ever seen, they were long and thick. Some had four legs, some had three, others had six. Their skin ranged from grey to black, spotted and scaly. Their faces were grotesque malformed after thoughts of some cruel god. There were five of them and then a man all dressed in black, cloaked and hooded standing behind the five monstrosities.
The broiler lit up inside me. My hands were glowing and at my side a beam of light had appeared. Just a faint flickering luminescence at first but it was solidifying quickly. I must have been the strangest sight those little girls had ever seen, as they looked up toward me and their jaws dropped the mother straight fainted and the father wet himself. It might have been the monsters.
I stood there on the roof of a small dental clinic, khaki pants, red and black plaid shirt, and glowing as if I was a street lamp. Leaping down into the alley I put myself between the besieged and the besiegers giving the latter pause.
They sized me up, holding their position in the dark alley until a voice colder than ice and softer than snow slithered through all that stood in the dark alley.
“Kill him.” It hissed.
Reflexively I drew what was now a sword of white light from my side. I had never used a sword before, but let me tell you, it was like the first time you lay with a lover, exciting, nerve-wracking, and everything you ever wanted.
The creatures came forward and I stepped to meet them. The sword was light in my hand and I moved quickly taking the sword with me. It was my first fight since Bill Hamilton had knocked me down with a single punch in the ninth grade. This fight was over just as fast. The sword cutting easily through their oddly numbered limbs. They let out low grumbling moans of pain as they died. I danced around their limbs as they moved as if in slow motion.
A ragged claw came crashing down toward me as my sword ended the life of the fourth monster. The fifth the, six legged one had caught me off guard. It was after all my first time using a sword. I reached my left hand, my free hand, up and the glowing shield of light appeared again and the claw was turned away. I brought the sword up and ended his life.
I turned to face the hooded man with the whispering voice but he was gone. The family was already running away, the father had opened a gate into a neighboring backyard to make room for their escape. I stood alone in the alley, surrounded by creatures that were not of this world with a glowing sword and shield in my hands. Strange to think the day started with an unhappy bus ride.
I put the sword back at my hip where it promptly disappeared taking the shield with it. I felt the tug of direction again stronger now, urgent and distressed. The thought raced across my mind again. Mary.
Thoughts of Mary surrounded by dark hooded figures and deranged polymelia monsters growing ever closer as she shied away her dark brown hair laden with sweat covering her golden brown eyes. I was on the roof tops racing across the outskirts of the city, I was getting close now I could feel her. A prescience growing inside me like a building thunderstorm on a summer night, powerful.
I came to her apartment complex, a series of three story buildings, four in total each spanning a city block. I hated the place, perfectly manicured at all times, with a sign outside reading “City View Luxury Apartments.” Luxury my ass, the whole place is painted renters white and they wouldn’t let her keep her kitten which is why he is at this moment probably pissing on my couch.
I was still a block from her actual apartment when I leaped down onto the street there was no dust left there, if it had ever even come this far into the city. The courtyard of the complex would have been remotely nice, but there were always some kids fresh out of high school living off their parents money with nothing better to do than sit around smoke cigarettes and play drums, completely ruining the little courtyard. Today there were no kids. Their drums were still there scattered around the little stone benches that they sat on. The place seemed darker than the rest of the place, the little fountain in the center was spilling dark grey water rather than the normal clear blue. The surrounding renter’s white of the building walls had aged ten years begging for a new shinning coat.
And in the courtyard stood three of the dark hooded figures surrounding Mary. But in between Mary and the hooded figures stood a man he was glowing and held a shinning sword in his hand. My heart sank. It was Bill. That bastard. Tall, good looking, charming and a bastard.
He dated Mary before me and every time I had met the guy since then, which has been way more times than I would like, he continually reminded me of their history. “Eating out again? When I was with Mary I would cook for her,” “Clyde, you look a little winded, when I was with Mary we would run together three times a week.” I hate the bastard.
Anyways there they were standing together, he looking confident and composed and Mary looking ever so grateful he was there. I can’t really fault her for that, still, I didn’t like it one bit. I took a running jump and landed in the middle of the three hooded figures, putting my hand to my hip while in mid air nothing was there but when I grabbed at the air I felt my hand grip around the hilt and when I drew it up the sword formed in the air of the dark courtyard.
I whirled around bringing my sword with me and driving it into the side of the middle assailant. He let out a shriek unlike anything I had ever heard. The area darkened around his wailing voice but when when he stopped and fell to the ground the dark faded and the courtyard was brighter than it had been before.
“Oh my gosh, Clyde!” Squeaked Mary. The other two figures snapped out of of their stasis stepping back and raising their arms into the air. I couldn’t understand what they were saying, I don’t think it was english or any common language, but they began to chant in a low voice that made my stomach roil as if sick with the flu.
Slowly the dead figure rose into the air as if suspended by invisible puppet strings, there the skin began to bubble and boil as the limbs separated from the torso and transformed in front of me into the horrible polymelia creatures that had been in the alley before.
I lashed out again with my sword killing one of the creatures before it was fully formed, in only a matter of seconds the other four creatures had completely morphed into individual horrors Once two legs, an arm, and a torso they now stood menacing. They lunged forward at me, all at the same time, that’s when Bill the Bastard stepped in to help me out. Together we worked like a well oiled machine, like a Dyson vacuum if they needed oil. Cutting through the beasts on our way to the hooded figures.
“Clyde, hold up a second.” Bill said as we approached the two hoods. “Do we really want to kill them?”
“Damn straight.” I snapped back.
“I mean you killed the last one and look what happened.” But before I had a chance to think about the consequence of my actions the two hoods, were on us. They wielded long dark staves with points on either end, where they came from, I couldn’t say. They used them in a constant spinning, probing attack that was ten times faster than the mutants they had produced from their fallen comrade. I was caught off guard back pedaling away from the dark blur that was their assault.
Bill the Bastard and I split, each of us drawing one of the hoods. My attacker said nothing, in fact, I couldn’t even hear the sound of his footsteps as he danced and twirled at me. I have to admit, it was really quite impressive.
Mary began screaming as Bill and I reeled from their attack, I glanced over at her to make sure she was safe for the time being. She was but I had never seen her face so pale.
Fearing Mary’s fear, if that makes sense, I gained some resolve and leaped up and over my attacker, flipping and just narrowly missing one of the points as it passed inches from my face. Everything moved in slow motion for that instant and I could see the keen edge of the blade glint in the glow that I was radiating.
I landed facing him, thrusting forward but he turned knocked my blow to the side with the bottom end of his stave then brought the other end down on my shoulder. The pain radiated down my arm as it fell limp by my side taking my sword down with it. Kicking out with a leg I smacked him square in the chin, how I got so flexible I don’t know but again I thought of the olympic gymnast. I forgot the pain in my shoulder the instant my foot hit his head for I had revealed the horror that was hidden behind the hood. The face was that of a normal man but the eyes were two dark voids a concentrated version of the darkness that had fallen over the normally cheery albeit dull courtyard we fought it. The creature smiled as it raised its stave and I saw four sharp pointed fangs, two on the top, two on the bottom held in place by black gums that ran almost halfway up the two inch fangs. My stomach roiled even further when I thought of my shoe actually coming in contact with that hideous abomination’s face.
Pain long gone I brought my sword back up and knocked the impeding puncture of my lung to the side but my arm was weak and I couldn’t fully move the oncoming point, it cut through my plaid shirt and grazed along my rib cage, I could feel the sharp blade slide across each rib. I heard Mary cry out and begin to sob. It was not going well for me.
The next jab came lurching forward at me as I stepped back putting my off hand up to catch it a thought occurred to me, I have a god damn force field. I turned my arm so that my forearm would collide with the attack and, sure enough, just before the tip of the stave broke my skin a glowing circle appeared on my arm. The stave bounced back and up above me. Still, I wasn’t prepared for the weight of the blow, I ended up on one knee to keep from falling completely on my back.
Lucky for me the horrid creature hadn’t expected the shield to appear and his dance was thrown off. For a moment he was off balance, I lurched forward shield first, gaining momentum from my kneeling leg, and drove him back, I drove forward again with the shield, I could feel blood running down my side and from my shoulder but felt no pain. This time when I smashed the shield into the creature he stepped back and tripped over one of the forgotten drums. He sprawled out before me. Rushing forward I plunged the point of my sword down through his chest.
The creature screamed another hideous moan sucking all light into it before releasing it again and lighting the courtyard further. I crumpled to both knees along with the dead fanged menace. Mary was still crying, her sobs growing louder I could hear her footsteps coming up behind me then felt her arms around me. I don’t think I have ever been as exhausted as I was right then, I had to close my eyes.
Reality can be rough. Mine quickly went from pleasant, to interesting, to disturbing.But now I found myself in possibly the worst imaginable situation.
My eyes blinked open to reveal bland colors and low ceilings. The cream colored walls looked as if they had once been white and the bed I was laying in belonged in the junkyard. My shoulder stung and my side burned but they didn’t compare to the stiffness of my back. It was like a migraine in my spine.
I could hear voices, distant in another room nearby and I couldn’t make out what they were saying through the murky veil that hung around my mind. I tried to sit up but couldn’t manage it.
“Clyde?” came Mary’s voice, it had been right next to me but I hadn’t seen her. I fought with my spine for the privilege of turning my head, slowly and painfully she came into view. She was smiling down at me, her eyes shinning wet with tears.
“And so, he lives again.” A handful of guys entered the room accompanying the voice of Bill the Bastard.
“Good, we need all the help we can get.” That was Josh, a good guy. Too good, the guy so good you feel bad for your girlfriend because she is with you and not him.
“Worthless. All he did was endanger Mary last night.”
“He did know what was going on, I still don’t know what’s going on.” Said Josh
“Fellas,” The new voice was Andy, “your both right. Clyde was rockless and stupid, but he did what he thought was best and we do need all the help we can get.”
A snort came from a fourth visitor. “I’m glad to see you pulled your head out of your ass long enough to get to Mary before shoving it right back up in there.” And so Mark, Mary’s father, completed my personal hell. Three ex-boyfriends and the father towering over me while I lay injured in some crapy hotel room.
“Christ, you told me to protect her and so I did.” another snort. “Why don’t you fill me in then, I obviously missed something.” I snapped.
“Gladly,” Andy was the tallest of the men in the room and his red hair made him stand out even further. “In short, Mary is one of the hooded figures except with a birth defect.”
“Your kidding me.”
Andy looked at Mark who gave a nod. “Where the hoods are from, which is some alternate dimension, Mary’s birth was prophesied. She would be born different from the rest and have the power to reveal Glordon.”
‘Glordon is god to the hoods, the creator of worlds, the bringer of justice, and to us the end of earth. I suspect he is in the egg.”
Mary was looking rather sheepish, head lowered, silent tears rolling down her face. I took her hand in my own and squeezed tight. She had always been different, I had known it from the day I met her you could sense that she was different, wasn’t human. I know it sounds corny but I always thought that she could be an angel, defiantly not the prophesied birth defect, bringer of gods and key to the end of the world. She squeezed back and managed a watery smile.
“How did we get these powers?” Asked Josh.
“Mary’s love for you has granted each of you powers, wether that love is still going strong in her heart or was once there doesn’t matter. I can’t explain why that is, think of it as her personal defense mechanism.” Explained Mark. “For now we have to keep Mary safe and as far from that egg as possible.”
“Can we get rid of the egg?” Asked Bill.
“I don’t know.”
“Well that sounds like a solid plan, let’s get moving.”
I sat up in bed the fog surrounding me was gone but my body was still in pain. I grimaced and stood up. “Don’t push it Clyde.” Mary’s soft voice was soothing, diminishing the pain in my body. I was a little shaky but I managed to put my clothes back on from the night before. They lay on a chair near the bed. Someone had washed them for me but there were still holes at the shoulder and ribs. I just keep looking better and better don’t I?
“Josh and Andy, go see whats going on out there. Bill you stay here and watch these two. Clyde, don’t be an idiot. I’ve got an errand to run, anything happens meet at the city library.”
I spent another day in bed watching the others come and go. Those that went out came back with reports that the hoods were rounding people up using fenced in school yards as giant holding cells. The dark freaky armed monsters patrolled them endlessly.
Mark hadn’t returned. Andy had gone to the library the first two days after I woke up in the motel but he hadn’t been there. The concusses then had been to stay away from the library so as not to draw attention to it. Mark knew better than any of us what was going on and so he should be fine. Mary wasn’t thrilled with the idea of leaving her father on his own, but she knew that we were doing exactly what he wanted.
Three days later I stood at the top of the grocery store across from the two story motel that served as our camp. The sky had clouded over threatening to rain at any moment. The sword now hung at my side and the shield on my back, Josh had taught me how to keep them hanging around. He was out now with Andy while Bill and I watched Mary. I didn’t like leaving her alone with Bill but I had to get out of there. I had to learn to control my power.
Letting out a deep breath I ran and jumped. I cleared the street and made the jump up to the roof of the motel. I kept moving and jumped again, going even higher and farther. I was now two blocks down from the grocery store and four stories up on a half finished office building. I made my way up leaping from floor to floor through the gaps in construction, at one point I couldn’t find a hole and so I made my own blasting through with the shield. Seven stories up I could see most of the surrounding area. It was the westside of the city, still being developed. Low income housing, crappy motels and then the new buildings going up. A few of them finished already shinning against the mediocrity of the other buildings and the grey sky above.
And through it all the freeway running, but it wasn’t the color of cement. It was black, pitch black and it was moving.
There had to be at least a hundred hoods accompanied by an innumerable amount of their dark minions. The time for hiding was over. I sprinted and made the biggest jump yet. I wish I could say I was flying, for the first half of the leap I actually thought I was, but I wasn’t. I was falling. At least I was headed for the hotel. I put the shield on my feet as panic coursed through me. I blew through the motel. Finding myself in the basement, looking up at the sky though a hole about four feet wide. Mary’s head popped up from the second story in the hole.
“It’s just Clyde.” She said smiling down at me. “You ok down there?”
“You moron, your going to lead them right to us!” Yelled Bill the Bastard, his face, beat red, appeared next to Mary’s in the hole. A piece of flooring, or maybe ceiling, fell down on me bouncing off my shield.
“They already know we are here, we have to move.” I said back to him.
“Let’s go” He said scooping up Mary. I could feel my blood boil, it didn’t have anything to do with my new powers this time though. I saw them bolt from the hole and heard a crash as he broke though a wall. I jumped up to our room, and snagged the prepared bug out bag, Andy and Josh had one too, and followed Bill the Bastard out through the hole he had made.
We were headed downtown. Bill was a few blocks ahead of me, but I could see him rising and falling as he moved from rooftop to rooftop. My heart was racing as I tried to catch up to Bill. I didn’t even look behind me, there was no way the hoods could keep up with us.
Then I heard a low whine creeping up behind me. I made a huge jump skipping a whole building, giving myself enough time to turn in the air to see behind me. I had done so just in time, There were five of the hoods on little flying moped looking things. The mopeds were black and covered in what looked like scales almost like little black dragons. In fact they were little black dragons and one of them had spit a ball of green fire at me. I deflected it off my shield but the impact had knocked me off target and I sent crashing back first into the street. I felt the canned food in the bug out bag give way and pop, I never really cared for the smell of canned spinach and it was really welcome then either.
I was back on my feet quick enough to deflect another ball of fire. Deflect isn’t really a good word for what I was doing. I think absorbing works better, each time the ball of fire collided with my shield it wasn’t redirected, deflected, or rerouted it just exploded at which point my body absorbed the impact and as a result I went flying back again. This time I smashed through a post office window and into a wall of PO boxes. The little metal doors popped open all around me. Three of the dragons and their riders were on me in the time it took me to draw my sword.
But now I was ready. A ball of fire burst from the lips of the center dragon, I jumped to the right as the green ball forced the rest of the PO boxes open. Moving quickly now I jumped up through the roof of the post office as another dragon let loose.
I had to get to the other riders before they caught up to Mary and Bill. I couldn’t see Bill anymore but I did see the two hoods a block up. I gave chase, moving with a sense of urgency I hadn’t yet felt. My body was on fire. I couldn’t believe I wasn’t literally bursting into flames. Between the fire breathing dragons trying to roast me and my own internal temperature it really was a miracle that I wasn’t on fire. I was glowing though and very brightly, I could see the light emanating from me on the building around me like a light bulb or a really big firefly.
I was gaining on the two riders when my pursuers forced me off my course. They had decided that I was too hard to hit and had taken to destroying the path I was trying to follow. The buildings in front of me erupted in green flame just as I was getting ready to jump for them. Each time I changed course they forced me away.
A strange thing happened at that point, my Mary radar pinged. Behind me.
The dragons had me going all over the place. A trail of burning buildings lay behind me as I tried desperately to catch up to Bill and Mary.
But now as I was about to land I felt Mary back towards where we had come from. Back behind the two dragons and their relentless fire.
As soon as I touched down I leaped right back at the dragons. I could see myself though the smoke filled sky. Reflected back by the dragon’s eyes before they glossed over filled with fear. I was burning inside, angry and filled with the power of Mary’s love. I could feel her reaching out to me, guiding me empowering me. She was like the engineer, feeding coal into the furnace and I was the big bad ass, top of the line locomotive and I was pissed. Right when I was between the two dragons I spun in the air. The beasts were too stunned to move despite the shrieks of horror coming from their hooded riders.
Hit me with you best shot started rolling though my mind. Pat Benetar wailed away in my head while my sword lopped the head off the first dragon then came crashing down between the second riders neck and shoulder carving down into his chest. His mount gave a whimper and decided to save his best shot for another time choosing instead to hightail off after the three still chasing what they thought was Mary.
Of course Mark has me pegged correctly, I can only ever manage to do half of any given task correctly. And now I found myself in the air with no idea where I was heading. I went crashing into an abandoned warehouse. Cobwebs and rat droppings went flying as I hit the cement floor with a resounding thud that echoed through the empty building.
Only slightly worse than when I had come across the disgruntled golfing father.
I was on my feet in seconds, blood poured from my noes but I had to move. The other hoods could figure out that Bill had ditched Mary at any second.
I was practically flying now, I hardly put down both feet as I jumped from rooftop to rooftop. Faster and faster I went my heart sinking as I made my way across the city. Mary was getting farther away.
Half a mile off I could see three figures on the roof of an old grocery store. Mark, Josh and Andy stood all grey faced and gloomy.
I couldn’t find words when I joined them. I felt ashamed. My body had lost all heat, I was cold. Frozen inside.
“They got her.” Josh said hollowly.
“They didn’t get her,” snapped Andy his red hair looking notably colorless, “he gave her to them.”
“That bastard…” I put in.
“Boys…” said Mark’s normally strong voice, “I think this may be my fault.”
There was silence as the three of us looked at each other quizzically. “What do you mean?” I asked.
“Two years ago when Mary and Bill were dating I told him about her situation.” He paused looking at us, tears glistening in his faded eyes, “He knew about everything, about where we come from, what Mary really is and what she is capable of.”
“And just what are you?” Snapped Andy.
“I am Mary’s father.” He looked down at the cold roof of the building little droplets of rain began to wet its surface, “I am one of them.”
At this point I wasn’t very surprised by the idea of Mark being some world ending monster, he had certainly made me feel as though he could end my world on any given night. Andy on the other hand was regaining his color, his hair brightening again. “Then why don’t you look like them?”
“It doesn’t matter Andy, we need to get Mary back.” I cut in. “Where do you think he is going?”
“I don’t know what his plan is, I thought he was the one to keep Mary safe and that’s why I confided in him. I thought he was strong and capable.”
“What does he know that we don’t?” Asked Josh.
“He seemed so in love with Mary, I didn’t see that she just didn’t love him back. I was too focused on her protector.”
“He knows about the ritual, how to unlock Mary’s true power.”
“And what is that?” I asked.
“When Mary’s true power is revealed there is supposed to be a battle of champions. A battle between the Glordon and Mary. The winner will decided the fate of the chosen world. Your world.”
“So Mary is as powerful as Glordon?”
“When her power is unlocked the egg will also hatch?” Asked Josh.
“I do not know how powerful Mary is, Bill was supposed to keep her from ever having to fight. She may need all the help she can get to defeat Glordon if it comes to that, it may even be impossible to kill him. And yes, I believe that when the ritual is completed the egg will hatch.”
The rain began to pick up, thick drops began splashing down all around us and soon the roof wasn’t just speckled with dots it was pooling from the huge drops of water. The sky had grown dark all around us. “What does he need to perform the ritual?”
“Nothing really, he just needs Mary to stay in one spot long enough for him to finish saying a few words.”
“Well we all know Mary and she isn’t going to like having been captured one bit.” Said Josh.
“She doesn’t know she has been captured…” My heart sank with my own words. Lighting broke across the dark sky off in the distance. The thunder came crashing over us, I had never heard thunder any louder than on that day and we all gasped. But not because of the thunder. Where the lighting had struck we could now see the egg. It was glowing red like a rising sun against the black backdrop of the stormy sky.
“Shit.” Said Andy, again colorless.
“You two, go to the egg. Try to stop Glordon from getting out.” I said my insides burning once again, I could feel her, I knew where she was and nothing was going to stop me from getting to her. “I’m going to get Mary.”
Andy nodded and took off running and leaped aiming for the next building. He went plummeting into the ground. A sickening crunch filled our ears as Andy collided with the pavement.
Speechless we ran to the edge of the building. We were two stories up and the darkness made it hard to see but there was Andy, his red hair laying against the wet cement. His legs were bent up under him, he wasn’t moving.
“What’s going on?”
“Mary is concentrating her power. She is taking it away from you. We are too late.”
But my body was telling me otherwise, I had never felt so powerful it was like I had one too many shots of whiskey without any of the ill side effects. I felt gung-ho, I was ready to rock. I couldn’t understand why I was feeling this way when it was obvious that we no longer had our powers. Andy was probably dead because of it.
“I’m going down to him.” Josh said running for the roof top exit. I turned to follow him down but when I moved my legs my stomach lurched. I didn’t feel anything with my foot, it felt like I had reached the top of a flight of stairs and tried to keep going and tripping over the empty air.
I was floating.
“I’m going to get Mary.” I didn’t look back.
Her presence was moving. It wasn’t going very fast, so I decided two things. First Bill still had her and second he too had lost his powers. The buildings flew past me as I flew between them, looking back on it, it had been one of the most surreal moments in my life. I mean everyone dreams about flying and I was doing it, not even Olympians can fly. At the time though I hardly even noticed, my entire being had tunnel vision and the light at its end was Mary.
She was headed in the direction of the Glordon but as far as I could tell Glordon hadn’t hatched quite yet. The egg was still glowing but now there were bright red streaks of light exploding from it, carving their way against the rain laden sky.
When I touched down in front of Bill his jaw dropped open. Maybe it was because I was flying, maybe it was because he had lost his powers, and maybe it was because of the steam caused by the rain drops that landed on my boiling skin. Whichever it was Bill the Bastard had just become Bill the Yellow Belly. Steaming I walked toward him slowly.
“You’re too late Clyde.” He called, his voice cracking over my name. “Glordon is coming for her.” I could see Mary behind him, he had her hands bound with a piece of rope, her mouth was gagged and her eyes wide.
“What have you done?” I yelled, only fifteen feet between us, the rain wasn’t even getting to my skin before it turned to gas. How could he treat Mary like that?
“I can’t live without her.” He lurched forward his hand balled into a fist. I caught it with my left hand. Reaching out I grabbed him by the neck and lifted him into the air. “Bill, you always were a bastard.” It felt good to finally say that too his face but I wasn’t so happy I felt like letting him get off. I turned and hurled him into alley way. Metal clanged as he collided with a dumpster at the end.
Mary was leaning into me then, unable to put her arms around me she just leaned into my chest. She shook slightly as she sobbed. We stood there, in the rain happy to be together.
A sound like thunder crashed across the city, it was deafening, booming, evil, and happy. Mary stepped back and let me pull the cloth from her mouth, “Glordon is coming.” I pulled my sword out, her tears were glowing in the light as they streamed down her face, I wanted nothing more than to stay with her but I knew I couldn’t. I cut her free and she embraced me for real this time. Kissed me, then whispered “I love you.”
I left her there, tears of my own steamed from my eyes as I rose into the sky. The egg was gone, nothing to see just a dark and stormy night. Forward I flew into the darkness unsure of what I was facing unsure of anything really.
A light came on, then another. Bright lights, tall and powerful revealing a high school football field and standing in the middle was what could only be Glordon.
The rain was thick and heavy, the light shinning through made it look as if it hung in the air instead of beating down on the earth.
I touched down lightly on the plastic grass a cloud of steam burst up into the air as the water on the ground was forced into its gaseous state by the heat pouring off of me. Glordon was smiling at me. Huge black teeth that looked like they could crush just about anything. Two huge spider like fangs jutted out from his mouth, the moved up and down making a rattling clacking sound in front of his huge muscular frame. Honestly, I was a little disappointed he didn’t have horns.
He didn’t waste time. Moving deliberately he came at me, all four arms raised high ready to attack. I readied my sword and shield. Ten feet from me he gave up his slow approach and caught me off guard by lunging the distance in a fraction of a second swinging his two right arms in a vicious back hand. I only just managed to get my shield up in time. I slid back but stayed on my feet.
Glordon roared in deafening rage. The rain shook in the air.
I flew forward, hovering just off the ground. I managed to prick Glordon in the side before he batted me roughly away. The blow was devastating. I went sliding across the slick turf leaving a thick trail of steam behind me. Groaning I got back to my feet. I couldn’t see Glordon through the steam left behind me.
Cold sweat beaded on my brow before it too evaporated.
The red fist came out of the steam faster than I could imagine. Again I managed to get my shield up but this time the blow drove my shield back into my head.
I wasn’t keeping count, but that was the second time that week that I had been physically beaten so badly that I blacked out. This time was a little different though, it was like my mind had been knocked back into my subconscious. I struggled to get out, to get back to a cognitive state but it was like being in a stranger’s house in the pitch black. I was constantly bumping into walls and tripping on furniture. I knew I wanted out but had no idea where the door was.
A voice came through the dark, soft, loving, and confident. “Clyde,” It said, “you are the love of my life, my best friend, my family. You can beat Glordon. I know you can and I will help you to do it. I will be your savior.”
And then the lights came on.
Glordon was moving toward me. The last blow had knocked me all the way back into the bleachers. My back was torn up from the asphalt I had crossed to get there. Blood rushed down from my head where my shield had hit it. I was bruised, bleeding, and loosing but now I knew what to do.
I began to circle Glordon creating a vortex of steam as the puddled rain on the turf and in the sky evaporated. Glordon kept moving and while I couldn’t see him, I could feel Mary inside me showing me where he was I could sense him through her. It was a strange sensation, close to the feeling you get when you know someone is watching you except I was the watcher.
Round and round I went as Glordon roared and plodded in circles. The steam was hung in the windless stadium nearly viscous in its density. The time had come. I broke off my orbit of the demonic red mass in the center of the cloud launching myself right at it. My sword held out in front of me as a plunged straight down like an Olympic diver. I was on my way to scoring a perfect ten when that damnable red fist came swinging out at me again.
No shield to weaken the blow this time. I felt my rib cage buckle as my body conformed around his big knuckles for a brief second before I was hurled away from the foggy mess I had created. I hadn’t even hit the ground before Glordon was in the air again. Roaring he flew through the air at me. I could barely feel my left side so when the next punch came I leaned into it using my left shoulder to protect my head. Another crack and I could feel my left arm flapping like a flag in a windstorm as I went sailing at a new trajectory.
I could feel Mary still, I felt her presence better than I could feel my own body by that point. Mary was scrambling around inside me searching for anything to help me, to save me. I landed ungracefully on the far end zone, my blood staining the blue and gold of the school colors. My world was shaking, or so I thought until I realized it was the real world that shook at Glordon rushed across the field at me once again.
He came upon me, he had slowed his pace and had begun laughing. When he finally reached me I couldn’t move, pain raced up and down my right side while my left was numb non-existent to me anymore. My shield had fallen off long ago and the bright light that was my sword was slowly fading. Glordon towered over me, his spider fangs clacking loudly as he continued to chortle. He grumbled out more low and unintelligible words and to my surprise I responded. I could not tell you what I had said, but Glordon hadn’t liked it one bit. He reared back his head fangs outstretched his obsidian teeth ready to crunch. Down came his head quick as a snake from its hole and to my amazement it went spinning off behind him. Purple blood sprayed out in a circle as the head spiraled to the ground. His large body stood for a second before teetering and finally toppling over backwards.
My arm and my sword had moved across my body, but I hadn’t killed the beast. Mary had. I could feel her joy her happiness her exhaustion. Then she was gone.
Waves of pain coursed through my body as I lay in a growing pool of blood and water. The rain felt wonderful on my swelling body but stung like hornets when the big drops landed on open wounds. I lay there for a long time wondering what had happened when I saw a pair of feet running over to me.
They were blue converse, the ones I had carried around the mall for what had felt like hours at the time.