I'm cold. This new emptiness fill me up with every bullet impact. There's someone screaming but I don't know who. Another bullet from the mugger's gun rips into my chest, slamming me into the brick wall behind me. It seems like a century long journey as I slide down the wall into the dirt and trash of the alleyway. I look down and I'm sitting in a pool of my own blood. It looks like I was dipped in red paint from my stomach down. I wish I could say good bye. Why are they crying? It doesn't hurt at all. I don't feel a thing. I wish...
"Uh, AAAAAAAAAAAAH! HOLY SHIT!" I awake grabbing my abdomen. "Oh crap, phew, all in one piece all in one piece. Just a dream Matt, calm the hell down." I took slow deep breathes. In through the nose, out through the mouth. I get up off my bed, I must have fallen asleep studying. I glance at the digital clock on my oak bedside table, It's eleven PM. Guess I'll go downstairs. I jog down our old creaky, carpeted staircase to the ground floor and round the corner to the TV room. I could hear the news echoing past the dining room table and fake chandelier that burned with electric lights as I moved towards my destination. I strolled in, stopped right before the coffee table and turned to look at our 36 inch LCD. There was a crowd of people and ambulances and policemen. A reporter was saying, "A boy around the ages of sixteen or seventeen has been mugged and killed." No shit? I was just dreaming about that. I turned around, my Mom had just entered the room with a Diet Coke in her hand. The drink slipped out of her hands and fell with a splash on the tiled floor. Her hand raised to her mouth with a silent scream as she stared at the TV. "What the hell?" I thought, looking back at the TV. They were showing a picture of the kid who was shot. He was wearing a blue American Eagle sweatshirt with an Oakley tee underneath. The kid had brown hair and eyes. Holy shit, holy shit... you gotta be fucking kidding me. The kid was me.
I looked down, I was wearing those same clothes. But there was something else. My mom was looking at me but here gaze was directed at the TV behind me. She was looking right through me. "Can you see me?" I shouted, "Can you hear me? Mom? MOM!" No response. My heart was pounding, the muscles in my back were clenching and my rate of breathing increased. I was having a panic attack. Can ghosts, as I assumed I was, even have panic attacks? What the hell do I do? Christ, I need to think.
If you're wondering what the calmest and quietest place in the world is, it's Borders book store in Ann Arbor, Michigan on the second story. It's like people are afraid to speak normally in there. Well, it's as good a place as any to figure this out. I headed outside. I was moving so fast that I accidentally slammed the door and probably woke the neighbors. Wait a minute, hold the damn phone. Did I just SLAM the door? Maybe I have some human characteristics left after all. I scooped a fistful of snow off the lawn. My hand wasn't cold, but I could pack the snow and throw it. This was insane. Apparently I could still have a physical impact on the world, at least somewhat. I started running to Borders. Apparently I don't get tired anymore, because I had reached the outskirts of downtown before I realized that I had been sprinting the whole way. Oh, and I don't need to breathe. That second one will probably take some getting used to, breathing is sort of a habit I've acquired over the years. Maybe the two are interconnected somehow, which would make sense.
I know the path to that part of downtown by heart. I was walking down the Diag when a thought struck me. Do I need to eat? I wasn't hungry, but I might need to later, that would be a major problem. Try ordering a burger when you can't speak or be seen. I stepped out onto Liberty, jay walking like everyone else. Except everyone else can be seen, and I can't. The douchebag in his Hummer was about five feet away when I realized this. I didn't have time to do anything but crouch down, cover my head with my arms and brace for impact. It never came. The Hummer went right through me. As it passed through I saw that the guy had about a half dozen tickets in his glove compartment. Figures. This was beyond weird. I distinctly remembered slamming my front door not ten minutes ago. What did Spiderman do when he discovered his new powers? He tested them out by jumping building to building and eventually slinging webs. My hours spent reading comic books and watching geeky movies was finally paying off. Regardless, it was time for another test. I jogged up to Ben and Jerry's, right up to the window. I thought of pressing my hand up against the glass and when I did, it was stopped by the glass. Then I focused on going right through. And I did. I'm like one of the freaking X-Men.
I went around the corner to Borders. “Alright, time to be awesome,” I thought to myself. I took a deep breath and concentrated on going through the glass and ended up doing so without a pause in my step. Upon getting inside, I headed straight for the second floor, partially out of habit and also because they moved the music section and no one can find it yet. I got up there and sat down and thought. Unfortunately as soon as I grabbed a chair, a kid did a freaking double, or more accurately twelve, take in my direction. I didn't know what was going on until he started waving his hand in the air where the chair was before I grabbed it like Velma from Scoobey-Doo looking for her glasses. I then realized something; no one was freaking out seeing a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt walking around. A few trials and several frightened customers later, I figured out that anything touching my bare skin would take on my own properties. It could become invisible and go through stuff too. Nice. I walked over to the coffee place, Seattle's Best or whatever. The next time someone ordered a macchiato I snatched it. Oh well, they'll make another.
I slowly made my way through the snow dusted town and back to my house where I ghosted my way through the door and crept up stairs. My family was downstairs and it sounded like my mom was crying and my dad was shouting something over the phone. I felt terrible for not telling them that I was somewhat still alive, but I also didn't know how they would react to this whole thing. I finally decided before falling asleep, covering my hands with gloves and keeping my shoes on so that I didn't disappear my bed, that I would try to figure more of this out tomorrow morning when I could think clearer. Honestly, I was just too frazzled at this point.
The next morning I awoke and was ravenous. I looked at the clock and it was just 1:00 PM. I hopped out of bed and walked downstairs and out the door, pausing only to grab a poptart that I hoped my family wouldn't miss. They were already all gone, probably either at the police department or something. I was still freaking out at how they would take this. I'm sure they were devastated, but there was really nothing I could do. I went to the park, where I usually went to go to mull things over because it was so close to my house.
Strolling through the park, I noticed a crisp new layer of snow had blanketed everything, from the pine trees to the frozen ground. I walked between the fences of the tennis courts and the houses of Granger Avenue, sitting down at the park bench that was placed behind the courts. Kids usually came here after school and at night to smoke weed and the smell lingered. I used to joke that if a pothead wanted to get high and he couldn't find any weed, he could just set the bench on fire and the residue would be enough. I looked around, the park was deserted except for a few people playing fetch with their dogs. Calls of "here boy!" were audible when the wind died down. I wondered why the park was so deserted. Ah, but of course, everyone's at school. But I can't go to school, can I? I started to feel the panic and fear that I had somehow subconsciously contained for some inexplicable reason over the past night. My face became hot, not from embarrassment but from anger and frustration. It had dawned on me that my life as I knew it was over. My parents thought I was dead and so did everyone else. No more home, no more school, no more friends. Forget the things that normal people did in life; college, jobs and, hell, even dating were out of the question at this point. It wasn't fair, I couldn't even take off the costume and go back to being Peter Parker or Bruce Wayne when I was tired of being abnormal. I was probably going to be almost entirely alone for the rest of my life. "God DAMMIT," I shouted into the frigid air, but of course, no one could hear me. I kicked at the fence in my frustration but lost focus and went right through it. The sudden loss of balance sent me sprawling onto my back. As anyone who knows me at all can attest, I'm usually pretty calm. But as anyone who knows me well can attest, when I lose that cool, I go freaking insane sometimes. Falling down sent me over the edge in my state of panic and frustration. I picked up a branch and hurtled it through the air. Now, I have never been that strong. I'm not weak or anything either, but I'm not extremely athletic outside of board sports. Apparently what I thought had been a branch was actually a tree root buried in the snow. I had ripped it off of the tree's base and the tree groaned, swaying gently. Then with a crack like a gunshot, it tipped over. "BOOM". I stared at my gloved hand in amazement. I know, I'm as surprised as you are. Just don't expect me to fight crime anytime soon, but apparently I had a hell of a lot more strength than I did before. I could tell, I wasn't Superman or anything, but I could probably bench more than anyone on the football team at my high school. I sat there for a moment, gawking at the sight. It was a miracle I hadn't hit the fence or a house, thank God. Before long, the dog walkers were over to see what had happened. A man already had his blackberry out and from what he said he was apparently trying to call the city to report the fallen tree. Time for me to dip. “Holy crap”, I thought. This might not be so bad after all. I jogged over to a cluster of trees by the warming hut, which was like a small brown building you could rent for parties and stuff in the park. I'd used it for a bonfire not even a year ago. By this time, I had to take a piss. While I was going, I started laughing. Oh my god, I piss invisible. This was almost comical, the number of invisible crap pranks that I could pull immediately cycled through my mind. But no, I decided, that's beneath me. I really gotta grow up, the fact that I'm even considering pulling that stuff just after I was murdered was just a testament to my immaturity. "No laughing, Matt, you were recently murdered," I told myself, "laughing isn't allowed." I composed myself back into my angry/depressed mode.
At this point, one line was going through my mind. It was Uncle Ben from Spiderman, "with great power, comes great responsibility." What can I say, I'm kinda a geek. You know what? Screw it. Screw Spiderman, Uncle Ben, and most of all screw the A-Hole who killed me. Killing him back would only be fair, right? The question would be, where to start. Could I even make myself take a life? I've never even gotten in a serious fight before. I supposed I would cross that bridge when I got to it. I decided to go downtown, maybe I would find a place that I remembered from last night, like the alleyway or something. I dunno. I started sprinting easily down Wells, phasing through traffic. I turned left soon and after a while came upon Washtenaw and started northwest. Running at top speed down the middle of Washtenaw was exhilarating. I was liking never getting tired and ghosting my way through traffic, it was kind of fun. Suddenly, the light at the intersection of Washtenaw and Hill turned red. Shit. I wasn't able to stop and smashed into the back of an SUV who's brakes were screeching. "UNGH" I grunted as I impacted with the vehicle. Apparently, pain was still something I felt. I spun around just in time to see a black Lexus barreling towards me. SHIT. I tried to dodge out of the way. I tried to phase through. I guess I was still a little dazed from running into the SUV. Either way, it hit me going about forty five miles per hour, pinning me to the SUV. Now, my dignity doesn't allow me to say I screamed, so for the sake of my ego, lets just say I let out a loud yell and a long stream of curses. The excruciating pain made it so I couldn't focus, I couldn't phase out of this. I twisted around to see a group of men get out of the SUV. Men with guns, suits and mean expressions. Christ. At the sound of another car door opening, I turned back around. A blond girl, about 25-ish and fairly attractive, I would guess, stepped out. I say that I guess because a giant machine that looked like night vision goggles or something was covering half of her face. She strolled toward me, carrying a steel briefcase. Setting it on the hood of her car, she opened it with an audible "K-CHAK". "I'm Agent Washington," she said, taking out an orange syringe from the briefcase and tapping it gently with her finger, "and you're coming with me." With a swift movement and consummate precision, she injected it into my forearm. I let out another 'yell and long stream of curses' before being knocked out.
My first thoughts upon my awakening were surprisingly normal. I felt desperately hungry. I was tired and felt like crap. I was incredibly sore as well. Then my eyes opened. It took a little while for my eyes to adjust to the bright white light above me. I looked around and at first I thought I was in the hospital. Everything was white and the air had that super-clean smell. Except hospitals usually don't have a guy in a suit who looks like he could take on The Rock and win standing at the one exit with an assault rifle. There were no windows either; strangely enough, there were just two plasma screens showing a wilderness scene on the wall. The door opened with a hiss and in stepped Agent Washington followed by a nervous looking gray-haired man. He gasped and muttered something under his breath at the sight of me, it sounded like a prayer. Washington cleared her throat and said, "good, you're awake." "Oh fantastic, who knocked me out ya bitch?" I wanted to say. But then, she smiled and said, "sorry about that, we couldn't know if you were dangerous." I was amazed! She could actually communicate with me! "Yes," She said, "these machines," she gestured at her giant goggle things, "allow us to read your brain impulses. We can't exactly read your thoughts, but we get the general picture." Wow, how much for one of those? "About 2.5 million dollars." I let out a low whistle. It was almost a little flattering, all this just to talk to me. She replied, "well, the government has taken an absolutely profound interest in subjects of the paranormal nature." Subjects like me. "Yes," she said with a grave expression, "subjects like you." So what's happening to me? "Well, there are 21 known cases of this condition, four are under Division control, including you." So why am I here? "You are here because you were born to be here," she replied simply. What the hell does that even mean? She glared at me this time, "for your sake and mental sanity, lets hope you never find out." That struck me as odd. "More will be explained later, for now, we are going to bring you up to speed as to what we do here. You and the other three are going to help us combat the 17. It's a matter of national security." Soon I was on my feet and walking down a white hallway at a brisk pace alongside her. She stopped, suddenly, and turned to me while opening a door. "This is your room, you'll be housing with Casper, another one like you. He will be arriving shortly." The door opened with a hiss and I strolled in. I was absolutely amazed. The room was massive. Sculptures and statues were everywhere, masterpieces were adorning the white walls. There was a giant fireplace with flames crackling merrily inside. The floors were beautifully tiled and antique furniture filled the area. I turned around, my mouth agape. Washington smiled, tapping the goggles, "Your hearts desire, as far as we could tell. There's more rooms, feel free to investigate." She turned to leave. "WAIT," I thought, "Where am I?" "Oh," She replied, a sorry smile on her face, "that's classified." The door closed.
It was incredible, my so called "room" was probably the size of a Vanderbilt mansion. I explored room after room, corridor after corridor. It was pretty much how I assumed I would design a house if I had unlimited resources. There were no windows, just plasma screens showing more wilderness. Most startling was my bedroom. It was my room. Everything was the same. It had the artwork from my grandfather, the Ipod clock, my shelves made from skateboards, my snowboarding wall mural and my snowboarding gear. I sat down on the bed. Well, something was different after all. They had added about a foot to the end of my bed, which was usually too small. I got up and walked over to my closet. It was usually just used as storage space, I kept all my clothes in a dresser. I turned the handle and opened the door. Holy crap. It was mounted on pegs like a suit of armor, but that seemed fitting because that's what I assumed it was. It was jet black and looked kind of cool. I wasted no time trying it on. It was awesome and fit perfectly. I looked like something of a cross between the Master Chief from Halo and a ninja. I felt kinda hardcore. It wasn't everyday that you looked like a superhero. The helmet had no airholes, it sealed straight to the suit, but I didn't need to breathe anyway, so that was straight. It moved comfortably and was very lightweight. I went to the study, which was more like a library than anything. There were shelves that stretched high into the air, with ladders so you could reach the top. There was a giant armchair nearby another fireplace with a book on the arm. Suddenly, I heard a creak behind me. I spun around and came face to face with a kid about my age with reddish hair and a bemused expression. He was a bit taller than me, had a track runner's build, and a cheerful and joking face. Seeing my 'fight or flight' look, he let out a chuckle, "I'm Casper, take it easy, mate." The kid was Australian, judging from his accent. "Hey," I replied, "I'm Matt." "Well Matt, what is it that you do?" "I'm in high school, but I have a job at a movie theater," I replied. I was a bit confused. He threw back his head and laughed, loud and long. "No, you idiot," he said, wiping a dear from his eye, "what do you do? Like me for example, I'm fast." With that, he disappeared before my eyes. Startled, my eyes shot around the room, looking for him. He was no where to be found. In a few seconds he was back, simply a blur, the only reason I saw him was an open book fluttered when he flew past. He had a huge grin and was holding a box of Frosted Flakes and two bowls with spoons. "Hungry? I snagged these from the kitchens," he said, "now what did you say you do?"
Realizing that I hadn't eaten in a while, my stomach grumbled. I looked at my watch, it was about ten AM on Sunday. SUNDAY?!?!?! "How long was I out for?" I inquired. Casper put on a mock serious face and started counting on his fingers, "carry the two... yes, I do believe it was three days." "You got that from National Lampoon's Van Wilder, didn't you?" I said. "Ask me no questions," he replied, "I'll tell you no lies." He pulled up a chair and motioned me to sit in the large armchair, handing me a bowl of cereal which I promptly started to eat. "So, mate, tell me what your abilities are, except for the invisibility, we all got that." "Well," I replied, "I can go through stuff." "Wow," he let out a low whistle, "That's a hell of a coincidence, a ghost who can go through stuff! That's just rich, mate." He was laughing, shaking his head. "Care to show me, Matt?" asked Casper.
"Uh, yeah..." I said, "sure..." I wanted to do something as cool and impressive as Casper's superspeed. I looked around the room and my eyes fell on the fireplace, or more specifically, the roaring fire within. I strolled toward it. From behind me Casper called, "Easy mate, maybe this isn't such a good idea..." Like hell it isn't. I concentrated, took a deep breath, and stepped into the flames. I glanced over my shoulder, grinning. Casper was stunned; I looked down. The flames reached my chest but were really passing right through me. Casper composed himself and said, "stay right there." He vanished and reappeared with one of Washington's bajillion dollar headsets and a polaroid camera. "Smile!" he said, winding it up. He took the picture through the headset and I stepped out of the fire. Once the picture had developed, I saw what had made Casper so amazed. My body was all black, blue, purple, orange and red as the flames cloaked my body. I truly looked like a demon straight from the gates of Hell. "Well," he said, grinning, "you look pretty fierce, huh? That's good for when your fighting the 17. We'll just set you on fire and they'll think they're fighting Lucifer or something. I better take you down to CTAF now, that's Combat Training & Armaments Facility. They'll see what you're made of." At the thought of "seeing what I was made of", much less my future of fighting 17 superhumans, the color drained from my face. Casper led me from our rooms and down a white hallway to a steely elevator. He punched a button labeled CTAF in bold letters. "Don't worry," he said as we descended.
"You'll be sparring with us," he said when the doors hissed open. "Me, Jake and Rachel," he suddenly jumped in the air and launched a lightening fast kick into the small of my back, "The Three Musketeers." I was sent flying into two people; the most serious and haunted looking dude ever and the most attractive girl I've ever had the extreme fortune to meet. Jake, as i assumed he was, sprang up and over me, landing silently in a crouch behind me. He looked like he was either hawaiian or Native American, because he had that not-quite-asian look. He was tall, had jet black hair, tan skin and a glowering expression. Rachel wasn't so lucky, she was turned the other way, examining something. We collided and she stumbled forward but caught herself. I'm more of a klutz so I fell flat on my face. "OW! Casper, what the hell?" we both said. He was laughing like a hyena. I rolled onto my back, the wind knocked out of me. I just laid there; thank god I didn't need to breath or I might've been out for a while, which would have been embarrassing to say the least. "Hey," said Rachel, kneeling next to me, "I'm Rachel. Lemme give you a hand." She helped me to my feet, my face was crimson. I'm not going to lie, she was pretty gorgeous. She had dirty blonde hair, a pale complexion, and a warm smile. I was thankful for the help, I was still in the armor, and it was pretty cumbersome from that position.
"Awwww, is widdle Matty embawassed?" joked Casper. I'm going to kill him for this later, I thought... "How about right now?" In walked Agent Washington, "I'm pleased you've made the acquaintance of Rachel and Jacob." She gestured at them. "Do you know how to fight?" "Ummm..." I thought about my experience with fighting. It wasn't good. "I used to do a little karate back in middle school I guess... and I used to play Lacrosse if that does anything." "That won't help you here," said Agent Washington, "you need to learn to use your abilities as weapons. The best way to learn is by doing. Casper, do the honors. Spar with him." "Aw, come on Doc," laughed Casper, "You know me, I'm a lover, not a fighter." But he bounced twice on the balls of his feet and settled in a ready stance. "Begin," commanded Agent Washington. Casper launched a series of attacks, which I attempted to block. Unfortunately, he was as fast at punching and kicking as he was at running and while I probably stopped a couple, that was nothing as the faster majority rained upon me at thousands of impacts per minute. Fortunately, he wasn't very strong, but it still battered me around. Thankfully the armor absorbed the blows so I wasn't hurt. That reminded me of my newfound strength. Casper surprised me with a roundhouse kick that slammed me into the steel wall. Casper backed off and put on a mock series tone, lowering his voice several octaves, "'I know Kung-Fu', come on Neo, show me whatchu got. Don't make me embarrass you in front of the ladies." He winked at them and they scowled back. Well, Rachel scowled, Washington was just wearing her usual expression. Casper launched his attack again, but this time I had a plan. The next time he threw his weight behind a punch, I phazed through it. He stumbled forward and through me. I spun around, seized a hold in the back of his armor, and threw him across the room; he skidded across the floor, sparks flying from his armor. I looked around the room, Jake was glaring at me. Rachel grinned at me and I shot a grin back. Washington was impassive. I looked at Casper, he was laying there, his chest heaving. "'You think that's air you're breathing?' Come on, Morpheus, or has the student already surpassed the Master? I thought you were supposed to be fast." At that, his joking face disappeared and was replaced with anger. "I'll show you FAST," he spat. He jumped to his feet and charged me, so much faster this time, a blur. Suddenly he stopped moving, well his legs were, but he wasn't. He looked like he was doing the moon walk. "RACHEL!" he roared, "LET ME GO!" I looked at Rachel, her arm was outstretched and directed at Casper. "No," she stated calmly, "Casper, you need to calm down. He didn't mean it, he's new. We all know you're faster than The Flash." At the words 'faster than The Flash', his demeanor lightened considerably. He walked over to me, "Sorry, mate. Didn't mean to flip out on you." He patted me on the pack on his way to a bench where he removed his helmet and took a pull from a gatorade bottle. I made a mental note to ask Rachel or Washington or, god forbid, Jake, what was up with Casper and his speed. Clearly something caused that outburst. I spent the rest of the day sparring with Casper and Jake; Rachel didn't fight with us, because we couldn't win against a girl with psychic powers. It turned out that Jake could control air, almost like the kid on that show Avatar that used to be on Nickelodeon back in Middle School. That's why he was able to jump up and over me and land like that, he could slow his descent and provide almost enough air pressure to fly. He was so much more difficult to beat than Casper, even though I rarely beat Casper anyway. It turned out that Casper had been holding back on speed for my first time. My eyes couldn't even catch him sometimes.
We took a break for a light lunch, but by dinner we were all ravenous again. We had enough to feed a football team, it was ridiculous. Steaks, hamburgers, fries, milkshakes, the world was my oyster. After dinner we went to a place called "The Common Room" where we watched reruns of How I Met Your Mother on a nice big sofa. It reminded me of home a little bit... These guys would be good friends. Then Jake challenged me to a game of Guitar Hero which I gladly accepted. I totally beat him and then I went up against Rachel, who pretty much handed me my head on a silver platter. To be fair, she used her psychic ability to work the orange button, but a win was a win. At 11:00 PM it was lights out; Taps was played from concealed speakers. We said goodnight to one another and it was actually a little awkward when Casper shouted, "GROUP HUG!" and literally launched himself from his chair onto Jake, Me and Rachel who were on the sofa. After Jake blasted him across the room with gale force winds, I retired to my room. I showered and brushed my teeth; they had brought my toothbrush and towel from my house. This was a little uncanny, but I welcomed it anyway. I then crawled into my semi-familiar bed, my body a mass of bruises and aches. I was out as soon as my head hit the pillow.
Dusty winds blow sheets of rain on a grey sunrise The waters fade and green screams from the earth A sight which was ob...
Dusty winds blow sheets of rain on a grey sunrise
The waters fade and green screams from the earth
A sight which was ob...
A young boy tries to fly away
But he falls and scrapes his knee
The old boys laugh while the young boys say
"I'm glad that wasn't me"
Salty tears drip into the blood in th...
Two funny things came out of the most physically painful experience of my life. Last year was my freshman year of college. It was around late November when I was out getting Little C...