Posts Tagged ‘interview’

Day One Hundred and Twenty: Kari Truman

September 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Part of writing is getting to know your characters. The way that I’ve been working so far, there’s not been a lot of time to do that. I write a story, and move on – maybe coming back another time to revisit the people I have created, but usually not. So just for fun, I’m going to do some character interviews this week and see what I can find out about the folks who emerged from between the folds in my brain. To do so, I’ve got my list of characters and the fine folks over at, and together I’ll be randomly choosing my subjects. If you have a request for a character interview, let me know in the comments and I can see to it that he or she jumps to the head of the queue.

For our final interview, we will talk to Kari Truman, the mother of the brilliant – if eccentric – Kevin Truman from Day 71, Genius. When we saw her, she had discovered that her son was capable of brilliant scientific discovery, but what he did struck her as horrifying and unnatural. When she tried to call the police, Kevin froze her in a null-time field. Let’s see how she’s dealt with that…


So. You must be the “historian.”

I am a chronicler, Great Mother, yes. It is an honor to-

Don’t call me that.

I’m sorry, Great Mother? Don’t…?

Don’t call me “Great Mother.” I hate that. I don’t care what my son has told you.

I am most sorry, Gre-

I’m sorry. Is there something else I can call you?

Call me Kari. It’s my name, after all. Not like anyone remembers with all this “Great Mother” nonsense.

Very well, then… Kari. We are here to begin the interviews for your part of the Chronicles. Your son commissioned them, you’ll recall. Before he left.

Yes, I recall. I just didn’t expect anyone would actually want to hear my side of the story. No one has asked me about it, not since I woke up. I just get paraded about and called “Great Mother” and spend the rest of my days wondering how I can just die and get it over with.

I’m… I’m sorry?

Never mind. What do you want to know?

Well, we want to hear about your life, from before. Before you were woken into the  world your blessed son gave to humanity.

Hmm. My blessed son.


We used to have a normal life. More or less normal, anyway. Phil and I were happy to have one child – we thought it was just as much as we could handle, really. We could give our child our full attention and resources, and not have to deal with all the stress that would come with more. We thought we had planned it all through.

Then we had Kevin.

Don’t misunderstand – I loved my son. My poor, strange son. Even when he was very young, he was so smart – he took things apart and put them back together. He absolutely loved math and science, and while other boys were out playing games or joining the Boy Scouts, Kevin was doing math problems or tinkering in the garage.

We worried a little, actually. We worried that he wasn’t getting enough social interaction. He went to an excellent school, with some of the brightest kids in the country, but he never seemed to be interested in making any friends. He didn’t join any clubs in school or get invited to birthday parties. He just came home every day and did his work, and he was happy with that. Still, when he was ten, we bought him a puppy. An adorable little beagle that he named Racer.

Yes, I’ve seen the statues. He looks like he was a noble dog.

Noble? Anything but. He was noisy, he never really learned where not to pee, and he shed all over everything.

But he was dedicated to Kevin. And Kevin loved that dog. Probably more than anything else in the world, other than his work. He was just shattered when Racer ran away. Or that’s what I thought, anyway.

About his work – when did you begin to understand your son’s genius?

Well, like I said – I always knew he was special. By the time he was in high school, he was begging us to give him the basement as workspace. I thought it was part of some teenage need for privacy, you know – control of your own world and all that. That’s what the parenting sites all talked about, anyway. So we gave it to him, under the condition that he not do anything illegal or anything that would damage the house.

He loved it down there. He’d come up for meals and to go to school, but otherwise he was in his “workshop.” I thought he was just doing electronics, maybe building little robots or something.

Then I went down there.

Then I saw everything.

What… what did you see?

He had… monstrous things down there. The worst of it was that he had Racer’s head in a jar. And it was still alive. It could move, and even bark. I was… I remember just being sick to my stomach when I saw it. Then Kevin told me about all the other things he’d made, and the things that he was working on. An army of insects. Artificial cells. A time-device.

My son. My wonderful, genius son was playing with life and death. He was trying to change the order of the world. He was trying to interfere with the course of nature and God’s own plan.

My son was a monster.

Well… history would disagree with that, Gre… Kari. 

History can disagree all it wants, young man. I know what I saw down there. I know what he was working on, and when I tried to stop him… When I tried to stop him, he used his time device to slow me down. To keep me out of the way.

When I blinked, I went from our basement to a great marble temple, and my son standing there with a crowd of worshippers behind him. He just beamed at me and said, “Welcome home, mother!”

Three hundred years. Gone. Just like that.

Everything I knew is gone. My friends, my husband, my home – all gone. In its place is this… this “paradise” you all seem to love so much.

But it is a paradise. No one wants for anything, no one need get sick, or even die. There is global peace and prosperity for the first time in human history.

Yes, and how did that happen?

Your son gave it to us, of course. 

And you don’t see any problem with that?

I don’t… I don’t understand the question.

Young man, humans don’t do very well when people just give them things. It makes us complacent and lazy. Tell me – how many new things have been invented since my son “gave” you this perfect new world? How many things have been made by someone other than my son?

Well, I…

None. You look at vids from a hundred years ago and they look exactly the same as they do now. And they’ll probably look the same a hundred years from now. Nobody needs anything, so nobody makes anything. Nobody comes up with creative solutions to problems because there are no problems. Humans used to advance and create and grow. Now we just exist.

But things are so good! Like I said, no one wants for anything, not like in your day, when there were poor and hungry people everywhere.

There was a saying when I was young – “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” My son has given you all a whole lot of fish, but he hasn’t taught you a damned thing. And you probably expect that he’ll keep giving us things, which is fine… Until it stops.

Someday, mark my words, all this will come to an end. Maybe Kevin will die. Maybe he’ll get bored, or he’ll wander off to some other world and forget you. But one day, he’ll stop giving, and this whole place will collapse around your ears. You write that down in your book, young man.

I… I will.

Good. Now get out. I have a busy day of existing to do.

Thank you… Kari. If I have questions, may I contact you again?

(sighs) Sure, go ahead. Maybe I can talk some sense into you people.

Very well. Have… Have a wondrous day.

Day One Hundred and Nineteen: Carly Siminsky

September 17, 2011 2 comments

Part of writing is getting to know your characters. The way that I’ve been working so far, there’s not been a lot of time to do that. I write a story, and move on – maybe coming back another time to revisit the people I have created, but usually not. So just for fun, I’m going to do some character interviews this week and see what I can find out about the folks who emerged from between the folds in my brain. To do so, I’ve got my list of characters and the fine folks over at, and together I’ll be randomly choosing my subjects. If you have a request for a character interview, let me know in the comments and I can see to it that he or she jumps to the head of the queue.

Carly Siminsky appeared recently appeared on day 104 – Discipline – giving us a glimpse into her mysterious little problems with telekinesis. As an astute reader noted, she’s well on her way to figuring out how to free herself. Until then, she’s in a bit of a difficult situation. Let’s see how she’s doing.


Good evening, Carly. Please have a seat.

Am… Am I in trouble? I already had my psych evaluation this week, and they said I’m doing fine.

Carly, do you know why you’re here?

Well, yeah. I’m sick. Right?

In a manner of speaking, yes. I have your dossier here, but I’d like it if you could tell me about yourself.

I don’t understand, is there something wrong? I’ve talked about what happened a hundred times, I’m sure it’s all in there.

It is, but I’d like to know more about you. From before you got sick.

I dunno, I’m pretty sure I told you guys everything after I came here. There were just so many interviews, but maybe with all the medication…

Just do your best.

Fine. I’m Carly Siminsky. I used to go to Ravensbrook High School in Ravensbrook, Illinois, and I was in my freshman year before I came here. My parents got divorced last year – my dad had to move to Tennessee for work, so we don’t get to see  him much anymore. Mom is a writer, and so far she’s doing okay. She does young adult fiction – you know, stories for teenagers and things. You might know her? Veronica Siminsky?

I’m afraid I don’t, no.

Oh. She’s won some awards.

Sorry. What kind of stories does she write?

She has this series going right now that’s all about kids going to a virtual online high school that’s run by an evil AI. The computer’s trying to program their minds and they have to figure out how to get out of the system without getting their brains fried. It’s actually pretty good. My friends read it, and not just because they’re my friends, I think. I mean, it’s all about being a kid, right? The computer is like the teachers, who are trying to make us think what they want us to think and see the world the way we’re supposed to. But maybe we don’t have to. Maybe if we figure things out for ourselves, it’ll be better.

Are you good at that? Figuring things out for yourself?

Sometimes, but not really. I have a hard time in English class – ironic, right? My teacher keeps asking these questions about deeper meanings in books, like themes and messages and symbols and things, and I just don’t see it at all until someone points it out. Music is better, though. I can listen to music, and then I can usually figure it out on the piano after a while. I had to take piano lessons forever, so I guess that worked out well.

Is there anything else you think you have a gift for? 

A gift? (pause) No, I… I don’t think so. I have friends who are really talented, though. My friend Mindy is a fantastic artist. She’s been drawing since she was really little, and now she’s just amazing. She’ll just sit and stare at a piece of paper for ten, fifteen minutes, and then she grabs a pencil and she comes up with the most gorgeous pictures. I told my mom that Mindy should do her covers, but mom said that the publishing company handles all that and she doesn’t have much to do with it.

My friend Jack is great at math – he pretty much sleeps though class and then gets perfect marks on everything. And his boyfriend Lee is a star on the school basketball team. We’re all sure he’s going to be in the NBA someday, and he swore he’d be the first openly gay pro basketball player. And he can do it, too, we’re all sure he can.

Yeah, so it looks like I have a bunch of talented friends. But me? I dunno… I get by.

But now you have an unusual talent of your own, right?

What? What, do you mean the… the thing?

The telekinesis, yes.

Is that what it’s called?

Yes, it is. They didn’t tell you?

Well, no. They don’t really say what it is or how it works. They just try to get it so I can control it. So I won’t… I won’t hurt anyone. Again.

I see. Tell me about the work they have you do. What are your thoughts on the training?

My thoughts? I don’t know, really. It’s hard. Sometimes I hate it. There’s this stupid thing with a ball and some hoops that I can just never get right. And every time I do get something right, they tell me I’m doing good work and making wonderful progress, and then they throw something harder at me. I mean, I think I know how to control this now, and that’s the whole point, right?


I know I hurt a lot of people. I never meant to, and I never want to hurt anyone again, so I do all this. But I want to go home too, y’know? I miss my mother, I miss my friends.  I even miss my school and playing softball… I just… I don’t…

Here you are. Here.

Thanks. God, I feel stupid…

No, no. It’s understandable.


I know they’ll let me go home someday, right? After I’ve really learned not how to hurt anyone?

I’m… I’m sure they will.

I just wish it would all go away. I wish it would go away so they won’t have any reason to keep me here anymore. I can go home.

… Thank you, Miss Siminsky. That will be all for today.


Day One Hundred and Eighteen: Dominic Glover

September 16, 2011 Leave a comment

Part of writing is getting to know your characters. The way that I’ve been working so far, there’s not been a lot of time to do that. I write a story, and move on – maybe coming back another time to revisit the people I have created, but usually not. So just for fun, I’m going to do some character interviews this week and see what I can find out about the folks who emerged from between the folds in my brain. To do so, I’ve got my list of characters and the fine folks over at, and together I’ll be randomly choosing my subjects. If you have a request for a character interview, let me know in the comments and I can see to it that he or she jumps to the head of the queue.

Today’s interview is with a character from a story where I tried to dip into a genre I wouldn’t usually touch – a western. He appeared on day 22 in the story Sidekick. Dominic Glover just sort of popped into my head and quietly started to introduce himself to me. So now he gets to introduce himself to you….



Good evening. Thanks for coming to talk to us. I understand it wasn’t easy to get away from your work.

Well, it was on my way. I’ve got a couple’a highwaymen I’m tracking down headed to California.

So you’re a bounty hunter. What’s that like?

What’s it like? I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about that. You got no real home to call your own. Friends are few and far between. Any women you’re spending time with’re likely to be doing it for the money, not the love. It’s a lonely, rootless life.

That sounds… difficult. So why do you do it?

It’s something I’m good at, I suppose. I’ve followed men halfway across the country and back and brought ’em to justice. I try to bring ’em back alive, but I’ll bring ’em dead if necessary. There ain’t a lot of law out there beyond the territories, and it’d be a good place for men to go who would take advantage of other men. I don’t see how that’ll do anyone any good.

How did you get started?

I was a Corporal in the Army of the Cumberland during the war. My younger brother Bobby and I signed up together after Lexington in ’61. We served, proudly, up till we chased Hood all the way to Nashville in ’64, which is where Bobby caught a Confederate ball right in the thigh. He lost a lot of blood right there on the field. I got his leg tied off and hauled him to a surgeon’s tent, but there wasn’t anything they could do but take the whole thing off. I stood there and watched as they worked, and by the time it was done, I knew Bobby was dead.

Maybe Mister Lincoln sent a condolence letter to our mother before he was cut down, but I don’t know. She wouldn’t see me after Bobby died. She never wanted us to go off to a war that for some reason she thought had nothing to do with her. She told us to both come home alive, or not to come home at all, and my mother wasn’t the kind of woman to make an idle threat.

Slaves, the union – she’d’ve given it all up to have her Bobby back. Me, she could let go. So I headed west with some fellows from my regiment and we hired ourselves out as trail guards, riding coaches, what have you.

And when did you actually become a bounty hunter?

It was in the spring of ’67 – we were riding through Dakota Territory and we came on this little coach town near the hills. Me and Emery Leggett were stopped at the one saloon they had and I saw a man sitting at a table by the window. I recognized him from descriptions I’d heard on the way – he had dark brown hair and a red beard, something you don’t see every day. If he’d been half as smart as he thought we was, he would’ve shaved that beard. I guess some men have to have their vanity.

He was reading, of all things, and didn’t notice me until I walked right up to him, hand on my revolver and said, “Jude Contrerras?”

He looks up at me and says, “Yeah?”

So I say, “I’m here to take you in. There’s a thousand dollars in it if I bring you in.”

And he just puts his book down, gives me this weird little smile and says, “If.” Then he flipped over the table, and I was in the first and probably the most exciting chase of my career. It took hours to corner this man, and in the end I dragged him, naked and screaming, all the  way to the Sheriff’s office. Got my thousand dollars once the federal marshals got there, and learned that I should be a little more circumspect in the future.

I should think so. Can you tell us about Santos Osegueda?

You really should bring him in here and talk to him yourself. He’d be far more entertaining than I am, I’m sure.

Santos tried to steal a horse from me when he was twelve. I caught him, and he was this skinny, dirty kid – probably would’ve tried to eat the horse before he could sell it. There’s no money in a twelve year-old horse thief, and there was something about him that just…

He was funny. I’m not really known for my sense of humor, you understand, but before that night was over, that kid had me on my back laughing. Maybe that’s how a skinny kid gets out of gettin’ beat up by the other kids, I don’t know, but there he was – in the middle of nowhere, caught by some bounty hunter who might just shoot him or make him his girl for the night, and this boy’s makin’ jokes.

I fed him and I figured I’d drop him off in the next town I came to, but he turned out to be useful. People talked to a man riding with a kid. More than once they thought we were father and son, even though we look about as much alike as night and day. He made himself useful in a lot of little ways, and next thing’s next we’re riding out together. He learned whatever I could teach him, and there were even a couple of times where I probably would’ve gotten myself killed if it wasn’t for little Santos, saving my ass.

He turned out all right.

I never had a son, and I don’t know what happened to his father. But I guess we were as close as we could get. The proudest day of my life was probably the day he left. He told me he was heading out to California to see what he could make of himself. He wanted to get an education, you see. Do something better with his life than hunt lawbreakers, and we’d heard that there were some places out west that’d do him good. We shook on it, and I saw him off.

What happened to him?

The damn fool ended up becoming a manhunter, just like me. But that story’ll have to wait for another time. I’ve got a ways to go before sundown.

Of course, of course. Well, it’s been a pleasure talking to you. I wish you luck.

Much obliged.

Day One Hundred and Seventeen: Rachael Decker

September 15, 2011 2 comments

Part of writing is getting to know your characters. The way that I’ve been working so far, there’s not been a lot of time to do that. I write a story, and move on – maybe coming back another time to revisit the people I have created, but usually not. So just for fun, I’m going to do some character interviews this week and see what I can find out about the folks who emerged from between the folds in my brain. To do so, I’ve got my list of characters and the fine folks over at, and together I’ll be randomly choosing my subjects. If you have a request for a character interview, let me know in the comments and I can see to it that he or she jumps to the head of the queue.

Rachael Decker is an interesting character, in that she has died twice – rather terribly both times. The first was on day 9 in Reunion, and the second on day 38 in A Friend in Need. I realized with the second story that I’d found my Kenny. Poor girl….


Good evening, Miss Decker. Have a- Oh! Are- are you okay?

Yes, yes, I’m so sorry. I guess I must have tripped on something. I’m fine, though, I’m fine. (sits) There, that’s better. Thanks for asking me to talk. I’ve really been looking forward to it!

I’m glad to hear that. We have some refreshments – would you like some?

No, thanks. I should be fine. Well.. maybe a water.

Why don’t you start off by telling us a little about yourself?

Well, I don’t know how much there is to tell, really. My name is Rachael. I live with my mom and dad in Ravensbrook with my younger brothers – twins. They’re really cute, but they can be kinda annoying sometimes.

I’m in high school now – I’m a junior, and I hope that I can go to Corsair Academy after I graduate. They have a really good social science program there, and I want to get into something like psychology or counseling.

That sounds great! What do you hope to do with it?

I know this sounds like a real Girl thing to say, but I like helping people out, y’know? There’s always kids in my school who are having problems or who aren’t getting along, and I… I don’t know. I can’t not try. I can’t just walk past them and let them go.

Why do you think that is?

Maybe because I hope that someday, if I’m having trouble, I hope someone will be there to help me. I mean, my mom and dad won’t be around forever, you know?

But… Wow, that sounds kind of selfish. It’s not like I’m doing this because I expect something in return – I totally don’t. It’s just that I think… You have two choices, right? You can be good to someone, and make their life better, or you can be bad to someone, and make their life worse. And I guess I don’t really see any benefit in making another person’s life worse.

It’s like there’s this one kid at my school – Eddie. He’s a real quiet kid, doesn’t get along with people very well. And a lot of the other kids give him grief for it. Just for being a little different. So I make sure to talk to him when I see him, ask how his day is going, that kind of thing. He was really shy at first, but I think he’s starting to open up a lot. He actually smiles now, and that really makes my day.

That’s sweet. Is there anyone else you feel you’ve helped?

There’s a girl in my biology class, Evelyn, who went through some really weird stuff a few months ago. For some reason, her hair turned green. We’re talking bright green, like the grass over at the Ravensbrook Country Club green. Everyone thinks she dyed it, but she was really upset about it. She kept trying to hide it under hats and scarves and things like that, and seemed… well, ashamed. I don’t think she’d do that if she’d meant it to be green. And when I got paired up with her to do our biology project, I decided that I wasn’t going to pay any attention to her hair at all. She seemed like a nice enough person, and that would have to be good enough for me.

And how did that work out?

It… I think it went well. To be honest, I think there may have been an accident or something, because I don’t really remember a lot of things from right about then. I do know that Evelyn and her family had to move suddenly, which was really too bad.

So what do you hope to do when you get out of college? Do you have any plans?

Gosh, I don’t really know. I’d love to be a counselor of some kind. I was thinking for veterans? My uncle came home from Iraq and he had a really hard time getting used to life at home. He’d wake up in the middle of the night and think he was under attack, couldn’t stay out in public too long, that kind of thing. I did a paper on it for social studies class, too. These are guys who really let themselves get hurt – mentally and physically – and I think we owe it to them to make sure they can live the life they deserve.

That’s really great. I hope you go far with your dream.

Thank you! Hey, you mentioned you have something to eat? I’m starting to feel a little hungry…

Sure! We’ve got some cookies, little snack-sized candies, maybe some chips? Nothing healthy, but…

That’s okay. These cookies look great, I’ll try one.

They’re store-bought, nothing special. So, let me see, one last question… How did you-

(cough) I’m- (cough) I’m sorry. There’s some-(cough) Something wrong… (cough)

Are you okay? Do you need some water?

I just (COUGH) I can’t br(COUGHCOUGH)brea(COUGHCOUGH)a- acckkkhhh…

Oh my god! Somebody call an ambulance! Oh god, no! Some- turn off the camera. TURN OFF THE CAM-

Day One Hundred and Sixteen: Paul Barbeau

September 14, 2011 2 comments

Part of writing is getting to know your characters. The way that I’ve been working so far, there’s not been a lot of time to do that. I write a story, and move on – maybe coming back another time to revisit the people I have created, but usually not. So just for fun, I’m going to do some character interviews this week and see what I can find out about the folks who emerged from between the folds in my brain. To do so, I’ve got my list of characters and the fine folks over at, and together I’ll be randomly choosing my subjects. If you have a request for a character interview, let me know in the comments and I can see to it that he or she jumps to the head of the queue.

Today’s subject is one that we’ve heard a lot about. He’s been referenced in several stories so far, but he has yet to have the chance to lead in his own story. Paul Barbeau was first introduced to us on Day 33 – Monsters. That story tells of the many attempts on his life by time travellers who are determined to change history by taking him out of it.


I really don’t have a lot of time, miss, so let’s get this done quickly.

Umm… Mister Barbeau? Do you think your bodyguards could point those guns somewhere else? Not at my head would be preferable.

Miss, do you know who I am?

You’re… Paul Barbeau?

You sound unsure. Are you sure?

Yes? Yes. You’re Paul Barbeau. But I-

And do you know what the single most defining quality of my life has been, since the moment I was born?

People, um… You have had…

People have been trying to kill me. For the last sixteen years, I have managed to avoid being assassinated no less than twenty-three times. I have been shot at, I have nearly been stabbed, I was successfully poisoned when I was twelve. My entire existence has been predicated on the knowledge that there is a group of people who so desperately want me dead that they will do anything in their power to achieve that goal.

But I’m not –

Aren’t you? How do I know you’re not one of them? Or that you won’t be, sometime in the future? You see, miss, this threat is not some guerrilla group in the mountains or a bunch of crazy hicks who blind themselves on homemade moonshine and convince each other that the Jews are ruining their lives. No. I am under attack by an organized group of people with great resources, up to and including the ability to travel through time.

Excuse me?

Did I stutter?

No, but you said they could travel through time?

That’s exactly what I said, yes. What’s the problem?

Well… Time travel isn’t possible.

Yet. And that’s the key word. “Yet.”

The human brain, miss, is a powerful organic computer. It is capable of understanding the world in both concrete and abstract terms, of generating scenarios and testing them against reality. It is able to simulate reality and re-build it to see how it works. Just one of these brains, working by itself, is a marvel of evolution. When they come into contact with each other and share information, their power multiplies. The more brains, the more processing power. And when one brain hits upon a brilliant solution to a problem, that information is available to all of them. Idea builds upon idea, discovery upon discovery, and soon the human race is doing miracles and calling them quotidian trifles.

Do you think it is a coincidence that our technological abilities increased sharply as the human population increased? Of course not. More brains, better brains, able to process more information, and we grow even further.

Now, while some people are concentrating on trivialities like eco-friendly cars and social networking, I can guarantee you there are others who are working on the problem of time travel. And once they discover it, it will have always existed. The very concepts of “future” and “past” will become malleable and impermanent, and someone will get it in their head to use it to come after me.

But… Why?

My security people have managed to capture some of these terrorists. Under questioning, they have revealed a future that is truly horrifying. Nearly all of humanity is enslaved to a hive mind, to the consciousness of Humanity itself. Individuality is destroyed, the very concept of “I” is obliterated from understanding. The human race becomes a single-minded macro-organism no more diverse or complicated than a slime mold. Some manage to escape, it seems, and it is those people who have decided to use the technology of time travel to undo the world that they live in. They wish to unmake their hell – and themselves – by killing me.

It seems, you see, that one of my creations is what triggers this apocalypse, this… end of history. A particular nanotech virus that I will develop as a cure for all disease. It will work, there is no question about that. But as the virus spreads and takes hold in host after host, it eventually manages to become self-aware. It invades the brain of the host and hijacks it, turning what was once an individual, unique human being into little more than a drone.

You know this for certain?

Their stories are consistent, no matter how we pressure them. And I do have work in progress that could lead to the virus.

But why? If you know that you’re going to destroy the world… Why not just stop? Why not stop the project, throw away the notes, and it’ll never happen!

You… you really think that will work, don’t you?

Miss, most people who are targeted for assassination are indeed assassinated. It may take a few tries, but the killers only have to be successful once. The target has to be successful – or lucky – all the time. And there is no one so lucky that they can survive near-constant attempts for their entire life, as I have.

Do you understand what this means?

N… No?

I cannot be killed, miss.

They cannot succeed. All of these bodyguards are really just here to make the odds as small as possible, but I could go wandering through the poorest part of the city wearing a tuxedo made of thousand dollar bills, and I would not die. I could be surrounded by murderous time travelers all day, and they would not kill me.

No matter what happens, I must survive to create the virus. The killers are themselves the evidence of that. If I gave up, they would have no reason to kill me, and thus would never have started their mad crusade. But still they come, which means that I must succeed. It is a thing that is beyond my control.

You can’t possibly believe that.

Reality doesn’t care what I believe, miss. Reality just is.

In any case, it seems that my destiny is to be a monster. To be the destroyer of mankind as we know it. So, if I am to be a monster, I will have to be the best monster I can be.

Take her away.

What? What are you – NO!

I’m sorry, but I cannot allow this interview to be published. As I said, my destiny is irrevocable, but it’s one more problem to be solved, and I have enough of those already. If it makes you feel better, your family will believe that you died well. I’ll see to everything.



[Note: This recording was unearthed during a raid on the original Barbeau Pharmaceuticals complex in 2066. Our tacticians disagree with his conclusions on inevitability, and it is further evidence that our past-based efforts must be pushed forward. Future missions must succeed in releasing this interview to the public. If we cannot stop Barbeau directly, perhaps through other means.]

Day One Hundred and Fifteen: Selaphiel

September 13, 2011 Leave a comment

Part of writing is getting to know your characters. The way that I’ve been working so far, there’s not been a lot of time to do that. I write a story, and move on – maybe coming back another time to revisit the people I have created, but usually not. So just for fun, I’m going to do some character interviews this week and see what I can find out about the folks who emerged from between the folds in my brain. To do so, I’ve got my list of characters and the fine folks over at, and together I’ll be randomly choosing my subjects. If you have a request for a character interview, let me know in the comments and I can see to it that he or she jumps to the head of the queue.

It seems the randomness is being especially random today – the subject of our interview is a fictional character within a fictional setting. It is Selaphiel, the archangel who was the end boss for a game being designed by a couple of friends in Day 63 – Creative Differences. Let’s see what it has to say for itself.


Sorry, sorry, don’t mind the sword. Here let me… Ahh, there we go. That’s a load off the ol’ wingbox right there. MAN, but I can’t imagine why I carry something that ridiculously huge.

Are… are you Selaphiel?

You bet I am. Keeper of the Temple of the Hours, chief of the Seven Underlords. Atcher service!

I’m sorry, I just thought you’d be…



Buffer, then? I have been working out.

No, not that. Just a little… You know what, why don’t we skip to the interview.

Okay, you’re the boss here, boss. What do you want to know?

Well, um, about you. Tell us about yourself.

Well, like I said – Keeper of the Temple of the Hours, chief of the Seven Underlords. My job is basically to keep the peace in the realm of Syurdhald by whatever means necessary.


Well, yeah. You know. The world? The place where everything happens? Y’see, I used to work directly under the Big Guy himself.  And when he was done making the place, I told him that the humans were probably going to screw everything up. You could see it in their beady little eyes, you know? They look at something and think, “How can I eat-and-or-destroy that?” But I kept my peace and decided to see what was what, until… well, you know…

Actually, no. What happened?

Seriously? I thought everyone – you guys didn’t know about this? Wow.

Okay, so we’d created the world and everything in it and blah blah blah, and God was just saying, “Okay, this is cool.” And my buddies and I all came in and said, “Actually, not cool. You have humans all over the place doing whatever the hell they want and not listening to a damn thing you say.” And so God says, “What do you think I should do about it?” and I said, “You should beat them senseless and then beat them some more until they stop building golden cows and horses and moose and shit!”


Yeah. Well, that didn’t go over too well. Long story short, words were said, someone got slapped, someone’s mother got insulted, and next thing you know my buddies and I are tossed out into Syurdhald and he says, “You think you know how to fix it? Well go right ahead, suckers.” Next thing you know we’re all stranded dirtside with nothing but our angelic powers and a bunch of damn dirty apes. No offense.

None taken. So what did you do then?

Well, we agreed that it would be best if we spread out a bit, you know – each take a different region, run it pretty much autonomously. There were seven of us, and so that worked out fine. For a while, anyway.

What do you mean? What happened?

Well, these humans really didn’t get the hint. They didn’t know that we were there for their own benefit, to whip them into shape, y’know? It seemed like every other decade, some bulked-up barbarian would come by and try to kill us all!


Yeah, can you believe it? Us! So at first it was easy, you know – go-go angelic powers , barbarian go SPLAT. But that got boring after a while, so we started making actual weapons – like that eight-foot wonder I’ve got leaning in the corner. I have to admit, that was a bit ridiculous. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

Anyway, around the same time, we came up with the Daggers.


Yeah, one of these. Take a look. Huh? Nasty-looking thing, ain’t it? Each dagger is kind of like a personal calling card, right? You can use it for just about anything, up to and including killing nosy barbarians.

And how long have you been doing that?

Gosh, lemme see… You know, I really have no idea? It seems like forever, but each time that moron stumbles into my throne room, it’s like the first time all over again. He makes a speech, I utterly unmake him, and then lunch! Good times, good times.

I see. Are you by any chance aware of a game called Lords of Syurdhald?

A game? No, but it sounds pretty good. Huh. A game – I bet me and my buddies would be great characters, too! We could fight off barbarians and crush our enemies beneath our feet and-

No, no – it’s not quite like that. Here, I have the trailer on my laptop. Here, take a look.

Okay, let’s see, where do I press – ah! There we are.

Ooh, pretty. That’s ni- Hey! That’s that barbarian! He’s- What- Wait, where is he-?

What? NO! What’re you! Hey, that’s my fri-



Oh, you son of a bitch! That little monkey in a loincloth, he kills me? What the hell, man?

What do you think of-

What do I think? Are you serious, they made a game about us, and we’re the bad guys?


Look at that – these jackasses decided we’re the villains here! They made me look like some kind of evil end boss – I never gave them permission to use my likeness! How did they get all this about us?

But they-

I am going to sue them… SO hard! To the ends of the Earth, and if that doesn’t work, then it’s a Dagger of the Underlord right to the face!

But they didn’t steal anything!


They didn’t steal anything. They made you up.



Say that again?

They made you up. You’re the game character. The character isn’t based on you – you’re it.

No, that’s ridiculous. No, I remember the – the dawn of time, man! I was there! You’re telling me a couple of code-monkeys just invented me?

I’m afraid so.

No. No, no, no, that’s not happening. No. Gimme that laptop.


I am going to find… out… godsdammit, make this thing show me where they are!


So you want the first dagger to the face, because I swear there’s going to be so much stabbing going on today!

Okay, let’s just calm down here. Okay? No one is stabbing anyone anywhere. Okay? So why don’t you put down that knife, and we’ll see what we – NO!

This interview is done. Me and my stupid-ass sword, we have a date. We’re gonna find whoever did this to us. We’re gonna find ’em and make them suffer more than anyone has ever suffered before. And after I’ve used their heads as bowling balls – that damned barbarian is next!

(door slams)

I… Okay. All right. Just – just stop the camera.

Day One Hundred and Fourteen: Dr. Julian Harcrow

September 12, 2011 2 comments

Part of writing is getting to know your characters. The way that I’ve been working so far, there’s not been a lot of time to do that. I write a story, and move on – maybe coming back another time to revisit the people I have created, but usually not. So just for fun, I’m going to do some character interviews this week and see what I can find out about the folks who emerged from between the folds in my brain. To do so, I’ve got my list of characters and the fine folks over at, and together I’ll be randomly choosing my subjects. If you have a request for a character interview, let me know in the comments and I can see to it that he or she jumps to the head of the queue.

For our first interview, we will be talking to Dr. Julian Harcrow, a character mentioned but not met in the story for Day 36 – Interviews. What a nice coincidence. Let’s see what he has to say about himself.


Good evening, Dr. Harcrow. Thank you for sitting down with us.

Will this take long? I have some experiments in the lab, you see, and they’re vital to my work.

What a great place to start! Can you tell us about your work, Dr. Harcrow?

I, um. Yes. Yes, fine. Where shall I begin? Um…  I have advanced degrees in biochemistry, quantum electrodynamics, abnormal psychology, and I have won no fewer than three Nobel prizes in the lifelong pursuit of the understanding of metahumans.

I’m sorry – metahumans?

Yes. You’d think of them as “super-heroes” perhaps, but not all of them run off and put on tights. Most of them would really rather just be able to live their lives like everyone else. What makes them special is that they are able to do things that they really shouldn’t be able to do – bend steel in their bare hands, fly under their own power, duplicate themselves, that sort of thing. The sheer variety of powers has afforded me a lifetime of study, if not more.

How did you get started in this line of science?

Well, let me see. I remember as a child growing up on the poor side of Corsair City. My family was in pretty bad shape – single mother, far too many children to deal with. And I was smart, even when I was little. Smart enough to know that crawling out of there would be nearly impossible. I had seen others try and fail, and come back to numb themselves with alcohol and drugs.

But then, one day, I saw Captain Cosmos for the first time. You know who he was?

I do remember hearing about him from my parents.

Yes. Well. The first time I saw him was during a tenement fire. Someone in our neighborhood had left something on the stove or fallen asleep with a cigarette – it didn’t matter. Within minutes, the whole place was ablaze, and people were running around like rats caught in a trap. My mother was almost instantly overcome by smoke, my older brothers ran for their lives, and I was the only one who was actually trying to help people get out. But there was no way out. You ever been in a tenement fire, son?

Well, no. No I haven’t.

Count yourself lucky. That place was falling to pieces before the fire started. When the burning began, well… I figured there was no escape. I would die in that slum after all. And then… Then the wall in front of me just – vanished. And there was a man there, this huge man was just… floating there, like it was the most normal thing in the world. He was dressed all in white and gold, and he was shining like the angels my mother had taught me about, except that his skin was dark – even darker than mine! Heh…

I don’t know how many times he had to call me before I realized that I wasn’t dead yet. He saved us all that day. Each and every one of us.

How old were you?

I was twelve years old. About halfway through high school at the time, and when I met Captain Cosmos, it was like I saw my whole future laid out before me. Here was this man – no, “man” isn’t even the right word. This “being,” who had the powers ordinarily reserved for the gods. He could do things that human beings weren’t supposed to do, and yet here he was – walking among us, shaking our hands, kissing our babies. Saving our lives. He was pretending to be one of us. It really made no sense to me, and there was only one way I knew of to deal with things that made no sense.

And that was what got me out. I studied, I applied for every scholarship and loan available, and I worked my fingers down to the nubs to see to it that I’d be able to go to school and get out. Captain Cosmos was my guide.

I wish… I wish I’d had the chance to tell him.

So you started studying metahumans in university?

If you can call it that, yes. Mind you, there were no metahuman studies classes or departments at the time, not to mention that I was a fifteen year-old kid from the inner city. The place was full of walls that I kept having to knock down and traps that I had to disarm, and do it all with a smile. When I finally got to the university at Corsair City, I had to fight tooth and nail to design my own program based on what little information I had about metahumans at the time. My dream, of course, was to get Captain Cosmos into my lab, to talk to him and perhaps really give him a good examination. But it… It just… Well. You know what happened.

Doctor Charkus’ attempt to destroy New York City, correct?

Yes.  Captain Cosmos gave his life to stop that madman. He saved the lives of millions of people – billions, if you really think about it. I was devastated. It was like watching God fall from heaven and lie battered and broken in an alley somewhere. I didn’t think I could even imagine anything worse than that, not for a long time.

But Cosmos’ sacrifice led to the new renaissance of heroism, did it not?

It did indeed. When he died, it seemed like the heroes came up out of the ground, like the dragon teeth of Cadmus. They saw that the world needed them, needed true heroes, and they answered that call. They flew, they ran, they swam and teleported into action, and it stunned me to realize just how many different powers it was possible to have. The world would clearly be in good hands with this new generation. But as many friends as I have made in the last forty years of studying metahumans, I would honestly love nothing more than to see Captain Cosmos one more time.

How did you become active in the metahuman community?

Well, like I said, I was eager to study them, so I just started introducing myself. There’s quite a concentration of heroism around Corsair, so all I really needed was a police scanner and a good bicycle. I was young and reckless and just rode off to whatever disaster or major crime the heroes were solving. And when it was all done, I’d walk right up to them, hand them a business card and say, “I’m Doctor Julian Harcrow, metahuman expert. At your service.” And then I’d just turn around and leave. (laughs) I still can’t believe I got away with being such a pompous ass. The things you’ll do when you’re young…

But you got their attention.

Indeed I did. One day, a young woman who called herself Prizm showed up at my lab in a flash of light. She said that she wanted to know more about her powers – how they worked, how she could use them better. And I kept up my facade of being a “metahuman expert” and schooled her in basic physics. Her powers were light-based, so we learned about the electromagnetic spectrum and what it could do, and it just went from there. I designed some training activities out of whatever I had laying around in the physics lab, and a few weeks later she’s calling herself Photonika and doing some really amazing things.

I… uh… I didn’t have any say in the name, though.

How long was it before you were the go-to scientist for the metahuman community?

Not long. It’s a smaller group than you think, and word travels fast. Pretty soon I’m being counseled on missions, and even asked to actually do medical tests on heroes, which was what I’d wanted to do in the first place, and I made some amazing discoveries. I unlocked a lot of what it means to have superpowers and what they do to the human body. I spent years working with these people and helping them understand themselves. There was probably no greater body of data on the planet than mine on the biology and physics of metahumans.

Well. Perhaps one. But we know how that turned out.

You’re referring to Tobias Rhyne’s gene bomb?



You have to understand. The men and women who died that day? They were my friends, most of them. And even the ones who weren’t, I knew their names. I knew who they were. And I had to watch them fall out of the sky. Burst into flames. Drown. Slam into walls. And that day, everyone came to see me. I had tried to keep my job as the Doctor to the Super-Heroes quiet when I could, but there was none of that anymore. My office was filled with people, panicking. Panicking! These were men and women who could shrug off bullets, who slapped around giant frog-monsters or wrestled continents, and they were sitting in my office just… broken. Crying, some of them. Begging. All of them.


I tried to help them, I really did. When I told them that they weren’t metahumans anymore – that they were just human, it was like trying to explain death to a five year-old. They just didn’t understand. Some got angry. Some got really quiet. Some of them thanked me politely, went home and killed themselves. Every time I thought I had had enough, every time I had to lock my door and just weep and swear it was for the last time, there would be another knock at my door. There would be someone desperate for help, who thought I could save them. Who thought I would be the one to rescue them from hopelessness.

I’m sorry. Just… just give me a moment.


Later, a group of non-meta heroes got together to try and capture Rhyne. Martial artists, robotocists, time-trapped heroes with amazing future tech. They assaulted his underwater lair, but it was too late. He was gone, his labs were destroyed. They brought me what data they could find, but it wasn’t anything I didn’t already know. Whatever allowed him to commit this… atrocity, he took it with him.

Have you made any progress towards restoring powers to anyone?

No, not yet. But that certainly won’t stop me from trying. Someone will track down Rhyne, or I’ll figure it out for myself. One way or another, there will be a new renaissance of super-heroes before my day is done. Mark my words.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I still have those experiments to deal with.

Of course. Thank you for your time, Dr. Harcrow.

Day Forty-six: The Big Day

July 6, 2011 4 comments

Pete stared at himself in the mirror, straightened his tie, and tried to smooth down his flyaway hair. “Should’ve gotten a haircut,” he muttered.

But it wasn’t just that. The pale complexion, the ill-fitting suit, the exhausted look in his eyes – they all worked together to make him look like a man who worked eighty hours a week. Which, of course, he did. For the last two years. But that’s what you had to do, what anyone who wanted to get ahead had to do. Nobody got anywhere in Munin Scientific on forty hours a week. Nobody.

After today, though, it would all be worth it. The work he had done on carbon pico-crystal arrays would revolutionize the industry. It would launch Munin Scientific to the top of the market, and within five years everything that had a computer in it would be indebted to them. To him. He took a USB drive out of his jacket pocket. It was all there.

That wasn’t the only copy, of course. No one could possibly be so stupid as to store their only copy of a potentially revolutionary technology onto something as droppable as a thumb drive. He had the data stored in several different places, all secure behind the best encryption and security the company could provide. If things went terribly wrong, he might lose the drive on the elevator ride up, but the data would still be there.

The LED on the end was glowing a soft amber. The drives had to be accessed at least once every twenty-four hours, to ensure security. If they weren’t, then the LED would turn red and the drive would erase itself the next time it was plugged into a computer. Pete didn’t take it too seriously. After all, if someone was going to steal his data, they probably wouldn’t wait until they got around to it to make copies. But it made the company feel like it was being proactive, so there wasn’t much to be done about it.

He put it back in his pocket and checked his watch. Fifteen minutes to go. He rinsed his hands off and tried to give himself a stern look in the mirror. It just came off looking more exhausted. His wife said he should smile more for interviews, to try and look more personable. He thought that smiling made him look like a freak. He tried it. He was right.

When one of the toilets flushed, he started and turned around. Ewan Conwell came out of one of the stalls and Pete felt his blood pressure rise. “How’s it goin’, Petey?” Ewan asked. He waved his hands under the sink and got a burst of water. Pete didn’t say anything, but went back to inspecting his tie. “Big day today, isn’t it? Well…” He took a handkerchief from his pocket and started to dry his hands, grinning at his own reflection and checking out those big, white teeth of his.

There was something about Conwell’s face that made Pete want to punch it, and Pete had never punched anyone in his life. Maybe the big chin, the fake smile, the beady little shark eyes – he couldn’t pin down what it was. Every time he saw Ewan, he just felt some kind of primate rage build in his gut. This wouldn’t have been so bad if they didn’t work in the same division. Ewan always seemed to be schmoozing, always looked relaxed and healthy. Never seemed to be cracking under pressure or pulling his hair out trying to solve a problem. He was perfectly happy working at Munin, and that was the biggest sign that something was really wrong with him.

“Yes,” Pete finally said.

“You wearing that tie?”

Pete looked at the tie, then at Ewan’s reflection. “Yes,” he said.

Ewan shrugged. “Cool,” he said. “Good luck!” He clapped Pete on the shoulder, winked, and walked out of the bathroom.

Pete took a few breaths to calm himself down. Freaking out over Ewan Conwell was the last thing he needed to do right now. He breathed, in and out, in and out, and then addressed his reflection. “You ready?” he asked. “Ready,” he replied.

The interview was fifteen floors above him, so he took the elevator and fidgeted with the USB drive on the ride up. It was a smooth, quiet ride, all the way up to the thirtieth floor. When he got there, a receptionist looked him over with a single raised eyebrow, carefully checked her appointment book, and pressed a button on her desk. A moment later she leaned in to her earpiece and said, “Yes, sir. He’s here.”

She looked up at him. “You may go in,” she said. The doors to the left swung open. Pete’s mouth was dry, his palms were sweating, and his stomach hurt. He nodded, gripping the USB drive tightly, and walked in.

The boardroom was bright and spare, influenced by how designers thought Japanese people lived. A long table, shiny and black, stretched down the middle of the brightness and made Pete a little dizzy. Embossed in the center of the table, shining under layers of lacquer, was the Munin Scientific logo.

Three men in suits were sitting at one end of the table, next to a laptop. The men were all wearing suits that each probably cost more than his salary. Before taxes, of course. “Come in, Mr. Wach,” one of the men said. Terence Dorshimer, the chief technology officer. About five levels above Pete, and just the fact that he knew Pete’s name was enough to make him want to throw up.

He set his shoulders back, tried to stiffen his spine, and strode to the end of the table. “Pete Wach,” Terence said, “I’d like you to meet Harris Brummitt, the vice president in charge of research.” Brummitt shook Pete’s hand, a strong, confident shake. “And this, of course, is Ulysses Grodin. I know you know who he is.”

Of course Pete knew who he was. Grodin’s was the public face of Munin Scientific. Third-generation president of the company and probably one of the most well-known and well-loved CEOs in the country. Pete put his hand out. “Of course. An honor to meet you, sir.”

Grodin didn’t offer his hand, and Pete was left hanging for a moment.

“I… um…”

Terence stepped in to rescue him. “I’m sure you’re eager to show us what you have, Pete.” He gestured to the laptop. “It’s showtime.”

“Yes. Yes, of course.” Pete plugged the USB into the machine and the little LED turned green again. An explorer window opened up, Pete found the icon he wanted, and the slideshow began. Terence pressed a button on a remote and the lights dimmed. A wallscreen lit up, with the computer display on it.

Pete looked at the three men, licked his lips, and cleared his throat. Grodin was starting to look annoyed, Brummitt bored, and Dorshimer’s smile was beginning to turn brittle.

“How would you like,” Pete said, “to have every movie ever made – yes, every single one.” He dropped to a whisper, as he’d practiced at home. “Even the dirty ones.” He paused for a laugh, didn’t get one, and then stuttered back into form. “Um… All the movies ever made, in ten different languages – twice – stored on a chip the size of your thumbnail?” The slideshow faded to show a close-up of a hand with a small silver chip in its palm. “And if you want, we can throw in the Library of Congress just for fun.”

That should have gotten at least a chuckle. Something really wasn’t right here. He advanced the slideshow, and what looked like a computer-generated thornbush appeared. “With picotech crystal arrays, we can store more data in a smaller space than anyone would have dreamed even two years ago. What’s more-” He went to the next slide, which was numbers and data on a pleasant gradient background. “As you can see, it’s highly durable, and will hold onto data with little or no corruption for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years.” He went to the next slide and started to read from it. There were circles and arrows, pointing to other circles and other arrows that explained what the technology was and how it worked, and as Pete read from it he knew that something was going horribly wrong.

He could feel the yawning void on the other side of the table. It was exactly as though someone had walked up to him and was standing behind him, breathing down his neck, but he wasn’t allowed to see. After he got to the third circle, his voice trailed off and he turned around.

All three men were staring at him. “I, um…” he said. He cleared his throat again and straightened his suit jacket. “I suppose I can… um. Take questions? If there are any?”

Brummitt shifted in his seat. He glanced at the other two men, who were still staring at Pete. “Mister Wach,” Brummitt said. “Do you think we’re idiots?”

Pete’s mind went blank for a moment. Of all the questions he had prepared for, this certainly wasn’t one of them. If they had asked about data retrieval rates, thermal fluctuations, storage tolerances – he could have talked the sun down on any of those. But did he think they were stupid? “Um… No, sir. Of course not.” He looked at the other two men, and their faces were unreadable. “Why would you think I thought-”

“You must think we’re dumber’n a Texas schoolbook, Mister Wach, coming in here like this.”

“Sir, I-”

“That we just fell off the bullshit truck yesterday. Is that it, Mister Wach?”

“No, sir, of course-”

“Because if we were stupid, if we were complete and utter shitheads who didn’t know our dicks from diamonds, then you might have gotten away with this stunt you’re trying to pull!”

Pete tried to speak, but all that came out was soundless breath. He looked from Terrence to Grodin and back, but neither man would speak. Terence pushed another button on his panel and nodded to Brummitt. A moment later, two security guards, hands on their tasers, came through the door.

Pete put his hands up. “Wait, woah, woah. Wait! Look, I really don’t understand why-”

For the first time, Ulysses Grodin spoke. “Mister Wach, you have taken enough of our time. You may either leave, or you will be taken out.” The tone of his voice made it clear which he would prefer.

“But I don’t understand,” Pete said. “The technology, my presentation, I don’t… What did I do?” he wailed. He started to make his way back around the table, which was the cue for the security guards to launch their tasers at him.

The pain was far worse than he imagined, and he collapsed almost instantly, just barely missing the table. He lay on the floor, twitching, and he heard someone say, “Again.” Another bolt of white-hot pain shot through him, and he tried to yell. His jaw was locked, and he couldn’t get the breath out.

When the pain stopped, and he felt himself fading into unconsciousness, he heard Brummitt kneel down next to him, one of his knees making popping noises as he did. “We’re going to have a very long talk later, Wach,” he said. “And you’re going to tell us exactly how and why you stole that research from Ewan Conwell.”

Pete’s last thought as he passed out was of Ewan, and how much he hated him.

Day Thirty-six: Interviews

June 26, 2011 7 comments

“All right, Mister Vails, it says here on your resume that you used to be… Umm…” The unemployment counselor looked up from the resume to the tall, muscular man who was sitting uncomfortably across the desk from her.

“Photon.” He cracked a knuckle with his thumb. “The Magnificent,” he said. His voice was flat, almost a whisper, and his wide shoulders slumped.

She made a note on the resume. “I see. And this was before the gene-bomb?”

The man nodded, and didn’t look her in the eye. The gene bomb had gone off two years ago, detonated by Tobias Rhyne, an inventor and technologist-turned-supervillain. Rhyne had developed a method by which metahumans could be stripped of their powers, and thanks to years of defeat at their hands, he had finally gone and done it. When the bomb went off, there were 5,313 metahumans working around the planet. Some of them were in mid-action when it happened, and plummeted from the sky like a horrible four-color rain. Others were suddenly subject to the laws of physics that they had previously ignored, and the results were grisly at best.

Those who survived had to do so without the powers they had come to rely on, and as yet no one had managed to find a way to reverse the effects. Professor Harcrow, of the Corsair City University – a three-time Nobel Prize winner and frequent ally of the international peacekeeping squad Heroes United – was said to be working on a cure. To date, though, no metahuman had recovered his or her powers. Some tried on their own, hunting down lightning storms or trying to re-create the cosmic vortexes that had blessed them in the first place. They were, to a man, unsuccessful.

It became necessary, then, for them to try and re-integrate into regular human society. Even those who had maintained secret identities were having trouble coming to grips with their situation. For them, being a super-hero was the real job. Newspaper reporting, working in an auto garage, being a police officer was just a way to pay the bills. Now it was their real life, and much like soldiers returning from war, they were having problems assimilating.

Constance Wixted had just started processing these claims, and they were starting to get to her. She had seen Photon the Magnificent before, of course – everyone had. The silver and blue costume he wore was unmistakable, and after he saved the Golden Gate Bridge from being turned into a harmonic earthquake generator by Lord Temblor, his fame rose as high as he did.

Now he was sitting in her cramped and dingy public assistance office, hoping to find some kind of work that was as fulfilling as world-saving. “Okay,” she said, trying to pitch her voice somewhere cheerful and optimistic. “What skills do you have that might be valuable to employers?”

He looked up at her, and she remembered for a moment the cosmic blasts that he used to be able to shoot from them. There was a video on YouTube of Photon holding back a rampaging battle tank with those eyes. Now they were flat. “I can type,” he said. “And I’m very organized.”

“Those are good,” she said. “Anything else?”

He sat there, and exhaled. “I’m good with people.”

Constance fought the urge to rub her eyes. “Mister Vails, I understand you’re in a difficult situation….”

“Do you?” he asked. He looked at her again, and for a moment there was strength in his face. “Have you ever seen the sky in the infrared? Have you ever felt the earth move under your feet and known that you moved it? Have you ever had an entire city thank you for returning it from a shadow dimension?”

She shook her head. “No, I – I haven’t.”

“Then you don’t understand anything,” he said. He stood up and took his coat from the back of the chair. “Thank you for trying, Miss Wixted,” he said. “This isn’t working for me.”

She stood with him. “Wait, Mister Vails!” He turned and looked over his shoulder. “Maybe… maybe you could do some work with an NGO, or a charity – I have a few here that-”

He shook his head. “No,” he said. “It’s just… It’s just not the same.” He put his coat on, and she watched him as he walked through the waiting room and out the door.

Constance dropped back in her seat. She made a note in Vails’ file – “Pending” – and dropped it into a tray on her desk. “Next,” she said. A tall woman with green hair and a willowy figure stood up, smoothed her dress, and came into the office, closing the door behind her.

“Miss Pierce?” The woman nodded. “Sorry to see you here again so soon. The arboretum job didn’t work out, then?” The green-haired woman shook her head and, quietly, began to cry. Constance stood up and brought over the box of tissues she made sure was always within arm’s reach.

“Don’t worry, Miss Pierce,” she said. “We’ll find something for you.”