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The Superheroes.

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Avatar Nexus
Posted 02/18/08 - 5:51 PM:
Subject: The Superheroes.
The Superheroes.

It had been a day only slightly different from that which I had deemed normal before. Somehow, though, I felt more of a stranger in my own body than usual; it became plain that I had not spoken nor held eye contact with another person since rising from my bed that morning. This was not as terrifyingly odd as it might have been to a more sociable creature than I; I was not and am not a person prone to seek the company of others. It had been a Saturday and I had spent most of the day indoors besides a run in the park and, even for me, this had been a bleak day as regards my involvement with the rest of my species. As the realization dawned on me that something odd may be afoot I recalled that I had promised to meet some of my colleagues from Banks Technologies at a local bar. I shrugged off my preoccupation as many must do who sense the first twinges that indicate the presence of a possibly fatal malady. I got myself ready then headed out.

The bar was within walking distance and so I took a route through the same park I had jogged in earlier that day and where I had felt the first suspicions that something was amiss. I recalled that whilst I had been jogging I had seen the blond that always ran with her dog and who usually gave me a brief flash off eye contact, the dog always let off a token whelp at encountering my panting form. For some reason we usually seemed to be out at the same time but much to my regret no exchange beyond curious eye contact had yet ensued; that neither the dog nor she noticed my passing therefore was etched into my memory. I also recalled that on the way back to the apartment I had absent absentmindedly strode in to the road and almost been hit by a slow driving old lady. I don't know what had been on my mind to not notice the approach of the vehicle; although I stepped out of the way just in time she failed to honk her horn or look in my direction.

It was summer and the evening was cool and welcoming. The park still held its gaggle of joggers and dog walkers with the odd smattering of the homeless. I felt the reduced sense of boundaries that warmer weather can induce, I was young enough at thirty three to still feel a sense of possibility in life. Soon I was out of the brief shield to the senses that was the relative calm of the park and in to the bustle of the city. A homeless man sat outside a convenience store in an introverted stoop. I had seen the man before and I knew I could expect some kind of response even if, as was often the case if he had been drinking, it was unintelligible. As I felt some upsurge in my mood despite the other troubling feelings I had been entertaining I let fall a couple of pound coins into his upturned hat. Nothing, not even a groan. Still I continued on my way not much bothered; perhaps he had just fallen asleep I thought. It was then I decided, against my usual habits, to buy a quart of whiskey in order to loosen myself up for the meeting. Although I liked the others well enough I felt, alongside the largely suppressed notion that something was amiss, a little oil in the cogs of the mind might help the initial niceties. I walked in to the first liquor store I came across and began to survey the offerings that lingered in their slightly forbidden aura beside the cigarettes as the busy shop assistant tried to show interest in the assortment of fragments wandering in from the cities night.

Now, I was standing in a cue and all seemed normal, people were standing either side of me, I was awaiting a human response, my first response that day surely. As I opened my mouth to name the poison I required the person behind me pushed me aside and began paying for his purchase. Everybody around seemed unperturbed; I stood in disbelief. My body had seemingly been recognized on some level by the others around but I had been completely ignored; I may as well have been a ghost. My first reaction was to cry out in disgust but this new event matched with the growing sense I had been having that day that something was not quite right. In fact, more than that, something was very wrong on a rather fundamental level; that at least was quite plain now. I remained quiet and didn't say anything; I just stood there gazing around as if I had dropped some psychedelic compound and was just starting to experience the world altering effects. I stood for what must have been five minutes or more. I touched and prodded and then from muttering went on to screaming and then pushing. I began knocking over objects in the store; nobody seemed in the least bit bothered. When I knocked some wine bottles over and the bottles smashed on the ground I noticed the puddles and glass that dispersed on the ground lay undisturbed by the other customers. I touched objects and people around; while the objects clearly behaved as normal the other people, while I could register them, seemed to only register me as some kind of obstruction, they sensed an object somehow but were not really aware of it. It was then that I began to make connections to the work I do at Banks Technologies and the first realization of the scale and horror of what was occurring began to dawn on me. My only consolation was that those others who I was heading to meet might very well be experiencing the same symptoms and that I would therefore not be quite so alone in the world. I grew anxious to meet with them as soon as possible and, with what I will admit was a little mischievous fervour, grabbed a bottle of the most expensive Scotch from behind the assistant and headed in terror but also, perhaps perversely some fascination, from the store.

I slugged from the bottle and rushed onward, budging people out the way now. It was as if I were in some kind of zombie movie and the zombies remained sane and normal, without flesh eating impulses, but psychotically untroubled by my existence. I knew the only possible explanation for these unforeseen events was the advanced work we had been doing on a cloaking serum; Banks Technologies' main source of income was military applications and this highly experimental new technology was only of any real use in scenarios of that nature. I had never had any qualms about this potential as such but there had always been an uncomfortable suspicion that the way we had been manipulating matter on a quantum level was launching into new and as yet unchartered waters that didn't preclude the possibility of shipwreck.

'Ye Olde Wine Cellar' loomed pretentiously before me in the darkening evening; I still was having trouble with what was being revealed to me. Just to test again the reality of events I picked up a rock from outside the bar and threw it through the nearest window. As I walked inside all was calm and a steady and what would usually have been a comforting murmur rose from the customers. The window that I had thrown the rock through showed a considerable hole near its centre and a nearby table was littered with glass fragments both from the window and broken beer glasses; a mixture of beverages dripped from the table top but those seated around continued drinking and chatting as if nothing unusual had occurred. I noticed there was a look of slight confusion on the faces of those whose glasses must have been destroyed when the brick landed on the table. However, within the haze of alcohol they quickly made assumptions that their drinks must have been finished. Of course! Mentally they would simply compensate for any adjustment in reality on a quantum level; also matter itself would compensate. If a subject had been holding a glass and it had smashed whilst in their hand then the glass would simultaneously have repaired itself; however, the contents would have been lost forever in their reality. The disparity between our worlds would be corrected at least to the degree that it was noticeable; we had already discovered this at least on a theoretical level through our equations. Yet here it was in action! It was then Erwin, head of our team, came rushing round the bar with an expression of panic and suspense on his face.

'When did you realize?' he gushed.

'About ten minutes ago in a liquor store!' I replied.

'Jack, this must be the first practical demonstration of the true nature of quantum physics to actual human perception. How the fuck did this happen? We'd only just began trials with the rats!' Erwin seemed excited but still I could tell there was the same undertone of panic that I was experiencing.
'The only explanation is that there was some kind of leakage. We assumed the serum was impenetrable due to the molecular wall we designed but the atoms were so unstable they somehow leaked through.' I was dizzy with all the implications that were occurring to me. 'As we were the closest biological organism they simply invaded our bodies and the chain reaction we designed went from there.'
'Do you think it could spread?' I said in some desperation.

'Of course it won't leak from us,' Erwin went on; 'in the design the chain reaction had to stop once the vehicle had been converted to the new atomic configuration.'

'Well it seems to be working that way,' I followed now growing worried, 'though if the serum was unstable there is no guarantee that our bodies will contain it. What if there were an epidemic!'

By now John Trevor and Ian McDonald my other colleagues had joined us, each holding bottles of spirits pulled roughly from display behind the bar. They were both now quite drunk and I could see the barman looking around, scratching his head in disbelief.

'That's exactly what we were just saying,' interrupted McDonald; 'but I just think biology is different, it will coordinate with the DNA and that should be it.'

Trevor, as I should have expected, seemed more or less untroubled. He had become invisible to the rest of humanity without a cure in sight but to him it was merely a new development much like a new hand of cards in a card game; he looked and considered alternatives. 'As we predicted anything not biological coming into contact with the organism instantly becomes transformed and reality compensates. If things are going this smoothly I don't foresee that anybody should be infected unless they were to come into direct contact with the serum.'

I looked at his inexpressive features in disbelief. 'Going smoothly?' I shouted. 'We are condemned to the rest of our lives in isolation from the rest of mankind and you consider it as 'things going smoothly!'

McDonald, as emotional as I, intervened. 'Look you know what he's like, I'm as fucking desperate as you but we've got to think clearly.' He put his head in his hands against the bar. 'When we don't turn up for work on Monday and nobody can reach us they'll start to work out something is up obviously.'

'Obviously.' I sat myself down on the nearest stool, brushing away some fragments of glass. 'The director will simply make a decision to over-ride the protocol and begin to trace the events that lead to this.' I looked around, still the world passed by without the slightest interest, the barman now shouting at another member of staff, perhaps over the bottles. 'What matters to us is whether they'll be able to develop some kind of antidote.'

Erwin was harbouring something. 'If they even figure out what happened!'

I looked at him incredulous. 'The entire project team disappears after working for three years on a revolutionary invisibility serum without a word. It wouldn't take Einstein to work out what happened.'

'Don't talk about him.' McDonald declared. 'If it wasn't for him we wouldn't be in this fucking mess.'

Just then a woman sat squarely down on my lap. The others looked on not without amusement; I awkwardly shuffled from beneath her and she let out a little giggle and looked quickly behind her. Her expression then changed from amusement to confusion; then her boyfriend appeared and she walked away with him angrily discussing what had just happened; he glanced around then interrogated the barman to see if he had seen anybody near his girlfriend.

'Well it would appear we still have some limited contact with others not infected,' Trevor said emotionless.

'I don't see that kind of thing particularly satisfying my needs,' I lamented, though my sex life had been as invisible as we were at that moment for some time now.

We all went out together into the night to be away from the crowded unusually uninterested atmosphere of the bar. It had grown dark and our invisibility appeared less strange as the usual blanket of secrecy that night brings on had now descended. We talked for hours, a scientific debate clear and passionate about the probables of our terrible dilemma. This was interspersed with the human concerns, all the more burningly real, whether any kind of life was possible for us if we were never to go back to our previous reality. All drunk and desperate, except Trevor, it became at least clear that we were going to have to wait some time before the rest of the world caught up with what had happened to us. Until then we would have to do something with ourselves; I was not a fan of super-hero movies but that night, overlooking the lights of the city sitting at the feet of a statue of some philanthropist, I told them all we should take advantage of the fact nobody knew where we had gone; that we could actually make a difference in some as yet unforeseen way. The best method would be simply to split up and go our separate ways and then meet up again in a week or so. It would still be probable that our whereabouts and the reason for our vanishing would be a mystery unsolved and we would have had time to discover the significance of our predicaments. It was going to take some real spiritual work to get to grips with everything and just maybe through solitary experiment, like during work in conventional science, we could discover something of value then pool our knowledge. All, even Trevor, were loathe to face completely alienated society alone but decided it was perhaps a wise proposition. We would meet again at the statue in a weeks time.

The week passed and we congregated again by the statue as we had said we would. About the same time as we had walked away from each other we again appeared, ghosts, from the night, and sat after briefly greeting one another, the street light creating a theatrical effect as if the curtain had just gone up on a performance that would mainly consist of monologues. Indeed, that is how each story was delivered, each of us rather humbled after our week of isolation, willing to listen, not really interested in questions.

Ian McDonald, the most experienced and decorated scientist in our group, began;

'I have achieved little of real substance and I am afraid can claim little impact on the real world. Afterall, what can one do but negate? I can remove money from bank vaults perhaps, what good would this do anyone? I could rush around removing the nuclear detonators from nuclear weapons but that would be a full time job and they'd soon fix them, the sods. I could linger within the proximity of world leaders and try to influence their decision making, yet how many of them really have that much influence over the total process of government? If I could infiltrate criminal organizations I might be able to stop a murder or two but mostly those kinds of people just do in their own kind. Terrorists are just too slippery, and they all speak in a foreign tongue. Our powers are too weak to gain the attentions of the masses, perhaps if they sensed an invisible force at work in the world people might start some kind of new religion aimed at doing real good yet that is just beyond our reach. I realized that doing intentional good is just beyond my scope and energies; without the contact of the real world I just lose motivation. Perhaps I am just weak. So, what did I do? I am married as you know and we have only had the baby now for about a year. Things haven't been going brilliantly but we are getting by; after a day or so she was really getting worried. I listened to her talk to friends on the phone and my family. Then there was the police; she has no idea about the work I do so obviously she isn't going to start making connections about what really has happened. I couldn't believe how close I felt to her and how concerned; I stood and watched the baby like I never have before, just been too busy you see. After a while I realized what I had been missing, sorry I sound so cliched; the way she would talk to our little boy with such affection about me opened up something that has been closed for some time. I feel if only I could go back to her things might be as good as they were at the start of the relationship. Other than that, I realized it was no good living beside them all the time, I am sure it would affect them for the worse. I found an unoccupied apartment and stole some oddments of furniture, I watched all the latest movies at the multiplex, have you tried driving like this?'

Donald Erwin became animated. 'Yes, I got my hands on a Porsche, just drove it down the motorway the around the countryside where I grew up in Wales. It doesn't matter how you drive, you kind of collapse into other cars unharmed then the vehicle emerges entirely undamaged in the parallel world. It is literally a part of you, once you sit down in it the atomic structure becomes loyal to yours; everything outside the object is unaffected, the chain reaction seems to sense boundaries. I went to my parents, I haven't seem them in ages. They eventually got the news and were distraught, we still have quite a bond. They were in touch with my brother and they were talking to one another about when I was a kid. Like Ian said, there is a freshness, one feels a heightened attachment despite being completely dislocated. Then there is nature; I'd walk in the fields around and it was as vivid as childhood; something crushing seems to have been lifted from my perceptions though, of course I've been pretty damn worried. My girlfriend seems to think I've run off with another woman; there was this old friend I played tennis with who is in America at the moment and she seems to think I'm with her.. I must say, I'm rather taken aback; I wonder whether she was really bothered about me at all or whether it was just the idea of me, the image her friends had of me and all that.'

John Trevor had been listening, nodding, taking notes, the true disinterested scientist amongst us. 'Well I have no real attachments besides my work; as Ian did I considered these crazy notions of changing the world. I've realized I am at least free now to wander about the worlds laboratories and research centres like I have always dreamed. I'm finding the lack of contact difficult, although you may not believe that, but like Donald said, there is a real heightening in powers of reception but also involvement with living systems themselves seems to be given greater potential. Then there is the non-living systems; I've spent long periods perusing the Internet. The changed atomic structure seems to affect the operations of the computer one is using, the thing speeds up and I'm surfing at incredible rates; the connection itself seems to come alive, I almost feel as if I'm somewhere under the Ocean in the under sea cables. I can't describe it. As I've pushed myself I've discovered I can review new scientific research papers at a fraction of the usual time and then search out implications on the net. I've done months of work in a week, I'm on the verge of seeing some really new possibilities. As far as our predicament is concerned, I hovered around our labs as you probably guessed I would and I feel sure they are getting closer to what happened. The rats have gone; it takes about a day or so it would seem for the full effect to take hold I've worked out; obviously we all got through the working day as normal on Friday before the transformation kicked in. They won't go near the serum yet because of protocol, they are looking over all the technical data. We may have bridged, or even, created another dimension gentleman. We are either isolated forever and they will have some notion perhaps of where we have gone or they will find a way for us to get back. I just don't know. You realize this past week I have been quite emotional; much more than ever before, much more than I thought possible. The looks on the faces of some of them at work, I didn't realize people could care so much. I just didn't realize.'

We were all surprised at the extent of Trevor's reaction; of course he was human too, he'd just suppressed it due to of the demands of real life. Part of him had died and this experience had somehow allowed a resurrection of sorts. It was my turn to speak.

'Like John I have benn rather isolated from human warmth in my life too. I've been visiting old girlfriends, some seem happy and settled, others settled but not happy, some seem to feel they are happy alone but talk to themselves in the mirror and write repetitive diaries. Believe me there haven't been that many, I just make it sound so. The police have contacted some; I was surprised to see Julia, my most recent ex, start to cry, get out old photos; all the things you just stop imagining when you are not with them any more. She spent ages talking with her mother, some of them do that don't they? I will say I understand women a little better now and realize I should have made more of an effort to actually live with one for Christ sakes rather than just play at it. Standing near her I felt I could feel her feeling; that heightened sense you have all talked of. I just don't remember being at all attentive before; I stared into her eyes just examining her features for ages. I used to cringe at that type of thing. What is happening to us? This is better than any therapy but we're trapped in hell. I gave up thinking about changing the world when I went to the red light district and followed some of the hookers about. It wasn't very wholesome I know but I saw so much loneliness. Some were junkies and I followed them in their searches for a hit and gradually, through following the dealers found the most hopeless junkies. As I suspected, I witnessed a death in a lonely room, it even had the train going by close outside like in the movies. If we come into this world kicking and screaming and at least most of us surrounded by human concern, many of us go out in an opposite fashion. I don't know what this means, I merely felt a sadness beyond expression and know there is no force interested in saving the world and there will never be super heroes'.

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Posted 02/21/08 - 8:40 PM:

little did they know that they could be superheroes to people, such as myself, as invisible to them as they were to the rest of their world. thanks for opening the window to their dimension. to be continued?

smiling facelib
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Avatar Nexus
Posted 02/22/08 - 6:17 AM:

no, that's it!
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