Heroes - Chapter 1: Childhood's End - Part 2: Strangers revealed

Part 2: The Stranger revealed

Stephen Forestall was never cold.

Motion, friction, warmth coursed through him constantly. The simplest transfer of force charged his cells with the fuel his altered physiology used to strengthen him. Gravity was just another force, one Stephen had learned to absorb and nullify around his body when he was a teenager. He appeared to float and fly, but flight was a misnomer. Stephen didn’t fly so much as avoid and focus the pull of gravity around him. The by-product of nullifying some degree of gravity's pull was excess thermal energy; transferring so much potential energy into kinetic power meant he was perpetually warm to the touch. The blustery fall winds in the French night sky didn’t faze him.

Hovering had been a power stunt he’d mastered after hours of uncontrolled flights and serious impacts with the ground. He’d been lucky that his muscles absorbed and converted most kinetic energy and kept him from experiencing too much physical pain after the crashes, but like everything else in life, mastery took practice and practice took a toll. Maintaining altitude required his concentration and his internal reserves were low.

Stephen waited for the elderly man to leave and he set back down in the graveyard. He hadn’t counted on encountering anyone so late in the evening, though honestly he didn’t know what time he had actually arrived in France from the States. The constant thermal bleed off of his powers tended to ruin any designer watches he wore and the rough transition from his point of origin meant he couldn’t take anything for granted. He wasn't sure where he was or in what version of France he'd found himself.

Flying back to America under his own power meant using the rotation of the planet to carry him and covering roughly four-thousand miles at eight hundred miles per hour meant a five hour flight and some amount of circumnavigation. The whole time Stephen would need to pay attention, be alert and careful not to draw attention. He suspected the alternative, flying commercially, might be easier but the chance his money or credit cards worked here was slim. He didn’t know quite what differences there were in this world from his own but he figured it wasn't exactly the same. He needed to watch the news. He needed to get a sense of this place before he made any more moves.

Staying charged was simple, but absorbing and expending large amounts of kinetic energy fatigued him so Stephen simply walked back to the abandoned crypt. The after effect of his bridging the gap was obvious. The stone crypt was blackened where he'd arrived. The grass and overgrowth burned and curled back and a strange symbol, not unlike a small crop circle, marked the gateway’s terminus. Magic had never been something he understood, but it had worked to send him away from his pursuers. He didn’t dare assume he’d escaped them for long though.

Drawing his wallet from his pants pocket, he rifled through the few available bills he’d brought with him. Had Grant been the 18th president of the United States? Was he still on the fifty? Did this world even have a similar monetary system? These were questions he needed answered, but for the time being he needed to leave the scene of his arrival as inconspicuously as possible.

Stephen did not know Paris on his world, let alone this one. The language sounded the same, not that it mattered, since he didn’t speak it. Where could he stay that didn’t require identification or currency? He had no passport or traveling visa. Just his Manhattan issued driver's license which no doubt pointed to an apartment in which he did not actually live.

He could feel the weight of his exhaustion pulling him down. The only answer was to leave the crowded streets, find a rural barn or other abandoned dwelling where he could grab a few hours respite. He knew that he was pushing himself hard, far harder than he had possibly pushed before but he had little choice.

Resolved, he closed his eyes momentarily and concentrated. The gravity began to lessen. His feet became lighter, he could feel himself rise slowly. Stephen normally ignored it, but a sickening feeling built in his gut. The cancellation of inertia felt like a child spinning too fast on a merry-go-round suddenly and dramatically pulled to a halt overwhelmed him.

A few more feet and he towered far above the Paris graves beyond reasonable observation. He opened his eyes as he came to a hover. A second later he felt his control drop, but he’d gained enough altitude. With a deep breath he let go of his concentration and allowed gravity full sway. Falling sharply he made no effort to lessen his impact, instead he fought to push himself harder, faster into the ground below.

The impact was sudden and strong. The crypt, its occupants and more than a few surrounding graves should have suffered considerable damage as Stephen barreled into the earth like a human projectile. Milliseconds after impact the stonework remained intact, the earth rested unfazed and Stephen stood unharmed, his body coursing with the energy of the impact.

He was an efficient sponge, very little kinetic energy escaped him, but the rush of pure adrenalin mixed with his mental exhaustion left him giddy and euphoric. He felt his muscles grow taught, his heart beat faster,  and he was stronger. Recharged with power, he knew he could make a quick egress.Effortlessly, he vaulted upward in a great leap. The impact had granted him inhuman strength.

The clouded sky shrouded him as he began a series of jumps that quickly delivered him to the rural outskirts of the city. Locating a worn down barn was simple enough though each leap drain much of the energy. Exhausted, and with too many miles yet to cover, it took only a few seconds for him to fade into unconsciousness. Seconds later torrential rain failed to stir him.

He awoke a few hours later. Dark, rain laden clouds obscured the mid-afternoon sun. Holes in the broken roof allowed great fountains of rain to slide and puddle in the ruined building. Rotted hay and the distinct smell of animal waste greeted Stephen as he awoke. The loose dirt floor of the previous night was now a carpet of mud and sludge. Rising to his feet he still could feel the aftereffects of the previous night. His arms were sore, his joints moved stiffly and his neck radiated sharp pain thanks to an uncomfortable sleeping position. Sure he could absorb raw force, but even a superhuman fought against a bad nights sleep.

Author's Note: Yet more of the Story - working in about 1,000 word counts. I’m writing more tonight but I want to break it up. I’m finding the original pacing and structure is a real drag so I’m writing a quick outline and will be changing the structure quite a bit. After this part there were a lot of logic problems. The character didn’t have reasons or realistic responses to some of the situations.. I’d kept far too much from versions written when I was a teenager. Revising is healthy. I want to find places for the information I wrote originally but it may not fit.

I’ve decided the story will be told in two parts - the present situation - where Stephen must figure out where he is, and eventually discover how he fits into this "normal world". The second part will be his history told through interludes. Super hero brawls, teen angst, the whole comic book feel of his world. I’m risking a lot trying to tie the two styles together. 

The current storyline is meant to be fantastic, but in a "real" way, the comic-book scenes need to be over-the-top and reflective of a world where super villains and spandex clad heroes fight for every reason under the sun.

I think the hardest aspect will be injecting the character elements necessary to show Stephen’s journey, his flight, his failure and possible redemption in both worlds in what is really meant to be a romance about a man who abandons his loved ones and eventually comes to realize what his actions precipitated. Stephen wants to recover his past but the world he finds himself in is not his own and he cannot quite adapt to it until his past catches up to him and begins to cause many of the same problems here.

Jennifer (who has not been introduced at this point in the tale) is the key to everything and since the Jennifer in this tale is not the one from Stephen’s original life she brings the normalcy and grounding into his story of love and loss. I think she will be the hardest character to write. She will be seen a lot in the secondary story arc but the two women are different aspects of one character - I have to discover how this will change Stephen and drive him to the conclusion of the tale.

Originally I conceived this story in many parts. Stephen was meant to be a focus of reality, I thought of using him as a central element in all my fictional tales. His flight and his failures tie all the realities I’ve written together into a multi-verse. His actions were meant to touch all the genre and settings in some way. I’m not sure I can pull this off though - imagine it as a similar approach as Morcock’s Eternal Champion or King’s world of the Dark Tower. Though when I originally concocted of the idea I was ten and had not read either author.

Comments

  1. Boy does this read badly.. it needs some serious retooling...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Bad Shawn! "Show, don't Tell.." obviously hasn;t meant much to you has it?

    ReplyDelete

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