Brian Conway pulled his jacket closer to his body and picked up the pace of his easy measured steps. There was a cold edge to the wind that bit at his face as he hurried along the street, trying to reach his apartment before the weather turned really bad.
It had surprised him when he first looked up at the sky as he left the bar where he was supposed to be meeting Rick, his best friend since the age of seven. In his characteristic style Rick had stood him up....again, and he supposed he should have expected it except that he was really pissed off going into the bar in the first place. . .having just finished a conversation with his father that had turned into a fairly ugly argument. The topic was the same as it had been for the past month : Why wasnt he in college finishing his education?
In the three months since he had decided to take some time off from the tedious routine of F.I.Ts electronic engineering program, he couldnt even go near his parents without it coming up. And it wasnt like he was goofing off or partying non-stop. . .he was doing free lance work for some of the numerous electronics firms and companies in LA and was managing to pay for his own apartment and food and clothes without having to crawl to them for money all the time. . . besides, he was 21 and damn well old enough to make some decisions about his own life.
Oh fuck it!, he swore as he once again turned his attention to the street ahead of him and the remaining four blocks to his apartment. I dont have to justify my actions to them.
The night sky was now totally obscured by thick black clouds which seemed to seethe in anger as they swirled and coalesced over LA.
Perfect, Brian said to himself through clenched teeth. Parents on my ass, Rick wasting my time and now some kinda friggin freak storm to top it all off.
He looked up at the clouds again and noticed that there were fairly frequent flashes of bright blue lightning occurring within them...brightening the gloomy night sky with split second flares of incandescence. The air, he also noticed seemed to be thick with electrical energy, and he figured that the storm (if thats what it turned out to be) would be quite violent in terms of lightning activity. . .another reason to get the hell inside. Unfortunately, the bar was now too far behind him to turn back and there were no other places that he could see on this street to go for shelter. That is, none he was willing to risk. . .abandoned buildings were not high on his list of safe places (being black was no guarantee of protection against gangs these days).
Brian decided to increase his pace again to a brisk jog. He was very fit (a testament to his
martial arts interests) and was able to keep up an even pace as he jogged.
He hadnt gone very far when the rain began. . .along with some very disturbing flashes of forked lightning. Swearing, he again turned to look for someplace that he could shelter from the weather. . .he could now feel the occasional tingle from the lightning as it flashed sometimes too close for comfort . . .or so it seemed to him.
It was then that he spotted the old wooden shed across the street in the center of an old junkyard. At least thats what he assumed it was because there were old cars and tires and piles of scrap metal strewn all over the place. The shed looked fairly safe, structurally speaking, in the light thrown from the street lamps along that side of the street. Besides,
Brian wasnt about to get picky with lightning flashing every second (punctuated with resounding booms of thunder) and rain that was fast turning into a downpour.
He bolted for the other side of the street. . .not even bothering to look both ways (this was a fairly deserted part of town anyway and the weather wouldnt encourage heavy road use). He was on the other side in a few seconds and was grateful to find a large hole in the wire fence surrounding the yard. He just hoped that the easy access didnt mean that the shed was occupied.
Pushing thoughts of violent street gangs and junkyard dogs out of his head Brian sprinted for the shed, leaping over a pile of scrap metal and running until he was right up to the front of the shed. He stopped there for a while, partially because the roof of the building extended enough to give him shelter from the rain. . .but more because he was very apprehensive about who or what might be inside the crude shelter.
It was then that a particularly bright flash of lightning, quickly followed by a deafening roar of thunder caused him to quickly reconsider the wisdom of standing outside. He hesitated for a moment more before taking a deep breath and pushing on the door of the shed.
The door gave an audible creak that could be heard even through the pounding of the rain.
Brian jumped for a second before steadying himself and peering into the gloomy interior of the hut. Another bright flash of lightning suddenly illuminated the entire shed enough for him to see that there was no one there, and not much of anything else either.
Well, at least no ones home, he said out loud as he stepped through the door.
He left the door open so as to allow for as much light as possible. Then, feeling around for the chair he had glimpsed when the lightning had lit the inside of the shed before, he sat down to wait out the weather, hoping that it would only last an hour or two and then blow over. . .he hadnt heard a thing about it on the weather report so it had to be just a passing
At that instant. . .within the same second in fact, and thousands of feet above Brians temporary refuge, two bolts of lightning were hurled angrily down from the clouds above him. Their points of origin about a hundred feet apart and their individual electrical charges totally opposite to each other. This fact in itself wouldnt be considered very interesting by anyone who studied the nature of storms and the like, except that the twin bolts of immense energy were converging towards the same point and would arrive there within microseconds of each other.
The twin streams covered the few thousand feet between the cloud cover and the Earths surface in a minute fraction of a second, both ripping holes in the flimsy roof of Brians shed (the builder of the crude structure never being the least concerned about things like lightning rods or other such nonsense), the twin bolts of energy met each other with remarkable force, their collision hampered not at all by the frail human body between them. . .
Brian Conway had just gotten comfortable in the rickety wooden chair he had found in the shed, preparing to wait for a lull in the storm so he could get home. He had no clue at all about the twin streaks of death that were hurtling down toward the shed. He was momentarily stunned to see a brilliant incandescent flash, and to feel an incredible pressure that seemed to be occurring on both the left and right sides of his body simultaneously. This was followed immediately by the purest and most exquisite agony that Brian had ever felt in his life. . .a pain that seemed, impossibly, to be occurring all over his body inside and out.
The pain, however, ceased as quickly as it had begun. . .the main reason being that Brian no longer had any nerves to feel with. His flesh now utterly consumed by the immense energies in the shed, Brian slipped rapidly into oblivion. . .
The twin bolts of lightning had met violently, and their opposite charges had canceled, effectively nullifying each other. As any scientist or physicist who has studied the natural phenomenon of lightning could attest, the heat energy alone in a single bolt of forked lightning is regularly calculated at several times the temperature of the core of the sun.
People who were fortunate enough to survive lightning strikes were lucky only because they never took the full brunt of the blast, the remaining energy was usually absorbed into some nearby object or the earth itself.
The dual bolts of lightning which had struck Brian however, had lost practically none of their energy to external objects (the flimsy wooden roof of the shed providing no real shelter at all), and they had both struck him within microseconds of each other, the intense heat vaporizing his body and leaving no visible trace.
An intense electrical shockwave, created by the nullification of the opposing charges from the lightning bolts, now spread outward from their point of impact. The electrical field now expanded in a sphere which ripped apart the shed and continued outward and upward.
The field however, also extended downward. Its energy streaming into the pitted and scorched earth beneath what had been the shed, to pass over a thin lead canister buried ten feet underground.
The canister (which was about the size of a large thermos) had been buried there for almost 11 years. It contained a very unusual and mildly radioactive isotope which had been stolen from a US government research lab during the Cold War. The two KGB agents who had stolen it were on the run from C.I.A operatives and in desperation they had buried it there in hopes of later retrieval by other Soviet agents. The Russian agents however, were captured two days later and promptly committed suicide while in custody.
They never had a chance to contact their agency to inform them of the canisters location.
The American government likewise wasnt very concerned about actually retrieving the container, they had wanted the Russian agents far more. The chief reason being that their scientists had spent nearly a year trying to find some practical military application for the strange substance, but had come up with nothing. While the isotope did emit an unusual low level of radiation, it was totally unsuitable as a power source or as material for a bomb.
In fact, the year of testing had only continued because the substance itself had been extracted from what appeared to be the wreckage of an alien ship in the Rocky mountains.
Not much had been left of the ship (if thats what it had been), just a shell, charred and pitted by an intense explosion. The only other thing of worth retrieved seemed to be a few pieces of a strange blue rock found among the broken remains of some kind of container.
The hull (or what was left of it) was taken for testing to a military aviation research center.
While the fragments of mildly radioactive rock were taken to a secret research lab for study and testing. A little less than a year later, two KGB sleeper agents posing as scientists had stolen the glowing, blue rocks. This had prompted a covert C.I.A manhunt (more out of a sense of embarrassment than from any real urge to recover the stones).
The circumstances which had brought the unique substance to this place however, were now moot. As the intense electrical field passed over the thin lead canister, the stones inside immediately started to glow brightly. Their normally soft light now amplified a thousand times as the rocks themselves now became pure energy. This blazing energy now ripped the canister to thin lead shreds as it blasted towards the surface, attracted to the one thing it was meant to respond to in its present form. . .sentient organic material.
In the center of the electrical field, the vaporous molecules that were once Brian Conways body were effectively trapped within its expanding sphere. Unable to escape, they were the first organic material with enough of their own energy to attract the alien isotope in its new form. As it burst from the earth, the alien substance did two things. . .
First, it summoned all of the collective electrical force within a sixty foot circumference of its position. It completely absorbed the expanding field created by the lightning, causing the field to seemingly collapse in on itself, as well as the power from several old car batteries which happened to be in the way.
Secondly, it attached itself to the vaporous remains of Brians body. . .immediately beginning to reconstruct his D.N.A, creating a template for it to build on.
As all the surrounding electrical energy was absorbed, the alien substance began to use it to reconstruct Brians body. . .transmuting energy into matter where none was available to build with. Soon a human form became visible within the maelstrom of energy that was swirling around in the center of the old junkyard. The form became more and more substantial, taking the shape of a tall, black man whose nude body was suspended three feet in the air. The body was muscular with an even tone and good definition, but wouldnt be considered large enough to attract undue attention.
Soon, Brian Conways body was fully restored, although he remained totally unconscious and unaware of everything that was happening to him. The swirling mass of energy which had supported his limp form while literally remaking him, now deposited him on the ground. The energy now gathered itself into a tight incandescent sphere under the influence of the alien substance and began to pour itself into his inert body. . .
The sphere grew less and less bright as the transfer of energy neared completion, but stopped just as it was about to fade away completely as if waiting for something. . .
The something turned out to be another flash of lightning, lancing from the angry clouds above. Attracted to the charge of the alien material, it too was absorbed and its energy shunted to Brians comatose body.
This final process complete, the now tiny sphere ceased its glowing and dissipated. The remains of the strange alien isotope falling to the ground as a light dust which was quickly washed away in the rain. . .
An hour had passed, and the rain had stopped along with the lightning and thunder, leaving the old junkyard in peaceful silence. The ominous clouds overhead had started to disperse,
once again revealing the night sky and the countless twinkling stars nestled in the firmament.
Brian Conway began to stir, moving slowly back to consciousness. The first thing he realized was that he was lying on the ground outside and that it was wet. He lay there for a minute on his back trying to figure how he had gotten there. The only thing coming to mind was a picture of him, inside an old shed, waiting for a storm to pass and then seeing a flash of light. After that, there was nothing.
Finally sitting up, he looked around. Seeing the old cars and scrap metal he began to remember a bit more. . .he had taken refuge in the old shed in this junkyard from a storm.
OK, that part fit, but where in hell was the shed? And why was he on the ground outside when he should have still been in it?
Looking down at himself now, Brian was startled to find that he was as naked as he had been on his first birthday. Running his hands over himself to confirm what his eyes were telling him, he quickly rose from the ground and began to look for his clothes. Turning a full 360 degrees he realized that they were nowhere in sight. He did however, notice several pieces of wood strewn randomly about him. Charred and blackened, they seemed to be pieces of the shed.
His sharp mind working more rapidly as his head cleared, Brian began to put several things together. He finally came to the only logical conclusion that he could reach: The shed had been struck by lightning. He was positive of that much, and it would explain the pieces of burnt wood lying around. He was also pretty sure that he had been caught in the middle of it and that his clothes had been burnt as a result. Brian also now noticed the scorched and pitted earth around him too. That convinced him that his theory was right, sort of.
There was a major hole in it though, and he knew it. If his clothes had been burned completely away, why wasnt he burned too? There should at least have been some blistering somewhere on his body. Actually, there should have been a lot more than first degree burns. He should have been toast.
Another minute passed as Brian stood in the dimly lit junkyard trying to explain his situation more fully. When no other alternatives presented themselves, he turned his attention to getting back to his apartment in relative obscurity. He now turned to look out at the street next to him, and was relieved to find it still deserted.
Thinking quickly, Brian began to search the inside of the cars in the junkyard. He got lucky about four cars later when he found an old towel in the back seat of an abandoned, rusty old Volvo. The towel had several small holes in it, and it was a bit fragrant, as well as being wet from the rain, but it was big enough to get comfortably around his waist and cover his nudity(even if it was a bit short).
Securing the old towel, which reached just a couple inches above his knees, Brian began to walk briskly towards home. He used back alleys and lesser traveled streets, even though he knew this was a dangerous thing to do, until he had traversed the remaining few blocks to his apartment building which was in a relatively peaceful, if not glamorous neighborhood in east L.A.. . .
The journey had not been without embarrassment however. After all, it was impossible to walk through L.A. at 9:30 in the evening and not meet people. Brian winced as he remembered a particularly persistent homosexual man who had actually followed him for a while convinced that he was a male prostitute. Brian actually had to threaten him to get him to back down. . .his muscled physique and cold stare finally getting the message across.
Standing in front of his apartment building, he realized that the embarrassment wasnt quite over yet. Mainly because he had no keys to get into his apartment. Shaking his head Brian walked up the front steps. He glanced over his shoulder. . .just to see if anyone was watching him. He was just in time to see a fairly attractive woman of about 30 or so firmly covering her little girls eyes as they passed by. Brian noted with a wry amusement that while she didnt want her daughter to see him in his almost nude state, she stared at him till she was a good distance away.
Smiling to himself and shaking his head, Brian turned back to the front door of his apartment building. He knew he could get inside the building easily enough. The door had a modern security system with a keypad to punch in the combination and allow entry. He punched it in and stepped inside firmly closing the door behind him.
The building wasnt very large as apartment buildings go. . .only three floors with three apartments on each floor. Actually it had been reconstructed to serve as an apartment complex, having originally been a large house owned by a rich family. The building had been sold to pay off certain debts however, and was consequently remodeled to serve its present purpose.
Brian began to run lightly up the stairs to the top floor. This was where the building superintendent lived and she was the only person with a spare key to his apartment. He was a bit surprised to find that he wasnt even slightly winded when reached the top. He knew he was fit but running up stairs does cause some exertion, no matter how fit you were. It was strange but he actually felt even more energized at the end of his sprint up the stairs. . .as if he could do it three or four more times.
Dismissing it as just adrenaline. . .he knocked on the superintendents apartment door. After a few seconds the door opened and an exceptionally beautiful young woman stood in the doorway.
Hi Jo, he said casually. Im gonna need to borrow the spare key to my apartment Ok?92'
Josephine Senryo(Jo to her friends) raised an eyebrow and was speechless for a moment as her deep brown eyes took in Brians well built body, covered only by the short and tattered towel around his waist. Jo was both the superintendent and owner of the building. It was given to her by her parents as a way to support herself while she pursued a degree in chemical engineering at UCLA. At 20 years of age Jo was 5 ft 3 with a stunning figure. She had very full breasts, well shaped thighs and legs, and a butt that was so well rounded and firm that she always caused men to stop and stare when she walked by. Her face was equally pretty with slanted, almond shaped eyes(courtesy of her Japanese father, who was also a very successful businessman). Her mother was from L.A. and she had been a dancer before meeting Jos father. It was her mother who Jo had to thank for her amazing looks.
What in the hell do you think youre doing? Jo practically screamed the question in her rich, smooth voice. If you think that showing up at my door like that will turn me on. . .
She grabbed his arm and pulled him inside quickly. . . Well then you may just get lucky.
Brian and Jo had slept together a few times during the two months he had been renting the apartment. They had understood each other very well since the first time they met and both had found that they like each others company. Brian found himself able to talk to her about the pressure he was under from his parents. And she in turn had found that he was a good listener when she needed to vent about problems at college or the hassles of running the building. Neither one of them really wanted a serious relationship. . Brian needed a LOT of space sometimes and Jo was juggling classes and managing the building. So they both just remained good friends who would occasionally share a bed.
Brian took a minute to stare at Jo who was wearing a short robe that didnt do much to hide the full figure beneath. Then he got ahold of himself and said: Im sorry. Im really in trouble here. I lost my keys.
So you figured youd just come up here in that meager excuse for towel and borrow the spare key huh?
Theres some other stuff I didnt mention too, he said in an offhand manner.
Well I kind of figured that, what happened? Jo had a slightly worried look on her face.
Brian was about to just blurt out: I think I got hit by lightning, but for some reason he hesitated and instead said: I got mugged.
You WHAT? Jos eyes were very wide. How?. . .Where?. . .
Look, its nothing to worry about. . .they just took all my clothes so I couldnt follow them or run for help. Right now I just need to get inside my apartment, get some sleep and forget this whole thing. He really hated lying to Jo. She had been a good friend to him for the past two months. Providing some much needed sanity when the world seemed to be insane. . .Sometimes Rick just didnt understand him, and even though they were best friends of 14 years they were very different.
Hold on, Brian. This doesnt seem right. And it definitely doesnt seem like you. How many of them were there?
It was two guys and they jumped me from behind. One of them stuck a gun in my back and there wasnt anything I could do. He was feeling almost nauseous now, but it was way too late to change his story.
Wait a minute, Ive walked into rooms where youve had your back turned and I thought I wasnt making a sound. . .and youve always known I was there. Youve got instincts like an animal. Even your bum friend Rick says you freak him out with that sometimes. If there was one thing you could say about Jo, it was that she had a remarkably quick mind. Brian knew he had to head this off quickly.
I had some stuff on my mind and I wasnt paying attention. Can we please just let this go?
Hey, Im sorry, Jo said, her eyes softening. Look, are you planning on telling the cops?
No! I mean. . . I just wanna forget the whole thing alright?
If thats really what you want, Bri, she said as she walked over to her desk to get the spare key to his apartment. Handing him the key, she advised that he get a copy made and to return it to her as soon as possible.
As he turned to leave Brian turned to her and said: Thanks. Im sorry I seemed so evasive but the whole thing just kinda got to me. I guess Im not handling it as great as I figured I was.
Its not your fault. Well talk later ok? Unless you want some company now? Jo had never seen Brian looking so uncomfortable as he did now and she was worried that he might be taking his experience a lot more deeply than he let on.
No. I just need some space, thats all. See you tomorrow. He walked out the door and closed it behind him.
Brian ran lightly down the stairs to the first floor where his apartment was. He opened the door and stepped inside immediately dropping the tattered towel to the floor and heading into the bathroom. He stepped into the shower, turned the water on full blast and soaked it up for 15 minutes before getting out.
As he toweled himself dry, Brian hit the replay on his voicemail system to check for messages. He heard his fathers voice immediately. He was shouting (sometimes it seemed that shouting was all he did): Brian, we are going to talk about this, do you hear me? I am not going to have you throw your life away. . . Brian hit the off button.
But its my life! Dont you fucking get it yet? Brian screamed at the empty room. He broke off just then though, because his attention was now focused solely on his hands. They were glowing an incandescent blue! And small tendrils of what seemed like electrical energy were encircling his clenched fists.
Oh my God! he whispered.
Brian stood naked in the middle of his living room, his towel having fallen to the floor during the outburst brought on by his fathers message. He hardly noticed anyway because he couldnt take his eyes off his hands. Their glow bathed the room in a flickering blue that seemed to writhe and seethe as tiny ribbons of electricity snaked their way along his fists.
This is impossible, he said, sinking to his knees. His hands however, continued to glow.
Opening his hands, Brian brought them close to his face so that he could examine them. The tiny rivulets of electricity continued their seemingly random courses along his palms and the backs of his hands. His eyes seemed unaffected by the bright light and he watched mesmerized for several long moments as those thin ribbons continued on their way, heedless of his anxious stare.
FOR GODS SAKE STOP IT! he screamed. And he shut his eyes as he pushed his hands out as far away from his body as he could.
When he opened his eyes two seconds later and looked at his hands, they were back to normal. There was no blue glow or tendrils of electricity, just two ordinary hands.
Breathing a long sigh of relief, Brian lay back on the floor gazing up at the ceiling. He laughed at himself for a moment. There was, of course, a perfectly rational explanation for what he saw. . .there had to be. In fact, he told himself, it had to be one of two things.
The first was that he had some kind of temporary delusion. Maybe he was so angry at his father that he just lost it for a moment. God knew it was possible. He had been at war with his father for months now. Maybe it just all got to him. Maybe. . .
The second possibility was the one he more inclined to accept although it seemed more than a little implausible. Maybe it was some sort of residual reaction from the lightning strike in the junkyard. Just a one time discharge of built-up static electricity or something. Who knew? And even though his mind screamed happily at him that it wasnt any of these things, Brian told himself that it had to be simply because no other possibilities fit.
Finally, he shook his head and sprang lightly to his feet. He retrieved his towel and went into his bedroom to get some clothes. He quickly pulled on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt before emerging and flipping the ON button on the t.v. remote.
Brian then went to the refrigerator and grabbed a can of kola and a half-eaten ham sandwich before settling on the couch to catch the end of the ten oclock news update.
He was just in time to catch the anchor woman as she read about the freak lightning storm over L.A. She said that sources in the meteorology department had blamed the storm on unusual atmospheric conditions that, while uncommon, do sometimes occur without warning. She ended by saying that the good news was that no one was hurt.
No one you know anyway, Brian said wryly to himself. He switched the television off and finished his sandwich. Finding that he was suddenly ravenous.
He sat on the couch for several minutes going over the night in his head. He smiled when he remembered his hands glowing the way they had before, and he admitted to himself for a moment that it might be interesting if the effect wasnt just a one time thing and that he could make it happen just by extending his hand and thinking hard about it.
Id be a hit at parties, he said out loud. And then as if to reassure himself, he extended his right arm with his hand open and palm facing upwards and concentrated.
He almost jumped out of his skin when his efforts were rewarded with a flash of blue light and those same ribbons of electrical energy tracing random patterns along his hand. Brians eyes were wide open in amazement now rather than fear. And he could swear he felt a strange tingle now as well, one that went all over his body but seemed to be concentrated in his head somehow.
Ok, he said, The first thing to do is not to freak out. His hand continued to glow brightly.
The next thing, he thought, is to find out for sure if this is some kind of random reaction or if IM the one making it happen.
He extended his left hand, palm-up, and focused on making it glow with electrical energy just as his other hand was doing. He was shocked to find that it immediately burst into incandescence, mirroring his right hand. Brian willed the energy to dissipate and in an instant it was gone and his hands looked perfectly ordinary.
Sitting back, Brian cautiously pressed his hands to the side of his head and closed his eyes, trying to get his thoughts together. He reasoned that this strange condition had been brought on by the lightning strike in the junkyard. . .it was the only rational conclusion of course, since it had never happened before. The thing that nagged at him was the fact that he had never heard of people being struck by lightning and coming away with this type of condition. There had to be another factor involved somehow. . .but what was it? Was it something in the junkyard or was there something different about him? Was the energy just a harmless light display or was it actually dangerous? And if it was dangerous, exactly how much damage could he cause, and how much control did he actually have over it?
Suddenly, there were more questions than he could handle, and Brian only knew one place where he had a chance of finding the answers. . .the place where it had all begun.
Brian literally leaped from the couch. He put on sneakers and pulled a jacket over his T-shirt. He stepped outside his apartment and as soon as he locked the door, he ran down the stairs two at a time until he reached the front door of the building. He punched in the security code, opened the door and stepped into the cool night air.
He no longer had his watch but Brian estimated that it was about 10:30pm. Taking a deep breath he started off in the direction of the old junkyard.
It took him about 20 minutes to get there. He didnt hurry, he was somehow sure that no one else would be there. It turned out that he was right. The whole street was deserted. This wasnt surprising considering that it was made up almost wholly of abandoned buildings. Definitely not the safest part of town, but Brian was beyond caution at that point.
He slipped through the same hole in the fence he had used earlier during the storm and walked in the direction of the shed. Reaching the spot where it had been, Brian began to look around for some evidence that might give a clue as to what had really happened to him during his refuge in the old shed.
All he found were more pieces of burned wood, former parts of the shed. He found no sign of his clothes or much of anything else. The whole area was scorched and bare, leaving no trace of anything that might explain what had happened.
Frustration welled up inside Brian. Frustration that quickly became anger as he clenched his fists and turned his face skyward, his teeth clenched tightly together. In the dim light, he had completely missed the small hole near the center of the clearing. The hole could easily have been made by the lightning, except that if examined, it showed all signs of having been made from the inside out. The earth around it was pushed up to form a cone not unlike that of a volcano.
Brian had given up on finding anything. His insides knotted in disgust at the cruel joke fate seemed to have played on him. He had no way of knowing if his condition was permanent or even if it was dangerous to him or others. Standing there, in the dim light of the junkyard Brian had clenched his fists so tightly that his nails now bit deeply into his palms.
He glanced down a moment later to see his fists glowing again. Pure rage now twisted his insides, and it seemed as if the energy could almost sense his mood because the tendrils of electricity that had been circling his fists now flared outwards, forming a spiny sphere around each fist.
Brian again felt the strange tingle all over his body. He looked up and his eyes fixed on an abandoned Mustang 30 feet away. Raising his arms, he pointed his hands at the rusting, old car. Twin bolts of electrical energy as thick as his fists, leaped from his hands and hurtled toward the Mustang.
There was a sharp crack and an audible sizzling sound as the bolts flew through the air. They hit the side of the car, smashing both the front and rear doors, ripping the rusted metal to thin shreds before continuing through the cars interior. The sheer heat ignited the
tattered upholstery on the seats, even though it was still quite wet from the rain earlier. The bolts ripped through the doors on the other side of the car, shredding them as well before their energy dissipated.
The impact of the double bolts had actually pushed the car several feet to the side and it teetered a bit before coming to rest, its interior ablaze. Fortunately, its fuel tanks were empty so there was no real danger of explosion (not that cars ever really exploded anyway, movies and t.v. made them seem like they were made of nitro glycerin).
Staring at what he had done, Brian tried without much success to fight down the feeling of sheer invincibility that had come over him. He concentrated and immediately, the energy which permeated his hands began to rapidly spread over his body. In a second, his entire frame glowed with the bright blue light. And restless ribbons of electrical energy traversed the length of his body. Had he been able to see his face, he would have been shocked to see that even his eyes pulsed with the same power, giving him the appearance of a vengeful God of lightning.
Turning sharply to his right, Brian extended his left arm. A large bolt of electrical energy (slightly bigger than the first two put together) shot from his fist to smash full force into a rusty, old pickup. The force was so great that the vehicle rolled three times before landing upside down. The side that had taken the brunt of the blast was folded and mangled as if it
had been repeatedly attacked by a large sledge hammer, and the metal had melted in several places.
Anger mingled with the giddy sensation of power inside of Brian and he spun and promptly repeated the action on an old Chevy, smiling in grim satisfaction as it crumpled and melted beneath the incredible power being produced by his body. The energy in his body seemed to be singing out to him. . .encouraging him to use it. And for the next 5 minutes Brian did exactly that. He gave himself over to pure power, mangling several more abandoned cars and a large stack of old tires which ignited and filled the air in the junkyard with the acrid smell of burning rubber.
Brians display of power in the old junkyard went largely unnoticed. The yards location was surrounded by abandoned buildings and lots. The only person that really saw anything was an old drunk who was attracted by the loud noises and bright lights caused by Brians tirade. When he got close enough to the yard, he saw a car literally torn in half by a bolt of energy coming from what looked to him to be a demon made of blue light. At that point, the drunk turned and fled in the opposite direction in a desperate search for another bottle of gin.
After Brian had destroyed most of the cars that were conveniently close by, the rage in him began to dwindle. He stood there for a minute, his body completely enclosed in the brilliant aura of his power. Then, ignoring the urge to continue to use this new ability, Brian willed the energy to go away. In an instant it was gone, and Brian again appeared to be a normal man even though he was now painfully aware that he was anything but normal.
He was suddenly aware of two things. The first was that he had decimated almost everything in the junkyard, and he was shocked to realize just how much damage he had caused.
The second thing was that he was now totally exhausted. His entire body felt as if he had been running a marathon. In his exhausted state, he fell heavily to the ground, his vision now slightly blurred as well. He lay back and hoped the fatigue would pass.
But maybe it wont, he said to himself. Maybe what I did just now drained me to the point where I cant recover. And maybe its better this way because I dont know what kind of monster Im turning into. . .
Suddenly, Brian could no longer stay awake. Sleep washed over him like a gentle yet insistent wave. Most of the fires had died down by this time(there hadnt been very much for them to burn anyway). And so Brian Conway slept with his face turned toward the clear night sky, and dreamed.
For two hours Brian lay dead to the world in the old junkyard. The intense fatigue that had washed over him after he had used his power had forced him into unconsciousness.
The time spent sleeping had restored his energy and revitalized his body. And while he slept, he had dreamed strange and frightening dreams. He had seen himself as a fierce and unforgiving God of lightning, casually obliterating people who had displeased him Taking whatever he wanted. He was merciless and cold and he loved no one. In the end he had destroyed everyone who ever meant anything to him. . .He had killed his parents, Rick, Jo and even Robert. And he had laughed while doing it, a cold cackle of insanity devoid of emotion or even amusement. . .It was then that he woke up, screaming NO! at the top of his voice till he was nearly hoarse.
When he had finally calmed down enough to realize that he had been dreaming, Brian rubbed his sleep-filled eyes and looked around him. The junkyard was a shambles. It was littered with the smashed and melted bodies of the cars on which he had unleashed his new-found abilities.
Turning a full 360 degrees, his eyes widened in amazement as he realized the amount of power he must have unleashed to be able to do so much raw damage. He stepped over to a mangled Ford pickup to examine the damage more closely. The body of the pickup was crumpled as if a wrecking ball had smashed it from the side. The door on the right side was completely melted, blobs of gray steel which had been liquefied, now littered the ground around it. Brian bent to retrieve one and found it cool to the touch. It had hardened rapidly in the night air.
This is impossible! Brian said to himself for the second time that night. Or maybe for the first time this morning. God knows how long Ive been out, he thought.
Sighing, Brian stood up and tried to figure out what to do next. He suddenly wondered if maybe he had drained all the energy he had. If so, he might be back to normal again, and he could forget this whole mess. Concentrating, he willed his hands to become energized.
Immediately, the blue glow of electrical energy suffused them and the tiny ribbons of electricity traced their way along his palms and the backs of his hands.
SHIT! Why couldnt you just be gone he said aloud. His hands continued to glow, almost mocking him in their indifference to his emotional state. He willed the energy away and then began the trek back to his apartment.
Strangely, he felt as if he could run all the way there and back. Even with all he had gone through and the draining of his energy, and only a couple hours of sleep, Brian felt more alive physically than ever before.
He had just slipped through the hole in the junkyard fence when he heard what sounded like a muffled scream that suddenly cut off before it could get out properly. Turning his head in the direction that it had come from, Brian saw an alley between two old buildings on the other side of the street from him. It was probably nothing, he knew, and if it was something, it was probably the kind of thing any sensible person in this part of town would run away from.
Brian was seriously considering just walking away, but the thought of someone in trouble gnawed at him. Telling himself that he was the biggest asshole in L.A. he ran across the street and silently approached the alley from its right side. The pale glow from a street lamp filtered out onto the sidewalk from inside the alley. Brian stopped at the very edge of the entrance as he heard quiet voices coming from within.
Slowly, Brian stuck his head out and looked around the corner into the alley. Three men had surrounded a young woman and had backed her against the grimy wall of the building on the right side of the narrow alleyway. The woman was quite attractive. She had shoulder length brown hair and a very pretty face. Brian could also see that she had what looked to be a pair of great legs which were only partially hidden by the short coat and skirt she wore. The look on her face was one of stark terror as she realized that she was in a very dangerous situation.
Brian now turned his attention to the three men. His eyes were drawn to the largest of the three. He was about 68 and 320 pounds, Caucasian, and Brian judged that most of his bulk was muscle. The arms that stuck out of his shirt were like mini tree trunks and he flexed his biceps every now and then as if to reassure himself that he was really as buffed as he looked. If they fought, the only advantage Brian could see himself having was one of intelligence and possibly speed(although the latter wasnt a surety).
The second guy had a Latino look about him, and a slim and wiry build. He was about 57. Brian figured that if he could at least take him out quickly, hed only have the other two to deal with.
Switching his attention to the third man, Brian immediately judged him to be the leader of the group. Their was a cruel intelligence in his eyes, a malevolence that wasnt on the face of the other two. He was fairly nondescript looking. About 61 (Brians own height) and white. His face was very ordinary, almost as if someone had sculpted it to look common place. He was casually searching the womans handbag, and Brian could see that he had had already taken all the money from her purse because it lay open and empty at his feet.
Look, just take the money and anything you find in the bag and go. . .please, the womans voice was a bit shaky but Brian could tell that she was trying to be strong.
Oh, but the cash is just an extra ya know? A way ta keep score. Youre the prize here. And the guys and me are lookin to collect. It was the leader of the group. Brian was surprised to note that his voice was slightly high pitched, almost feminine. The other two members of the little gang however, were quick to nod their approval and smile. He was clearly in charge.
See, the other bitches we partied with werent very cooperative. So we had to ah persuade em to play. Now if theyd a behaved, we coulda made it nice and painless at the end. So, are you gonna be a very good girl? Something clicked in Brians head and he suddenly knew who these guys were. There had been three brutal murder-rapes near this part of town over the past three weeks. The papers and t.v. news had said that the victims were badly beaten and shot through the head. Also there was never any seminal fluid found on the victim or any other biological evidence that might identify the killer. Everyone had assumed it was a serial killer or something close. Brian now knew that particular assumption to be wrong. The killers were right here in front of him.
As he watched for a moment longer and thought about the best way to help the girl, he saw the Latino pull a pair of handcuffs from his back pocket. Looking closely at them(and a bit surprised that he could see so well from this distance) Brian saw that they had what appeared to be a soft foam padding around each cuff. So THATS how the fuckers stop themselves from getting scratched. And those cuffs dont leave any marks. Brian felt his anger rising. He now noticed a small bottle and handkerchief on the ground lying just outside the circle of the group. Brian knew almost without a doubt that the bottle contained alcohol or something close to it. They have their fun and then just clean up after themselves. Brian had never felt so sickened in his life.
The rest of the gangs procedure was easy to figure out. They made the victim strip. Then they cuffed her and raped her(using condoms of course). When they were finished having fun, they just killed her and then cleaned the body with alcohol. It would evaporate and not leave much trace of anything for the forensics department to work with. Any cotton fiber found on the body would be assumed to have come from the victims clothes.
Brian felt a knot of cold fear twisting his innards as he realized that he was dealing with a bunch of ruthless and calculating savages. He forced himself to accept that taking them on would likely end up getting himself or the girl killed or both.
He was a good fighter and he wasnt squeamish about doing serious damage to an opponent when the situation called for it. He had studied aikido and jujitsu under a venerable and respected master for two years. During that time he had learned a lot about himself, along with strict discipline and self worth. Had he continued as a student, he would probably be just good enough to take these three on and come out on top. But he hadnt continued. College had forced him to give it up along with pressure from his parents. Now he had to find another way to deal with this situation.
The first thing to come to mind of course, was to use his new abilities to drive them off. The major problem with that was that he didnt have a high degree of control over them(added to the fact that the very thought of having to use them made him a bit sick), and also if he sent lightning blasting down the alley, one of the blasts would probably end up killing the girl. There had to be a way to do it, but what?
Suddenly, he had an idea. If he had to use these abilities to deal with these guys, then he had to get the girl out of harms way. There was an old dumpster right next to the group(Brian had missed seeing it earlier). If he could get the girl behind it, then maybe hed be able to use his power from up close to deal with the scum that were threatening her(hopefully, he could keep it down to a level where it wouldnt demolish the surrounding buildings).
Drawing a deep breath and mouthing a silent prayer, Brian rounded the corner and strolled boldly into the alley.
Well hell, looks like you boys were plannin on gettin some tonight! Brian shouted as he approached the group. He forced himself to relax and to keep his voice steady and loud. Mind if I get a piece o this bitch too? Brian was only a few feet from the killers now. He absently noted that the young womans eyes were fixed on him, and that she was shaking slightly.
Who the fuck are you?! It was the Latino. He was standing to the right of the girl and his back was to the dumpster. The big one was standing on her left side (the side that Brian was approaching from), and the leader was in the middle facing their frightened captive.
The trio had all turned to face Brian as he made his loud entrance and Brian could see that their nondescript leader already had a hand inside his jacket. Brian moved to quickly head off any potential accidents by raising his empty hands to show that he was unarmed. He kept his relaxed demeanor as he walked into the center of the semi circle they had formed.
The group had moved back, leaving him basically trapped in the circle along with the girl. This was exactly what Brian had wanted. Now all he had to do was convince them that he was as crazy and sleazy as they were.
Now you boys dont mind sharin, do ya? This bitch can take it all and then some. He had turned to face the groups leader and was talking directly to him.
Stan, or Stan the man as he was known to his few friends relaxed his grip on his .45 Magnum and rubbed his chin thoughtfully. As Brian had surmised earlier, the groups leader was smart and ruthless. Mistaking Brian for a drugged out punk who had lost control, he began to form an idea. He began to see a way to throw the cops and the press off the groups weekly, midnight activities(at least for a while). They had always been totally meticulous about not leaving evidence at the scene of the crime and on the victims body. If this idiot wanted to do the girl so badly then Stan was totally prepared to let him have her. Tito and Bo would bitch about it for a while(at least until they found another bitch next week). It would be worth it though.
Stans plan was simple. He would let the punk do the girl. Then hed pound on the girl a little before blowing her brains out. Then hed put a bullet in the punks brain. He would make it look like suicide. . .wiping his prints off the gun, and putting it in the kids hands.
The cops would think the case had wrapped itself up. . .that the psycho had finally reached his limit and decided to take his own life after his last kill. The heat would let up from this part of town and the gang would have some added freedom to do a few more bitches. It was almost too good to be true.
Brian saw Stans hand slip back out of his jacket as the leader of the group took a step back. He motioned for the other two to do the same. The Latino backed almost right up to the side of the dumpster and the big guy shuffled a few steps back as well. Brian could hardly believe his good luck. They were actually making this easy on him. They had actually believed that he wanted a piece of their sick action.
Awright kid, why dont you show the rest of us how a real man handles a sweet bitch like that, Stan nodded in the direction of the girl as he spoke.
Just enjoy the show man. Brian turned and strolled casually up to the terrified young woman.
Brian roughly pushed her up against the wall. She started to cry out but he quickly clamped his hand over her mouth and moved his own body forward to press heavily against hers. The girl may have been afraid but she was strong willed and determined not to make it easy on the man trying to rape her. She quickly drove her knee up towards Brians crotch. He was expecting it though, so he twisted his body momentarily to get out of the way. Then he smoothly turned and wedged himself between her legs. Her skirt rode up far enough for the three men watching to see the tops of her stockings, held in place by a pair of lacy garters.
Brian used the distraction to quickly whisper into the struggling girls ear: Youve got one chance to live. Play along with me and work your way toward that dumpster on your right. He wasnt sure at first if she had heard him but then her struggling took on a subtle difference. She was resisting him, but not with any real conviction. Brian on the other hand, knew that he had to make it look as real as possible. He ripped open the front of her blouse with one hand and pulled her skirt up above her waist with the other. The girl gasped and began to blush as her white lace bra and matching bikini panties came into view. Brian then moved up against her again and began to roughly kiss her neck. Im sorry about this but its the only way. Remember, get behind the dumpster when we get close enough.
I trust you, she quickly lowered her head and whispered back.
Now that Brian knew that the girl would play along he began to slowly maneuver them to the right, closer and closer to the Latino. He was cupping her firm breasts and slowly inching them out of her bra as the girls struggles moved them toward the dumpster and the thin Latino. Even though he knew that what he was doing was solely meant to keep the girl safe, Brian found himself a little turned on. The young woman was definitely attractive and her well-proportioned body was getting to him just a little. He tried his best to push those thoughts out of his head though. He was dealing with life or death and he needed to concentrate on taking these slimy freaks down.
Paula Winters couldnt believe what she was doing. She was allowing a total stranger to touch her in ways that only a lover should. But she knew that she had to trust him, there werent any other options. Her main concern now, was what exactly it was that he planned to do against these three thugs. They were killers and he was unarmed as far as she could tell. She couldnt deny though that she felt herself actually responding to him. Paula could hardly believe it, here she was in a life-threatening ir faces. Brian noted with disgust that the big guy was touching himself through his pants. Ok, now for the hard part, Brian thought to himself.
They were just about two feet away from the Latino now, and Brian saw that there was indeed just enough space between the large dumpster and the wall for the girl to squeeze through and crouch down so that she would be covered.
Now! Brian shouted as he suddenly pushed the girl quickly past the surprised Tito. She quickly slipped through the space and took cover behind the heavy metal container. Brian was almost a blur as he stepped up to the surprised Tito and drove his elbow into his chest. The hard bone of Brians elbow smashed just under the thugs breast bone and pressed in, blasting the air from his lungs. The thin man clutched his chest as he tried to catch his breath and breathe normally. Brian didnt give him a chance. As the wiry man wheezed and tried to back away, Brian stepped in and smashed his palm into his face with enough force to crush his nose and send him staggering back. He fell with a dull thud, simultaneously holding his mangled nose and chest.
The other two thugs had just stood and stared as they saw their friend being floored. They hadnt expected anything like this. The leader stepped back immediately, his hand going for the .45 in his jacket. He was cut off however, by the surprisingly quick charge of his tree-like companion. Bo rushed Brian so fast that he barely had time to turn and face him before he found himself caught in a crushing grip and being lifted easily off the ground.
Brian knew he was in serious trouble here. The man was already applying a horrible amount of force to his ribs and he knew they would crack before long. Only his left arm was free. His right arm was pinned to his side and pressing harder and harder into his ribs. Reflexively, Brian smashed his fist into his attackers face with all the effect of a light kiss. Bos grip just tightened. The pain was almost unbearable and Brian knew he had made a serious error in not using his power earlier. He had no choice but to try it now, but he wasnt sure he could concentrate enough to summon it.
Telling himself that it was do or die, Brian forced himself to concentrate. His free left hand was resting on Bos face. Suddenly there was the now familiar blue glow as his power leaped to his defense. In his agonized state, Brian had placed no restraints on it, and so he was horrified when a blast of electrical energy hissed from his hand and literally blew his attackers head off. Chunks of charred flesh and bone flew in every direction as the bolt sizzled onward to tear a large section out of the wall on the opposite side of the alley.
Bos suddenly headless body collapsed to the ground, dropping Brian in the process. Brian struggled to his feet rubbing his ribs. He found that the pain didnt last very long and he quickly turned to face Stan, the groups leader.
Stan had stared open-mouthed as he witnessed the sudden and violent decapitation of his friend. But the leader of the trio was a survivor and he wasnt about to ask questions about the streak of energy that had seemed to originate from the punk he had planned to use as a scapegoat. He pulled his .45, snapped off the safety, and drew a bead on Brians chest.
Brian was just in time to see Stan take aim. His actions were now all reflex as he extended his arm and sent a sizzling ribbon of pure electrical energy hurtling toward the killer. The bolt blasted a fist-sized hole in Stans chest that pitched him over and sent him flying nearly twenty feet backwards to land in a smoldering heap in the street just outside the alley.
Adrenaline coursed its way through Brians body, mingling with the sense of invincibility that seemed to come over him when he used his power. His mind however, was strong enough to get it under control this time and he stood breathing heavily as his body relaxed and the blue glow faded from his fist.
Suddenly there was a sound behind him. He turned just in time to see the Latino slashing at him with a switchblade. The knife was slashing in toward his neck. Brians training had taught him that going limp and collapsing was the quickest way to avoid an unexpected attack to the head area. He did just that, dropping to a crouch as the knife whistled over his head. Quickly straightening, Brian threw a quick punch at his assailants face. Tito was a competent fighter though, and he responded by throwing his head back and bringing his knife arm up to slash at Brians wrist. The wickedly sharp blade opened a gash on Brians forearm near his elbow.
Brian felt the blade biting into his arm and knew immediately that he was cut. The knife was so sharp that he didnt feel any pain at first. The cut was a clean one. Instead of withdrawing his hand, Brian stepped forward and grasped the Latinos face. He grabbed the mans knife hand with his other hand. He again summoned the power in him, but he tried his best to minimize it. Electricity flowed from his hand and through Titos head.
The energy wasnt nearly as much as from the blasts he had released earlier, but he still didnt have enough control over it to be able to use just enough to immobilize his opponent. As a result the current was too high and the electrical shock was enough to cook the mans brain, turning him into an instant vegetable. Titos body spasmed once as the electricity flowed through his brain. Then he went limp, his eyes staring straight ahead before he fell heavily to the ground. The air was suddenly filled with the scent of urine and feces as Titos body voided its waste. He no longer had control over his bodily functions. Tito was just a shell, and would be that way for the rest of his life.
As the Latino fell Brian turned sharply around, his eyes now searching for any other threat. Seeing none, Brian willed away the power he had summoned and let himself relax again.
All at once, he was aware of what he had done. Oh my God, I killed three men! He looked at the smoking body of the groups leader, lying prone in the street. Then he looked at the headless body of Bo, the giant of a man that had tried to crush him. And then Brian Conway felled to his knees and puked his guts out.
Paula Winters huddled behind the old dumpster and prayed that the madness would stop. She had done just as the stranger had asked and hid behind the dumpster hoping that he might be able to stop the three men who were going to rape and kill her. At first she had heard the sound of blows, and had heard a curse from the Latino as he apparently bore the brunt of the first attack. For some reason, she was sure that the strong looking black man with the serious eyes would be able to hold his own against these evil men.
So Paula had just kept her head down and prayed. Curiosity had gotten the better of her after a while, and so she had poked her head out, just to make sure he would be ok. When she saw him in the grip of the bear-like thug, she had been tempted to run out and try to help him. The thought quickly left her mind after she saw a bright flash and a bolt of blue light shatter the bigger mans skull. She could have sworn that it had come from the stranger, but that was ridiculous of course. Her opinion changed after she saw another blast take the other killer in his chest. It was at that point that Paula pulled her head back and huddled even closer to the old, smelly dumpster.
After the sounds of more fighting, there was an oppressive silence, followed by the sound of retching. Paula found enough courage to creep out from behind the dumpster. She saw the bodies strewn around the alley and then her eyes fixed on Brian. He was getting to his feet and wiping his mouth on the sleeve of his shirt. She saw that his right forearm had a cut on it. She walked over to stand by his side and put a hand on his arm. He jumped and turned to face her quickly.
Its just me, she said. Boy did that sound stupid, he didnt even really know who she was, and she didnt know him either. I guess I should be thanking you for saving my life, Ive never had anybody risk their life for me like that. Thank you. At first she was convinced that he hadnt heard her. He stood looking up at the sky with a self-mocking expression on his face. Then he turned to look at her, but didnt say anything.
Look, my names Paula, whats yours? He was silent a moment longer then he spoke.
Do me a favor. He waited for a response.
Sure. . . if I can.
Forget whatever you might have seen here tonight. Dont tell anyone. Not the police, not the press, not even your friends or family. Just leave it alone. Get everything thats yours, and I do mean everything, and then go home. You dont want to know my name because you dont want anything to do with me. Im a nightmare that you dont ever want to see again understand?
No, I dont understand. Look, if I can help you. . .
His laugh cut her off. It was a cold, grating sound. He turned away from her and bent to retrieve the knife from Titos uncaring fingers. Brian pretty much knew what he had done to him. He knew a lot about electricity and the effect it can have on the brain. The Latino wouldnt be saying much ever again.
He checked carefully to see if any blood had dripped from his wound. He didnt find any, most of it had run down his arm. He was also surprised to find that the wound hadnt bled very much, and that it didnt hurt as much as he would have thought. He shrugged the thought away and then took his jacket off. He bent to get the bottle of alcohol that the thugs had brought with them. Uncapping it, he poured it all on the small puddle of vomit that he had made. He didnt want some particularly nosy forensic officer to be able to trace him through any blood that might be in the vomit. He had enough trouble on his ass as it was.
Paula watched him for a bit before getting her purse and bag which had fallen to the ground in the alley. She considered going to get her money from the body of the gangs leader but decided against it. She got all the stuff that had fallen from her bag and purse and stuffed them hurriedly into her bag.
What now? she asked in a small voice.
Now, Im going home. You can go wherever you want. Just stick to safe areas and dont ever come back this way, got it? His voice was indifferent and seemingly held no emotion.
I got it. She sighed and started to turn away. Then she stopped and said: You know, the thing that makes us whatever we are, nightmare or saint, is right here. She put her hand over her heart. Good luck.
Brian watched her go. Then he turned and walked out of the alley. His mind was filled with the images of what he had done to the three men, of what he was capable of doing. He had to get some help. Robert Mitchell was the only person he knew who had a chance of possibly curing him or at least keeping the power inside him in check. He would call him and tell him everything.
Throwing a glance up to the uncaring night sky, Brian Conway shook his head, turned and headed for home.