Chapters 2 and 3 of The Unlicensed
October 20, 2009 3:50 PM 10/20/09
George Carlson was seven years old and he was in the situation he hated the most. He was stuck in his mom's car in traffic on his way home from soccer practice. So George did the only thing he felt he could do in this situation - throw a temper tantrum.
"I want my TV! I want my computer! When are we going to get home! MOM!!!"
George's mother sighed and with more than a little frustration in her voice turned around to address her son. "George settle down dammit! Why don't you look out the window for boats or whales or something!"
However George was not going to be settled so easily, "I don't give a crap about some stupid whales! Nothing outside is ever any...good?"
As one would expect George was quite wrong for at that moment he looked over his mother's shoulder to see something that he would never see again in his lifetime.
It was a man. That in itself was unsurprising. What was of interest to George was that the man was doing something he'd been told all his life was impossible.
The man was flying. Not your flap-your-arms kind of flying but the swept back fighter jet kind of flying that all boys dream of once they're old enough to read comic books. George's eyes opened wide but he was suddenly unable for the first time in his life to utter a sound.
And then with a whoosh and the sound of police sirens close behind the man was gone.
"George? Are you okay?" his mother asked?
What could he say? That he'd suddenly seen a flying man? His mom would never believe him! Suddenly George didn't want to go home. Didn't want to be closed within four walls, didn't want to be hidden away from the sun and the breeze. He didn't know why exactly though.
"Yeah...yeah mom. I'm fine. Can we...can we go to the park?" he said quietly.
Taken aback his mother didn't know quite what to say "Umm...okay honey. We'll go there as soon as the traffic starts moving again."
"That's fine." said George absentmindedly.
Turning towards the window George looked out and spotted a large fluffly cumulus cloud in the distance. A man can fly! he thought. If he can fly
maybe I can too!
Slowly...ever so slowly...a smile dawned on George's face.
If a man can fly, thought George, then I can do anything!
A jump from the monkey bars had been sufficient to convince George that maybe flying wasn't his talent. From there he spent half an hour, under the pleased but bewildered supervision of his mother, trying to summon other sorts of superpowers.
Now he was sitting in one of his favourite places, a quiet corner hidden from where the grown-ups congregated. He was trying to think how to hold of something radioactive...
"Hey shrimp!" A loud voice shouted behind him, making George jump to his feet and spin around. Coming up from behind the bushes was Daniel.
Dan was 12, nearly 6ft tall, heavier than most grown men and it was rumoured had been shaving since he was 10. He was quarterback for the school football team, and openly sneered at George for playing what he called a wussy game like soccer. Dan was also, in George's opinion, the biggest, meanest bully in whole Bay area.
"Heads up shrimp, lets see ya handle a real tackle!" and Dan lowered his head and charged like a young Minotaur.
George gulped, and took a step back, well aware of the tall fence behind him, and even if he could have out-run Dan, there was nowhere to run to. Squeezing his eyes shut he braced for a mauling, only to feel a strange electric tingle rush over his skin like freezing cold water, and heard a muffled thud.
After a moment, he cracked open an eye...wondering just how badly he was injured. He didn't hurt anywhere, but he'd heard that if you were really badly injured it didn't hurt at first. Oddly enough, he seemed to be still standing though.
Opening his eyes fully, he glanced around him looking for Dan...which he quickly noticed was lying at his feet, flat on his back.
Stupefied George looked down at Dan. His face looked odd, his nose was flattened and blood was streaming from that and a split lip. Dan's left eyes was swelling up and already visibly turning purple.
Wonderingly, George thought Dan looked like he's tried tackling a goal post... somehow... he hadn't been hurt at all. But how?
Holding a hand up at arms length he looked at it... by squinting, he could see a sort of soap-bubble like shimmer faintly in the air, maybe a inch or two away from him. What? he started to think..
Then a groan interrupted his whirling thoughts, and Dan staggered to his feet. If George hadn't be so befuddled, he would have missed what came next. As it was he failed to see Dan's fist come swing towards him, and thus didn't blink.
Almost in slow motion George watched Dan's fist mash flat against something that almost didn't seem to be there, like a bug on a windscreen. He could hear bone breaking in an audible crunch, and for a moment there was silence.
Then, Dan's lower lip quivered, and suddenly he was bawling in pain and shock as his world crumbled around his ears. Cradling his shattered hand he ran off blubbering for the first time since his father had tanned his backside and told him to man up and stop being a pussy...
George, walked back to where his mother was thoughtfully, the force-bubble around him disappearing with a pop that was almost lost in the noises of the park.
ok, invulnerability wasn't the coolest power ever, but it was a start..and with a slow smile he started considering how he could use it in school tomorrow.
The old man slowly opened his eyes to find himself lying on a red velvet couch with Blaze sitting quietly across from him in a similarly upholstered chair.
Wow he's never been this quiet thought George I must have really pissed him off.
Clearing his throat a bit he opened his mouth to apologize but Blaze cut him off.
"Do you know what you just put me through? What the hell George?! I'm not indestructible like you are!"
"Sorry" mumbled George "I was just trying to get us out of there as fast as possible. It's my fault."
"Damn right it is!" Blaze said hotly. Sighing and pinching the bridge of his nose he continued: "Are you at least okay? You've been out for about 12 hours. I had to drag your sorry ass to this hidey-hole myself. You're a heavy fucker do you know that?"
The old man grinned. "Did I mention I'm sorry? Using my powers at that level uses up a lot of energy, leaves me wiped. Got anything to eat?"
Blaze laughed slightly "Have you known me to not stock any of my hiding places? This one is in the sub basement below a restaurant I own. It's one of the few places I can just pick up the phone and dial room service without any questions." He paused, sobering slightly, "Do you know what kind of damage you caused? A couple of bystanders got hurt."
"Crap." George frowning slightly "Still..castualties of war."
"You know better than that. Or at least you did once upon a time." Blaze said with a sad look in his eyes.
"I used to believe in Tinker Bell too but I grew out of it." grumped the old man "If it keeps the SLS in check then it's justified."
"And what good is it if we become as bad as them George? They already want to tattoo the foreheads of anybody with any sort of ability. You they want on a platter - preferably roasted." Blaze said cocking his head slightly askew "I wonder what spice would go well with asshole?" he asked rhetorically.
Grunting slightly George sat upright his head pounding in time with his heartbeat like a giant kettle drum. I've got to watch what I do these days. Not so young any more.
While he was rubbing his eyes he heard Blaze pick up the phone and order a dinner that would be fit in quantity and quality for a small athletic team. I hate to admit it but I'll probably eat all of that. I wonder if there's a super ability that removes cholesterol?
"Dinner will be here in about a half hour or so." said Blaze hanging up the phone "In the meantime get your ass into the bathroom and clean yourself up. You smell like shit. I've taken the liberty of choosing some clothes from the closet that should fit your ginormous frame."
The old man groaned inwardly. Blaze's taste in clothing was close to George's in that the moon was close to the earth - not really. Still his own clothes needed cleaning and he couldn't get new ones easily so he grudgingly accepted the hospitality and headed off to the shower.
Watching George head into the bathroom and close the door Blaze picked up the phone. There were several people he needed to call and not all of them he wanted George to overhear.
In the shower George thought back over the events of the last 30 years. The sudden and unexplained appearance of super powers among the population, the accidental deaths at the hands of those people with powers, the public outcry, the licensing, the hunting, all of it ticking through his mind like the bad SciFi movies he'd loved to watch all those years ago. Frowning to himself Now I _am_ the bad SciFi movie. How the hell does that work?
As the main character you should never ask that question. came a small voice in his head distracting him momentarily causing him to hit his forehead against the chrome shower head.
Ow! Do you _have_ to do that all the time Bird?
What should I do? Announce to everybody in a ten foot radius I'M ABOUT TO ENTER A NEARBY MIND! PLEASE STAND STILL!
QUIT SHOUTING! thought George I've already got a headache the size of a steam shovel with similar sounds.
I know, but you also stiffed me on my last bill WB. the voice continued more quietly with a slight tone of amusement You still owe me that nude painting of you.
I already told you I'm not doing that! thought George his brow furrowing causing his head to hurt just that much more Pick something else.
I remain resolute - one nude painting of WB. In costume. the voice said primly.
Geroge sighed "All right. Sometime next week then".
I you didn't have to verbalize. I knew before you did that you'd say yes. Anyway I've managed to clean up your latest escapade. Do you realize how many police officers I had to juggle? You really have to work harder at not making a mess anytime you're in trouble.
George sighed again. Tell that to the SLS.
This time it was the voice that sighed. Look, all I know is that there's only so much I can handle. Do you think you're the only person of ability that I cover for? Not by a long shot. Maybe Blaze is right and you are an asshole.
Possible. In fact it's quite probable I'm an asshole. But I'm the asshole this world needs to get things all straightened out. Look, I'm almost out of the shower can we continue this later?
Without warning George saw his world go dark. He could tell that his eyes were open as he felt his legs walk himself to stand in front of the mirror.
Oh hell George you've really managed to tear yourself a new one. I mean it. I really like your body George please don't abuse it much more!
Blinking the darkness vanished from his eyes but George could still feel the slight tingle of the voice in his head.
I like yours as well Bird. I just wish we could be together right now.
Someday love... Bird's voice said fading from his mind like she was never there.
Leaning over to grad a towel George pondered how in the world someone like Bird could like him in any way.
Hey! My headache's gone!
Whistling slightly George dried himself and reached for the clothes that Blaze had left for him.