It was to be the most violent mega-storm ever to churn through the biggest metropolis of whiners on the planet. Wah-wah-wah what are we going to do? He could hear every single one of them which made him look forward to the storm even less. He hovered just below the ceiling of gray, furrowed clouds watching the storm approach, thinking about the drinks he’ll be having afterward during, what he called, his Super Power Happy Hour, and then cursed all the clouds above the surfaces of all the planets he had ever been. Then, finally, the first spark flashed. He started to move. The drops of rain froze mid-air, those in his way popping and evaporating on contact with his blue top, as he passed. Down below, two small kids gripping the metal gate of their tenth-floor terrace, dancing and laughing in the rain, with the Christmas lights on the railing lit, no less. Didn’t they know it was the middle of summer? A bolt of lightning forming, stretching, becoming a yellow vine ripping toward them. He turned over to let the bolt crash against his chest. It hurt. Always did. He wondered if Lois was still mad at him. He could no longer stomach another dish of hearty greens. He had to say something. It was an outburst. Admittedly. But he was craving the carbs upon which she had put a strict dietary restriction. He said he would make dinner. Pasta. Was there any olive oil? Dammit. A pigeon caught in a whip of wind, somersaulted past him. This was a soaker. A true destroyer. Sparks and bolts everywhere. Cars beginning to slide across streets. Busses tumbling. Bicycles spinning through the air like flying guillotines. And still, people trying to get to where they thought they needed to go. Work? The post office? Now hiding under trees and awnings. No sense at all. Time to go to work. Back and forth. Side to side. Stopping bolts of lightning from hitting those below. Keeping people safe from their own bad decisions. He just wanted the day to be over with. When was the last time they cooked with olive oil?
Saturday afternoon. Blue skies and golden sun pouring through the windows. They stayed in the weekend before last. He was sick. Then it rained during the week. She got what he had. They stayed in the weekend after that. The weather was perfect now. To go out. To take a long walk through the city. Window shop. Pick up items on their eternal list of items to pick up. They thought about it. Talked about it. Gazing at the sky and the clouds floating by.
A crowd of familiar faces came into view. They were friends, family, business associates, and, of course, the scientists. They made their way passed his bedside, smiled and spoke kind words and assurances in a chorus of soft, whispering voices. They declared their love and respect and expressed their deep sorrow. But they offered him no comfort. He had never felt more alone. A nurse held his wrist with a cold hand when he drew his last breath and the world disappeared into blackness for what seemed to be a moment, as well as an eternity. Then he saw the white light, a thin horizon, slowly grow wider. He was being pushed toward it until it became too bright. He squeezed his eyes shut as he was pulled out of the darkness, wiped off, wrapped in soft cloth and placed into the arms of a giant. It would take years until he would be able to venture out on his own and send word back to the scientists that he had made it, that the journey had been a success. And only then could he begin to search for his one and only love. She was out there somewhere. Until then, he needed to wait and to survive.
Doris showed up early, the sun still setting over her shoulder when she walked into Desmond’s. She had her guitar strapped to her back and was careful not to hit any of the happy hour business crowd enjoying their pints in the last dive bar in Midtown. Someone tried to pet the white fur on her jacket as she made her way through. She didn’t care. Doris smiled at the bartender whose arm was in a sling. He smiled back but after she turned away, his expression quickly changed to loss. Doris took a seat on a ripped leather stool along the wall and listened to the band on stage. They were playing Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love. She shook her blonde locks away from her face for a better view. Yes. She remembered those guys from the old days and in doing so, rose a few inches higher than everyone else in the room. After twenty, maybe twenty-five years, they still rocked. She removed her fur vest, revealing thin arms and shades of ink that were once fierce tattoos. Specks of silver polish clung to her nails but the red on her lips was as bright as ever. She asked the bartender for a white wine. The band on stage played two more and then started packing up. Someone fed the jukebox a dollar and a Guns N’ Roses song came on. The happy hour office workers hugged each other and walked out the door one small group after another. Others followed. By the time Doris was ready it was just the bartender and the band who were at the bar having a pitcher. She didn’t care. She stood on stage, struck her guitar and proceeded to rip the room to shreds.
A few inches beneath the final layer of the dig they found a green coffee mug. At this level, they were in the age of stone. When humankind lived in small tribes, still without clothes and using simple tools of sticks and stones. The volunteer who discovered the mug brushed the surface while it was still embedded in dirt and rock. He called the lead researcher over, Bill, who instructed the team to break the stone and release the mug. Once released and cleaned, Bill took a closer look, his eyebrows raised. An illustration of the face of the Incredible Hulk looked back at him. Is this some kind of joke? The radioactive test showed it wasn’t. Apache helicopters appeared as they reviewed the results. What’s this? And a team of SEALs crept fast toward the team of diggers and covered their mouths with cloth rendering them all unconscious. The mug was immediately placed in a black leather briefcase and locked. “The ticket has been purchased” the SEAL said into his collar mic and they disappeared as quickly as they appeared.
Two weeks ago, the New York City bus driver drove off of her usual route along Eighth Avenue, unloaded the angry and confused passengers around the corner, and then drove the bus into the Lincoln Tunnel and out of the city. Four weeks later, the bus and the driver were found in Los Angeles. When the detective asked her why she did it, she looked away and put a finger to her chin. She had a white outline of a heart tattooed on her cheek just beneath her eye. Her dark red lips opened to a bright white smile and she laughed. “I don’t know,” she said. She could see the blue skies and the white fluffy clouds through the windows of the police station. She had never been to California before. She had never been outside of New York before. Over the last four weeks she drove her bus down quiet country roads, colorful main streets and dry, red deserts. She had picked up and dropped off people waiting at random bus stops along the way. For many, it was their first time on a New York City bus. She smiled at them through the rearview mirror and they smiled back. She thought about every moment while gazing into the Californian sky.