If that sounds like bullcrap, you’re not alone. It makes no sense to me either, but that’s what Maxwell Regent, The World’s Smartest Man said on TV, explaining the phenomenon. He might have been lying. He has an odd sense of humor, but even if that’s not exactly how the two slit paradox meant things worked prior to the advent of superheroics, it is how things work now. Dammit.
The rules changed faster. Bits of history randomly rewrote themselves. Laws of causality changed. There were retcons - the most obvious of which was when Venus went from being a lifeless, hellish planet to being a near twin of our own, ruled by vengeful pagan gods fighting an endless civil war. The Greek god Apollo and Deadpan claimed they were responsible for this, the results of a time traveling adventure, but they were never very clear on the details, and now that the laws of causality are shot, can anyone ever be sure that they’ve actually done the things they’ve done? About half the people I knew couldn’t remember Venus being any other way when it happened, but I was never sure if this was the result of some kind of time traveling futzing with memory, or if people were just kind of stupid and uneducated to begin with. It could go either way. Even before the world started to fall apart, the education system in our country kinda’ sucked.
“You’re too loud to hide,” Superjunge said, staring eye to eye with me. He was beyond handsome. Imagine the best looking male model you ever saw, and then imagine him as being ugly compared to Junge. I’m not gay, not even a little bit, but I was aroused. You can’t help it around the supers. They exude every kind of pheromone, every kind of sexual signal. Animals are even attracted to them. Plants are even attracted to them. I wouldn’t be surprised if inanimate objects were attracted to them.
“If we’re so loud, then you must have heard what happened,” I say, fighting to keep my breathing regular. I’m in full-on flight or fight mode, I’m terrified, and awkwardly turned on by a gender I’m not attracted to. I’m malnourished and sleep deprived and depressed as hell. Frankly, it would only take the tiniest push to send me over the edge in to madness, and though madness sounds pretty good to me right now, I don’t have the luxury. I hold on to sanity with my fingernails, I claw it back in to my head.
His dark face becomes disturbingly beautifully sad. He shows a resigned fear that is pure Wagnerian opera, and in a voice like a prayer, he says, “Is it true?”
I fully expect to die, and the idiot refugees behind me are lined up to watch it, too stupid to run. “Yes,” I admit, waiting for the punch that will go through my body like I’m made of tissue paper. It never comes. I notice absently that my eyes are closed in fear. I open them experimentally, and see the teen is quietly sobbing in front of me. I reach out to touch him, to sooth his tormented brow, to taste his tears, but something stays my hand. I look to see what it is. It’s Ivan. He’s grabbing my arm and pulling it back.
My senses quickly return: One does not touch the tears of a god. If their mere presence provides enough hormonal confusion to turn a solidly heterosexual man like myself in to a horny little teenaged girl watching MTV, then what the hell would bodily fluids do? I make eye contact with Ivan, and without a word passing between us, we both back up a step in unison. Then another.
“You’re back to Strike 1 now,” I said. He smiled toothlessly at me.
“Who did it?” Superjunge asked.
“Vox Inhumana,” I said, “But Blacknight killed him with a Parthian shot. He didn’t survive, though.” Despite the fact that this young alien in front of me has tried to kill us more times than I can count in the last six months, I have to fight the urge to say ‘I’m sorry.’ Blacknight was gay as a three dollar bill, and Superjunge had been his first, and most formidable, sidekick. It was rumored there was more between them as well.
“Clarion’s orders?” the boy from another world asks in a voice that is frankly frightening.
“I don’t know, son, I don’t know. I’m just an insurance