I ride my bicycle out in the Bottoms, where the pastures meet the forest to the east and the ocean to the west, and the sky stretches out over it all in a big grey cotton blanket. It’s a place where I go to find many things. Cows, vultures, and wildflowers among them, but also, I go out there to find myself.
I spend hours on those roads, some paved, and others not: long solitary stretches of rock that divide the tangled grasses and earth between broken-in and broken-down ghosts of wood-paneled ranch houses.
I spend hours on those roads, uninterrupted and undistracted. Listening to the wind. Listening to the chains clink on my bicycle. Listening to my breath. Listening to my iPod.
I let go of the handlebars and I fly on those roads. I stretch out my arms in the breeze and I fly. I look out at the palominos and pintos within their chain link fences, and pity them, as I pedal along, each day.
But today was different. As I rode north on a long stretch of gravel, I began to feel a light mist fall around me. It collected on my bare arms and legs, and the delicate moist droplets tickled my nose and cheeks.
I rode further into the mist. What is this? I thought. Hopefully rain.
The mist grew thicker. It was warm, and coated my throat as I inhaled. Then it started to smell.
This is not rain.
As I pedaled onwards, I came to a fork in the road. I looked to the left. And there I saw it.
The iron monster was parked on a field and pumping the mist into the air. Except, it was not mist. It was sludge. Radioactive brownish greenish putrid and thick sludgey sludge.
And it was on me. But never mind that. It was in me. The radioactive sludgey sludge. In. Me.
I was horrified. It was disgusting.
Will I survive?
And then I had another, less frantic thought.
Maybe this really is one of those deciding moments. You know, the kind where you go into a situation thinking it is merely a strange coincidence, a fluke, but then it ends up changing your life forever?
Changing my life forever, because now that I have been exposed to this radioactive sludgey sludge, I will develop super powers. Yes. I. Will.
It was all so clear to me. I had never been more certain of any uncertainty before in my life.
So I wondered.
How long must I wait until my new super powers will start to manifest? Many days? Or only hours?
I decided I should begin testing them out right away, in order to pinpoint exactly what powers I gained.
Where would I begin? I compromised to hold off on testing the powers that might have more serious consequences if they failed… Like flying. Yes. Flying could be bad. Or, to put it more accurately, failing at flying would definitely be bad.
So I’ll hold off on jumping off roofs, if only for the moment.
I decided to start small, because, maybe my new super power would be more covert… Ones that could not easily be detected…
.I still don’t know what my dog is thinking when she sits and stares at an open space of nothing in the room. I still cannot see the ghosts that she sees or doesn’t see.
.I still drink my tea when it is far too hot for consumption. I cannot determine when it has cooled to the proper temperature.
.There is still only twenty-one dollars in my wallet. And nothing I touch turns to gold, or multiplies, or even crumples into dust for that matter.
.I can still run a mile in under ten minutes, but not under eight.
.I still cannot fry eggs by looking at them. And they still always stick to the pan.
.It still only takes one beer to get me drunk. And I am still a very very mediocre billiards player.
.I checked my passport. And I am still an American.
.I still only have 300 followers on Twitter. Oh, nevermind. Make that 299. Erm, 298.
.I still dislike the taste of unfiltered tap water, which only makes me more thirsty.
.I am pretty sure I don’t have X-ray vision. I’m pretty sure I’m not trying very hard on testing out that one. It seems like it would do more harm than good.
.I am still tired by eleven p.m. And there is still a quiet sense of wistfulness in the moments before I fall asleep.
.I am still stumbling about attempting to un-be in love with the girl who broke my heart. And I still am reminded I cannot make her love me again.
.And my baseball team is still in last place and teasingly hovering around .500.
I suppose I still have more investigating to do. Maybe a few more bike rides should help me uncover the truth. Then I can use my new super powers to start fighting for truth. And justice.
And anyways, if I had a swell new super power, I really see no reason as to why I should share it publicly with you folks. That usually seems to throw a wrench in the whole masked-vigilante-anonymous-saviour-of-the-laypeople-world-changer deal, which is pretty much what I am going for.