Tag Archives: Comedy

The face of romance

“Goodbye John.” The griever said, touching my forehead to theirs as they left. It had been a long day, their must’ve been a large accident or something. That’s what usually caused a rush like this. A large number of people didn’t get the opportunity to say their final words to a loved one before they passed, and needed me to duplicate their appearance so they could have a chance to get give a proper farewell.

I took a few breaths to clear my head, confirmed with Ryan that this griever had been the last one, and slipped back into my normal appearance. Only, I couldn’t. Everything still seemed fluid. My nose kept changing its mind about what size it wanted to be. My hair shifted between various shades of brown and black. Even my eyes danced from one color to the next. They couldn’t even agree on one color between the two of them. I looked like a Husky with different colored eyes.

A mirror didn’t help. It only seemed to illustrate my problem, allowing me to look on with growing dismay as my facial features seemed to change faster than the numbers on a slot machine.

Facebook, I had a Facebook. There must be a picture of me on there somewhere. I log into my profile and am greeted with Ryan’s face on my profile. It was a joke at the time. ‘ha ha, look Ryan. I’m you!’. It didn’t seem so funny now. I open up my past profile pictures and find that every single one is me playing a joke, and even my tagged photos all look like different people.

Some are promotional from work, others are just me goofing around and showing off for my friends. I think some might be me, but there are too many different faces all tagged as me for me to even begin to sort out which is the real me.

I snap my phone shut. This can’t be real. How can I not remember? I always remembered. I tried to do it by muscle memory. ‘Okay, work is done, griever leaves. I confirm with Ryan that I’m done, and I……’ Nothing, the face I slip into is not even human. ‘Come on, one more time, work is done. I confirm with Ryan and…..’ I’m too preoccupied with my Husky eyes, and give myself a dog’s face.

‘I’ve got a date tonight. How will she even know it’s me? Oh wait, maybe I sent her a face pic.’ I scan through my phone again, hoping that I’ve sent somebody a photo of my face, only to come up empty handed again. Apparently I like playing games with my face through text as well.

I’m starting to panic now. ‘Is there no record of my face anywhere? Driver’s license, of course, I had to take a proper photo for a driver’s license.’ Feeling a sense of relief well up inside me I pull out my wallet and extract my driver’s license.

My stomach feels like it’s going to fall out when instead of a photo I see. Government licensed shape shifter, appearance variable. I forgot that because my face could be anyone’s they had told me I didn’t need to take a photo.

I start to crumble into a ball. If even the government doesn’t have a photo of me, then there really is no hope.

“Hey Jason.” Ryan calls out to me from the next room. “Buddy I know you’re off for the day but we’ve got one more. Are you up for one last griever?”

I rise to my feet. Ryan has already displayed a photo of the loved one on the monitors. Underneath her face is my personal motto. It’s not my face that matters, but the person behind it. I had almost forgotten. It is not my nose or my eyes that make me who I am. It’s my heart and soul, and those never change.

“Absolutely Ryan, it’s not trouble at all. Send the griever in.”

I rapidly scanned the file Ryan attached with the deceased’s photo. It detailed her physical appearance so I could duplicate it, and gave a brief bio on the person coming to grieve. Our research team was fantastic about deciphering information concerning the relationship between the griever and the departed. Many of them were retired law enforcement who could find out a lot about someone without having to badger them for information. It allowed me to know as much as possible about the whole situation without the griever having to be pestered a lot about the obviously delicate subject of the departed.

The griever was a twenty something female, just out of college, and the departed was her roommate. That fact stung me. I knew that meant she was going to be heading back to an empty apartment for the next few weeks, or maybe even next few months.

I examined the scan of her friend and used a mirror to insure I exactly duplicated her features. The griever would be coming in any second, so I absorbed the last few details about how the two had known each other through a collegiate sports team, and shared aspirations to be gym teachers.

One of the researchers managed to find a few sound bites of the departed, and I begin an audio loop of her in my earpiece so I can begin to formulate a way to duplicate her voice. Having her vocal chords certainly helps, but there’s more to speech than just physical structure. The voice is like any instrument. You can’t just have the equipment, you have to know how to play it as well. Thankfully, this was my job, and I am something of a master at duplicating vocal patterns as long as I can have a few sound bites to work from. The door to my office begins to turn. I checked my appearance one last time as the door opens and the young lady walks in.

Oddly enough, Ryan doesn’t send me any photos of the griever. It usually doesn’t matter because I’m not going to duplicate their appearance. It’s no more important for me to know the appearance of the griever than it is for an employer to know the appearance of someone they’re interviewing. That is, unless the person they’re interviewing just happens to be the same person they’re going on a date with later.

When a shape shifter gets surprised they have a tendency to rapidly shift through different appearances. I’m very grateful that I’ve been doing this since high school and have developed the professionalism necessary to maintain my appearance even under extreme emotional duress.

“Hey.” She says. ‘I don’t even know her name.’ I realize. I can’t think of what to say, but I know how to look, and this isn’t about me saying anything anyway. They’re not here because they want to pretend their loved one is still alive. They’re here to say goodbye. So usually I just listen, and adopt a very practiced expression of hope and understanding. I’ve been told by some of the people who trained me that it’s a bit like one of those movies where the protagonist is dying, but doesn’t want anyone to be sad. Right before they go they show you this expression that says ‘it’s going to be okay’. That’s what I aim for, and expressing that very specific emotion is now almost second nature for me.

She’s still standing in the doorway, so I gesture to the seat in front of me. I walk out from behind my desk and sit in another chair facing the one I’ve indicated she should take.

This can be an understandably awkward situation, and I typically have to guide the griever through the first few steps. It’s all about body language, and patience. They’re here to talk, and I’m here to listen.

She shuffles her feet for a bit, glancing nervously at me like she thinks I might bite, but I just keep making gentle eye contact and waiting. I lean back in the chair to communicate my ease to her.

The young lady scrounges up the courage and comes over to sit beside me. She doesn’t say anything right away, but that’s normal. She may have planned something out in her head in advance, but it’s just like giving someone important news in real life. Once you’re actually sitting in front of the person everything you planned on saying tends to go out the window.

“I watered your cactus.” She finally says. I twitch my lips ever so slightly outwards to indicate the hint of a smile. She takes this little bit of active listening as permission to continue. “It’s silly I know. I’m not even sure you’re supposed to water cactuses, cacti, whatever you call them. What am I doing? I don’t even know the plural for it and I’m trying to take care of it.” She snorts a little, finding humor in the ridiculousness of it. I can hear that there’s starting to be some excess mucus building up from her tear ducts that’s being funneled to her nose. “It’s just like when you would go to Europe you know? I would take care of your stuff for when you get back. Which is stupid. I mean, because you’re not coming back.” Her eyes are starting to go red now.

I lean in to the conversation now, folding my hands so that they rest just a few inches from hers. “It’s like if I just keep acting like you’re going to come back then you will, and I know you’re not, but I still feel like you’re going to. Like if I just keep trying to show you that I care then one day I’ll look up and you’ll come walking through the door, shouting ‘sup’ to me as you hang up your lacrosse gear. Just like you did in college.” She wipes away her first tear. “You remember college? Man we were bad, but we had so much fun. I still remember how you spiked the coaches coffee with a ghost pepper. He turned so red, and boy did you run laps.” She laughs a bit again as she wipes away the second tear.

“I just wanted to have more memories like that with you. You were only 23. We were supposed to go to Ireland together, and give embarrassing speeches at each other’s’ weddings.” There’s a steady stream now, and her sentences are punctuated with heavy breathing and snorting sounds as she tries to hold back the mucus that is now starting to come out of her nose.

“I miss you so much.” Her voice cracks on the last word. I take her hands in mine and maintain a firm but gentle pressure as the waterworks really start to flow. She slumps forward and I touch my forehead to hers. There’s some small corner of my brain that starts using the physical contact to stir up some unprofessional feelings, but my need to be here for her squashes it. I’m here for her, not for me.

It’s several seconds before she can calm down enough to continue. I just keep maintaining that steady supportive pressure through her hands as we have our heads pressed together.

“And I know we’re going to have part soon. I mean, I guess that’s the point of this. So we can part ways on friendlier terms?” She pulls her head back so she can make eye contact. The impact that her outpouring of emotion has had on her makeup is substantial, but I keep that supportive gaze on her eyes as she finishes her thought.

“I want you to know that I’ve always thought of you as a sister, and I’m going to be there for your family as they go through this. I’m going to make sure that your memory makes them stronger, that it makes all of us stronger. You won’t be forgotten Sarah. I promise. I’ll carry your memory.” She snorts again, thinking of something funny, but still crying as she thinks of it. “Even when I’m too old and sick to remember it myself. I’ll make other people remember it for me and tell me about you.” She kisses me on the forehead.

“I’ll miss you Sarah. I loved you like my own sister, and I’ll always remember you.” She touches my cheek and takes a big shuddering breath.

I touch her cheek back and say, in Sarah’s voice. “Thank you.”

We sit for several long moments like that. I now have one hand on her shoulder, the other is holding her hand, and I’m looking at her while she’s staring at my shoes. Her breathing is agitated, like she’s trying to catch her breath, but it slowly returns to normal.

After her breathing steadies she releases the hand that’s holding mine and removes my other hand from her shoulder. I fold my hands in front of me as she begins to compose herself. She becomes aware of how wet her face is, and begins wiping it with her hands, and producing handkerchiefs to clean herself up.

There’s a glass of water nearby for such occasions. She takes a few sips and pats herself down with the handkerchief one more time.

Finally, she makes eye contact again. Her eyes look like she’s been pepper sprayed, but no tears are coming. “Goodbye Sarah.” She says. A final tear rolls down her cheek as she bends over to kiss me on the forehead one more time.

She stands up and straightens her clothes out, observing all the moist spots. She hasn’t composed herself enough to be embarrassed by it, and she shouldn’t be embarrassed anyway. Our waiting room is perpetually full of people who are a bit of a mess.

The girl, whose name I still don’t know, walks to the door. She turns the knob, and as she opens it, turns back. I’m still maintaining my appearance and my supportive facial expression.

“Thank you.” She says, this time I know she’s addressing me, and not her friend. I don’t respond verbally, but just give a slight nod of my head to indicate to her that I understand. Reaching for her handkerchief she closes the door.

I exhale loudly, thankful that the walls are soundproof. “What are the odds?” I ask the ceiling. “I should go buy a lottery ticket or something.” I slip into Ryan’s appearance subconsciously. I’m thinking about how she must be thanking Ryan and me for our work.

“Well, I guess this means I’m not taking her to see that new Nicholas Sparks movie.” I had already read the reviews. He managed to kill off all three protagonists in this one.

Then it really hits me. “The date!” I exclaim. I’ve only got two hours to prepare, and I’m going to be stuck in this office for the next twenty to give Ryan time to gracefully clear the waiting room. Clients always felt weird about seeing me afterwards, it stalled out the grieving process somewhat if they saw me as someone other than the person they had lost. So I had to wait until Ryan had a chance to clear everyone out.

I dash over to my computer and start fumbling through the file, desperately trying to find a date that would work. One of her other friends had set us up, so I knew very little about the girl.

Volleyball was clearly out. Come to think of it, they probably did a lot of sports together in college. Best to steer clear of any kind of athletic activity. They were doing reruns of ‘The Land Before Time’. That was Definitely out. Matter of fact, it was a depressing time for movies in general. Best to just skip the movie portion of the date.

Dinner somewhere? That was too cliché, this girl needed something special. I was going to be the first real social interaction she had after dealing with the death of her friend, I really had to go all out for her. If not because I wanted to see her, then just because she really needed to have a good time right now.

It had to be something really far out there, something that would completely get her mind off things. Something that she had never done before and couldn’t possibly be something that her friend or her had ever done together. Video games were too common, so they were out. TV and movies were definitely out, way too normal. Rock climbing was too athletic, dancing was definitely something that her and Sarah had done together at some point. Girls liked doing that kind of thing.

I mentally go through every date that I’ve ever had seen middle school. Every prom, every dance, every football game, every social, every time I have ever showed a girl how to enjoy life, and I come up short. Nothing seems to work.

Then I suddenly remember something me and my guy friends used to do in high school. It was dumb. For sure it was dumb, entirely juvenile. But maybe that’s just what she needed right now. I started to smile a little. There was also no way she had done this with her friend.

I checked my watch, it was almost time for me to make my exit. When Ryan opens the door I take off like a shot, shouting some hurried explanation over my shoulder as I race for the stairs. There’s no time to lose. I’ve got a few stops to make, and a whole lot of rubber bands to purchase.

I hectically dash through several stores to pick up what I need. I’m so preoccupied that my face starts flipping features at one of the checkouts. I don’t notice until I see that the cashier is looking at me like I’m a ghost. She’s reaching for the phone to call security when I pull out my wallet.

“Ma’am, it’s okay. I’m a certified shifter. See, this is my license.” She takes the card and flips it over, shuddering as she does so.

“There’s nothing to worry about. I’m just going to finish checking out and I’ll be on my way.” With a trembling hand she passes back the license to me. Shifters aren’t very common, and usually people only hear about us if they’ve been referred from a therapist.

“Well, um, could you uh, just um.” She fumbled with some of my purchases as she stared gawking at me. “Pick one?” She finally asked.

Feeling very unprofessional I put a hand to my face to help myself concentrate. I became aware of the unfortunate fact that I still didn’t know what my face was, and I was going to have to have a face for her.

Normally I went with people from the office. They were basically family to me, and if anyone mistook me for one of them they usually understood. Or I could just pretend to be one of them, but that was not going to work today. I was going to meet with someone who would have to associate a face with me and no one else.

“Sorry, yes, just hang on a second.” I tell the cashier as I pull out my phone. I need to concentrate. I need to find a face to model and find it quick.

A celebrity was my first thought. They’re all good looking, so that would probably score me some points, but there was the obvious flaw of people recognizing it, and I think the whole ‘well isn’t that a strange coincidence’ line would wear thin after a while. It had to be someone decent looking and somebody neither I nor she would know.

Reddit! Perfect, I would go on /r/fitness, scroll through a few pages to find somebody without much karma, and look for a pic. They would probably be good looking, and in all probability we would never meet him.

I begin furiously searching for a post with a pic of the OP when the cashier says. “How were you going to pay for this?” The cashier asks. I didn’t buy much and I’ve just been standing here, one hand on my face, holding up the line, for some time now.

I finally happen upon the perfect post. He’s about my age, attractive, and I can honestly say I’ve never met him before. He looked vaguely Australian, at least he had the hat for it, so as a yank I was probably pretty safe.

There’s a good face pic in his pull-up tutorial. I quickly memorize his face, forward the page to my gmail, and adopt my new face.

The cashier is gawking again. Even knowing what she was going to see, she still didn’t quite believe it.

I’m tempted to become a cat to really mess with her, but I restrain myself. The cashier doesn’t say the typical ‘thank you for coming here, you have this many reward points’ but. So I just wish her well, and be on my way.

I have to call the girl to let her know the change of plans. I came up with a lame excuse for not going to see the movie and just told her to meet me at a popular nearby park. There was no hint of sorrow in her voice, and she was very understanding about the change of venue.

Good, everything going to plan so far.

I just barely have enough time to get home, change, make sure I’ve got the facial features down so they won’t slip while I’m on the date, and dash right back out the door.

My arrival at the park only precedes hers by a few minutes, and I’ve only just laid everything out when she walks up.

Instinctively I want to wave her over, but then I remember that neither of us knows what the other one looks like. A bit of an oversight on our part. It was a pretty normal thing to exchange photos before meeting, but I guess, me being me, I don’t really think about these things, and she was probably too preoccupied to think about it.

I pretend not to notice her and instead focus on my setup as she walks over. I’m hoping the oddness of my setup will clue her in that I’m her date.

“Hey?” She waves as she gets closer. “Am I supposed to be meeting you?” She asks. I fidget with one of the items and then stand up to return her wave.

“If you’re supposed to be meeting the most dashingly handsome man on the east coast, then yes.” I say.

She laughs. “No actually I’m supposed to be meeting the world’s humblest man for dinner.”

“You’ve come to the right place.” I exclaim, pointing a thumb at my chest. “World’s humblest man at your service.” I give a little bow and stretch out a hand to shake hers. “I’m Jason, glad to meet you.” I want to bite my tongue as soon as the words are out.

I shouldn’t have used my name. She knows that the shifter she just met was a Jason. I’ve given myself away.

“Jason.” She says, shaking my hand. “Nice to meet you. I’m Jennifer.” She looks momentarily like she’s remembering something from a dream she had. “That’s funny. I think I just met a Jason earlier.”

“I’d love to meet the chap.” I say, fumbling for something to distract her. ‘I’ve got to misdirect her. I’ve got to misdirect her’. I glance behind me and realize I’ve laid out the perfect distraction.

“But unless he’s got a few hundred rubber bands and a watermelon I think you’ll find I’m much more interesting company.” I step to the side and gesture at the almost 700 rubber bands and the small sized watermelon I’ve laid out.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.” She says, putting her fists on her hips in disbelief. “What on earth are you going to do with several hundred rubber bands and a watermelon?” She asks. I mentally congratulate myself on my distraction. “Make a giant slingshot?”

“Better.” I say, sitting down and patting the seat next to me. She obediently sits down, staring fixedly at the watermelon as if expecting it to suddenly turn into a carriage. “We’re going to make a bomb.”

She tried to stand up when I said the word bomb, but I anticipated this, and caught her elbow.

“Oh come on you big baby, it won’t be that bad.” I could sense she didn’t really want to leave because she sat back down quickly. “Here, it’s easy. You just take a couple rubber bands.” I picked up a few to demonstrate.

“Stretch’em out, and then wrap it around the watermelon.” The rubber bands twanged into place around the middle of the melon making a slight thunking sound.

“See? Easy as pie.” I shove a few rubber bands her direction. She picks up two rubber bands and just like I showed her, twangs them into place around the large green fruit.

“Not so bad.” She says, gaining a measure of confidence.

“Not yet.” I smile maliciously at her, before she can think about that too much I pick up another four bands and slide them into place around the middle of the melon. “9.” I count off. She picks up another two.

“Eleven.” She says after wrapping them around the melon. Soon we get caught up in a contest of who could put the most rubbed bands around the melon. We’re shoving each other out of the way in an effort to put the most on.

“100.” I intone. She doesn’t even blink, just putting on more and more bands.

“200.” I count off after several more minutes. She starts to slow down a bit. “Is this dangerous?” She asks. “203

“You can’t ask that now. 207. We’re already over 200 rubber bands in!”

“210.” She replies. “Seriously though, is this going to hurt?” She asks.

“214. You’re slowing down chica, and you’ll be fine.” She’s still somewhat boisterous as we continue to create our own little WMD, until we get to about 300.

“303.” I count off.

“No really, that’s like a lot of rubber bands. Have you done this before?” She asks, forgetting to count off.

“Have you ever lived before? 310.” She tries to pull back a bit, but we are just starting to get to the point where it’s fun.

“Coward! Be ye woman or be ye melon! 314.” I pass the watermelon to her and she rapidly throws on a measly two bands before quickly passing it back to me.

“Say it!” I shout as I grab four more elastic bands.

“316!” She squeaks.

“320!” I shout, enthusiastically applying my processed rubber to the green ball. We press on as more and more bands pile on.

“Oh my gosh, it’s starting to flatten out. Does it normally do that? 389.” It’s true. The melon has now lost its spherical shape.

“393, and yes, we’re getting close now. Any minute this thing is going to be in your hands, and then suddenly it won’t be.” I do my best to sound like I’m telling a ghost story.

“395.” She spurts out, pulling away from the melon as soon as the rubber bands are on, like it’s a bee that might sting her.

Just before I launch into my grand finale speech, I take just a few heartbeats to take her in. I see in her face excitement, joy, loosely veiled as fear, and hope for what was about to what happen. It was everything that had been missing from her face when last I had seen it. She mistakes my pause for hesitation, and now it’s her turn to goad me on.

“Hey, you got me into this, if I have to keep this up then so do you.” I’ve never been so happy to be taunted by a girl.

“Right you are lass.” I quickly throw on five bands and shove the ticking time bomb to her.

“400.” I declare. We’re getting very near to the end of it. Any rubber band could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. It’s like a game of hot potato now. Each of us applies our few pieces of elastic and then immediately passes the device on to the other person so they don’t get caught in the explosion.

“472.” I count off, by the time the words are out of my mouth Jennifer is already adding her own.

“474.” She spits out.

“478.”

“480.”

“484.”

“486, hey.” She says.

“490.” I cut her off.

“There’s a little juice flowing down the….” One instant the watermelon is in her hand. The next it’s not. There’s a great squelching sound, and she’s gaping at the empty air where the watermelon used to be. Half of the melon is cut quite smoothly in front of her. Like a great cook has neatly sliced it down the middle. The rest of it is in bits and pieces everywhere.

On her face, every bit of worry, every trace of fear, is gone. In that moment she has forgotten all the trauma of earlier, and is now, for just a few fleeting instances, a kid again. She’s staring at the pieces of melon that are scattered around the table and on the nearby grass. I’m just staring at her. I want to make her feel whatever she’s feeling right now for as long as possible.

I wipe a piece of juice from her forehead, and she turns to address me.

“That was awesome!” She starts bouncing up and down like a kid that’s just gotten just what they wanted for Christmas.

“Well then, let’s see if we can go for double or nothing.” I pull a six pack of diet coke from underneath the bench.

“Ever heard of Russian roulette?”

Advertisements

Baby Team Six part two

Side note to the audience, this is still very much over the top and cheesy, that is all, enjoy!

Hey guys, quick side note, went back and did some work with part one. No real major changes, but I decided since the prompt said GAME+ to add achievements, and rambaby is going for a no kill run this life. So if you see bolded text, those are Life Score achievement pops. Enjoy!

“Wake up and smell the cocoa puffs John.” Ryan tells me. “Evil waits for no baby.” I snap awake expecting a delicious and well balanced breakfast. I’m pleasantly surprised to find that there’s no cereal. Ryan has instead prepared my favorite dish for me, victory.

I’m no longer in the barracks. I’m in a gym, laying in the middle of a wrestling mat. Ryan is sitting at a table with a clipboard. Next to him is a line of soldiers that stretches to the doors, and from what I can see, around the building.

“These boys don’t think you’re for real John. You’re going to be heading up this outfit, and it looks like you need to earn some respect so I organized this little meet and greet for you.” As Ryan turns to address the first hulking beast of a man in line I make a mental note that somebody changed my diaper and put me in some pajamas while I was asleep. Ryan still has his same old sense of humor.

“Sergeant Brooker, what is your military experience?” Brooker listed off an impressive list of accommodations, tours of duty, and tier one outfits he had served with. I didn’t pay much attention. His war experience was clearly readable in the many scars that crisscrossed his face. I mentally stored one of the countries he had served in for a future one liner.

“And this man thinks he can take me on?” I ask.

“Yes sir!” The man shouts, staring me down as he does so.

He addressed me as sir? Ryan must’ve told them my rank. I start sucking on my thumb and with my free hand wave at him for to approach. Sergeant Brooker looks at Ryan for confirmation.

“Are you really going to let me have a go at the little potty trained terror?” He asks.

“He’s not potty trained.” Ryan informs sergeant Brooker. “He’s wearing a diaper son. You might want to take that into consideration when you’re taking him down.”

“I am too potty trained!” I shout indignantly, thumb still in mouth.

I just think diapers are more comfortable is all. I only get to wear them without stigma for a few more months, might as well get the most out of them.

“Go get’em sergeant Brooker. Show your commanding officer what you’re made of.” Sergeant Brooker walks slowly into the circle on the mat that indicated the boundary for the fighting area. It wasn’t the confident kind of slow walk, nor even the careful slow walk of someone sizing up an opponent. It was the ‘Somebody is going to stop this any second now right?’ Kind of slow walk. He had challenged me not because he wanted a piece of me, but because he expected someone to decline the fight. He hadn’t anticipated actually getting pitted against a two year old.

Tier one military units are trained for a lot of things, but toddler combat was one of the few things they don’t teach you. He walked right up to me and just stared down at me. I continued sucking my thumb as I looked back up at him. He was obviously considering what the best way to take me down without hurting me was. I was burdened with no such worries.

He apparently thought picking me up would help somehow. As he bent down to pick me up I headbutted him in the throat, if I had done this as an adult, it would have likely caused permanent damage. As a toddler, it merely meant he had a little trouble breathing all of the sudden. I took advantage of this moment to leap onto his shoulders and apply a chokehold with my legs. Sergeant Brooks tapped out after only 3 seconds.

20LS:Knuckle sandwich for breakfast, score a takedown within five minutes of waking up

“Next!” I shout, as I release sergeant Brooks. “You did alright son.” I tell him in my squeaky prepubescent voice. “I would’ve been worried if you punched a baby in the face without any kind of hesitation. They don’t make babies like me in Egypt do they son?” Sergeant Brooks stares at me like he’s seen, well, like he’s just seen a toddler take down an elite career soldier.

“No, no sir they don’t.” He croaks out through his bruised throat.

“Too right they don’t, now scooch to one side lad. I’ve got some of your friends to show off for.”

“Corporal Wallerstedt.” Ryan indicates the next gentlemen to step up, and once again begins his long list of qualifications for this individual. I try and crack my knuckles but it’s really hard to do with my under developed fingers. It’s hard to look intimidating as a two year old, and that innocent thumb sucking technique won’t work twice. These guys know I mean business now. I’m going to have to try harder with this next guy.

As Ryan finishes I wave the guy over and drop into a fighting stance. I’m probably half this guy’s height, and less than third his weight. This was going to take some doing, but I still had one advantage. My opponent had no experience fighting people my size, but I had plenty of experience fighting people his size.

As corporal Wallerstedt steps into the ring he also adopts a fighting stance, and he has enough respect to bow to me. It’s a sign he has respect for my skill, and I return the bow, and thus the respect. It’s not this guy’s fault he’s about to get owned by a two year old. They just don’t train people for that.

Wallerstedt tries to use his reach to his advantage by throwing out a sidekick. It’s a good idea, but he doesn’t count on me rolling under his leg and jabbing my shoulder into his knee. He is off balance and surprised by the speed of my roll. He collapses onto his front, and I pin his right arm behind him.

This is a mistake as he’s so much stronger than me he just pulls his arm away, but I correct quickly and throw another leg chokehold when he tries to stand up. I feel uncreative using the same takedown, but with my weak arms it’s really my only way of forcing these guys to tap out.

“Looks like you just got baby sat.” I inform Wallerstedt from on top of his head as soon as he taps out. “I could do this all day. Keep them coming Ryan!” Ryan is grinning like a fool as he waves up the next soldier.

“I’ll set them up John. You knock them down.” After I had taken down sergeant Brooks a few of the soldiers in line had left their places and come to sit with their recently beaten comrade. After I had taken out the corporal Wallerstedt about a quarter of them left their spots in line. Half were remaining after I felled the third tier one operative, about a quarter were left after the fourth fight, and by the time I had bested the sixth person, who was one of the outfits female operatives, everyone had sat in a circle around the gym mat.

“Ladies and gentlemen.” Ryan announced. He put down his clipboard and began to walk around the group. I stood at attention and watched him as he made his way around the circle.“As you can see the reports were accurate. You are addressing the nearest thing to the physical embodiment of martial prowess that has ever walked the face of the earth. This little baby, as so many of you called him the morning during the debriefing is in fact captain Francis Timothy Walker reborn. We don’t know how or why, but as you’ve clearly seen, no other mind could’ve found a way to take down not one, but six tier one operatives each with several years of experience under their belt.”

“Some of you thought this assignment was a joke. It isn’t. It’s deadly serious.” I happened to be checking to make sure my diaper was still dry at this point. I quickly pretended to be dusting my legs off. “You were assembled because you come from the elite of the elite, the best of the best as the saying goes. We found that John Doe was the only man fit to lead you into combat. The mission this unit was assembled for is of the utmost secrecy and importance. Ladies and gentlemen, we’re about go where no baby, and no tier one operative has gone before. Dismissed.” The soldiers quickly and efficiently jog out of the building at the final order from Ryan.

“You seem to be in an inspiring mood.” I tell Ryan as he joins me in the middle of the mat.

“I wasn’t exaggerating John. There’s been some troubling information that’s come up through the intelligence community. Someone is planning something big, something bold. Something that is designed to cause so much chaos that someone very important will get an itchy nuclear trigger finger. We need your team to find out what it is.”

“That’s who those guys were that came after me this morning?” I ask.

“Possibly, we’re still interrogating them, but they’re not cracking. These guys are good. They very well could be behind it, but we can’t know for sure. Walk with me John.” He says, leading me into a nearby hallway. “We’re going to get you kitted out for your mission.” We go through a few security checkpoints guarded by more soldiers, and into what I can only describe as a cross between a toy shop and a gun store.

“What on earth is all this?” I ask pointing at a wrack of baby supplies such as diapers and pacifiers. Ryan being the learn by doing kind of guy picks up a light blue pacifier and hands it to me.

“Put it in and hold your nose.” I’m perplexed, but Ryan and I have been through more operations that almost got us killed then most people have been to the dentists. Which I guess isn’t much for some people, but the point is I trust the guy, so I put the pacifier in and plug my nose. Ryan throws something at my feet that produces a cloud of green gas. He has strategically taken several large steps back so the gas doesn’t hit him.

“Take a breath through the pacifier.” Ryan advises me. I oblige and too my surprise find that I haven’t just inhaled a large lung full of ominous green gas.

“That will filter any gas that isn’t corrosive enough to cause damage to your eyes.” The gas gets sucked into the ceiling by some ventilation system. I remove the pacifier and inspect it.

“I’m impressed. I never would’ve guessed that this thing doubled as a partial gas mask.” It looks exactly like an ordinary pacifier, and believe me, I’ve seen a lot of pacifiers. My mom has not understood which cereal I wanted to eat for breakfast so many times.

“It also comes in tactical colors.” Ryan informs me. “Not that we think you’ll want one of those. The whole point is to blend in.” He walks back to the table and picks up an ordinary looking bottle full of milk.

“I don’t suppose I can drink this?” I ask as he tosses it back to me.

“I don’t think you should, give the lid three good bites and then toss it that way.” He points towards a sealed steel bunker at the end of the room. I oblige him and give the lid a few good chomps. I’m somewhat mournful as I toss the bottle to Ryan. It’s past my breakfast time.

Ryan chucks the bottle into the bunker at the end of the room. The bottle sails through the only open door, which promptly slams shut behind him. No sooner does it click shut then the whole stainless steel room lifts off the ground and comes crashing down into several different pieces.

“That room had walls of solid steel three inches thick and was cryo-welded to the floor.” It now looks like a giant stepped on it. Or like a very angry toddler kicked it over.

“So rambaby wasn’t enough. You had to turn him into 00diaper.” I comment sarcastically to Ryan. He was grinning like a fool again.

“You should’ve seen the faces on the government contractors when we asked them to design this stuff. We spent an entire two hour meeting convincing them that this wasn’t a joke and we actually wanted Kevlar footy pajamas.” Kevlar footy pajamas, the Navy SEAL in me rejoiced at the idea of fully body Kevlar protection. It would provide excellent protection from all manner of bullets and bladed weapons. The special operative in me loved the idea of having minimized weak spots. The little kid in me rejoiced at the idea of pajamas that would keep you super warm when you went to bed, and had those little plastic things on your feet that let you slide around on linoleum floors.

“Do they come with dinosaur designs?” I asked, hopping up and down, scanning the shelves for the mystical pajamas. “I really want raptor ones. My mom got me triceratops footy pajamas for my birthday and you know they were cool and all, so I couldn’t get mad because she really put a lot of thought into it, but I really want raptor pajamas.” Ryan put a hand over his heart like what I said hurt him.

“What kind of tier one operative walks around in triceratops footy pajamas? They aren’t even a predator.” He reached up onto a high shelf and pulled out a set of velociraptor footy pajamas that were just my size. “We also have T. Rex as a backup.” I give off a little squeak that would have very likely undermined my authority with the troops, and practically trip over myself taking them from his hands and slipping into them.

“Normally I would dramatically shoot you at this point to demonstrate their bullet stopping potential, but your skin is really sensitive to bruising and I’m not sure your bone structure can withstand a shot without fracturing. I mean, your pajamas will stop bullets, at least anything at or below a 5.56 round, but it’s still going to do a lot of damages.”

“So for now it would be best if I didn’t get shot.” I surmise. Ryan shrugs “If you can.” I spy something out of the corner of my eye. I slide over on my footy pajamas and point.

“Please tell me that those are real.” There on the low hanging shelf next to some ninja stars that are stained green is a box of my favorite O shaped cereal.

“Well, sort of, you remember that green smoke I threw at you when you first came in here? All I did to generate that cloud was throw a few of those at your feet.” I open the box and carefully pull out a handful of multi-colored cereal.

More in the comments

“Oh yeah, I was wondering about those.” I pick one up and twirl it between my fingers. Despite the fact that the last time I did this I was three feet taller the piece of metal flits easily from finger to finger.

“I’d be careful with those. They’re tipped with poison that’ll drop someone twice your size almost before they feel the pin prick, so be careful with them. I’m not 100% sure how your small physiology will respond to that volume of toxin. An adult will process it out of their system fast enough to avoid any lasting damage. I don’t know if the same can be said for you.” I carefully replace the ninja star and look around the rest of the bizarre armory.

“I’m noticing that there aren’t any guns.” I say.

“Yes, we did some testing and concluded it would be impractical to give you firearms for several reasons. First, they would draw too much attention. Footy pajamas are normal for a two year old, and even ninja stars aren’t an abnormal toy for little boys, but guns, even if we tried to make them look fake. They would be too obvious. Rifles were completely out of the question, and even if you paint it and stick on one of those orange pieces, a firearm still looks like a firearm. To add on to that, they’re too large for you to handle smoothly, we would have to give you lower caliber rounds, and very downsized pistols in order for you to be able to shoot them with any degree of accuracy. All in all, the take down power of the kind of pistol we might be able to give you wasn’t worth the attention it would draw. We thought it would be best to give you a number of light weight options for stealthy takedowns. After all, half the point of you being you is that people don’t check babies for dangerous weapons.”

During Ryan’s rather longwinded explanation about the lack of guns I inspect my footy pajamas more thoroughly. I notice that there are several pockets that look as if they were designed to hold some of the gear laid out here. There’s a compartment for the pacifier, one for the ninja stars, and one that looks just right for a cereal holder.

I fill up a container with cereal while he’s talking and stow it in the appropriate pocket.

“I know you’re eager to get on to training.” Ryan says. “But we figured we would start with Close Quarters Combat as it’s going to be the skill that has changed most with your new body.” “I agree.” I say, slipping a few ninja stars into side pockets. “I don’t expect to be training with these anytime soon as I am sure I’m still fairly skilled in their use.” I throw one of the ninja stars and it imbeds right in the middle of the forehead of a dummy that was setup about ten meters away. I had to put a lot of arc on it because my wrist is not that strong, but that just makes my point even more thoroughly. “However I do expect that those bad guys are going to come swooping in at any moment. If they’re half as deadly and well networked as you make them out to be then they’re probably staging an attack on this place as we speak.”

“You underestimate us.” Ryan says, slightly offended by my statement. “Still, you’re right. We learned a long time ago that you should always take your opponent seriously and not get too confident in your own power. Besides, everyone else on this base is either armed or could be armed in moments.” Ryan had been carrying two pistols on him the entire time. I stow the pacifier in the last available pocket and zip everything up.

5LS: Silent but deadly, acquire your new stealth gear

I wonder if there was somewhere I could go see my total score. “Ready for breakfast, I mean training, ready for training.” I correct myself. Ryan laughs.

“We’ve got you covered old friend. It is past your breakfast time isn’t it? Let’s go hit the mess hall.”

The mess hall is practically empty when we show up, just a few guys who were on duty during the morning meal grabbing a quick bite before heading back to their bunks for some shut eye.

Ryan grabs bacon, eggs, and toast. I’ve been thinking about milk and cereal all morning, and find that someone has conveniently left out a bowl with milk and orange juice on the side. I thank the chef who no doubt had the foresight to provide an age appropriate meal, and sit down with my old comrade.

“Are we still using that old deal?” I ask Ryan as I pour milk over my cereal and start stuffing my face.

Ryan is meticulously cutting up his food into bite size chunks.

“You mean the one where we don’t talk about current missions during meals? Absolutely, nobody else on this base is going to do anything but talk about missions. Both of us need someone to talk about other stuff with.”

“Awesome!” I’m relieved that it’s not going to have to be all fate of the world all the time with Ryan. “On that note, how did they drag you into this? You retired a few months before I did. You’ve been out of the game a while man, how did they get you back in?” Ryan takes a few measured bites of his eggs.

“Isn’t it obvious? I came back for you John. When they told me that they had created a new and exciting outfit I turned them down. It wasn’t until they mentioned you that I took them up on it. I knew you would want a friend in all of this, and who better than the man who remembered to bring the extra flashbangs on the smash and grab ops because he knew you tended to leave them behind.”

“That was one time alright? Can’t a guy make a mistake? And what about you, mister forgets to turn his safety off when he’s sighting his rifle? Besides, we were snipers. We weren’t supposed to get close enough to use flashbangs. Remember when we took down that African warlord? The one who was killing all of those babies? Didn’t need flashbangs then did we?” A few soldiers on a nearby bench hear me mention this op. One of them leans over to ask me a question.

“You guys were on the golden lion op? I heard that you had to crawl through a snake infested jungle for two days to get into location for the shot.” Technically speaking we probably shouldn’t be discussing classified ops, but my existence was probably officially denied by the government, and Ryan was old enough that most of his enemies probably thought he was dead anyway. What were they going to do? Fire us?

“You heard right soldier.” Ryan responds. “John here even had a python crawl over him.”

“And on top of that we had to take the shot with old Russian tech rifles from the second world war so they wouldn’t know it was an American job. Speaking of Russian tech, you remember the Siberian op Ryan?”

As we start swapping old war stories soldiers slowly start to congregate around us. I notice as more and more of them start asking questions that they are not just Americans. It seems most of the NATO countries and a few of the non-NATO American friendly countries have sent representatives here as well. I’m particularly glad to see some Swedish troops in the ranks. Winter warfare is my Achilles heel and there are none better than the swedes at doing black ops in the snow.

Me and Ryan talk about everything from basic training to selection for the tier one groups, to active duty, to retirement. I’ve had these memories swimming around in my head for two years and it’s great to finally get to share them with people who understand and appreciate them. The other soldiers join in with stories of their own in a giant story swap that would probably make any intelligence officer pull his hair out. It’s great to hear what the community has been up to since my retirement and rebirth. When the time for breakfast has passed and we have to head back to the gym for CQC training I’m feeling rejuvenated both body and soul. It’s going to be a good day.

When we enter the gym I find that the mat is surrounded by six of the largest soldiers that I’ve seen yet.

“You did well against those guys this morning.” Ryan says, taking up a position on the outside of the mat. “But there were two major problems with your fighting style. First, you were defensive and reactionary. If you had made the first move on those guys they would’ve thrown you around the mat. Second, you could only take them on one at a time. We’re going to be dropping you into some hairy situations and you need to be able to handle yourself against large groups of combatants.” He indicates the men standing around the mat. “We will start with just six today.” Just six he says, any one of these guys was at least triple my body weight. If we were going by body mass the equivalent challenge for adult me would have been a crowd of 24 equally sized men. This was going to be fun.

“We’ll start with two at a time and work up from there. James, Phillip, have a go at him. You saw what he was capable of this morning, you don’t need to hold back. John, would you care to relieve yourself of your personal arsenal? This is unarmed combat.” I remember the men breaking into my parent’s house. How much easier would it have been to just throw a handful of knock out gas pellets at them. I’m loathe to relinquish my personal weaponry so soon after having acquired it, but I dip into my pockets and reluctantly pull out the equipment. It’s fortunate that I did, at that exact moment there are a series of rolling explosions that shake the base. A siren wails and a voice comes over some loud speakers.

“Full alert, full alert, battle stations, base under attack. Repeat, full alert, base under attack, battle stations.” The six men bolt for their weapons which they’ve left at the side of the gym and Ryan pulls out his pistol as he shoots a question I don’t hear into a walkie talke he’s produced from a back pocket.

“John!” He shouts. “It looks like your first mission is going to be a little sooner than we anticipated.” I place my pacifier in my mouth and ready a handful of cereal.

“It’s play time, let’s go make some friends.” The six gentlemen who were going to be my assailants moments before report back in full combat gear.

“Ready for orders sir.” They intone in unison.

“You’re up John.” Ryan says, drawing a pistol and falling into position behind me. “Show these guys that all they’ve done by coming here is to wake a sleeping baby and fill him with rage.” I ready a ninja star and take position at the front of the troops.

“Gas masks on, roll up this mat and you three take up positions behind it. You other three take up defensive positions on the sides of the gym. Ryan, you’ve got the door we just came from. Stay out of sight and take down anyone who tries to flank us. These guys are coming for me. You can bet they know where I am so you can bet they’re going to be here any second. Let’s roll out the welcome wagon boys.” The troopers are good, by the time I’ve finished giving orders they’re already in position. I take up position behind the mat with them.

“Tangos at the door.” One of the troopers whispers to me.

“Copy, non-lethal shots if you can. We want live prisoners to get information if at all possible.”

“Roger.” The soldiers confirm with me silently. I toss a handful of pellets at the door so that when the enemy squad breaks in they are immediately dazed by the cloud of green smoke. The troopers are efficient as always. Quick controlled shots from the men behind the mat drop the door breachers, and the men on the side quickly close in to cuff them. The enemy is down before they ever get to fire a single bullet.

“Stow them against the wall and return to your positions. You can bet there will be more of these guys. See that Ryan?” Ryan doesn’t respond.

“Ryan come in.” Still no response. I turn around just in time to see two men in combat gear that is all too familiar to me at this point.

“Flank!” I shout as they bring their rifles up. I loose two ninja stars just in time. They drop, and their buddies behind them are so surprised that they don’t see the next two coming. I only brought four, so the fifth guy bringing up the rear gets a swift kick to the knees and a chokehold applied with more force than is strictly speaking necessary.

“Ryan!” I shout, ducking into the hallway where the five men have come from. Ryan is slumped against a wall, a half dozen other enemy combatants sprawled at his feet.

“Sorry John.” He croaks. He’s in a bad way.

“Medic!” I shout. “We need a medic!” I’m at his side in a heartbeat, trying desperately to apply pressure on his wounds, but there’s just too many.

“Medic!” I shout again. One of my own squad comes through the door already producing bandages and tourniquets.

“It’s alright John.” Ryan says. “I had a good run. You know I did.”

“Medic!” I shout a third time, even though the medic is already at my side and treating wounds as fast as he can.

“Got something to ask you old friend. Will you write the letter to my wife and kids? I want them to hear from someone who knew them, and who knew me. I don’t want some generic government goodbye letter. I want it to be personal. It’ll really help them pull through. Will you do that for me John?” His voice is so weak I can barely hear it. I grab one of his hands and hold on because it’s all I can think to do. I hear gunfire from the gym behind us, but I’m not paying attention.

“Absolutely, you know I will Ryan. I’ll. I’ll. I’ll write them the best last letter that ever was.” Ryan nods and closes his eyes.

“Go do what you do best John.” He says, and then his hand goes limp.

Life long friends 100LS: Be the best friend a man ever had

Little kids often only have enough space in their heads for one emotion at a time, and with those words Ryan kicks out all sadness and replaces it with a burning desire to go repay the fools who’ve done this to my oldest friend.

I rush back to the gym, ninja stars and gas pellets at the ready, to find that the men I left there have already cleaned everything up.

“To the door! We’re going on the offensive. Stack up!” The troops comply and within seconds we’re bursting through the door and onto the base. It’s a sorry sight with many buildings burning and casualties from both sides everywhere, but no guns are out. Teams are sweeping to the base perimeter, but no one is firing a shot. There are no enemy helicopters and troop transports pulling in. The fighting is already done.

“No! No it can’t be done already!” I shout. My troops have dutifully take cover in nearby positions. They’re ready for a second attack that will not come.

“This isn’t fair!” I shout. There should be enemies for me to take my vengeance out on. It can’t be done already.

“Sir, it’s for you.” One of the troops hands me his headset.

“Thanks trooper.” I say, putting it on.

“Ready to take the fight to them?” A scrambled voice comes over the headset.

“Just tell me where they are.”

Baby Team Six part one

Book project Number 3! This is not the mysterious third book project I keep alluding to. That is now project number four. I’ll say briefly that the mystery project is now to the point where I’m looking for an agent. Now then, this is a new comedy project that just started today due to a very inspiring prompt over at reddit.com/r/writingprompts. It’ll be five parts, and probably a bit shorter than unhooked. Parts will come out every 3-4 days, with the first part coming out this Saturday at about noon EST. Now then onto Baby Team Six part. Fair warning, I am a big fan of cheesy action movies.

After death a text window pops up: Welcome to new game+. You will begin you life anew, but retain all knowledge, skills, currency, and items you choose to carry over. The challenge and enemies will be adapted to your level accordingly.

Life was okay until I turned two. The body and brain can’t utilize past knowledge much before then. But once I turned two, oh boy.

“Jerry somebody’s broken in.” I heard my mom whisper to my dad.

What? I don’t remember our house ever being broken into. And my parents would’ve told me about that at some point for sure. Our family didn’t keep secrets like that.

“I told you I should’ve gotten that Glock.” My dad whispers back. I can hear voices downstairs now. Several of them, and several bolts being pulled back to chamber rounds in what sounds like are very large guns.

“We’ve got to protect the baby.” My mom tells my dad.

No, this baby’s got to protect you. I roll out of my bed and hit the ground. Thankfully being a baby I am very light weight and therefore make very little noise. I run to the top of the stairs before my dad can open his door to sneak over to my room.

I move noiselessly to the base of the stairs and peak around the corner.

A normal person would be scared at a group of thugs stacking up on the stairwell like a SWAT team. A normal person would’ve probably begged for their life when they saw all the assaults rifles, shotguns, and body armor. A normal toddler would’ve wet themselves and passed out. But a normal toddler also didn’t do three tours in Afghanistan.

“It’s him!” The first one shouts, bringing his gun to bear. I’m too weak to fight him directly so I dive under him, pulling the pin on one of his grenades as I duck under.

“Don’t let…” I cut the second guy off with a strategic punch to his reproductive organs, and sprint into a nearby bathroom, jumping into the tub and covering my head just in time to hear the grenade go off.

This is going to be an interesting childhood.”

Life was rough enough as a SEAL team six member the first time around. This was going to be a challenge worthy of the world’s deadliest toddler. The time for resting in my cradle and dreaming of Barney was over. The time for sleeping in safe houses and dreaming of bullets had begun.

I stood up and dusted myself off as I hopped out of the tub. My parents were not made of the tougher stuff that I had been created from. They were still upstairs, no doubt wondering if they were being bombed. A hand grenade explosion inside is loud enough to damage you’re hearing. I stride through the aftermath of the handheld explosive and take note of my fallen foes.

They bear no insignia, but there equipment is a little too advanced for just a random group of thieves. I’d finish going through them later. My parents were probably terrified out of their minds right now.

There’s still some smoke from the explosion whisping about me like a cloak when I stride into my parents room. They’re cowering underneath the bed. I can’t blame them. They probably thought the Germans had come back for thirds from Uncle Sam.

I knelt down next to the bed, sticking my head underneath. I make eye contact with my quivering father and while the smoke continues to drip off me I tell him.

“Nobody’s breaking in while this baby’s onboard. Now come out here. You have to start cooking up a cover story. Nobody’s going to believe someone in diapers could do so much damage.”

“Well…..” My mom mumbles.

“I told you the gas fire was an accident. I totally know how to sauté lobster. My fine motor function just hadn’t kicked in yet.” My mom shrugs, clearly not buying my story, but they both exit the bed.

They don’t know about my skills. They can’t possibly know. It broke my mom’s heart the first time I left the military, and I had been eighteen at the time. It would kill her to send off her child before he turns three. And my dad, I wasn’t sure how he would react, but I couldn’t imagine having a son with lethal hands for weapons that still needed diapers some days could be good for his mental health.

Until tonight they had no idea of what I was capable of. Now they would have to learn fast to stay alive.

“What could we possibly tell the police about the men downstairs?” My dad asks.

“Gas leak maybe?” I provide. “We do have a gas stove.”

“It’s in the kitchen though, and they’re in the hallway. At least, I think that’s where the sound came from.” She scowls, suddenly remembering how old I was. “What on earth was that anyway? And what’s all this about a cover story. What happened? Why aren’t you in bed young man?” She puts her hands on her hips in an attempt to give me a stern motherly look. It doesn’t quite have the desired affect.

“Evil never sleeps, and neither should I.” I tell her. “I was defending this castle from the malicious men who lurk in the night. I am not what you think I am. I…” I’m cut off by the sound of the phone ringing. There are now sirens in the distance, but I expected sirens. I didn’t expect anyone to call at this early hour of the morning. We didn’t have any close friends or relatives nearby. Who could possibly be calling us?

“Hello?” My father asks. My mother is still trying to glare at me. Although her heart isn’t in it anymore. Her fists have slid off her hips and she keeps glancing worriedly over at my father.

“What? Yes, he’s here.” My father, looking as if lady fate herself has personally smacked him, hands me the phone.

“This is the doomsday baby. To whom am I speaking?” The person on the other responds through one of those voice scramblers that makes your voice sound super low and intimidating. Hearing it makes me acutely aware of the fact that my own voice won’t change for at least another eight years.

“Who I am is not important. Who I represent is what’s important, and I represent some very powerful people.”

“Like Disney!?” I ask excitedly. I wish I could say I was faking my enthusiasm. My parents has used the Lion King to lull me to sleep.

“Umm. No.” The voice sounds momentarily unsure of itself. “I represent the combined power of the United Nations. There’s no time to explain anything. Those boys who tried to take you out tonight will have backup rolling in any second. We’re sending a chopper to you, but it won’t get there in time. You need to move your family. Now, and ditch the tracking device in your diaper.” Who would put a tracking device in a diaper, that was low. I reach and locate the deivce, thanking my lucky stars that I hadn’t drunken any water before bed. I pull out the blinking red device.

How had my mom missed this thing when she was changing me? I must’ve taken every ounce of action here out of them when I had come into the world. I throw it on the floor and stomp it until the light goes out.

“On it.” I tell the man on the other line.

“Good luck Rambo baby. We’ll see you on the other side.” The line goes dead, as does the power to the house. I look out the window and see that even though the sun is still down the streetlights are off.

They must’ve cut the power to the whole block. The sirens are real close now. I can see flashing lights in the distance. *Oh no, the police are going to get caught in the cross fire.

“Get to the attic!” I order my parents, dashing for the stairs. “There are more coming!”

“Yes…….Dear.” My mom says. I have no time to verify that they are following my instructions. I run to the kitchen and dig through the cabinets. I know what I’m looking for has to be here. Ah, perfect. They won’t know what hit them. I take two bottles of chemicals and start filling some water balloons with their contents, making sure to memorize which water balloon holds which chemical. I fill about ten before I hear the police pull in out front. I’m not sure this will be enough, but I’m out of time. I throw the water balloons into two small plastic buckets. The kind that are used to build sand castles at the beach, tuck a knife into my diaper, and make for the door.

The officers have just formed a preliminary defensive pereimeter around my house. They’re behind their cars. Their guns are out, and one of them is about to turn on a microphone.

“Get back in your cars!” I shout. “They’re coming!”

“Just make it so us.” The man with the microphone says, his voice booming through the small cul-de-sac. “We’ll protect you from them.

“No you fools.” I say, almost to the line of cars. “I’m here to protect you!”

Just as I say this I reach the line of vehicles. Two black vans come tearing up the street, jack knifing about ten meters from our position. The side doors roll open as the police turn to see who the newcomers are.

They’re greeted with the rattle of automatic weapons as a couple of floor mounted belt fed LMGs open up on the unsuspecting officers. The men in uniform dive for cover as a hail of led thunders down on their cars. Thankfully they’re well enough trained to know that the engine block is their best protection, and a quick once over of the police response tells me most have suffered only minor wounds.

I place the two buckets of water balloon chemical bombs in front of the officer with the microphone.

“You need to throw these at the van!” I shout over the roar of the AK-47s that have joined in with the LMGs.

“What!” He shouts back. “Kid this is no time for a water balloon fight!”

“These aren’t ordinary water balloons!” I yell. “Besides, it’s not like your troopers are throwing anything else at them!” It’s true. All of his officers are still bunkered down behind their vehicles, waiting for a lull in the oncoming fire. I don’t think a single retaliatory bullet has been fired. “You need to throw them because my young arms can’t throw that far!”

“Alright kid.” He reluctantly reaches down and picks one up.

“Make sure you throw them all at the same spot!” I yell as he pitches the first one. It splatters right in front of the LMG of the left vehicle to no effect. The LMG gunner notices him and sends a series of bullets right through the spot that the policemen’s head had occupied moments before.

“It didn’t work!” He yells. “And I nearly got my head taken off!”

“Just one more!” I yell, handing him a balloon filled with the second kind of chemical. “This balloon has a different chemical that the first one needs to react!” He stares at the balloon in his hand. I can tell he’s wondering if it’s worth it. The last one had nearly cost him his life. Why should he try again?

“How old are you?!” He asks.

“Two!” I hold up two fingers in the peace sign like my mommy taught me. That convinces him. He should try again because no ordinary two year old fills water balloons with deadly chemical agents.

The officer pitches the second water balloon right where the first one landed, and this time he’s rewarded for his efforts. A large plume of orange smoke rises as soon as the second balloon splashes onto the remains of the first.

A cloud of the poison materializes, but the LMG gunner whose van the cloud is appearing in front of, doesn’t notice until it reaches his face. He doubles over coughing after only inhaling a couple of breaths. The gun he was manning goes silent.

“Throw the rest!” I shout. The officer sitting next to me needs no encouragements. I hand him balloons, and he throws as fast as he can. It’s a miracle he doesn’t get mowed down by the remaining LMG, or the squad of troops who have taken up positions in the surrounding cars.

The entire section of street the two vans are parked in soon becomes blurry behind a haze of orange smoke. Enemy gunfire beings to die down, and friendly gunfire rises to fill the gap. The officers begin peeking over the hoods of their car and taking potshots at the enemy.

“Run for it!” I hear one of the enemy shout. Many foes lay sprawled out on the ground, and when the vans speed off, they leave many of their comrades behind.

As the officers begin to cheer. I grab the nearest officer by the belt to get his attention.

“What is it kid?” He asks.

“That’s a deadly chemical spill down there. You guys need to evacuate these houses and get those downed men to a hospital as soon as possible. The gas will soon dissipate and you need to get chemical response teams here to neutralize it.” The officer looks confused that a two year old is telling him this, but one look at the downed men where the vans used to be kicks him into gear. Some of them are coughing, but if any of them are going to survive the police need to act quick. They may be bad guys, but they’re still people. They also happen to have highly valuable information about whose sending these hit squads.

As ambulances speed onto the scene, and the police begin resuscitating the downed hitmen, I hear a chopper on approach. The lead officer walks over to me as the chopper appears, circling overhead.

“Kid, who are you?” He asks. Now that his blood pressure was returning to normal after the firefight he was fully comprehending just how crazy it was that a little kid ran out of a house with chemical bombs and instructed pinned down officers in their use. Two year olds should be worrying about how to pronounce the word ‘chemicals’, not throwing them at people, and in lethal doses to boot. To say nothing of the fact that this little kid had maintained a cool head under the withering fire of multiple assault rifles and a brace of high powered Light Machine Guns.

The chopper descends, and someone throws a rope ladder out of the side. I grab a hold of it and begin to be pulled skyward. I cast an eye on the remaining pockets of orange chemical fumes as I give my response.

“I’m the baby whose gas does more than just stink.” The officer either can’t think of a response, or I don’t hear it over the chopper’s whirring blades. I give him a salute as I ascend the ladder and pile into the waiting helicopter.

There are several highly armed men and women inside who throw me respectful salutes as I slide into my seat.

“You guys must really want me alive.” I say over the headset that’s handed to me.

“Yes sir.” The man across from me barks. He’s at least twenty times my age. The grey is starting to show in his stubble.

“So you’re not going to believe I’m just some cuddly kid that was at the right place at the right time?” I throw on my most innocent face.

“Sir, we know you didn’t need the police to handle those terrorists.” The older man replies curtly.

“Terrorists you say?” I scratch my chin. “What would terrorists want with me?”

“HQ on the line.” A female voice pipes in. It looks like it’s one of the pilots.

“Patch them through.” I say, tapping the appropriate button on my headset.

“Glad to have you with us Mr. Doe.” A scrambled voice tells me over my headset.

“I don’t know any Mr. Doe. You must have the wrong number.”

“I’m quite certain I telephoned the proper top secret stealth chopper whose existence I am legally bound to deny. My mother taught me to always check the numbers twice.” The scrambler isn’t strong enough to mask the sarcasm.

Stealth chopper? This thing was loud enough to wake up everybody on the block. Then again, the non-stealth military choppers I was used to would’ve woken up everybody in half the town.

“Well you better check again because I don’t know any Mr. Doe.” I retort.

“There won’t be, because you don’t exist yet. We’re in the process of changing your name to John Doe. It should be finalized within the hour.”

“You can change my name?” I ask. “Who are you guys?”

“We can do many things Mr. Doe, or shall I call you Rambo baby? Well no matter. It would be careful to list the things we can’t do Rambaby. We are powerful people. It’s not safe enough to discuss who we are over this radio connection, but all will be revealed as soon as you land.”

“This is all a little sudden. You guys couldn’t have called a few days ahead to my parents. Just a courtesy call, ‘Hey, Mr. and Mrs. Rambaby what’s your schedule like Tuesday? Free? Excellent, you’re going to be assaulted by some terrorists and you might want to make them snacks or something’. It’s the sort of thing polite people do.” My comment earns some snickers form the soldiers in the helicopter.

“Polite people don’t use voice scramblers and send noisy choppers into the middle of sleeping neighborhoods to wake up people’s dogs. We prefer the term professional Mr. Doe, and like I said, all will be explained to you as soon as you land. I’m surprised you haven’t asked why we’ve changed your name for you though. That was what this call was about.”

“To protect my family right? The same reason why Batman doesn’t go by his first name. Although now that you mention it, why didn’t you just give me a codename? As I recall it was you who named me Rambaby.”

“Because codenames are for people who go home to families. New names are for people who will be associated with us more permanently. Meditate on the meaning of that for the remainder of your trip.” The headset switches back to the channel that the helicopter crew is usuing, and I can hear the tail end of a conversation about me they’ve been having.

“Like the grim reaper but in a family friendly package.” The first female pilot says.

“And cuddly.” The second one adds.

“You should set her up with your niece.” The first one suggests.

I was married in my last life, to a woman. We had four children, all of them were biological, and all of them were mine. Intellectually I am acutely aware of the biological and emotional benefits of a close relationship with a female. However, developmentally, I still think girls are icky.

“What do you think about dinosaurs?” I ask the man with the stubble across from me in an effort to change the subject so I don’t have to hear any more about girls. The adult type girls were fine, like the pilots. It was the ones closer to my age I didn’t want to hear about.

“Coolest things ever to walk the planet.” He responds without missing a beat. “Got a favorite?” He leans forward, propping his elbows up on the rifle that’s laying in his lap.

“Velociraptor.” I say. “They’re so quick and smart. And those claws! Raptor claws have got to be the most awesome dinosaur fossils ever. I wanted one for my birthday but my parents said I was too little. I’d poke an eye out or something.”

“Good old raptors, nice choice, but I think you have to go with the king.” He presses his elbows against his chest and waves his hands around to simulate really short arms.

“T. Rex?” I ask.

“Absolutely.” He says, returning to his leaned in position. “Baddest predator to ever walk the earth. I asked my wife for a tooth fossil for our anniversary but she got me a leather massage chair instead.”

“Dude, you got ripped off!” One of the other men in the chopper chimes in over the comm channel.

“I know right.” He says, turning to face the soldier who had spoken up. “I mean my call sign is Rex, and everything.”

“Boys, you know this is an official military channel right?” One of the female pilots asks. “Every word that’s spoken on her is heavily encrypted and sealed as top secret. You’re supposed to talk about important stuff.”

“T. Rex is important.” The man with the stubble exclaims. “That’s what I’m saying. T. Rex doesn’t get enough respect.”

“A bet a raptor could take down a T. Rex.” I say, rejoining the conversation.

“Ouch.” The man says, grabbing his side to illustrate that he’s pretending my words physically hurt him. “That’s a low blow kid.”

“Well, maybe not any raptor, but the right raptor, in the right place at the right time. Don’t get me wrong, T. Rex is super dangerous, but that’s why the raptor might win. Things that are big and scary tend to underestimate the little guy.” The stubbly solider appreciates the not so subtle subtext of my words.

“I’m with you kid. It’s why we’ve put such an effort to bring you in, but just remember.” He sits up straight and gets serious for a second. “These people that are after you. They know what you’re capable of, and you can’t always count on your deceiving appearances.” I nod appreciatively. It’s solid advice. Not that I had really used that tactic this morning, but I would have to keep from relying on it.

The chatter dies down to quick bursts of military speak between the pilots and some far off control tower. I take the opportunity to observe the awesome view that the chopper affords. I have memories of sky diving from low earth orbit, and the ‘me’ in my memories isn’t impressed by skimming the treeline in a chopper, but kid ‘me’ thinks this is the coolest thing ever.

My parents were planning on taking me to the county fair next week. The ferris wheel would’ve gotten me about as high as this helicopter, but it wouldn’t have been even ten percent as awesome. This was a great way to experience heights for the first time.

“Hey.” I address the stubbly solider whose been keeping me company. “What’s going to happen to my parents?” I feel kind of selfish for not mentioning them earlier. The immediate danger was dealt with, and the police had arrived. I think I even saw SWAT pulling up to my house, but now that I had quiet moment I wanted to know what became of them.

“They’re being escorted to a safe location. Don’t worry. They’ll be safe.” The man assures me. “We’re not going to let the world’s most dangerous toddler become an orphan.”

“Will I get to see them again?” I ask. A momentary surge in childhood emotion prompting me to express an uncharacteristically weak emotion.

“I don’t know kid.” The stubbly man says. A trace of a frown entering his face. “I just don’t know.” That saddens me, and I have to distract myself with the awesome view once again.

The sun is coming up, and it’s not long before we fly into a landing strip on a military base. There’s at least a hundred fully armed men and women in formation to greet us as we land. My escort from the chopper exits the chopper and fans out to take up defensive positions. It’s just for show of course. Probably some tradition of this outfit. I liked it. It showed that these people took their missions seriously. Well, except for the dino talk.

“Greetings commander Francis Timothy Walker. Captain of the sniper detachment from red team of seal team six. Honorably discharged after twenty years of service to serve as contract advisor and instructor for the training of future SEALs. Died January 2nd 2013 in a hospital bed, surrounded by his family and loved ones.” The man addressing me snapped to a salute. My jaw dropped, this was the first thing tonight to truly surprise me.

When I had accepted my mission to be sent back I had expected a lot of craziness. The late night intruders were obviously the upgraded enemies. The secret government outfit seemed kind of par for the course, but seeing my old spotter still alive was breath taking. I hadn’t known he was still alive, and he had greeted me with my full name and rank. How had he known it was me.

“Ryan.” I say, running forward and leaping up to hug him. The way he hugged me, spinning me around like a favorite uncle, was unprofessional, but somehow appropriate. He sets me down and ruffles my hair affectionately.

“We’ve been waiting a long time for you Francis.” Somebody coughs that I don’t see. “I mean John. We’ve been keeping track of you for a while John.” He emphasizes the word John each time he says it.

“What do you mean? How did you guys know? Is this common knowledge?” We start walking towards one of the barracks as we talk. To a casual bystander it may have looked like a grandfather taking his grandson out for a walk. Not two of the world’s most cunning special operations operatives discussing intelligence on a very important op, me.

“We’ve known for about 18 months. You remember when you were six months old and your parents thought you had cancer so they took you in for an MRI?”

“Oh yeah, I remember that, but the tests came back negative.” I say.

“See that’s weird.” He says as he opens the door to the barracks.

“That the tests were negative?” I ask.

“No.” He responds. “That you remember. You really shouldn’t have that good of a long term memory yet. Anyway, the results from the test were, shall we say eye opening? Eye opening enough that they eventually made it to some of our boys who monitor these things. We had a devil of a time getting the medical community to bury the matter. We had to bribe a lot of people to keep that data under wraps, but as soon as we got the report we started watching you.” We walked over to the bunk that was to be mine. He didn’t have to tell me it was going to be my bunk. I don’t think anybody else in the military was allowed to sleep with their teddy bear and a fuzzy power ranger’s blanket.

“We did a lot of digging. We went through your parent’s employment history, medical history, family history, and interviewed dozens of their friends and relations. That all turned up nothing. There was absolutely nothing about your parents that could have created that remarkable brain in your skull.” He pulled back the blanket as if preparing to tuck me in.

“Then one of our boys had the bright idea to compare the MRI to other brain scans of soldiers. We didn’t think we would get such a close match to yours. We thought we’d get some correlations, maybe something to tell us what we were working with. When it turned out that your brain, I mean your current brain, was an almost exact match to your old brain, we didn’t believe it. We thought it was a coincidence, a fluke, a random chance.”

“What changed your mind?” I asked, sitting down on my bunk as Ryan sat on the bunk next to me.

“We bugged your room. It wasn’t legal, but I had a hunch, and we’re a black ops outfit anyway. Legal is more of a cautionary word than a hard rule. You talked in your sleep. Not much, just whispering a few words. Not many, and nothing too conspicuous, but we started cross referencing your night time rants with your old files, and every single word you spoke was a codename for an operation. Your parents would think they were meaningless, that you had heard them from a movie or from one of your friends, but we knew better. So we watched you. We didn’t know what to do with such a discovery so we waited. We waited for over a year until the people watching your crib’s camera feed reported the sound of a grenade going off.”

“Yeah about that.” I say, stifling a yawn. It’s been a heck of a day, and I was up to early. My two year old metabolism is telling me to go back to bed. “How did those people know about me? You guys I get. It makes sense, but they didn’t have access to my records or my brain scan. How could they have known?” Ryan shrugs.

“We don’t know John. We were hoping you could tell us.”

“Well I don’t know nothing.” I say. “Do you at least know who they are?”

“We’re working on it John, but for now you’ve got to rest. Go to sleep.”

“Sleep, I’m (Yawn) fine.” I cover my mouth in a vain attempt to hide my sleepiness. My bed does look awfully soft and warm.

“Sure you are. You may be a big strong navy SEAL on the inside, but on the outside you’re a two year old who missed his nap time, and you’re going to be very grumpy if you don’t go beddy-by.” He gently pushes me down into the mattress and I instinctively snuggle down into the covers.

“But I need to start finding bad guys.” I say, but my eyes have already closed.

“We’ll wake you up in a few hours John, and when you do we’re going to teach you to fight.”

“I already know….how……to fight.” I say, beginning to drift into unconsciousness.

“You know how to fight like a man John, but when you wake up. We’re going to teach you to fight like a baby. Rest now, the fun begins when you wake up.”

What wizards do when they’re bored

“You shall not pass!!” The wizard shouted at the students entering the classroom. The professor was still in shocked silence from when he had appeared in a flash of smoke mere moments before. The students also froze as they came in, forming clumped lines in the hallways.

“Security.” The professor whispered into an emergency phone.

The wizard rounded on him, bringing his staff to bear, circling it as he incanted “I am a servant of the secret fire, wielder of the flame of arnor. The dark fire will not avail you flame of Udun! Go back to the shadow. YOU. SHALL. NOT. PASS!” He then blasted the exam papers into the air, setting them on fire to the cheers of the students.

At this point security walked in, and the wizard turned to once again address the class. “Fly you fools.”

Every conversation has two sides

Two sides of a phone conversation.

Side 1:

“Oh hey John, yeah my special lady is here. What’s up?”

“That’s horrible, when did you find out?”

“I’m so sorry man, is it chronic? I mean, is it going to be permanent?”

“Oh man I thought they had a cure for that.”

“Failed phase three clinical trials? That’s just terrible.”

“How long have you known?”

“Just found out, were there any signs or warnings to prepare you for this?”

“Got tested on a whim before there were symptoms. That’s a rough way to find out.”

“No, no, I can stay on the line as long as you want.”

“Are you sure? It’s really no problem.”

“Okay, I’m going to tell my wife. You two call us if you need anything. Seriously, our house is always open to you. You know that right?”

“Okay, take care man.”

Side 2:

“Special lady huh? That’s the code phrase for that ridiculous thing from high school. Well you’re going to love this then. Mary’s pregnant!”

“Oh hah hah, you know your wife is probably freaking out right now right?”

“Of course it’s not permanent! She’s due in eight months. Are you seriously going to do this for the whole conversation?”

“Now you’re just being mean.”

“Alright, well, you remember the deal right? You take a video of whoever is listening to you have this conversation when you tell them.”

“Oh just a few minutes. Thanks for asking a real question.”

“Surprisingly not, no morning sickness or anything. She just took a test because we had some that were about to expire.”

“It was pretty sweet actually. Like having Christmas come in the middle of August. Okay, you’ve had your fun. Now go calm down your panicking wife.”

“No no, really, get off the line before she has an aneurism.”

“Now you’re repeating what I say? Okay, I’m hanging up now.”

“It’s been great talking to you dude.”

“Remember, take video

Together:

“Oh hey John, yeah my special lady is here. What’s up?”

“Special lady huh? That’s the code phrase for that ridiculous thing from high school. Well you’re going to love this then. Mary’s pregnant!”

“That’s horrible, when did you find out?”

“Oh hah hah, you know your wife is probably freaking out right now right?”

“I’m so sorry man, is it chronic? I mean, is it going to be permanent?”

“Of course it’s not permanent! She’s due in eight months. Are you seriously going to do this for the whole conversation?”

“Oh man I thought they had a cure for that.”

“Now you’re just being mean.”

“Failed phase three clinical trials? That’s just terrible.”

“Alright, well, you remember the deal right? You take a video of whoever is listening to you have this conversation when you tell them.”

“How long have you known?”

“Oh just a few minutes. Thanks for asking a real question.”

“Just found out, were there any signs or warnings to prepare you for this?”

“Surprisingly not, no morning sickness or anything. She just took a test because we had some that were about to expire.”

“Got tested on a whim before there were symptoms. That’s a rough way to find out.”

“It was pretty sweet actually. Like having Christmas come in the middle of August. Okay, you’ve had your fun. Now go calm down your panicking wife.”

“No, no, I can stay on the line as long as you want.”

“No no, really, get off the line before she has an aneurism.”

“Are you sure? It’s really no problem.”

“Now you’re repeating what I say? Okay, I’m hanging up now.”

“Okay, I’m going to tell my wife. You two call us if you need anything. Seriously, our house is always open to you. You know that right?”

“It’s been great talking to you dude.”

“Okay, take care man.”

“Remember, take video”

Humanity invents the respawn point

“Bob, you really shouldn’t kill yourself just to get home. You know respawns take a lot of electricity.” I advised my coworker.

“Frank, this saves me two hours of sitting in traffic, besides, it’s not like I’m paying for it.” I shrug.

“Suit yourself buddy.” Bob goes upstairs to jump off the building into the dumpster 12 stories down. The first couple of times he had missed and it had been messy for us to clean up. Now he could land smack dab in the middle and not even get any splatter on the pavement.

I keep a straight face until he’s closed the door to the stairwell, and then I burst out laughing. He doesn’t know that after he brought in those arsenic laced donuts ‘to share’, the rest of us had decided to get revenge. We had set his respawn two hundred feet above his house.

We had rigged a camera in his backyard, and any second it would be life streaming a most amusing scene. My coworkers crowd around my desk as I pull it up, and we start taking bets on how many tries it’s going to take until he manages to reset it close enough to the ground to survive.

Our boss had suggested we set the respawn point to be his mother for irony’s sake, but we figured his mom would probably tell on us.

Diary of a Superhero

January 1st- Lost eagle woman yesterday. It figures, we just had our first date, and some supervillain just had to take her out. I should’ve known. It was a new year, and things were looking good. Things always turn absolutely horrible just when stuff is sorting itself out. I don’t know if it just got too quiet and the human fly got bored, or if he knew somehow, maybe he had our secret identities pegged. All I know is she’s not here anymore. Happy new year.

February 14th- Fourth villain back in jail today! Felt like letting of some steam so I called in sick to work and spent the whole day fighting crime. I didn’t feel like talking to coworkers today so it’s for the best, and I got so much done! The commissioner tells me that I might crime fight my way out of a job if I keep this up. It’s just good to keep my mind off things. There’s a lot I don’t want to think about today.

March 17th- Ultraman came into town today and said he’d cover for me. Apparently the league of heroes has noticed I’ve been burning the candle at both and ends and thinks I need a break. Let’s see if my new all-purpose anti-toxin works on alcohol!

March 18th- New all-purpose anti-toxin does not work on alcohol.

April 1st- Mer-woman set me up on a date with her sister the dolphin whisperer. Ocean heroes are a little bit underpowered, but man is dolphin whisperer a catch! On second thought it’s probably really offensive to call someone who works with aquatic life ‘a catch’. I’ll have to think of some other compliment between now and then.

April 2nd- All of my intelligence and prep work, and I failed to notice they set me up on April. They thought I knew it was a joke, they all knew I wasn’t ready for a relationship, why would they set me up for real? It had been a cooperative mission to some underwater something or other. I don’t know who that villain was, but he probably won’t be swimming or walking anywhere for a while. I may have vented a bit.

May 10th- All the college and university students are home for the summer. Swinging by the usual nerd hangouts to see if any of the recent graduates are side kick material. Eagle boy moved on to a new city, and I could use an understudy to help out with the summer rush of villains.

June 6th-Alien invasion! Woohoo! Haven’t got to bust out this much gear since the mind control device put half the league under the control of the disembodied brain. I have been dying to put my new remote control stealth fighter squadron to the test, and I even just got my knockout gas optimized for this particular species. Good day!

July 4th-Bloody Americans, that’s all I have to say. Bloody, bloody, Americans.

August 29th-Summer’s over and no apprentice, got a couple contacts who are heading into graduate school. One of them is working in high energy theoretical physics, that’s always promising. I’ve looked into his work, and they have just the right mix of brilliant and reckless that causes super powering lab accidents. Very promising.

September 10th- Absolutely nothing happened this week, not so much as a liquor store hold up. September is such a chill month. Got some time to think on things, and had a couple lunches with ultraman. He’s worried about me putting so much time into my superhero career. Got deep, shared some stuff, made some revelations. He knows the dating scene is frustrating me, and says I’m just holding back hoping something resurrects eagle woman. I disagreed, but he pointed out I have remote operated stealth jets. If I have the time, money, energy, and intelligence to do that, I should be able to figure out dating. He might be right

October 31st- I love Halloween! It’s like superhero appreciation day. Went into a club that was entirely dressed like me! It was like a fan convention. Had some really long talks with fans. All of them were very complimentary on my super realistic costume and in-depth knowledge of my own exploits. One woman in particular seemed fascinated. Got her number, but I’m not sure it’s right to date a fan.

November 26th- Been hanging out with the girl from the club, and have reflected on this year. It’s been some ups and downs for sure, but in the end I’m just grateful that I’ve got people around me to support me. There’s ultraman, my fans, my ex-sidekicks, the commissioner, and even the ocean superheroes had been real friendly, even if they were kind of jerks. All in all, it’s been a good year.

December 25th- No supervillain holiday attacks this year! Been doing this a decade and that’s a first! Commissioner seems to think it’s because I’ve got them all in prison. Whatever the reason it’s been nice to spend some time with old sidekicks. I don’t have any family, except for these brave young men, and it was thoughtful of them to come back and do some good old fashioned superhero bonding through training drills. Still just talking to my one special fan from the club. I think I’ve got a new year’s resolution for her.

January 1st- I did it! First time going on a date in over a year, and she seemed just as excited to me. She even wants me to wear the costume. I think I will, and she just might find out how realistic it is.

Thanks for reading guys! This is the last one for the week, taking the opportunity this weekend to edit up the two book projects, and get some work done on the novel. See you guys Monday!

Sam