(in which our hero discovers his new special abilities & uses them to rescue a teenaged dickhead)
It’s raining outside my window and if I squint in the blue half-light from the streetlight the bruise on my arm looks like a spider. If I concentrate I can make it spread over my whole arm like warm pins and needles. What the hell kind of bruise can do that?
If I concentrate really hard the pins and needles flow out from my fingers. It makes the air in front of my hand feel kind of warm. I can push the warm air outwards just by thinking about it.
The thrumming of the pins and needles gets faster the further out I push. It’s like a sleeve-length blood pressure cuff that reaches down past my fingers, but it doesn’t restrict any movement.
I push the warm air out towards the magazine pile on the coffee table, and I feel them as though I’m actually touching them. From across the room I ruffle the pages of the top magazine, then imagine that I’m picking it up. It rises into the air and hovers there.
Take a snapshot: this is me, frowning with concentration and staring in disbelief as the Vanity Fair hovers one foot above the coffee table.
By morning I think I’ve got the basics; lifting, pulling and pushing at a distance all seem easy enough. I’m also late for work. I relax my thoughts and the purple colour of my arm contracts back to the coin-sized spot just below my shoulder. I grab a banana from the bowl on the kitchen bench, using my hands for the first time in hours. it feels weird.
so. superpowers, hey? Can’t think of anything else to call it. But where from? No supers in the family – at least not that I know of… I’m thinking something screwy with that typhoid jab, or maybe the hep one. based on where the bruising started, that’s what it looks like.
i dunno what to think, really. latent supergene triggered by the medication? But I’ve had those vaccinations before and nothing like this… seems more likely it’s the medication itself.
i should probably call the hospital – but what do I say? “Hi, I was just calling to see if anyone who came in for travel vaccinations yesterday has turned into a superhero.” Yeah, that’d work.
And will they let me on an international flight if I declare this stuff? Do airport detectors ping superpowers? Should I cancel my trip? Better keep it all on the QT until I’ve done some research.
Hey, check it out! I’m a fugitive superhuman on the run from the government!
Pull your head in, Aramis. A purple arm that can make things float doesn’t make you the next freakin’ Spider-Man or anything…
I get to work and Hannah isn’t in yet. Which means I’m the one who gets the call from upstairs about the report in today’s paper. One of the big pharmacy chains missed last week’s product recall – not technically our fault, but we’re still on damage control.
Gotta love those fifteen-minute-desk-lunch days. It’s not until after four that things calm down enough to make a few calls.
First call: hospital. “Hello this is Blah Blah from MuckaMuckaMuck. I have an erroneously returned typhoid medication order of yours…”
“Oh you didn’t order any Typhoid meds through us? You get yours from YaddaYadda? Whoops – my mistake. Sorry to bother you.”
Call #2: Rashid in R&D. Any chance of digging for dirt re: recalls or suppressed/unreported side-effects coming out of YaddaYadda?
R: “Sure thing, d’Artagnan. Easily done. Mind me asking pour quoi?”
Me: Can’t really say right now. Just following up some leads for Hannah.
R: “Well, we don’t want to disappoint your gracious leader, do we? Leave it with me, Monsieur D.”
Call #3: Jenny. Are we still on for dinner tomorrow night? That new Korean place looks good.
At the station on the way home a couple of schoolkids are having an animated conversation on the platform. Something about some sport thing on the weekend. They punctuate their sentences with mock-kickboxing moves. They’re too busy heckling each other and striking poses to notice the train coming.
Dickhead 1 throws a head-high kick. Dickhead 2 ducks and stumbles backwards. Cue slow-mo “oh shit” sequence. Without thinking, I raise my hand and point at the boy. Everyone is frozen, anticipating the inevitable.
I feel the warmth flow from my shoulder and out through my fingers towards the frightened kid. I clench the air like a fist around the collar of his jacket and hang on tight. He’s heavy, but I manage to change the angle of his fall.
He hits the platform inches from the train as it slows to a stop. Slow-mo clicks back to normal tempo. His mate rushes over to pick him up. No-one notices the guy with the purple hand pointing at the narrow escape. I stuff my tingling hand into my pocket and look away.
On the short walk home from the station I reach out with the power to knock the lids off bins and rustle leaves high up in curbside trees.
Coffee with Rashid next day. Dishing the dirt about YaddaYadda’s inventory. Resisting the urge to tell him about the train station. Not sure why, but it seems prudent to keep this whole freaky telekinetic bruise thing to myself, at least for the time being.
No major recalls for the last couple of years on the Yaddayadda front, says Rashid. But that’s not to say they’ve kept out of the news. About a year back some board members quit very publicly after a fire in a production plant. OH&S, unions, coverups, the full catastrophe.
Three dead, thirty-three injured. Full compensation packages for everyone after the dust from the court battle settled. Cause of fire never discovered. Coroner’s report said accidental conflagration caused by volatile chemicals. Which is to say sweet FA.
“Remember Tracy?” asks Rashid. “Tall Nigerian girl up in printing? Proofreader? Her twin sister’s a chemist. Guess where she used to work.”
Was she hurt in the fire? “I don’t know – I haven’t spoken to Tracy,” says Rashid. “Would Hanna want to know that for her project?”
I wouldn’t want to rule anything out at this stage. I’m not really sure what I’m looking for. I mean what Hannah’s looking for, of course.
“Of course,” Rashid, says, smiling his you’re-busted-but-I-won’t-push-it smile. I ignore it and change the subject.
We chat about the India trip. R recommends some places in the north, but we’re sticking to the south, basing ourselves in Bangalore mostly. It’s a work trip for Jenny. I’m just her corporate boyfriend plus-one. We’re staying pretty urban this time. Shopping malls, not temples.
“I’ll email you my Bollywood DVD want-list when we get back to work,” says Rashid as we head to the counter to pay.
I almost use the power right in front of R when I drop a couple coins out of my pocket & try to catch them before they hit the floor. Oops. I pull back in time and let them tinkle onto the floor, then bend down to pick them up old school.
Stars and birdies as I thwack foreheads with the dude behind us in the queue who’s bent down ditto for coin pickupage. I step back and rub my bonce while mr friendly picks up the coins and hands them to me. i mumble thanks and turn to pay.
Back at work I sit at the temp desk googling gossip sites for super-origin stories. Too keen to wait, too lazy to go to net cafe last night. I bookmark and print a bunch of stories about any telekinetics, magnetisers or gravity manipulators over the past fifty years.
My search turns up unfamiliar phrases: “chi-projection”, “spirit lifting”, “forcewall” and “M-energy”. Bookmark & print. Bookmark & print. In the copy room I flip through pics of fellow thing-floaterers, including one of a woman pointing at ten freaked out hovering elephants.
At home I read through the day’s research, uncorking and recorking the Talisker using the power. Delicate actions are getting easier to do.
Once you get past guys like Swami and Joyride, there doesn’t seem to be much telekinesis in the A-list. At least, not as a primary power. Proton has it, and so does Electron, and Empyrean used it once against The Lab Rats, but they don’t rely on it, or even use it very often.
Of course there’s The Poltergeist, but he’s a baddie. Still, it’s worth looking into. There’s not as much out there about baddies, though. I guess the baddies just have less fans to create fanpages for them.
I check my phone & realise I’m going to be late for dinner with Jenny.
Continued in Chapter 2.
Aramis Fox got a little more popular recently with the addition of our 250th follower, which is nice. As per the rules established around the time of follower 200, Zoe Dattner, who was the one who got the counter ticking one past 249, has been included in Aramis Fox.
Zoe appears as a colleague of Aramis’s who has a particular interest in superhero costumes. The two strike up a chat at a work do along those lines, giving Aramis more to think about in terms of his “work wear”, so to speak. The full conversation has already appeared on the twitter feed, and will be ensconced here in the archives shortly.
Heath Graham, our 200th follower, has also made his appearance in the story since he became follower 199 + 1, appearing as The Mystery Squid, a blogger-superhero looking for another powered person to team up with. Will that person be Aramis? I guess we’ll have to wait and see. The Mystery Squid will also appear in these archives very soon. Meantime, please to enjoy the excellent logo that Heath devised for Mr Mystery Squid.
Meantime I’ve adjusted the rules a little bit so that every 50 followers it’s not the person who tips the scales to an evenly-divisible-by-50 follower count who gets written in, it’s a random actual human follower chosen from the 50 most recent followers. That way I’m encouraging a steady stream of interstital real-people followings to accumulate among the twitterbots instead of people waiting until, say, 297 followers before jumping on board.
So yeah – if you aren’t a follower of @arfox yet, what are you waiting for? Mild and transient internet fame and fortune could be yours today!
I didn’t know this when I started writing Aramis Fox, but there’s a wrestler out there who’s got the same name as my twitter account: AR Fox. I found this out when fans of his started “@”-ing me.
Like a lot of people on twitter, I keep close track of when other people mention me, so I was onto it pretty quick when the @arfox notifications icon started getting all red-number-y. Who could it be, mentioning my little twitter fiction experiment? I wondered. What could I have done to have merited mild accolades from random people (or possibly my friends) on the social media?
Short answer: nothing. Continue reading
TL:DR: In the aftermath of the Twitter Fiction Festival I’m now 3000+ words and 16 followers richer.
Well, that was fun. And kind of exhausting.
For the past four days I’ve been posting at an enhanced rate in order to intersect with the other readers and writers participating in the Twitter Fiction Festival in the hope that I might garner some favourable attention.
On day one I had planned to post twice as frequently as I normally do, which is to say four times a day. I also planned to post during what as far as I could tell were peak times for people on the eastern coast of the USA, which is to say 5pm their time (9am mine or thereabouts). So there I was, my four launch day posts all hashtagged and scheduled and ready to go, and twitter all seasoned by the four hashtagged posts I’d done the day before as a kind of premiere.
So there’s this Twitter Fiction Festival thing happening over in the US (so to speak) this week, where a bunch of authors are mucking about with the form in various ways, all under the aegis of #TwitterFiction.
It looks like there’s going to be some interesting things happening as part of the festival, though I’m curious to see how anyone following that hashtag will be able to make sense of all of the competing narrative streams, especially the ones that will be coming from multiple accounts. Can you say “narrative overload”, kids?
Not that concerns about chaos will be stopping yours truly from crashing the party – for the next week Aramis Fox will be hashtagging it up like a boss in the hope that such egregious online networking will garner additional audience members for me (and of course an agent and a publishing deal too, yeah?).
(To accommodate the North American focus of the Festival, updates will be shifted from their usual slot between 5 and 6pm Australian Eastern Standard Time to around 9am Australian Eastern Standard Time (aka 5pm US Eastern Daylight Time). So don’t freak out if it looks like Aramis has disappeared from your feed – he’s just switched time zones for a bit.)
Until now I’ve avoided using @ and # in Aramis Fox, preferring to tell it straight and without any overt “hey look this story’s being told on twitter wow!” acoutrements, but inveigling myself into an international event sponsored by Penguin Random House seemed like as good an opportunity as any to eschew my own aversions, at least for a short time.
In the spirit of pennies and pounds, I’ve also added my very first @ to the story, with a gratuitous shout-out to both Craig Ferguson and Geoff the Robot Skeleton. I’ll probably take the @s out of the prose version of the story when it goes up on the archives, but in the meantime a boy can dream about having his twitter novel name-checked or RTed by sexy charming Dr-Who-loving Scottish talk show hosts and their animatonic bemohawked sidekicks, can’t he?
This afternoon I noticed that Aramis Fox had 199 followers.
To encourage the acquisition of the obvious and impending milestone I put a call out on my personal twitter offering the opportunity to be featured as a character in the story to @arfox’s 200th follower.
Five minutes later we had a winnah. So congratulations to Heath Graham aka @mysterysquid, who’ll be turning up among the tweets in due course.
I was so pleased by the way it all went that I’ve decided that every 50th follower will now get some kind of input into the story – if you’re keen to get a piece of that, best bet would be to follow me at @adamatsya – all future announcements will be happening on that channel.