M. E. T. A.
“Hey Sam, do you want to watch a movie or study?” I called down the hallway. Sam and I were hanging out in our shared house. We had just gotten out of college and were resting until we decided what to do with our afternoon. I was in my bedroom and Sam was in the kitchen.
Sam walked around the corner, a bowl of popcorn clutched in his hands. As he came in to my room I mentally compared us. We were different physically but we were a lot alike otherwise.
Sam was 6’3 I was 5’8. Sam had brown hair and eyes. I had blond hair and blue eyes. I had contacts he had glasses. We were both smart and we worked out at the same dojo and gym.
“Come on Tony, we’ve never got below a B in any of our classes. I think we are entitled to a little movie watching. Besides it would be a crying shame to let this popcorn go to waste.” Sam replied in answer to my question.
“True, true,” I said. “So how about we get Infinity War 1? It just got out of theaters and I hear they used some real supers for the special effects”
“Nice, so you gonna go get it for us?” Sam asked as he plopped down on my bed.
“I got it last time it’s your turn Sam” I told him, allowing a touch of indignation to color my voice.
“Nuh-uh, you suggested it so you get it.” Sam said while shaking his head.
I grinned at him and reached behind my back. I grabbed the case of the DVD in question. “No way you dirty dog. No fair leading me on like that if you’ve already got it.” Sam said grabbing the DVD from my hands.
Sam then turned around and headed to the living room. I got up from my desk and followed him. As I did I heard a dull thump from outside.
“Hey Sam, did you hear that?” I asked him.
“Hear what Tony?” Sam asked right back.
“It was a thump like, well like a paper popper.” I told him.
“You think we should check it out?” Sam asked. I rolled my eyes, classic Sam. More curious than a cat and luckier than weighted die. It was a miracle he survived this long.
“Nah, it must have been the neighbors knocking something over” I told him. I dismissed the sound as another unsolved mystery while I weaved between the chairs in the dining room.
Suddenly another much louder thump sounded, freezing us in our tracks. It reminded me of when you head a cannon firing on TV.
“I heard that one” Sam said he had a slightly fearful tone in his voice now. My mouth had gone dry when I heard it and I no longer trusted my voice. I simply nodded at Sam.
“Do you think it’s a super fight?” Sam whispered.
“No, it might be someone shooting though” I whispered back at him half believing it myself. Why were we even whispering, it wasn’t like anyone could hear us.
“I’m going to check it out anyways” Sam whispered to me. He turned towards the front door and started walking.
“Wait” I said, my voice hoarse from fear. I started following behind him. Stupid Sam I thought. If there was a fight of any kind we would just get killed.
We had almost made it to the front door. I could see the glass door just a few feet in front of me when the house exploded.
BOOOOOOOMMMMMMM. The sound resounded throughout the house unbelievably loud. I clutched my ears as the glass door shattered everywhere. I could feel blood on my hands. Dimly, like I was underwater, I heard car alarms and people screaming. Sam staggered in front of me grabbing his ears. I could see blood dripping out of them.
Then something smashed right through the roof of my house. Splinters of wood, glass, and metal stabbed into me and Sam. I distantly heard Sam and me screaming. The pain was everywhere like a hundred knives stabbing into me.
I staggered towards Sam. I had to help him. Then it hit me.
Searing pain caused my vision to go black. I tripped and fell on my face into the glass from the door. The pain was briefly overcome by my concern for my eyes. Then it hit again, even more pain wracked my body while I curled up on my floor. My body felt like it was on fire. Another loud BOOOOMMMMMM picked me up and slammed me into the wall. I saw it coming and tried to block it with my hand. I hit my head and blacked out.
I woke up in a stretcher. I was being carried by some medics. “Sam” I croaked out. I sound like a smoker I thought to myself. I could feel warm sticky blood all over my body. I ignored the uncomfortable feeling. I needed to know if Sam was all right.
One of the medics carrying me must have seen I was awake. He shined a light in my eyes. “He’s got a concussion. He’s awake though.” The medic looked at the other one as he spoke.
“Sam” I rasped again. They must not have heard me the first time I spoke.
The medic upon hearing my voice stopped talking. He looked away from the other medic and down at me. “Sir” he said urgency evident in his voice. “We found one other person in the wreckage. Is anyone else in there?”
I shook my head no. I winced at the pain that followed. The pain faded into the background. Everything looked dark and blurry. Then I blacked out.
The medic looked down at the kid on the stretcher, he looked barely college age. He shook his head. These kids were lucky. The meteorite had missed them by about ten feet. That wasn’t the only thing they lucked out on, the medic thought sourly.
The medic had watched as the other kid had grown taller in front of his eyes. If his friend was a super then it was logical this one would be too. Already new supers were popping up everywhere.
The medic climbed into the ambulance and rolled the stretcher into the back. The other EMT shut the doors and climbed into the front. He started hooking up machines to monitor various readings. Yep, he’s definitely a super he thought. These readings are jumping all over the place. Maybe when I take him in I’ll meet a M.E.T.A. agent. the medic thought to himself.
He wondered how many new supers there were and if it was safe to be out doing his job. Dang it, I knew I should have taken that time off but nooo. I’m too much of a workaholic. The medic kept worrying while the ambulance sped noisily towards its destination.
Chapter 1: Super What??!!
M. E. T. A.
I woke up for the second time after the house blew up. I was in a hospital gown and was in a hospital room. The bed had on some white sheets stained with specks of blood. A blaring television provided some small semblance of normality to the situation.
I felt tired. Maybe I should just go back to sleep. I had just started to close my eyes when a nurse walked in. I should ask her about Sam. “Excuse me” I said out loud. I was slightly taken back by the strength of my voice.
The nurse glanced up from her clipboard. She had a slightly fearful look on her. I wonder why she looked at me like that.
“Yes?” She inquired in a voice that quivered slightly with fear.
“Could you tell me if a Sam Gilbert is here?” I asked her.
“Hold on while I look him up.” She said. The nurse walked over to a computer and started typing. After a minute or two she shook her head. “I’m sorry but we have no patient under that name.”
Okay now I was confused. “The medic told me they found someone with me. Sam was the only other person in the house. Are you sure he’s not in there?”
“He might still be here. We had a number of supers come in from the meteor shower. Some we can’t identify based on previous pictures.” The nurse informed me.
I froze. “You mean my friend might be a superhero?” I asked her, disbelief evident in my voice even to me.
“I am saying that he might have powers. To be a superhero he has to save people. You said that he was found in the same incident as you were?” The nurse asked me.
I could see that some fear was going away to be replaced by a mask of professionalism. I nodded in answer to her question. “Okay, let me see if I can find him that way” the nurse told me.
The clacking of the keys annoyed me now for some unknown reason. I could hear people murmuring in the background. An occasional shout came from the hallway. I assumed that it was from incoming accidents.
The nurse looked up at me. “Did you find him?” I asked her.
“Yes, I did. He is a super but they don’t know what type. Apparently he grew a couple inches in front of one of the EMTs.” The nurse replied to me.
I nodded my thanks to her. Then I realized something. The last time I woke up I had been in severe pain. Now I just felt a dull ache.
I glanced at my arms. There were some small scars but no cuts or scabs from the debris cutting my arm. “How long have I been in here?” I asked.
The nurse followed my gaze to my arms. I looked up at her. She had colored slightly and had that fearful look back. “You’ve been in here for an hour, you’re a super too.” The nurse practically whispered. Upon seeing my stunned look she rushed on. “I’m sorry I thought you knew.”
I looked at her. No way could it been an hour. “What injuries did I come in with?” I asked.
When I asked her she moved back slightly and looked at her clipboard. She started talking. “You had severe lacerations from debris. You also had a mild concussion, burst eardrums, fractures at the ankles, wrists, thighs, ribs, and you had whiplash.”
That was a long list of pain. Even more amazing than the long list was the fact that I felt just a little sore. The nurse continued talking. “You still have the concussion, some bruises, and scars. All fractured bones have healed outside of the left ankle. The doctors say you should be completely healed in another thirty minutes.”
“I, well uh………… Thank you. Can you let me just get through this though? It’s a lot to process.” I asked the nurse.
“Yes of course. If you need anything, please press the call button right here” She said gesturing to white and red button. The nurse quickly left the room
I leaned back onto my pillow. “I’m a superhero” I whispered to myself. At least that explained the scared look on her face. I was a super with unknown power and they didn’t know who I was.
I felt pretty tired. Must be the drugs I decided. I closed my eyes and sank back into blessed sleep where the world was not so complicated.
I woke up as someone jostled my bed. “Whaa?” I slurred. I still felt half asleep. Pain exploded from my chest as a fist slammed into my gut. My eyes flew open.
“Oomph!!” all the air rushed out of me. I felt like I’d been tackled, hard. I saw a man standing above me but something looked off about him. It registered then that though the man had a face he had no nose or mouth. Only oversized eyes remained. The man looked to be made of stone.
The thing, I hesitated to call it a man now, raised another fist. I quickly rolled off the side of the bed. The fist came down, snapping the bed in half. I started running. I headed into the hallway and slammed the door behind me. There was no way I could face that thing, it was way too strong.
Why it hadn’t broken my ribs when it had broken the bed was beyond me. As I ran I realized that my ankle must have healed. My bare feet slapped against the tile floor. Strangely enough there weren’t any people in the halls with me.
I heard heavy thuds behind me. I glanced back. The stone man was about ten feet behind me. The door to my room was in splinters in the hall.
“HELP, HELP” I yelled, hoping to attract attention. A huge man stepped into the hallway. He was barely able to fit through the doorway turning sideways. If I had to guess I would say he was 3 feet wide. He was touching the 8 foot ceiling with his head. He also had a slightly bluish glowing outline.
“Hey, I’m trying to get some….. Aw crap” The huge man finished. He must have seen the stone man.
“Look out, this thing is crazy strong.” I yelled out to the guy. He must be a strongman I decided. I ran past him and then I stopped. The huge guy wasn’t following me.
“So am I now.” The man said. The stone creature ran by him, or at least it tried to. The man grabbed the stone man by his arm. As it swung towards him he punched the creature in its chest. Rock blew out the end of the creature as the man’s fist went completely through its chest.
I was shocked at the brute strength the guy must have. I mean, it was one thing to hear or see about it in movies. It was another thing entirely to experience that strength in action firsthand.
The creature sagged in the man’s arm. Then it collapsed into pieces of rock and fell onto the floor. The man smiled and dropped the rubble from his hand. “What did I tell you? I’m strong too.” The man said.
“Where did the nurses go?” I asked the large man.
He shrugged. “They must have run off when they saw this thing.” He said gesturing to the rock pile.
“So nice of them to warn us” I said, sarcasm dripping from my voice.
“That’s because they couldn’t” A deep voice said from behind me. I swiveled sharply at the sound.
The person behind me was another strongman at first glance. He wore a black spandex outfit and mask. There was a blue symbol of a building with a crack through the middle of it in the middle of the costume. I recognized the costumed man as Wrecker, a hero and M.E.T.A. agent.
“What do you mean they can’t? They were here not even a half hour ago.” The man who had stopped the creature asked.
“We had every non-super pulled out about ten minutes ago. There are about a hundred supers in this building; twenty are on this floor alone. People are worried that the supers might cause an accident. Apparently whoever sent that” gesturing towards the rocks, “knew about us pulling out. Right now we have a few guards like me on each floor.”
“So now that it’s gone what do we do now?” I asked
“Go to your rooms. M.E.T.A. will send someone to talk to everyone in a couple minutes.” Wrecker said.
I turned around and walked back towards my room. No use antagonizing a superhero after all. The other strongman walked towards his room as well.
I stepped over the splintered remains of my door. I glanced at the computer as I walked in. A screensaver was on it. I stepped over to it and shook the mouse. A medical record popped up. It had the word anonymous over the name. The page reloaded as I watched. The name tag now said Sam Gilbert. I looked at the room number. It was 317.
I stepped back into the hall. Wrecker was just turning the corner at the end of the hallway. The other one wasn’t in sight. I looked left. The door next to me said 330. The door to the right said 328. I started walking right. I soon reached the door that said 317.
I knocked on the door. “Go away” Sam said. His voice was deeper than normal.
“Hey Sam, you ordered a pizza right?” I said, still outside the door. I heard footsteps come to the door.
The door opened revealing a different Sam than I knew. I recognized the face but he had silver, not brown hair. He was a lot taller than I remembered. Matter of fact everything looked shorter except Sam. He had to hunch over to not hit the ceiling. He wasn’t very wide and was just as thin as always.
“Hey Tony, you look small” Sam told me grinning. He had that same blue glow as the others did.
“Hey don’t rub it in all right” I told him.
“Think I’ll make the basketball team now?”
“You could before now you just never tried to.”
“Oh yeah, well you tried five times last year pipsqueak.”
“They didn’t appreciate my skills so what? It’s the thought that counts.” I said
Sam sat down on his bed. “So were supers now huh” I said.
“Yep. How do you think we’ll be able to go to college? I’m not going to be able to fit into the classroom.” Sam said.
“We’ll just have to talk to the dean. That or turn you into a hunchback” I told him.
“Haha very funny. You seem taller. Are you a super too.”
“Yeah, I healed six broken bones in an hour.” I told him.
“Any idea what your power is” Sam asked.
“Nope, I got chased by a stone guy though. He punched me while I was sleeping.”
“Wow. What happened to it?” Sam asked. He sounded amazed.
“I ran by a strongman who smashed it. Wrecker showed up. He said that M.E.T.A. was sending in some people to talk to us. We are supposed to stay in our rooms till then.” I informed him.
“Then why are you chilling in my room and not hanging out in yours.” Sam said.
“Well that stone guy destroyed my bed so I decided to grab yours.” I told him. Jokingly I grabbed the bed and pulled it towards the door. It felt like I was pulling a package of toilet paper. The bed’s bolts tore right out of the floor. The bed, with Sam on it, moved over ten feet towards the door.
“What the heck was that Tony? You just tore the bolts right out of the floor?” Sam said shock evident in his voice.
“Well, I think we can add on strength to my list of powers” I said light heartedly. Don’t get me wrong, I was shocked that I had done that so easily. Compared to what else had happened though, this was only a little bit weird.
“Your list of powers huh? What you found more suddenly and forgot to inform me.” Sam said sarcastically
“No but obviously I couldn’t do that without real effort. I did that with barely a pull so it’s gotta be related to the whole super thing” I said
A knock sounded on the door. We looked at the each other. I gestured to the door. “It’s your room, you answer it.”
Sam got up and hit his head on the ceiling. “Crap, gotta remember that.” Sam said. I looked at the ceiling. There was a dent in the metal ceiling where he had hit it. There were a couple other dents where he had hit it earlier, or at least I assumed so.
He opened the door. Outside was a short, thin man in a black spandex costume. It resembled Wreckers costume except it had a red and gold whirlpool (or maybe a wormhole?) on the front and a black hood. The man looked at Sam. “Wait there’s two of you in there? I thought that there was only one in a room.” He said gesturing towards me.
“Well me and this bum here are close buds.” Sam told him.
“That and some stone creature destroyed my room” I chimed in.
“Okay, makes perfect sense. I’ve heard weirder. My name is Vortex, I’m with M.E.T.A. and I was sent to talk to you.” The now identified man said. With a name like Vortex, I could see why he had his costume look like that.
“M.E.T.A. wants to identify your abilities so that we know if you’re a danger to yourself or other people.” The man continued. “I am going to transport you to a facility to do that. It’ll only take an hour and you’ll be back in no time. If you do have a problem with your abilities we’ll train you so you can control them.” Vortex told us.
“Will we get to meet some other superheroes?” Sam asked.
“Who do you think is going to be testing you” Vortex said.
“Well I’m in. How about you Tony, you going to come?” Sam asked me. His face was slightly red, probably from the possibility of meeting his heroes. I couldn’t wait to see what Sam’s power was and meeting more heroes was a definite plus. One autograph could sell for hundreds if not thousands.
“Sure Sam, I’ll go. After all you’ll probably get lost and just stand around drooling after all the heroes there.” I said.
Vortex grinned at us. “Well since you’re in all you have to do is step through here.” He said.
He made a circle with his two hands and then shoved them forward. I thought it was weird until a small little circle with flecks of gold and red formed in front of us. Vortex stretched his hands apart, breaking the circle made by his hands so that his hands made two halves of a circle. As his hands got farther apart the circle got bigger. I recognized the effect now as a wormhole. The wormholes edges were now touching
“Once you step through the portal you’ll be met by a M.E.T.A. agent. There you will be tested for your power.” Vortex said.
Upon seeing our faces he spoke up again. “Oh don’t worry, I’m a superhero and the vortexes I create are perfectly safe. Watch”
As he spoke he walked towards the vortex. He slapped his hand against the edge of the wormhole, or vortex as he called it. I gasped, expecting his hand to get chopped off like you saw in the movies. Instead his hand bounced off, like he had hit a rubber wall.
“See, no worries.” He looked at me. “What? Did you expect my hand to get sliced off? My powers don’t work like that unfortunately. If they did than I could be a little more than just another transport guy.”
Sam looked at me, and then he looked at Vortex. “He is an M.E.T.A. agent so I’m going, come on Tony.” Wonderful, I could see that almost being killed didn’t cure his curiosity and I had to keep him out of trouble.
“Okay fine, just wait up okay?” I asked him.
“I’m waiting” Sam said. He walked over to the vortex, still bent over. I walked over to him. “You ready now, scaredy cat?”
“Yeah I’m ready.” I told him. Sam walked over to the vortex. Then he smacked it. His hand came back faster than when he hit it and almost hit him in the face.
“Wow, that’s some feeling,” Sam said. “It felt like I hit a trampoline or something.” Without any further ado he stepped through. When he did it was like he stepped through a wall made of gold and red. Or possibly an opaque waterfall.
“Guess I’m next huh. Will I ever see you again Vortex?” I asked the masked man.
“Oh I probably will if you became a superhero, otherwise no.” Vortex said. I kind of liked him. He was accepting of weird things and also honest. I waved goodbye to him and as he waved back I stepped through the vortex.