ONCE UPON NOT YET . . .
|Opening Page for A World without Heroes in Strange Ways #1 (artwork by co-fanzine creator Carlyn Nugent)|
Somewhere . . ..
* * *
He lay on the rocky ground, his face tightening and relaxing periodically as he slept. His body was cramped into an unnatural position due to the large rocks circling him, forcing him to lie as still as possible. Only his fingers moved.
The fingers moved as if to grasp something. Something that was missing; that was needed to complete the whole. An object that could save the man lying on the hard crest of dirt.
As he slept, an image formed in the man's mind of a shape that should have been familiar to him. The figure was blurred in his mind's vision, out of focus.
And as he slept, his fingers began to move faster.
The image did begin to solidify in his mind. A small object, small enough to hold in one's hand. An ornament. A trinket. Yet, so much more.
His fingers moved even faster.
A zigzagged, silverish object. A mystic thing. A tool of science.
A maker of heroes.
Heroes . . ..
He groaned. His eyes began to flutter open from his sleep.
No, he screamed at himself. Too soon! The image was not complete. Must not wake. Must not---
He groaned again. His fingers stopped, and his eyes slowly opened to stare at the dark sky above him.
He lay motionless for several minutes, the only sound that of his own breathing. He tried to comprehend just why he had been asleep on the ground. Or where he was. There was something else as well. It seemed as though it was something important to him, but he could not remember what it was.
The man shrugged his shoulders. It did not matter now, he thought. Wherever he was, the sky was beautiful, with the stars shining brighter than he ever remembered and the moons bouncing light upon the landscape of the valley where he was lying. Yet, even with the tranquility of the night sky, he felt the nagging sensation of incompleteness.
After a few more minutes of unsuccessful resistance to his anxiety, the man slowly began to position himself so he could stand up. Shifting his knees outward, he drew his feet in, only to cause a dull ache in his ankles as his shoes dragged heavily in the dirt. Looking down at the pain, he felt a laugh escape his throat.
"Where the hell did I get these shoes? The Michelin Tire Man?"
He had spoken these words and fell silent after doing so. It was not his voice that puzzled him, as he recognized it as his own. It was the words he said that were curious. After all, he asked himself, who the "hell" was the Michelin Tire Man?
Shaking his head to erase the question, he grabbed hold of a rock to his right and used it to awkwardly balance himself as he stood up. He placed his hands on his hips as he studied his surrounding.
Somehow, what he saw did not surprise him. It was as if he knew the strange sights all around him were as they should have been. He had stationed himself between two of the larger peaks erupting from the reddish surface of the landscape. Such peaks of different sizes and several craters were all that could be seen by the eyes. Nothing living, nothing moving. Just dirt, dust and rocks.
"Ack!" he announced to the peaks, since no one else was around. "Something tells me we're not in Kansas anymore."
He waited for laughter. When none was provided, he continued.
"Of course, this territory looks very unfamiliar. And the stars look different. This is because this is not the place where one can see the stars as they should be. This, " he said, pointing to the sky, "judging from the stars, appears to be a small asteroid somewhere in the Milky Way galaxy. Which is good. Right galaxy. Though not as close to home as one might wish."
He smiled, impressed with the way he had put the whole thing into perspective for the rocks, peaks and craters. At least everyone now knew exactly what was going on. The smile then disappeared.
Everyone but him.
Yes. He knew he was on an asteroid in the Milky Way galaxy. But why? How did he get here? Why would he want to be here? Why was he not at home? Most importantly, where was home?
He shook his head quickly, as if a chill had reached his spine. He did not like the thoughts going through his head at all. He was used to knowing exactly what, and why, things happened. Even when he was out of it, he understood what was going on. Even when things were falling apart, he knew there was a reason.
Not here. Not now.
"And what will I do about eating?" he said out loud. "There's nothing to eat here. Maybe I don't eat anymore. I seem to recall eating at one time, but I don't know if I need to now. I'll find out, I guess."
He was about to step forward, when he snapped his fingers. "There is a reason for my being here. What was it? I know it's important. I seem to recall . . . coming here, and falling down over there . . ..” He looked at a rock off in the distance.
"I dropped something when I fell. Something I needed to help me. Something . . . silver . . ..” His mind began to wander, as if to stop him from thinking anymore. Finally, he broke out of his trance.
"Where was I?" He rubbed his right hand over his face in a vigorous scrubbing motion. "Anyway, I'm sure that it will come back to me in time. Meanwhile I might as well look around this little place of mine and take in all its glorious beauty."
He stated to walk, his torn, black, skin-tight pants making his legs hurt with every step. The boots he wore were getting in the way, but the grimace that appeared on his silvery face was not caused by the aches he felt. It was there because he knew there was something he had to do, but he was not sure what it was. His memory was gone. There were things that should have been very important to him, but he could not remember them. He knew that he was the only hope for something -- or someone -- but he didn't know what, who or why.
Worse yet, he could not remember who he was.
So he walked.
As Ace Frehley walked into the distance, a small silver Talisman in the shape of a lightning-bolt blinked brightly in the shadows of the rock where he had dropped it.
|Larry Blake's original 1984 artwork for Chapter One|