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Sunday Scribble – “Ripple Effect Part Six”

Ripple Effect
Part Six

The simulation was so real that I was coughing from a person’s cigar smoke as I passed him by. He gave me an odd look, which I returned, before he retreated further into his alley. I sighed and kept walking down the street.

So far I had stopped a bank robbery by commanding the electronic, sliding doors to stay shut. One of the would-be robbers tried body slamming the door; he bounced backwards and knocked himself out. His partner surrendered to the police without a fight.

After that, a guy dressed in typical mugger gear (complete with a ski mask) collided with me, dropping a hideous flowered purse. Figuring that the purse didn’t belong to him, I punched him in the nose as he tried to get up.

Yes, I had punched him instead of using my awesome super powers. It had been instinct!

He booked it down the street before I could do anything else to him. I picked up the abandoned purse and gave it a quick look-through before finding an iPhone. A young, feminine voice spoke in my mind while the screen proceeded to load up the GPS application.

Thank you, the iPhone had said. His hands were cold! Do you mind taking me back to my master?

I had complied, obviously, especially since the device had been nice to guide me with a map to its owner’s home. It took me a little while to leave after finding the lady. Simulation or not, she had just baked cookies and insisted on rewarding me with some.

Full with imaginary food, I returned to the streets and was now just wandering around. The street lamps greeted me, and I was having a short conversation with them until a random explosion shook the ground. Dark smoke billowed up on the horizon, and I took off running toward the source. Within a few minutes I was wishing that I had picked super speed as my second ability.

I reached the site eventually and immediately dived behind some wreckage when some crazy chick started blasting ice and snow from her hands. Another girl and a guy were flanking Ice Woman, and I mentally dubbed the second girl Bomber for the little explosives she was throwing everywhere. The guy was Get Away Driver, since he was packing a car’s trunk with bags while the ladies just caused chaos. Diamonds and other jewels fell out of the stuffed bags as he tried to cram them in the vehicle.

I tried to give myself a pep talk to move (Alright, Gigabyte, you’re a hero! Stop the villains!), but it was a bit difficult when exploding snowballs whizzed over my head. After reminding myself several times that it was just a simulation, I mentally stalled the car and promptly learned that this would be rated R as a game due to Get Away Driver’s choice of words.

I peeked around my wreckage shield and was abruptly thrown against a building’s wall. Get Away Driver was renamed to Mental Boy for his telekinetic ability and apparent anger issues. Stiffly, I got up from where I had landed, trying to drive the pain away with logic. Being a simulation, of course, the pain should all be in my head—

“Stupid hero,” Mental Boy said as he raised me in the air again. “What were you thinking–”

I was dropped again when Mental Boy was suddenly blasted away with fire and went down for the count. Ice Woman retaliated and her stream of snow met the fire head-on. Glancing up, I saw that my ally was a floating young man in a deep red costume decorated with flames along the sleeves. I stood up and looked at our last opponent; Bomber was forming a large explosive but, before she could throw it at Fire Man, I lashed out with my own powers.

Electricity crackled around me, and my body felt as if I was getting constant static shocks. I threw my arm toward Bomber and bolts of electricity soared toward her. As my powers made contact with her, Bomber screamed and little sparks sizzled around her even after she fell unconscious to the ground. Sparks danced around my hands and head, and I felt a pleasant tingle surge through me.

A shout and a thump interrupted my thoughts, and I turned to see Ice Woman unconscious, and Fire Man land on the ground. He walked over to me while my electricity dissipated. Despite his mask, I recognized his crooked smile.

“Darrien–”

“Shhh.” His smile grew into a smirk. “You’ll give away my secret identity. I’m Kindle in this get-up. Care to join up, Gigabyte?”

I grinned. “I’d love to.”

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Posted by on April 23, 2017 in Scribbles

 

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Sunday Scribble – “Ripple Effect Part Five”

Ripple Effect
Part Five

It didn’t take too much longer for Alex to get out of the shower or for dinner to be ready. All throughout dinner Alex spoke of his creation, of the different scenarios one could play through while wearing his V.R. goggles and gloves. Darrien barely spoke a word, but his quirked smile made me guess he was used to dinner being like that.

The plates were hardly off the table before Alex started tugging me toward the basement. I glanced at Darrien, about to ask if he needed help washing the dishes, but he just told us to have fun.

“Watch your step,” Alex said as he bounced down the stairs. Wall lights lit up the concrete steps and I held onto the bare wall while walking down. The landing veered off to the right, where Alex had already disappeared. I turned the corner and walked into a room that was a cross between a study and a junkyard for metal scrap.

A simple desk with a dual-monitor desktop computer was close by, a small rug under it and a shelf filled with programming books and knick-knacks next to it. Across the room was a large workbench surrounded by odd-looking devices. On the overhead shelf was smaller devices. A pen in a display case was the one that caught my eye.

“Here’s my personal Batcave,” Alex said from by the bench.

“It’s brilliant,” I said.

Alex blushed. “Thanks. Come here and put these on.”

He was actually the one to jam the V.R. goggles on my head, and it took me a minute to wrestle the gloves from him. With his excitement, he’d probably end up trying to put them on the wrong hands.

“Okay, take a seat.” Alex gestured to a chair by his workbench and he pulled out a keyboard from one of the bench’s drawers. I took a seat as he tugged up the top of the bench, revealing a hollow compartment and a flat screen monitor. He propped up the screen, turned the monitor on, and set up the some program while I gaped at the touch-screen technology.

While the keyboard and monitor searched for each other via the house’s wireless network, I watched Alex hook up my goggles’ wires to the back of the monitor.

“Where did you get these?” I asked, resisting the urge to touch the monitor’s screen.

“I built them,” he said. Before I could proclaim my disbelief, Alex tapped the side of the goggles. “I just hooked you up to the computer. I’ll be watching your brain waves while controlling the simulation. When you’re ready, just sit back, relax, and close your eyes. Let your thoughts take control.”

I nodded and took a deep breath before lounging back in the chair. For a moment, everything was dark after the goggles slid over my eyes. I was soon enthralled at a soft, pale yellow light steadily growing from the middle of the darkness until it completely enveloped me.

It felt like I was blinking as I gazed at the new room the light had transported me. The walls were the same yellow while golden streams of computer code ran up and down them. I was standing on a flat disk in the middle of it all. Within a few seconds, a small silver ball of light danced in front of my face.

“Good evening.” The masculine tone had a robotic drawl and it bobbed up and down as if bowing to me. “I am called Pip and I will be your guide.”

A trio of screens shot up in front of me out of nowhere, and a podium connected to the disk appeared by my right hand. There was only one button in the top left corner of it with a question mark label.

“I shall now explain the scenario,” Pip said. The screens showed off a city at dusk with tall skyscrapers blocking the setting sun. There was litter on the few streets that were shown, and shady-looking people smoking on street corners.

“The metropolis Goldshaft City,” Pip said, “is in dire need of heroes. Murderers, kidnappers, and robbers run rampant in the streets, and the mayor has issued a plea to any super being willing to aid the city’s police.

“Of course, it is not only the heroes whom have answered the call.” The side screens switched to play clips of citizens running and cowering in fear while powered beings fought each other by shooting lasers from their palms. “Villains also came to the city, looking for easy prey. You have answered the call as well, and have just arrived in Goldshaft.”

The movies on the screens faded away, and words appeared on the middle screen. Pip read the question aloud. “Are you a hero or a villain?”

A silly grin formed on my face as I contemplated being the bad guy, but I decided to play the hero the first time around. I was about to voice my choice when Pip said, “Please push the button of your choice.”

I looked at the podium and blinked at seeing two buttons in the middle of it. I pushed the one labeled “Hero,” and I almost lost my dinner as my hover disk soared straight up in the air.

The disk came to a sudden halt in a light blue room, and I swear I kept going before gravity came into effect. Pip had followed and made a sound as if he was clearing his nonexistent throat.

“Tech is working on that,” he said. A mirror was now in front of me and a giant menu was to its’ left. Names of various powers were listed in alphabetical order. There was accelerated healing, acid generation, aerokinetics, animal mimicry—

“Please scroll through the list and choose a power,” Pip said. I gaped at the silver light, wondering how I was supposed to go through every option. I glanced at my podium, seeing buttons in the shape of a control pad as well as the question mark button. I hit the latter.

“What is your question?” Pip asked.

“Is it possible to see these organized into categories?” I asked. Pip glowed white and the menu of powers suddenly changed to categories, such as physical-based, elements, and traveling abilities. “Thanks!”

“My pleasure.”

Although it still took me a bit of time, I eventually settled on the “technopathic” ability from the mental-based category. Speaking with and manipulating electronics wasn’t overused like super strength, and a power that had to do with computers was right up my alley.

A much shorter list of powers appeared on the screen within moments. “Please pick a secondary ability,” Pip said.

I looked through the list, noting that the powers had to do with my technopathy. There were abilities with robotics, super speed, high intelligence, even linguistics. I eventually settled for electricity manipulation; it’d probably be more helpful against a mugger than asking a street lamp to blind him, anyway.

After I made my selection, the menu changed to show thumbnails of pieces of clothing, the default being a leotard like Wonder Woman. I frowned at my reflection for wearing it, and quickly scrolled through to find a long-sleeved shirt, even if it did look tight. As I continued making a costume, I noticed most of the female pieces looking a bit skimpy, and vowed to speak to Alex about it.

“What is your question?” Pip asked after I pushed the question mark button again.

“Can I see the male costumes?”

Pip glowed white while rearranging the menu, and I noticed pieces of costumes from various heroes. I eventually picked out the standard one-piece spandex suit, and Pip brought out a menu of patterns and designs. Using the codes running along the walls as inspiration, the pattern along my costume looked like circuitry. I picked a deep green as the base color and a yellow-orange for the circuitry. The next menu was accessories, like masks and belts, and Pip recommended a simple domino mask around my eyes.

The accessories vanished and the mirror showed a simple text box. Glancing at my podium, I noticed it had morphed into a computer keyboard. Pip told me that it was time to pick my alias.

I looked back up at the mirror, at a loss for ideas, when I noticed words floating around the mirror. Lightning Lass, Thunder, Bolt, Shocker, Sparky… It took me a moment to realize they were name suggestions.

“Is your name Gigabyte?” Pip asked for confirmation after I typed in my choice. I pressed the yes button and the mirror disappeared.

“You are now ready to enter Goldshaft City,” Pip said as my surroundings began to fade into that soft light again. “If you need help, please call for me.” I vaguely wondered what time it was in the real world, but the thought disappeared as I began to see gray outlines of skyscrapers surround me.

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2017 in Scribbles

 

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Sunday Scribble – “Ripple Effect Part Four”

Ripple Effect
Part Four

“You could stay an extra hour tonight if you want.”

I glanced at the register’s clock as I loaded up my tray with table nineteen’s coffees, muffins, and someone’s omelet, and realized I was only halfway through my shift. My eyes strayed to Betty’s carefully neutral face, but her façade cracked under my raised eyebrow. She knew the you-have-got-to-be-kidding look. She invented it.

“And how much will you pay me to want to stay?” I asked sarcastically before strolling through the restaurant to my table. Plastering on my fake smile, I passed out the patrons’ food, politely asked if they needed anything else, and bit back a groan as someone complained about needing a new fork because theirs had a spot on it. I mentioned that I would be more than happy to get them a clean fork and spun on my heel to return to the hostess’s podium and the kitchen beyond.

“Josh, a customer said you didn’t clean the forks,” I said as I tossed the offending utensil into the sink. The dishwasher glared at it before scrubbing the little spot off and handing it back to me.

“There’s a certain place you could tell her to shove–”

“Before you say anything else, remember that you would have to clean it,” I said before escaping back onto the restaurant floor and nearly running into Betty.

“So, is that a no?” she asked in regards to her earlier question. I returned the fork to the old lady, whom deemed it acceptable before using it on her muffin, and went back to Betty.

“Although I would love to volunteer more of my life to Rise and Shine,” I said, “I actually have plans tonight.”

“What, you close to the boss on one of those games you always play?”

I rolled my eyes before smiling at a young family that entered the restaurant. Betty greeted them and led them to table twelve while I went to the kitchen to see if table seventeen’s orders were ready. It took about fifteen minutes before Betty and I could exchange sentences again.

“I meant I actually have plans with other human beings,” I said. It was her turn to raise an eyebrow and I frowned. “I don’t spend every night on my computer!”

“I’m surprised,” she said dryly. Then she grinned. “Our little Sierra has a date?”

“No,” I said. I grabbed the pitcher of fresh coffee that one of the cooks put on the table by the kitchen entrance and stuffed a fistful of cups of cream into my apron pocket. I took my time going around my tables and making small talk with the customers while I freshened up coffees.

“Then what are your plans?” Betty asked when I returned from cleaning up a table. I glanced at her while pooling the tips that were left behind in the jar hidden in the hostess’s podium.

“Why are you so nosy?” I asked in return.

“Not nosy,” she said, “just curious.”

“I’m going to a friend’s place for dinner,” I said. “That’s all.”

“Dinner?” Betty’s eyes widened and she wore a grin that would have made a fox proud. “What kind of dinner?”

“Not breakfast food,” I muttered, taking the tray of cinnamon rolls that a cook handed me at the kitchen’s threshold. I delivered the rolls to table twenty, and Betty followed me.

“What is wrong with breakfast food?” she asked. With her hands on her hips and a twinkle in her eyes, she was the image of an aunt who appeared stern in front of your parents but gave you candy behind their backs.

Directing my smile at the customers while I handed out their rolls, I said, “Absolutely nothing. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. Is there anything else I can get you folks?” After the customers assured Betty and me that they were fine, we returned to the front of the restaurant.

“I think we’re having vegetable lasagna,” I said. “His housemate is rumored to be a good cook.”

“Maybe I’ll hire him,” Betty said. “Wait a minute, you’re going to have dinner with a boy at his place, and this isn’t a date?”

“I assure you it is not a date,” I said, “just a gathering between friends.”

“Uh-huh.”

“You don’t sound as if you believe me.”

“You know me too well.”

I huffed and startled one of the cooks when I snatched a plate of hash browns from her for table eighteen. Betty didn’t try to ask me any other questions (not that I stuck around her enough to let her), but her eyes still held that annoying twinkle. The end of my shift could not have come soon enough, and by the time my relief came, I was ready to grab my share of the tips and run out of there.

The clock read quarter-to-three when I walked into my apartment. I contemplated collapsing on my couch for a bit, but I dragged myself into the shower to get a head-start on getting ready for the dinner. It was discouraging how long it took me to pick out an outfit. Really, it was a casual dinner between friends – I shouldn’t have worried so much about how I looked. I knew it wasn’t a date (honestly, how many people invited their housemates to stick around for a date?), but a dinner at Alex’s place seemed like something of a special occasion.

On the other hand, they’re men. I was probably over thinking the situation.

With a sigh, and a chime of the clock that indicated it was three-thirty, I threw on a pair of my favorite jeans and a blouse. After giving myself one last look-over in the mirror, I grabbed my keys and headed back out of my apartment. I wondered what Alex could have created that was too big for his precious duffel bag. My inner geek started getting excited at the possibilities. Maybe he built a replica of the Batmobile!

It was about five minutes to four when I found the house. It was a modest ranch house, the kind that would be thought of whenever one talked about the perfect life with the perfect significant other and the perfect two-point-five kids. Although it looked nice, it didn’t seem like Alex’s kind of place and I double-checked the address just to be sure. I think I was expecting an automated gate or a robot to greet me.

When I rang the doorbell, I knew it was the right place. The buzzer sounded exactly like the first few notes of the original X-Men cartoon theme song.

I stood on the front steps and, after a few minutes of silence, doubt soon started to creep in again and my anxiety rose. Like déjà vu of our first meeting, I started wondering if I had the right date, time, house—

A slam of a car door made me jump, and I whirled around toward the driveway. A man that was definitely not Alex was gazing at me curiously while taking a few grocery bags out of the passenger seat. He was taller and darker than Alex, with evident muscles along his bare arms. He looked the opposite of the guy I was expecting to see.

“I hope you’re Sierra,” he said when he caught up to me at the front door, “otherwise I’ll have to chase you off.”

A voice in the back of my head reminded me that Alex had a housemate, and I found my voice. “Yeah, I’m Sierra Parker. Uh, can I help you with the bags–”

He actually dropped the bags on the steps, not worried about anything being ruined, as he fished his keys out of his pocket. “I’m experienced enough in carrying them myself,” he said while opening the front door. “Darrien Lukas. C’mon in.”

“Thanks…” The door led to a small mudroom, and I copied Darrien when he kicked off his sneakers before following him down the hallway. We emerged in a small living room with a television, a couch, a bookshelf, and a punching bag in the corner. The bag was patched with duct tape, and the books’ spines were creased and worn from being read so often. I smiled at how comfortable the place seemed. It was homier than my parents’ pristine house.

Darrien had gone to the right to the kitchen and was simultaneously putting groceries away and preparing dinner. “Is there anything I can do to help?” I asked.

He gave me a crooked smile, but shook his head. “Thanks, but no. After Alex burned down half of our last stove, I don’t trust anyone else in here.” His smile widened at my horrified expression before he said, “Speaking of Alex, let me find him. I thought he would have appeared by now.”

I followed Darrien across the living room to a closed door next to the last hallway. “Wait up here,” he said. “There’s no telling what he’s up to down there.”

I smiled at Darrien’s smirk and he went down to the basement. Out of curiosity, I glanced further down the hallway. A washer and dryer were settled in a nook at the very end while a door on either side of the hallway led to what I assumed to be the guys’ bedrooms. Closer to me was the bathroom and I was startled and amused to see duct tape decorating the door around the handle.

Maybe the “Pen o’ Doom” existed after all.

The floor suddenly shook, and I braced myself against the wall to keep from falling. It only lasted for a couple of seconds, causing me to wonder if the tiny earthquake even happened. Darrien returned from the basement, his head shaking. “Sorry about that,” he said, his tone so casual it made me believe the house shook on a regular basis. “Alex will be up in a bit. Make yourself at home.”

I nodded and followed Darrien back through the house and took a seat on the couch while he went back to the kitchen. Instead of staying quiet, he asked me random questions about myself (“So, are you as big a geek as Alex?”) while also telling me little tidbits about his life.

“How did Alex and you become housemates?” I asked.

“We’ve known each other since we were kids.” Darrien glared at a zucchini that didn’t want to be cut up. “We were both the weird ones out, I suppose.”

I frowned. “I’m sorry. Kids can be mean.”

He shrugged, unperturbed, and got a very large knife out of a drawer and killed the stubborn vegetable. “We were fine. He pulled pranks on those that bothered me, and I beat up anyone who bothered him.”

“Sounds like a good system,” I said dryly. He gave me another smirk. “Okay, now I have the ultimate question.”

“The ‘ultimate,’ huh?” Darrien didn’t look up at me as he placed zucchini slices on the bed of noodles.

“Batman or Superman?”

He actually chuckled. “Superman. Alex has yet to convince me otherwise.”

“Why Superman?” I asked.

“He doesn’t appreciate all of Batman’s technology.” Alex finally emerged from his dungeon and gave me a sheepish grin. “Sorry I took so long, Sierra. I was doing some last-minute adjustments on my virtual reality system.”

I sat up straighter and looked at Alex in wonder. “Virtual reality?”

He beamed and his eyes shone with excitement. “Yeah! It’s–”

“You have soot in your hair,” Darrien interrupted. “Go clean yourself up. You can gush about your child during dinner.”

Alex ran a hand through his hair and sneezed when a touch of ash fell onto his nose. “Uh, right. I’ll be back then. Not that either of you may care since you’re getting along so well.”

We shared a grin, it being obvious that Alex was pleased with the development. Darrien’s monotonous tone said, “That’s right, so go away.”

“Okay, okay…!” Within a few minutes, the shower was running and Darrien had joined me on the couch.

“Do you know about his virtual reality system?” I asked excitedly.

“I make it a point to know all about his creations in the event that something knocks the house to the ground,” Darrien said. “I actually tried it out. It’s pretty cool, but I’m sure Alex will want to tell you all about it.”

I conceded to his point, but it was painful to make small talk when the idea of virtual reality was in the front of my mind. No, it wasn’t a new concept, but if Alex could make a laser pen…

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2017 in Scribbles

 

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Sunday Scribble – “Ripple Effect Part Three”

Ripple Effect
Part Three

Alex and I soon began directly messaging each other instead of joining the chat room, and it was always fascinating to hear what that guy was doing in his lab. There were plenty of small inventions and items he created, such as a thin, transparent paint that made whatever it coated glow-in-the-dark. Alex said his housemate used it on his keys to better find the lock on his car after work. Some others, like a pen that shot lasers, didn’t sound plausible at all to me but I generally humored him.

“So what is this pen called?” I had asked him. “Does it have a name?”

“I suck at naming things,” he had typed back. “My housemate started calling it the Pen o’ Doom after I accidentally shot a hole through the bathroom door.”

Our conversations tended to stick to inventions, comics, and superheroes just like in the old chat room. We had been messaging each other for a few months while only publicly going out, usually to see the latest superhero movie (which ignited conversations about how the movie failed the comics) or browse the science fiction section of our local bookstore together. He even accompanied me to the electronics store to help me pick out a new desktop computer for my games (which ended up being a buying spree for computer parts so he could help me build my own desktop). It was the night I was going through all the basic settings of my new computer that he instant messaged me a bit earlier than when we usually talked.

“Hey,” was how he always greeted me on our messenger.

“Hey yourself,” I said. “I thought you had a shift?”

“I kinda forgot it,” he said. “I was working on something new, and I got too distracted by it to notice the time. My housemate was actually the one who poked his head in my room to say that he got a coworker to cover for me.”

“Now don’t you feel bad for calling your housemate a pain-in-the-ass last night?”

“No,” was the blunt reply. “Last night he was an ass. Besides, I paid for his share of the rent last month, so I owe him nothing.”

I smiled to myself and played with the different resolutions for the monitor before typing, “Out of curiosity, how was he an ass?”

“He hid my sketch journals.”

That threw me for a loop. “You draw?”

“Not really,” he said. “I make rough sketches of inventions. It has more math than drawings in it.”

I responded with a simple, “Ew,” and he typed out a laugh before I said, “Why would he hide your journals?”

Alex left me hanging for a few minutes before saying, “He wouldn’t give them back until I ate dinner.”

“Why wouldn’t you eat?” I asked. “Food is awesome.”

I could have guessed that he would respond with, “I got distracted by some things…”

“Ass or not, it’s a good thing your housemate is there to make sure you stay alive,” I said. “Otherwise I wouldn’t have anyone to discuss how we can obtain super powers.”

“Glad you’d miss me for my mind and not my good looks,” he said, complete with a winking emoticon. He kept typing instead of letting me respond. “Actually, I’m very excited about what keeps distracting me and I’d really like to show it to you.”

I waited for further explanation, but when none came within a moment, I said, “It must be something deadly since you’re not offering to bring it the next time we see each other.”

“Not deadly,” he typed back quickly. “It’s just really big. I can’t move it out of the house. So I was wondering if you wanted to come over some time… We’ll have food!”

I smirked at Alex trying to bribe me with food but pondered on the invite. True, he hadn’t been a psycho like I had initially been worried about (he was a bit crazy, yes, but not psychotic), but I knew next to nothing about the guy outside of his superhero knowledge and genius eccentricities besides the fact that he had a housemate (whose name I never caught) living with him on the other side of town.

“Would your housemate care?” I asked. While waiting for a reply, I tried to figure out if I was hoping he would or not.

“Not at all,” Alex said. “Actually, he’s wondering what you like to eat. He does the cooking around here.”

“You dump that chore on him? All the time?”

“I do okay creating and buildings things as long as there’s no food involved,” he said. “Otherwise, I’m a disaster.”

I laughed out loud at the image in my head of Alex standing in the middle of a kitchen white from an exploding sack of flour. I took a deep breath to compose myself before responding with, “I’ll come if he’s making something good.”

“He’ll make whatever you want!” Alex said, a grinning emoticon appearing next to the statement. It never ceased to amaze me how excited Alex could get over anything.

“Better make sure of that with him,” I said.

“He’s right here by my side,” Alex said, and I shook my head, curious as to how long the other man had been there.

“Hi, Alex’s housemate!” A simple hello replied to my words before choices for dinner popped up on the screen. We discussed food while I laughed at how differently Alex and his housemate typed. Alex was always proper with grammar and spelling, while his housemate couldn’t be bothered to capitalize the beginning of a sentence.

“So, next Friday night, then?” Alex took control of the keyboard again.

“I’ll be there by 4,” I said. He sent me one last smiling emoticon before we signed off for the night.

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2017 in Scribbles

 

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Sunday Scribble – “Ripple Effect Part Two”

Ripple Effect
Part Two

It didn’t take me too long to find the central fountain in the mall, and I felt a bit silly pacing back and forth in front of the fountain with a Batman-patterned scarf. On the plus side, I probably looked irritated enough to keep the kiosk employees from bothering me.

I wasn’t sure if I was more anxious about meeting this Tech or about being stood up. When my watch indicated the appointed time, I began wondering if I was by the correct fountain in the right mall at the precise town. I started scrolling through my phone’s calendar while periodically looking around to be sure I had the right date when I noticed a peculiar young man walking toward the fountain.

He certainly wasn’t fashion-conscious, wearing a tan vest over a white t-shirt and faded blue jeans. His short blond hair was sticking up at all angles, but nestled amid the mess atop his head was a pair of safety-goggles.

“Tech?”

He looked at me, his eyes flickering to my scarf that I said would identify me, and smiled shyly. “Dynomite369? Forgive me, but I didn’t imagine you were a girl.”

Before I could retort, he stuck out a hand and said, “Hi. I’m Alexander Baker. You can keep calling me Tech, if you want.”

I shook his hand, replying, “Sierra Parker. It’s nice to meet you.”

“The pleasure’s mine.” He adjusted the duffel bag he had over his shoulder and took a minute before saying, “Uh, want to grab a table at the food court and we can talk?”

I smiled. “Sure.”

We walked side-by-side in silence, both of us apparently uncertain as to what to say. I had hoped he would have been as talkative as online, but apparently his screen name had been his own mask. He seemed like a decent guy, though. If I had to guess, he was probably a few years younger than me, maybe just entering his twenties. Alex even attempted to pay for my food, which was more than what my last boyfriend did.

Once we got settled with our pizza at a corner table, we eased into a conversation with the generic, “How are you?” questions. Neither of us gave too much background information, a cue he seemed to pick up from me. Eventually, I pointed to his duffel bag that had occupied the third seat at our table.

“So, what did you bring with you?” I asked.

His face broke out into a grin, showing off dimples, and his soda nearly spilled from his duffel bag joining it on the table. I couldn’t help but share his enthusiasm as he pulled out items I’ve only ever seen in comic books, such as a mock Green Lantern ring (“It only glows,” Alex said, sounding thoroughly disappointed the light couldn’t materialize into shapes.), a visor that looked as if he stole it from Cyclops (“The lenses are actually made from ruby quartz just like in the comics!”), and even Wonder Woman’s bracelets (he laughed when it was obvious they were too big for me).

“I wanted to bring the Batarang and Green Arrow’s weapons,” Alex said as he packed up his toys a few hours later, “but I figured I’d get into trouble with security…”

I chuckled. “That was smart thinking.”

He paused a moment before saying, “Maybe we can meet up again? Somewhere else without the threat of police?”

“You sound as if we’re planning a crime,” I said with a raised eyebrow.

Alex gave me a crooked smile, but flushed as he considered my words. “Yeah, I suppo–”

“I’d love to,” I blurted out. We stared at each other, both of us wondering where my words came from, before he smiled.

“Great!” He hopped up from his seat and I followed suit. “I’ll message you later about it.”

“Okay,” I said. “I’ll look forward to it.”

Conversation was much easier on the way out of the mall, and he walked me to my car. He seemed ready to hug me with all his enthusiasm, but restrained himself to a good-bye handshake before going to find his own car.

As I started my car, I shook my head as if the physical motion would settle my wild thoughts. Glancing at the time, I vowed to make my shopping trip quick to return to my laptop as soon as possible.

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2017 in Scribbles

 

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Sunday Scribble – “Ripple Effect”

I’ve played around with some of these characters in previous Scribbles. Ripple Effect, however, would most likely takes place at the very beginning of all those other stories.

Ripple Effect
Part One

I met him in an online chat room for people who were obsessed with superheroes. Among all the screen names that gave homage to Batman, Wonder Woman, and the X-Men, his was simply, “Tech123.” He didn’t contribute too much to the conversations. Rather, he corrected other people’s mistakes:

“Actually, Hawkgirl and John Stewart were only in the cartoon Justice League for gender and race diversity, I imagine. Aquaman and the Green Lantern Hal Jordan had been in their place originally.”

“The first X-Men were Cyclops, Angel, Beast, Iceman, and Marvel Girl (later known as Phoenix). Storm was recruited for the second team.”

“Barry Allen was the Flash before Wally West, not after.”

I noticed that anytime he wasn’t correcting some fan’s misconception, he would attempt to start a discussion about how the people behind the masks became superheroes. I don’t mean the heroes’ origin stories. This Tech guy was talking about the science behind all of it.

Could a man train himself to physical perfection like Batman? Could an Iron Man suit actually be made? Could a spider become radioactive and share its abilities with a human for a real-life Spiderman?

Not many others cared too much about the logic behind the comics (although there was one person whom animatedly spoke of creating a vat of toxic waste – the chat was fairly short that night), but Tech’s thoughts intrigued me. Like many fans, I often wondered what it’s like to fly, to run faster than light, to shape-shift into someone else entirely.

One night there were only a few of us in the chat room, and Tech was arguing with the toxic waste lover about the properties of lightning and its affect on various superheroes. When the argument seemed to be winding down, I interjected and asked if they thought a person’s DNA could be surgically altered to grant him or her powers.

That opened the floodgates. I initially felt guilty when the toxic waste person eventually signed off from being neglected, but Tech’s enthusiastic typing soon drove the thought from my mind.

According to Tech’s many theories, someone’s skeleton could be coated with adamantium like the Wolverine. The surgery would be difficult and the rate of the subject’s survival wasn’t very high, but it was apparently possible. He spoke of a bunch of technology, of actually creating live versions of superhero equipment, such as Wonder Woman’s silver bracelets, an arrow that deploys a net based off of the Green Arrow’s equipment, and even Batarang samples. There were plenty of topics I didn’t understand when he mentioned programs and codes, but he was always nice enough to dumb it down for me whenever I asked. He was just thrilled that someone else shared his interest.

Then the bomb dropped.

“Would you be willing to meet up?” he asked. “I’d love to show you some inventions.”

I didn’t know how to respond. Strangers always made me anxious. Why else would I talk to people on the Internet instead of bars and cafes?

“It would be out in public,” he added after I didn’t say anything for a moment. “Like, the mall or something. There’s no pressure.”

Instead of directly answering, I responded with, “How do you know if we’re in the same area?”

“My computer looks up the IP address of the people I talk to,” he said after a moment. He explained how the different sections of the IP address pinpoint the network and the area of the computer while I inwardly panicked. What else could he tell with an IP address?

“We don’t have to meet up if you don’t want to,” he said, apparently taking my silence as a negative. “I just thought you’d be interested.”

Great, he was making me feel guilty. Sighing, I figured I needed to go grocery shopping soon anyway, so I supposed one more errand wouldn’t hurt. He seemed fine, and there would be plenty of people in the mall so if he turned out to be a psycho, there’d be witnesses.

Before I could change my mind, I sent him a private instant message to figure out the finer details of our meeting. He was as excited as a puppy getting a steak. Perhaps, as an obvious comic book nerd, he didn’t meet too many fellow geeks.

We said good-night after agreeing on meeting in the early afternoon next Saturday at the local mall in the next town over. I shut down my computer and got ready for bed while hoping nothing extraordinary happened during our meeting.

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2017 in Scribbles

 

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Sunday Scribble – “Asymmetrical”

Asymmetrical

Elle’s mark was not a typical shape. It did not resemble half a heart or a star or even a simple circle. Instead, it had the base of a small square with a tab sticking out of the bottom like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle. Her soul mate’s mark would have to have a tab pointing up from a square in order to be symmetrical with her own, and she honestly wasn’t looking forward to meeting him. Their marks together would look ridiculous.

Elle watched from the restaurant’s counter as her friend Hannah struck up a conversation with a certain gentleman in the corner. Both appeared to be hitting it off well, with bright smiles and light touches on each other’s arms and legs.

“Elle!” After a few moments, Hannah appeared by Elle’s side at the counter. Hannah’s face looked ready to split with the grin she was wearing. “My goodness, this is going so well!”

“I’m glad.” Elle smiled. She was happy for her friend, honestly, but it was not much fun being the third wheel. “Where’d he go?”

“Neven just went to the restroom,” Hannah said, and she stretched her neck out to look around a few other counter patrons as if to double-check that there was no way for Neven to escape. “Elle, he was describing his mark to me. It sounds like the mirror image of mine!”

“Your soul mate?” Elle nearly choked on her drink. “Hannah, that’s… that’s wonderful!”

“I know!” Hannah’s grin softened and her cheeks glowed. “What about you? You were sitting with us then moved over here by yourself. I thought someone had caught your eye.”

“Well, no,” Elle admitted. “You two looked as if you were doing well on your own. I didn’t want to interfere.”

“Oh, Elle, you would never be in the way,” Hannah said. Before Elle could respond, Hannah’s gaze looked beyond Elle, and Hannah jumped up to greet a returning Neven. Elle shook her head to herself and finished her drink as Hannah and Neven resumed their seats in the corner booth.

Elle watched the pair for a few moments before deciding that there was no reason for her to remain in the restaurant any longer. She paid for her drink and gave Hannah a subtle wave and encouraging smile as she left.

As she walked along the sidewalk, Elle glanced at her puzzle piece of a soulmark on the underside of her wrist. With a sigh, she pushed the thought out of her mind and retreated to the local bookstore, her favorite haunt.

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2017 in Scribbles

 

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