I can still remember the first time, but that's what they say isn't it? 'You never forget the first time.'
It was for Jenny Blydon. I was thirteen. Ricky Sedge was chasing her on his bike and I was in the field outside the house where Mum and Dad lived right up until they died. I liked Jenny, I wanted to protect her and as she came running up to me, Ricky pedalling like mad behind her as if trying to escape the blurry heat haze that surrounded us, I concentrated.
A sudden build of pressure, a release.
I can still hear that certain, peculiar, silence, as if punching Ricky Sledge from his bike with my mind had insulted nature and the world around me had taken in a breath it could not release. The grass, in a circle thirty feet around me was white, quite dead. The gentle sound of the birds falling from the sky and hitting the ground around me in soft puffs of ash. There was Jenny, pale, beautiful and dead. My footsteps left behind me as I fell towards her like those left on the moon by Neil Armstrong. When I touched poor Jenny's face it crumbled.
I wasn't a stupid kid. I knew that I couldn't let this happen again, not without a really good reason.
It came twenty years later in New York. The Megaton it called itself, a nuclear powered battlesuit four stories high, shrugging off the combined might of the American military and I knew, it was like a voice in my head, 'your time has come,' it said. Put the dishes down, grabbed a tea-towel and walked out through the restaurant. Once I was out I wrapped the towel around my head in true 'who was that masked hero?' fashion.
I crumpled Megaton like an old coke can.
Ten thousand people turned to ash.
Public enemy number one. Grainy satellite pictures of me, you'll know them. Head muffled in cloth, arms outstretched, a barely perceptible ring around me.
I drank. I drank, I took drugs, I wandered. So sure that I had found my purpose, my moment and all it had brought was hate and condemnation from the entire world.
But I'm sober now, straight. I'm back in New York, back outside the same restaurant. No need to cover my face. I've found my truth in God.
My apologies reader. I flinched. The original version of this has our character saving the Twin Towers from planes and a smaller bodycount. Which I think makes it a stronger piece of writing to be honest. But then there's always the worry, even though not many will probably read this little exercise, is it too crass?
I mean, the implied ending is already crass but it's a necessary shorthand for the way alienation can drive people into extreme behaviour. Or that is what we subconsciously believe anyway. As far as you, the reader know, our chap has returned to New York as a missionary. But in the West, that's not what those two words mean to us (and it was not my original intention as I'm as guilty as anyone). But anyway, Yes. I flinched and I thought I should be truthful about it.