Written by shadar :: [Saturday, 16 February 2013 03:55] Last updated by :: [Monday, 06 May 2013 17:45]
Heart of the Fantasy
We all know where the heart of our fantasy lives. Here’s one view.
Seattle’s Emerald City Comicon was abuzz with more rumors and stories and speculation than ever before. This was the first Comicon since He came to Earth, the man who dressed and seemingly had the powers of the fabled Superman.
Earth had been on the brink of destruction, with Islamic terrorists claiming they had control of several nuclear weapons, when their savior appeared, riding a flaming meteor into Earth’s atmosphere, its dazzling light drawing the eyes of most of Earth’s creatures toward the sky. And then, almost before anyone’s eyes could register what they’d seen, like all meteorites, it was gone.
Scientists examined their telescopes and radars, not understanding how that rock had reached Earth without sounding an alarm. They were soon astounded to find faint traces on their telescopic images that showed that it had come straight in from the Oort cloud, a large band of ice and rock located nearly a light year from the sun, and a quarter of the way to our nearest star.
That report had barely made it around the world when new reports began filtering in describing strange battles that were being fought at the nuclear facilities in Iran, Pakistan and North Korea. Soon after that, three small nuclear weapons detonated harmlessly in the high atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean. Then a half dozen more. Every nation on Earth went to red alert and citizens were told to seek shelter and avoid looking into the sky. Aircraft were grounded world-wide.
A dozen more detonations followed those as brief battles were now reported in Israel, South Africa and India. When reporters started to piece things together, they concluded that someone was attacking, stealing and harmlessly detonating the nuclear weapons they’d taken from the newest members of the nuclear club.
Confusion reigned after the frantic reports from those countries talked about a single attacker, a man who could not be stopped by bullets or bombs, a man who somehow knew where their bombs were stored and had the strength to tear his way into their underground bunkers and remove the weapons before detonating them high in the sky for everyone to see. Speculation soon ran wild, with people hypothesizing everything from some kind of new American drone robot to an alien visitor from a distant star. Then the first fragmentary images of the attacker were broadcast, and the entire world drew a deep breath as the pictures showed a dark-haired man in a blue costume and wearing a red cape. A man who wore an “S” rune on his chest.
While the world gasped in disbelief, the faithful attendees standing on the floor of the Emerald City Comicon felt as if the universe was finally unfolding as they had so long dreamed. They smiled and laughed and gathered together to sing the praises of the Superman they’d always believed existed in some reality, if not their own. They alone truly understood what was unfolding: Superman had arrived in the nick of time to pull the nuclear beast’s teeth. He was going to save them all.
Someone in the crowd found his way to a mike and began quoting a popular Biblical phrase from Isaiah:
…he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and he shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
The frenzied Comicon audience went wild. The true believers stood in the majority, those who’d always thought that comic books were a window into an alternate reality. They were arguing with SciFi addicts who were searching for a scientific explanation for an event that bordered on divine. The religious among them were praying that this was the fulfillment of prophecy. The buzz of conversations through the competing Comicon PA systems was loud enough to be heard for blocks outside the convention center.
In the end, it didn’t matter what one believed, for it was clear to all those living on Earth that some kind of god-man had come to them, and he was indeed pounding those fabled swords into plowshares.
And that’s when a loud bang shook the walls of the convention center and a blast of air blew across the convention floor. Turning as one, they all looked up to see the man in red and blue as he floated through a high window to hover above the Seattle convention center floor. Conversations stopped in mid-sentence as heart's raced. Several women fainted. Their hero was dressed in the fashion of the latest incarnation of their hero, his skintight blue costume revealing all, his huge red cape waving in the air currents, the huge “S” on his chest glowing as if lit from inside. His dazzlingly blue eyes darted from one person to another, meeting their eyes for a brief moment as he seemed to be listening, searching. Finally, his eyes stopped, focusing in on a cute, sixteen-year-old girl who was dressed in a cosplay outfit that was analogous to his own. She like everyone else was too dumbstruck to say a word.
This was Kristi Johnson’s first Comicon. Living as she did on a remote farm in central Kansas, she’d used her newly acquired driver’s license to drive all the way to Seattle. She drove all night and half of Saturday, all alone, stopping only for gas while munching on gas station food. While her parents thought she was at a friend’s family outing, she was fearfully navigating the traffic-clogged and convoluted roadways of Seattle to finally come to a thankful stop beneath the Convention Center. At which point her ancient VW Rabbit coughed up a lung-full of smoke and died.
Kristi leaped out of her ancient car, never so glad to feel her feet on the ground. Putting the jitters from the crazy city traffic and too much sugar behind her, she grabbed her bag and ran for the entrance of the Comicon, waving the precious three-day pass that she’d bought on-line months earlier. It was Saturday afternoon, but she prayed she was still in time.
Soon she was standing inside a booth, peeling off her street clothes to reveal the cute costume she wore beneath. She’d worked for the last year to craft this costume, praying that it would be good enough to win a prize here at the Comicon. She tore the seams out and redid it a dozen times before she was satisfied. She wanted more than anything to be selected to attend the very special and highly restricted Legion of Superheroes costume party on Saturday night. You had to win a prize for your costume to attend.
Kristi had chosen the mid-70’s Supergirl as her subject, a style of costume she’d rarely seen in Comicon photos, and never done right. Between her long, blonde hair and blue eyes and her pixie-like figure, she knew she was perfect for the role.
The dished front of her blue tunic with the famous “S” icon over her left breast fit her snugly, except for her long sleeves, which were loose and blowzy. A pair of red hot-pants and a golden belt complemented her top. Her short cape attached to a red choker around her neck. A pair of tiny red slippers completed the outfit. It was as perfect as she could make it.
Feeling strangely awkward now that she was dressed this way, knowing the eyes of thousands would be on her, she ducked out the back door of the changing room and headed instead into the corridor that connected the two parts of the convention floor. She'd try her new look on a handful of people at a time. To gain confidence.
Sitting on the stainless railing as she leaned against the wall, her heart was pounding as she struck a pose and smiled when she heard someone coming. The only person who had ever seen her dressed this was was her cousin, Mary. She'd rolled her eyes and said Kristi had better not let her mom see it.
Kristi gulped and swallowed hard as the doors at the end of the corridor swung wide, expecting a couple of people at most to walk her way, Instead, she was shocked to see a huge group of reporters and cameramen coming down the hallway. Kristi blushed brightly as the cameras aimed at her and the reporters gathered around with their mikes. They started throwing rapid-fire questions at her, asking her where she got her costume and why Supergirl was her heroine and how old she was and where she was from and a dozen other questions she didn't want to answer. Instead of answering, she staying in character, telling them that this was just an ordinary outfit that she’d brought from her home on Krypton. She had grown up there, after all. She was an El, just as the rune on her chest proclaimed.
They kept probing, looking for a human interest story, but Kristi stayed in character, talking about how wonderful it was to be able to fly, to be so strong, to look through things. She had no idea that her real story would have been a huge hit. How a girl from Kansas made her own costume and drove alone to Seattle just to share her joy at her first Comicon. It was the perfect Comicon story, but Kristi was too scared and too wrapped up in her first cosplay appearance to break character and give them what they wanted.
In the end, the reporters moved on, looking for a story they could sell to the networks. All but one man. The convention organizer who had been accompanying the rerporters reached into his bag and retrieved one of the coveted emerald-colored passes.
“Stay this way tonight,” he whispered, “and we could have some fun. For that's the first rule of the League of Superheroes party -- nobody breaks character.”
“I promise!” she squealed. "I will."
He laughed as he watched her dance the other way down the hallway, her feet barely touching the ground as she hooped and hollered.
She’d gotten her invite.
She was going to the party.
Kristi was bubbling with excitement and flush with newfound confidence when she emerged onto the convention floor, arriving at the exact moment when the amazing flying man appeared overhead. Standing there with everyone else, gawking as he scanned the crowd, she suddenly felt very self-conscious as his gazed paused to settle on her. A strange tingling sensation filling her as the obviously alien man smiled at her and began to slowly descend toward the crowded floor. Everyone around her moved back to give him room to land directly in front of her.
He was so tall that Kristi had to bend her neck far backward to look into his crystalline eyes. His teeth were perfect and dazzlingly white, the cute dimples of his cheeks making her heart go pitter-patter as he continued to smile at her. He looked young and old at the same time, so fresh and healthy looking that he might as well have been born yesterday. Or created. For he was too perfect to have been merely born.
Kristi felt as if she was floating on air as he continued to smile at her, her entire body tingling with excitement. She quickly crossed her arms across her chest as she realized her nipples were pressing hard against her thin top. Blushing as she felt herself getting moist, a wave of embarrassment overcame her. Half the people in the room were staring at her now, and the other half at the man who was dressed so much like her, wondering why he had eyes only for a girl they’d never seen before. A Supergirl.
It became too much. Too intense. Kristi’s courage failed and she turned and bolted out the closest door and down to the end of another long hallway. She sagged to her knees at the end, gasping for air, tears filling her eyes. It was all she could do to breathe again.
She’d never felt like this before. Never so overwhelmed. So out of control. So filled with desire. Never so drawn to a man. A man she’d do anything for. Anything.
Huddled there in that corner, she struggled to think of anything except the god-man who had just been smiled so warmly at her. But she could not. She knew that of all the people standing on that huge convention floor, she alone had looked like she belonged to him. And for the first time in her life, she felt as if she belonged to someone outside her family.
He hadn’t been that much older than her, had he, she asked herself? A few years. Less than ten for sure, she rationalized. She refused to think about how impossible that gap was, for a girl of sixteen anyway. But God, what she would give for him to be the one. Her first.
Lost in her unfamiliar but racing thoughts and wild fantasies, it was all Kristi could do to keep those very wrong thoughts from enveloping her. This was the last place in the world for her to lose her focus. To succumb to passion. She wasn’t even supposed to be here.
Her father had always said she had a will of steel. Now was her chance to prove him right.
But that man was Superman, her other half argued. Not just by way of costume, but by way of every cell of his body. A body that was burned into her mind’s eye.
Lost in her racing thoughts, she barely heard the door open and close at the other end of the corridor. Lifting her eyes to turn and look cautiously behind her, her mouth fell open as the Man of Steel use his heat vision to weld the steel fire door closed against the press of the crowd behind him. His eyes sparkled too blue as they returned to hers, and he smiled once again. He had the most beautiful smile she’d ever seen.
He stood there calmly, hands resting confidently on his hips, just like the comic-book Superman had always done, his cape swishing softly in the breeze from the Aircon. She had never seen a man (or even a picture of a man) with such profound muscular definition. He wasn’t bulky like a bodybuilder, but he had better definition than any of them. Hard curves and sharp tendons shaped every square inch of his body, which was sculpted much like that of an Olympic swimmer. His skintight costume hid nothing, including a remarkable set of bulges across his lower groin that prevented Kristi from taking a breath. Unlike the comic-book Superman, his costume hid nothing and emphasized everything.
Not that she had any basis for comparison. Not at her tender age. She’d grown up in a protective, religious family, far from any town. She’d been home-schooled. And her parents hadn’t allowed her to begin dating yet. She’d never really been kissed, just those little pecks that relatives give to each other.
All of which made this forbidden journey to Seattle all the more dangerous and exciting. She knew a lot of guys came to Comicons hoping to get lucky, and the party she’d wrangled an invite to attend was infamous for sexy costume play. If her parents found out that she was here, she’d be grounded for life.
Kristi suddenly didn’t care. It had been worth it to get away, even for a weekend, and now she was alone with the most amazing man on Earth. A man she had admired above all others since she was a little girl.
“I searched for months before I chose to act on my own,” the man in red and blue said, his speech colored by a strange accent. “I searched thousands of hearts, those of your leaders, your public figures, your athletes, your teachers, your clergy — everyone who I thought had leadership abilities. I had come to the conclusion that there were no people on your planet who would not be corrupted by unlimited power and unbounded opportunity. And then I came here, hoping to use this brightly-costumed event to deliver my warning to the powers of Earth, and then… then I sensed your heart. Yours alone, of all the human hearts I have examined, is true.”
Kristi’s jaw fell as she continued to stare at him, her eyes drawn magnetically to his. “True…?” she asked in a whisper.
“Pure of heart, your soul filled with compassion for your fellow man, devoid of jealousy or ambition or avarice. You have never deliberately hurt another person, and I sense you never will. It is a further promising sign that you wear a costume that resembles my own, drawn from an innocent era of your mythology.”
“Well, there was this fight I had with Samantha…” Kristi started to say, only to stop as his eyes blazed brighter. The strange tingling sensation that was filling her grew stronger, making her squirm as it reached some delicate places. She felt as if her entire body was filling up with tiny spots of starlight.
“I have already destroyed the most volatile of your nuclear weapons, but my job has barely begun. You must know that no world which has developed such weapons has survived their deployment. Your world will not either, unless they are all destroyed soon, along with the means to produce them. But I must leave here, for another world has begun using these abominations, and I must go and stop that war while people yet live. I need someone to continue my work here until I return.”
Kristi swallowed hard as she tried to absorb what he’d just said. He made it sound as if they were standing at the edge of their planetary grave. But was he really asking her to continue his work? Work only someone who wore the “S” could do?
She opened her mouth, but no sounds came out.
“The person who will save your world is to be you, if you will accept my gift.”
“A… a gift?” Kristi stuttered, her mind failing to truly comprehend what he was saying.
“If you accept this lifelong commitment, I will make you like myself.”
“Like…Superman?” she gasped.
“I think you look far better as Supergirl,” he laughed warmly. “Someone you have already chosen. You have studied the mythology of your world and the Kryptonian myths in particular, and you understand the goodness that is required. That you must not give in to any form of corruption, greed or desire.”
Kristi smiled, trying not to laugh. “Mythology? If you mean that I’ve read a lot of comic books, yeah, OK.”
“Yet you are a passionate believer in goodness, Kristi Johnson, and you have a pure, untouched heart. There is no other. It must be you or no one. You alone hold the future of Earth in your hands.”
“But I’m… I’m not even supposed to be here,” Kristi whined.
“Such is the way of great events and even greater persons. We call it fate, for this moment was clearly ordained long before I received my gift. Long before you or your ancestors were born, you alone were being prepared for this moment.”
Despite her fascination with Superman, despite the longing that filled her body, Kristi began to worry. He talked like a crazy man. How could she be prepared long before she was born? She was a Christian, and no Christian believed in that kind of thing. He made her sound like a superheroine, and not just some desperately-bored farm girl who had escaped to the big city on a weekend lark.
“You call it a lark,” he replied, clearly reading her thoughts, “but it was truly your fate to be here today, just as it was mine.”
Kristi shook her head, trying to push the growing fog of confusion away. This wasn’t happening. This was crazy. Scary even. She had to get away.
“It is reasonable to be afraid, but I haven’t time to reassure you. You must make a decision, Kristi. To save your world, or damn it to the fires of nuclear destruction someday.”
“You… you can’t ask me to make such a choice,” Kristi replied, her growing fear momentarily replaced by anger. “That’s not fair. I have to think.“
“You do not. It is fated. You know that in your heart. Do you accept my gift of life, or not? You must choose now.”
Kristi’s thoughts swirled inward on themselves as she suddenly felt nauseous. Clearly this man was an alien, possibly even a god in some people’s eyes, and he wanted her to join him, but Christ, she was barely halfway through her junior year of high school. She wasn’t even supposed to be here. Yet he claimed that she, and she alone, could save the world? Is that really what he said?
“How do we, you know, save it?” she asked cautiously. Fearfully.
“Not we, but just you. And you do it by becoming the girl you pretend to be. You are to be my gift to humanity.”
Kristi felt as if she was outside her body, looking in, watching the adoring look on her face as she looked up the man, her lips forming the words: “I… of course, I accept. How could I not?”
He swept her up in his arms and kissed her, a kiss that went so deep that she seemed to melt into him, and him into her. She closed her eyes, and suddenly felt as if she was blasting through space, through the massive wormhole at the center of the Milky Way, bursting forth to race outward into a minor stellar arm of the galaxy, homing in on a tiny yellow sun and then to a lovely blue planet. A planet beautiful with its broad oceans and colorful landform.
Looking down on her world, she realized she was seeing it through his eyes. That it was his journey that she’d just witnessed.
And then he was gone… and she was falling…
Kristi opened her eyes to find herself falling through a thin cloud layer, the ground still miles below her. Yet she wasn’t afraid. For she knew it would take but a thought to stop her fall. That she could now fly in such a way as to be the envy of every bird. Of every aviator.
Somehow, a thousand dreams had just come true. And she knew exactly what she had to do.
Aiming herself toward the horizon, she stretched out her right arm and tensed her legs slightly, and she suddenly raced eastward, breaking the sound barrier in seconds as she flew so freely. Faster and faster, the air forming a cone around her, her leading fist glowing white-hot, the world beneath her rushed by as if she was staring at the screen of the Google Earth program, not the actual Earth.
Scant seconds later, she she found herself hovering high over a lonely farm in Kansas.
She would tell them first. Her parents. Her brothers. Her cousins. The aunts and uncles. She’d show them too. Show them everything.
And then she’d return to Seattle.
Where better to announce her arrival than at the famous Emerald City Comicon. To show them all.
At the famous League of Superheroes party no less.