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[Fiction] Singularity - What, Me Worry?


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The sea shimmered like a mirage, as the sun surmounted the horizon and cast its glow across the water. The waves gently lapped against the shoreline of the island, as Franklin stretched and rotated a kink out of his neck.

He tested the water and winced a little. It wasn't painful - very little was painful to him any more - but he could still feel the cold. While he could survive the water just fine, survival and enjoyment were two different things. He decided to wait a few more minutes before his morning laps.

He sat on the beach, and turned a bit to look at the house. Samhra was on the balconey, her wings and skin catching the sunlight just right, looking angelic and pure. She caught his eye and waved, grinning.

He waved back, and tested the water again - still cold, but the sun was working its charm.

Some people asked him: if his physical strength, speed and agility were entirely based on the quantum forces channeled through his mind, why did he have to exercise? He would respond: because it's not based entirely on quantum forces. The node needs a base to build on, and that base was built by exercise. Besides, swimming five hundred laps every morning couldn't really hurt, could it?

He stood up, and stretched his frame for his audience. He heard Samhra laugh, and whistle a catcall.

He took the plunge. Within seconds the island was a vague shape in the distance, as he got some distance. Once he'd stayed too close and swam in circles around the island too quickly, and was thoroughly embarassed when the resultant churn had knocked Samhra off her favorite rock whilst sunning herself. Not that the thought of her dripping wet and naked was an unpleasant memory - or at least as unpleasant as the Talk they had afterwards.

He marked time and began to turn. Far in the distance he could see a shipping cruiser as it chugged on its way. He gave it a wave. It seemed polite.

There was a purity out here. He could feel the sea air coursing through his lungs, and he imagined its sharpness clearing out cobwebs within him. He was everywhere and nowhere, between the deep blue sea and the endless blue sky, in that isolated state of mind where so many men did their best thinking.

It was out here that he felt it most deeply.

Rarely, he saw it - sometimes he felt it keenly, and sometimes faintly or not at all. It was tough to articulate - it had sides to it that sometimes made his eyes water. If pressed he would describe it as watching a TV that wasn't properly tuned. You would see one picture and then, faintly, another picture. In his case it was like every channel on TV was showing the same TV show at different times - ten minutes in here, fifteen in there, almost at the end of the program further down.

Out here there were fewer distractions, and he could see the waves lap past, slightly out of synch with themselves. The sun blurred very slightly as it occupied two points in time. He rolled over and started doing backstrokes, as a plane flew overhead, chasing itself slightly. And beyond that...

He swallowed, as further up, beyond where he could see but not beyond where he feel, something big and ugly clicked into place.

He had enough time to fly a few feet out of the water before the impact vaporized the lower half of his body. Red blood mixed with the green water of the sea as it roiled over him, the impact sending him end over end. Another shockwave shook through the water, striking him instantly deaf, and he felt more and more shockwaves shake the sea as it pulled him under.

Even deaf, he could hear the cries of the ocean liner he'd waved to, as it capsized by a giant tidal wave generated by an orbital mass driver. Even mortally crippled, he found the way up, and his head poked above the water...

Just in time to watch the island get swallowed in a ball of flame.

He screamed, and couldn't hear himself through his burst eardrums. The sea, angry, grabbed him once more, pulling him into inky darkness and relentless cold...

... and then he exhaled, as he floated in the air, whole and alive. He turned, and the island was still there. The sea was calm and it was a beautiful day.

He sped towards the island, the sea parting in his wake. Within moments he landed on the balconey, to Samhra's surprise.

"Franklin? What happened? By the Goddess, you're pale as bone - "

"Nothing. Nothing." He shook his head. "Nothing happened. I just - I needed to make sure you were..."

"Oh, Franklin. C'mere." She pulled him close. "You saw something. What was it?"

"Nothing. Just a... an afterimage." He returned the embrace. "I don't know. I don't know if it could have happened or if I was just seeing things."

"Did you want to talk about it?"

"I... maybe later. Maybe later. Right now, I just..."

His fingers delicately brushed her face, as he sucked in a calming breath. "I just needed... to make sure... that the most important thing in my world was still safe."

"Oh, well." She cracked a grin. "Want me to call in Manny so you can make sure personally?"

He laughed, and hoisted her up. "Manny won't save you from the terrible Tickle Monster!"

She yelped, and mounted token protests between giggles as he carried her inside.

* * *

The sun had gone, and Samhra was in her study. Once again, he found himself out on the shoreline, staring out over the sea lit by moonlight. It was the same sea in a different light, and it looked how he felt.

The memory was sharp in his mind, and it sent shivers through impervious skin. He looked up at the stars, and though he couldn't see it at this distance, he knew that it was up there.

The worst part wasn't how it had shocked him. The worst part was that it hadn't shocked him at all, and what did that say about the world? It was a horrible place at times, full of people who hated people like him, and who had money and guns and superpowers and who pushed and pulled at everything around them.

Some people asked him: if his physical strength, speed and agility were entirely based on the quantum forces channeled through his mind, why did he have to exercise? He would respond with a half-truth, because the full truth of it was this: every time he saw danger bearing down on him like an express train, every time his instinct for self-preservation became so strong not even time could cage it, every time he caught a glimpse of something horrible that could happen to him and everyone and everything around him...

Every time, he worried.

That someday, no matter how often he swam, or ran - no matter how great a weight he could lift - no matter how strong or fast of tough he was...

Someday it wouldn't be enough.

And then what?

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