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[Fiction] Singularity - Limits


Timeslip

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“And who will be my special friend today?” It was a trademark quip, one that rolled off the tongue of Sherman ‘Tank’ Hirshman with both regularity and joy. For Tank – as he had been known since long before his eruption – a steady supply of ‘special friends’ was a key requirement for a quality life, as surely as decent food and a roof over his head. Fortunately, there had never been a shortage. There was always someone who, for whatever reason, fit the role perfectly, ever since the days of seeking out some unloved kid in the sandbox and feeding him a shovelful of ‘special friendship’ with the nerd’s own plastic shovel.

These days, of course, things were different. Tank’s powers had given him a newfound appreciation of the art of making someone else’s life a living hell, and like any artist, he had moved from the finger paints of youth to more sophisticated media over the years. Still, when he spotted the silvery nova step off the ferry onto the new Ibiza boardwalk, his heart sang. This one would be sheer relaxation, a throwback to simpler days. “Nothing like a pacifist to really make for a fun day,” he said with a smile to nobody in particular, and sauntered over toward his new ‘buddy’.

The Queue would be a nice little introduction; it always was for this sort of laid-back affair. Singularity was almost to the customs counter when Tank’s stepped in from the side and butted in front of him. With an almost apologetic look tacked to his face, Tank looked at the former elite and said, “Sorry, won’t be a minute. You don’t mind, do ya’?” This not being the sort of deal where he needed too much subtlety, he went so far as to throw a wink at the silver eyes of his mark. For a moment – just a moment – he thought that this milksop might actually do something; then, Singularity simply shrugged and said, “I have time; go ahead.” Yeah, this is going to be a beautiful day, thought Tank, who turned his muscled bulk to the poor baseline customs agent and launched into a well-oiled routine of error and confusion that consumed, by its end, a solid half-hour. Every once in a while, he tossed a look at his new ‘special friend’ with a sort of half-helpless “what can you do?” shrug; it just wouldn’t do to have the sap give up so early into the game.

Finally, having stretched out a simple passport stamp to the utmost in inefficiency, Tank turned to leave…stepping on his mark’s foot in the process. “Oh, sorry about that, bud,” he offered in the smooth tone that bullies over the years had perfected, making it clear to their victim that ‘sorry’ meant ‘overjoyed’ while keeping a veneer of respectability for any authorities that might be watching. With that, he ambled off a few hundred feet, to keep an eye on the sap for the next opportunity.

As the day wore on, those opportunities came with convenient regularity. A couple more iterations of The Queue were mixed in with Bumped Food, The Last Item, Loud Phone Call, and countless other routines that, while old, were an almost nostalgic joy for Tank. And through them all, his ‘special friend’ performed admirably. Every slight, every insult, every violation of his personal space was taken with resigned acceptance, confirming Tank’s rightful place in the pecking order of the universe. As with all good things, however, the end was drawing near. His mark was heading back for the ferry. On the good side, though, it meant that the grand finale was just around the corner. As the silvered nova started up the gangplank, it was time for The Dunk.

“Remember, you’re dealing with an ex-elite here,” Tank reminded himself, and muscles bulged on muscles as his raw strength easily quadrupled while his mass at least doubled. With sunshine dancing in his heart, he shoved through the crowd and jogged over to the plank. A simple bum’s-rush would have been a broadcast of intentions that even this pansy might have sidestepped, so he slowed himself to a quick walk, moved up to just behind and a little to the right of his mark, planted himself as solidly as the plank decking would permit, and simply shoved his ‘special friend’ off into the drink.

That was what was supposed to happen, anyway. Why the guy didn’t budge under his fully-pumped bulk, he had no idea. But that was nowhere near the shock he got when the guy calmly turned and grabbed his wrist and, continuing a single smooth motion, lifted his 300 kilograms off the deck like a sack of potatoes and launched Tank into the sea.

Sputtering and splashing, a no-longer pumped Tank surfaced after a few seconds to see his ‘friend’ looking down at him with an utterly neutral look. “What the fuck?” he yelled in shock. “You’re supposed to be a fucking pacifict!”

With not a hint of malice in his voice, Singularity looked at the waterlogged bully and simply said, “Everything has limits.”

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