by Kevin Strange
Originally published in The Last Gig on Planet Earth and Other Strange Stories. Available now on Amazon.com.
Edwin spotted them the moment he stepped off the train. The Men In Black. The Spooks.
“That lying fuck!” He said, under his breath.
Edwin turned to hop back on the train but the shorter, stockier of the two spooks grabbed his backpack, easily overpowering Edwin’s smallish, fourteen year old frame and halting any forward progress.
“Edwin Marshalls, by order of Department of Homeland Security, you’re coming with us.”
“How original.” Edwin quipped, brushing his shaggy brown hair back into his eyes, as they marched him toward their black Escalade.
The taller, fatter of the two forcefully took Edwin’s pack off his back.
“Are they in the bag?” Fatty asked. His accent was decidedly southern.
“Are what in the bag?” Edwin asked, playing dumb.
As they rounded the corner away from the crowded train station, away from prying eyes, the short one punched Edwin in the side of the face, sending Edwin sprawling onto the sharp gravel below his feet.
“Ow.” Edwin looked around at the empty parking lot hoping to spot some means of escape.
“There’s nothing in the bag.” The tall one said into the communication piece attached to his ear.
Edwin felt a molar come loose when he nudged it with his tongue. He spat out blood and said, “Where’s Brad? Brad told me he’d be here. I explicitly said no spooks.”
“Bradley Charnle is dead.” Shorty said. His accent was unidentifiable, due mostly to his pronounced and ridiculous lisp. “Give us the stones. They’re highly unstable. This is a very serious situation, Edwin.”
Edwin cursed under his breath. Fuck, he thought as he stood on shakey legs. It’s over. Defiant till the end, he said, “Five million in cash. That’s what I asked for, that’s what I’m getting if you want your little alien rocks.”
Shorty whipped the rear passenger side door open. He forced Edwin inside. He crawled in beside Edwin as Fatty got into the driver’s seat, started the truck, and pulled away.
Shorty took off his generic black sunglasses. Edwin was half surprised to see brown eyes behind them. He sort of expected them to be black like everything else these goons carried.
“Look. I know you think you hit the jackpot when a meteor landed inside your kitchen, kid. But you don’t understand just how many innocent lives are in danger by having those stones out here in public like this.” He un-holstered his pistol and sat it threateningly in his lap. Black. Of course.
Edwin looked the spook in his brown eyes and said, “I ate them.”
The truck screeched to a stop in the middle of the road. Fatty, who Edwin now noticed was sporting a pretty bad comb over, made worse by his bristly ginger-red hair, spun around frantically.
“You ate the stones?”
“Yep. Figured Brad would fuck me. Figured you wouldn’t pay me. Thought, what the hell, I’ll down em with some Frosted Flakes and see if what happened to my mom would happen to me, too.”
The spooks looked at each other nervously. Fatty spoke into his ear piece. “Situation has upgraded to a level 7. I repeat, level 7. Full threat level. The subject has come into immediate proximity with the stones. Send all available backup to our location immediately. GPS coordinates sent.”
The spooks sat still as statues. Finally, Fatty added: “And please hurry.”
Edwin began to glow. A bright blue luminescence filled the large cab of the Escalade. It pulsed rhythmically in time with Edwin’s breathing. His shaggy brown hair stood on end, creating a series of jagged spikes which waved threateningly. Finally Shorty spoke. “That was suicide, Edwin. Suicide.”
Edwin grew noticeably larger in that moment. He now had to duck his head to avoid touching the high ceiling of the truck. His voice took on a curious harmonic quality. As though his words were being naturally auto-tuned. “Was it suicide when your friends gunned down my mother in cold blood? Was it suicide when you dissected her still living body? While she screamed in pain, hmm, was that suicide?”
Fatty spoke this time, slowly. Cautiously. “It was a matter of national security, Edwin. What burst out of your house was no longer your mother. It was a monster. It had to be put down. We had no way of knowing whether or not her condition was contagious until the proper tests had been run.”
Shorty moved his trembling hand toward the door.
Edwin began to drip raw energy into the seat cushions. Spots where it touched instantly melted away.
“Command is two minutes away. They’ve authorized engagement.” Fatty said, reaching for his gun.
Edwin heard the helicopters and assault vehicles before the spooks did. He could hear everything now. Literally everything. He heard the elderly fat lady at Kroger half a mile away haggling with the disinterested young clerk about the price of her eggs after the coupon. He heard the happy family in the car on I-95 one hundred fifty miles away singing songs and laughing with one another. And he heard the fighter jets screaming through the air at 700 miles per hour with his name in their head sets.
Edwin grew again, ripping the roof off the Escalade like a can opener works a container of sardines, forcing the spooks out into the street. They were babbling into their ear pieces, aiming their black guns at what used to be his head.
He no longer cared what the spooks said or what they did. He tried to open his eyes and was amused to find that he both no longer had eyes and that he could see everything without them. Everything. Clearly.
The spooks opened fire. Their bullets simply flashed blue as they harmlessly entered into his body. They caused him no worry.
With his thoughts, Edwin turned the spooks into blue flames which flickered then went out almost instantly. Surprisingly though, the two men were not dead. Not in the sense that Edwin understood life and death now. Time, space, matter, energy, all of these terms were relative, human terms. Terms he could no longer relate to. The spooks were not really dead. Their personalities had left a mark on the particles around them. A Sort of emotional fingerprint before absorbing back into the whole of reality.
Edwin was in awe. Seeing it all. Hearing it all. Understanding everything perfectly for the first time in his life.
The irony was not lost on him that it took an organism launched through vigintillions of years and unfathomable miles from a long dead planet to awaken in him a true understanding of the human race and its full potential and purpose in the universe.
He saw and understood connections and pathways between light and love, between death and time that no mortal being had any right to conceive. He reveled in his new found enlightenment.
Edwin grew one final time. He gushed now. Blue plasma cascaded down from his titanic form as a radioactive avalanche of death and destruction. It swept through city streets like a nightmarish tsunami or protoplasmic sludge. Tens of thousands perished where they stood like little blue pulses on an electronic switch board. Hundreds of thousands more would die in the coming days and weeks as new and terrible forms of cancerous disease overtook their fragile forms. Mile after mile of once fertile terra would be left uninhabitable for millions of years.
Does an organism weep for ten thousand dead bacteria when it is infested with ten billion more?
The black choppers and military tanks had arrived. They were no more a concern to him than the tick is to the elephant. His mind raced. He knew he only had moments to live before his gelatinous body collapsed entirely.
This final growth brought with it the realization that he was no longer Edwin Marshalls. He was God now. He saw into the souls of every person walking the earth, saw their thoughts, their dreams.
He knew he had the power to destroy them all like he did the spooks. Like a child drowning an ant hill. He wanted to, for what happened to his mother.
But he could not hate these people. Gods do not hate. They simply did not know, did not understand, as a whole, what he understood now. Edwin dwelt on that notion. That they may never know their true place in the cosmos. In the Grand Design. The Intergalactic tapestry of existence. And it made him sad.
Edwin began to dissolve, to come apart. In his final moment, he did not doom human civilization. Instead, he sent out, without knowing if he even possessed that kind of power, one thought. One thought he hoped to plant into the mind of every human being on the planet. As the last of him pulled away from itself, he did not care that he would not live long enough to see if his thought had the intended impact. Gods don’t care. Gods act.
In the instant of his demise, the Edwin Marshalls that was no longer an Edwin Marshalls but instead something entirely new, Something that have never existed in all of the fathomless depths of the universe before and may never exist again, sent out his one thought to seven billion minds simultaneously. His dying thought.
We are all one.