[LNHY/ACRA] The Daily Super Short-Short Story #41

Saxon Brenton saxon.brenton at uts.edu.au
Tue Oct 19 19:04:58 PDT 2004

The Daily Super Short-Short Story #41
A Devil Came Down to Georgia 23
Last time: Martin and Delroy headed over to mutant town to see a doctor.
     Martin settled down into the chair somewhat nervously. Dr Telzan 
closed the door and sat down "So, what can I do for you? " she asked.
     He'd been going over various versions of what to say in his head for 
the past half hour, mainly to keep himself from sounding like a complete 
doofus. "A little while ago I started mutating and growing metal bits," he 
said, and showed his arm, which now that he had stripped down to a t-shirt 
was visibly a mixture of flesh and metal all the way up to the shoulder, 
"and that involved a bit of changing shape. I *think* I've got it under 
control now, but I was interested in material on controlling superhuman 
mutations, mainly in case it starts to get out of control again. The 
references to directed concentration techniques sounded useful."
     Dr Telzan nodded. "That sounds sensible. There are a number of 
possibilities, and most of them can be mixed and matched to some extent. 
We'll need to talk about what sort of changes you were going through, and 
how you managed to quieten your metamorphoses so far. A physical check up 
would probably be useful as well, so that we can determine what sort of 
changes your body's going through," and she smiled, "But don't worry too 
much about that. I'll get one of the male nurses to carry that out if it 
turns out to be necessary. But for now, tell me: when did you first begin 
to experience your mutation breakthrough?"
     Martin had been reviewing everything he could remember about that. 
He said, "I started feeling tired and kind of strange in the morning about 
two days ago. I went and took a nap in the early afternoon to clear my 
head, and found the first bit of metal sticking out of my face after I 
woke up. I didn't think much of it at the time. I thought it was just 
stuck there, rather than growing out of me or something. Then I went and 
did several hours study, went to bed late, and woke up sometime around 
midnight with all sorts of changes happening really quickly."
     Telzan raised an eyebrow in surprise. "This was happening only a 
little more than a day ago?"
     "That's a quick recovery time considering you seem to be stable 
now. Or were they only minor changes? Can you describe them?"
     "They were painful, and coming in waves," he said. He described 
leaving his dorm, how parts of him were ballooning up, how the techno-
organic growths had been like a rough collection of wires and plates 
rather than the (relatively) smooth surface he'd been able to generate 
since then, and the damage done to a wall when his arm anchored itself 
to an ATM (without actually mentioning that an ATM was involved).
     Dt Telzan mentally underlined the bit about the property damage. It 
was plausible that a student living nearby might come to visit a doctor in 
mutant town, but a lot of normals also tended to view the area as a sort 
of black economy for the paranormal. And to an extent it was, especially 
in the area of exotic pharmaceuticals for non-standard metabolisms. But 
there was always seemed to be a bit of embarrassment involved and like 
gays who weren't out of the closet yet, new breakouts tended to come to 
mutant town for what the hoped (whether they realised it or not) would 
some discreet help in an area where they didn't live or work. Damage 
caused by uncontrolled powers seemed to compound that reaction. The 
hooded sweatshirt that he'd brought with him suggested much the same.
     "How long did it take you to stabilise the shapeshifts?" she asked.
     "A few hours, I suppose. I was kind of freaked out, and hid in the 
steam tunnels until I felt comfortable with going back to my room, and I 
got back around dawn." He shifted in his seat as he weighed up adding 
something else, then said, "I think I've been pretty lucky, overall. I 
have no real idea how long it usually takes to get control of metahuman 
abilities, but I gather it's a lot longer than that."
     She nodded. "The typical *minimum* time is about a week. Average 
time overall is several months to a year or so. Of course, there's 
reasonable conjecture that people who gain control of their mutations 
really quickly keep their situation quiet, which would skew the 
statistics away from what we know about the documented cases."
     Martin looked rueful. He was honest enough with himself to realise 
that if he'd been able internalise all of this stuff  turn it on and 
off like Colossus from the X-Men 2 movie  then he probably wouldn't be 
admitting to it having happened at all.
Tomorrow: Fight scene time, I guess. Unless it occurs to me to 
The Daily Super Short-Short Story series created by Arthur Spitzer, and 
used with belated permission.
Saxon Brenton    University of Technology, city library, Sydney Australia
     saxon.brenton at uts.edu.au 
The Eyrie Archives of Russ Allbery which collect the online superhero 
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