[LNH/ACRA] Adventures Beyond Comprehension #7

cabbagewielder at yahoo.com cabbagewielder at yahoo.com
Tue Sep 5 11:05:08 PDT 2006

	Guy Redundant Man In
	Adventures Beyond Comprehension #7
	By Jesse N. Willey

	"I've never told Carolyn about this.   I guess I always assumed
she knew.    She's one of the smartest people on Earth.    Over the
years my powers have changed.   A lot."
	"When I first got them they arrived with the sound of a toilet
flushing.    Shy and crippled Rick Henkerton was washed away and
standing in his place was a strong, able bodied hero.     I liked it.
  Whenever I changed back, I felt ashamed of being plain old Rick."
	"When Simon had the power there was no toilet flushing.  I never
bothered to ask why.  The truth was I'd had my fill of the super hero
life and wanted out.   That turned out not to be the best course of
action.   When I got them back, the flushes stopped.   I didn't even
notice.   I'd long since stopped paying attention to that kind of
	"I had too many other things on my mind.  After the Sig.ago disaster
Rick Henkerton disappeared.  Even when I tried to change back... I was
always in the powered form.      Then there was that incident in the
tunnels.   That stuff with Congress... all took up a lot of time," I
	"Have there been anymore developments since then?" Doctor Colm
	"Yes... shortly after Sig.ago was rebuilt... I started becoming more
and more... relaxed for the first time in years.    It was great..."
I said.
	"Did your normal form return?"
	"No..." I said.

	She gasped.

	"So what happened?"
	"Oh... I changed appearance.   The cape and long johns disappeared
and were replaced with civvies... but I could still do things no human
being could ever do.  Fly, catch bullets with my bear hands, punch
through solid diamond without so much as a scrape, stuff like that."
	"I want to know what this means."
	"You want my honest opinion?  In our previous appointments you told
me the process of power transference you used to give your abilities to
Simon were a form of placebo.  That the power was still yours and that
part of your unconscious somehow transferred them over to Simon.  I
think the transformation process is a reflection of your self-esteem.
When you thought of yourself as a gawky nerd, the transformation was
made to be almost embarrassing.   Those psychological factors didn't
transfer over to Simon.    Your nanotreatment for your physical
disabilities and your time spent with normal people made you more
tolerant of your normal side.   You lost the Rick Henkerton form
because you blamed the indulgences of your human nature for the
destruction of Sig.ago.  As for your current condition..."
	"Well... I think it should be obvious.  Look at your friends.  Look
at your girlfriend.   Are any of them what you'd call normal
people?" Colm asked.
	"Exactly my point.  Your whole life is built around the super human
community.  The reason there is no longer any apparent physiological
differences between Rick Henkerton and Guy Redundant Man is because,
deep down, you don't separate the two anymore.   Whatever
physiological process is involved in the transformation seems to be
very responsive to the conditions of the psyche.   I don't think this
new state is psychologically unhealthy at all.   While there are
admittedly some advantages for a costumed individual to have a secret
identity for the protection of their loved ones, it also acts as a
double edged sword.   It often leads them to emotionally
self-destructive and even schizotopal behaviors," Colm said.
	"So I'm fine?" I said.
	"As far as I can tell.  Anything else you want to talk about?" she

	I made a soft cough.

	"I-uh-I'd like to talk about what happened the other day.   At
the memorial dedication," I said.
	"I see... I was wondering when you'd get around to that..." she


	Most people never get the key to the city or anything like that.   I
have more letters of thanks from the Governor and The President that
I've started using them as toilet paper.   I have keys to the city
from Sig.ago, Washington, London, and Kabul.  I use them as paper
weights.   It keeps me humble.   It keeps me honest.

	I'm just a man.

	This is the third time they've given me one of these things. But this
time is different because every time before it was always Boy Redundant
Lad they were giving it to. It was always because I had saved the city
from some death ray or atomic blast. But when they looked at me I could
tell that it wasn't so much in pride but in pity, knowing that there
was one time when I didn't save them.

	And I don't blame them.

	Today was about my new invention.   A hybrid engine that runs off
solar power and organic waste and produces purified sewage which can
then be used as fertilizer or compost material.   Probably one of the
most ecologically sound machines ever constructed.

	"I'd like introduce to you, the man behind this bold venture that
has already brought millions of dollars of investments back into
Sig.ago... Doctor Richard Henkerton," the mayor said.

	It took a moment to register that he had said my name.   For years,
all I'd gotten was Rick, BRL, Boy Redundant Lad, or Guy Redundant
Man.   Only my mother called me Richard.   And then... not for a long

	I slowly walked up to the podium.
	"Yes, as you know every year the threat of global warming increases
exponentially. The Henkerton Clear Power Engine uses a combination of
solar and organic fuel processes to all but eliminate greenhouse
emissions and-" What was I doing? I should have spent more time
thinking about what I was going to say before I got to the podium.
"I'm sorry. I'm used to lecturing to chemists and physicists.  I
guess what I'm saying is that the Henkerton Clear Power Engine will
not put mechanics or gas stations or mechanics out of business.   The
cars will still require maintence.   Solar panel repairs and the waste
tanks will need to be emptied.  I don't think service stations should
have to spend that much on training and upgrading..."

	I turned my eyes away from the stupid index cards Carolyn gave me.
She was always trying to make me not sound like some kind of geek or
something.    It didn't really help but y'know, it's one of those
things you do for love.

	That's when I spotted something in the crowd.   A man in a big white
helmet.    There was something in his hand toward the podium.    I got
a better glimpse of it.   It was an R-173 Antiproton gun.

	"Mister Mayor, get down," I said.

	The shot fired.

            Then came the tricky part.   Accelerate so fast that it
I'd be next to impossible see.   Then rescue the mayor.  Swoop back
around at a more visible speed and 'rescue' Rick Henkerton so that
even the Mayor wouldn't be able to figure out my secret identity.

            Which is easier than it sounds.

            Then I showed up as Guy Redundant Man.

	"All right, Citizens, keep calm-I just have to find who-" I

	Not only did that sound incredibly corny, they weren't even
listening.   It always works in the comics.   Even the most the angsty
type would at least have the crowd pause to laugh at the hero.    No...
this crowd began to trample each other to get out there.

	So now I had two problems.  First I had to corral the crowd and then
catch the villains.    I could hear some young reporters expecting to
get a cake walk assignment getting on their cellphones.  All this time
I thought members of the fourth estate needed years of on the job
training to develop such suicidal tendencies.

	It took half an hour to get all them to safety.    There were dozens
of people, mostly scientists and members of the press.    I swooped
down into the crowd and they dropped their phones.   People always do
that around me.

	"Did any of you see the gunmen went?" I asked.

	They stood there in silence except the one in the corner.   She was a
tall brunette woman dressed all in black.    She was probably a would
be goth in her spare time.   I pointed at her.

	"You!" I said

	   She slowly and calmly made her way to the exit.

	"Where is he?"
	"I'm with the press.  I know my rights..."
	"Do you have any idea who I am?   I'm Guy Redundant Man.
F.E.M.A. never officially disbanded The Team.   I've got Homeland
Security clearance a mile long," I said.
	"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,
or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of
speech, or of the press; or the right of the people to--" she said.
	"There is time to protest later.   This man has already tried to
kill the mayor once.   You're talking about human lives at stake,"
I said.
	"Those who would trade liberty for secur-" she said.
	"If I find out you're hiding something... you're looking at
aiding and abetting.   Did you know super criminals are now being
treated like terrorists?"
	"But I did---"

	I gently lifted her off the ground.

	"I don't have time to argue.   Enjoy your Cuban vacation..."
	"Uh-uh--- he just kept muttering 'park bench... waiting for van
to come'" she said.

	  I placed her back on the ground.

	"Thanks... I didn't know how much longer I could keep up that
bluff," I said.


	  I flew down into Memorial Park.    After the reconstruction a small
area was set aside with a monument  to the estimated one millions two
hundred and thirteen people who died in the Sig.ago disaster and the
thousands more who died of various diseases in the aftermath.

	Every time I go there, I think about Sky.   He was my best friend.   I
remember Alison who's artwork went all but destroyed in the
disasters.   Nanoreconstructed duplicates were now fetching millions on
the open market.    I think I have the only surviving original.   A
tattered charcoal sketch of Sky and I done on rice paper.  Or what she
thought we looked like.   She was blind.

	Poor Divine-torn between Heaven and Hell... Patient Zero and Absurd
Lass-dead but not entirely unliving.... I tend not think about them.
  I don't know why.   I guess I was never as close to them as I was
to the others.

	I scanned the park.   I just hoped my heroes intuition was a sharp as
it ever was.   Aside from the recent Killfile stuff I've been out of
action for a long time.  It's been even longer since I worked alone
on something like this.     I'm not sure I'm playing the game on
the same level that I used to.    Maybe, at twenty four, I'm just too
damn old to be doing this.

	I was right.   There was the park bench.   There was the guy in the
helmet.  He got in an armored van.   It would have been a simple smash
the van and grab the bad guys if it hadn't been for one small little
problem.   I saw a ticking time bomb under the park bench.

	A ticking time bomb?   Where do they get these things?   Do the
villains have their own super stores?   World Domination Depot?   I
don't know.  Anyway I checked the bomb first.   It was a damn good do
it yourself job.   If I tried defuse it too quickly it'd explode.

	It'd been in this situation about a million times.   In the old
days, Sky and his crazy luck would have stayed to diffuse the bomb and
I'd pound the crap out of  the bad guys.   During the disaster era I
would have yelled at my subordinates and gotten them to do it.

	Before you ask why I didn't call Carolyn or Mary or whoever else I
used to hang with for help, I have an answer.   I think I really wanted
to know that I was still an 'A-List' super hero.

	Once I found all the fake wires that didn't do anything, I was able
to take care of the bomb.   Then I tried to track down the van.    It
was odd.    It stopped near the entrance to an abandoned subway
station; The Team's original headquarters.

	Which made no sense to me.  I mean he attacked the mayor at the key to
the city event, and then memorial park which is a city landmark.   But
The Team's headquarters strays from the typical anti-government
psycho profile.

	Then I remembered... I was there at the city event too.   The city was
destroyed in spite of The Team's best efforts.   He was attacking The
Team.  Somehow, he was attacking me.

	I entered the old base with caution.  It was like entering a ghost
town.    I was reminded of that number in Les Miserables.   The empty
chairs and stuff.   The whispering echoes of my friends all around.
That night with the holographic fire.

	And that laugh.   That horrible laugh.  The screeching sounded like a
horrid creature with traits of a bat and a hyena.  He slowly crept out
from the hollowed ticket kiosk.

	The man in the helmet stepped out.   There was a series of numbers and
letters imprinted on his white metallic dome. 73-0A  One of my
pre-disaster foes, The Eggman had a similar motif.   He was destroyed
with the rest of the city.

	I flew toward him and pinned him to the ground.    Somehow he squirmed
out of my grip.   He did some sort of jujitsu move and threw me across
the room.   Basic white belt stuff.  Use your opponents strength
against them.  When the opponent has muscle that carry a 747 with ease
that gives them a lot to work with.

	"I-Eggman.   You-walrus?" he said.

	He seemed to be retreating back to one of my old labs.   I followed
him.    The lights were on.   My god.... The bodies... hundreds-maybe
thousands-and he had done something to all of them.

	"You're sick!   What did you do?" I said.
	"Stupid Blood Tuesday, man..." he spouted.
	"What did you do?" I snapped.

   	I kicked him.   I was careful to only use the amount of force I'd
use on an ordinary person.   As sickening as it was-I needed to know
why he did it.  These experiments.  The attacks earlier.

	"Why?   Why'd you do it?"
	"...penguin!  Cornflake! You walrus!!" he spouted.

	  His flesh was gooey and moist.   His ribs snapped.   Blood spattered
everywhere and bits of bone and lung went flying across the room.    I
swear I didn't hit him that hard.  He became just another body.   One
amongst hundreds of identical bodies.

	I noticed one of the computer stations had some sort of video file
loaded up.   I pressed the play button.   Another Eggman was on the
screen.   His helmet was marked 01-0A,   He was much earlier than this

	"Whichever of the Eggmen is seeing this... here is what you have to
remember... the original... the late Eggman... made us all from exotic
dark matter and synthetic proteins.  Somehow that nanoengine
resurrected us because of our artificial nature.  Only now each
duplicate gets progressively dumber... and burns out very quickly.
Sometime soon only echoes of that song may remain... if this happens
find Doctor Rick Henkerton.  Lure him out however you can.  He's a
good man.  Inspite of our past... he should be willing to help you.
Maybe even fix you," The Eggman said.

	All that... all that... because he couldn't communicate.  Because he
couldn't ask for help.  And I killed him.   I killed him.

	I call myself a hero.

	It's bullshit.


	"You're only human," Colm said.
	"Am I?"
	"Maybe moreso than most people.  I mean you said this guy had tried
to kill you before.  How many people would give a shit about someone
after that..." Colm said.
	"He wasn't in his right mind.   The moment I put on this suit I
made a choice to use these powers only in the service of mankind.   And
though I falter, I can't fall.   There is no such thing as
conditional compassion.   It's just the way people justify doing
horrible things." I said.  "And I have done horrible things.  Maybe
I don't deserve these tights."
	"You didn't intend to do it."
	"Does that matter?"
	"I think it does..."
	"That's easy to say from the safety of your couch.  Do you know
what it is like... to have only the best hopes and intent... and still
wind up with blood on your hands?" I asked.
	"Y-" Colm said.
	"I don't possibly see how you could."
	"You'd be surprised."

	I turned for the window.  I took to the air.

	"Same time next week?" she whispered.

		The End

Rick Henkerton, Kendall Colm, Alison, Absurd Lass, Patient Zero, Divine
and Eggman created by Jesse N. Willey.   Carolyn Forge and Sky created
by Tom Russell Jnr.  This document copyright Jesse N. Willey

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