Friday, January 25, 2013

Bathroom Monologue: Heat of This Sun

Clark always insisted he was an alien. As young as three years of age he would lead friends on play dates into his barn where he alleged his parents had buried the ship on which he’d reached earth. They never found it, and he never manifested the alien powers he claimed he was supposed to get from sunlight. All it did was earn him the nickname “Unvampire.”

At five years of age, Clark began convincing girls on the playground to let him save them. It was his duty as a more evolved alien god-man. They would pretend to be trapped on top of the jungle gym, or that the slide was on fire, and he would run across the yard to pretend his incredible hearing was picking up their distress. How the fires were slain by him blowing on them was chalked up to imagination.

How the house fire began is still a matter of contention in the county. Clark was nearly burned alive trying to pull his mother from beneath a collapsed beam. The local paper has a heart-wrenching photo of the child kicking a firefighter for pulling him outside and, to quote, “stopping me from saving them.”

The tragedy begat several years of transitive living, with foster parents who all had praise for the boy’s intelligence and drive, but all reported he was simply too outgoing to fit in. He wanted to captain sports teams, be head chef at dinner, and yelled over every argument. His second foster father was an engineer, and tells the story of how the boy redirected sunlight through his glasses into a heat ray unlike anything he’d ever seen. The experiment conveniently destroyed the glasses and half their garage, and was largely thought of as apocryphal until his teens.

At age thirteen he lived at a shared home in a particularly nasty part of Chicago. It was almost as soon as Clark moved in that a series of grisly murders began along the waterfront, each a helpless young man or woman. The sites and times were spaced so that no one was able to create a narrow field of subjects. Not until Clark. With amateur blogging and diligent photo evidence of what was available to the public, he was able to lead the police to the murderer within only two weeks. It was a disturbed homeless man, whom psychiatrists later testified didn’t even know he’d done any of it. He’d squatted only a few blocks from Clark’s shared home.

Solving the gruesome killing spree launched him into a sort of regional celebrity. He was consulted on further cases, though solved none, and charities soon raised the funds to send him to the college he deserved. He had a plethora of glowing references and was admitted at the age of 16 to MIT.

Clark had the knack for engineering and immediately bonded with other top students and professors in key programs. He claimed he’d always loved rockets, and dedicated his post-graduate work in alternative fuels to a roommate, who died tragically from taking the wrong prescriptions. Clark revealed staggering breakthroughs in fuels only a month later, and patented enough that he was able to fund vast improvements in Chicago’s slums. To both orphans and astronauts, he was heralded as a hero. In retrospect, it seems bizarre they let him go up in that shuttle. It was all about stardom and reigniting the American passion for space.

There are doubts. While the alternative fuels initially tested producing no carbon emissions, the temperature of the planet has raised dramatically in the last three years during their adoption. Scientists still struggle to explain the cause. It would be too ironic if he had to wait for Clark to return and fix it for us. He’s already done so much, and we don’t even know what he’s up there looking for.

27 comments:

  1. "...and sometimes I despair the world will never see another man -- like him"

    Poor guy -- just wants to go home.

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  2. Clever twist on a well known entity, told with some measure of uncomfortable melancholy.
    Adam B @revhappiness

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  3. Will he ever retun with a solution? There seemsto be an elementin Clark that echos if you don't first succeed then try try again- space is the best place for superhero syndrome....

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  4. Brilliant, all of it. The "Unvampire" line got a chuckle from me!

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    1. I was inordinately and shamefully proud of that line. Thanks, Jack.

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  5. There's a sinister side to this guy, I think—hey, what's thatNO CARRIER

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    1. Embarrassed to say, Larry, but I think that joke flew over my head. Would you mind clearing it up for my simple mind?

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  6. He certainly grew into his superpowers. Perhaps the people of his home planet are late bloomers

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  7. Great twist on the storyline, John. It's a wonder nobody ever caught on to him.

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  8. What if ET never actually went home? Great proposition.. I reckon we'd all develop a psychosis of some kind if we found ourselves in his 8 toed shoes..so you've got to feel sorry for the sad little unvampire

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    1. Did you believe him innocent of everything to the very end, Tom?

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  9. Wicked awesome concept and execution. You leave me unsure whether he was a good guy who went off the beam or a psychopath from the get-go ... well done!

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    1. So you didn't convict to one interpretation or another? Regardless, thank you very much for the kind words. You made my evening better.

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  10. Liked the way you took this one, John. Quite a twist on the character.

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    1. My mind probably goes to the big guy more often than is healthy.

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  11. I guess it ISN'T always the quiet ones, you know? Clark seemed to like to toot his own horn. :D

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  12. You had me from the opening... "Clark always insisted he was an alien."

    When a kid knows without doubt what he is, at three years old, he has to be taken seriously I think, or at least listened to.

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  13. Arthur C would have approved

    marc nash

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    1. I did almost title the piece "Arthur C. Clark Kent."

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  14. I love this alternate version -- what if Clark had a different personality? Things might happen this way. Very fun read. :)

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    1. So you think this is that classic Clark, only with a different personality?

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  15. Clark knew how to speak silently. - @QuHarrison

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  16. I was so creeped out that I didn't even get the Clark reference at first. I vote for he killed all those dudes!

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  17. This definitely shakes the story of this well-known and praised figure. Had me wondering, is it smart to always trust so blindly, be it a hero or just another man.

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  18. This was fun, the more he helps the worse he makes it...A very different kind of superhero

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  19. Can't help thinking he does a lot of things to prove his powers...though he'd make a cracking supervillain.

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  20. Ohhh, it's Dark Clark!

    The neutral tone of this makes it all the more chilling for me. I like the way this play's with the reader's prior knowledge. Neat.

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