Heroes Save the World

Big Change, ch. 4: Simon Martin


Monitoring: Simon Martin
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

4:05 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
Wednesday, December 31st, 2013
21:05 Coordinated Universal Time
Wednesday, December 31st, 2013


Simon learned at least three things that morning: the ambulance response time in Toronto is five minutes; “syncope” is the technical term for a fainting spell; and something awful is going to happen to at least a small piece of Toronto at some point in the future.

He had also learned a thing or two about his power. For one, it was sort of overwhelming to experience someone’s death from the inside. He had been expecting to see it as though he had been a bystander.

Second, he had to be careful about how he used his power in the future. After he had touched Laurie, his eyes rolled to the back of his head and his body slumped to the side, almost falling off the bench. He was like that for a few seconds, and then there was the screaming, and then he passed out. Understandably, she had called the ambulance on her cell, and even though he woke up a minute later she didn’t let him leave until the EMT said that nothing seemed to be wrong anymore.

He was handling things considerably better on the second go-around. About halfway through watching Looper with his mother he had pretended to get drowsy, and he was now letting his head hit the back of the couch in preparation for his next viewing of the future.—

The taste of metal in his mouth is the first thing he notices, even before he remembers that this is somebody else’s body. His mother’s hands are trembling, wrapped around something hard and cold, bumping against the roof of her mouth. This is his room, he notices, and something about that bugs him, but his thoughts are shaken off by a realization: there’s a gun in her mouth.

“Simon,” his mother says. It takes a moment for him to realize that he’s returned to the world.

“S-Sorry,” he replies, trying to put on his best sleepy voice.

“You should take a nap. I don’t know how much sleep you’re missing, but it’s obviously a lot. We can talk about how long you’ve been having these nightmares later tonight.”

Simon nods and moves off to his room, still in shock and half stumbling. After he sits at his desk, door closed and locked behind him, his mind puts together what had been off about his room: the bed had been made. Maybe he had just decided to clean it up for once, despite the utter uselessness of making up a bed that was going to get unmade later that day. Maybe, though, he would die at some point between now and his mother’s death, whenever that happened.

At least she died , or will die, quickly, without first having to freeze or turn into one of those horrid body trees. Thinking back on it he can remember pulling the trigger but hadn’t heard the gun go off, which has to be a good sign.

Time to figure out where to go from here, he thinks.

On paper he begins writing out either-or statements, questions, and a few observations that might be important. It still isn’t clear how long the visions lasted, but they were short. He will have to be cautious when he collects visions, to make sure that nobody kills him while he’s passed out (or for that matter that he doesn’t fall and break his skull on something).

Next to, “Is future mutable?” he writes, “Either is or isn’t, but no use worrying about self-fulfilling prophecies unless more information gotten on that.” Under the header “Things to figure out” he writes, “Do I die? How? When?” After a moment’s thought he takes out a teal-colored pencil and circles it.

This time around he hadn’t been greeted by the sort of horrifying scene that had greeted him when he saw Laurie’s death. Without knowing more about the circumstances he couldn’t say which was weird. Laurie could have died five years from now, or five decades. Maybe his mother committed suicide before whatever happened to Toronto, or maybe it was in reaction to those events. Laurie wasn’t a body tree, so obviously not everyone had been transformed, and it was no reason to think that there weren’t buildings with heating at that time. Maybe Laurie was homeless in the future.

He needs more information if he’s going to accomplish anything. He needs to find allies too, for a couple of reasons. His power isn’t necessarily actionable in the here and now, and if he’s going to die at some point in the future then he needs to make sure that there is someone who knows whatever he is able to find out. Unless he learns otherwise, he’ll have to assume that he’s going to die and that the future can’t be changed: his usefulness will be in mitigating the damage by giving forewarning.

Maybe only a little slice of Toronto had been turned into a body forest in that vision and nothing bad would happen to the rest of the world, but Simon doubted it. Laurie shouldn’t have been freezing in the cold if that were true, and what were the odds, anyway, that out of all of the people in the world, the one who could see the future would be in the same place that something freakish was going to occur?

Okay, maybe a little better than usual, because it is an entirely plausible argument that this power was given to someone in Toronto specifically because he is or will be well-positioned to affect this event in some way. That ultimately works against the idea, though, because if these powers had been given to more than one person then they had to have been given for a bigger purpose. Unless everyone like him was also in Toronto (he quickly notes the question on paper), purposeful placement suggests that there is more to the problem.

At the very least it has the potential to become regional or even global in scope. If Simon were to put money on it, he would have to say that the world is going to end. Nobody had gotten powers to stop World War II, after all, so whatever this is about has to be worse than that.

He sets the pencil down.

“Well, shit.”