Heroes Save the World

Big Change, ch. 7: Simon Martin


Monitoring: Simon Martin
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

2:25 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
Thursday, January 1st, 2014
19:25 Coordinated Universal Time
Thursday, January 1st, 2014


Two days ago, Simon would not have been expecting to spend the afternoon of his birthday sitting on a busy sidewalk. It probably isn’t the safest of activities to be passing out for seconds at a time in a place where he might get walked on or robbed, it definitely isn’t a fun way to pass the time, and there would have been absolutely no reason for him to do it in the first place. Things had changed, though, and now it seemed imperative that he learn more about the future, as quickly as he could.

To make sure that he didn’t hurt himself in a fall, he was not only sitting but leaning against the wall of a grocery store. As people walked by he reached out to them, hoping that he successfully passed as someone begging for change. Just as strongly he was hoping that nobody passed by who would recognize him, but to help with that there was some dirt on his face and he was wearing a stained set of blue jeans that were a little tight on him now, and a wool hat that he hadn’t worn in forever. It wasn’t perfect, but the odds were low to start with that someone he knew would bump into him here.

It seems to be working, anyway, since he’s actually made a few dollars since he started three hours ago. There’s both guilt and surprise to be felt over that, but he has dealt with the former by determining to donate it to a charity once he’s done here. Besides, a little guilt (and the chance of discovery) is a small price to pay for the opportunity to gather so much information.

Simon has collected close to a hundred visions by now. After each one, he records everything that he can recall into a pocket notebook. The memory of a vision seems to be no more durable than his other memories, so he needs to protect them from deterioration. There have been a couple of suicides, some car accidents, and deaths from cancer, old age, and other ailments. Another death had been caused by a very startled robber. Simon doesn’t know where or when that one had happened (was happening? Precognition made tenses hard), but he resolved to at least try to search for clues to stop it. It was the only mundane death that he took extensive notes on.

Unfortunately, by his tally almost half of the passers-by have died at the hands of whatever monstrous force or creature it is that he is supposed to be defending Toronto and the world against. He has seen many people twisted into bizarre shapes or made into flesh puddles. He has experienced what it feels like from the inside to be turned into a body tree, to have one’s bones and meat flow like water or melted wax under the hands of some unknown, invisible hand. Sometimes the vision simply cuts out, as if the person had died too quickly to notice the cause. These are probably related to the other deaths that he is trying to stop, he believes.

When Simon comes out of his latest vision, two people stand out to him as they walk by. They are dressed in monochrome suits, but of different colors. One, an old Hispanic woman, is dressed all in white, with a scarf wrapped around her neck. The other is a much younger man, vaguely Middle Eastern in appearance and past his twenty-somethings but younger than Simon’s mother. He is dressed in a dark green suit and boots of a lighter shade. He is wearing gloves as well, of about the same shade of green as his boots, but the woman is not, and conveniently enough she is close enough to Simon that he is able to reach out and brush her hand—

What strikes Simon most strongly is the strange juxtaposition that he is presented with. She is standing in the street. Klaxons are blaring, people are screaming around her, running past her like a human flood, but the woman in white is still and calm as if she is a stone. There is panic all about her, but she is calmness incarnate, content to glance around as if nothing particularly unusual is going on and she is simply enjoying the sights.

To her right there is a field, covered in a blanket of snow. There are rows of tombstones there, and the sign proclaims it to be Allegheny Cemetery. Simon does not recognize the name. There is something more important than these sights, however. She is speaking, and despite the fact that nobody else is staying put and Simon cannot feel an earpiece or anything else of the sort, she is clearly speaking with a purpose.

This is what she is saying, from the instant that Simon is given the vision of her death: “—are fixed; futures can change. Twenty Sixteen. Save Kasprzak and Martinez. A bomb is coming. Visions are fixed; futures can change. Save Kasprzak and—”

Beyond the field, it is as though a second sun is being born. There is a flash of light, then darkness, then an impact that breaks her in more ways than Simon can imagine, and then he is in the world again, alive and in the past and his own body, and he is whole and he can see. The woman in white is already far away down the sidewalk, and her companion with her.

Simon clambers to his feet and goes after her, desperate to ask what else she knows, to touch her companion and see if there are clues in his death, to know what she is involved in and why she crossed his path. No sooner does he begin to move, though, than they slip into a crowd, and by the time he catches sight of them again it is through the window of a bus that is beginning to leave its stop. It is all he can do to not fall to his knees after losing the best lead he’s had since all of this began.

The message runs over in his head again. She knew of him. That’s obvious enough. Or she will know of him, at least, since she hadn’t paid him any attention today. He has instructions now, which for all he knows were ultimately given by his future self, perhaps because of some mistake that had been made in that original timeline. If so, Alternate Future Simon must have (would have?) sacrificed himself and his history to create this better one. What did those people do, or what would they have done? And what does he have to save them from?