Big Change, ch. 10: Simon Martin

Monitoring: Simon Martin
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

7:45 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
Friday, January 17th, 2014
00:45 Coordinated Universal Time
Saturday, January 18th, 2014

Fast forward—

Simon had hoped, but not really expected, that it would be easy to find at least one other person like him. There hadn’t been any press conferences, though, so anyone who had powers was clearly smart enough to take at least a couple of weeks to think about whether it would actually be a good idea to blow that lid open. This is a point in everyone’s favor, and a good sign despite how frustrating it is for him right now.

Last night, though, he finally came across a pattern: someone is fighting fires in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, down in the States. As a result of the previous night’s activities, and today’s, one of the walls in Simon’s bedroom is plastered with paper. Printouts are everywhere, each a different article or blank paper for Simon to mark down observations.

Details varied and Firefighter Kid was wearing heavy clothing to obscure their appearance, but there are a few things that Simon is figuring out. First of all, Firefighter Kid doesn’t have perfect knowledge. Most of the time, in the first few days, everything was under control by the time that they arrived. As of the last few articles that Simon could find, however, Firefighter Kid was arriving more or less simultaneously with the fire department. Probably, they had gotten access to fire department radio dispatches and developed a routine. Simon had googled that, and getting access to dispatches turned out to be simpler than he would have thought.

Some of the articles mentioned a moped, which (after Simon looked up vehicle laws in Louisiana) suggested that there was an age range for powered kids. Or, well, Firefighter Kid might be driving it illegally, Simon thinks as he reads over another article. It also looks like they’re doing this every night, which implies that their nights are free. There were a couple of cases early on where they had shown up during the day, but Simon can’t find any later articles mentioning that.

Nobody is sure what Firefighter Kid was doing. They show up, and then the fire is gone pretty quickly thereafter. Some people said they touched the fire. It was only two data points, but if it was true then it suggested that all of their powers were limited to touch.

Simon leans back in his chair and stifles a yawn. Now that he’s put together everything he can find, there comes the hard part of identifying Firefighter Kid. Whoever was empowered, wherever they are, they are children. Simon knows it as surely and strangely as he knows how many there are and what his own power is. It’s possible that there might have been previous occurrences like this, maybe even in living memory, and everyone involved was just keeping quiet or the stories had faded into myth centuries ago. Arguing against that, however, is the fact that Firefighter Kid hadn’t started operating until after Simon had gotten his own power. Simon isn’t sure what “child” actually entails, but it probably doesn’t go too far past his own age, and it’s very doubtful that a four-year-old could drive a moped, let alone be mistaken as an adult (some articles had wondered about it, but without any firm evidence to the contrary it seemed easier to think that this was someone older).

Somewhere between…twelve and eighteen then, to be on the safe side. Probably in school, unless they are a dropout. When they appeared during the day it had been on winter break, so there isn’t any point to checking school absences even if Simon can figure out how to access them.

Making an announcement of some kind, maybe putting something in the classifieds, is definitely an option, but probably unlikely to work and maybe even a bad option. If ninety-nine other people, all of them at least smart enough to exercise a few days’ worth of patience, have decided it was better to stay on the down low, then Simon shouldn’t unilaterally break from that. Even if, worst case, everyone is still hiding only because they’re all having the same idea as him, he can at least wait until he can meet up with a few others and actually talk with them.

What about mapping out the sightings? Simon starts googling again. There are around fifty-seven thousand children under the age of eighteen in Baton Rouge. That’s…certainly a lot to go through, but he’s already narrowed things down to something like point-zero-zero-zero-eight percent of the world’s population, which makes him feel a lot better about the task ahead of him. If he finds that the sightings are clustered, which is more likely than not, then he can reduce the pool of suspects even further. Even if he can only rule out one half of the city or the other, if he assumes that half of the children in Baton Rouge are under the age of twelve then he’s reduced the total to around fourteen thousand. Really there should be even more below the cutoff age, but Simon would like to be conservative with his numbers.

After that, it becomes a little trickier, and as Simon starts dropping X’s on a printout map of Baton Rouge, he hopes that a pattern will emerge. Either way, he’s going to have to get access to Louisiana’s fire dispatches and start chasing them like Firefighter Kid is doing. That, or… No. He is not going to start committing arson in order to find Firefighter Kid. Down that path lay Evil Simon, no doubt about it.

But Simon is making progress, which is better than last week.

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