The Ivancic Superheroes
Volume 1, Issue: 1 – Dark & Light
by M.J. Moores, OCT. Author. Editor. Business Owner
uriously typing, a young man is mere seconds from completing his mission, his piece-de-resistance. If he could sweat, he would, but this man-child is far from average. Eyes glistening he pauses slightly before making the final stroke on the keyboard. His screen alights as an inner flash of lightening beckons to break free. The left side of his mouth raises as he counts down the seconds from 30 to 1.
Elsewhere on the Serenica College campus, Carina Ciuffreda finalizes her photography portfolio due the next morning. She glances at the clock on her computer screen as she adjusts the intensity of a digital colour wash on a self-portrait – her nose just inches from the monitor.
Intently focused on the manipulation of her image, Carina works as the time draws ever nearer to midnight. She is not alone in her quest for last-minute late-night work — her long time boyfriend, Darren Ivancic, sits at his computer several dorms away. While his task is less studious, it is by no means less important. He is in the midst of compiling an original song he’s composed for Carina in honour of the anniversary of their first meeting. Gripped by a creative fever he plays back a portion of the track he’s recorded, setting aside his prized guitar.
The clock strikes midnight….
Electricity courses through the keyboard – up through Carina and Darren! 30s later each lies unconscious on the floor of their dorm.
Not until the sun rises does Carina stir. She holds her forehead in one hand and walks the other up the nearby wall to stand. “My portfolio!” Tossing herself back onto her computer chair, Carina battles a mounting migraine and ignores the events of last night. Her midterm grade rests on the value of this one last submission. . .
Gripped with nausea, a head with ricocheting marbles batters her brains, Carina submits to her body’s screams and lies helpless on the floor. During a brief clearheaded moment, she’s able to text Darren.
nt feelN wel. cn hrdly mve. nd yr hlp.
Luckily, Darren only lives in a dorm just down the street. He too has been fighting off waves of dizziness and a railing headache but he hasn’t been racing to meet a deadline – he at least was able to lay in the dark and sleep fitfully.
At Carina’s, he uses his spare key to unlock the door. The light from the hall penetrates her cocoon.
I need you to take my portfolio over to professor Ewan’s Office.
But I want to stay with you…
I can’t afford to lose this class – please…
Darren gives her a swift, light kiss on the lips as he takes the portfolio from her shaking outstretched arm. Outside, the sun has burst from behind a cloud and he hastens to put on his sunglasses – his eyes still sensitive from dealing with his headache. The professor’s office just happens to be on the far side of campus, but with the college in the midst of midterm exams most of the footpaths are clear. When he reaches the professor’s door, Darren delivers Carina’s material without question and leaves without incident.
Almost without incident…
A blast of nausea hits him as he leaves the building. Reaching for something to steady himself he leans against a hedge and grips a branch. But hedge feels alive…
His mind begins to clear – he stares at the bush – mesmerized – as his grip tightens it moves and twists.
He lets go.
The nausea returns.
Gripping his head with both hands Darren staggers into a nearby open space. Falling to his knees he clutches at the overgrown grass while cradling his head between his arms.
His head clears…
The Grass! It couldn’t be – surely he was losing his mind.
Hands on his knees, Darren took a few deep breaths to calm his racing heart – eyes closed.
There was a rational explanation, he just needed time to think. As he pulled his hands up from the ground he opened his eyes – his hands were covered! Nothing was making sense. Flicking his hands to clean them, the goo shot clean off and clung to the bark of a nearby tree. The grass and the hedge showed no signs of distortion except for a patch of missing turf where he’d been kneeling. He stared at his hands then ran.
I’ve gotta get back to Carina.
Tunnel vision ruled as Darren raced along paths and cut between buildings to get back to Carina’s dorm. Something strange was going on and Darren was certain it was more than just hallucinations.
Back at Carina’s dorm,Darren rushes through the door and immediately crashes to the floor.
Carina moans, in pain.
Carina? Where are you?
On the floor…
I can’t see you @!*#
Her voice stronger now, “What-“ She pushes herself to sit and rubs her side. “I’m right here.”
Very faintly, as she moves into the sunlight, Darren is able to make out a wisp, a trace of her form. She leans against the back of the couch – there but not there…
…she is apart of the shadows, naught but vapour…
Darren! My god, you’re pale as a –
Don’t say it, he gives a skittish laugh. Carina, look in the mirror.
She fades into the bathroom. He cringes, waiting for the shriek – but nothing – nothing happens… He races into the washroom, catching her as she faints – fading back to herself.
What’s happening to me, Darren? she whispers.
What’s happening to us? he wonders.
I wish I knew… I wish I knew…
Morning blends into afternoon blends into evening…
Daren and Carina spent much of the day holding hands or simply laying in each others’ arms. Often they doze and though they are quiet their minds burn with questions too wild to voice.
Late in the day, however, when both Carina and Darren finally feel more like themselves, an idea begins to form silently between them – their minds connect almost as if on another plane of existence.
Were you on the computer around midnight, last night?
Yeah, and you?
An electrical pulse –
-surged up my arm…
Then I blacked out.
– blacked out.
Darren slides off the couch and walks over to Carina’s computer.
Lemme look into this…
He digs into the computer’s history sorting through back files and basic server information. Curious, Carina dares to trust her legs and carefully joins Darren at the computer.
“There’s an anomaly – I’ll dig deeper…”
But every time Darren gets closer to solving the mystery some part of the virus he’s tracking alters a configuration and hides somewhere else. Nearly an hour later, as Carina rests her head against the side of his, Darren is able to briefly catch a glimpse of the anomaly –
“You found something?”
“Yeah – but I have no idea what it is… it keeps disappearing before I can get a closer look. It’s definitely a virus but far beyond any I’ve ever seen before. Maybe you should save your files to a USB and work from a campus computer until we can figure this out”
Sigh- “Do you know how difficult that makes things?”
“Yeah – but look at us. Who’s to say it won’t get worse somehow?”
“At this point I’m not sure how much worse they could get – but okay.”
“I just want you to be safe-“
“I know, Darren.” She runs her fingers through her long brown hair, then massages her temples. “I need some air.”
Darren agreed and the couple left the dorm room after a long day of recuperation. An unseasonably warm night, neither bother to take a jacket or sweater along.
“I hate that this is your last year at Serenica – I love having you around.”
“I’ll still be around, I just won’t be living on campus. Who knows, maybe we’ll be able to get a small apartment together while you finish your diploma.”
“Yeah, two more years to be a professional photographer – I don’t know… I’m beginning to wonder…”
“You’re doing great so far! Just be patient.
“You know patience is not one of my virtues,” she laughs. Her voice echoes off the nearby buildings.
“Carina, about today – I wonder…” Darren touches a lamp-post and concentrates – nothing happens…
He moves over to a nearby tree trunk and grabs it.
Carina springs back-
Darren grabs a handful of leaves from the ground…
Stand back – I think I’ve got it…
I – I …
Two dogs bark –
– one yelps
– one runs out of the alley…
Whimpering, it drags its leash as it limps away.
Darren looks back over his shoulder – Carina is fading out and blending with the night.
A denser patch of air passes beneath a street lamp as Carina disappears down the alley.
Darren double checks to make sure the fire is out. He races to the mouth of the alley.
A woman cradles a lap dog in her arms. A hooded figure circles her brandishing a knife.
The hooded figure turns to Darren.
The woman runs the other way.
The cloaked man rushes forward-
He trips up – falling.
His hand jerks – the knife skitters away.
His prone body jolts backward on the ground.
He gasps for air.
Get out of here- she hisses.
He hauls himself up and runs away.
Carina slowly rematerializes – hands on her hips.
“He got what he deserves.”
Darren catches her up in his arms squeezing her to him.
“Don’t ever do that again-“ he whispers.
She hugs back, but she’s quiet. There’s a look in her eye…
“I don’t know, Darren. What we can do – to do nothing with it…. I saved her…”
He keeps a firm hold of her, knowing the truth in her words yet feeling the pain in his heart.
She kisses him.
“I know – but think of it. At least consider it…”
Well, he didn’t say no – in fact, as they walked back to Carina’s dorm they levitated ever so slightly from the ground.
* * *
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