Chapter 1: A Day in the Life
August 17, 2001
Duh de duh uh, Duh de duh uh, Duh de duh uh, Duh de duh uh,
"I'm stressed But you're Free style, I'm overworked but I'm undersexed
You must be made of concrete, I sign my name across your chest."
I wake up and take a look at the alarm clock on my bed's headboard-6:20 am. Last day of my summer job at Jacob's Computer Emporium. It would've been nice to have my last summer of high school summer vacation be a normal "summer vacation" of rest and relaxation without the headache of a summer job; then again, I am going off to college after I graduate this school year and my mom expects me to put some money in the bank towards schooling. She's going to help me with college expenses, but expects me to make as much money on my own as possible. She believes that even though one may get help in an endeavor, it is still best to do as much for yourself as you can. Besides, it is nice to listen to Shirley Manson in the morning rather than a BEEP, BEEP, BEEP of a clock radio alarm. The radio/clock/cd player was the most expensive thing I bought with the money from my summer job ($60 at a Sears in the local mall), and perhaps the most satisfying purchase I could have ever made.
So, looking forward to the last known weekend without homework for next ten or so months, I click the alarm off and get out of bed.
After a quick breakfast and running a brush through my hair a couple times, I go out the door and make my way to the bus stop. I've been reading Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman's "Deathgate Cycle" during the summer and it has been a riot. The bus comes and I put the last book in the series back up in my backpack and get on.
I've been riding the bus all summer and I have gotten into a habit of watching the people. Some because they are attractive, some because just because they seem interesting. I eyeball the crowd on the bus for one in particular that is in the former category. She's been riding on the same bus at the same time as my morning commute to work (damn that sounds so grownup) since I started my job. Finding her, I sit in a seat where I can watch her without noticing my gaze. She's a college student and gets off the bus at the local college 3 stops before I get off. Most of the time I see her with a book open and a highlighter in hand. This morning is no exception. She's wearing blue jeans and one of those cute little t-shirts that show off the midriff.
At the regular stop, she gets up to get off the bus, showing off how tight her blue jeans really are, and goes on out the bus door. I get off the bus at the customery fifteen minutes before the bossman opens the store, and I get a medium Café mocha at the coffeehouse that is in the same shopping center as the computer store.
So Tim (the other employee), the bossman (Jacob Peterson), and I go through the morning routine-receiving in inventory into the store's computer from yesterday's shipment, helping customers, and repairing computers.
Jacob takes me out to lunch for my last day as his employee.
Once seated at the restaurant, Jacob says, "You know Jack, it's been great having you as an employee. I'm going to miss having you around. If you want, you can come back next summer-there'll be a place for you."
"Jacob, I'd really like to say that I'd definitely take you up on your offer, but I'll be busy touring the in-state colleges, and I'm not sure which one I'll be going to yet. I'll also be busy with moving. It has been great working for you though."
"Well, if you ever need anything, drop by the store and let me know. I'll get you anything at my cost."
At the end of the day Jacob gives me my final check and a hearty handshake.
I catch the bus for the ride home and call up Anna to set up a date for Saturday. Nothing too fancy-just dinner and a movie. Although I do ask her to wear that blue shirt-the one that shows off her midriff...
Genie in the Bottle
I've been meaning to pick up the latest "Scientific American" at the local grocery store for a bit now and weirdest thing happened. I was riding my bike past the street I normally take to go to the grocery store on my way home from school. I figured I would just pick it tomorrow; watch some Farscape and read the latest scientific breakthroughs and theories-what more could a scifi nut want?
Anyway, I was two blocks past the street I normally turn onto to get to the grocery store, when I felt a twinge that I just had to get that magazine. I turned my bike around and headed towards the store. I locked my bike up at the shopping center's bike rack and headed towards Albertsons. I walking past what used to be an empty store space (at least it was 5 weeks ago when I picked up the previous issue of Scientific American), but what had recently been fitted to be an antique store.
The urgent twinge somehow knotted itself into intense curiosity and I entered the store. The man behind the counter looked up from his newspaper and smiled knowingly at me.
"Jack Hanson, your destiny awaits," said the man.
I must have been grimacing again while trying to make sense of this (I've been told I do that when I think real hard but I never notice) because the man behind counter told me not to worry and all will be made clear.
"OK, so what's happening?"
"A long time ago, a man saw a his homeland ravaged by war. His only wish was to see an end to his people's suffering. Then one day he came across a lamp in a mountain range while he was hunting. He wasn't sure if it was worth anything because it was covered in dirt. He started to rub off the dirt to better assess the lamp's value when a genie came out from the lamp. The genie offered him 3 wishes. His first wish was for the warring to end. His second was for a good ruler to take lordship of the land. And his third wish was for this lamp to only come into the hands of other righteous men who would do good for mankind. The genie granted all three wishes. The man was to become a general who decimated the armies of the evil ruler. Once that occurred, the general then became the ruler of his beloved homeland and ruled it with love and wisdom so that the land flourished and prospered. Then the genie and his lamp disappeared only to come into the hands of other men who would do good works."
The man behind the counter went quiet, smiled gently, and waited for the information to sink in. My eyes went wide.
"3 wishes huh?"
The man nodded.
"To be honest, I don't think I know what to wish for. I mean, the man's wish was for men who would do good works for the betterment of mankind to receive the lamp. I don't suppose you would've come before me if I was the kind of guy who wished for money, booze, and women."
"Some advice. Not all the men who I have granted wishes for saw the immediate perils of mankind around him when I appeared before them. They wished for things that they judged to be a way for short-term gratification. They later found these things to be tools to be used when the perils DID become apparent. Very EFFECTIVE tools."
I took a pause to think.
"Are there limits on the wishes? Like, can I wish for more wishes?"
"You wouldn't believe how many times I hear that one. About the only two wishes that mortals have dreamt of that I cannot grant is 1) wishing for more wishes and 2)Wishing someone direct harm. Pretty much any wish that effects the wisher alone or is a boon to someone else can be granted. Any wish that I cannot grant won't be deducted from your allotment and I will endeavor to make it clear why the wish cannot be granted."
"Wow. Uh, can I like take a day or two to decide on what to wish for?"
"No. Part of the General's third wish has something to do with this. The power of his third wish places me in the hands of a righteous man, like I told you. This much is easy to grasp. However, beneath the surface of this simple fact lies another dynamic. His third wish also places me in the hands of the righteous man when he would wish for the boons that would give him the most effective tools to do good works for the betterment of mankind."
"Uh, OK. So can you maybe tell me the 6 most popular wishes?"
"No, that which comes from the wisher's own heart is what allows the wisher to best ply his good works. Again, the third wish may sound like a simple one, but it is indeed rife with subtleties that even the General could not have imagined."
"OK, answer me this, do you know what I am going to wish for and what my works are going to be?"
The man smiled again. "I do indeed. However, before you try to take the easy way out, I can't allow the wish that is on the tip of your tongue. You can't be told what is in your heart. A man must experience it and come to realize it on his own."
"Yeah, I thought that might be too easy."
"I knew you were thinking that. I also know you were stalling for time to come up with your wishes. Your time has come to an end. Make your wishes."
Then, all of a sudden, inspiration struck. It must've been what that fat Greek man felt when he jumped out of his bathtub and shouted Eureka, and what Newton felt when the apple struck him on the head. The world around me became clearer, and it was like I was looking at it for the first time. I knew what my wishes were destined to be.
"OK, here they are:
1)The ability to Teleport anything or anyone en mass or individually from anywhere to anywhere
2)The ability to Remote view at unlimited range as well as sense locally with all human, all animal, and all technological facilities all at once, one at a time, or any combination there within.
3)To Know the exact location of anything or anyone."
The man gave a satisfied smile. "Your wishes are granted."
All of a sudden, I was outside the shop. The shop, however, was no longer there; it was just an empty store space just as I remembered it being 5 weeks ago. I walked down to Albertsons, bought my magazine and headed out the door. I got to my bike, unlocked it, and started to get on. Then stopped. I imagined being able to see my backyard. All of a sudden, I saw it. No one was in it. I took a glance at the kitchen window to see if anyone was looking out it-nope. I then took a glance at the side of the storage shed that faces away from the Kitchen window. There should be just enough room...
Then that is where I was. I walked out from the side, put my bike in the storage shed, and locked the shed up.
I was hyped. All sorts of possibilities were running through my head. I could be the ultimate spy. Gather information from meetings half a globe away in Russia or China and keep America 10 steps ahead of her competitors. I could be the ultimate soldier. I could teleport troops from bunkers, tanks, and other entrenchments that would cost a dozen men their lives to take out. I could be the ultimate bounty hunter. Finding the fugitives of justice and bringing them back to face their crimes. There would be a lot to think about on how I would use my boons, but I was adamant on one thing-I would make the General proud.
Powers and Juvenile Exploits
Shoot! My alarm for school didn't go off. My Alarm/Clock/Radio is flashing 12:00. Power must've gone out last night. I got up and got dressed. I looked at my watch on my dresser. I would be late in 5 minutes. I woke up my brother Thomas and mom telling them that the power went out last night-that Thomas missed the bus and mom needed to give him a ride to school. A little experimentation was in order.
I imagined seeing my bike in the storage shed. The whole scene was pitch black. I imagined seeing through those nightvision goggles. Ah, that was better. I then imagined my bike at school, lying on its side beside the school bike rack. I then took a look to see which slots were empty. I imagined my bike in an empty slot. I then imagined my bike lock secured around the bike and the rack. I imagined seeing from the perspective of being on the ceiling looking down into the stalls in the boys' room closest to my first hour class. All three were empty. I then imagined myself in the one closest to the door.
I dashed out of the boys' room and headed towards my classroom I stopped at the door, opened it, and coolly took my seat. Just as soon as I felt my ass squeeze my wallet against the seat of my chair, I heard the bell ring. I then let out a deep breath-my high school career perfect attendance was still intact.
At lunch I signed up for the Varsity Football team. Just like I did for the 2 previous school years. This time, however, I was going to make the team. Now, don't get me wrong. I knew I couldn't openly display my teleportation ability. I could, however use it in a manner that would deceive the eyes. The human eye can watch a screen that delivers 24 screens a second and consider what it sees as "smooth" video. So I could teleport myself 24 times a second in the various running stages and appear to be running without exerting an iota physical of strain more than standing. Of course I would test this out, but today was the last day to sign-up for football. Tryouts wouldn't begin till Monday so that gave me nearly a week to get used to such a rate of teleportation.
I got down to the coaches' offices and entered. There leaning over to sign up for football as well was Lance McNally. He had edged me out of my position in football-wide receiver-2 years running now.
"So Jack, down one last time to give it a try, huh?"
"Yeah, well, this time I believe your attempt is going to be a try, and mine is going to be success."
"Say Lance, care to make a wager?"
"What do you have in mind, Hansen?"
"The person who doesn't get on has to clean the jersey of the one who does for the entire season."
"Interesting. Sure, it's a bet."
I signed the papers and left for my next class.
After school I got home and dug out the family camcorder. I told mom I had a science project that required videotaping and she OK'd its use. I set up the camcorder and made my first attempt at 24/60 teleportation. I imagined myself going straight ahead and the various running positions. I was in a semi-autopilot run and ended up where I wanted to go. I walked back to my starting position and imagined the same sequence again. This time however, I decided to cut right in the middle of the sequence and then continue parrallel to my original path to the original path's end. Worked without a hitch. Also, just as I thought, I had felt no physical exertion. I decided on one last test. I walked back to the starting point of the previous two runs. Then I again imagined going the same distance as the first run, but this time I went as fast as I could and still maintain the 24 frame per second teleport. The only thing different I noticed was just that it took far less time to complete the circuit.
I came back inside, went into my room and watched the video. The first two runs were just a guy running on a camcorder for some uknown reason. The last run was a streak of black (my shirt), blue (my shorts), and peach (my skin). I guess I should just teleport if I am going to need to go that fast. I rewound the tape and played the first two runs again in slow motion. Noticing no absences of my image on the screen, I smiled to myself. This was going to be as easy as handing laundry to the hired help.
I then imagined the college student from the bus. Suddenly, I got a strong feeling she was about 15 miles that way-to the northwest. I imagined looking at her. She was in the shower. Whoa-I guess she was a natural redhead, but you wouldn't know it from her shoulder length black hair. I then moved my sphere of presence from the bathroom (after taking a few more moments to watch the soapsuds fall from her exquisite body) to the bedroom. On the dresser in her bedroom was the day's mail. I took notice of the address on the envelopes and didn't see any other name besides Kirstie Schwartz. I looked at her bookshelf and saw many textbooks on Psychology-I guess that was going to be her major. I asked myself where her purse was and got a strong feeling it was fifteen feet in that direction, south from my remote presence, and about fifteen miles Northwest from my true location. Huh, sensing locations in reference to both remote and actual location could come in real handy-I hadn't even thought of that. I get to her purse and check her student ID in her pocketbook. Sophmore. I check her driver's license. Same address as on the mail. I make careful note of her social security number conveniently imprinted on her license. Arguing with myself as to whether or not to stick around to watch her get dressed, I eventually drop the feed. I write down her name, address, and social security number in my journal. I put my journal aside and start my homework.