Durable Man, The

by Swashbuckler

Tags: Fiction,

Desc: Fantasy Story: The story of a man coming to terms with invulnerability. Set in Rodford Edmiston's "Gifted" universe.

Ed's Tale

In all the comic books, superpowers begin with radiation bombardment or chemical spills or even birth on another planet. My story began in a less obvious manner. My story is the result of a dream.

Mom never really approved of my life. After Dad died, she dumped all her aspirations and dreams on me and was very disappointed when I didn't measure up. Not that she ever said much to me out loud. Mom was big on meaningful looks. In my dream, she was yelling all the things that she could never quite bring herself to say to my waking face. Life was tough and you had to be tough to survive in it ... And I wasn't tough enough. The way I jumped around from one radically different job to another was proof.

Mom had switched from my lack of a career to my lack of a love life in much too graphic detail when I suddenly woke up. Looking over at the clock, after I had washed the last traces of the dream away with some cold water, showed that I still had a few hours until my late shift at the convenience store was due to start.

I realized that had plenty of time to get a hair cut and put my "interview suit" in the cleaners. Mom might want me to stick to a job, but I'm sure she didn't consider staying at Speedy's All-Night Convenience Store as a career.

At the barber's shop, the TV channels were all buzzing about an explosion that had eliminated a small island down near Florida earlier that afternoon. Scattered about the area, people had changed into animals or even wilder creatures with no pattern to who was changed and who was left alone. One lady had changed into a centaur while both of her kids in the same room had been unaffected.

While I was sitting there hearing about what had happened while I was asleep, my barber was having problems of his own. My hair wouldn't cut. The barber knew something was wrong at the first attempt but, like most people presented with the truly bizarre, he refused to believe it. He sharpened his scissors. He tried smaller clumps of hair. He tried electric clippers. He called over his friends. He sharpened his scissors again. It was only after most of the store was standing around watching the barber attempt to cut my hair that I gave into my fears at the weirdness of it all and jumped up and left.

It was later that night, while unsuccessfully trying to hack a single hair off with a knife, that I slipped and jammed the knife into my palm. I found out that my hair wasn't the only part of me that was tough.

If this was the comic books, I would have immediately donned a set of form fitting tights and set out to change the world. Momma Adams little boy went to the hospital.

The nurse at the admissions desk almost went into a panic when she took my blood pressure. A blood pressure cuff works by pumping air into the cuff around your arm until it cuts off the circulation in the veins near the skin. The air is let out and the pressure at the circulation changes are measured. The nurse couldn't get enough air into the cuff to affect my circulation at all.

Several days and more specialists than I care to think about later, the chief of staff, Doctor Smith asked me into his office for the full diagnosis.

"Mr. Adams," he began and then paused as if searching for the right words. Doctor Smith always called me Mr. Adams even though most of the staff called me Ed. "Mr. Adams, for lack of a better word, you are statically invulnerable. Although your weight does not appear to have changed and the subjective texture of your skin has not changed, you will likely to be able to survive gunfire unharmed as well as a number of other unusual qualities only found in comic books. In addition to comic book tricks, you have quite a few more basic changes."

He paused then, as if to gauge my reaction and when I said nothing, plowed on.

"Your hair and nails have stopped growing and will probably be the same length indefinitely. Your skin cells are no longer reproducing but are not shedding either. You will probably be forever immune to dandruff. Your lungs have stopped processing air. What goes in is, for all intents, what you breath back out. Our probe into your digestive tract has revealed that it has also partially shut down. You may continue to eat, and your digestive system will push the food around, but what comes out the other end will be basically day-old, chewed-up food. Since your cells don't appear to be either reproducing or dying anywhere we could reach, you will probably be physically 26 forever. You don't have super strength but your muscles never seem to get tired either. In the end, most of the people studying you have spent their time trying to figure out where your muscles get energy from."

I sat in silence and, after long pause, Doctor Smith continued.

"Although I'm not sure you strictly even qualify as human anymore, there is in fact nothing wrong with you. I see no reason to not believe you will outlive my grandchildren."

"Nothing wrong with me!" I yelled. Doctor Smith rocked back in his chair at the suddenness of my outburst. "You tell me I'm some kind of inhuman freak and say in the same breath I'm just fine!?"

"How's your heartbeat?" Doctor Smith asked.

"What?" I replied in mid-tirade. When he only smiled, I checked my heartbeat and it was steady at 60 beats per minute.

.... There is more of this story ...

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