To Those Who Hear the Call
Why now? Out of all possible moments in all possible universes, why this one? Why am I here? Graviton sat on the raised lip of an old, five story building, ignoring the diluvial rain. A second year Master’s student in FCU’s Heroics/Villainy program, he needed to practice his monologuing. He’d thought tonight’s ambience would have helped, and had ignored this week’s required readings when he’d heard the weather reports. He was wrong.
The rain tortured the thin, metal access door, horizontally flush with the tarred roof; stifled thunder filtered through a city skyline barely visible in the gray; and instead of alliterative soul-searching he’d spent the last few hours kicking his legs and mindlessly repeating the questions his workshop instructor, Electroflex, had suggested.
Graviton wore street clothes—torn jeans and a Modest Mouse T-Shirt under a denim jacket—having little desire to wear his uniform, proudly or otherwise. Most days the black and midnight blue ensemble, emblazoned with an electric blue funnel of the kind used to diagram black holes in high school textbooks, only pissed him off. He glared at the drone hovering nearby. It was small, unobtrusive, basically a digital camera that recorded him constantly. Every night, before its memory was overwritten, he was supposed to download the files and search for snippets to add to his thesis compilation. It was an honor to have that nagging reminder, only second years were allowed to requisition them, and he’d already destroyed two.
The obliterations—metal and wires and glass imploding into a useless chunk about the size of a ping-pong ball—weren’t completely intentional. Some nights the subtle whine of the drone’s engine just became unbearable, drilling into his mind, and he had to silence it at any cost. The professors were understanding: “This is just part of your style. The moody anti-hero is a well-established archetype. Now you just need to put your personal spin on it.” The Engineering Adjunct staff, which built the damn things, wasn’t. They were more concerned with schematics, stress tolerances, and technical precision.
Graviton hadn’t even rushed up the building’s inside stairwell and burst through the access door. He could have used a Muay Thai flying knee because it was more dynamic on video. He could have gestured dramatically and blown the door off its hinges. Either would have been a great addition to his compilation, but he’d just neutralized gravity and floated up here, not even going inside, and peered into each window as he glided past. Sturdy black frames divided them into four rectangles each and the cracked, graying paint on their interiors prevented him from seeing through.
He lay back on the lip of the roof, felt it drop away beneath his left shoulder as he placed his hands behind his head, and closed his eyes. The lukewarm rain massaged his clenched face into blankness. His thesis, due in three weeks, was less than half completed. Forty-two days later would be his thesis defense; standing before a panel of three he would have to, using his thesis, convince them he was heroic enough to graduate.