ParaWorld Zero
Prologue - The Storm

      The woman was dying, and no one on Earth would mourn for her when she was gone. Not a soul would know of the secrets she possessed or of the ultimate power that emanated from within her limp body. The hope of the universe was about to be lost–that is, unless she arrived at the hospital in time.

      A torrent of watery darts hit the windshield as the ambulance squealed around another corner. The hospital was not much farther. A spark of lightning erupted in the night sky, as if to point the way the ambulance should go. Rumbling sounds resonated from the darkness above, accompanied by a faint groan of atmospheric indigestion echoing in the distance. The storm, like the mighty hand of a demon, buffeted the vehicle with its cold fist, but the driver remained steadfast.

      “We’re losing her,” a paramedic cried.

      “Come on, lady. You can make it,” another said.

      The vehicle skidded to a complete stop, and the back doors flung open. Interns rushed to help with the gurney, but in the process, one of them slipped on the wet concrete and lost his grip, causing the stretcher to jolt. The poor woman, her skin infested with blistered lesions, lifted her head and moaned. One of the students gasped.

      A paramedic took hold of the gurney and entered the emergency room. He tried to keep his eyes away from the grotesque figure in his care, tried not to even breathe the same air that spewed from her deformed lips and nostrils. Visions of horrible diseases filled his mind, but he dispelled them with the thought of a quick dispatch to labor and delivery.

      A consternated expression etched itself across the gynecologist’s face. Word of the woman’s arrival had spread quickly. The doctor peered at the sores on her face and arms. “What happened to her?”

      “I dunno,” the paramedic said. “She’s all tripped out and won’t say noth’n.”

      “I see.”

      “Someone found her in a park and called it in,” he added. “She’s not contagious, is she?”

      The gynecologist winced but remained silent. He looked closer at the gruesome sores on her body, then pulled up her sleeve and discovered more pustules on her arm. He checked her legs and found that they too were infected.

      “I have no idea what this is. Almost looks like she’s been exposed to something.” He turned to a young nurse. “Do an ultrasound and get blood and tissue samples. Keep me posted.”

      “Aren’t ya gonna set up a quarantine or something?” the paramedic asked.

      “I want to know what we’re dealing with before we put the whole city in a panic. It could just be an allergic reaction.”

      The woman on the gurney jerked upright, as if waking up from a nightmare. “My son!”

      “Calm down, ma’am. We’re here to help.”

      “My son . . . Simon . . . His name is Simon,” she mumbled. “And his . . . And. . . .” Her eyes glazed over.

      Just then, the doctor noticed the blood and discharge on the sheets. “Nurse, delay that order. We're not going to have time for tests.” The patient arched her back and screamed. “Her baby wants to come right now. Let’s get ready.”

      The paramedic left, and the nurses took charge. They moved the pregnant woman directly to a birthing room. The windows streamed with rushing water, and the howling wind fought against the thick glass. Ferocious thunder hammered the building, making the surgical instruments vibrate. One nurse held up a sterile gown for the doctor to put his arms through while another nurse doused the woman’s belly with clear gel.

      The doctor held her hand gently. “What’s your name?”

      The monitor picked up a huge contraction, which surged throughout the woman’s body like a tidal wave. She clenched his fingers in a vice-like grip.

      “Forget the ultrasound,” the doctor said, releasing his hand and stumbling past the nurse. “I can already see the head. That was fast. Ma’am, I need you to push.”

      The woman held her breath and pushed. Her face turned red. She let out a deep sigh and pushed again. Beads of sweat collected on her forehead.

      “Almost there . . .” the doctor said mechanically. “Almost there. . . .” A twinge of nervousness crept into his voice as three pustules on the woman’s skin burst. He adjusted his hands, avoiding the thick liquid that oozed from the open sores. “Just one more push.”

      Within moments, a baby’s cry filled the room. The doctor picked up a plastic syringe and suctioned the amniotic fluid out of the newborn’s small mouth. A nurse handed him a pair of surgical scissors.

      “Congratulations! You have a boy.” He snipped the umbilical cord.

      Suddenly, an explosion of bright blue light sprang from the baby and shattered the glass in the doors and windows. The medical personnel dropped to the floor. A whirlwind of pastel light filled the once-bland room, and a strange mist arose from somewhere below. The wisps of sparkling color danced upon the plumes of thick smoke and vapor, making it hard for anyone to focus his or her eyes. The doctor looked up, squinting to see through the chaos, and gasped as he witnessed the infant emerge from the translucent smoke.

      Simon was floating in the air.

      “Oh, my . . .” cried a nurse from beneath a table. Breathing hard, almost to the point of hyperventilation, she made the motions of a cross on her chest.

      Simon looked in her general direction, his brown eyes wide open and his arms flailing about. He drifted towards the bed, the smoke parting on both sides of his frail body as he moved, and came to rest in the arms of his mother.

      Smiling, she brought out a necklace she’d been wearing beneath her blouse. Attached to the gold chain was a medallion–about the size of a silver dollar, ebony in color, and beautiful in workmanship. The colorful lights reflected off the metallic pendant as she placed it on her son’s bare chest.

      She looked at the doctor and whispered, “Give him this.” Then she closed her eyes and died.

      The smoke and colorful lights soon dissipated, leaving the room cold and lifeless as before. Everyone remained silent. Not even the wind outside dared to make a sound. The storm had finally ended.

Chapter 1 - Simon's Bad Day

      Two knives, protruding from the knuckles of a leather glove, vibrated above Simon’s sweaty forehead. The boy, small for his age, desperately held on to the man’s wrists.

      “I have you now,” his assailant snickered as the tips of the blades scraped against Simon’s glasses. An evil grin spread across the villain’s scarred face.

      “Never!” Simon shouted.

      With a sudden eruption of energy, he threw the dark man off and leapt to his feet. Demonstrating perfect form, Simon kicked the menacing glove and shattered the twin blades. The second his foot landed on the ground, he spun in the air and sent a crescent kick hard into his opponent’s face.

      Simon walked up to his fallen enemy, who by this time was cowering on the floor, and proclaimed, “As long as there’s good in the world, evil will never prevail!”

      A tumult of cheers and clapping came from the ecstatic crowd nearby. Confetti filled the air, and young girls swooned around the scrawny boy, asking for autographs.

      A TV reporter with a microphone ran up to Simon and announced, “I’m here with Simon Kent, who just saved the city of New York from certain doom. Simon, I have just one question I think everyone here would like to know the answer to: Why are you in your underwear?”

      “Wh-Wh-What?” he stuttered.

      “Why are you in your underwear?”

      Simon looked down and realized he wasn’t wearing anything but his glow-in-the-dark Batman boxers. Looking up, he saw the crowd of pre-teenage girls and boys laughing at him.

      “Do they give you special powers?” the reporter asked with a smirk. She burst into laughter.


      Simon opened his eyes and found himself sitting at a desk in Mr. Bartholomew’s seventh-grade English class.

      “Nice of you to join the class, Mr. Kent,” the teacher said. . .

© Copyright 2008 All rights reserved

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