Author's Note: I found a drive with a bunch of old writing on it. Going to share some of it. This is from 2013, no idea if it's any good. I can tell it was not meant to be taken seriously.
Darkness. Even after he opened his eyes, he couldn't see a single star or light anywhere in sight. He could feel the hard asphalt beneath his back and the harsh city air taint his lungs. A few blinks brushed away any fatigue as confusion set in. Quick glances left and right helped him piece together his surroundings, but it didn't make much sense. The last thing he remembered was sharing a few drinks with friends at his place; so how did he end up in the middle of an alleyway?
He tested his memory; his name is Jae, he's twenty-two… He knew exactly which alleyway he'd ended up in. There's graffiti that's illegible to any normal human scribbled on the wall to the right, and to the left rests two overflowing garbage bins with "dot city bitch" painted on both. He craned his neck upward and strained his eyes to focus on the fire escape three stories up; he could barely make out the faint glow of his living room light still burning brightly inside his apartment.
A sharp pain just above his eye registered in his brain and he reached up to touch the spot. Warm blood stained his fingertips. He had to touch it several times to make sure he's actually hurt. Again he looked up to his apartment and wondered if he might have stumbled out the window in a drunken stupor. A quick shake of his head helped clear his mind – but only a little.
His eyes are better adjusted to the dark now. His cousin lied only a few feet away; just beyond him was their friend James. Both were unconscious, so he tried to get up and help them. Merely getting to his knees proved to be an effort. His head was swaying; he was dizzy and the alleyway started to whirl around him.
He knew that voice. Instantly his mind was clear again. His eyes shot toward the noise. At the end of the alley where the city lights touched the edge of the buildings he could see the silhouettes of three people. A girl was doing her best to fend off two attackers, and he knew without a doubt that the girl was a good friend. Despite his body begging him not to move, he stood, opened his mouth to shout at the scumbags, and…
Two strong arms snatched him from behind. While one tight arm cut off his air supply, another hand grabbed his chin. He wasn't sure if the person was trying to choke him or break his neck. He didn't particularly want to find out. Using all of the fighting knowledge he had – which was sorely limited to action films – he grabbed the attacker's arm and with the strength of his entire body, tried to fling the guy off.
Before he could even blink, the assailant was gone. Like flicking a fly off his shoulder, he managed to send the foe hurtling forward. Astonished, he watched as the limp body crashed into the first 'dot city bitch' garbage bin – and then through it.
The sound of their ally being tossed like a fastball through a garbage bin and into a brick wall caught the attention of the others. They left the girl alone and decide to focus their attention on the lone conscious male. Jae didn't notice them approach; he was too busy staring dumbfounded at his hands, unable to believe how light that man's body felt.
His peripheral vision caught the glimpse of a fist. Instinct had him attempt to duck and dodge, but the strike never got near him. James, barely conscious, seized the man's foot and yanked him down to the ground. Jae opened him mouth to say thanks, but no words came out.
A kick smashed into his gut hard. He stumbled a single step back and felt his feet leave the ground. He closed his eyes, anticipating another bump on the head whenever he finally crashed down. When several seconds passed and he had yet to suffer an impact, he curiously opened one eye.
"I am tripping balls," he spoke for the first time since awakening. The ground was at least six feet below him; the surprised and horrified eyes of the attackers gawked at him. He wasn't moving at all. He just floated there, like a hummingbird just above a sunflower.
It lasted five seconds before gravity took hold of him and jerked him to the blacktop. He belly-flopped harshly, enough to knock the wind out of him. The scum that tried to rough them up scattered out of the alley; the echoes of their frightened voices were all that remained of their existence.
Slowly, Jae managed to lift his body back off the ground. He felt eyes on him, so he tilted his head. James, still on the ground, stared wide-eyed at him.
"Bro, what the hell, did you just levitate?"
It took a moment before everyone calmed down enough to think. For an entire minute they just stared at each other, not a single word spoken. James was the first to move; he stood, dusted off his pants, and went to help Jae's cousin Dick back to his feet. Dick was out cold and it took a few slaps to his face to get him to stir. Jae meant to focus his attention on their female friend, Charlie, but she arrived to assist him first.
She offered her hand to him; he accepted it and acted as though her strength actually helped him stand. He held her hand and asked, "Are you alright? They didn't hurt you, did they?"
Fear and adrenaline were clear in his voice. She responded evenly, "I'm fine. But you…"
She didn't want to finish. She didn't want to sound insane for telling him what she just saw. It was impossible that he was truly floating there like that, and she told herself she must have gotten a head injury or had too much to drink.
Dick was finally awake and aware. "What… what the hell? How did we get outside? Why are we outside?"
They decided to pile back into Jae's apartment, tell Dick what little they knew, and then try to piece everything back together. When they arrived back at his place, they found nothing too out of the ordinary; it was messy, but it always was when they'd been drinking. There was no sign of a break in and no sign of a fight. Jae closed the window, just in case he really did just tumble off the balcony.
Hurriedly they each told their respective versions of what happened while Dick listened. Originally they had gathered at Jae's apartment to celebrate James's birthday; it was his first birthday since being discharged from the military. They hadn't celebrated much together in the few years he served, so it was meant to be a special occasion between close friends. While on their third hour of straight hardcore drinking, their memories went blank. The next thing they remembered took place in the alleyway. Dick would nod occasionally, but his expression betrayed his utter disbelief. A few brow wiggles and raises made it clear he thought they were all crazy.
When they finally finished, he turned his attention to Jae and asked, "You flew?" Jae's answer was in the form of a nod. "You flew? Like, in the air? Like… Superman?" he repeated.
"Not really like that, no. I just kind of, you know, hovered?"
"What the hell kind of drugs did you guys take?" Dick questioned, completely serious. Dick had passed out after a few drinks, which was a regular thing for him. He had no idea what the others had been up to.
"Dick, don't be stupid. You know me, man. I wouldn't…" Jae let it trail off. His eyes widened; a sudden return of a memory graced his mind for a moment. He remembered what had happened before he blacked out. He turned to James and said, "It was those pills!"
"What pills?" James asked with a slight shrug. He felt as though Jae was accusing him of a crime.
"Those damned capsules or whatever they were!"
"Orbit? Bro, the name isn't literal, alright? They're not hallucinogens. They're more like a steroid than anything. Although I guess it could have that kind of an effect if mixed with alcohol. I'm not sure if they've ever talked about that before."
"But I saw him flying – hovering, whatever – and I didn't take one," Charlie said. This was true. James only had two in his pocket, and the only reason he even offered them was because Jae had complained the intense drinking was going to throw off his study routines. The three passed quick looks between each other; it seemed as though they all recalled at the same time James touting the benefits of the Orbit capsule.
Jae felt the headache hit full force. His hand covered the nasty injury above his brow and he collapsed onto the chair closest to him. It was silent as everyone waited patiently for someone else to speak. No one was really sure whether they should solve the mystery or just pretend it never happened.
Dick was the one to break the peace. "So what were these capsules?" he asked.
James let out a sigh before he explained. "They're called 'Orbit.' Guys in the military used to take them all the time. At least in my unit. They're just a temporary steroid. Higher sense of awareness, strength, endurance – all of that is increased, but only for a few hours. And there's never been any weird side effects like this. I've never seen anyone fly before."
"I didn't fly," interrupted Jae.
"Or, hover," James tried to correct himself.
"I didn't hover either. I didn't do anything. We're all just a little bit intoxicated right now."
No one argued. Jae was always the sensible guy of the group; the big brother to a gang of wayward ramblers, or so it seemed. Even when drunk, there was something calm and level headed about him. He took pride in that fact.
James stood; he wobbled a bit thanks to the alcohol in his system. Once realigned with the Earth after being still for a few seconds, he grabbed the half-empty bottle of booze on the coffee table. "Welp, I'm getting out of here. Too much weird shit for my head right now. Until the whole alley thing, it was a good birthday. Thanks guys." His hand touched Charlie's shoulder and he said, "Come on, sweetheart. I'll walk you home."
Awkward tension hit everyone square in the throat. The two were an item many years ago, long before James ever left for the military. The action of touching her shoulder and the act of calling her "sweetheart" was done purely on habit. Instead of yanking his hand back, he slowly pulled away from her.
He mumbled out, "Or I can just walk myself home. Later."
They watched as he slinked his way out the door and gently closed it behind him. There was no question that he could stumble home alright by himself, as it was an act he had accomplished many times in the past. Instead, there was more concern about…
"Jae, maybe you should see a doctor," Charlie suggested. She noticed he had barely moved since sitting down.
"I would love to, but I can't explain what happened to my head," he said.
"Yeah, they might think you tried to kill him," Dick teased.
"Awful joke and awful timing, Dick," grumbled Jae.
"I'm the master of each."
"Shit, that makes me wonder what those guys were attacking us for," Jae said.
"Dick's bad joke made you wonder that?" Charlie asked. Jae could only send an annoyed glare her way. "Sorry, you kind of walked into that bad joke."
"I'm being serious," he said. "What if they're out there waiting for you?"
"What if we just hallucinated them, like we imagined you hovering?" she asked. A small laugh escaped her lips when she saw his face twist into a concerned mess. "I'm just kidding. Don't worry, I'll be fine. Besides, I'm only a block away."
Charlie stood to leave. She walked past Jae and ruffled his hair with her hand. He tried to playfully bat it away but missed terribly. Dick also stood; he made an over-the-top pose and bellowed out, "I will walk you home, my fair lady!"
"I would love that, Dick."
"I normally hear that in bed, but the living room is a nice change of pace."
Jae didn't hear the rest of their banter as they left. Dick turned to give a brief wave before he closed the door. Jae's eyes remained there as he tried to sort out his thoughts. Human beings did not fly. A pill couldn't just grant them to ability to defy gravity. Between the horrific bump on his head, the unhealthy amount of alcohol he had consumed and the damned side effects from that capsule, he was convinced he had imagined the entire thing. It was best to not mention it ever again. He hoped he would forget all about it by the next morning.
His eyes darted away from the door and up to the large wall clock that hung just above the TV. It was close to three in the morning; he had exams at noon. Something told him he was going to have a nasty headache when he woke up.
James tried to recall which direction it was to home, but this was a journey he hadn't made often. In fact, he had never been to Jae's new apartment before. It was just one of the many changes that had happened while he was overseas. Jae and Charlie were both about to graduate with Bachelors in Science, and Jae kept talking about going forward and getting a doctorate. When they were younger, they talked about being punk rockers and living in a van while touring the country. Dick was a full fledge newspaper beat reporter, running around snapping photos of everything from parades to murders. Before James had joined the Army, Dick was just a loudmouthed rotten kid who wouldn't shut up about comics and video games.
They were all grownups now. He kind of regretted that he missed all the changes, but more than that he hated that they had changed without him. He was still James; he talked the same, he liked the same things, he even had the same dreams.
The bottle of booze in his hand suddenly felt heavy. Alright, so maybe he drank a little bit more than when he was in high school. There was no particular reason for it. The fact that he couldn't pinpoint what made him lean so heavily on alcohol made him want to drink even more. He had a great childhood; his parents were good people and he never went without. His older brother had suffered a few bumps on the road to adulthood and wasn't the best role model, but he was a noble man nonetheless. While in the armed forces he had suffered many things and witnessed many horrors, but no nightmares plagued him at night. He felt like he had adjusted fine.
As these thoughts pounded relentlessly against his sore head, he stumbled through streets that had transformed over the last few years. Perhaps his memory was off, or maybe he was dumb and fearless once, but he could have sworn he felt no terror strolling downtown at night in the past. Yet as he blindly tried to find his way home, he felt himself glancing worriedly over his shoulder and down dark alleyways as he passed them by. Thugs dressed up in their best wannabe gangster costumes eyed him from every low-income stoop he neared. Uncomfortable, he tried to hide behind the tall collar of his jacket.
Sirens from speeding cop cars whizzed by his ears; his eyes followed the blur of red and blue and watched as they stopped only two blocks down. There was an old mini-mart smack in the middle of downtown there, famous for its barred windows and broken soda machine. Soon his feet dragged him toward the scene. He had no idea where he was and couldn't think of any reason not to rubberneck. Despite knowing that the cops probably didn't want a drunken guy hanging around, he strolled right up to the closest cop car.
A group was already forming, so a police officer made grand gestures while shouting, "Back it up! Back it up!" James ignored the order as he tried to analyze the mini-mart. All he was able to see was a figure dash past one of the barred windows before the screaming cop stood in front of him. The cop addressed him, "Look, buddy, for your own safety you're gonna hafta back it up, ya hear?"
"I hear good enough. 'S going on?"
"Got some bastards holed up in Denny's mart. Think they might be the same kids that tried to off Officer Mullaney last night during the bust."
"Thanks for the exposition, Cop Number One," a newcomer interrupted. James knew without a doubt that that conceited, nerdy voice belonged to Dick.
He glanced to his right to see his guess was correct. Dick carried with him his camera and had slung his press badge over his neck. It was obvious he was there to work, but James still asked, "What are you doing here?"
"Police scanner said a standoff was going down. Thought I should check it out. Gotta get the big shots if I'm gonna win a Pulitzer," he said. Then he inquired with a mocking tone, "What are you doing here?"
"Trying to get some Cherry Coke with extra ice."
"Are you serious? That soda machine has been busted for years."
James ignored him and trotted off. Dick was quick to follow, curious as to where James was going. It was clear he had no intention of leaving; instead of backing away and walking down the street, he had worked his way around the perimeter of the crowd toward the next alleyway. Aware that Dick was right on his heels, James asked, "So what happened at this 'bust' that cop was yakking about?'
"Tough stuff, Jimmy," Dick answered. "Their undercover guy got spotted and the backup walked right into a setup. Massive shootout right down 47th, just past the old train overpass. Three cops got – well, you know?" James stopped and took a quick glance at Dick and patiently waited a better explanation. All Dick could say was, "Kaput. Splat. Pow. Dead, man."
They neared the alley that cut abreast of the building that housed the mini-mart. There was a barred window and a fire escape, but nothing too exciting or worth checking out. James pressed forward, determined. Dick trailed after him. James carefully set his bottle on the ground and replaced it with a broken piece of concrete. Dick was just about to question his friend's mental state when James spoke.
He said, "Maybe it's the alcohol, but I'm feeling kind of frisky."
"James, I love you, but you're not really my type. You're like a brother to me."
The last word left Dick's lips when James took the small chunk of concrete he had picked up and threw it as hard as he possibly could against the barred window. Not only did it break the glass, but it knocked three of the old iron bars right out of the wall. The loud, "What the fuck was that?" was the only response they got.
A hushed, "Go check it out!" followed.
"Oh no. We're gonna get killed. God dammit," Dick worriedly rambled. He sent hurried glances around the area in order to find the easiest escape route.
A man wearing a bandana as a mask popped his head near the window and shoved his gun in their direction. The gunman's hand was not even fully extended when James let loose with the hardest punch he had ever thrown. His fist connected like a rock against the man's head. As the gunman slumped over his finger clenched and fired off a single round from his semi-auto pistol.
Hearing the gunshot, the other man inside shouted out, "You get 'em?"
Dick grabbed James's shoulder and whispered, "We should exit stage left. Now, ése!"
James grinned back at the scared youngster. "When we were kids, we always said we were going to make a difference. I'm going to be that difference."
"By getting yourself killed? Cute! But I'm sure once you're sober you'll change your mind!"
"Not by getting killed. By showing people what justice is."
"Yo, dawg, you aight?"
The two friends looked up at the window just in time to see another gangster had entered the room. His eyes caught sight of the other gunman half-strung through the broken window with his head caved in. Then he raised his sight to the two strangers staring back at him. Without hesitation, he raised his gun and began to fire at them.
Dick was immediately hugging the Earth; he clenched his gut in anticipation of the pain he believed was surely headed his way. James, however, did perhaps the most unlikely thing one would do in that situation: he punched the unconscious man's body. The hit was so hard it sent the man's head through the concrete and brick wall. It shook the Earth; the man wildly shooting his gun lost his balance and instinct had his attention focused solely on regaining his footing. With a lull in the gunfire, James bounced through the debris and snatched the gunman's arm. James only had to flick his wrist to break the attacker's arm like a twig. The man opened his mouth to scream but couldn't get any noise out. James head-butted him, rendering the man unconscious.
Silence for two seconds and then, laughter. Dick slowly opened his eyes and raised his head. The blinding lights from inside the building illuminated James's silhouette. Dick couldn't see his friend's face; he could only make out the outline of him standing triumphantly inside the old mini-mart, his hand still gripping the gunman's broken arm.
"Holy balls," was all Dick could say at the sight of the destruction in front of him. It looked as the entire wall was about to collapse. "James… Jesus, man. How'd you do that? I must be tripping."
James didn't answer immediately. He casually tossed the gunman away and with a grin said, "By the end of this year, I guarantee you a Pulitzer, kid. Just follow me!"