This story is based on the Flash Fiction Challenge posted Fridays on writer Chuck Wendig’s blog. The idea was to pick three ideas randomly from three lists and work them into a 1000 word story. My random three were Poison, A Comic Book, and Resurrection.
“Aww, man,” Tommy said, slamming his copy of Micro Man #1 to the floor. Tommy Wilson sat cross-legged in the middle of his bedroom floor across from his best friend, Todd Tipperly. Strewn about them were a half dozen comics they had purchased to celebrate the end of 7th grade and beginning of summer freedom. The first five comics they picked were easy, eagerly grabbing up the next issue of old favorites: Spiderman, the Avengers, and other members of the Marvel Universe. Micro Man #1 had been an impulse buy. Tommy had been drawn to the cover art and, in the end, he couldn’t resist passing over his go-to’s for this promising newcomer. But now that he was looking from the purple-blue tips of his ink-stained fingers to the comic laying at his feet, he was kicking himself for getting sucked in by the flashy cover. Rookie mistake.
“What?” Todd asked from around a mouth full of Flaming Hot Cheetos.
“Look,” Tommy said, holding up his stained fingers. “The ink rubbed right off. This comic sucks.”
Todd snorted, sending out a spray of bright-orange crumbs. “I told you we should have gotten Iron Man. Micro Man. You’re such an asshole.”
“Whatever,” Tommy said, but he felt like an asshole. He reached down and chucked the defective comic in the general vicinity of the garbage can. “Give me some Cheetos,” he said, ripping the bag from his friend’s hands. He gave one last sour glance at Micro Man #1 before picking up Spiderman with a grunt.
His irritation might have been lessened a bit if he had known he wasn’t the only Little League aged kid tossing away a comic in disgust, fingers stained. Misery loves company, after all. Micro Man #1 had been an instant success, selling out the initial run of 100 comics in the first couple hours of school letting out. Milo Franklin, proprietor of Action Comics in the small town of New Haven, had to go to the back room four times to grab out more copies of the instant hit before giving up and just bringing out the whole lot of them. Milo had no idea that each had the same defect, the ink seemingly falling off the pages with the lightest of touches. The man who sold him the box of comics had seemed nice enough, albeit it a little creepy. After a look into the man’s dark, sunken eyes, however, he had agreed to push the new comic without argument.
. . .
That night, Tommy Wilson and ninety-nine other early adopters of the budding Micro Man franchise slept fitfully, their temperatures creeping up with each passing hour. Tommy had scrubbed hard at his fingers that night before bed, but they had held onto that purple tint. He insisted that he hadn’t been messing with Sharpies, that it was all due to this stupid comic, but his mom had just giving him “The Look.” Tommy had sighed and given up.
But his mother would have been relieved to know that the ink stain was no longer an issue. His fingers, now clenched into tight fists as he shivered under his covers, had returned to the pinkish-hue as the ink absorbed into his skin, seeping into his veins and mingling with his blood. It now coursed through his body, touching each organ, each corner of his body.
One by one his organs began to slow, losing integrity until they sputtered to a stop. Neither Tommy or any of the other ninety-nine adolescents woke during this process, no more than they would have awoken during any fever-dream. Eventually, however, the fitful tossing and turning came to an end as their hearts gave out, the nightmare over.
Tommy’s last breath came as the alarm clock on his bedside table turned to midnight.
The clock read 12:03 when Tommy’s eyes snapped open, his dark brown eyes now a milky white. Slowly a grin spread across his face. He levered up, pushing away his covers, and swung his legs over the side of the bed and onto the floor. A tingle passed through his body and out to the edge of his limbs. He flexed his hands, feeling a surge of power. Yes, this felt good. He glided silently down the hall past his parents’ room and headed out the front door into the warm night air.
. . .
As Tommy approached the baseball diamond where he and his friends played every Sunday, he saw other boys his age streaming in as well – some he knew and some he didn’t- each similarly pajama-clad. Each with the same milky-white eyes. Each wearing the same shit-eating grin. They came from left, center, and right field, converging on home plate where a man stood. He stood a full head taller than the boys, his body lean and his white hair pulled back into a pony tail. Sunken eyes gleamed from behind hollow cheeks. He held up his arms for silence as the boys crowded in, jostling for position, and the boys quieted their rustling and stood in polite silence.
“My boys,” the man said. His voice was a deep, quiet rumble, but each of the 100 boys had no trouble hearing. “Did you enjoy your comic?” he said, chuckling.
“Man, that comic sucked,” It was Brian Hannigan, shortstop for the Tilman Hardware Bears. Tommy had played against him a couple times and he was one of the best players in the league. “Hey, why are we here anyway?” A murmur of assent rippled through the crowd.
“You’re all here to be initiated into your new life. You, my boys,” he said, spreading his hands, “are now part of the immortals.”
“So,” Tommy asked, kicking at the infield dirt, “we’re like, vampires then?” Tommy had seen his share of horror movies and knew vampires were the only ones that lived forever.
“For lack of a better word, yes. It’s not quite so crude as the movies I’m sure you’ve seen, but that’s about the size of it.”
“But we don’t have fangs. And nobody bit me.”
“Ah, yes, nobody bit you. As I said, things aren’t so crude these days. The magic of science. And don’t worry about your fangs, they’ll grow in due time. By the end of your first sleep, you’ll be fully formed and will have no trouble feeding.”
A boy Tommy didn’t know raised his hand. “So we’re, like, really going to live forever?”
“Oh yes, for all intents and purposes you will live forever. You will never age, never deal with adulthood. You’ll never find yourselves slogging to a nine to five job like your pathetic parents just to pay the mortgage on your poorly constructed house. You will forever remain the children you are.”
“Welcome to Never Never Land, my lost boys. Now let’s have some fun.”