Friday 20 April 2012


You'll have to excuse me for this slightly self-indulgent flash, but it seemed right to post it as the first #fridayflash on the redesigned Xeroverse. Enjoy. =)

“He’s so young.”

The hospital bed was innocuous enough: tubular metal, crisp white sheets, comatose boy. He looked about fourteen, thin but not undernourished, soft features at peace, short blonde hair. He was hooked up to various machines and drips that plipped and blipped and hummed conversationally to each other.

The young woman who had spoken, Karen, had shoulder length ginger hair and a light smattering of freckles that broke across her slender nose. She had a thin black barcode tattooed on her right cheek; below that was a thin red barcode.

The doctor who had shown her into the room had a similar black barcode, it referenced his identity, DNA, details and qualifications, all stored on the Global Database. He did not have a red barcode. The red barcode identified the woman as a registered Twist; to a person with the right clearance it would reference her power type and level on the Twist Database, and possibly her secret identity.

Karen didn’t have a secret identity, she was one of many everyday, working Twists. They used to be called Supers, but after the riots they had been renamed. They weren’t better, just different.

The doctor conducted a brief manual check of the readouts, in case his cerebral feed had been hacked. It had never happened, but they couldn’t take any risks. He turned back to Karen, who was still looking at the boy, concern evident on her face.

The doctor put a hand on her shoulder, “He’s not young, you know. He’s been in the coma over thirty years. And we don’t know how long he was alive before that.”

“But... How? What happened?”

“He’s practically immortal, as far as we can tell.”

“That’s... Who did this?”

Doctor Clarke considered her for a moment. He didn’t have the clearance to access the Twist Database but he knew she was a powerful telepath and she must have passed several stringent security tests to be allowed to attend the boy. He couldn’t help but think of him as a boy, still, despite his true age.

“You show considerable restraint, Karen. If you had tried taking the information from my brain you would have suffered a feedback spike that might have rendered you unconscious.”

She looked taken aback. “I take my work very seriously, Doctor Clarke. It would be against my contract to pry while in the facility, not to mention unethical.”

“That doesn’t always stop people from trying, sometimes even trained psychics can’t help instinctively reaching, before they reign themselves in.”

“So who is he? You still haven’t answered my questions.”

“And those questions are stacking up, aren’t they?” He smiled at her and raised his eyebrows, then relented, shaking his head. “I’m sorry, the secrecy of this place, necessary of course, gets to me sometimes.

“He was before your time, obviously, but you will have heard of him. What you have to realise is that what appeared in public arenas, in the press, was not the whole story. This boy was, is, The Angel Xero.”

He saw the familiar wide-eyed wonder on Karen’s face. Her mouth opened and closed as she framed several questions without knowing which to ask first. Her eyes flicked between the doctor and the boy and her brow creased as she tried to think through the details she knew.

He didn’t need her to speak to know the questions she was trying to phrase.

“The Angel was the greatest Super the world knew, in a time when it wasn’t afraid of powers. There has never been another of his power level, and we all know the good he did. Now, it’s important to understand that he was inherently good, but the full extent of his powers was never really known, nor the psychological implications.

“We all saw the wonders he worked. But amongst his power set was multiplication and shape-shifting. He would play out desires and roles. We think he wasn’t always fully aware of his own actions, we think his hyper-intelligence led to a kind of mega-schizophrenia. Several other Supers of that era were him. And several villains.”

“Villains? Who?”

“We don’t know for sure. We think he was some of his own nemeses. He did confess full responsibility for the Moscow incident.”

“Moscow, but, millions died, there were hundreds of Supers involved.”

“Apparently not. Now, you should know that he did this to himself, put himself in this state. Something made him realise what was happening, he turned his powers inwards and, well, this is where we are now.”

“That’s... a lot to take in. So why am I here?”

“You have to grasp the true extent of his twists. In order to contain himself and his powers he created a multiverse within his own mind. It is no illusion; as far as we can tell it is as real as our own. There are peoples, worlds, stars, whole universes in there.

“Your job is simply to monitor what we call the Xeroverse. Walk the worlds in his mind, observe the people, record what you see. We will never know more than a paltry fraction of what is going on in there, but it will help us monitor the stability of his state and we may just learn something from the stories you bring back.”

Reommended reading:
Second Chance by Jack K Holt
A tiny but brilliant little slice of sci-fi flash.

And a 140 character fiction feed you should check out on Twitter: Nanoism


  1. Awesome stuff. I don't think there's any harm in casting yourself as a main character especially as we're all just aspects of your imagination... Reading fiction created by the architect... It's all getting a bit meta!

    Makes me feel further down the rabbit hole...

    Knock, knock... Wake up John

    1. Ha ha! Deeper and deeper... ;)

      Thank you, Debs. ^_^

  2. So this is a cool story. I like the idea of a hero so powerful his internal demons can enter the world to fight him.

    Dialogue is nice and tight.

    This *is* a bit indulgent but I can forgive you for it! ;P

  3. Ah John, you've been wandering around inside your imagination again, haven't you? :)

    Seriously though, this is a fantastic piece of writing, and the concept itself would serve well as a springboard for a lengthy serial, or a novel.

    1. I rarely leave it, Steve. =D

      Thanks for the great comment. ^_^

  4. Cool stuff!

    But be careful — this could be the anchor story for an entire blog's worth of stories!

    1. Thanks, Larry, I'll be careful to watch out for that! ;D

  5. Love this!

    I inferred that everything we have read thus far has taken place in this Xeroverse, this alternate reality. That it wasn't simply the title of your blog, but the planned location of your stories all along.

    But that may just be me...

    Thanks for the plug, too. Much appreciated!

    1. Pretty much. Several ideas rattling around in my mind that all fell into place.

      Thanks, Jack. =)

  6. I like the concept of schizophrenia for supers. Clever way to tie this in to an origin story.

  7. Loved it! I've often wondered about the amazing mind of Xeroverse - especially as we get to share snippets of it here and over at 101 ^__^

  8. Absolutely fun and accurate, too. Every writer is his own world, right? I wonder if the doctor and the woman are having their conversation in the boy's mind-world. Twisted ;-)

    1. I was wondering whether the doctor might be an unpowered fragment of the boy he left behind to look after himself... ;)

      Thanks, Magaly. Great to hear from you. ^_^

  9. This is pretty awesome ! It's like Inception of the Xeroverse. Mind of its own. And cooler. And the super powers. I love super powers.
    Beyond brilliant story to me!

    1. Thank you, Cindy. Really cool that you like it so much! ^_^

  10. THis was my first venture into the Xeroverse and it was a fantastic intro. Very nice :)

    1. Hi Anthony, thanks for coming by and commenting. Hopefully you'll come back for more. ^_^

  11. Hi there John -- like the revamp site. Liked your 'Twists' and 'not better just different' -- that sounded quite a lot like real world political correctness. One hero fighting himself s'cool. So get in there with a note pad and start writing down what you've been up ta, will ya. :) St.

    1. Hi, Stephen. =)

      Very much political correctness. Can't have the 'norms' feeling bad about themselves... ;)