“Paper or plastic?” Zayid asked the blonde-haired man with the star tattoo on his wrist who handed him a 20 for his bright blue slurpee. That much change over one drink! These free-spending Americans, with their tattoos everywhere. Ah, but now Zayid can afford to make change as well, in his wallet and in his life here far away from the sectarian violence of his homeland. As he punched a button on the register, he noticed a news report about a group of Catholic priests getting into a fight with a protester at a soldier’s funeral.
“Yes,” is all the customer said, prompting Zayid to turn back towards the man, the captivating image of Father Randy Poffo jumping up and dropping his elbow on a member of the Phelps clan having distracted him from the man pulling out a revolver. Oh Allah.
These Indian assholes taking over all the 7 Elevens, thought Rich, the gunman. He knew he tasted piss in this slurpee. He knew it! That’s why he kept coming back, testing it, tasting it, until he was sure! Oh yeah, he’d show his friends he wasn’t crazy when he told them what conspiracy lay behind the surface of that dot on their head…
He would have, at least, but the man in front of him changed. His skin grew white. Not pink, but a pale dull white that covered his face completely. Eyes, nose, mouth, ears, and hair were all gone. The clothing the cashier had been wearing melted into a skintight suit that stretched over the man’s thin but well-muscled frame. The man’s pink, blue, and white My Little Pony t-shirt became a blue and white letter “I” over the skintight white of his top.
Rich’s hands shook. He’s in some major caca now, he realized. Before he can decide whether it’s time to surrender, the Individual reached towards the gun. Reacting without thinking, Rich fired. In a flash, the Individual leapt over the counter, ignoring the bullet as it bounced off his costume. It smacked the gun away, then grabs hold of Rich by the throat, lifting him slightly. Having seen into Rich’s thoughts before possessing the cashier, it knew Rich was unbalanced and had no desire to kill the troubled man. A man in need of help. The kind of help he needed was the kind you had to admit you needed, though.
The Individual leaned in close. Knowing the effect a blank face of no color has when right in front of a person, he whispered, “Are you scared to see me, or is that pudding in your pants?” They both glanced down, only to see that Rich was being pressed a little too hard against the snack display, leaving the seat of his pants with a dark brown stain and a popped-open package of pudding stuck to it.
“Hey man, I don’t want any trouble. I don’t want to go to jail. I’ll be good, ok? I’ll take my meds again, will that make you happy? That’s always what people want, me taking my meds again. I’ll do it, ok? Ok?” Rich stammered out. His hand flew to his jacket’s pockets, searching. Finally, he found his pills and pointed to the slurpee that now lay half-empty on the floor. Had he been on his pills sooner, it would be half-full on the floor, but no matter the interpretation, the data was the same. All of the drink was somewhere, but not all of it was in the cup. And that’s how someone who enjoys screwing with people who use clichés views the world.
The Individual set the man down, watching him carefully as he took the prescription that would keep him level if he bothered to take it and the slurpee that, the Individual knew from possessing Zayid, was actually about 37% urine. The Individual advanced on the man, shepherded him toward the door, and called out after him, “Thank you, come again!”
That’s when the heroic entity slumped, the color returning to Zayid’s body and his clothing reforming. Zayid looked around, confused and unsure of what just happened. In a lot behind the building, the Individual gathered its ethereal form together and once again became solid. Its own body and sense of self, even gender, took awhile to reform after using its power.
It tried to cough but found it still didn’t have a nose or mouth. The horrible pressure in its chest reminded it, as always, of the day it gained these abilities. What had started as an ordinary fall day was irrevocably etched into its and the nation’s memory. It was one of the ones that got a call from its brother onboard a plane over Pennsylvania. It wasn’t real. A loved one, someone that had always been in its life, a plane full of people just like him with a story and family and emotions, all being used as a weapon. It would have been up there to help them fight, if it could have. It wanted to that day, so badly, that it felt like it had completely disconnected from the world.
The Individual appeared that day to help the fellow mankind it was a part of, but there was only so much to be done. It did all it could, but it failed. When it woke up hours later, back in its home, it ached from the crash but knew its brother was still back there at that strip mine.
It took a long time to recover from that day, mentally, physically, and spiritually. Maybe there had been no way for it to save its brother on that fateful day, but it could still remember and most importantly it could still help its fellow man and let those who are victimized know that they are not and never will be alone.
A cry for help drew the Individual from its memories and transformation to human form. Its powers tell it that an old woman named Rosie is nearby, with a man holding a knife on her and demanding her purse. It blows in the wind, losing physical form as The Individual moves invisibly through the air to aid its fellow man and always push back against deception, injustice, and adversity.