Broken sentences mixed with static shower the cars speakers as Edgar lazily flips through the radio channels searching for that perfect station to fit his mood. Turning right onto the highway Edgar decides to settle on talk radio. Not his favorite, but this particular channel let anybody with a voice get on and tell their tale.
“Two words... Alien Abduction.” The host screams over the radio. Blasting a loud buzzer he continues saying. “Every year thousands of people go missing and are never found. Where do you think they go?”
Pausing for a second, the host says. “What's that folks? No good answer? That's because aliens are taking you into the sky and somewhere beyond. It's time for you to inform me during the witching hour. Remember you're listening to 79.9 Coast to Host, and we'll be right back after a short commercial break.”
“Aliens and abductions, I swear this guy gets crazier every day.” Edgar says chuckling to himself.
No day is better then Friday to Edgar. He always did enjoy the afternoon drive to check on his districts electrical grid. It was far enough away he could claim two hours on the road as a part of his shift. Not to mention, it rarely needed any real attention. This power center could practically run itself with a brand new electrician, let alone a veteran like Edgar Thorne. Either way, as far as he is concerned, it made for an easy end to his week.
“And...We're back. Welcome back to 79.9 Coast to Host. I'm your host Max and this is a place to talk about, well anything really. It's currently three o'clock standard mountain time and it is looking rather windy outside folks. The clouds are brewing and they are gray. No signs of rainstorms, but with the temperature at sixty five and dropping. I'd expect some kind of storm by this evening. With the boring stuff out of the way. We are going into the witching hour. First caller...and we already have a fish on the line. Welcome caller. First introduce yourself, then feel free to dive right in.”
Silence fills the radio station momentarily before a heavy breath echoes out over the line and the caller speaks saying. “Hey Max, first it's great to be on the show. And my name is Peter.”
“It's great to have you on here Peter. So, uh. Peter? What do you do?” Max the host asks.
“Uh, I'm currently unemployed, but I've taken to bird watching in my free time.”
Max the host asks. “Peter? Did you say bird watching?”
“I did, Max. Yeah. Well...at least at first it was birds that I was watching.” Peter shyly replies.
“So, what have you started watching?”
“I've stumbled upon a strange phenomena that occurs randomly near this power facility. Near my house.” Peter firmly says.
“Okay, Peter. You've got my interest. What in the hell could be going on? What type of phenomenon are we talking about?”
Taking a deep breath in, Peter nervously replies. “There's no telling when it will happen. I've watched it for weeks but the times seem random. It's like a...a big cloud of gas. Like it's not normal gas though, not like smog or something like that. No, it's different. Every time it appears it drifts up from the facility like this purple or reddish gas. No matter what it never gets picked up on the wind. It'll linger for a few minutes then just disappear. It just fades away like it was never there in the first place.”
“That is an interesting concept. Do you have any evidence you could bring into the studio to back up your claim?”
“As it happens I...”
With a sigh Edgar turns the radio off cutting Peter the caller off mid sentence. Nearly finishing his drive, he pulls off of the highway and takes the same path he does every friday. In robotic fashion, Edgar follows the road straight for five blocks, turns right onto the dirt road in between the train tracks, shopping centers, and housing. Tucked away in it's own little garden of steel fencing and private signs, Edgar parks his truck at the entrance.
Stretching Edgar steps out of his truck and grabs the key card clipped onto his belt. Only a few steps from the command console. Sliding his card into the bottom Edgar proceeds by punching in his ten digit work identification number. The gates buzzer sounds as it slowly rattles and rolls along its steel track. Back in his truck, Edgar pulls forward and parks in front of the small building at the back end of the facility. With a little whistle Edgar straps on his hardhat and grabs his clip board while hopping out of his truck. Walking around to the buildings steps. Edgar leaps up all three stairs to the top of the walkway and casually enters the building.
Closing the door behind him. Edgar shouts out. “Hey, Carl. How's it going, man?”
Waiting a second for a response. Edgar notices the emergency lights flashing around the corner of the hallway. Worried. Edgar takes a few steps forward and apprehensively calls out. “Carl? Carl...are you there?”
Without a response a second time. Edgar flips the light switches on the central console in the main room of the building he entered. With zero effect. Edgar realizes the problem has to stem from the facility itself. Turning on his headlamp. Edgar grabs a wrench from a nearby desk and walks around the corner of the hallway. With each strobe of the emergency lights, Edgar walks further down the hall and closer to the stairwell leading down to the main power breakers and equipment.
Steadying himself on the wall to his left. Edgar takes a deep breath in and shakily calls out. “Carl? Seriously? Are you okay? This...This isn't funny anymore. Seriously. Carl say something.”
Standing at the edge of the stairwell. Edgar swallows his fear. He grabs firmly onto the railing and slowly descends. Once at the bottom, a foul stench of cooked meat fills his nostrils. Overwhelmed Edgar lurches forward and lets out a single heavy heave. Unwilling to allow himself to vomit, Edgar picks himself up and covers his mouth and nose with his shirt. Praying the smell of body odor and cologne might mask whatever smell is lingering here among the electrical equipment.
Going through the lower level systematically. Edgar checks every room and every last piece of equipment. It's not until checking the connections for the power grid in the second basement that Edgar discovers the issue. The transmission lines for the generators leading underground have been tampered with. Edgar finds a burnt husk of what was the normal facility operator Carl. Hands still clinging to the frayed line. The sound of the electrical current surging through him still echoes through the concrete chamber.
Hanging his head, Edgar gives a moment of silence for his work friend. He may not have known Carl well, but they did get along whenever they were together. Unfortunately, it seemed that Edgar was going to have to move him for the authorities. Anyone else untrained with this equipment might suffer the same fate as Carl. Walking over to the security locker. Edgar adorns a pair of safety boots, gloves and goggles. Then Edgar shuts down power to singular line. Hearing the cackling electricity stop surging through Carl's body, Edgar climbs the ladder down to the transmission lines below.
With a heavy sigh, Edgar grabs onto Carl. Out of nowhere a deep purple-red gas flows out from the broken line and fills the concrete chamber. Simultaneously a single surge of electricity ran through the line. Electricity reaches every inch of his body as the intense storm rages around Edgar at the epicenter. Screaming the gas fills his lungs and Edgar feels something new occur inside of his body. The gas breaks the doors open and pours out of the building, and just as quickly as it appeared the gas was gone.
Confused. Edgar stands up looking at his hands saying. “What...What just happened?”
Stumbling forward. Sparks of electricity arc from his body around to the objects and ground around him. With a single step Edgar dashes at unknown speeds through the air up to the concrete platform resting fifteen feet above the transmission cables. A burst of air impacts a second after sending papers flying everywhere in the chamber. Standing at the edge of the ladder, Edgar runs his right hand through his hair while staring at his left.
Stepping away from the ladder a single bolt of electricity arcs from his body to a nearby computer shattering its screen. Shocked at first, Edgar laughs saying. “No way.”
Focusing this time, Edgar points his finger at a nearby desk lamp. Moving his other hand like a dial changes turns the bulb on. Moving his hand backwards turns the bulb off. With a heavy breath, Edgar turns in a circle mumbling. “No freaking way. No way. Oh my god. Am I? Am I doing that?”
Snapping his fingers at the lamp causes the bulb to burn extremely bright for all of a second before exploding. Staring at his hand, Edgar looks from it to the emergency light still flashing in the corner. A small bolt of electricity flies from his pointer finger with the snap of it. Like clockwork the emergency light flashes brighter then normal and explodes, sending shards of glass to the floor.
Rubbing his eyes to adjust to the darkened room, Edgar runs both hands down his face and sighs saying. “This can't be real. Just go upstairs. Call for an ambulance. It'll be fine.”
Going back upstairs into the small central room. Edgar notices every single door burst from its hinges. Only the front door managed to hang in from its very top hinge. Light shining in from outside, Edgar takes a deep breath and calls emergency services.
Hours pass and the day quickly turns to night as emergency services handle the body and question Edgar about the days events. Finally let go from questioning. Edgar gets into his truck and drives away from the facility with more questions then answers. Blamed for Carl's death, the company Edgar works for fires him to distance itself from the event. Jobless, Edgar turns the radio on and hops onto the highway heading home.
“Yeah, Max. I am calling you out. You're nothing but a doubter. You don't know when to...” The station cuts out to static before a loud axe chopping sound can be heard mixed with chickens clucking. The host comes back on saying. “Sorry about that folks. Here at 79.9 Coast to Host we get a variety of flavors. Welcome back to the only station that brings you non stop conversation. Whether or not is good is up to you to decide. Currently looking for callers. Don't be shy folks. Remember we may not respect you, but we will listen.”
Pulling out his cell phone. Edgar feels a surge of electricity between him and the device. The connection, like a mental link causes his senses to black out while accessing the phone. Swerving back and forth along the empty highway. Edgar thinks of the radio station and within seconds he hears the dial tone in his ear.
“You've reached 79.9 Coast to Host. This is your host Max speaking. Caller you're on the air. Give us a little introduction, then dive right in.”
Speaking like normal, Edgar's words flow through into the phone as if he were on speaker phone. “Hey, Max. I'm not comfortable saying my name. But, Uh. Something amazing is happening to me.”
“Alright. I'm gonna call you John for now to keep you anonymous. If that's okay with you John go ahead and tell me more. So, what's happening to you?”
“John is perfect, Max. And honestly. I don't know.” Edgar says laughing.
Max carefully choosing his words asks. “Okay. Why don't you tell me what type of thing is happening to you?”
Nervous Edgar starts rambling saying. “I think I can move super fast. And like I can make light bulbs explode by thinking about it. Oh. I'm speaking to you mentally right now. I'm not actually on the phone.”
Max starts laughing and says. “Folk's I apologize. Late at night, we typically just get one crazy after another. John it was good talking to you buddy, but I'm gonna have to let you go.”
“No wait. I can prove it. I know something happened to me. The p...purple gas! It's the purple gas.” Edgar hastily shouts.
Static fills the gap for a few seconds before Max says. “Nah you're outta here.”
Max the host continues the show saying. “Alright once again moving on. Next caller you're on the air. You know the deal. Introduction then dive on in.”
Silence fills the radio station before a heavy breath echoes out and a man chimes out saying. “It's great to be back on the show Max. It's Peter. I called earlier about the purple red gas.”
Max replies. “Oh great, let you guess. You came on the air to back up anonymous John? I know it.”
“Well...I think there could be something to what he's saying. I've been tracking that purple gas for quite some time and I don't think it's natural at all.”
“That's fine. You can think all you want about natural gas leaking from a power facility. But, I know what it is. Heat fumes lingering over the facility.” Max says angrily.
“Anonymous John. You said you could speak without a phone? Find me. Peter Mayfield. I want to help.”
Getting cut from the station just like Edgar. Peter finds frustration in the radio station he had put so much trust into in the past. Yet despite his disposition. His cell phone begins to ring from an unknown caller.
Picking up on the fourth ring. Peter softly answers. “H...Hello?”
“Is this Peter Mayfield?” Edgar asks while masking his voice in a deeper tone.
“My god, you found me that fast? How did this happen? What happened? How is it related to the gas? I mean...”
Cutting Peter off, Edgar replies. “Peter. Tell me what you know about the gas.”
With a quick breath. Peter calms himself and says. “It's something out of this world. I don't know where it comes from or why. But, you are the first person I know to make contact with the stuff.”
“In other words. You don't really know anything about it?”
“Well, I mean. Yeah when you put it like that.” Peter says quietly.
Edgar chuckles for a second and replies. “You can't help me. I'm sorry for bothering you.”
“Wait. I mean. You're my only link to this gas...I. If it's not. Can I? I'd like to help you.” Peter says nervously.
“How?” Edgar scoffs.
“You said you're changing right? Every athlete needs a good trainer right?”
Thinking seriously on it for a second. Edgar shortly replies. “Fine. So, how do we train? Where do we go for something like this?”
“Meet me at this location. I'm sending you the coordinates now.”
Receiving the coordinates from Peters phone. Edgar stays on the highway a little longer then expected. Instead of driving home to his beloved Samantha and his dear young daughter Jasmine. Edgar takes the turnpike downtown and follows an old road to an long since abandoned factory.
Chuckling Edgar says to himself. “Of course it's an abandoned factory. Yup, this seems about right..”
Pulling the truck in past the already cut open chain link fence. Edgar parks his car behind an old beat up van parking in front of an old construction trailer and a large pile of rubble to keep out of sight. Peter gets out of the van as Edgar parks and gives him a wave to leave his headlights on.
Edgar steps out of his truck and leaves his headlights on as suggested. The two men share a brief nod and Edgar says. “I suppose it's nice to meet you.”
Shaking his head Peter shakes Edgar's hand, saying. “No, it's nice to meet you. Trust me the pleasure is all mine. Now, how about we break down to business before we really get into any small talk? Tell more more about the gas. What did it do to you?”
Shrugging Edgar says. “Honestly, I don't know. It's all so fresh.”
Peter smirks and replies. “How about a demonstration then? No better way to learn, then by doing. Am I right?”
Edgar walks away from the cars and into the center of an open concrete lot. Waving his hand to Peter he says. “You may want to stay back.”
Leaning into himself in a semi-squat. Edgar feels the electricity surge from within and reach every cell. His limbs burn the electricity arcs from his body to the concrete and he zips forward up into the abandoned factory itself and grabs an empty spray paint can as proof. Running back down sends a stray bolt of electricity to an old steel cable holding a wall in place. The wall rips from the foundation and falls toward Peter. With an extra burst of energy. Edgar appears in between Peter and the wall. Holding up the concrete and brick slab with both arms extended outward.
Electricity runs up and down Edgar's body every second he holds the slab in place. Focusing a surge of electricity from his chest into his arms Edgar throws the slab off into the open concrete lot behind him.
Terrified and still laying on the ground. Peter looks up and exclaims. “Surge!”
Edgar looks at Peter shocked and excited and replies breathing heavily. “What?'
“The way your powers look while active. They surge across your body. Your name. Your name should be surge.”