Jeffrey Allen Mays

An excerpt

Here is a fun excerpt from my novel, The Former Hero, published about a year ago. Omni-man has lost his super powers and, as he seeks their return, he reminisces about his initial summons to greatness. The book is available on my website.

FH-perspectiveIchabod! Oh, for the love man! I was there when the sky fell and mankind plunged into collective drunkenness. I saw it and I know specific details, names and facts. And I went to sleep, and you could say I dreamed it all—the children, the elderly, the fire and disease, all—but I say it was only the appearance of sleep, and a dream like an alternative consciousness. In those hours, some seventy-seven hours while I was unresponsive, while I was in an altered state of dream-sleep, I experienced a kind of chemical reorganization, what scientists call punctuated equilibrium, not a joyful rebirth or springing new from some cocoon, but a collapse, in long tortuous agony, an implosion, a recomposition of sorts, as enzyme juices expressed, a violent cleansing, burning like Drain-o through my veins, like all the salt from seven billion sets of tearful eyes, their voices in my blood and the bitterness like bile on my tongue, I could hear all their shrieks with every heartbeat and it was these howling voices and no less the unearthly muteness crying through the eyes of the voiceless that did its work in me, and all of the images that I can never remove from my mind that fertilized the soured and contaminated blood that continued to course through the lobes of my brain for those many hours.

It was that day that I received my holy endowment. I was actually undergoing a change—a transformation that somehow harnessed the power of the mind to change the body. Call it psychosomatic. I call it miraculous, nay more, I call it the need of the hour. My mind was churning, reorganizing itself, inventing new structures and schemata, new ideas both physical and spiritual, harmonic, philosophic, astronomic. My heart pumped out new chemicals, endorphins, peptides, neurotransmitters and steroids, epinephrines and serotonins made of new protein compounds, created by free radicals firing wildly and making ever-growing surges of complex electrical connections in the primordial miasma of my brain which now worked rapidly, freely, originally, akin to the activity during REM sleep, but breaking down the helpless old ideas of fearfulness and apathy, harnessing greater and greater percentages of dormant mental matter, the ninety percent that goes unused in most of us—not making me smarter. No. I am no genius. But giving me those powers of vision and strength which I have used for justice, for truth, in aid of law enforcement and defense, for healing, and indeed, to change my physical form into something of the ideal.

After I arose from slumber—what can be said? Only that I knew who I was, as you already know, but at that time it was dawning slowly upon my consciousness the semi-divine vocation that was now mine, the only explanation to the change that had taken place, that is as I said before, the need of the hour, to use the new clarity of vision, the very eyes and mouth of the prophet, and the might of my hands and feet and mouth and mind to do good in the world, to be what everyone really wants and needs and cries out for, oh how many times had I heard the word—a hero (it is unbefitting that I should use this word to designate of myself, but it is true nonetheless)—I would do what had never been done before, I would bring what they cried out for: justice, order, revival. At my advent, the nations rejoiced. Had I not been refashioned by some directed benevolent force in this freakish cauldron of flesh? For some purpose? Would not this bring a turning of the times? A body was prepared for me, and I must follow the path set before me.

(Admittedly, as these words pass through my mind, even now, as I lay on a hospital bed, tormented by the incompetent Doctor Sheitly and his horde of sirens, my flesh has failed, though not my heart! It is nothing to worry about. Yes, today, for a brief intermission, by the decree of heaven in suspending my potent grace, I walk as any other man, fasting, as it were, from my labors, reminded for a season of my earlier estate of mortality before I received the blessing of heaven. By tomorrow I expect to be fully restored and with a bonus. But back to my tale.)

Too well I remember wakening that morning some years ago—every smell and sound—as I awoke to the reality that greeted me, the pain in my head subsided, my senses returned to their balances. It was a new dawn, and the sweet sunshine flooded my bedchamber. No hunger did I feel, nor need of any kind. Fruit in a basket was lain at my bedside, placed there by some well-wisher I suppose, and I ate and let the juice run down my chin, sucking in life and energy from all around, and containing my astonishment as I beheld my new form in the mirror. Suffused with life, I reclined on the bed pensive and wistful for a moment as a quintet of robins conversed outside my window and a cheerful breeze blew a bouquet of spring apricot and almondine into the room, and rosy-fingered dawn filled the space in subtle drifting sequins of light. It seems that I recalled my mother’s tears of joy and my father’s clenching jaw as he shook my hand without words, sending me as it were, and in the moments that followed I paced and breathed and thought upon those mournful faces of grief, and the approaching night that was my foe, and I, now manifest as Omni-man, went out to meet them.

The heightened bliss of that day stays clear in my memory if events that followed have blurred with time. Indeed I thought I heard the peal of silver trumpets in my soul, a funereal clarion, simultaneously summoning me and burying me, so rich and clear were their tones, nature’s whole frame watching in anticipation of my rise, that at last her chains might be broken!

The euphoria lingered, the ecstasy of superhuman animation that poured over my head like a warm milk-bath upon waking from that dark night, and, Ah! by the weeping tears of Qoheleth!—you will forgive me if I get carried away in my descriptions!

Ah! How rapture took me that blessed morn!

And clarity, vision I say, such that I wrestled to maintain circumspection, judgment and self-possession. For I tell you as one who has ascended the cave and seen the sun for the first time that the blend of blinding intuition and physical empowerment bred a seed of giddiness, a lightness of spirit unbecoming such a calling, and was then handily quelled in the rising heat of day that now turned the dewy morning gradually to the arid dust of battle. Then how I moved like lightning. I traveled the streets of affronted freedom and beheld their alabaster cities in ruin.