Short Story: Rhythms

To the opiated masses, power was still another fanciful thing only rich folks and electronics had. Humanity had passed the point where it was new or noteworthy, but had not reached the point where it was usual, mundane. Not on a grand scale. They were in the in-between times of yet another thing. No longer miraculous, but not commonplace enough, power was both a thing but not a thing. It was leashed by egghead scientists or courted by overzealous millionaires and billionaires. Or, if one worked their entire life, perhaps a layperson here or there.

It was via that mentality that power was disregarded by Earth’s general population, in both metaphorical and literal senses. Some ruralites even claimed its existence a conspiracy. Those creatures said humans never had, and never would have, power. Not in the grandest senses. Ironically, they were most often responsible for shortages of power.

For the rest and vast majority, power was just a thing beyond grasping. Most especially, great power. It was out of reach, financially or socially, or both. There was no point in dreaming about it because so many other, competing dreams were higher priorities.

Of course, what prospective home-owner didn’t want free, limitless power? What conscious mind didn’t wish it to help them “slip the surly bonds of Earth,” bypass the smog and madness between it and space? They all did, but it wasn’t meant to be. Not yet.

Not until a man lacking both gained them for all.

Thirty years later, Brandon Keller still wasn’t sure how he’d done it. He remembered the night it began though; remembered his dead-eyed stare at the half-dead television flickering from age and water damage. He remembered the mildew mingling with lighter-fluid and spray-varnish. A dangerous and favorite combination. He remembered the sound of the paper-bag over the percussive metal ever-thumping in the background. Most of all, he remembered the utter desolation.

Inside. Outside. Perpetual.

His innards were dank, dark. Even danker and darker than the walls of the abandoned junk-shack tenement he and others like him were forced to inhabit. The walls wept every time it rained. The sound of fucking, fighting, and metal or rap ragers echoed ceaselessly along the floors. Dilapidated, paper-thin walls crumbed between rooms, apartments forming windows into private lives no-one cared to view, their inhabitants least of all– seen one junkie….

They were all junkies. That was why the called it the junk shack. Brandon too, then at least. The place he’d been in wasn’t the best, wasn’t the worst. It did smell. Mold and Mildew. His huffing bag took care of that, but anytime the wind kicked up through broken windows or drafty walls, cat-piss stink from the rotting crack-lab in the next room smothered the varnish-lighter-fluid cocktail.

Something long ago had told him he’d been destined to wallow and rot like so much of the junk-shack before a moment of clarity intervened and the miraculous was found anew in him, through him. Thirty-years later, on the penthouse level of the Keller Power Consortium building, he would flex his bionic hand and feel it a small price to pay for all that was changed.

He’d been bored. High as a kite. Lost at what to do with himself– or why he’d suddenly developed an itch for doing something. He wasn’t aware of a lot in those days. He was, however, beginning to see patterns. Kaleidoscopic. Fractal. Like Fibonacci sequences, but in the repetition of the news and the other bullshit the television spewed at him.

There was a mathematical pattern to reality; an eternal cascading and bumping that seemed on micro-scales to be ever-random, but on macro-scales, its patterns were fairly obvious. He’d watched them for months, completely unaware of them. Then all at once, they were there. Sensory overload. Months of patterned reality crashed down. He couldn’t take it.

He didn’t know any of that yet. It took him months to figure out the particulars. By then, he was recuperating in a hospital, arm missing. He’d somehow managed to avoid the need for skin-grafts. Something about the trajectory of the explosion, angle of the fire. He didn’t much care to know those details. The others though…

When it happened, he was too busy detoxing, relearning there was a world existing outside the junk shack. Likewise, when his head was finally straight, he was too preoccupied with an image that had taken it over. It was more an idea really, but it had a mentally visual component. Two. One of macro-scale. One of micro.

Micro-scale was something like two nuclei, just before collision. All around them were out of focus collisions already occurring, exploding. Then, the Macro-Scale, there he was bionically armed and standing before a chemistry set that made the cat-piss crack-lab’s look like a catheter.

No-one understood it. Not even Brandon. It didn’t matter. Most of human progress was made only to be understood later on. It was yet another of the micro-macro rhythms; a duality of science and reality. There were things seen and things unseen. Both were useful. Both were necessary. Both could be harnessed.

So Brandon harnessed them. Through a frothing concoction of natural elements, the amateur-chemist turned energy-mogul found a formula for cold-fusion. Chemical cold fusion. Free, unlimited power. He stood in the shadow of creatures like Faraday and Tesla, Nobel and the Curies, then stepped beside into their light. There, he found the solution to a problem ages old and eternally important.

And thirty years later, he watched the last residential light flit on in what used to be the junk-shack. Free housing provided by the mogul. Like himself, the majority of people aided by his programs were former users, abusers, would-be burnouts. They weren’t just given the chance to get clean, they were given new leases on life. They were given new reasons to hope, to dream. New paths to achieving those hopes and dreams.

In his own way, Keller had universalized power and set off rhythms. One Macro, one micro. They mirrored themselves via an iteration even far older– as old as time, in fact; change.

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