Interview with Samuel Levine, dated April 12, 2130:
Everybody wants to save the world. I don’t know if they always did, but they sure as hell want to now. Or at least what’s left of it.
It must’ve been the virus. That’s all I can think of that would change people like this. I mean, something that could wipe out half the world’s population in two weeks would have an effect on people’s priorities. Thank—whatever is left up there—that priorities have adjusted in the right direction. For the most part.
There are always those few opportunistic bastards who look at a tragedy and think about the profit margins, but they’ve actually been taken care of pretty quickly this time around. Like I said, now everyone wants to be a hero. Except for me.
I didn’t mean to become the odd one out, though I kind of always have been. Quiet little thing, the teachers said. Keeps to himself. And I’ve been the same ever since. The only things that really changed were the few bad habits I picked up. Like drinking. That one’s gonna kill me someday. It was the thing that kept me safe during the plague, though, so I’m not complaining. And I think it’s the thing keeping me as the odd one out, which is something I’m not going to fight at all.
I mean, I’m not talking ‘save the world’ like some hippie environmentalists want you to think. I’m talking Action Comics #1. Superhero stories always have the most cliché explanations for the ‘powers’ everyone gains—Scientific experiments, finding a random Mystical Item, radiation, being “chosen” by a mystical being or five, cosmic rays—or else the bastards just aren’t human at all. Viruses were never part of an equation. Which is why it’s so funny that those were the things that worked.
It was some genetic thing. It had to have been. There’s no other way to explain why some people could come into contact with the infected and come out of it just fine, while the other half of humanity dropped dead. And why the people who’d been in contact with the infected could suddenly do all sorts of crazy shit. Flying, ice, all the standard superhero and villain stuff. I would say that it’s been crazy, except that would really be a lie. It turns out that most people are more inclined toward the whole superhero shtick than ultimate control. Marvel and DC must’ve helped with that—the crushing defeats supervillains always suffered would’ve sure put me off that career path. No, the problem these days is that everyone has different ideas about how to save the world. The lack of supervillains is really throwing some people off. I mean, you can’t just go up to global warming and punch it until it gives up.
If you ask me, my money’s on the ones who can make themselves strong and fast. I mean, what does it matter that you can throw ice around if the people you’re throwing it at can pull a car in front of them to block it, or move so fast that you can’t even see them dodge? Though I suppose intelligence is actually the big thing. I mean, if you’re smart enough to act like a Civ when you need to, you’re likely smart enough to get past a lot of the big thugs too, without using shitty disguises a la Superman. So I guess the real money’s got to be on the people who’re smart enough to use their powers well, no matter what the hell it is they’ve got.
Me? Well, the way I see it, all I have to do is be a smart little Civ and stay out of the way of the shitstorm above until all the stupid ones are dead. Stock up on booze before the Supers start having kids, make sure I can stockpile enough food to survive, maybe keep investigating. I mean, you have no idea how many of the Supers seem to have forgotten their origin stories. Life imitates art? With how much the storybook superheroes had their stories changed, I’m not surprised that some of these guys are confused. It’d be a shitty job, though, telling them the people they used to know are dead.
Hey, apparently you seem to know more about this than the rest of us. What d’you think’ll happen when all these heroes go out looking for their average, everyday love interests? Because I sure as hell ain’t signing up for that. Those Civs always get offed. But it doesn’t seem like there’re enough Civs left, are there?
What do you mean, “This interview is over”? I asked you a question! If you don’t know, just fucking tell me. I’m a big boy. I can take it. I mean, it’s not like there are enough Civs for all of the Supers to go around saving anyway. They’re going to hook up eventually. You can’t stop it, I hope you know that. And I’m sure as hell not going to play your little puppet.
I hope you know that.
Interview with Thomas Oldman, April 19, 2130:
We still don’t properly know what it is, I’m afraid. It’s too quick and too contagious for us to be able to study it effectively. The best guess right now is that it’s some mutated form of the Septicemic plague, but we can’t be sure.
With something that kills like this does, though, it makes sense. The only reason the bubonic plague is the one in our history books rather than the septicemic plague is that septicemic plague often killed too quickly to spread. But the septicimic plague happens because bacteria multiply in the blood. It’s not too much of a leap for us to imagine some form of bacteria getting into the brain and changing the brain chemistry. I can’t imagine how that would result in… well, superpowers, but then again, neither can anyone else.
We’re blinder than we have been in a long time. A lot of my colleagues hate it. Many of them have resigned or simply stopped working—they can’t take the death over and over, being unable to help almost everyone who walks in the hospital doors. I understand where they are coming from. I understand quite well. But I just can’t do that.
I can’t give up hope. As long as some of us keep working, a cure will be found. And then we can figure out what happened.
Interview with Lacey Porter, April 16, 2130:
It’s so strange, you know? One day you’re sick as anything, and the next day, you wake up and you can fly or something like that. I mean, whoever expected that? Besides, I thought we got rid of the plague like, forever ago. Kinda funny that it would pop up now. In a totally not-funny way, of course. I mean, my boyfriend died in the first couple weeks. That’s nothing to laugh at. Whoever my family was, I’m sure they lost someone besides me, and that’s just—well, it’s heartbreaking, you know? Suddenly there’re all these people who don’t know if the people they used to know are dead, if they’re a Civ, or if they became a Super like me. It’s really interesting to see how people change when they become a Super, you know? I mean, I don’t think I’ve changed much, but I figure no one ever does, right? I know I’m a total airhead now, but I think that’s about the only thing besides the fire that’s different.
Oh! You want me to tell you about the fire? Well, I don’t really know how to explain it to you—I always thought the superheroes who could mess with fire were the silliest ones, because wouldn’t their skin just burn right off? But it’s not like that at all. The heat moves with your blood, you know, and you get all cool where it comes out, because you’re letting the heat go. It’s all so sensible. And you just have to know where the heat is to use it. Sometime you can even use heat from other places. But it makes you really cold. I wonder how all those superheroes in the movies manage without a coat or something.
Speaking of movie superheroes, aren’t they usually considered just the greatest things ever? Everyone’s like “Oh, Batman, you saved the day”, am I right? Praise is their thing. But people are scared of us—of me now. It was really strange to see them flinch away from me on the street. Do I look any different on the outside? I don’t think I do, do I? But they run away from me know. Even people that I knew before. I don’t have any friends from before that aren’t Supers. All the Civs have shrunk away from us, banded together away from us, like a whole separate society. It’s like they’re trying to turn us into the Enemies, with a capital ‘E’. Corralling themselves in their separate corners of the world.
Don’t they realize we’re just the same as they are? All we did was get sick. It’s not like we tried to be different. We’re all just lost and confused, trying to control this new thing that happened to us. Of course there are some people who’ve taken advantage of all this, you know, but they’re the same ones who would’ve been taking advantage of other people anyway, even if they hadn’t become Supers. Can’t the Civs see that? We aren’t inhuman, you know. We haven’t lost what we had before; we still cry and laugh and love and bleed. We’re humans. Just like them. Only different.
Interview with Father Charles Gordon, April 18, 2130:
A lot of people are saying that the Second Coming is at hand. They say the sinners are the ones who were taken by the plague—that god is granting those who survived the power to withstand the fury of hell on Earth. They’re either flocking to churches or abandoning them wholesale, claiming that churches are no longer needed. But—and you must forgive me for this—I always imagined the Second Coming to involved far fewer criminals than it currently does. Oh, I understand the power of forgiveness as well as the rest of my fellows, and I’ve helped more than one currently in jail find the power of Christ, but I—the criminals aren’t there. They’re not in some walls, praying or thinking about God. The real criminals here are the ones abusing their new gifts, whether God or Satan-given.
And I have had my doubts. People have been hoping for the Second Coming since the idea of a Second Coming was conceived—this isn’t unusual in that manner. I will admit that this is one of the more—unusual—scenarios, but I don’t know.
And that’s the problem. I don’t know. I can’t decide what to make of this whole situation. The people in my congregation who’ve gained powers are leaving us in droves, at a time when we ought to be banding together. Those who are left after the plague has passed through are bitter and angry, especially if they are without these new powers. I’ve been trying to soothe them, to help them through this trying time, but how can I do something like that when I don’t know how to face what has happened on my own? I can’t tell them that this isn’t the apocalypse or that everything is going to be okay, that we’re going to be in good hands. I can’t do that to them anymore, because I don’t believe it myself. And it’s becoming a problem. I ought to be able to help them, guide them, like a Shepard.
Some people say that Christianity is dying, in the wake of all of this. I honestly couldn’t bring myself to disagree—not as vehemently as I should, anyway. This plague has shaken the world, brought several countries and religions and ideas to their knees, and I can’t help but think of the story of Moses. But now we don’t know what God wants, what people he wants us to release—how to please him or even simply survive. Our faith has been shaken. Along with everything else.
Interview with Kenna Salzer, April 20, 2130:
They needed a scapegoat, I guess. Someone actually human, someone they could look at and say: “She’s the problem! Get rid of her and everything will be better.” I understand it perfectly—people are like that. It’s history. It’s our future. We’re the same all around, even if we do have random powers.
I didn’t mean to become the villain. I really didn’t. It was all just so sudden. I got sick, was in bed for a few days, and then suddenly—Poof! I could read minds. I tried to ignore it, to turn it off, I really did, but it’s too much. Imagine, if you can, every TV station playing at the same time, all being piped into your ears. The stations are filled with the most disgusting, useless, trivial information, but you can’t help but listen. And sometimes you just instinctively respond. It’s not my fault. But before I knew it, I was running back to my apartment with a mob behind me. I thought I was going to die. I guess I’m lucky that I ended up in jail, really. I thought I was going to die. It’s not like the movies at all—I didn’t have time to barricade my door, there was no one waiting for me who could rescue me, my apartment certainly wasn’t a Fortress of Solitude.
I remember them pounding at my door; I was huddled up in the bathroom, trying to write a farewell message and a will all in one. They broke through my door faster than I ever would have expected, and all I can remember thinking was “I hope they don’t destroy my art.” I became an artist to explore humanity, you know, to challenge people and make them think and cry and laugh. But not like that. Never like that.
I don’t know why I’m alive. Some of those guys certainly seemed ready to bash my brains in: I guess secrets are still important after all. Even after the world has died. But all I can think is that I must not have fit their ideas of a supervillain—huddled in the bathtub, clutching my old notebook and bawling my eyes out. I guess it must’ve stopped them.
I still don’t know what’s going to happen to me, even now that I’m alive. It’s not like we have a true government anymore—not with almost everyone dead or trying out their new powers. We don’t know how to stop someone’s powers, don’t know how to help me make the voices in my head go away. I can even hear you right now—you think I’m crazy. Deranged. You want to keep me here forever.
Please, I just want to make it stop. Can’t you try and find someone to make the voice go away?