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Mr. Nobody, Part 1
You want to know something? You should never, ever, under any circumstances, stop to help a stranger. It’s pretty much common sense. You don’t know them; they could be anyone, so why trust them just because they ‘have a kind face’? You probably have something else you should be doing anyways, and you really should get it done, right? Besides, they can probably fend for themselves. You want to know something else? If this is common sense, then James Roy didn’t have a nickel.
It all started with a stranger. James was taking his daily jog through the neighborhood, when he saw an old man struggling to walk along the sidewalk. The man was short, and he kept stumbling, but somehow he held himself high in a funny sort of way. He had a white beard with a balding head on top. He had beady eyes, and looked almost as if he had something to say, or someplace important to be. He was stumbling like a drunk across the sidewalk, but James could tell he wasn’t intoxicated. When you spend so much time at the college parties he’d been to, you just know if someone’s drunk, and this guy definitely wasn’t.
James stopped running, looking at the man across the street as he waited for the small car to pass by. When it finally passed, he quickly jogged across and asked the man if he needed help. The old man looked up from his hunched position; his eyes seemed to sparkle with a faint friendliness, like they had known each other their whole lives.
“What?” The old man asked hoarsely.
“I said, do you need help?”
There was something about the way the man spoke. It was faint and hoarse, like he had expected, but deep and commanding at the same time, suggesting that at one point he wasn’t as frail as he looked now.
“Actually, yes, there is something I need…” The old man said slowly, wincing at the words as if he regretted saying them.
“Anything I can do to help, sir.”
Suddenly the old man grabbed James’ arm, pulling him in with speed that James wouldn’t have expected from his outward appearance. Before James had even begun to realize he had just pulled him in, he noticed something else: he was being kissed. The old man pressed into him, pulling his arm to hold him there. This wasn’t even nearly as disgusting as what happened next. James gagged as he felt something slimy and wet flop lazily over his tongue and down his throat. He coughed and spat as the old man fell from him, hitting the ground with a thud.
James didn’t know what had just happened, but his medical training took over before anything else. Ten seconds, no pulse. He called an ambulance and waited as he tried to comprehend the last minute or so. He considered giving the man mouth-to-mouth, but decided that there would be no way he was touching his lips again. What was that, anyways? It was the strangest feeling. The old man didn’t seem to enjoy it any more than he had, but that thing… that thing that swam down his throat, what was that about?
The sound of sirens broke his train of thought. The paramedics began running various tests, asking James different questions. When they were lifting the man into the ambulance to drive away, the paramedic turned to James to ask one final question.
“Did he say anything when you asked him if you could help?”
James paused for a moment, and then reluctantly replied, “No, he just sort of… fell over…”
“Alright, well, he’s definitely dead; we’ll try to notify his relatives.”
“Great.” James said, and walked away, too stunned to jog anymore.
After he reached home, he felt sick to his stomach. There was no way that had just happened, but it had. Pretty soon he was on the couch with a soda, washing the taste from his mouth. With his first drink he got a flash-back of the slime that had run down his throat. He shuddered, quickly taking another drink to wash down the thought. After about three and a half hours of TV and two sodas later, James had almost completely forgotten the whole incident.
The next day, James woke up to vomiting. He had a splitting headache, and was puking so much he couldn’t even feel his tongue anymore. As his vomiting slowed, he moved out of the bathroom. He grabbed some headache medicine as he left, taking the maximum two pills before tossing the bottle in a chair. He held his head for a while, breathing deeply as he regained control of the shaking that had started just after the vomiting stopped. Or so he assumed, if it had been occurring before then, he hadn’t noticed.
As he made his way through his small apartment to his couch, he suddenly felt his legs buckle out from under him, his entire body lurching forward as he hit the ground with a loud crack, his right arm breaking as he hit the ground rigidly, snapping completely when he fell over on it. He let out a sharp cry of pain before he looked down at his arm, laying in an almost ‘S’ shape beside him, quite obviously broken, his upper arm bending almost exactly between his shoulder and elbow.
He moved it with great pain into its normal position, wrapping a magazine around it to hold it still. He got up slowly, cradling his arm as he walked to the small dish on a shelf where he dumped his keys. As he let go of his arm to reach in and grab his keys, the magazine fell away, and his arm fell limply to his side. He cried out from surprise, but soon found it hadn’t hurt. He lifted his arm to find it completely fine, no broken bone, with complete control over its mobility. He stepped back in shock, not even realizing that he couldn’t very well step away from his own arm, dropping the keys back into the bowl which his hand slid out of quickly, knocking it off onto the ground, but before it hit, his foot moved up and caught it with his toes, holding it flat so as not to spill the different sets of key chains and coins held inside.
By now he was sweating, his headache was gone but if this kept up he was sure he was going to get one again. His stomach was flipping violently, his thoughts racing yet he couldn’t think of anything. In the next few minutes he was on the computer typing in ‘www.google.com’ and searching for anything and everything he could think of. Finally he got something, an article on the old man that had died. He found his name somewhere in the second paragraph.
“Matthew Sargett.” James read aloud, continuing to scroll down the page.
Finding nothing else that caught his eye, he went back to the search bar and typed in Sargett’s name, then pressed enter. There was only one article that looked of interest, which read: “Man claims to have been attacked by blob.”
As he clicked on the blue link he was greeted by a three page article, a picture of the man from his twenties, James guessed, was plastered on the second page. He looked as if he had been swimming fully clothed, and had a scratch on his face, but it didn’t look like any animal’s mark, more like random slashes with a knife. He began reading the caption under the picture, first.
“Matthew Sargett (above) after the alleged attack. Picture taken 12/06/2003.”
James’ jaw dropped at the mention of the day it was taken. He looked like he was at least thirty years younger in the picture, but it was only seven years ago. He was almost surprised that this surprised him, considering all that had already happened. He went back to the top to read the article.
After he had read the article, he re-read the important parts in his mind. Apparently, Sargett was out on a walk when he was suddenly attacked by a grey-green blob, which he described like something off a bad science fiction show. He said it leaped at him, spattering all over his clothes and biting his face. When he recounted the biting, the reporter asked if the creature had a mouth, but Sargett had replied no, but it was the only way he could really describe what had happened to his face.
Moments after Mr. Sargett had realized what was happening; the creature forced itself into his mouth, pushing its way down his throat. James re-read this part, making sure it said what he thought. Down his throat, just like mine… he thought curiously, quite shocked that he was even still thinking clearly after the past day and a half.
Three hours of research later, he found that Mr. Sargett had experienced the same symptoms that he himself was experiencing, but after the next day of those symptoms he had disappeared from the news all together, and no one seemed to have missed him. Why would they, he thought, he’s just a crazy old man. No one believed him, and no one would believe me… Looks like I’m on my own.
He went for his jog later that day, why should he stop because of a little upset stomach and some headaches, right? As he neared the spot where he had met the old man, he shuddered as it came back to him. He quickly looked ahead, fixing his mind on various distractions around him as he jogged on. When he neared his apartment, he went upstairs, dropping his keys in his bowl and moving to the fridge. After grabbing a cold soda and changing out of his jogging clothes, he went up to the roof to lay down in the fresh air.
He sat there for most of the day, breathing in the cool air and sipping his soda. When it started to get dark, he stood up to go inside, and then turned around again to pick up his empty can. He looked up again suddenly, quite sure he had heard something, but soon dismissed it as wind. Then he heard it again, and was quite sure it was a woman screaming. It was coming from the side of the roof, down below in the alleyway. He walked quickly over and looked down, kneeling on the edge.
What he saw was a man and a woman, the man was wearing shades and a ball cap, with a jacket that had a collar that popped up around most of his face. The woman was being pushed against the wall as the man ripped her purse out of her hand, but the way he tossed it aside said he didn’t want her money. He began to reach for his pocket to call the police, but he heard a small, yet deep voice in his head telling him, “No, they won’t get here in time, jump!”
He looked around quickly, trying to find out who was there, but the voice spoke again, “JUMP!”
His legs took over; pushing off from his kneeling position, flinging his body into the air almost effortlessly, and sending him from a front flip into a dive as he plummeted down to the alley below. He tried to scream but it caught in his throat as the air was ripped past his gaping mouth. He hit the man dead-on, ramming him into the ground. He did a half roll, laying on the cement entangled with the man, broken glasses lying next to them and blood beginning to seep through the man’s scratched face. James regained himself first and leapt to his feet, looking down at the man.
Surprisingly, James wasn’t hurt, but it surprised the bleeding man even more, because a look of terror struck his face and threatened not to leave for the rest of his life. Quickly he scrambled to his feet, grabbing the twisted frame of his glasses as he stumbled out of the alleyway and took off running down the street.
“Oh my…” the woman said slowly, finally finding it in her to do something other than scream, slowly reaching down to pick up her purse. “Mr. I… Who… Who are you? I need to know who saved me so I can tell everyone you’re a hero.”
James looked at her for a while, and then said firmly and calmly, so much so that he amazed himself at how collected he was, “I am Mr. Nobody, and you can tell that to the press. I’m not a hero; I’m just someone at his best. It was a onetime thing; don’t call me, I won’t be there. You need to take care of yourself; I’m Mr. Nobody’s help.”
It seemed so rehearsed, but still such a powerful speech. James walked slowly out of the alley, moving back to the door, glancing quickly to make sure that the woman wasn’t watching to see where he lived. She wasn’t, and he was quickly back in his room, laying sprawled out on the bed. He had just jumped three stories and walked away with nothing more than a torn up sleeve and someone else’s blood on his collar. Whatever that blob was, James Roy knew that it was responsible for this. For his broken bone healing in seconds, for his jumping blindly to what seemed a certain death, and for that speech he gave, and the name he made for himself. This was new, this was scary, but most of all, this was going to be fun.