Kyle Muncy woke that morning as he did every morning, with a weary resignation and a general reluctance to open his eyes and face the day. His logic being that once his eyes became naked and were forced to focus on the world around him, his day would have to begin, and no doubt end just as dismally. “Colour you blue,” his lawyer would frequently joke. Somewhat embarrassed, Kyle had to look up the word, but in the end he had to agree. Disillusionment was such an unfortunate state of mind for the world’s first Aboriginal superhero.

 As a child, he had devoured comic books and cartoons about characters that through any varied number of experiences had ended up like him. In his teenage years, the television shows had promised a life of adventure and heroism. The adult years had provided movies glorifying the acts of those gifted and blessed with powers not possessed by the majority of the population. But, he told himself these days, he was not the first Native person—super or otherwise—to be lied to by the dominant culture.

Once again, Kyle focused on his sealed eyelids. Under normal circumstances—though few things in his life could be called normal—his lids had the kinetic power to lift small horses, should such a need ever arise. At present, it was his will that was lacking. Thus, with great mental effort and the knowledge that putting off the inevitable was useless, Kyle made the choice to start his day. Hesitantly, he contracted the enhanced muscles that operated his lids, and light from all parts of the spectrum flooded his eyes. His immediate empire was once again revealed to him. This realm consisted of a weathered fifty-four-year-old one-bedroom house located on the edge of the Otter Lake First Nation, a community that prior to his conversion to mythic status had been virtually unknown to the country at large. Below him was a small basement crammed with generations of family clutter. Above him, a patched roof barely kept the elements at bay. He greeted this familiar reality with a weary sigh. It was another day to do battle with. Just another stretch of time for dealing with all the crap that now accompanied his superlife.

Every muscle in his body was ridiculously powered, but Kyle moved like a tired old man, though in reality he was thirty, as regular humans measured time. It wasn’t gravity that ate away at his nimbleness, because he had long ago conquered such a pedestrian natural element. Instead, it was a psychological lassitude that seemed to weigh down his body, the kind he’d seen in his grandfather during his later years. The man had nine kids, a low-paying job most of his life and a series of repeated minor and major crises that always seemed to spring out of nowhere. When he died, his grandson thought he could see a smile on the old man’s now-peaceful face as the lid of the casket was lowered.

Kyle sighed again and finally rose from his single bed. The bed had been a present from his parents almost twelve years ago. It was practically the newest thing in his modest house. As if making some sort of ironic statement regarding the hoarding of precious Aboriginal artifacts by museums around the world, his home was littered with numerous refugees from the twentieth century. Along the back wall sat a sizable collection of eight-track tapes. Underneath a small coffee table by the window sat both a fax machine and a rotary phone. And so on. It seemed his house was where that century had gone to die.

Like most people in the world, the man got dressed and performed his morning ablutions. He made and ate his breakfast. Brushed his teeth. Did all the usual things everybody else in the world does who doesn’t have superstrength and the ability to fly. He was practically invulnerable, but for the thousandth time he wished he could get a haircut. An unexpected side effect of his condition. Same with shaving. He had to manually pull the hairs out of his chin. Luckily, being Aboriginal limited the amount of growth, but still, it was a painful and annoying affair.

It would be a long day, for there were things to do and errands to run for this man of amazing abilities. First on his agenda: hitchhiking into town. Standing there along Highway 48, his thumb out, he found himself looking up. Far overhead, Kyle could see the condensation trails of a high-flying jet. Yes, he knew it would be so much easier and quicker to fly into town, like he used to do when it first began. Snap your fingers and he’d be walking down the main street before the dust had settled on his dirt driveway. But that, like so many things, was then. And then was not now. Still, he had his superthumb.

Twenty-two minutes later.

“Hey, you that guy with all those superpowers?” Kyle climbed in.

The large man driving the truck looked like any man who spent most of his time sitting in pickups eating fast food. The floor of the vehicle looked like a dozen university students had partied in a mall food court and left the remnants behind for a future archaeologist to decipher. Amid all the wrappers and cardboard, Kyle couldn’t see his weathered sneakers. The man, whose name was Karl if his vanity licence plate was correct, took another look at his passenger.

“Huh? That you?”

Kyle had been in this position many times before and dreaded the upcoming questions. “Yeah, that’s me.”

The driver looked genuinely excited. “Why you hitchhiking, then? I thought you could fly.”

“Yeah, I can.”

Karl, if that was his name, looked like he was wrestling with calculating pi. “Like I said, then why…?”

Kyle was quick with his answer. “It’s a long story. But the municipal airport is so close…” At that moment, up ahead on the north side, a small plane could be seen climbing over the distant trees. “…and I’ve had three—they say it was four, but they’re wrong… I’m pretty sure it was only three—near collisions.”

The driver made a hard right turn and all the refuse on the floor seemed to shift and slide as a whole. “No shit?”

A squirrel did a shoulder roll into the ditch as the truck powered by.

“No shit. Since then I’ve been asked not to fly within the county lines, under penalty of law. And some people claim some of the local cows get nervous when they see me flying by. Farmers say they stop giving milk.”

“And that’s why you hitchhike?”

Kyle took a deep breath before answering. “Yeah.”

It took an unusually long moment for Karl to gather his thoughts. “That sucks.”

“Yeah. It does.”

In addition, there was a rare and protected bird of some sort nesting in the nearby trees, and there was concern Kyle’s flying might be a hazard to it. Kyle thought it best not to say anything more about the issue and, despite Karl’s repeated attempts to converse with the celebrity in his truck, spent the remainder of the trip into town nursing his silence.

On both sides of the vehicle, almost two dozen farms of every description whizzed by. Some corn- and hay-based, others more concerned with animal husbandry. Kyle could see, hear and smell pigs, cows, chickens, alpacas and something else that was foreign to his supersensitive nose. It all looked so peaceful.

Following his arrival in the mid-sized community of Bayfield, there were three important errands he needed to accomplish that day, the reason for his sojourn from the safety and anonymity of his small house into the harsh light of this municipality’s curiosity. First and foremost, a long-awaited conversation with Raymond Laurier, owner of the Bright Morning Café. He’d been dreading this for a while, but it was a talk that was a long time coming.

As usual, Raymond was behind the dessert case putting out what appeared to be raspberry cheesecake and some sort of apple crumble. It was still early and the place was empty. Looking lean and fit, the man seemed just as tasty to the superhero as the sweets he was peddling. As Kyle opened the door, Raymond looked up with the smile he used for customers. It disappeared upon recognition of Kyle, and then a different kind of smile was substituted.

Two minutes later.


Kyle returned a similar smile and joined his boyfriend… former boyfriend… he wasn’t sure which was more accurate right now. That’s why he was here.

“I wish you’d phoned and let me know you were coming into town.”

Raymond didn’t seem as overjoyed to see him as Kyle had hoped. In fact, he seemed kind of nervous. Perhaps that’s why they were sitting at the small table in the back, near the bathrooms. Above them on a sturdy-looking ledge hung a number of sizable tennis trophies, all bearing Raymond’s name.

The super-Aboriginal drank his coffee, enjoying a heat that would scald most humans. “I was gonna, but I’m fairly sure my phone is tapped. You know how things are…”

Raymond lifted his coffee cup and then put it back down. Too hot for his mortal mouth. “Aren’t you being a little paranoid? I thought most of the stuff with the government had died down and everybody was letting you live your life… normally.”

“As normally as possible” was what Raymond was probably thinking. Kyle didn’t comment. He added four more tablespoons of sugar to his coffee. With his accelerated metabolism, he needed a lot more calories than the average person.

“First thing I do practically every morning, once I crawl out of bed, is throw a couple rocks up at the sky and bring down as many of those stupid drones that are always circling my place as possible. With my hearing the way it is, I can barely sleep. No wonder they’re called drones.”

For a moment, Raymond touched Kyle’s hand in sympathy, then just as quickly he returned his hand to his side of the table.

“I don’t know if they’re the government, or the press, or just people curious to get a peek at me.”

Automatically Raymond looked out the front picture window, half expecting to see something hovering there. Not yet.

“Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do about that satellite hovering a couple hundred kilometres over my place,” Kyle said as he took another sip of coffee. “I mean, yeah, I could, but that would probably get me in a lot more trouble.”

Now Raymond managed a small chuckle. “Now that sounds like paranoia for sure.”

Kyle shook his head. “Nope. I can see it. One of the solar panels has a hole in it. Probably from some meteor or space shit. But it’s there.” He looked up, as if he wanted to see the satellite again through the mauve-coloured ceiling. Instead, he broached the reason he’d come to the café. “Ray, I haven’t seen you in a while.”

Luckily, the café was still empty and nobody else could see the mortal man shift uncomfortably in his seat. “Things have been busy.”

Kyle looked around at the empty chairs. “Uh-huh. I can tell.”

Staring down at the pale-blue tablecloth, Raymond searched for the right words to say to the man whose bed and heart he had once shared. “Kyle, I’m too old for all this. My days of sneaking around are long gone. Even with somebody like you. Yes, I know it’s been a while since we got together, but you’re just as much to blame as I am. I mean… I’ve been waiting for you to acknowledge me in your life. I was part of it before, and I wanted to be part of it again.”

Of all the inconveniences of being super, being forced apart from Raymond had been the hardest to bear, and Kyle could bear a lot—after all, he was bear clan. There was a time when the man across from him had brought him strength; now the superstrength he had was keeping them apart. Theirs was a history going back six years. A lot had happened in those six years. But the last eighteen months had proven too much for their relationship to survive.

“Ray, you know…”

“What do I know, Kyle, what? That you had your chance? God knows you’ve had a million chances to share me with the world. You couldn’t fart without it making the media. And now, to tell you the truth, I don’t know if I want you to acknowledge me. It’s too late.” There. It was out in the open.

Kyle responded by trying to be as positive as he could. “Look, Ray, I can only come out of so many closets at once. I came out of the superhero closet when all this stuff happened to me and told the world who and what I was, and look what happened. It became a circus. If I tell people I’m gay, too… Well, things will go crazy again. For me and for you. For different reasons. That’s why—”

Raymond responded with a shot of honesty that stopped Kyle cold. “I understand. I truly do. That’s why… I… I think we should go our separate ways. You need time. We both do.”

Somehow, Kyle wasn’t as surprised as he would have thought he’d be. Some part of him must have known this was coming. Maybe he was developing precognition as a new power.

Raymond continued. “I don’t like the spotlight, you know that. I’ve got this business to look after and you… Well, you’ve got a shitload of your own things to work out, personally and privately. I can only imagine what you’re going through… None of this is your fault. I just think it’s more than me and you can deal with, Kyle. I’m sorry.”

Kyle was silent for a moment. Then he reached across and gently squeezed Raymond’s hand. “Is that the only reason?”

Raymond squeezed Kyle’s hand back. “Well, if what the doctor says is true and your muscles will keep getting stronger and stronger, there’s no telling what could happen. Ray, you’re still a work-in-progress…, in every sense of the word.”

Abruptly, Kyle stood up, understanding the game had changed. No use whining about it. “You’re right. You’re absolutely right. Well, I gotta go. Have a good life, Ray. I really do mean that.”

Before Raymond could respond, the man he had once loved was out the door and gone like some old-time hero disappearing into the sunset. On the table in front of him was what was left of the ceramic coffee cup that Kyle had cradled, then crushed into a fine powder.

“Poor Kyle,” muttered Raymond as he turned to get a dustpan and brush.

That was that, and now it was over. Just another pothole in the road of Kyle’s life. Things have to get better, he thought.

Seventeen minutes later.

“It’s not looking good, Kyle.”

Then again, it was never good when Kyle visited his lawyer. Just once, he’d like to walk into the woman’s second-floor office and be told something positive. The so-called “law of averages” dictated that occasionally, even rarely, there had to be some good news emanating from all his legal tribulations. But unfortunately, his lawyer didn’t practise that brand of law.

“Which case are we talking about this time?”

In reality, there were a number of legal issues stemming from Kyle’s status as an Aboriginal superhero. Also in reality, there was no possible way he could afford to have a full-time lawyer see to all his legal needs. Luckily, Amelia Staebler found the Native man’s situation interesting and had offered her services pro bono. Well, maybe pro bono wasn’t quite the correct term. She was writing a book about the legal implications of superherodom, with Kyle as her lab rat… or muskrat, in accordance with his Aboriginal heritage. She found things like that funny.

Deep inside the hard drive of her computer, she located Kyle’s file. “Where to begin… Well, let’s start with that high school and those Junior A teams. They don’t want to settle. They want to go to court. Surprise, surprise, huh?”

Kyle let out a supersigh. “Chrissake, I used to like baseball and hockey.”

“Yeah, but they don’t like you.”

When Kyle had first manifested superpowers, he’d wanted to use them for good, like all the traditional superheroes he’d grown up reading about. Save damsels in distress, stop planes from crashing, shore up cracked dams, help kittens down from trees—all the normal stuff like that. That was his goal, anyway. But they’re called goals because they may be aimed for but not necessarily achieved. Something he was now bitterly aware of.

So you couldn’t be a decent and respected superhero without a decent and respected superhero name. Thus, he’d adopted the name Thunderbird, in honour of his heritage. Turned out this was a bad choice. Nearly a dozen sports teams were already using the name and felt Kyle’s international fame as the so-called Thunderbird was an infringement on their trademark. These were the first of many such lawsuits.

“I’m still working out the depositions, but it’s not looking good, I’m sorry to say. They seem quite rabid.”

At times, he tried to figure out if there were some undertones of racism in these lawsuits. After all, he didn’t remember Superman or Spider-Man or the Hulk going through all this. Or possibly the world just wasn’t ready for all the social, legal and moral implications of an honest-to-goodness, real-life superhero. Otherwise he wouldn’t so ardently need the services of Bayfield’s best legal mind. Because, as luck would have it, this hero happened to be a gay First Nations man. But with his community college education, he eventually decided to leave those questions to those who get paid to ponder these things.

“So what else?” he asked.

Ms. Staebler went through a litany of complaints, suits and cases. There was the bank just down the street that wanted him to compensate them for the wall and the vault he had destroyed while foiling a bank robbery. It seemed their insurance didn’t cover acts of superstrength. And there were the Gilmans, who held him responsible for the heart attack of their elderly father, who was the first person to see him fly. Even his own community was distancing itself from him. After so many decades of trying to force their way into Canadian society by saying they as First Nations people were no different from and deserved the same rights as all Canadians, somebody like Kyle Muncy came along and threw a wrench into that argument. Add to that all the crazies and religious fanatics that either wanted to destroy him as a threat to humanity or worship him as some sort of messiah or god, and things were becoming difficult, and potentially dangerous, for the locals. Of course, there was also the matter of that aggressive children’s advocacy group that held him responsible for all the injuries suffered by numerous children trying to imitate him flying, going through walls, and stopping cars and bullets. The list was staggering.

“I don’t know why I’m to blame for kids being so stupid. Don’t they know I have no money?”

The smartly dressed woman leaned back in her chair. “I don’t think it’s necessarily about the money. They all know your financial situation. Any luck finding work?”

Kyle shrugged. “Not really. Seems I’m tainted. Who’d wanna hire me? I still get an offer or two a week from these far-off countries I can’t pronounce, all wanting my help taking over the world. But I really don’t want to leave home.”

“That’s… that’s probably a good thing.” She coughed into her hand. “Look, Kyle, I would normally tell somebody in your position to hang tough, but since you are the strongest man in the world there’s not much point in saying that.” She let out a short chuckle at her own joke. “I’m doing what I can, but when you’re special like you obviously are, people sometimes dislike that. In fact, as I’m sure you’ve realized, quite a few downright resent it.”

No wonder she wanted to paint him the colour blue.

“But I didn’t ask for this. I never wanted this. I just want to disappear.”

“You’d be surprised how many people say that in my office.” Amelia managed a weak smile that did nothing to lift her client’s spirits.

They tied up a few more legal odds and ends, and then Kyle left the lawyer’s office for his next appointment. As he descended the flight of stairs to the ground floor, he could hear her typing away on her computer, feverishly writing up notes on their meeting, no doubt to be featured in her upcoming book.

Twenty-eight minutes later.

“Right on time, as usual. How are you feeling today, Kyle?”

Last on the list: Dr. Gary Sparco, general practitioner and doctor to all the superheroes in the county. This, of course, meant just Kyle. The portly and mostly bald man seemed genuinely happy to see the man literally hovering in his examination room.

“Same as always,” he said, punctuating his declaration with a shrug.

His words were almost lost in the hissing sound of the doctor taking his blood pressure, which was usually a futile endeavour. The results frequently didn’t make much sense or contradicted the previous visit’s recorded reading, but it was habit for the good doctor. Once, Kyle had somehow broken the doctor’s automated blood pressure machine, so now Dr. Sparco took it manually. The portable ones were easier to replace.

Today, it seemed Kyle’s blood pressure was 80 over 120, which was the opposite of most people and generally considered impossible.

“Kyle, one day you’re going to send me to an early grave. You realize you don’t make sense—at least your body doesn’t. I’m telling you, you need a specialist.”

On the far side of town, Kyle could hear a car screeching to a stop and a dog barking at the car in annoyance.

“You’re tellin’ me there’s a specialist for my condition? That’s news to me. Yeah, everybody wants to prod and poke me, run tests, and try and keep me in a lab to study. Goddammit! My lawyer got rich off fighting that one. Naw, you’ve been my doctor since I can remember. There’s more to being a doctor than just how much medicine you know. There’s also trust. And I trust you.”

Sitting down in front of his patient, the doctor did a quick visual survey of Kyle. Eyes looked good. Skin tone customary. Hair not falling out. Regular respiration. To Sparco, Kyle looked maddeningly normal and healthy.

“Wish I had your faith in me, Kyle, but as usual, I’ll do my best. Any new symptoms or abilities to report?”

“Well, I think I’m beginning to attract animals. I’m not sure, but for the last week or so, there have been a whole lot of earthworms crawling up out of the ground around my house. Hundreds. Thousands. And as a result, lots and lots of robins have been swooping down on my lawn to eat them. Now, I’ve lived in that house forever, and I’m pretty sure that’s not normal.” He paused for a second. “Kinda annoying, actually.”

Dr. Sparco wrote something down on Kyle’s chart, shaking his head ever so slightly.

“Spontaneous abilities still manifesting themselves. I don’t even know how to categorize this one. Possibly pheromones of some sort, but I’ll add it to the list and do some research later. Okay, let me check the back of your throat.”

Kyle opened his mouth wide and discovered he could disconnect his jaw at will now.

“This is also new,” muttered the good doctor as he peered down the man’s throat. “That’s enough, Kyle. You can… close your mouth now.”

Kyle did as he was told, and his jaw slipped back into place. “Well?”

The doctor put his clipboard down and swivelled in his chair to face the patient. “Well, what? You know that even after all this time, this is as new and bizarre to me as it is to you. I don’t know what to tell you, Kyle. We’ve run what tests we can, which as you know is difficult in itself. We can’t draw blood because of that damn puncture-proof skin. So we’re reduced to doing what we can with saliva, urine and stool samples. Your urine eats through our plastic and glass containers, so that makes things extra tricky.”

The lights in the room momentarily flickered. Kyle hoped it wasn’t him.

“Can you at least tell me whether I’m getting better or worse?”

On the wall behind Dr. Sparco was a line of cartoonish body charts illustrating various organ and circulatory systems. Kyle had glanced at them on his first visit to the doctor’s office and had long since memorized them. Another side effect of his condition.

“I don’t know. You keep manifesting new abilities all the time. So far, none of them are overly injurious to other people or yourself, but that may be only for now. And then you lose other ones. You no longer glow in the dark, as far as I can tell, so that’s something. Other… I don’t know what you would call them… powers… don’t change. It’s hard to tell.” The man looked frustrated. “This is new territory. I wish I could tell you more.”

The room went silent, as silent as any room could be with Kyle’s superhearing. Somebody not far away, just a block or two, was shouting out answers to a Family Feud episode.


Kyle looked up.

“I’m sorry. You had such high hopes. You wanted to make a difference.”

Kyle nodded, touched by the older man’s empathy. “I talked to this elder on my reserve a few days ago. You know, looking for help trying to figure things out. Didn’t know what he could offer me, him not being a particularly scientific kind of guy. But I’m getting pretty desperate…”

“What did he say?”

Outside the window, clouds had overtaken the sun and the world had become a little gloomier. On the doctor’s desk was a four-inch-long quartz crystal. Kyle picked it up, savouring the cold, glassy feeling in his hand.

“He told me that he was taught that we were the land and the land was us. In a perfect world, we were to reflect each other. And if something is wrong with the Earth, then it makes sense that something will be wrong with us. It kind of makes sense, don’t you think?”

Living so close to a First Nations community, Sparco had always tried to keep an open mind about traditional Native beliefs. A good many modern medicines came from compounds originally developed by these so-called “primitive” people. So he nodded, wondering where the conversation was going.

Gently squeezing the crystal, Kyle continued talking, remembering the conversation he’d had the preceding Sunday. “He thought maybe I was the Earth fighting back. I’m the first casualty of a war to come.”

“What does that mean?”

“I don’t know. I stopped trying to figure any of this out a long time ago.” Turning the cloudy semi-precious stone slowly in his hand, Kyle counted the six sides of smooth, angular coldness. “Why am I the way I am, Doctor?”

Dr. Sparco wasn’t sure he was comfortable with where the conversation was going. “Kyle, you know we aren’t sure…”

“But there are theories, aren’t there?”

“Of course there are. There are always theories, but—”

“But some make more sense than others, don’t they? Okay, Doctor, after all these tests and examinations, why do you think I am the way I am? You’ve read all the reports on the tests the government did, the tests you’ve done, all the resources of our fine society… Why am I the way I am? Why am I?”

The doctor bit his lower lip. He had nothing to hide. This wasn’t a massive government conspiracy. Still, like every doctor worth his salt, Sparco was not fond of delivering bad news. He’d become a doctor specifically with the hopes of delivering as much good news as possible. Today was not going to be such a day. “It’s complicated.” He wasn’t sure where to go from there.

Kyle held up the quartz and looked through it at the squat, malformed figure of the doctor on the other side. “The world is complicated. Why should this be any different? I just want to hear you say it.”

Reluctantly, Sparco leaned across his desk and grabbed the Muncy file. His chair creaked loudly in protest. He remembered when Kyle was a little boy and had broken his wrist falling from a tree. Another time, Kyle’s head had required four stitches due to playing baseball. A third time, his thumb had gotten infected by an errant piece of glass. Knowing Kyle’s parents had passed on not long ago and that he was alienated from most of his community, Sparco felt for the simple man with godlike powers. And now his patient was holding firmly in his hand the piece of quartz Sparco’s grandson had given him. Despite everything, it seemed the Aboriginal man still possessed some of his childlike fascination with the world. Sparco hated to ruin that.

“Well, ahem, as far as we know, it is possible that your environment was largely responsible for your… metamorphosis.”

Kyle knocked the quartz three times on the table, creating an echoing effect. “That’s what I don’t get. Most of what all these doctors and scientists theorize I don’t really understand. I live in a small house on a reserve with a thousand other people. Why me? Why not them? Why not anybody else?” His voice rose and his fist clamped down on the crystal.

Although he wasn’t afraid of the young man, Sparco was… he would say… concerned about his emotional outburst. “As I said, it’s complicated. It’s been theorized that the water you drink—”

“The substandard water most of my community is forced to drink? That water?!”

This was a contentious issue. Like many other First Nations communities across the country, Muncy’s reserve was under a contaminated water alert. Had been for the past seven years, at least. That’s when the toxins had first been discovered in the groundwater. Who knows how long they’d been there? Local Native people were pissed off about this, and the doctor was well aware of the ill effects of unclean water. But as his patient had been asking ever since his metamorphosis had begun, why him?

“Yes, that water. With all the chemicals and impurities that have been digested by your body…”

Kyle remembered the farms he’d passed driving into the city with Karl. “The stuff from all that agriculture, right?”

The doctor nodded. “The fertilizers, antibiotics, growth hormones and steroids they give to the animals eventually make it into the water table. And then into you.”

Kyle was silent for a moment. “What else?”

Flipping over a sheet of paper, Dr. Sparco’s eyes scanned the test results. “Well, and this is just conjecture, you realize, there’s all the radon gas that was found saturating your house. As you know, that stuff is a natural by-product of the decay of radium and is radioactive.”

“Yeah, I’ve heard all this before, but nobody will tell me how my house could have become saturated with this radon gas. This doesn’t sound… normal.”

“It is normal, Kyle. It’s… it’s naturally occurring. I’ve told you this. Seeps up through the ground. I know it sounds weird, but it’s true. Because of that, a lot of places have radon gas detectors.”

Kyle took a deep breath. “But not on my reserve?”

“So it seems. And somehow, someway, the gas and the steroids and the fertilizers interacted with your biology, bonding and transforming your body on a cellular level, creating all sorts of unique… side effects. We’re not quite sure how… exactly.”

It’s a good thing Kyle wasn’t a gambling man, thought Sparco, or he’d be broke and in jail by now. The Gods of Chance didn’t seem to be too fond of his patient. Actually, on second thought, broke and in jail might be a little better than Kyle’s current situation.

“Anything else?”

When Kyle had first come into his office eighteen months ago, when he first began manifesting these unique abilities, the doctor had been amazed, possibly even a little envious. Over the decades, he’d seen a lot of damaged bodies and persistent illnesses, and now here in front of him was a man it seemed God and the universe had made indestructible, even superior. The good doctor was now quite sure he’d been overly generous in his assessment of Kyle Muncy and his condition. If you have all the money in the world but no place to spend it, is there a point?

“Yes, one other thing. It seems all that black mould in your house also contributed to your… condition.”

By now, Kyle was getting weary. He wanted to know the details, but each statement of fact made him feel like a tree with a persistent lumberjack, each scientific declaration a swing from a sharp and heavy axe.

“The black mould?”

Sparco put the chart down on his desk and removed his glasses. He slid his chair a little closer to his patient. “Seems like the spores of the black mould acted as some sort of organic catalyst within your system. Somehow they helped metabolize all the other elements into… into… into what you are.”

In the park nearby, Kyle could hear children laughing. He could smell chili, today’s special, at the restaurant across the road. In the building next door, somebody was playing their stereo, and Dr. Sparco’s unusual patient could feel the thump thump of the bass. Sounded like something by The Doors.

“I suppose that makes sense.”

Suddenly his own office seemed very small to the doctor. “Actually, it doesn’t. That’s why we need to do more tests and—”

“Thanks, Doctor, I’ll think about it.” It had been a long day for the reluctant superhero. And it would be a long hitchhike back in the growing darkness. Kyle made his departure quick.

“I know this all sounds…”

There was no ending to the sentence, as the patient had exited the office, leaving behind a conflicted man of medicine. Stepping out of the building onto the street out front was the most amazing person humanity and nature had managed to create together. Everybody should have been doing cartwheels. Instead, there were no cartwheels in Kyle’s life. Sparco closed the file on his most interesting patient and replaced it in his desk drawer. Nothing frustrates a doctor more than a sense of medical impotency. Actually, Sparco could cure most types of impotency… but not this kind.

Late that night, Kyle Muncy crawled into bed. The day was over. The only thing he had looked forward to all day was closing his eyes again, finding blissful nothingness until they opened once more. There was always the hope that tomorrow might be better. Otherwise, this was just another day in the life of a superhero.

Kyle Muncy, the first Aboriginal superhero, closed his eyes and slept, peaceful for the first time that day.

Meanwhile, across the Earth, terrible people were doing terrible things, to themselves and to the planet. These terrible events were happening non-stop, with nobody to help prevent them. And in another part of the damaged world, someone else struggling to survive was discovering they had new, unexpected yet formidable powers, created from an unholy alliance of man-made environmental corruption and toxic natural elements.

And Kyle slept on.