Chapter 1 (and only)
Craig Koleman woke up that morning with the power to fly. He didn't have to test his revelation. Before he'd so much as stretched his legs over the side of his bed, he could tell. It was a distinct sensation, unmistakable: a certain buzz behind the shell of his ear. Craig was positive that this part of his body was the flight center, hidden from all but the most dedicated and patient believers. He could feel it in the way the buzz pierced through his skull, traveled down his spine, and settled in the pit of his stomach where it rested in greedy anticipation. Today was the day.
Craig began to pry himself from the safe shell created by his expensive bed set. His hand reached out first, slapping with habitual agitation at his digital alarm clock. Then Craig remembered that he hadn't had a reason to set his alarm today and the hand retreated to sulk in its sanctuary. Craig had to revel in the buzzing for a solid minute, feeling the thrum vibrate in the soft tissues of his brain, before he could remind himself with any conviction that the alarm no longer mattered. Next, Craig tried his legs, which were far more obedient. His knees swung his calves through the cascade of fabric and his calves told his ankles to set his feet on the floor. His torso followed, raising his body, an exercise in momentum. The buzz strengthened now that he was upright; it reached his fingertips, but mostly, Craig could feel it in his toes. They tingled mercilessly, sharp electric currents that urged him to move and reminded Craig of commercials for Restless Leg Syndrome. Craig stared at them, amused by their protest because he understood it. Of course they were fighting. Didn't everything fight when it was on the verge of becoming obsolete? Luckily for his toes, Craig still didn't feel the need to test his new power. For now, the anticipation of future joys was the best part. He felt like a child who'd just been informed of an upcoming trip to Disney World. On the trip, a million things could go wrong, but at that moment, as excitement raced through him, the idea existed in perfection and he didn't want to ruin it.
So Craig went about his usual morning routine with careful diligence. He put full pressure on his feet and in their relief, his toes stopped tingling. He stretched, then turned and adjusted the blankets on the right side of the bed so that they matched the left and the whole thing looked like an ad for the Sears Company. He shuffled to the bathroom, used the toilet, and brushed his teeth. He avoided the mirror because the medicine cabinet hid behind the mirror. If he thought too hard about it, his errant hand would no doubt make an attempt to reach for the bottles inside. In the walk-in closet, Craig allowed himself the luxury of choosing something comfortable to wear. Only comfortable, not slovenly like the stained and wrinkled sweatpants and T-shirt he was wearing now. Craig peeled these away from his skin, wincing when the shirt passed over his head. It smelled like him, a rancid mixture of leather couch and nervous sweat. Immediately, Craig went back to the bathroom and turned the shower on, determined that his new clothes would never be so tainted.
Back in the closet, Craig picked out a navy blue collared shirt, dark jeans, and tidy black sneakers. Dressed, he did let himself look in the mirror, since the one in the closet was as tall as he was and did not have a cabinet behind it. He looked closely because today was special; surely being able to fly superseded little things like a pot belly or the newborn crevasses in the corners of his eyes. He was partly right. He still saw those things. If anything, he saw them more clearly. The crevasses were deeper than he remembered but not unbecoming. He grimaced at his various bulges. They had seemed less obvious in sweats. Craig focused on these details because if it wasn't for them, he would hardly recognize himself. It was odd to see the full shape of his face, unframed by any veil of hair. Craig ran his hand experimentally over the fuzz that had replaced it and found the texture much more interesting than the baldness of a week ago. And when was the last time he'd worn jeans? Yet those details didn't matter anymore. Today was the day. Craig departed from his closet, trailing his fingers across the row of business suits as if the plastic dry cleaner bags were the spines of beloved books. He treated them like old friends even though he secretly hated them.
Craig made his way back into his bedroom and then into every other room of his apartment for a brief inspection. There wasn't much to see. All of his belongings, not just the bed, could have passed for catalogue spreads. There was very little personality left. Even the green floral curtains that had decorated the blank wall above the sink were gone. But Craig had secretly hated those too.
As Craig stared at the unadorned sink, the buzz in his brain began to grow more pressing, reaching past its point of origin to fill the remainder of his skull. It made him feel vaguely sick as the anticipation in his stomach soured. His head felt light, connected not to his neck but to the string of a balloon. He examined the sensation scientifically. Surely this was the key. One could not fly until one was lighter than air and detached from silly things like pointless curtains. It would only take determination on his part to make the feeling spread. The idea actually made Craig sad because it was so simple and yet most people would never know the secret.
Craig continued to complete the pattern of his mornings. He made coffee and wished that he owned some of the caffeinated variety so that he could cheat on his special day. As he poured it, he knew that the brief sickness had ruined the perfection of his anticipation. The original high was beginning to wear off and soon he would need a bigger fix. Still, he sat down to finish his coffee, nearly smiling in cruel pleasure when his toes began to complain again. It wasn't until he had poured himself a bowl of cereal--Corn Flakes, because he didn't own any cheat-worthy cereal either--that he could no longer stand the suspense. The kitchen was sterile and the act of crunching cereal too mundane. Craig had been trying to savor such ordinary moments all morning, because soon such things would be as obsolete as his toes. But what could be less savory than Corn Flakes in this lifeless kitchen without the green floral curtains? So Craig stood up, the taste of bitter coffee coating his mouth, the scent of almost-expired milk persisting in his nostrils. He left the kitchen, and then the apartment without a look back.
He let his feet carry him and his mind wander. The weightless sensation had reached his shoulders now and continued to creep downward with the speed and consistency of syrup. It was not a perfect day. Craig emerged into a city enclosed by clouds, the sun only peaking through when the wind was strong enough to whisk them away. Still, it was beautiful and full of opportunity. There were so many places where he could finally make his flight, each building a potential runway for his departure. He thought it should be somewhere special, somewhere with meaning. His first idea was the office building. How grand it would be to see their faces as he soared past their windows, not only special, but free. Grand, except that it was too much to expect them to look, to pay attention to anything outside of their own selfish ambition. Craig refused to let his flight be spoiled by such people.
When his feet stopped, Craig saw another apartment building looming before him. He thought his stomach might have clenched except that the weightlessness has reached it and he could only feel butterflies. It was their apartment, a place he would not have come if he'd let his mind do more than wander. He stared up toward the very top floors, neck craning and eyes squinted against the glistening windows. The squinting changed something: it flipped a switch behind his retinas like the one that was hiding behind his ear. Suddenly he could see inside their apartment, through the very walls. Craig merely nodded at this new development. Why shouldn't he have two super powers instead of one? By now he had fully embraced the concept of his own superiority.
Their apartment was much smaller than his, only one bedroom with a kitchen-dining-living room that melded together like the colors of a child's finger painting. The clutter made it seem worse. There was mail on the table, an open briefcase near the couch, piled dishes in a sink framed by green curtains. Craig knew he could have seen further, through the bedroom door or even straight through this building to the one that lay inevitably behind it. He didn't bother looking. He didn’t need super powers to see what was going on in that room. Craig briefly considered this building for his launch. It would be a more satisfying place than the office building could offer and the people more satisfying to laugh at. It wasn't a very tall building though, and Craig knew he would need more space to gain momentum. What if he panicked half-way down and needed the other half to make it work right? Reluctantly, Craig walked away. He blinked away the images of entwined bodies and sultry smiles that had burned into his brain despite his diligence. He waited, out of habit, for the pain, but wasn't surprised when it merely rolled off of his skin. After all, it was only natural for "bullet-proof" to follow flying and x-ray vision.
In the end, Craig chose a high-rise that looked brand new and painfully generic. He took the stairs to the roof, even though he thought he was light enough to float. It seemed like a waste though, using up his first experience on something so low-key. Up this high, the air was cleaner, the clouds sparser. The enhanced purity and some slow breathing helped to wash away the burn in Craig's thighs. His first proper sight of the sun made Craig smile; he'd been hoping to see the sun. In fact, everything was making Craig smile. He was finally here. The lightness had overtaken him from his fuzzy hair to his stubborn toes. His stomach roiled and his head stormed with giddy joy. He had finally made it to Disney World and the first attraction lay before him. And he was the only one in line. Craig walked to the edge of the roof, climbed the raised barrier, and perched there. He looked down at the city below him, all of those people and cars scampering to accomplish infinite goals, unaware that there was something better.
Craig flexed his toes inside his sneakers as if he could grip the edge of concrete beneath him. He imagined the rush, the great swooping sensation that would overtake him once that barrier was gone. And then freedom. Craig took a deep breath. He recognized the churning of his stomach now as nerves, and he swallowed them down. They were only nerves, not doubts. Never once had Craig doubted his ability to fly. Today was the day.
Craig paused for one moment and let the sounds of the world surround him. They filled his ears in a rush and then stretched out, thinning into stillness.
Triumphant, Craig thrust his arms straight out in front of him and leapt.