Impact Day, page 1
By Snow McNally
Part 1 – Sabrina
Veronica leans over the table, smiling at me, pen in hand. We’re out in public, and people are staring. Of course people are staring. I look ridiculous.
I try to block everything else out. Focus on Veronica. Focus on her questions. Maybe have a bite to eat.
At least Veronica doesn’t recognise me. That was my biggest fear, agreeing to this interview. She’s known me for years, better than anyone. If anyone could figure out who I am… but she doesn’t. My secret is safe.
I take a bite of the sandwich I ordered. It’s dry, unsatisfying. Doesn’t matter. It’s something to do with my hands, my mouth.
“So,” Veronica begins, her mouth curling into that smug smirk I know so well. “Woman of the hour. Hero of the city. How does that feel?”
I finish chewing, swallow, and take a moment before I answer. I need to be careful with what I say, especially to her.
“It’s still taking some getting used to,” I tell her, which is definitely true.
“I can only imagine,” she agrees, falling easily into the role of reporter. She’s a natural. "What’s been the hardest part to adjust to?”
I laugh. It’s a forced laugh, but if she notices, she doesn’t acknowledge it.
“You mean apart from the superpowers?”
She laughs in response, a much more genuine laugh.
“We’ll get to those,” she says.
“Honestly, the weirdest thing is just being normal,” I say, deciding to go with honesty over anything flashy.
She cocks her head, her brow furrowing. She seems genuinely surprised.
I sigh, pushing the food away from me. I can’t force myself to eat it, not even for the sake of appearances.
“In my real life, nobody knows who I am,” I explain. “Or what I’ve done.”
Veronica’s eyes narrow, and I worry that I might have said too much. Then her curious grin emerges, and I can see she’s just settled on an angle for her story.
“What do people think of the ‘real’ you?” she asks, pen poised and ready to write.
I do my best to smile warmly. It’s a hollow smile, but she doesn’t know that. She doesn’t know who I am.
“They don’t, really,” I say, somewhat melodramatically. Veronica just nods, as if that was the expected answer.
“I suppose that’s the life of a superhero with a secret identity,” she says.
We stare at each other across the table for a moment, and I wonder what she thinks of me. Of the person she doesn’t know, the me that I’ve become. Of the person that she’s known for so long, the me that’s still hiding.
I wonder if anyone will ever know all of me, if I will ever trust someone enough with both sides.
“So, let’s talk about your powers, then,” she says. “First of all, what exactly can you do? We’ve all seen you in action, but nobody seems to be able to quite agree on how to define them.”
For a moment, I’m hesitant, unsure of how much I should tell her. Aren’t superheroes supposed to keep their abilities as secret as possible, so nobody can find out their weaknesses?
“Honestly, I’m not completely certain myself,” I tell her. “I know that I’m fast, but exactly how fast seems to change. I’m strong, but again, it’s not consistent. Then there’s the invulnerability…”
“That’s the one that really interests me,” Veronica says, her eyes lighting up. “Since discovering your powers, has anything been able to hurt you? Do you think you might be genuinely indestructible?”
“No,” I say, shaking my head. “I’ve definitely been hurt. Badly, too. And unlike… unlike the others, I don’t heal particularly quickly.”
“So then,” Veronica says, pushing her glasses up her nose, “what does it take to hurt the incredible Miss Melbourne?”
“Is that what they’re calling me?”
“It’s going around. Apparently people have noticed that you’re not just an incredible badass, you’re also an incredible babe.”
I find myself blushing, and try to shake it off immediately. That is so not in character.
“Not exactly what I was hoping to get noticed for, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised,” I say, sighing. “Anyway, to answer your question, all I can say is: a surprising amount.”
“I can understand you not wanting to say more than that. So, where did the powers come from? Is there a secret formula we can all follow?”
I twitch involuntarily. Of all the things I don’t want to think about, it’s… that. Still, it’s a fair question, and one I don’t mind answering.
“It happened during the… what are we calling it? The calamity? The apocalypse? That time the sky tore open?”
“I’ve heard a few people refer to it as the rapture,” Veronica says. “Personally, I’m rather fond of Impact Day.”
“Works for me,” I say. “So, let’s talk about that day.”
I begin to talk, and she listens, and writes. I begin to talk, but I don't tell her everything. There's so much I can't tell her.
Chapter 1 – The Scream Heard ‘Round The World
I couldn't tell Veronica what I was doing on Impact Day, because I was with her. It was a Friday night and we were doing the same thing we always did, hanging out and playing video games. Her younger sister, Ashley, was asleep on the armchair.
Veronica and I both sat cross-legged on the couch, controllers in hand, furiously mashing buttons as we attempted to virtually murder one another through brightly coloured avatars. She was focussing intensely, determined not to lose to me. I was wincing every time one of the characters got impaled by something sharp, and marvelling at their ability to keep fighting.
"If it were me," I said, blocking a barrage of punches, "I'd give up after the first hit. What do these people even have to be fighting about?"
"Oh, who cares?" Veronica asked. "Honour, love, a desire to rip their shirts off and punch each other?"
There was a bright flash of light as my character unleashed some kind of energy beam, knocking Veronica's off the screen.
"I do not understand how you're so good at this," she complained. "You don't even like video games. Or fighting!"
"Maybe I'm not good," I teased. "Maybe you're just really bad."
She responded by having her character flip over the top of mine, and kicking her up into the air. I cringed.
"Have you ever been in a fight?" she asked, suddenly serious.
"No," I told her.
"What, huh?" I demanded. "You think I would?"
"Well, I mean, I don't think you'd go looking for a fight," she said. "Just, you know, I can see people wanting to fight you. Because of the-"
"Oh, right," I said, deflating. "Yeah, I've had some close calls. I think I'm too much of a shut-in to really have much to worry about, though."
"Ashley got into a fight once," she said.
"Mmm. Wouldn't tell me what it was about, but apparently some kid said something that pissed her off, and she just, let him have it."
I looked over at Ashley, still asleep on the couch. I could have sworn I saw her lips curl into a slight smile.
Ashley was only thirteen, and as a general rule, soft spoken and quiet. Excitable around Veronica and I, but the rest of the time, she was more of the quiet nerdy type.
"What could have set her off?" I asked, resting my controller on the floor and stretching out on the couch.
"I don't know," Veronica said, shrugging. She dropped her controller, and pulled my feet onto her lap. "I can guess, though."
"You know she loves you," Veronica said. "You might as well be her second bigger sister."
"I guess that's kind of sweet," I said. "Still, I'd really rather she kept out of trouble."
"You'll never guess who her new idol is," Veronica said, rolling her eyes dramatically.
I frowned, not sure what she was talking about. Ashley wasn't the type to idolise anyone, except…
"Oh, no," I said.
"Yep. It's a good thing they don't sell merch, the house would be full of it."
"What appeal could a vigilante thug have to a teenage girl?" I asked, and Veronica laughed at the expression on my face.
"Hey, you didn't grow up on comic books. She did. The vigilante may as well be Batman as far as she's concerned."
"Batman? They're a skinny punk in a ski mask and a hoodie. Not exactly superhero material," I said. "Besides, they haven't been seen for like, six months. They're either dead, or coming back as a supervillain."
"This city has enough villains," Veronica said, shaking her head. "Sometimes it does feel like something out of a comic book, y'know?"
"More like a fifties gangster movie," I said. "At worst, West Side Story."
"Hey, you know the rules," she snapped, then grinned.
"No musical theatre in this house," I repeated monotonously. "You have no culture, you know that?"
My phone buzzed in my pocket, surprising me. I dug it out clumsily, and realised my mum was calling me.
"Honey? It's getting late, are you coming home soon?" she asked, her tone more concerned than annoyed.
I pulled the phone away from my ear, and checked the time. It was a good hour later than I'd thought.
"Sorry, I didn't realise the time," I said. "I'll start heading home now."
"Okay, honey. I'll see you soon," she said, and made a kissing sound before hanging up.
"Gotta go?" Veronica asked, pouting.
"I think I pushed my luck a little tonight," I said apologetically. "She's still not cool with me staying over at girls' houses."
"If only she knew," Veronica said wistfully.
"I am so not ready for that conversation," I said, shuddering. "For now, I'm just gonna put up with it."
I grabbed my blazer and pulled it on. Veronica leapt up from the couch, surprisingly graceful, and wrapped her arms around me.
"You know, whenever you are ready to talk to them, I'll be there with you," she said.
"Thank you," I said, hugging her back.
I hugged her once more at the door, then started my walk home. Thankfully, we didn't live too far away from each other, and I knew it wouldn't take me long to get home.
Except I never got home.
It started with a scream. A single, piercing, mind-numbing scream that seemed to be coming from everywhere at once. The ground beneath me trembled and shook, and I lost my footing, landing hard on my butt.
All around me, everything seemed to warp and twist. I watched as cracks began to form, running through the ground, through houses and trees, even through the air itself.
High above me, in the sky, I saw the same thing that everyone else in the city saw that night. A massive tear, and a sparkling diamond sky beyond it.
There was a deep, sharp crack and some kind of silver construct came bursting through the tear, seconds before it sealed itself up again. The construct, looking like some kind of sci-fi spaceship, broke apart violently, pieces flying away in all directions.
A chunk of ship landed with a deafening boom a street away from where I was sitting, and I felt my stomach churn. Without even thinking, I leapt to my feet, running towards the billowing plume of smoke that had already begun to form.
By the time I got there, a crowd had already gathered around it, but nobody seemed game enough to actually step onto the property. I pushed my way to the front, and had to fight against my body's urge to throw up.
The house had completely caved in, and parts of it were still burning. I couldn't tell if anyone was inside it when the wreckage hit it, but there was definitely someone in there.
I could barely make them out, a silhouetted figure leaning against a wall, half surrounded by fire. Instinct took over again, and I ran towards them even as the crowd began to shout. I blocked them out.
I vaulted over the fence, stumbling but managing to maintain my balance. The heat and smell of burning wood hit me at the same time, and I covered my mouth with my elbow, squinting to see through the smoke that was making my eyes water.
The closer I got to the prone figure, the more I realised just how dire the situation was. Some piping had broken loose, and was currently jutting right out of their chest. I didn't realise until it was too late that I was standing in a pool of their blood.
I staggered forward, and got a better look at the person who couldn't possibly still be alive. It looked like a woman, possibly in her mid twenties, with short platinum-blonde hair. Her expression was eerily serene.
I'm not sure what came over me, but I found myself overwhelmed by the desire to touch her. I crouched beside her, my trembling hand reaching towards her face.
The moment my fingers touched her, I felt a painful shock race through me. My entire body spasmed, and I collapsed beside her, twitching, even as I saw her move.
Her eyes fluttered open, looking about curiously. If she felt any pain from the pipe sticking out of her chest, she sure didn't show it. Her gaze fixated on me, and a strange sort of smile played across her lips.
She reached in front of her, her delicate fingers wrapping around the pipe, and effortlessly snapped it. I could only watch as she slowly stood up, separating herself from the pipe. She cracked her neck, her spine, her fingers, then stretched out like a cat.
The last thing I remember before I passed out was her crouching beside me, reaching out to touch my face, just as I'd touched hers, the same smile still sitting there.
Bonus - SHIT YOU WILL NOT BELIEVE WHAT JUST HAPPENED
Blog post recovered from 7 months prior to "Impact Day" found using key words. All data points that could be used for personal identification have been removed.
Okay, so. You know the rumours, right? The vigilante. Apparently our city is so overrun by gang activity, one person has taken it upon themselves to clean up the streets, or whatever. You know, fight crime, restore peace and justice, punish people in the name of the moon, whatever. And you’re rolling your eyes, I know you are, because I did too.
I saw him except it isn’t a him it’s totally a her and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. Okay no that’s a bit drastic. BUT I totally did see her and THAT’S NOT ALL.
So, I was walking home from running to the shops, because dammit I need donuts at 11:30 at night, okay? And lo and behold, thugs emerge. Well, they weren’t really bothering me, I think they were robbing a house or a car or something. I was too busy walking the other way, but, BUT.
She appeared out of nowhere. Or like, literally jumped down from the roof, it was hella dramatic. She had this long billowy coat (that seemed ill advised but hey I’m no crime fighting expert) and this creepy mask that looked like a, I dunno, a hockey mask? But with weird glowing eyes. And these thugs, they all pull out guns, like that’s normal, and start shooting, so she’s gotta have some kinda reputation among them. Which I guess is pretty cool.
Thing is, she didn’t do any fancy kung-fu shit and dodge the bullets. This isn’t The Matrix. She just got shot. Like, a hundred times.
Then she got up.
She got the fuck up.
Like, I saw the bullets hit her. There’s no way she didn’t get shot up. So how did she stand up again?
I’m telling you, real live, legit superhero. They’re real, and for some weird fucking reason, they’re in Melbourne.
Suck it, New York.
Wait this probably means we’re getting the next earth-endi
BRB moving to Canada.
Chapter 2 – Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
"You're about to wake up," an unfamiliar voice told me. "Be very, very careful."
Her voice was soft, pleasant, almost sensual. She also had a strong, refined British accent.
"Try to remain still," she said. "This is going to be a bit of a shock."
I opened my eyes, and immediately felt like I'd been punched in the brain. It was like looking into the sun from right in front of it.
"Everything is so bright, ugh-"
"Don't move," she said urgently, and I felt her hand pressing down on my shoulder. "Please, it's important."
"Who…" I began to ask, but changed my mind. "Where am I?"
I was slowly able to make out blurred shapes, but nothing looked familiar. Strangely, there was no panic, only curiosity.
"Somewhere safe. Try to sit up, very slowly."
I let her guide me into a sitting position, expecting to feel dizzy and disoriented. Instead, I felt that same sensation you get during a plane takeoff.
"I feel weird," I told her. "Everything feels…"
"Fast and weightless, right?" she said, nailing it exactly.
I turned to look at her, and realised it was the woman from the wreckage, only cleaned up. She was wearing cargo pants and a hoodie, but also the sort of makeup that looked like it belonged in a Hollywood movie. It was an odd look.
"What happened to me?" I asked, my head full of questions. "Am I dead?"
"Not exactly," she said, which was not the definitive yes-or-no answer I was expecting. "There was an accident. You're... different."
She sighed, taking a step back. Her movements all had a striking sort of easy grace, as if every action were a carefully choreographed dance.
She looked me up and down, her expression suggesting she was considering what to say to me.
"Do you want the real explanation, or the one that will make sense?" she asked, watching me carefully.
"Both?" I asked, confused as to why I was getting the choice. My answer seemed to amuse her.