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April 6, 2014, 5:05 am

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Solitude and The Long Road Evelyn's Path pt 2


A lengthy autobiography of Evelyn Stavros, a super powered heroine in the Delta Factor supers setting.

This is the second part of several (dozen) installments. The entire series will be rated R for graphic violence and adult situations, reader discretion is advised.

Entering through the wide double doors in the back, I found my eyes taking in the lecture hall for my first ever college class, Intro to Geology. Geo 101 was required for students who think they might wish to make a full study of the field, but also a popular elective to fulfill science requirements for other majors.

As such the hall was filled with roughly half freshmen and half sophomore and juniors. They took places around the hall, arranging themselves in the tiers as they waited for the professor to enter the hall. It’s wasn't surprising to me, to see those most likely to be interested in the field were nearer the front, while the ones just looking to fill out their transcript spread out among the back half.

Nearing the front, I spotted an interesting sight. A pretty brunette leaned back in her front-row chair, denim-clad legs crossed. head facing up. Dark sunglasses hid her eyes, and ear buds from her iPod streamed music into her skull. As I neared I could read the message written on the girl’s dark green tee shirt: Shakespeare hates your emo poems. This girl looked all but ready to spend the entire class recovering from her hangover, right in the front row.

I smiled disarmingly at the woman, But then the lower door banged open and the professor walked in, interrupting my planned introduction by calling out “Good morning, and welcome to Introduction to Paleontology!” He went on, but what caught my attention was the girl. As soon as the professor began speaking she sat up, yanked out her ear buds, and whipped off her shades. That’s when, while the professor made introductions, I recognized the girl int he snarky tee shirt was Sarah Voltaire aka Quantum.

Quickly sitting down I smoothed out my pleated mini skirt and opened my lap top, struggling to focus on the professor more then the somewhat kindred spirit in front of me.

Being Delta myself, I was aware of Sarah Voltaire. I mean, I knew the girl was attending Columbia, but seeing her... It all flashed through my memory.

Images on TV of latex-clad Quantum, the first ever Delta to wear a costume; Polaris’ cute sister, reporters called her, because her powers were so like his.

The day she killed the villain Warhammer on live TV, the iconic shot of her tear-stained face right after, the anguish. There was no doubt she’d executed the man for killing that cop, but her face told the real story.

The girl dying on the steps of city hall a few days later: Statuesque, violet-haired Quantum taking a sniper’s bullet, but this skinny teen landing in her place.

Later, shots of her flying away, somehow recovered. Later still, a new costume, and word that the girl’s mother had made her change it.

More appearances over the next two years, until the bombing of flight 408, one of several attacks around the nation on known Deltas. Dozens dead, but Sarah saved two hundred.

And then the reports: Sarah Voltaire had lost her powers, shortly after the bombing. Quantum was gone.

I also recalled, an article in the local paper from a few months ago. Powers or not, Sarah rushed into an alley to help a screaming woman. Armed with her book bag, she stopped a mugger who turned out to be a rapist. She got stabbed in the process, but police arrived in time to arrest the suspect, summoned by the woman Sarah had helped. Peering closer I could see the scar on her left bicep, peeking out from under the tee shirt.

And now, she was taking notes on her mac-book in my Geology 101 class. She looked not at all hungover. It’s possible she was using the shades and I-Pod to deter approach, because she was typing away while the professor... Wait, what’s he talking about? I realized with a start, I'd missed the first two minutes of his lecture.

The first lecture proceeded. Sarah took her notes, typing while he talked. She didn't ask any questions, but noted down those of others. She glanced at me once, more noting my proximity than anything, looking at me for perhaps a moment longer than simple acknowledgement would require.

I smiled as I glanced back at her, resisting the urge to say something friendly, knowing the professor would likely make an example out of the first student to appear to be ignoring his lecture.

The lesson ended with the expected heavy dose of reading and Sarah folded up her laptop rising, preparing to be on her way. She slung her bag and pulled out her shades, about to put them on.

I finished noting down the reading assignment and stood up, catching Sarah's attention with a deliberately noisy grind of the chair as I slid it back in place. "Looks like this is going to be an interesting class eh?" I paused to adjust my pony tail and finish up with an introduction "I'm Evelyn by the way, but my friends just call me Evie."

Sarah nodded at the question, looking at me a second time. "Sarah. And yeah. I'm just trying to get my science requirement without dissecting anything. This seemed like my best bet."

I giggled a little at her squeamishness despite myself. "I was dissecting frogs when I was twelve, but my father's a science teacher so I was into it back then." Paleontology is one of my favorite subjects, and they're always finding out new stuff to do with dinosaurs."

I smiled, unable to resist the urge to show off my knowledge just a little. "For example, they now think raptors used their wings for stability and flapping to stay on top of their prey while hanging on with their hooked claws and eating it alive." I paused and blushed slightly, suddenly embarrassed at sounding like some kind of Dino geek in front of the girl.

Sarah started walking out, but kept talking. "Yeah, I don't like blood." Her tone was nice and light. "My next class is on the other side of campus in fifteen minutes." Tight schedule. "Accounting 201."

I nodded, inwardly cringing at the mention of mathematics, it was one subject that bored me to tears. "That sounds a bit... tame? But it sure looks nice on the resume'. Maybe we can hang out later? I'm in room 314, of the girls dorm." I offered casually, hoping to make a connection with another of my kind.

"I like the numbers." She looked back at my question, and smiled, just a little. "I have classes until 2 and then a shift at my job." Maybe another day.

I nodded, quickly grabbing a piece of paper from my note book and scribbling down my email. "Here, you can reach me at this." I wanted to pass her my phone number as well, but didn't want to seem as if I was coming on to her in the first three minutes of conversation, even if she was cute...

Sarah took it without hesitation. "Okay. And if I don't see you before then, I'll see you Wednesday morning." She turned and started to head across campus.

"See ya around, I'll be late for my advanced biology class if I don't hurry!" I shouted over my shoulder, as I rushed to find my way down the hall. I was half tempted to shift into a bird and zip over the heads of my fellow students, but I knew doing such, (to say nothing of landing naked at end of my trip) would land me in the deans office, or mark me as a freak nudist show boat, neither of which I wanted on my first (or any other) day.

Sarah was friendly enough, but getting to know her wasn't an option. She was always on her way to her next class, or to a shift at the shop she worked at, or getting home for dinner. I saw she took good notes, and seemed to like wearing tee shirts with snark on them.

It wasn't until a month later I got a chance to actually get to know her better, and learned making assumptions can be both awkward, and embarrassing. Say what you like about animals, they're a lot easier to get along with.

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Comments ( 7 )
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Voted Kassy
April 4, 2014, 12:05
I'm enjoying this one very much, keep 'em coming!

Again, the style with which you write makes it seem so much more real and believable (come on, who doesn't wish they had powers?).


Also, faved.
April 5, 2014, 2:46
I'm glad you're enjoying it, there's lots more to come, although the beginning pieces are more character building and stage setting, there is plenty of action later on.
Voted axlerowes
April 5, 2014, 9:44

The scene in which she throws herself at Sarah Voltaire only to conclude that she didn’t want to seem obvious…that was funny. I particularly thought this line rang true.

I smiled, unable to resist the urge to show off my knowledge just a little. "For example, they now think raptors used their wings for stability and flapping to stay on top of their prey while hanging on with their hooked claws and eating it alive." I paused and blushed slightly, suddenly embarrassed at sounding like some kind of Dino geek in front of the girl.

This sounds like every undergraduate science major I’ve met (ahem…or maybe use to be). Those kids are ready to drop knowledge at absurdly inappropriate moments, and without any real understanding of what they are talking about. Eve may have the ability to understand Velociraptor mongoliensis in a way that guys scratching at fossils cannot, but I am sure she does not understand the research she is talking about. This is a brave (internet brave) choice having your narrator be flawed and a little unreliable. Brave because I know that uncertainty turns off some readers. But I really like and enjoy what you are doing with her voice. It adds a layer of realism.

However, the story within the story was a little rough. I think a little more imagery and making the language a little more explicit would help communicate Sarah Voltaire’s story as the narrarator and thus the world understands it, and would keep the flow of the story going. For example

As soon as the professor begins speaking she sat up, yanked out her ear buds, and whipped off her shades. That’s when, while the professor made introductions, I recognized Sarah Voltaire. Here you have three events: Girl in green shirt removes shade Professor starts talking Eve recognizes Sarah Voltaire.

The events are explicitly connected. For all we know that moment Sarah Voltaire could have materialized behind the professor, or the professor is Sarah Voltaire in man form, or the girl in the green shirt is Sarah Voltaire.

You could tighten up the sentence a bit by adding

I recognized the girl in the green shirt was Sarah Voltaire aka Quantum.

Then as you go through the flashes of images things get vague and unclear. I know it is easy to expect the readers of genre fiction to fill in the gaps. (Of course my genre bias tells me warhammer was a supervillian, but it wouldn't hurt to tell us that. Or tell us Eve's opinion of Warhammer versus the media's opinion. Eve is telling us this in retrospect so she could reflect more on these flashesthan she did at the time)

But you leave a lot of gaps in that story of Voltaire, it kills the flow of this piece and there is no reason to do it.

You should add another clause or sentence to each to specific memory Eve has regarding Voltaire. These should help to connect things temporally and draw out the details.

I know they are supposed to be just short flashes, but the flashes are very vivid and important images in Eve’s mind and you should paint vivid pictures with your words.

Lastly, undergraduate paleontology is really pushing my suspension of disbelief. I know the details don’t really matter, she just need to learn about dinosaurs so she can shape shift and may be there can be so allegory for evolution and extinction with Delta humans and normal humans. But you could show the field a little more respect. Paleontology is a sub-discipline of what they call “Earth Science” these days (actually they have called in Earth Science since the 80s, and not deep enough into the field to tease out the symantics of the different Earth Science disciplines. She would either be in either a geology, biology or anthropology program depending on what department the university dumped its paleontologists. Would be Paleontologists focusing on dinosaurs would likely be studying biology or geology. I am sure there are Paleo 101 classes out there, but they would be survey classes for non-majors. Eve should talk to her academic advisor and dump that useless class. I know I am being silly here, but hey science deserves respect.

April 6, 2014, 0:14
Thanks for the feedback, I'll give this an edit this weekend I get some time and take your advice into account, I really appreciate the time and effort it took to give me this much commentary.
April 6, 2014, 4:57
Part of the issue is Evie doesn't know much more at this stage than what she's mentioned, snippets seen on television years before. Sarah Voltaire will (eventually, sooner or later, maybe), have her own submission.
April 6, 2014, 11:43

The points come through, I was just suggesting the language get tightened up a bit and be a bit more illustrative. It is a minor thing. However, I don't think it was a problem with not knowing Sarah Voltaire, we have to know Eve's understanding of Sarah, even if its wrong. But it reads much clearer now. These are just prose details and I still think it is an interesting and well conceived story thus far.

I am still not quite sure what Eve thinks happened with the sniper. Statue was another super, she and Quantum got shot but Statue died?

Voted Morningstar
August 21, 2015, 5:10
Only voted



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