The sleek lines of the newly installed flat-screen TV provided eye candy to patrons in Skylar's favorite #coffee shop, but the volume was always muted.
"Hey, Jack. Can you please turn up the volume?" Sky was one of the regulars at the coffee shop.
"A small meteorite recovered from the site puzzled experts because it contained an unstable element previously unknown. The sample is now at the International Science Academy where it will be studied by experts in the field. Related to this, the ISA is giving out a huge reward to anyone who finds samples of the meteorite. You may visit the ISA website for more details." The sleek reporter spoke with a fruity voice.
"I heard about this yesterday. Do you wanna go to the site and look around, Jack. It's near my house." Sky remarked without thinking, then promptly changed channels.
"...and that's the latest breaking news story. Coming to you live from the Central District Mall, this is Melanie Mendoza signing out."
Channel 8 got the scoop on the movie house shooting. They were in the area reporting on the traffic when they saw people running out of the mall. Lucky for them.
"That's crazy, man. That tech-kid and his sister were awesome. That classic Kimura hold could have submitted a professional." Sky was more talkative than he usually is.
"Waiting for a date?" Jack, the barista, asked inquisitively.
"Yeah... Oh, she's here." Sky glanced at the entrance and saw that his blind date had arrived. He recognized her from the photograph on her profile page and quickly went over to greet her.
"Hi. My name is Skylar Alcantara, but you can call me Sky, for short." He offered an awkward handshake.
"How lovely to meet you, Sky. I'm Emily." Her soft hands more than made up for the limp handshake.
"Please sit down." Sky pulled the chair out while Emily sat down; he recognized the Black Orchid perfume that covered the smell of coffee on her clothes.
It only took two minutes for Emily to decide to blow off her date. She thought that she was being nice by staying another minute more than she should have. Sky wasn't ugly, but he wasn't cool either. He was just too ordinary to be her type.
Sad and a little tipsy, Sky finished a few bottles of dark lager at a local bar before deciding to go to the site where the meteorite was found.
It was dark when he arrived. There were flood lights but no one was around. No doubt that people had already combed through the area for pieces of meteorite and found nothing.
Bang. The flood lights went out. Sky looked at the direction where the loud noise came from and thought that the construction generator must have ran out of fuel. It began to rain.
On the way home, Skylar passed by a convenience store to get chips and a few beers.
"I guess we'll be spending the night together." He clutched his beer and chips and started to walk home while another set of meteor shower lit up the night sky.
"The dark streets and narrow walkways of the red-light district ain't that bad. At least, the girls here make me feel wanted." Said the guy who just got dumped on a first date. A few beggars and homeless people were now eyeing the brown bag he was carrying; this made him clutch it even more.
"I should've taken a cab. Sigh." Letting out a long sigh of desperation.
Sky took a shortcut at a small alley leading to his apartment like he always did but this time it was different. He could see two homeless men lying down on cardboard that served as their bed. He walked faster.
As he walked past the two burly men, he could see both of them clearly even without looking back. They quickly got up to ambush Skylar but it only took two kicks to bring them down. Sky got away from them without much of a fight.
Skylar finished the chips and a few bottles of his favorite dark lager. It was already late but he went to his work station to lift up his spirits.
"Hello, my friends. How are you doing tonight? Better than me, I suppose." What could be worse than a bad date and a scuffle with some homeless robbers?
Skylar opened his eyes and looked at the wall clock - it was three o'clock in the morning.
"I must have passed out while working on this comic book page." Sky said to himself.
He looked around but things were a little different. The air around seemed thick, the sound of cars outside were absent, and he was floating when he looked down at his feet.
"What the ????" Sky blurted.
Bang. He recognized the loud sound from the meteor site.
"Is anyone there? Show yourself!" The feeling of someone, or something, watching him is now stronger than before. And then it went away, like soap bubbles bursting to children's delight.
The sun is out and Sky was now drinking coffee at the doughnut shop across the street. He thought about the weird dream he had the night before and thought that it felt all-too-real. He finished his second cup of black coffee, got up to get a refill and some doughnuts when he bumped the next table and dropped his phone.
"Ugh. Sorry about that." He apologized to the young couple eating bagels.
He bent over to pick up his phone and saw that his feet weren't touching the floor. "Frickin... I'm still in a bad dream." Sky tried moving his fingers to wake up from his nightmare. It moved.
He then pinched his cheeks. "Ouch!" This wasn't a dream.
Looking around, Sky's mind was racing to find answers. He ran outside and it was pitch black and he could feel his body moving through the shadows and sliding through anything that got in the way; like a shadow man ice skating on any surface shadow.
Help! Help me please! He shouted at the top of his voice but to no avail. No one heard him.
Finally, he calmed down. He could see flashes of his childhood in his mind.
Sky ran away from home when he was 13 years old because he wanted an ordinary life; not as the heir to one of the three kingdoms of the northern island. He secretly got support from his mother and focused his time and energy on art and his passion in life.
Like a switch had flipped, he's now enjoying the experience.
A few weeks had passed and Sky is enjoying his newfound powers. He can climb buildings, travel places, and blend in where a shadow falls.
Sky would witness petty crimes and report it to the authorities as an anonymous informant from time to time but mostly just minded his own business.
Then, one rainy evening, he saw Emily going home late from work while waiting for a cab outside the office building where she worked. This was the first time he saw her again since that fateful night when he woke up from a nightmare with strange powers.
"I'm glad she won't be seeing me soaking wet behind the shadows." Sky thought to himself.
In a stroke of bad luck, he saw the two men who tried to rob him before stealthily approaching Emily. He had no choice but to intervene.
He disposed of them quickly and went on his way while Emily was looking at the two men out cold on the sidewalk unaware of what had happened.
The next day.
"Hi, Sky. How have you been?" Emily's soft smile melted away the pain of their blind date.
"Fancy bumping into you here. I'm good." Sky managed a dull reply.
"You look good. See you around, Mr. Alcantara. I have to get back to the office." Emily sounded sincere and headed out the door.
"Hey, ah, if you'd like to try out the new Thai Restaurant that just opened..." Skylar paused and was surprised that the words came out of his mouth.
"I love Thai food." Emily blurted out and chortled. Now, she can't say no.
They both laughed, which melted away the tension and erased all awkwardness from the unexpected meeting.
"I'd love to have dinner with you, Sky." Emily changed her mind about Sky and thought that he exuded more confidence and charm compared to the Sky she had met before.
"Great! See you at 6 o'clock." Sky felt warm all over.
They both walked away feeling happy at the turn of events that still felt surreal. Skylar pinched himself again and again to see if he's awake while Emily smiled all the way back to her office oblivious of her newfound love's extra-ordinary powers and the unspeakable horror making its way to the sleepy town of Santa Monica.