June 7, 2009

Ralph the Mutant

Part One

By Douglas E. Gogerty

My name is Ralph Horatio Logan IV, and I am a mutant. Now, I do not shoot laser beams from my eyes, or have long claws shoot out of my wrists. I cannot even summon giant killer squids from outer space. Nonetheless I am a mutant, and I am saving the human race. I guess I should start at the beginning.

I was born in Cincinnati Ohio to Jennifer and Ralph H. Logan III. (Imagine that!) I am the oldest of three, but I am the only one still living. My siblings died as a result of the event. Because I am a mutant, I survived. That is the nature of being a mutant I guess.

Prior to this event, I led a pretty average life. For most of my life, no one knew I was a mutant. In fact, I did not even know. It is probably because we are all mutants in one form or another. It is just that most of our mutations do not provide a big advantage over everyone else.

For instance, suppose you had a mutation that made you extra immune to the influenza virus. In normal circumstances, this is not going to give you a big advantage over everyone else. It is just going to save you from suffering from the flu. However, ordinarily no one will notice that you have this mutation, and they will not consider you a mutant. On the other hand, if it does give you a big advantage, then that is a different story.

I guess I am saying that if you have a big advantage over others, you can claim that you are a mutant. Otherwise, your mutations are just run of the mill things. They do not give you any noticeable advantages; hence, you are not a mutant like me.

As you may have guessed, the biggest problem I had to overcome in childhood was my name. It is difficult to go around with such a name. It is a family name as you may have noticed. Many people in my situation go by their middle names. This prevents confusion when father and son have the same name. However, Horatio is worse than Ralph. Also, R.H. does not exactly roll off the tongue. Thus, for a majority of my life I went by Four. It is not a great nickname, but it beats the alternatives.

In any event, my childhood was pretty uneventful. So were my junior high days. That is, apart from people making fun of my name. Come to think of it, high school was pretty quiet. I guess so was college, and the time I moved back in with my folks after that. To be honest, my entire life until that day was mostly uneventful.

That is not to say that things did not happen. Once, I saw a guy lying on the side of the road. From what I could make out, he was biking along and he did not see a bar poking out from a parked dump truck. He was not wearing a helmet, and he hit his head and crashed. Wear your helmet kids! He was on the ground when I walked up, and I called 911. Maybe I saved his life. Probably not, but it could be true. Isn't that you want from a superhero tale?

Anyway, like many superheros in comic books, I struggled with regular life. For most of my life, I had to deal with the mundane. I was just like everyone else. I was just waiting for the moment when I could shine. I was waiting for my powers to become evident. I was living my ordinary life until my time in the sun -- so to speak.

Thus, I had a regular, ordinary, boring life for quite a long time. Sometimes, I miss it. Anyway, I went from a fairly unremarkable child into a fairly unremarkable adult. I was a pudgy, balding adult. Alright, that still describes me. No one would have thought that I would be partially responsible for saving the human race. Actually, if you pointed at me and said that I would have to save the world, many people would collapse in despair. Nevertheless, it is true.

After the uneventful events of my early life, the world changed. We can point to the day that it all changed, but it really had been building for quite some time. It was just on one day when the big change occurred. Everything before that day is often referred to as the before time.

Up until the event, people living in the United States worried about nuclear proliferation in other parts of the world. Specifically, they worried about nuclear weapons falling into the hands of religious extremists abroad. There had been attacks on U.S. interests, and many worried about these escalating. These concerns were well founded. There were a great deal of changes to our way of life to prevent these forces from ruining the American way. No one would have suspected what actually happened.

We were winding down a pretty awful year. The economy was terrible. Unemployment was high. There were abandoned houses all over major cities. Everyone was struggling making a living. It was another year of a tough economy.

Despite all that, we had a very popular president. While some called him the anti-Christ, most people laughed this off. It was just unbalanced people blowing off steam. There were some media outlets proclaiming it as a valid point of view, but most thought they were completely harmless. This kind of talk was becoming common for political rivalries.

While the economy was still struggling, it promised to be a Christmas season like all of the rest. It might have been a bit slow, but still of the season. There was the usual talk of the War on Christmas. However, it was completely in the imaginations of a some conservative crazies. You know, the same group that believed the president was the anti-Christ. At least, a majority of Americans did not give any of that talk any serious consideration. In our wildest dreams we would have never thought that there was a group who took this quite seriously. We all thought it was just a way of the talking heads to build ratings. However, it turns out that they were actually feeding a fire.

For several years, there was talk that we were living in the end of times. There were lots of people waiting for the second coming, and they believed the rapture would occur at any moment. Who would have guessed that they would become tired of waiting? No one thought they would actually attempt to bring forth Armageddon. Nevertheless, this is exactly what they did.

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June 14, 2009

Ralph the Mutant

Part Two

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Wow, would it be cool to shoot lasers from my eyes. Now that is the kind of mutant that I would want to be. Not that my mutation has not had its advantages. I have met thousands of fantastic people all across the globe. However, there is lots of travel involved. London for a month, and then Shanghai for another month. The mutants from the comics always seemed to stay home most of the time. On the other hand, Gotham City no longer exists, so I guess there is that. In any case, I should get back to the story.

It had been a mild winter. There had not been too much inclement weather around the country. Snowfall had been way down. Apparently, this was a sign of the second coming and had nothing to do with Global Warming. Since it was the holidays, I was flying home to Cincinnati to see my family. I did not give one thought about the two hour layover in Minneapolis. It was in the midst of a long drought there -- again a sign of the apocalypse.

I thought it was my bad luck when we approached the Twin Cities. As we landed at the Minneapolis/Saint Paul International Airport, it was in the midst of a terrible storm. According to locals, it gave the Halloween Storm of 1991 a run for its money. Visibility made the landing difficult, but taking off was out of the question. There was no flying out of there.

To make matters worse, all the interstates coming into and out of the Minneapolis area were closed. If you could get a car, it would be tough traveling anywhere. Not that it mattered because there were no rental cars to be had. Hence, my fellow airline passengers and I were stranded at the Lindbergh terminal on Christmas eve. The storm was getting worse, so the prospects of leaving the airport before New Years Day looked mighty weak.

With my fellow strandees, I found a spot on the floor to stretch out. I intended to get some sleep before the next day's attempt to get home. However, little sleep was to be had. Someone had turned on the news in an effort to see when the storm would subside. This was a mistake. Horrible news was broadcast, and it had nothing to do with the weather. It was even worse than being trapped in the airport on Christmas eve away from family and friends.

The early reports were sketchy. That was because no one close to the incidents had survived. It was only reported that huge mushroom clouds were seen over Los Angeles, New York City, and Chicago. There had been no word from anyone in these cities. All communications were out. No one was sure if it was because of the electro-magnetic pulse from the blasts, which would have disabled all electronic devices, or if it was because everyone was dead.

All of the stranded travelers and I became glued to the television monitors to watch the news for developments. All through the night we watched and waited. Naturally, rumors and accusations were abundant and reported; however, evidence was in short supply. Sadly, these detonations killed millions instantly. Further, we watched as the nuclear fallout effected areas hundreds of miles from ground zero. The weather pattern that kept us from spending Christmas with our family's, drove the blast towards those very homes.

Our families were at risk as the winds brought horrible death to people far away from the targeted cities. Cities within a 300 mile radius of the targeted cities were cordoned off. If we could have left, we would not have been able to go home to Ohio. In any event, we were forbidden to leave the airport for many days following the incident. We watched as city after city was abandoned. Further, with all the upheaval, the communication systems were offline. Our only news was from the television. We could not speak with relatives in affected areas. Thus, we did not know what had happened to our families.

Chaos was the state of affairs for months. Everyone looked for the perpetrators and found them behind every corner. The talk radio personalities, those that survived, continued to feed the fire of hate and suspicion. Riots broke out in places everywhere. Everyone tried to bring vengeance upon the perpetrators.

When it was discovered that American Christian fundamentalist were responsible, everyone was dumbfounded. It was unfathomable that these individuals would escalate from killing the symbols of their unrest, such as abortion doctors and other religious authority figures, to destroying millions of innocent civilians including some that agreed with their position. Further, these extremist did not figure on the events that occurred afterwards.

Many of the plotters lived well away from the targeted cities. However, they believed that vengeance was taken out on the offending cities and that their homes would be spared. Nonetheless, the radioactive fallout continued to spread. The weather took the radioactivity all over the globe. Livestock began dieing in every part of the world. Innocent people everywhere lost their livelihood and their food. Starvation became common everywhere. Hundreds of millions began dieing from the aftermath of the blast from hunger as well as radiation poisoning. If starvation did not kill you, then cancer did.

Then there was the killer flu pandemic. Hundreds of millions more died from that. There simply was no way to prevent its outbreak. Authorities were busy dealing with one situation when the next one came along. It almost became a joke as to what would happen next. Those that expected to disappear with the rapture were shocked to find that they too were left behind. They suffered with the rest of us.

So, there we were spending weeks trapped in the airport. We heard about all the horrors going on outside, but could do little about them. The storm had left three feet of snow on the ground. Nonetheless, with all that was happening, no one bothered clearing the roads. It was not business as usual. Further, the uncertainty made us all afraid to leave the airport. Hence, most of us passengers were in some sort of unintentional quarantine.

However, there was only a limited amount of food. Thus, occasionally someone would leave for supplies. Gradually, we had more exposure to the outside world. Our quarantine was short lived. Our happy little airport family was slowly dipping its collective feet in the waters of the new situation.

The airport worker who brought the flu to us was not a welcome person. Did I mention that I had an unusually strong resistance to the influenza virus? Nearly half of my fellow passengers succumbed to the flu. Before I was sitting and watching the news, suddenly I was tending to the ill. I watched people I had befriended in the intervening weeks die in front of me. Me, I never showed a single symptom. My mutancy was slowly becoming apparent. I had to save the world, but how would I do that?

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June 21, 2009

Ralph the Mutant

Part Three (The Conclusion)

By Douglas E. Gogerty

No one knows how they obtained the nuclear weapons. There was plenty of speculation. It is not unheard of that there were entities sympathetic in high governmental positions. Some of these could have access to the material. Who these sympathizers were and how they got the fissionable material out will likely never be known. What is known is that the perpetrators did not expect the results of their actions.

They certainly expected millions to die in the blast. However, I am sure they did not expect the world-wide devastation that they caused. They did not expect billions to die of starvation. They did not expect the following nuclear winter. They did not expect the flu to be such an effective killer. Most of all, they did not expect to be around to witness the misery and suffering they caused.

While the source of the nuclear material will never be known, the perpetrators did come forward. They made an appearance on the show of one of the conservative radio hosts. After that, many people wanted them killed. However, it was almost universally accepted that they would suffer much more if they had to live with the devastation they caused. Nonetheless, they did not live much longer.

Their high tenet of forgiveness was given to them. Although many did not really forgive them, they just thought they would suffer more if they could see what they had done. The thirteen Christians that killed billions were free to live out their lives how ever they saw fit. They could not take it, and to a person they committed suicide.

They all killed themselves when the biggest thing they did not expect was finally revealed. A year after the event, there was only one birth. I am sure there were plenty of people trying, but only one woman successfully gave birth to a healthy baby boy. There were lots of stillborn children. There were lots of babies that were horribly deformed. There was only one baby who was normal. Only one child that survived for long.

With the radioactivity,the high fevers due to the flu, and all of the other stuff, it was discovered that the surviving men were sterile. Every man who came in for a test, was found to be incapable of having a child. The population of the world went from about seven billion people to less than one billion, but it was going to get a lot smaller. If a species cannot conceive offspring, it is doomed.

Hence, a search for the father of this healthy boy began. Travel during the nine months prior to the birth was difficult; thus, geographically it would be relatively easy to eliminate lots of men. However, there were still lots of men in that particular area. Further, that man may have succumb to one of the many causes of death during that period.

Thus, the search was no easy task. The mother did not always get a name or any other information from many of the men she got close to. It was just one of those things. Fear and uncertainty can make you do things that you would not normally do. Thus, sometimes you seek comfort in the arms of others.

Nevertheless, the search became a worldwide phenomenon. The reporting apparatus that was still in place, gave daily updates on the results of the search. It was as if the entire world stopped to see who the father of the child was.

Weeks went by as the search for the man who could still father children continued. Man after man stepped forward to take the simple DNA test. A call to every man in the city went out. As the interest grew, they wanted results fast. The mother definitely did not have sex with every man in the city, but it is obscure enough that anyone who had been with a stranger eight to ten months previously was asked to come in.

The world watched as test after test was given. Thousands of men stopped in to get their cheek swabbed. Whoever was the father would be an instant celebrity. Who was this mystery man? Who was this -- uh -- mutant?

So, I lived in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul International airport for months. Everyone lived in fear, and we did not know if we were ever going to get out of there. When the killer influenza finally made it to the airport, people started coming and going. The large complex became a makeshift hospital. There was space to tend to those ill with the flu, and most of its infrastructure was still intact. Hence, people would bring friends and loved ones to the airport. While they were there, they would seek comfort with other people doing the same thing. Any encounter would make them feel better, and then they would move on.

I know I make it sound like this type of thing occurred regularly. While it did, I was not involved in that many such couplings. Being mostly immune to the ever changing killer flu, I tended to lots of sick people. I was exhausted most of the time after long days of helping sooth the suffering of those people.

Not to mention that few sought comfort in a pudgy, balding middle-aged man. Mostly, I was looked upon as more of a father figure. Things rarely escalated to -- well -- that type of thing. That is why I did not step forward sooner. I did not think there was any way that it was me.

When my DNA was finally tested, it showed that I was the baby's father. An international day of celebration was held shortly afterward. The human race was not doomed to perpetuate the species by artificial means alone. I was celebrated all over the world.

Now, this mutant travels all over the world to father children. I have lost track to the number of children that I have fathered. However, I have been at it so long that my first child -- that boy -- has started fathering children too. The human race should be able to survive now. They should survive all thanks to me -- Ralph the mutant. I saved the world!

Posted by deg at 3:51 PM | Comments (0)