Photo by David Banuelos

Hiraeth Excerpt (Chapter Six: MIND MAN)

The following is an excerpt of:


The Boy Who Dreamed and the Big Bad Wolf Which He Became

By Tex Batmart

If you haven’t been with us from the start, check out Chapter One here

Chapter Six: MIND MAN

It should not have been such a fundamental revelation for the boy, but it was, all the same. In fact, it should have painfully obvious as soon as he began to write his letters, and learn how to spell some words, but it took until that day, that fateful assignment in the First Grade, for him to understand why he had been put on the earth, and build a fire within himself which would keep him going for the many long and dark years which lay ahead. He had no idea, of course, just what a twisted, winding road this path he’d chosen would put him on, just the confidence in knowledge of what he felt that he was supposed to do. Later, many decades after, he would wonder if it might not have been worth the uncertainty which all of his friends came to experience, just so that his path might not have hurt so much. And then he would chuckle, realizing that it made no difference, for the path he chose was as much a part of him as any other, and that he could no more have forsworn his destiny than he could have willing parted with a limb. Wishful thinking, he decided, was for people who had nothing left to accomplish, and were just waiting for the end to come. He had been awaiting that final day as well, but as far as he could tell, he’d have no such luck until he was able to fulfill the promises he’d made when he was only seven years old.

As far as life-changing moments go, it was fairly innocuous: his teacher passed out a single mimeographed page instructing her students to imagine that they were a Superhero, and describe what their superpowers would be. The boy had written other things, of course, so this wasn’t the first time that he had been faced with the task of writing creatively. But somehow, for some reason, the idea began to burn somewhere within his brain that revolutionized his way of thinking, and indeed, his very way of taking in the world around him, and it all came down to a single thought: You mean I don’t have to wait for someone else to write a story? I can come up with them on my very own?

He was nearly floored by the simplicity of the notion which was rapidly expanding within him. Doors of possibility began throwing themselves open, and offering him up glimpses of the futures which lay within. He could write the stories that he wanted to read. He could channel his creativity into something that could outlast him (though he didn’t fully understand what that meant, at the time). This was his chance, he suddenly understood, to know what it meant to be fully alive.

Perhaps his thoughts were not quite as precise and orderly as I have laid down, but the realms of endless opportunities had begun to show themselves to him. He might have lost himself in revelry, had his teacher not walked past and reminded everyone that they had half an hour to complete the page. Refocused on the task at hand, young Tex took up his pencil and took the first steps of what would be a lifelong journey into words. What kind of Superhero would I be? he thought furiously to himself.

He considered the strength of Superman, and the ability to fly, but then remembered that he was afraid of heights, and shook the thought away. Maybe I could be like Batman? He asked then, of himself. But the Caped Crusader was very strong, and had lots of cool inventions, and was allowed to stay up at night, and the boy knew that they shared none of those traits in common. He didn’t understand why he was having such a hard time picturing himself as a Superhero, aside from the knowledge that he wasn’t too terribly heroic. But he knew that he was smart, as all the grownups he knew kept reminding him (though usually when he’d done something spectacularly foolish), and if he was so smart, why was he having such a problem imagining a superpower for his alter ego?

And then it came to him, in rather the same fashion as it would throughout the remainder of his years, a sharp rap upon his brow delivered by the fickle mistress, Inspiration. Write what you know. He’d heard the words before, but they’d never really meant anything to him until that very moment.

At the top of the page, next to the drawing of the Generic Superhero, he wrote two words: MIND MAN. And with those eight letters, he released the stopper which had been holding back the stories in his head, and the words began to flow out of him, almost faster than he could make himself aware of them. As his abilities increased over the years, he came to refer to this state as “Getting Lost Within The Flow”, as he came to learn that he would find better results if he set his conscious mind just a little to the side, and let the words spring from him like bursts of electricity through muscle memory.

It was the closest he ever came in his adult life to believing in a god; those moments when his fingers danced across the keyboard and drew the story out from somewhere deep inside of him slightly faster than the voice which narrated in his head. When he was writing at his very best, he was in fact just reading along as the words appeared upon the screen, simultaneously his, and yet fresh and new before his eyes.

Mind Man had no Super Strength, nor any extraordinary physical endowment. From the outside, one would have no clue what manner of man he would be facing. Perhaps the cape which Mind Man wore could be considered telling to the criminal element, but it was a conceit of a seven-year-old mind that all the coolest people in the world wore capes, and so, such a fashion choice would be no more unusual than a baseball cap worn to a ball game. This hero used his mental magnificence and sheer force of will to subdue the evil all around him, transformed the encroaching darkness of ignorance into the argent brilliance of illumination. In short, he won because he was able to outthink his opponent.

And though the story, along with countless others, was lost in the Great Purge of 2000, it remained the foundation upon which Mr. Batmart laid his legacy. Obviously, if a copy were to exist, the words themselves might not impart the sweeping themes which have been described here, but if one were to look past the linguistic limitations of a boy who had just turned seven, it would be plain to see where he was going. In the interest of honesty, he may have also been influenced by A Wrinkle In Time, which he had just finished reading, most especially the climax, wherein a force of Ultimate Intelligence was defeated by the Power of Love, which, even at that age, Tex Batmart felt was a little too… simplistic a plot device. So he turned the climax on its head, and created an anti-hero, or, at the very least, launched an unimpeachable defense of villainy.

At the end of his half-hour, he looked upon that single sheet of paper, and read it to himself, amazed that he had created something of its kind. It sat before him like the promise of contentment, which at his age, was as close to happiness as he could truly understand. He had written all those words, snatched ideas and sentences out of the ether and forged them by his will. At that moment, he knew that he could do anything and everything, and was determined that he would.

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