Near the center of Silver Plains, Westchester, New York stood Gunma Incorporated, a company that specialized in the latest genetics and technologies. Predicting if someone had a hereditary disease before birth, creating cures for terminal diseases, and discovering what made a person an Inversion were among their many goals.
Henry Sharp worked as a receptionist for Gunma Inc. All he had to do was sit at the front desk, check people in, and answer the phone. Being a social person made it nice to meet and greet all sorts of new people. If he was lucky he’d be able to see Rowena Gunma, current CEO of Gunma Inc. before one of her meetings.
They were once good friends in college, but once she had taken over the company, their interactions became sporadic at best.
“Three minutes and my shift is finally over.” Henry thinks to himself impatiently. Despite how he enjoyed the job, he enjoyed being home more. Luckily for him, his replacement had arrived. Darcy Zayn was a tall and beautiful woman with long flowing jet black hair. Her eyes were a stunning hazel and her eyebrows were perfectly maintained. Every movement put her curves on display. She easily could’ve been a model but why she chose receptionist instead is a mystery.
“You’re like a kid waiting for recess sometimes you know that?” Darcy says casually.
“Only because I get to see your lovely smile.”
“Whatever you say Hal.” she rolls her eyes. “Same old, same old?”
“Yeah, nothing special. Unless you count that squirrel that got in and stole some snacks.” Hal adds offhand.
“Daww that’s cute.”
“What if I told you it was 10 feet tall and spat fire?”
“I’d say you’ve been watching the news too much.” she replies flatly, throwing her jacket to Hal. He catches it and places it under the desk.
“Hey, one day it’s gonna happen and I’ll be the one laughing.” Hal stands and walks around Darcy so she can take his place at the front desk. “See you tomorrow. If you see Ro’ would you mind-”
“Telling her of your undying love and willingness to shake the heavens in her name? Of course.” Darcy tilts her heads and bats her full eyelashes like she was daydreaming.
“Yes, do exactly that. Word-for-word.” With a wave, Hal exits the buildings and stretches. “Finally free!” he thinks to himself before contemplating what to do for the weekend. In a city the size of Silver Plains, where no matter the time of day the streets were crowded, there was something to keep yourself occupied.
Something catches his attention. A woman no older than he was, wearing a yellow sundress with a matching hat, was crossing the street. Hal was captivated by her. Unfortunately, the shipping truck that was speeding down the road to beat the light wasn’t as focused on her presence.
His body moves on his own and Hal races to the woman’s side. The air chilled his lungs as the truck sped closer. Instinctively, he grabs the woman and shields her with his body. Funny, he was never particularly heroic or outstandingly brave but he was putting his life on the line without a second thought for someone he never met.
But today was not the day he’d die. Moments before they became the victims of a hit-and-run, a pillar of ice bursts from the ground under the car. Piercing through the left side of the hood and toppling the truck onto its right side. It slid and crashed into a light post, narrowly missing the crowd as they ran to avoid it. The force of its initial impact was enough to destroy the pillar and cause it to collapse forward. The crowd watches in shock when the pillar begins to move. First, a brief shaking before being lifted and pushed aside moments later. The woman lay on the ground safe and sound. Hal on the other hand…
“You okay?” Hal asks the woman who responds with a blank stare. “You’re alive so that’s good.” he tosses the pillar aside and notices the woman’s hat laying on the floor. “Sorry, but I think you…” Hal grabs the hat and realizes his hand is covered in a thick layer of ice. Not just that but his entire body “Ho-ly shit!” he yells in his mind as no words came out of his mouth. Hal drops the hat and falls backward to the ground, freezing it with his touch. “Okay, don’t freak out. Cause if you freak out I’m gonna freak out more than I am now and I don’t know what’ll happen.” he rambles to the woman. His heart and mind raced faster than they ever did before. It was only a month ago he heard about Inversions even being a thing. Now he was one of them? Was there a way to turn it off? How does he not do anything accidentally?”
“Y-you’re one of those Inversions.” The woman says in a low tone, the shock still having full control over her.
Hal’s mind raced and the only sound he could hear was his heartbeat pounding in his ears. It was deafening and he felt dizzy from it all. His breathing was fast and shallow. The only thing that broke through the noise was the sound of police sirens approaching. Fight or flight kicked in and Hal had a choice. Stay where he was, waiting for the police to arrive and hope they don’t shoot the dark skinned male covered in ice unintentionally responsible for a car crash. Or he could just run like hell. Those Inhibitors he heard about weren’t up and running yet so dealing with Inversions was still up in the air. He didn’t want to take his chances and fleeing looked very appealing. Finally, he could head inside and hope someone he knew could help. They specialized in genetics after all. But coming to a decision felt like an eternity and the sirens kept getting louder and louder.
“Thank you.” The woman’s words made Hal suddenly feel calm. “I don’t know who you are, but thank you.” She waits for a response but doesn’t receive one. “Um…you should go. I don’t know what they’ll do if you stay.”
Hal nods and flees the scene. With each step he takes, a frozen footprint was left behind. He didn’t want to leave the scene of an accident but things had gotten out of control. How would he explain the whole accidentally turning into a human ice statue to save someone? To his surprise, nobody tried to stop him. In fact, they seemed to try and lead him off the main roads away from the oncoming police. Seeing his heroism in action seemed to inspire them to give him a chance. He ran without thinking and eventually stops to catch his breath in a back alley parking lot.
“Think I’m finally-” Hal thought to himself before he was interrupted. He stepped into a puddle of water without realizing it and created a massive ice spike in its place falling backward to avoid it. “SHIT!” he exclaimed in shock, crawling away. Each time his hand touched the ground, it froze until he was entirely surrounded by ice. “That’s not good…” Taking a deep breath, Hal tried to get to his feet. To his surprise and relief, he could stand up fine. “Cool, standing and nothing’s getting worse.”
Hal thinks to himself. “Step 1 complete…Literally. Step 2…turn off the ice thing.” Hal concentrates as hard as he can on returning to normal but fails miserably. “Okay then step 3, try to leave the dirty alley without freezing anything else. Worry about step 2 later.” After several minutes of slow walking on the icy floor, Hal finally makes it to normal solid ground…only to freeze it in seconds. “Step 3…find a place to curl up and cry awhile. Step 4, do not pass out.” Hal thinks aloud before finding himself face to face with a pair of police officers. “I know how this looks…and I can totally explain.”
“Freeze!” she shouts aiming her gun at Hal when he takes a step backward.
“Seriously?” Hal replies flatly. His attempt at expressing annoyance in his face falling flat with his finer facial features covered in ice.
“Hands over your head!” she continues.
Hal can see her hands shaking and tries not to make any sudden moves. “Okay, I’m going to slowly raise my hands over my head. Don’t like, freak out and shoot me or anything.” He slowly begins to raise his hands over his head. A few minutes pass of awkward silence. “So…am I like…under arrest, or…?” Neither cop seems to know the answer or at the very least is too scared to try and get closer. “Can I put my arms down? I’m getting really tired.”
“You’re under arrest you can’t make requests!” her partner shouts.
“It doesn’t look like I’m…” Hal stops and feels a tingling sensation in his nose.
“W-what are you doing?” The cop asks before Hal sneezes. A normally harmless action now was accompanied by a wave of ice that knocked them to the floor. Her finger slips and pulls the trigger, firing at Hal and grazing his head.
“See ya!” Hal shouts before running away. “Looks like my luck is turning around.” For all the crowded places in the city, there were just as many isolated ones. One was an underground garage several blocks away. He had gone there a few times before when he couldn’t get parking at work. Now it made a perfect spot to hide while he sorted this out in his head. There was usually a floor or two that were largely empty which made a good spot to finally rest. The exhaustion from the day’s events finally caught up with him. Slowly he drifted off into sleep. When he awoke his body was no longer encased in ice. He didn’t know how or care how but he did know one thing. He wanted to do it again by choice. Having powers could be fun if he knew what he was doing.
Without having to deal with being seen frozen in public, it was a simple matter to find his way home from the underground garage. But without any idea if he powers would flare up again, Hal decided to train himself to use them. For weeks he spent all day and night doing so until he finally felt ready to go out into the world again. He put on his old jeans, black boots, and blue sleeveless basketball shirt before finding a simple black bandanna and blue framed shades. He wrapped the bandanna around his head and looked at himself in a mirror.
“I really need to get myself a costume.” he says aloud. “Gotta start small I guess.” Since the initial terror of his powers manifesting faded, he was consumed with the idea of being a superhero. The parts he ordered online had yet to arrive so his regular clothes would have to do. “Step 5.” Hal takes a deep breath. “Go save the world.”
Stepping out the backdoor of his small house, he forms a pair of Ice Grieves around his legs. He steps forward and begins to skate on the path he instinctively makes a few feet in front of him. The trail of ice he leaves behind melts shortly after he skates away from it. Sliding his left hand on the ground, his palms frozen over for protection, he skates in-between the two traffic lanes down the road. His parents said learning to in-line skate was just a phase, now it made navigating the traffic easy. His focus shifts briefly when the sound of a firetrucks siren rings through the air. Hal didn’t need to be a genius to know that meant trouble. Shifting his weight, he weaves in-between traffic to follow them. The firefighters drove to an office building that was consumed in flames and the quickly getting out of control.
“It’s not a random mugger but I’ll take it.” Hal thinks to himself before realizing how bad it is he wasn’t treating this seriously. “Okay Hal you can do this.” Psyching himself up, he forces his way through the on looking crowd and takes a stance next to the firefighters. Without saying a word he fires an ice beam into the first flaming window he sees and extinguishes it. He then proceeds onto the next. For a moment the firefighters falter at the sudden assistance but they don’t waste the opportunity and begin to move inside to search for anyone trapped. “Looks like my cue.” Encasing his entire body in ice, Hal fires an ice beam at his feet and launches himself off the pillar it creates. He soars through the air and into the window he just extinguished. The inside was partly frozen but the flames further inside didn’t subside. “HELLO?! Is anyone still in here?!” he shouts as loud as he can while extinguishing any flames he finds. Hal prepares to move onto the next floor when he hears a cough. With his now frozen body it was easy to tackle down the nearby door and find a janitor surrounded by flames at the edge of the room. “Don’t worry, I’m here to help.” Firing multiple ice beams he extinguishes the fires and starts shouldering the man. Reaching the window he came in through, he fires a beam downward to create an ice slide and rides it down. “He’s all yours.” he says proudly, handing him off to an EMS. “Just, don’t call the cops on me okay?”
Hal melts the ice slide and creates a staircase instead so he can return to the second floor. It took time to search the remaining floors but between him and the firefighters there were thankfully only injuries. “Nice work team!” Hal says with his hand ready for a high five that doesn’t come. The firefighter’s faces showed their gratefulness but none of them knew properly how to respond to their frozen helper. “That’s fine, next time.”
“Thank you so much.” One of the injured officer workers calls out to Hal.
“No problem. I’m just here to help.”
“You did well out there.” a stern looking firefighter thanks Hal, extending his hand for a handshake.
“Thanks, would you believe it’s my first day on the job?” Hal shakes his hand with a smile.
“Mind telling us your name?”
“Well…” Hal begins only to hear the sound of police sirens approaching. “Maybe next time. See ya later!” Hal skates away without properly introducing himself just to be safe. Despite having to flee, being a superhero was a job Hal could get used to.