Between when I got accepted at the college I go to now and when I finally got there I somehow got the idea that a hefty chunk of the guys there were gay. Something about how people acted when I visited there planted the idea in my head, and so it was no surprise when the first person I met online before getting here and that one of my roommates turned out to be gay.

It took me a while before I realized that I got a bit of a bad sample. I go to a school of about 1,200 students, of which 550 are men. Since about 2.5% of men are queer (different studies say different things, as this list can attest to, but I like this estimate), so that makes a dating pool of about 13 guys. I do go to a gay friendly place, so lets double it! 26! Yay? Last time me and my gay friends counted up how many we know that sounded about right.

So yea, a while back I was thinking up ideas for gay superheroes and the following just kinda followed. It is the very beginning of the origin story for Redstorm, the garden of a settlement on Mars. So early in fact that I haven’t even gotten to the point where he puts on the rocket boots yet. But I think it’s pretty good anyway. 

Oh, and just a warning, my sexual frustration kinda comes across in it. It’s nothing really bad, but I feel better being upfront about it.

 

The Origin of Redstorm

 

It took Conrad three minutes to get to his job from whenever he wakes up. He had to be there at 7:00 AM, so he set his alarm for 6:55. It didn’

t hurt to be two minutes early every day. 

Back when he used to listen to new music Conrad became very attached to a song from a band that he didn’t tag in his laptop’s music library before he forgot it’s name. Their aesthetic was linked to the poor equipment they used, which buried whatever they played under layers of feedback and static. Every morning Conrad woke up to the same song, track 11. The song before it on the album led into the song, so it begins abruptly and without warning. But the music behind the distortion begins to fall into a pattern, and the more he listened to it the more the song became comforting to him. He couldn’t make out what the lyrics were, except for the part where the female singer repeats with a yell, “Another day, another day, another day.”
Still in his dark blue work uniform, Conrad woke as he had done ever since he got the job just across the street. He work up in a bit of a trance, standing up and locating his refrigerator. He didn’

t need it anymore to get through his job without thinking, but he grabbed a beer from the pink box humming by the door. The hallways of his apartment were sterile from a fresh cleaning and the dull green walls seemed to stare at him more intensely than before. He was glad to be out on the street, where at least the stars were out, making his otherwise drab neighborhood less boring.

When he first got his job at the shop he spent most of his day there guessing how long it was going to be before there weren’t enough people on Mars to support it’s existence. The only people who really have a place here are a few dozen crazy scientists who like being alone and the five people it took to look over the automated mining operations. It’s not even a good place for criminals to hide out in anymore, and the few who don’t realize that it isn’

t a safe haven anymore get shipped out almost as soon as they get here. There is only one thing keeping people here, the fact that it cost 75 million yen to get a ticket back to Earth. Conrad was in the minority in that he had never been to the home planet, but the fact that there was no way out was still heartbreaking. Sometimes that thought was enough to keep him from doing anything at all, but ever since he stopped thinking of these things he did okay. 

He also used to count the customers who came in, which was never too many to keep track of, but he didn’t anymore. There were a few that came in a lot that he recognized, the guy who looked like teenager but apparently was married and with a kid, the old lady with an eyebrow ring, but he never had a reason to speak with them as he stocked shelves and cleaned up. The time he spent at work became a big blank spot in his mind, and years later he couldn’

t even recall the name of the shop.

At home he cooked up some ramen from the fifty pack he had and took it to the bedroom, the only room of his three that got much use. The only decorations on the room’s white cinderblock walls where softcore pornography from the internet he had printed out at the copy shop about a year and a half ago. The torn and crinkled pages coved almost all of the wall beside his bed. After he finished his dinner he leaned his forehead on the wall, staring intently at the face of one of the models. He began to feel himself, and eventually slipped out of his jeans. He became more and more aware of the model’

s muscle tone, and his eyes slipped further and further toward the bit if his ass revealed by the slack in his underwear. He fell back on his bed and continued to masturbate. After he came he just laid around, letting the stimulation in his penis die away. It was replaced with keen awareness of the fact that if he rolled over he would stain his sheets. He got up for a beer and a couple paper towels. 

Before he had gotten his clothes back on his laptop started beeping, the first major thing it had done since it had became nothing more than Conrad’s alarm clock. It was Anthony Goldstein, sending a video call. Conrad grumbled to himself, “At least I won’t have to put clothes on.”

He dragged his laptop over to his bed and accepted the invitation. 

Up popped a grainy video of a man unknowingly overdressed in his nightrobe. “Hay, this is out of the blue, I know, but… Conrad? Are you naked?”
“Yea, that a problem?”

Conrad scratched himself, as if to emphasize that nothing was there to stop him from doing that.

“Naw, just…you know, commenting on states of affairs, or whatever.” Anthony took a deep breath. “Been a while hasn’t it? Like two years, right?”
“What year is it?”
“2047.”
Conrad thought for a second. “Yea, that’s two years.”
“So yea, I’ve been wondering what you’ve been doing.”
“Well, I got a job at this store… But really, you know, I’ve been doing jack shit.”
“I see you’ve made a wall of dudes.”

 

“Hehe, well, I take what I can get.”
Anthony smiled. “Actually, that is kinda what I called you about. I’ve been thinking about you and me, and I want to give our relationship another shot.”

Conrad stared at Anthony for a moment in silence, then turned over, with his back facing the webcam.

Anthony put his head in his hands. “Conrad? What are you doing?” The was more silence, and Conrad never turned back around. “You aren’t going to say anything are you?” Anthony waited, but he got nothing. “Fuck you man. Can’t you see that I’m the only other queer on this goddamn planet, you dense motherfucker?” His voice began to waver. “You fucking idiot. Were are stuck here and we are going to die here and I am… you are… going to fucking die alone…” Anthony pounded his desk, then paused for second to regain his composure. “You know what? I don’t have deal with this…”

He then closed the chat.

After Anthony left Conrad kept laying there, he began to whisper to himself. “I’m sorry, Anthony. I’m so sorry.”

 

The next day began as usual, but he found himself unable to fully empty himself of thought as he usually did. The tedium of his job got to him for the first time in a while, so he snuck out of work soon after clocking in to sneak a few more beers from his flat. He passed out on his bed, not so much from the alcohol as from the lack of motivation to do anything else. He didn’t even pick up the call from his boss telling him he was fired.

For the next week Conrad didn’t do much except get up every so often to eat and use the bathroom. The last of his beer went stale, but he didn’t need it.

Then, all of a sudden, Conrad grabbed his laptop from the top of the pile of clothes on his floor that he hadn’t touched in months and moved it to the coffee table in his usually unused front room. He sat on the couch that he hadn’t used since that night five months before where he was too drunk to make it to his bed. He sent a video call to Anthony Goldstein.

 

Conrad and Anthony grew up together in the house of Ms Conradle Hawthorne, two of the seventeen that she cared for. When they were old enough to know where babies come from she told them that they came from the sky, in a rocket from earth that crashed one day. “The police got in spacesuits went outside of the city and found all of you in the wreckage,” she told them, “they asked who would care for you, and I knew then that it had to be me.” 

 Ms Hawthorne and her staff cared for the children for until about seventeen years after the crash, when she died due to liver failure. The day Conrad heard the news he just left, saying nothing to anyone. It took five years before Conrad saw any of the group again.

 

Anthony accepted Conrad’s call was the first to break the stare, during which Conrad cut in, “Why the hell are we where we are?”

“Umm… well, we have limited dating options, if that is what you are talking about.”

“I’m not.”

Anthony smiled a bit, “Didn’t think so.”

“Do you actually believe what Ms Jackson told us? About the crash and all?”

“Well, I think that some of it was a lie. Like, why the hell would she take on seventeen kids, she probably got stuck with all of us when no other foster parents showed up, you know?”

“Not that, I mean, you really think that someone shot a fucking rocket full of children at Mars just to get rid of us? There are probably more than enough people on Earth to give children…”

“You know what?”

“What?”

“I don’t really care.” Anthony smiled a bit.

Conrad stared back a bit, and for the first time in a long while had something to look forward to again. “You want to meet sometime? Not a relationship or something, but I’d like to, see you.”

“Sure.”

“Tonight?”

“No. Sorry. Shit is going down here, and I don’t think you want to be here. Tomorrow, whenever you want really.”

Conrad took a huge sigh, “Thank you. A lot man.”

“Hay, it’s not like I’m getting laid.” Anthony tried to smile, but he couldn’t help but feel a little bit of dread. Restarting a relationship with a guy for the third time isn’t usually something to look forward to. It showed a bit, but Conrad didn’t notice. It was partially because he could hardly see Anthony through the fuzz of the webcam, it was also because his head was on cloud nine. He giggled at the slightest thing as they talked for the next few minutes, truly happy for the first time in years. Unfortunately it ended abruptly when Anthony’s doorbell ringed and he had to say goodbye.

 

The next morning at ten Conrad found himself in a bit of a problem. Anthony wasn’t answering his door, his cell phone was out of batteries and he realized that the 1000 yen for bus fare was only one way. He pounded on the door again, but to no avail. On a lark he tried the doorknob and, strangely,it was unlocked. 

It was dark in the apartment when he got in. Anthony’s paintings were everywhere, abstract things that Conrad didn’t think much of.

“Anthony!” Conrad yelled. No one was there

It was about then that Conrad realized that Anthony was playing a game with him, hiding somewhere in the apartment so Conrad could find him and yell at him and joke attack him. He sighed and continued to look around the apartment.

But he wasn’t there. “Must be at the store,” Conrad thought. The fridge was kinda bare, except for the yogurt which Conrad grabbed and ate. The smell of the paints brought back his memories of the place, some of the few good ones that he had. He began to swagger around the place, taking it all in. He was distracted enough to not notice someone come in and take Anthony’s laptop. 

“Who the hell are you?” Conrad asked. The robber, a tiny guy in all black and a ski mask, took a look behind him and ran. Conrad followed suit, but the robber would have gotten away if he hadn’t tripped on his way out, falling into Andrew’s coffee table. 

Conrad stood over his fallen enemy and said, “Hay, what the hell man, what are you doing?”

The robber put his hands up and replied, “What does it look like? Stealing that laptop. Can I stand up, I’m unarmed.” Conrad nodded. “Who are you, by the way?”

“Friend of the guy who lives here.”

“Hua.” In his best casual tone, the robber continued, “You by any chance Conrad Gableman?”

Conrad thought a moment. “No.”

The robber took a good look at Conrad, and then reached into his pocket for something, but he didn’t get a chance to look at it before his target decked him in the face. Before either of them had any idea what was going on Conrad had the robber in a hold against the wall. The blood from the robber’s nose dripped on Condrad’s sleeve.

“Why the hell are you looking for me?” Conrad yelled.

“Look, okay, calm down. I didn’t ask they guy who hired me and my buddies why they wanted the two of you kidnapped. They…” He was interrupted by Conrad dragging him toward the kitchen. “Hay…what?”

“You aren’t going to talk more until I can tie you up, okay?”

“Umm, okay.”

And Conrad tied him up.

 

Umm, that’s it for now. 

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