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A short story

The Boy in the Wheelchair by Alison T. Bond

The explosion had taken everyone by surprise. Black plumes of smoke drifted over the town for days. It had been a catastrophe, a tragedy, the town would take years, perhaps even decades to recover. Six hundred people dead, families without mothers or fathers, both in some cases. The chemical plant had been the biggest employer for many miles around.

But... that was then... and this is now...

Jack had been a cripple all of his short life. Wheelchair bound. No explanation as to why. Could be genetic. Could be the fall his mother took when only three months gone, blown over by the explosion. Could have been because she inhaled so much toxic gas as she lay there, face down in the dust, crying and begging for help, fearful for her unborn child, knowing the father of her child was somewhere back there, dead, in the black heart of the smoke.

Could’ve been anything...

But Jack knew, something inside him told him that the gas had been the culprit. It had rendered him immobile, it had taken away the opportunity to excel in anything physical, perhaps learn to Tango, not that the Tango appealed to him, but he would’ve liked the chance, or to skydive, to bungee jump, to ice skate, to water ski, to be a fireman, a train driver, a policeman, a fighter pilot, a skirt chasing spy like James Bond, millions of opportunities, aspirations and hopes all laid out in a list for him to tick off as not possible.

But it was what he could achieve that mattered...

He could think. Think for England. Think for the world. He knew how to work everything out, even from being very small he was brilliant. An orphan with a gift. A gift all the ‘powers that be’ would want to take him under their wing in order to control it. To be the ones who nurtured this brilliant mind. Oh, if he had been autistic, as is so fashionable amongst the celebrities now, just mild, nothing diagnosed, but I’m special, more special than the rest of them in celebrity something or other, what applause could he have heard. Fame was not his future. No, he was the real deal. Knew some shit, knew everything they asked him whilst all their pressure pads and electronic devises were shoved in places he dare not imagine let alone recount to another living being. The real deal, one in a million. Yes, one in a million, it is what he could achieve that matters, how can we bend him to our motives... 2

But Jack was not malleable. He was rigid. Rigid in life as he was in his chair. His morals always guiding him. His grandmother had said that never a boy with such good intention did exist and no such boy could make his grandparents as proud as he did, regardless of the chair. He had spent some months of respite each year in the hospice, a beautiful place with not the sorrow everyone would imagine, but just joy. A world of acceptance that no other place could offer him. He could just be a boy, play, cheer his other friends on in activities designed especially for them. To make them human in a way the outside world could not. This was his true home. No expectations, just able to ‘be’ and to find some joy in-between all the obstacles and all the pain. He was not alone here, never by himself. Never misunderstood. They were all special. He could just be himself. Just be happy. But it wasn’t if he was happy that counted, just what he could achieve that mattered... And how they brayed the door down. Those men in suits and their fancy words. Come and stay with us, we can take you to Disneyland and you get to meet all the famous people you ever dreamed of, because we can make things happen, you are special and we can make your dreams come true if you make ours come true. We can take care of you and everyone and everything you love will be safe. And he felt only doubt in their words and intentions, their dreams. It was what in his dreams and if they could be achieved that mattered... He had been very good at the dissection of will. What made the human race raise the call to arms. War. Such a great excuse in this world to destroy another creed because they just didn’t conform, fit in with the ideal. But he had no choice in the matter. They could not cajole him, so now they had his grandparents and they were going to kill them unless he did as they asked. This poor little orphan boy with his withered limbs and his inability to communicate without a keyboard or to function in the modern world without the aid of nurses, tubes and the chair. Humiliation. Not his strong point. Always fearful of the fate he could create for others.

But it was what he dared to create which mattered...

He would make a human become more than a carbon based life-form, he could do it. He could work out how it could be done and then everything would change. This boy from the toxic smoke could change the world and the select few 3

of the human race into something far greater and far, far worse than anyone could ever have imagined. He saw the twisting of the DNA in his mind and he knew how to alter it.

He could make them super human...

Would they still be human, debatable, but he began to realise the truth of his power to alter the fabric of everything he knew. Was it the smoke that made him so very clever. He didn’t really care, so long as they would leave him and his grandparents alone once he had finished. But he realised if he did as they asked, he would then be dispensable, the cripple in the chair, did the job in hand, can’t really change him, can’t make him better, he’d have to be removed, deleted. And so he had to rethink his path going forward.

He could make them scared...

And there it began, not the humble child in the wheelchair but the savage animal trying to protect his kin. What would his mother have thought, dying in childbirth, screaming his fathers name in vain, hoping for the best for her newly born child yet secretly, inwardly knowing something had changed in those last few months. The dread of birthing a monster. Something otherworldly, something strange, something not of this time or this place. Yes, monster covered it. But she had not lived to tell of her fears, the embolism had taken her and there was not one medical miracle which could alter that. She was gone and he was here.

He could change who he was, he could be other than he was...

And so it began, the change, the moment he realised that all his knowledge did not need to be aimed at the others, the test subjects. The one who would surely perish because they were not mentally strong enough. Chosen because of their training and their expertise in the field of combat, these crash test dummies lining up to become Super Soldiers, machines of war. Well that just wasn’t going to happen. He was his first test subject. Locked in his glass cell for days, never typing a single word of a formula down, never giving them what they wanted, only keeping eye contact as he saw into their minds, they had indeed begun to fear him, because in the space of just days he was different, his heartbeat was calm and strong, loud enough to hear through the glass never mind through the monitoring equipment. And he was smiling, oh God such a cold smile, a knowing smile. They felt like a modern 4

day Frankenstein just waiting for the storm to hit. What had they done? And more importantly, what was he doing?

It was what he was becoming that mattered...

He knew that he could make every single cell scream for an individual life, but yet still as a whole, a collective, a hive mind, a vast controller... he could stop them all in their tracks, the ones who would hurt and betray, the ones who would steal and murder, he could cut them all down with just his thoughts. And as he dreamt with his eyes open, keeping eye contact with those who were to be first in line, he was aware of his soul expanding, the light grew within the glass cell as each tiny piece of his existence caught fire and burned bright as a miniature sun exploding in a Terrarium, a tiny big bang all in the space of one room. But then the room became too small and the explosion tore the whole building apart. He couldn’t control what was happening, it was too fast, he was tearing through the surrounding area burning everything in his path. Until finally he headed upwards, not scorching the earth anymore but ascending into the night, through the atmosphere and into the dark skies beyond. And there he nestled amongst the stars. Expanding still, floating outwards towards the very known rims of every universe. Still thinking as one mind, still daring to go further.

‘I did it everyone... I ascended, I did it, I actually did it.’

He saw all his friends at the Hospice and called to them, but they could not hear him, he was too far away, he was not the boy they knew anymore. His grandparents mourned his passing, broken-hearted at outliving both their child and their grandchild, not the natural order of things, not the way it should be. His last questions spoken into the silence... ‘Is anyone listening to me? Can anybody hear me?’ He was omniscient, omnipresent, he had dreamt and he had become a god... not just any god, he had become the One God.

But it was what he felt that mattered...



Š Alison T. Bond 2013 email:

A theological question: Perhaps as you look up into the stars tonight you might like to ask yourselves, if you pray hard enough will God hear you? Or is God just like the boy in the wheelchair, talking to us all, and have we just stopped listening?

The Boy in the Wheelchair  

A Short Story