Monday, August 21, 2006

Prelude - Ben Lee

Ben had always been good with machines, electronics, and computers. And hanging out with his family in their old grocery, he had learned much of Chinese herbalism and the mystic tradition. He treated machines the way the old Chinese doctors treated their crushed hoof, and snake venom, as parts of the Celestial Bureaucracy, in harmony with everything else. When some thing broke, he looked at it, and pondered what went wrong, how did this thing go out of balance? And using his keen mind and centered spirit he'd work to repair it. The back room of the grocery held a small side business repairing old televisions, sewing machines, and other items, as well as running a local server hub for the Chinese community in Franklin.
When the EVENT happened, he watched in awe at the catastophe and did his best to lend a hand, collecting, hauling and pulling apart computers and other electronics destroyed in the Electromagnetic Pulse. He was able to salvage and repair many systems that were deemed complete losses. In the eyes of those that found his help he was one of the heroes of those days after the initial shock and awe. He was written up in the local papers and soon found he had more business than he could handle. He was able to hire a manager for the store, and an assitant for the repair shop.
Over the next few months he found his ability to repair machines growing and his affinity for things in general to be getting stronger. He could sense the water damage in the dry wall of his apartment long before it was visible. And by touching it and 'coaxing' the wall to dry and the pipes to seal the leak he was able to repair it. He could never explain these things, and chocked them up to confidence and luck.
He began to notice other things as well. A package in his receiving room from China seemed somehow wrong or trouble. He worried about it, but since it was ordered by a customer he felt hesitent to throw it out. He also felt an uneasiness pass over him every now and then when certain customers entered the store, as if, they were possessed of an unearthly aura.
Some of this he attributed to the stories spreading through the city of paranormal "supers" beings endowed by the Event with strange powers. Great strength, great speed, flight etc. His rational side laughed those off, but he was fascinated by the prospect. All the while, he paid little attention to his own unusual phenomena, his ability to coax an extra fifty miles out of an empty tank of gas in his car, or his ability to 'smooth' out the cracks and weak spots in the store windows, or even the time he got his coat stuck in the monorail door, and he willed it not to break, resulting the metal door of the monorail bending and tearing before his coat did. That stoplights seemed to change in his favor, or his downloads progressed at tremendous speeds, were not something one would even notice. These things just seemed natural to him, perhaps because he was a little more respectful he thought, but nothing more.


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