Wednesday, April 10, 2019
NINETEEN: THE TALE OF THE RING
THE FULL WEIGHT OF clarity bore down upon Oliver Jordan as he sat perched on the edge of Peter Pembleton’s couch and told his story.
He could hear himself talking and had to admit that had it not happened to him, despite the world they live in, it all sounded a bit far fetched. Mostly because he found that once he thought about it, he could really only come to one logical conclusion. He was now a super powered human being. A Mighty. It was something he’d always dreamed of. It just couldn’t be real.
Oliver’s tale unfolded in quick bursts, broken up only by the tentative sips he took from his steaming mug of coffee, all the while his legs bouncing more than a pair of jack hammers working overtime. Mr. Pembleton, to his credit, said nothing as Oliver talked. He asked no questions, just sat patiently in his recliner and listened with all the attentiveness of a veteran therapist.
Eventually Oliver’s story came to an end and he sat silent, his eyes wide and unblinking.
Mr. Pembleton smiled and swallowed down the last of his coffee.
“Normally I’m not much of a coffee drinker,” Mr. Pembleton said setting his empty mug on the tray table next to the chair. “Especially at this time of night. However, you and I have a lot to get through, so I felt it right to indulge this one time.”
“Coffee,” Mr. Pembleton repeated. “I don’t drink it much anymore.”
“Sir,” Oliver said. “Could you please help me make sense of what happened to me out there tonight?”
Mr. Pembleton ignored the question and instead took another sip of his coffee, found the mug empty, and rose. “Excuse me, my boy. Need to fill’er up.”
Oliver waited, his legs still bouncing, and tried to fight the urge to scream as he listened to Mr. Pembleton fumble about in the kitchen. Then, just as he felt he could take it no longer and was about to storm into the kitchen and demand that Mr. Pembleton tell him what was going on with the alien and the ring, the old man returned with his coffee.
Oliver waited as Mr. Pembleton took his seat.
Oliver sighed as Mr. Pembleton blew the steam from his mug and took a test sip.
“Yikes,” Mr. Pembleton said. “That’s a bit too hot for my liking.” He placed the mug on the tray table and began to stare at the open book of crosswords that lay there next to the mug.
“Mr. Pembleton?” Oliver said. “The ring?”
“Oh! Yes, sorry. I’m afraid my mind just isn’t what it used to be. Don’t worry son, it will happen to you one day. Mark my word.” The old man smiled and went back to staring at the book of crosswords.
“Mr. Pembleton,” Oliver cleared his throat. “You were going to tell me about the ring?”
“The ring, yes, I can tell you about the ring.” Mr. Pembleton leaned forward, catching Oliver’s eyes like a bear in a trap. “Tell me Oliver, have you ever heard the story of Captain Might?”
“Of course,” Oliver said with a small laugh. “Who hasn’t? He was the greatest hero that Garrison City has ever known. But he retired when I was like, fourteen. What does he have to do with anything?”
“Do you know how Captain Might got his powers?”
“Well,” Oliver thought for a moment. “No . . . why would I? Captain Might never discussed that in any interview I’ve seen or read.”
Mr. Pembleton leaned back in the recliner, his elbows resting on the arms of the chair, his fingers steepled before him as he spoke.
“The story of Captain Might begins many light years away,” Mr. Pembleton began. “It begins with two alien races. The Ru’In and the Tal’Might.”
“Mr. Pembleton, please,” Oliver said. “What does this have to do with what happened to me tonight?”
“Why, it has everything to do with you, my boy. Everything. Now please, indulge an old man and listen to my story. I promise that in the end, you will understand.”
“Okay, I’ll listen. Sorry.”
“Thank you, my boy. Now . . . where to begin? Ah, I know. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.”
“Never mind. Sorry. Please continue.”
“Anyway, there used to be this planet, many thousands of light years from Earth.”
“Used to be a planet?”
“Oh yes, it’s not there anymore.”
“What happened to it?”
“I’m getting to that,” Mr. Pembleton, for the first time since Oliver had known him, sounded annoyed.
“Okay, sorry,” Oliver said sheepishly.
“Anyway,” Mr. Pembleton continued. “The planet’s name was Narm.”
Mr. Pembleton stared at Oliver.
“Right,” Oliver said. “Sorry. I’ll be quiet.”
“Thank you,” Mr. Pembleton cleared his throat. “On this planet were two dominant species. They were the Ru’In, and the Tal’Might. The Tal’Might, in all respects—even down to their genetic code—were the same as the human species. As a matter of fact, it’s always been my belief that the human race and the Tal’Might were of the same species. And if that’s true, it raises some interesting questions.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, if the human race and the Tal’Might were one and the same, does that mean that the human race actually finds its origins on the Planet Narm, and then immigrated to Earth? Or, at some point in our past, did a group of people find a way to leave Earth and start a new civilization thousands of light years away on Narm?”
“What do the answers to those questions have to do with my ring?”
“Well,” Mr. Pembleton thought about it for a moment. “Nothing.”
“Nothing? Nothing at all?”
“Well, yes. Nothing, and yet everything.”
“Okay, I’m sorry,” Oliver got up from the couch, “but I really don’t have time for this, Mr. Pembleton. I mean, I haven’t been home since I left for work this morning.”
That’s when it hit him and a look of panic set in on Oliver’s face.
“Oliver, is something wrong, my boy?”
“Oh, crap,” was all Oliver could say.
“What is it my boy?”
“Elyse. I didn’t call Elyse.”
“Yes, Mr. Pembleton, Elyse.” Panic really set in and Oliver slapped at his pockets. “She’s got to be worried out of her head!”
Oliver slapped at his pockets for a few more moments. Then he thrust his hands into each pocket, pushing them in as far as they could go, searching, clawing, grasping, and coming up empty.
“Crap!” Oliver said. “My cell phone must be in my car. Crap!”
“Please, Oliver,” Mr. Pembleton said, standing and walking over to the cordless phone on the wall. “Use my phone. Call your wife.”
Oliver pulled the phone from the cradle and dialed his home number, waiting in nervous anticipation as it rang. “She’s going to kill me.”