From the diary of Kate McCormick:
The storm was the first sign that my life was going to change. I know that in my college days, at Connecticut College for Women, we were assigned to read Shakespeare’s Macbeth — or was it Julius Caesar? The brain cells start decaying quickly once a woman hits her mid-thirties. Anyway, in one of the plays a character complains about how the elements themselves were throwing a hissy fit because a murder had occurred.
I guess old Will was right when he jotted down those lines about the way the weather can reflect our own inner turmoil and predict massive life changes. At least I know that this woman’s life changed immediately after the big storm hit. I’ll never forget that storm. The reasons that make one thunder boomer (as Pop used to call them) so memorable will become evident as I complete the daily entries in this little book that I have so sorely neglected for the last while due to the very changes I’m going to relate. So the storm changed my life, because after that one night of lightning and thunder I became much more than the sexy divorced mother of a teen girl. (Editorializing is all my own, by the way.)
On that fateful day I rushed out of the travel agency after missing my supper because of the unexpected travel needs of a new client. His name was Devin Trevor, and that slightly British-sounding name alone was enough to make me conjure up mental pictures of some Cary Grant/Pierce Brosnan type. I figured I would spend a bit of extra time fixing up his travel data and make a sparkling impression on him. I had even skipped my lunch to rush home to my Greenwich Village flat and change into my killer suede skirt and jacket with strapped heels. Big mistake, since he didn’t actually show up that day, and I was caught in a downpour while walking home. Needless to say, this girl has learned to never ever wear suede on a cloudy day.
That day I ran down the streets and pushed through the crowd as dusk fell, and so did I. A broken heel sent me sprawling onto the none-too-tidy streets of New York as lightning flashed, and I saw nothing more than light and heard deafening thunder. The crowd that helped me up did so without getting overly grabby, but I wouldn’t have noticed if Fagin himself had brought his class on a field trip down to pick my pockets. I saw a man with gray eyes who seemed keenly aware of me and yet showed no surprise that I had apparently been close to being hit by lightning.
I’ll admit it: I was merely furious that the heel had broken, and my outfit was ruined, and the client never showed up, et cetera, et cetera. I told him I was fine. He nodded with the world-weary look that should have warned me that something from out of Rod Serling’s basement had just entered my life. Anyhow, I made it home and was greeted by my scowling teenage daughter, Allison. She was and is a good kid. She makes top grades, sings like a bird, and looks after the apartment like a senior citizen. Still, she was pretty irritated that her mom had been late, had forgotten to call, and had entered the place looking like the Bride of Frankenstein.
“Where have you been? I’ve been holding supper!” she snapped. I shrugged, hugged her by brute force, and explained. “OK, OK, but if this happens again, you’ll be grounded,” she chirped. Like I said, she’s a great kid, but she has a smart mouth.
I tried to get some much-needed sleep after wolfing down the dinner, doing some laundry, and ignoring the dust gathering on my furniture. The storm raged on, and around midnight (don’t these things always seem to happen at midnight?), a crash of thunder shook the house, and I heard odd noises.
“Great. Allison’s up watching Friday Night Videos,” I yawned as I followed my maternal instincts and slipped on my pink fuzzy slippers, heading for the living room.
I opened the door and frowned as the lightning illuminated a figure in our home that was by no means my blonde sixteen-year-old daughter.
“Who are you? You’d better get out now, or I’ll have the cops down here so fast your head will spin!” I shouted.
The intruder laughed. He was wearing a blue costume with a jagged lightning bolt on the chest. A hood or cowl (do they call them cowls?) covered his head. Now I freaked. He was a super-villain like Major Force from the news.
“I have no fear of the cops. I control the flashing fury of the lightning bolt,” he said, and as he gestured, a bolt of lightning shot out of his hand directly toward me. I jumped across the room and crashed behind the couch as it erupted into flames. I rolled desperately across the floor but yelped when my elbow hit an end table.
My thoughts raced as I prayed Allison would be OK if this creep toasted me like a muffin. I lost a slipper and staggered across the room. I didn’t know what to do. I just kept moving.
He jumped forward, seeming to ignore the fire from the couch. He grabbed me, and an electric shock raced through my body. I felt pain at first and then nothing. I brought my knee up hard, and he doubled over with pain. I caught a vase and shattered it across his head. He cursed, and as we struggled back and forth, the pain of the electricity that he was still generating faded. I didn’t realize it at the time, since I was occupied fighting for my life, but later it all became clear: I was immune to his lightning bolts. They didn’t hurt me after the initial shock. I think this startled the Blue Bolt. That was his nom du crime. I’m guessing he took it from a wrestler.
I punched him with all of my might. I tried to imagine he was my ex-husband or — better yet — his new wife. He fell back, and then as my hands rose in front of my face, electricity blasted out to stun him. I had become some type of female battery!
After smothering the flames on the charred couch, I called the police. Allison held me as I explained to the police what had occurred. All I actually told them was that an intruder had broken into my apartment, and I had surprised him. They hauled him away and thanked me for my time. I had not told them anything about the way I was able to absorb and then generate lightning. If the Blue Bolt attacked me now, I would have punned badly with lines like, “You’re not up on current events!” But that was then, and all I could do was catch my breath.
The next morning, as Allison and I munched on deli bagels and I scanned the New York Times, I tried to put the events of the night behind me. Yet something told me that my life was changing forever in ways that I would never anticipate.
Allison said, “Mom, I was wondering if you had any luck getting those Duran Duran tickets?”
I ran a hand through my long brown hair and said, “Not yet, honey, but I won’t give up. Why you want to see boys who look like girls is beyond me.”
Allison did that whole pained teen thing and said, “This from a woman who hitchhiked to see a bunch of hippies at a pig farm.”
I groaned loudly. “Dear, that was Woodstock!”
“Whatever,” she said with a smile that indicated she couldn’t believe her mother was so old.
A policewoman named Ari Martin later called me to say that the Blue Bolt had refused to give them any explanation for why he broke into our place. He had no previous record, nor had he been known to ever display super-human powers or a bad fashion sense before.
I tried to forget the incident by writing it off as a case of a nut breaking into the wrong apartment. I prepared a rather spectacular presentation for the mysterious Mr. Trevor for Monday and took Allison to a ballet presentation. That night, as we rode in a taxi from the theater to our home, we chatted about her obsession with the various New Romantic bands.
“OK, so that Revolutionary War look is how you tell if they are part of the movement?” I asked.
Allison rolled her eyes. “Mother! That’s just Adam Ant.”
I started to tell her that Paul Revere and the Raiders were dressing like that when I was a child, but I refrained out of a sense of parental wisdom as well as due to the fact that the taxi suddenly left the ground and began to rise slowly off the road.
Allison grabbed my arm as I stared helplessly out the window. The driver was shouting in his native tongue as his eyes widened in disbelief. I saw a woman with flowing platinum hair and a filmy gown hovering in front of the taxi. She smiled coldly as she apparently levitated it.
“Mom, another super-villain! This is too cool!” gasped Allison.
I had my own opinion and rolled down the window to lead Allison to safety before our car was too far off the ground. I stopped when the woman in the see-through gown said, “You are a pathetic specimen.” I grabbed her bare foot, and — to my surprise — I generated an electric shock that left her gasping in pain.
She kicked out at me, and I pulled hard on her leg. She toppled over and remained in one position in thin air. I tried to wrestle her down, but she seemed to be supported by some unseen force. I climbed out the cab window and jumped on her. We both hung there in the air, and as I drew her gown tightly around her neck and twisted, she began to lower the taxi. I continued to strain as I held her captive, and she gently returned the taxi and Allison and the driver to good old New York pavement.
I said, “Look, I don’t know why I’ve become the prize in a super-villain snipe hunt, but I want answers.”
Ariel was the babe’s costumed name, as I would later learn. She touched my face suddenly, and I began to float off the ground again. I kicked wildly and tried to return to the ground. I landed hard, and then as my hand reached out to touch her again, I shocked her to the pavement. Do understand that, when I so casually write that I generated electricity — or flew or breathed under the ocean, et cetera — I do so from hindsight. At the times I first learned about my new powers, I was as spooked as any woman would be.
Allison said, “Mom, are you OK?” She had good reason to ask, since her attractive, professional, and still-within-the-youthful-age-range mom was literally hovering in the air. I landed and took her by the air.
“Honey, I don’t understand what’s happening to me. I think it might be better for you to stay at your friend Kimmie’s house for the next few days. If I’ve become the target of these creeps, then you could be in danger,” I said.
Allison said, “I don’t want to leave you. But why are they attacking you?”
I shook my head slowly. “I just don’t know.”