Fiction Friday: Making A Lame Character Cool- Unknowable

The only thing worse than an uncool character is one that has the potential to be cool and isn’t. So I’m taking characters I find lame and changing them in a way that I think would be cool. Enjoy.


Ross entered the blackened room and sat down in front of the bulky nerd in the suit. “What do you have for me?” he asked.

The agent blanched slightly at the brusque military man, but kept his cool. He opened his folder and removed three glossy photographs. Each depicted a disparate crowd of people mulling about the halls of a different but equally important government research facility. Ross huffed as he recognized the third as being a room in this building, the one from which he’d just arrived.

“There,” said the agent. He pointed to similar image in each picture, a smudged figure that suggested a woman. In every photo, the woman’s features were thrown into shadow, or moving too fast, or out of focus on several levels. What little of her face that was visible was spectral—dark streaks of eyes in a murky white oval, a mouth that seemed to drag off down into the blurred body.

“That looks like a camera defect,” said Ross.

“We thought that too, sir,” said the agent, nodding too hard. “Now we’re not so sure. Notice that each of these photos is from one of the main breach sites—here at the Pentagon, here at Connors Labs, and here last night, in the brain trust room.”

“So we have three broken cameras,” asked Ross.

“We believe that is our culprit,” said the agent.

“A smudge.”

“A meta.”

Ross sighed and pinched his nose. This guy must be new. “These locations are heavily monitored, son. If there was another speeder, or vanisher, we’d have known—”

“Sir, if I may,” said the agent, nervous about interrupting but carried by his fervency. “This may be something we’d never seen before. An entirely new manifestation.”

“I can’t wait to hear this,” grumbled Ross.

“You see, in every case, before the breach, the guards noted that they spoke to a person who had somehow bypassed security,” said the agent. “They didn’t seem to remember this until we prompted them, but when they did, they couldn’t recall any details other than that the individual was female. She didn’t use violence, she didn’t sneak past them–they spoke to her, and let her through. The next thing they knew, one of their superiors was screaming at them. It was as if their minds had been seized and wiped against their will, or even their knowledge. As though the world had just recorded over that portion of their brain. As if, as though—“

“Young man,” boomed Ross, his voice silencing the agent. He relished the baby-faced boy’s quick blinking and gaping mouth at the sound; Ross hadn’t earned the nickname ‘Thunderbolt’ for nothing. “Last night, three very dangerous metas escaped this building. We have no idea where they went or who set them free. Get to the point.”

The agent breathed, wiped at his upper lip, and nodded at the photos. “We think the woman in question is Storm’s daughter.”

Now it was Ross’s turn to fall silent. He felt his teeth buzz and the skin behind his ears prickle. “Agent…”

“McCoy, sir.”

“Susan Storm is dead, Agent McCoy,” said Ross calmly. “She was destroyed in the experiment.”

“No, she wasn’t found after the experiment,” said McCoy, pointing at him with a thick finger. The man, Ross noted, had awfully large hands. “Or, what we’re thinking is, she might have been found, but she was not remembered.”

“What are you saying, that she’s a ghost?”

“Not quite,” said McCoy calmly. “The remaining three members of the Storm Experiment were transformed by their experience. One photically, one dimensionally, one spiritually. So why was Susan Storm destroyed? It makes no sense. But what if Susan Storm was changed in her comprehensibility? What if she became a being that the human mind has no ability to recognize, or understand, or remember?”

“If it was her, someone in these photos would’ve recognized her. She was a striking woman—”

“Everyone we’ve interrogated has a vague memory of a woman in a blue suit, but at a certain point it gets blurry,” said Agent McCoy. “We’re not sure how her ability works. One idea is that she might be able to expand this power. Create a field of it, that she can cast around the room.”

The concept was heavy, and hard for Ross to swallow. But given what the other three members of the experiment had become…

“And you came up with this idea how, exactly?” he asked.

“It turns out Richards made an escape plan,” said McCoy. “We found it encrypted in his notes. Only Storm’s daughter knew about it—rumor was they were having an affair.” The man shifted, the idea making him obviously uncomfortable. “Richards’ notes to her involved the equipment and materials that were stolen from the other two sites, and ended with the breakout that happened here tonight.”

Ross eyed the face in the photos with new interest. Before, it had been confused output from malfunctioning hardware; now, it was something he couldn’t possibly understand, the gaze of a woman who he’d known in life but could never know again. He squinted, hoping the image would magically come into focus, but it only blurred further.

That’s Sue Storm,” he said, mostly to himself.

“Yes, sir,” said McCoy. “We’ve codenamed her the Unknowable Woman.”


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