First Chapter

Jeremy at two; Larrisa looked down at him, helpless and asleep, her only child. She felt a dutiful love yet little fondness for him; he was seldom out of trouble. Her dreams of world travel and early fame crashed into pregnancy, and she couldn’t help but feel she was looking at the obstacle in the cot.

Jeremy at four; climbing up his father’s chair to reach his computer and pressing the keyboard, like he saw his father do so many times before. His father virtually lived behind the great 40-inch screen; it looked like a mountain to young Jeremy, and if it fell on him, it would surely have crushed him. He sometimes imagined the computer was part of his father, so often did he see him sitting behind it.

Jeremy had mischief in mind today, like many other days. If his father found the computer so attractive, he would find out what happened there. It was not yet the age of immersion in high technology from birth.

He clambered up the office chair and after spinning around until he was dizzy, tried pressing keys at random to get the computer to perform a miracle. It yielded nothing. He remembered that when his father came in the first thing he did was push the big button on the front of the big box; he did the same. A mysterious process started unfolding within the machine, as tiny lights flickered, and a quiet hum came from the giant metal box, almost as big as Jeremy. He waited for the device to do something exciting and was getting impatient, but his curiosity was stronger than his haste. He waited for the beeps, grunts, whirs, and synthetic musical tones of the computer to settle down before he did anything else.

On the welcome screen of his father's computer was a photograph Jeremy vaguely recognized – it was a picture of him two years ago. He looked at the device his father kept in his hand, he called it a "mouse," but he knew from the picture books it wasn't a mouse, though he offered it a slice of his banana to be sure. The mouse did not bite, did not eat his food; it merely sat there.

Jeremy hit the keyboard at random, but all he got were beeps and squawks to reward his effort. He tried moving the mouse: nothing. Jeremy tried bashing the mouse buttons; finally, the machine responded. He soon noticed when he clicked on the pictures on the screen; puzzling events unfolded; he couldn't understand what was happening, but the moving images were enthralling anyway.

Though the world was still a puzzling and wonderful place to young Jeremy, what he saw when he clicked on the icon labeled "Don't click this" transformed his world. His understanding of written words was only beginning, but he knew by the big red cross on the icon he wasn't supposed to click there. Even this young, the forbidden was enticing. So, he clicked it.

A video window opened, with a headshot of an old man (he was nearly thirty) almost as ancient as his father. He looked a bit like his father too. He started to talk.

"Hi Jeremy, listen and listen carefully. I know you will. What you're watching, is you, that is, me. I'd like to say life is going to be easy for you, but that would be a lie. Remember this clearly; you will be the world's best warrior, no one will be as good as you. It's important to remember this message. It will be difficult, but you'll survive and be important, and a lot depends on you…that's all I have time for. Remember this, and repeat it all the time.

“I Jeremy” and a picture of Jeremy flashed up on the screen.

“Am the best,” and a picture of a star flashed on the screen.

“Warrior” and a picture of a fierce soldier flashed up on the screen.

"Your mother will open the door in one minute, so use the mouse and click shutdown, get off the chair, and pretend you haven't done anything. DO IT NOW!"

Jeremy did as the man told him, as the man sounded angry, no one had ever shouted at him like that before; not even when he painted the eternally patient dog purple. If Jeremy knew what a G class star was, he would have been impressed that it took the energy emitted by that type of star, for an entire year, to send him the message.

His mother walked in one second after the computer silenced itself.

"Were you using the computer, Jeremy?"

Jeremy didn't answer; he did not like to lie. He looked at his mother with a convincing face mimicking wounded innocence. He had learned the trick from their dog, George W, who regularly escaped punishment by using such a look, often after dismembering a cushion or a futile, though spirited chase of birds.

"I think you did Jeremy, but I can't prove anything, so I'll let you off." She looked at Jeremy with a new wariness. His innocence was slipping away. So his mother believed, though Jeremy had developed the critical skill of parent deception a year earlier. How else could he have any fun?

Jeremy increased the intensity of his wounded innocence look and managed a mini-pout, but his mother didn’t notice and was soon retreating out the door.

He wondered why the man talked to him, and why he said he was him, he was much too old. Jeremy months ago decided children stayed children, and adults stayed adults. The concept of “growing up” he rejected as outlandish lies.

The man said he should remember what he said, so he did. All adults told him until then was how to be good, how to avoid trouble, to get out of their bedroom, right now! And what a smart boy he was. What the man said was different and noteworthy. More noteworthy was the loud knocking at the door. His parents never knocked, and he was too young to care.

The knocking ceased as the door collapsed inward in splinters. In came black-clad men with strange helmets covering their faces, like Jeremy had seen on TV, bursting through the hole in the door. They surrounded Jeremy, but before he had time to react, the wall opposite the door turned to powder followed by thunder. When he was older, he realized the thunder was the sound of air rushing in to fill the void, where moments before bricks had been. The vanishing wall and commotion seemed to surprise the men as much as it did Jeremy. The bright sunlight shining through the hole in the wall, cast a surreal patina over the helmets and boots of what Jeremy assumed to be his enemies, though the concept of an enemy was still fuzzy to him. Twenty seconds had elapsed since his mother left. The brief silence of shock lasted another few seconds.

Jeremy and the men, briefly forgetting about each other, peered through the hole and saw what looked like a football-sized sun forming in the front yard, a meter above the ground. As every jaw dropped in amazement, several flies took advantage of the opportunity to go somewhere moist and inviting.

The sun expanded to human size, dimmed, and coalesced into a vaguely humanoid form, wrapped in what looked to Jeremy like aluminum foil, but was an exotic matter space-time shield. He/She/It spoke with a clear, nasal, androgynous voice.

“Boys, see that powder, a few seconds ago it was a wall.”

She/He/It pointed to the pile of brick and cement powder, which was once the wall.

“In ten seconds, there will be a few kilos of thug powder mixed in with it, or you could leave. Choose carefully; it could be the last choice you ever make.”

Jeremy could only vaguely understand what the silver fairy said, but he knew she had made a threat, as did the "boys." They fell over each other trying to get through the door they had confidently crashed through moments earlier. Where they went and where they came from, Jeremy would never know.

Despite the violence, noise, and excitement, only the flies suffered injury.

The silver fairy, as Jeremy named it, smiled at Jeremy, shrunk down to his size and said, in the most reassuring voice it could muster;

“The man on the computer told you that you were special. He was right. Take care”

The silver fairy then grew to adult size, stepped back into the front yard, metamorphosed into a sun, and disappeared.

It was now a full minute since Jeremy’s mother had left. He could hear her footsteps, approaching again. She opened the splintered door.

“Jeremy what have you…?”

As his mother surveyed the devastation, she soon realized it was beyond even Jeremy's destructive power, impressive as that was. She spared a thought for the creativity she would have to show in writing up the insurance claim. Meteorite? A sudden attack of brick eating termites? Instant rising damp, flash concrete cancer?

All the adults told Jeremy his account of events must be a dream. Though he was only four, Jeremy could tell the difference between dreaming and reality, and no one could explain the powdered wall and the scorch marks on the lawn, where the micro sun had formed. If Jeremy’s experience with the computer was the only strange event of the day, Jeremy would have doubted his memory. The visit of the “boys” the silver fairy, and the partial destruction of the house cemented the memory as fact. Time and doubt couldn’t erase it.

From that day on, Jeremy became more somber, and, as far as a four-year-old can be, thoughtful. The message and drama gave him a sense of destiny, even though he was too young to understand what destiny was. Even at his age, the other significant influence in Jeremy's life was already well on its way to its final form. I write "it" as it is sometimes hard to think of her as human, or even to have a gender.