Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Greg Van Eekhout's "Last Son of Tomorrow"
Go read Greg Van Eekhout's short-short-story "Last Son of Tomorrow" over on Tor.com.
John was born with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men, and he often wondered why. But as a boy, it was simply wonderful to have those abilities. He could lift his father’s tractor overhead before he learned to read. He could outrace a galloping horse. He couldn’t be cut or bruised or burned. He could fly.
But his life was not a trading card with a heroic-looking photograph on one side and a convenient list of his abilities on the other. He had to discover himself for himself. It took him years to realize he could fire laser beams from his eyes. That he could force his lungs to expel nearly frozen carbon dioxide. And it wasn’t until his mid-thirties that he realized he’d probably stopped aging biologically somewhere around the age of twenty-two.
His parents weren’t perfect people. His mother drank, and when she did, she got mean. His father had affairs. But when they understood that the baby they’d found abandoned on the edge of their farm wasn’t like other children—was probably, in fact, unlike any other child who’d ever been born—they cleaned up their acts as best they could. They taught themselves to be better people, and then they conveyed those hard-won lessons to their son. They were as good as they could be. When they died while John was away at college, he decided if he could be half as wise, as kind, as generous as they were, then he could be proud of himself.