April woke up on neither the right nor the wrong side of the bed.
She woke up eighteen inches above the bed.
Startled, she inhaled sharply before plummeting a foot and a half to the mattress below. Her pillows crashed around her head, and she tried to make sense of what just happened. Had she been... floating? She struggled to think of an explanation -- reasonable or otherwise -- which could rationalize the gravity-defying feat. Maybe it had been part of a dream, and she hadn't actually awakened until her landing. Even that didn't ring true, though, because April could remember last night's dreams; they had been filled with explosions and her father's face and that ominous green light...
Get a hold of yourself, April, the voice inside her head chided her. You're just tired and overstressed, and you went through something traumatic yesterday. Your mind is playing tricks on you. It was true that she hadn't gotten much in the way of sleep; she had stayed up late into the night working on an article that could hopefully save her job. She wasn't sure she had succeeded, but at least she wouldn't go back to Mickey empty-handed. Although the thought of facing her boss was far from a comforting one, at least it gave her something new to think about. April sighed and kicked her legs over the side of the bed, already dreading the morning ahead.
Once in the bathroom, April took a moment to inspect her injuries from the day before. She had taken a pretty nasty spill when the fusion reactor exploded, and her body ached all over. Surprisingly, though, her back showed little sign besides some light bruising in a few spots. Elsewhere, there was a small laceration just below her hairline, but even that was already beginning to fade. All told, she had been incredibly lucky to avoid more serious injury. And that didn't even account for the falling debris which inexplicably missed her head...
After counting her blessings, April disrobed and climbed into the shower. No sooner had she turned the faucet than she was blasted by a spray of frigid water. "Shit!" she blurted out, throwing out a hand to slow the freezing onslaught. Damn water heater's out again, she groaned while making a mental note to call her superintendent, Mr. Raimivich. Slumping her forehead against the shower tile, she wondered how this morning could get off to a worse start. Is a little hot water so much to ask?
As April stood there, wallowing in her own misfortune, something peculiar happened. The shower itself began to grow increasingly warmer; although the water coming from the showerhead was still cold, it felt as though she was standing in a sauna. What's more, April had began to glow again. The sheath of neon green energy was coming off her in waves, and the shower water turned to steam upon contact with it. April stared in disbelief at her own hand. Please, God, tell me I didn't suffer a traumatic brain injury yesterday.
Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, she set aside her confusion long enough to finish showering. Once April turned the faucet off, the green energy abated, and the temperature of the bathroom returned to normal. Still, she didn't get out right away, opting to stare at her seemingly ordinary hands instead. She wanted to keep believing that she had imagined what happened after the accident yesterday, that there was a reasonable explanation for all of this, but evidence to the contrary was mounting.
April made it through the rest of her morning routine without further incident. Skipping her traditional coffee shop detour, she made for the Chronicle with urgency. Strange happenings or no, it wouldn't do to be late again when she was already facing an uphill battle. April felt as though every pedestrian she passed was watching her, though she knew that none of them could possibly be aware of what was happening to her. Please don't glow, please don't glow, please don't glow, was April's new mantra.
At the Chronicle, April could tell that the rumor mill had already started. Though whether the whispers had to do with her lying to Mickey or her being present at the accident, she couldn't totally say. April did her best to ignore the distractions as she wasted no time heading for Mickey's office. Her personal belongings hadn't been packed in a box on her desk; that had to be a good sign, right? For the second time in as many days, April gathered her courage and faced her destiny. Giving a quick courtesy knock, she stepped into Mickey's office, where the editor stood looking over photographs from yesterday's hectic scene.
"There she is," Mickey called out, "Nellie Bly herself." He put down the photographs and folded his arms, wearing an almost amused look. Clearly, he was looking forward to April's attempt at an explanation. Not that she believed for one second that there wasn't anger behind that half-smile.
"I know what you're going to say," April began.
Mickey raised an eyebrow. "You do? Well, that's quite a talent for an aspiring reporter to have. Maybe I was wrong to keep you on the bench," he responded dryly.
"I disobeyed you. I know there will be consequences for that," she conceded, "but I've always heard you tell your reporters to be relentless, to follow their gut no matter what anyone else tells them, and to be--"
"Tireless in the pursuit of the story," Mickey finished. "So you can listen to me, just not when it's something you don't want to hear." He gave a mirthless chuckle. "Well, how 'bout it, then? What story have you brought?" He took the article from her hand as she offered it. Furrowing his brow, he skimmed it quickly before declaring, "What does this tell me that I don't already know?"
The question took April aback. "Well, the fusion reactor exploded..."
Mickey rubbed the bridge of his nose. "I know that. Everyone south of Fifth Street knows that." He smacked the back of his hand against the paper. "But why did it explode?"
April had to admit, "I don't know."
"Well, if you don't know, and I don't know, then how is the reader going to know?" Shaking his head, he thrust the article back to her. "You may have listened, but you didn't learn. Being 'tireless in the pursuit of the story' means you don't put a word to paper until you're absolutely sure that you've nailed down every angle. What you've got there? It's nothing. It's not a story. And I don't have use for anything that isn't a story." He sighed deeply, removing his reading glasses. "Go. I'll think of an appropriate punishment for you later."
Crestfallen, April clutched her rejected article to her chest as she shrank out of Mickey's office. Slumping into her desk chair, she set the piece of paper aside and woke her computer. At least you weren't fired, a hopeful voice inside her offered, to which a different voice added, Yet. That left only the mystery of the morning's weirdness to worry about. April would've been a fool to think that the floating and the shower weren't somehow connected to the reactor explosion, or the strange happenings which followed. As her computer screen blinked to life, April bit her lip and pulled up her browser.
Side effects of radiation exposure.
As expected, she found plenty about nausea, dizziness, fever... not so much on flying, glowing, or producing unexplained heat. Sighing, she leaned back in her chair, took off her glasses, and rubbed her eyes. Maybe I am losing my mind, she considered. Closing the various tabs she had opened, she shook her head and tried to settle in for work. Not ten minutes later, though, she found herself accosted by Eddie Castro, a junior reporter who had taken an interest in April since her first day. He wasn't doing her growing headache any favors.
Eddie was halfway through a riveting story about a lead he picked up from his city hall informant when he stopped himself. With his head turned towards the bullpen, he snickered, "Check out the tourist."
In spite of herself, April looked up from her work. There, she spotted a young man who looked thoroughly lost. He bumbled through the bullpen, narrowly avoiding more than one collision. Squinting, April tried to figure out why he looked familiar, until she finally recognized him. The lab technician! With wide eyes, April shot out of her chair.
"What, is that an old friend of yours?" Eddie asked doubtfully.
April didn't bother to respond. Moving as quickly as her heels would allow, she slipped around the corner of her desk and made an immediate intercept course. The technician smiled upon seeing her, evidently not taking note of her pale-faced expression. "There you are!" he began, "I wasn't sure I'd find you. Especially not after you ran off yesterday..."
April did not match his familiar demeanor. Clutching his arm, she spun him around and walked him away from Mickey's office. "How did you find me?" she demanded in a low voice.
Giving her a puzzled expression, the technician reached into his jacket and produced a press pass on a broken lanyard. April's hand instinctively went to her neck; in the heat of the moment yesterday, she hadn't noticed that she had lost it. Tucking the pass away, the technician said, "I figured out pretty quick that you weren't Ronald, but this seemed as good as any place to look." He gave a conspiratorial glance around the office. "Don't worry. Your secret is safe with me."
By then, she had steered him far enough away from her coworkers to avoid being overheard. "Alright, you found me. Now, what do you want?" She was being perhaps a little too terse, but this guy -- this stranger -- had tracked her to her place of business. She wasn't in the mood to play games.
"What do I want?" he parroted with a chuckle. "I want to talk about what happened yesterday." After a moment, he added, "You know, with the whole..." He flexed his hands in a rhythmic pattern and made a "whompwhompwhomp" sound with his mouth. Reading her expression, his eyes got big. "Oh my God, it happened again, didn't it?"
Now, it was April's turn to steal a glance at the bullpen. "Not here," she warned. She slapped the elevator button behind him. "We need to find somewhere private to talk."