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Turn To Stone

by Stephen Kelly

My coworker and dear friend Patrick and I know we’re going to be on Heroes next season, if only to be able to go to the great cast parties they always seem to be having. We don’t know exactly how we’re going to accomplish this at this point, but we’re working on it. It’s only logical that we become part of the cast. We love and understand the show, we’re both flawed and conflicted, and we both have better hair than Milo Ventimiglia.

Of course, you can’t be on Heroes and not be a hero, so some superhuman powers may be in order. Unfortunately, most of the powers that are of interest to me, especially the ability to bend space and time and invisibility, have been taken. Invisibility. Now that would be cool. I could have great fun in the gym locker room with that one.

I flirted with shape shifting or the ability to manipulate the weather. I thought about being to communicate with animals but other being kind of Dr. Doolittle-ish how would that come in handy when trying to save the world? No, it would have to something formidable. So, after much thought, I’ve decided that I want to be able to transform myself into any element, which I think would really come in handy as a superhero. It could also cause some problems, which is OK, because each of the Heroes is flawed in some ways and their powers are often a curse to them.

Being able to change into any element would not only be a cool power to show off, but would be extremely practical. If someone is shooting at me, I can turn myself to iron and not only repel the bullets but bounce them back. If I’m being chased I can quite conveniently turn to steam and drift away.

Ditto if I want to sneak into a room. I’d just turn to smoke and go through the keyhole. And if I need to escape a sticky situation I can stand above a sewer grate and turn to water, reconstituting when I hit the pool below. There are no limits to how useful a tool this could be. Being to transform myself like this makes me damn near invincible.

Which could be a problem. It may be too perfect. My powers would have to have a flaw. For instance, maybe I can only retain my transformation for a certain amount of time, say five minutes. Perhaps my character frequently finds that messy circumstances only get messier because he can’t retain his powers, making a quick and efficient escape of the essence.

I would eventually learn that, like The Force, my powers could grow through time, practice and training. Like most of the Heroes, my character would constantly be working at skills he doesn’t quite understand. Maybe, like Peter and the invisible man, I would find a mentor to help me control and strengthen my powers.

I also need to take into consideration is how many elements I could transform into. It may be interesting to be able to run the gambit of the Periodic Table; it could fun to turn into germanium or meitnerium, although the latter would mean I would have a half-life of only 720 milliseconds, which sounds problematic. But it would certainly add to the fabric of my character. I may never have to turn to samarium, but I could if I wanted to.

Practicality states that it would have to be a solid element and nothing colorless, odorless or tasteless; what good is it to become hydrogen? At first glance one might also think there would be no practical reason to transform into halogens or any of the noble gasses, either. But, come to think of it, if I wanted to illuminate a dark passageway I could just turn to neon. Of course, I don’t actually turn to neon. Maybe my body just starts to glow brightly.

Of course, my character would have to have a backstory. We would have to explain how I discover my powers. You just don’t wake up one day made of scandium. Perhaps I’m a physicist. Maybe it’s night and I’m alone, working in the lab. Maybe there’s an accident and an explosion releases a white-hot fireball that’s heading right towards me. Unable to move in time I instinctively turn to iron, saving me from the flames rushing harmlessly by.

In the aftermath I lie on the floor, gazing in amazement and disbelief at my metallic body. This is interesting, I think before I quickly reconstitutes back to my human form, which is, of course, naked, since my clothes have been burned off. But I’m shook at what just happened, not comprehending whether it really happened.

Later, when realizing that I actually had turned to metal, I decide to test my newfound powers, perhaps by thinking of helium. Curiously, my body doesn’t inflate like a balloon, but begins to levitate, gently lifting me exhilaratingly skyward until I am level with the ceiling. Then the powers suddenly vanish and I crash to the floor below.

Hmmm, I think, maybe I’m on to something here.