by Cy Wyss
on Tour Jan 25, 2016 – Feb 29, 2016
It’s easy to become a superhero.
First, discover a superpower. It might take a while to get used to, though — especially if it’s something as weird as being your twin brother half the time.
Second, recruit a sidekick. Or, two. It’d be nice if they weren’t a pyromaniacal sycophant and a foul-mouthed midget, but you get what you get.
Third, and most important, hire a mentor — preferably not a vicious mobster with a God complex, however, this may, realistically, be your only choice.
Finally: go forth and fight crime. Try not to get shot, beaten, tortured, or apprehended in the process.
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Note: Dimorphic contains Excessive Strong Language
Read an excerpt:
personally. “Why is it,” I would ask, “people are so freaked out by the news, but no one does anything about it?”
My twin brother, Ethan, would answer, “We are doing something about it. We live our lives and make sure those stories aren’t written about us.”
He grew up into a wiry beast of a man, while I grew up into a buxom klutz of a woman. How fair is that?
Throughout our youth, Ethan gallivanted around Atlanta, branding its towering facades with fantastic graffiti. He was a wisp of smoke dissipating in the night air, leaving behind a spray of hieroglyphic taunts. I, on the other hand, spent life in a tent in our backyard
nibbling cheese puffs and devouring the Justice League’s latest escapades by an upended flashlight. By twenty-three Ethan was big in the XGames and had scored a lucrative sponsorship for professional daredevilry. I, on the other hand, had dropped out of law school a week before graduating to join the police academy, from which I was ejected a mere two
weeks later due to irreconcilable clumsiness and an unfortunate inability to defer to authority. It didn’t matter. If I couldn’t be a police officer, then I’d be a bounty hunter. Or a private detective. Or a fireman. I would be something heroic, even if it killed me—reality
But reality had other ideas. I like to believe the forces of the universe give as much as they take. Unfortunately they also take as much as they give, so if you are going to receive a vast and powerful boon, you have to suffer in equal measure first. Like Batman, whose parents were gunned down before his eyes.
October descended, and the worst happened. In global events, $500 million of U.S. sky supremacy suddenly and rudely vanished over Afghanistan; in regional events, Atlanta underwent a freak drought, which was promptly declared apocalyptic; and, in personal events,
my beloved twin died a prosaic death. It wasn’t a hero’s demise. He simply miscalculated on his motocross. By the time they airlifted him to Brennan Memorial’s trauma center, his cerebral cortex was lifeless.
A day later, on October 31 at exactly 17:33, Ethan was declared brain-dead by the presiding neurologist. I was there. I sat in an armchair next to Ethan’s bed and stared at his spiritless body. It didn’t seem real. I watched his stomach rise and fall as artificial breath
filled his muscular chest. Inside, his organs hummed right along, unaware they no longer constituted life.
* * *
I coughed and choked, struggling to sit up. I only managed to hang my head off the side of the bed. It wasn’t [my] bed. Where am I? I wondered. The flashing red light was back. I squinted at it. It was a respirator, warning me of some kind of connection problem. Below me, the face mask sat in a puddle of sour-smelling bile on the floor. I could see how that might constitute a connection problem.
I looked around. I was in a hospital room, at night. Rain splattered against the windows. I wiped my mouth with the back of my hand and panic twisted in my chest. It wasn’t my hand. It was too broad, and there was hair on it. I clapped those foreign hands to my face.
Someone else’s stubbly jaw pulsed under my touch.
I rolled out of the bed onto unfamiliar legs. In front of me was a sink in a small alcove, illuminated with a dim night-light. Water. I would wake up if I got water. I staggered toward the sink. I whacked my knee on an armchair and stumbled over big feet. Nothing seemed to
be where it was supposed to be. When I made it to the sink, I slammed my forehead into the squat mirror above the faucet on my way down to the running water. I drank voraciously, right from the tap. I shoved my head into the sink and let the water run over me. Some
water got up my nose, and I sneezed and had to back off, sputtering and rubbing my face.
When my hands parted, I saw the face staring back at me from the mirror. It was my face. Or, at least, as close as possible—for someone of the opposite sex. A more prominent brow, a more angular chin beneath the shadow, darker shades of blue eyes and brown hair. . .
I was Ethan.
My eyes rolled back in my head and my knees buckled as I fainted.
I live and write in the Indianapolis area. After earning a PhD in Computer Science in 2002 and teaching and researching for seven years, I’ve returned to the childhood dream of becoming an author. I better do it now because I won’t get a third life.
Behind me, I have a ton of academic experience and have written about twenty extremely boring papers on query languages and such, for example this one in the ACM Transactions on Databases. (That’s a mouthful.)
Now, I write in the mystery/thriller/suspense genres and sometimes science fiction. I know for some people databases would be the more beloved of the options, but for me, I finally realized that my heart wasn’t in it. So I took up a second life, as a self-published fiction author.
Online, I do the Writer Cy cartoon series about the (mis)adventures of researching, writing, and self-publishing in today’s shifting climate. I also love to design and create my own covers using GIMP.