“It’s a really simple job, Marty.” Says the man sitting across him in the diner, all sunken cheeks, tobacco-stained teeth, and well coiffed hair. His brass-topped cane sat at a corner like a loyal dog awaiting his master. “I’ll give you a taste of what it’s like, and you have a go at this guy. The name’s Hobbs.”
He pushed a glossy photograph across the table. The guy in the photo looks like some suave, rich businessman. Pointed jaw - cleanly-shaven, with a pair of smoldering eyes brimming with years of wisdom and experience, belying the youthfulness of his high cheekbones and rosy lips. He was decked out in a sharp pin-striped suit and appeared to be in mid-conversation with someone not captured within the frame. Girls would swoon for this guy, Marty thought.
“How much for the job?”
“Fifty grand,” the man said, taking a puff from his fat cigar and tapping his cane impatiently. “And the powers you attain are yours to keep.”
Marty thought about it. He could escape his hoodlum life in the squalor of his old neighbourhood. All the abuse, the bullying, the hunger and disease. This was his golden ticket out. This was a dream come true.
“Fifty grand and the powers,” he said, nodding his head slowly. “And a place in that Other World you’re telling me about. Not just for training. Permanently.”
The man shrugged. “You got yourself a deal.”
The deal seemed simple enough. Marty trains in the Other World and acquires his absorbing powers, and just apply them to the target. And he gets to stay with this other worldly, almost celestial-like beings, from what he’s heard. It’s literally a difference between heaven and earth kind of situation.
“Lesson one,” his assigned buddy, Homer said. “You gotta get the theory, then theatrics part of it. Let me show you what a complete absorption cycle looks like. Watch that trash bin over there.”
He poised his open palm in the air above his head, as if checking for the wind direction, watching, almost glaring in concentration at the unassuming tin trash sitting by the wall. A faint halo appeared and started outlining the parameters of the bin. Marty saw Homer glare even harder and wondered if this will get him all cross-eyed.
There was a moment of deathly silence, like a time-freeze. Then, in a fell swoop, Homer clenched his fist in a crushing motion. The halo around the bin crumpled like paper, and a low hum started to tremor in Marty’s ears. As abruptly as how Homer clenched his fist, the halo shrunk, and appeared to suck the bin into another dimension. It was gone in a split second.
“Viola,” Homer announced. “And that’s how you Absorb something.”
“So where did it go? Can you make it come back?”
Homer shrugged. “Who knows? Nobody ever un-Absorbs something though.”
“Well why not? What if I regret doing it after?”
Homer paused, pursing his lips. Marty noticed for the first time how grim and stern the line of his lips looked, and almost regretted asking too much.
“You just gotta learn that there ain’t room for regrets in the Other World, lad. Regrets only get you killed.”