by Mara Levina
Jack's a nice guy. Work's hard, honest, no frills...so why is he The One to save us all?
| Work sucked, as usual, so he went to the hole-in-the-wall bar down the street when he got off, as usual. But this warm May night was about to become anything but usual.
His Guiness was on the cool side of warm, a nice head to the lager as he admired it, turning it slightly in his hand before he took a long sip. It hit the spot, a grin emerging on his lips...and then he felt eyes on him from down the bar. The Old Man with the salt-and-pepper hair drinking a scotch was looking at him. Jack smiled and nodded his head, and the Old Man did the same. Coming down off of his bar stool and grabbing his drink, the Old Man walked up and sat down right next to him. Jack had always been friendly and hell, he made friends like this all the time.
"Hi there," Jack said, taking another sip from his glass.
"Hi there, Jack? How was work tonight?" The Old Man smiled, showing perfect, white teeth.
"Do we know each other? What machine do you run?" Jack was sure he hadn't seen him around the plant before, but he didn't normally care about stuff like that anyway.
"The Big One. Can we talk?" He ordered another scotch and downed the last sip in his glass.
"About what?" Great, another loon. But at least the conversation will be interesting, Jack thought.
"About your new job." The bartender brought the scotch and was gone.
"Why? Am I fired?" This guy didn't look like he owned a company, but you never know...
"No. Actually, you've been promoted, you might say. Will you join me outside? I need a cigarette."
"Sure." Cigarettes weren't his thing, but the weather was nice and he didn't want to upset this guy, just in case he was the boss after all.
The moon was full and the light cloud cover gave the effect of a slight fog as they stood on the small patch of green grass next to the bar. The neighborhood was working-class, but it was clean and took pride in its appearance, no matter how small. As the Old Man lit his Marlboro Red, Jack asked what promotion he was referring to. But instead of answering, the Old Man looked at his watch real quick, took a drag of his cigarette, and looked skywards. After a few minutes of that scenario repeating itself, Jack was about to excuse himself and go home, when the wind started to blow, and a loud machine hum hang in the air, and then the clouds swirled, and there was a weird taste in his mouth, almost like ozone...
"It is Ozone, Jack! See, that's why I picked you, you're a quick one!" The Old Man stopped yelling over the din and put out his cigarette
with his head still pointed skywards. Jack didn't remember saying anything out loud, but maybe he did; right now, all he could do was look up as the clouds formed a circle and a metal disc with no visible engine dropped down ever closer to the ground.
"What promotion are you talking about, exactly?" Jack yelled as loud as he could, hoping the Old Man could hear him.
"I need you to save the world, son. See, the job comes with free transportation!"