My Secret Identity
© by Ryan Bartlett
Four months after his return, Bobby Fixx was just another freshman at Tacoma High School. He'd even managed to win a coveted spot on the junior varsity baseball team where he played shortstop. After that first hug from his mother, the memories came flooding back. He could tell you everything about his childhood up until the moment he disappeared and everything that happened since he opened his eyes in the woods but the in between was a complete blank. A psychiatrist even put him under hypnosis but it failed to generate any results.
The doctors kept him in the hospital for a month and administered every test they could but the results were always the same, normal. Heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, pulse, reflexes, everything was as it should be. His body bore no signs of physical or sexual abuse. He wasn't malnourished in fact he was quite fit and athletic. At Miranda's urging, the school district sent someone over to administer an aptitude test. The test was designed to showcase student's skills in language and mathematics and determine what grade to put them in. Bobby scored above average in each category as though he'd never missed a day of school.
Wherever he'd been the last four years, someone had educated him, played with him, kept him safe, warm and well fed. Someone had loved him. Since he'd gone missing the police had operated under the suspicion Bobby had been abducted by a pedophile but his health and apparent education negated the likelihood of that possibility. The kind of person who steals a child from his family and uses him for their own sexual gratification isn't the kind of person to make dinners, look over homework or take a boy out to play catch.
Rumors began to circulate that Bobby had been abducted by aliens or had been part of some secret military experiment. That's when Patrick Fixx had enough. His son was physically and mentally healthy; he saw no need to submit Bobby to further testing and demanded he be released from the hospital. The doctors were uncooperative at first, they felt the boy needed to be studied and monitored but when Patrick threatened the hospital with a lawsuit, they relented.
Bobby and Spencer picked up right where they left off. Spencer came by the hospital every day after school and stayed until visiting hours were over. He brought Bobby up to date on all the latest movies, music and video games and caught him up on all the gossip about their friends. Bobby blushed profusely when Spencer told him Kara Ritter had seen a picture of him in the paper and remarked that he was still cute.
Spencer had grieved for Bobby like a lost brother. They'd been the best of friends and Spencer carried a lot of guilt with him. He felt that if he'd acted on the creepy feeling he had the day Bobby disappeared maybe it never would have happened. Bobby told him he was being silly, he said if Spencer had said anything, he would have laughed it off and walked through the woods anyway.
For his part, Bobby felt like he'd be forever in Spencer's debt. He credited his friend with saving his life and bringing him home. Spencer argued Bobby had actually found him and that he was already on the path leading to his house, all he'd done was warn him about stepping on pinecones. Every time Spencer tried to diminish the part he played in Bobby's return, Bobby would simply roll his eyes and say, "you just don't understand," with a knowing smile.
Bobby was happy and healthy and that made Patrick and Miranda happy. They wondered where he'd been all these years, they wanted whoever had taken him to be brought to justice but more than anything, they were happy he was home. They didn't press him with questions, they never forced the issue. The Fixx's let Spencer plan a big welcome home party for Bobby. All of his old classmates where there and after a few hours, it was like he'd never left.
Bobby adapted quickly to home life but it was hard on Miranda. The day he disappeared he'd been her little boy. The day he came home he was a strapping young man with a young man's appetites. He wanted to be in school, he wanted to be with his friends. He loved his mom and dad but he was at the age where baby birds start flapping their wings and take that first flight out of the nest. The first day he'd walked to school with Spencer Miranda made him promise not to take the path through the woods and ended up following the boys from a discreet distance. She lost sight of them at one point and almost had a panic attack. After that, she insisted on driving the boys every morning. After all, she worked at the high school, they were all going to the same place, why shouldn't they ride together? Bobby was an astute fourteen-year-old and understood his mom would have a much easier time of things if he let her baby him just a bit.
Everything was going well for Bobby. He was home, he'd come back safe and sound and it was time for him to get back to his life. He sometimes wondered about where he'd been, about who had taken him and why they'd done it. It was the night before a big game against Centralia. He'd practiced hard that afternoon and wanted to get a good night's sleep so he'd be rested the next day but as often happened, his mind wouldn't cooperate. He fell asleep easily enough but it was a restless, dream filled, sleep.
He found himself floating, his arms and legs felt weightless. Warm water caressed his skin but there was something unnatural, something artificial about his breathing. He moved a hand to his mouth and found a tube blocking the path of oxygen.
"Ah, ah, don't touch that," said a soothing male voice. He couldn't see anyone. It was like the voice communicated directly with his brain.
He opened his eyes to discover the watery world that ensconced him. He wore nothing but a black speedo, there were tubes running up his arms and into his chest. He started to panic and bang at the walls, struggling, desperate to escape the glass enclosed prison.
"Robin Fixx, you must calm down now," said the soothing voice.
The voice was almost hypnotic. It told him to calm down and his body obeyed. His hands returned to his sides. His breathing evened out and his heart rate returned to normal.
"Place your hand against the glass," the voice instructed.
Bobby did as he was bid and placed his hand, palm open, against the glass tube. A man came into view. He was middle aged with red hair, kind eyes and a warm smile. He placed his hand against the glass opposite from Bobby's. It was like the glass melted away and the strangers touch was as reassuring as a hug from his mother.
"Hello Robin Fixx. I am Jared Crane. I'll take care of you," said the voice, though his lips didn't move.
"I want my mom," Bobby whined.
"I know you do but she can't be with you now."
"But why?" he started to cry.
"Fear not my brave one, you will see her again."
"Why aren't your lips moving?" asked Bobby, once he'd calmed down.
"It is my gift, the ability to communicate from mind to mind."
"Cool, like Professor X."
"Each of us is born with special gifts it's only a matter of unlocking your mind."
"I will teach you of course," Jared smiled at him. "Sleep now, there is much to learn."
Jared's voice was like a soothing balm. His words made Bobby feel safe and at peace. He closed his eyes and slept. When next he opened them, he was standing at the top of a mountain ledge, the valley floor thousands of feet below. He was older now, he'd grown a couple of inches and had started to fill out more but he couldn't have been more than twelve. Jared Crane stood at his side.
"I can't do this, Jared," he complained.
"We've been over this, Robin Fixx, you can do this."
"Fear is a natural thing but you remember what the philosopher said?"
"I don't know," said Bobby. He was trying to concentrate on the task at hand, scared as he was. He didn't have time for a philosophy lesson.
"He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk; one cannot fly into flying."
"So, can you walk Robin Fixx?"
"Uh, duh," Bobby replied sarcastically.
"Then you are ready to fly."
"I don't think it works that way."
"You have been trained, your body knows what to do…oh look, a hawk," Jared pointed out at the sky.
"I don't see anything," said Bobby.
Jared waited until Bobby was looking into the sky before pushing him off the ledge.
"You asshole!" Bobby shouted as he plummeted towards the valley floor.
He was terrified. The ground was racing up to meet him at 125 miles an hour, terminal velocity. Jared was right; they had trained him for this. His body had been programmed for this. He had no option left to him now but to do it. He closed his eyes and willed the fear away then concentrated harder than he ever had before. When his eyes snapped open he was a bare 200 feet from the jagged rocks below. It didn't work I'm not going to make it, he panicked.
At the last second, calm washed over his body and he pulled out of the dive. He soared across the valley floor and then high up into the clouds before landing gingerly at Jared's side.
"Jerk!" Bobby exclaimed as he shoved his mentor.
"I told you that you could do it," Jared winked. "You just needed a little encouragement."
"You pushed me off a cliff!"
"As a mother bird nudges a baby bird from the nest, so I nudged you. It was fun, wasn't it?" Jared smiled.
"It was amazing," Bobby grinned.
Bobby woke from his dream in a great mood. Any dream in which you could fly was a good dream, wasn't it? Still, the dream was unusually vivid. It felt so real. It felt like it wasn't a dream at all but rather a memory of times past. Jared Crane, whoever he was, seemed so…human.
Bobby got out of bed and proceeded to take a shower. When he was done he got dressed and joined his parents for breakfast before he and his mother left for school. It was a typical day of English tests and math problems but at least he had lunch with Spencer to look forward too.
"I'm telling you Spence, it was the coolest dream I've ever had," Bobby explained as he sat at a table with his best friend and his baseball teammates.
"Meh, flying's cool and all but in my opinion the best dreams involve me and a naked Logan Lerman," said Spencer.
"Ok, first off, ewww. Secondly, this was more than a dream. I can't explain how real it felt and this Jared Crane guy, I swear I know him."
"Maybe he's one of the aliens that abducted you," Spencer grinned.
"I know where you're going with that and for the millionth time, no, nobody gave me an anal probe. At least, not that I know of."
"How did you know I was going to say that?"
"Because, you're obsessed with my butt."
"Well, it's a very cute butt," Spencer winked.
Bobby just laughed. Spencer always flirted with him but Bobby figured it was harmless. They were best buddies, Bobby could put up with a little good natured teasing. The boy's laughter was interrupted by Kara Ritter as she approached their table.
"Hi Bobby, hello Spencer," Kara smiled. She greeted Spencer but her eyes never left Bobby.
"Oh, uh, hi Kara," said Bobby. Spencer just nodded, not that she noticed.
"You guys eating lunch?"
"Kinda explains all the food on the table, doesn't it?" asked Spencer. Bobby kicked him under the table. "Ouch!"
"Yeah, we were just finishing up," said Bobby.
"Cool. So listen, I'm going to the movies tonight and I thought I'd see if you'd like to come?"
"Oh gee, that's really sweet Kara but I've got a game."
"I thought the JV games were over by 7?"
"They are but um, I'll be really tired," said Bobby. "Sorry."
"Oh, well, some other time then," Kara sighed.
"Yeah, bye," said Bobby, as she walked away.
"Dude, are you out of your mind?" asked Brice Nichols, the Timberwolves third baseman. He sat to Bobby's right and observed the conversation.
"That chick is hot and she totally wants you!"
"I've known Kara since first grade," Bobby blushed.
"Yeah, I remember how she used to chase you around then too," side Brice. "She's always been hot for your cock."
"Dude!" Bobby exclaimed.
"Sorry, I forgot about your virgin ears," Brice laughed. Few people ever heard Bobby swear. "I'm just saying; if it was me, I'd be balls deep in her by the time the credits were rolling."
"Can you believe that guy?" said Bobby, when Brice got up to bus his tray.
"Brice has always been kind of a pig," Spencer shrugged. "He brings up a good point though. Most guys would cut off their left nut for a date with Kara, what's holding you back?"
"Spence, when I look at her I still see the ten-year-old girl who used to chase me around the playground so she could kiss my cheek," Bobby explained.
"But you think she's pretty, right?"
"Yeah, I guess so," Bobby blushed.
"You guess so? Does she give you a boner?"
"Just asking. For all I know the aliens deactivated your wiener," Spence laughed.
"God, you are such a dork," said Bobby, as he stood up to dump his tray. "See you at the game?"
"Yeap, I'll be the one in the wolf suit," Spencer grinned. He loved all the time he spent with the cheerleaders, or rather, he loved how jealous it made the straight boys. "Being Tommy the Timberwolf does come with some perks."
Bobby went back to class and at 3:30 he joined his teammates in the locker room. As he was putting on his uniform he thought about Kara. It's not that he didn't like her, she was really sweet and pretty and any boy would be lucky to go out with her. The problem was he wasn't sure if he liked girls in that manner. He wasn't sure if he was gay but he knew the answer to Spencer's question and no, Kara didn't give him a boner. Spencer did, some of his friends on the team did but Kara didn't. It was all very embarrassing for Bobby who, despite his handsome face and boyish good looks, was very shy.
The Timberwolves were playing the Centralia Seahawks that Friday and as the game got underway, the home team took an early lead. Some sloppy outfield work cost the Timberwolves a few runs and by the time Bobby got to bat at the top of the 8th inning, the score was tied. It wouldn't be the end of the world if he struck out, there would be time to make it up but if he could score a run here it would put his team back in the lead.
The pitcher threw a couple of fastballs and Bobby swung at both earning himself a pair of strikes. As the pitcher began to wind up for his third pitch, Bobby concentrated as hard as he could, repeating the mantra in his head, keep your eye on the ball, keep your eye on the ball, keep your eye on the ball.
Before he knew it the ball was in the air halfway between the pitcher's mound and home plate. He focused as hard as he could and then something truly strange happened. The ball burst into flames. It was like it had been hit by a laser, one minute the ball was flying through the air and the next it was a smoldering pile of ruin. The crowd broke into confused murmurs. The players looked around the field for something that might have caused the strange…accident. Bobby couldn't help feeling responsible, it was his ball, he'd been focused on it so hard and then…it was just so weird.
The umpire gave the pitcher a fresh ball but Bobby's concentration was gone, flown out the window like a loose sheaf of paper. He struck out and returned to the bench with his teammates. Spencer waddled over in his plush Timberwolf costume and sat next to his buddy.
"Man, that was rotten luck. Who ever heard of a baseball catching fire in mid-air?"
"That was freaky for sure," Bobby agreed.
"Any idea what happened?"
"No, I was focused on trying not to strike out," Bobby sighed. "Did you see anything?"
"Yeah, well, not really, I mean, I don't think it had anything to do with the ball."
"What was it?"
"Ah, some jerk was messing with a laser pointer or something. It was funny though, from the angle it looked like it came right from your eyes, like Superman or something."
"Ha, yeah, that is funny," Bobby giggled.
The boy's settled on the bench and watched the rest of the game. The score stayed tied until the bottom of the 9th inning when Cory Eckhart grounded out to second and Mike McGuire stole home plate. The crowd celebrated the Timberwolves victory but Bobby quickly excused himself from his teammates and found his parents.
"Hey kid, good game," his dad smiled.
"I struck out," Bobby reminded him.
"Happens to the best of them," Patrick smiled reassuringly.
"I guess so. Can we go home?"
"You don't want to celebrate with the team?"
"I don't feel much like celebrating."
"Bobby, you can't hit a homer every time you step to the plate…"
"No, no it's not that, really. I just feel kind of tired."
"Are you getting sick? You don't feel warm," said Miranda as she put her hand to his forehead.
"Mom, I'm fine, geez," said Bobby as he pulled back from her. He didn't want to be embarrassed in front of his friends.
"Yeah, let's go home," said Patrick. He put his arm around Bobby's shoulder and as they walked to the car, he kissed the top of the boy's head. Dad's seemed to get it better than moms, at least Patrick waited until they were away from the crowd before embarrassing his son.
When they pulled into the garage, Bobby was the first one out of the car. He made a b-line around his mom's Volvo and reached for the door that led into the kitchen via the laundry room.
"Hang on, it's locked," said Patrick.
Bobby grabbed the doorknob as Patrick spoke and to his surprise, it opened, in fact, the whole door came off its hinges.
"Bobby, what the hell?" said Patrick more in awe than in anger.
"I don't know! Are you sure it wasn't broken?"
"It was fine when we left. You been doubling up on the Flintstone's vitamins?"
"It must have been broken," said Miranda. It was the only thing that made sense.
"Um, here, hold this," said Bobby, handing the door to his dad. "Night!"
He quickly scampered off to his room and locked the door behind him. He expected one or both of his parents might want talk to him about his weird behavior after the game but he wasn't in the mood. He stripped off his sweaty uniform, tossed his socks and jock in the hamper and then went into his bathroom for a long hot shower. He felt a little better once he was clean so he put on a fresh pair of tighty whities and got under the covers. He rolled over on his side and came face to face with Freddie, the teddy bear he'd had since birth who now lived on his nightstand.
"Man, what a weird day," he told the bear.
By Saturday morning things seemed back to normal. He slept until noon, mowed the lawn for his dad and went out to dinner with his parents. On Sunday he went to church and then out to lunch with his youth group. He spent Sunday night working on some homework for history class and turned in at 10. He had the dream again. He pictured himself floating in the glass tube and watched the mysterious Jared Crane push him off a cliff. When he woke, he found his nose pressed against the celling.
"What the…" Bobby muttered. He rolled over, saw his bed six feet below him and crashed down on it like a bag of rocks.
He picked himself up and shook his head, he had to be dreaming. He was quiet at school that morning. Spencer took note of how subdued his buddy was but he didn't get a chance to ask him about it until lunch.
"Nothing, why?" asked Bobby.
"I don't know, you look…funny."
"You know, like someone kicked your puppy."
"Just had a strange weekend."
"You wanna tell Uncle Spence about it?"
"Might make you feel better."
"I doubt it."
"Come on, I'm bored."
And I love you, Spencer thought to himself. He'd always thought Bobby was a pretty boy but in the months since he'd been home Spencer developed genuine emotional feelings for his friend. Bobby wasn't just something beautiful to look at; he was smart, kind, caring. He was everything Spencer wanted in a boyfriend but didn't think he'd ever find. He couldn't confess his love for Bobby; the poor guy had enough on his plate to deal with. He didn't need some creepy boy crush, what he needed was a best friend.
Bobby looked at Spencer and saw real concern on his face. He knew he couldn't talk to his parents about the things that were going on. As eager as they were to get him out of that hospital three months ago, they also weren't stupid. If something strange was happening to him they'd take him straight back and rightly so, it's what any concerned parent would do. That didn't mean Bobby was eager to go back.
"Ok," Bobby sighed. "There's been some really strange things happening to me lately."
"Oh," said Spencer. "Look, Bobby, I know you're kind of Mr. Innocent and Pure but it happens to every boy. I'm surprised it hasn't happened before."
"What?" said Bobby, flashing him a quizzically raised eyebrow.
"Did you have a wet dream?"
"What? No!" Bobby laughed. "Geez, Spence, I'm not twelve!"
"Then what are we talking about?"
"Ok, you know the other night at the game, the ball that caught on fire?"
"Yeah, really cool but what about it?"
"I think I did it."
"I'm not sure. Maybe with my mind or something."
"You know that sounds crazy right?"
"Of course I know! I told you it was strange."
"What makes you think you did it?"
"Well, I was concentrating on the ball, I mean really, really focusing and then boom, the thing practically exploded."
"I'm sure there's a logical reason."
"Maybe, if that was the only thing that happened."
"That night, when we got home I ripped the door from the garage to the laundry room off its hinges."
"What did you do that for?"
"I didn't do it on purpose! I just pulled on the nob and the whole thing came off!"
"Ever stop and think maybe the door was broken?"
"This morning, I woke up floating over my bed!"
"I've been having these dreams; you know the one I told you about, where I could fly. I had the dream again last night and this morning I swear I was floating over my bed."
"So you've been dreaming about strange men giving you flying lessons and now you're setting balls on fire and braking houses?" Spencer giggled.
"I thought you'd take me seriously," Bobby pouted.
"Buddy, I'm trying too but you're basically saying you woke up the other day and realized you were Superman."
"I didn't say anything about stupid Superman. I was…" Bobby began but stopped in his tracks.
He ran his hand along his throat and unbuttoned another button on his shirt. He started to breath heavy. Spencer wasn't sure what was happening but Brice was sitting with them and he'd learned CPR in the Boy Scouts.
"Dude, are you alright? Are you choking?" asked Brice. He was very calm and serious.
"I-I can't breathe," Bobby stuttered.
"Raise your arms and take deep breaths."
"Bobby, what's the matter?" asked Spencer.
"I-I can't breathe," said Bobby, his voice growing panicked.
He stood up and clutched at his chest. Pain shot through his body.
"Spence, get my mom," Bobby panted, before he collapsed.
Brice dropped down to Bobby's side and put his ear against his friend's chest.
"SOMEONE CALL AN AMBULACE!" Brice shouted.