Joe gave a tall stretch then wiggled himself to comfort in the bed while he pondered what kind of life he wanted to experience next.
“Something really exciting,” he thought.
Joe first learned about his powers at 18. One moment he was in a bowling alley determined to roll a strike; the next, he was standing on stage bowing in front of a cheering crowd.
He briefly panicked panic over whether he was about to perform or already performed. Luckily, someone he didn’t recognize walked out onto the stage and ushered him off. As he tried to get his bearings he caught sight of his reflection in the mirror. He looked like his dad, an older man in his late 40s with grey, rough stubble and a tribal tattoo on his face.
Over the course of a few hours and several concerns about his mental health, Joe discovered he was an A-list stand-up comedian. He hid in his changing room trying to sort everything out and ended up dozing off. He woke up in the hospital with an aching head and his dad sitting in his room. His dad told him he fainted in the bowling alley and landed in the lane next to his; in front of an oncoming ball. Despite his headache, Joe laughed along with his dad at the situation.
For a few years, Joe assumed the ‘Comedian incident’ was part of a concussion induced hallucination. Then it happened again. While riding the bus, everything seemed to change in the blink of an eye. Instead of the crowded bus where he was forced to stand, Joe was alone in a server room with a USB drive in his hands.
“Agent J,” a sexy voice whispered in his ear. “Guards made their route, you’re clear. Out the door, then left.” He followed the instructions without a word stepped into a bright, narrow hallway. He made it about halfway before someone spoke up in his ear again.
“Hey buddy, at least sit down if you’re gonna grab a nap,” a gruff, male voice with no hint of sexiness breathed on his ear. Joe suddenly shook himself awake and found himself on the crowded bus again; leaning against the stranger that woke him up.
“Sorry, sorry,” Joe apologized profusely and did his best to stay awake and off the man until he disembarked. After that, Joe decided he had an ability and wanted to learn how to master it.
After several years, now 28, Joe had a good grasp. He used his ability to travel and see new things. The years taught him that he could switch between alternate versions of himself. He also learned to switch from one alternate version to another without returning home first. Though, luckily, he never needed to actually do anything on his trips. Whatever his other versions were doing was done whenever Joe took over. Keeping his current body safe was an important step; he only traveled after laying down.
He didn’t have control over his destination exactly. He traveled by mood. Over the past month, things started to get boring for him. He tried finding exciting lives; he had more than one secret agent life. Joe tried mountain climbing and white water rafting. He almost made it into space once but chickened out at the last minute. He wasn’t sure he’d be able to get back to his body if he left the planet. But this time he was in the mood to try something extra exciting.
“Something exciting I’ve never done before,” Joe tried to define the mood in his mind. “No spies or soldiers. Something unique, That’s what I’m in the mood for.”
Joe opened his eyes to a white office. The floors were polished marble, the walls consisted of backlit glass that gave off a soft white glow. He stood in front of a desk with two women on the other side. The one sitting down wore a white suit, while the one standing near her wore a black suit. Both women were pale with short dark hair, but the one in the black suit looked considerably chubbier.
“Was there something else, Mr. Ortega?” the woman in white asked. After her question, the woman in black leaned down and whispered something. The woman in white stood from her desk suddenly. She walked around it with sparkling blue eyes and a pleasant smile. She held her hand out to Joe.
“Dana Sharp, and you are?”
“uh.. Mr. Ortega,” Joe mumbled. “Thank you, Dana, I”ll be leaving now.” He spun around to find the door. The woman in black was now standing in front of it.
“Mr. Ortega calls me Ms. Sharp,” Dana said. “Everyone calls me Ms. Sharp. Now that we’ve established that, why don’t you tell me who you are and how you’re taking over your Zeros?” Joe’s eyes went wide. He didn’t know what a Zero was, but he knew that she knew that he was different now.
“Change. Now!” Joe panicked and wanted out of there fast. He found himself sitting on a park bench at twilight. Despite a lack of physical exertion, it still took him a few minutes to catch his breath and calm down. Finally, he stood ready to try again. Something dark caught the corner of his eye.
He turned to see a tall black portal several feet from the park bench. Dana Sharp and the woman in black walked out of it, both with their eyes on Joe.
“I have to know how you’re doing that,” Dana said.
“Wake up! Now!” Joe forced himself awake. He sat up in bed still panicking.
“What the hell…,” Joe wondered.
“Oh good, the real you,” Dana said. She and the woman in black walked out of another black portal into his bedroom. “Now I hope we can talk without you running away; I don’t like my time wasted.”