Mr. Atom by OutrageousOllo

195 24 2

1.

"I'm bored," whined Tommy, jumping onto his father's lap while he was trying to read the paper.

Anthony stopped squinting at the newspaper and placed it down on the coffee table. He then helped his son up onto his knee. He'd placed the paper headline-up. It read in thick black ink: NUCLEAR WAR STILL A DISTANT POSSIBILITY.

"I'm bored," repeated Tommy, wiggling around like a worm. "I got nothing to do."

"What about those Atom Building-Blocks?" Anthony asked. "You seemed to be playing with them quite happily before."

"Eh," the seven-year-old grunted, looking over at the corner of their living room, where a pile of different-coloured, interlocking balls and rods lay discarded. "I've already made all the things in the book. It's no fun now."

"Hmm." Anthony thought for a moment. "What about that Nuclear Wind bike your mother and I bought for you last Christmas?"

The boy looked once at his toy. The atom-bike's single wheel was on its side, left carelessly where he had stopped playing with it.

Anthony made a mental note to pick it up and put it away later.

"It's cold," Tommy decided, turning his head away.

Anthony had an idea. "Follow me," he said, lifting the boy off his lap and placing him down on the carpet so he could stand.

"Okay, Daddy!"

They made their way through the house, Anthony leading and Tommy bouncing excitedly behind. In the kitchen, they passed Maria.

"Hi, Mommy!" Tommy shouted, tugging her dress.

"Hi, sweetie," she said absently, then went back to arguing with the fridge while she loaded dishes into the Atomic-Scrubber, an automated dishwashing machine. It was a chest you placed dirty dishes into, and when the lid was closed robotic hands would snap out of the walls and scrub them clean. Out of all the atom-powered appliances in her kitchen, it was by far her favourite. Of course, the fact that it didn't talk was a large deciding factor.

"Madame," the Quantum-Cooler 2000 insisted, "I still strongly suggest you remove the cheese you have placed in my upper-left compartment and immediately discard it."

"Why?"

"Because it is past its expiry date," the Quantum-Cooler explained.

"I don't care," she said. "It adds flavour."

"Sounds disgusting," Anthony said.

Maria stopped what she was doing and spun around on her heel so she could glare at him. She was a short, but stern-looking woman with brown hair as frizzy and wild as her temper. "Don't encourage it."

He laughed and backed out of kitchen. On they went, to the guest room. In a box, at the top of the wardrobe, he found what he was looking for: a clear sleeve, containing the highly elusive first-edition issue of the best-selling comic-book series, Mr. Atom. He showed it to his son.

Tommy didn't look at it with the level of awe Anthony was hoping for. "What's that?" the boy simply asked.

"The origin story of the radioactive superhero, Mr. Atom!"

The dramatic tone of his voice was enough to lure Tommy in. He sat next to his father on the bed. Together they read the pages, diving into the compelling story of how Mr. Atom received his powers.

As the comic told it, Mr. Atom was formally an atomic physicist named Wilson, until the horrible day when the nuclear power plant where he worked went supercritical and suffered a catastrophic meltdown—with Wilson still trapped inside! He died of radiation poisoning—but, have no fear, for the next day he came back to life... with atomic superpowers! Now he is Mr. Atom, the man with the ability to fly, shoot lasers and control matter with his mind!

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