|The following content contains discussion of depression and child abuse. Please proceed at your own discretion.|
|WARNING: PROFANITY FOLLOWS|
|The following content contains profanity that may not be suitable for readers of all ages. Please proceed with caution.|
|The Multiversal Man|
|Season 1, Episode 1|
Alien Hand Syndrome
"Iophobic Nightmares" is the first part of The Multiversal Man, a prequel story of Earth-216 taking place in Dimension 505.
"A man is violently plagued by childhood-originating night-terrors stemming from trauma of the man that hurt everything closest to him, and his phobia of tarnished, poisoned metal."
The scene slowly begins to pan across the barren walls of a children’s bedroom, entirely dark with the exception of a nearby source of light with the sounds of audible sniffling in the air. A young boy with dark hair sits atop the ruffled sheets of his bed, his knees tucked to his chest, hands clasping his shins, and chin occasionally resting on top of his knees.
With bright-red, tear-stained eyes and mucus running down his nose, the sniffling boy watches pure static on his television screen, thunderous white noise emitting from it. Raising an arm and using a sleeve of his pajamas to wipe away his expelled sadness, the boy’s face remains illuminated by the black-and-white of the glow of jagged, screeching static, the sounds of ripping, tearing, grinding noise in the air, like featureless screams devoid of origin.
Nobody could go well today.
Nothing ever does on days like this.
The boy pivots his head slightly, staring with eyes blurred by tears at the digital alarm clock resting on his night-stand:
The boy couldn’t sleep.
Another nightmare, the recurring one.
The one of nothing but browns and grays.
The one where the boy is trapped within a rusty junkyard, surrounded by corridors of twisted, broken metal, thrown away by humanity.
Just piles and piles of mechanical death.
A robotic graveyard.
That’s when the man came… although calling it a person was very farfetched.
It had the silhouette of one for sure, but as it grew closer to the young boy, marching down one of the long, winding corridors, its dirty, weathered military boots crunching against the shrapnel-filled ground, the boy could finally see who it was.
“COME HERE, JACKSON.”
The boy screams, or at least, he would try. He could never scream, no matter how he tried, so all he could do was run.
He would run down one of the opposite corridors, running as fast and as much as he could, not even feeling the closet smidge of exhaustion.
...yet it never mattered.
No matter how much he ran, he would be back where he started, and the man would only be closer to him.
“GET BACK HERE, JACKSON.”
With sheer terror and panic setting in, the boy would retort to trying to slow the lumbering entity, throwing what little handfuls of dirt and chunks of dulled metal that his young hands could carry. At least, they’d annoy it. At most, they’d make it say that phrase he’s only ever heard come out of this… thing’s mouth…
“WAIT UNTIL YOUR MOTHER HEARS ABOUT THIS, YOU LITTLE BRAT.”
...well, only nowadays.
The dream always plays out the same.
Terrorstruck and overwhelmed with sheer horror, the boy would find it: a hiding place.
Although the first couple of dreams always had been… some anonymous location that always varied, always changed, such as under a giant mound of scrap metal, or in a small ditch down one of the corridors… the location soon always became the same:
The flatbed of a bright-red pick-up truck.
“GET OUT OF THERE, JACKSON.”
“I-I’ll be good, D-Daddy!"
The boy would never say this. Not to him.
The words would just come out of… somewhere. The air. Something. Somewhere.
The boy doesn’t know, the boy doesn’t want to know.
“IF YOU DID…”
“...THIS WOULDN’T ALWAYS HAPPEN, WOULD IT?!”
Those horrific sounds of… metal on metal… constant grinding, constant screeching, constant metallic torment would fill the air.
Fingers not of flesh drag against the back of the truck, seemingly searching. The being paces, prancing around with jarring moments, its knees squeaking and clicking as it does so.
This made no sense to the boy, seeing how he can see its visibly-gouged eyes.
“OPEN THE DOOR, JACKSON.”
The boy curls up in the truck’s flatbed, crying into his knees.
“I DIDN’T MEAN TO SAY THOSE THINGS… PLEASE OPEN THE DOOR.”
The boy rests in the fetal position.
Opening the door is so tempting yet it just leads to more pain.
It didn’t matter regardless.
With the sounds of screeching metal, the flatbed of the truck slowly opens up. Jackson cranes his head, staring with wild disgust at the putrid amalgamation of browned, orange-tinged metal and dirt looming over him. Earthworms squirmed in and out where its facial features should be, the lower-half of its face devolving into its neck with no defined shape, its neck too thin and skeletal to support its head, thus causing it to permanently be tilted to one side.
Clumps of dirty, bent wire dangled from its head like wisps of hair, while the pulsing orifice of dirt and chunks of shrapnel that functioned as what could be loosely described as a maw, metal shards acting as teeth, oozes a viscous black oil as it speaks with a loud gurgle.
“I LOVE YOU, JACKSON.”
The dream would be over.
There was no warmth, no joy, no happiness in what the boy experienced everytime it happened.
The boy just wakes up every single time it does, and just... turns on the TV to play something… anything to drown out the bad thoughts.
...but nothing played tonight.
No channels worked tonight.
Only white noise.
The boy didn’t care.
It was noise… featureless, screeching noise, but noise.
The boy just stares at the shapeless mass of white and black pixels illuminating the tears running down his face, and occasionally checks the digital clock.
The boy’s life has changed over the years well until he is now an adult.
Everything has essentially changed. Even the nightmares.
The boy… well, man, doesn’t exactly get them anymore.
Even if he does, there’s nothing to them.
No man of scrap metal and forgotten metal memories.
Only the winding, metal corridors of what humanity has thrown away when they have all served their temporary purpose to them.
It wasn’t until this night they finally changed.
The man has finally found it again.
The pick-up truck, completely rusted over by browns and grays.
A crumpled, dirty figure lies inside the opened flatbed, softly breathing.
The man slowly approaches the figure… only to be ripped from his dream.
“...why are you… why is the bathroom light on? What are you doing?”
“Heh, ummm… I’ve never seen you with a speck of facial hair on your face before… what are you talking about? What are you doing?”
The man attempts to stop her from getting out of bed to see what he is doing through the crack of the bathroom door, but her peaked curiosity proves otherwise. The sight she sees inside is… peculiar.
“Babe, are you… are you cleaning the sink?”
She crosses her arms, laughing.
“What are you, a germaphobe now?”
“It just stinks to me… smells… metallic...”
“Smells fine to me.”
“...I just want to make sure it does...”
“This… this isn’t related to those weird dreams, is it?”
The man hesitates, staring at his own reflection in the mirror, scratching a non-existent beard as if pondering his response.
“Jack, come on.”
“I’ve just never understood them, Jenny… they’ve eaten away at me like… like ru-”
The man bites his lip to avoid saying the word. The woman slowly approaches him, placing a hand on a sternum and staring at his reflection with a worrisome look to meet his eyes.
“You know it was just your... you know.”
The man hesitates, solemnly staring down at his hands.
“...20 years… 20 goddamn years and it’s been the same fucking thing over and over…”
“It’s nothing to worry about. They're dreams.”
“They're something I’ve worried about for almost two fucking decades.”
“It’s just dreams. They aren’t real.”
The man grits his teeth, his hands tightening into fists.
“It’s more than just fodder my brain shits out when I’m asleep.”
“Jack, I know that! Everyone you’ve told this about KNOWS that! I paid for a psychiatrist to help you, but you turned it down after a few weeks!!”
“I turned it down because it's BULLSHIT! All this fucking ‘tell me what you’ve been thinking about’ and ‘how are you today’ doesn’t give me any sort of relief! YOU TOLD ME IT WILL FIX EVERYTHING, MAKE EVERYTHING BETTER, AND IT DOESN’T!!!”
“I NEVER SAID THAT, JACK! I NEVER SAID THAT!”
“YOU FUCKING IMPLIED IT!”
“NO, I DIDN’T!”
“YES, YOU DID!”
Why are you always like this?
“JACK, HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO HELP YOU IF YOU’RE SO DEFENSIVE?!”
She’s only trying to help you.
“I SPENT PUTTING UP MY MENTAL BARRICADES TO BLOCK EVERYTHING OUT, TO FINALLY FEEL A TINGE OF RELAXATION! WHY THE FUCK WOULD I TAKE THEM DOWN?!”
You’re an ass for asking that.
“-T-TO GET BETTER?!”
Look what she’s doing… all just for you. You're so selfish.
“I CAN’T GET BETTER! I’VE DONE EVERYTHING I CAN!”
Your logic is flawed. Your logic is backwards.
“THAT’S JUST IT! YOU CAN’T DO THIS ON YOUR OWN! YOU NEED TO ACTUALLY LET PEOPLE INTO YOUR PERSONAL BUBBLE TO FINALLY HELP YOU THROUGH WHAT YOU’VE EXPERIENCED!”
YOU’RE SUCH AN ASSHOLE.
“YEAH, AND THE LAST TIME I DID THAT HE PUT HIS FUCKING HANDS ON MY MOM!!!”
.ИOƧꓘƆAႱ ˎUOY ИO MƎHT TꟼƎꓘ ƎVAH ꓷ⅃UOHƧ ƎH
. . .
With shocked silence between the two, the filthy man, soaked in dirt and shame, loudly weeps into his own reflection.
...like the brat he is.
The man throws her off of him, and runs away. He runs because everybody cares for him, yet he’s too deep in the filth of dirt and RUST to understand how much they do.
Quickly chasing after him, the man is already gone. With the metallic unlatching of apartment door locks, and the thrusting open of the door, she stumbles back, blinded by a sudden flash of bright-red light emitting from Jack, the self-loathing radiating off of him like toxicity, the unholy light of a twisted angel of self-hatred.
The apartment door is already empty once the light fades.
She already knows where he is.
She just didn’t know how he’d look.
Her calling for his name echoes even after he reaches the rooftops of the apartment complex, and he can see the backside of the massive avian perched on the ledge, massive moth-like wings encasing its blue-and-green-feathered form like an owl.
The woman grows close enough to hear the sobbing emitting from him.
“Jack… don’t do this again…”
“I want to be left alone.”
The woman attempts to step closer, only to step forth into a solid wall of translucent pink energy, startling her and causing her to stumble back.
“WHAT DID I JUST SAY?!”
“It’s NOT JACK!”
The massive avian cranes its entire body to face the woman, its six, dark, double-jointed limbs, a quartet of three-fingered arms and a pair of two-toed legs, swinging outwards, as they expose the bright-pink glow emitting from its eyes, their face dominated by constructs of keratin connected to a pair of dark, asymmetrical horns jutting from their forehead, and a small beak, and that bizarre, bright-red device’s emblem on the center of their chest.
“I just want to talk!”
“We already talked… and I was an asshole to you.”
“No, you weren’t!”
“YES I WAS!”
“JACK, STOP IT!”
“I’M SO ANGRY AT HOW THINGS NEVER GO MY WAY, HOW I’M SUCH A FLAWED HUMAN BEING, THAT I HAVE TO TAKE IT OUT ON OTHERS BECAUSE I’M A PIECE OF SHIT!! I’M SO SICK OF PEOPLE PITYING ME WHEN THERE’S NOTHING OF ME THAT’S WORTHY PITYING!!! I DON’T FUCKING UNDERSTAND HOW AVOIDING OTHERS’ PITY ONLY MAKES ME FEEL WORSEEE!!!”
“DON’T SAY THAT!”
“FACE THE TRUTH, JENNIFER! I’M AWFUL!!!”
“...I… I don’t think that... babe...”
Seeing the tears in her own eyes, Soarnitho’s angered expression caves in and sulks, the pink glow in his eye vanishing to reveal red eyes underneath, as he drops his magical shield with the gesture of his hand, before simply turning back around and perches onto the ledge again. His tears falling down to the streets below, the woman slowly wraps her arms around his neck and leans in, hugging him deeply.
“I just want to be a better boyfriend… a better person.”
“You can’t do it all by yourself.”
“I know that.”
Soarnitho softly sniffles and lifts his head upwards, using a hand to wipe his tears away.
“I’ll be better.”
“I know you’re not happy… I just want you to put that little speck of joy to lift your spirits… it’s the most I can do for you, babe...”
“...t-thank you, Jenny…”
The two of them hug one another, Soarnitho slowly wrapping his wings around her and nuzzling his head into her shoulder, before the two eventually break the hug. The same flash of red light suddenly engulfs the massive avian’s form, the humanoid form of the solemn man resurfacing when it clears.
. . .
“Do you want to come back to bed?”
Wrapping her arm around Jack’s shoulder, a tired Jennifer slowly and silently guides him off of the apartment rooftops, returning back inside the complex.
“I love you, Jack.”
Jennifer softly kisses him on the forehead before leaning backwards onto her side of the bed and flicking off the lightswitch.
“...I love you too, Jenny...”
“Do you… want to turn on the TV to help you fall asleep? I won't mind...”
. . .
“I don’t think anything good’s playing this late."
- Jackson makes his proper debut, suffering from decades-spanning, reoccurring nightmares of being endlessly chased in a scrapyard by a humanoid-shaped conglomeration of metal, dirt, and bugs that speaks in his abusive father's voice, forced to hide in a pick-up truck's flatbed until the entity discovers and confronts him.
- Spanning into his adulthood, the nightmares grow less frequent and eventually lack the entity entirely, until rediscovering what appears to be it within the rusted-over truck one dream, causing Jack to abruptly wake up, memories of his trauma at his father's hands revigorated.
- Attempting to clean his bathroom from smelling a constant metallic scent, his awakened girlfriend confronts him and discovers his bizarre behavior is stemming from the dream he woke up.
- Trying to calm him, the two discover in a vocal fight that culminates in Jack admitting he refuses to seek any form of help because of his complete lack of trusting anyone after his father abused not just him, but his mother too. Jennifer shocked by this, Jack bursts into tears, runs out of the apartment, and reveals his possession of an Omnitrix when transforming to clear a distance between him and Jennifer.
- Discovering him at the place he had run off to, the complex's rooftops, still transformed, Jennifer attempts to comfort Jack, although he shuts her out and loathes himself for talking rude of her and shutting others out. Reassuring Jennifer doesn't think ill of him, Jack transforms back, hugs Jennifer with the promise of being a better boyfriend, and returns back to their apartment with her.
- Jackson Tenison (first proper appearance; flashback and present-day)
- Jennifer Nocturne (first reappearance of character overall)
- Jackson's Mother (mentioned)
- Jackson's Father (mentioned)
- Rusty Daddy (first appearance; dream; flashback)
- Soarnitho (first appearance; off-screen transformation)