Given the conversation he had with two particular women, he found himself doing more than questioning a few occurrences in recent weeks. Alright, so Michael had some strange ability that allowed him to make others do whatever he wished, simply by looking them in the eye and speaking it to be. Whatever it was, it could just be due to his own ingenious brain or maybe something that he had been toying with in the lab. Strange things do happen, they just don't tend to do so to him, as far as he had ever known, at least to this level. So what that he had woken up earlier this month with bruises and what he worried might have been cracked ribs. Fights happened, falls happened, and while they didn't to him, it was possible. The dreams had picked up, ones where he had been flying or at least gliding. But they were dreams, not reality. They had special meanings that he could look up, if he ever believed in something like that.

The problem with these theories were that they were just theories. He had no long standing proof of anything other than he didn't know. There was no full memory of anything, nothing but actions without reasoning. Michael was always about the reasoning. There had been no use of drugs or alcohol in any equation, though there had been a great deal of stress. It was a stress that he had caused himself with whatever had started allowing him to manipulate people through words. The most notable aspect of it all. But others recalled things that he had thought he dreamed. Another question about what he had been doing there, why, over explosions and bombs. What had happened that he didn't understand or realize? No matter how much he pushed to try and recall it all, there were parts of it that were missing. Chunks that were lost to darkness.

What Michael lacked, he ended up gaining somewhere else. Memories that were not of his own. Of monsters and men, a people that were not his own. Discrimination and prejudice mixed with pain and misunderstanding. Of a pale skin, claws, a strange suit. There was always some unfailing hunger that lurked deep down, but was constantly fought with. A need to subdue the demon that held him down, the living undead without the dying ever being necessary. Men who were not men, but monsters. Those aligned together to do some sort of good in a world that feared them. Monsters he had viewed in films and read in books. The kind that were set to be hated and feared. They did nothing but cause destruction and breed their will where ever they went.

A dead man in old bandages, who should have turned to dust. Another that spoke with the tongue of a snake, full of green scales, yet walked on two legs. A man that could barely hold his own temper. The moment it was unleashed, his body changed, shifted into that of a violent beast. Something else to hate and fear. Covered in hair and set to attack. A deadly monster, pulled together by the parts of others no longer used. Fused together by sheer will and electricity. A man who held many weapons and wore a white skull on his chest. A previous biochemist who had created a serum that should never have been created. He should have died as he injected himself with what was left, but instead, the swamp there had saved him. Given him new life. A man who rode a motorcycle and had a flaming head. The queen of hell herself. A woman of power, a hunter.

The memories pushed through his own consciousness, leaving him lost and confused more than ever. The worry and fear of what he was in these memories, it wasn't something that he would ever be prepared for. Michael had not been prepared then, and he wouldn't be here. There was no way. The man was to be a monster, and whatever he was and however they were tied, he was stuck with the memories and this ability. Fears faced him in the way of vanity, but there were worse things to endure. Those things that were to be forever seen would never look the same. Just discrimination and hatred to breed, wanting him dead or isolated from the world. It didn't matter how much he helped it or hurt it, there would forever be a want for true acceptance. It would be his weakness, preyed upon by many.

Was this what real nightmares were made of? Attempting to save places that the world would never realize or know about? Where the entire world would rather you be dead? To be hated and feared, only to be swallowed whole by all that ever mattered to you? To think you know and understand things, only for them to unfold around you like they were now? His life was a vicious cycle there, just as much as it was here. Could he change now? Would he have a chance not to become that which was scarier than the others combined? For all the things that he had become so dedicated to?

Michael had to get out of his apartment and his own head. There was a need for separation, though he didn't know how. Fresh air, the night sky, it all called to him. An invitation he recalled seeing, it was where his feet would lead later. A costume would be necessary. It was the best distraction that he could think of. To get out and attempt to have fun, to feel accepted in some form. He wasn't a monster, he couldn't be. No one knew what he was, no one could see it. Whatever it was, whatever he really was, it was buried or not at all present. Just what he knew in his head.

It was strange enough for him that the costume practically called out to him. Of all the things that he should be deeming strange right now, that should not be high on the list. But at the same time, it felt so much more normal. The ability to hide in plain sight, not feeling like some lost cause. It was simple and easy enough to work without having to purchase all of the pieces together, if he so chose. A wig, goggles, gloves, and a white coat. A mad scientist, where he was just that. A biochemist for as far back as he could recall. It was even as much in those memories that had come to life of monsters and failures. More was needed, more of everything. He was going to strive to succeed at something else tonight. Having a real life. One that wasn't surrounding himself with book, theories, conjectures, and lab work.

A shower, a shave, it all made him feel as if he were brought to life. Smooth skin being patted with his own hands, feeling for possible missed spots as he stood staring in the mirror. His own reflection mirroring that of the man he had always known. There was no pale white skin, no red eyes or pointy ears, no nose that resembled that of an actual bat. Dark hair hidden underneath a wig as best as he could make it. Michael didn't understand fully how it worked and had thought to have done what was needed. Where he failed, the goggles held it all in place. Lab coat as pristine as could ever be said about any costume first worn. The rubber gloves giving to an added experience, but also one that had trouble opening doors. They would have to be pulled off and on in order to turn handles, but that was just going to have to be endured.

While there, he would look at the situation with larger eyes. To be able to watch the night unfold before him, with acts and a purpose that he hadn't been able to see come forth in some time. This wasn't the sort of thing that he was used to going to. It didn't even come close. The way everything was set up and decorated, he had to mentally applaud those that put it all together. Finding people that he knew in some form, along with those he didn't, he felt more at ease. An acceptance of who he was for the night, for the sake of enjoying the evening.

One misunderstanding would leave him faltered. Confusion would grab hold of him and send him back to the shadows. Highlights of the evening would be kept, as if to cherish a memory that he felt would be just that. Things were set in motion, lives would change, and that much he understood. Taking his own quiet exit, an apple held tightly in his hand to his chest, he smiled to himself. One that would no longer be seen tonight. It would leave his cheeks in minor pain, as if it hadn't happened in so long.

Gloves taken off in order to get back inside his home. Boots kicked off at the door. His usual semblance of control and keeping everything a certain way lost for the evening, as well. Instead, he would just sit at the dining room table, pull out his phone and take a picture. The apple sitting there, nothing peculiar about it, nothing to make it special, other than the fact that it was given to him. Michael didn't have much by the way of people that cared about him outside of his own parents. A couple that saw him as a boy that could do no wrong. A mother that was forever wowed by whatever he chose to do. A gift for the giftless.

Grabbing a plastic bag and some foil, he wrapped it slowly, but only after holding it in his hands one last time. Feeling the weight of it, the smoothness, taking in the scent of it and how it was pierced. Putting it in the bag, he sealed it tight and headed to the freezer. Moving a few things around, he placed it in the very back. A strict gaze set on it, even as he closed the door. A similar action would be taken with a little drink umbrella that was in his coat pocket. It was cared for and treated like a prize that had to be won.

Once that was placed in a small ziplock bag, it was set aside and placed into a drawer in his bedroom. Hairpins removed from his wig, he was careful, not really ever having used such a thing. He felt like it was going to be more problematic to pull away. The set and the wig were placed in his closet in another box. The lab coat given its own care, as he put that on a hanger and left it in the back of his closet for another day. Clear of it all, his night was at its own end. Where he didn't want to go to bed. Winding down would take time, but at least he was comfortable. New memories were now in his head, fresh ones that gave him some sort of hope for the future, and at the same time, left him confused and worried for it. If one misunderstanding could create such a reaction, what else was he to endure later? Avoidance would be set as a key, but that was all he knew to do. A means of which he learned through times and trials of his own life. Not even his own arrogance had taken hold of him in order for that to happen. Apparently jokes were a bad thing. At least he could hold some good from this.

Settling into his bed, Michael picked up his remote and turned the television on. Some mindless show had to be on somewhere. His body finally relaxing and feeling less on end. Pains and struggles of today could wait for tomorrow to be dealt with.

~laurel & ~hurst