A young boy sits at a school desk, doodling in a notebook. His name is Santi Sardina and David says that this is maybe about two months ago. David says that Santi is what you might charitably call a loser. He’s awkward and uncomfortable in his own skin, which makes him an easy-target but a decent lad despite it all. As Santi sits at his desk, all the other kids make fun of him but he does his best to ignore them. He’s not the brightest bulb in the box but he’s not dumb either. He’s smart enough to hang back afterwards to avoid everyone on the walk home. That’s how he wasn’t caught up in it all when it happened.
Santi, with his headphones in and head low, walks behind the group of kids who were bullying him earlier. They turn and go down an alley but, when Santi gets to the alley himself, he sees a smashed mobile phone on the floor and the baseball bat one of the kids was carrying next to it. He hears a voice yelling for someone to get him a chopper and a pilot. He looks down the alley to see a group of policemen in an armed standoff with Gorilla-Man. Gorilla-Man has grabbed a girl from the group of bullies and is using her as a human shield. One of the policemen shouts through a megaphone and tells Gorilla-Man to calm down and not to hurt the kid. Pointing a gun to the girl’s head, Gorilla-Man says that they had better get a chopper there or there’s going to be kidmeat in the street and heads like bottletops.
David pities Santi. He had a clear run at the villain’s back, a conveniently discarded weapon and dramatically swelling metal music in his hears. All the ingredients of a heroic moment but, instead, he froze stiff. Instead, a man in a garishly colored superhero costume runs past him. The man tells the monkey-themed wrong-doer to tremble, for he has invited the shadowy ultrawrath of Captain Ultra (the all-new gritty-urban-vigilante street level version). The overweight superhero rushes towards a confused Gorilla-Man and slams his head into his whilst yelling “ultrabutt.”
As Gorilla-Man falls to the ground, Captain Ultra stands over him triumphantly. He tells everyone he’s Captain Ultra, spelt with a “C.” He might not be the best known cape in the world; he can’t afford all the skysignals or the themed cars. But his powers are pretty cool and he has the new costume and business cards. They could check out his Facespace page or maybe mention him to a newspaper or even make a donation, because ultrasnacks don’t grow on trees. He suddenly realizes the crowd around him isn’t paying any attention to him. Instead, they rush over to Santi and start praising him. Everyone is patting Santi on the back and thanking him for saving them. From the dream-plane, David and Blindfold look watch the scene unfold. David says that it was Santi’s first epic victory and he didn’t even break a sweat.
Blindfold asks how David found Santi when Cerebro should have detected him. David scornfully replies that not every mutant has a big flashing psychic sign above their head. The X-Men look for the big energy spikes but David thinks it’s the quiet skills that will change the world. David tells Blindfold to take a look around her at the psychosphere, the dream-plane. The two of them float about as colors swirl around them and images of people’s lives appear in bubbles. David explains that it’s the imprint left on the universe by the human subconscious, through which all psychic energy flows. He says that he’s asleep and so is she. Yet here they are. He continues and says that mutants are like needles in a haystack. Cerebro’s like looking for them with a microscope and magnets. But using the psychosphere is like becoming the hay.
Blindfold is silent for a few seconds and then tells David that he should be arrested for the crimes against metaphors. Plus, it doesn’t explain why he brought her there. He tells her that he thought an astral date would be fun. Think of it like their personal psychedelic drive-through. As they watch Santi being congratulated by the police, Blindfold calls David a liar and tells him she can smell an ulterior motive. David smiles and tells her she’s good. She asks why they are watching the memories of Santi Sardina, but David asks her just to indulge him.
David explains that at first life goes all peachy for him. They see scenes of Santi in a classroom doodling in him notebook. Another student is writing on the blackboard but the teacher is ignoring him and praising Santi even though he isn’t doing anything. Next, Santi is spraying graffiti on a wall as a bunch of cheerleaders celebrate his touchdown. In the school halls, he is cornered by a girl holding a book of poems by W.B. Yeats. The girl tells Santi she’s been reading his poems and it’s as if he knows her to the very core of her being. All of these interactions leave Santi confused as to what is going on.
David says that he doesn’t twig what’s going on until it’s spelled out for him. Santi sits in class watching a video on a TV. The video is made by the San Francisco Institute of Biological Science. Dr. Nina Ambrose introduces herself and says that she would like to show them things they can learn about their society by studying nature. She says to consider a new ecosystem. Most evolve gradually according to internal changes and external pressures, much like how their cultures and religions are adapting to new science. Nowadays many ecosystems face sudden change due to artificially introduced species they call “invasive exotics.” The systems can’t adapt quickly enough, so they collapse. Just as it is in the wild with cave toads, kudzu vines and killer bees, so it is in their society with homo-superior… mutants. As Santi watches the film, one of his classmates congratulates him on making an excellent movie.
David tells Blindfold that Santi has the mutant power to take credit for things. He’s a positivity thief. Blindfold looks at Santi’s memories and says he looks sad. David tells her that every gift comes with a cost, as she should well know. Santi’s crept up on him slowly. The knowledge that he’s a cheat, and the guilt of an undeserving winner. Santi continues to gain credit and applause for things like funding his school’s music department and sending flowers to a woman he has never even met. He is even thanked by a woman who has just been saved from a burning building by fire-fighters. Under it all, Santi knows he’s nothing special but he can’t stand or fall like any other guy.
Blindfold asks if he wants to help Santi. She says that “white-knight David” suits her just fine but she asks what happened to his ambition of changing the world and not being reactive-David. David asks what if there was a way to give Santi a purpose and to make him proud of himself whilst improving the world for mutant-kind at the same time. Blindfold smiles and leans in closer to him. She says she was thinking that he was just trying to impress her. David says that was a convenient by-product and then asks how he is doing so far. Blindfold crosses her arms and says jury’s still out. David tells his sweet maiden to behold the magical moment.
He directs her to a memory showing Santi approaching his school’s advertisement board. David says that the kid is contemplating dropping out. He can taste it. He will become a recluse, hiding away from the lie his life has become. It may be honorable but he’s still lost. But before he does he wants one last try at achieving something for himself. Santi stands in front of the board and views sign-up sheets for clubs like glee, rugby, art, debate society and math club.
David says that, in the psychosphere, he can nudge Santi’s mind. He asks Blindfold if she has any thoughts on that. She tells him art will do. Santi is always doing graffiti and he could be really successful and happy. David asks how Santi would ever trust people’s praise. How would he ever feel any worth if people couldn’t help but fawn over his work? Blindfold becomes a bit irritated and asks what he suggests. She doesn’t see a dumb-hair-and-bagpiping-club up there. David notes that she loses the speech impediment when she is being snarky and he suggests his own idea.
David indicates that he should join the debate society and that he would be president of it by the end of the year. Then he would be an elected official within three years, governor by the age of twenty-eight and commander-in-chief on his thirty-fifth birthday. He gets influence and he can change the world. He gets to decide things that count and matter. David says to Blindfold she can’t tell him it’s not a route to fulfillment. The rest of them get the world’s first mutant president. This is what his dad’s real legacy is all about. This is what he learned by watching his way go arse-over-elbow. They don’t get to sit by and watch anymore.
David looks to Blindfold but she isn’t paying attention. She is looking somewhere else and David asks if he said something wrong. She starts to stutter again and asks if he can feel it. The whole place is screaming… Something’s coming. She holds onto him and says she’s scared. She tells him to get some powers ready. David says he can’t. There’s something loose in his head that attacked her in Tokyo. He has to be careful about exposing himself.
The psychosphere suddenly changes and a giant red creature appears in it. The creature has multiple arms, razor sharp teeth and psychic tendrils coming from its head. The creature smacks Blindfold away, causing her to leave the psychosphere and wake up. David thinks that whatever the creature is it isn’t interested in Blindfold. As Blindfold wakes up screaming David’s name, her roommate Pixie wearily mutters that this is why she never keeps a roommate for long.
As the creature attacks David, he can only think that it feels familiar. Inside his mindscape, David writhes in pain as the other personalities in his head flee from him. He yells for them to come back as he needs their powers. Pain or no pain, the truth trickles in as slow and unstoppable as oil. He yells at his other personalities that he can’t do it and he needs help. As the creature starts to eat him in the psychosphere, he realizes he is going to lose. No warning, clever hints or foreshadowing. Ten seconds ago, he was vaguely confident of getting a snog off a beautiful blind astral projection he’s falling for. Now he’s going to die. Inside his mindscape, David weakly crawls along the floor and says he needs powers or they are all going to die.
Suddenly, a voice calls out and says he thinks not. The gold-skinned personality of Xavier stands in front of David and he picks him up by the neck. Xavier asks if David has a hug for his old man and then bites into his neck. David muses that it’s a funny feeling to be pushed to the back of his own brain. There’s a moment of equality where he and the beast share one mind. David tries to convince himself it’s not his real dad, as he’s dead now. As their minds touch, David sees visions of X-Men and aliens dying and mysterious, white-faced being attacking someone.
Inside the psychosphere, David’s limbs are disintegrating. Xavier finally takes control of his body and David can only watch what happens next. Xavier starts to reform David’s limbs and fight back against the creature. Xavier says he knows the creature like the back of his hand. The boy is not his to kill. Xavier expels the creature from the dream land and then hands back control of David’s body.
Inside of David’s mind, as Xavier lets go of him, David’s thoughts are broadcast throughout the mind-prison once more. David notes that Xavier smiles as he lets go and he can only wonder that it was all about. Xavier walks off and, after hearing David’s thoughts on what just happened, he simply replies that all will become clear.
Inside the psychosphere, David clutches at his head. He despairs over the promises of the parasitic personality as well as the mystery creature and the collapsing cluster-**** that is his life. He thinks that if Blindfold has any sense then she will stay away. But secretly he hopes she doesn’t have any sense. Looking at Santi through a bubble, he muses on that fact he used to utter “I rule me” to give him strength a little bit ago. Everybody should be able to say those words and mean them, no matter who they are.
As Santi stares at the school memo board, trying to decide between art club or debate society, David reaches through the bubble and astrally projects his hand into Santi’s head.
(Two weeks later)
Doop, dressed as a postman, hands over an envelope to Blindfold. Inside is a piece of paper with a web address on it. Pixie and Blindfold go to a computer and open the webpage. It’s a video clip of a man introducing a graffiti based art program. The man says he is coming from a gallery in New York where the Losergeist exhibition is on show. According to the artist, it was inspired by the touch of a ghost. The presenter says that most of the time they have street art in places like this it ends up being some pretentious hipster sellout hunting for a quick buck. But he says that Losergeist blows it all out of the water. He continues and says it’s a medley of raw work about dispossession, guilt and pop-infused ambition. It’s already stirred up more praise from critics than a resurrected Rafael.
Elsewhere, Santi is also viewing the internet clip. The presenter continues and says what’s real interesting is that the artist has chosen to remain anonymous at the suggestion of the ghost. Santo smiles at the reaction.
Pixie tells Blindfold she doesn’t understand what it’s about and asks who sent her the link. Blindfold asks if there are any comments. Pixie looks at the comments section of the video clip and says there are heaps. The first is from Bighair356 and Pixie reads it out. It says “You were right, shouldn’t be using other people to achieve my goals. My agenda, my fight, my responsibility. One more chance. 8 PM Thursday. I’ll pick you up, wear something warm.” Pixie wonders what sort of nut organizes dates through a comments section. Blindfold smiles and says he nemesis does. In the psychosphere, David watches the scene as Pixie tells Blindfold she is such a weirdo.