April Forever, Chapter 1: Forever and a Day
7 June 2010 Leave a comment
It was just one of those days, April O’Neil reflected, with no small amount of annoyance. Her eternal search for the Almighty Story had led her to volunteer herself as a test subject for one of New York’s countless crackpot scientists’ experiments—this time, one involving instantaneous transportation technology that The Shredder had perfected a year ago—and now she stood alone in an empty warehouse that looked nothing like Dr. Stein’s laboratory.
April stepped outside the building—fortunately, the shutter wasn’t locked—and into the streets. A quick scan of the skyline confirmed that she was still in good old Manhattan…except that from the looks of it, “good” and “old” had given way to “dark” and “overbearing”. It even smelled different, with the subtle smell of rotting fruit diffused over everything.
Indeed, as she walked through the familiar streets of the city, the aura of Wrong intensified. The fashions, the people, the cars…it was New York alright, as seen through the eyes of a rather disturbed being. A look at a newspaper (date: February 18, 2011) revealed similar weird disparities: no articles on Ninja Turtles, Technodrome attacks, or groundbreaking experiments in animal control, but plenty of stuff on the economy, celebrity gossip and “tea parties”. And who the heck was President Obama? Clearly she’d been sent to an alternate universe, or a dark future.
After trying unsuccessfully to hail the guys on her Turtle Communicator (and wasn’t it weird how a lot of people seemed to be talking into tiny handheld phones?) April continued her tentative exploration, wishing she had a camera with her—after all, a dark Manhattan would make for a great story. She didn’t get far before spotting a threatening-looking street thug—and she had lots of experience identifying those—making advances towards her. As she turned around to avoid running into him, she saw another thug coming in from another direction, and then yet another: before she knew it, she had been corralled into a darkened alley, with the thugs cutting off her only escape route. One of those days indeed.
“They never learn, do they,” said the leader, once they’d caught up to her. “These streets are dangerous—particularly if you’re walking alone dressed like that.”
What’s wrong with the way I dress? “Listen guys, if you want to kidnap me or whatever, please know, I have friends.” A bluff, and not one she had much confidence in, but stranger things had happened.
“Kidnap you? Nah, we’ll just settle for your money—or something of equal value.” The last part was said as his eyes burned holes in the reporter’s chest, which suddenly felt rather exposed in her semi-open jumpsuit.
As she hoped against hope for a surprise save by the turtles, April braced for the worst. One of the thugs moved in towards her, but before he could reach the reporter, he was beaned at the back of the head by a bottle of what appeared to be baby food thrown at explosive speed.
“Score!” said a voice behind the three thugs, belonging to a man April couldn’t see, blocked as he was from her view by her attackers. The three punks—including one with sludge and blood mixed in his hair—turned towards the newcomer, leaving her unattended.
“You know,” said April’s would-be savior. “I might have semi-retired from the vigilante business, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to let you smegs assault the city’s babes—you got that?”
The three thugs rushed to attack their new opponent, but that turned out to be a mistake: with martial arts moves that at times seemed even better than the turtles’, the man—which, as April could now see, was white, black shoulder-length haired, early thirties, possessed a lower-middle class demeanor, carried a grocery bag, and was not attractive in a way that her friend Irma would have found irresistible—quickly dispatched the thugs, leaving them unconscious on the street. Once, he was done, he turned towards her, and with a smile said: “You okay?”
April wanted to run in and kiss her savior. She settled for a peck on his cheek. “Thank you. If you hadn’t come when you did…”
“No problem—it’s what I do,” the man said, blushing lightly. She noticed him staring at her, looking as if he was trying to make his mind up about something. “Listen, are you okay? You look sort of…lost.”
After considering her words—savior or not, she knew nothing about this man—she decided for the truth. “You’re right. This might sound weird, but I’m not sure I know where I am. I mean, I know where I am, but I don’t know if where I am is where I’m supposed to be, or how I got here. Does that make any sense at all?” She said, with a hesitant smile.
“I’ve heard weirder. Well, if it helps, this is New York, and I’m Casey Jones. Pleased to meet ya…”
“April. April O’Neil.”
* * *
It was one of those days, April O’Neil reflected, as she used one of her newly-scarce moments of peace and quiet to pore over all the reading material Karai had supplied on how to begin a start-up. Designing a commercially viable fully-electric car had been simplicity itself compared to the gargantuan task that was legally bringing it into the market. What’s more, Casey had just called to announce that he was bringing someone over, and given his tone, she did not expect terribly good things from it.
As she sipped from her glass of cheap wine—a habit she’d cultivated during college as a way of carrying on through cram sessions with girlfriends, and which she occasionally indulged in when alone—and tried to fight off sleep, April tried to read a particularly tricky line on patents before realizing that she’d already read it twice before. Oh well—getting a few minutes of shut-eye wouldn’t kill anyone. After moving the papers away from her as to not accidentally drool on them, she rested her head against her left arm and dozed off.
As she finished her lecture on the plausibility of Minovsky Particles to an audience of talking cow heads, April was brought back to reality by a pat on her shoulder. “Hey, Babe,” Casey said. “It’s me.”
“Casey…” April said with a smile that time had made instinctive. “I was just going through these papers…guess I’m more tired than I thought.” Then as she shook off her sleepiness, she added: “Did you bring your friend with you?”
“Yeah…about that,” he said sheepishly. “Remember that time the guys met that other version of the guys, except that they weren’t quite the guys?”
“Yes…” Where was he going with this? Surely he didn’t mean…
“Well, it’s sort of happened again, only this time…well, look.” Casey said, pointing towards the apartment entrance.
The woman standing there wore a dazed look, the sort that suggested that she was staring into the mouth of madness and was trying her damnedest not to fall inside. Her face was that of a stranger, but April recognized it instantly. She. Herself. April O’Neil.