Cut to the chase... well, there IS a chase ... Maverick chases Hydra, Alex speeds along trying to make his date with Carol... the three cars collide... a green glow suffuses Alex and Maverick... and .....
by Kyle Crocco
Maverick and Alex stared at each other for what later seemed like ten or more minutes, but in reality was no more than a few brief seconds. Their mouths gaped, their hands pointed, and they shook their heads in concerted disbelief, instantly taking in everything about the sudden change from one body to the other body.
“But that’s—” Maverick started.
“—impossible,” Alex finished.
Maverick clutched his throat. Why did his voice sound higher pitched, less forceful, weak, almost like a girl’s? Had he been shot in the groin?
Alex covered his mouth. Why did he sound like a soul singer? Had he come down with a cold? Contracted allergies? Breathed in too much second-hand smoke?
They looked at each other again and both asked, “Who are you?”
And they would probably have gone on in the same vein, saying a lot more things about the utterly remarkable and completely impossible fact that they had suddenly switched bodies, if Hydra had not decided to take that exact moment to step out from his crumpled car, clutching what looked to be a very large, and very dangerous, pearl-white hand blaster in his unwounded left hand.
Maverick noticed Hydra immediately and, as usual, he reacted instantly. His new body, on the other hand, had other ideas, none of which involved reacting instantly. Instead, this new body moved like a slow motion version of his former body. So Maverick was forced to do something he had never done before. He had to ask for help.
“Shoot,” Maverick croaked with his new, thin, girly voice. “Shoot him.” He jabbed his finger in the general direction of Hydra.
“What?” Alex asked, confused by all these rapid changes in body, location and situation. “Shoot who?” And that’s when he noticed he was clutching some sort of large, long-barreled, black weapon in his new hand.
“Shoot Hydra.” Maverick shouted, pointing towards the man dressed all in white. “Shoot him now.”
Alex looked over to where his old body was pointing and saw that the man dressed in white was aiming a similar looking weapon at him. An immediate sense of danger overcame his new body. Adrenaline coursed through his new veins. He felt alert, alive, on—
“Fire,” he heard his old, former, almost girly voice say.
Exactly, Alex thought and then did something he had never attempted before: he acted without thinking. Without aiming, without even looking, he squeezed off a shot. A blast of energy soared over the man in white’s white, Panama hat, and smacked into a utility pole, snapping it in half. One half stayed upright, thrusting into the sky, while the top half crunched through the pristine roof of the Lexus.
Hydra leapt away from the falling utility pole, while squeezing off his own desperate shot. Or so he thought. But no desperate shot emitted from his hand blaster. He pulled the trigger again. And still, no desperate bolt of energy crashed into his nemesis. That’s when he noticed the little wedge of metal pointing toward the letter ‘S.’
“Damn safety!” Hydra cursed, trying to work the catch with his injured right hand. But instead of moving the catch, he managed to move his mouth into a small scream of pain, as each movement sent a thousand, razor-sharp, alcohol-soaked pins and needles racing up his arm.
“Shoot him again, you idiot,” Maverick shouted, when he saw that Hydra had not been blasted into a blackened, charred husk but instead remained a pristine, white and completely whole… uh … not husk.
Alex squeezed the trigger once more, letting forth a blast of energy that careened out across the intersection like one of his golf shots at the driving range.
Hydra saw the blast, and ducked just in time, as a huge black hole appeared in the side of the car where his head had recently been resting. He rolled and kept on rolling ignoring the pain in his hand, until his body was safely behind a concrete embankment. He then took a moment to undo the safety. But after another round of stinging pins and needles shot up through his fingers and arm he gave up: it was just too painful.
Back in the intersection, Alex turned the blaster this way and that, admiring its awesome power. “Whoa. This is one dangerous piece of…”
He looked over and saw his former body, jumping up and down to see what was going on. “What happened? Did you hit him? Is he dead? Where did he go?”
“Whoa?” Alex said, putting out a hand. “Slow down. Let’s just calm down and think about this. What did you say?”
“Hydra. I said Hydra,” his former body screamed at him. “The man that you were shooting at, you idiot.”
Alex pointed over at the man in white, who was now visibly running across the parking lot of the nearby shopping center. “You mean that guy over there?”
An expression of disgust came over his old face. “Give me that!” His old body snatched the weapon from him. Or tried to, because it wasn’t so easy to prise it from Alex’s muscled grasp.
When Alex saw how determined his old body was to take back the weapon, he let go and his former body suddenly plopped back onto its ass.
“Sorry,” Alex said, instinctively “I didn’t realize …”
His former body growled at him, struggled back up, and then limped away across the intersection toward the shopping center.
Alex stood there for a moment, watching his old body go away, unsure of what to do in such a situation. Finally, he fell back on what he thought was the immediate problem. “Hey, shouldn’t we exchange insurance information or something?”
As Alex watched his former body get further and further away from him, he felt confused, unprepared, and rushed. It was like that dream, the one in which you suddenly found yourself in the final exam hall and you realized that you had never studied the notes, had never read the book, and had never gone to the lectures, but were still expected to take the exam anyway.
He stood there paralyzed, seized with panic, unable to take any action let alone any decisive action. All his thinking and planning in life had not prepared him for such a moment as this. But he wasn’t thinking about the fact that he was unprepared. In fact, for a few Zen-like moments he wasn’t doing anything that resembled thinking at all. And when his thoughts suddenly came flooding back again, the primary one was that he should give the authorities a call. In this case the Washington Highway Patrol, or perhaps the Seattle metro police. And once the authorities arrived, he was sure they would know what to do and how to sort out this whole accident and switching body thing.
But when Alex reached into his pocket … well … not his pocket exactly but, you know, the pocket of the pants that he was now wearing on this new body, and he discovered, much to his surprise, that his mobile phone was not to be found there. Instead, he removed a thick, flexible card made of some strange, unfamiliar material. The card appeared completely transparent at first, so that he could see his new hand straight through the material of the card, but after a second it began to glow and turn opaque. A hologram image of a rugged, square jawed, short haired fellow formed on the plastic and underneath glowed a name: James Maverick.
Alex looked down at the image, and then up at his old body getting farther and father away, and then did two things he had never done particularly well in his life: one, he started to run very fast, and two, he took off on what psychological experts called an ‘impulsive act.’ He had read about that type of act once in a self-help book he had ordered online, but he never thought that such an act would happen to him. At least, not without some planning anyway.