Speed Run: Splosion Man
by William Hoffacker
The man who can survive an explosion is destined to be at the center of many explosions. He keeps a blast always bubbling inside of him, where it waits for the moment he relaxes his muscles and releases it. He changes soldiers and civilians into overcooked meat and charred bones and walks out of the flames unscathed. The exploding man is a suicide bomber who never has to lose his life. Militia groups and shadow governments drug him, kidnap him, weaponize him, and repeat.
How could a man with such power become anything but a cartoon? Daffy Duck always pointing the rifle at himself and yelling, “FIRE!” Wile E. Coyote perpetually falling off cliffs into puffs of smoke, victimized by mechanical malfunctions. And like them, he rises every time, only to relive his pain. It’s not the guilt that triggers madness, it’s his inability to end the cycle. His body’s stubborn refusal to shatter into a million flaming chunks.
So he turns manic. He runs and jumps too quickly to be tranquilized. Springing from the walls, he tries to find joy in havoc. For a time, he laughs, giddy as a child lighting bottle rockets, but the pleasure proves hollow and fizzles out.
When the world deems him too dangerous, the exploding man is shot into space. He does not struggle against his captors, though he is sober and could kill them all. Jets propel his body through troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere. Without oxygen, the fire in his belly finally fades into embers and then ashes. Adrift among supernovae and satellites, he wishes he could make a Big Bang. Before dying, he dreams he might expand and birth a galaxy, a creation so massive that it will balance the scales tipped by the destruction in his wake.
William Hoffacker was born and raised in New York City. He received his M.A. in Creative Nonfiction from Ohio University. His work has appeared in Noble / Gas Qtrly, Cartridge Lit, matchbook, Sundog Lit, and others. He currently lives and works in Tucson, AZ. He tweets @YoungestOfOne.
Photo: Star-Forming Region S-106, by NASA and ESA, used freely under Creative Commons