Man vs. Lighting - Short Story

When James Caldrin was eight years old he astonished his third grade teacher with the ability to multiply three digit figures in his head in a manner of seconds. His teacher, Mrs. Wilma, put a two-digit multiplication problem on the board, 23 X 49, in the first week of school, preparing to teach the class how to solve it.  She was surprised when James raised his hand and answered 1,127 a few seconds after she had written it on the board. Thinking that James had seen the problem before, she put another random two-digit digit problem on the board, 13 X 96, assuming that there was no way James could know the answer. James answered 1,248 right after she finished writing it down. She checked in on the calculator. He was right. She then wrote down 345 X 489 on the board. James quickly answered “One, six, eight, seven, zero, five”. She checked the calculator. It was 168,705.

James further astonished his teacher when he memorized three volumes of Ageless Poems instead of the required one page. Mrs. Wilma always made her 3rd graders memorize poems. Once, after giving out the assignment, she told the class that whoever memorized more than the required homework would receive a chocolate candy for every extra poem. A week later, James came to class carrying the first, second, and third volumes of Ageless Poems. Mrs. Wilma almost fell out of his chair in surprise when James announced that he had memorized over a thousand extra poems. After half an hour of picking random poems for James to recite, which he recited from memory with absolutely no errors, Mrs. Wilma was forced to purchase twelve big boxes of chocolate candy to keep her promise. She never forgot the picture of James sitting in his desk, surrounded by boxes and boxes of candy, eating away with a content look on his face.

When James was ten he skipped six months of school because of a trip overseas. When he came back, he learned all the material that he missed in just one day, and even managed to get the top score in his class. In his Literature class, James wrote a one hundred page essay arguing about the improper use of social status within society. His fifth grade teacher, Mr. Lixer, was so impressed that he sent the essay for debate at Sora State University. The essay was refused however, when they found out it was written by a ten year old. (Years later the university fell under heavy criticism for their blatant refusal of the James Caldron’s paper which eventually became one of the greatest essays ever written about sociology) A professor from Yale, hearing about James’s impressive talents, asked him to read a thirty volumes covering American history and to orally summarize it for him as soon as he was done.  His eyes, which were naturally small, widened to a new proportion when James came back in two days and not only gave a perfect summary, but remembered most of the information that he had read. He had managed to condense 200 hours worth of reading into just two day.

James’s talents lay in his inhuman calculating speed and almost photographic memory. His brain could do more work in a second than a hive of bees could do in a day. His eyes would analyze everything in front of him instantly and he would read books as fast as he could turn the pages. During Exams and SAT testing, James would finish his tests an hour faster than anyone else. When he was eight, he had perfect photographic memory. When he looked at something and he would instantly memorize it and fully remember it for the next couple of days. As he grew older his memory began to weaken, but it was still far superior to his classmates. If James repeated something two times, he would memorize it for months. If he repeated something five times, he would memorize it for years. Sometimes, during the course of reading a book, James would notice that he had unintentionally memorized half of it. (And he was speed-reading it too)

James was not left out on physical abilities either. His brain helped him become a proficient athlete unlike anyone before him. His inhuman calculating speed gave him a bonus to his reaction time. He could see a ping pong as if it traveled in slow motion. He could reach out and grab a basketball right from under the player’s nose. He subconsciously calculated all his shots and plays in fractions of a second. Although it took him some time to develop a good reaction in his body, James was fit for the Olympics when he was only twelve.

Once, when James was thirteen and on the basketball team, the opposing school, San Verna’s Lions, had vandalized some school property prior to the game. James got angry about it since he took pride in his school. He had a habit of always keeping the basketball score about the same with the opposing team, no matter how good or how bad they were. He would then take the final “lucky” winning shot and would win the game in the last seconds. This time his attitude was different.

“The only thing you do on the court tonight is give me the ball.” James said to the basketball team gathered around him. “And that’s the only thing you do. Don’t even bother defending. I’ll do all the work!”

They nodded and agreed. James Caldrin was already famous. The coach tried to argue but they didn’t listen.

The game started. James got the ball in his hands and shot it right away. It was almost a full court shot.

SWISH! 3-0.

The other team, thinking it a lucky shot and not knowing what James Caldron was capable of, went on the offense. The moment the ball crossed the half court line James attacked like a monster. Before the point guard could think of passing the ball, James was in possession. He wasted no time. Another half court shot.

SWISH! 6-0.

The game continued in a similar pattern. 9-0, 12-0, 15-2, 18-4…78-21. James shot 26 three pointers. He was 26 out of 26. Most of them were half court or greater.

The crowd went silent at first, then it went wild. They began cheering their heads off for James. He was the new Michael Jordan or something. When half time came he was surrounded by people. Everyone was patting him on the shoulder and trying to shake his hand.

“You’re freaking amazing!”

“It’s a massacre!”

“How are you doing it?”

James shrugged off most of the people and got a drink. He was only halfway done.

The coach came by. “James, I think you shouldn’t play in the second half.”

James looked at him. The coach was scared of him and it was plain by the way he wouldn’t meet his eyes.

“Just this one time coach. Let me go wild.” He asked. Deep inside he saw no point in asking the coach since he knew that he could do whatever he wanted anyway.

The coach looked into his eyes. “Don’t forget that this is middle school. You should think about what they’re trying to do.”

“I’m just giving the other team something to strive for.”

The game continued. James shot 20 more shots. He was 20 out of 20. The final score was 138-36. James mopped the floor with the opposing team.

After this game James began realizing his potential in everything. He joined the soccer team. He made a historical score for his school against one of their most difficult rivals, Loren High School’s Titans. James scored 39 goals in a single official game. James became world famous on that day. He joined the football team. He was the only student in history who made a touchdown every time he had possession of the ball. He joined the baseball team. He pitched 9 perfect games that season before he got bored.

James did not neglect his intellectual pursuits either. He joined the knowledge bowl for his school. His team consisted of four Asian girls and him. The competition was shown on TV only because James was in it.

“Question 1. What car is shown in front of the U.S. Treasury Building on the back of the ten dollar bill?”

James pressed the button as soon as the host said “dollar.”

“James?”

“A 1926 Hupmobile.”

“That is correct.”

“Question 2. Which of the 50 states takes in the least amount of tourist dollars?”

James pressed the button when the host was still saying the l in dollars.

“James?”

“Rhode Island.”

“That is correct.”

There was a murmur from the other contestants. Three of them had defeated looks on their faces, while the other two looked pissed off. Everyone knew how this was going to end. James knew what they were feeling, but he didn’t care. He was going to do this only one time and then he was out of there. He was going to give the world something to strive for.

James didn’t let anyone else press the button before he did. He answered all the questions as if he had a computer in his head. The host even went as far as to ask questions that he himself didn’t know.

“What is the exact distance that light travels in a second?”

“299,792,458 meters a second.” James answered. The host decided not to check the answer. James won the competition with a perfect score.

James began collecting fame faster than all the historical men in the past. It didn’t matter what he did, he beat everyone. When he was 18 he joined the Olympic team for Greece. Greece won 48 gold medals that year. James earned 47 of them. James Caldron beat Michael Phelps’s record by an additional 39 medals. His remark at the end of the Olympics “good luck trying to beat me” was not well received by jealous athletes were happened to be born in the wrong century in history. Competing against James Caldron was like running into a brick wall.

Following the Olympics James held a press conference. He announced his intentions to the world.

“I have a list of 681 records from the Guinness Book of World Records. In the following five years, I will beat every single one of them.”

No one doubted that he would do it.

“What are you going to do after that?” they asked him.

“Don’t know yet.”

“Do you plan to run for president?”

“No.”

“Do you plan to take over the world?”

“No.”

“Do you plan on having children?”

“No.”

Far away, sitting on the worn couch in his two bedroom house, James’ old basketball coach looked at the screen with mixed feelings. He knew there was something wrong with James Caldrin, but he couldn’t put it into words. His third grade teacher Mrs. Wilma, neglecting a pile of homework to watch the press conference, also couldn’t describe how she felt about James.

Two days after his press announcement, James got out of the car to attempt a new world record. He was going to run a 26.2 mile marathon in 1 hour and 45 minutes. It was 19 minutes faster than previous world record. There was a large crowd at the starting line and James was the only runner. The streets were blocked and the cops were going to follow him on bikes. Everything was set. James stood at the starting line and stretched. He got into sprinting position.

The signal was given and James sped away, fast enough to make the bikers sweat trying to keep up with him. He covered his first mile in less than four minutes.

Then it happened. It was just another event in human history, but it was the biggest event in James Caldrin’s life.

A clap of lightning struck and hit James Caldron in the middle of his run. He died instantly.

The End.

 

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