The Uncanny X-Heat: Days of Future Past


The scene is a polluted beach front in what used to be Miami. A man who resembles a velociraptor combs the gray sandy shores and murky orange waters. He moves with the paranoia of a ghost crab. He is long and lanky. He carries a first aid kit under his left arm. On a crowded subway, full of downtrodden civilians, a shorter man attempts to blow in his ear. He beats the living shit out of him with the first aid kit. Then, gets off the train.

He comes to a barrier wear a tall robot, silver and black, questions him.

“Mutant #1, you spend too much time on the perimeter. Explain.”

Mutant #1, also called Bosh, thinks, I should’ve gone into programming, but says, “I was attacked by Pacers, but I’m here.”

The black and silver sentinel allows Mutant #1 to pass. And so Bosh does, moving through a field of gravestones. Bosh studies each one: Mario Chalmers, Bird Man, Haslem, Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier, Mario Chalmers.

Bosh thinks, All my friends are dead. . . I should’ve been a programmer. . . maybe this doesn’t have to happen. He repeats, Maybe this doesn’t have to happen.

The lone surviving members of X-Heat greet Bosh. He is Mutant #1. They are Mutants #3 and #6. Mutant #3 uses a crutch. Mutant #6 is more important. All the X-Heat agree on this. A fourth mutant rolls out form the shadows. He has no number; his name is Riley.

Bosh looks Riley in the eye: “I have the new iPhone. All we have to do is facetime at midnight.”

How normal it all sounds is noted by all.

Mutant #3: “I have my doubts.”

Mutant #6: “If we don’t do this—if we don’t even try—we’re all dead in five days guaranteed.”

Mutant #3, also known as Wade, once known as Flash, stares at the ground and sighs.

“The sentinels will be closing in soon. Popovich will aim to kill—“

“—He always does. . . .”

“And this time,” continues Riley, “he’ll know we’ve switched carriers.”

“Too bad we don’t have two years guaranteed,” adds LeBron, always mindful of time. “Is it midnight yet?”

Bosh: “Almost.”

“Then what are we waiting for?”

“Midnight,” Bosh answers. “Midnight.”

LeBron takes the iPhone from Bosh. He finds his own name in the contacts list. He presses the green icon and lines of blue and red ink begin spiraling on the touchscreen. Soon he comes face to face with himself.

“Hello, LeBron.”

The LeBron on the iPhone screen appears puzzled.

“Young LeBron, it’s me—old LeBron.”

Young LeBron is full of suspicion. “How do I know this isn’t a Nike commercial?”

“Because I know what’s lying underneath your headband. . . . my receding hairline, which the rest of the world will not see in full view until the Spring of 2013 when a Sentinel robot sent by Popovich attacks you. You will win that battle, but you will lose the war.”

Young LeBron removes his headband, and his hairline is as old LeBron has stated: it is receding.

“Where are you, young LeBron?”

“I’m about to do a press conference thing and take my talents to South Beach.”

“Do not—I repeat—do not go through with The Decision.”

“You’re saying it like it’s all caps catastrophe. . . like it’s some sort of Incident.”

“That’s exactly what it is. And it can only end one way.”

Deep in thought is young LeBron.

“Okay, but what if—“ But the call is cut short.

Lasers cut through the air blowing bodies into confetti. Bosh yells, “They’ve knocked out the satellites.” He thinks about programming. He should’ve been a programmer.

Wade hobbles over. Riley wheels up. The four X-Heat stand backs together surrounded by black and white Sentinels. They begin counting their robotic enemies, “Not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven, not eight, not nine—“

“There, that should do it,” LeBron says to himself. He pushes the chair away from the desk and rests his chin in his palm, to look over his work on the computer screen. He has just finished typing a twelve paragraph (sort of) essay. The last line reads: I’m ready to accept the challenge. I’m staying in Cleveland, my home.

He makes it halfway through proofreading the (sort of) essay when his iPhone vibrates against the desk’s surface. He looks at it:

Yo LeBron….signing on with D-Wade…you in?

He thinks about the idea of playing with Bosh and Wade in Miami. He moves the cursor over to the X in the top right hand corner of his (sort of) essay’s top right hand corner. He clicks it.

Do you want to save changes you made to DOCUMENT 1?

He reviews his options: SAVE, DON’T SAVE, CANCEL.

“What could go wrong?” he asks. And he has a lifetime to find out.



Special thanks to Mike Langston for the image.

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