Part 2 of the origin tale, that deals completely with the aftermath of the explosion, and the first manifestations of our heroine's powers. The ending may seem a bit abrupt, but that will be rectified at a later time with part 3 of this story.
The world dissolved into a bright, all-consuming light. In that instant, Margaret Ericson knew, that she was dead. She felt herself lifted off the ground by the blast, and hurtled upward. Thankfully, the shock of the whole ordeal rendered her unconscious before she came crashing back to the Earth, so she was spared the feeling of her bones shattering. Her last thought before the bright light gave way to the darkness of the unconscious was, “I'm sorry, Dad... Looks like another funeral in your future.”
The black void was filled with images of her life. Roughhousing with her brothers in the field, the shock of the Depression and the necessity of finding work at a young age. The image that haunted her the most though, was those eyes. The eyes of the monster that she had killed, and that had in turn killed her. Those purple-black orbs, shimmering in the unnatural light. So much hatred, so much venom. Yet, there was something else in those eyes. Beyond the rage, there was just a hint of curiosity. The creature may have been some malevolent monster from beyond the stars, but it was in some way intrigued by her.
She had rewarded that inquisitiveness with a large scrap of metal through it's chest.
For what seemed like hours, those eyes lingered in her mind. Her brain couldn't seem to understand why death was taking so long. Was this Purgatory? Was she to be forever haunted by her most grievous sin for all eternity?
Consciousness returned, and with it came sensations. The first thing she noticed was that she was cold and damp. Moisture seemed to cling to her, plastering bits of cloth to her body. She opened her eyes, and closed them immediately to block out the bright light that still flooded her vision.
She must have survived the fall, and was now in a hospital. The light must have been so bright, it permanently blinded her, but at least she was still alive.
“Is anyone here?” She called out, her voice rasping through her throat. How long had it been since she had last spoken? How long had she been wasting away in the hospital bed? “I'm thirsty... can you get me something to drink?”
She paused. There was something odd about the sound of her voice. It didn't sound like she was inside of a hospital room. It sounded instead like she was in a wide open field. The dampness on her skin wasn't right either. This was not the dampness of sweat, but rather it felt like the morning dew lingering on the grass.
Then there was the lack of a bed.
Once more she opened her eyes, shielding them with an upraised hand. The light that filled her vision wasn't the light from the exploding creature. It was the light of the sun. A light that she was staring straight toward. Instinctively, she rolled away, and was immediately surprised to see the clouds lingering below her. Clouds, and nothing else.
She let out a scream, as she looked around frantically. She had been there when the plane took her brothers away to fight in the war. She had never had the chance to ride in one. But what she saw around her was very much what she assumed that those planes would have seen as they flew through the sky. Blue sky and clouds for as far as the eye could see. She panicked.
With the panic, came the fall.
Suddenly she found herself in free fall, her screams ringing out, as she fell face-first toward the ground. Passing through the clouds, she could see the desert below. Cacti, and scrub grass interspersed with rock formations. Not far away, she saw mountains towering over the landscape.
“I don't want to die. I don't want to die. I don't want to die. I don't want to die.” She repeated over and over, as she sped up, the ground gaining details, as she hurtled toward it. She saw a coyote look up and lope off, as she fell in its direction. She closed her eyes and braced for impact, wishing she was back up in the clouds.
Suddenly, the momentum of the fall stopped, and rather than falling, she felt herself rising. She opened her eyes, and saw the clouds approaching. She turned her head, and watched as the ground retreated. She barely caught a glimpse of the coyote again, and could only imagine that its confusion was equal to her own.
The fear of death temporarily abated, and she took a moment to revel in the feeling of the wind rushing past, streaming through her hair. When she was once more lost in the clouds, she looked around and relished the amazing views. She watched, as buzzards circled their prey, and clouds floated lazily by. She leaned back, and allowed herself to float along, relishing in the feeling of the sun on her skin. She felt the warm glow caress her body, and she felt energized.
For hours she floated there, basking in the sunlight, and languishing just above a cloud. From below, no one would be able to see the woman floating along. As time passed, it finally began to register just how much of her body she felt the sun on. Looking down, she saw the shredded scraps of the outfit she had worn the previous night. She was still covered, but there was no way she would ever salvage this outfit.
Suddenly, despite hovering above the desert, she felt as if there were eyes everywhere. She wanted at this point nothing more than to go home, but she was unfamiliar with this section of the desert. She swooped down, flying low over the desert below, looking for landmarks. The landscape was barren, a seemingly endless expanse of sand, and rock. She sped up, sand flying up in a cloud behind her.
After hours of flying back and forth across the desert, Margaret finally managed to find the road as the sun began to dip below the horizon. She made her way as quickly as she dared along the side of the road, lost in thought. When she finally made it home, she was going to have a lot of explaining to do.