If you’re serious about launching a local news site, the Ox duking it out with the Cleveland police department is a no-brainer. By the time the local press arrives it’ll be long over, and after one late night with too much coffee and a free WordPress template, ClevelandNewsExplosion.com (the name might still need a little work) can debut with an eyewitness scoop.

Your friends bolt in opposite directions. Are they chasing down other leads or just plain fleeing? Either way, your whole career has been leading up to this moment. You don’t have your notebook on hand, but you’re a trained observer. Taking a mental snapshot of the scene, you commit everything to memory down to the finest detail, and creep into the street for a better view.

At which point you stumble directly into the giant crater, hit your head on a chunk of meteor, and immediately black out.

* * * * *

You regain consciousness in what looks like a cheap motel room, tied to a chair. Judging from the numbness, you’ve been there for some time. Looming above you, hunched over a little to fit inside the room, is the Ox — even without his horned helmet, there’s no mistaking him.

He grunts. “So, you got superpowers now?”

Superpowers? “What? Uh, no.”

“Meteors give a lot of people superpowers,” he says. “You know that Verminator guy? Leather suit? Talks to rats and stuff?” He seems to expect a reply, so you nod.

“Meteor,” he finishes.

“I don’t have superpowers!” You’re pretty groggy, and although you still want to get this story, you’d also really like to live through it. Are you a hostage here? If you can convince him that you’re not any kind of threat, will he let you go?

“Plus, you kinda melted into a puddle of purple goo for a couple minutes outside the bank,” the Ox says. “That sounds like superpowers to me.”

“I promise you that I don’t have — wait, what?” You melted into a puddle of purple goo? Holy crap, maybe you do have superpowers. You feel sort of weird, now that he mentions it. Testing the ropes, you find that they have a surprising amount of give. Either your captor isn’t great at tying knots, or you’re about to rip right through your restraints. Your mind is racing — if that meteor gave you superpowers, they could be anything. Super strength? Super speed? Laser beam eyes? You stare at the Ox as hard as you can, but he just looks back at you like you’re stupid and fails to burst into flames. Probably not laser beam eyes, then.

He leans toward you. Unless you have some kind of super bone density, you’re fairly sure he can squeeze you into pulp with one hand. You strain against the ropes with all your might and feel them tear away. Um, did you just free yourself with newfound powers far beyond those of mortal men? Is there any chance you could actually take this guy?

If you punch the Ox right in the face with everything you’ve got,
turn to page 14.

If you run like hell instead, turn to page 27.


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