All superheroes have their own believable origin story. Batman lost his parents, Superman lost his planet, Spider-Man lost his ability to never get bitten by a radioactive spider. I’m no different. I was born with a very special heart, a heart which defied science in all its forms.
When the doctor held his stethoscope to my throbbing chest he heard a familiar beat, and not the beat of every heart he’d listened to up until that day. The beat he heard was Purple Rain, by the artist currently known as Prince. Unable to find a medical explanation, the doctor lazily put it down to a Christmas miracle.
When news of my tuneful heart got out, my story made the front page of the local gazette. Pretty soon my mother was taking me to county fairs and holding a microphone to my heart as I slept in my crib on the stage. I was the talk of Somerset, and no good has ever come of anyone being the talk of Somerset.
It wasn’t long before a man in a suit, a man from Warner Brothers was knocking on the door of the house I grew up in. In his hand, the hand which wasn’t knocking the door of the house I grew up in was a carrier bag filled with modems and legal documents.
“Before I begin” he said “Would you like to buy a modem?”
After my mother declined, the man, Eric was his name, made it very clear that my heart was in breach of copyright law. My mother put up a fight, but she wasn’t a big shot city lawyer, and she wasn’t dealing with EMI, the people’s record company.
“I don’t want you to think we’re monsters over at Warner” he said “We don’t expect you to give us the heart. We’re really very reasonable. All we ask is your son wears this device on his chest for the rest of his life. It sends a very small electrical current into his heart to regulate the beat.”
What else was my mother to do? My father was at work in the local Nuclear Power Station and wouldn’t be home for hours. She had no choice but to agree.
Eric cut me open right there and then. As fate would have it, when he was stitching me up, one of his modems fell into my chest. Over the course of many years, my body’s natural reaction to this foreign object was to embrace it. My flesh and organs fashioned wires and whatsits, which connected my heart to the modem. Through no fault of my own, my heart began to download music illegally straight into my pulse. I’d walk through a Wi-Fi zone and end up coming out with the entire Beatles catalogue programmed into the beating of my heart.
I tried to keep it to myself, but when I was seventeen I fulfilled a childhood dream and landed a small part in Holby City. Ratings for the show had reached an all time low, and in a desperate attempt to attract viewers the producers decided to screen a live episode. As the man playing the doctor placed his stethoscope upon my chest he broke character and let out an almighty cry.
“His heart’s playing Yellow Submarine. Someone get a doctor!”
Within an hour the clip had made it onto Youtube and I was an internet sensation. The press hounded my home and I was forced to hide out at my parent’s house for a few weeks.
On a sunny spring morning a hand pounded against the door of the house I grew up in. The hand belonged to Paul McCartney. Behind him were a team of lawyers, doctors and Roman Catholic priests. As soon as my father opened the door the doctors pounced, my father was pushed to the floor as the men made their way into the kitchen.
“Where’s the boy?” McCartney asked in a gentle whisper.
“He’s not here” my mother replied. “He hasn’t been to visit for months.”
“Lies!” he cried as he struck my mother to ground with a rolling pin. “Search upstairs. He’s here somewhere.”
I was in the bathroom, unaware of the scene unfolding below me. I heard what seemed liked a herd of rhinos climbing the stairs. There came a knock on the door.
“I’m in here” I shouted, in fear of my mother coming in and seeing my penis for the first time in four years.
“He’s in here” I heard a man yell. A moment later the door was wide open and not for the first time in my life I cursed my parents for never putting a lock on the bathroom door. Sadly this time I didn’t have a magazine to cover my dignity.
I was dragged naked down the stairs and thrown onto the sofa.
“He’s an abomination. We must kill him now” said one of the eldest priests.
“Nobody is killing anyone today” Paul told the priest.
“Hey, Paul” I said “I’m a big fan. I’ve got all your songs”
“I’m quite aware of that” he said. “That’s why we’re here. Ringo, take the heart.”
I hadn’t noticed him, but Ringo Starr had been standing at the back of the room dressed in a nurse’s uniform. He came towards me with a needle.
“It’s ok” Paul said “He’s not just a drummer and children’s TV show narrator. Ringo here is a trained surgeon, florist, chemist and a hair product technician”
That’s the last thing I remember and that’s the last time I had a heart.
When I awoke I thought I was in a bathtub filled with ice and my kidneys had been stolen, but they’d just put me back where they’d found me and the water had gone cold. My heart was gone, it had been replaced my something which smelled a lot like fish. It was a fish.
I know what you’re thinking: how could I be alive with a fish for a heart. It must have been magic. Well, there’s no such thing as magic. The fish was called a Pulse Fish, and you’d never read about one in any book.
I could feel it pumping the blood around my body just as well as my heart had ever done. They come from a planet much like our own, but billions of light years away. How this one came to be in the possession of the remaining members of the Beatles I never found out, and I don’t think I ever will. The only information I had was left written on my bathroom mirror in lipstick. It said
“The fish in your chest is a Pulse Fish. It comes from a planet very much like our own, but billions of light years away.
Love Ringo and Paul.
P.S. They only live for one year.”
The weight of this knowledge that I had less than a year to live had a devastating effect on my mind. Not knowing how old the Pulse Fish had been when Ringo Starr inserted it into my chest, I feared I could die at moment. I’d never believed that any man who lived each day as their last would fill every hour with seducing women, snowboarding off mountain tops and watching sunsets, instead he would surely spend his final hours frozen in a mixture of shock, panic and woe.
Wanting the nightmare to be over I made my way to my local nuclear power station. I would kill myself by exposing myself to lethal levels of radiation. There was no other way.
Quite easily I made my way to the heart of the station. It's always handy when your father's the head of security and the password for every door is your birthday.
Overlooking a pool of unnaturally green and glowing goo I pulled off my best t-shirt and prepared to jump in headfirst.
“Hey! What are you doing” I heard a man cry “You haven’t got your hardhat on” he said.
“It’s ok” I told him “I’m just going to kill myself by rolling around in this nuclear waste for a bit”
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you. Set one foot in there and you’ll come out with superpowers all over your body.”
But I wouldn’t listen. I threw myself in and swam around like an Olympic swimmer trying to get his money’s worth five minutes before the leisure centre was closing.
I emerged a minute later and I’d lost all my hair. Confident that I’d achieved my goal I set off back to the house I grew up in, so I could die in peace in the bath.
I filled the bath with the most expensive salts and bubbles I’d ever bought my mother for Christmas. She had so many bottles of bath products piled up from over the years, most of them unopened. When I asked her why she never used them she said “They’re too nice to use. I’m saving them for a special occasion.” If there was ever a time when a bath was a special occasion it’s when you’re having your last bath whilst waiting to die from radiation poisoning.
As I lay in the water my eyes glanced upon the shampoos. Even though I’d lost all my hair in the power plant I thought it would be a nice treat to shampoo my bald head. But which one was fitting for a final head wash? Herbal Essences? Head and Shoulders? Wash and Go seemed slightly appropriate, but there was one bottle which stood out more than any other; Shampoo X. It didn’t have any fancily designed bottle, it just looked like a milk bottle with the name written on it in lipstick. I was reminded of the scene from Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade with the Holy Grail. Shampoo X would be the final shampoo for me. As I lathered it into my smooth dying skull I knew that I wouldn’t get a chance to rinse and repeat. I could hear death rattle. I submerged myself completely under the water and waited for death to take me. I blacked out moments later.
To my surprise I regained consciousness one hour later and my hair had re-grown longer and shinier than ever, and I was alive! I got out of the bath and dried myself with a damp towel. As I looked at myself in the mirror I couldn’t help but notice that my muscles had trebled in size. It would be many years before I learned how this miracle had happened. Luckily you won’t have to wait that long, because I can tell you right now. Shampoo X contained nutrients not from this planet; they came from a planet much like our own, but billions of light years away, a planet with rivers filled with a fish called the Pulse Fish. Luckily nuclear radiation effects life differently on that planet, and when combined with one of the secret ingredients in Shampoo X, the Pulse Fish became immortal.
And that, my friends, is how came to be known as the superhero that the papers are calling Pulse. There have been a lot of rumours surrounding my powers, and so, I think it’s time I set the record straight.
Yes, I am able to communicate telepathically with my fish heart, but I’m not under his control. No, I cannot breathe underwater indefinitely; I need to come up for air every six hours. In addition to my superior strength, reflexes and acceleration over short distances, I am able to give off what I call my “Pulse Ray” which causes my enemies to go into cardiac arrest. As recent photos have shown, my hair is always the same length and hasn’t grown since I used Shampoo X on it, which has led some to believe that cutting it would have a Samson-like effect on my powers, but luckily my hair is indestructible, as far as I know. Hopefully it will never be put to the test when it matters most!
Pulse, Gotham City.