It's a superpower that serves no purpose, helps no one and goes almost completely unnoticed. Please don't misunderstand me, though; I'm not complaining. Exposure to that much gamma radiation should have killed me outright. Instead, it transformed me into the man I am today.
The doctors couldn't understand it. They eventually concluded that the GRASER machine hadn't been operating properly. That brought a stern memo of protest from the scientists and engineers who built it, but what could they say? I was living proof that their "death ray" was a waste of four hundred and seventy million dollars. The project was shut down and I was let go.
I never thought to check the floors. But then, neither did anyone else. It was only after I was off the base and back in the world that I began to suspect something.
Everywhere I went, I smelled it. Hot plastic, scorched wood, melted wax... at first, I thought I was suffering some kind of nasal hallucination, that the GRASER had caused brain cancer. Finally, though, I figured it out, came to understand how the beam had changed me.
See, it was my footsteps. Everywhere I walked, the ground got hot. It didn't do anything to my shoes, I tested that. Somehow, the heat goes right through them. Back on the base, every floor was either concrete or that 1940's asbestos linoleum. But out here in the real world...
You might think that if it were my whole body, or just my hands, I could get a job as a superhero, like the Human Torch or something, but you'd be wrong. My footsteps don't burn, they just get hot, like almost scalding. Hot enough to mess up the finish after a while, but no hotter than that. What would I call myself? Captain Hotfoot?
Long story short, I couldn't keep a job before I got this one. The smells bothered my coworkers, and my supervisors figured I was smoking on duty. I got fired twice for the damage I did to the carpeting of my workstation. They said I must have been grinding out cigarette butts, even though burning carpet smells nothing like cigarette smoke.
Here at the spa, though, the floors are all tiled. The rooms are all kept hot for the clients in their towels and sandals. It's a good job, and I'm lucky to have it.
But I learned something yesterday. After the GRASER failed on me, the team tried it on somebody else. It was after the second failure that they were shut down. Someone else survived an ultra-lethal dose of gamma rays, and yesterday, I learned his name and history. Like me, he bounced around for a while after the base closed, but he seems to be settled now.
He works across town as a Zamboni driver.