Now that the Watchmen protect our streets, I frequently think back to the moment I walked into the office I knew that something big was happening, even more so than usual. Assistants were bustling about with stacks of papers that teetered over their heads and journalists like myself were on the phone, scribbling away on notepads, or grumbling under their breath. I assumed that the 'big news' was about me due to the stares I caught from the very moment I walked through the door. I could only catch whispers of words that came from the gossiping assistants and they all generally said the same thing.
"Assignment." I know from just this one word that this could be a very good thing, or something that will make me question my decision to pursue journalism.
Once I reach my desk I'm greeted with a stack of unorganized papers and an instant headache to match. The article I had written last month was sitting on the very top clipped to a copy of photographs taken by an inside source of the government's 'Intrinsic Field' Projects. They'd had an accident not a month and a half ago involving one of their physicists, Dr. Jon Osterman, who little did I know would become someone much larger than life, by being literally wiped from existence in a split second by these 'intrinsic fields', with not a sign of him left!
Just when I'm about to begin to sort through the mess of papers, Darcy, the Editor's assistant comes along, and leans over my desk like she's got a secret to tell. "Robert is sending you out to interview Dr. Osterman, that man you wrote about last month?"
I tell her that's impossible because he's dead, but she scoffs at me. "Oh no, you haven't heard? The government announced last night that he's come back!" At this, I pause, and Darcy hands me bus ticket with a skeptical look on her face. "Like he rose from the dead!"
Two days later, I arrive in front of the government facility the so-called undead Dr. Jon Osterman is being held in, and escorted inside by two men dressed in pressed black suits. I'm not sure how my editor, Robert, managed to get me inside of this place, but I am beginning to wish he had picked someone else.
They guide me through the maze of a building, and lead me to plain room filled with giant machines and advanced technology. What's strange though is that everything seems to be tinted blue.
One of the guards calls out for Dr. Osterman, and I swallow the urge to scoff. He's not going to come out! He's dead! But just as I begin to roll my eyes, the blue light intensifies, and around the corner from one of the massive machines comes a man- a giant, blue, glowing man.
He stands at least twenty feet tall so that his head peers over the top of the giant machine, his eyes are stark white and rimmed with the a dark black that makes him look tired and older. I stumble back from him upon reflex, and one of the guards catches me by my arm to keep me from going any further. I couldn't believe my eyes. My first thought upon seeing the giant blue man was that there was no possible way that he was real. I had to be hallucinating. This can't be Jon Osterman! He was obliterated!
As the giant blue man begins to shrink, I try to gather myself and stop my heart from jumping out of my chest.
Even when he's finally standing before me, he still towers over me like a giant, but his gaze is cold.
The guards release me, and say that I have an hour before I have to leave the premises, but all I can do is nod as they leave me with this… thing they call Dr. Jon Osterman.
When the door finally closes, Dr. Osterman turns his back to me, and moves towards the machine once again. It is only then that I realize that he's practically naked save for a pair of shorts. But he doesn't even allow me time to recover from the fact that he's blue or that he glows before he puts a hand out, and somehow summons a device towards himself.
Before I can stop myself, I ask how he did that.
I'm still proud of the fact that I hardly even stuttered, and I didn't flinch when he turned around to face me as if he were annoyed. But he doesn't answer me. So I try again, but with a different question.
I ask if he's truly Dr. Jon Osterman, and I say that I wrote the article on his death.
He still does not react.
But just when I think he's going to ignore me again, he speaks.
"I am." He pauses for a moment. "Or I was."
And he turns his back on me, which signals that this interview was going to be much more difficult than I originally thought.
But you were obliterated! I say to him as I chase him about the lab like a child as I jot down notes on my paper. He walks incredibly fast for a glowing man.
"You are correct. I was obliterated." When I ask how in the world he could be here now as I scribble, he tinkers with a device in his hands, and hums as if he were in thought.
After a moment, or a few minutes of waiting on the quiet and contemplating Dr. Osterman- or what I have been asked to call Dr. Osterman, he begins to explain that the power of thought brought him back into existence, and that God had nothing to do with it.
Just as I'm about to ask about what he meant, he interrupts, and states that I am the first person he's seen other than a guard since he's been back. He had not even visited his wife yet, even though he knew that he could easily teleport out of the building upon whim, but he was not sure what she would think of his new form. I believe that this was about the time that my notes ended because I could not possibly believe what he had just said.
He could teleport... and he glowed?
I follow the giant blue Dr. Osterman around his lab, taking nearly six steps for every two he took, and from time to time, I scribbled down what he spoke of.
He talked about how difficult it was to know of the past, present, and future, and how strange it was to be detached from your body. He left me no time to ask questions other than the occasional confused "excuse me" or a request for him to slow down. He talked about his wife, Janey Osterman, and how his powers worked.
He could distort the very fabric of reality with a single thought- and as if to demonstrate, he made my notepad and pen appear in his hands like some mind-boggling magic trick.
Whenever I managed to speak or ask him a question after getting my things back, he'd deflect it all as if it were a game.
"I've been to the moon," He states after I ask him what he meant by he could 'distort the very fabric of reality'. "I've stood on Mars."
Then I gawk, and ask if he's feeling alright.
He doesn't answer, but he says that the Americans will be the first to land on the moon in ten years. The deflection and rambling does not end until the guards arrive to retrieve me, and waste no time trying to drag me out of the room.
But just before they manage to pull my notes away from me and the Doctor begins to walk away from us, I shout after Dr. Osterman, "You said that you used to be Jon Osterman. If you're not Jon Osterman anymore, than who are you? What do you stand for? Why did you come back?"
It is as if the question actually takes the Doctor by surprise, and his pearly white eyes widen as he turns his head back to look at me.
The guards must be curious as well, because they pause their struggles to remove me from the room.
But within an instant after spotting the shock, the same look of annoyance returns, and he hums in thought before looking down at the device in his hands.
Just when I believe he is not going to answer, he announces,
"Dr. Manhattan. As for what I stand for, I suppose you'll discover at a later date. No need to give everything away all at once."
And at that, the guards must be satisfied, because they take me out of the room, through the building, and place me on a bus back to the Gazette back in the city. But even after I come back to the Gazette two days later, I'm still shocked by what I've seen.
It must have been a dream! But the notes are still there.
And as I write up this article, I've noticed that I have spent more time pondering on what the mysterious "Dr. Manhattan" did not answer, rather than what he spoke of.
Years later as I age and retire as 'the journalist who first met the Man Who Glowed', the Watchmen's members begin to age and retire- but one constantly remains the same. Never aging and never any less strange and mysterious than before, the great Dr. Manhattan.