You know, I’m not usually good at writing stuff when I get up early.
But what I can write when I get up early?
Tired characters. That, I can do.
Seventeen hours on the road and a non-lethal dose of McDonald’s poisoning squeezed another part out of me yesterday. And two collages.
So yay for that!
Here’s the collage for Bad News…
I couldn’t resist throwing in a Fezzik quote. Or Elwood Blues for the outfit. ❤
And there’s one more for Dallas.
*all the fangirls scream*
*Dallas awkwardly ducks behind a book*
And the previous parts for new people/nostalgic people/people with horrible memory.
This stretched out a little longer than I thought it would so I cut off the ending to make it reasonable.
Mostly setup here. Exciting things next time.
Okay, I’ll hush up and give you the part now.
I can’t begin to describe how good it was to get out of that tuxedo. My wardrobe was actually that of a normal human’s, which was relieving. I was able to get myself into something not covered in blood and ice cream splatters.
I didn’t have too much time to appreciate my fresh jeans and tee shirt before I found a bed and totally crashed out. I literally couldn’t remember the last time I’d had a good sleep. And passing out a couple of times didn’t count as restful.
I slept like a dead brick.
Cardboard came bouncing over and woke me up at eleven, though. Early bird.
I lay in bed, blinking at the ceiling for a good ten seconds before remembering what that knot in my stomach was about.
I’m a villain. And today I’m going to plant a bomb.
I pushed myself up on my elbow and rubbed my face, trying to keep my eyes from closing again. They closed anyway. I forced myself into a standing position, grabbed my jacket and stumbled out to the tiled floors of the rest of the den/grocery store.
I stood there, blinking hard for a few seconds and trying to get my bearings. Where was Cardboard, anyway? She’d just woken me up a few minutes ago . . .
My head pounded and I ached all over. Going back to bed and sleeping the rest of the day sounded like a much better plan than going out and blowing stuff up. I was just about to follow through with my new and improved plan when Mr. Bad News himself showed up.
“Good morning,” he gave a little wave and grinned at me. His sunglasses and tie were off, though his hat was still in place. My brain wasn’t at the capacity to register where exactly he’d come from so I was just as lost as before.
“Morning.” I rubbed my hand over my eyes again and through my hair, yawning. “So . . . is there food?”
“Yep. I made cake. There’s some left over from breakfast.”
Life was just one big birthday party for this guy. Do we eat anything other than cake and ice cream here?
“Feeling any better?” News’s voice lowered a little, “and do you remember anything yet?”
I shook my head to both.
“Do you want some coffee?”
I gave a short, humorless laugh, “Does a heart attack victim want a defibrillator?”
News snickered and tipped his head to one side, “Food’s over here.”
I followed him over to a bar counter and kitchen that looked like it used to be a grocery store bakery when this place was still in business. A couple of spinning stools sat nearby and Lucius was perched on the edge of the counter. I waved to him, even though that probably means nothing to birds, got up on one of the stools and laid my head down on the counter.
Lucius came over and started pulling on my hair with his beak.
“Our fearless leader awakens,” a British accented voice came from behind me. There was a thump of someone sitting down on the stool next to me.
“Barely,” I mumbled into the counter, waving a hand at Lucius to try and get him away. “How’s . . . the hostage?”
“Able to carry his own weight,” said a voice that was distinctly not Liza’s. I lifted my head to see Dallas, sitting unsteadily on the stool next to Liza in a fresh green shirt. Probably my green shirt, since it looked way too big for him.
Liza gave him a look, “Not technically. He at least needs to lean on one of us if he were to stay up for any extended amount of time. Still . . .” she flashed me a grin, “He’s on the mend. And won’t be a total deadweight as a hostage.”
There was a scootch noise on the counter and a plate bumped into my knuckles. I looked down to see a hefty piece of chocolate cake on it. News pushed a mug of black coffee up next to it and stabbed a fork into the cake. Lucius gave the cake a weird look and flapped off.
“Thanks,” I grabbed the coffee and took a long gulp, letting the strong, cigarette-smoky taste burn down my throat. I finished my swallow and coughed into my elbow. Bad News must double duty this stuff as fuel for his monster truck.
“So,” I managed, after I’d recovered my voice, “what time are we taking off?” On our lovely errand of killing civilians?
“The bomb’s already in the truck, so as soon as you’re finished,” News swiped a rag over the counter, barely missing my breakfast, “Eat up, champ.”
I was especially thankful for two things on the drive to Salt Lake City. One: That Schoolhouse Rock is a pretty good conversation killer on long car drives. And two: Gang leaders always get shotgun, despite all protestations from members.
Diesel trucks aren’t really smooth riding, so leaning my head on the window and conking out again didn’t really work, though.
I sat kind of sideways in my seat and watched out the window as we came into town. My hands were kind of starting to shake again, so I stuck them in my jacket pockets. I felt my fingertips brush again on the worn paper in my pocket. The secret revenge note or something.
I pulled it out and unfolded it with one hand and looked over the scrawled words again.
That which killed shall be killed. Die by the sword.
Was I killing someone who was a killer themselves? Pot call the kettle black, but it made me feel better for a half second before I remembered we were using a big bomb, not a sniper. Plenty of innocent people would die along with whomever I was trying to get.
Who did I think was worth that many other lives?
“I’d think . . .” Roy’s voice came from right next to my shoulder and I jumped. “ . . . that you’d have that thing drilled into your head by now. Reading it before every strike . . .”
I folded the note in half in my hand and pulled away from him reflexively.
“What’s even on that thing that’s so important, anyway?” he made a lazy swipe at the paper.
I quickly stuffed it back in my pocket and redirected my gaze out the window without responding.
“I saw a little bit over his shoulder,” Liza piped, “I think that’s where he got all that ‘die by the sword’ pep-talk stuff.”
“Drop it, guys.” Bad News snapped from the front.
The car went quiet. I telepathically thanked News.
We pulled up in an abandoned corner of a parking lot and the engine sputtered to a stop. News stuck the brake on and straightened his tie. “We’re here.”
I unbuckled and hopped out of the truck and onto the blacktop. The tires, tar and a faint whiff of popcorn scented the warm air. Liza gave Dallas a pat on the back and hopped out to go to the truck bed, leaving her patient to get out of the tall truck by himself.
I rolled my eyes when I was sure she wasn’t looking and helped Dallas down myself. He stumbled a bit upon hitting the pavement, but he quickly shifted to leaning his weight on the side of the truck.
He nodded to me, only wincing a little. “Thank you.”
“C’mon,” Bad News slammed his door shut on the car and came around to our side, swinging his arms. “Let’s go distribute our explosives.”
I raised my eyebrows in mock enthusiasm. “Yes, let’s.” And let’s announce it to the whole neighborhood while we’re at it.
We came around the back, News unceremoniously dragging Dallas behind him.
Liza sat in the truck bed, distributing bits and wires from her bomb among a few backpacks. She looked up and grinned as we came around.
“Come get your crackers, lads!” she pushed a backpack towards News, a briefcase towards Chris and a messenger bag over to Roy.
Cardboard bounced up and down, clinging to the edge of the truck bed. “What do I carry? What about me?”
“You, Cardy . . .” Liza handed her a smaller, pink and orange striped backpack. “ . . .get to carry the giant magnet. Careful with that, now.”
Cardboard reached her hands up for the backpack and almost dropped it from the sudden weight, but managed to haul it up and onto her back.
Roy came up from behind and boinged one of her curls. “First strike you’re here for. Excited to be helping out?” The question was met with a solemn nod.
I stuck my hands in my pockets and tried to ignore my churning stomach.
“Hey, Wolfy,” Liza waved me over.
I hopped up into the truck bed, nearly falling on my face as my temperamental muscles decided to take a break again. I scooted over to her, most of my dignity still intact, “What is it?”
“So, this bit’s going in your bag.” Liz held up a plate-sized piece of machinery. “This right here was the bugger that hung us up last time.”
She gently twanged on a strand of yellow-coated wire as she ran her fingers over the piece. “See, if this spot disconnected, all we’d get would be an impressive short-circuit. And that’s hardly the climax we’re looking for. And it’s somewhat fragile. So . . .” Liza slid the bomb piece into a blanket-padded backpack. “You’re carrying this one.”
I felt a sort of reluctance in her grip as she handed it to me. Almost like she was handing me her child to hold. I took it gently and swung it onto my shoulder. “Got it.”
She winced at the thump of the bag hitting my back. I got a feeling I wasn’t a very reassuring babysitter.
We both slid off the end of the truck and joined the rest of the gang. They were standing solemnly for once. The gang held their bags close and looked like soldiers about to head out into battle. Dallas, with Chris’s deathgrip on his arm, looked like what he was: a hostage. They all turned as I approached.
I stopped. Oh please don’t let me be in the habit of giving speeches to rally my thugs . . .
Still they waited. News made a small gesture with his hand and tipped his head briefly, which was meant to be a helpful hint, I’m sure. Only I didn’t understand it in the slightest.
Though by the looks on everyone’s faces, I was pretty sure by now that they expected some kind of speech. I cleared my throat.
“Well . . .” I took in a breath, “We’ve all been waiting for this for a long time . . . and . . . so have I.” I bit my tongue as the words came out.
Charisma. That’s me.
Say something deep-sounding, you idiot . . .
“But, it will be worth the wait, I’m sure. That which killed shall be killed. We’ll just go in there . . .” I faltered again. Holy smoke, I was bad at this.
“ . . . and show Amazing Man that the classic hero’s way is not always the right way.” Bad News finished for me. The gang nodded in agreement, seeming satisfied with the speech.
I made a small thank-you motion to Bad News.
He gave a nod, then swept an arm out towards the entrance to the stadium. I caught the hint.
“Onwards, then!” I imitated News’s motion, “To . . . plant the explosives!”
Hope you’re liking it!
Well, I’ll be back with another part hopefully soon. Any other collages I should do?