We cruelly stopped halfway through our villain’s tour of the museum last time.
Let us join him as he is gently persuaded by his hit-man to read up on a most interesting topic… himself.
What will we find in the museum?
Let us see in this part.
Fair warning, getting a leetle bit more dark than before.
But we got this, guys.
For people who just happened to stumble upon this and are scratching their heads in confusion (or for people who I just lost in this crazy story and they’re scratching their heads in confusion…), never fear. You can read up on all the things below.
Lots of madcap adventures goin’ on down there.
Check it out.
And here we go.
Let’s do this.
The next part.
Bad News gave his now-familiar gesture of “you first” and I stepped under the archway. I kept my flashlight pointed down, but shadows of wax models were still visible.
I swallowed, “Where do I start?” Why was I whispering?
News pointed to my left as he stepped in after me. “There.”
Right. I straightened up and took a big breath, then walked over to the first display. More photos above the plaque. I aimed my flashlight at them.
I promptly decided I didn’t like seeing pictures of myself.
In the biggest one, I stood in the middle of a debris-strewn street holding a gun at a precarious angle. My leather jacket and shirt were stained with smoke and blood trickled from my split lip. My mouth was open in an angry yell at something or someone off camera. One hand was raised in a defiant and decidedly impolite gesture to the sky.
A tiny copyright in the corner credited it to some big newspaper and the article: “Modern-day Villains”.
What was happening there? Who was I yelling at and why? I blinked for the first time since seeing the picture and swallowed. My head was starting to hurt.
That wasn’t good.
I looked over at the other pictures. One was a classic, prison mug shot with me holding up a sign that barely held my mile long name and making a murderous face at the camera. The last was a smaller, more distant picture of me with the whole gang, excluding Cardboard. I was yelling something again, holding a pistol out in front of me. The gang was holding various weapons.
I finally tore my eyes away and looked down at the plaque.
Wolfgang Dankworth: Living by the sword
If ever a man was born to hang, it was Dankworth. Given the nickname by the media as “The Wolf”, Wolfgang Dankworth has set himself against our revered hero since day one. Finding issue with Amazing Man’s intentions and actions during the Twin-Bomb incident, Dankworth has made it his mission in life to end Amazing Man and exact his revenge.
He has been inextricably linked to numerous terrorism acts across the United States, mainly centering in Utah and Nevada.
I stared numbly at the metal plate, various words echoing themselves again and again in my mind.
The Wolf . . . Twin-Bomb incident . . . Revenge . . . Terrorism . . .
My temples pounded. I closed my eyes for a few seconds and took some even breaths, trying to separate myself from the information I’d just learned.
Which was a little hard, since I was the one the information was about . . .
I didn’t have to be this. I was a clean slate. I was starting over.
Bad News’s voice came from next to me, echoing a little. “Did you finish with reading that one?”
I let out my breath and nodded.
“Well . . . there’s more to read, man.” He bumped me towards the next one.
This didn’t seem like a boring school assignment anymore. Torture would be more like it. Legitimately terrifying torture.
Oh please help this not bring back my memories . . .
Was I praying?
News nudged me again. “C’mon.”
I stepped forward slowly, keeping my flashlight aimed down. I could do this. It didn’t have to bring everything back. Taking a breath, I shone the light up.
Mugshots and a few other pictures of the gang stared back down at me.
Bad News with blood on his shirt and a gun in his hand, but no change in his expression.
A shorter-haired Liza holding a large knife and threatening someone who was holding onto his little kid in an Amazing Man suit. Blood drew a thick, red line from her forehead down to her jaw and dripped down onto her arm.
Chris being slammed against a cop car and handcuffed. Blood on his hands.
My stomach churned. I swallowed and forced my eyes down to the words on the plaque.
The Pack: Dankworth’s fellow wolves
Some joined forces with him right at the beginning, some came in later, but the Pack grew quickly after the Twin-Bomb incident.
While to all appearances, they seem an inept, ragtag band of hoodlums, multiple encounters have proven them no laughing matter. They have built almost all of their own explosives and weapons themselves and have proven quite a force to be reckoned with for Amazing Man.
Fellow wolves . . . I blinked a few times and turned to the next display right next to that one.
Scarily accurate wax models stared down at me. Almost like they saw something in me that I didn’t. I turned my eyes downwards again and forced myself to read through the headache.
Members of the Pack:
Liza Allister- No background information known.
Baden “Bad” News- Possible former mafia involvement. No other background information known.
Roy Tucker- Former stock-car racer and Oklahoma trucker. Well known anti-speed-limit activist.
Chris Brown- Former outdoorsman and hunter.
(Notify authorities with any other known members or information)
So Cardboard was a secret. I remembered Roy mentioning that the baseball stadium was “her first strike”. I wondered how soon she’d be on the wanted list.
I could certainly see Bad News as mafia, though.
My headache didn’t seem to be getting too much worse. Maybe I could muscle my way through this . . .
“How much more is there?” My voice was still a whisper.
“A good bit.” News’s non-whisper echoed through the building and I flinched. “Any memories . . .?”
“No,” I snapped, whirling to glare at him.
He raised an eyebrow. I probably said that too quickly.
Biting my tongue, I turned back around and went towards the other exhibits. I’d just skim. Hopefully that would be a bit less triggering.
Less information, less chance of the memory returning. But enough that I could still act like I knew what was going on.
Most common method of attack seems to be explosives . . .
. . . All attacks center on Amazing Man, the SPI and supporters of the superhero project. Strikes are organized in such a way that casualties of those unsupportive or uninvolved in the agency are practically nonexistent . . .
Members of the Pack have been to prison multiple times, but questioning hasn’t revealed anything that isn’t already obvious . . .
. . . deeper motivation still unclear . . .
Every beat of my heart shot another stab of pain through my head. I closed my eyes for a bit more and made myself breathe slowly. I rubbed my knuckles over my face. A moan came out involuntarily. I tried to make it seem like a cough instead.
“There’s only one thingy left to read,” News prompted.
I opened my eyes and suppressed the urge to yell at him. The last plaque didn’t have a display. Just a little platform that read “stats”.
That shouldn’t be too bad. It was small. It was the last thing.
I let out my breath and stepped up to it, aiming the flashlight beam down at the words.
Total amounts of terror acts (over the space of 3 years): 14
People injured: 67
Fatalities . . . I stopped and looked at the ceiling for a bit. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to know that. How many people had I killed?
I blinked. Only? Wait, I hadn’t read that . . . how . . .? I looked down at the words again.
A cold rock settled itself in my stomach. Seven people. And I knew. Correction, I remembered.
A particularly sharp jab of pain forced a sound from my lips that sounded almost like a whimper. I rubbed a hand over the back of my head and sucked in my breath through my teeth.
But we were done. I’d finished. And getting through a whole exhibit about myself only remembering the number seven was pretty good.
Unless . . .
I turned to Bad News. “We’re done, right?” It was more a plea.
“With this section.”
I groaned loudly. “My head feels like it’s being stabbed. Can we just come back later or something?”
“Well, if your head hurts that might mean there’s some memories coming back,” News raised his eyebrows and tipped his head. “And besides, we’re here now. Buck up.” He grabbed the collar of my coat and pulled me along a few steps. I whacked his hand away.
Blowing an especially loud bubble, News shone his flashlight up and shone around the entrance of the next branch.
A Disastrous Beginning
The letters were shaped out of what looked like scrap metal. Below the arch sat two metal, bullet shaped things. Bombs. I squinted at them. They looked kind of familiar . . .
But the image my mind pulled up was the metal housing I’d seen by my giant bomb in the basement. I supposed I liked that model.
I just about tripped over the first plaque, whacking my shin on it and dropping my flashlight. Strange light flickered across the floor as my flashlight rolled. I swore and held my leg.
News bent over and scooped up the flashlight. “Want me to just hold the light for you?”
“No,” I growled, grabbing it back from him. I muttered under my breath and began to read.
The Twin Bomb Incident: A disastrous beginning
Just three days out of training, Amazing Man was put to the ultimate hero’s test.
Two identical bombs were planted by a still unknown terrorist organization, one near Ogden in the North, one in the southeastern corner of Utah.
Even with his powers of flight and superhuman speed, Amazing Man knew he couldn’t get to both of them quickly enough, so he was forced to make a split-second decision.
He managed to get through the housing and disable the bomb in Ogden within ten minutes, but while he was en route to the other bomb, it exploded.
124 people were killed in the incident.
One hundred and twenty four . . . my chest felt tight. All those lives. Gone. I swallowed.
There was really nothing Charles could’ve done. I mean, despite being a superhero, he was still human. Sometimes choices have to be made . . .
But my thought train suddenly took off in the other direction with all the possibilities of what he could have done.
He could have sent Dallas . . . Dallas could’ve teleported him . . . he could have recruited the rest of the law enforcement . . . the project could’ve given him super speed to begin with, for goodness sake. That was way more useful than . . .
I shook my head and rubbed at my temples. What was wrong with me?
Keep going. Just get through the museum.
I pulled my flashlight up to a small sign with only the word “Fatalities”. It was just in the middle of the floor and there was nothing directly behind it. I frowned.
“Where’s the exhibit for that sign?”
News stepped up behind me. “It’s the rest of the section.” He swiped his flashlight over photos and glass cases filling the rest of the area.
That was a lot.
I rubbed at my head again, mentally steeled myself and went to the nearest glass case. My flashlight beam was getting a little shaky again. I just focused on the photo.
A late-teenaged boy in a suit and tie, looking uncomfortable, but smiling nonetheless. A label underneath the sign read “Eli Calloway- died at age 19. Was working nearby at the time of the explosion.”
Nineteen . . . that was Dallas’s age. I didn’t want to imagine Dallas dying.
I looked at the glass case under the picture. Eli’s letter to his fiancé.
Holy smoke. No sense of privacy at all. I turned to the next display.
A mom and her daughter that were visiting a park. A honeymooning couple. A family on a road trip. A veteran.
I was starting to feel quite literally sick.
Then I reached a larger corner display. My flashlight batteries came a little loose and the light flickered so I stopped to fiddle with them.
“Oh yep. That’s the one.” News’s voice cut the silence. The pop of a bubble followed.
I turned to squint into his flashlight irritably. “What’s ‘the one’?”
“That one you’re next to.” He paused for a second. “Any memories yet?”
“Shut up.” I screwed the end of my flashlight back on and pulled the beam up to the exhibit. My eyes fell on the label first.
My heart about jumped out of my chest.
William, Rachel, Eloisa and Peter. Died in their home.
My family. This was my family.
My gaze kept going back and forth from each name to that awful word. Died.
I was breathing faster now, but I didn’t stop looking. I couldn’t stop. I swallowed and looked down at the glass case.
A watch. The glass on the face was smashed and stained with smoke but the worn leather strap still folded comfortably under it. My dad’s watch.
What looked like a Lego house, half smashed and fused together by melted plastic. A little brain-teaser puzzle with a crayon mark on it. Peter’s.
A CD with that same even cursive I’d seen earlier. Rachel Dankworth.
She had dark hair. She was an amazing baker and the house always smelled like cookies . . .
It felt like a knife twisted against the back of my head.
Stop it. Stop looking. Stop reading. You’re remembering.
There was a little journal next to the CD. Purple. The edges were singed and the cover was smoke stained, but I could still make out the scrawling, flowery letters on the front.
Eloisa Dankworth~ Poet, dreamer and chocolate addict
She used to show me those poems. Sometimes they were just about something silly, like chocolate chips. Sometimes they didn’t even rhyme. But they always felt right.
I told her she would be famous when she was older.
She would just laugh and say she didn’t care.
I blinked. What was that?
That wasn’t remembering. I’d always known that. I just hadn’t thought of it. It didn’t hurt, either.
Don’t look up. Don’t look at the pictures. Stop and walk away.
I looked up.
A picture of Peter, holding a completed Rubik’s Cube and grinning like he would split his face.
A picture of Eloisa standing on a patch of grass and fingering the edge of her yellow dress with a shy smile. Wavy hair fell over her shoulders and a tiny bit of lipstick was on her lips.
I smiled a little. She always hated makeup.
I looked at the next picture. Mom and Dad. Side by side. Dad making a face and Mom laughing about it.
The dimples in her cheeks. The smile lines by her eyes.
Dad’s hair that I could never tell the color of.
That crazy cowlick that seemed to have left its mark on all of us.
And then the biggest picture.
A family portrait. Everyone in black and white, smiling at the camera. Mom held a tiny little boy in a tuxedo.
Dad had his arm around someone slightly taller than him.
Someone who gave the camera a patronizing smile despite his slow strangulation by bowtie.
Someone I’d seen before.
In the mirror.
The knife feeling stabbed into the base of my scull and I dropped my flashlight. The knife had opened an old wound.
I was bleeding. Bleeding memories.
Oh God, no.
But I knew now.
I remembered. I remembered everything.
And it hurt worse than knives.
Not quite sure what to say after that.
Feels free to dump tears, feedback, favorite lines… all that stuff… into the comments.
We shall see what happens… next week. If we can all live that long.