So has our villain turned villain yet again after regaining his memories? Will he continue on his quest for revenge?
Let us see in this week’s installment.
For those just joining us, welcome aboard the S.S. Insanity.
A record of our past journeys are below and I recommend you look through them.
And presenting Part the 22nd. -bows out-
The Old Me
It took a few days to recover to the point where I didn’t feel like jello-man any more.
Those few days weren’t fun.
I cried a lot. I threw up a couple more times. I had nightmares almost every time I closed my eyes. I woke up screaming once.
But gradually, the violent flashbacks subsided and I somewhat got my feet under me in the current world. The memories didn’t hurt as much. I felt like I’d kind of hardened over. Developed a shell.
I didn’t like feeling of wearing an emotional mask. It didn’t feel like me . . . or the me I’d found over the time of having my memory gone. But it dulled the pain and protected me to an extent, so I kept it.
Dallas called once. I blocked his number.
Mansley sent the coordinates for the bomb location, but I didn’t actually look at them and take the trouble to figure out where it was until a few days later. It was out in what, to all map appearances, was a barren stretch of desert with a tiny town nearby.
The town was at minimal risk, he said. But the superheroes . . . their meeting hall was right next to the bomb and was another matter entirely. He’d gotten the bugs worked out of the housing, so we now had a shield and a cloaking device around it that would make it appear just as one of the many red rocks in the area.
“Feel free to come check it out whenever you want to . . . before Friday, that is,” Mansley had texted.
And me, always one for skimming deadlines, finally got my act together and decided to go on Thursday.
I took a shower, gave myself a much-needed shave and came out to eat breakfast with the others like nothing had happened.
Like I hadn’t been being an emotionally unstable hermit for half the week.
I let Lucius perch on my shoulder as I walked out. I wondered if he liked Bad News better at this point, since he’d been the only one taking him out for exercise. All I’d done lately was burden him my problems.
I sighed, shook my head and came around the corner into the bakery.
Everyone sat at the counter, eating . . . News was behind at the stove, cooking.
Just like a million other times. Times that I remembered now.
News looked up at my footsteps and waved his spatula. Liza looked up and smiled, giving me a little salute and Cardboard gave me a grin.
I waved back, but didn’t smile.
I’d never smile again. Not only did I not deserve to, it felt physically impossible. My mouth was stuck in an unfeeling line.
I slid onto the stool one away from Cardboard at the end of the counter. Lucius hopped off my shoulder, his talons clicking as he landed on the slick countertop.
News scooted a plate over to me and I looked down at it.
Eggs. A rare healthy breakfast, apparently.
“Feeling better?” News asked, pushing his hat up on his head a bit.
I nodded and dug into my eggs.
“What do you think it was?” Liza mused, “No one feels that sick after just an egg. Doesn’t matter how bad it was.”
I didn’t answer her question. Too much to explain at this point. My memory loss was irrelevant. A freak accident. An unexpected bump in the road that no one else needed to know about. I’d caused enough trouble with it already.
I swallowed the bite I was chewing with a bit of difficulty and pushed my plate away. The appeal of food still hadn’t come back to me yet.
I stood up and Roy turned, “Any plans for today?”
“Meeting in the back supply room in fifteen minutes,” I answered shortly. “I’ll be briefing you guys in on the plan.”
It was nostalgic for half a second . . . giving orders again. Actually taking the helm of the gang and not just faking my way through leading. But the next moment slid it back into the feeling of routine.
This was my life. This was me.
I let out my breath and started walking towards the back, sticking my hands in my pockets. Best to get my presentation together.
It had always amused me how much our setup in the back resembled a schoolroom.
Me and my whiteboard up front. All the gang slouched in various positions in chairs or leaning against the wall as they listened.
The comparison was a bit dark, seeing as my classes centered on various plots to kill a single man. Still, though.
I’d gotten my stick illustrations and notes mostly onto the whiteboard at the fifteen-minute mark and my crew started filing in. I heard chairs scoot around for a few seconds and turned from the whiteboard, quietly counting off.
Everyone but Bad News.
Right on cue, he ducked through the door, wiping his hands on a dishtowel. He flung it over his shoulder and leaned up against the wall, nodding to me.
“Okay,” I shifted my gaze around the room, meeting everyone’s eyes individually. “This is the big one, guys. We’re finishing it.”
Roy raised his hand from where he sat, cross-legged on the floor. He waved it like a little kid. “Hey, can I go to the bathroom first?”
“Shut up, Tucker.” I went back to the whiteboard.
“Now, this . . .” I tapped my first drawing with the capped end of my marker, “ . . . is our justice serving platter. The same kind of bomb from the twin bomb incident, only this time it’s got Charles Fernsby’s name on it.”
I could see Liza’s usually easygoing expression harden like mine. She sat up straighter, setting her jaw. Chris didn’t move, but I saw his dark eyes narrow under the brim of his hat. We three had the biggest score to settle.
I kept going, explaining the technicalities and where it was planted.
“And it’s set to go off right in the middle of their superhero council meeting thing, which usually goes longer than expected anyway. I’ve got the GPS coordinates right there . . .” I tapped the whiteboard where I’d scribbled them, “and in my phone.” I patted my pocket.
“And are we doing anything?” Liza asked.
I shook my head. “It’s all done, pretty much. I already set the security system last week. We had the bomb planted and it’s set to go off at the right time. The only thing we could possibly do was set a lookout somewhere beyond the blast zone, but I don’t see that that’s necessary. The media will cover it well enough.”
She nodded, biting her lip and looking down at her hands folded in her lap. “So we just wait?”
“And watch,” I set my marker down on the edge of the whiteboard. “Our easiest strike ever. And may it be our last.”
Serious nods from everyone and an “amen” from News.
I nodded. “Dismissed.”
Everyone got up, shoving their way out and starting conversation back up among themselves.
I started cleaning off the whiteboard, but heard a bit of shuffling behind me. I turned.
Liza stood behind me, her mouth twisted off to the side and her eyes fixed on the half-erased whiteboard. Silence hung between us for a few seconds.
“Funny, isn’t it?” she forced a small laugh, “Just that we’ve gone after this for so long . . . and the thing that ends it is so far away.” She rubbed her hands together and looked at them. “I don’t know . . . I always imagined something a bit more . . . personal. Like a knife. A shot at close range. You know, something you can feel. Do with your own hands.”
I watched her and listened. I’d always had the same thing in my mind, but the bomb seemed more personal to me. I’d programmed it. I’d helped build it. I’d touched it.
Liza had helped build it too, to a certain extent. It was her notebook, her research, that had finished it off. But she’d never seen it.
She could, though.
Liza swiped the back of her hand over her eyes and forced another little laugh. “Sorry. I’m being an idiot.” She smiled at me, a kind of tight smile. “It’s a great plan.”
I looked back at the whiteboard. The coordinates were right there in the corner. I had planned on checking out the bomb anyway. I had more than one seat in my car . . .
She turned to go and I cleared my throat. “Hang on, Liz.” She turned back and I raised an eyebrow at her. “Want to go for a ride?”
Driving with Liza as a passenger was infinitely more comfortable than riding with News. A lot less intimidating. She brought along one of her CDs of the Proclaimers. It was a cheerful combination of classic rock, guitar and Scottish accents.
I wasn’t feeling like cheerful stuff at the moment, but it was still nice music. Liza sang along for a few songs. She had a pretty good voice, actually.
The population thinned out more and more as we drove and our route got dustier. All other cars disappeared. We were alone on the road, driving in between the red rocks and pine trees.
Liza became quiet in the passenger seat, watching the GPS. The music still played quietly. Our blue blinking dot advanced along the winding green line. The last stretch turned out to be a badly kept, dirt road.
I rolled up the windows and handed Liza my sunglasses as we jostled onto the dusty path. Dust billowed up around us in a cloud as I hit the gas. I swear, we looked like some sort of ghost car, appearing from the mists of time as we drove down the road.
I shielded my eyes and coughed on the dirt in the air, glancing down at the tiny GPS screen.
“Almost there,” I coughed out, pointing our little green pinpoint out to Liza. She nodded, then sneezed a couple times into her elbow.
I slowed down a bit so we didn’t skid as we came around the corner of a big rock outcropping. Right behind it sat a dusty building with a strangely angled roof. One entire side was glass, showing a long meeting table inside, and the rest of the windows were scattered around at various heights around the rest of the building. It looked like someone designed it on a dare while they were drunk.
The road ended in a tiny parking lot next to the building, but our green path wasn’t done. Time for a bit of exercise, then.
“Looks like we’re walking for a bit,” I muttered, pulling my car onto the small patch of asphalt and putting it in park.
“That’s fine.” Liza unbuckled and grabbed the GPS. “A bit of exercise never hurt anyone.”
We popped our doors open a few seconds apart and stood up out of the car and into the remainder of our dust cloud. I sneezed a couple of times. Liza pulled her shirt collar up over her nose, looking quite interesting with the combo of that and my sunglasses.
I walked over to the shade by the building and she followed. We both consulted the GPS.
“So how much farther?” I shielded the little screen with my hand so the image would show up better.
Liza pushed the sunglasses up so they held back her hair like a headband. “It’s not that far. Just right over that way.”
I looked up to where she was pointing. It was straight out from the big window wall towards a bunch of big rocks.
One, despite all jagged rock edges and red dust, seemed a bit off. Something about the shadow. I squinted at it for a second before realizing what it was. The shadow was rounded and smooth. It didn’t match up with the jagged, pointed edges of the rock.
A cloaking device couldn’t fool the sun.
I nodded to Liza, jerking my thumb towards it. “That one’s it.”
She looked at it for a second and nodded back. “Alright. Let’s go.”
We hiked up the small incline towards the rocks. The sun warmed the sleeve of my jacket, though the air was cold. I gave my collar a tug.
In just a few minutes, there we were. Standing in the smooth shadow of the jagged rock. Our weapon. The same bomb that began it all would end it all. Just a quick blast . . . the cloud of smoke . . . I blinked a few times and shook my head, looking over at Liza.
Her mouth was in a small O shape as she looked it up and down. She took a few steps closer and held out her hand to touch it. The rock surface pixilated under her touch and pulled back, making a hole in the illusion. Her hand rested against cool metal.
I came up next to her as she brushed her knuckles over the slick surface.
Liza swallowed and pulled her hand back, sticking it in her pocket and seeming to look for something. The hole she’d made in the projected rock surface flashed back into place.
I looked up and squinted at the sunlight over the edge of the bomb. “Big, isn’t it?”
She didn’t answer. Her hand came out of her pocket gripped around a small knife. Flicking it open, she stuck her hand back in the same spot so she could see the metal. Her knife’s point touched the metal and she scratched it down, making small, stick letters on the smooth surface.
I watched, already having a guess as to what she was writing. I was right, but seeing the shaky words still made my eyes smart.
Liza took her knife down and rubbed her pale fingers over the letters. Her lips moved silently for a few seconds and she closed her eyes.
I felt like an intruder, standing there and watching her.
She cleared her throat a little and stepped back, looking at the patch of metal for a second before turning to face me. She handed me her knife. “Something you want to add?” Her voice shook, but she hid it well.
I took it and came close to the same patch she’d carved on. My hand shook, but the letters still took shape.
“Rachel. William. Peter. Eloisa.”
Their faces, their smiles and the times we’d had, hovered in my mind as I scratched out the words. I swallowed and stepped back, closing the knife and putting it back into Liza’s cool palm.
We both stood there, looking at the names for a few seconds before the hologram flashed back into place.
Quiet, except for a few noises of birds.
“Do . . .” Liza began, her voice quiet. She stopped for a second, biting her lip and looking over at me. “Do they go away, d’you think? The ghosts? The nightmares?”
I didn’t answer, looking back up at the peak of the giant bomb.
She followed my gaze. “I mean . . . this puts it all to rest, doesn’t it?”
Liza had a way of always raising questions in my mind that I didn’t want there. I thought about it for a bit, then let out my breath. “What else would?”
She nodded slowly, sticking her hands in her jeans pockets and examining the dirty white toes of her sneakers.
Mansley’s words came to my mind . . . from when I had set the bomb . . . and I repeated them to myself.
“Their blood has cried out from the ground too long,” My voice was hoarse. “Their song is coming to an end and we’ll be the ones to hit the final note.”
Liza tucked a strand of turquoise hair behind her ear as she looked over at me. “That’s good, Wolfy.”
“Wasn’t mine,” I replied. “Just . . . something I heard.”
We stood there for another minute before starting back towards the car. After getting in, I sat there in my seat for a few minutes, not starting the engine. I just watched my little Dalek keychain swing back and forth, hanging from the ignition.
I could almost feel both of our resolves trembling. We weren’t killers. Avenging wasn’t the same thing. It had a purpose. Maybe a bit of a reminder . . . a bit more fuel in our fire . . .
A thought came into my mind and I furrowed my brows, turning it over. I looked at my watch. We had time.
I turned to look at Liza. “Have you ever been to the Hero Museum?”
She shook her head.
I turned the keys and got the car into gear. “I’ve got a field trip for you, then.”
It’ll be very educational, I’m sure.
How do you think the return to the dreaded museum will go? With people this time, too?
We shall find out… next week.
But we might have some funny intermission stuff sometime mid-week, because I had to write some of that now that this has taking such the serious turn that it did.
Anyway, comments are quite lovely as always.
’til next week,