Last week, our
hero villain amnesiac person got an overheard explanation of his intentions from his mortal enemy when all he was looking for was a bit of motivation for his final act of revenge for the next day.
And so we come to the moment of truth.
Will he remain a villain? Will he turn from his ways after all these years?
Let us find out, this week on Blank Mastermind!
(Such drama, wow.)
Anyway. If you’re just joining us… homework time, bud. Villain with amnesia story. Hope you don’t have any plans for the day/week/month. Good news, though, we’re almost to the end of the story, so you’ll have a bit less mental torture going on than the rest of the folks down there in the comments.
Or if you’re forgetful… if you got amnesia… any of that stuff…you can regain your lost memories by reading up below.
(that’s so long, my gosh. I think I’ll start calling it ‘the leaning tower of links’ or something.)
And here we go everyone. Get your popcorn, buckle up and hold your breath. Or whatever it is you do while reading these things.
Runaways and Pep-talks
Each minute that ticked by became my new least favorite time of the night.
At that particular moment, two-fourteen was the lucky winner.
I tore my eyes away from the red numbers and looked back up at the ceiling, blinking away the imprints on my vision. My body felt tired, but my mind was more awake than a caffeinated chipmunk. Questions upon questions . . . problems galore . . . enough moral dilemmas to sink a battleship . . . my head felt ready to explode.
I groaned and flopped my pillow over my face. The mental battle only intensified with my eyes closed.
It was like there were two of me . . . two Wolfgang Dankworths fighting in my mind.
One was the normal me. The one I’d begun to slip back into. The gang leader. The one who knew what he was doing and how he was going to do it. The avenger of his family and sworn enemy of Amazing Man.
The other . . . I’d thought him either long gone or the result of a temporary lapse of sanity. He probably wouldn’t have existed if it hadn’t been for my amnesia episode. The reluctant defender of Amazing Man. The one that shied away at the thought of killing and called a boy named Dallas his friend. The big brother. The colossal idiot.
I wasn’t sure which one was the real me.
But both were as annoying as all heck.
Back and forth they went . . . or I went.
I had to go through with tomorrow. It was my duty . . . my obligation to my family and everyone else. The world didn’t need to be fooled by these fake “heroes” any longer. A waste of taxes and security effort, that’s what they were. The flashy flight and super-strength didn’t make up for everything lost . . . everything that slipped between the cracks because of all the focus on these clowns.
But everything I’d done . . . all the things I’d realized while my memory was gone.
I’d become a villain. I was the bad guy. I’d let this whole revenge thing twist me into something else. Something that wasn’t me.
I’d put myself back together all wrong. This wasn’t what love looked like. I was still broken inside. But it wasn’t irreparable.
Charles Fernsby knew better than anyone all the things that I’d done . . . and he still thought I could be fixed. He sounded . . . almost like he could forgive. But could I forgive?
And what about Leif? I still had a brother. I still had a sliver of a chance in the shape of a grubby little boy.
I hadn’t realized quite how much cleaner my slate was than I thought. I’d just gotten out of prison last month for all they were able to convict me for. If there was any time to start over, it would be now.
I pulled the pillow off my face and glanced over at the clock again. Two-seventeen. Minutes pass like ages when you’re reconsidering your life.
I threw my pillow down to the foot of the bed and stood up, raking both hands over my already wild hair. Pale, orange-ish light filtered through the curtains from a distant streetlight. A faint whir came from the highway nearby and headlights flashed briefly.
I sighed and pulled back the curtains, resting my head on the cold window. Watching the city lights for a few minutes did nothing to help my mental tail chasing and I stepped back again.
I’d never been one for pacing the floor, but there I was, getting a pretty good start on wearing a rut. I just needed something physical to do. I concentrated on my socked feet, thudding out a beat on the floor. Back and forth. Back and forth.
Words from Liza came back to haunt me. Her questions from earlier.
“Do they go away, d’you think? The ghosts? The nightmares? I mean . . . this puts it all to rest, doesn’t it?”
Then my own words, tired and resigned, but still questioning. I repeated them out loud.
“What else would?”
I stopped in my pacing and gave my hair a thoughtful tug.
The right builder. Forgiving Amazing Man. When had blowing things up ever helped anything? Had I ever felt better afterwards? It was like kicking something when I was angry. Nothing but a selfish vent of anger.
I was continuing the cycle. I would kill Jilly and Beckett’s dad if I went through with tomorrow. Angela’s husband. The only dad Leif really remembered.
It might give me closure, sure. But what would the loss do to them? Break them? Twist them into what I’d become over the years?
My family wouldn’t want that. I had to let go.
This was my last possible chance to turn it around . . . pull this thing up and salvage what I could.
Even if I couldn’t be with Leif myself, he could at least be proud to call me his brother. For him, I’d try. Oh, God, I’d try.
I closed my eyes and bit my lip, hesitating a bit before breaking my three and a half year long silent treatment of “the right builder”.
It was probably the least eloquent prayer in history. The religious equivalent of a hobo scuffing in off the street into the throne room and awkwardly waving at the king in hope of coaxing a smile.
I was pathetic and I knew it.
But I do think I got that smile.
I opened my eyes and looked around my room at all the mementos, threatening notes and weapons that had piled up over time. I didn’t need all of it, really. Because now I was thinking in terms of what all I could fit in a backpack. All I needed was my clothes, a few knives maybe . . .
It was two-thirty by the time I flopped back in bed with my backpack packed and my watch set for early.
I was running away from my own gang in the morning.
The morning air was a cold contrast to my bed as the alarm on my watch startled me awake. I sat up and blinked at the wall opposite me for a few seconds, trying to remember why I’d set my watch for this ungodly hour.
Oh right. Running away to be noble and good for once.
Hey, better late than never.
I fumbled into some clothes, pulled my cold jacket on and sat down to tie my shoes. I yanked the laces tight and stood up, bumping my foot on the backpack I’d stuffed full last night. Wouldn’t want to forget that.
Lucius looked up at my scuffling, puffing his feathers and giving his best bird-scowl.
I swung my backpack over my shoulder and squinted at him for a second before patting my shoulder.
“Yeah, c’mon.” He could redeem himself too, I supposed. While I was at it.
Lucius flapped over and perched atop my backpack strap.
I started towards the door, but stopped for a couple seconds to look around. My gaze stopped on my phone on the nightstand. Might be nice to have, yeah.
I stepped back and grabbed it, flipping it open. Dead. This thing had horrible battery life. Oh well, I’d charge it up later. I stuffed it along with my charger into my pack. I still had my watch to keep time.
It was six at the moment and the bomb was set to blow much later in the evening. I had about fourteen hours to get it disarmed. I could probably walk there and still have time.
I shifted my pack and Lucius flapped, whacking the side of my head. I barely noticed, still standing there, thinking.
What would the gang think? Regardless of all evil intentions and criminal inclinations, they were my friends, but I was abandoning the common purpose that held us together.
The thought of writing a note crossed my mind briefly, but I couldn’t think what I could write. I might come back sometime and explain. But right now I needed to get away . . . pull myself out of this . . . disarm the bomb without all of them convincing me otherwise.
I’d just disappear.
Me and my falcon, my leather jacket, infamous face and black Mustang.
I sighed and stepped out the door into the hall before I could do any more second-guessing. The door creaked on its hinges as I swung it shut behind me. No other sounds were in the building. Just a few faint traffic noises from outside.
I craned my neck around to see the door at the end of the short hallway. No noisy hinges there. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I felt like leaving should be harder. Maybe the second thoughts and sentimental junk would hit me a bit later.
I put my feet down softly on my way to the door so I could barely hear my own footsteps. No risk of waking anyone. Lucius gave a quiet chirrup and I shushed him, not looking back. We were so close.
My hand gripped the cold bar on the inside of the door and I gave a push. The door opened easily, letting in a cold whoosh of fresh morning air with it. I took in a deep breath and put out my foot to take my first step of a new life.
It came up short.
I was stopped mid-stride by an enormous hand clamping down on the collar of my jacket. My heart dropped straight down to my toes and I felt my face go pale. Lucius squawked and retreated.
“Bit early for a walk, buckaroo.” Bad News’s voice came from behind me. He pulled me firmly back inside and the door clicked shut in front of my face. “You should really get a quieter watch alarm.”
I’d been so close. Only to be caught by my own gorilla.
I’ll kick him in the shins and run away. I’ll sock him on the jaw and make a run for it.
Yeah, right. Nobody will disarm the bomb if you die, genius.
News cleared his throat and I forced myself to meet his eyes. Or his sunglasses. His arms were folded across his chest and his mouth was in a tight frown.
I gave him my best “oh come on, we don’t really have to do this, do we?” face.
News quite clearly thought we did. He shook his head, “I’ve humored this long enough.”
His words froze my blood. I was going to die. Oh, please no . . .
He grabbed the back of my coat again and hauled me out of the hall and towards the back room. Our classroom. I constantly tripped over my own feet, trying to keep up with the rate News was hauling me at. He didn’t slow up.
The thought at the forefront of my mind was that I was sure glad I’d made my peace with God last night.
We came into the back room, where all the chairs sat around in a lopsided circle, and News deposited me in my giant wingback chair.
I shut my eyes tightly, waiting for death.
Nothing for a good few seconds.
I opened my eyes just before his slap hit. It felt like he could have whacked my jaw right off. I fell back in my seat and things were pretty fuzzy for a good few seconds after that. The giant, black and white outline in front of me blurred and went double. I was too rattled to find that terrifying.
He said something I didn’t make out. I blinked hard to clear the spots from my vision.
“Wh-what now?” I stuttered, pushing myself back up in my seat. I rubbed at the right side of my face. It felt numb.
News had taken his sunglasses off and was propping his forehead on the tips of his fingers like a careworn mother. A strange image for the guy who’d just slapped me silly.
Sighing, Bad News slid his hand down his face and looked at me through the cracks in his fingers. “You’re running away now?”
“That . . . was the plan,” I replied slowly.
“And you’re all . . . you have all your memories back?”
“Every last one.”
He looked at me with a raised eyebrow for a few seconds, then looked up at the ceiling. After a few seconds of either thought or suppressing murderous rage, News turned to the door.
“Don’t you dare go anywhere,” he warned, ducking out. The door squeaked shut behind him and I was alone.
I sat there, rubbing my face and suppressing my panic. If he planned on beating me up more, I wouldn’t last a minute. Maybe I could just plead innocence at the last minute and offer to make the cake for this morning . . .
I swallowed hard and sat on my hands, hoping to keep them from shaking. It didn’t do much good.
The door squeaked back open a few minutes later and I jumped, expecting death or a torture machine to be wheeled in.
In came Liza, followed by Roy, Chris and Cardboard. Bad News was the last one in, looking more serious than I’d ever seen him.
I wasn’t meaning to be disrespectful at all to News at this point, but my incredulous look in his direction was involuntary. I had a slight idea what he’d brought them here for and I wasn’t at all in favor of it.
News leaned up against the wall and pushed his fedora back on his head, significantly nodding to me. “If you’re so dead set on this, they at least deserve the truth. And from you, not me or some dumb note.”
Fantastic. Just what I didn’t want.
The gang seemed more annoyed at the hour of this meeting than worried as to what it was about. Cardboard was almost back asleep already. Liza was the most awake and frowned when she saw my backpack.
“What’s with that?” she asked, pointing. The rest of the gang woke up a bit at that and all eyes went to my backpack, then to me.
News raised an eyebrow and gave his classic “begin your speech” gesture.
I opened my mouth and closed it again noiselessly a couple of times. I wasn’t getting out of this one. But where to even start?
Clearing my throat, I looked down at my shoes. “Well . . . um . . . I’m not sure . . . “ I looked up at Bad News and gave a forced laugh, “What’s to tell?”
My hit man was not amused. “Start with the bit where you got amnesia.”
I’ve never seen the gang look so instantly lively at six in the morning. Roy, Liza and Chris all began talking at once, each with their own question. It came together at the last, questioning word.
News smiled slightly, knowing he’d thoroughly put me in checkmate. I had to tell everything now. Right from the beginning.
I took a breath and rubbed my hands together, swallowing. “Okay. Um . . .” I bit my lip for a second. “You guys know . . . that time when you caught up to me after the whole opera thing? When I had Dallas in the backseat?”
I took a deep breath and plunged in. I told everything, right from me waking up with my mind blank, through the baseball stadium bombing and up to the “grocery run” the other day. My lunch with Dallas and museum trip with Bad News. And like the brave orator I was, I kept my eyes fixed solidly on my shoes.
The gang was dead silent through the whole thing.
When I neared the end, I faltered. The bit where everything changed. Yesterday and last night.
I shifted my gaze up to the ceiling, “I came pretty close to doing nothing, I’ll have you know. I wasn’t planning on telling about it because . . . it almost didn’t matter. But . . . it does now.”
I dared to look down and meet Liza’s eyes. “Our outing yesterday was sort of what put it over the edge. I don’t think you saw them, but Amazing Man and my little brother were there. They were in front of me at my family exhibit. I guess they were visiting because my sister’s birthday would have been today.”
My voice caught a little at that, but I pressed forward, looking back down at my shoes.
“I just . . . overheard them talking about me. Fernsby was explaining to Leif . . . why his big brother didn’t love him anymore. I put myself back together in the wrong way after the bombing, guys. And I think I helped do the same with you. So that kind of kept me up late last night . . . thinking.” I tugged at my hair a bit and bit my lip.
No wisecracks from Roy joking that “that’s never a good sign” broke the silence.
I stood up and continued with my fidgeting. “I just . . . this is only continuing the hurt. We’re doing the same thing to the Fernsbys that we objected to in the first place. It’s selfish and disgraceful. And today is our last chance to end it. That bomb blows and it’s over. There’s no turning back.”
My words faded in the quiet room and I swallowed hard. “It’s not every day that people get a second chance . . . a reset button. I did. And I’m taking it.”
A fire that actually felt like it should be there lit in my chest and I brought my gaze up to meet the gang’s eyes. “Call me an idiot . . . a wimp . . . a sentimental moron . . . anything you want. But I’m going to go disarm that bomb. I’m not going to grind my family name into the mud anymore with all this revenge crap. I’m done. I’m forgiving and going to see what I can salvage of my life. And I’ll be damned if anyone tries to talk me out of it this time.”
The gang . . . my friends . . . just stared at me.
I stood there with my jaw set, not regretting a word. The thought crossed my mind that I’d actually given a decent speech for once. Well, what do you know. Somewhat fitting, seeing as it would be my last one.
Still, no response came. Their faces were pretty much blank from shock.
I nodded firmly and stooped to grab my backpack. “Goodbye. Feel free to keep up the revenge business if you want, though I heartily don’t recommend it.” I started towards the door.
“Hold up,” an accented voice came from behind me. I stopped to see Liza, up out of her chair with her fists clenched in determination. “I . . . I’m coming too.”
My turn to stare.
Roy was quick to bolt out of his seat and take his place next to Liza. Cardboard scurried to his side. “Us too.”
They came over next to me. I saw a trace of wetness around Liza’s eyes as she tightened her lips and gave a firm nod. “Best speech ever, Wolfy.”
“Th-thank you.” I looked over at Bad News and Chris. News had his sunglasses back on and his expression was impossible to read. Chris’s mouth was open in indignant shock.
“In that case . . . we’ll be going.” I reached for the doorknob again, but News pushed himself off the wall to join us. A smile played at the side of his mouth and he rumpled my hair as he came up beside me.
“You’ve got a lot goin’ on under that cowlick of yours. Amen, man. I’m in.”
It was hard not to return the smile. This turnaround operation was spreading. Only one gang member left. I looked at Chris and my heart sunk a little.
His eyes had hardened back up, more bitter than ever. His jaw was clenched and his lips tight. He shook his head. “You’re insane. Three and a half years of this . . . and you think you’ll just go join the salvation army after all of it? You’re just leaving? Forgetting your family and everyone else that died?”
I tipped my head in thought for a second. “Yes to everything but the last question.” I gave him a salute and our little troop exited the room.
No one else bothered to pack. Planning on coming back, probably. There were just enough seats in my car to hold everyone. They piled in as I threw my backpack in the trunk. I guessed my phone would be a good thing to have, so I grabbed that and my charger out.
I got myself into the drivers seat and turned the key. The clock blinked on. Six thirty-two. I plugged my phone into the charger before getting my buckle on.
Liza leaned over my seat with a frown. “Hold on . . . when was the bomb set to go?”
“Eight o’clock.” I shifted the car in gear and we started out of the parking lot and into the sunrise. How symbolic.
News clicked his seatbelt in place and pulled at his tie. “AM or PM?”
“PM of cour . . .” I trailed off, suddenly second-guessing myself. It was PM right?
My phone blinked to life just then and I braked at the curb, flipping my phone open and getting to Mansley’s messages as fast as I could.
There it was.
Bomb set to blow in the middle of their meeting, at 8AM.
I swallowed hard. This was going to be close.
“Okay,” I squealed around the corner into the main road, “I’m going to stay a lawbreaker for just a bit more, because this speed limit isn’t going to cut it. Everyone buckle up.”
and… yet another cliffhanger.
Those AMs and PMs stink, huh?
Will they get there in time and finish the redemption that they started?
We shall find out next Thursday.
Until then, I’d love to hear your thoughts and we’ll have some other bit of fun stuff on Sunday or Monday.