Everything within a mile of the bomb was flattened almost instantly.
The gang and the heroes barely made it out of range before the deafening roar of the explosion. Fire lit the sky and scorched the air.
“Holy . . .” Roy swore and stared at the explosion with his mouth open. The noise died away, the fire disappeared into smoke and Roy pulled the car off to the side of the road to get out and stare some more. The heroes followed suit.
“That could’ve been us,” muttered Hales.
Bad News swallowed and took off his hat, holding it to his chest respectfully. Cardboard covered her eyes and ducked under Roy’s arm.
Charles nodded, his eyes wet. “They died honorably . . . selflessly. And I’m sure . . .” he swallowed hard. “They all are in a better place now.”
Wolfgang died a hero.
Sorry, guys. Couldn’t help doing just a bit of a cheesy false-opening.
-clears throat and doesn’t laugh with effort-
To our part and a normal opening.
So, last time, our newly redeemed hero/villain guy went to disarm his own bomb with the help of his friends… but did he succeed? Who survived? Because it sure looked like something blew up…
Let’s see in this part.
And, if you’re new and I’m totally going over your head with all this…
Ignore everything you just read. You’ve got homework. Twenty-five other parts to read.
Now, part 26. What will happen next? First few sentences aren’t looking promising…
Evicted from Hell
I’m totally dead.
Do dead people know when they’re dead? How am I thinking?
It’s dark. I don’t think heaven is dark.
Well, yeah, moron. You went to hell.
There’s beeping. What beeps in the afterlife? Maybe it’s my eternal torment. I’m doomed to a dark existence of hearing disembodied beeping.
Seems a bit mild for me. Maybe I got it leveled down by repenting at the last minute. It could be worse.
But if I died . . . the bomb went off then. Liza and Dallas are dead too. Maybe Amazing Man. The gang. The other heroes. The rest of that town . . .
Oh God. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I tried. I’m such an idiot. Hell’s too good for me.
All Leif’s family is gone now. And probably his adoptive dad too.
I’ll be known as a horrible person forever. The man eaten up by vengeance. He’ll hate me.
Wolfgang Dankworth . . . the villain.
There was something wet on my face. I felt my shoulders shaking.
That’s weird. I didn’t feel anything before.
The beeping sped up slightly. Pain leaked in, burning in my left leg and right wrist. My shoulders still trembled, but I couldn’t seem to move anything else. I realized I was breathing. Sobbing.
How can I be breathing? Do they even allow crying in Hell? Well, if ever people had an excuse . . .
I took in a deep, shuddering breath and swallowed. My face still felt wet.
There was something under me. Something soft . . . like cloth. Sheets? A bed?
That doesn’t make sense . . .
There were other sounds aside from the beeping now. Talking. Cordial, pleasant conversation.
Doesn’t sound like demons to me. Was Hell actually too good for me? Did I get evicted?
There was a gasp followed by something that sounded like shoes squeaking on tile. Then a hand touched one of my still shaking shoulders. A warm, thin hand.
“Mr. Dankworth, can you hear me? Mr. Dankworth?”
I took in another breath and sobbed out something even I couldn’t understand. The hand moved up to touch my face.
“Shh . . . shh . . . it’s okay.” The voice almost sounded like my mom. Could I have made it to heaven after all? I swallowed. God, I don’t deserve that . . .
Concentrating my strength, I pulled my eyes open. The sudden whiteness made me flinch and almost close them again. White walls. White ceiling. White lights. How could there be so much clean white?
The form bending over me was still fuzzy. I couldn’t quite make out the face. Just short, mousy, brownish-blonde hair and a turquoise jumpsuit-looking thing.
I thought angels wore white, not turquoise. And dresses. Jumpsuits seemed a little . . . weird.
I swallowed again and licked my lips. They tasted salty. My throat felt sucked dry of any moisture, but I still opened my mouth, trying to force words out.
“M-mom?” My voice cracked.
The angel . . . or whoever it was . . . laughed softly. “I’m sorry, no.”
I frowned and blinked a couple of times, trying to clear my vision so I could actually see her face properly. “Th-then who . . .?”
Her voice was still quiet. Kind. It reminded me of Ellie’s voice. Was Ellie here?
I could make out Abby’s face now. Freckles covered her face like paint splatters. She was smiling a tiny little smile at me. I tried to remember the last time a stranger smiled at me.
She must not know who I am . . . but she said my name . . . so how . . .?
Thinking was starting to hurt, so I stopped.
“How are you feeling?”
I blinked at her and tried to determine the answer to that question. How was I feeling? My leg hurt . . . and so did my wrist. But it was still kind of a numb, fuzzy sort of pain. And my head felt funny. I felt like I should be feeling more than I was. But then what was I supposed to expect, being dead?
The pain of it hit me again. So many people would be still alive if it wasn’t for me. Dallas and Liza didn’t deserve to die. That bomb was mine. The world was probably better with me gone.
I closed my eyes and more tears leaked out. My shoulders started shaking again.
Abby’s hand touched my shoulder. “Mr. Dankworth, you’re not. Really, it’s okay . . .”
It wasn’t okay. How could I not be dead? I failed. The bomb went off anyway. And I was inside of it.
I shook my head and repeated. “I’m dead.”
Abby put her hand on the side of my face and I opened my eyes again. She shook her head. “You came close, I’ll give you that. But you’re very much alive.”
I swallowed and coughed, barely managing to choke out my words. “Is . . . is this heaven or hell?” Or purgatory? That might be it. It didn’t seem extreme enough here to be one or the other.
“Did you hear me? Mr. Dankworth, this is a hospital.”
Hospital. The scattered puzzle pieces in my mind clicked together slowly.
I’m alive. I survived the bomb.
But how? What about Liza and Dallas? News? Amazing Man?
If anyone deserved to survive, it wasn’t me.
I tried to push myself up in the bed, but Abby stepped forward, pressing me back down and shaking her head. “You need to hold still for a bit. Just rest.”
She really didn’t know who I was. No one said Dankworth like that. It was almost a curse word to the general public by now.
And I couldn’t lie still and rest. No rest for the wicked. What happened to that?
I forced more words out. I needed to know. “The . . . the others?”
Her facial expression stayed the same, almost like she didn’t want me to know. “Everything’s alright, Mr. Dankworth. Just stay still.” Abby kept her hand firmly on my shoulder.
“But the . . . the bomb. There was . . .”
“Yes, I know. Shh . . . you’re okay.” The tiny smile was flickering across her small, lipstick painted mouth again. What didn’t she understand? My own safety was the last thing I was worried about.
“Everyone else. Where . . . where are they?” My heartbeat quickened and the beeping noise followed suit. I felt lightheaded. If they’re dead, I’ll never forgive myself. I shouldn’t have survived.
Abby put her hand to my forehead briefly, keeping me back down on the pillow. “They’re fine, don’t worry.” Her voice sounded almost too soft . . . too comforting.
I shook my head and my mouth felt dry. The walls of the room wavered in my vision. “D-don’t lie to me.”
“Just rest, Mr. Dankworth. It’s alright.” Abby’s face was getting blurry again, her freckles melting together. I felt dizzy.
I knew I was passing out again. I tried to fight it. A few hard blinks . . . a weak attempt to clench my fists that shot pain up my right arm . . . Stay awake. Find out what happened.
My eyes slid closed and I forced them open again. Abby’s head bobbed, like she was nodding.
“That’s it.” Her hand slid away.
No. Tell me. Where are Dallas and Liza? Did I kill them?
I couldn’t make my mouth form the words. The room tipped, my eyes closed again and I went back into the dark that apparently wasn’t Hell.
Voices prodded at the edges of my mind. I felt like I should know them, but I couldn’t make out what they were saying. One was deep and I could feel it in my chest. The other was softer . . . even. Neither of them said much.
Were they talking to me? About me?
I didn’t open my eyes, but concentrated on the words they were saying. I began to catch a few of them.
Bomb . . . lucky . . . awake yet . . . waiting . . .
Lucky? If they were talking about me, that was about the worst word in the English language to use. Anything with even minimal contact with me turned to a smoking ruin.
Dallas and Liza . . . Charles . . . the gang . . . it felt like ice water rushed into my veins. Were they okay? What didn’t Abby tell me?
My fault . . . my fault . . .
I swallowed hard.
One of the voices spoke again, a slightly put-out rumble. “This’ll melt pretty soon, here. He better wake up.”
My heart jumped up to my throat.
Bad News. Alive.
I tried to sit up . . . to say something. My head just rolled to one side and I groaned.
“Hey, that’s something . . .” I heard shoes thumping on the floor towards me.
He sounded well enough. Hopefully we weren’t lone survivors and he’d just managed to drag me out of the carnage and to a hospital.
Well, I’m not going to learn anything if I just lie here with my eyes closed . . . come on, make an effort . . .
I slowly dragged my eyelids open. Light came in the window from a blue sky and backlit a giant, dark form standing beside me. Definitely Bad News. And Bad News is good news.
His mouth moved into what I thought was a smile. It was a bit hard to tell through all the blur.
“And Wolfgang Dankworth rose again on the third day and there was much rejoicing,” News said.
I blinked at him, frowning. “H-huh?”
He shrugged and held something towards me. “Have some ice cream.”
I looked at the bowl he was holding in confusion.
“It’s mint,” he qualified.
“News, give him a few minutes to wake up.”
The second voice clicked into place in my memory.
I shot upright and my leg exploded in pain. I clenched my teeth with a moan and fell back against the pillow. My head pounded.
“Whoa, whoa . . . take it easy . . .” Fernsby stepped forward, holding out his hand as if to catch me.
I bit my tongue and looked up at the ceiling, closing my eyes. The pain subsided a bit and I reopened one, looking down at my legs. My right one was fine. My left one was encased in white plaster. A quick look at my arms showed that my right wrist had received the same treatment. A few random bandages scattered about in various places.
And of course, I was wearing one of those idiotic hospital dresses.
A few broken bones and a dumb outfit. It could be worse. You could be dead.
But what about the others? News and Fernsby weren’t the only ones . . .
“How’re you feeling?” Fernsby was standing by my bed as well now, his dashing height dwarfed in News’s shadow. His hands were stuck deep in his jacket pockets and his brow creased in concern.
“As well as I deserve,” I muttered. “I’ll be fine. Where’s . . .?” my voice trailed off. I couldn’t bring myself to ask the question. I closed my eyes for a second and my heart pounded. My body was stiff and tense. “L-liza? Dallas? The others?” My voice was a raspy whisper.
“Still alive and kicking last time I checked,” Bad News rocked back and forth on his feet.
Mr. Fernsby obviously thought that a rather rough way of putting it and gave News a look before putting it in his own words. “Dallas made it out the best of you three. Only a broken arm and rib. Liza’s . . . alive. Still unconscious, but they said she’ll pull through.”
They were alive.
I let out my breath in a giant whoosh and went limp with relief. They’re alive . . . thank you, God . . . thank you . . . My eyes stung and I blinked. I was becoming a regular water show here.
I swallowed, looking back up at News and Fernsby. Now that the most pressing question was off my mind, a million others bubbled to the surface. I wasn’t sure where to start.
Most of them started with the same word, so I just said that.
“How . . .?”
The two of them exchanged a glance. News shrugged and Fernsby nodded, patting down his coat. He unzipped it and pulled out a folded newspaper, dropping it into my lap.
I picked it up, fumbling a bit with the cast on my hand. It spread out with a crisp crinkling noise and I blinked at the letters emblazoned across the front.
“THE WOLF SAVES HEROES: Not so ‘big and bad’ after all?”
Below were two pictures. One of all the heroes and a picture of what looked like a giant, blown-up heap of scrap metal. It took me a minute to recognize the smoke-stained surroundings as the rocks by the heroes meeting hall.
My gaze shifted down to the words below and I began to read.
This last Friday, Wolfgang Dankworth proved that there’s good in the most unexpected people. Having a change of heart about a deadly bomb planted outside, Dankworth ran in to warn the heroes of the impending danger. While they drove to safety, he stayed behind with Dallas Knight and a member of his own gang, Liza Allister, to disarm the bomb and save the nearby town.
With the limited amount of time left, they were only able to manage to short circuit the bomb, causing it to self destruct with minimal damage to its surroundings, much like the recent baseball stadium bomb malfunction.
“I have to admit, I really never saw something like this coming,” said New Mexico’s Terrific Man in an interview. “I mean, The Wolf? Of all people . . . but I guess there’s good in everyone. He and his pack saved all of our lives and I’m indebted to them.”
And in our own Amazing Man’s words: “It’s never too late for anyone. Wolfgang Dankworth is as much a hero today as I am, if not more. It takes more courage to repent . . . to turn . . . than it does to be going the right way in the first place, and I respect and admire him for that.”
Knight, Dankworth and Allister are currently in Utah Valley Hospital, being treated for injuries and were unavailable for interviews.
I read over it again. It felt like my chest would burst from happiness.
“Well?” News tugged at his tie, peeking over my shoulder. “Whatcha think?”
Wolfgang Dankworth is as much a hero today as I am, if not more.
I looked up at Charles Fernsby. He had his hands back in his pockets and was watching me with a smile. He raised his eyebrows as I met his gaze. “It’s true, you know.”
I bit my lip, somewhat holding back my grin from completely splitting my face in half. “Yeah.” I gave the newspaper back to him with a nod. “Th-thank you.”
Fernsby nodded back, taking it. “And when you’re well enough, you’ve got a very enthusiastic little brother who wants to visit you.”
Leif. He wanted to see me.
I didn’t deserve any of this.
“How’s he . . .? Oh . . .”
I looked up to see Abby standing at the door. She was smaller than I remembered her from waking up before. Though that might have just been in comparison to Fernsby and News.
She smiled, “How are you feeling, Mr. Dankworth?”
I smiled back, “Very much alive, thank you.”
Awww, lookit that. It’s not an awful cliffhanger for once. ❤
He’s a hero at last.
Now, you all may have noticed that this is not Thursday. This is, in fact, Sunday. Which is not the day that I usually post Blank Mastermind parts on.
If you noticed that, good job. You have a functioning brain and I’m proud of you.
So, there’s actually a reason for that…. the reason being that I finished writing all of Blank Mastermind the other day. The whole enchilada. All 229 pages. I have finished Wolfgang’s story.
But yeah. We’ll be having parts for two times a week now. Thursdays and Sundays. For the last few parts left.
-public service announcement over-
Well, hope you guys enjoyed reading the part as much as I enjoyed writing it. ❤
Please comment, as always!