HermitThrush
Follow
Donate coins to HermitThrush.
Juice
Cancel
Chapter 20 of The Disasterville Chronicles
Written by HermitThrush

Pieces and Players

I finished calling everyone on my list, then put my cell phone back in my pocket to save the battery. 

"I'll pretend I didn't hear who you called," said Harriet.

I rolled my eyes. "Honestly I don't think this matters at this point, but I'm sure they'll appreciate it."

Harriet drummed her fingers on the steering wheel. "So what exactly do you hope to accomplish?"

I bit my lip. "Get people organized. At best, a preemptive first strike. At worst, we coordinate defenses with the Blue Order. I have a nasty feeling it will be the latter what with Ferris switching into attack mode." I turned toward her. "Did you see...?"

Harriet nodded. "Yeah. I took one look and decided to sneak around rather than fight. And if that's just Ferris, I hope every single person you called shows up."

"Any word on why he was following us in the first place?" I frowned. "Well, aside from me apparently giving them a hit list?"

Harriet shook her head. 

"You don't think he'll find us again, do you?" I asked. I immediately regretted it, and spent most of the rest of the time peering down any ally we passed. Harriet started checking the rear view mirror more often.

We pulled into a parking lot by an unassuming office building. I glanced at the page with the address, then at the numbers by the door. They matched. Harriet and I looked at each other, then scanned our surroundings. No one was in sight, at least as far as the headlights could illuminate. Harriet held up her hand, counted to three, and we bolted for it.

I ran, and as each of our footsteps rang out against the pavement, I expected someone to zap me from behind. No one did. We jumped through the door and slammed it behind us. 

Mrs. Reiser peered through the window behind us, then turned back with one raised eyebrow. "Was anything chasing you, or did you just feel like getting some sprints in?" She turned toward Harriet. "And since when is the Twilight Avenger afraid of anything?"

"Oh, so you know each other," I interjected. "Well, have you been briefed on what's going on yet?"

"Nope!" said Azlyn. "I thought I'd let you tell her. I brought your backpack, though." She tossed it to me, and I caught it. 

"Thanks." I sighed. "OK, Mrs. Reiser, remember the thing with Mr. Daemon?..."

I continued my story under her watchful, deepening glare. Harriet and Azlyn wandered into the next room. I heard scraping and banging, so I assumed they were moving furniture.

"You mean to say," growled Mrs. Reiser. At that moment there was a knock on the door.

"Oops, have to go see who that is," I blurted. I ran past her to look out the window, then opened the door.

"Erik! Glad you could make it. Come in!" I practically pulled him through the door, then slammed it behind him.

"Don't grab me, peasant." He brushed off his arm where I had touched it. "Now, I came because you said something could interfere with my plans for world conquest but--"

The door opened again. This time Dr. Defender, Riptide, the other Erik, and Yuki all showed up at once. They started talking at once too. "Hi, what's the matter, you said it was urgent--"

Azlyn ran to the front. "Hi, come on in. We've got a lot of people coming but we've set up chairs in the back room. It will be easier to explain to everyone at once. If you'll come this way?"

I internally sighed with relief as she took over. I almost felt like laughing at the absurdity of Azlyn in hostess mode with such an eclectic group, but not quite.

My phone rang. I evaded Mrs. Reiser and ducked around a corner.

"Hello?"

"This is Jack. Where are you? Are you OK?"

"Yes, I'm fine. I'll text you the address. Did you meet with the Blue Order all right?"

"That's why I'm calling. Something big is going down and you need to get clear--"

"I know."

Jack paused. "Wait, what?"

"I know some anyway. A lot happened, but we need to compare notes. I managed to get in contact with some supers who might be able to help--"

"Superheroes?"

"And the other kind."

Another pause. "Well, if they're willing to help. The Order will send some people over so we can coordinate. I don't know if I'll see you until later so I'll let you go---"

"Wait!" I interjected. "Hello?"

"I'm still here," said Jack.

"Watch out for Wisteria. She's the one who's been stealing powers, and she made a literal deal with the devil to do it."

Another pause. "Good to know. Send the address." Then the phone clicked and the call ended. 

I tapped the address into my phone as I watched more supers trickle in. Justice Fighter, Captain Amethyst, Robotic Revenger... even a couple I didn't recognize. I suspected Azlyn or Harriet must be responsible for those.

I walked back toward the room, only to be intercepted by Mrs. Reiser. "Look, I understand how important this is, but since we have a moment I want to have a word with you about keeping secrets from me about---"

I heard a gentle thunk from above us, almost like something landing on the roof. Mrs. Reiser looked up as she stepped in front of me. "Stay down here," she whispered. "I'll go see what that is."

I followed her, peering around the corner. She went up the stairs, ending at a door that led to the roof. She hid behind it and opened it just enough to see through, then peered out. "YOU!" she shouted.

I looked past her and grinned. "I invite you in," I called out.

Sanguis popped up behind me and I jumped despite myself. "Hello, little one. I'm glad I reached you in time. What does the demon have planned?"

"Well--" I started.

Mrs. Reiser interrupted. "You invited HIM?"

Sanguis ignored her. I sputtered, "Well, you know we need help and--"

This time Azlyn and a guy in blue robes interrupted. "The Blue Order guy is here, we're ready to go! Come on down."

The Blue Order member bowed his head. "We have much to discuss."

I hurried down with Sanguis and Mrs. Reiser in tow. I could feel her glaring at me, and dreaded the moment we would have an uninterrupted conversation.

3
2
3
Juice
28 reads
Donate coins to HermitThrush.
Juice
Cancel
Chapter 20 of The Disasterville Chronicles
Written by HermitThrush
Pieces and Players
I finished calling everyone on my list, then put my cell phone back in my pocket to save the battery. 

"I'll pretend I didn't hear who you called," said Harriet.

I rolled my eyes. "Honestly I don't think this matters at this point, but I'm sure they'll appreciate it."

Harriet drummed her fingers on the steering wheel. "So what exactly do you hope to accomplish?"

I bit my lip. "Get people organized. At best, a preemptive first strike. At worst, we coordinate defenses with the Blue Order. I have a nasty feeling it will be the latter what with Ferris switching into attack mode." I turned toward her. "Did you see...?"

Harriet nodded. "Yeah. I took one look and decided to sneak around rather than fight. And if that's just Ferris, I hope every single person you called shows up."

"Any word on why he was following us in the first place?" I frowned. "Well, aside from me apparently giving them a hit list?"

Harriet shook her head. 

"You don't think he'll find us again, do you?" I asked. I immediately regretted it, and spent most of the rest of the time peering down any ally we passed. Harriet started checking the rear view mirror more often.

We pulled into a parking lot by an unassuming office building. I glanced at the page with the address, then at the numbers by the door. They matched. Harriet and I looked at each other, then scanned our surroundings. No one was in sight, at least as far as the headlights could illuminate. Harriet held up her hand, counted to three, and we bolted for it.

I ran, and as each of our footsteps rang out against the pavement, I expected someone to zap me from behind. No one did. We jumped through the door and slammed it behind us. 

Mrs. Reiser peered through the window behind us, then turned back with one raised eyebrow. "Was anything chasing you, or did you just feel like getting some sprints in?" She turned toward Harriet. "And since when is the Twilight Avenger afraid of anything?"

"Oh, so you know each other," I interjected. "Well, have you been briefed on what's going on yet?"

"Nope!" said Azlyn. "I thought I'd let you tell her. I brought your backpack, though." She tossed it to me, and I caught it. 

"Thanks." I sighed. "OK, Mrs. Reiser, remember the thing with Mr. Daemon?..."

I continued my story under her watchful, deepening glare. Harriet and Azlyn wandered into the next room. I heard scraping and banging, so I assumed they were moving furniture.

"You mean to say," growled Mrs. Reiser. At that moment there was a knock on the door.

"Oops, have to go see who that is," I blurted. I ran past her to look out the window, then opened the door.

"Erik! Glad you could make it. Come in!" I practically pulled him through the door, then slammed it behind him.

"Don't grab me, peasant." He brushed off his arm where I had touched it. "Now, I came because you said something could interfere with my plans for world conquest but--"

The door opened again. This time Dr. Defender, Riptide, the other Erik, and Yuki all showed up at once. They started talking at once too. "Hi, what's the matter, you said it was urgent--"

Azlyn ran to the front. "Hi, come on in. We've got a lot of people coming but we've set up chairs in the back room. It will be easier to explain to everyone at once. If you'll come this way?"

I internally sighed with relief as she took over. I almost felt like laughing at the absurdity of Azlyn in hostess mode with such an eclectic group, but not quite.

My phone rang. I evaded Mrs. Reiser and ducked around a corner.

"Hello?"

"This is Jack. Where are you? Are you OK?"

"Yes, I'm fine. I'll text you the address. Did you meet with the Blue Order all right?"

"That's why I'm calling. Something big is going down and you need to get clear--"

"I know."

Jack paused. "Wait, what?"

"I know some anyway. A lot happened, but we need to compare notes. I managed to get in contact with some supers who might be able to help--"

"Superheroes?"

"And the other kind."

Another pause. "Well, if they're willing to help. The Order will send some people over so we can coordinate. I don't know if I'll see you until later so I'll let you go---"

"Wait!" I interjected. "Hello?"

"I'm still here," said Jack.

"Watch out for Wisteria. She's the one who's been stealing powers, and she made a literal deal with the devil to do it."

Another pause. "Good to know. Send the address." Then the phone clicked and the call ended. 

I tapped the address into my phone as I watched more supers trickle in. Justice Fighter, Captain Amethyst, Robotic Revenger... even a couple I didn't recognize. I suspected Azlyn or Harriet must be responsible for those.

I walked back toward the room, only to be intercepted by Mrs. Reiser. "Look, I understand how important this is, but since we have a moment I want to have a word with you about keeping secrets from me about---"

I heard a gentle thunk from above us, almost like something landing on the roof. Mrs. Reiser looked up as she stepped in front of me. "Stay down here," she whispered. "I'll go see what that is."

I followed her, peering around the corner. She went up the stairs, ending at a door that led to the roof. She hid behind it and opened it just enough to see through, then peered out. "YOU!" she shouted.

I looked past her and grinned. "I invite you in," I called out.

Sanguis popped up behind me and I jumped despite myself. "Hello, little one. I'm glad I reached you in time. What does the demon have planned?"

"Well--" I started.

Mrs. Reiser interrupted. "You invited HIM?"

Sanguis ignored her. I sputtered, "Well, you know we need help and--"

This time Azlyn and a guy in blue robes interrupted. "The Blue Order guy is here, we're ready to go! Come on down."

The Blue Order member bowed his head. "We have much to discuss."

I hurried down with Sanguis and Mrs. Reiser in tow. I could feel her glaring at me, and dreaded the moment we would have an uninterrupted conversation.


3
2
3
Juice
28 reads
Load 3 Comments
Login to post comments.
Advertisement  (turn off)
Donate coins to HermitThrush.
Juice
Cancel
Continuing studies show that when asked 94% of people self-report as being above average. As this is statistically impossible, explain this phenomena. No rhyming.
Written by HermitThrush

Pertinent Perceptions

People are hypocrites.

Please remember that as you nod along to the above statement, you are also a person, and therefore are a hypocrite. I have now successfully angered a good 94% of my readers.

Perhaps I should explain. Most people are good at rationalization. Everyone has so much information to process, it's overwhelming. So your brain takes shortcuts, and puts things into boxes. The very first box most people have is me vs. everyone else.

Painful as it can be to admit, human tendency is to notice the good in the "me" box and the bad in the "everyone else" box. After all, we know every detail in our thoughts, background, personality that lead to our mistakes. We also don't feel the pain that our carelessness and petty spite inflict. But when someone else screws up or hurts us, we tend to assume that they must not be as good as us since we don't know their thoughts, background, and personality. Or maybe we just don't feel compelled to make excuses for them like we do for ourselves.

Plus, we are our own benchmarks. If we don't know anyone who cooks, say, pie as well as we do, we assume we are an above-average cook. It doesn't matter if there are plenty of people we don't know who are better cooks. As long as we're the biggest fish in the pond, we're better. And people who are better? Well, they're either try-hards or they're the best of the best, but that doesn't keep us from being better than most people. You know, in the things that matter.

Patently absurd as this kind of thinking is, it's something we all do without thinking about it. Can we recognize it? Remedy it? Change? Yes, and some people are better than others at it. I'd say I'm above average-- oops.

15
3
7
Juice
71 reads
Donate coins to HermitThrush.
Juice
Cancel
Continuing studies show that when asked 94% of people self-report as being above average. As this is statistically impossible, explain this phenomena. No rhyming.
Written by HermitThrush
Pertinent Perceptions
People are hypocrites.

Please remember that as you nod along to the above statement, you are also a person, and therefore are a hypocrite. I have now successfully angered a good 94% of my readers.

Perhaps I should explain. Most people are good at rationalization. Everyone has so much information to process, it's overwhelming. So your brain takes shortcuts, and puts things into boxes. The very first box most people have is me vs. everyone else.

Painful as it can be to admit, human tendency is to notice the good in the "me" box and the bad in the "everyone else" box. After all, we know every detail in our thoughts, background, personality that lead to our mistakes. We also don't feel the pain that our carelessness and petty spite inflict. But when someone else screws up or hurts us, we tend to assume that they must not be as good as us since we don't know their thoughts, background, and personality. Or maybe we just don't feel compelled to make excuses for them like we do for ourselves.

Plus, we are our own benchmarks. If we don't know anyone who cooks, say, pie as well as we do, we assume we are an above-average cook. It doesn't matter if there are plenty of people we don't know who are better cooks. As long as we're the biggest fish in the pond, we're better. And people who are better? Well, they're either try-hards or they're the best of the best, but that doesn't keep us from being better than most people. You know, in the things that matter.

Patently absurd as this kind of thinking is, it's something we all do without thinking about it. Can we recognize it? Remedy it? Change? Yes, and some people are better than others at it. I'd say I'm above average-- oops.
15
3
7
Juice
71 reads
Load 7 Comments
Login to post comments.
Donate coins to HermitThrush.
Juice
Cancel
Write a humorous tale of a superhero, either one of your own creation or an already existing character. Any form of writing welcome. Make me LOL! Hehe ;p
Written by HermitThrush in portal Comedy

Agent of SHEAR

You know, it really sucks to work for the government. The low salary, long hours, and less time off are bad enough. Some branches are worse then others, though. I didn't listen when people tried to tell me that. Fresh out of high school, I fell for the bit about them only taking the best of the best and saving the country. So I up and joined SHEAR (Super Hero Engagement, Assessment, and Research), the government agency that has to deal with supers.

If you didn't know already, we get a whopping zero respect out there. Turns out that when you constantly have civilians in technicolor pajamas doing your job for you everyone starts to think you're useless. It certainly doesn't help when the "high-tech" gear we have was obsolete decades ago. Just about any twat with superpowers will barely be affected by the stun guns, and don't get me started on the joke that's supposed to be our armor.

Now don't get me wrong, I of all people know that we do a lot of good out there. It's just that most of what we do doesn't make headlines. Helping supers control their powers, researching super-resistant infrastructure, setting up cover identities... but you don't care about any of that, do you? Nope, everyone always just wants to ask me about the Tanger Incident.

Well, among the other things SHEAR is incompletely equipped for, we're in charge of first response to unknown phenomena. Interdimensional portal in Brooklyn? We're it. Alien spaceship shows up? Guess who has to make first contact. This time it was a huge surge of Arctulian energy at a shopping outlet. I was already on assignment in state, so of course I got switched to the response team.

They had already evacuated everyone by the time we got there. Security detail always sweeps the area first, then if it's clear we'll let the scientists in. We have to wear awful environmental hazard suits with radiation detection patches. At least, normally we would but Arctulian energy gives a false positive for radiation, so it was just the hazard suits. You can't even use a stun gun properly in those things.

So we check out every nook and cranny in these abandoned shops and restaurants, but we don't find anything. No people, no swirly energy things, no orbs, not a thing out of place. Frankly, that freaked me out. There's always a reason for these things, and if you don't see one at first, then it's probably dangerous. However, official protocol says a clear security sweep means we let the researchers in to poke around until they unleash it. And of course I got assigned to babysitting the researchers instead of, say, guarding the perimeter.

Well, nothing happened for a while. The researchers set up all their instruments and talked to each other about technobabble. I was never good at science, so I didn't know what they were seeing. I figured as long as they weren't running I was probably fine. This went on for a good three, maybe four days before trouble finally hit.

It's never a good sign when one of the researcher's gizmos explodes. Then, of course, my radio crackled to life with assorted shouting. As always, one of the other blokes in security managed to screech out that they were under attack, but the radios died before they could say by what. Honestly, no one ever follows protocol and says what's attacking FIRST. It would make life so much easier for the rest of the security detail but NOOO...

Anyway. I had to wait while the scientists packed up their gear so we could get out. At first they wanted to stay and get more data because apparently something or other was spiking and off the charts, but I insisted. Once they had finally finished, we rushed toward the perimeter. 

They both got out just fine. I smacked headfirst into an energy barrier that popped up at the front of the parking lot. They turned around, shouted, banged on the field a bit. I yelled at them to get to safety. Everyone knows that the security detail is screwed if the researchers can't get the data out. Plus I would have had to turn around and help fend off the attack anyway.

And the attack... You know, it really was scary. I know it doesn't sound like it would be, but really what we saw was something so fast we could barely see it making everyone disappear. Plus we still had to figure out a way to fight back and find the missing agents. So it still would have been scary even if we had known at the time that we were facing a bunch of pixies.

...I really wish people would at least pretend to take that seriously. Sure, pixies are tiny and have those little flashy wings, but when they're on the warpath they...

You know what? I'm just going to wait until you stop laughing.

So yes, we did all get taken. We got lucky and stunned a couple of them, but like I said, the pixies... I'm just going to call them enemy fliers so you don't snicker. The ENEMY FLIERS were fast, and our stun guns are slow. We didn't really have anything else to fight back with at the time, so we were sitting ducks out there.

Turns out when a p-- when an enemy flier takes you, they put you in some sort of alternate reality bubble. So we fell on our butts into the middle of a field of wild flowers. The enemy fliers came back once they had rounded up all of us. I'm still not entirely sure what they wanted, but they played music and made everyone wear floral necklaces and -- Look, do you want to hear the story or not? Do I have to duct tape your mouth shut?

Anyway, the enemy fliers left after a few minutes. I think they got bored. I tried to compare notes about how to try to escape, but half the other agents fell asleep, and most of the rest were babbling about pretty lights. That's when I remembered I had been just about the only person still wearing an air filtration mask while on guard duty. Paranoia pays off. Stupid pixie dust CAN YOU PLEASE KEEP A STRAIGHT FACE FOR FIVE SECONDS

Well, the next time the enemy fliers came back they dumped a bunch of junk from the outlets into the field. Shoes, plates, candy; I have no idea why they took what they did but they shooed everyone toward it like it was some enormous treasure. The enemy fliers were pretty distracted by it. I decided that was as good an opportunity as any. I waited until they were all watching one of them trying to turn a dish cloth into a cape. I held my breath, moved in, and grabbed one of the enemy fliers. I shouted, "Let us go back or this one gets it!"

Well, that was maybe not the smartest thing I could have done. I think I turned into a bear, then a statue, then a mailbox, and then a sloth in the space of about a second. I still managed to hang onto the enemy flier somehow. That's when the flowers near me started biting me. Let me tell you, nothing hurts quite like a dandelion, they can get really sharp teeth. When that didn't work, they tried to zap me with MY stunner that they had stolen when I wasn't looking. I dodged. I told you those things are slow.

They finally screeched and the security detail found itself back on the concrete floor. The enemy fliers hovered around me menacingly. I hesitantly let the one in my hand go. It whirled into the air, and all the p-- all the enemy fliers chattered. They started to fly away, and our radios crackled to life in unison. "Barrier down, barrier down, move in for extraction! Alpha team..."

My radio suddenly snapped off, and the enemy flier I had grabbed was staring me in the face. I gulped, then there was a flash of light. It flew off cackling, leaving me to wonder what exactly it had hoped to accomplish.

The extraction team showed up shortly afterward. I helped them bring out the incapacitated members to the med station. We passed some researchers on the way, and from what I could understand the Arctulian energy had dissipated. 

Once I was done carrying the first stretcher to the station, I turned to go help with the rest. The other agents stopped me. "You need to get checked out, obvious energy exposure, make sure that's not permanent..." That's what got my attention. I started pestering them about what, exactly, "that" was.

They finally handed me a mirror. Turns out that stupid enemy flier had turned my hair purple. And yes, it does seem to be permanent. I can't even dye it back to how it used to be. Seems like overkill to me. I mean, changing someone's hair for fighting back after you kidnapped them? On the plus side, I couldn't do covert operations anymore, so I guess that was good. Those are always really dangerous. I also could have sworn this one magic blast heading straight for my head swerved away at the last second, but who knows.

Of course, the really annoying part is when that reporter got in and took pictures. I hate being the face of the Tanger Incident. Everyone I meet always says something like, "Hey, you're that agent whose hair got turned purple by a bunch of pixies! How lame is that?"

Will you please stop... you know what? Forget it. We're done with this interview.

8
3
5
Juice
104 reads
Donate coins to HermitThrush.
Juice
Cancel
Write a humorous tale of a superhero, either one of your own creation or an already existing character. Any form of writing welcome. Make me LOL! Hehe ;p
Written by HermitThrush in portal Comedy
Agent of SHEAR
You know, it really sucks to work for the government. The low salary, long hours, and less time off are bad enough. Some branches are worse then others, though. I didn't listen when people tried to tell me that. Fresh out of high school, I fell for the bit about them only taking the best of the best and saving the country. So I up and joined SHEAR (Super Hero Engagement, Assessment, and Research), the government agency that has to deal with supers.

If you didn't know already, we get a whopping zero respect out there. Turns out that when you constantly have civilians in technicolor pajamas doing your job for you everyone starts to think you're useless. It certainly doesn't help when the "high-tech" gear we have was obsolete decades ago. Just about any twat with superpowers will barely be affected by the stun guns, and don't get me started on the joke that's supposed to be our armor.

Now don't get me wrong, I of all people know that we do a lot of good out there. It's just that most of what we do doesn't make headlines. Helping supers control their powers, researching super-resistant infrastructure, setting up cover identities... but you don't care about any of that, do you? Nope, everyone always just wants to ask me about the Tanger Incident.

Well, among the other things SHEAR is incompletely equipped for, we're in charge of first response to unknown phenomena. Interdimensional portal in Brooklyn? We're it. Alien spaceship shows up? Guess who has to make first contact. This time it was a huge surge of Arctulian energy at a shopping outlet. I was already on assignment in state, so of course I got switched to the response team.

They had already evacuated everyone by the time we got there. Security detail always sweeps the area first, then if it's clear we'll let the scientists in. We have to wear awful environmental hazard suits with radiation detection patches. At least, normally we would but Arctulian energy gives a false positive for radiation, so it was just the hazard suits. You can't even use a stun gun properly in those things.

So we check out every nook and cranny in these abandoned shops and restaurants, but we don't find anything. No people, no swirly energy things, no orbs, not a thing out of place. Frankly, that freaked me out. There's always a reason for these things, and if you don't see one at first, then it's probably dangerous. However, official protocol says a clear security sweep means we let the researchers in to poke around until they unleash it. And of course I got assigned to babysitting the researchers instead of, say, guarding the perimeter.

Well, nothing happened for a while. The researchers set up all their instruments and talked to each other about technobabble. I was never good at science, so I didn't know what they were seeing. I figured as long as they weren't running I was probably fine. This went on for a good three, maybe four days before trouble finally hit.

It's never a good sign when one of the researcher's gizmos explodes. Then, of course, my radio crackled to life with assorted shouting. As always, one of the other blokes in security managed to screech out that they were under attack, but the radios died before they could say by what. Honestly, no one ever follows protocol and says what's attacking FIRST. It would make life so much easier for the rest of the security detail but NOOO...

Anyway. I had to wait while the scientists packed up their gear so we could get out. At first they wanted to stay and get more data because apparently something or other was spiking and off the charts, but I insisted. Once they had finally finished, we rushed toward the perimeter. 

They both got out just fine. I smacked headfirst into an energy barrier that popped up at the front of the parking lot. They turned around, shouted, banged on the field a bit. I yelled at them to get to safety. Everyone knows that the security detail is screwed if the researchers can't get the data out. Plus I would have had to turn around and help fend off the attack anyway.

And the attack... You know, it really was scary. I know it doesn't sound like it would be, but really what we saw was something so fast we could barely see it making everyone disappear. Plus we still had to figure out a way to fight back and find the missing agents. So it still would have been scary even if we had known at the time that we were facing a bunch of pixies.

...I really wish people would at least pretend to take that seriously. Sure, pixies are tiny and have those little flashy wings, but when they're on the warpath they...

You know what? I'm just going to wait until you stop laughing.

So yes, we did all get taken. We got lucky and stunned a couple of them, but like I said, the pixies... I'm just going to call them enemy fliers so you don't snicker. The ENEMY FLIERS were fast, and our stun guns are slow. We didn't really have anything else to fight back with at the time, so we were sitting ducks out there.

Turns out when a p-- when an enemy flier takes you, they put you in some sort of alternate reality bubble. So we fell on our butts into the middle of a field of wild flowers. The enemy fliers came back once they had rounded up all of us. I'm still not entirely sure what they wanted, but they played music and made everyone wear floral necklaces and -- Look, do you want to hear the story or not? Do I have to duct tape your mouth shut?

Anyway, the enemy fliers left after a few minutes. I think they got bored. I tried to compare notes about how to try to escape, but half the other agents fell asleep, and most of the rest were babbling about pretty lights. That's when I remembered I had been just about the only person still wearing an air filtration mask while on guard duty. Paranoia pays off. Stupid pixie dust CAN YOU PLEASE KEEP A STRAIGHT FACE FOR FIVE SECONDS

Well, the next time the enemy fliers came back they dumped a bunch of junk from the outlets into the field. Shoes, plates, candy; I have no idea why they took what they did but they shooed everyone toward it like it was some enormous treasure. The enemy fliers were pretty distracted by it. I decided that was as good an opportunity as any. I waited until they were all watching one of them trying to turn a dish cloth into a cape. I held my breath, moved in, and grabbed one of the enemy fliers. I shouted, "Let us go back or this one gets it!"

Well, that was maybe not the smartest thing I could have done. I think I turned into a bear, then a statue, then a mailbox, and then a sloth in the space of about a second. I still managed to hang onto the enemy flier somehow. That's when the flowers near me started biting me. Let me tell you, nothing hurts quite like a dandelion, they can get really sharp teeth. When that didn't work, they tried to zap me with MY stunner that they had stolen when I wasn't looking. I dodged. I told you those things are slow.

They finally screeched and the security detail found itself back on the concrete floor. The enemy fliers hovered around me menacingly. I hesitantly let the one in my hand go. It whirled into the air, and all the p-- all the enemy fliers chattered. They started to fly away, and our radios crackled to life in unison. "Barrier down, barrier down, move in for extraction! Alpha team..."

My radio suddenly snapped off, and the enemy flier I had grabbed was staring me in the face. I gulped, then there was a flash of light. It flew off cackling, leaving me to wonder what exactly it had hoped to accomplish.

The extraction team showed up shortly afterward. I helped them bring out the incapacitated members to the med station. We passed some researchers on the way, and from what I could understand the Arctulian energy had dissipated. 

Once I was done carrying the first stretcher to the station, I turned to go help with the rest. The other agents stopped me. "You need to get checked out, obvious energy exposure, make sure that's not permanent..." That's what got my attention. I started pestering them about what, exactly, "that" was.

They finally handed me a mirror. Turns out that stupid enemy flier had turned my hair purple. And yes, it does seem to be permanent. I can't even dye it back to how it used to be. Seems like overkill to me. I mean, changing someone's hair for fighting back after you kidnapped them? On the plus side, I couldn't do covert operations anymore, so I guess that was good. Those are always really dangerous. I also could have sworn this one magic blast heading straight for my head swerved away at the last second, but who knows.

Of course, the really annoying part is when that reporter got in and took pictures. I hate being the face of the Tanger Incident. Everyone I meet always says something like, "Hey, you're that agent whose hair got turned purple by a bunch of pixies! How lame is that?"

Will you please stop... you know what? Forget it. We're done with this interview.
8
3
5
Juice
104 reads
Load 5 Comments
Login to post comments.
Donate coins to HermitThrush.
Juice
Cancel
Chapter 19 of The Disasterville Chronicles
Written by HermitThrush

Power Out

Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid. That was the background chant running through my head. How had I missed it? It fit. I knew she hadn't been accounted for when Jack and, come to think of it, some of the other supers had been attacked. The notebook had to have been taken by someone at the school, and it would be easier if it was someone I trusted. Who would look twice at a girl lending a classmate her notes? Heck, how would anyone even know about it unless they knew me pretty well? A dozen other little things that individually I hadn't noticed now were glaringly obvious -- a stray comment, an odd look, a night of too much homework. All of it coalesced into one question.

"Why?" I asked, my voice barely above a whisper.

Wisteria stared, eyes wide. Then Sol send a wave of fire at her head. She waved her hand and it dispersed harmlessly. Another quick gesture sent Sol crashing against the ground. He twitched, then was motionless. 

My shock gave way to anger. "I TRUSTED YOU! WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS? WE WERE FRIENDS!" I tried to kick her, only to find myself floating just above the floor. I flailed, but couldn't move from the spot.

"Stop struggling, you'll hurt yourself," she said in the same tone of voice she used to comment on the weather. Her face was back to normal, except for something dangerous lurking just behind her eyes.

Next I tried to grab something to throw at her, but only succeeded in turning myself upside down.

Wisteria facepalmed as she turned me upright. "Look, if you just stay still, I'll try to explain."

I took a deep breath, crossed my arms, and glared at her. "Does it by any chance involve a deal?" She flinched, and I rolled my eyes. "Of all the stupid things, you actually made a deal --"

"It's fine for you to be all high and mighty, but someone was going to do this. And if everything's going to burn, I at least intend to have enough power to live through it." She jerked me across the room, and I almost hit my head as I landed. "But since I actually like you a little bit, here's some advice: stay down, and stay out of it. It'll be a lot less painful, and there's nothing you can do anyway."

With that, she went back toward the twins. I quietly reached for a nearby rock, only for it to slide away. Wisteria glared at me. "Really? Just back down already."

"Make me."

She rolled her eyes and turned, but in the split second before she turned I saw her bite her lip. I nodded slightly. Whatever the mind control power was, she couldn't keep using it on the same person. That was a relief, but still didn't leave me with a lot of ways to stop her.

That's when the chains shot out and wrapped around my wrists. Wisteria turned back and grinned with cold eyes. "As you wish." She knelt down to Iggy and Sol, then put her hands on them. Her eyes glowed red, and I could see black marks form along her skin. An orange light formed around her victims, then flowed along her arms. She stopped, stood up, and snapped her fingers. A fiery orb floated upward and hovered next to her as she changed back to normal. Wisteria turned, floated away, and passed through the door as if it had been made of air. The chains slipped away.

I crawled across the room toward Iggy and Sol, feeling for them in the darkness. I shook them. Sol still didn't move, but Iggy was groaning. "Iggy! Iggy!" I repeated. Finally he sat up. His arms moved toward his head. I heard him mutter under his breath, the words echoing off the walls. "Why did he come? Now we both..." He groaned again, then felt for his brother. "Sol?" he whispered.

I fumbled for my phone, and turned on the light. I pointed it at Sol. There was a nasty cut on his head. Iggy reached down, and only then realized he wasn't wearing street clothes. He started stuttering as I ripped a piece of cloth off my jacket.

"Here," I said. Iggy took it and put it over the cut. Once he had finished, I asked, "Let me guess, you wore your costume under your street clothes?"

Iggy stared at me, then smiled. "...Yes. But only sometimes." He stood up, but wobbled. "Do you think you can help carry Sol?"

"Probably, but we need to figure out how to get out first. I don't know how to open the door from this side, and that's assuming no one's waiting for us."

Iggy wrinkled his forehead. "I think there might be another door over there." He pointed. "I'm not sure, my memory is a bit fuzzy."

I shrugged and we searched in silence. After a while, though, we heard footsteps coming. 

"Do you think it's them?" I whispered.

Iggy shook his head. "Sounds different."

We looked at each other, then started shouting and screaming at the top of our lungs. Eventually something knocked on the door. I ran over and knocked back. For a while everything was quiet, then the door opened.

The Twilight Avenger stood in front of us, her headlight almost blinding us. She took one look, then ran to help hold Sol. I supported him on the other side.

Then words started spilling out of my mouth. "So Wisteria is evil and working for Mr. Daemon and stealing powers and now she has their fire powers and..."

We walked and talked, and they both had questions, but both Iggy and Harriet more or less understood the situation by the time we left the tunnels. We had to find a different exit since apparently Ferris was still hanging around the one in my neighborhood, but Harriet had already found one nearby.

First we called an ambulance. Iggy and Sol were in no condition to be left to their own devices. While we waited, I started making some phone calls. Jack had his phone off, so I left a message. Azlyn's house did have a response.

"Hello?" said Mrs. Reiser.

"Hi Mrs. Reiser. It's Sophia. Do you know of a good place to host a late-night fine china and calculus party? It's important."

Iggy and Harriet both stared at me like I was crazy, but I waved them off.

Mrs. Reiser immediately switched to here serious voice. "I know a place, but are you sure you need it?"

"Yes. And there will be a LOT of guests. We might need Azlyn's help to set up too. Can you give me the address?"

Harriet passed me a pencil and notepad, and I jotted down the information. Mrs. Reiser added, "Why is Azlyn invited? Can you tell me more about this party?"

"Trust me on this. I'll fill you in when you get there. Just... be sure to get there early."

When I hung up, they were both still staring at me. I rolled my eyes. "Look, we have no idea if we'll be able to reach the Blue Order in time, and you know what's at stake. We're going to need all the help we can get for this, and we'll need an HQ."

"Fine china and calculus?" Iggy finally asked.

"That is a long story I will tell you some other time when I don't have a bazillion phone calls to make," I replied. "H-- Er, Twilight Avenger, you might want to call in anyone you can think of too."

The ambulance arrived and left. Harriet took me over to her tricked-out car and drove me to the address Mrs. Reiser gave us. The whole time, I worked through my contact list, calling or texting anyone who might be able to help. I would find out how much help I could get soon enough.

2
1
1
Juice
27 reads
Donate coins to HermitThrush.
Juice
Cancel
Chapter 19 of The Disasterville Chronicles
Written by HermitThrush
Power Out
Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid. That was the background chant running through my head. How had I missed it? It fit. I knew she hadn't been accounted for when Jack and, come to think of it, some of the other supers had been attacked. The notebook had to have been taken by someone at the school, and it would be easier if it was someone I trusted. Who would look twice at a girl lending a classmate her notes? Heck, how would anyone even know about it unless they knew me pretty well? A dozen other little things that individually I hadn't noticed now were glaringly obvious -- a stray comment, an odd look, a night of too much homework. All of it coalesced into one question.

"Why?" I asked, my voice barely above a whisper.

Wisteria stared, eyes wide. Then Sol send a wave of fire at her head. She waved her hand and it dispersed harmlessly. Another quick gesture sent Sol crashing against the ground. He twitched, then was motionless. 

My shock gave way to anger. "I TRUSTED YOU! WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS? WE WERE FRIENDS!" I tried to kick her, only to find myself floating just above the floor. I flailed, but couldn't move from the spot.

"Stop struggling, you'll hurt yourself," she said in the same tone of voice she used to comment on the weather. Her face was back to normal, except for something dangerous lurking just behind her eyes.

Next I tried to grab something to throw at her, but only succeeded in turning myself upside down.

Wisteria facepalmed as she turned me upright. "Look, if you just stay still, I'll try to explain."

I took a deep breath, crossed my arms, and glared at her. "Does it by any chance involve a deal?" She flinched, and I rolled my eyes. "Of all the stupid things, you actually made a deal --"

"It's fine for you to be all high and mighty, but someone was going to do this. And if everything's going to burn, I at least intend to have enough power to live through it." She jerked me across the room, and I almost hit my head as I landed. "But since I actually like you a little bit, here's some advice: stay down, and stay out of it. It'll be a lot less painful, and there's nothing you can do anyway."

With that, she went back toward the twins. I quietly reached for a nearby rock, only for it to slide away. Wisteria glared at me. "Really? Just back down already."

"Make me."

She rolled her eyes and turned, but in the split second before she turned I saw her bite her lip. I nodded slightly. Whatever the mind control power was, she couldn't keep using it on the same person. That was a relief, but still didn't leave me with a lot of ways to stop her.

That's when the chains shot out and wrapped around my wrists. Wisteria turned back and grinned with cold eyes. "As you wish." She knelt down to Iggy and Sol, then put her hands on them. Her eyes glowed red, and I could see black marks form along her skin. An orange light formed around her victims, then flowed along her arms. She stopped, stood up, and snapped her fingers. A fiery orb floated upward and hovered next to her as she changed back to normal. Wisteria turned, floated away, and passed through the door as if it had been made of air. The chains slipped away.

I crawled across the room toward Iggy and Sol, feeling for them in the darkness. I shook them. Sol still didn't move, but Iggy was groaning. "Iggy! Iggy!" I repeated. Finally he sat up. His arms moved toward his head. I heard him mutter under his breath, the words echoing off the walls. "Why did he come? Now we both..." He groaned again, then felt for his brother. "Sol?" he whispered.

I fumbled for my phone, and turned on the light. I pointed it at Sol. There was a nasty cut on his head. Iggy reached down, and only then realized he wasn't wearing street clothes. He started stuttering as I ripped a piece of cloth off my jacket.

"Here," I said. Iggy took it and put it over the cut. Once he had finished, I asked, "Let me guess, you wore your costume under your street clothes?"

Iggy stared at me, then smiled. "...Yes. But only sometimes." He stood up, but wobbled. "Do you think you can help carry Sol?"

"Probably, but we need to figure out how to get out first. I don't know how to open the door from this side, and that's assuming no one's waiting for us."

Iggy wrinkled his forehead. "I think there might be another door over there." He pointed. "I'm not sure, my memory is a bit fuzzy."

I shrugged and we searched in silence. After a while, though, we heard footsteps coming. 

"Do you think it's them?" I whispered.

Iggy shook his head. "Sounds different."

We looked at each other, then started shouting and screaming at the top of our lungs. Eventually something knocked on the door. I ran over and knocked back. For a while everything was quiet, then the door opened.

The Twilight Avenger stood in front of us, her headlight almost blinding us. She took one look, then ran to help hold Sol. I supported him on the other side.

Then words started spilling out of my mouth. "So Wisteria is evil and working for Mr. Daemon and stealing powers and now she has their fire powers and..."

We walked and talked, and they both had questions, but both Iggy and Harriet more or less understood the situation by the time we left the tunnels. We had to find a different exit since apparently Ferris was still hanging around the one in my neighborhood, but Harriet had already found one nearby.

First we called an ambulance. Iggy and Sol were in no condition to be left to their own devices. While we waited, I started making some phone calls. Jack had his phone off, so I left a message. Azlyn's house did have a response.

"Hello?" said Mrs. Reiser.

"Hi Mrs. Reiser. It's Sophia. Do you know of a good place to host a late-night fine china and calculus party? It's important."

Iggy and Harriet both stared at me like I was crazy, but I waved them off.

Mrs. Reiser immediately switched to here serious voice. "I know a place, but are you sure you need it?"

"Yes. And there will be a LOT of guests. We might need Azlyn's help to set up too. Can you give me the address?"

Harriet passed me a pencil and notepad, and I jotted down the information. Mrs. Reiser added, "Why is Azlyn invited? Can you tell me more about this party?"

"Trust me on this. I'll fill you in when you get there. Just... be sure to get there early."

When I hung up, they were both still staring at me. I rolled my eyes. "Look, we have no idea if we'll be able to reach the Blue Order in time, and you know what's at stake. We're going to need all the help we can get for this, and we'll need an HQ."

"Fine china and calculus?" Iggy finally asked.

"That is a long story I will tell you some other time when I don't have a bazillion phone calls to make," I replied. "H-- Er, Twilight Avenger, you might want to call in anyone you can think of too."

The ambulance arrived and left. Harriet took me over to her tricked-out car and drove me to the address Mrs. Reiser gave us. The whole time, I worked through my contact list, calling or texting anyone who might be able to help. I would find out how much help I could get soon enough.


2
1
1
Juice
27 reads
Load 1 Comment
Login to post comments.
Donate coins to HermitThrush.
Juice
Cancel
Chapter 18 of The Disasterville Chronicles
Written by HermitThrush

Downpour

[Editor's note: This is the beginning of a continuous entry. While there are breaks in the actual writing, they appear to be random. I have chosen to insert chapter breaks instead.]

After all that's happened, after everything... I didn't have time to write but I feel I should get this down. I've also decided this will be the last entry because...well... I guess I should do this in order.

I was about to call Harriet. I had my phone, I was looking at the window, and then I saw Sol. I kicked myself for not looking in on him, but I also knew I hadn't because I wasn't sure I could face him without breaking down. Anyway. I saw him following the route one more time, but then he broke off toward a section of the neighborhood still under construction after the thing with -- what was his name? Dr. Destroyer? Doesn't matter. Sol was heading in there, and nearly fell over twice in a span of ten seconds. That alone told me he was to distraught to pay any attention to his surroundings. I groaned and slipped outside.

I caught up quickly, even though I had to climb over some broken bricks and a hunk of twisted metal. Sol already had a cut on his arm, and was leaning against what was left of a wall.

"Hey," I said just loudly enough to be heard. "What are you doing?"

Sol whirled and flinched, and for a second the air around him shimmered. It went away quickly as he met my eyes. "What do you think? I'm looking for Iggy."

I put my hands on my hips. "Alone? When it's almost dark? In the middle of a construction zone?"

Sol grunted and turned. "I have to find him. Sometimes he took a shortcut through here. Even went into the tunnels. I have to check before it's too late."

It was all I could do not to facepalm. There was, in fact, an entrance to the tunnels hidden away nearby; that's where the Destroy-O-Bots had first spilled out from. But given how dangerous the tunnels were under normal circumstances...

"Are you crazy?" I blurted out. "No. I am not letting you go into the tunnels by yourself when you can't even cross the street without hurting yourself." I pointed to his arm. "Why don't we go to my house and we can wrap that up? We can let the police know, put together a search party, and..."

"And it will be too late!" shouted Sol. A nearby piece of paper burst into flames. "Do you even remember how long it took to find Jack? Besides," he said, his voice suddenly barely above a whisper, "besides, Iggy's in trouble. I can feel it. I have to find him."

We stared at each other in silence. The paper slowly went out, leaving a charred remnant. I started texting Harriet behind my back, secretly glad I had taught myself to type without looking at the screen. I tapped out a message indicating where Sol and I were and what he might be about to do. Meanwhile, I had to distract him.

"OK. OK, but do you even have a flashlight? It will be dark up here soon, and it's worse in the tunnels."

Sol rolled his eyes. "I don't need -- I mean -- yes, of course I have one. I'm not a total --"

Despite not being a vampire, I started to react to the danger before I knew what it was. Live in Disasterville long enough and a cut-off sentence, wide eyes, and a noise behind you are enough to make you dodge. As it was, I still saw some kind of energy bolt pass above me as I hit the deck.

I scrambled up, Sol helping, and we both ran. I turned my head for a split second, but it felt so much longer. I saw Ferris, smoking hand outstretched, advancing toward us. I also registered that he now had blackened veins and glowing red eyes. I ran faster.

We skidded around corners, finally hiding under the tilted remains of one of the Destroy-O-Bots. Fingers shaking, I sent another text to Harriet. "Ferris here attacking demonic we're hiding for now HELP." Then another energy bolt hit bounced off the robot's hull and we were running again.

Before I knew it, Ferris was pulling up a thick steel trapdoor. I didn't have enough time or breath to protest as he grabbed me and dragged me down into the tunnels. The door clanged shut behind us as we ran into the darkness. A small orb of flame popped up by Sol's head, shedding enough light to keep us from falling. After turning three corners we stopped, panting. No footsteps, no energy bolts, no Ferris. We both sighed in relief.

Sol straightened up and started walking. I grabbed at his shoulder, but he shook me off. "What are you doing?" I hissed. "Do you even know where we are?"

"Look," he whispered back, "Iggy's my twin. I know what direction he's in. And it's not like we can turn around when that... thing is back there. So we find Iggy, and then we get out."

I bit my lip. He had a point, but his plan was remarkably lacking in an exit strategy. I followed him quietly, noting any ladders or portholes we passed. There weren't many.

Meanwhile, the orb got brighter as we walked, and Sol walked faster. Eventually we came to a dead end. Sol started punching it. "I know he's here," he started repeating.

"Sol," I whispered. He ignored me. "SOL!" I whispered as loudly as I could, my voice rasping. He turned. "How about we look for a hidden door instead of breaking your fist?"

He turned and started feeling around the door while I checked the nearby walls. After a little while I turned to find Sol staring at me.

"What?" I whispered.

"How can you take this so... so calmly? Most people would be freaking out. And you haven't even asked about this," he said, indicating the orb. "Aren't you... you know... normal?"

"Yes," My breath hissed in as my fingers finally found a hidden button. "Relatively speaking." I pushed, and the wall began to lift. We crouched against the wall, waiting to see what was on the other side.

We stepped into the room and the orb flared. The light shone on Iggy, still wearing his torn Firecracker costume. He was limp, held against the wall by metal shackles. Sol cried out and ran forward. That's when I heard another set of footsteps.

It was my turn to do some dragging. I pulled Iggy behind a nearby curtain a held my hand over his mouth. He struggled free, but I motioned for him to put out the orb. He did so, thankfully, just in time. We huddled behind the curtain as light spilled into the room.

I kept my eyes closed and focused on breathing quietly as possible while keeping a firm grip on Sol's arm. I didn't want him to do something stupid.

The footsteps stopped by the wall. "Still out cold, I see," rang out Mr. Daemon's voice. I flinched, clenching my mouth shut. "Well, I suppose it's to be expected, but I'm surprised you've held out against her so long." I heard the shuffle of clothes and a clink of chains. Mr. Daemon's voice whispered, "She'll be here again soon. Why don't you just give in already? Or you could make a deal with me. It would be much more pleasant for you."

I was glad I had decided to hang on to Sol, because he almost ran out even with me holding him. I stopped breathing completely; Sol had knocked the curtain. Did Mr. Daemon know we were here?

I heard Mr. Daemon sniff in disgust, then his footsteps. The light went out, and the footsteps faded. Then there was no holding Sol back; he was across the room and melting the shackles. Pretty soon Iggy fell to the floor in a heap. We both grabbed an arm to carry him. As we did, Iggy started to moan.

"What was that?" said Sol, relief and worry vying for control of his face.

Sol and I leaned in as Iggy rasped out his message. "T... tr... trap..."

The door banged open. There had been no footsteps, no sound, no light, no warning. Just the three of us, completely exposed with questionable defenses.

I heard the voice before I saw who it was. She practically purred, "I knew it. I can see your powers are connected. I needed both of you to finish -- what are YOU doing here?"

As I looked up, the static dispersed and a memory burst into my head. That voice. That voice suddenly commanding. "Give me the notebook and forget this happened." My fingers shaking as I had complied helplessly, knowing I couldn't remember my mistake unless it was far too late.

I met her eyes.

It was Wisteria.

1
0
1
Juice
18 reads
Donate coins to HermitThrush.
Juice
Cancel
Chapter 18 of The Disasterville Chronicles
Written by HermitThrush
Downpour
[Editor's note: This is the beginning of a continuous entry. While there are breaks in the actual writing, they appear to be random. I have chosen to insert chapter breaks instead.]

After all that's happened, after everything... I didn't have time to write but I feel I should get this down. I've also decided this will be the last entry because...well... I guess I should do this in order.

I was about to call Harriet. I had my phone, I was looking at the window, and then I saw Sol. I kicked myself for not looking in on him, but I also knew I hadn't because I wasn't sure I could face him without breaking down. Anyway. I saw him following the route one more time, but then he broke off toward a section of the neighborhood still under construction after the thing with -- what was his name? Dr. Destroyer? Doesn't matter. Sol was heading in there, and nearly fell over twice in a span of ten seconds. That alone told me he was to distraught to pay any attention to his surroundings. I groaned and slipped outside.

I caught up quickly, even though I had to climb over some broken bricks and a hunk of twisted metal. Sol already had a cut on his arm, and was leaning against what was left of a wall.

"Hey," I said just loudly enough to be heard. "What are you doing?"

Sol whirled and flinched, and for a second the air around him shimmered. It went away quickly as he met my eyes. "What do you think? I'm looking for Iggy."

I put my hands on my hips. "Alone? When it's almost dark? In the middle of a construction zone?"

Sol grunted and turned. "I have to find him. Sometimes he took a shortcut through here. Even went into the tunnels. I have to check before it's too late."

It was all I could do not to facepalm. There was, in fact, an entrance to the tunnels hidden away nearby; that's where the Destroy-O-Bots had first spilled out from. But given how dangerous the tunnels were under normal circumstances...

"Are you crazy?" I blurted out. "No. I am not letting you go into the tunnels by yourself when you can't even cross the street without hurting yourself." I pointed to his arm. "Why don't we go to my house and we can wrap that up? We can let the police know, put together a search party, and..."

"And it will be too late!" shouted Sol. A nearby piece of paper burst into flames. "Do you even remember how long it took to find Jack? Besides," he said, his voice suddenly barely above a whisper, "besides, Iggy's in trouble. I can feel it. I have to find him."

We stared at each other in silence. The paper slowly went out, leaving a charred remnant. I started texting Harriet behind my back, secretly glad I had taught myself to type without looking at the screen. I tapped out a message indicating where Sol and I were and what he might be about to do. Meanwhile, I had to distract him.

"OK. OK, but do you even have a flashlight? It will be dark up here soon, and it's worse in the tunnels."

Sol rolled his eyes. "I don't need -- I mean -- yes, of course I have one. I'm not a total --"

Despite not being a vampire, I started to react to the danger before I knew what it was. Live in Disasterville long enough and a cut-off sentence, wide eyes, and a noise behind you are enough to make you dodge. As it was, I still saw some kind of energy bolt pass above me as I hit the deck.

I scrambled up, Sol helping, and we both ran. I turned my head for a split second, but it felt so much longer. I saw Ferris, smoking hand outstretched, advancing toward us. I also registered that he now had blackened veins and glowing red eyes. I ran faster.

We skidded around corners, finally hiding under the tilted remains of one of the Destroy-O-Bots. Fingers shaking, I sent another text to Harriet. "Ferris here attacking demonic we're hiding for now HELP." Then another energy bolt hit bounced off the robot's hull and we were running again.

Before I knew it, Ferris was pulling up a thick steel trapdoor. I didn't have enough time or breath to protest as he grabbed me and dragged me down into the tunnels. The door clanged shut behind us as we ran into the darkness. A small orb of flame popped up by Sol's head, shedding enough light to keep us from falling. After turning three corners we stopped, panting. No footsteps, no energy bolts, no Ferris. We both sighed in relief.

Sol straightened up and started walking. I grabbed at his shoulder, but he shook me off. "What are you doing?" I hissed. "Do you even know where we are?"

"Look," he whispered back, "Iggy's my twin. I know what direction he's in. And it's not like we can turn around when that... thing is back there. So we find Iggy, and then we get out."

I bit my lip. He had a point, but his plan was remarkably lacking in an exit strategy. I followed him quietly, noting any ladders or portholes we passed. There weren't many.

Meanwhile, the orb got brighter as we walked, and Sol walked faster. Eventually we came to a dead end. Sol started punching it. "I know he's here," he started repeating.

"Sol," I whispered. He ignored me. "SOL!" I whispered as loudly as I could, my voice rasping. He turned. "How about we look for a hidden door instead of breaking your fist?"

He turned and started feeling around the door while I checked the nearby walls. After a little while I turned to find Sol staring at me.

"What?" I whispered.

"How can you take this so... so calmly? Most people would be freaking out. And you haven't even asked about this," he said, indicating the orb. "Aren't you... you know... normal?"

"Yes," My breath hissed in as my fingers finally found a hidden button. "Relatively speaking." I pushed, and the wall began to lift. We crouched against the wall, waiting to see what was on the other side.

We stepped into the room and the orb flared. The light shone on Iggy, still wearing his torn Firecracker costume. He was limp, held against the wall by metal shackles. Sol cried out and ran forward. That's when I heard another set of footsteps.

It was my turn to do some dragging. I pulled Iggy behind a nearby curtain a held my hand over his mouth. He struggled free, but I motioned for him to put out the orb. He did so, thankfully, just in time. We huddled behind the curtain as light spilled into the room.

I kept my eyes closed and focused on breathing quietly as possible while keeping a firm grip on Sol's arm. I didn't want him to do something stupid.

The footsteps stopped by the wall. "Still out cold, I see," rang out Mr. Daemon's voice. I flinched, clenching my mouth shut. "Well, I suppose it's to be expected, but I'm surprised you've held out against her so long." I heard the shuffle of clothes and a clink of chains. Mr. Daemon's voice whispered, "She'll be here again soon. Why don't you just give in already? Or you could make a deal with me. It would be much more pleasant for you."

I was glad I had decided to hang on to Sol, because he almost ran out even with me holding him. I stopped breathing completely; Sol had knocked the curtain. Did Mr. Daemon know we were here?

I heard Mr. Daemon sniff in disgust, then his footsteps. The light went out, and the footsteps faded. Then there was no holding Sol back; he was across the room and melting the shackles. Pretty soon Iggy fell to the floor in a heap. We both grabbed an arm to carry him. As we did, Iggy started to moan.

"What was that?" said Sol, relief and worry vying for control of his face.

Sol and I leaned in as Iggy rasped out his message. "T... tr... trap..."

The door banged open. There had been no footsteps, no sound, no light, no warning. Just the three of us, completely exposed with questionable defenses.

I heard the voice before I saw who it was. She practically purred, "I knew it. I can see your powers are connected. I needed both of you to finish -- what are YOU doing here?"

As I looked up, the static dispersed and a memory burst into my head. That voice. That voice suddenly commanding. "Give me the notebook and forget this happened." My fingers shaking as I had complied helplessly, knowing I couldn't remember my mistake unless it was far too late.

I met her eyes.

It was Wisteria.
1
0
1
Juice
18 reads
Load 1 Comment
Login to post comments.
Donate coins to HermitThrush.
Juice
Cancel
Write the longest grammatically sound alliteration you can possibly muster. The longest such alliteration's author wins $150 if, and only if, this challenge receives at least 300 entries. Editing is allowed.
Written by HermitThrush in portal Words

Sentence Sequence

Somewhat standardly sweetly, saccharine Sally said Sybil said Cindy said Stanton said Steven said Sauron said Cynthia said Sylvester said Sissy said Samara said Sora said Sam said Sarah said Silver said Sandra said Sara said Samantha said CC said Spot said Samson said Scamp said Sweeney said Superman said Sandy said Samuel said Seth said Sven said Swanton said Slim said Scylla said Snowy said Scarlet said Scott said Sophia said Scarlet said Sienna said Summer said Sebastian said Sylvia said Serena said sirens said Skye said Sonny said Stanley said Simon said Savannah said Sasha said Saffron said Cinnamon said Sage said Skyler said Sonja said Spencer said Sadducees said Stephanie said Seraphim said Stella said Star said Sabina said Sadie said Sabrina said Selma said Serbian seals said Salem said Cinderella said Sami said Sapphire said Saul said Scout said Sawyer said Senna said Serenity said Salome said Sidney said Sigourney said Silas said Simeon said Simone said Sol said Solomon said Sunny said Summer said Stacey said Susan said Storm said Suki said Sullivan said Sid said Samaritans said Sammy said Satch said Sasquatch said someone's sister said soporific civilizations said Cyclops said sentries said soft simpletons say, "Some surprisingly stealthy salamanders stupefy certain simple cilantro systems, so sing strongly sir; centered sob stories soothe salivating sentient storks scaring sorted spotted salmon."

3
0
0
Juice
133 reads
Donate coins to HermitThrush.
Juice
Cancel
Write the longest grammatically sound alliteration you can possibly muster. The longest such alliteration's author wins $150 if, and only if, this challenge receives at least 300 entries. Editing is allowed.
Written by HermitThrush in portal Words
Sentence Sequence
Somewhat standardly sweetly, saccharine Sally said Sybil said Cindy said Stanton said Steven said Sauron said Cynthia said Sylvester said Sissy said Samara said Sora said Sam said Sarah said Silver said Sandra said Sara said Samantha said CC said Spot said Samson said Scamp said Sweeney said Superman said Sandy said Samuel said Seth said Sven said Swanton said Slim said Scylla said Snowy said Scarlet said Scott said Sophia said Scarlet said Sienna said Summer said Sebastian said Sylvia said Serena said sirens said Skye said Sonny said Stanley said Simon said Savannah said Sasha said Saffron said Cinnamon said Sage said Skyler said Sonja said Spencer said Sadducees said Stephanie said Seraphim said Stella said Star said Sabina said Sadie said Sabrina said Selma said Serbian seals said Salem said Cinderella said Sami said Sapphire said Saul said Scout said Sawyer said Senna said Serenity said Salome said Sidney said Sigourney said Silas said Simeon said Simone said Sol said Solomon said Sunny said Summer said Stacey said Susan said Storm said Suki said Sullivan said Sid said Samaritans said Sammy said Satch said Sasquatch said someone's sister said soporific civilizations said Cyclops said sentries said soft simpletons say, "Some surprisingly stealthy salamanders stupefy certain simple cilantro systems, so sing strongly sir; centered sob stories soothe salivating sentient storks scaring sorted spotted salmon."
3
0
0
Juice
133 reads
Login to post comments.
Advertisement  (turn off)
Donate coins to HermitThrush.
Juice
Cancel
Chapter 17 of The Disasterville Chronicles
Written by HermitThrush

Thunder Clap

Today has not felt real since breakfast. No, since before breakfast. Actually, I think I knew something had gone wrong as soon as I came down the stairs and heard my parents whispering. My parents never whisper. Oh, they'll try to be quiet if I'm not up yet, but I always hear them clomping around or rinsing their dishes in the sink. If they were actually being quiet, something was very, very wrong.

I was going to try listening in for a bit, but the stairs creaked. The whispering stopped. I instead kept going down the stairs, trying my hardest to look completely clueless. On the off chance that I was in trouble, it would make defending myself that much easier.

The faint hope that it was something so simple flew away as soon as I saw their faces. My parents had the exact same expressions as the time they had to tell me Uncle Steven had died. They looked at me, then at each other, then at me. 

Finally my dad cleared his throat. "Sophia, sweetheart," he said, "you might want to sit down."

I can't remember exactly what he said after that, or which parts my mom added. I just remember the basics. After school Iggy had left to pick up some groceries. Tomatoes. That's right. Apparently they didn't have enough tomatoes for whatever they were making for dinner. When he wasn't back after an hour, Sol ran after him to see what was going on. Pretty soon Sol was back at his house, freaking out because he couldn't find his twin brother. No one at the grocery store had seen Iggy that day. Iggy wasn't answering calls or texts. As they went between the house and grocery store one more time, they finally found his cell phone at the side of the road. That was when they called the police. 

They gave me a few minutes to try to calm down before we left for the police station. The police had asked all his friends to be interrogated -- I mean interviewed -- in case they knew anything about where he had gone. All of us ended up excused from school for the day. They didn't ask me many questions. Just when I had last seen Ignatius -- so strange to hear his full name -- whether he had told me where he was going (like he left on purpose or something), and what I had done yesterday. They nodded when I mentioned I had hung out at Jack's house in the afternoon. They must have interviewed him first.

My head was buzzing when they let me leave. In my mind, it was clear what had happened. Iggy was targeted. Whoever was going after supers had gone after him. But why the disappearance? No one else on my list had vanished, just stopped going out as a super. Actually, that wasn't true. My knees started shaking, and it was all I could do to keep walking. Jack had disappeared. How had I missed it? Jack must have been one of the first ones targeted. Power stealing? Power draining? That's why the supers would be inactive while their secret identities went on with business as usual. But why go back to kidnapping after all this time?

I threaded my way back to the lobby. I noticed some familiar faces: other classmates, teachers, neighbors. The Garcias all looked up expectantly as I came out, then looked away in disappointment. Then I noticed Sol shaking -- crying? Was he crying? 

That did it. I knew I couldn't contain my emotions, so I ran to the bathroom. For a second I thought I might throw up, but I burst into tears instead. I hid in the stall, leaning against the cold metal wall. The cynical voice in my head told me it was my fault for getting close to someone when I knew they were trouble. The rest of my mind told it to shut up and let me think about helping my friend.

Eventually the debate stopped and I focused on calming down. There wasn't much else I could do. I headed to the sink and splashed water on my face. I was dabbing my eyes with a paper towel when the door creaked open. I instinctively turned to see Wisteria poking her head in.

"Are you OK?" she asked. She came into the room, and gently closed the door behind her.

I didn't trust myself to talk. I knew I would start crying again if I did. I shook my head.

Wisteria hugged me. I hugged her back, grateful for the company. I focused on taking deep breaths. Wisteria kept repeating stuff like "I'm sorry," and "He'll be OK." People say the stupidest things in these situations. "I'm sorry?" Like it was her fault or something? And how could she know Iggy would be fine? I didn't care. It was enough to know that not all my friends were gone.

My parents drove me back after that. They kept talking about the most random things, trying to keep my mind off what happened. It was futile. I was too busy trying to fit together what was going on. The Blue Order, the fire sword, the missing notebook, Iggy's kidnapping -- it all jumbled together in a confused mess. Then I remembered I was also being stalked by a demon's lackey and I had to put my head between my knees for a second. Why did I ever think I could stay safe in this city, let alone lead anything resembling a normal life?

I locked myself in my room for the rest of the day. It took me a while to calm down enough, but once I did I called Jack. I had to get some answers, or at least warn him.

Jack picked up immediately. "You heard about..." he hesitated.

"Yes," I replied. "The police talked to you too?"

"Yes." Silence. "What do you think happened?"

"I think..." I hesitated. Emergency or not, was it right to tell Jack about Iggy being a superhero? It's not that he wouldn't believe me, but Iggy did at least try to keep it a secret. I continued. "I think I want to know if you've remembered anything about when you were missing, or before that."

I couldn't hear anything, not even breathing. "Hello?" I finally asked.

"I'm here," crackled Jack's voice. "Why would you ask that?"

I paused. I knew it was a painful question, but it was one that needed to be asked. "I'm sorry, I know I shouldn't have said anything. I just thought maybe they were connected. So... if you remember anything?"

"No... nothing... it's just..."

"Just what?"

"It's not even a memory, really. It's just I had this weird feeling that... that I was allowed to leave." He paused, then his words came in a rush. "I didn't want to tell anyone because it's nothing really but I just couldn't shake this feeling that I was a prisoner or something but everyone just thought I got lost but you know about the Blue Order so maybe that really did happen?"

"Yes," I blurted out. "I mean... maybe. Look, this is all really weird, but I looked into that stuff for you, and the Order has been getting a lot more active lately. And..." I sucked in my breath. "And other supers? Like giant robots or the Gemstone Captains? They're getting way less active." I held my breath, waiting for a response.

"But why would Iggy... oh."

I stayed silent.

"...So you think the Order might know something about this?"

"Maybe. I mean... they're normally really secretive, but now they're popping up on some reputable news sources. And you were a member, so..."

"Tonight."

I cocked my head sideways. "Wait, what?"

"I'm going to try to meet with them tonight. I need answers, and it sounds like they might have them."

"Be careful," I blurted out.

"What, you think they're dangerous? That I would join people like that?"

"Um..." I stammered. "Well, whoever took Iggy is still loose, right?"

"Oh. Yeah. Of course I'll be careful. And I'll let you know what I find out."

I sighed. "Thank you. Bye."

He hung up.

I suddenly felt tired. I stretched, trying to regain my alertness. I looked out the window and saw Azlyn's house. How was Azlyn holding up? I hadn't seen her at the police station. Guilt shot through me as I realized I should have talked to her as soon as I found out.

Another wave of sleepiness hit, and then I understood. I crawled into bed to take a nap.

My eyes had just closed when I found myself in a garden. This time the sky was dark, and I heard rumbling. Azlyn was sitting at a bare table, and gestured to the other chair. I sat down, but couldn't think of what to say.

She stared at me, then looked down. "So you do remember?"

I nodded. "I didn't want to say anything before..." my voice trailed off. I couldn't talk about that. Instead I stood up. Azlyn did too in surprise, and then I hugged her. Her arms wrapped around me tight. I could feel her shaking, just like I was earlier. I felt a tear trickle down my face. I didn't bother saying anything; it wouldn't matter.

Azlyn's arms loosened, and I sat back down. She kept staring down, but her voice was clear. "We have other things to talk about."

I shifted. "Is this about last time?"

"A little bit." She tried to smile, but failed. "If you remembered then... maybe you can already tell things are about to happen." She looked up. "I have bits and pieces, but Iggy --" she stopped and clenched her hands. "-- Iggy is just part of all this. It's disconnected, but I know some things are involved. The sword. The Blue Order. People being taken? Stolen from?" She paused and screwed up her face. "Oh, and our old biology teacher for some reason."

I felt panic spread against my face. Crap, was Mr. Daemon behind this? Crap, crap, crap.

Azlyn flinched back, startled. "Do you know something about this?"

I broke down and told her everything. I told her about Mr. Daemon actually being a demon, and even the role her mom had played that night. I told her that Harriet and I had been stalked. I told her how I had found out a bit more about the Blue Order and how it might be connected to the sword. I even told her why I had started keeping that stupid notebook and how supers on it were dropping off the map even when they didn't disappear.

"Oh, and sometimes you beat people up in your sleep," I threw in for good measure.

Azlyn stared. "My mom did WHAT!?!?!?!"

We stared at each other, then burst out laughing. It was hysterical, sobbing laughter, but laughter nonetheless. Azlyn calmed down first.

"Sophia, you have got to stop keeping so many secrets from me. Next time something like... like any of that happens, you come to me."

I nodded, squelching giggles. "I just didn't know how you'd react." I thought of Iggy, then stopped cold. "So... what else do you know? Do you know where Iggy is? Will he be OK?"

Azlyn hesitated. "I think so. The other dreamwalkers and I are still cleaning up that... fiasco... but when we worked together we realized that we could actually see some of what would happen. Not by trapping people," she added, holding up her hands. "By working together, watching the... well anyway... what you told me actually makes this a lot clearer." She shifted in her seat. "The Blue Order is guarding the sword. That much we knew already. Someone is going after the sword. Now I know it must be Mr. Daemon. And the sword... I think it's a prison. And whatever they're doing to people with abilities, it's to help the plan along."

I groaned. "So basically one demon is stealing every superpower it can to crack open a sword holding another demon?"

Azlyn nodded. "Seems to be."

"So what do we do?"

Azlyn paused, then looked down and to the side. I narrowed my eyes. That's the look she always got when she didn't want to tell me something.

"What?" I asked. "What aren't you telling me?"

"Well, um..." she stuttered. "I don't know," she blurted out.

She met my eyes, then looked back down. "I'll relay most of what you said to the other dreamwalkers and see if they can figure out anything else, but I don't know how to find Iggy or Mr. Daemon or what we'll have to do to stop him. But I do know we'll both have to try or things go sideways."

I groaned and put my head on the table. "By which you mean that nightmare comes true."

Azlyn nodded. "You said Jack is getting in touch with the Blue Order? You might want to use that to compare notes with them. I do know," she continued softly, "that you should keep a plain vessel on hand, whatever that means."

And before I could ask whether she had suggestions, I woke up. I snuck down to the kitchen, grabbed something to eat, ran back up to my room and wrote down everything in my diary. That brings me to here.

I had hoped writing everything down would make things clearer, but there are still too many questions in my head. I have this nagging feeling that I'm missing something important, something about the notebook. But when I try to remember that missing time... static. I hope Jack is doing better on his end. Or maybe Azlyn will come up with something else. Either way, not much to do but check the news and keep my cell phone handy. Oh, I should call Harriet and let her know that Mr. Daemon is up to something. We were supposed to check in today anyway. Guess this is it for tonight.

5
2
1
Juice
42 reads
Donate coins to HermitThrush.
Juice
Cancel
Chapter 17 of The Disasterville Chronicles
Written by HermitThrush
Thunder Clap
Today has not felt real since breakfast. No, since before breakfast. Actually, I think I knew something had gone wrong as soon as I came down the stairs and heard my parents whispering. My parents never whisper. Oh, they'll try to be quiet if I'm not up yet, but I always hear them clomping around or rinsing their dishes in the sink. If they were actually being quiet, something was very, very wrong.

I was going to try listening in for a bit, but the stairs creaked. The whispering stopped. I instead kept going down the stairs, trying my hardest to look completely clueless. On the off chance that I was in trouble, it would make defending myself that much easier.

The faint hope that it was something so simple flew away as soon as I saw their faces. My parents had the exact same expressions as the time they had to tell me Uncle Steven had died. They looked at me, then at each other, then at me. 

Finally my dad cleared his throat. "Sophia, sweetheart," he said, "you might want to sit down."

I can't remember exactly what he said after that, or which parts my mom added. I just remember the basics. After school Iggy had left to pick up some groceries. Tomatoes. That's right. Apparently they didn't have enough tomatoes for whatever they were making for dinner. When he wasn't back after an hour, Sol ran after him to see what was going on. Pretty soon Sol was back at his house, freaking out because he couldn't find his twin brother. No one at the grocery store had seen Iggy that day. Iggy wasn't answering calls or texts. As they went between the house and grocery store one more time, they finally found his cell phone at the side of the road. That was when they called the police. 

They gave me a few minutes to try to calm down before we left for the police station. The police had asked all his friends to be interrogated -- I mean interviewed -- in case they knew anything about where he had gone. All of us ended up excused from school for the day. They didn't ask me many questions. Just when I had last seen Ignatius -- so strange to hear his full name -- whether he had told me where he was going (like he left on purpose or something), and what I had done yesterday. They nodded when I mentioned I had hung out at Jack's house in the afternoon. They must have interviewed him first.

My head was buzzing when they let me leave. In my mind, it was clear what had happened. Iggy was targeted. Whoever was going after supers had gone after him. But why the disappearance? No one else on my list had vanished, just stopped going out as a super. Actually, that wasn't true. My knees started shaking, and it was all I could do to keep walking. Jack had disappeared. How had I missed it? Jack must have been one of the first ones targeted. Power stealing? Power draining? That's why the supers would be inactive while their secret identities went on with business as usual. But why go back to kidnapping after all this time?

I threaded my way back to the lobby. I noticed some familiar faces: other classmates, teachers, neighbors. The Garcias all looked up expectantly as I came out, then looked away in disappointment. Then I noticed Sol shaking -- crying? Was he crying? 

That did it. I knew I couldn't contain my emotions, so I ran to the bathroom. For a second I thought I might throw up, but I burst into tears instead. I hid in the stall, leaning against the cold metal wall. The cynical voice in my head told me it was my fault for getting close to someone when I knew they were trouble. The rest of my mind told it to shut up and let me think about helping my friend.

Eventually the debate stopped and I focused on calming down. There wasn't much else I could do. I headed to the sink and splashed water on my face. I was dabbing my eyes with a paper towel when the door creaked open. I instinctively turned to see Wisteria poking her head in.

"Are you OK?" she asked. She came into the room, and gently closed the door behind her.

I didn't trust myself to talk. I knew I would start crying again if I did. I shook my head.

Wisteria hugged me. I hugged her back, grateful for the company. I focused on taking deep breaths. Wisteria kept repeating stuff like "I'm sorry," and "He'll be OK." People say the stupidest things in these situations. "I'm sorry?" Like it was her fault or something? And how could she know Iggy would be fine? I didn't care. It was enough to know that not all my friends were gone.

My parents drove me back after that. They kept talking about the most random things, trying to keep my mind off what happened. It was futile. I was too busy trying to fit together what was going on. The Blue Order, the fire sword, the missing notebook, Iggy's kidnapping -- it all jumbled together in a confused mess. Then I remembered I was also being stalked by a demon's lackey and I had to put my head between my knees for a second. Why did I ever think I could stay safe in this city, let alone lead anything resembling a normal life?

I locked myself in my room for the rest of the day. It took me a while to calm down enough, but once I did I called Jack. I had to get some answers, or at least warn him.

Jack picked up immediately. "You heard about..." he hesitated.

"Yes," I replied. "The police talked to you too?"

"Yes." Silence. "What do you think happened?"

"I think..." I hesitated. Emergency or not, was it right to tell Jack about Iggy being a superhero? It's not that he wouldn't believe me, but Iggy did at least try to keep it a secret. I continued. "I think I want to know if you've remembered anything about when you were missing, or before that."

I couldn't hear anything, not even breathing. "Hello?" I finally asked.

"I'm here," crackled Jack's voice. "Why would you ask that?"

I paused. I knew it was a painful question, but it was one that needed to be asked. "I'm sorry, I know I shouldn't have said anything. I just thought maybe they were connected. So... if you remember anything?"

"No... nothing... it's just..."

"Just what?"

"It's not even a memory, really. It's just I had this weird feeling that... that I was allowed to leave." He paused, then his words came in a rush. "I didn't want to tell anyone because it's nothing really but I just couldn't shake this feeling that I was a prisoner or something but everyone just thought I got lost but you know about the Blue Order so maybe that really did happen?"

"Yes," I blurted out. "I mean... maybe. Look, this is all really weird, but I looked into that stuff for you, and the Order has been getting a lot more active lately. And..." I sucked in my breath. "And other supers? Like giant robots or the Gemstone Captains? They're getting way less active." I held my breath, waiting for a response.

"But why would Iggy... oh."

I stayed silent.

"...So you think the Order might know something about this?"

"Maybe. I mean... they're normally really secretive, but now they're popping up on some reputable news sources. And you were a member, so..."

"Tonight."

I cocked my head sideways. "Wait, what?"

"I'm going to try to meet with them tonight. I need answers, and it sounds like they might have them."

"Be careful," I blurted out.

"What, you think they're dangerous? That I would join people like that?"

"Um..." I stammered. "Well, whoever took Iggy is still loose, right?"

"Oh. Yeah. Of course I'll be careful. And I'll let you know what I find out."

I sighed. "Thank you. Bye."

He hung up.

I suddenly felt tired. I stretched, trying to regain my alertness. I looked out the window and saw Azlyn's house. How was Azlyn holding up? I hadn't seen her at the police station. Guilt shot through me as I realized I should have talked to her as soon as I found out.

Another wave of sleepiness hit, and then I understood. I crawled into bed to take a nap.

My eyes had just closed when I found myself in a garden. This time the sky was dark, and I heard rumbling. Azlyn was sitting at a bare table, and gestured to the other chair. I sat down, but couldn't think of what to say.

She stared at me, then looked down. "So you do remember?"

I nodded. "I didn't want to say anything before..." my voice trailed off. I couldn't talk about that. Instead I stood up. Azlyn did too in surprise, and then I hugged her. Her arms wrapped around me tight. I could feel her shaking, just like I was earlier. I felt a tear trickle down my face. I didn't bother saying anything; it wouldn't matter.

Azlyn's arms loosened, and I sat back down. She kept staring down, but her voice was clear. "We have other things to talk about."

I shifted. "Is this about last time?"

"A little bit." She tried to smile, but failed. "If you remembered then... maybe you can already tell things are about to happen." She looked up. "I have bits and pieces, but Iggy --" she stopped and clenched her hands. "-- Iggy is just part of all this. It's disconnected, but I know some things are involved. The sword. The Blue Order. People being taken? Stolen from?" She paused and screwed up her face. "Oh, and our old biology teacher for some reason."

I felt panic spread against my face. Crap, was Mr. Daemon behind this? Crap, crap, crap.

Azlyn flinched back, startled. "Do you know something about this?"

I broke down and told her everything. I told her about Mr. Daemon actually being a demon, and even the role her mom had played that night. I told her that Harriet and I had been stalked. I told her how I had found out a bit more about the Blue Order and how it might be connected to the sword. I even told her why I had started keeping that stupid notebook and how supers on it were dropping off the map even when they didn't disappear.

"Oh, and sometimes you beat people up in your sleep," I threw in for good measure.

Azlyn stared. "My mom did WHAT!?!?!?!"

We stared at each other, then burst out laughing. It was hysterical, sobbing laughter, but laughter nonetheless. Azlyn calmed down first.

"Sophia, you have got to stop keeping so many secrets from me. Next time something like... like any of that happens, you come to me."

I nodded, squelching giggles. "I just didn't know how you'd react." I thought of Iggy, then stopped cold. "So... what else do you know? Do you know where Iggy is? Will he be OK?"

Azlyn hesitated. "I think so. The other dreamwalkers and I are still cleaning up that... fiasco... but when we worked together we realized that we could actually see some of what would happen. Not by trapping people," she added, holding up her hands. "By working together, watching the... well anyway... what you told me actually makes this a lot clearer." She shifted in her seat. "The Blue Order is guarding the sword. That much we knew already. Someone is going after the sword. Now I know it must be Mr. Daemon. And the sword... I think it's a prison. And whatever they're doing to people with abilities, it's to help the plan along."

I groaned. "So basically one demon is stealing every superpower it can to crack open a sword holding another demon?"

Azlyn nodded. "Seems to be."

"So what do we do?"

Azlyn paused, then looked down and to the side. I narrowed my eyes. That's the look she always got when she didn't want to tell me something.

"What?" I asked. "What aren't you telling me?"

"Well, um..." she stuttered. "I don't know," she blurted out.

She met my eyes, then looked back down. "I'll relay most of what you said to the other dreamwalkers and see if they can figure out anything else, but I don't know how to find Iggy or Mr. Daemon or what we'll have to do to stop him. But I do know we'll both have to try or things go sideways."

I groaned and put my head on the table. "By which you mean that nightmare comes true."

Azlyn nodded. "You said Jack is getting in touch with the Blue Order? You might want to use that to compare notes with them. I do know," she continued softly, "that you should keep a plain vessel on hand, whatever that means."

And before I could ask whether she had suggestions, I woke up. I snuck down to the kitchen, grabbed something to eat, ran back up to my room and wrote down everything in my diary. That brings me to here.

I had hoped writing everything down would make things clearer, but there are still too many questions in my head. I have this nagging feeling that I'm missing something important, something about the notebook. But when I try to remember that missing time... static. I hope Jack is doing better on his end. Or maybe Azlyn will come up with something else. Either way, not much to do but check the news and keep my cell phone handy. Oh, I should call Harriet and let her know that Mr. Daemon is up to something. We were supposed to check in today anyway. Guess this is it for tonight.

5
2
1
Juice
42 reads
Load 1 Comment
Login to post comments.
Donate coins to HermitThrush.
Juice
Cancel
Trident Media Group is the leading U.S. literary agency and we are looking to discover and represent the next bestsellers. Share a sample of your work. If it shows promise, we will be in touch with you.
Written by HermitThrush in portal Trident Media Group

Just a Couple of Loonies

"Could I get a refill of ale?"

"How much for wine with the meal?"

"I can't eat this soup! It barely has any meat!"

"We're running low on brandy."

Gilligania nearly ran as she served the patrons and answered questions. "Yes, five extra aurents, take it up with the cook, I'll check the cellar for another crate." Suppertime at an inn was always frenetic, but it would slow down as guests went to their rooms. Of course, the remaining guests would probably get rowdy, but rowdy she could handle. Gilligania ducked behind bar and descended through the trap door into the cellar.

She took a moment to revel in the silence afforded by the thick door, then flipped a switch on the wall, triggering a series of wires. Five candles were simultaneously lit by flint striking steel. Gilligania frowned. She would have to work on the ignition relay for the sixth candle. She found the brandy and hauled it up, blowing out the candles on the way back.

She emerged back into the bustling, noisy dining area. Noisy was good, because it meant guests, which meant more money. Those voices from the kitchen seemed a little too loud, though.

Gilligania walked in to see a guest arguing with Malthazar. "Preposterous! Soup needs meat, not tiny pieces of sausage! I refuse to pay for a meal that would barely sustain a house pet."

Malthazar's mouth twitched. "That 'sausage' is actually highly condensed meat. You'll notice the soup also has vegetables, purpleroot, and quinoa. It's enough to keep you on your feet for a full day's march. Is there another way you'd like to try to get out of paying?"

The guest raised his eyebrow. "Condensed meat? I've never heard of such a thing."

"That's because you're not a cook," snapped Malthazar. "So unless you want to learn how to cook for yourself tonight, I recommend you at least try the soup before complaining about it."

The guest grumbled but left for the dining room.

"A little harsh, weren't we?" asked Gilligania.

Malthazar shook his head. "Honestly, if I had an aurent for every person who made fun of condensed meat until they tried it, we could open ten inns. He'll try it, discover he likes it, and refuse to admit it, but at least he won't bother me again." He turned ladled soup into bowls. "By the way, Freckles, a big group just came in and they all want soup and ale."

Gilligania squeaked, grabbed some mugs, and ran toward the tables.

A few hours later, the last guest had finally gone to bed, and the foodrunners met in the kitchen.

Malthazar cleared his throat, and announced in a deep voice, "Now has come the time for the ancient ritual... of swapping gossip. Who has the best story tonight?"

A young runner named Pylia giggled and raised her hand. "I heard a good one. Apparently a wild mage decided he wanted to turn himself into a bird for a day. When he turned back he still had feathers, and he had to wait a week until they were gone!"

Everyone laughed, then a slightly older runner, Kelthin, took his turn. "I don't know about stories, but I might have a new record for the craziest theory I've heard about edgewalkers. This one guest insisted that edgewalkers come down from the moon, steal the body of the first person they meet, and dig themselves a cave to live in. Then they only leave at night to rain down fire upon unsuspecting travelers."

Welshai interrupted. "I don't know if that beats what his lady friend said. She thinks they come every ten thousand years to weed out the impure, then ascend to the heavens with the worthy. Then they let the worthy choose the course of destiny until the next cycle."

Thus ensued a fierce five minute argument about whether either of these arguments were more preposterous than the idea that edgewalkers were disguises created by amphibians secretly studying the workings of humanity. The argument was derailed when the last runner, Bruthae, decided to share her story.

"This one is kind of serious, but pretty juicy. It was those two clerics at the corner table. One of them said the Attalian Republic might be going to war with the Kingdom of Nimbor."

The room fell into silence. Bruthae glanced around, and spoke quickly. "Of course, it's probably not true. The other one didn't think it was. And he said it had something to do with The Forsaken, and you know how reliable those rumors are." She trailed off, and Welshai resumed the discussion about edgewalkers.

Gilligania and Malthazar glanced at each other. Inn gossip was notoriously unreliable, but every now and then you heard something important. A war between two of the biggest countries in the realm would be messy no matter the outcome.

Finally the runners left for home, and only Gilligania and Malthazar were left. Gilligania asked, "So what do you think of tonight's gossip?"

Malthazar shrugged. "Mostly the usual, I guess. I might try talking to the clerics if they're around again tomorrow night. Oh, did you get a chance to balance the ledger?"

Gilligania groaned. "Tonight was really busy. I'll get to it tomorrow."

Malthazar grinned. "Didn't you say that last night when you really wanted to work on the candle system?"

Gilligania sniffed. "I will have you know that the system will be useful to many people as soon as I work out that last ignition switch."

Malthazar pulled her to the ground, and a bolt of energy struck the wall behind them. Gilligania instinctively put on her goggles and turned to see what had happened. A robed figure stood behind them with an outstretched hand. Malthazar started whispering, and the room was cloaked in darkness.

By the time the cloaked figure conjured a light, neither Gilligania or Malthazar were in sight. The figure advanced into the kitchen, then walked toward the partly open back door. It emerged into the vegetable garden behind the inn. Behind the rain barrel at the corner of the inn, Gilligania finished mixing a potion. She threw it, and a cloud of sleeping gas wafted through the air around the figure.

The figure advanced toward Gilligania, unaffected. She pulled out her crossbow and fired. The figure easily dodged the bolt, then continued to approach her. Gilligania retreated to a nearby tree and pulled out another vial.

As the robed figure passed under the roof, Malthazar jumped onto it, channeling silvery light through his hands. For a moment it thrashed around, then Malthazar fell to the ground, clutching only a robe. Its occupant, seemingly, had vanished into thin air.

Malthazar stood up and dusted off his pants. "Well, I bet he'll return at an inconveniently dramatic moment. Sorry I couldn't be more help. It's a new moon, so I don't have many spells to work with."

"It," said Gilligania. Malthazar looked up inquiringly. "I don't think that thing was human."

Malthazar frowned and started folding the robe. "I think we need to start looking for someone to watch the inn. Just in case."

---

Title: “Just a Couple of Loonies,” chapter from “Knights of the Waning Moon”

Genre: Fantasy

Age range: 12+

Word count: 1189

Author name: [REDACTED] AKA Hermit Thrush

Synopsis: [REDACTED] – spoilers!

Target audience: Geeks like me, or anyone who enjoys fantasy

Bio: I was born in [REDACTED], raised in [REDACTED], and live in [REDACTED]. I went to school at [REDACTED] where I attained a degree in geology. I enjoy gaming, science fiction, and fantasy; all three influence my writing.

Note: due to a mix of shyness and paranoia, sensitive information has been redacted from the public release of this document. Missing information will be provided to individuals with sufficient security clearance upon request.

4
0
0
Juice
26 reads
Donate coins to HermitThrush.
Juice
Cancel
Trident Media Group is the leading U.S. literary agency and we are looking to discover and represent the next bestsellers. Share a sample of your work. If it shows promise, we will be in touch with you.
Written by HermitThrush in portal Trident Media Group
Just a Couple of Loonies
"Could I get a refill of ale?"
"How much for wine with the meal?"
"I can't eat this soup! It barely has any meat!"
"We're running low on brandy."

Gilligania nearly ran as she served the patrons and answered questions. "Yes, five extra aurents, take it up with the cook, I'll check the cellar for another crate." Suppertime at an inn was always frenetic, but it would slow down as guests went to their rooms. Of course, the remaining guests would probably get rowdy, but rowdy she could handle. Gilligania ducked behind bar and descended through the trap door into the cellar.

She took a moment to revel in the silence afforded by the thick door, then flipped a switch on the wall, triggering a series of wires. Five candles were simultaneously lit by flint striking steel. Gilligania frowned. She would have to work on the ignition relay for the sixth candle. She found the brandy and hauled it up, blowing out the candles on the way back.

She emerged back into the bustling, noisy dining area. Noisy was good, because it meant guests, which meant more money. Those voices from the kitchen seemed a little too loud, though.

Gilligania walked in to see a guest arguing with Malthazar. "Preposterous! Soup needs meat, not tiny pieces of sausage! I refuse to pay for a meal that would barely sustain a house pet."

Malthazar's mouth twitched. "That 'sausage' is actually highly condensed meat. You'll notice the soup also has vegetables, purpleroot, and quinoa. It's enough to keep you on your feet for a full day's march. Is there another way you'd like to try to get out of paying?"

The guest raised his eyebrow. "Condensed meat? I've never heard of such a thing."

"That's because you're not a cook," snapped Malthazar. "So unless you want to learn how to cook for yourself tonight, I recommend you at least try the soup before complaining about it."

The guest grumbled but left for the dining room.

"A little harsh, weren't we?" asked Gilligania.

Malthazar shook his head. "Honestly, if I had an aurent for every person who made fun of condensed meat until they tried it, we could open ten inns. He'll try it, discover he likes it, and refuse to admit it, but at least he won't bother me again." He turned ladled soup into bowls. "By the way, Freckles, a big group just came in and they all want soup and ale."

Gilligania squeaked, grabbed some mugs, and ran toward the tables.

A few hours later, the last guest had finally gone to bed, and the foodrunners met in the kitchen.

Malthazar cleared his throat, and announced in a deep voice, "Now has come the time for the ancient ritual... of swapping gossip. Who has the best story tonight?"

A young runner named Pylia giggled and raised her hand. "I heard a good one. Apparently a wild mage decided he wanted to turn himself into a bird for a day. When he turned back he still had feathers, and he had to wait a week until they were gone!"

Everyone laughed, then a slightly older runner, Kelthin, took his turn. "I don't know about stories, but I might have a new record for the craziest theory I've heard about edgewalkers. This one guest insisted that edgewalkers come down from the moon, steal the body of the first person they meet, and dig themselves a cave to live in. Then they only leave at night to rain down fire upon unsuspecting travelers."

Welshai interrupted. "I don't know if that beats what his lady friend said. She thinks they come every ten thousand years to weed out the impure, then ascend to the heavens with the worthy. Then they let the worthy choose the course of destiny until the next cycle."

Thus ensued a fierce five minute argument about whether either of these arguments were more preposterous than the idea that edgewalkers were disguises created by amphibians secretly studying the workings of humanity. The argument was derailed when the last runner, Bruthae, decided to share her story.

"This one is kind of serious, but pretty juicy. It was those two clerics at the corner table. One of them said the Attalian Republic might be going to war with the Kingdom of Nimbor."

The room fell into silence. Bruthae glanced around, and spoke quickly. "Of course, it's probably not true. The other one didn't think it was. And he said it had something to do with The Forsaken, and you know how reliable those rumors are." She trailed off, and Welshai resumed the discussion about edgewalkers.

Gilligania and Malthazar glanced at each other. Inn gossip was notoriously unreliable, but every now and then you heard something important. A war between two of the biggest countries in the realm would be messy no matter the outcome.

Finally the runners left for home, and only Gilligania and Malthazar were left. Gilligania asked, "So what do you think of tonight's gossip?"

Malthazar shrugged. "Mostly the usual, I guess. I might try talking to the clerics if they're around again tomorrow night. Oh, did you get a chance to balance the ledger?"

Gilligania groaned. "Tonight was really busy. I'll get to it tomorrow."

Malthazar grinned. "Didn't you say that last night when you really wanted to work on the candle system?"

Gilligania sniffed. "I will have you know that the system will be useful to many people as soon as I work out that last ignition switch."

Malthazar pulled her to the ground, and a bolt of energy struck the wall behind them. Gilligania instinctively put on her goggles and turned to see what had happened. A robed figure stood behind them with an outstretched hand. Malthazar started whispering, and the room was cloaked in darkness.

By the time the cloaked figure conjured a light, neither Gilligania or Malthazar were in sight. The figure advanced into the kitchen, then walked toward the partly open back door. It emerged into the vegetable garden behind the inn. Behind the rain barrel at the corner of the inn, Gilligania finished mixing a potion. She threw it, and a cloud of sleeping gas wafted through the air around the figure.

The figure advanced toward Gilligania, unaffected. She pulled out her crossbow and fired. The figure easily dodged the bolt, then continued to approach her. Gilligania retreated to a nearby tree and pulled out another vial.

As the robed figure passed under the roof, Malthazar jumped onto it, channeling silvery light through his hands. For a moment it thrashed around, then Malthazar fell to the ground, clutching only a robe. Its occupant, seemingly, had vanished into thin air.

Malthazar stood up and dusted off his pants. "Well, I bet he'll return at an inconveniently dramatic moment. Sorry I couldn't be more help. It's a new moon, so I don't have many spells to work with."

"It," said Gilligania. Malthazar looked up inquiringly. "I don't think that thing was human."

Malthazar frowned and started folding the robe. "I think we need to start looking for someone to watch the inn. Just in case."

---

Title: “Just a Couple of Loonies,” chapter from “Knights of the Waning Moon”
Genre: Fantasy
Age range: 12+
Word count: 1189
Author name: [REDACTED] AKA Hermit Thrush
Synopsis: [REDACTED] – spoilers!
Target audience: Geeks like me, or anyone who enjoys fantasy
Bio: I was born in [REDACTED], raised in [REDACTED], and live in [REDACTED]. I went to school at [REDACTED] where I attained a degree in geology. I enjoy gaming, science fiction, and fantasy; all three influence my writing.

Note: due to a mix of shyness and paranoia, sensitive information has been redacted from the public release of this document. Missing information will be provided to individuals with sufficient security clearance upon request.

4
0
0
Juice
26 reads
Login to post comments.
Donate coins to HermitThrush.
Juice
Cancel
Chapter 16 of The Disasterville Chronicles
Written by HermitThrush

Answers and Questions

So Jack's plan of staying under the radar failed. I kind of figured it would. I found out when the paper had a headline about a flying knight who saved a train full of people from an attack by the Devastator. The Devastator swore vengeance for some reason, which of course would keep Jack from publicizing the armor designs. And this is how people get sucked into the oh-so-secret super lifestyle. My parents thought I was pretty tired since I kept sighing and resting my head on the table. Well, it'll help if I have to play sick any time soon.

Jack texted me on the way to school. He wanted me to meet him once class was out. I elected not to tell anyone else in the car to avoid another chant of "boyfriend." Even though it's pretty clear we're friends, they still like to tease me about it. I doubt they'll drop it until I actually start dating someone, so I'll just have to live with it.

At lunch I saw Bernard sneak toward the back of the school. I glanced around; no sign of Ferris, so I ducked around the corner and followed. Eventually I found Bernard sitting on the ground next to the school wall. Usually no one hangs out there because it's right next to the dumpsters. Yet there he was, eating his lunch like it was perfectly normal.

I rolled my eyes and walked over. Maybe he was dangerous, but I couldn't just ignore him. Besides, given the trouble I had gotten into, I doubted being around Bernard would make it much worse.

"Hi," I said as I approached. Bernard glanced over, grabbed his lunch, and stood up. He turned to walk away.

"Wait, can we just -- talk?" Oh wow, real smooth. Clearly he would be enamored of my poetic eloquence and ask me to marry him.

Bernard stopped and turned back, but didn't sit back down. "Look, you need to just leave me alone. Everyone does. He's -- I'm -- too dangerous."

It took a lot of effort not to roll my eyes. "Dangerous, yes. But you did save my life, and I didn't get to thank you yet. So I figured I could risk talking to you like I did safely a bunch of times before you started avoiding everyone."

Bernard frowned. "He -- I mean I -- I mean -- look, I don't know if I can control this. Sure it worked out last time, but if I lose control I could just end up hurting you. So I have to keep my distance." 

I felt my left eyelid start twitching. "So isolating yourself from everyone you care about will help you stay in control?"

"Yes -- I mean no -- I mean -- hey, wait a minute, you never thanked me, but you also never told me how you knew about what happened. How did you know?" He stared at me.

I looked down. "I, um..." I forced myself to speak above a murmur. "Middle school. I was worried about you getting bullied so I followed you and I saw... well... you know."

Bernard turned away, clenched his hand, then sighed and released it. "And then you assumed I knew what I was doing." He sat down and laughed. "Well, I guess I know why you stopped talking to me for so long."

I blushed. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have but... I guess I was just scared."

"With good reason," interrupted Bernard. "So why are you talking to me now? What could possibly give you the impression you shouldn't be scared?"

I sat down a few feet away from him, but close enough to talk easily. "Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm still scared. If you flinch the wrong way I'm going to run like a scared rabbit. But it's not like it's your fault. It would be mean of me to give you the cold shoulder because of something you can't control."

Bernard stared at me. "What if I want you to stay away?"

I shrugged. "Your choice, I guess. But if you need to talk let me know." I stood up and started walking away. I stopped and looked over my shoulder. "And just so I know I've said it -- thank you for saving my life."

Bernard smiled faintly, then looked at the ground. It was something at least.

 

I kept replaying that smile through my head for the rest of the day. Maybe if he could find a way to keep smiling he'd find a way to bring the Berserker under control. Maybe it was just wishful thinking. Still, if there was a way for Bernard to have even a semi-normal life... it wouldn't mean he would reciprocate my crush on him. I tried to focus on everything else.

I headed over to Jack's place after school. We met in what I grimly thought of as his secret base. Guess there's no keeping down a super even if their powers are gone. 

"Sophia! Hi!" exclaimed Jack. He let me into the workshop, then handed me a stack of note paper. "You're not going to believe what I've found out."

I looked at the papers. Some of it was handwritten pencil, but there were also a lot of ink runes. I glanced back up. "What exactly am I looking at?"

Jack paced back and forth. "Some of it I dug up from my room, others are things I saw, some of it I found at the library. The short version is I think I know what the Blue Order is."

I raised my eyebrows. "Details please."

Jack nodded. "Well -- I'll save you the story of how I pieced it together. But what I found is that they're some sort of magical secret society." He paused and glanced at me. "It sounds crazy, I know, but stay with me. From what I can tell they go way back -- like, ancient Rome old. Most of the stuff I found out about them is vague, but when they show up it's always to help people who get caught up in natural disasters or other widespread destruction. There are also some references to them guarding something, but it's really vague."

An image of the burning sword popped into my head. That would explain why their name was on the pedestal. But why were they guarding it, and exactly what was it?

Jack kept talking. “But this is the best part: I think I know how to contact them. I found this one page in my room that talks about how initiates can find the meeting place.” He hesitated. “It's... kind of a secret society so I'm not sure I should tell you that, but I'm going to go. I want to find out more about them and why I joined.”

I nodded. “Anything I can do to help?”

Jack shook his head. “Not really. I mean, unless you want to try to dig up more about them? Actually, if you could find anything on their recent activity I wouldn't mind hearing about it.”

I agreed, but not before getting in a parting shot about how he shouldn't fly to the meeting in his armor if it was so secret. That annoyed him a bit.

Anyway, that's how I ended up spending the evening combing through every news report, conspiracy site, and blog I could find that mentioned anyone in blue robes.

As I went through the incidents, I noticed something unsettling. There had been a continuous decrease in super incidents over the past few months, and the recent sharp decrease wasn't my imagination. I started making a list of supers, from villains to heroes and everything in between, who had dropped off the map. Most of the ones who had gone quiet in the past couple weeks were ones I had profiled in my notebook. My hand started shaking. Was someone targeting supers? Were they using my notebook as a hit list? If they knew I knew was I a target?

I bit back my fear and returned to my original task. I tallied up all the blue cloak sightings, then counted again. Despite the drop in incidents, the activity of the Blue Order hadn't dropped. If anything, they were a bit more active and obvious, with more people aware they existed. I leaned back in my chair. Were the two trends connected? Maybe the Blue Order was just filling in the gaps since fewer supers were active. Maybe that stupid dream was prophetic and they also knew something was coming. Or maybe... my stomach churned... maybe they were the ones behind the drop in activity. Ancient, secret magical societies aren't usually benevolent. Jack seemed pretty convinced they were someone he should meet, but they might just be posing as a force for good to better conceal dark intentions.

I checked my watch and stopped for the night. I'll decide how much to tell Jack in the morning. Meanwhile, I'm going to try to stop worrying long enough to get some much-needed sleep.

1
0
1
Juice
50 reads
Donate coins to HermitThrush.
Juice
Cancel
Chapter 16 of The Disasterville Chronicles
Written by HermitThrush
Answers and Questions
So Jack's plan of staying under the radar failed. I kind of figured it would. I found out when the paper had a headline about a flying knight who saved a train full of people from an attack by the Devastator. The Devastator swore vengeance for some reason, which of course would keep Jack from publicizing the armor designs. And this is how people get sucked into the oh-so-secret super lifestyle. My parents thought I was pretty tired since I kept sighing and resting my head on the table. Well, it'll help if I have to play sick any time soon.

Jack texted me on the way to school. He wanted me to meet him once class was out. I elected not to tell anyone else in the car to avoid another chant of "boyfriend." Even though it's pretty clear we're friends, they still like to tease me about it. I doubt they'll drop it until I actually start dating someone, so I'll just have to live with it.

At lunch I saw Bernard sneak toward the back of the school. I glanced around; no sign of Ferris, so I ducked around the corner and followed. Eventually I found Bernard sitting on the ground next to the school wall. Usually no one hangs out there because it's right next to the dumpsters. Yet there he was, eating his lunch like it was perfectly normal.

I rolled my eyes and walked over. Maybe he was dangerous, but I couldn't just ignore him. Besides, given the trouble I had gotten into, I doubted being around Bernard would make it much worse.

"Hi," I said as I approached. Bernard glanced over, grabbed his lunch, and stood up. He turned to walk away.

"Wait, can we just -- talk?" Oh wow, real smooth. Clearly he would be enamored of my poetic eloquence and ask me to marry him.

Bernard stopped and turned back, but didn't sit back down. "Look, you need to just leave me alone. Everyone does. He's -- I'm -- too dangerous."

It took a lot of effort not to roll my eyes. "Dangerous, yes. But you did save my life, and I didn't get to thank you yet. So I figured I could risk talking to you like I did safely a bunch of times before you started avoiding everyone."

Bernard frowned. "He -- I mean I -- I mean -- look, I don't know if I can control this. Sure it worked out last time, but if I lose control I could just end up hurting you. So I have to keep my distance." 

I felt my left eyelid start twitching. "So isolating yourself from everyone you care about will help you stay in control?"

"Yes -- I mean no -- I mean -- hey, wait a minute, you never thanked me, but you also never told me how you knew about what happened. How did you know?" He stared at me.

I looked down. "I, um..." I forced myself to speak above a murmur. "Middle school. I was worried about you getting bullied so I followed you and I saw... well... you know."

Bernard turned away, clenched his hand, then sighed and released it. "And then you assumed I knew what I was doing." He sat down and laughed. "Well, I guess I know why you stopped talking to me for so long."

I blushed. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have but... I guess I was just scared."

"With good reason," interrupted Bernard. "So why are you talking to me now? What could possibly give you the impression you shouldn't be scared?"

I sat down a few feet away from him, but close enough to talk easily. "Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm still scared. If you flinch the wrong way I'm going to run like a scared rabbit. But it's not like it's your fault. It would be mean of me to give you the cold shoulder because of something you can't control."

Bernard stared at me. "What if I want you to stay away?"

I shrugged. "Your choice, I guess. But if you need to talk let me know." I stood up and started walking away. I stopped and looked over my shoulder. "And just so I know I've said it -- thank you for saving my life."

Bernard smiled faintly, then looked at the ground. It was something at least.
 
I kept replaying that smile through my head for the rest of the day. Maybe if he could find a way to keep smiling he'd find a way to bring the Berserker under control. Maybe it was just wishful thinking. Still, if there was a way for Bernard to have even a semi-normal life... it wouldn't mean he would reciprocate my crush on him. I tried to focus on everything else.

I headed over to Jack's place after school. We met in what I grimly thought of as his secret base. Guess there's no keeping down a super even if their powers are gone. 

"Sophia! Hi!" exclaimed Jack. He let me into the workshop, then handed me a stack of note paper. "You're not going to believe what I've found out."

I looked at the papers. Some of it was handwritten pencil, but there were also a lot of ink runes. I glanced back up. "What exactly am I looking at?"

Jack paced back and forth. "Some of it I dug up from my room, others are things I saw, some of it I found at the library. The short version is I think I know what the Blue Order is."

I raised my eyebrows. "Details please."

Jack nodded. "Well -- I'll save you the story of how I pieced it together. But what I found is that they're some sort of magical secret society." He paused and glanced at me. "It sounds crazy, I know, but stay with me. From what I can tell they go way back -- like, ancient Rome old. Most of the stuff I found out about them is vague, but when they show up it's always to help people who get caught up in natural disasters or other widespread destruction. There are also some references to them guarding something, but it's really vague."

An image of the burning sword popped into my head. That would explain why their name was on the pedestal. But why were they guarding it, and exactly what was it?

Jack kept talking. “But this is the best part: I think I know how to contact them. I found this one page in my room that talks about how initiates can find the meeting place.” He hesitated. “It's... kind of a secret society so I'm not sure I should tell you that, but I'm going to go. I want to find out more about them and why I joined.”

I nodded. “Anything I can do to help?”

Jack shook his head. “Not really. I mean, unless you want to try to dig up more about them? Actually, if you could find anything on their recent activity I wouldn't mind hearing about it.”

I agreed, but not before getting in a parting shot about how he shouldn't fly to the meeting in his armor if it was so secret. That annoyed him a bit.

Anyway, that's how I ended up spending the evening combing through every news report, conspiracy site, and blog I could find that mentioned anyone in blue robes.

As I went through the incidents, I noticed something unsettling. There had been a continuous decrease in super incidents over the past few months, and the recent sharp decrease wasn't my imagination. I started making a list of supers, from villains to heroes and everything in between, who had dropped off the map. Most of the ones who had gone quiet in the past couple weeks were ones I had profiled in my notebook. My hand started shaking. Was someone targeting supers? Were they using my notebook as a hit list? If they knew I knew was I a target?

I bit back my fear and returned to my original task. I tallied up all the blue cloak sightings, then counted again. Despite the drop in incidents, the activity of the Blue Order hadn't dropped. If anything, they were a bit more active and obvious, with more people aware they existed. I leaned back in my chair. Were the two trends connected? Maybe the Blue Order was just filling in the gaps since fewer supers were active. Maybe that stupid dream was prophetic and they also knew something was coming. Or maybe... my stomach churned... maybe they were the ones behind the drop in activity. Ancient, secret magical societies aren't usually benevolent. Jack seemed pretty convinced they were someone he should meet, but they might just be posing as a force for good to better conceal dark intentions.

I checked my watch and stopped for the night. I'll decide how much to tell Jack in the morning. Meanwhile, I'm going to try to stop worrying long enough to get some much-needed sleep.
1
0
1
Juice
50 reads
Load 1 Comment
Login to post comments.
Donate coins to HermitThrush.
Juice
Cancel
///// Nightdwellers 'Beginning Line' Challenge (May) ///// Write a piece of literature with the beginning line ‘Lost in the dark, tangled in silken threads’ Tag it #nightdwellers #beginningline. http://www.facebook.com/groups/NightdwellersWrites/
Written by HermitThrush

Ghoul

Lost in the dark, tangled in silken threads, I coughed as I kicked up more dust. I cleared my throat and kept walking. The Catacombs were twisted, but I knew the general direction I needed to go. As long as I kept on track with my marks I would find my way back to the right path. 

I came to a fork in the tunnels. One side I had marked while still lost. Time to try the other side then. I left letters and arrows in glowing paint before proceeding. Soon I found another mark, one before I had gotten off track. I reoriented myself and headed for my destination.

A large doorway loomed in front of me. Its arch was made of skulls. The faint light of my torch only made the sockets seem empty, as if they were glaring malevolence upon my head. I approached slowly and silently, listening for any movement aside from dripping water or scurrying rats.

The room was large and open. This section of the Catacombs was supposedly closed to the public, but someone had been making themselves at home. There were chairs, a table, candles, and even a book case. There was another room connected to it, but the electric light of my torch didn't reach that far.

I stepped into the room and began to explore. The book case had a selection of books ranging from horror to self-help. The table was big enough for six people to sit at it easily, and had a long black tablecloth that reached the floor. At one end of the table was a stack of letters addressed to Persephone Noir. What an obvious alias that was.

I had just started to look through the letters when I heard voices approaching. I flicked off my torch and dove under the table. I almost screeched in pain when I hit my head on the underside, but kept quiet.

Footsteps drew near, as did the squeaking of wheels. Then I heard the clicking of a lighter, and the darkness faded. Then I heard grunting and faint squeaks. I just barely peeked beneath the tablecloth; I could make out two pairs of feet and a coffin being carried between them. I resumed my position under the table. Based on the dull thump I heard, though, they left the coffin in the other room.

As the footsteps came back, I heard a female voice say, "...and the last payment should have covered another delivery. I don't understand why you only brought half the usual amount."

"It's risky," replied a male voice. "I can only sneak out the ones that were supposed to be cremated, and even that draws suspicion. I might not be able to get the rest until next week."

The woman sighed, then replied, "Well, as long as it's no later than that. But if you can't keep up your end of the bargain, I might have to reconsider our terms."

I heard the wheels squeaking again, and footsteps left the room. There was another sigh, and the second set of footsteps headed to the other room.

I waited a moment, then climbed out from under the table. I had found her, all right. Gertrude Jones, ran away from home. Her parents asked me to find her. And why not the police? Because, as they told me in the strictest confidence, their daughter was a ghoul and that could cause... issues with the authorities. So I had to track her down myself, and finally ended up in Paris.

I stood up, dusted myself off, and headed toward the back room. I stood by the door and cleared my throat.

Gertrude whirled toward me, looking away from the coffin. She was tall, thin, and pale with long dark hair. She looked down at the cleaver she was holding and set it on a table next to the corpse. "I... um... this isn't what it looks like."

"It's all right, I know. My name is Lucy Harker. I'm a private detective. Your parents asked me to find you."

Gertrude snorted. "Well, tell them I'm fine. I'm not going back there." She picked the knife back up and hovered over the corpse. "Now if you'll excuse me, I'm busy."

I raised my eyebrows. "Most people would not call squatting in the Catacombs fine."

Gertrude rolled her eyes. "Well, given my... dietary needs there aren't a lot of other options without drawing attention to myself. Besides, I still get out. I have a job, I made friends, I'm learning how to paint. That's way more than I would ever get back home." She used a cleaver and started hacking apart the body in front of her. "I was practically a prisoner. Never allowed to go outside except at night, never allowed to make friends, never allowed to have a life." As she spoke and chopped, she stole glances at me. Probably wondering if I would get intimidated by the macabre scene, but I had too much experience for that trick to work.

"Well, you are legally an adult so I can't make you do anything. But I should point out that you also are not living here legally and getting caught would be complicated."

Gertrude paused. "I know, but I'm not going back to my family. I know they were trying to protect me but I just can't live like that."

I handed her a letter. "They said to give you this if I found you, and to tell you they're sorry in case you didn't read it." I also jotted down my hotel room on the back of my business card and handed it to her. "If you do want my help, this is where you can find me."

The next day I heard a knock on my door first thing in the morning. I opened it and Gertrude stood there sheepishly. "I, um... wanted to ask you for advice."

I ushered her in. She took a deep breath, handed me the letter, and stared out the window. "Read it for yourself."

I did so. "Dear Gertrude," it began. "We are so sorry for everything..." I skimmed through the apologies and the pleas to come back. When I had finished I handed it to Gertrude.

"What did you want to ask?"

"I want to see them again but..." she sat on the bed. "But they didn't say anything would change. I'm afraid that I'll go back and they'll go right back to 'protecting' me." She bit her lips. "They're my family and I love them but I just can't risk that. So... what do you think I should do?"

I frowned. "It's not easy to say. Staying here isn't a good idea for the reasons I mentioned, but you have good reasons not to go back."

Getrude groaned and flopped back onto the bed. "How helpful."

"Well..." I said hesitantly, and she fixed me in her gaze. "I could help you get back to the States, and bail you out if your family does try to keep you under lock and key." I winked. "Of course, you'd have to hire me so I could consider you a client..."

Gertrude grinned. "Done. I can be ready to move out at the end of the week." She scribbled on the hotel notepad. "Here's my email address so we can work out the flights and your rates. Stay in touch, private eye." She giggled. "I always wanted to say that."

I smiled. "Can do."

We did keep in touch, but Gertrude didn't need me to bail her out. Apparently her family respected her independence enough to let her get her own apartment, though she said they weren't happy about it and won't talk to her. Last I heard she was taking forensics classes at the community college while holding down a job at a funeral home. Her explanation: "It's not like I'm freaked out by bodies."

It's always good to resolve a case successfully.

3
0
0
Juice
63 reads
Donate coins to HermitThrush.
Juice
Cancel
///// Nightdwellers 'Beginning Line' Challenge (May) ///// Write a piece of literature with the beginning line ‘Lost in the dark, tangled in silken threads’ Tag it #nightdwellers #beginningline. http://www.facebook.com/groups/NightdwellersWrites/
Written by HermitThrush
Ghoul
Lost in the dark, tangled in silken threads, I coughed as I kicked up more dust. I cleared my throat and kept walking. The Catacombs were twisted, but I knew the general direction I needed to go. As long as I kept on track with my marks I would find my way back to the right path. 

I came to a fork in the tunnels. One side I had marked while still lost. Time to try the other side then. I left letters and arrows in glowing paint before proceeding. Soon I found another mark, one before I had gotten off track. I reoriented myself and headed for my destination.

A large doorway loomed in front of me. Its arch was made of skulls. The faint light of my torch only made the sockets seem empty, as if they were glaring malevolence upon my head. I approached slowly and silently, listening for any movement aside from dripping water or scurrying rats.

The room was large and open. This section of the Catacombs was supposedly closed to the public, but someone had been making themselves at home. There were chairs, a table, candles, and even a book case. There was another room connected to it, but the electric light of my torch didn't reach that far.

I stepped into the room and began to explore. The book case had a selection of books ranging from horror to self-help. The table was big enough for six people to sit at it easily, and had a long black tablecloth that reached the floor. At one end of the table was a stack of letters addressed to Persephone Noir. What an obvious alias that was.

I had just started to look through the letters when I heard voices approaching. I flicked off my torch and dove under the table. I almost screeched in pain when I hit my head on the underside, but kept quiet.

Footsteps drew near, as did the squeaking of wheels. Then I heard the clicking of a lighter, and the darkness faded. Then I heard grunting and faint squeaks. I just barely peeked beneath the tablecloth; I could make out two pairs of feet and a coffin being carried between them. I resumed my position under the table. Based on the dull thump I heard, though, they left the coffin in the other room.

As the footsteps came back, I heard a female voice say, "...and the last payment should have covered another delivery. I don't understand why you only brought half the usual amount."

"It's risky," replied a male voice. "I can only sneak out the ones that were supposed to be cremated, and even that draws suspicion. I might not be able to get the rest until next week."

The woman sighed, then replied, "Well, as long as it's no later than that. But if you can't keep up your end of the bargain, I might have to reconsider our terms."

I heard the wheels squeaking again, and footsteps left the room. There was another sigh, and the second set of footsteps headed to the other room.

I waited a moment, then climbed out from under the table. I had found her, all right. Gertrude Jones, ran away from home. Her parents asked me to find her. And why not the police? Because, as they told me in the strictest confidence, their daughter was a ghoul and that could cause... issues with the authorities. So I had to track her down myself, and finally ended up in Paris.

I stood up, dusted myself off, and headed toward the back room. I stood by the door and cleared my throat.

Gertrude whirled toward me, looking away from the coffin. She was tall, thin, and pale with long dark hair. She looked down at the cleaver she was holding and set it on a table next to the corpse. "I... um... this isn't what it looks like."

"It's all right, I know. My name is Lucy Harker. I'm a private detective. Your parents asked me to find you."

Gertrude snorted. "Well, tell them I'm fine. I'm not going back there." She picked the knife back up and hovered over the corpse. "Now if you'll excuse me, I'm busy."

I raised my eyebrows. "Most people would not call squatting in the Catacombs fine."

Gertrude rolled her eyes. "Well, given my... dietary needs there aren't a lot of other options without drawing attention to myself. Besides, I still get out. I have a job, I made friends, I'm learning how to paint. That's way more than I would ever get back home." She used a cleaver and started hacking apart the body in front of her. "I was practically a prisoner. Never allowed to go outside except at night, never allowed to make friends, never allowed to have a life." As she spoke and chopped, she stole glances at me. Probably wondering if I would get intimidated by the macabre scene, but I had too much experience for that trick to work.

"Well, you are legally an adult so I can't make you do anything. But I should point out that you also are not living here legally and getting caught would be complicated."

Gertrude paused. "I know, but I'm not going back to my family. I know they were trying to protect me but I just can't live like that."

I handed her a letter. "They said to give you this if I found you, and to tell you they're sorry in case you didn't read it." I also jotted down my hotel room on the back of my business card and handed it to her. "If you do want my help, this is where you can find me."

The next day I heard a knock on my door first thing in the morning. I opened it and Gertrude stood there sheepishly. "I, um... wanted to ask you for advice."

I ushered her in. She took a deep breath, handed me the letter, and stared out the window. "Read it for yourself."

I did so. "Dear Gertrude," it began. "We are so sorry for everything..." I skimmed through the apologies and the pleas to come back. When I had finished I handed it to Gertrude.

"What did you want to ask?"

"I want to see them again but..." she sat on the bed. "But they didn't say anything would change. I'm afraid that I'll go back and they'll go right back to 'protecting' me." She bit her lips. "They're my family and I love them but I just can't risk that. So... what do you think I should do?"

I frowned. "It's not easy to say. Staying here isn't a good idea for the reasons I mentioned, but you have good reasons not to go back."

Getrude groaned and flopped back onto the bed. "How helpful."

"Well..." I said hesitantly, and she fixed me in her gaze. "I could help you get back to the States, and bail you out if your family does try to keep you under lock and key." I winked. "Of course, you'd have to hire me so I could consider you a client..."

Gertrude grinned. "Done. I can be ready to move out at the end of the week." She scribbled on the hotel notepad. "Here's my email address so we can work out the flights and your rates. Stay in touch, private eye." She giggled. "I always wanted to say that."

I smiled. "Can do."

We did keep in touch, but Gertrude didn't need me to bail her out. Apparently her family respected her independence enough to let her get her own apartment, though she said they weren't happy about it and won't talk to her. Last I heard she was taking forensics classes at the community college while holding down a job at a funeral home. Her explanation: "It's not like I'm freaked out by bodies."

It's always good to resolve a case successfully.
3
0
0
Juice
63 reads
Login to post comments.
Advertisement  (turn off)