Chris hadn't said a word in over 300 miles.
Well, not out loud at least.
'Ok,' thought Chris to himself, 'explain to me why we're driving to Seattle again?'
'Because you have to get your super hero license.', his reasoning told him.
'But, I don't want a superhero license. Heck, I should be ecstatic right now. JB and I could be headed back to Sunnyvale with the perfect out for an embarrassing and suicidal situation. Why in God's Green Earth am I doing this?'
For the uncountableth time, his mind played back the conversation he had on the phone five hours ago. When he had first read the letter from the United Super Heroes Association, he was rather happy. Then, he was a bit confused by it all. Chris had told JB that he had no intention of leaving Boise until that Malevolent idiot was dealt with. Sure the cat thing seemed to be under control for now, but Chris knew better that to assume that would be the last time Boise would be attacked. Like it or not, Boise was in trouble and had asked it's registered defender for help. He had gotten himself into this mess, and Dammit, he wasn't going to run away from it. Besides, didn't those high and mighty, tights wearing freaks care that there were innocent people in danger? Sure Boise isn't exactly New York or San Francisco... OK, maybe a bit like San Francisco... say, why does Boise look...
"These phones are so COOL!", JB said as the monotone rendition of "Powerhouse" ended.
Chris looked at his brother and raised one eyebrow. His expression told JB that he quite obviously did not find the that particular feature anywhere as cool as his brother did.
"What?" Asked JB, a bit surprised.
"JB, I want you to envision something with me."
"Oooh-kay. Sure. What?"
"Terrorists have taken over a school building. The police cannot risk anything foolish, but negotiations are not going well. Darkness falls and the two Protectors of the City make their move. We drift from shadow to shadow, unseen in the night. We slip inside, quietly subdue the guard and free the hostages."
"That would rule!" JB said as the tiny movie played out in his head.
"As the last hostage escapes, we make our way towards the exit. As we cross the far wall inches from freedom, you get a wrong number."
A thousand high caliber rounds of insight made their way through JB's mind. "Right, vibrate it is then." He reset his phone to a significantly quieter setting.
Time passed like the white lines that disappeared behind them. Chris' train of thought had been violently derailed and he couldn't remember what he was thinking about.
"So, why Seattle? I mean, couldn't we just send something in the mail or go down to the mall or something?" JB asked his brother.
Chris sighed. "'All individuals wishing to become practicing Super Heroes must appear in personae at an official United Super Hero Association, Department of Super Hero Registration Office between the hours of nine A.M. and three P.M. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Nocturnal applicants may apply between nine P.M. and three A.M., Tuesdays and Thursdays. All applicants are required to provide registration information as well as current address, associations, abilities and applicable fees. They accept personal check, money order, Diner's Club and American Express. Cash payments may also be made in United States currency. Only currency from this dimension/universe/timeline accepted. "
"Wow," JB said, "she really did say that alot."
"I lost count after twenty, and I didn't start counting right away."
"Well, one good thing. I bet she's happy you don't have the ability to make people explode simply by wishing really hard."
"I'm not so sure I don't have that power."
JB looked at his brother a bit quizzically.
A slow smile spread across Chris' face. "I haven't stopped wishing yet."
Master! Master! The Purple Sage has defeated the Destroyatron and escaped!
You Fool! How could you be so stupid! Feel my WRATH!
I will suffer no more excuses!
Master, it's time for your three o'clock.
Hmm? Yes, of course. *Ahem*
Puny citizens of Albuquerque, Hear and Obey me! I, Zoltron the Merciless, have captured all of your precious aloe vera. Now you must all bow before your Supreme Ruler or face the painful agony of peeling sunburns! Resistance is futile! Mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!
And Cut! That was perfect my liege.
Of course it was!
Yes, yes. What is it?
Uhm, this is for you.
What is this? It's... It's a card...
We love the way your smile is bent,
As you torture countless innocents.
We love the way cackle in glee,
As you plot and plan most evilly.
We even like when you rend our flesh,
You make us listen to John Tesh.
Happy Evil Overlord's Day!
*Sniff*Sniff* You all remembered. Oh, and the flowers, they're beautiful. You guys are the greatest bunch of mutant henchlings an Evil Overlord could ever ask for.
Thank you Master!
Reduced Beatings for Everyone Tonight!
This Evil Overlord's Day, Remember the one's you're subservient to with a Wallmark Greeting.
Wallmark, When you need to send the very best, or suffer the consequences.
Well done, Malevolent.
Thank you, Sir. Oh, and here's your card.
It was a beautiful spring day in Seattle. The sun shown brightly on the rich verdant grasses. Snow still clung to the upper peaks of the Olympics, and Mt. Rainier stood majestically alone. It was one of the days when many businesses unofficially shut down with severe cases of Spring Fever. The parks were filled with laughing children and couples out for strolls. The sky was a magnificent deep blue and reflected off of the waters of the sound so that the houseboats almost looked like they were suspended in mid air.
Tourists wondered why they had bothered packing rain slickers and umbrellas. Cafe's set up tables outside, and even a few of the Goth managed to take off their coats for a bit. It was a rare, spectacular day when the residents of Seattle are reminded why they chose this to be their home.
All of this, however, was lost on Chris.
"C'mon, C'mon, C'MON!!! LET'S MOVE IT!"
He was dressed almost entirely in red with chrome wings for accents. He was on his thirtieth cup of coffee and had the breath to prove it. And, as Chris' luck would have it, he was also standing directly behind him.
Chris heard the paper cup crumple and hit the floor alongside it's fallen brethren. He felt the breeze, and then Chris counted down the few seconds until he felt it's twin as the super caffeine addict returned with his thirty-first cup. Oddly, Chris reflected, the thirty cups of coffee apparently had little effect on him.
The Red Marvel, or whoever he was had been like that since he got there three hours ago.
The Department of Super Heroes looked much like any other official building. It was a squat, unglamorous affair stuck in a dingy part of town. In many respects, it might easily be confused for a DMV, if it weren't for the hordes of oddly dressed individuals located inside it. Chris was surrounded by dozens of very bored, impressive looking, individuals who were dressed in every imaginably bad fashion decision Chris could think of. Not that he didn't mind some of the choices made by the women who shared his line, but the general assault of colors made his generally bland gray outfit actually stand out.
Chris was kind of glad he had decided not to wear his body armor. The room was stuffy enough as it was. He was however very glad that he had decided to wear antiperspirant. He only wished that others had decided to do the same.
All in all, at least this was better than what JB was probably going through. JB had to go through the "Sidekick and Accomplices" line. At least Chris had to deal with mostly humanoid smells and grown-up issues. Nope, not a diaper to be seen in this room. Well, except for that guy.
"Number eighty-four. Window three, please. .... Eighty-four.... Eight.... Four... "
Chris waited until the absolute last possible second before raising his hand.
"Buzzboy" was number eighty five.
"Window three, on your left please." The rather heavy breasted line attendant named "Inga" informed him. Chris thanked her and walked by. Inga had helped keep his mind off of the long wait. She was pleasant, helped him with some of his forms, and answered a few questions. The fact that she was knockout gorgeous didn't hurt either. She was tall, well built, with ruby red lips, deep green eyes and... Chris suddenly realized that he had no idea what her hair color was. He turned to look, but she had disappeared somewhere. Oh well, he'd check later.
He heard snatches of conversations that others were having.
"Do you have any allergies?"
"Yes." A large shambling mound of vegitation responded. "Round up."
A strongly built individual dressed in clashing browns, oranges and blues was at the next window.
"Uhmm... Yeah, sure. OHMIGOD! LOOK!!!" He pointed behind the teller who slowly turned to look in the indicated direction. As the teller glanced away the figure ducked beneath the counter."A-HA!" cried the figure. "I've become Invisible!".
Chris stopped and stared at the crouching figure as did a large number of others waiting in line. Eventually the figure turned to look behind him and saw his audience. "Damn!"
Chris walked up to the proper window and smiled to the woman behind the counter. She was a strictly no-nonsense type and almost the dead opposite of Inga. "Good Morning." Chris said, "I'm here to get a Super Hero license."
The woman smiled slightly and asked for the Paperwork. Chris handed it to her. She looked it over quickly, placed it onto her clipboard and began typing into her terminal. Chris began shifting back and forth on his feet. He wasn't particularly nervous, but standing most of the morning was starting to take a toll on his insoles.
"Do you want me to correct the spelling?" the woman asked him.
"Excuse me?" Chris replied, his attention removed from his feet.
"You have your identity spelled g-r-a-y. The correct spelling is g-r-e-y. Would you like me to correct that now?" The woman held up the application and pointed to the line.
Chris winced a little. In truth, he knew perfectly well how to spell Greyhound. It was even spelled correctly on the bus that was his inspiration as it went by the police station. God, it was years ago, back at the University of Boise, when he was still dating Michelle. She lived near the panhandle for Anodized Aluminum Doorway Park in the fashionable Asbury-Haight district. Parking had always been an absolute nightmare around there. If it hadn't have been for that party running late and seeing that sign hanging up in the police station "Super Hero Wanted. Apply Within" he would never have been deputized and gotten to park in the police lot across the street from her apartment.
Unfortunately, Chris never really had good penmanship to begin with, and figured it was probably even worse after a night of tequila shooters. Figures that someone would mistake an "e" for an "a", although he was kind of at a loss to figure out how. Still, Chris had been down as The Grayhound ever since. Heck, he's even got a fan club out there somewhere now that's spent good money on T-shirts and posters. He can't just tell them, "Whoops, Sorry. Must be a typo". No, better to keep it misspelt.
"No", The Grayhound said as the nagging voice of his high school English teacher screamed defiance in his head, "Uhm, keep it as it is..."
The clerk, unfazed by the torment going on in Chris' head, simply replied "Uh-huh" and continued typing. "Please read the third line of the chart over my shoulder."
Chris looked at the chart, or more precisely, where the chart should have been. He then looked to other locations where the chart may be. After several attempts to read anything that vaguely resembled a chart, he sheepishly turned to the clerk and asked, "Excuse me, but, what chart?"
"No X-Ray vision", was the woman's response. "Very well, you have five seconds to get your completed application from window seventy three. Begin."
Chris looked in terror. 'What window am I at, err, three, I think. Yes, three and the window to my right is.. Err.. two. OK so window seventy three is, dang, the row ends at window twelve, so that means that it's in row, one, two, three...'
"No super speed." the woman crossed off the item. She then reached under the counter and pulled out a length of metal. "Please either bend or straighten this bar as appropriate." The woman casually held out the bar. Chris was a bit apprehensive, but reached out and grabbed it.
He nearly broke his hand when the bar was released. Chris had no idea what it was made of, but it was incredibly heavy. As the bar lay on the ground Chris saw that the floor was fractured and dented by other attempts.
"No super strength"
Chris straightened up to look down the business end of a .45 caliber semiautomatic. In an instant he was back down next to the bar.
"Susceptible to firearms"
Chris looked up to see the gun withdraw he began to straighten when his world filled with stars and pain. He saw the woman's leg return back under the counter. He checked, his jaw wasn't broken.
"Does not possess advanced agility"
"WAIT!!!" Chris yelled out. "I DON'T HAVE ANY SUPER POWERS!!!"
"Oh." the woman said calmly, "You left that field blank, so I was just trying to identify what they might be. I'll just write in 'Precognizance to detect crushing forces'."
Chris looked to the ceiling in a near panic. There was nothing there.
"You enjoy doing that, don't you?" he told the woman in a not entirely pleasant tone of voice.
A vague hint of a smile crossed her face for a second before she continued. "Do you belong to any officially recognized or duly sanctioned Protectorate or Vigilante group?"
"No. It's just me an JB."
Chris stammered a bit. "Oh, err, Puppyboy, my, uhm, sidekick I guess."
"Is he a citizen of this country, time and dimension?"
"Yeah, he's.. my brother." Chris idly played with adding '.. but I'm not sure he's from this world.' but decided better of it.
"Have you notified any and all known protectorates of the city, province or locale that you have adopted that you have taken residence in their area of operations?"
"Well, no, I mean, I'm it, I mean, I'm the only one."
"And how do you know that?"
"I'm the only one that filled out an application that got accepted."
"And who sponsored that application?"
"The mayor of Boise. The Honorable, William Brown, Jr. I've got a copy of the application in the registration packet."
The woman leafed through the packet and looked over the application. "Hmm, well it does look official. We'll contact his office to follow up on it."
"Sure, no problem. Just tell him that we're not gonna do any more press conferences. I'm still trying to get the smell of fish poop out of my sneakers, cat hair out of my mouth, and the complementary pretzels were stale."
She laughed. Not a great deal, more of a light titter really, but she actually displayed a bit of mirth at that. Chris didn't know why, but he stopped hating the woman at that point. Maybe she had been through this all herself. Chris mentally slapped himself. The way she handled the bar was a dead give away. Of course! She was probably a retired superhero herself. Chris wished JB was here. He bet JB would have known who this was in an instant.
There, she did it again. She just smiled a bit.
"Now, I've got just one more question to ask you." The woman pulled her glasses down a bit so she would have an unobstructed view of Chris.
"Why do you want to be a super hero?"
Mike had always enjoyed his line of work. Other people, of course, thought he was absolutely insane.
Mike worked the high iron building skyscrapers. He loved the fact that he was dancing on a girder hundreds of feet above the city. It felt like flying to him. The wind was always there, and Mike knew how to read it. There were certain sites that no one, not even the wage slaves that will one day fill this pillar of concrete and steel, will ever see. From here he could not only see the Italian restaurants of East Beach, but could smell the cooking as they danced on the winds. He saw kids on their way to school, parents on their way to work. He felt like an angel looking out upon his city. He couldn't imagine any other work to do.
Even if there was the Hum.
Ah, sure, there was always some crack pot you could find that would go on and on about the Boise Hum. Some said that it was extraterrestrial. Others said it was Ma Nature striking out at mankind. Mike knew better. He had been working construction since he was old enough to hold a hammer, and his old man had done it even longer. If the Hum was such a problem, why hadn't it effected him.
Mike guided the latest girder into place and began bolting it into place. He was doing a pretty good job of talking down the problem, but every now and again, he'd remember.
It was last Tuesday, and things were going pretty well. Mike was headed down to the cans when he passed by the welders on the seventeenth floor. Mike kept his eyes away from the sparks. He wasn't a rookie, but remembered the mistake. When he was younger, he used to like watching them work. He didn't think about it until the next day when he couldn't get rid of the spots in his eyes. It took three days before his vision cleared enough to go back to work.
Mike knew the last welder. They hung out together on occasion. He was a big Italian named Louie Meducci, and he loved to play pool. Mike called out 'Hello Meducci!' as he passed. That's when it happened.
Louie dropped his arc and started singing. "Hello my Baby, Hello my Honey, Hello, my Ragtime Gal!" Then he started doing this weird kicky dance like one of those 1930's movies. Even holding his welder's mask at a jaunty angle as he high stepped along. The other welders dropped what they were doing and raced over to Louie. Eventually they hauled him down. He was still singing show tunes when they loaded him on the nut wagon.
Louie had fallen victim to the Hum.
"So, " JB asked, "what did you tell her?"
Chris was still a little dumbfounded from the experience. It was a simple question, but he didn't know how to answer it. He wasn't about to tell the woman that he really didn't want to be one and that he had gotten stuck in this mess because he was drunk and horny a few years ago and to proud to admit it now. It had to be more than that, right?
"I told her the truth. I told her I didn't know." Chris said.
"Then, why are you doing this?" JB asked.
"I told you. I don't know! JB, you realize that I don't really want to do this job, but Dammit, someone has to. I guess for now at least, I'm that someone. Cripes, there's a city out there that's being threatened. Somebody has to take care of it. The big city guys all have their hands full as it is. They can't be bothered racing around trying to save towns from stampeding cats or mutant toasters or whatever the heck comes next. Besides, I signed up for this gig. So it's my job. Like it or not."
"Geez, you make it sound so much like, I dunno.."
"Well, it kinda is I guess. I mean I guess it would be different if I had some sort of score to settle or some mystical calling, but I don't. I guess I've just got a town to protect."
"Uh-uh", his brother corrected. "We have a town to protect."
"JB, I can't ask you to do that. You've actually got a career."
"Oh, big career. Sit in a cube and code 'til my eye's bleed, or in a conference room until my brain melts, occasionally releaving the monontony by building farm animal sculptures out of office supplies until one day I keel over dead. I'll take the bullets thank you very much."
"I'd feel more comfortable if you wore the body armor."
JB hated that damn armor. It looked goofy and he felt like a three year old with it on. JB had no idea where Chris had gotten it, but it was itchy, and probably stolen from some high school football team. "It doesn't fit under this suit, and it looks stupid on top of it. Look, I talked to a couple of guys in line today and they told me about some better stuff that's out."
"Oh, I didn't even ask. How was your day?"
"Not bad, well, not bad once Bowser the Wonder Beagle stopped trying to hump my leg."
"Don't worry, I won't ask."
"Eh, it's OK Turns out Bowser is a Brown Graduate. Turns out he thought my leg was an old girlfriend of his. He left his glasses at home and he is horribly nearsighted. He was the one who introduced me to Girl Destiny."
"She sixteen. Curb it Romeo. Turns out that the sidekicks have a huge network they use for stuff. She runs a website that most of them use to swap information. They've got all kinds of articles about armor, health plans, nifty devices, good tailors, that sort of stuff."
"So what did they ask you?"
"Who, the sidekicks?"
"No, the clerks at the counter."
"Oh, nothing much, just next of kin and whether my will is up to date."
"Oh." Chris felt even more uncomfortable about JB joining in on this escapade.
"The rest of the time a bunch of us sat around swapping notes and drinking sodas. I tell ya, some of the clowns these guys work for are certifiable. You know the Blue Stallion? According to Kid Colt, the guy sleeps in straw and runs around the 'Stables of Justice' in nothing but a saddle and spurs. Colt first found out about it when his parents dropped by for a surprise visit. And the Fantastic Female? She's got more silicone in her than Santa Clara Valley. Really Great Girl swears that FF could use them as a shelf or hammer nails if she wanted to. "
"So what did you tell them about me?" Chris asked, not quite sure he wanted to hear the answer.
"Oh, nothing really," Chris said somewhat sheepishly.
"JB?... What did you tell them?"
JB barely mumbled, "I told them about your problem with broccoli."
"You told them WHAT!?!?" Chris nearly drove off the road.
"C'mon Chris! When ever you eat that stuff you stink up the place for days. I mean, My God, get some charcoal filtered underwear or something! Aw, Chris, c'mon, I had to say something. Would you prefer if I told them you're so cheap that you still prefer eating nothing but bowls of noodle soup and tap water and that you reuse a tea bag five or six times?"
"Hey, it still makes tea, there's no reason to throw it out!" Chris countered defensively.
"Chris, it barely turns the water a different color."
"So I like my tea weak."
"I like my tea flavored."
"And I'm not cheap. I just don't believe in reckless spending."
They drove for a while in silence.
"So, did you get it?" JB asked.
"The license? The whole reason for this trip? The thing we've driven nine hours, slept in the car, spent six hours waiting in lines for and are now hopefully driving nine hours back to Boise with?" JB asked, hinting a bit of annoyance.
"Uhm, no." Chris responded.
"Oh, well are they going to mail it to us?"
"You.. Didn't.. Get.. A.. License?" Chris asked at the top of his voice.
"No, I didn't get a license.", Chris responed in an equally annoyed, mocking tone. "We got a Learner's Permit."
"You heard me! We got a Learners. She said it was good for a year and we could reapply at any time. All I have to do is.." Chris trailed off a bit.
"Is what? Defeat the villain? Save the Planet? Get the Girl?"
"No!" Chris responded curtly. He was quiet for a minute or two and finally said.
"No. I have to tell them why I want to be a Super Hero."
Good Evening, I'm Ken Griffith with tonight's special report.
The Boise Hum. Some say it's the stuff of legends and the figments of unstable minds, yet recently dozens of Boise area residents have succumbed to this odd affliction. Susan McCaffry has this report.
Thank you Ken. Long time Boise residents have always talked about the Boise Hum, and while science has yet to determine where it's origin is or even whether it exists. Many residents claim to have heard it.
I spoke with Trevor McClane who says that he has knowledge of the hum.
"Whoa, You can't miss it. It's, like, part of the environment. I think it's, like, the spirit of, like, Mother Earth that is rising out and saying 'Hey! Stop your senseless wasting of my precious treasures to you, and stuff!' "
How do you explain the fact that victims seem to be fixated on singing show tunes and four part harmony songs?
"Uhm, I dunno. I guess they're just catchy or something."
I spoke with Dr. Nathan Sullivan about what he feels is the cause of the recent outbreak.
"Hmm. The 'Hum' as you call it is undoubtedly an external manifestation of the general repression that people feel toward the modern lifestyle we have associated ourselves with. The dancing and singing is an overwhelming desire by the id to return to the simpler days of the past. For instance the reports of groups of people breaking out into renditions of Rogers and Hammerstien's Oklahoma is a subconscious calling to return to pioneer roots out making a living with one's hands in the fresh air and sunshine. Not the drab, boring humdrum lifestyle that forces us into tiny, poorly lit offices where we are forced to read the meaningless dribble of idiots and sycophants who are too weak to actually do their homework or crack a book for Heaven's Sake. Why back in my day we knew the value of an education and didn't spend it out partying and chasing pretty girls with their short skirts and tight T-shirts with the seductive way they slowly cross and uncross their long silky legs.... aaaahhhhhrrrhhhhhrhrrrgggghhh...."
Other medical experts are also stymied as to what may be behind the recent outbreak. I spoke with Thomas Bazanno who works for the Slabam Ambulance Company.
"Ah, these folks are just plain nutjobs. Personally, I hate having to go pick one up. This past week, I had to subdue and deliver six. You know what it's like having someone singin' 'Hello Dolly' while you're stuck in midtown traffic for four hours? It's no wonder why they pass out suddenly. All that singin' would just tire me out too."
And what of the reports that some of the patients have severe bruising on their heads?
Although reports are still pouring in from local hospitals, there has yet to be an official statement from the Mayor's office. We tried to talk to him this afternoon and were not allowed into the offices. An aide, who refused to appear on camera, said that the Mayor was busy studying the problem and that an announcement would be released shortly.
Reporting live at the capitol, I'm Susan McCaffry.
Thank you Susan.
As you have heard, officials have not yet released further word about the crisis. If you, or someone you know should suddenly feel like breaking into show tunes. We urge you to seek immediate medical help. Or come down to the station. Either one, really, but if you come down to the station, we'll give you fifty bucks and put you on camera.
"A white man loves your daughter! Faraway, Dear Shenendoah!..."
Employees and Staff of this station are not eligible.
I tell you, Lenny. There is no way that the Jedi didn't know about the Emperor.
Emperor? Do you mean the Senator? Hand me the wire clippers.
Yeah. Senator Palpitatin'. Look, Obi-wan and Queequeg said that the Jedi scan all da' kids in DA universe for DA ones with mitochondrias in 'em right?
Yeah, yeah, Palaputtin or whatever. Look am I right?
Maybe. Hold this.
So's if all the kids in the Universe are scanned or whatever? How's it that the Senator some's how manages to get past the test?
Maybe his folks didn't want him getting yanked out and tossed into the Jedi boot camp or whatever.
But the Jedi said it was a great honor to be part of the Knights.
Tony, if you had a kid would you wanna have a bunch of religious wackos come in and take him from you, then tell you that you can't see him for who knows how long because we're training him to be a hired killer?
Depends, how much would they pay?
Look, trust me on this one. If they tried that with my Ma, they'd need a lot more than some glowy baseball bats to keep her from ending their plans for a family. Look, the Senator was a Sith, right? Maybe they run at a different frequency or something? Hand me the tape.
Geez, the black electrical tape you numbnut! What does it look like I'm wrapping a present here?
OK, OK, here's the tape. Or maybe the senator get's himself injected with them mitoflavorin thingies and that's how he turns himself into a big walking bug zapper.
There! All set. You got the tape recorder?
Yeah, it's plugged in and everything.
The Boss said we should turn it on and go. What time do you have?
9:17. Here, let me get that. OK, tape's running. Let's go.
The Grayhound Line rang. Chris was a bit startled by it. He didn't really remember giving out the number to anyone. Still it was ringing none the less.
He picked it up. "Hello?" there was nothing. 'Sales call' thought Chris. He was about to hang up when he heard a familiar voice.
"Ah, Grayhound!" It was the voice from Confederacy Square. "Hi, it's me, Bob."
"What do you want?" Chris asked.
"Who is it" JB asked. He wished Chris had gotten the speakerphone. Heck, he wished that Chris had gotten Caller ID. 'Why should we get Caller ID if we're going to answer the phone anyway?' Chris had told him. Geez, a bloody fortune in the bank and he doesn't want to spend six bucks a month.
Chris grabbed a pen and wrote on the pad. "BOB".
Now JB REALLY wished that Chris had gotten the bloody speakerphone.
"Me? Oh, I'm doing well enough" the voice on the phone continued. "I must say that I am very impressed with the new look. Quite stylish really. You must tell me who your tailor is."
Chris was not in the mood for banter. "Cut to the chase. What's this about?"
"Ah, well, never hurts to ask, now does it? Well, knowing you two, you're probably got your knickers in a bunch about the Hum, haven't you?"
"What Hum? What are you talk-"
"Well actually, yes, I do know something about it. It has been in the news quite a bit recently, hasn't it? Well, I just wanted to call you two quick, and give you a quick update. The Hum is going far better than I ever imagined. Mwah-ha-ha."
Chris covered the mouth piece again and whispered, "JB, what's this about a Hum?"
"Got me", JB responded, "I guess we need to listen to the news more."
"OK, OK, I'll get the bloody cable." Chris snapped.
The voice on the phone finished laughing, "Oh, and since I know you're both pretty new at this, I'm guessing you probably haven't thought about tracing the line. Well, no matter. It's not like I'm actually calling you from Warehouse 2 on Dock 13, anyway. Well, it has been fun boys. Let's talk again sometime, shall we? *click*"
Chris looked at the phone for a second. He hung it up, then looked at his brother. "We've been invited to our first trap."
"Our first what?" JB responded.
"He said that he wasn't calling from Warehouse 2 on Dock 13."
"OK So now what?"
"I dunno. You're the expert in these things. What do most of the super heroes in your comic books do?"
"Uhm, you're not going to like this."
"You're kidding, right?"
"We're supposed to go down there?"
"Well, if you want to do what all the other heroes usually do."
"Great. Let me strap on the body armor. You're doing the same."
"But Chris.." JB started to whine.
"No Exceptions. I'm not letting you get killed during our first trap. I want the reason I'm a superhero to be something other than 'Vengeance for my Idiot Brother who didn't wear his freaking body armor'"
They suited up. The armor was heavy enough to stop most bullets, but light enough to allow them to run like hell away from whoever was shooting. Beneath Chris' Coat, it looked like he had been working out for most of his adult life. Chris flexed his strap on muscles a bit in the mirror. The illusion, however, was shattered when JB walked out with the armor over his costume. Well, some of it anyway.
"JB, where's you chest plate and shin guards?"
"They don't fit. When I put them on, I couldn't breath, and if that's the case, I'll prefer being beat up than suffocated, thank you."
"Great, so now you look like a skate punk on acid."
"Look, just stay behind me then."
They drove to the docks and parked "far enough" away. Slowly they made their way up to the front door of the warehouse.
"Are you sure about this?" JB asked.
"You said yourself that heroes always do things like crash through the windows or skylights right? Well, this Bob guy probably knows and expects us to do the same thing. The last thing he's going to expect is for us to walk into the front door."
"Yeah, I guess you're right."
"OK, we're here. Now stay behind me and stay low."
Chris slowly turned the knob on the door. It was unlocked. Carefully he pulled the door open and peeked inside. It was dark, but the moonlight filtered in enough for him to see that the building appeared mostly empty. Just a few low boxes. scattered here and there. In the middle of the warehouse was a small table.
"That's odd." Chris said. "It looks like the coast is clear."
Chris opened the door the rest of the way and looked inside. Sure enough, there were no hordes of machine gun toting thugs, no laser wielding robots, just a card table with a digital clock on it.
A lock that read 00:00:02.
Ah, well, apparently the author has just LOST HIS MIND AND BLOWN OUR HEROES TO SMITHEREENS!!
No, no, wait, I'm sure I just misread the fact that The Grayhound and Puppyboy weren't just SPRAYED ACROSS THE BOISE BAY! No, I just re-read that and it sure as heck looks like THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT HAS HAPPENED!
Ok, no Holy whatever. No cute crap. I wanna just sit back and see exactly how the hell he's gonna write his way out of this one.
Tune in next time for:
A Bit of Heroics
The Squee-gee and SpungeBoy Chronicles
No really, they're not gonna be waking up from a dream or anything stupid like that are they? I mean I'm gonna go completely non-linear if that's what happened. No stupid cop out answers either like they were hiding in a safe they managed to open in two seconds...