paulmundane

General and somewhat random story things

Archive for the month “May, 2013”

What’s the hold up?

Alright. Here’s what I got. I was working on The Outside, and I had a million ideas. Yay. Thing is? None of them had anything to do with The Outside. In short, I don’t think The Outside is what I want to write. Not right now at least. So, I’m declaring a skip week. A skip couple weeks in fact, as I sort my thoughts, and figure out what I want to be writing.

I do this often, by the way. I mean, if you’ve been reading for awhile, you know this. This is sorta how I brainstorm. I come up with an idea, and I run with it. Problem is? Sometimes I don’t run very far before I recognize that the idea isn’t working for me.

Anyways.

I know I said every Monday, but I can’t force it. Writing is not a force thing. I mean, it is in ways; you got to hit quota and you got to get behind the keys if you want to get anything done. I just can’t force a story I’m not feeling. So that’s that. I’ll see you all in about two weeks. I’ll figure out what story I want to tell by then.

Honest.

-Paul Mundane.

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The Outside 1: The New Guy

As a bar, The Madman had never lived up to its name.  It was never really crazy, even on a Saturday night.  Matt liked The Madman; especially when he wanted a quiet drink.  It was a tiny hole in the wall, with worn linoleum floors, and faded street find couches and chairs.  The tables were warped and heavily scarred, and the air had an eternal cloud of cigarette smoke.

The same bartender seemed to be working every night Matt had visited the bar.  From what Matt could figure, the bartender was the only staff the Madman had.  Besides Matt and the bartender, the Madman was nearly empty.  The only other people in the bar were a couple at a nearby table.

One of the two was a girl-goth; with purple hair and lip piercings.  She wore a tight concert tee that showed off the half sleeve of tattoos along her left arm. She was slim, and quite attractive.  Normally, the girl would be the reason for Matt’s occasional glance, but at the moment, his attention was on her mate.

The girl’s companion was a giant of a man; stuffed uncomfortably into his chair, and crouched over the table.  His hand was fisted around his pint glass, and was easily the size of the girl’s head.  His features were hidden under a ragged hoodie.  Matt caught the movement of the big man’s head, and looked away before he could be caught staring.

Matt looked back down at his empty drink, and nodded to the bartender.  The bartender refilled the pint glass, slid him an ashtray, and left him to his thoughts.  Matt lit a smoke, and reached into his jacket.  He pulled the pink slip out, and looked it over for the millionth time.

Matt shook his head.  Laid off?  With a package?  It didn’t make sense.  He wasn’t against the idea, but it felt like a mistake.  Matt had worked construction, but he wasn’t a skilled labourer.  Matt lifted and carried.  Lifting and carrying doesn’t get laid off, and it certainly doesn’t get a package.

Matt was still staring at the pink slip when the goth-girl pulled up a barstool.  She patted Matt’s arm gently, and smiled at him.  “Hey, you doing ok sailor?”  It was a terrible impersonation of a Manhattan accent.

Matt slid the pink slip back into his pocket, and half smiled at the girl.  “Was that supposed to be a proposition?” he questioned.  “If it was, it was awkward at best.”

The girl mocked hurt.  “Aw, you didn’t even let me get to the part where I ask you to buy a girl a drink.”  She tipped back the dregs of her old pint, and looked over her shoulder.

Matt followed her glance.  The thug she’d been sitting with was gone.  “Your boyfriend take off?”

Goth-girl looked confused for a second before she burst out laughing.  “Who, Krudd?  He’s not my boyfriend.  Not even my type.”  She motioned towards the bathrooms.  “He’ll be in there for a bit.”

Matt chuckled, and lit a smoke of his own.  “His name is Crud?  Not exactly a sales pitch.”

“He spells it with a K,” the girl explained.  “Or I guess he would if he could spell.”

Matt chuckled.  He lit a new smoke off the butt of his old one, and took a drink.  “So the guy’s living up the stereotype then?  Big and stupid?”

“And mean, and dangerous, and one track minded,” The girl added, ticking off the points on her fingers.  “His type tends to be.  I was just finishing business with him when I saw you over here, being all maudlin.”

“Maudlin?”  Matt shrugged.  “I’m not sure I’m that interesting.  Not the best company right now either.”

“Not that interesting?”  She shook her head.  “Drinking away your sorrows alone at the bar?  Pining over your last case, or a lost love?  You couldn’t be more noir if you were monologuing.”

“I’d need to be a detective for that to make sense,” he countered.  “I’m not.”

“Not yet,” she corrected.

Matt ignored the odd comment.  “I got laid off,” he explained.  “Nice enough package, but still jobless.”  Matt sighed, and finished off his pint before turning attention to the new one.  “It was a crap job, so I’m still unsure how I feel about the news.”

“It’s probably for the best Matt,” the girl commented.  “You’re wasting your talents on that construction site.”

“Well thanks,” Matt began.  He stuttered to a stop, and stared suspicion at the girl.  “How’d you know I worked construction?  How’d you know my name?”

“You’d be amazed what I know,” The girl replied with a wry grin.  “I’m the trouble dame that just walked into your life.”  She offered Matt her hand.  “I’m…”

“KAY!”  Krudd yelled over her from across the bar.  He stood in the door of the washroom, and stared hatred at the two.  “Kay!  I heard you laughing.  You don’t laugh at me!”

Matt got a brief look under Krudd’s hood as the huge man stomped across the bar.  He couldn’t put his finger on it, but something was very wrong with Krudd’s face.  He didn’t have that much time to look, as Krudd cleared the distance in only a few long strides.  Krudd grabbed Kay by the arm, and roughly swung her off of her stool.  Matt made to stand, but Krudd grabbed him by the back of the head, and slammed his face on the bar.

“This doesn’t concern you little man,” Krudd told Matt with a deep growl.  He lifted Matt’s face slightly, and slammed it down again to punctuate his warning.  Krudd ignored Kay’s protests as he dragged her out of The Madman.

Matt rubbed the side of his face, and looked at the door.  “I wouldn’t,” the bartender said.  He smiled sympathetically at Matt, and continued to clean a glass.  “I’d leave well enough alone if I were you,” the bartender continued.  “Kay can take care of herself.  Besides, that guy will open a whole world of trouble you want nothing to do with.”

“Good advice,” Matt said.  He pounded back his pint, and tossed a twenty on the bar.

“Good advice that you won’t listen to,” the bartender guessed.

Matt nodded his response.  He quickly downed his pint for extra courage, and marched out the door after Krudd.

The streets were abandoned, and the smell of spring rain and wet pavement hung in the mist.  Only one streetlamp still worked on this block, and it shone light on Matt as he lit a smoke.  Very noir indeed, Matt considered.  He could hear Krudd shouting, and followed the sound to an alley across from the bar.

The alley was the dead end sort, beside a Chinese restaurant.  Garbage bags littered the walls, and the air stunk of old grease and rotted meats.  Kay was against the far wall, rubbing her wrist.  Krudd loomed over her, yelling obscenities.  Matt stared at Krudd’s back.  Unfurled, Krudd was easily seven foot tall.  The big man was four foot wide at the shoulders.

“You think you can laugh at Krudd?  Is that what you think?”  Krudd fumbled with his belt.  “I’ll give you something to laugh at bitch!”

Matt considered interrupting with sarcasm.  Krudd was a stupid name, even for seven feet of thug.  Krudd had even left an opening for a small penis comment.  It was easy material.  Matt sized up Krudd, and all wit vanished from his mouth.  “Hey, leave her alone,” he ordered in what he hoped was a commanding voice.

Krudd grunted his annoyance at the interruption.  He didn’t look before he swung a meaty backhand into Matt’s face.  Matt was thrown backwards, and crashed into the pile of wet garbage bags.  He rubbed his jaw, surprised that it was still attached.

When Matt staggered to his feet, Krudd was towering over him.  Krudd’s hood was down, and Matt finally got a good look at him.  Krudd’s greasy hair hung to his shoulders, and framed his misshapen face.  His jaw jutted forward, and his teeth were too big to fit in his face.  His eyes were sunken, and one was much larger than the other.  His oversized forehead had great lumps on it, like horns that had never surfaced.  He had one thick eyebrow that spread to each of his hubcap sized ears.

Krudd cracked his knuckles.  Giant canines jutted from his mouth as he sneered down at Matt.  “Krudd told you to stay out of it little man.  Now Krudd’s going to have to teach you.”

Matt lashed out his foot in a frantic kick.  He caught Krudd in the knee, and could feel the joint pop.  The large man stumbled back, and howled in pain.  Matt stumbled to his feet.  He was a bit surprised of the damage he’d managed on Krudd with a wild kick, but didn’t waste the time thinking on it.  Matt had a few years of karate under his belt, and a couple others of boxing.  He’d taken them mostly to keep fit, and had never used his training outside of the gym.  Despite this, Matt found it easy to slip into form.

Krudd swore, and rubbed his knee.  He stared hatred at Matt for a moment, before acknowledging that his smaller opponent had taken a combat stance.  “Really?”  Krudd laughed.  He stretched his arms out in a show of size, able to touch his knuckles to each wall of the alley.  “You think you can fight Krudd?”

Matt didn’t waste time on comment.  He stepped into Krudd’s space.  The big man saw at the last second how open he’d left himself, but there was little he could do about it.  Matt swung his full weight behind an uppercut.  He connected with an audible crack, and lifted Krudd off the pavement.  The big man tumbled backwards, and landed in a heap.

Matt dashed forward to follow up, and stopped short.  He stared from Krudd to his fist.  There was a weird tingling running through his body, like liquid fire running through his muscles.  Trained or not, Matt was certain he shouldn’t have been able to hit the big man that hard.  Krudd groaned, and began to stand up.

“Don’t think about it!” Kay yelled from the back of the alley.  “It’s a bit messed, and I’ll explain later.  Right now, you need to just roll with it!”

Matt looked at her a second, confused about what she was trying to tell him.  He looked back just in time to bring his arms up in defence of Krudd’s swing.  Krudd’s giant fist Connected hard with Matt’s forearms.  Matt didn’t fall, but was shifted backwards a few feet by the blow.

Krudd roared his frustration, and slammed a long sideswipe at Matt.  Matt blocked again, but this time was smacked into the wall of the alley.  Krudd finished with a downward punch into Matt’s skull, and dropped Matt to his knees.  Krudd roared again, this time in triumph.  The sound vibrated through Matt’s chest.

Matt shook out the cobwebs, and wiped a trickle of blood from his chin.  Fine, he decided.  Roll with it.  He punched Krudd as hard as he could in the midsection.  Krudd let out an explosion of breath, and folded in half.  Matt rose quickly, and grabbed handfuls of the Krudd’s filthy hair.  He pulled Krudd forward, and slammed a knee into his chin.  Krudd’s mouth snapped shut with the sound of breaking chalk.  Matt stepped up the wall behind him, and used it for leverage as he twisted a spin kick into Krudd’s face.  This time, when the big man hit the ground, he made no motion of getting back up.

Matt took some calming breaths, and slowly dropped his stance.  He was shaking from the adrenaline, and had to fight to keep the beer in his stomach.  He looked at the giant on the ground in front of him, only now letting his brain go off on how messed up the night was.

Kay walked the distance of the alley calmly.  She gave Krudd a cursory glance before she smiled sympathy at Matt.  “You doing ok?”

“Jeez.  Ah, ah jeez.”  Matt shook his head, and shut his eyes.  “This can’t be happening.”

“Don’t hide from this,” Kay commanded.  “This is your big Red Pill, Blue Pill moment.  Don’t let go of it,” Kay rubbed his shoulder, and motioned at Krudd.  “Open your eyes.  Tell me what you see.”

“He’s messed up,” Matt said.  “Some sort of ganger.  It must be scarification or…”  He looked hard at Krudd.  “He’s a monster.”

Matt couldn’t believe what he’d said aloud; worse, Kay seemed elated to hear it.  “This is pretty fucked up right here.” he said.  “Did you dose my drink or something?”  He waved at the figure on the alley floor.  “It’s a mask right?  This is some sort of trick.”

“Oh for the love of Christ.”  Kay pointed at Krudd.  “Look at him!  Does it look like he’s wearing a mask?  Does it?”

Kay sighed heavily.  She lit a smoke, and offered one to Matt.  “Ok, I know it’s hard the first time.  Everything you know about the world is wrong.”  She waved at Krudd again.  “Monsters are real, and they wander the streets with all the Normals.  You know now.”

Matt took one of Kay’s cigarettes, and lit it.  His hands were shaking pretty badly.  He took a drag and stared at Krudd again. The big man groaned, but still didn’t get up.  “There was a woman, lived at the end of my street when I was young,” he told Kay.  “She was really old, and her house was a mess.  The kids used to say she was a witch, and that she was eating all those kids that went missing.”  Matt prodded at Krudd experimentally with his boot.  “Thing is, she looked like a witch: matted hair, twisted face, warts, the works.  When I’d tell adults that, they didn’t see it the same, and said it was rude to make fun of old folks.”  Matt finished his smoke in three heavy drags, and tossed the butt across the alley.  “I’ve seen other stuff like her, like him,” he pointed at Krudd.  “I think I’ve always been able to see it, but I’ve always rationalized it away.”

“That’s what people do,” Kay explained.  “But most can’t see them the way you do.”  She smiled.  “You’re special Matt.  There’s only a few folks that can see The Others naturally.”  She shrugged.  “People can be trained to see it, but most go insane when they look past the veil.”

“Is that what will happen to me?  Will I go insane.”  Matt didn’t really expect an answer.  He didn’t feel crazy, just a little sick.  He didn’t even feel that strongly against the concept that monsters were real.  Matt wondered if that was an insanity of it’s own.  He shook his head, and changed the subject.  “What do we do with him?”

“Nothing,” Kay commented casually.  “Krudd isn’t really that big a problem.  He’ll remember the beating you gave him, and he’ll keep his head down for awhile.”

Matt looked at Kay.  She smiled casually, and acted like this was just another night.  “What would have happened to you if I hadn’t come here?”  Matt remembered Krudd fumbling with his belt, and kicked the big creature in disgust.  “He was going to…”

“Mean, violent, one track minded,” Kay reminded Matt.  “I knew the risks dealing with him.”

“But he would have…”

“No he wouldn’t.”  Kay shrugged.   “He might have tried, but then I would have taken him out.”  She chuckled at Matt’s sceptical look.  “I do this all the time,” she explained.  “Until now, I was doing it pretty much alone.”

Matt nodded in a daze.  He shook his head when the words finally reached it.  “Wait, what do you mean, until now?”

“I think that’s pretty obvious,” Kay noted.  “I mean…”  She stopped, and looked down at Krudd.  “He’ll wake up eventually,” she said.  “Do you want to take this conversation inside?”  She motioned to The Madman.

Matt nodded, and followed Kay back to the bar.  He was surprised to find a pitcher waiting at the table.  Matt poured a pair of pints, and stared out the window, unsure what to say next.  Outside, Krudd limped passed.  The big man gave the bar one glance, and sped up his pace.

Kay smirked as she watched Krudd slide by the window.  She lit a smoke, and smiled at Matt.  “Well, go on then,” she suggested.  “You have questions.”  Kay offered a cigarette from her pack.

Matt waved Kay’s offered smokes away, and lit one from his own pack.  “Alright,” he started.  “You fight monsters?  Regularly?”  He shook his head.  “You’re like Buffy?”

“More like Willow,” Kay muttered, “but without the naïve charm.”  She shrugged.  “It’s not that simple, but it’s a good start.  We investigate the strange stuff that no one else can explain.”

“We?”

Kay took a drink.  “We,” she repeated.  “Right now it’s me and a guy named Daniel.  He doesn’t tend to work the field though.  There was Jackie as well, but…”  Kay sighed and shook her head.  She smiled over the table.  “And then there’s you.”

“Me.”  Matt shook his head.  “Well, I’m glad you’ve already decided that I’m in.”

Kay rolled her eyes at Matt.  “Oh, come on.  You know you are.  You can’t tell me you aren’t interested.  I mean, you’ve seen the other side.  You’ve met Krudd.”

“You set that up.”  Matt frowned.  “You knew I’d be here somehow, and you brought Krudd.”  Matt took a drink.  “You talked to me to make sure I didn’t miss you two.  You knew he’d think that you were talking about him, and you knew that he’d get mad.”

“And you said you’re not a detective.”  Kay smiled at her own cleverness.  “Yeah, you’re right on most parts.” she admitted.  “I mean, Krudd was already mad, and he was due for a warning.  I would have been talking to him tonight with or without you.”  She blew a smoke ring before she continued.  “As for setting it up?  You come here all the time.  I’ve seen you before, and I could tell you were one of us.  I figured you just needed that extra push.”

Matt rubbed at the bruise forming on his forearm.  “Well, Krudd’s a hell of a push.”  Matt thought for a moment; part of the puzzle was missing.  He blinked, and looked at his jacket pocket.  “You got me fired too, didn’t you?”  He shook his head when she didn’t deny it.  “You somehow got me fired, and set me up with…”

“…with a pretty sweet package?” Kay finished.  “More than you’d have made this year?”  She took a swig of beer.  “That was Daniel, but yeah, same thing.”

“Daniel,” Matt repeated.

“You’ll meet him tomorrow.”  Kay lit a smoke, and mocked concern.  “I mean, unless you’re turning down the job?”

Matt lit a smoke of his own.  He finished his pint, and motioned for another.  He left the question hanging in the air for a few minutes.  “Is it always this weird?”

Kay laughed.  “You mean Krudd weird?  No.”  She shrugged at Matt.  “Krudd’s sort of normal.  Just wait till the real weirdness starts.”

Matt drank quietly, and Kay let him have his thoughts.  He shrugged.  “Fine,” he relented.  “I’m in.  When do I start?”

Kay tapped the pocket Matt had his pink slip in.  “You’re already on the payroll,” she said with a smile.  “Welcome to The Outside.”

Decker Pause, and Other Things

Right.  Hello, and all that.

So, right now, on my computer box, I’m writing the third part of my Decker story.  Neat huh?

Problem being?  I don’t have a part two to share with you all.  I’m pretty much typing up the end, just after finishing the beggining as far as you, my readers, have seen.  I don’t have  a middle to share.  And I’ll be heck darned if I’m going to lose this ending I’m writing.

Soooo, Decker is on pause, from your point of view.  I’ll post it again when I get a mid bit for it.

Until then, I’ve got two things that I want to do.  The first is set a schedule for myself.  It’s one I’ve been following a bit already, but I figure I’ll set it in stone here.  I’ll be posting on Monday nights from now on.  A chapter a week, instead of the chapter a day or so I did with Tales from the Bucket.  It’s for the best, cause I really can’t get the words out these days as fast as I could before.

Two jobs and all that.

Second thing?  While Decker is on pause, I’m going to be revisiting The Outside.  I’ll be posting a story a week, at about three thousand words or so.  I have big plans for these tales, and a bit of nostalgia.  See, The Outside was the first piece I was working on online.

Oh, by the way, if you weren’t around for their first outing, I’m going to be fixing up and re posting the first two stories before I get to new ones.  There are a few tricks of the trade I’ve learnt since I originally shared The Outside, and they need some polish.  You’ll see.

First one goes up tonight.  It’s called The New Guy.

See you all then.

Paul Mundane

Decker 08

Hero Diary:

My dad used to say that being a hero is about responsibility, not about popularity.  Yes, I do know where he read that.  Thank you very much Hero Diary.  It doesn’t matter where he got it.  It’s true.

The news that evening talked about how White Knight and Black Hat had located a theft ring and broken up a giant underground party.  Reporters speculated about the battle that must have taken place between the two great heroes and the thugs that were running the operation.

Decker flipped from channel to channel, trying to catch every reporter’s opinion.  She didn’t mind that there was no mention of White and Black having help.  It wasn’t a surprise that the news was giving the two full credit.  Decker had convinced herself that she didn’t mind that much.  After all; she wasn’t a hero for the fame.

Besides, Decker had been long gone when the cameras had shown up, and neither White Knight nor Black Hat had stayed to be interviewed long.  They had important hero business to do, most likely, so it wasn’t like they would stop and thank her on camera.

They had stayed long enough to give reporters the short version of the story; where there was a party underground for thieves.  They also stayed long enough to suggest that Mr. Task was directly involved.  They mentioned Task with a level of disgust that belayed a former meeting.  Perhaps several.

Despite this, none of the reporters blinked when Task was mentioned.  The bottom scroll bar on one news channel said that Task’s office had been unavailable for comment, but beyond that, nothing.  It seemed odd.  Odder still; there was no mention of X being arrested.  Decker flicked off the TV, and flipped open her laptop.

Online research always looked easier on TV.  Just type in what you want to find, and voila; there it is first link.  Trying to Google ‘X’ didn’t go very well for Decker, and adding ‘Big’ and ‘Fast’ to the search only took her to parts of the Internet she didn’t want to visit.  Decker wisely decided that adding ‘Fun Zone’ to the current search would turn out badly, and instead searched for information on Mr. Task.

Information on Mr. Task was much easier to find.  He had his own Wiki page and everything.  It turned out that Mr. Edgar Task was the owner of a small software company that mostly made apps.  Decker considered the potential for evil in this, but couldn’t find much beyond overcharging for Flash based games.

Beyond his software company, what Mr. Task seemed most famous for was his stand against masked vigilantes.  Task was vocal in his belief that super heroism should be outright illegal.  He’d often complained that these heroes answered to no one, and that they, by nature, would become corrupt.  He’d even said that White Knight and Black Hat were the worst of the lot for this very reasons.

Task had history with the two heroes.  He’d been brought in on several occasions by the pair on various charges.  Task had insisted that White Knight and Black Hat were continually after him with baseless accusations to shut him up.  No charges against Mr. Task had ever stuck, and he’d successfully sued the various news channels over their coverage every time.  This was the reason not one reporter had followed up when White Knight had declared Mr. Task to be involved.  He’d become untouchable.

Decker shook her head.  There was an undertone in the wiki article that implied that Mr. Task was guilty, or at least that the writer thought so.  Still, there had been no proof in any cases against him, and Decker had even less proof that he was involved in the Fun Zone.  Yes, she’d heard Big call him by name, but that wasn’t proof.  Not by legal standards at least.

Even if it was enough proof, Decker wasn’t sure what she’d do with it.  She couldn’t just fly over to Task’s office and demand he turn himself in.  Decker stared at her laptop.  Finding information on Mr. Task was an admitted break in her case; she just wasn’t sure what to do with it right now.  She was about to close her laptop, when suddenly she considered one more search.

Decker had heard that no one should ever Google themselves.  It was a thing apparently.  She paused for a moment over the keys.  It couldn’t be that bad; Internet wise.  After all, she was looking up Decker, not her real name, so it didn’t really count.

Decker held her breath as the search engine loaded, and sighed when it seemed ok.  There were some sites focusing on power tools, which was fine.  A bit about a British chocolate bar, but again, that was fine.  There was even a woman actually named Decker, but considering how she filled a bikini, Decker wasn’t concerned that anyone would mistake the woman for her.

Decker began idly flipping through site descriptions.  She found a football player, and a comedian.  There was an entire run of kittens, a section on buses, and a badly spelt review of Bladerunner.  Decker was several pages into her search before something really caught her eye.  It was a forum thread labelled ‘That Girl in the Blue Scarf’.

Decker nearly dropped her laptop in excitement.  That had to be about her; who else could it be?  She clicked the link, and connected to a forum simply known as Zone Chat.  It was a pretty basic site:  a few gifs, a simple beige background, nothing more.  Despite this, the forum was busy.  New posts were popping up every few seconds.  More exciting was that most of the new posts were following That Girl in the Blue Scarf.

Decker had a smile when she’d started reading the thread, but it vanished pretty quickly.  That Girl in the Blue Scarf started by mentioning that some new super hero had busted up the Fun Zone, and that White Knight and Black Hat had had nothing to do with it.  Everything went downhill from there.

“Girl’s name is Decker,” one poster explained.  “I was outside when she laid into Big.  You can tell by the way she talks, and the way she acts, that she’s a total…”  Decker covered her mouth in shock as she read the rest of the sentence, and the rest of the thread.

The thread was full of terrible language, and horrible suggestions of violence to visit on Decker.  For some reason, the fact that most of the posters couldn’t bother with proper grammar made the whole of the thread more hurtful.  New posts were pouring in, all with awful suggestions of what to do to Decker.  Decker bit her bottom lip till she tasted blood, and forced herself to read all of it.

Decker attempted to be professional about it.  She tried to stay detached.  Decker attempted to remember that these were kids that had been at the party she’d ruined, and that they were venting.  It didn’t make it any easier.  Reading posts by a group of strangers that wanted her dead, or worse, was difficult.

Decker rubbed her eyes, and bit back a sob.  She was about to finally close the page when the comments took a sudden and surprising turn.  One of the posters had just finished a horribly creative rant about what to do the Decker’s scarf, when they switched subjects.  “On top of that, she ruined the Fun Zone?  Thanks a lot; I was just making The List.”

“Wut R U, new?” another poster had replied.  “Fun Zone fine.  The List s still up.”

“But the Fun Zone can’t be fine,” Decker told her laptop.  She turned to Ms. Fibblesworth.  “I mean, it can’t be.  I found it.  I went in, and broke it up.  White Knight and Black Hat even showed up.  It has to be gone.”  Decker shook her head.  “Also?  What’s The List?”

She looked back at her laptop, hoping to find some more information.  She actually found less.  The last two posts had been removed, and both users banned.  A new post, by a mod called ‘BIG GUY’, explained.

“That’s two gone,” Big Guy typed.  “Anyone else wanna chat about private venues on the public chat?  Anyone?  Yeah, I didn’t think so.  You break the first two rules, you get banned.  You all know this.  I don’t expect I’ll need to say it again.”

The board went silent for awhile after that.  A few more posts showed up in the thread about Decker, but not with the same fervour that had been shown before.  Decker stared at the site.  She wasn’t going to get any more information here; not tonight at least.  She closed her laptop, and opened her diary.

Hero Diary.

I thought maybe I was going to cap off my first big adventure tonight.  You know, see the news, tie some loose ends, stuff like that?  Instead, I’ve uncovered something huge.  My first case isn’t over.  Not by a long shot by the looks of it.

So I’m totally back to step one right?  Like, I know there’s things I have to do?  Only, just like when I started out, I have NO idea what I’m supposed to do next.

Decker 07

Hero Diary:

I should really go to the police around now.  I mean, I know where the Fun Zone is.  I could bring them there.  They could arrest X, and maybe some of the kids, and return stolen things, and, you know, do police things.

Only, I don’t have time to go to the police, because X is already scrubbing the Fun Zone.  No, Diary, I’m not one hundred on what that means, but I’m pretty certain.  And you know what would happen if I stop to talk to the police?  Yes you do.  We’ve all seen the movies.

I go and get the police, right?  But while I’m convincing them to come with me, X will completely clear  out the Fun Zone.  And I get there, and throw open the doors, again, and the place is empty.  And I’d be all like: no, there really was an underground club here.  And the police would be like: no, we believe you. 

But you’d know they didn’t believe me.  You’d tell by looking in their eyes.  And then I’d find, like, a playing card or something?  And it’d be my only clue.

I have no idea what I’m supposed to do with a playing card, unless it has an address on it.  How would you get anything from a playing card really?

Night time detective classes are sounding better by the minute.

Decker wriggled her wrists against their binds, and mentally added escape artist to her potential night courses.  She didn’t have time to stop and find something to cut her ropes.  The clock was ticking after all.  Still, she felt downright silly flying around with her hands tied.

At least I’m out of sight, right?  I mean, it’s not likely that anyone’s going to see me up here.  One of the benefits of flight, I suppose.  It’s not like someone is just going to wander by and ask why I’m flying about with my hands tied together.

Decker’s ongoing monologue was interrupted as something flew past her at incredible speed.  It moved fast enough to ruffle her skirt, and flip her scarf over her head.  She didn’t see anything more than a streak of white light, but she knew.  She’d just been passed by White Knight, paragon hero of the city.

Decker hovered in the air, mortified.  It was bad enough that White Knight had zoomed past her while she was tied up; but following his light trail, Decker could see that he was headed towards Regal Park.  There was no way it was a coincidence.  White Knight was on his way to the Fun Zone.

Decker flew as fast as she could to Regal Park.  It took some guess work, but she finally found where the Fun Zone would be located top side.  It was a half finished subway station stuffed between a set of project buildings.  White Knight had Ex by the throat.  His partner, Black Hat, was there as well.  Decker circled twice before finding the courage to land on the scene.

White Knight wore an elaborate suit of armour under a white tabard.  No helmet of course, as it would likely block his famous Knight Laser Glance.  He didn’t make any move to suggest he’d heard Decker land.  He had his eyes set firmly on his captive.

White Knight held Ex against the wall; his heavy gauntlet wrapped around her throat.  In his huge templar armour, he looked twice the size of Ex.  He dwarfed everyone in the alley in fact, including his partner.

Black Hat’s uniform was much less ornate than White Knight’s.  He wore loose black pants, and a tight black tank top.  His hands were wrapped tight in boxer’s tape, and his utility belt hung loose on his hip.  He spoke casually to Ex, like he’d known her forever.  Like she wasn’t currently being choked by his partner.  Decker couldn’t hear what they were saying, but she assumed it was about the Fun Zone.  Really, what else could it be about?

Decker landed softly in the alley.  She looked from one hero to the other, and tried to stand tall.  It was hard though.  Here beside two of the most famous supers in the world, Decker felt a lot less like a hero, and a lot more like a girl in a costume.  She tried to announce herself, but her voice jammed tight in her throat.

Decker wasn’t sure what to do next.  White Knight and Black Hat obviously had the situation under control.  They’d found the Fun Zone.  They’d captured Ex.  There wasn’t really anything left, and a big part of Decker really wanted to just go home and hide under her covers and die.

Black Hat turned casually before Decker could take off, and tipped his famous baker-boy cap at Decker.  “Well, hello,” he said.  “You must be Decker.  Ex was just telling us about you.”

Decker opened her mouth twice, but didn’t find any words.  “I, uh, I don’t mean to sneak up on you,” Decker muttered finally.

“You didn’t,” Black Hat assured her.

“We knew you were coming,” White Knight stated gruffly, never taking his eyes off of Ex.  “I knew you’d tagged along when I passed you in the air.  I could hear your heart beat.”

“Oh,” Decker said, uncertain what else to say.  Her cheeks flushed pink, and she stared hard at the ground.  “Oh.”

“Don’t let him get to you,” Black Hat suggested.  “He gets like that when he’s on business.”  Black Hat tried to pat Decker reassuringly on the shoulder, but pulled his hand away gingerly when it was slowed by her field.  He offered her a sly smile.  “Besides, you won’t be the first young super heroine to get a bit fluttery when around us.”

Ex scoffed at Black Hat’s comment.  He offered her a withering glare, before turning his smile back to Decker.  “Here,” Black Hat offered lightly.  He swiped his hand near Decker’s bonds, slicing them neatly.  She never even saw the blade.

Decker rubbed her wrists, and continued staring at her shoes.  She could feel the heat in her cheeks, and figured she’d gone several shades of red.  The fact only made her blush harder.  “Thank you,” she mumbled.

“You’re welcome,” Hat replied.  He hooked Decker’s chin, and gently lifted her face up.  “Don’t be embarrassed kid,” he offered with a smile.  “Everyone gets tied up once and awhile.”

“Even you?”

Black Hat chuckled.  “Alright, almost everyone.”

White Knight made an impatient noise.  “Where are Big and Fast?”

“I left them at the docks,” Decker replied.  Somehow she felt it was the wrong answer.  “I was in a hurry.  They were talking to someone named Mr. Task; and he said that X was going to scrub the Fun Zone.  I didn’t have time to, uh, arrest them or anything.”

“They’re gone then,” White Knight said.

Decker bit her lower lip.  “But X was going to…I mean…I didn’t know you two were going to…”

“Hey, it’s ok kid,” Black Hat assured her.  “You did alright for a first time out.”  He looked over at his partner.  “She did alright for a first time, right White?”

“Sure, fine,” White Knight relented.  He never looked away from Ex.  “We got this now.  Why don’t you go see if Big and Fast are where you left them?”

Black Hat gave Decker a sympathetic ‘what are you going to do’ sort of smile.  “Why don’t you see if you can track them down,” he suggested with a shrug.  “You did good here, but we’ve got this now.”

Decker looked from White Knight, to Black Hat, and back again.  Black smiled friendly at her; White didn’t acknowledge her at all.  “Uh, ok,” Decker relented.  She wasn’t sure what else to do.  She hesitated for a moment more, then flew back towards the docks.

Black Hat watched Decker fly over the buildings.  He waited until she was out of sight before he let his smile slide off his face.  “Is she actually gone?”

White Knight didn’t take his eyes off of Ex.  He didn’t have to.  “She’s gone,”  White verified.  He chuckled low.  “Lord save us from rookies, eh?”

“I don’t know,” Black Hat commented.  “She did alright here.  I bet I could find some use for her.”

Ex choked against White Knight’s grasp.  “Not likely,” she forced.  “That girl’s too goody-good for you boys.”

Black Hat smirked at Ex.  “Really?  I remember a time when we would have said the same about you.”  He gave her a critical once over.  “And now look at you.  All dressed up in super villain black.”  Black Hat clicked his tongue.  “Sad you’re working for three time loser like Task though.  I would have expected you to cling on to something at least B class.”

“Girl needs to make a living,” Ex replied casually.  “Besides, I was just happy to have an employer that was a little less ‘hands on’.”

“You’re joking, right?”  White Knight looked at his partner in disgust.  “Tell me she’s joking, Black.”

“Damn it White!  Don’t take your eyes off of her!”

The warning came too late.  Ex clipped open a concealed pocket on her wrist while White was distracted, and filled her palm with a glittery powder.  She blew it in White’s face when he looked back at her.

White looked annoyed at first, but that quickly gave way to confusion and pain as he tried to blink away the powder.  Ex smiled wickedly as the big man squinted and shook his head.  $100 dollars of high grade diamond dust; worth every penny.

White let go his grip on Ex, and rubbed at his eyes furiously.  It only made it worse.  Ex took some petty pleasure in White Knights discomfort before she ran towards the nearby sewer grate.

“Damn it,” Black Hat cursed.  He immediately gave chase.  Black Hat flicked his hand, bringing his concealed blade to his palm.  He threw it at Ex, driving it into her calf.

Ex grunted at the pain, and tumbled forward.  She tucked into a practiced roll, and pulled the blade free in one swift movement.  Ex tossed the blade back at Hat before returning to a run.  Black Hat paused momentarily to bat the knife out of the air, before returning to the chase.

Ex fired her grapple gun, and hooked the manhole.  She gave a yank, and spun the cover shot-put style before letting it loose behind her.  Black Hat flipped effortlessly over manhole cover.  It didn’t even come close to hitting him; partially because he was never the target.

White Knight pulled his hands down from his blurry red eyes, just in time to take a flying manhole cover to the face.  He reeled back a few steps, and swore loudly.  “OK.  That is it!” he declared.  White Knight stared fury at the fleeing Ex.

Black Hat skidded to a stop.  He could recognize White Knight’s intent from the tone.  “No, White!  Don’t!”

White Knight’s lasers disco balled from his diamond littered eyes; spraying thin beams of white heat in all directions.  Black swore, and grappled to the roofs to escape the path of destruction.  Ex laughed, and dived into the open manhole, escaping to the tunnels below.

White took a moment to rein his powers back in.  He blinked a moment at the squiggly lines burnt into the walls around him.  It was downright embarrassing.  “God dammit,” he cursed loudly.  “You god damned total…”  White Knight stormed towards the open manhole.

Black Hat dropped down behind White Knight.  “Don’t bother,” he suggested.  “She’s gone.”

White Knight bit back several choice words.  “I can’t believe I just got owned by your sidekick,” he complained.

“Ex-sidekick,” Black corrected.  “You got to admit I did a pretty good job training her.”

“Not all you did with her evidently,” White stated with disdain.

“Yeah, yeah.”  Black Hat clapped White Knight on the back.  “C’mon, chum, lets go find you an eyewash station.”

“Chum.”  White Knight let Black Hat lead him away from the alley.  “I hate when you call me that.”

“Yeah, I know.  That’s why I do it.”

Decker 06

Hero Diary.

I’m so scared.  I’ve never been this scared in my entire life. I’m really hurt, and I’m tied up and I can’t see.  I don’t know what they’re going to do to me.   I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.  It’s taking everything not to cry, or scream, or both. 

But I can’t.  I mean, I’m a super hero now, and super heroes don’t cry, right?  Like, Black Hat wouldn’t cry if HE was tied up, would he?  No.  He wouldn’t Diary.  I’m pretty sure of that.

Decker’s entire body felt like one giant bruise from Big’s punches; punctuated by the painful welts where Fast had shot her.  Her body was still numb from whatever drug Ex had used on her.  Decker had been bound, and blindfolded, and tossed into the back of a van.

Decker lay on her side, her head banging against the cold metal floor with each bump Fast drove over.  She hadn’t moved since she’d come to.  Decker wasn’t sure how much danger she was in yet, and until she had an idea, she didn’t dare let Big and Fast know she was awake.

Up front, Big was talking over the radio to someone he simply called Boss.  they seemed to be talking about what to do with Decker, and really, she didn’t want to interrupt that.  Decker didn’t want to tip her hand at all until she knew what was going on.

Big looked over his seat at Decker.  She was still lying where they’d dropped her in the back of the van.  The girl had been squirming around earlier, but she’d seemed to settle out.  Big squirmed a bit himself.  At seven foot tall, and over three hundred pound of muscle; he didn’t really fit in any vehicle.  Even the bucket seats in Fast’s van were a tight fit.  But that was only one of the reasons Big was a bit uncomfortable.  He was in direct contact with their boss, Mr. Task, and Big never liked that.

Normally, Ex would converse with the boss.  The two of them would plan, and tell the guys what to do next.  Big and Fast were the hired help, and honestly, both of them preferred this arrangement.  Big didn’t like to be directly responsible for most decisions.  He was particularly uncomfortable with this one.

Mr. Task had ranted on for awhile.  He was understandably upset about a super hero being in the Fun Zone.  It had been a pretty good set-up, as far as underground kid-thief parties went.  Task was equally unhappy with being directly involved with any decisions.

“I’m not sure why you need me to tell you what to do with her,” Mr. Task questioned once he’d run low on insults.  “She’s a super hero, and she’s seen too much.  Take her somewhere remote, and get rid of her.  Permanently.”

“Get rid of her?”  Big looked over at Fast.  Fast grimaced and shook his head in distaste.  “I don’t know boss,” Big replied.

“You don’t know?  What’s not to know?” Mr. Task snapped.  “One less super hero is one less super hero.  Take her behind the chemical shed and be done with it.”

Big and Fast exchanged another uncomfortable look.  Task sighed his exasperation at their lack of response.  “I don’t understand your problem.  This seems like a simple enough task for you two.”  Mr. Task audibly sneered.  “I wouldn’t like to think you two are going soft.”

“It ain’t that boss,” Big replied slowly.  “It’s just…I mean, she’s just a kid.”

“I don’t care if she’s just a…”  There was a thoughtful pause on the radio.  “How much ‘just a kid’ are we talking here?”

Fast looked back at Decker, and shrugged at Big.  Big shrugged as well.  “Not really sure boss.  Fourteen?  Maybe fifteen?”

Decker kept quietly indignant.  She was older than that, but Big wasn’t the first person to guess real low.  Decker was old enough to hold down a job, and to have her own apartment.  In fact, she was even old enough to drink if she’d cared to.  Old enough in Canada and parts of Europe at least.

At this moment though, the normally annoying mistake was to Decker’s advantage.  There was a long silence on Mr. Task’s end.  “That is awkward,” he said finally.  “Alright.  Get rid of her: but in a less metaphorical way.”  Task sighed.  “I’ll have Ex scrub the Fun Zone; accept it as a loss.  We have to assume that she’ll just be back there.”

“We’re coming up to the bay now boss,” Big suggested.  “We could tie her to something heavy; toss her in?”

Fast nodded his agreement, and mimed a splash.  He shot a hand up, suggesting someone flying away.  “Yeah,” Big agreed.  “We ain’t never seen a super hero actually die to that one, she should be fine.”

“Fine.  Whatever,” Mr. Task agreed shortly.  “So long as she’s kept busy.  Splash her, then get back to the Fun Zone.  Ex is going to need some help.”

“Sure thing boss,” Big replied.  He clicked off the radio and gave Fast a shrug.  “You think we can find one of those old anchors laying about?”

Decker shifted her head slightly, hoping to maybe  be able to peek at the guys from beneath her blindfold.  She had absolutely no luck, and didn’t dare trying harder.  Even now she couldn’t be certain that Big and Fast hadn’t noticed her moving.

Ok Diary, do I even need to tell you that I don’t want to be tied up and thrown in the bay?  I just need to know what’s going on, then I can make my move.  I mean, if I could just see where I was even.  I need this blindfold off.

Ok.  You know what?   I’m a telekinetic.  I move things with my mind.  I should be able to gently lift my blindfold off, right?  It’s a case of concentration.  That’s all it takes; a bit of concentration.

I can do this.  I can lift my blindfold just a little bit, and they won’t even notice what I’m doing.   It’s my power after all.  All I have to do is show a bit of control.

Decker’s hair stood on end, and her eyes flared as she concentrated on a simple lift.  The back of the van exploded dramatically in a flash of blue kinetic energy.  Decker’s blindfold fluttered away behind the moving wreckage.

Decker blinked at the sudden brightness.  Her hands were still tied in front of her, but Decker could see at least.  She pushed quickly into the air, and watched the remains of the van careen away.

Ok, not exactly the effect I was going for?  But you know what, I did get my blindfold off, so I’m totally calling this one a success!

It dawned on Big, as he was punted out of the van, that he hadn’t really thought about what Decker would do when she woke up.  It was easy when she was unconscious to mistake her for just a twiggy little girl.  Easy enough to forget that she’d managed to knock him about pretty good back at the Fun Zone.

Big wondered if this was how Decker always woke up.  It’d probably suck to be her roommate, he mused.  It wasn’t that he was considering a new roommate, it was just idle back of the mind thoughts as he bounced along the ground away from the van.  Big shook his head as he skidded to a stop, and turned to comment to Fast about exploding roommates.  Only, Fast hadn’t gotten out of the van.

Big looked back at the van.  Decker’s blast had shredded the back off of it, and Fast was inside still, slumped over the wheel.  Fast didn’t make a move to get out, even as the van went over the pier, and splashed into the bay.  Big stared hesitantly at the sinking van.  One of the downsides to Big’s super strength and a near impervious physique was that he was pretty dense, physically speaking.  Big and water didn’t get along, because Big sunk like a stone.

Decker didn’t show the same level of hesitation.  She bolted past Big, and dived in after the van.  She didn’t even consider that her hands were still tied until she hit the water.  Fortunately, flying underwater worked much the same as flying in general.

Equally fortunate was that the van didn’t have that far to sink.  This was water off the edge of a pier, not the edge of an abyss after all.  It sunk faster than Decker could fly, but it settled onto the rocks only a few dozen feet beneath the waves.

Decker circled the van once, hoping to find a sharp section of metal or glass to cut her bonds with.  Inside, she could see Fast still buckled in his chair.  His eyes were closed, and his mouth was open.  Decker had taken a deep breath before diving in, and she was already struggling.  Fast didn’t have that luxury.  Decker flew/swam into the back of the van, still tied.  Freedom would have to wait.

Decker braced her back against the back of Fast’s seat, and placed her hands against the floor.  She concentrated, and fired as much power as she could into the floor of the van.  Decker grit her teeth against the strain, as the seat fought to stay attached to the van.  It felt like forever before the chair finally broke free of its mooring.  Decker spun around, and grabbed Fast by the seat belt as she flew fast as she could to the surface.

Decker gasped for breath as she shot up from the bay.  Her chest felt like a furnace, but it didn’t stop her from cheering triumphantly.  Her jubilation lasted a whole ten seconds before the dead weight of Fast and his chair overcame momentum, and dragged her back towards the pier.

Big watched Decker stagger as she tried to stay in the air.  She had an awkward grasp on Fast’s chair; what with her hands being tied up and all.  Big, on the other hand, had a perfectly fine grasp on the van door.  He had been planning on throwing it at Decker when she surfaced, but now was having second thoughts.  She had saved Fast after all.  Yeah, it was what super heroes did supposedly, but Decker had actually done it.  Big thought about it for a second.  He tossed the van door aside, and opened his arms to catch.

Fast coughed up water, and stared confusion at Decker about where he was, and why she was there.  Decker accepted this as a ‘good enough’ on his condition, and let the chair drop to Big as she passed by.  She then shot off as fast as she could back towards Regal, and back towards the Fun Zone.

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