Well, you’ve all humored my stalling long enough.
Today I wrote another bit of Blank Mastermind.
We join our amnesiac villain after he sabotages his own plan to bomb his arch-enemy’s family at a baseball stadium.
That’s to put it very briefly.
Lots of stuff happened.
Catch up with past parts here (Or just reminisce. I’m good with that too):
And that would make this part 9.
Y’know, at first my parts were more like four pages long…
This one’s eight.
I tried to make it short.
But you guys don’t mind, do you? ❤
Have a collage.
And the next part, finally.
Don’t hunt me down after this cliffhanger, guys…
Headache seemed to be the total of my very existence on this planet.
For a few minutes, it was the only thing I could feel. Then feeling started tingling back into the other parts of my body.
My fingers twitched and I felt a blanket. Why was there a blanket? I wasn’t cold.
My head throbbed again and I closed my eyes tighter. Upbeat music drifted on the air and I heard voices talking seriously nearby.
Swallowing, I forced my eyes open and found myself looking at a cheery, yellow ceiling. For some reason, I’d thought it would be grey. Metal or cinderblock . . . something like that.
Why did my head hurt so much? I tried to pull one of my hands up to put on it, but there was a clank and my hand was held back by something. I frowned and my fingers touched a thin chain. Handcuffs? I’d think I would remember being handcuffed.
Not this again.
I closed my eyes, pulling at memories in my muddled mind. Slowly, things began to surface.
There had been a bomb. Something had gone wrong. There was a family. A gang. A boy with green eyes. Why couldn’t I remember their names?
One name emerged.
I was Wolfgang Dankworth. The man with the worst luck in the world and about enough memories to fill a teacup.
I groaned. But how had I gotten here?
The talking voices grew a little louder and I lay still, trying to make out the conversation.
“ . . . turn it back on . . . close call . . . happen again . . .”
“ . . . fine, really . . . I’m here now, aren’t I?”
I knew the second voice. I shifted slightly under the blankets, careful not to rattle the handcuffs.
“Dallas, we can’t take that risk . . . you’ll learn . . . I’ll help you . . .”
Dallas. That was the green-eyed boy’s name.
It was quiet for a minute, then the first voice said something I couldn’t hear. There was a sigh.
“ . . .think . . . check on him . . .”
I had a feeling I was “him”.
Footsteps came steadily closer and the noise of a door opening and closing sounded just across the room. More footsteps, then the light thud of someone sitting down.
I kept my eyes closed. The someone who’d come in shifted in the chair. I took in a slow breath through my nose, though I’m not sure what I thought that would help.
Maybe I could smell who it was through some incredible piece of detective work. I smelled antiseptic and a faint pine-y smell. The antiseptic was probably me. Pine though . . . maybe a lumberjack. A tiny one because those footsteps were very quiet.
I took a chance and opened one eye.
Dallas sat in a folding chair, wearing a dark green jacket over a shirt with a red, white and blue shield on it. His hands were clasped between his knees and he looked out the window.
I had my eye open for a couple of seconds before he glanced over at me. I quickly closed my eye again.
Silence for a couple seconds.
“How’s your head?”
“About to explode.” I didn’t open my eyes.
“It should feel a little better in a bit. Painkillers should kick in.”
Oh, that’s nice. I’m not muddled enough.
I heard Dallas shift in his seat.
“So,” I began, reopening one of my eyes, “how did I end up . . . here?”
Dallas glanced around the room and rubbed at the back of his head, “Mr. Fernsby brought you. I talked to him a bit.”
I opened my other eye in a pained squint. “Fernsby . . .” I dug through the few faces in my memory bank, “Is that the guy with the sunglasses? And the ice cream?”
“No, that’s Mr. News. Are you sure you’re feeling okay?”
Didn’t I just say I felt like mud just two minutes ago? I gave Dallas a look.
He sighed and stood up, pulling something out of his pocket. “Mr. Fernsby is Utah’s Hero. Also known as Amazing Man. I’m his sidekick. You’re his arch-nemesis. This is his house and he wants to talk to you.”
Dallas stepped forward and took a hold on the handcuffs. A quick jab and twist from the thing in his hand and the handcuffs clattered limply to the side of the bed.
Oh perfect. Yes, let’s chat. We’re on such good terms right now. I tried to kill his family . . . he belted me across the back of the head and nearly cleared my memory again . . .
The handcuffs fell off my other hand, “Mrs. Fernsby has breakfast and coffee all made.”
Well, if you put it that way . . . Any differences can be put aside for the sake of a decent meal.
I sat up a little faster than I probably should have and my head protested quite piercingly. I put my hand up and felt a bandage wrapped around my head in a thick band.
This Fernsby guy was very illogically hospitable.
Shaking my head, I stood up.
“Easy, now.” Dallas held out his hands as if to catch me.
“Hey, you’re not the picture of health yourself.” I pointed out. One of my knees buckled and I barely caught myself on the windowsill.
Dallas came up next to me and pulled my arm over his small shoulders. “It’s just a little ways down the hall. I’ll let you walk the last stretch yourself if you let me help you for just a bit.”
I got my legs under me again pretty well, but Dallas stayed under my arm. I gave him an eyebrow raise. “Not the usual positioning for the two of us going anywhere.”
“Let’s call it even,” he grunted.
I leaned just enough weight on him to make him feel helpful, but held myself up the rest of the way.
After the polite disagreement over who would open the door, we made it out into the hall. Fingerprints smudged the yellow walls and generous globs of tape held up crayon doodles.
Higher up, happy family portraits and nature pictures hung in pretty little frames. There one picture of Dallas and another, taller man being given some sort of trophy thing. Amazing Man, I guessed. He was the one with the wacky outfit and the good hair. We moved on past before I got a good look.
I’d get a better look soon anyway. I swallowed.
“Just around that corner.” Dallas slipped out from underneath my arm and stood next to me, steadier on his feet by a microscopic amount.
“Thanks.” I stood up tall and squinted at the corner, readying myself. I straightened my leather jacket collar, adjusted my bandage tried to look cool and walked into the room.
The young mom I’d seen at the stadium stood over the stove, doing something with a frying pan and spatula. A little blond boy sat on the counter watching her.
And on the couch in front of me, a man sat with a little girl in his lap. They both were bent over a book and he was reading softly to her with a smile in his voice.
Any entrance drama I’d concocted melted away. I felt dirty in front of all of all this. The family. The love.
I almost wished I could disappear and not ruin the picture in front of me. A hood in a grubby leather jacket kind of wrecks the whole family scene.
Just then, the little girl looked up. Her blue eyes went wide at seeing me.
I raised my hand to wave and started to smile.
“Daddy!” she squeaked, turning and burying her face in his shoulder “It’s that man.”
I dropped my hand awkwardly.
Mr. Fernsby looked up. His blue eyes sparked and he gave me a smile that almost didn’t look forced. “Hey, you’re up! Your head feeling any better?” He stood, propping his little girl up with one arm, and held out his hand to me.
It took me a second to realize he wanted to shake hands.
“Um . . . yeah. Thanks.” I shook his hand. Man, this whole arch-nemesis thing wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.
He stepped back and looked at me for a second, looking like he was preparing another question.
My mind went into overdrive, preparing for the ultimate test of whether or not I could hide my memory loss.
Mr. Fernsby nodded slowly and licked his lips. “So you don’t remember anything?”
Well, I get a big, fat F on that test.
I just blinked at him. Dallas came up beside me and nudged my arm.
“I told him.”
The first thing I felt was a gush of relief. It was shortly followed by a slight annoyance at Dallas.
I mean, in the hindsight, I probably could have pulled it off. He didn’t need to tell. I probably could have bluffed my way through. Improvised and all that. I totally could have done it.
Oh well. Having something in my life be easy wasn’t the end of the world.
I swallowed and nodded to Mr. Fernsby. “Yeah.”
He slowly set down his little girl, who let go for a brief second, then leeched back onto his pant leg.
A slightly amused smile quirked his mouth. “In that case, we have a lot to talk about.”
“You can do it over breakfast,” a voice came from the kitchen. “It’s ready.” Mrs. Fernsby walked to the table with a dish of scrambled eggs and veggies and set it on a little wood holder, then walked over next to us. The little blond boy still trailed her.
I felt like someone was missing here, but my head hurt trying to remember who.
“Smells great, hon.” Mr. Fernsby leaned down and kissed his wife’s head. “Okay, kids. To the table.”
The little boy and girl jumped up into their seats at the furthest end of the table from me. I sat at a corner and tried to look unintimidating. Dallas sat next to me and Mr. Fernsby across from me. The seat to my left stayed empty.
“I said all of the kids.” Mr. Fernsby said a little louder than his first command.
There was a noise behind the couch, a flash of dirty hoodie and the other seat next to me held a little boy with a big cowlick, staring at me with bright, hazel eyes.
I stared back at him and my stomach did a flip. This was the kid from my picture I had in my wallet. But why did I have a picture of Amazing Man’s kid? I thought for sure he was my brother . . .
But the family resemblance to the Fernsbys didn’t go far. What if . . .?
“I win,” said the kid. He immediately dove into scooping eggs onto his plate, accompanied by a grand total of two veggies.
After a quick grace-before-meals, just to make me feel more out of place, everyone started eating.
Mr. Fernsby finished first. He looked around the table, leaning forward on one arm. “Well . . . since, with memory loss and all, you don’t know us, I suppose some introductions are in order.”
He pointed to the little munchkins at the end of the table. “Down there are Jilly and Beckett.”
He nodded to the cowlicked wonder next to me, “That’s Leif. I’m Charles and my beautiful bride . . .” His wife laughed and he grinned at her.” . . . is Angela.”
I nodded, swallowing the last of my eggs, “Well . . . nice to meet you all.” Again. Though you all probably met me as a cold-blooded murderer before now. But hey, let’s enjoy breakfast.
It was pretty quiet for the next few minutes while the kids finished their food. I kept thinking I should say something, but at this point I wasn’t sure if breaking the silence or keeping it would be more awkward.
Charles ended up doing it for me.
“Okay, kids. We’re going to talk for a bit. Can you guys go play legos?”
“Yeah!” There were three loud yells and all the kids ran, tripping over each other, into the other room. My gaze followed Leif. That kid really did look like a mini-me.
Charles cleared his throat and I straightened in my seat, looking back at him. He held my gaze and his brow furrowed slightly. His blue eyes felt like they were boring holes through my scull.
I remembered when Dallas had done this same thing. At least I wasn’t driving this time. I swallowed.
Finally, he blinked and the staredown was over. Mr. Fernsby sighed and looked down at his hands where they were clasped on the table.
“This . . . this is going against everything I’ve learned about you over the years we’ve fought. But . . . Dallas’s word is his honor and I believe him.” He glanced up at Dallas, who nodded slightly, “So we need your help.”
I looked between the three at the table and licked my lips. “Um . . . okay.”
“There are . . .” Charles stopped and drummed his fingers for a second, “ . . .many things we could address. But to get right to the urgent point . . .” he reached down, pulled a paper out of his pocket and unfolded it on the table. “We need to know if you heard or know any details on this.”
I leaned forward and squinted at the paper. It was a note threatening to kidnap Leif. Signed by me. It nicely included a date on which the kidnapping would take place.
I leaned back, “Sorry, I’m a little turned around . . . when is that date?”
Dallas rubbed at his nose, “It’s today.”
Ah. Now I saw the urgency.
“Well, I didn’t hear any details on it. And if I’m captured here . . .” I shrugged, “I would guess the kidnapping would be called off.”
A scream shrilled from the other room and Charles shot to his feet.