The aforementioned “things going crazy” has begun.
Our amnesiac villain’s henchman isn’t letting him go and betray his own plans without at least trying to get his memories back. After all, it was his former life goal…
Wolfgang isn’t having any of it. He’s already promised to betray himself and already has partway.
But you don’t say no to Bad News.
So here we are.
If you’re new…
But, if you’re still here and want to join this crazy roller-coaster, you may catch up with the rest of us below.
And… for those of you all caught up, or for those of you who want to read ahead and be confused, the next part.
Bad News’s Method
I didn’t quite fancy dying, so I got myself back to the grocery store where I’d left Bad News as soon as I finished lunch. I pulled into a parking spot near the door and glanced at the clock. Just after three. He should be out soon.
Another ten minutes ticked by. Still, no giant form had darkened the exit.
I started looking through my CDs for something to listen to that maybe I’d put in the car myself. I pushed the Schoolhouse Rock aside and underneath found a neatly organized collection of classical music.
How sophisticated of me.
I pulled out the first one and turned it over in my hands. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. On the corner of the album cover in neat cursive was the name “Rachel Dankworth”. Huh.
I stuck it in the player and sat back to listen. It was actually pretty good. Seemed more my type of thing than elementary school facts set to music.
Rachel Dankworth, though . . . obviously related. I picked up the case up again. It was kind of faded and old looking. The music on the disc jittered and skipped. Showing its age as well. I bumped it to the next song.
Maybe it was my mom’s? That might give a bit of an explanation as to my interesting name . . .
“Hey.” Bad News’s voice rumbled. I jumped a little and looked up at him. He was holding at least three very full grocery bags on each arm and chewing on something.
“See you decided to show back up.” News blew a huge, pink gum bubble, then popped it with his teeth. “How’d lunch go?”
“It . . . um . . . went pretty well.”
He nodded and blew another bubble. “You said you had a cooler in the back, right?”
“Of course . . . yeah.” I opened my door, killing the music mid-crescendo and walked around to the trunk. We loaded the groceries in and around the cooler. Surprisingly, some actual fruits, veggies and meat were included in the stock. Though I couldn’t imagine what News would use them for.
I swung the trunk door shut and we came back around to the front of the car. Bad News thumped down in the passenger seat and I slid into the drivers’ side. I turned the keys. The engine rumbled to life and I steered us out of the parking lot.
I looked over at News, who was busy blowing a bubble as big as my head. Maybe he’d forgotten about the whole getting-my-memory-back thing. Maybe I could just start driving back to Logan and he wouldn’t even notice.
I turned the steering wheel slowly to the right.
News’s bubble popped loudly and he sucked the gum back into his mouth. “Hey, it’s the other way.”
I froze, “Wh-what’s the other way?”
“Where we’re going. Turn left.”
I swore at him under my breath and rerouted to the left. “Probably not gonna work anyway . . .” I muttered.
News shrugged. “It might not. You should try, though.”
He leaned over the glove compartment and popped out my disc that was so offensively not singing about school facts. In a few more seconds, lonely song about a bill on Capitol Hill played over the speakers and all was right with the world.
I kept my lips in a tight line as we drove along and listened to various facts about American history and politics, not daring to object. The buildings along the stretch of the road got further and further apart. Minutes and songs went by.
I turned to News, “How much further?”
He pulled up his sunglasses and squinted around. “Just a few more minutes. Big building on the right, I think. It’s closed today, so getting in should be pretty easy.”
A big building that was closed today? It sounded like he was taking me to another grocery store. Evil Incorporated, probably. Where I got all my bomb parts and leather jackets and falcons.
Favorite shopping malls always bring back memories . . .
I looked out at the empty field by the road with the mountains looming close overhead. One little house sat under a clump of pine trees, like it was trying to hide from civilization. Doing a pretty good job of it, too.
I frowned. The population seemed a bit sparse for a shopping center, in my opinion.
Still, Bad News didn’t tell me to stop and I didn’t see anywhere worth stopping. The road kept zipping past, humming under the tires. Trees closed in over the road for a bit, then it opened up.
News tipped his head to the right, “Here it is.”
I eased onto the brake and craned my neck around him to see. A big, well-kept building with a glass dome skylight on top sat in the middle of an empty parking lot. Letters stuck out across the front, reflecting the sunlight.
Utah H.P. Informational Center & Museum
H.P.? What was that? And why did News think I needed information about it?
I pulled right up next to the big entrance steps and idled the engine for a few seconds. Up the stairway were huge, glass doors, leading to a dark interior
I’d loose faith in the most basic levels of security if those doors weren’t locked.
“Okay, yeah . . . nope.” I shook my head. “Still drawing a blank. But really, News. I’m good. Let’s head out.” My foot shifted towards the gas, but Bad News grabbed my arm.
“Not yet. We have to go in first.”
“It’s locked. And probably has glass break alarms.”
He stuck one of his hands in his coat pockets. “I’ve got a way.”
I wasn’t one to argue with News’s “ways”. Swallowing, I put the car in park and pulled out the keys.
It was fine. If all I’d seen of my life, all the people I’d met and everything I’d seen hadn’t triggered anything, I doubted that some dumb museum about two random letters would.
I didn’t have anything to loose.
News humored me. I’d humor him.
We stepped out of the car and our doors slammed behind us. I stuck my hands in my pockets and looked up at the building. I basked in the feeling of not remembering it at all.
“C’mon,” News straightened his fedora, gave his tie a tug and started towards the entrance. I followed at more of a jog to keep up with his long strides.
We reached the stairs and our feet hit out an uneven, echoing rhythm on the cement. Bad News got to the top first, since he’d been taking them two at a time. He wasn’t even breathing hard, where I could’ve probably blown the doors in with all my huffing and puffing.
News pulled a little gadget out of his pocket that looked kind of like a laser pointer.
Distract the guard dogs . . . good idea.
He pulled out a suction cup out of his other pocket, stuck it to the glass and started drawing a tall oval around it. A quiet humming noise buzzed through the air as the pointer went around. As soon as he’d completed the circle, News put his other hand to the glass and gave the suction cup a tug.
The big, uneven chunk of glass slid right out and into his hands. He set it on the ground and pulled the suction cup off with a snapping noise.
I stared. “Where’d you get that from?” If I’d known that Bad News had been carrying a laser, I would’ve watched my attitude more carefully . . .
News shoved it back in his coat pocket and straightened up. “Liza made it.” He nodded towards the hole in the glass, “You first.”
I angled myself and got through the opening. The sound of my shoes on the stone floor made me jump. Light from the skylight cast weird shadows around plaques and exhibits. I looked back towards the door.
News had just managed to squeeze through. He stumbled forwards a few steps and held his hat, but managed to right himself as he reached me.
His shadow stretched in front of us like a pathway towards the rest of the museum. I swallowed.
“Okay.” Bad News stuck his hands in his pants pockets. What else could he be carrying? His massive hand came out enveloping two longish, black things. He pressed a button on one of them and a beam of light shot out ahead of us, illuminating a sign.
Utah Hero Project Informational Center & Museum
So that’s what H.P. stood for.
Heroes . . . Dallas’s words about Charles being given his powers by an organization came to mind. This must have something to do about Amazing Man, then . . .
Bad News handed me one of the flashlights, “Here you go. We’ll start there.” He nodded to the left. “It makes a circuit around, so we’ll end up back here.”
I nodded and turned on my flashlight. The beam cut through the semi-darkness as I turned in a half-circle towards the left.
I stopped. Charles Fernsby was staring straight at me.
“What the . . .?” I jumped backwards and just about dropped my flashlight.
Bad News grabbed my shoulder, keeping me from falling over. “Whoa there. It’s just a wax model.”
I gulped in air and nodded, looking away from the figure. My flashlight beam trembled along with my hand as I raised it again.
A wonderful start.
We started walking and News nudged me towards the first plaque, underneath a framed document. “Read.”
I didn’t argue. He probably had a lot of reading planned for me this afternoon.
Letting out my breath, I stepped up and steadied my light onto the words. “Want me to read out loud?”
“I already know the whole enchilada, man.” News shone his light up to the ceiling, casting a white glow around the area. “Just read to yourself.”
I shifted my gaze to the words at the top of the plate.
The Hero Project Contract: The document that started it all.
Somehow, I doubted that this was the star attraction here. I kept reading.
In early 2018, a project was brought for consideration before the board of the Superior Protective Intelligence organization (the SPI.) The project proposed effectively creating ‘superheroes’ to be added to the protection of each state, stationing them in each capital city. Said superheroes would be chosen model citizens, brought in and given their powers by injections of microscopic enhancement robots that would give them abilities reminiscent of the well-known icon, Superman.
After a month of consideration and research by the board, the bill was accepted and leadership of this new branch was given to senior SPI agent, Derrick Mansley.
Excuse me? I squinted and blinked a few times. That couldn’t be right . . . I was just skimming. Maybe I randomly inserted a name I already knew.
I went back and read it again.
Leadership of this new branch was given to senior SPI agent, Derrick Mansley.
That had to be a different guy. Someone with the same name . . .
I shone my flashlight up at the document and the few framed pictures around it. My gaze fell on one of two men shaking hands and smiling at the camera.
I’d seen one of those smiles before. Those blue eyes. That hair that had gotten slightly more grey over time.
My heart jackhammered on my ribs and I clutched the flashlight tighter. The head of this project was a traitor. He wasn’t with Amazing Man. He was trying to blow him to kingdom come.
Good thing I’d told . . . wait . . . had I told Dallas the name? I looked up at the ceiling and mentally replayed the conversation.
Nope. The name hadn’t come up once. I, idiot that I was, didn’t recall it as being an important piece of information. The one thing that everything could hang on. I needed to call Dallas.
My hand that wasn’t holding the flashlight went to my pocket. I pulled my phone out and flipped it open. I saw the screen’s glow for only a few seconds before Bad News’s giant hand enveloped it and pulled it away.
I made a blind snatch to get it back. He held it above me and shook his head.
I stammered the beginnings of a few excuses. “But I just need to make one quick . . .”
“Not until we’re all the way through the museum,” News shoved the phone into his pocket.
I tried to give him a threatening look. He just popped another bubblegum bubble down at me.
Fine. After the museum then. I’d make sure that wouldn’t take long.
I walked over to the next display rather loudly, briefly glanced at the photos above and then directed my attention to the dumb plaque below.
Charles Fernsby: A hero indeed
Charles, an upstanding citizen of Salt Lake City and a well-known doctor, was an obvious choice for the program. Husband and father of two, Charles cares deeply about the safety of our country and has four years of military service to his credit.
“I just pray the spotlight doesn’t taint my vision while I’m involved in this project,” Charles stated, “That I’ll still be able to do the right thing for everyone, despite public pressures.”
And a picture of Charles above that.
Wonderful. I need to know what a lovely person I want to blast to bits.
I craned my neck up at Bad News, who stood directly in back of me. “Is this all really necessary?”
He shrugged and nudged me towards the next exhibit.
I sighed and read the obligatory paragraph about Dallas. Pretty much all stuff he’d told me at the restaurant. Though I didn’t know he had two siblings.
We moved on.
More bits on the both of them getting their powers and training to use them . . . one of the syringes used to inject Fernsby . . . a few original costume ideas and a story about how Dallas had politely declined a sidekick outfit . . .
That took up another ten or fifteen minutes. I refused to expose my mild interest to News.
I sighed and rubbed a hand over my eyes. “Are we done yet?”
News stuck his tongue in his cheek and swept his flashlight beam around the area. “I think so.”
Finally, geez. I started towards the exit.
“Hey, I meant with this section.” He corrected. I groaned and dragged my feet after him as we went on towards another exhibit entrance.
Bad News gave me a slap on the back that nearly sent me into the wall. “Buck up. This is where it gets interesting.”
Bad News shone his flashlight up on the spooky looking archway leading to the next branch. I followed the beam with my eyes. In letters that looked like graffiti, it read:
Every hero needs a villain . . .
My ears burned. I swallowed and rubbed at the goosbumps under my jacket sleeves.
Something told me I had a lot to do with this area.
I don’t know… do you think he has a lot to do with that area?
We shall see… next week.
Tell me how you liked this part/scream incoherently at me in the comments!
’till next time,