Blank Mastermind, Part 18: Reading Up

We cruelly stopped halfway through our villain’s tour of the museum last time.

Let us join him as he is gently persuaded by his hit-man to read up on a most interesting topic… himself.

What will we find in the museum?

Let us see in this part.

Fair warning, getting a leetle bit more dark than before.

But we got this, guys.

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For people who just happened to stumble upon this and are scratching their heads in confusion (or for people who I just lost in this crazy story and they’re scratching their heads in confusion…), never fear. You can read up on all the things below.

Lots of madcap adventures goin’ on down there.

Check it out.

Part 1: Waking Up

Part 2: Dallas

Part 3: Bad News

Part 4: Taking a Drive

Part 5: Meet the Gang

Part 6: All the Good Villain Bits

Part 7: Explosives

Part 8: Short Circuit

Part 9: Hospitality

Part 10: Kidnapper

Part 11: Ransom

Part 12: Scenic Drive

Part 13: The Superior

Part 14: An Apology & a Phone Call

Part 15: Grocery Run

Part 16: Lunch with the enemy

Part 17: Bad News’s Method

 

And here we go.

Let’s do this.

The next part.

 

Part 18

Reading Up

 

Bad News gave his now-familiar gesture of “you first” and I stepped under the archway. I kept my flashlight pointed down, but shadows of wax models were still visible.

 

I swallowed, “Where do I start?” Why was I whispering?

 

News pointed to my left as he stepped in after me. “There.”

 

Right. I straightened up and took a big breath, then walked over to the first display. More photos above the plaque. I aimed my flashlight at them.

 

I promptly decided I didn’t like seeing pictures of myself.

 

In the biggest one, I stood in the middle of a debris-strewn street holding a gun at a precarious angle. My leather jacket and shirt were stained with smoke and blood trickled from my split lip. My mouth was open in an angry yell at something or someone off camera. One hand was raised in a defiant and decidedly impolite gesture to the sky.

 

A tiny copyright in the corner credited it to some big newspaper and the article: “Modern-day Villains”.

 

What was happening there? Who was I yelling at and why? I blinked for the first time since seeing the picture and swallowed. My head was starting to hurt.

 

That wasn’t good.

 

I looked over at the other pictures. One was a classic, prison mug shot with me holding up a sign that barely held my mile long name and making a murderous face at the camera. The last was a smaller, more distant picture of me with the whole gang, excluding Cardboard. I was yelling something again, holding a pistol out in front of me. The gang was holding various weapons.

 

I finally tore my eyes away and looked down at the plaque.

 

Wolfgang Dankworth: Living by the sword

If ever a man was born to hang, it was Dankworth. Given the nickname by the media as “The Wolf”, Wolfgang Dankworth has set himself against our revered hero since day one. Finding issue with Amazing Man’s intentions and actions during the Twin-Bomb incident, Dankworth has made it his mission in life to end Amazing Man and exact his revenge.

He has been inextricably linked to numerous terrorism acts across the United States, mainly centering in Utah and Nevada.

 

I stared numbly at the metal plate, various words echoing themselves again and again in my mind.

 

The Wolf . . . Twin-Bomb incident . . . Revenge . . . Terrorism . . .

 

My temples pounded. I closed my eyes for a few seconds and took some even breaths, trying to separate myself from the information I’d just learned.

 

Which was a little hard, since I was the one the information was about . . .

 

No.

 

I didn’t have to be this. I was a clean slate. I was starting over.

 

Bad News’s voice came from next to me, echoing a little. “Did you finish with reading that one?”

 

I let out my breath and nodded.

 

“Well . . . there’s more to read, man.” He bumped me towards the next one.

 

This didn’t seem like a boring school assignment anymore. Torture would be more like it. Legitimately terrifying torture.

 

Oh please help this not bring back my memories . . .

 

Was I praying?

 

News nudged me again. “C’mon.”

 

I stepped forward slowly, keeping my flashlight aimed down. I could do this. It didn’t have to bring everything back. Taking a breath, I shone the light up.

 

Mugshots and a few other pictures of the gang stared back down at me.

 

Bad News with blood on his shirt and a gun in his hand, but no change in his expression.

 

A shorter-haired Liza holding a large knife and threatening someone who was holding onto his little kid in an Amazing Man suit. Blood drew a thick, red line from her forehead down to her jaw and dripped down onto her arm.

 

Chris being slammed against a cop car and handcuffed. Blood on his hands.

 

Blood everywhere.

 

My stomach churned. I swallowed and forced my eyes down to the words on the plaque.

 

The Pack: Dankworth’s fellow wolves

Some joined forces with him right at the beginning, some came in later, but the Pack grew quickly after the Twin-Bomb incident.

While to all appearances, they seem an inept, ragtag band of hoodlums, multiple encounters have proven them no laughing matter. They have built almost all of their own explosives and weapons themselves and have proven quite a force to be reckoned with for Amazing Man.

 

Fellow wolves . . . I blinked a few times and turned to the next display right next to that one.

 

Scarily accurate wax models stared down at me. Almost like they saw something in me that I didn’t. I turned my eyes downwards again and forced myself to read through the headache.

 

Members of the Pack:

Liza Allister- No background information known.

Baden “Bad” News- Possible former mafia involvement. No other background information known.

Roy Tucker- Former stock-car racer and Oklahoma trucker. Well known anti-speed-limit activist.

Chris Brown- Former outdoorsman and hunter.

(Notify authorities with any other known members or information)

 

So Cardboard was a secret. I remembered Roy mentioning that the baseball stadium was “her first strike”. I wondered how soon she’d be on the wanted list.

 

I could certainly see Bad News as mafia, though.

 

My headache didn’t seem to be getting too much worse. Maybe I could muscle my way through this . . .

 

“How much more is there?” My voice was still a whisper.

 

“A good bit.” News’s non-whisper echoed through the building and I flinched. “Any memories . . .?”

 

“No,” I snapped, whirling to glare at him.

 

He raised an eyebrow. I probably said that too quickly.

 

Biting my tongue, I turned back around and went towards the other exhibits. I’d just skim. Hopefully that would be a bit less triggering.

 

Less information, less chance of the memory returning. But enough that I could still act like I knew what was going on.

 

Most common method of attack seems to be explosives . . .

 

. . . All attacks center on Amazing Man, the SPI and supporters of the superhero project. Strikes are organized in such a way that casualties of those unsupportive or uninvolved in the agency are practically nonexistent . . .

 

Members of the Pack have been to prison multiple times, but questioning hasn’t revealed anything that isn’t already obvious . . .

 

. . . deeper motivation still unclear . . .

 

Every beat of my heart shot another stab of pain through my head. I closed my eyes for a bit more and made myself breathe slowly. I rubbed my knuckles over my face. A moan came out involuntarily. I tried to make it seem like a cough instead.

 

“There’s only one thingy left to read,” News prompted.

 

I opened my eyes and suppressed the urge to yell at him. The last plaque didn’t have a display. Just a little platform that read “stats”.

 

That shouldn’t be too bad. It was small. It was the last thing.

 

I let out my breath and stepped up to it, aiming the flashlight beam down at the words.

 

Total amounts of terror acts (over the space of 3 years): 14

 

People injured: 67

 

Fatalities . . . I stopped and looked at the ceiling for a bit. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to know that. How many people had I killed?

 

Only seven.

 

I blinked. Only? Wait, I hadn’t read that . . . how . . .? I looked down at the words again.

 

Fatalities: 7.

 

A cold rock settled itself in my stomach. Seven people. And I knew. Correction, I remembered.

 

A particularly sharp jab of pain forced a sound from my lips that sounded almost like a whimper. I rubbed a hand over the back of my head and sucked in my breath through my teeth.

 

But we were done. I’d finished. And getting through a whole exhibit about myself only remembering the number seven was pretty good.

 

Unless . . .

 

I turned to Bad News. “We’re done, right?” It was more a plea.

 

“With this section.”

 

I groaned loudly. “My head feels like it’s being stabbed. Can we just come back later or something?”

 

“Well, if your head hurts that might mean there’s some memories coming back,” News raised his eyebrows and tipped his head. “And besides, we’re here now. Buck up.” He grabbed the collar of my coat and pulled me along a few steps. I whacked his hand away.

 

Blowing an especially loud bubble, News shone his flashlight up and shone around the entrance of the next branch.

 

A Disastrous Beginning

 

The letters were shaped out of what looked like scrap metal. Below the arch sat two metal, bullet shaped things. Bombs. I squinted at them. They looked kind of familiar . . .

 

No. Stop.

 

But the image my mind pulled up was the metal housing I’d seen by my giant bomb in the basement. I supposed I liked that model.

 

I just about tripped over the first plaque, whacking my shin on it and dropping my flashlight. Strange light flickered across the floor as my flashlight rolled. I swore and held my leg.

 

News bent over and scooped up the flashlight. “Want me to just hold the light for you?”

 

“No,” I growled, grabbing it back from him. I muttered under my breath and began to read.

 

The Twin Bomb Incident: A disastrous beginning

Just three days out of training, Amazing Man was put to the ultimate hero’s test.

Two identical bombs were planted by a still unknown terrorist organization, one near Ogden in the North, one in the southeastern corner of Utah.

Even with his powers of flight and superhuman speed, Amazing Man knew he couldn’t get to both of them quickly enough, so he was forced to make a split-second decision.

He managed to get through the housing and disable the bomb in Ogden within ten minutes, but while he was en route to the other bomb, it exploded.

124 people were killed in the incident.

 

One hundred and twenty four . . . my chest felt tight. All those lives. Gone. I swallowed.

 

There was really nothing Charles could’ve done. I mean, despite being a superhero, he was still human. Sometimes choices have to be made . . .

 

But my thought train suddenly took off in the other direction with all the possibilities of what he could have done.

 

He could have sent Dallas . . . Dallas could’ve teleported him . . . he could have recruited the rest of the law enforcement . . . the project could’ve given him super speed to begin with, for goodness sake. That was way more useful than . . .

 

I shook my head and rubbed at my temples. What was wrong with me?

 

Keep going. Just get through the museum.

 

I pulled my flashlight up to a small sign with only the word “Fatalities”. It was just in the middle of the floor and there was nothing directly behind it. I frowned.

 

“Where’s the exhibit for that sign?”

 

News stepped up behind me. “It’s the rest of the section.” He swiped his flashlight over photos and glass cases filling the rest of the area.

 

That was a lot.

 

I rubbed at my head again, mentally steeled myself and went to the nearest glass case. My flashlight beam was getting a little shaky again. I just focused on the photo.

 

A late-teenaged boy in a suit and tie, looking uncomfortable, but smiling nonetheless. A label underneath the sign read “Eli Calloway- died at age 19. Was working nearby at the time of the explosion.”

 

Nineteen . . . that was Dallas’s age. I didn’t want to imagine Dallas dying.

 

I looked at the glass case under the picture. Eli’s letter to his fiancé.

 

Holy smoke. No sense of privacy at all. I turned to the next display.

 

A mom and her daughter that were visiting a park. A honeymooning couple. A family on a road trip. A veteran.

 

I was starting to feel quite literally sick.

 

Then I reached a larger corner display. My flashlight batteries came a little loose and the light flickered so I stopped to fiddle with them.

 

“Oh yep. That’s the one.” News’s voice cut the silence. The pop of a bubble followed.

 

I turned to squint into his flashlight irritably. “What’s ‘the one’?”

 

“That one you’re next to.” He paused for a second. “Any memories yet?”

 

“Shut up.” I screwed the end of my flashlight back on and pulled the beam up to the exhibit. My eyes fell on the label first.

 

Dankworth family

 

My heart about jumped out of my chest.

 

William, Rachel, Eloisa and Peter. Died in their home.

 

My family. This was my family.

 

My gaze kept going back and forth from each name to that awful word. Died.

I was breathing faster now, but I didn’t stop looking. I couldn’t stop. I swallowed and looked down at the glass case.

 

A watch. The glass on the face was smashed and stained with smoke but the worn leather strap still folded comfortably under it. My dad’s watch.

 

What looked like a Lego house, half smashed and fused together by melted plastic. A little brain-teaser puzzle with a crayon mark on it. Peter’s.

 

A CD with that same even cursive I’d seen earlier. Rachel Dankworth.

 

My mom.

 

She had dark hair. She was an amazing baker and the house always smelled like cookies . . .

 

It felt like a knife twisted against the back of my head.

 

Stop it. Stop looking. Stop reading. You’re remembering.

 

There was a little journal next to the CD. Purple. The edges were singed and the cover was smoke stained, but I could still make out the scrawling, flowery letters on the front.

 

Eloisa Dankworth~ Poet, dreamer and chocolate addict

 

She used to show me those poems. Sometimes they were just about something silly, like chocolate chips. Sometimes they didn’t even rhyme. But they always felt right.

 

I told her she would be famous when she was older.

 

She would just laugh and say she didn’t care.

 

I blinked. What was that?

 

That wasn’t remembering. I’d always known that. I just hadn’t thought of it. It didn’t hurt, either.

 

Don’t look up. Don’t look at the pictures. Stop and walk away.

 

I looked up.

 

A picture of Peter, holding a completed Rubik’s Cube and grinning like he would split his face.

 

A picture of Eloisa standing on a patch of grass and fingering the edge of her yellow dress with a shy smile. Wavy hair fell over her shoulders and a tiny bit of lipstick was on her lips.

 

I smiled a little. She always hated makeup.

 

I looked at the next picture. Mom and Dad. Side by side. Dad making a face and Mom laughing about it.

 

The dimples in her cheeks. The smile lines by her eyes.

 

Dad’s hair that I could never tell the color of.

 

That crazy cowlick that seemed to have left its mark on all of us.

 

And then the biggest picture.

 

A family portrait. Everyone in black and white, smiling at the camera. Mom held a tiny little boy in a tuxedo.

 

Dad had his arm around someone slightly taller than him.

 

Someone who gave the camera a patronizing smile despite his slow strangulation by bowtie.

 

Someone I’d seen before.

 

In the mirror.

 

The knife feeling stabbed into the base of my scull and I dropped my flashlight. The knife had opened an old wound.

 

I was bleeding. Bleeding memories.

 

Oh God, no.

 

Stop.

 

But I knew now.

 

I remembered. I remembered everything.

 

And it hurt worse than knives.

 

 


 

So.

Yeah.

Not quite sure what to say after that.

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Feels free to dump tears, feedback, favorite lines… all that stuff… into the comments.

We shall see what happens… next week. If we can all live that long.

*awkward waving*

~writefury

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97 responses to “Blank Mastermind, Part 18: Reading Up

  1. Nooooooo. Oh my poor Wolfgang. *sniffs* But the remembering scene flowed so naturally. *runs to takes notes for another character who has to remember her past in a book of mine*

    Also, favorite line – from Bad News, of course: “There’s only one thingy left to read.” *shakes head. This guy will be the death of me. Especially if he and Wolfgang have to fight each other. *eyes slowly widen in horror* Wait, forget I said that. That would be an awful idea.

    • I knoww. Such sadness. </3
      Thank you. :3 I was pretty happy how it turned out. Usually I kind of botch the whole drama element in favor of humor.
      Bad News… so thoughtful yet so insensitive… *shakes head*

  2. Oh my fish. My baby. Nope. This is not allowed. You kinda sorta almost have me in tears. My poor poor baby. And his family. And gah… this is too much for me. Stop it… ((Kay not really I need the next part.)) That last gif was great. You probably picked the best face claim ever because Dean Winchester in Supernatural has like a trillion gifs. Also, super random note, whenever I see the phrase ‘blood everywhere’ I can’t help but think of Shia Leboeuf… But that’s kinda random. Anyway, good job, im dying from stress. You’ve done your job.

  3. *chokes* *sobs uncontrollably*
    Wowwww, Rosey, you don’t usually get this dark or dramatic but man did you nail it.
    I… I’m speechless. Literally speechless. I can’t think of a single thing to say. This… you should be famous for this, ‘kay? And then when people come up to me and say ‘Hey Kate have you read this AWESOME STORY called Blank Mastermind?’ I can smile and pat them on the head and say ‘Yeah… one of the first.’

    *clears throat self-consciously* Okay, so I got a little carried away. But seriously Rosey. This is excellent work.

      • Yes. Setting aside the sappy emotional reader here, as a writer myself I’ve always been impressed with your knack for this trade. Especially humor, which I struggle with (wit isn’t the same thing 😛 ) but not exclusively. It’s all good. Very, very impressive, and not just for a teenager— FOR A WRITER.
        Now go let that make you happy all evening. 😉

  4. I decided not to say this, but then I changed my mind.

    I. LAUGHED.

    Almost the entire time. I am sorry, but I laughed. But you should be happy, because by laughing I am ‘protecting’ myself.

    I laugh during the most miserable parts of the movie, like when Hornblower is fussing at Kennedy for not seeing the surgeon or something and Kennedy going “Is it really that bad?” like he’s trying to laugh it off… Sorry, no tears here, I laughed.

    😛

    I am very repetitive today…

  5. WHY????? Why do you do this?! How will I wait till next Thursday??? I’m interested in that baby in the portrait, btw. Hmm?
    You need to publish this. You are too good at this.

  6. So… I’m crying.

    Yeah, something you have never made me do with this story.

    Granted, I’m a very emotional person, but… wow. That was really good. I hope I’ll be able to make my readers cry someday. Congratulations.

  7. Oh my. NOOOOOOOO…. WHY WOLF? WHY!!! DON’T GO TO THE DARK SIDE AFTER THIS!!!! PLEASE! WHYYYYYYYYYY…
    My friend told me about this story last Thursday, and I spent the entire day (when I should have been working on my NaNoWriMo project) reading it, and then I was dying of suspense this whole week waiting for what would happen…. and then THIS happened. I was crying and trying not to cry and giving up again… it stabbed me right in the feels, girl. And it hurts. I haven’t fell in love with a story so quickly and so deeply in ages… this chapter was so sad and so well written… you did an amazing job!
    (now I made myself sad all over again so I’m going off to cry in a corner)

  8. WOOOOOOLLLLLFFFFFFY!
    Rosey. You Made Me Cry. In the middle of the Walmart parking lot. You are the cruelest person. Or are you even human.
    Here’s a theory. Am I right with it? The little boy in the tux is Leif who gets adopted after his family dies and Wolfy leaves. Yes?

  9. Corissa has the same theory too. She told me. Maybe it’s just that obvious. Or maybe Rosey wants us to think we’re plot geniuses or something. Though a long lost older sister would be cool. I don’t have one. Corissa is my substitute 🙂

  10. Awww…if Kate’s adopted you, that means you’re my sisters too! *hugs you both tightly* It’s not every day I get a new younger AND older sister. Or new sisters at all. 😛
    Rosey, forgive the use of your comments for familial unions. *hugs you too* It’s so kind. 😉

  11. Two new big sisters! Awesome! I doubt you, Kate, or Emma understand the urge to do something girly and fun with girls that your brothers refuse to do and your closest sister is only seven, (like a day of shopping Goodwill and book stores), cause you have each other. Corissa might, cause she has no sisters at all. I get my girl fix on Sundays and Tuesdays though, so I’m not that lonely.
    How old are you Emma?

  12. I’m fifteen, sixteen in January.
    A day of shopping Goodwill and bookstores! I know just what you mean. 😀 I’m so glad you have Corissa and Sundays and Tuesdays (what happens on Tuesdays?). It’d be awful to have no girly fix at all. 😉
    It must be lonely sometimes to have no sisters at all, Corissa. *sniff* Congratulations for taking it happily. 🙂 I’m glad there’s internet and places to interact so you can have Christian sisters—I have plenty of sisters and I still love interacting with online ones, so it must be pretty happy for you. 😀
    Oh and Anne yeah—what Rosey said about your web title is true! It was different the other week though cuz I moused over your name and down on the computer’s left corner it said ‘dallasdallasdallasdallasdallas…’ , which I found hilarious. 😀 (My sentiments as well, of course. :P)
    Is it really your website name though? I tried to follow the link and it just took me to a Google page with results about cities named Dallas, and for your current one, why we capitalize letters and stuff…

    Rosey I have to ask—will we have many more installments of BM yet?? I want to know the outcome, but I also don’t want it to be done!! No more looking forward to the next part! It’s so sad… 😦
    Okay, you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want too. 😀

    • We have Tuesday night church instead of Wednesday night church. After church is also when we have the college class on Eschatology- I’m taking it for credit and she’s auditing it.
      Yes, it is lonely sometimes, but I think I’ve gotten used to it. 😉 It definitely makes me very grateful for the internet! 😀
      No, that’s not actually her website- she likes to put in random things even though she doesn’t have to, just for fun. 🙂

  13. Wait….SPI? From Odd Team Out? Does that mean we get to see Cobalt?
    P.S. This story is awesome, Rosey. Part of me hopes it never ends. 🙂

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  25. Pingback: Blank Mastermind, Part 30: Family | writefury·

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