The Powers That Be, Part 23: Deep freeze

I guess late Sunday posts is becoming a thing now. I do have the offer to make up for it with a Greatest Showman review sometime this week, however. XD

Okay, so.

Last week we had Liza’s point of view, a bunch of disasters, and…. her and Wolfgang are gonna get locked in a freezer now.

The chapter that made it a bit hard to breathe while writing all this.

This should be fun, hmm?

If you’re behind/new, catch up here:

Part 1: The Winged Woman

Part 2: Junk mail & junk reputations

Part 3: Searching for tuxedos and answers

Part 4: Babysitting

Part 5: Studies indicate

Part 6: Exclusive benefits

Part 7: With a little help from my friends

Part 8: A piping hot mess

Part 9: Calling in the expert

Part 10: Evil council

Part 11: Old buddies & owed favors

Part 12: Set up

Part 13: Bring the house down

Part 14: Keeping home base

Part 15: Messages & determinations

Part 16: The public eye

Part 17: Actually getting somewhere

Part 18: A victory & a visitor

Part 19: Super un-heroes

Part 20: Out of line & out of luck

Part 21: Misfit, underqualified rescue team… assemble!

Part 22: Burgling the boss

here goes part 23!

Part 23

Deep freeze


[Wolfgang Dankworth]


It was one of those rare moments in life where the prospect of certain doom made my mind suddenly very productive.


Being locked in a freezer to die while my friend bled out next to me? Yeah, that did it.


My heartbeat pounded like a jackhammer, shooting ideas into my head. Desperate plans for escape. Ways to get out of this. There had to be something. Something besides just going with them and . . .


I felt Liza’s muscles go slack as she slumped forward against my arm, her eyes closing


Her blood kept oozing through the cracks between my shaking fingers.


“No, no, Liz come on, stay with me . . .” I gripped my hands tighter on her wound, my wrists twisting against the rope wound around them.


Jay leaned back out the door of the cell. “Jenkins, come in here. I need you to carry something for me.”


A different guard than the one I’d sent off before stepped in, moving sideways through the doorway like he was in risk of catching his wide shoulders on the doorway.


Jay nodded towards Liza. “Her. The other guy can walk. We’re going back to the walk-in freezer.”


Maxine handed the gun – my gun- over to Jay, running her fingers through her long hair again and already looking distracted from the brutal death sentence she’d just doled out. “With circumstances as they are, I think I might send out a slight change of plans to everyone. They should be in place by now anyway.” She let out her breath. “And this should move smoothly after this problem gets resolved.”


Her gaze wandered back towards Liza and me.


The thug named Jenkins bent down, brushing me back as he scooped his hands under Liza’s back and legs. He took about as much care with his movements as though he was picking up a bag of trash. The only caution that he took was in making sure that her bloody side was facing away from him. He grunted slightly as he pushed back to his feet.


Liza’s head fell back against his arm, her messy ponytail flopping back and her mouth hanging partly open.


Muttering and swearing under my breath, I pushed off the wall and fumbled to get myself up. With my hands still tied together and shaking this badly, it was no easy task.


Jay nodded to Maxine, shifting the gun’s weight over to his left hand. “Good. I’ll see you later then.”


Maxine blew a kiss and walked out the door. Carefree as if she’d just dropped off her drycleaning. The clicking of her high-heels faded away, cutting off with the thud of the outer door closing.


I swallowed, trying to keep my breathing from getting too fast. My gaze went to the window Dallas had climbed out of. They’d knocked over the chair. How fast could I get that back up and climb through?


But that would leave Liza here. They’d kill her if I escaped.


I can’t leave her I can’t go in the freezer I can’t . . . God help, please . . .


Jay turned back to me, raising the gun. “Just so you know, if you won’t come with me. I have no problem shooting you here.”


Out of all the frantic thoughts going through my head, I latched onto the one that seemed like the best at the moment.


They were basically putting me in there on the basis that I’d be so freaked out that my powers wouldn’t work. They wouldn’t actually lock a guy with fire powers in a freezer. I could get out with that, right?


Jay hadn’t seen me freaking out before. Maybe I could just act really calm and convince him this was a stupid idea.


I took a deep breath and straightened my back, giving a little bit of a shrug. “Yeah, whatever. Which way?”


Jay nodded his head out the door.


Thuggery Jenkins went through first, carrying Liza, and I followed after. I found it harder than expected, actually making my legs move when I knew where we were going. The power inhibitor cuff chafed against my ankle from where it was locked over my jeans.


An icy, closed in metal box with no air. Suffocating or freezing to death. Whichever came first. Lovely.


Something in the back of my brain kept trying to push my breathing speed towards hyperventilation. Like I needed to get as much oxygen as I possibly could. As if preserving it was an option.


The effort to keep my stance and facial expression calm got harder.


And then the thought occurred that even if I did convince him it was a stupid idea . . . what was the other option? Being shot on the spot? It wasn’t like they were just gonna let us go.


Well, I don’t know. Is that better or worse? Should I just bolt and get myself shot?


Again, that left Liza alone. That left Leif without a brother. It was practically suicide.


But I’m going to die anyway. Die. I’m going to freeze to death and suffocate. I’m going to be shut inside a tiny, metal case just like the bomb casing . . . just like in all the nightmares since.


I’ve got nothing. No plan. We’re going to die.


I gritted my teeth together hard. It wasn’t just my hands shaking by now. It took immense focus to keep my feet moving. My breathing was getting faster despite my best efforts. I kept my eyes fixed on the top of Liza’s head. The turquoise hair I could see over the henchman’s arm.


We rounded a corner. I could see some shelves with food on them lining the walls of the cement room ahead of us. And . . . oh joy, a walk in fridge and freezer, right there.


This isn’t happening. Please God this isn’t happening.


Maybe I could still talk to them? Work something out?


I slowed my steps for a little bit, turning back towards Jay and trying to give him as convincing of a smile as I could manage. “Hey, couldn’t we just . . . talk about this?” I swallowed as my voice cracked at the end. “Really, if you guys want, I can . . .”


Jay held up the gun higher and raised his eyebrows. He gestured forwards again. “Orders are orders. Go on.”


I took a few steps back towards the door, my knees starting to feel a little wobbly. “Please I just . . . I really . . .”


I clamped my mouth shut.


This was going to turn into pleading and begging really fast. I was already begging mentally. Panicking so much it was getting hard to think straight.


But it wouldn’t do any difference. They were putting me in there and I wasn’t going to just die right after humiliating myself by groveling.


I turned to see Jenkins open up the freezer door. Icy cold air clouded out and the dark interior yawned open like a coffin.


My breathing caught in my chest and I took a few stumbling steps back, almost bolting away on pure instinct before the cold barrel of the pistol pressed against my back.


I was almost starting to reconsider the idea of groveling. Or violence.


Jenkins stepped inside, bending over just slightly to dump Liza on the ground. She flopped, limp as a rag doll. I could see the dark stain on her pant leg had grown.


“In,” Jay prompted, pushing the gun against my back.


I spun around, raising my tied together hands and taking a swing for his head. He moved back so I didn’t do more than knock his glasses off. Jay took a couple more steps back and raised the gun higher, moving his finger towards the trigger. “Dankworth, you’re pushing your luck. . .”


Before I could do anything else, Jenkins’ big hands clamped down on my arms. He turned me around towards the freezer door and gave me a shove inside.


My footsteps clanged against the floor. I barely managed to correct course and stumble to the side so I didn’t trip over Liza. My shoulder hit against one of the shelves and I kept from falling flat on my face.


The light spilling into the dark container started to diminish. They were shutting the door.


I spun myself back around and tried run back. But there was a sick thud as the door closed, a click as the lock went into place and the sound of footsteps receding.


Trapped. Locked in.


I still stumbled my way over, slamming my shoulder against the icy door again and again, swearing at them. Calling out every name I could think of one second, then back to apologizing and pleading for them to come back the next. My voice lost its volume as the vise of cold and panic squeezed at my chest.


The sound of footsteps was gone.


I slid down against the door, dropping my face onto my knees and trying to get a good breath.


Not even a minute and I could already feel the cold leaking in through my jacket. Holy smoke, it’s cold in here.


I wondered again which would kill us first, the cold or oxygen deprivation. The thoughts only worsened the shaking of my hands and choked my breath more. I groaned and smacked my head back against the door.


Okay, okay. Calm down. There has to be a way out, right? And I’m not going to get anything done if I just sit here and panic about it. Do something.


I focused my thoughts on the smaller tasks and managed to get a little bit out of the ball of nerves I’d worked myself into.


Untie my hands. Get the inhibitor cuff off. Help Liza.


God, help her be okay, please . . .


“Liza?” I rasped out in the vague direction I thought I’d seen her in last.


No answer.


It was so dark that it didn’t even make any difference whether I had my eyes closed or not with how much I could see. But I managed to find some sort of snag that I hooked the ropes onto, working my hands free.


It was harder than it should have been to click the inhibitor cuff off my ankle. My hands were just about useless with any fine motor skills at the moment and I ended up using my wrist to smack the button that got it off.


Great, now I could get us both warm . . .


No, no, no. Fire sucks oxygen, remember?


I stopped, the thought of even less air in here petrifying my muscles.


I couldn’t do that. Probably couldn’t even if I wanted to.


No, I had a flashlight or something, right? We could see with that. I reached into my pocket, fumbling around until I found the small flashlight and got the light clicked on.


I flinched at the light until my eyes adjusted, then just about choked again. Okay, wow. Yeah, much worse when I could actually see the walls closing in all around me in a way that looked just a scoche off from the way the bomb had last year. Not to mention Liza’s blood still all over my hands.


Fantastic, now the shaking had spread to my whole body.


I dropped the flashlight, propping my hands on the ground and closing my eyes tight for a few seconds.


Breathe. Breathe, come on . . .


Liza. Have to help Liza.


I pulled my eyes open and forced my gaze to stay away from the walls. The area was still lit with the sideways beam from my flashlight, light spilling in a bright line over the metallic floor and reflecting around.


Liza still lay in the middle of the floor, facing away from me with her turquoise hair spread over the floor in back of her and a red bloodstain starting to show next to her leg.


And . . . oh man, we were in a freezer and she was still wearing a tank top.


I got myself over next to her and grabbed her arm, not even having to put out any effort to shake it. Goosebumps covered her skin.




Her expression scrunched a little bit and she groaned.


I moved my hands to get her onto her back, then pull her up to lean against one of the shelves. She hissed a breath through her teeth.


“How’s your . . . your leg?” I asked as I worked to untie her hands. Even though I could see quite well that it was doing horribly.


She muttered something as she managed to open her eyes. Her skin looked much paler than normal by now and I could see that she was shivering. Her blue eyes focused somewhat and she scanned the area with a wince.


“We’re in the freezer, aren’t we?” Her words ran together.


I bit my tongue, my heart rate rising again. It felt like someone was squeezing my chest, hard. “Yep.” I finally fumbled the rope off her hands. “It’s . . . it’s okay. I’ll . . . g-get us out.”


Liza dropped her head back, her shoulders starting to shake a little from shivering as she chuckled. “Sure you will.” Another grimace crossed her face and she put a hand on her leg.


“Well there’s gotta be . . . be some way . . . I mean, precautions in case people accidentally c-close themselves in . . .” I tugged at my hair and looked around the area again, trying to find some sort of latch to open. Some way out . . .


The walls in here were so slick and smooth . . . so icy and metallic it made me want to throw up. I just about did for a second.


I looked back to Liza. Her eyes were starting to droop again.


She was shivering way more than I was. Blood loss dropped the body temperature too, didn’t it? Oh, no, no . . . she’d bleed out and die before I did if this kept up . . .


“Liza? Liza, h-here . . .” I pulled my arms out of the sleeves of my jacket and swung it around, shakily pulling it over her shoulders instead of mine. Wrapping it tight around her front. Ignoring the fresh wave of cold that hit me.


The icy air pinched and bit at my skin, feeling like someone was pricking me with toothpicks.


Liza’s eyes closed.


“Hey, h-hey . . .” I grabbed her shoulders desperately. “Stay awake, please. L-look you’ve . . . you’ve got Fredrick now. You’ve got my jacket. It’s warm. You’ll b-be okay, come on . . .”


Her eyes fluttered open slightly, but slid closed again before she could even focus on anything.


I felt the blood under her leg seeping into the knees of my jeans. Just like they had with Peter. When I was watching Peter die. Her skin all pale just like his.


Because I couldn’t save them. I couldn’t save either of them.


The walls pressed in tighter.


I gripped my shaking fingers into the leather of my jacket more desperately, shivers racking through my body. “Liza, wake up. Don’t die. Don’t. Don’t you d-dare . . .”


Her head nodded forward again.


Dying. I was stuck here and I had to watch her die.


I let go of her shoulders, shoving back as though my touch was killing her quicker. My breath came in short gasps and I could feel the air getting staler.


The blood and the dying and the metal walls trapping me in . . . no air and no way to save the people I loved . . .


Charles was out there turning evil because I couldn’t stop it. He’d kill people and go to jail. News on the run from the law for the rest of his life. Leif without any family. Liza dead because of me. My family dead because of me.


Can’t breathe, can’t breathe, I can’t . . .


I curled in on myself, raking my hands through my hair over and over again. Shaking all over from cold and panic and all the memories changing the freezer into the inside of the bombshell all over again.


I closed my eyes tight, barely even having the air to whimper. I don’t even know how long I sat there.


Images kept flashing through my mind. All the other times and the bombs . . . times I’d failed and times other people had died . . .


I just couldn’t do anything right. I thought I could help people. Thought I could get into this thing and stop it and I only made things worse and hurt my friends.


That’s all you’re even good at. Destroying things. Blowing things up. All you know how to do anymore, isn’t it?


I gritted my teeth, pressing my forehead against my shaking knees as I curled my legs up to my chest. The icy cold seemed to be inside me now and I ached all over. My heartbeat jackhammered harder and I felt lightheaded.


God, I’m sorry. I’m sorry.


Not even dying a hero.


I’m dying an idiot who didn’t know there was a tracker in his keychain. Idiot who let his friend get shot. Idiot who doesn’t know how to do anything but make bombs and kill people . . .


A sudden realization hit me, stopping my thoughts on one phrase.


Make bombs.


I never showed Maxine that I could blow things up. She didn’t know I could do that. Sure, I wouldn’t be able to burn through the door even if I pulled myself together enough to work my powers.


But I could turn the door into a bomb. I could blow it up.


If I could get my powers working, I could still get us out of here.


New motivation surged inside. I tried my best not to let it get buried by the panic. Come on. I could do this. I had to do this to get Liza out of here.


It took physical effort to uncurl myself from the ball I was in. And just seeing Liza all slumped and bloody against the shelves made my insides curdle up again. Still bleeding. Stupid idiot, I hadn’t done anything to stop the bleeding . . .


I attempted to get a couple of good breaths into my lungs. I . . . well, I pretty much failed at that, but I tried to get to my feet as best I could anyway. My muscles were all clenched tight and shaking. I mentally blamed it on more the cold than whatever freakout I was having.


Just get over to the door. Get the powers working.


I got upright for a second and the freezer walls loomed closer in on me, pulling air from my lungs. My knees went weak and I had to grab at the shelf to keep myself up. The flashlight beam shining across the floor seemed to waver and change color. The lack of oxygen hit me and I felt like I was floating for a second.


I closed my eyes tight again, pulling in air through gritted teeth. Keep it together. Get to the door.


I made my feet move, almost tripping multiple times as I got to the door. Still just the slick panel of metal with no latch to get out to the other side.


I pressed my hands against the icy surface, the cold pinching my skin painfully. Now just to blow it up.


Taking a deep breath, I reached down for all that flame energy that usually just bubbled beneath the surface. All I got was cold terror. Nothing.


I rested my head against the door and tried harder. The panic only seemed to get worse again.


I had to get out of here. Had to help Liza. Had to get calm somehow.


Think. Come on. God, I can’t do this, please. How am I even supposed to . . .?


I bit down on my tongue and kept my eyes closed tightly, trying to focus on a coherent prayer instead of where I was.


Just calm down. Calm down.


I took a breath and used the stale, cold air to let out in a hum. A broken bar of music from one of Mom’s old classical discs. My pitch was horrible, as always, but just the little echo of the familiar music let my mind clear a little bit.


If God had gotten Liza and me out of the last bombshell alive, he could d*** well do it again.


I finally got a deep breath and let it out slowly. I opened one eye just a little.


Orange was starting to radiate out from my hand, spreading across the freezer door. Mottled, swirling orange just like it had been with the coke can and the fork.


It was working.


With the relief that came along with that realization, the glow spread faster. Another few seconds and the whole door was glowing. Transformed into an explosive.


I pulled my hand off and stepped back.


Well hey, for once, blowing stuff up looked like the way to fix things.


Just . . . hopefully this wouldn’t damage too much. That was a pretty big explosive I’d made. My smile faded slightly.


The door seemed to expand for a moment. I backed up further, dropping down next to Liza. A high pitched buzz filled the air for a second and I put my back to the door, getting my arms around Liza as I shielded her from the blast.


The loud bang of the explosion reduced my hearing to just ringing. The floor rocked and heat scorched at my back. But when I looked back up, the door was gone.


And I could breathe again.


At least that was a start.


-isn’t sure what to say after that-

-nervous jazz hands- Come back next time? It’s not even close to over because this climax is ridiculously long and traumatizing?

I dunno. Talk to me in the comments! XD



23 responses to “The Powers That Be, Part 23: Deep freeze

  1. I am really bad at remembering the days that you post, so this was a very pleasant surprise, given that they didn’t die and all that…
    Can’t wait to see how it all finally plays out!

  2. *grins*
    Despite the fact that Franklin’s a disgusting jerk, I’m actually starting to dislike Maxine more and am kind of looking forward to a possible showdown between those two…? See, Franklin’s like a spoiled, pathetic puppy who’s used to getting his way but isn’t necessarily being intentionally evil. Maxine, on the other hand, is like a fox- beautiful, winning, and graceful, beating the hunter at his own game- and oh so EVIL.
    So yeah.

    • Dude, that’s actually…. a really good comparison. That’s pretty much what it is. Franklin is more categorized as “bad” just because of the absence of good, where Maxine is the presence of evil. -nod-
      -Wolfgang faceplants on the floor-

  3. Pingback: The Powers That Be, Part 24: Unrepresented evidence | writefury·

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