Welcome back to The Negative Man story. I’m your host Jeremy. Before we get to the story, there’s a few housekeeping items. I’m giving away a Negative Man Stormfall promo t-shirt in May’s newsletter. If you’re not yet registered for the Two Dudes, Brews, & Books Newsletter, just shoot an email to JECebooks@gmail.com and say I’m in.
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So, yeah, join the newsletter. Well enough of that, let’s get to the reason you’re here:
The rest of the day went by uneventfully. I sent DL an email to his encrypted account detailing my conversation with Jenkins. He responded later with the thumbs up to continue my investigation. For the time being, he’d stay out of my way. When the five o’clock alarm sounded, instead of going home like all the rest of the smarter people I worked with, I went to the secret floor. DL was going to patrol the streets tonight.
My work station had just about every piece of tech one could think of. Police scanners, three of the fastest computers you could find, and a whole workshop with tools and materials. Before I got to checking on any hot leads, I went over to the workshop to refine a few of DL’s weapons.
His primary weapon was his Lion Glove. Each model had three inch titanium nails on the ends for maximum gripping and pain. Plus in a pinch, they could be used as projectiles. His other equipment included his goggles, which gave off the yellow glow and also acted as body heat scanners, a chainmail mesh underlay, and of course the trademark dark yellow hooded cowl. Over time, the yellow had basically faded into this weird dark grayish yellow mixture. Combined that with the black body suit he wore, that’s how our oh-so-smart press came up with The Dark Lion.
I noticed two of the nails on the left glove were in bad shape, so I went about pulling them out to refine and sharpen. I’d just finished the reinstallation when DL walked down. PJ Douglas was with him, but he was better known as that idiot Massacre. A very stout man, he used his bulletproof head and incredible strength to cause mayhem. Unfortunately, he usually ruined just about everything while trying to save it.
DL picked up the gloves and inspected my work. “Looking good Jericho. You’re technical ability is growing by leaps and bounds every day.”
A rare compliment, I’d better just take it. “Thanks DL. I’m going to do some research to see if we can find a better metal to use for the claws.”
He put the glove back down and gave me an odd look. “Why don’t you take tonight off? PJ and I can handle things, if we’re needed.”
I hadn’t had a night off in about two weeks. “Are you sure?”
He sat down at the computer station. “Yeah, you’ve been working too hard and I’ve noticed you look a bit haggard. Between the pale complexion and the bloodshot eyes, maybe I need to start giving you more time off.”
Not waiting around for him to change his mind, I picked up my bag. “Well, I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth. See you tomorrow.”
I walked out and PJ gave me a weird smile/wave combination. I didn’t know nor did I want to know. I didn’t stop until I got to my car and hit the road. Ten minutes later I was home and relaxing on my couch. I turned the TV on, forgetting it was still on the boring news channel. The anchors were still discussing what Chief Grimes said this morning to that Geri Paisley. I really wish they’d find something new to talk about.
As soon as I picked up the remote to turn the channel, static hit the TV. As it cleared up, there was a white outline against a blacked screen. Static leapt from the figure like white lightning, with a pair of red eyes gazing into the homes of Pacific Station. It was a no brainer who he was.
“Just because you can’t see me, doesn’t mean I can’t see you. Pacific Station, you’re time is coming to an end. Never forget The Negative Man is always just outside your sight!”
As quickly as it came, the image left. When the anchors came back into view, they were freaking out. “Martha, it’s true! He’s still alive!”
“I never would’ve believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes! Sydney, what do you think this means?”
As they began to conjecture, my phone rang. Of course DL would be freaking out about this, probably rightfully so. So when I grabbed my phone to answer, “I know I saw it!”
“How did you know that’s what I was calling about?”
A woman’s voice? “Heather?”
“Yeah, who were you expecting?”
Thank the lord I hadn’t answered the phone in a way to tip her off to who John Wonderton really was. “I figured it was Jenkins. We sort of bonded over me calling him a copyright thief.”
She laughed rather loudly into the receiver. “Can’t say I saw that coming. Anyways, what’re you doing right now?”
“Watching the news people freak out and talking to you.”
“You know where Johnny Mulligan’s is don’t you?”
It was only the most famous bar in the city. “Yeah, down on Eastwood and Crestfallen.”
“Meet me there in a half hour.”
Before I could even respond, she hung up. I guess I was going to Johnny Mulligan’s. Looking down, I was still in my work business casual and figured this wouldn’t cut it. I pillaged my closet for a pair of nice jeans and a nice black button down. I dug out my only pair of black boots to wear as well. They could use some polish, but they’d have to do as is.
In the car ride back into the city center, every radio station was talking about The Negative Man’s return from the abyss. One radio host even speculated that The Negative Man never truly left, that he assimilated into the city. Great, that would strike up paranoia. Next we’d be hearing about neighbors murdering each other because they were convinced the other was The Negative Man.
When I got to Johnny Mulligan’s, the place was almost empty. I parked my car and headed in. It was weird seeing such a big place void of the normal masses. On the plus side it made Heather very easy to spot.
She had traded in her scandalous work attire for something even more revealing. The skirt was about a half an inch shorter, showing off even more of her gorgeous toned legs, her heels were probably another inch taller, and the blouse she was wearing barely kept the girls at bay.
She was sipping something pink out of her straw as I approached. “Anyone sitting here?”
She shifted over a bit and allowed me to take a seat on the barstool. “I’m glad you came out Jericho.”
“You hung up before I even had a chance to say yes or no. Not that I would’ve said no…”
“What’re you drinking?”
I looked up at the beer and picked a fancy import beer. She flagged down the bartender and placed my order for me. Tuning back, “So, what’re your thoughts on The Negative Man coming back?”
To be honest, I didn’t care that’s the topic she brought up. I didn’t know what else to say to this incredibly sexy woman. “He’s an evil villain. Chances are he’s been hiding in plain sight, watching us get complacent.”
“Oh so you could be The Negative Man?” She said it in such a mocking way that my feelings actually got hurt. Why couldn’t I be a super villain?
I tried to laugh it off. “Hey you never know! I’m pretty scary!”
She laughed at my joke, which was very nice. “You’re cute Jericho, in that geeky, yet smart and sexy way. In all seriousness though, do you think it’s safe to stay here?”
“Yeah, why not? All major cities have their issues, whether it’d be just regular old human gangs or another villain trying to take over. At least we have The Dark Lion here.”
The bartender brought my beer and a refill for Heather. “Between me and you Jericho, The Dark Lion and the other vigilantes worry me just as much. I can’t believe old Grimes gave him the green flag to just go around murdering people just because they think they’re evil.”
I took a long slow drink of my expensive beer. “Grimes is just doing what he thinks will make people like me and you safe. Do I always agree with the vigilantes and their actions? No I don’t. On the flip side, I really do think they’re trying to keep us safe.”
I guess my words were what she needed to hear. Heather left the bar and walked over to the old style juke box and put in a couple of coins. An old, yet classic rock song began playing as she walked back over. “Care to dance with me?”
“I’m not much of a dancer…”
She took my hand and pulled me off the stool. “You just trust me and I’ll show you all my moves…”
*The Negative Man: City of Chaos is now just 99 cents. For how long no one knows. If you want to grab your very own copy, head on over to http://www.amazon.com/author/jeremycroston.
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