The one thing about not working at Wonder-Tech anymore was my hours. At five o’clock on the dot I’d get a call from Owen telling me to leave. The first day there, I ended up working until eight thirty and the next morning he asked me what the hell I was doing. “I’m just working boss.”
“Listen, I don’t know what kind of tyranny Wonderton runs over there, but at gl-O-bal, we leave at five, understand?”
So on Tuesday and again today, he personally made sure I left. Progress on the elemental gun was coming along, I’d built a new outer shell and when I left today, had been tinkering with a new wiring schematic. Instead of going over to my apartment, I’d gone over to Heather’s and picked her up.
She’d been feeling better and wanted to go out to eat. “I’m really craving Mexican. It’s been far too long since I’ve had a good taco.”
And I just happen to know the place to take her. “You hear of The Big Burrito? It’s a new taco place down on Wave.”
That’s how we ended up here. The place was packed and it took some time to get a seat, but it smelled so damn good that there was no way we were leaving. Heather was practically salivating at the drinks being handed out all around us, but the doctor said no alcohol for the time being.
A very large Pina Coloda was being served at the bar next to where we were standing. “Does it make me an alcoholic that I want to say screw you doc and grab that?”
“I don’t think so. They sure do look good huh?”
“And smell good.” I could totally pick up the hints of rum in the drink. “They better get us to a table quick so I can focus on tortilla chips and salsa.”
I think one of the hostesses heard us as we soon we’re at a nice table in the back. No sooner did we sit down than did the chips and salsa show up. Heather wasted no time tearing in to them. “Holy shit, that’s amazing stuff!”
John and I had been here for lunch, so we didn’t get the complementary chips and salsa, so it was my first taste of it. “Whoa, this makes the stuff I buy at the store look terrible.”
That wasn’t even the highlight of the night. I ordered The Big Burrito’s namesake and the two pound monster they sat in front of me was mind blowing. “I’m not even going to be able to eat half of this.”
Heather had been a bit more practical and ordered the same two taco combo I did the other day. When she picked up her fork to go after the black beans, I heard the zap as she dropped the fork. “That was quite the shock.” At the same time, both our phones lit up as if we were about to get a message before returning to the sleep screen.
I looked over, a bit concerned. “Static?”
“I guess so.” She shook her hand. “That stung a little bit.”
I watched carefully as she grabbed the fork again, but nothing happened. Maybe I was just overanalyzing things. I went back to the burrito and soon was lost in its deliciousness.
The one thing we agreed on was not talking about either place of work. It was actually something John made me promise before I left for gl-O-bal, as he didn’t want anything to slip and put anyone in danger. Plus, it was nice not having to worry about Wonder-Tech for a bit. John and I had a secret meeting scheduled for very early Sunday morning for me to go over everything with him. That’d be enough for me.
“So when’s your next appointment? I can take off and go with you if you’d like.”
She pulled out her phone and scanned through her calendar. “Next Tuesday by the looks of it. If they give me a clean bill of health, then I’ll be officially done with Heights General.”
Unlike me who skipped all of my doctor’s appointments (I didn’t trust them or really believe in them), Heather had been very punctual. “I’m glad to hear it. I’m sure you’re going crazy just sitting around all day at home.”
“It was fun to begin, as there are a lot of smutty TV shows on during the day, but yeah, I’m ready to get back on with life.”
I toasted her with my soda glass. “Give it a week or two, you’ll wish you were back to watching smutty daytime TV.”
She returned the favor with her water cup. “I’ve been able to actually catch up a lot on The Negative Man coverage. Can you believe some stations are hailing him as a hero?”
I shrugged my shoulders. “It’s all in people’s eyes. What is bad to some is heroic to others.”
“Maybe, and trust me, I get that Massacre really messed up during The Aces hostage situation by killing those people, but to kill him in cold blood like that?”
Wasn’t that what The Dark Lion was doing though? “Remember a few weeks ago when The Dark Lion killed off a bunch of thugs and the police chief hailed him a hero? Again, it just depends on the view of the people.”
She tapped her finger against her glass. “You’re right. I mean I always respected The Dark Lion because of his stand against The Negative Man a few years back, but who was really right and who was wrong?”
“I remember the last part of his reign, but what happened at the beginning to turn the city against him?”
A lightbulb went off in her mind. “That all took place just as you moved here right?”
“Yeah, but I was so focused on my studies, that I sorta ignored the news for a time.” I didn’t mean to sound as if I didn’t care, “Most of my classmates said it was the darkest time in the history of the city.”
“Unlike The Aces, who steal, murder, and generally do whatever they want, The Negative Man was like one of those ‘I’m going to take over the world’ types. He attacked various points in the city, each time declaring he did it to show us how weak we were.”
I rubbed my chin and took another drink. “A megalomaniac super human huh?”
“I don’t know that I’d say that. Each of his attacks seemed so calculated and precise. He was like a skilled engineer or something when it came to disrupting the city.” Her voice contained no disdain for him, more like someone recounting a history book. “There were deaths of course; he wiped out a number of vigilantes that had taken up arms in Pacific Station.”
Again, the west coast was much more super friendly than the east coast. That was one of the main reasons for the great divide between the two parts of the country. “Was that the turning point?”
She went back to her phone and pulled up a website on the browser. “Check out this memorial page to the fallen supers.” I took her phone as she kept talking. “Pacific Station loves their vigilantes. The police force basically endorses them to do the hard jobs.”
I recognized the names on the memorial page. “Devil’s advocate here, but what if all these heroes had done something like Massacre did? Do you think they’d still be worshipped?”
“That’s an interesting question. In the legal field there’s a saying – time heals all wounds.”
“Maybe that’s why some of these stations are now on The Negative Man bandwagon. Time healed the wound.”
She snapped up a chip and dipped it into the salsa. “You’d make a fine lawyer Mr. Staley.”
The conversation took a less serious turn as we began speculating about the upcoming baseball season. I had ties to my team back east, but was also a big Pacific Station fan, so I was telling Heather I was hopeful they’d both make it to the Series. “I can totally see Rollins having a break out year. He was really turning it on-”
“Jericho…” Her skin was starting to go flush and pale. “I think something’s wrong.”
I saw how hard she was gripping the table. “Do we need to get you to a doctor?”
Sweat started forming at her hairline. “I don’t know. I really don’t feel all that well.”
Getting up, “I can take you to the bathroom. Here, take my arm.” I offered her my left and she took it.
We were on our way to the back of the restaurant when she stumbled a bit. A waitress that was nearby came over to see if we were okay. “Is there something wrong?”
Phones began ringing everywhere. Both of ours had been left on the table due to rushing Heather over to the bathroom. I looked down and saw Heather’s eyes were white – no irises. The waitress saw this too and starting backing up. That’s when the explosions starting happening, everywhere.
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