Wednesday Night; Ocean Memorial Gardens
John Wonderton’s funeral was well attended, almost everyone there to mourn The Dark Lion, but not the man himself. I was there for the man, not the cape. “I’m sorry it happened like this John. Believe it or not, you were my friend.”
People had left cards and notes on his freshly dug grave. The headstone hadn’t arrived yet, but it would be there soon. Wonder-Tech ordered the largest and most elaborate one we could. He deserved nothing less.
Draped over his mahogany casket was the yellow cape and cowl. The stained, ripped and dull fabric had a radiance of power in it. It would be my personal secret mission to make sure no one ever stained the legacy of the man. Call it a weakness, but I considered it my duty.
I bent down on one knee, not used to wearing a suit and having a tie to contend with, and put my hands on the casket. I said a small prayer, hoping that John would be able to rest in peace. “The city is in my hands and I will fulfill my promises. You may not have liked my methods, but the peace and order I bring, that you would respect.”
With one last look at The Dark Lion, I got up and left. Heather was waiting for me at the edge of the grounds and we had work to do. It was time to start fulfilling my duties.
Someone showed up late, someone I didn’t recognize. I stuck to the shadows, waiting for him to finish up and leave. I saw there was a good looking lady standing on the edge of the cemetery waiting for him. I was a bit curious why she didn’t join him by the grave site, but it might have had something to do with the fancy shoes she was wearing. Plus the ground was really soft.
He didn’t stick around for long and finished up by praying. When he got up and left, I still stayed off to the side until I knew the coast was clear. The last thing I wanted anyone to do was accuse me of robbing a grave. Especially the grave of a city hero.
Night had fallen and clouds began to build around. Now was as good a chance as any. I walked over to The Dark Lion’s final resting spot and dropped. “You never met me, but I knew who you were. Mom was always going on about how great a guy you were, even if you couldn’t hang around to see me grow up.”
I’ll never understand why things didn’t work out between my mom and this man, but it turned out I was more like him than I even knew. I was a super, blessed, or cursed possibly, with abilities similar to my dad. I wasn’t nearly as strong as him, but my reflexes were fast – so fast.
My hand was curled up on the old and smelly cloak. “You deserved better dad, even if you left us, you probably did it to keep us safe.”
A hero’s life wasn’t an easy one. I had just started my career and I already knew the dangers are bringing other into the fold. “If you see mom up there, tell her I’m okay would you?” Mom had succumbed to her disease a year ago. Maybe in the next life the two of them could be happy together.
Taking the cloak from the casket, “With both of you safe, I’m going to take up the mantle dad. From the ashes of your fire will rise a new hero. The memory of The Dark Lion will burn brightly over a dawn of a new age.” Fighting back my emotion, “The Negative Man won’t survive The Stormfall.”
Jericho Staley – Narrator
John Wonderton – The Dark Lion
Heather Adams – Lawyer
PJ Douglas – Massacre
Owen Walker – Spades
Jeff Trelewicz – Hearts
Phil Jenkins – Clubs
Harvey Grimes – Police Chief
Mike Blackfield – Tiger
Elephant – SVIS (identity currently unknown)
Antelope – SVIS (identity currently unknown)
Rhino – SVIS (identity currently unknown)
Crocodile – SVIS (identity currently unknown)
Darla Bannister – Café Owner
Marvin St. Clair – Lawyer
Ian Martinez – Deputy Mayor
Marge Osteen – Bank Teller
Annie Lipsky – Nurse
Brandon Howard – News Anchor
Geri Paisley – Reporter
Becky Walker – Owen Walker’s Daughter
Miranda Ryan – Jericho Staley’s Mother
Ted Hightower – Lead Contractor for Electron Generator
? – The Dark Lion’s Son
Testing for the Electron Generator…
“The electron generator is ready for the first round of testing.” The words we’d all been waiting for – today was the day.
I went over to Miranda Ryan’s station. “The readings look within range, if maybe a bit high. We don’t have to do this today, if you feel it needs more time.”
She looked up from her computer. “Ted, we’ve been behind schedule all year. If this test works, the government will give us the grant we need to continue research.”
“Fine.” I signaled to the three suits standing at the exit door to the lab. “Tell the generals we are going to be running our first test in five.”
The men scrambled, all hoping to be the first to tell the generals the good news. How I hated politicians and bureaucrats. As a man of science, I longed for a day when we wouldn’t need to rely on their scraps to make real progress.
The hum of the electron generator caused me to break out of my thoughts. I saw the smiles on all the faces of the people who had worked long, hard hours to bring this thing online. “Today is the day we change the world ladies and gentlemen.”
Everyone’s focus shifted to the large machine behind the bulletproof glass. Lights began whirling around, similar to the effect of sunlight passing through a prism. It was a sight to behold.
“Well color me impressed Ted. You’re team actually did it.”
Behind me was General Armand Bulger. It was only through his lobbying for my lab that we got the funds to complete the project. “General, this is just the machine starting up. Wait until you see what this thing can do when running properly.”
Miranda smiled and slowly began turning up the power to the generator. With any luck, pure electron energy would be produced and we would be able to capture it.
With each click on the dial, my anticipation grew. “Miranda, what’s the power up to?”
“Fifty-five percent and the generator is steady. Shall I keep going?”
For a first test, this probably was a good place to stop. But the gaze of General Bulger was piercing the back of my head. He didn’t come here for fifty-five percent. “Yes.”
And so she did. Every second that ticked by, the generator kept gaining power. When we got to ninety percent, my fears started to subside. This was going to work.
“Two more turns and we’ll be operating at maximum capacity.” Miranda was cool, yet I could tell her excitement was bubbling underneath. “Both teams, please get into position to begin energy-”
None of us saw the blast coming. From my vantage point, there was no noise, no warning before the generator blew the entire laboratory apart. One minute everything was fine and the next most of the people in the room were dead.
As my hearing came back to me, “Ted! Ted!”
Disoriented, “Miranda, is that you?!”
“Yes! My God, what have we done?”
I couldn’t see well, dust and debris filled the air in what remained of the control room. Beside me was the lifeless face of Betzy Epitacio, one of the programmers. In her hand was her phone, the latest game still lit on the screen.
I tried to move, but sharp pain rifled through me. I’d been impaled by a large piece of glass. “Miranda, I don’t think I’m going to make it.”
I felt a hand touch the back of my head. “Oh Ted…”
Something wet was falling on to my hair. “Don’t cry Miranda, you need to leave before even worse can happen.”
Gripping my shoulder, “I can’t leave you.”
“You have to.” My eyes started to go black, probably from the loss of blood. “I don’t regret any of it.”
Life was slipping away, my hand fell out of hers. “Ted, don’t die on me, not now!”
“I’m sorry Miranda.” I wanted to know she was safe before I died. “If you’re safe, I can die at peace.” Something large fell in the background. “Please, let me go Miranda.”
I didn’t hear anything for a moment, so I thought she took my advice. Then, very close in a low whisper, “Ted, I’m pregnant…”
Shameless plug time – So you’ve read the story and probably enjoyed it if you stayed with me this long. If that’s the case, feel free to go to my Amazon page and pre-order Stormfall (coming soon on 7/5!). It’s only 99 cents from now until its release, at which point it’ll go back to normal retail of $2.99. Grab your copy at http://www.amazon.com/author/jeremycroston.