The Negative Man: Stormfall (Preview Chapter 1)

So yeah, last week was a rough one.  Between some work stuff, a surprise baby showers, and relatives coming in, I completely forgot to post the preview chapters to Stormfall.  Oh well, we still have a week from its release, so I’m in the clear.  Today, I’m going to be bringing you the first chapter of the book and tomorrow will get the second.  I hope you’ve enjoyed City of Chaos, as that is behind us.  Take a peek if you dare as the storm is coming…

stormfall cover

Chapter 1 –

Monday Night; St. James Cathedral

 

“Forgive me father, for I have sinned.”

I was sitting in the confessional, the smell of the wood filling my senses. A year ago, this would’ve been the last place on Earth you would’ve found me, but times change.  People change.  Pacific Station was on the verge of a rebirth – so why was I in a confessional?  That’s a good question.

I looked over at the slot; still unopened. I knew Father Reigart was on the other side, making me wait patiently.  He was the reason I was here.  He came to the city just after the death of The Dark Lion and took over this old parish.  Originally I was investigating rumors that he might be a super.  Apparently in his last city, he picked up a car to save a little boy and that got people talking.

Upon further investigation, he was just an ordinary human; a very large and powerful one. Easily six foot four and probably close to two hundred and eighty pounds, Father Reigart was a moving mountain.  Some claimed he may have been a descendant of the old Norse berserkers but he was also a gentle soul.  So no, he was no super, just a person who over time I came to trust.

The sound of wood scraping against wood told me he was ready to talk. “Jericho my son, what brings you here tonight?”

I cut through the small talk and right to the heart of the matter. “Did you hear about Robert Mozenberg?”

“The land developer who just died in a home fire?” There was no shock in his voice.  “I figured ‘he’ might’ve had something to do with it.”

Oh yeah, he knows I’m The Negative Man. He’s very intuitive, which works both for and against him.  When he put two and two together, I was tempted to kill him to keep him silent.  However, there was something about the guy that just struck me as an ally.  So here we are today.  “The man was a pervert.  He kidnapped under aged girls and did horrible things.”

There was a pause, followed by a sigh. “I know you think by using him, you think you’re doing good for this city.”  I felt an admonishment coming.  “Jericho, you could do so much good without resorting to violence and murder.”

For the first time this session I made eye contact with the man on the other side. His gentle brown eyes and full beard were visible.  “John thought the same way you did, at first.  He thought we could restore Pacific Station by staying on the right side of the line.”  I didn’t like talking about my old enemy, friend, and mentor much.  “Then it became too much for him.  He fell too, as you know.”

“Maybe he wasn’t the one who was destined to be the hero? Have you ever thought that if you let The Negative Man fade into obscurity and re-invented yourself that you might become the hero of the tale?”

Chuckling, “It’s too late for that, but thanks for thinking the best of me.”

I leaned back against the wall, knowing our session was almost to an end. “How’s Heather doing?  Have her tendencies started to fade?”

Over the past year, one of the biggest changes had been to Heather. She still was the sweet caring girl I fell for hard as John Wonderton’s sidekick, but a dark side was rearing its ugly head.  “She’s doing okay.  I think her sporadic visits with you have helped.”

“I worry for her, because unlike you, she was not born with this gift. It came as a shock to her system and the fallouts could be very severe.”  At first I didn’t believe his warnings, but over time I saw it firsthand.  “I hope we can keep her on the right track before something terrible happens.”

“You and I both, Father.” With that, I left the confessional and the church.

****

I walked out of the church and on to the dimly lit street. I had no fear, for this was my city.  Crime was at an all-time low in Pacific Station and not because of our police department.  The Negative Man punished those who stepped out of line and the fear amongst the criminal underworld was thick.

My main problem these days was that lunatic Chief Grimes and the ‘crack’ squad he enlisted to eliminate my alter-ego. The SVIS, how their antics both amused me and made me sick to my stomach.  Those stupid masked vigilantes, all they did was cause mayhem and panic where ever they went.  The city would be better off without them, that’s for sure.

I just haven’t been able to bring myself to do that yet. As unlike me as it sounds, I’m just not motivated to wipe them out.  None of them can challenge me the way he did.  They aren’t worth my time or my effort.  So for now, they are like lizards in the garden – an annoyance.

I loved walking at night, with the cool breeze coming off the ocean. The peaceful quiet of my city was a stark contrast to my hectic days.  Wonder-Tech was still riding high and with my recent acquisition of gl-O-bal, I would soon become the industry leader in all things tech related.  And with that distinction, the final part of my grand plan for making this country great again could come to fruition.

“Hey Mister, that’s a nice watch. I think I should take it from you before it attracts trouble.”

Was I seriously being mugged? The guy interested in my watch stepped out of the side alley and faced me.  He looked like a goof.  “It is a nice watch, but I think I can take care of it myself.”

His face twitched a bit at my reply. No taller than me with perfectly combed hair, I wondered what threat he could pose me.  “That’s a damn shame, because trouble’s a lot closer than you think.”

I looked around, pretending to care what he said. “The only person I see is you and I doubt you would pose much of a problem to me.”

He reached behind him and grabbed on to something, maybe? His hand was holding empty air as far as I could tell.  As he lifted it up, something came into view, a sledgehammer.  “My friends call me Hammerspace because I have this awesome trick where I can pull my friend here outta nowhere.”

Fascinating – what an incredible gift! “I see, like in a video game where the hero’s always pull their weapon from nowhere.”

“You’re up on games, I like it.” He took a step closer.  “Unfortunately for you, I like that watch a bit more.  Hand it over and we won’t have any issues.”

The fool had no idea who he was mugging. Not that it mattered; The Negative Man would be seeing him again soon.  Unclipping the watch, “Fine, take it.  You earned it.”

He reached over and swiped the watch out of my hand, looking at me a bit confused by what I said. “Yeah, I did earn it, didn’t I?”  He slipped the watch into one of his invisible pockets.  “Well, nice doing business with ya, but I gotta-”

Four figures dropped in around us – the SVIS. They’d upgraded their suits, they seemed to be wearing tactical police uniforms, the only difference was the animal masks they were wearing.  Oh what a joy, to be saved by such heroes!  The one in the elephant mask yelled out first.  “Freeze Hammerspace, you’re ours this time!”

Before he could even respond, the large oaf codenamed Rhino charged at him. Now in flight or fight mode, Hammerspace did the only logical thing, he grabbed me.  “I’d stop what you’re doing right now!”  All four of the idiots froze in place.  “I know who my target is and I know what he’s worth to this city.  So the two of us are going to walk into that alley over there while the four of you wait here patiently, got it?”

Elephant responded for the group. “If you harm a non-super, you know what the punishment is, life at Black Lagoon.”

“You morons stay here and nothing will go wrong.” He pushed me towards his exit.  “C’mon Mr. Staley, we’re going to take a walk.”

Hammerspace had one more little surprise for the SVIS. He reached behind him back and pulled out a grenade from his interdimensional pocket.  Without a second thought, he lobbed it at the masked freaks, who had to rush to take cover.  He pulled me into the side alley as the grenade went off.  The sound of the explosion set off car alarms down the street.  In the pandemonium that ensued, I knew the SVIS wouldn’t be able to pursue.

“Sorry about the noise. Those damn idiots always make things so much harder than they need to be.”

I gave a quick laugh. “I can’t blame you.  They didn’t even assess the situation correctly.”

He let me go when we were far enough away. “Even so, I bet their day’s coming.  It’s only a matter of time before The Negative Man puts them down.  Honestly, I’m surprised he hasn’t already.”

Under my breath, “Oh, I’ve come close.”

“Did you say something?”

Looking up, “No, just being thankful that no one got hurt tonight.”

He reached into another invisible pocket and pulled something out. “For being a good sport tonight, this is for you.”  Whatever it was, he tossed in the air towards me.

I caught it and gave it the once over. “Is this supposed to be a joke?”

“At least you got another watch out of the deal. Not as nice as yours, but you’re a cool guy.”  He gave me one last cheesy grin before ducking off.

Knowing the wild herd was anxiously awaiting my safe return; I took a deep breath and returned to the street. I glanced at my new watch one more time.  “Well, it’s not that bad.”

-Jeremy

You can preorder Stormfall now at http://www.amazon.com/author/jeremycroston

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About Jeremy Croston

I'm a comic loving, soccer playing, devoted husband who has a writing addiction. I can be found at Orlando Solar Bear hockey games, at the local sports bar cheering on my teams from Philly (go Flyers!), and being led astray by my schnauzer, JJ. Check out my Amazon page at www.amazon.com/author/jeremycroston to see my collections. Feel free to friend me on Facebook too at www.facebook.com/jcroston2 (there is another one of me out there apparently). Outside of writing, I work in business development and am considered an expert in all things Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Thanks for stopping by and looking forward to talking to you soon!
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