Welcome one and all to the telling of Prelude to Chaos. Over the next three weeks, I’m going to be dropping chapters in over the work week to get you ready for Legends Can Die. I must warn you though, if you haven’t finished City of Chaos and Stormfall, there are a ton of spoilers to be had.
If you’re ready, it’s time to grab your sandwich, Coke, and relax.
Bolt Publishing presents…
Friday Morning; Wonder-Tech Tower
My name is Jericho Staley and I’m The Negative Man. Well, I used to be The Negative Man, that is until a few weeks ago when I allowed the vigilante known as The Dark Lion to defeat me at Waves Park. The city assumed I was dead, which was fine by me. I’d try to reform this cesspool of a town through fear and might, yet it never worked. By allowing The Dark Lion that one small victory, it was a social experiment to see if his way would work better.
In the meantime, I’d taken an IT job with a place called Wonder-Tech, owned and operated by John Wonderton. The man was a grade A asshole; you know the type, rich and brooding. He stayed to himself and pretty much let the operation here run by itself. The problem with all of this is Wonder-Tech was the only place in town that paid pretty much anything of a living value.
gl-O-bal, the startup spearheaded by Owen Walker wasn’t a viable solution yet. And yeah sure, I thought about using my powers to go rob a few banks and pad the old bank account, but wouldn’t that just defeat the purpose? Nope, as much as it irritated me, I was going to see this through. That’s what I told myself as I entered the office anyway.
My cubicle was on the same floor as the server farm. There were only two of us IT types; besides me there was Erin Cieslik. Erin had been at Wonder-Tech since the beginning and was a pretty decent guy, when he wasn’t giving me shit for having to wear sunglasses most of the time. Every so often we would go grab a beer or two after work, but he also had two kids at home and a wife. As soon as he spotted me getting off the elevator, he said the same thing he said everyday – “Tell me something good, Staley…”
It upset him that a young, single guy like me wasn’t living it up. “You know the deal, Erin. I went home and I watched TV until I fell asleep.”
“Travesty,” he mumbled to himself. “Jericho man, we’re the same age, but I’m the guy with the wife and kids.” He was about to really lay it on me. “With that in mind, why in the world do I have a more interesting life than the single dude?”
“I’m just not an interesting guy, Erin.”
And that was true. Even when I was in full on Negative Man mode, my personal life suffered. I had no real motivation to date or even really make friends. Why? Chances are I was going to have to kill them at some point. What was my excuse now that I wasn’t a supervillain though?
I put those thoughts to the side as I sat down at my terminal, waiting to see what the day had instore for me. Our first order of business was trying to figure out how someone hacked into Legal’s email, sending dirty pictures to the staff. It was a tedious job, not really worth my time or effort.
In no time flat, I found the guy behind it (and yes, it was always a guy when it came to crap like that), and emailed it off to John Wonderton for him to decide what to do. That was over my paygrade or my care levels.
The day stalled out until noon. Erin hopped up and suggested we hit up Del Monte Burgers not too far away. On our way out, one of the lawyers, Heather Adams I think her name was, stopped us. “Thanks guys for getting that creep Brody. God, if I see one more picture of someone’s junk…”
Erin dug his elbow into my ribcage. “Hey, no problem.”
“What Jericho means is were just doing our job. He just happens to be really good at it.” He winked at me, like a fool.
Heather smiled. “Either way, you guys are awesome. Wonderton already fired him and security escorted him out about an hour ago.” She leaned in and gave me a hug. “See you two around.”
The moment we walked out the door, “Whooooaaa buddy! You should’ve asked her out.”
“Erin, you have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Psshhht. I know a thing or three about the ladies, dude. She looked at you the same way my wife looked at me right before I asked her out.”
“I thought your wife said no to you like five or six times.”
He threw his hands up. “You’re ridiculous. C’mon dude, I’m hungry.”
I was looking at the clock. The weekend was so close. Not that I really had anything to do. Maybe Erin was right, I probably needed a hobby. Being a regular old guy was kind of sucking to this point.
“Yo, Earth to Jericho, get your head out of the clouds.”
I snapped out of it and looked over at my overly cheerful co-worker. “What? Did I miss the lottery pool?”
He came over and pointed at my screen. “Wonderton emailed you like ten minutes ago to go up to his office. His assistant is bugging the piss out of me wanting to know why you’re not up there yet.”
That couldn’t have been good. I was much better as a supervillain than I was the boring IT guy. Maybe it was time to say screw this to the plan. Sorry Dark Lion, but a life this boring isn’t worth giving you a chance to clean up Pacific Station. I pushed my chair out and made what was going to be my final walk out of this building.
Instead, when I got to the elevator, I pushed the top floor and made my way up to Wonderton’s office. The assistant was on the phone when I got off and waved me on through. Wonderton wasn’t even there when I entered, so my levels of annoyance were skyrocketing. As I leaned up against the one wall, cursing this menial existence and my stupidity for trying this, the wall popped open.
Curiosity got the better of me. I followed the hidden compartment around and, “Holy shit…”
“You’re not supposed to be here,” a voice said ominously.
Come on back tomorrow for Chapter 2! Until then…
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