The Negative Man: Prelude to Chaos (Chap 4)

And the one that was actually meant for today! We’re cooking with gas now!


Chapter 4 –

Saturday Afternoon; Alameda Apartment Complex

My apartment, my own personal hell. How I hated this low rent place on the south side of downtown, but here I was. Again, another choice made all in the interest of seeing if my foe’s way was better than mine. A foe I was now working with! The irony was not lost on me.

There was no mention of the box truck heist from last night, as I’m sure the government wasn’t about letting it known to the world a plutonium core was stolen right out from under them. The Dark Lion was pissed though; when he got back he lashed out at an old printer in his personal office before coming down to the secret lair. He gave me one order before I was dismissed, “Find it.”

Being given an order from John Wonderton should’ve triggered a rage inside of me that ended with his death. Instead, I was intrigued to see how this played out. Valiant and Hilda were quite the illusionists and they now had the power to level most of Pacific Station and ruin the west coast. What would they do with it? Did they even know how to use it? These questions popped up in my mind over and over again.

My hacking skills were second to none. My first goal was to find out who these two nimrods were. They over-the-top antics and attire suggested they may’ve been minions to someone else; I just couldn’t get their parlor trick out of my head though. If this was a real super powered talent, what they could accomplish was infinite in its possibilities.

Unfortunately, my search turned up nothing that led me any closer to their identity. There was no black web chatter about the plutonium core, no demands being made to the city. It was like one moment it was here and the next it was gone. If I had pulled this job off, Pacific Station would’ve been begging for reform by the end of the night. Fear wasn’t their motivator then.

An idea struck me – what if they wanted to rid the world of this highly dangerous device? I jumped back on my lap top and began searching for environmental terrorists and this path was a bit more fruitful. A year ago, while I was in the middle of my own path of terror, a military hanger used to store missiles was robbed. That’s right, someone actually had the gall to steal missiles out from underneath the government’s nose. The stolen goods turned up two weeks later completely useless.

No one had any idea who pulled off such a theft, but the markers were eerily similar to last night’s vanishing truck trick. With an idea that was getting results, I dug even deeper.

Hours later, and a delivered pizza on my table, I had a name – Heath Munchop. The guy was a complete loser; dropped out of college, had numerous marijuana charges on his record, and two kids he completely neglected to two different mothers. And then I hit the jackpot, I found his license with a Pacific Station address on it.

“Bingo!” I slapped the table. “Maybe I have a future as a detective.”

I had two options here – give this information to DL or go visit Mr. Munchop myself. Seeing as how I had no social life, I figured it was as good of a time as ever to go meet a fresh face. Pulling on my hoodie, I left my apartment and breathed in the fresh December air. Christmas carols were being played in the apartment adjacent from me, as the family was putting up a rather large tree.

According to my navigation, Munchop’s place was only about ten minutes away from mine. Traffic was light on this Saturday afternoon, so I made good time and pulled up across the street. Someone was home as the front door was open, only the screen door acted as a barrier to me.

I got out of my car and hustled over and rang the doorbell. From the large pocket on the front of my hoodie, I slipped out my Negative Man mask and slid it on as a girl answered. “Hello-” She gasped as soon as she saw me. “You!”

“Yes me.” I pushed her away and entered the house. “Where is Valiant, Hilda?”

“H-h-h-how do you know my name?” She was creeping away from me as quickly as she could. “Please, we have nothing to offer you.”

Blue bolts of energy began to spring from my hands. “You have plenty to offer me, like the location of a certain box truck carrying a plutonium core.” Interrogations were fun. “I’m losing my patience.”

She pointed to the kitchen and I walked in, not before blasting her with enough electricity to power a small town. “A pity, you were quite cute,” I said to the smoking husk.

In the kitchen, lying on the table, was a piece of paper with an address. Underneath were instructions to Valiant and Hilda. Valiant was to deliver the box truck to Crosby Airfield this afternoon and meet a contact named Mr. Adam. “I knew these idiots weren’t the true problems.”

Unexpectedly my phone rang. It was John Wonderton. “Damnit,” I mumbled as I hit the green accept button. “Hello?”

“Jericho, how is it going finding out about our two magicians?”

Short and to the point as always. “Funny you should call – I just found out the name and address for the guy named Valiant.” I gave him the information, which he excitedly took down.

“Good work,” he praised me, which seemed a bit pretentious. “Why don’t you take the afternoon off and go see a movie or something?”

I had some fun plans for this afternoon. “I think I’m going to take a drive to the outskirts of the city. Maybe some fresh air will do me good.”

“I’ll call you after I check out the house.”

The call disconnected. I couldn’t wait to hear his reaction stumbling upon this little crime scene. “Well, let me go see a man about a plutonium core.”


You can find all my books at Come back next week as we continue Prelude to Chaos right here, in The Penalty Box!



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 to see my collections. Feel free to friend me on Facebook too at (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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