Part seven of Allosaurus. Continued from last week.

I went to the store today. Bought $50 worth of light bulbs. That’s quite a lot of light bulbs, if you’ve ever wondered. Well, it’s a lot of the old-fashioned, incandescent  kind, actually. The new energy efficient bulbs cost a bit more, so $50 is gonna get you three, maybe four lights. Your standard Thomas Edisons? That amount of money will get you … (counts the boxes) … forty-seven packs. Sixty watts a piece. 

Am I that big a fan of illumination? Hardly. 

I am, however, quite enamored with broken glass.

The beautiful, beautiful sound. A crack, a pop, a shimmer. The glistening, jagged shards like ice. So sharp, so fine. I was afraid of it, once. It could cut me, it could slice me, it could split me open. Now, every time I break some glass, I feel a little charge, a thrill in the pit of my stomach. I close my eyes and savor it.

Broken glass.

“I think I should move out.”

Fran didn’t look up from her plate. Her fork clanked hard against china, stabbing through a chunk of chicken. Other than that, she kept completely still.

“Did you hear me, Fran?” Cheryl asked. “I said – ”

“I heard you. You think you should move out.” The fork scraped tiny little circles around the rice.

Look at her. Ask her to stay. Tell her you love her, that you’d be lost without her. Tell her you’ll stop going out on your stupid patrols, and beg her to stay. Tell her, dammit!

Fran continued to stare at the plate.

“Well? You don’t have anything to add to that?” Cheryl’s voice was plaintive, stretched. Fran could hear it, breaking. She didn’t have to look up to see the water welling up in Cheryl’s eyes.

Hold her! Wipe the tears away! Tell her it’s gonna be alright! Stop being a jackass! 

Cheryl shook her head. “I – ”

“Don’t.” Fran still hadn’t looked up, was still scraping the plate with the fork. Her voice was small, quiet. “Please.”

“‘Don’t’ what?” Cheryl grabbed Fran’s chin, tugged her face up. “Look at me! Don’t what?”

Don’t go. Say it!

“Don’t go.”

Cheryl swallowed in a dry throat. “Your chest is still bruised up pretty bad,” she sighed. “The doctor said you need to be resting for a while. I’ll hang around here til you get well enough to be on your own, but then … I think I’ll move in with Calvin for a bit. I’ll keep paying my part of the rent til the lease is up, and I’ll help you with the power and whatever, but …” Her voice trailed off. “You don’t care that you’re gonna die, if you keep this up. And, I can’t watch you kill yourself. Do you understand?”

Fran’s eyes were shut tight. She could feel the heat rising up her back, up her spine. She was unaware that she had slowly mashed the fork against the plate until the tines were mashed and bent. Unbidden, an image sprang into her mind: Cheryl and Fran were at the pier, blanket spread  across the sand. It was night. There were djembe players pounding out a rhythm in the distance. Jugglers twirled flaming ropes in intricate patterns in time to the music. Fran remembered the look in Cheryl’s eyes, glowing to put the light from the fire-spinners to shame.

It was hard, but Fran finally looked at Cheryl – those same burning, glowing eyes from that night, so long ago. “…I …” she began. She couldn’t finish. Try harder. “I … need you. Please.”

***

Kid Kaos was one of the few vigilantes infesting the city who actually dressed like a superhero: bright yellow tights with a black exclamation point on his chest. He even had a cape. A black cape, of all things! as though he thought he could fly. He wore a domino mask as well. The one thing that really stood out about his get-up was the knit Rasta cap with fake dreads sewn into it. As Kid Kaos, Roger Bergmann preferred to mete out “justice” to bank robbers and various low-level thuggery. He also enjoyed following firefighters and EMTs, hoping to lend a hand and ingratiate himself to what he referred to as the “life-saving elite”.

It was, therefore, no big deal to set up a trap for him.

A faked emergency, a stolen ambulance, a taser and some rope. Easy peasey. Kaos came to, hogtied in a warehouse, hanging upside down. He could just about make out the video camera pointed at him, and through the haze he could see three figures. A woman and two men, by the looks of them. Kaos mustered up his best superhero bluster.

“Just what do you … evil-doers want?” he snarled.

“Wow,” chuckled the closest one, a male. He, like his comrades, wore white painter’s coveralls and a white balaclava. “You really got that whole comic-book thing down, huh?” He snatched the Rasta cap and domino mask off Kid Kaos’ face. “Teppo, catch!” He tossed them to the other male. Teppo held one in each hand, looked at them with mild disgust.

“Eww,” Teppo sniffed. “Smells like cheap aftershave, Kracko. Point his face at the camera.”

“Right.” Kracko lifted Kaos’ head by the hair and swung him around so that he was staring straight at the video camera. The woman crossed over to turn it on. “You getting this, Oxmyx?” Kracko asked her.

“Got it,”, Oxmyx gave him the thumbs up. “We’re rolling.  Go ahead.”

“Right.” Kracko cleared his throat, addressed the camera. “We are Project Kill-switch. We’ve got a message for you. This here’s a guy named, um, …” Kracko pulled out a slip of paper from his pocket, and glanced at it. “This is a guy named Roger Bergmann. Goes around dressed like a freak, calls himself ‘Kid Kaos’. Some of you may have had some dealings with him. Think’s he’s some kind of super-hero.” Kracko looked Kaos in the face. “He’s about to die. Right here, right now.”

“Wha- what?” Kaos stammered.

“Yep, this clueless idiot is gonna die. Project Kill-switch looks at it like this. A lot of you good folks out there have it in your minds that you can strap on some long johns and a mask, come up with a name, and have the greatest adventure of a lifetime. This is foolishness. We intend to show you all just how foolish this is.

“You see,” Kracko continued, “Super-heroes exist in a world with equally colorful antagonists. Up til now, there haven’t been any of those. As a result, most of the masked vigilantes out there have no clue as to how to deal with a real threat. Like us.

“We’re taking over. Don’t try to stop us.”

“Wait! Don’t do this!” Kaos begged.

Kracko feigned surprise. “Don’t do it? Whatever for? Do you have some heretofore hidden powers that will prevent us from carrying out our dastardly crime?”

“Look, I just – it’s just that I overheard the one you call ‘Teppo’ saying he didn’t need you other guys, that he was the real brains of your outfit, you know?” Kaos stammered. “I mean, you’re not gonna let him get away with talking about you like that, are you?”

Kracko was silent. His eyes darted to Teppo, then back to Oxmyx. With suspicion, he growled, “Teppo? Did you say that?”

Teppo froze. Then, he did something quite unexpected.

He blurted out a hearty laugh. Oxmyx joined in.

“Aw,” she cooed. “Look who’s trying to use strategy, trying to pit us against each other! It’s so cute!”

“That’s not your super strength or something, is it?” Teppo chuckled. “Being clever? Because it doesn’t seem to be working for you, now, does it?”

Kracko shook his head. “That was a good one, Roger. ‘Teppo said he was the brains of your outfit!'” he mocked. “Nah, you’re gonna die. -You got that machete ready, Teppo?”

“I’m on it, Kracko,” Teppo drawled.

Kaos saw the flash of steel. One of the things about a sharp blade, swung true, is that it takes a lot longer for the mind to register things like pain than it takes for a person to die.

words  © Christopher Ward. All rights reserved.

Allosaurus continues next week in It’s A Fairly Common Last Name In The West Indies.

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Comments
  1. teapassages says:

    Getting darker…glad to see new characters and sub-plot

  2. […] Allosaurus returns with part 8. Fran is still recovering from getting her chest caved in. It’s been a little while since Cheryl told Fran that she was going to move out. Fran has decided that she can’t continue her night time activities and has given them up in the hopes that Cheryl will stay. […]

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