Allosaurus part 14. Here’s part 13; here’s the beginning

Fran slowly crumpled the letter from Project Killswitch. She couldn’t look at it, she couldn’t. She had read it over and over again for the past hour or so; read it until the words no longer made sense. She didn’t remember turning the TV on. She didn’t remember when it started getting darker outside, or when the wind outside began picking up.

” … the thirteenth named storm of the season has turned into a hurricane, with all the spaghetti models showing that Melpo’s on track for making a landfall sometime in the next day or so,” the weatherman was saying. Fran couldn’t hear. “I guess thirteen is our unlucky number this year. Make sure if you are in a hurricane evacuation zone that you …”

I … I … Fran shook her head.

What?

… I don’t know what to do.

Don’t give me that. You know exactly what you’ve got to do.

I promised. I promised her I wouldn’t do it anymore.

Yeah, and now they’re gonna send her back to you in little bite-sized chunks if you don’t. I’m pretty sure she’ll be madder at you if you don’t do something and she gets killed, than if you show up in your superhero get-up. What the hell is wrong with you?

But … these guys are serious. They killed –

THEY’VE GOT CHERYL. WHAT ABOUT THAT IS HARD FOR YOU TO UNDERSTAND? THEY WILL KILL HER, TOO. You’re pathetic.

No, I’m not!

Pathetic and weak, just like you always were. Frannie.

Stop.

Make me. Frannie.

Stop!

Fancy little Frannie fran-fran, doin’ the can-can

Stop it!

Doing little girls ’cause she can’t handle a –

“AAAHHH!” Fran put her hands over her ears and ran. It was no use. They caught her, again, just like they did two years ago. Laughing, leering faces. Hands pulling, tugging, punching. Mauling her. A foot mashed her head into the ground and cracked her jaw.

“NO!” Fran yelled. It wasn’t a plea, not like before. It was a command. The faces, the hands, the foot, all vanished. She found herself on the floor in the studio, in front of the closet. Gasping, choking back a building fury, she opened the door. The boots, the gauntlets, the bullet-proof vest, the goggles. They were all there. Even the dis-entangler.

Even the toe tag.

Don’t let them do that to Cheryl. 

I won’t. I can’t.

Fran tied on the toe tag.

~~~

There was a back stairwell to the roof. Fran had used this to escape the building before. She hadn’t been back here in a long time. It was still dusty, neglected. No one should see her.  She opened the door. Wind was picking up; it almost tore it from her hand. The deepening twilight showed an angry red-violet to the west. The clouds would cover the stars, the moon. It would be a pitch perfect night for someone to slip among the shadows, Fran thought.

“Hiya.”

Fran whirled around in the direction of the voice. “You,” she grunted. “What is it now?”

Mister Vanglorious chuckled behind his red black and green mask. “Nice to see you, too, CG.”

“See wha?”

“You know. Short for ‘Commando Girl’. I guess that’s what you would prefer to be called.”

“Whatever. I don’t have time.” Fran spun around to leave.

“Hey, wait!” Mister Vanglorious called. “Don’t you wanna know …”

Fran leaped from the roof in silence. “… Why I’m here,” Vanglorious finished. He ran to the edge and peered over. “Damn, that’s a long drop,” he muttered. “Oh, well. Not gettin’ any younger.” Gracefully, with the agility of a man with long years of training, he bounced and tumbled his way to the ground. Lightly touch on this balcony, swing on that railing. Roll on that ledge. The gusts of wind made it more difficult than it looked. Vanglorious made short work of catching up to Fran.

“So, ah, you just gonna walk there?” he asked.

Fran’s eyes narrowed. “Walk where?”

Vanglorious sighed. “Look. Couple of things you might wanna know. Some of us aren’t loners, okay? We work with, um, some people. We watch things. We hear things. We -”

“Point?” Fran snarled.

“We know that Project Killswitch has your friend. I’m … I’m sorry.”

Fran felt her face burning, but her expression remained fixed. “I see. So, the whole city knows who I am, then?” she asked in a measured, deliberate tone.

“No, no, not at all. Some people do. The ones who are luring you into a trap do. The other people I work with do.”

Fran surreptitiously  pressed a switch on one of her gauntlets. There was an eerie hum. “Be very careful, Vanglorious. The next words you say could be your last.”

He sighed. “Yeah, okay. Look. YOU ARE WALKING INTO A TRAP. I am trying to help you, you tiny idiot, you. Killswitch ain’t the only problem you got right now.”

“Who else?”

“The Bug Man’s been looking for you, too.”

“Who, Monster Maggot, or Captain Cockroach, or whatever his stupid name is? That guy? The hell I do to him?” Fran chuckled darkly in spite of herself. “I think I got some Raid back at the apartment -”

“This is serious, woman. You don’t wanna mess with Palmetto. He works for some kinda government agency, apparently. The agency you got your gadgets from.” Vanglorious paused; more for dramatic effect than for anything else. “They want their shit back.”

“Fine. He can have it. Soon as I get Cheryl back and break Killswitch into little pieces.” She turned to go. “Thanks for the heads-up,” she finished.

Dammit, Vanglorious thought. He shook his head. “Stupid, stupid,” he muttered. “I can get you there faster than you walking, you know!” he yelled after her.

Fran paused. Her shoulders slumped by the slimmest of fractions. She turned. “I can’t have anyone with me,” she sighed. “They’ll kill her.”

“They’ll probably do that regardless. I’m just offering you a ride. For now. And, maybe I can help you with Palmetto Bug Man.” Vanglorious shrugged. “Listen, Insect-o-Guy is pretty diesel. He’s actually a super-human. He don’t need a bullet-proof vest or a jet pack, alright?”

“What do you care?” Fran scowled. “What’s it to you?”

Vanglorious sighed. He reached up to his head, and with one swift motion, he pulled the mask off. He stood there: a black man maybe in his late forties – early fifties. Hair grey around the temples, forehead creased with years of care, faint lines etched around his eyes and mouth. “I had a daughter, once,” he whispered. “She was … attacked. I lost her. I … I couldn’t do nothing. You know what that feels like, I suppose. Feeling helpless.”

Fran didn’t move. Then, she reached up, and pulled the goggles from her face. A dark flame illuminated her eyes.

“Where’s your ride?”

The wind blows, the bells are silent.

words and pictures © Christopher Ward. All rights reserved

Allosaurus continues next time in Girlfriend In A Refrigerator.

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Comments
  1. sakuraandme says:

    Captain Cockroach!!! *laughing*
    Looking forward to what happens next? *smiling* x

  2. […] if I don’t, I feel like I’ll never finish this. This is part fifteen; here’s part fourteen. And here’s the beginning. This could change, so don’t take this as canon […]

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