Targets: Part 14

Minutes later, Haley drove Night Wolf’s car to the far end of the hangar and into the tunnel. Rachel rode in the front with her, and I sat in the back.

We came out in the forest. The “rock” closed behind us, and we followed the access trail out of Veterans Memorial Park.

Once we got to the road, Haley accelerated, moving ten to fifteen miles per hour faster than the speed limit at every opportunity.

We had thirty minutes left to get there, easily enough time, but given that her parents might be first in line to be shot, I understood it.

In the back seat, I took off my helmet, backpack, utility belt, boots, jacket, and gloves (not to mention the guitar). I detached the sonics, but I kept the thinnest layer of the stealth suit on, and put my clothes over it.

It wouldn’t give me the same level of strength or protection as the Rocket suit or even the full stealth suit, but it might give me a second chance if someone stabbed or shot me.

I left my communicator, and kept my League phone. With any luck they wouldn’t have anyone capable of telling the difference between it and any other cell phone.

Haley took the highway into downtown, cutting a couple minutes off our time.

Probably.

I hoped so anyhow. It would justify the driving. Haley sped up once we merged into traffic, going much faster than ten to fifteen mile per hour over the speed limit.

I didn’t look at the speedometer. Glancing outside told me enough. We were passing the other cars like they were standing still.

I’d have been scared for my life if Vaughn were driving, but Haley had uncanny reflexes so even when the semi-truck ahead of us slowed down, she steered the car into the left lane before I had time to worry.

I wouldn’t have dared to try fitting the car between the two cars on our left, but she’d managed it.

As soon as we passed the semi, she crossed three lanes of traffic to go down the exit to Sykes Street.

“And all that without killing anybody,” Rachel said.

“I was in control the whole time.”

“I didn’t say you weren’t.”

The blocks around Fulton and Sykes Street weren’t the nicest in the city, but they weren’t terrible. Most of the buildings dated from the late 19th and early 20th century. Half were abandoned, their windows boarded up. They hadn’t been painted in the last twenty years at best.

We passed a Mexican grocery store, bar, a taqueria, a coffee shop, and a McDonalds.

On the bright side, the place wasn’t completely abandoned, but I doubted it would be photographed for the city’s tourism brochures any time soon.

Haley pulled Nightwolf’s car into a used car lot half a block down from Fulton and Sykes, and next to the McDonalds.

I had five minutes left.

Haley pulled the car between two rows of cars, and stopped.

“I’ll be outside,” Rachel said, and disappeared.

I squeezed between the bucket seats, and got into the front.

“Well,” I began.

“Be careful.”

I couldn’t see her full expression through the mask, but her eyes looked a little red.

She put her hand on mine, we leaned in, and kissed.

“Hurry,” Rachel said. Her voice sounded like she was inside the car.

I opened the door, and got out.

Then I ran for the corner.

It didn’t take long. Maybe thirty seconds at most. Once you get close to downtown, the blocks get shorter.

I still had four minutes before the deadline, time I spent standing on the corner wondering which of the four corners would be best.

I stood in front of the McDonalds, listening to the hum of car engines, and people ordering (“I want a cheeseburger, fries, and a large, orange drink…”).

Kitty corner from me stood “Bill’s Bikini Bar and Grille.”

It wasn’t open, but the bikini tops on the sign blinked off, and on.

Meanwhile, the brick buildings on the other two corners had been boarded up.

Even as I began to wonder about the time, a rusty, white jeep stopped in front of me. It had to be at least twenty years old.

The door opened, and a blond man with a pimpled face opened the door. I recognized him as one of Prime’s people.

“Get in. We don’t got all day.”

He stepped out, pushing the seat forward, giving me a straight shot to the back.

I climbed in, and remembered the last time I’d seen him, controlling an urge to cringe. He stepped in behind me, and shut the door.

It was the guy who’d melted the arm of the regular Rocket suit with his hands.

16 thoughts on “Targets: Part 14”

  1. 4th paragraph is missing a word in this section:
    “her parents first in line”

    I think right about now is when we need some unexpected gang violence and the tires accidentally get caught in the crossfire. OK, OK, I’ll wait…….Still waiting…..

  2. Methinks gang violence here would be a serious case of bringing a knife to a gunfight, unless the gangs in the area are pretty deep into the whole cyberpunk thing with augmentations and military-grade armaments…

  3. Mmmmmm… love some of that Deus Ex Machina, eh Notto?

    Jim, I almost never comment on your writing, but I found your double use of the verb “to recognize” in the last few paragraphs a little confusing. Maybe replace the second with something carrying stronger connotations, like “remembering more about him” (or something like that but less clunky).

    But I’m absolutely riveted by the storyline, no doubt about that. Nice touch with Haley’s driving. It’s frequently the little things about super powers that I like the most.

    Oh yeah, and maybe we can start calling it the Wolfmobile, or maybe the NightCar? 😛

    Hg

    1. Thanks for the observation. I’ve rewritten it to see if it was clearer.

      As for the car… Yeah, I’ve been thinking it’s about time to start referring to Night Wolf’s car as something that has it’s own identity. Ditto Captain Commando’s motorcycle.

      On Haley’s driving: I have to include more of those sort of things, but it’s one of those things that I like too. If you’ve got better than human senses, reflexes and agility, of course you’ll use it while driving, and sometimes you’ll scare the crap out of people riding with you.

  4. Sorry, not being a comic book reader, I just simply wanted to slow that old jeep down with some flat tires.

  5. Oh, uh, sorry, Notto. I mean to be ironic, not off-putting.

    Strictly speaking, though, Deus Ex Machina has nothing to do with comic books (although I’m guess there some Iron Man story with a title like that, or something). It’s a phrase describing the kind of literary device you just decribed, where something unrelated happens to change the course of the story. As a plot device, it is looked down upon in some circles (mostly because it is easily overused).

    Hg

  6. Just for the record (because I know about this sort of thing), Deus Ex Machina originates from Greek plays. Basically, if the writer wrote himself into a hole where there was no way that he could have the main character solve the problem, he could have a god/goddess appear and sort everything out.

    It’s discouraged because it indicates poor planning on the part of the writer. If you want a happy ending, you should give the main character the tools to solve the problem. Otherwise it’s time to write a tragedy because having some coincidence solve the problem isn’t really satisfying for the reader.

  7. Well now seems that Nick doesn’t know where they are going, only that he is now in a ride with some nasty people. I hope that Ghost can keep up and keep watch on them. And that they can’t detect her in someway.

  8. Ahhhh, God in the Machine, how you’ve trekked across the centuries…

    And some comic books used it all the time — look at Roma’s involvement with the X-men, Captain Britain and Excalibur. Or Phoenix.

    I don’t think I plug my own writing very often (votes?) but one of my favourite things about writing No Man an Island was to set out and intentionally use old tropes in subverted new ways — like not using Deus to be lazy, but on purpose. Or using the “Child of Destiny” not to set up the hero but to point out its Everyman origins and use it for the villain, lik in Macbeth. Old fashioned story elements can still be used in new ways, methinks.

  9. And now no one should be able to complain about my reading this, as I’m learning stuff.

    I now understand what you all were thinking, but somehow I doubt the flat tires would solve the problem for Nick/Rachel/Haley so much as really annoy Ray. I’m sure his henchmen could just pick the jeep up and carry it.

    BTW, does Rachel weigh something when she’s invisible?

  10. doesn’t weigh anything when fully intangible.>>> which comes in handy when she steps on the bathroom scale every morning…;)

  11. If we’re putting in votes for naming the car, mine goes for the “Clawvette”…It has a nice ring to it, anyway.

  12. Kitty corner from me stood “Bill’s Bikini Bar and Grille.”

    I’ve got a feeling this should be changed, but I have no idea where you might have been going with this.

    I know this is a reread for me, and it’s still edge of the seat great.

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