Back in the Heroes League’s old headquarters, the lights were on. I called out a few times, but no one answered.
I checked the main room, grandpa’s lab, a few storage rooms and the entrance to the sewers, but didn’t see anyone there either. I even checked in the hanger—which was a waste. You could see the dust. It’s been a couple presidential administrations since anything in there worked.
Deciding that someone had just forgotten to turn out the lights, I went back to the lab and suited up. Between Larry, Cassie, Jaclyn and her brothers, the chances that someone had forgotten to turn things off were pretty good.
Once I had the suit on and checked the systems, I exited the complex through the sewer line by the lake again. Then I flew toward Daniel’s house.
He joined me in the air.
I hovered for a moment and he floated. I could see downtown’s buildings in the distance and the lights of the suburbs spreading around us. It’s a strange thing to be able to get the view you’d get from a ten story building while flying under your own power.
Well, strange to me anyway. And awe inspiring too.
People who’ve been at this a while probably get used to it, but I’m not there yet.
Daniel flew toward me and I heard his voice in my head.
+++Daniel: Ready go out and save the world?+++
+++Me: No. Got anything smaller to save? Like a pebble, maybe? That I could handle.+++
+++Daniel: Ha. Ha.+++
After deciding to fly downtown, we lapsed into companionable silence.
It was a quiet night. Apparently criminals don’t do much between nine-thirty and eleven on a Monday–not in Grand Lake anyway.
From the comics, movies, and television, you expect something to happen on patrol. In real life, muggers sometimes stay home–that or Daniel’s range wasn’t good enough to detect anything interesting.
I suppose we could have tuned the suit’s radio to police band, but the whole point was to stop crimes the police weren’t aware of.
After twenty minutes of flight, I felt an excitement that I knew wasn’t mine.
+++Daniel: Let’s make this a little more interesting.+++
+++Me: I don’t want to get into anything really big right now. I mean, we’re only thirty minutes from my curfew.+++
+++Daniel: How big can it be?+++
I could feel it as he rearranged his mind. Amid the murmuring of the city and its suburbs’ nearly one million lives, I could feel shadowy presences and indistinct connections. It was overwhelming.
+++Daniel: Fly toward the thing that makes you most nervous.+++
+++Me: Just guide me. I’ll be completely happy to remain in my own head.+++
I didn’t notice anything interesting at first, but as we flew south, passing over downtown, it occurred to me that we were flying in the general direction of home. Moments later, we were within a few blocks of my house.
Instants later we were over Veterans Memorial Park and Heroes League HQ.
I could see the lights of my grandfather’s bungalow and immediately thought, “Lights.”
Earlier in the summer, before I’d realized what DVD Night was really all about, I’d given a lot of people the ability to walk into HQ if they wanted. With the exception of Larry, they were all League kids.
This was less stupid and naïve than it sounds when you bring another thing into the conversation—“the Block.”
As my grandfather told me the story, the team had been talking late one night about their children when Captain Commando, the only team member without kids had said, “So, have they figured it out yet? You know they’re going to.”
That night they set some very strict policies about secret identities and the Mentalist (Daniel’s grandfather) took the duty of being the last resort should their children find out. From what I understand, none of them ever did—with the exception of those (like Daniel’s father) who had powers themselves.
I imagine those who did figure it out had that memory quietly erased.
The grandchildren got off easy. The Mentalist created a mental block that prevented any of us from speaking about the picnics outside the group.
It‘s not especially heroic, but how far can you trust children with something like that?
I’m not trying to justify it, but I understand the logic.
By the time we got into HQ, it became obvious to me that if the Block had ever included not touching League property, Vaughn’s had been removed.
Just as they’d been when I entered the complex before, the lights in the main room were bright. Unlike before, the boxes in one corner were open and a device had been assembled in front of them.
It resembled a futuristic electric chair as imagined in the 1950’s. All curves and chrome except for the black seat cushion and leather straps, the device purred quietly, occasionally sending sparks down the length of the body slumped on the seat.
All I could think was that if Vaughn were still alive, I now had no excuse for not talking to him about the League.