Lightning Strikes Twice: Part 5

This post is late for a variety of reasons ranging from a nasty cold that kept me home from work to personal responsibilities that needed attention…

On the bright side, it’s up.

I pulled out the plug–a big, industrial plug. Heroes League HQ had been designed with the assumption that you never knew where you might need a high voltage connector.

Well, okay… I tried to pull out the plug and it didn’t come. It was a twist-lock plug so I had to twist the thing first. After that, it really did come out.

The hum stopped.

“Is he still alive?” I began to walk toward the “Power Impregnator,” intending to undo the straps, but Daniel waved me away.

“He’s alive,” he said. The straps undid themselves and Vaughn’s body floated out of the chair, landing on the dusty, olive green carpet.

Vaughn moaned and one of his eyes flickered open for a moment. A bluish-white spark ran across it.

I suppose I should describe Vaughn. He’s shorter than I am and cultivates what I’d describe as the “sensitive bad boy look.” Think black leather jacket, shoulder length hair and one earring. I’m told by reliable sources (well, Cassie) that he’s good looking, but I don’t see it myself.

On the other hand, no one’s at their best lying on a dusty floor, face awash in sweat and tears.

“Okay,” I said, “what do you think we ought to do with him?”

Daniel looked down at Vaughn’s body. “I don’t know.”

I knew why he didn’t know. Red Lightning had originally just been an inventor type with a poor way with words, fighting crime while saying things like, “I will stop you in the name of TRUTH and JUSTICE,” and crap like that. Beyond his “Power Elixir” and the abilities it gave him (flinging lightning short distances and a little bit of added strength), he didn’t have powers to speak of.

After being zapped by the “Power Impregnator,” his lightning power went from being little more than a taser to being capable of destroying small buildings. Physically he became considerably stronger and tougher than a normal person. Plus, he could fly.

Between that, his insanity, and his drug addicted, superpowered goons, he gave the League a hellish five year run as a supervillain.

After Red Lightning died, opinion was split as to whether it was the Power Impregnator, years of homebrewed drug use in the form of the Power Elixir, or simply native craziness that ultimately caused him to go bad.

Paranoid vigilante types in the superhero community would argue that we should kill Vaughn now and save everyone trouble later.

“We should take him home,” I said.

Daniel didn’t say anything. His face showed no expression.

“Daniel,” I said. “Hey? You there?”

“What? Sorry. I was trying to run through a few possibilities. I don’t sense any possibility that he’ll die from this. There is some kind of danger connected with him, but it’s not big… and not immediate. So yeah, we should take him home.”

“As superheroes or as ourselves? Personally, I favor being heroes. That way his mom won’t ask us as many ques—oh no…”

My suit has a line of readouts at the top of my vision inside the helmet. When I’m flying I can find out air pressure, altitude, speed and few other things–including the time. Just then the clock began blinking red. It was 10:55 PM—five minutes before curfew.

Or to put it another way, five minutes before I got grounded for neither making curfew nor informing my parents why.

My suit had a phone, but since I didn’t want to show up on the caller ID as “Grand Lakes Heroes League,” I took off my helmet and ran to the lab for my cell phone.

I began to call home, but remembered that I was in a concrete bunker a couple hundred feet below the ground. This does not do wonders for cell phone reception.

I ran to the elevator, shot up to Grandpa’s lab in the bungalow, and phoned home.

My Dad answered the phone. “Hello, Nick.”

In the background, I could hear an announcer and cheering crowds, leaving me to wonder which version of ESPN he was watching.

“Dad,” I said, “Something kind of bad just happened. Daniel and I were at Grandpa’s house… um… studying and we were just about to leave when we found Vaughn… Do you remember Vaughn? He was sleeping on the front doorstep. Would you mind driving him home?”

10 thoughts on “Lightning Strikes Twice: Part 5”

  1. That’s a nice cover story… so far. And now the long 4-1/2 days to the next installment. Looking forward to what happens next… Will he be grounded?

    ~Cindy

  2. Your storyline involving Vaughn’s destiny versus his grandfathers is……flawless.

    I love how ran the tragic backstory of Giles. He’s part Peter Parker, part Harry Osborn. And the questions still hang as to whether he was a good man gone bad, or a bad man who just came out the closet.

    Love the part where, in light of his grandad’s descent into villainy, Nick wonders if their staring at the Sequel, or if he’ll be the Luke Skywalker who’ll “set things right”.

  3. Red Lightning is half Charlton’s Dan Garret Blue Beetle with the poorly defined persona and lightning strikes, half DC’s Rex Tyler Hourman with the designer superdrug and drug abuse issues. And like both, he has a legacy reaching far into the future with unpredictable consequences. I like it!

  4. Cool. I’m glad you do. I was trying for the sound and feel of Golden Age characters with the early version of the Heroes League.

    By the way, I noticed that your link goes to Skin Horse. Are you involved in creating the comic (which I enjoy), or do you just want to promote it?

  5. Your writing is so simple and minimalistic. I like it; get’s straight to the point. Same with your plot. Tell me, do you write down a plan for where your chapters/arcs will go plot-wise or do you just have a rough plot in your head? I find it incredible that you can do two roughly 1000 word chapters in a week. I’ve been trying to do just 1000 words a week and I’ve failed 2 out of 4 weeks. I’d love to know your writing method.

    1. I’ve done a couple different things writing this serial. The initial eight episode arc was almost entirely written out before I published it. My idea was that I’d always have a buffer that way. Unfortunately, by the time I got to the second chapter, I already had no buffer.

      Since then I’ve just been writing whenever I have time (an hour daily?) and pushing myself to finish on the due date–no matter how late that makes me stay up. If I write 250 words a day for 3 days at lunch time, I only have to write an additional 250 after work on the due date. That’s at least how I try to work.

      As for plot… The simplest way to put it is that I have an overall outline and write in that direction–provided you also realize that I have no problem with ditching anything in that outline if I come up with something better while writing.

      Typically, I start with a situation and characters. I then write toward how that character would react to that situation and solve it. At the same time, I’m always looking for ways I can connect the current situation to the main plot–things that would naturally follow from the current story. As long as the character responses feel real and not like the character is being railroaded, the story will work.

      At least that’s my hope. As the reader, you’ll have to decide that for yourself.

  6. That’s really helpful. Thanks! I think I’ll try your overall outline idea; seems like a nice middle ground between writing with no plot plan and thus a lack of proper direction and having too much plotting, the majority of which doesn’t get used. So far your characters don’t seem railedroaded at all.

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