Haley: Part 4

The dumpster flew through the air, blocking him from my view. He didn’t have a chance to avoid it.

That’s what I hate about the Change. I just do stuff before I can even think about it. It’s not that I do bad things. I do things that I would do, but without thinking about it at all.

And that’s not quite true. I know why I did it while I’m doing it, but I can’t always put it into words.

I couldn’t put it into words then either. All I knew was that unless he was more than just a guy with laser arms, the dumpster would turn him into a red smear ending in crushed bones and meat.

Except he was more. When I chased him down the alley, his heartbeat moved too slowly to be a normal human, and so I knew it even if I didn’t know it in my head.

The dumpster came down at him with the lip tipped forward, and he reached up, guiding it over himself, but not gracefully.

Not gracefully at all.

He grabbed the lip, and it flipped over in the air. The doors were partly open anyway, so almost everything came out—bags of garbage, loose bits of food, fast food wrappers, and a kind of brownish, liquid slurry.

It didn’t all end up on him. A lot of it landed behind him on the parking lot with the dumpster—which kept on tumbling until it hit the back of the building, breaking a window, and cracking the wall.

Slurry had soaked Laser Guy’s clothes. A Burger King wrapper stuck to his head, and bits of food decorated him like a garbage Christmas tree.

Plus, he reeked.

Maybe I could have jumped on him right then, and poisoned him with one of my claws, but it would have been a big jump, and I’d have had to touch him.

I didn’t even think about biting him.

Ewww.

He stood there not doing anything for a second, and I could smell that I’d scared him. The way he slumped when he looked down at his clothes even made me feel a little sorry for him. When he went out to rob us tonight, he expected to make some money, and maybe make the news. I’m sure he didn’t expect to meet me, and then be showered with rotting meat, moldy cheese, soured milkshakes and a nasty mix of rancid, used cooking oil, and bacon grease.

I really think he was close to crying then, but he didn’t. He pulled the hamburger wrapper from his head, and started screaming, and firing his lasers everywhere. I don’t know exactly what he said, but I know I heard the word “bitch” a lot.

I kept too busy flipping, and jumping, and dodging to pay attention. And there’s one other thing. Sometimes after the Change, when I’m deeply into sounds, and smells, and moving, it’s a little hard to understand words.

That’s one of those things that worries me a little. OK, a lot.

But I wasn’t out of control. I was thinking. The dumpster had been on the border of two different parking lots. One was the brick building’s lot. The other one was the parking lot of the Burger King that was on the cross street that runs East/West while the old, brick building’s street runs North/South.

The Burger King was still open, and I didn’t want anyone to get hurt, so I jumped back into the alley I’d come out of before I’d hid behind the Buick.

Lasers shattered some of the bricks near the corner as I passed it.

I unholstered a grappling gun, and shot upward. It pulled me up the side faster than I’d have been able to climb.

Then I stopped halfway to listen, and I heard the jingle of car keys plus a door opening. An engine started, and I pushed the button that pulled me the rest of the way up. Laser Guy’s vehicle (it sounded bigger than a car) started moving north, and I realized he’d be leaving from the alley on the far side of the building, so I ran over there.

Even after dark, cars run down all four lanes on Central Avenue. He roared out of the parking lot in a white van, the same kind of van used by every plumber and delivery service everywhere.

He cut across the left lanes without stopping, turning into the right lane, and driving north. Brakes screeched, and people screamed.

I saw a semi-truck coming down the street in the same lane, and I didn’t think about it at all. I took a few steps back, got a running start, and jumped off the six story building.

12 thoughts on “Haley: Part 4”

  1. I can’t help thinking this site should maybe have a “don’t try this at home”-warning somewhere…

  2. I agree.

    I totally regret chasing after that seven-foot-tall, superhumanly-muscled, laser-shooting mugger I encountered last month.

  3. If you regret the mugger you chased, imagine how I feel after risking interplanetary war just to make out with my wife. Dude, it’s a little uncomfortable.

  4. The story itself — Haley’s narrative voice took a big step forward into sounding more unique with this post, nice work Jim. Sentence structure shifted and so did vocabulary, plus she notices body language and sensations more than Nick would.

    The only other thing I would change is the tendency for one and two sentence paragraphs, because that’s very much a Nick thing — squishing them into bigger paragraphs would almost make it look like Haley is thinking super fast about too much information from her senses, while Nick’s short sentence paragraphs seem like he’s thinking fast analytically, if that makes sense.

  5. I agree with G.S. Haley has a distinct voice now. As an added bonus, I like the interplay between post-change Haley and her attempts to remain a normal teenage girl in her thought patterns. The fears about losing control and the almost primal processing of information sets up a perfect comedic moment when she hesitates in her attack because of the stench on Mr. el Bad-Guy-E-O (aka Rosey Palms). While an animal might hesitate attacking a rotting or garbage covered creature for fear of disease, I doubt that it would go “Ewwwww.” Good stuff.

  6. Gavin/Evil Twin: Thanks. As much as anything else, this story is a writing exercise for me to push myself in ways I don’t normally. The core voice I’m trying for in this story is a variation on teenage girl voices I’ve heard–ones that are breathlessly discussing what’s happening in their lives with a friend.

    Usually though, they’re not discussing catching supervillains or secret identities, so there’s some degree of imagination involved…

    Mazzon/Psychlone Ranger/Gavin: So if anyone’s planning to construct powered armor and go fight crime, I’d like to make the following disclaimer:

    “If you try to imitate anything found in this story (devices, powers, dating someone with poisonous fangs, etc…), it might not work out the way it does here. Also, you’re crazy.”

  7. I’m not sure where it was, but I did at one point post that I wanted to build power armor and go rob things…I think it was when donations were asked for. It’d be a great way to pay off my student loans. Oooh, preferably by robbing the banks that gave me the loans. Then again, the real way to make money off them is digital. Most of the money in the world doesn’t physically exist. So clearly, the answer is to become a being of pure energy, able to navigate the electronic world and wreak havoc on the world economy unless they bow down and make me their leader for life!

    Mwahahahahahahahahahahaaahahahaha *hack hack, cough cough, sips some water* better….hahahahaahahahaahha!

    Also, on the subject of superhero/villain disorders, I believe the book “Soon I Will Be Invincible!” had one for the mad genius types. They called it Malignant Hypercognitive Disorder. Doesn’t apply to Nick though.

  8. @Psycho Gecko: Somebody here posted a link to http://www.crystalhall.org/stories.html which is the Whately Academy stories. They have an nice illness that explains Evil Supergenius Monologues. Apparently a wiring anomaly in their brain causes them to “drick out” (named after the first supervillain diagnosed with it) under stress. Symptoms range from narcolepsy, through rage, all the way to full blown monologues complete with patented evil laughter.

    @Jim: I don’t thank we can ever thank you enough for the great work you’re creating here. If I had money I’d send some of it to you. I’m liking Haley even more after these last installments.

  9. @andrul….You tryin’ to say somethin’, pal?! If I wasn’t suddenly so sleepy, I’d nhyjmu7nb uhbgvfz

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