And he didn’t just remind me of Mr. Beacham, this was Mr. Beacham—with 100% more beatnik.
I adjusted the picture, scrolling away from the monkey on the balcony and back toward Mr. Beacham, and his hangers on.
Having recognized him, I knew who the woman with him was—Mr. Beacham’s girlfriend. She’d visited the school once. Was she with him because she thought he was Evil Beatnik, was Evil Beatnik controlling her, or did she somehow like Evil Beatnik? Had they… uh… I put the thought out of my mind, but it opened up a lot of relationship questions.
Could Haley and I survive something like that? I liked to think we would, but you never knew. Worse, the deeper we got into this whole superheroism thing, the better chance we had to find out.
So I put that thought out of my mind too.
How did he happen to choose Mr. Beacham anyway?
My mind began to chew on that as Vaughn said, ”Fuck, that’s Mr. Beacham,” and Kayla said more or less the same, but four letters shorter.
Rachel said, “Who’s Mr. Beacham?”
Marcus nodded, “That’s what I was wondering.”
“My history teacher,” I said. “He got hired the year Rachel graduated.”
“Really? I don’t remember him at all.” Rachel appraised his image on the wall screen.
“I don’t think he taught any senior classes that year,” I said.
“You’d remember him,” Vaughn said. “He’s good. Really good. I stayed awake in his classes. For history, that’s a first.”
“He’s pretty well liked at your school?” Jaclyn asked.
“I thought he was okay,” Kayla said, “but a lot of people love him.”
“Yeah,” I said. “Pretty much everybody likes him. I’d say he’s one of the more popular teachers.”
“So he’d have four years of students who might listen to him even if he wasn’t possessed by a spirit that messes with people’s heads.”
“Right,” I said. “That puts things in a new light. I don’t know what he’d do with that though. I don’t think anyone likes Mr. Beacham well enough to burn down the city.”
“But if he got on the radio or on TV and did something like that…”
“Or shared a video on YouTube,” Vaughn said.
“Wow,” I said. “That could go bad quickly.”
“OK,” Jaclyn said, “I think we all need to sit down and not get up until we know how we’re going to handle them.”
“We should go now,” Vaughn said, “we know where they are.”
“No,” Marcus said, “the way it stands we’d go in there, get taken over, and start working for Evil Beatnik. That’s how it always goes—except in stories somebody always fights it off, and then everybody fights it off, and they win.”
“And outside of stories,” Rachel said, “who was that guy who murdered all his teammates under mind control?”
I thought about it. “Uh… He’s called The Atoner now, but I can’t remember his original name. I was five when it happened. He used a weapon Grandpa designed to do it too, I think.”
“Okay,” Jaclyn said, “let’s all sit down, and get working.”
Less than an hour later we had a plan. We were going to wait till Evil Beatnik left the apartment, take out the Ice Twins’ team, and make our video of him available. From the reports, it appeared that Evil Beatnik disappeared voluntarily when the League revealed who he was possessing–as if he were hiding. Maybe he was being chased by spirits of order? It wasn’t clear. The key was to cut him off from followers first. The League only did it the opposite way around once, and then people died.
All well and good, but when we fast forwarded through the video (with the sound off), they suited up and left when he did.
I ran the video’s audio through our speech to text program. Aside from the total nonsense that appeared with each drumbeat, it came out fairly clearly. Unfortunately, it made about as much sense as the part of the speech we’d heard, i.e. not much.
While we puzzled through the overblown rhetoric, endless cliches, and hipster speak for any clue where they’d gone, a phone began to ring. Actually, the caller ID of the Michigan Heroes Alliance flashed across the bottom of my monitor, and the bottom of the wall screen showing Evil Beatnik’s speech.
I clicked “accept call,” but since none of us were in costume, didn’t give a visual on our end.
The Marvelous X appeared on the screen. I’d never heard for sure whether he had real magical powers, or simply faked them, but it barely mattered since he wasn’t an active hero any more.
He sat behind an enormous wooden desk wearing the same black suit, mask, and top hat he’d worn thirty years ago.
His gray moustache quivered as he spoke into the microphone. “Dammit, who am I speaking to?”
“Accelerando,” Jaclyn said, “and about half of our team. We’re in the middle of something, sir.”
“In the middle of something? I daresay you are. Your city is in the middle of a riot. What are you doing about it?”
Vaughn had been right. We should have left immediately.
I felt sick to my stomach.