Some of you might have noticed that I changed the last installment’s title and made it the beginning of a new section of the story. I’ve even gotten a little way into writing a cast page. I haven’t made it public yet, however.
There are more characters than I’d have thought and I’m introducing a few more in the course of the next couple posts.
So, anyway… Another chunk of story.
“I don’t like this,” Jaclyn said.
I’d just told her about Vaughn and I discovering the pictures in the car. The fact that all of them seemed to have been taken next to Grandpa’s house hadn’t escaped her. She put the pictures on the table and turned into a purplish blur, moving from one side of the room to the other.
Pacing, I guess.
After a few times across the room she stopped by me again.
“What I really hate about this is that I can’t ignore it. They know who we are. They probably know where we live.”
She paused, frowned. “Do you know anything about them?”
“I’m working on it.”
“Work faster,” she said.
Easy for her to say.
I occupied myself with the command console, making sure I could get at the results of my research on the contact list. Not that the results were all that impressive. I was only half done.
Jaclyn had sat down again and had been surfing the internet on one of the other consoles.
“What do you think about Vaughn? Do you think he’s working with them?”
“I doubt it,” I said. “He seemed as confused as I was.”
“This sounded like a lot more fun last week,” she said.
It’s funny. Aside from Daniel with whom I’ve been best friends since I was four, Jaclyn’s been the only one I kept up with after Captain Commando died, the Mentalist developed dementia, and the picnics stopped.
I still had no idea what to say to her.
I could have told her that fighting the Grey Giant wasn’t really fun at all. I felt terrified half the time and utterly out of my depth for the other half.
It didn’t seem like the right thing to say, but not saying anything felt wrong too.
The console beeped, saving me from replying.
Checking the security cameras showed that three different groups were coming through three different tunnels. Clicking the mouse pointer on each window in turn, I was relieved to find that I recognized everybody.
Daniel and Cassie exited first—from the tunnel on the far wall, both of them in costume. Three mailbags floated behind them.
“More?” I said. “Didn’t we just do this?”
“Did you see Time magazine this week?” Cassie said.
My confusion must have shown on my face, because she followed it up with, “You don’t pay any attention to the news at all, do you?”
“I read Reddit,” I said.
From the expression on her face, I guessed that Reddit didn’t qualify as a news source.
“We’re on the cover,” she said. “They did an article called ‘The New Old Heroes.’ I don’t have one here, but I’ll bet there’s one in the sacks.”
“It’s not just about us,” Daniel said. “There are a bunch of second or third versions of heroes showing up. Mostly no one you’ve heard of.”
“Why did you pick up the mail now?”
“I thought it’d make us seem more real. Also, “ Daniel continued, “we can’t just let them stack up in the storefront downtown.”
Unlike a lot of superhero groups now, the Heroes League never built a big shiny building in the middle of a city. They built a bunker under Grandpa’s house and bought an old shoe store and former speakeasy. During the 50’s and 60’s, they staffed it with a secretary, but in the 70’s they turned it into a futuristic, automated office.
I’d thought about making things work again, but it would probably take weeks.
Daniel floated the mailbags in between the table and the screen—where it would be impossible to miss them.
“You’re worried about seeming real?” Jaclyn said.
“You know,” Daniel said. “Like we’re more than bunch of teenagers.”
“Maybe you should give everyone issues of Time magazine,” she said. She didn’t sound sarcastic exactly, but her tone had an edge.
“Funny,” he said. “I’m not obsessing about this. This is a big deal. We’re getting together a bunch of people who haven’t seen each other since they were five and asking them to trust each other. We’re going to make decisions that might put our lives at risk. So the details matter. A lot.”
“Hey,” Jaclyn said, “I’m not arguing. I know what’s at stake. That’s the only reason I’m still here.”
Daniel breathed in, paused and then spoke, “Sorry. I’m just trying to make this work. I’ve been thinking about it maybe a little too mu–”
“Yo, Danny-boy,” said a voice from the other wall, “Are we late?”