Doom: Part 2

Walking over to the school’s parking garage turned out to be every bit as cold as I thought it might be.

I hadn’t thought to wear my boots, and when I cut across the lawn, snow got into my shoes.

During the drive across the city, the van’s heating system warmed up enough to melt the snow still on my shoes. By the time I arrived at the house I’d inherited from my grandparents, and taken the elevator down to the Heroes Leagues’ headquarters, my feet were cold and wet.

I felt every inch the budding supergenius as I walked to the front of HQ’s basketball court sized main room, leaving wet footprints on the carpet.

I sat down at the main table in the room, took off my shoes and socks, and put them in front of the nearest heat register.

Checking one of the terminals, I learned that I’d somehow arrived early enough that I had time to kill before Cassie called, but not early enough that I’d be able to do any more than figure out where I was before I had to stop. Cassie would be calling at eight. It was currently 7:38 pm.

I had twenty minutes–roughly. Actually twenty-two minutes, and possibly more if Cassie took her time.

Not sure exactly what I planned to do, but fairly sure that I could waste all that time online, I logged in at one of the terminals.

At the very moment I clicked on the browser, my phone and the terminal’s speakers started to chime, showing the caller was my sister Rachel. I took the call on the computer terminal. I could have sent it to the twenty foot screen on the wall, but sometimes you don’t want to see video from a cell phone on a screen larger than your own body.

Rachel’s face appeared on the screen. I couldn’t tell where she was—someplace dark, for sure.

She looked a lot like my grandmother if my grandmother had had short, black hair instead of blond. They shared the same restless energy and both seemed to be perpetually amused by the world around them.

Normally.

Rachel didn’t seem particularly amused just then.

She skipped all the polite greeting stuff people tell me you’re supposed to do on the phone, and just said, “Nick, do you have anything?”

“Zip,” I said. “I still need more information. You met an alternate version of yourself. She told you that Daniel, Haley, and I died, saving St. Louis from being destroyed early in my second semester of college. Do you have any idea how I found out or what kind of technology they used? I haven’t found anything.”

Her face fell. “I told you before that I didn’t know any of that. We barely had time to talk, and you know I haven’t been able to go back to Infinity City.”

I did. Infinity City existed simultaneously in our universe and many others. After the way Rachel’s tour group had been attacked, the Stapledon program was reevaluating how to run their visits to the city. In the meantime, no one could visit.

“Sorry,” I said. “I can’t think of anything else to try. I’ve set the computers to search for any new construction or public works projects in St. Louis. I’ve cross-referenced anything promising with other cities. Nothing’s standing out.”

Rachel frowned. “What would you be doing if you weren’t looking? Maybe, I don’t know… Maybe you found it because of something you’d do accidentally?”

“If that were it, that would be great,” I said, hoping Cassie wouldn’t call yet. “Because that would mean that I can stop worrying about it and go do normal stuff.”

Rachel didn’t say anything for a moment, giving me time to wonder where she was. A janitor’s closet, maybe?

“Look Nick, try it that way for a little while. Or, I don’t know, think about what you’d do normally, and if there’s a chance, try it. Don’t just ignore it and hope. People could die. Their Dr. Nation thought it could have killed millions if no one had stopped it.”

“Got it,” I said. I was ready to be off the phone.

Unfortunately, I think Rachel caught my mood because her voice rose. “Nick, whatever you do, don’t fly in and try to stop it yourself. That’s how you die, remember?”

I sighed, feeling more than a little frustration. “I remember. You’ve told me a bunch of times, and we’re still in January. I think we’ve still got a little while where things will still count as ‘early in the semester.’ Maybe a couple weeks.”

“I know. I hope you’re right.” She looked away from the phone. “Look, I’ve got to go.”

“Go,” I said. “I’ll call you if there are any breakthroughs.”

Rachel frowned. “Don’t forget.”

“I won’t.”

Rachel didn’t look like she believed me, but she did hang up.

10 thoughts on “Doom: Part 2”

  1. Rachel didn’t say anything for a moment, giving me time to wonder where (she) was.

  2. It’s unlikely he had the head’s up. The biggest problem is that it is something Nick must do himself for one reason or another. It may never happen, though I doubt that given the completely unominous name to this chapter. Doom is the kind of thing where I just can’t imagine anything bad happening.

    Like that game where so many people had fun mowing through demons and zombies, with Earth eventually getting attacked and the protagonist getting trapped in hell.

  3. I’m a little confused. Last installment, at 7, he was wanting to get over there and finish. The weather remains cold, everything appears to stay the same day, but when he gets to HQ the suit is finished and he has time to kill. Is this the same day as last installment or another day?

    Other than that, perfect older sister behavior. (I am one – so I have the right to say! 😉 )

  4. Notto: Oops. And that it was what we call a continuity error. Time to fix that. Thanks for noticing. That will save me some embarrassment later.

    EDIT: Fixed. Removed a reference to it being done (which was a mistake), and made it clearer why Nick was waiting.

    Dwwolf/Evil Twin: Fixed the typos. Thanks.

    PG: Oh no! You have totally blown the plot of the next bit. Or not, actually. Given a choice I prefer to put characters through hell metaphorically instead of literally.

    Dwwolf: As of this installment, there may possibly be a little bit of doom developing.

  5. Awesome. Glad I made it back when things are about to get real. I’ve been gone for a few weeks after I found out about Worm…. I read through the entire archive.

    Jim, I’m ready to be amazed by what comes next!

  6. I’ve been told I’m rather Silver Age by some people I know, but I can still run someone through a hellacious ringer from time to time. Ridiculous, hammy hell. I like to think that makes it somehow better and worse. Better in that it’s more entertaining and amusing to have a character getting a chance to use all the old cliché phrases like a fanboy, and worse in that you’re about to be destroyed by the guy using the clichés. Who here hasn’t wanted to yell at a guy in spandex, “Soon, I will be invincible, mwahahahahahahaha!” and follow it up by becoming invincible?

    There’s a thought…I wonder if there’s a weapon that can murder using clichés. Closest I reckon is TVTropes being capable of ruining your life.

  7. There was something quite a long while back where I armed something here. Key cards and desks and secret doors and everything.

    Besides, I’ve talked to Chekhov and he told me that he’s more concerned with how the nuclear wessels are used by the end of the story.

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