A Day in The Life: Part 20

I flew past the hotel, a thirty-three-floor needle of mirrored glass that stood near a parking structure to its left and a rust colored 19th century building to its right—though a path that led to an old bridge stood between them.

I might be ready to disappear to an alternate world, but maybe I could do something.

The dinos swarmed down the wide sidewalk overlooking the river, but without the enthusiasm, I’d seen before. A few of them pointed at me and shrunk closer to the building.

Ahead of them, Bloodmaiden could only be described as being in her element. When she wasn’t skewering dinos with her spear, she threw it, punching them with gauntlets that burned with fire as she waited for it to come back.

Anything that came near her died and she never seemed to get tired. If anything, she seemed to have more energy.

“Voice,” C said over the comm, “get into the hotel and tell the civilians to stay inside. See if you can call back the people who are already trying to leave.”

“There’s some guy in there panicking,” the Mystic said. “I’ll send you a picture once you’re in my range. If he stops egging them on, we’ll be much better off.”

Doppelgänger stood next to Bloodmaiden. Though she (I assumed) was still tall and gray, she’d modified her form. The Heroes’ League costume covered her torso, exposing her legs and arms, but the skin around her limbs had thickened and hardened. Aside from the armor, her legs and arms had already thickened to the point that they looked like a bodybuilder’s.

Muscles and armor weren’t the only modifications she’d made. She had claws too. They looked exactly like Wolverine’s in the X-Men movies except that they weren’t metal.

I wondered how well they worked in real life. It seemed like the kind of idea that someone who read comic books would come up with, but I couldn’t argue with the results. She moved in a blur. To my eye, she didn’t seem as fast as a speedster, but she was faster than most and had the strength her muscles promised. When she slashed, she cut, and her claws didn’t get stuck. When one broke, she grew another, healing her own wounds just as easily.

The two of them covered for each other, standing side by side or back to back. Above them, the Mystic slowed the dinos down, choosing the best moments to use telekinesis, tripping the front row of a charge and knocking over as many as five rows behind it like dominoes  before the crowd stopped.

Ghost caused as much mayhem as her namesake, becoming visible in the middle of a crowd of dinosaurs and firing her pistols, frightening them into jumping sideways to avoid her bullets. They fell into the river on the left of the sidewalk or tripped over the bushes to the right.

As clever and as brave as they were, they’d get tired in the end. Even if they hadn’t been hurt Bloodmaiden and Doppelgänger had been hit. The Mystic would get tired. Ghost would run out of ammo.

I could make it a little easier and maybe save them from a few bad memories. I let the energy build, dropping into the middle of the sidewalk. The concrete turned black around my feet and the dinosaurs dove into the water to avoid my shield’s heat, their feathers beginning to burn.

When I felt like I had enough, I let the energy go in a long thin stream—thin as my energy blasts go anyway. It burned everything in front of me, nearly disintegrating the closest, leaving several pairs of smoking boots. Further down the block, they were less fortunate—terminally burnt, but still conscious and wailing.

Still, the League costume’s readouts showed that none of us were near the blast. I could only wish the military had technology like it.

I let off a second blast that was stronger than the first to end their suffering. It blackened sidewalk, killed grass, and burned bushes, but it did stop the noise.

With that, I took to the sky. They’d be able to handle the few that were near. More would come, too many for anyone to handle, but that would be true until we stopped them at the source.

I didn’t have time to wonder when that would be because C’s voice filled my ears even as I rose above the city. “Control’s locked on to you, but it will be easier if you hover. You’ll be translated to another universe and appear within one of their domes. When you’re done, we’ll move you to the next.”

Hovering above the city, I watched more dinos step out of the gates, beginning to fill the holes I’d made in their ranks. They sniffed the burnt remains of their fellow soldiers when they reached them, looking around as if expecting to be attacked.

“How will you know when I’m done?” I asked.

C said, “The Rocket built a cross-dimensional transmitter into the costume’s comms. You’ll be able to tell us and we’ll be able to lock in and watch you. Ready?”

“Ready,” I told him.

The world changed around me, blurring, but then the sky disappeared, replaced by a giant concrete dome, supported by steel beams. Below me, eight black and silver discs glowed and dinos walked up ramps to stand on the platforms, disappearing when they reached the middle.

I dropped, letting the energy fill the shield around me, feeling it vibrate, hearing it hum. I knew what it would take to equal the blast of a small nuclear bomb.

It wouldn’t take as much as you’d think.

16 thoughts on “A Day in The Life: Part 20”

  1. “I knew what it would take to equal the blast of a small nuclear bomb.
    It wouldn’t take as much as you’d think.”

    Two scary things you can infer from this: One, this isn’t the first time she’s let off the equivalent of a small nuke and Two, that’s not even near her limit. If such a person existed in RL and served in the military I can see one helluva case of PTSD. The military is pragmatic and would consider such a person to be a perfect high yield weapon, and what good is a weapon if you never use it? There’s no telling what her body count while serving was. And if there’s no residual radiation like a conventional nuke has I can see her mission briefings “See that village? There’s a really bad man somewhere in it that we don’t want to risk escaping so all residents are considered acceptable collateral damage. Turn it into a crater.”

    Jim, you’re generating a lot of sympathy for the reporter from me and no details have yet been given!

  2. Is all of this really supposed to be in the context of a magazine article that Nick is reading? Because as the story goes on, it seems to have drifted further and further away from that. I know we’re told it’s, “a long essay rather than an interview” but now that we’ve gotten full into the dino combat it seems to have dropped any pretense that Nadia Stone has written this for publication. It just seems like the same sort of first person narrative we’re always getting from Nick.

    1. Yes, it is. A dinosaur invasion from an alternate universe is strange and unusual enough even in this universe that an online publication would probably choose to run the reporter’s account of what happened even if it superseded the original intent of the story. That would be especially true if the reporter played a big role in what happened.

      While this isn’t exactly the same thing, there are traditions of journalism where the reporter becomes part of the story:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gonzo_journalism
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Journalism

      This is probably closer to New Journalism, but doesn’t fit that perfectly either. It’s probably closer to a giant personal essay.

      In any case, I referenced “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold” (a classic of New Journalism) back in the first or second episode of this story because I knew it was going to be this way at some point in the story.

    1. She doesn’t have a watch. If you reread the passage where the word “watch” appears, you’ll find they’re using it as a verb. They’re able to watch her remotely across dimensions when she’s wearing the costume.

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