The Executioner: Part 1

It’s a bit of an understatement to say that Sean wouldn’t have been my first choice of companions.

I decided to ignore him, and texted Jaclyn.

Me: Can you check my dad’s office?
Jaclyn: I’ll do it. Should I meet you if he’s okay?

I was about to send her the address, but Rachel said, “What if Ray touches her?”

The combination of wind and rocket noise made it hard to make out her voice, but I got the gist of it. And yes, Ray with superspeed, near invulnerability, and massive strength sounded like very bad combination.

Me: Guard him, if he’s still there. Call me, if not. Also, the others might need help.
Jaclyn: Right, it looks like they’re still fighting.

She was right. The latitude and longitude for the rest of the group was changing constantly.

Jaclyn: You’re going after Ray, right? You’re sure you don’t want Cassie or me?
Me: Gunther’s coming.
Jaclyn: Got it. I’m gone.

And with that, we were above my house.

I didn’t need to land to know they’d taken Mom.

The front door had been ripped off its hinges and lay in the front hall. Dad had replaced the wooden door with a metal one after a string of neighborhood break-ins a few years ago.

Someone had left the imprint of a fist in the metal, stretching it, and showing the grey metal under the black paint.

Our family cat, Grunion, stood in the hall, poking his head under the door, sniffing at something.

As I flew down to the lawn, he started, and ran deeper into the house. Typical.

Rachel let go of my shoulder, saying, “I’ll check the house–just in case.”

I thought, “Just in case, what? Just in case we find Mom and Dad dead inside?” But, I didn’t say it.

I landed on the lawn as Rachel floated into the house. Our house. The one we’d grown up in.

Even though Grandpa and Grandma had been superheroes, our two different worlds had never intersected in quite this way.

My mind pulled me in all directions. I wondered if I should pick up the door, and lean it in front of the doorway so that it wasn’t so obvious the house was open. I wondered if I should go in and catch Grunion and shut him in the bathroom with his litterbox. I mean, we shouldn’t have to come home, and go looking for a lost cat once we found Mom and Dad.

Assuming we found Mom and Dad.

A quick glance upward told me that Sean hadn’t landed with us. He hovered above the street, a few feet past the sidewalk.

Turning my attention back to the house, it struck me that the stealth suit felt uncomfortably warm in the heat of a summer’s day. I adjusted the environmental systems, and felt the suit begin to cool.

As I finished clicking my fingers to my palms, fiddling with the temperature, Rachel floated out the front door.

“No one’s home. I didn’t even see many signs of a struggle. Oh, and I put the cat in the bathroom. He’s mostly M–”

And she stopped.

Liz Baker had just run out of her front door and across their yard. The Bakers lived next door. He worked at a bank downtown. She stayed at home with Devin, their son–which was weird. Not weird in theory, but in practice she couldn’t have been more than six or seven years older than I was, so she must have just gotten out of college when she had the first one.

Anyone who looked at her could tell that a second was on the way.

That, and that she was crying.

“I called the police! It was awful. They broke down the door, and hauled Mrs. Klein away, and I pulled Devin out of the yard. Is it safe? Are they gone? They’re not coming back, are they?”

I looked at her, and tried to think of what to say.

I must have paused for too long because she took a step back, and looked at us. She’d stopped crying, and I could only guess that it had occurred to her that she didn’t know these capes even if she had seen them on TV.

To be fair to her, the stealth suit was all black, and the silver helmet hid my face. The guitar, and rocketpack could only add to the strangeness. Rachel, meanwhile, wore all white, was translucent, and didn’t touch the ground.

The gun holstered on her belt probably didn’t help either.

“It’s safe,” Rachel said. “We know where they went.”

“Right,” I said. “How long ago did they leave?”

Liz thought for a second. “Maybe half a minute ago. It might be longer. I don’t know. I really don’t know.”

“Let’s go,” I said. “We might be able to catch them while they’re still driving.”

“Right,” Rachel said, and looked up in the air. “Where’s Sean?”

He’d left.

15 thoughts on “The Executioner: Part 1”

  1. Nice.

    I wonder why they didn’t see him though. Half a minute at 250 mph is only 2 miles. I can see my house from a hill 2 miles away and I live in a neighborhood with lots of large buildings, not relatively small, stand-alone houses.

    Not to mention that Nick’s suit probably has some visual enhancement systems.

  2. A major reason they haven’t seen him is that they haven’t yet left the ground after landing in front of the house. We’ll see whether they see him once they leave the ground in the next update…

  3. I’m not really sure how much of this I can take. I don’t think there’s been this much sustained drama in the story before….

  4. I’m inclined to think that the estimate of half a minute was quite notably off, considering that 30 seconds isn’t a whole lot, she probably spends more than that talking here before giving the number, and it’s the estimate of a panicky person who isn’t even confident in it herself.
    So all in all, I’d parse the time estimate as “not long ago” rather than try to do numbers with bad data.

  5. Bill: On the bright side, we’re pretty close to the end. Unless I specifically write an epilogue, this is the last arc for this “book.” That being said, the last part of “In the Public Eye” was like this too. Maybe not quite as long though.

    PolaronT2MRR: Thanks for reading. Incidentally, are you the person who’s been reading through the story from the Grand Rapids, MI area? If so, did you notice that Grand Lake includes elements of Holland and Grand Rapids? Not that it’s important, but it amuses me to put them in.

  6. No, but I am from Michigan, more south though, around St. Joseph and Benton Harbor. That makes sense, I was trying to figure out what cities you were basing Grand Lake on.

  7. I don’t understand what’s weird about Mrs. Baker – that she had a baby at 22? I understand that’s not too much older than Nick, but it seems like an odd time to be boggling at his impending adulthood, if that’s what he’s doing, and it isn’t otherwise especially strange. What were you going for with the ” – which was weird”?

  8. Mostly it’s as simple as this–to a high school boy, the though of having kids in four years seems very strange. Less strange once you get to that point, but he hasn’t even entered college, and doesn’t really think of himself as an adult.

    As for it being an odd time to think about that–true. I can only speak for myself though in that my brain tends to have ongoing irrelevant commentary more or less constantly.

  9. “I adjusted the environmental systems, and felt the it begin to cool.”

    probably should be:

    “I adjusted the environmental systems, and felt it begin to cool.”

    or

    “I adjusted the environmental systems, and felt the suit begin to cool.”

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