They came toward me even though the Rocket suit had risen one hundred feet above the ground. Many weren’t more than shapes with legs—squares, triangles, rectangles, but those were some of the smaller creatures. The larger ones shouldn’t have seemed ominous at all, but they were big, and they shouldn’t have been flying.
But I still haven’t said what they were, have I?
I was being attacked by infrastructure—stoplights, telephone poles, city buses, trains, rails, roads, power lines, police cars, firetrucks, and more, some of it mixed together, not all of it from our time.
I don’t want to understate the mixing. Imagine a twenty foot tall stoplight with power lines sticking out of its sides flying toward you, the pale, white wires reaching toward you in showers of ghostly sparks.
That was one of the less weird ones.
Along with them were representations of atoms, equations, the double helix of DNA, creatures out of myth… I know I saw a unicorn.
Unicorns seem much less cool when they’re charging you horn first.
I froze, unable to do anything-except it wasn’t my panic. It was Evil Beatnik’s.
He understood enough about operating the Rocket suit to make me give it more fuel, but it didn’t do any good. They were gaining.
Five hundred feet above the ground, he left. I felt him go.
The unicorn, the flying shapes, the surrealistic manifestations of order were almost on me. The unicorn in particular appeared to be instants away from sticking its horn into my chest.
Then it disappeared. With it went most of the fear, and the feeling of the cold ring on my finger. I had a weird shivery feeling that might have been the unicorn flying through me. On the other hand, it might have been a reaction to the ring disappearing. Or maybe a reaction to becoming free of Evil Beatnik’s possession?
I descended, slowly rotating as I watched for any signs that Evil Beatnik might have reappeared. I didn’t see any.
As I landed, Marcus asked, “Are you okay in there?”
“I am. Evil Beatnik’s gone. I don’t know where he went, but I don’t think we’ll see him any time soon.”
* * *
A little over a week later, Haley and I went back to the park together.
I wore a black t-shirt with a wolf on it. She’d bought it for me in Montana. We sat next to each other on the hill, drinking coffee we’d picked up while walking downtown. I’d originally wanted ice cream, but so far as I could tell, there weren’t any ice cream shops in that part of the city.
You’d never have known anything happened in the park at all. Nothing played over the speakers.
There were indentations where Future Knight and the others had landed the flyer. The grass, however, was still alive so it wasn’t that obvious.
Riverside Park was far better off than the county jail. I didn’t know how much the damage cost, but it couldn’t be cheap. They were missing a huge chunk of the outside wall plus all the railings Sean ripped out.
“What happened after that?” Haley asked.
“The normal stuff,” I said. “The police came. Not that they had much to do. The gas wore off, and Julie came back with Future Knight’s goo gun to dissolve the adhesive. The Ice Twins and their group surrendered to the police. I think they’re all home now.”
“They’re home? I thought they’d be in prison, or juvenile detention, or something.”
“The FBI pulled in some psychics, and everybody reeked of supernatural influence, so…”
“Don’t you think some of them wanted to do it? It seems like Rachel and Vaughn broke his hold on them once they tried.”
“Yeah. That could be. Mr. Madness for sure. I think I remember him saying he was in it for the money, and one of the Ice Twins—White, I think—seemed way too enthusiastic for being forced.”
“That’s what I mean. I saw a video of what they did to the TV station.”
“Yeah. Well, the other piece is that their grandparents were all so… uh… notorious? Isaac Lim seemed pretty excited about getting the chance to prevent them from going wrong. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or more of them in the Stapledon program once college starts this fall.”
“I hope it’s more than you and them and Sean.”
“Wow. That would be bad, but it won’t be just us. I’m told it’s an unusually large group this year.”
She took a sip of coffee, and looked out at the river. Most of Grand Lake University lay on the other side. Voss Hall of Engineering stood closest to us. An odd combination of mirrored windows and concrete, it probably dated from the 1960’s. It didn’t take much insight to guess that I’d spend a lot of time there.
“I’m a little worried about something,” Haley said. “My senior year of high school is next year, and you’re going to be in college. I’ve known people that tried to keep on dating like that, but I don’t think it ever worked out. Do you think we can handle it?”
“I don’t see why not. It’s not like it’s a long distance relationship. I’ll be in Grand Lake too. No big deal.”
We stayed there for a little while longer before going back to HQ. It was a good day.