Under 30: Part 20

And he didn’t just remind me of Mr. Beacham, this was Mr. Beacham—with 100% more beatnik.

I adjusted the picture, scrolling away from the monkey on the balcony and back toward Mr. Beacham, and his hangers on.

Having recognized him, I knew who the woman with him was—Mr. Beacham’s girlfriend. She’d visited the school once. Was she with him because she thought he was Evil Beatnik, was Evil Beatnik controlling her, or did she somehow like Evil Beatnik? Had they… uh… I put the thought out of my mind, but it opened up a lot of relationship questions.

Could Haley and I survive something like that? I liked to think we would, but you never knew. Worse, the deeper we got into this whole superheroism thing, the better chance we had to find out.

So I put that thought out of my mind too.

How did he happen to choose Mr. Beacham anyway?

My mind began to chew on that as Vaughn said, ”Fuck, that’s Mr. Beacham,” and Kayla said more or less the same, but four letters shorter.

Rachel said, “Who’s Mr. Beacham?”

Marcus nodded, “That’s what I was wondering.”

“My history teacher,” I said. “He got hired the year Rachel graduated.”

“Really? I don’t remember him at all.” Rachel appraised his image on the wall screen.

“I don’t think he taught any senior classes that year,” I said.

“You’d remember him,” Vaughn said. “He’s good. Really good. I stayed awake in his classes. For history, that’s a first.”

“He’s pretty well liked at your school?” Jaclyn asked.

“I thought he was okay,” Kayla said, “but a lot of people love him.”

“Yeah,” I said. “Pretty much everybody likes him. I’d say he’s one of the more popular teachers.”

“So he’d have four years of students who might listen to him even if he wasn’t possessed by a spirit that messes with people’s heads.”

“Right,” I said. “That puts things in a new light. I don’t know what he’d do with that though. I don’t think anyone likes Mr. Beacham well enough to burn down the city.”

“But if he got on the radio or on TV and did something like that…”

“Or shared a video on YouTube,” Vaughn said.

“Wow,” I said. “That could go bad quickly.”

“OK,” Jaclyn said, “I think we all need to sit down and not get up until we know how we’re going to handle them.”

“We should go now,” Vaughn said, “we know where they are.”

“No,” Marcus said, “the way it stands we’d go in there, get taken over, and start working for Evil Beatnik. That’s how it always goes—except in stories somebody always fights it off, and then everybody fights it off, and they win.”

“And outside of stories,” Rachel said, “who was that guy who murdered all his teammates under mind control?”

I thought about it. “Uh… He’s called The Atoner now, but I can’t remember his original name. I was five when it happened. He used a weapon Grandpa designed to do it too, I think.”

“Okay,” Jaclyn said, “let’s all sit down, and get working.”

Less than an hour later we had a plan. We were going to wait till Evil Beatnik left the apartment, take out the Ice Twins’ team, and make our video of him available. From the reports, it appeared that Evil Beatnik disappeared voluntarily when the League revealed who he was possessing–as if he were hiding. Maybe he was being chased by spirits of order? It wasn’t clear. The key was to cut him off from followers first. The League only did it the opposite way around once, and then people died.

All well and good, but when we fast forwarded through the video (with the sound off), they suited up and left when he did.

I ran the video’s audio through our speech to text program. Aside from the total nonsense that appeared with each drumbeat, it came out fairly clearly. Unfortunately, it made about as much sense as the part of the speech we’d heard, i.e. not much.

While we puzzled through the overblown rhetoric, endless cliches, and hipster speak for any clue where they’d gone, a phone began to ring. Actually, the caller ID of the Michigan Heroes Alliance flashed across the bottom of my monitor, and the bottom of the wall screen showing Evil Beatnik’s speech.

I clicked “accept call,” but since none of us were in costume, didn’t give a visual on our end.

The Marvelous X appeared on the screen. I’d never heard for sure whether he had real magical powers, or simply faked them, but it barely mattered since he wasn’t an active hero any more.

He sat behind an enormous wooden desk wearing the same black suit, mask, and top hat he’d worn thirty years ago.

His gray moustache quivered as he spoke into the microphone. “Dammit, who am I speaking to?”

“Accelerando,” Jaclyn said, “and about half of our team. We’re in the middle of something, sir.”

“In the middle of something? I daresay you are. Your city is in the middle of a riot. What are you doing about it?”

Vaughn had been right. We should have left immediately.

I felt sick to my stomach.

19 thoughts on “Under 30: Part 20”

  1. That’s the thing, with mind control or zombie versions of heroes. The people who trust you, wouldn’t raise a hand against you, think you’re going to save them just don’t see it coming when you start tearing them apart. If you’re lucky, maybe they’ll know you’re being controlled. If not, they think their hero just killed them.

  2. Should and could are 2 very different things unfortunately. Welcome to adultlife. The reasons that were given here are very valid. You can’t beat yourself up when the immediate action outcome was likely to be no good. While it sucks that their plan was invalidated straight away..it was the right course of action.

  3. i got quite scared when they mentionned about how many students Beachim Beatnik could control if he felt the urge. I also found the “in books” comment quite funny because I love your realistic thinking.

  4. “He got hired the year the year Rachel graduated.” should be the year after.

    Still loving these guys and their adventures. Keep up the great work.

  5. Heyla

    No, it is correct. Rachel comments on not recalling him and they specifically mention him not teaching any senior classes that first year. IF she was graduated already, she would not be surprised at not remembering him.


    1. You’re right that it shouldn’t be the year after, but Jeff did correctly point out that there were two “the year”s in a row. I deleted the second one before you read it.

      Incidentally, thanks for reading. I think this is probably your first comment.

  6. Am I the only one thinking about that alternate reality that was really a future version of ‘this’ one where everyone but an embittered Nick had died?

    Of all the things that could’ve possibly wiped out the world, I wouldn’t thought of apocalypse-by-hipster-riot…..

  7. Bill, I’m sure someone who works on Wall Street shares your thought there, except for the part about the alternate reality.

  8. Bill/Psycho Gecko: This is a weird period to be writing an Evil Beatnik story. Between the Arab Spring, the London riots, and the Wall Street protests, I’ve been torn between avoiding current events and including them (ultimately deciding to avoid).

    That said, apocalypse-by-hipster-riot is actually a real possibility in the story.

    Captain Mystic: I have a hard time not noticing common patterns in fiction, and figure other people must too. I’ve created some rather bad stories when trying to avoid including any common patterns. If you make things too realistic, you no longer have a story that makes any sense at all.

    DWwolf: And despite what I wrote above, I like having realistic situations where sometimes events move faster than people’s ability to plan for them. It also has the nice side effect of making things a little more exciting.

  9. *As Evil Beatnik’s followers surround Bank of America’s Headquarters*

    Evil Beatnik: They may take our lives. But they’ll – never – take – our – ANNUITIES!!!!!!!!!

    *Followers cheer*

    Evil Beatnik: These uncool cats think they’re going to charge you to use your own money, huh?

    *Followers listen*

    Evil Beatnik: We’re gonna NUKE this joint! That’s what!

    *Followers stand confused*

    Random follower: Couldn’t we just cancel our accounts??

    Random follower 2: Wait, I work for BoA. (others look at him) I’m just in the mail room.

    Evil Beatnik: Do you want noise? Or do you want a REV-O-LUTION!!!

    Followers: REVOLUTION!!!

    Evil Beatnik: Well, then. Arm the warhead!

    *Followers carry out his orders*…….

  10. i am scared now! the beatnik’s power is more pervasive than i previously supposed! o and theyre coming to take me away!

  11. And speaking of organizations that tried to change the world while being completely nuts… One of my friends used to work for Bank of America as a sysadmin. Where? The Sears (currently Willis) Tower in Chicago. When? A few years ago. Specifically, the period he worked for them included 9/11, a day when they evacuated the building. He learned later that it really was a target Al Qaeda considered when initially planning the day.

  12. In the words of Commander/Captain William Riker

    “Fate. It protects children, fools, and ships named Enterprise. (and apparently BoA IT guys too)”

  13. On a lighter note, Jim, is Evil Beatnik a sports fan?? Cause I think I’m noticing his handiwork.

    The Red Sox epic fail, the continued NBA lockout, the Jets and Eagles looking like Pop Warner teams.

    And of course, the 4 and oh DETROIT LIONS!!!! Not to mention the scrappy Tigers who simply won’t go down.

    You must be living the good life out in Michigan, huh?

  14. I’m usually aware of how teams are doing, but calling myself a fan would be an overstatement. Still, it is cool that the Tigers and Lions are apparently doing well for a change. The Lions could definitely use a winning streak given the 2008 season in which they became the leader in NFL losing streaks (16 games in a row…).

    As for Evil Beatnik, he’s a fan of anything that increases chaos and disorder.

  15. ” As for Evil Beatnik, he’s a fan of anything that increases chaos and disorder. ”

    So, you’re telling me Evil Beatnik founded the Tea Party and Sarah Palin is his main acolyte??

    (I kid, I kid.)

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