Cassie: Part 10

“We’ll deal,” I said. “The Heroes League fought a legion of immortal soldiers last spring. This can’t be worse.”

“I don’t know,” Rod said. “This is D.C. Every superpowered nutcase in the world gets it his head to kidnap the president, or take over the country’s nukes at least once.”

“Seriously,” Sam said, “only the worst of it makes it into the papers. You’ve no idea how much I missed at Duke.”

“Double V doesn’t miss much though,” Rod said. “Follow their boards. You’ll see how crazy it gets.”

“You’re not saying we should go hide somewhere till it’s over, are you?” Because if he was, I’d walk.

“No, just that it’s good to know your place. When I’m in troll form, I’m tough, but against a Class A threat, I’m just going to die.”

The sirens stopped, but the voice on the radio continued to give instructions.

Outside, people were disappearing from the sidewalks, but the cars seemed to get a little slower, and closer together. I thought for a second it might be my imagination, but Sam said, “Did you notice that no one’s turning off on side streets?”

“Yeah,” Rod said, “given what they said about light, that’s probably a good idea.”

“Except that we’re all going slower now,” Sam said. “Remember the Helldogs?”

I’d never heard of them. “Did they chase cars?”

“And caught them,” Rod said, “and ate the people inside.”

Almost interrupting himself, he said, “Hey, look ahead.”

Several intersections in D.C. were circular parks surrounded by roundabouts. On K Street, the outer two lanes went around the park. The middle two lanes took a tunnel underneath.

With most of the traffic, Rod moved into the outer lanes.

“You’re going the slow way,” Sam said.

“She’s going to want to look at this,” Rod said. “Cassie, look at the park.”

He didn’t need to say anything. I’d already seen it.

Lights illuminated statues of the League’s World War 2 unit—the Rocket, Multitude, Red Lightning, C (then Hotfoot), Night Wolf, a few others who died or never became heroes after the war, and Dad.

I knew about the memorial. They finished it just after Dad died. We could have attended its dedication, but Mom didn’t want to, fearing the stress might trigger whatever Dr. Mind had put into my DNA. And maybe her own grief felt too raw to consider attending.

I’d wanted to go. I think that may have been the first time we’d had a big fight—the first time we’d fought that I’d intentionally said something that made her cry.

I’m not proud of it.

Along with that, I remembered the midnight call, and Mom telling me he was, “Dead, Cassie. He can’t come back from this.”

His last words to me hadn’t been anything special (“I’ll be back on Friday.”), but in remembering them, I felt like crying.

I didn’t, but maybe I made a noise.

Sam twisted around. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine.”

Everything would have been so much better if he’d lived.

* * *

We didn’t talk much for the next few minutes, and that was okay because I needed a few.

Instructions came over the radio, but they were the same as before. We ignored them. In the time we’d been driving, the sky had turned from “shortly after sunset” to “nearly night.” I could still see a hint of light in the west, but not much.

Less than a mile from the building, we got on the highway. We could have stayed on the street that ran below the highway, but Rod had decided we’d get there faster even if we did double back when we reached the exit.

After crossing a section where the highway crossed at least three different roads, turning into a mess of entrances and exits that made me glad I wasn’t driving, the traffic slowed to 25 miles per hour.

“We should have stayed on K Street,” Sam said.

“The freeway’s usually faster,” Rod said, coming to a complete stop. “Who’d believe we’d have a traffic jam here on a Thursday night?”

We sat there, burning, white headlights behind us, and red, rear lights ahead of us. On either side of the freeway stood the third and fourth stories of office buildings.

Most of the windows were dark.

Ahead and to the left, a few tree branches rose higher than the freeway. Past them, a few gleaming, modern buildings rose above the Potomac River.

Outside, a scream rose, and then stopped, cut off midway.

“We need to find out what happened,” Sam said, opening the car door.

“That’s not a great idea,”Rod began, but I didn’t hear the rest. I was pushing her seat forward, and following her out the door.

18 thoughts on “Cassie: Part 10”

  1. because i went to D.C. this past august with my family i can picture their route better. i mostly travelled by subway though because the traffic there was dense and intense.

  2. I lived in D.C. for a few months as a kid and visited several times. My dad taught political science, and the college he was at had a D.C. semester, so every three years he’d relocate to D.C. for a few months. Sometimes we’d go with him.

    We mostly used the Metro for getting around there too, but sometimes you have to use a car because the Metro doesn’t go everywhere.

  3. My eyes glazed over but that’s okay. 🙂 I’ve been to D.C. as a kid but it was just a visit. I also geographically challenged (a nice way of saying I get lost easily). Thought it would be worthwile to say the descriptions still worked for me. I kind of had a rough sketch of what their surroundings were like the whole time.

  4. Lanir: I hope your eyes didn’t actually glaze over. I try to make descriptions as short as they can be while still getting the point across.

    I sometimes think I lose a bit of local color that way, but when writing on the internet, I suspect I’ll lose people with long descriptions.

  5. Yeah, a lot of the directions were fairly meaningless to me. I mean, I’ve heard of K street, but the closest I’ve ever been to DC involved finding mini nukes in the irradiated ruins of the White House after shooting at ghouls and super mutants.

    Not too hard to get a hold of the U.S.’s nukes, all things considered. The nuclear football is strapped to an agent, but there have been times when people have left the poor fellow and the suitcase that gives access to our nukes in other places before. Like around the UN. Just drove off and forgot him. Then there’s the one time a president realized he didn’t know where his half of some sort of access thingy to it was. Hopefully they secure things a little better in this sort of superhero universe. If I were them, I’d have an entire superteam dedicated to defending the nuclear football. I’m torn between calling them the Patriots, the Nationals, or the Jets.

  6. I kinda glazed over the directions as well. But it didn’t detract from the story. I tend to glaze over most directions in anything I read really. Except in Neverwhere, because the setting and directions are the real character of the book lol
    But I’m from good ol’ blighty, and didn’t even know where D.C is anyways…just thought it was a comic company thingie. Cept I went back through chapters to see if Jim had put the full name not the abbreviation, and found out its Washington. Now I know. Why is it Washington D.C though? Always thought it was just Washington…

  7. Washington, District of Columbia. Named after our first President, a mister George Washington District of Columbia. Wierd names back then, you know. Also, there’s Washington state on the other side of the country, north of California and somewhere around Oregon. Oregon, of course, named after an old floppy disk computer game about going from one side of the country to the other.

  8. Silas: Well, there’s a Washington state on the west coast (north of California) to confuse Washington D.C. with.

    D.C. stands for District of Columbia (after Columbus, I’m assuming). Residents (and people who live nearby) often just refer to it as D.C. to save themselves the bother of saying Washington D.C. all the time.

    PG/Silas: That said, the references to specific spots are supposed to be details that make things seem real as opposed to something people are supposed to remember. So as long as they don’t detract, it works.

  9. Washington D.C. is known for several things. It has lots of crime, several memorials to past presidents (useful considering how much wrong information is claimed about them by modern day media and politicians), possibly no say in congress, and is the most dangerous city in the world if aliens/soviets/the chinese/russians/time traveling Nazis/a planet full of anthropomorphic apes/supervillains invade due to the almost certain attempts to nuke or otherwise destroy the entire thing before anybody knows what is happening.

    There is also the U.S. Capitol Building, known for being the world’s largest working replica of a clogged toilet. Anything worthwhile is converted to shit and slowly makes its way out of there or is extracted and left on the lawn of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in a paper bag that is then lit on fire. Subsequently, attempts to stop said issue from burning up usually just results in the inhabitant of that house stepping in shit.

  10. I for one appreciate you referring to it as DC. Having lived in the “midwest” (ie MI) and in Washington state, it always drove me nuts when midwesterners and others started talking about WA and I suddenly realized they meant DC!

    I think there was someone else from Washington state…. what do you say we start a petition to change the name of the state to avoid confusion… maybe we could be “Superwashington”. *laugh*

  11. @Notto Mention:

    I’d put forward “Southern British Columbia”, or maybe just “South Columbia”. It’s not like that’s any more confusing than some of our other states. South Dakota isn’t in the South, North Carolina isn’t in the North, and West Virginia is far from the West. Shall we call it a plan?

  12. Except South Dakota is south of North Dakota, just like North Carolina is north of South Carolina, and West Virginia is the westernmost counties that seceded from Virginia when it seceded from the United States.

  13. I wouldn’t put it like that. I’m not trying to cause any hard feelings here. Except…no, in no way, shape, or form am I doing erotic stories.

    I want everyone to enjoy Jim’s stories here. It’s why I worry my recent bout of fame and ego, and the stories it spawned, might be harmful here. People came here for the Legion of Nothing, not Psycho Gecko. Well, most people, I presume.

  14. You didn’t hurt my feelings, you actually proved my point. The state of Washington is south of British Columbia, so South British Columbia is the only logical choice for a new name. ^_^

  15. We are not renaming a state named after our first President, the general who kept our rag-tag group of insurgents together through a revolutionary war, after a part of another country that only recently gained the ability to do a few more things without the Queen’s say so.

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