Cassie: Part 11

Sam and I made it to the side of the highway at about the same time.

Twenty feet below us on the ground, the streets and shops were empty. I doubted that was normal. On the other hand, they’d probably had sirens and alerts too.

Any sensible person would drive home after that, right? Not that we were driving home, but normal people would.

Sam stopped looking down. “Do you see anything? I don’t.”

“Me neither. Night vision’s not my thing.”

Not that it was bad. Sure, it was basically night, but they had streetlights. Knowing what they’d said on the radio, it was likely the person who screamed had gotten hurt someplace dark.

“You see anything?” Rod shut his car door, and walked around the front of the car toward us.

The car behind him beeped. I couldn’t see why. No one was going anywhere.

Rod flipped him the bird.

“See anything?”

Sam and I said, “No,” almost simultaneously.

We could have used Haley, or her brother Travis then. Seeing in the dark was the least of what they could do.

Rod leaned over the side.

Sam said, “So?”

“I’d have to change to get a better look,” he said, standing straight again. “I can’t do that here.”

“Too many people,” Sam said.

I ignored them. I’d seen something move near one of the metal supports that held up the highway. It seemed human shaped, but the posture seemed wrong (too bent over), and I thought I’d seen a webbed hand.

Then it disappeared under the highway.

To the right, maybe twenty feet away, I thought I saw an arm sticking out.

“Did you see that?” I pointed.

Too late. Rod followed the direction my hand pointed, but no one could see anything. I’d have jumped over the side if it weren’t for the people.

“Nothing,” Rod said.

My phone rang. I had two phones—the second because Nick thought having a second phone for League business would be a good idea.

That wasn’t the one that was ringing. My personal phone was ringing. I pulled it out of case on my belt, checked the caller ID. It was Mom.

Oh God. Best to get it over with.

“Cassie, where are you? I got back to the apartment, and no one was here. Did you know there’s an alert out?”

“I know. I’m fine, Mom. I ran into a couple people who got the same scholarship I did.”

Mom paused. She’d caught the reference to the Stapledon program. How would she take it?

“You’re not out in the middle of this, are you? Where are you?”

“Georgetown. In the traffic jam.”

“Cassie, that’s the worst place you could be. You’re inside the car, right? Turn the light on. Don’t get out.”

“Don’t worry about it. We’re not doing much of anything. I saw worse last spring.”

“If I’d had any idea what you were doing last spring…” She trailed off. She couldn’t go any further with that thought on an unencrypted call.

“I’m calling people,” she said. “Don’t go anywhere.”

“Mom, I’m fine.”

“Cassie, listen to me for once. Don’t go anywhere, and if the traffic jam breaks, come home. Did you hear me?”

“Heard you.” Which didn’t mean I’d do it.

She sighed. “I’ll call back soon. Bye.”

“Bye.”

Sam said, “Your mom?”

“Yeah.”

“Please don’t take this wrong, but you weren’t just saying you’d had a fight with her back at the club, were you?”

“No.” It had seemed better on vacation, but now that we were back in the States we were back to where we’d been before we left—wherever that was.

“My mom’s not happy that I’m doing this either.”

“See, it’s funny,” I said, “my mom wants me to train, but she gets freaked out whenever I do anything—if she knows. Half the time she’s here instead of home.”

Sam put her hand on my shoulder—she seemed like she was about to give me a hug (and I wasn’t sure I wanted to be hugged). Then the window of the car behind us (a black Lexus) slid down.

The man inside shouted, “Hey, you kids. Did you hear the alert? Get back in your car, and turn on the lights.”

Rod raised his hand. I thought he was about the flip the guy off again, but he gave a little wave, and said, “Thanks, man.”

Turning to us he said, “We’d better get back in the car.”

We started to—except that was when the lights went out. I mean, all the freaking lights for miles. I could see lights in the distance, and across the Potomac, but the nearby buildings’ lights went out—along with the streetlights and the traffic lights.

We all walked a little faster toward the car then. Rod made it around the front and opened the door as we began to hear the noise, a wet sounding squishing and scraping, and a lot of it. The noise reminded me of a flock of birds taking flight, not because of any particular noise, but because there were a lot of them doing it at once.

Sam was the last one in.

She’d opened the door for me, and waited as I stepped inside. She pushed her seat back, and stepped inside as the first of them came over the side of the road.

Dark green, they reminded me of frogs. Potbellied, and goggle-eyed, with long limbs, and webbed claws, they slouched, moving more quickly than they should have.

Sam barely shut the door in time. Unfortunately, she didn’t lock it, and they understood locks because the creature’s hand went straight for the door handle.

It opened with a musical click.

Sam tried to shut the door, grabbing the armrest, and pulling.

It was no contest. The creature barely seemed to notice she was resisting.

I leaned forward, pushing between the seat and door to grab the armrest myself. I pulled the door shut so quickly it barely had time to notice, pitching forward to almost hit the door, catching itself with a claw.

Rod put the key into the ignition, turned it, and messed with the lights while pounding on the horn.

When the headlights turned on, it took a step back.

The dome light inside the car turned off, then turned on, making it a little harder to see outside.

Light or not, I could still see more figures climbing over the side of the road by the second.

14 thoughts on “Cassie: Part 11”

  1. kntwriter: Princesses are in distinctly short supply around here.

    Luke: It’s always nice when people catch references. Not that I’m planning to do a Cthulhu mythos story, but was referencing Shadow Over Innsmouth (and Deep Ones) deliberately with the descriptions.

    That said, if you go to Wikipedia at the moment and look up anything, you’ll find a personal appeal by someone connected with the website. It amuses me more than it ought to to do that and then have the person’s picture with the words “Deep One” directly underneath it as if it were an illustration.

    See? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_One

    Also apologies to all for posting later than usual today. When I was ready, the server the site’s on wasn’t responding quickly. I reported the problem and went to bed instead of waiting up for technical support…

  2. Gosh darnit. I’d only just got that song out my head after the Cthulu-Tech game I was playing last night!

  3. Oh no, I just realized…this means Washington D.C., with its plotted out cityscape and monuments all over the place…obelisks, roman-style columns, possibly masonic symbols hidden in the planning…

    The nuts are right and wrong at the same time. It IS a conspiracy…an Old One conspiracy! This is a perfect time to call Team TnT. Maybe Lovecraft himself can join them for this mission. He can be their occult expert.

    …also, whichever old one is hiding under the Washington Monument has a serious case of priapism.

  4. also, @Silas……

    You may be interested in these.
    http://www.sjgames.com/dice/cthulhudice/

    got me all kinds of wierd looks when i was using them at a war gaming event this time last year 😛 – in my defense, i was using a chaos army at the time….

    The Orc player came wearing billy-bob teeth and with his face painted green (looked more like shrek though tbh), the guy with the dwarfs came in a chainmail t-shirt……and I with my chaos faction turned up in a black hooded robe, with a bag of wierd dice, a big book dressed up to look like the necronomicon from the Evil Dead, and red contact lenses!

  5. But how could you use them, there are no d6s! 😛 Awesome though, definitely going to pick some of them up. Thanks Mycroft 🙂
    Sounds like a great event 🙂 I’ve done a few with my faction all dressed up a few times and talking in character with the army. Its great fun and does make a difference to the gameplay.

  6. Psychonomous Gex! The Rise of Psycho Geck, Part 3 or “Back to Your Regularly Scheduled Programming”

    Psycho Gecko steps out of the fancy penthouse bedroom, tossing a bottle of Mr. Morden’s expensive brandy against the second-story railing. Harlon, at the foot of the nearby stairs, winces at the crash of the liquor bottle and tinkling of broken glass. “Um, Mr. Gecko, is something wrong?”

    Gecko chuckles, then calls down, “Not a thing, Harlon, he’s dead.”

    Harlon blinks and takes a moment thinking of a safe answer, “Uh…um…I didn’t think you’d make it so quick.” Gecko walks down and lays a hand on Harlon’s shoulder. Harlon dips his shoulder a little, hoping in some way to lower himself from under the villain’s grip. “But however you want to do things is fine.”

    “Relax, Harlon. I just didn’t feel the need to really explain myself to him. One of the rules I was taught was that if you’re going to kill someone, you don’t spend a few minutes letting them know everything behind your evil plan. You kill them.”

    Harlon tenses up, prompting Gecko to laugh and state, “Don’t worry, I’m not going to kill you unless you betray my trust.”

    The look on Harlon’s face makes it clear to Gecko that either the fat executive isn’t so sure that’s a great idea, or his underwear just filled up. Gecko reaches into the pocket of the trench coat he now wears over his armor’s chest piece. Harlon starts to shrink away, but Gecko merely pulls out a pair of sunglasses that he slides onto the man’s face.

    “You are my number one guy,” Gecko begins as he leads the man out, the laughter gone from a voice that now lacks the combined menace and playfulness that has tinted most of his conversations with hapless businessmen of late. “I’d like some money diverted my way, and if I need anything disseminated through your end of the media, I’ll let you know. Probably won’t come down to that. You, meanwhile, will likely face some sort of promotion thanks to your boss’ unfortunate overdose on several illicit substances connected to his odd actions at his office. There, he called up a couple of guards to the office where he began his little binge, leaving puke and dropping some sort of explosive out the window. From there, his car was spotted being driven erratically to his penthouse, weaving in and out of traffic, running several stoplights, and playing blaringly loud techno music. Any of those, of course, being a good reason to pull someone over. You don’t know what was up with your fellows who died at the bar, or even what they were doing there, and neither of us know why people are eating fried pickles. You’ll do well there.”

    “I’m only there because I’m family. I didn’t do what my mom and dad wanted, so they’d rather put me in some job at my uncle’s company so I wouldn’t do something embarrassing, like teach. I really have no responsibilities. I don’t know how to run it.”

    Gecko presses the button to the elevator, then points his finger right in his companion’s face, “I don’t believe you.”

    “What?”

    “You handled being kidnapped, tied up, stroked like a cat, dumped helpless on top of someone while three supers fought nearby, and you didn’t even lose your cool when PIT maneuvered that cop car. You can handle the pressure.”

    “But I don’t really KNOW anything.”

    “And that’s all. You can learn that stuff.”

    The door dings as it opens and they step inside, the murderous villain continuing the pep talk with his hostage, “When I was a teenager, me and the others in the program were put into a room with a burger in our hand and a pit bull, just to see what kind of people we were. When it growls and starts after you, some people run away. Other people run at it. You CAN’T learn that.”

    Harlon relaxes with a sigh and speaks up as they ride the elevator down to the ground floor, “What about your story?”

    Gecko leans against the side of the elevator, “Good man, Harlon. No reporting of it at all. You will never tell it to anyone. Stay quiet and we’re cool.”

    “You know, you’re not that bad of a guy for a supervillain,” Harlon blurts out.

    Psycho Gecko suddenly grabs Harlon by the shoulders and pulls him in for a hug. After a couple of awkward seconds, he lets him go and speaks, “Well, the whole mass genocide and destruction of a world or city was all…letting off steam. Finding my own way after a major betrayal. Whoops,” he throws his hands up, “I overreacted. To tell the truth, I’m happier here. I do the hit jobs on occasion, but aside from that I have little reason to kill. This guy wouldn’t believe anyone could or would kill him, and it’s fun to disprove that notion to someone who believes that. Fun, that’s what I’m about. Sometimes that means stealing money to fund my amusements, killing people or superpeople, rapid-fire digestion of pop culture, or even something as simple as reading an online serial about superheroes.” With that, Gecko counts off the walls of the elevator, then turns and smiles at the fourth one, which then opens up to the lobby.

    “Maybe…we could hang out sometime?” Harlon asks, painfully aware that he’s been treated more like a person by the crazy killer who acted like he was a cat than most of his own family.

    Gecko shakes his head, circuitry lighting up under his skin just as the helmet of his armor reforms over his head. Then, trenchcoat and all, he fades to invisibility.

    “Sorry, Harlon, you don’t need that kind of fun. But we’ll talk.”

    Harlon just scuffs his shoes at the ground before realizing he doesn’t have a ride. 10 minutes later, he’s walking along the road. A man steps out of an alley, holding a gun. Harlon doesn’t freeze, or try to run. He stops. The man steps closer, holding out his other hand, “Do I really need to ask?”

    Suddenly, the hand with the gun is wrenched to the side. The man is thrust into the air, his chest bursting out as he’s held in the air. His blood reveals a fist plunged through his ribs. It drips down to Psycho Gecko as he deactivates his stealth mode.

    “You know, Gecko, you didn’t have to kill him.”

    “Supervillain. Deal with it,” Gecko says with a shrug, then remembers to push the body off his arm. “Here, dude, how about we walk and talk til you find a ride?”

    *Finally, The End*

  7. it cannot be the end, every time i read it gets better. (much like Jim’s writing that way) Gecko you are awesome and need to write more of your story. Count the walls of the elevator man and yes I am a theatre geek.

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