Hysteria: Part 3

By the time we got there, there were four of us. Vaughn met us in the air. Jaclyn met us at the house.

The house didn’t stick out normally. A white, two story house in a subdivision full of modern, two story homes of almost exactly the same design (basically a rectangle), it didn’t have much of a chance of looking ominous. The lawn had been mowed, the bushes clipped. The trees still looked bare of leaves, but, if the rest of the yard was any indication, not because the owner had neglected anything.

Tonight the house stuck out. The front door hung by two of the three hinges. The windows in its upper half had been shattered. Its metal body bent inward.

People stood in the lawn, most of them wearing jackets. A stocky, white haired woman held a younger looking woman who seemed to be going along with it more out of shock than a need for comfort.

A boy and a girl that I pegged as middle school aged stood near them. The girl’s face reminded me a little of Keith’s.

We landed on the sidewalk near the front lawn, and people started shouting.

“Over there. They went that way.” A bearded man in a button down shirt pointed toward the street.

I couldn’t see anything moving in that direction.

Off to the side of me, I heard someone say, “Should bring them into the house? They’ll need to collect evidence, right?”

“No, that’s the police.”

“Did anyone call the police?”

“I did. Ages ago.”

I hadn’t the faintest clue what to do next.

Daniel walked over to the house’s front door and stood there. He concentrated for a little while. Then he stopped and walked back to the rest of us.

“Was it as bad as the hospital?” I asked.

“Worse. His kids and wife had to watch.”

I glanced over at the kids, and realized that they, and everyone else, were staring at us.

Vaughn said, “Did you find out where they went?”

Daniel shook his head. “No, but I think I can follow them.”

He floated upward, flew over to the street and started flying down the road some six feet above the ground.

We went after him. What else could we do?

Flying down the road at an altitude just a little higher than a car’s roof gets a little weird.

First of all we were flying at just about the level of Jaclyn’s head. That mattered because instead of running below us, she now ran with us. Second, the Rocket pack wasn’t exactly silent. People stared out their windows at us.

If I didn’t make enough noise on my own, Vaughn added whole new level of annoyance. He flew by directing wind currents, and it took a lot of wind to keep him in the air. Even though he aimed the wind mostly at himself, it still blew litter and childrens’ toys across the lawn. I saw more than one garbage bag roll off of the curb, and, away on new and exciting adventures of its own.

I don’t even like to think about what happened to the plastic recycle bins full of cardboard, plastic, and tin cans.

Let’s just say that if the owners had started running out of their houses and shaking their fists at us, I wouldn’t have blamed them.

Sadly, it all turned out to be useless.

We followed the trail through suburban neighborhoods and past strip malls until we hit the highway.

Daniel stopped before we started up the entrance ramp.

He floated off to the side of the road and stood in the empty parking lot in front of a brown, brick warehouse.

“We’re screwed. I just lost them.”

Jaclyn came to a stop next to him. “Oh come on, Mystic. They have to have taken the highway.”

“That’s why I’m saying I lost them. I was following impressions they left. The longer and the more recently they’ve been there, the easier it is. Normal roads are bad enough, but highways? They leave basically no emotional impressions and then I have to sort out their nothing from all the other people who traveled over the exact same spot. Highways are impossible.”

Jaclyn held up her hands. “Alright. Alright. I get it. How about this — you send me a picture of the car and I’ll run down the highway and send an alert if I catch up to them?”

“That sounds good,” I said. “We could follow you.”

“Only if you stay in the air. Storm King’s not going to be doing anyone a favor by blowing them off the road.”

That’s what we ended up doing.

Jaclyn ran down the freeway, outdistancing us immediately, and we followed, flying high enough that people probably couldn’t see us.

A few minutes later, Jaclyn came back, waving us off the highway before jumping over the concrete barrier herself.

We found ourselves standing in one of the nastier areas of downtown. Think of old buildings whose windows had long ago been replaced with boards, and brown brick gone gray with the exhaust of passing cars.

If I hadn’t been in armor, I might have worried about being mugged.

“They’re not on the highway anymore. I went twenty miles north before turning around. I didn’t see them.”

Vaughn looked over at the highway. “It’s dark. Couldn’t you have missed them?”

“It’s not that dark. They’ve got streetlights.”

Daniel held up his hand. “Hey everybody. We’ve got one more shot at this. I’ll try to sense the city’s biggest near future threat. It’s probably them.”

“Or somebody’s lost cat,” I said. “The ‘city’s biggest’ part of that sentence almost never seems to work out.”

“Do you have any better ideas?”

Moments later, all of us but Jaclyn were in the air, and even she didn’t stay on the ground the whole time. She got sick of running around buildings and jumped over a few.

For all my complaints about how unreliable Daniel’s precognition was, the last flight of the evening had a different mood to it than the ones that came before. We’d all given up on finding them by then. I’d lost all my nervousness about getting into a fight because I knew it wouldn’t happen.

Daniel in turn didn’t seem like he needed to concentrate as hard on this as he did while following impressions of the car.

What this meant on a practical level was that instead of being all white knuckled and silent, he would point and say which direction we needed to go next.

Vaughn by comparison seemed to grow more thoughtful the farther we went.

We flew away from the nastier parts of downtown, past the more attractive part of downtown (turn of the century shops and modern office buildings), and over one of the residential spots of downtown — near where Central High was located and the very same section where the mayor had lived. Hardwick House’s tower and pyramid lay before us, outlined by spotlights.

Daniel flew past them, landing in a neighborhood of old Victorian houses, the homes of the city fathers during the late 1800’s.

He landed in the street, facing an especially large house with ornate woodwork. It rose three stories high and had probably once been the home of a lumber baron.

A couple lights were on upstairs.

Daniel pointed at it with his left hand. “That’s it. I don’t have any specifics, but there’s something big connected with that house.”

“I suppose we ought to find out who lives there at least,” Jaclyn said.

Vaughn shook his head. “We don’t have to. I know who lives there.”

I looked at his black mask. “And?”

“It’s Sean Drucker’s house.”

10 thoughts on “Hysteria: Part 3”

  1. Heh. I like it how the bystanders expect the suits to be on the ball and know what to do, and it shows in the text how that bothers Nick. The way the inexperience of the heroes shows here and there is really one of the big strengths of LoN imho.

  2. I’m sorry folks but I just cannot resist.

    Dun, dun, DUN!

    I know, I know, not exactly the witty remarks we have all come to expect on the comments board but I just couldn’t help myself. 🙂

  3. A whole new can of worms has been opened and is crawling through my mind now.

    Is Sean somehow related to Spike and his gang? Or might he be they’re next target?

    @Mazzon: I agree. And remember, Nick never really wanted to do this. He’s literally stumbling along towards his destiny.

    It also goes back to the discussion we had on the last episode; it’s true, superpowers don’t equal experience and cunning.

    But….Nick handled himself quite well during that fracas in LA. I think he’ll step up big here. He’s certainly due.

  4. Lizard.
    “Should bring them” – perhaps: Should we bring them? Should I bring them?
    It’s nice to have these little setbacks from time to time. Not just for the inexperience angle – though that’s good too, and keeps with the theme of “teenagers over their heads” (continuing from the high school students and Keith not thinking through the implications of the juice). But it’s also a window into some of the main characters’ abilities – like the impressions on the highway thing. Each of them provided some useful insight here. Also, the interesting challenge for Nick (in my opinion) will be separating personal feelings from professional ones, given his history with Sean.

  5. The whole sequence with the garbage bag going on “new and exciting adventures” was fun. I got a good laugh out of it all. That type of thing (the noise and the wind) is not something a lot of people think about when it comes to this type of story

    1. Good. Looking at the paragraph again years after I wrote it, I am happy about that section. It works.

      For better or for worse, I’ve read more science fiction than comic books (though I’ve still read a good number of comics) and I tend to look at things in that light.

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