In the Public Eye: Part 30

Putting the suit on and checking the systems took a good ten minutes as usual. I ran down a tunnel to the exit in the middle of the forest in Veterans’ Memorial Park. It felt good to be in the full suit. The last time had to have been when I’d bugged Magnus’ house in Chicago — almost a month ago now.

The doors opened above me and I jumped, making it a good twenty feet before the rockets kicked in and took me the rest of the way into the sky. The trees went past in a blur of branches. I found myself looking down on the city lights almost before I realized it.

To avoid being seen, I planned to shoot up like a ballistic missile then fall down, using the rockets to slow myself until I landed directly in front of Hardwick House. It seemed like a better idea than flying low across half the city and being visible through any body’s window.

I was wrong.

Either my armor was more vulnerable to radar than I realized, or one of the heroes summoned to deal with me had fairly impressive night vision. Whatever the case, something grabbed my arms from behind at about 500 feet above the ground, pulling them together. I slowed my descent and then hovered.

Twisting my head, I saw a man in a blue costume with a mask covering the upper half of his face. A missile superimposed over a circle appeared both on his chest and on his forehead — which told me who he was. According to Double V (whose RSS feed I evidently spent too much time reading), his name was Tomahawk. His powers? Flight, strength, and all around toughness. Until two years ago, he used to work for the Mafia in the Northeast, particularly Boston. Then he turned informant, gave up names and evidence, and since then he’d been living on the right side of the law.

Normally I’d be cheering him, but at that moment I couldn’t help but wish he’d gone into the witness protection program instead.

Breaking the silence, I said, “Aren’t you the guy in the lock commercial?”

“You looking for an autograph? ‘Cause your timing’s pretty bad.”

“No, just curious.”

“You know what you oughta be curious about? Where we’re going next.”

“OK,” I said, “Where are we going next?”

“We’re going to meet with a couple guys and come to an understanding about this situation.”

Honestly, it sounded like he was still in the mob.

Probably at that point I should have sent a distress call to the rest of the group, but I didn’t. I thought I could handle the situation without help. He struck me as one of those guys who relied on his powers and didn’t do any real training.

For example, grabbing a guy’s arms and holding them together behind his back might work on the ground, but in the air it opened up a host of problems. In my case, the only reason he hadn’t tipped me, causing me to fire off in some random direction is because I was deliberately hovering in one spot.

Holding my arms straight behind me showed another lack of forethought on his part. The weaponized amplifiers on my forearms were pointed roughly at his groin.

I fired them off on high power.

Human soft tissue doesn’t shatter like glass, but to judge from his shout, it felt at least as bad as a kick in the crotch.

He let go. I flew up about fifty feet and started shouting down at him. “I didn’t just punch the mayor for the fun of it. He’s a telepath! He tried to break into my mind!”

Tomahawk rushed me.

Turns out blasting someone in the groin isn’t a great way to gain their trust.

From there it turned into one of those fights that the media love and insurance adjusters hate; the kind of fight I most associate with Los Angeles or New York City. You know what I mean — two powered lunatics buzzing through the downtown, pausing only to exchange blows or plow into a wall.

Downtown Grand Lake isn’t busy during late fall, but there were people downtown. They got off the street as soon as they saw us.

I was trying to escape most of the time, keeping my corners tight, and trying to avoid hitting streetlights and power lines. Realizing after a little while that he flew a little faster than I did, I opted to stay low, guessing that as a hometown boy I’d be able to use my knowledge of the city to lose him.

Unfortunately, I’ve got a lousy sense of direction, and even though the helmet has a GPS readout, it’s hard to concentrate on it in the middle of a fight. I ended up whipping around the corner to find that the alley I hoped would lead me out of downtown actually dead-ended into the back of a three story brick building.

As quickly as we were moving, I wouldn’t have time to slow down before I hit the wall, but neither would he.

I flipped over, nearly blacking out at the force of a one hundred-eighty degree direction change. He flew over me, beginning to try to flip over himself.

I opened up on him with the sonics as he passed above me, this time choosing the setting that creates a massive piercing scream.

I don’t know whether the sonics distracted him or whether he just didn’t have time to flip, but he hit the wall with his back, crashing through into the store behind.

I had too much momentum to stop myself as well, but I hit the wall below the newly created hole relatively softly — I didn’t go through.

After lying on the ground for a moment, I stood up shakily. From the shouts and screams, I guessed that the store was open. When I managed to look in, I realized it was a lingerie shop. Tomahawk had smashed into some shelving after plowing through the wall and now its contents lay scattered across half the room. No one else seemed to be hurt though.

I considered calling 911 in case he needed an ambulance, but then it occurred to me that it might be safer to do so from a distance.

So, I flew away, leaving him unconscious and covered with thongs.

11 thoughts on “In the Public Eye: Part 30”

  1. In terms of typos and whatnot, the only thing that catches my eye right away is your use of dashes — you haven’t put any spaces around them, so it looks like you’re creating hyphenated words like “forehead–which”, “mean–two”, “softly–I” and, my favourite, “Man-machine–almost”.

    Great closing line, though.


  2. That was good. Almost a bit too succinct in my opinion, but still good. The story overall is a bit minimalist to me so it fits overall. Just a personal feeling.
    I loved the last line as well.

  3. Hg: The bit with the dashes is an html somehow. When I put in two dashes, it comes out as one dash. When I put in the “long dash” symbol, it ends up looking like a dash too. I imagine that there’s an html (or ascii?) symbol that would solve all my problems, but the whole point of using WordPress is so I don’t have to code html…

    Thus, I guess I’ll have to switch to space-dash-space…

    Thanks for noticing.

    Charles: In some ways it was a bit short. Because I viewed it as an incident on the way to Hardwick House, I chose to limit it to one post. Otherwise I could have gone to two or even three.

    As for the minimalism, that’s true from my point of view as well. I sometimes think I ought to do more description, but then I also end up feeling like I’m slowing things down. I do more description in my “non-web” writing. Not sure why that is.

    I’ve got to admit that even there when I have a choice between more or less, I usually opt for less.

  4. That last line alone deserves an award.

    I like your minimalist writing. I think people are drawn to web-fiction precisely because it’s more rapid-fire than the kind you get in a novel where it’s one paragraph of action, and three pages of how characters feel.

  5. The long emdash is grammatically correct. People have just gotten used to double dashes because older word processors and typewriters didn’t have the emdashes, just endashes (the names make sense if you think of the width of n versus m).

  6. You’re right. What sucks though, is that when I put the long emdash in, it ends up looking like a single dash for some reason — at least on my computer. Thus I’m using two dashes between spaces for the present.

  7. Still archive trawling. I don’t think it really matters, but I think the last time Nick wore the full suit was bugging Magnus’ house, not back in Chapter 1. I can see why he’d want to forget that whole sorry episode, though.

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