Saturday, March 29, 2014

Quantum Dissolve: Chapter Twenty Four. (Streetsweepers meet "A Fan")

Jadie and Chokie tallied up the gifts they'd received from "A Fan", over the past few months.

JS's second mask, the raggedy copy of "Combatant", new copies of the Harry Hembock quadrilogy, a DVD about a non-powered superhero in a red costume that was very Hembock-esque, another DVD about a non-powered superhero in black with a skull logo that used guns, another DVD very similar to the first, about a teenager and a 10 year old who become non-powered superheroes and kill people with weapons, another DVD about a small childlike woman who tortures a child molester, another DVD about a middle aged man and a teenager who go out killing people for being assholes, another DVD about a Swedish girl who goes after sex traffickers, another DVD that was a comedy concert by this baby boom age guy who made a lot of great points, and finally, a DVD about a nerdy guy who falls in radioactive waste, and becomes a lethal superhero, which reminded JS of The Prodigious Mass.

The Hembock books bore the inscription "I'm sending a map next- A Fan".

The DVDs had folded slips of paper inside the boxes that had a map segment.

Jadie and Chokie had them all splayed out and assembled.

"I know right where that is", JS said.

"So do I", Chokie jumped in, without missing a beat.

30 minutes later, they were there.
JS by car, Chokie by her Cherry-sicle.

It was a ratty run down ranch house with flaking blue paint up on a hill on the outskirts of Lentilville.
There were no lights on inside.
A chill ran up both of their spines.
It was the house of the last guy Dusty had pranked as The Green Monster.
The one that had run out with a shotgun.

Chokie pulled out her Cherry-popper, and cocked the trigger.
JS popped a bolt into his wrist crossbow.

They marched forward to the porch.

Anticipating a booby trap every step along the way, they crept up the front steps.

They knocked.


The door was unlocked, they let themselves in.
They did a sweep of the place with their weapons ready.
It reminded them both of the day they met.

Nobody there.

The front door opened into a kitchen, then, to the left, a two foot connecting hallway led to a den, which led to a living room.
Both were caked with dust.

In the other direction, a doorway to a bathroom, and a stairway leading upwards.

They knew from the instructions on the map not to go that way.

They proceeded into the kitchen, and took a right past the kitchen table.
After the table, and under the upwards stairway was a doorway to what looked like a broom closet.
Instead, it led to a cellar-way.
They cautiously headed downwards.

The way was lit with several dim little yellow bulbs.
The stairway curved, almost into a full spiral, and ended after only 12 steps at a dirt floor, which had a moat dug in it, and filled with nasty muddy water.

Chokecherry felt around, and pressed a loose brick on the wall to her right.
A compartment popped open next to the muddy water, and bits of what looked like kibble poured out into the water.

The water stirred to life, as if some ravenous and nasty fish were feasting on the kibble.
Then, the water calmed down, rippled for awhile, and went silent.

Then, a mechanical hum started.
Chokecherry dipped her toe in the water, and felt a surface underneath, and put her weight on it.
First the one foot, then both.

She levitated across the surface of the water, and it became clear there was a pane of thick strong glass just under the surface of the water moving her along.

She hopped off onto the solid muddy dirt floor on the other side just as the platform completed its cycle, and returned.

Jadie repeated the button trick, and rode the platform across.

Before them stood a mat for wiping the mud off their feet, and metal double doors like the fire escape of a high-school.

These too, were unlocked, and they pushed their way in.

It was like stepping through a wormhole into a whole other place.
They were now in a brightly florescent lit hallway with a perfectly polished white linoleum floor.
Ahead of them, was another set of double doors, wide open, revealing a gymnasium, again, like at a high school.
To their right, a drinking fountain surrounded by the doors to a men's room, and women's room.

They resisted the temptation to explore the gym, and continued to follow the map instructions.

They went into the women's room.

It was a standard public restroom.
Except it was clean as a whistle, possibly never used.

Towards the back, was a blue metal door with a handle grip doorknob.

They went in.

It was a locker room with a single shower.

They went into the shower, and turned the shower nozzle to the left, towards the wall.
The wall opened into another secret room, and it was like a wormhole into yet another place that didn't seem to fit.

A bedroom, about roughly 14 by 20 feet, with posters on the wall depicting a lot of the DVD films they had been sent, and images of JS's mask, and some of their exploits in comic book cover form.

They were creeped out.

They went to the bookcase, and Chokecherry pulled the copy of "Combatant", out of her purse, and handed it to JS.

Jadie found the empty slot on the bookshelf it fit in, slid it into place, and it clicked, like a switch.

The bookshelf slid inward, and away, revealing yet another out of place location.

It was big, about the size of the gym they had ignored, but the walls were lined with banks of servers, tables lined with PCs, and to the left, a row of 3-D printers.

In the right corner, by the farthest wall, sat what looked like a driving simulator arcade game.

JS gawked at some of the PC screens along the left hand side.

On one, a 3-D rotating model of a molecule surrounded by brackets trailing an arrow, next to the label "absynthe".
At the heart of the molecule, was a flickering pixel, arrrow-labeled "Higgs boson".

The next PC displayed the text "World Weather Control", and underneath, in flashing red text "access blocked".

The next PC displayed a perpetually looping flash animation of Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron sewn ass to mouth in a loop, tied to a generator, and turning the generator in some sort of infinite fart cycle.

The next PC displayed a map of Lentilville, with label-arrows all over it all saying "ass-hole".

The next PC showed an infinite looping animation of a giant fire breathing slice of pizza smashing a city.

JS shook his head in bewilderment, and stopped looking.
There were 4 more, but he'd seen enough.

Suddenly, a door opened next to the driving game, and someone stepped out.

Chokie pulled her gun, and JS readied his crossbow.

The man was tall, almost as tall as JS, skinny, looked to be about 45, wearing a lab coat, a baby-blue shirt, a yellow necktie, suspenders, green pants, brown workboots, and purple rubber gloves that came almost up to his elbows.

He had on glasses, but also a pair of goggles hanging on his forehead.
His hair was balding on top, except for a strip in the middle that had been grown into a sort of hair-horn, and the hair on the sides of his head had likewise been combed and slicked into hair horns.
Completing this spikey appearance was a 3 inch goatee sticking out of his chin.

The man crossed his arms, nonplussed by their weapons being drawn, and said "welcome, to the Den Of Seclusion! I am Dr. Logan W. Herbert!".

"So, you're 'A Fan'", JS said flatly.

"Obviously", said Dr. Herbert.

Chokie still had her gun leveled at him.
"Start talking! Why did you lure us here, you creepy psycho!?", she barked.

"Not to kill you, if that's the fear", he replied.
"Don't you see? I'm how you get to the next step! I've been waiting for people like you, and whether you know it or not, you've been hoping for someone like me".

"What next step?", Chokie said, still holding her gun up.

"Taking down the corruption in Lentilville", he said matter-of-factly.
He continued.
"If you're NOT out to defeat the heart of Lentilville's evil, then you're just going to be wasting time playing Cowboys and Indians. The two of you can't do it on your own, not if you could live to 300 years. You need a bigger and bigger team to pull it off. The two of you finding each other is a start, I'm phase three".

"How do you figure?", JS asked, still keeping his tone flat.

"Yeah!", Chokie added.

"I'm your benefactor, slash mentor, slash gadget man".

He gestured his hands outward indicating the tech in his lab with a dramatic flourish.

"All this is all for you", he said.
"The mask was the start. Made that on the first 3-D printer over there", he indicated it with a gesture of his left hand.

I sneaked into your apartment, and scanned the clay models you had, made some improvements, and whammo. Easy-peasy".
He indicated a PC with the rotating 3-D model of JS's current mask.

"You're wearing the thing, I figured you approved of my tweaking".

"Breaking in to my apartment was creepy", JS said.

"Well...your wife can attest to that drastic measures are required to get your attention".

Chokie blushed.

"Look, you kids can certainly turn down my offer, but I think you'll end up dead meat without me. At least, homeless. You've already pissed off some big people, and you'll only piss them off more if you keep up this way. With my resources, things will go a lot smoother".

"Where the hell did you get all this?", Chokie asked, starting to lower her gun, but keeping it ready.

"Made my money during the dotcom boom of the 90's. Got kicked out and bought off by my scummy partners. I shorted their stock when I saw the dotcom crash coming. I'm smart".

"How did you...", JS started to ask.

"...know your secret identities, Dusty? Like I said, I'm smart".

"Did you..", JS started to ask.

"...pull the strings to get you your job and apartment back? Yes, and no".

He gestured at one of the PCs.
A blue elongated head made of triangular segments materialized on the screen with a complicated computer animated special effect that looked like the face was unfolding from a central cylindrical column.

"Omneron here did the grunt work on that, I just asked him to".

"Hi", said Omneron.

"Um, hi", JS mumbled.

"...and, to solve the final mystery that must be confusing you, I've been the one paying to keep Elisa Jack open, so, I've kind of been signing your checks anyway".

Chokie lowered her gun, un-cocked the trigger, and put it away.

Dusty unmasked.
He didn't see the point of keeping up the charade.
Besides, the mask always got steamy and uncomfortable after awhile.

"Did you kill the judge?", he asked bluntly.

Dr. Herbert sighed, and said "I wish, but no, that was someone else, and no, I haven't figured out who yet".

"So, how would this partnership work? What do we all get out of it?".

"You? You, as mentioned get access to my resources. I can gadget you up in almost any way you need. Also, if you like, and I'd prefer it, you get to live here. There's a lot more rooms than you've seen. Plenty of space to make yourselves cozy. Me? I get you guys accomplishing my goals, and taking the big risks".

"And your goals?", Chokie asked.

"Same as yours. To bring the Lentilvillian power elite asshats down".

"And after that?", JS asked suspiciously.

"Worried I just want to take their place? I could do it right now, with my money. Nope, want no part of it. It's about settling scores for me. Kicking them out, scaring them out, buying them out, even killing them, that's not enough. I've got to kill what they stand for. YOU'VE got to kill what they stand for. Otherwise, more just like them take their place".

"Okay, we're on board", Dusty said.

"But we'll be watching you", Chokie said.

"If I try anything creepy, you'll be well within your rights to kill me", Dr. Herbert said calmly with a tiny smirk in the corner of his mouth.

Two nights later, Jadie and Chokie were out on their favorite rooftop.

Now, JS's mask was upgraded with night vision, zoom, thermograph, record, playback, and USB output.
He counted it as mask 2.5.

Chokecherry carried binoculars, dubbed her "cherry-scope", which had all the same features.
Her boots were upgraded with retractable heel knives.

Both of them had internet watches patched into Omneron for Doc to keep tabs.

Their watches both bleeped, and displayed a map location not far away from where they were.
They leaped into action.


Diacanu said...

That's right, I finally made Dr. Herbert pay off!

Here's the old episodes to refresh yourself.

Paladin said...

Dr. Herbert!!!

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