“Happy, kids? You fucked up a good payday for me. Should have gone outside the second I heard gunfire.” He started walking toward us, clenching his right hand into a fist.
“I don’t make a habit of hurting children, but you know, I’ve got to make an example.”
He grew larger, too big to fit comfortably into the semi-trailer, but it didn’t faze him. He just ripped out the roof. I’d say he was fifteen feet tall at that point.
I was about to ask Daniel to send everything I knew about him from my mind to Cassie’s, but I was too slow.
Cassie had already jumped into action. She’d closed the distance in one jump, kicking him in the stomach, but not actually hurting him. Hitting him stopped her dead in the air. She managed to fall hands first, back outstretched with feet above, hitting the floor with her hands, using the momentum to flip herself to her feet.
He leaned forward to punch her but never had a chance. She jumped up, landing on his shoulders, using his own arm for an assist. Then she started pounding him in the head, the ears, and the face… all while dodging his attempts to grab her
Well, at least for a little while.
Just at the moment I’d revved up the rockets and decided to shoot myself into his solar plexus, he grabbed her leg and threw her out of the trailer and into the building. I heard a thump as she hit and began to fall toward the loading dock behind us.
I received an image of Cassie falling and felt that Daniel was trying to catch her telekinetically. Realizing that I was the only thing stopping The Grey Giant from attacking Daniel, I launched myself toward the giant’s midsection.
And immediately experienced pain as a fist the size of my head connected with my chest.
Tumbling through the air, I flew across the street, struggling to gain control of where I was going, but only succeeding in hitting the brick wall of another warehouse.
That also hurt.
Hitting the ground felt pleasant by comparison.
Lying half-conscious next to the factory it occurred to me that this was what life as a baseball must be like.
When my head cleared, I found myself sprawled on the thin line of grass between the sidewalk and the road. I groaned. My ribs hurt from the punch.
In the twilight, I could make out The Grey Giant next to the ruin of the semi’s trailer. He seemed to be studying the roof. I guessed that Daniel might have moved Cassie up there after I’d been taken out.
Right in one, Daniel said.
Was Cassie OK?
Well, she lost a tooth, but it looks like it’s already beginning to come back a little.
“Is there any way to make this a three-way call?” I thought at him.
Daniel: Yeah. Why didn’t I think of that?
Cassie: Oh, great. Now I can’t ignore you at all.
I felt pain in the background as she thought.
Me: I’m calling 911. This guy is out of our league. I’m pretty sure they can get a hold of Daniel’s dad.
Daniel: They can.
Cassie: Let him take care of it then.
Me: Cassie. Are you okay?
Cassie: I’m fucking fine.
Her pain pulsed.
Cassie: You know what they don’t tell you? They don’t tell you that regenerating hurts almost as much as the original wound… and lasts longer.
The Grey Giant pulled a large black object out of the trailer, leaned back and threw it into the air.
It flew over the side of the factory.
Daniel didn’t close the link and I so experienced two simultaneous views of a large screen TV tumbling through the air, bouncing once and shattering. Daniel concentrated, and the pieces shifted to the left, landing just two feet to the side.
For a moment I sensed a double share of relief and then the vision faded, leaving me solely in mental contact.
Cassie: Tell me about it.
Daniel: I know we can’t take him down, but we can’t just sit here and see if he comes up with something better.
Me: I’ll call the cops.
The suit has a radio transmitter that contacts HQ, which in turn has a device that plugs it in into the phone network. I think of it as futuristic 1960’s technology. One of these days I need to put in a cell phone.
It has its uses, though. For one thing, the number is a known quantity. When the person on the other end of the line picked up, I could feel sure that their screen showed “Grand Lake Hero League.” In theory, this should have gotten me instant respect.
“Hello?” I said.
The woman on the other end said nothing for a moment, but then managed, “Um…”
I suppose this is an understandable response to being called by a defunct super organization.
“This is the Rocket,” I said, “and I need some backup here. Call the Rhino and Mindstryke if you can get them. If you can’t, get one of the teams in Chicago. We’re facing The Grey Giant at 130 Elm. It’s an old factory. Syndicate L is involved somehow. Do you need anything else?”
The pause from the other end was lengthy. Then, “Aren’t you retired? I mean, are you real?”
“How real do I have to be? The key point is that The Grey Giant is out of my league. Seriously. I’m not the original Rocket.” I said. Then I hung up.
Me: Well, that was useless.
Daniel: I can call my dad on my cell phone, but there’s no guarantee that he’ll be able to get Larry.
Me: Well, then what do we do?
Daniel: I don’t know. I’m having a hard time getting into The Grey Giant’s head--so mental attacks don’t do much. All I’ve got at this point is flinging blasts of telekinetic force at him.
I looked over at The Grey Giant. He’d doubled in size, bringing himself just ten feet short of the roof of the factory.
Me: I’d get off the roof if I were you.
Daniel: Meet us on the roof of the factory you’re in front of?
Me: You got it.
I got up and ran around the corner, waiting until I got to the opposite side to open up and shoot myself to the roof. When I got there, I found Cassie and Daniel landing on the far end.
Simultaneously, I could hear loud booming and crashing noises. Being on the opposite end of the roof blocked my view of most of the warehouse, but I could see the middle of its wall collapse.
We met in the middle of the factory’s roof.
“Dad’s not answering his cell phone,” Daniel said.
“So it’s totally up to us,” Cassie said, glancing across the street as the left corner of the warehouse shattered and fell in. Was I right in thinking I heard her mood lift as she said it?
“And what are we supposed to do to him?” I asked. “Worse, what do we do with him if we actually catch him?”
“I think,” Daniel said, ”that there are victory conditions that don’t necessarily mean winning. If we manage to get him out of town without having him hurt much of anything, I’d count that as a win.”
I said, “I’d count it as a win too if I had the slightest idea of how to do it.”
“Cut the crap,” Cassie said, sounding more confident as she went on, “We’ve got something he wants. He wants to hurt us to make an example, but—.“
“We’re faster than he is,” Daniel said, having undoubtedly pulled it straight out of her head.
“Right,” Cassie said, sounding annoyed. “Here’s what we do: we lead him to the lake and then down the coast. Then we ditch him when we get far enough from town.”
“I can’t think of anything better,” I said, wondering where he was now. It had been a little while since the most recent section of wall had fallen in.
“Then let’s go get him,” Cassie said.
“If we can find him,” I muttered.
The building creaked and I saw a large gray hand appear on the side of the roof that faced the now demolished warehouse.
Daniel said, “I hope this building’s insurance covers rampaging giants.”
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Bio: Jim Zoetewey grew up in Holland, Michigan, near where L Frank Baum wrote The Wizard of Oz and other books in that series. Admittedly, Baum moved away more than sixty years before Jim was even born, but it's still kind of cool. Jim didn't attain his goal of never leaving school, but did prolong his stay as long as possible. He majored in religion and sociology at Hope College, gaining enough credits to obtain minors in ancient civilizations and creative writing—had he thought to submit applications to the relevant departments. He attended Western Theological Seminary for two years. He followed that up by getting a masters degree in sociology at Western Michigan University. Once out of school, he took up the most logical occupation for someone with his educational background: web developer and technical support. Simultaneously, he finished all but three credits of a masters in Information Systems, a degree that's actually relevant to his field. He's still not done. In the meantime, he's been writing stories about superheroes and posting them online at http://legionofnothing.com. He's still not sure whether that was a good idea, but continues to do it anyway. He's also not sure why he's writing this in the third person, but he's never seen an author bio written in first person and doesn't want to rock the boat.