Daniel turned around and checked his cell phone. “You’re on time. Hi Travis.”
Travis held the metal door open, waiting for a moment as his sister Haley stepped through. He closed it as casually as I do when I’m wearing the suit. Travis stood about six foot eight and had the musculature of a body builder.
Haley was a foot and a half shorter.
Both of them wore dark gray costumes modeled on their grandfather’s and had the same black hair.
It amused me. Night Wolf’s whole shtick was being a nocturnal predator. He would step out of the darkness and lay them on the ground before anyone knew he was there.
I found it hard to imagine darkness big enough for Travis to hide in. By contrast, Haley could definitely hide, but being barely over five feet tall, how hard she could hit?
As Travis started to talk to Daniel and Cassie stepped over to Haley , I remarked to Jaclyn, “We’ve only got Marcus and Vaughn to go. And Marcus is in the tunnels.”
“Where’s Vaughn?” Jaclyn said.
“I’ve no idea. He hasn’t been in school since Tuesday so that’s two… no, three days. He was looking really tired after the uh… incident. So he’s probably at home.”
I’d called his house (his parents still haven’t given him back his cell phone), but only got his mom. She’d told me he was sleeping, and, she may have been telling the truth. Cassie had said she’d try to talk to him in person, but she’d never told me if she had.
“Well,” Jaclyn said, “I’m not running this, but if I were, I’d say let’s start the second Marcus steps inside. Like how about now?”
“Is Marcus here already?” I checked the monitor. The tunnels were empty.
“Behind you,” Marcus said.
Marcus is the son of one of Jaclyn’s aunts and one of Travis and Haley’s uncles—which makes him the grandson of both C/Hotfoot and Night Wolf.
I turned around.
Marcus is about my height, has curly hair, light brown skin and wore black sweats.
“I know Daniel said we should come in costume, but I don’t have a costume. So I came in this…” He waved his hand toward his body.
“Fine with me,” I said.
Daniel was the one who’d thought costumes were a good idea. “People need to see things,” he’d said. “If we get them into costume, putting together a team will be easier to imagine.”
All I cared about was that people came through the secret entrances so they wouldn’t be seen. We’d discussed it Tuesday night in a seemingly endless three way instant messaging session. Getting together tonight was step one of the plan.
While Marcus and Jaclyn talked, I leaned over and tapped Cassie on the shoulder. “Did you ever talk to Vaughn?”
“A little,” Cassie said, stepping away from Haley, Travis and Daniel. “It went wrong. All wrong.”
“You know how Vaughn’s parents have decided to protect him from ever doing anything wrong again and took away his cell phone and his bank account and his car?”
Cassie sat down on the command console next to the monitor I’d been sitting in front of.
“I called Vaughn’s house and got his mom on Tuesday night—you know, just to see if he was available tonight and his mom answered. I left a message to call me, but he didn’t. So I called back on Thursday and his mom answered again. Only this time she told me I was a bad influence and not to call back. Then she hung up on me. Seriously, what the hell is going on with that?”
Cassie rolled her eyes and then grinned at me. Everyone else had stopped talking.
“I’m standing there with my phone in my hand and I’m pissed. I did drop him off after a party once last year, but it’s not like I made him get drunk. I took away his keys that night. And anyway, all I wanted was for him to answer one very simple question. So, screw it, I decided, I’m breaking into Fortress Mom.”
“Uh… wow,” I said.
“I grabbed one of Dad’s old utility belts and drove over. I jumped over the fence and then went to the side of the house where Vaughn’s room is—except his room is on the second story. So I threw up the grappling hook and it caught. After that it was easy. I just crawled up the side of the house.”
I glanced over at Daniel. He had an extremely blank facial expression.
Cassie continued, “I knocked on Vaughn’s window and you should have seen the look on his face. He opened it and I’m hanging there on a rope. I started to tell him about the meeting while I was stepping inside, but we didn’t get very far. His mom opened the bedroom door and started shouting at me. I jumped out the window, yanked the grappling hook until I dislodged it and ran back to the car.”
“I may have missed it,” I said, “but is Vaughn coming or not?”
“I told him about the meeting,” Cassie said, “but your guess is as good as mine.”
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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.