Bookshelves were built into one wall. Daniel’s room used to be his dad’s home office. Daniel had done a surprisingly good job of filling it with books, CD’s/DVD’s, and video games.
He had a lot of books about the Civil War. I flipped through a couple.
“Dad’s just about to fly back from Chicago,” he said, shutting his door as he stepped into the room.
“I’m going to have to go home just about the time he gets here,” I said.
I paused, trying to figure out a good way to accuse my best friend of secretly planting something in my brain.
“Look,” he said, “I’m sorry. I should have told you.”
“I didn’t know my own name.”
“I know. Here’s what happened… You remember the block Grandpa put into everybody’s heads? So none of us would talk about the League in front of outsiders? Well, a couple years ago I looked at yours and I realized I could improve it. Now if a telepath tries to go deeply into your head, the block shuts off access to anything he happens to touch.”
“And not just to the telepath,” I said.
“Not really,” he said, “It’s all there. You just can’t consciously think of it. That’s the beauty of it all. You just trust your instincts and you’ve got unconscious access to everything.”
“What about the martial arts training? That didn’t go away.”
“I thought you might need conscious access to that.”
I bit back a reply about how having conscious access to my name and history might also be useful. Unfortunately for my righteous anger, I understood why he’d done it. If he hadn’t, I’d be back in the mayor’s office right now spilling my guts. Worse, however irritated I might be with Daniel, if the mayor had had the chance to change things around my head who knows what he would have stuck inside?
“If you feel some urge to screw around with my brain in the future, tell me first,” I said.
“I get it,” he said. “I’m sorry.”
We stood there quietly for a moment. I wanted to move on to another topic, but still I didn’t quite want to let this one go.
“So,” Daniel said, “how do you suppose the mayor’s going to play this? Think that he’ll ignore it or call the police?”
“I have no idea.” I said. “Haven’t you been investigating him or something?”
“Sort of,” Daniel said. He sounded a little frustrated as he said it. “My dad said he was corrupt, but I haven’t found any evidence of it. I mean, there’s the thing I fed to the paper, but there’s no direct evidence that he was involved at all. The organization gave money to his campaign and he did hire a former staffer of theirs, but that’s all. If it weren’t for what happened to you and the way he was trying to get information out of Vaughn, I’d be worried I was going after the wrong guy.”
I considered asking him why he’d released the information to the paper if he wasn’t confident of it, but I never got a chance.
“I was trying to push him to do something,” Daniel said.
“Not very well,” he muttered.
I laughed, and he did too after a moment.
“Well,” I said, “if you want to check, I think FOX 50 has news at ten. I’d think that punching the mayor would make news no matter who did it.”
Daniel’s got a TV in his room. The remote floated from the dresser to his hand and he turned the TV on.
We watched the broadcast. It contained the usual litany of car accidents, the presidential campaign, an expose on a local contractor who was ripping off the elderly, sports, and finished off with a report about a water skiing squirrel.
Near the end of the program we heard shuffling footsteps in the hall.
Then each door opened one by one, swinging with enough force that the metal doorstops buzzed when the doors bounced off them.
Daniel got up quickly and stepped into the hall. I could hear the doors begin to shut—softly this time.
I got up off the floor and stepped into the hall after him. The second story hall in Daniel’s house looks down on the living room on the right. The bedrooms are all to the left.
A short, white haired man stood a few doors down the hall, leaning on the railing. He wore a dark blue bathrobe and had a confused expression on his face.
“Grandpa?” Daniel said.
“I can’t find my room. Do you know where it is?”
“You’re standing next to it,” Daniel said. “It’s the only door that’s still open.”
His grandfather took his hand off the railing, turned toward the door and looked inside.
“That’s not my room.”
I heard Daniel’s voice in my head. I hate this.
“Grandpa,” he said, “I’ll show you.”
He walked down the hall, reached his hand into the room, and turned on the light.
“Oh.” His grandfather peered in. “It looked different. Thank you. You’re both fine young men.”
He stepped into the room and then turned to face us. “Shouldn’t you be in uniform,” he asked. “There’s a war on.”
The door shut behind him.
Daniel turned to me. “Sorry,” he said.
“It wasn’t too bad,” I said. “Remember the time he thought I was my grandfather?”
Daniel nodded. “Yeah, that was worse.”
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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.