Isaac flicked toward Vaughn as he said, “It depends on the drink. Each one does something different. It could be anything from throwing lightning to becoming strong. Some don’t do anything. They just test which recipes will work on a person.”
“That’s wild,” I said. “It sounds a lot like Red Lightning. He gave stuff like that to his henchmen after he decided to turn on the League.”
“Are they exactly like Red Lightning’s?” Vaughn pushed his hair out of his face and stood there looking uncomfortable.
“I don’t know,” Isaac said. “We don’t have Red Lightning’s recipes to compare them to. All we’ve got are old samples of his work. Do you have something more?”
Even I could hear the interest in his voice.
“No,” Vaughn said. “I used to, but I gave it away. You haven’t seen it with the other books? An old brown journal in my grandfather’s handwriting?”
“Nothing like that,” Isaac said. “Everything we got out of there is in a dead language.”
“Huh,” Vaughn muttered.
“Well, that’s what I’ve got,” Isaac said, “I’ll let you know more when I get it. Email me if you’ve got questions.”
I saw his hand move to cut off the call.
“Wait,” I said, “I’ve got one more thing I should mention. I… punched the mayor in the head yesterday.”
He said, “Was it in costume or out?”
I told him the whole story. Isaac took notes. Vaughn just said, “Whoa.”
“Nick,” Isaac said. “The time to tell me this was yesterday. If he starts pushing this we’ve got no plan for damage control.”
“Yet,” Isaac said. “He’s going to. It’s just a question of when.”
“Daniel’s dad has a plan.”
“Mindstryke? OK. What is it?”
“I don’t know.”
Isaac sighed. “Nick, I’ll get back to you later. I’ve got to call some people.”
He cut off the connection.
Above us, the television screen on the wall went black. It felt like the whole room turned dark. As my eyes adjusted, Vaughn said, “Think he’s pissed?”
“I don’t know.” I stood up. “I think I’m going to go home.”
“No problem. Get some sleep or something. I’ll shut things down on my way out. Or you know, you could stay and watch my interview—shit, it’s on now.”
He put Fox 50 on the big screen and I heard the announcer say, “Our lead story tonight is ‘The New Heroes League: Too Young?’”
The very tanned and fit reporter continued, “A little more than a month ago, the New Heroes League appeared, seemingly from nowhere, but reviving names and identities that were household names in the 1950’s.
“But the original Heroes League were first of all soldiers who had been tested in the battlefields of World War Two. The current members of the League don’t appear to be any older than twenty. Do they have the judgment necessary to defend a city? Let’s go to City Hall where...”
The picture showed the mayor and a reporter standing in the mayor’s office. Wind blew through the windows behind the desk. I’d shattered them with the sonics after knocking the mayor unconscious.
Then, it had seemed like the quickest way to leave. Now it seemed like a really dumb idea.
I started paying attention again midway through Mayor Bouman’s reply to the reporter.
“… we were talking about the scandal when he punched me. I don’t know anything after that.”
The camera moved in for a close-up of the mayor’s face as he talked. They definitely hadn’t covered his black eye with make-up for the broadcast. It looked bad.
With the segue, “And we all remember this from just a few weeks ago,” they went into footage from the car chase—including the moment where we hit the stoplight. Had one of the police cars been filming? I didn’t remember seeing cameras at the time.
Following that, they showed a small interview with Vaughn as the “Storm King,” ending Vaughn’s clip with him saying, “I know how much drugs can hurt a guy personally. That’s why I go after them so hard.”
Next to me, Vaughn said, “Well that’s not the worst thing. I was getting worried that they’d show—oh no… ”
The screen showed Vaughn in the parking lot at the station answering a question. “You know,” he said, “weather powers. Rain, fog, lightning… You want to see? Sure. And what’s really cool is I’ve got a lot more control than I used to. Watch this…”
He pointed his hand at the station’s mailbox. Electricity arced across the gap, blasting the metal box off camera and turning the wooden post into blackened shards of splintered wood.
The camera turned toward Vaughn. “Oh man, I meant to stop just short of the mailbox. Sorry guys.”
Back inside the studio, they showed the stage where they do interviews. In one chair sat the reporter. In the other sat my dad wearing the dark blue suit he always wore on television.
“To add some perspective, we’ve asked noted child psychologist Dr. John Klein to comment on what we’ve seen.
“Dr. Klein,” the reporter said, giving his voice a serious tone, “do you think teenagers are ready for this kind of responsibility?”
Dad said, “To be a vigilante? I don’t think anybody’s ready for that.”
“But Dr. Klein, what about teenagers in particular?”
“I’d say it can be a corrosive force in your life whether you’re a child or an adult,” he began.
I overrode Vaughn’s control of the screen and shut off the broadcast.
Now the wall TV showed my desktop wallpaper—a picture of a spaceship called Serenity.
“But that was your dad,” Vaughn said.
“I can listen to him at home,” I started to walk toward the elevator. Even before the door of the elevator opened, all four phone lines began to ring.
Vaughn stared at the phones, “Aren’t you going to help?”
“I can’t deal with this,” I said.
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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.