Special Delivery – Casey

Casey walked to her workstation and plopped into the seat. The smell of the air-conditioned atmosphere in the room was a vast change from the fresh beach air she spent the last weeks breathing.

She paused a few seconds as her hands fumbled with her password to login to the computer. “After being gone, I’m lucky to remember how to get to work.” She smiled at her own joke and scanned the fourteen days worth of email.

In the process of deleting several emails, Anders walked over. “Welcome back,” he said. “I bet you could use a few days to recover from your vacation.” He chuckled. “I assume  you’re going through a dumpster load of emails. Nothings changed, except the policy on upgrades.”

“Great,” Casey sighed and rolled her eyes. “What is it now, five a day? Wait, three a minute? Damn, it seems like all they care about is money.”

“They want at least two a year,” Anders smiled. “Someone dropped some major bucks on the company and now they have some money to play with.”

“Nice,” Casey nodded. “At least now I won’t feel so slimy when I upset to a wounded hero.” Casey adjusted her face and changed her voice. “You could upgrade to gold status for a mere $125 extra per month. Don’t answer now, I know you’re in pain. But think about it.”

“Yeah,” Anders said with a snort. “I never did like that. I would just say that we have a gold status and list it’s perks. It works, sometimes. Enough to keep Danforth and Charles off my back.”

Casey raised her eyebrows, “Thanks. That’s a good approach. Simple without being stupid.”

“Take it easy, you’re monitors lighting up.”

Looking at the secondary monitor, Casey saw the vitals for Kevlar, Shield, and Titanium. “Great. Kevlar. First day back and I get the king of the ass-hats.”

She continued with skimming her email, but threw an eye to the vitals of the heroes on duty.

Fifteen minutes went by and Kevlar’s stats disappeared with the message KEVLAR OFF DUTY. “Thank. You,” Casey said.

Soon after, a new name took Kevlar’s place. DAFFODIL ON MISSION flashed and vitals for the newly promoted hero showed on the screen. “I’ve only heard her name. What is there about her?”

Casey tapped on Daffodil’s icon and a basic sheet appeared. The photo had the young woman with face paint in the motif of hippies. Her costume gave the appearance of tie-dye rags held together by hemp cords. Even her shoes looked like cloth basketball shoes with paint on them.

“Hmm,” Casey read the sheet. “Enhanced speed and agility, along with strength. Not invulnerable. What is this? Enhancement and manipulation of plant life. Interesting. That explains the hippie theme.”

Casey closed the sheet down and watched the monitors. After Daffodil came on, Shield left. After thirty minutes, Daffodil signed off as well. Titanium was the only one left, and he had been on for an hour now.

“He must be doing a stakeout or something,” Casey whispered. “On for an hour and no change in vitals.”

Paladin came online. Rampart came online as well. Both stayed online with Casey monitoring their vitals for well into an hour. Paladin’s vitals fluctuated, but never put Casey on alert. Rampart’s vitals only fluttered a few times. “He must have been in a fight, but his opponent wasn’t much of a match.”

Eventually, both Rampart and Paladin logged out of the system.

“Wow,” Casey exclaimed. “Titanium’s been on for two hours without so much as a single spike. A stakeout is one thing, but I don’t think this is that. He’s not unconscious.”

The ten minute lunch warning came over Casey’s monitors. These warnings were to allow the EMT to log out or at least schedule their lunches better. Casey acknowledged the warning with a click.

As she pulled her hand back from the screen, Titanium’s vitals spiked for two beats, then flat lined.

“Shit!”

Tapping the alarm, Casey called out, “EMT Casey LeClair. High Priority retrieval for Titanium.” Dashing from her workstation, Casey ran for the launching platform and took to the air.

“EMT LeClair, this is control,” Casey’s earbud sounded. “You are cleared for maximum speed. Good luck.”

“Thank you control,” Casey said. Fitting her goggles over her eyes, Casey grit her teeth, curled both hands into fists, and flew in the desired direction. Within the next second a sonic boom echoed through the skyscrapers and other tall buildings of downtown.

Approaching the destination, Casey slowed and scanned for landmarks. She maneuvered in the direction of the partially destroyed smoke stack. Her main target, the abandoned factory sat at the foot of the stack.

Casey hovered over the dirt covered parking lot towards the double doors, then checked her wrist panel. The map indicated Titanium’s last location to be behind the doors and below the floor.

“Hmmm,” she said. “Not sure how these heroes always managed to be in holes.” Casey pushed on the door, but it didn’t budge. She took several paces back and threw her shoulder into it. Titanium’s vitals were flat lined and the sooner she got in, the better chance he had. The door flew open, toss dust into the air and letting stale air out.

Covering her mouth with an arm, Casey activated her flash light and scanned the area. She found a hole ten yards in. Shining the light in it, she saw two eyes staring back at her.

“Ahh!” Casey jumped back, gasping.

She moved forward and peered down the hole. “Hold on Titanium. I’m EMT LeClair. I’ll try to get you out of there.”

“Don’t rush on my account.”

Casey dropped the flashlight and shouted, “What the fuck?”

“Yeah, I’m stuck, not dead,” Titanium said from the bottom of the hole. “Who ever makes your sensors does a damn good job.”

“I’m an EMT, not search and rescue,” Casey said as she retrieved her light. Shining the light in the hole again, she saw the eyes were part of a masked face. “Can’t you just fly or jump out?”

“Nope,” the man said. “Titanium, remember.”

“Wait, you’re made of titanium,” Casey asked as she knelt next to the hole.

“Not exactly,” the hero said. “I’m-“

“Strong as the metal, but not as bright,” a woman’s voice said, pulling Casey’s attention. The same voice let out a low, dark chuckle.

Standing, Casey shined the light in the direction of the voice. She didn’t see anything at first. It took a second for her to spot the translucent warping several feet away.

“The hole’s too deep for me to jump out,” Titanium said.

“Look,” Casey said, her head scanning for the odd warping visual she saw earlier. “I’m an EMT and I don’t carry any drugs. Just some basic first aid equipment.”

“Titanium’s not hurt,” the woman’s silky smooth voice said. “Not yet.” The voice whispered in Casey’s ear.

Casey jerked in another direction and spun around.

“You’re strong,” Casey said towards the hole. “Climb out. Bash some hand holds or something.” Casey kept her eyes scanning.

“Unstable ground,” Titanium said. “Digging will collapse the floor, then the building. Hostages on the second floor.”

“Press against the walls,” Casey’s voice went high and sweat formed on her upper lip.

“Too far apart,” Titanium responded. “Who would have figured Il’d be trapped like this. Simple.”

“The best ones are,” the smooth female voice said, then laughed again.

Casey shifted her head in different directions. “Look, you two have some weird date ideas. I’m just gonna go.”

“My dear,” the woman’s voice said. “What makes you think I’m going to let you go?”

“Perdu,” Titanium called from the hole. “This is between you and me. Leave the EMT out of it. Let her go.”

“And let her call the Society,” the woman said. A momentary image of a very attractive woman with flowing dark hair and a dark green motif costume appeared. As fast as she appeared, she disappeared. “I don’t think so.”

Casey hugged her shoulders and let out a shiver. “I won’t tell anyone. I promise.”

The dark chuckle sounded closer to Casey. “Of course you won’t. And I’m a trustworthy citizen.” The woman laughed again.

Casey slid her real hand down to the wrist of her prosthetic. Giving it a quick jerk with a twist, the fake arm disengaged from her shoulder. Using the sound of the woman, Casey spun. Her real arm wielding her prosthetic like a club. As she crested the halfway point of her circle, Casey’s improvised club connected.

The nearly invisible woman became visible. Perdu staggered back just maintaining her feet. She flailed her arms, fending off any follow up.

Casey saw the trickle of blood from the modelesque woman’s mouth and a puffy lip forming. With her mouth open and roar escaping her throat, Casey pressed her advantage. Swinging her prosthetic, she connected with Perdu several more times.

Perdu turned away from Casey. Shuffling at first, she poured on the speed and ran for the door.

“I don’t think so.” Casey took to the air and cranked up the speed. Zooming past the fleeing woman, Casey clipped the back of Perdu’s head. The force of the blow, combined with acceleration, picked Perdu off the ground and hurled her towards the closed door.

Perdu’s limp form missed the door by a small margin and collided with the frame and wall. She slid to the floor and lay still.

Breathing heavy, Casey reached down into the hole. She held her prosthetic in her good hand, clearing the distance between the surface and the end of Titanium’s extended fingers.

“I can’t lift you. Climb,” Casey huffed.

Titanium did as he was told and climbed. Standing on the surface, he picked Casey up.

“I’m reporting you for breaking your sensor,” Casey said staring daggers at Titanium.

“I understand,” he nodded his head.

“And you’re replacing my arm,” she growled.

“Yes ma’am,” he nodded again.

“Let’s get those hostages out of here,” Casey said fastening her arm in place.

Casey arrived at the office and went directly to her workstation. Several moments passed, and she felt the presence of the messenger as he approached.

“Are you EMT LeClair,” the young man asked.

“I am,” Casey stood with her answer.

“Sign here.” The messenger handed a clipboard to the EMT.

After a quick scribble, she handed the clipboard back, and he handed the long package he held.

With practiced precision, Casey swapped out her dented arm with the new one from the package.

Her email chimed. She double clicked it.

One arm as ordered.

Dinner. Tonight. 7:30?

The Angel

Jarryd Finely sighed as he walked through his front door into his dark house. Shedding his coat and thick boots, he moved to the kitchen. The clock on the microwave changed to 11:42pm as he pulled the fridge open. Jarryd finished the niggling amount of orange juice in the bottle, then tossed it in the recycling bin.

He grabbed the dish of leftovers his mother left for him. “Mmmmm. Meatloaf and green beans.” Jarryd walked down the short hall munching on the cold food. He tossed his bag on his bed, then undressed.

Wearing a towel, Jarryd shambled to the bathroom. He brushed his teeth while he waited for the shower to get hot.

As the water poured over him, Jarryd sighed again. “There has to be more to life than just work and sleep.” He let the soap and shampoo flow down the drain.

Toweling off, he moved back to his bedroom and put on an old pair of shorts.

Jarryd read a few news stories on his laptop. The most recent, that of Ajax and Thundra saving lives of school kids, got him thinking. “That is what I want to do. Save humanity and make the world a safe place.”

He shut down his browser and stood.

A noise from the outside of his window caught his attention. Jarryd bent a blind down and peered into the darkness.

His mouth fell open, and he leaned forward. His head crashed into the blinds and window.

Floundering for the pull cord, Jarryd got the blinds up on the third pull. Next he tugged the window open and breathed in the cold night air. His breath making a white plume as he blew it out.

“Jarryd Finely of Earth,” the glittery being said. The voice sounded like haunting wind chimes. It held out arms and nodded it’s head slowly. Wings from sprouted from the back of the creature. The long cloth covering the creature extended past where feet might have dangled. “I am Brynnian and I have been sent to grant your request.”

“My request,” Jarryd asked. He stuttered as his eyes looked up. The list of things Jarryd had ever asked for flashed behind his eyes and then stopped on his most recent. “You mean save humanity and make the world safe?”

“Precisely,” the angelic figure said with a smile and sparkly eyes.

“How’m I to do that? I am just a burger flipper.” Jarryd grimaced as heat traveled up his neck and landed on his face. “I barely passed high school and only go to community college part time.”

A seraphic smile flowed onto Brynnian’s face, “That is of little consequence. All that matters is that you discharge your duty to best of your abilities.”

Jarryd arched an eyebrow and a corner of his mouth tightened.

“I guess I could do that,” Jarryd said. “but I don’t have abilities. I ride a moped. Flying is right out and I imagine I’m gonna to have to fight and lift heavy things.”

A lilt of a chuckle escaped from Brynnian. “I am here to bring you those abilities.”

Brynnian’s arm floated towards Jarryd.

Jarryd opened his eyes and mouth, but he was held in place and unable to speak.

Brynnian’s finger fluttered down over Jarryd’s forehead, eyes, nose, mouth, and chin.

A tingle darted over Jarryd’s body and he gasped. Throwing his head up his arms splayed and tightened. His entire body screamed but only little whimpers escaped his mouth.

“It is done,” Brynnian said. “You are ready.”

Gasping for his wind, and feeling the cold wind, Jarryd asked, “Ready? What abilities do I have? Where do I go? What do I do? Who-”

“You get that answer in time,” Brynnian answered with his chiming voice and another smile on his face.

“But-”

“You have been given the ability to save all humanity,” Brynnian said and flapped his wings.

“Wait!” Jarryd reached for the strange being. “What I am saving humanity from?”

Brynnian swept an arm to stop past a shoulder. Another slow nod and Brynnian vanished.

“Shit!” Jarryd dashed back to the bathroom. He wiped the remnants of the fog off the mirror. Looking at himself in the mirror he didn’t see anything different.

Just as he turned his head, Jarryd saw a black figure on his neck. It looked like a tattoo of two pointed spears crossed midway down their shafts.

“Oh, man,” Jarryd said running fingers over the mark. “I need to explain that to Mom. Hell, I need to explain it to everyone. Hell, I need to have it explained to me. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.”

The Old Guy

Vic Sawyer walked into the gym. At this early hour, there were mostly the silver hairs. He didn’t mind as he fit in with them. Just a few weeks ago, he turned 72. Vic didn’t need a cane and still stood up-right. Aside from the dark spots on his skin, it would be hard to say he was over 50.

With the confidence of a veteran hero, Vic activated the treadmill and walked in place at the set pace of four miles per hour. With his arms swinging he felt the warmth build in his body and beads of sweat appeared on his forehead. Once a few minutes passed, Vic stopped the treadmill and hit the water fountain. A few gulps later and he moved to the free weights.

Vic moved through a routine he planed out on a piece of paper. It wasn’t long, and he completed one set of each. The sweat on his face and arms rolled down freely.

Two young men entered the weight room as Vic crested the halfway point of his second set. The two youths laughed and muttered to each other. They kept the pointing and sniggering to a minimum and always under their breath.

Vic finished his second set and waited the entire minute his routine required. His damp towel held in his hand, he saw the young duo move to the weight benches. He shook his head when the placed several large metal plates on the bar. A quick calculation and the total weight crested 150 pounds.

Vic stood and wiped the sweat from his face and hands. Pointing his feet toward the over zealous kids, he stepped in their direction.

The kid on the bench breathed in and out a few times and he locked his fingers around the bar. One final breathe then he straightened his arms. Bar cleared the hooks and wobbled to the height of the extended arms.

“SHIT,” the horizontal kids squeezed out through clenched teeth. He wavered his arms back to reseat the bar, but missed the hooks. The bar forced his elbows to buckle, sending the metal to the neck of the young man.

The other kid didn’t react in time, and the bar bounced on the chest of the kid laying on the bench.

A weathered and calloused hand grasped the bar in the center. Curled fingers worked under the deadly weight. The arm pulled the entire weight in a smooth motion to the hooks and set them down without making a sound.

Vic leaned over the now gasping kid and said, “You kids need to work up to the heavy weights. Don’t strain yourself.” He winked, then moved to the beginning of his workout routine.

The kids worked their way to their feet and left the gym.

“It appears the Silver Defender is still needed.”

Vic looked at the woman standing near him. “You saw that?” The woman nodded. “Well, then I guess my identity is out in the open.”

The woman, a few years younger than Vic walked closer. She had long athletic legs and a slim figure. Her hips swayed as she reached for the muscled arm of Vic. “I’ve known who you were for a long time. I’ll keep your secret.”

A smile crossed Vic’s lips. He raised an eyebrow as he locked eyes with the woman. “Ahhh…Dreamboat. Or should I say Veronica Marshal.”

“See,” Veronica tilted her head and put on a coy smile. “I knew you would understand.”

***

And this ends Shorts – Volume 1. I have compiled some of these posts into an e-book. This is available free of charge. The advantage is all of the posts in one area and you can read them front to back. Check it out. Volume 2 is already in the works.

Special Delivery – Flash Mob

Lawrence Gustafsen scanned his monitors. After working for Special Delivery for a few months, he developed a habit of checking every few seconds instead of relying on alarms.

“A half hour before my shift is over,” Lawrence said as he glanced at the digital read out of his shift time. “Nothing crazy, please.”

His current read out had only Flash Mob on mission. Flash Mob’s status was stable and not even close to trouble. Out of reflex, Lawrence pulled up the map of Flash Mob’s current location.

“Downtown on the Northside. Close to the projects.” Lawrence’s lips moved as he mentally calculated the number of hops he would need. “Two should work.”

Lawrence shifted to move his lunch cooler to the top of the desk. Next, he checked the mini-fridge’s stock of beverages and snacks. “Need to make a run tomorrow or so.” Closing the fridge his computer monitor blinked.

Flash Mob Status Critical. Then the beeping kicked in.

“CRAP!”

Lawrence stood and moved his bulk from his workstation. A quick tap on his wrist panel and he said, “EMT Lawrence Gustafsen responding to alarm for Flash Mob.” As he entered the walkway, he disappeared.

Lawrence appeared over the Hines building. He tumbled a few feet, then disappeared again.

Reappearing on the top of the building, Lawrence lurched as his momentum carried him a step. “OK. Not close to the projects. In the projects.”

Lawrence’s wrist panel showed a general location of himself and his patient. He followed the map and moved through the door.

Taking a step on the landing, Lawrence saw a body. He moved closer and his map reflected he was on top of his patient. His wrist panel map updated, and he found a string of his patients.

“What,” Lawrence’s loud voice echoed in the switch-back stairwell.

Leaning down, Lawrence checked pulse and general condition. He saw another body on the next landing. Staring over the hand rail, he saw more bodies on the stairs, another landing, and one or two draped over the railing. Each body dressed like the ones near him.

“Uh…control,” Lawrence said, holding a finger to his earbud. “I have multiple…Uh…bodies.”

“EMT, this is control,” the rapid speech of the voice of control said. “Clarify.”

“I have,” Lawrence pointed to the bodies he could see, “25 bodies. They all show on my monitor and they are all dressed as Flash Mob.”

“Then bring them in,” the voice of control said.

“They are all showing critical status.”

“Move fast.” The sound in Lawrence’s ear went quiet.

Lawrence checked on the closest body. He saw a wound on the leg and shoulder. Moving to the next body, Lawrence saw that both arms were broken. Over the next five bodies, Lawrence noted different wounds on different body parts. After ten bodies, Lawrence noticed none of them was dead, but some were close.

“I need to get these guys to a hospital,” Lawrence said as he grabbed two arms.

Disappearing, he reappeared on the roof of the building and placed the bodies on the gravel. Going as fast as he could, he repeated this process until all 34 bodies were on the roof. Lawrence managed to lay each person so that they were touching the next person. Once all the bodies were situated, he contacted control.

“I have the bodies ready for transport. Notify Angel of Mercy. Large group in coming.” Lawrence squatted and gripped a hand.

“Understood EMT. Good luck,” the practiced voice of control went quiet.

“Here goes everything,” Lawrence breathed out and shut his eyes.

Lawrence disappeared from the dilapidated building’s roof. In rapid succession, so did each of the Flash Mob bodies.

He reappeared, several miles away and a few of the bodies appeared over him. Falling, he watched as the train of bodies appeared over him. After ten seconds, the last one appeared.

“Oh man!” Lawrence screamed as he closed his eyes again and repeated the process.

It took Lawrence nine more jumps to reach his destination. He appeared over the hospital and shouted over his earbud, “YOU’RE GONNA NEED MORE GURNEYS!”

Disappearing again, he reappeared next to several gurneys. In turn, each body appeared over a gurney. An attendant moved the bed away as fast as they could. As one was removed, another took it’s place.

Sweat beaded on Lawrence’s face. “Come on. Hurry up.”

Every one of the bodies landed on a gurney. As the last one appeared, Lawrence caught himself on a nearby orderly.

“I’m EMT,” Lawrence huffed, “Lawrence,” more huffing, “damn my name is long.”

“Hey,” the orderly smiled at him. “We got it from here. Just sign.”

Lawrence reached forward with a sweaty hand and scribbled his name.

Putting a hand to his ear, Lawrence said, “Control. Patient delivered. Call me a cab.” Lawrence plopped down on the curb to wait.