Part IV – Firearm Safety is Overrated

I stood there with a gun in my hand and felt delightfully confused. You would think by now I would be an old hand at hostage situations, but this served as a new angle on an old story. Was I really being put in a position to rob this place?

The idea sounded funny. I wonder what would happen if I waved the gun instead of following my normal routine. Normally events went like this. I walk into a convenience store, or anywhere, really. God up above rolls a dice and one of four events happen.

Most of the time, some greater force such as heroes, villains, or mole people flatly destroyed the store. I usually try to calmly pay for my food then eat before anyone notices. My wonderful, awesome, best of the best powers don’t guarantee food at regular intervals. The human body can survive without real meals for a long time, I should know.

Occasionally nothing happened inside the store. If the building sat in one piece still I tried to shove food into my face, find a payphone, then check in with the lawyer. Letting her know where on earth I ended up this week helped us both. Upon stepping outside God above rolled his dice again.

On the rare occasion I actually made it back to a bed and television. I once spent six hours in an electronics store watching children’s movies and no one bothered me. That moment rated high on my list of best days.

“Just go away!” the man behind the counter shouted at me.

“Okay,” I said trying to figure out what terrible action might happen next.

Nothing happened for ten seconds. Well, people breathed and I rubbed the side of my face with a free hand. People screamed as I waved the weapon around. The gun itself had one of those stupid red cores in it and I reached to pull it out.

“Stop right there!” A high pitched voice shouted about half a second before I was tackled.

My arm jerked at an odd angle and once again I wished for better power. Something with karate master like reflexes mixed with teleportation or super speed. Then I could be the fastest snide bastard ever. These sarcastic quips would know no limits and people everywhere would fear me.

I turned my neck a bit and looked up at the man now pinning me down. He glanced around rapidly. His face buzzed with intensity that only super speed users could manage. Not super twitchy like the mile a second speedsters, but definitely heightened.

“Don’t worry everyone,” he said. “Hero Today Security has responded to a silent alarm. I’m UltraSpeed, and it’s my duty to care of this criminal.”

My eyebrows lowered and lips went flat. “Really? Who are you saving now?”

“Shut up, you’re under arrest for attempted robbery.”

“Brilliant,” I said as the man bent both arms behind me. “Arresting me sounds like a great idea. Nothing could possibly go wrong.”

The man fished out a small pair of cuffs. I recognized the style from far too many prior collisions with heroes and villains alike. They were designed to be power dampers. A pair of these bad boys worked on half the known origin types and could successfully reduce output levels by seventy five percent.

I chuckled. What else could I do? Punching powered people often resulted in me flopping on my face. They were trained, or faster, or whatever it was heroes did. Some were just born ninjas and my personal best amounted to kicking Super G-Dog in his nuts.

“Laugh it up.” The man pinning me down grabbed a chunk of hair and pulled my head back. “You’re going to prison, and if you’re lucky maybe the judge will hear your case in the morning.”

This ally of justice, or possibly private security, sounded pretentious. It might have been his name or the blind assumption that I was in the wrong here for simply existing. Or perhaps the fact that he was wearing spandex in all the wrong places. The man needed a codpiece or something slightly less disturbing. I figured a cup or pink furry thong might actually improve his costume. At the very least it would tone down the abusive blue and yellow stripes.

“Do you even have a clue what happened here?” I asked. Normally people wouldn’t be calm in this situation, but why should I be upset? Pain wasn’t fun in the least, but by using those stupid cuffs on me he had pretty much guaranteed escalation.

Ten out of ten experiences with these handcuffs had gone wrong rapidly. I started counting down the seconds in my head.

He didn’t say anything in response. I sighed and could almost guess what had happened. Even now the image of Ted searching window fronts started to really register. He had probably been searching for a place covered by hero security firms. They operated like mundane home security only a powered person rushed to the rescue when an alarm triggered. Every major city had one or two of these groups for B rate failures who wanted to get paid but couldn’t exist on a bigger scale.

Honestly, if it weren’t for his dick attitude, I might have clapped for the guy. At least he didn’t try to do the villain thing. People who got shadow powers and assumed they needed to be a vigilant or rob banks were kind of stupid.

“Let me guess, an alarm tripped, you came prancing through, saw the man with a gun and used your well-honed mental prowess and came up with the idea of, ‘he must be a criminal’.” I hadn’t slept since being kidnapped and my inner sarcastic asshole was showing.

Heroes bugged me. As a group they tended to assume everyone else was stupid, foolish, or evil. I didn’t consider myself any of those.

“Can you just let me go?” I said calmly.

UltraSpeed twisted my arms and I gasped in pain. My eyes rolled briefly. The man’s body turned slightly while he spoke, “T, L, can you drop a doorway here? Got a prisoner that needs to go to Portland’s lockup.”

“Lockup is exactly where I expected you take me, you fool!” I said. If the man was going to treat me like a villain, then I could utter some great lines. The enthusiasm and evil laughter was missing which muted the effect. My arm couldn’t even shake in a proper rue to the day gesture.

I hadn’t really slept recently. Drug induced naps and unconsciousness by oxygen deprivation were a poor substitute. My body felt sore in places it shouldn’t. Mirth at Tina’s icicle escapades along with hope from Ted’s website newscaster interview only carried a body so far.

The hero lifted me up while grunting. My body flopped forward like a child refusing to be carried. I could knee the guy but that rarely worked in this type of situation. Speedsters especially were quick to get upset. I consoled myself with the belief that Speedsters were quick everywhere.

A pair of scissors spun in the air nearby. They circled until both sharp ends faced downward, then sliced away like they were cutting apart seems. The space between bags of air and ice cold beers tore open to reveal a dull looking space with soft yellow light.

“Someone will be in touch with you in the next hour for a full report and to fill out your claims paperwork. “ UltraSpeed spouted off a wall of memorized nonsense to the shop owner then pushed me through the doorway.

The moment startled me out of the near nap I had been craving. I limped to one side towards the energy drinks and knocked the pile over. UltraSpeed lifted me out of the collapsed display stand while I wildly kicked some of the cans towards the doorway.

“Hey! We’re adding resisting arrest and theft to the crimes! You got that T.L?”

“Okay,” I said while giving another kick.

The store walls as we stepped into another room. My stomach threatened to heavy slightly. A sour taste of lime filled my mouth while other horrible memories threatened to surface. Instead of actual barf, all that happened was a loud fart, and it wasn’t me.

“Don’t clench your gut before the teleport,” I offered helpfully.

UltraSpeed didn’t respond. My attempt at providing advice fell on deaf ears. I coughed lightly as he pushed me forward a few more feet into the room’s center.

We were in a sort of round room with a walkway suspended through it. A large icon bulkhead sat on the far side. There were scorch marks lining one wall that hadn’t been fully scrubbed away. A thick glass window sat on our left with a man facing us but looking down at computer screens. He was frowning.

“Oh, blueberry, my favorite.” I stared the energy drink that made it through to our pit stop. My foot had been aiming for the strawberry, I was sure of it. Strawberry was the red one, right?

“Shut up and stand still,” the hero said.

Green light played down from the ceiling and scanned over me. Two bars carried the bright object across then down one side. A whirring noise went with it like a copying machine scanner.

“I am an invader from Zigon Seventeen. I have come for your,” my words were cut off by a punch from UltraSpeed. His fist connected with my side and my knees lost their strength.

In case anyone out there misunderstood, I hated my life on every day ending in y. All of them. Three hundred and sixty five days a year. Next week I would probably be hiding out in the bush of Africa trying to avoid a tribal war between blue and purple pigmy people. Hopefully they would be purple this time anyway, and slightly better looking.

A microphone clicked on. “What the shit, really?” The man on the glass window’s other side actually full on face palmed. I started chuckling to myself.

“What’s wrong T.L?” UltraSpeed asked. His voice wavered a little while I groaned in pain.

“What the hell.” The man was banging on his thick glass and flipping off the Speedster. “Really UltraSpeed, you brought Adam through? Didn’t you get the damn memo?”

“What memo?”

My feet were almost working correctly. I tried to stand up by the cuffs restricted my movement. Neither limb worked correctly. UltraSpeed showed no signs of lending me a hand to get vertical. If the gun had still been in my possession, I would have shut the bastard in his foot and watched him dance.

“Adam’s been classified as a No Go Twelve. No prison time! No bringing him in! You run into him, you fucking let him flop around!” The guard was screaming loudly enough to be heard without the intercom.

My eyes rolled and mouth tried to form words. Teleporting sucked, being punched the gut hurt, and was just too tired to give this man the kick in the balls he deserved. It didn’t matter. We were only a few seconds away, on average, from some sort of hellish situation breaking loose.

“What’s he saying?” the guard questioned.

I cleared my throat then very calmly stated, “This brilliant gentleman, a real paragon of humanity, put power suppression cuffs on me.”

“What the shit!” The man went nuclear and I didn’t even feel upset. Laughing hurt too. “Get him out of here!”

“Why the hell would we do that? The guy was robbing a store.”

“So stop him, and drop him off in a desert or something next time!”

I laughed harder and kept sucking painful breathes of air.

“Since when did we start letting criminals wander around?” UltraDerp wasn’t getting it at all. I mean, any other sane person would understand, right? Don’t hold the guy who’s super powers attract calamities. My parents understood it enough to move out of state and leave me behind after things started to go south. It wasn’t exactly like I had come out of nowhere.

I mean, half the damn world had to know about me by now.

“Keeping him here will probably end up in another jailbreak like in Mexico! Christ you mouth breathing goat fucker, take, him, out!” The other guy, my favorite person in the last week, kept cursing out a stupid hero. I liked him almost as much as I liked the Ice Princess.

“Great,” UltraSpeed said. “Then what?”

The lights in this prison, dimension I think, flickered.

“What the shit!” The other man face palmed again. “Go, quickly, quarantine’s alarm has been tripped!”

“What about this guy?” UltraSpeed started to ask but the door between our portal holding cell and the observation room bust open.

“He goes back out! And you go report! Faster!” The guard yelled. UltraSpeed ran through the door in quick zips of movement. The portal operated came in then started pushing me back into the reopened doorway behind me. “Next fucking time don’t sleep during your meetings!”

I was shoved out of the room into the small convenience store, once again between the bags of chips and knocked over display. The guard’s eyes went wide as he started running back into his booth. A shockwave came from the portals as some random villain hit the teleportation station.

The doorway blipped off like one of those old time televisions going out. The kind that supers used to break into alternate realities. Maybe that was just Senior WayBack. He was a goofy villain who loved turning downtown areas of rural cities into sitcom black and white television reruns. I loved being trapped in his worlds, except the whole lack of cable. The idealistic lifestyle lasted at least three days before something bad happened and I usually napped.

I turned to see a dumbfounded man with a phone cradled between his ear and shoulder. He was busy sweeping up the floor to remove broken glass. Liquid had spilled everywhere. A broken bag of chips littered the floor about his feet.

He however, was staring at me with a wide open mouth that could catch tiny alien invaders better than any dog. “What? What? Go away! I pay good money to keep you away!” The store owner backed up rapidly while brandishing his broom at me. His phone clattered to the ground.

“Okay,” I said calmly. My hand went for a strawberry drink. The top popped open with a hiss and I downed it quickly. I ignored the clerk and went about my normal shopping, as if this place wasn’t a wreck and I hadn’t been standing here with a gun a few minutes ago. Easy, right?

It involves hysterical people and moving quickly. There were only a few isles and I had a lot of practice at going through places like this. I grabbed my collection then let myself behind the counter to check for extra products. Sometimes these stores sold other items but didn’t openly mention them.

The collection of goodies amounted to a bag, band aids, two more drinks, twos bags of chips, crackers, and three ice creams, a butterfly knife and lighter. God, would you believe the guy had weed behind the counter too? Rolled and everything. Of course I took some. If I was lucky I might get through half of it before some fight broke out.

Smaller drugs were easy enough to handle. I had once tried heavier stuff but that turned really bad, really quickly. A combination of heavy drugs, a witch doctor’s curse, and climbing the Golden Gate Bridge actually caused a sea monster of epic proportions to come out of the water like it was answering my feverish babble. That was my twenty first birthday. I didn’t plan on doing that anymore, unless I had voluntary sex and needed a needed to hold up a clear sign for the rest of the world. Maybe climbing under the same influences the Space Needle would call down an alien mother ship.

I set everything on the counter, put my hand on the counter, then I calmly reached down my pants and started rooting around in my underwear.

“What is with you people? Get out! I’m calling the police!” He kept shouting at me and I resisted the urge to punch him.

Even the freshly downed energy drink couldn’t help me put up with the stupidity of that statement. The poor guy had no clue who or what he was dealing with. Neither did I, but I learned to roll with the punches, and store emergence funds.

Out came a small baggy. Inside was a roll of twenties that I used for situations just like this one. I calmly counted out my items, then put down sixty on the counter. If nothing else he might forget my part in this.

You might ask, what kind of sane man keeps money in his underwear? It certainly isn’t to impress the ladies. Interdimensional hotties rarely found unpowered guys like me sexy. Those that did were not my type, with orifices in places that shouldn’t exist.

For some reason, putting money down confused the hell out of him. He stopped yelling and walked over the till. The chime of a cash register popping open was drowned out by me slamming the door open.

There were police sirens in the distance. People stood outside snapping pictures. More than a few ended up with my face I’m sure. My lawyer hadn’t figured out how to charge money for them yet, I hoped she might come through on that front. Maybe then I could finish paying off a few lawsuits.

I ignored them and walked three blocks to a payphone then started dialing. After two rings the other line picked up.

“It’s Adam,” I said.

“Of course it’s Adam, no one else knows this number but Adam and my mother. She doesn’t call me anymore when I’m busy.” The woman on the other end sounded young, but it was a lie of genetics. “I almost gave it to a man named Jay, but he sounded like too much additional work.”

“Oh,” I responded tiredly. Strawberry energy drink had failed to do its job. This bag of chips was filled with ninety percent air and wrapping around the crackers proved durable beyond belief. I struggled anyway to get real food into me. Being dragged through a teleportation portal twice left me thirsty and hungry.

“He was an asshole anyway,” Jade said. I could actually hear her hand waving through the air in dismissal. “Anyway, you tell me what’s going on, so I can go back to my work.”

My lawyer calling other people assholes made me laugh. Jade was kind of a rude bitch herself. She also served as a low level psychic, with the ability to read other peoples surface thoughts. The ability was one person at a time, and almost always tied to the person she talked to. Unfortunately she also projected them to people that she interacted with a lot, which is how I knew the woman didn’t really have work to get back to.

If the projected image was to be trusted, Jade was on a beach with three different people that she intended to take back to a room later. Why did I get that much information? Because Jade was thinking about it really loudly, and she was kind of a bitch.

“Hey now,” she muttered, clearly distracted.

“Did the last check go through?” I asked her. Every month a deposit was made into an account for my family. It was small reparation for what had happened to my younger sister.

“It was cashed, but the accounts still untouched. Same as it has been.”

“Okay,” I said while trying hard not to think about the situation. Jade knew exactly how this topic made me feel. “Then I need to report two incidents, and a job offer. I’m sure your work can wait until we finish our enthralling conversation.”

“Ah, shit.” Her position planning stopped playing across my mind and was instead replaced by internal screaming. I didn’t apologize. “Okay, you know the drill. Approximate location before and after, times, and damages you’re aware of.”

This was the part of our conversation I dreaded. For twenty minutes I started recounting everything from the hotel room abduction, to Telegraphs failure to predict what would happen, onward to new super hero kids, being set up as a robber, and now whatever horrible jail break was happening at, whatever place they had shoved me.

I barely cared. Maybe in the morning when things looked better I could find time to regret how the day had gone. No lives had been lost in my presence, but that issue with the jail break might go south. I almost felt guilty but technically they abducted me.

“So you actually paid the store owner?” she asked as I caught up to the most recent events.

“Yeah, I paid him. Sixty dollars for the usual. Food, bandages, a travel bag, and a joint.” The words were out before I could fully stop myself. My admission of doing drugs didn’t faze her in the slightest. Thankfully she didn’t know about the weapon, those were illegal for me to own.

“I’ll pretend I didn’t understand that last bit and get the office working on your legal procedures.” A wave of delighted amusement washed over our line. Apparently Jade was getting a show and she couldn’t help but project it. I almost envied her but tried hard not to think about it. “Tell me about the job offer.”

“Can you make them stop?”

“Not at all,” her smile infected the phone line. Dammit, she was winning.

If I didn’t need a lawyer then I would have hung up. The woman had dampers on her law office lines which prevented this sort of messed up voyeuristic psychic projections from happening at the firm. Her private phone number, the one she made me call, went directly to a person cell that wasn’t filtered in the slightest.

Instead I tried to imagine happily let a bit of my own personality shine through. I replayed that brief moment of relief over and over in my head regarding the falling rock that had almost taken my life. If she wanted to fuck with me, then I would happily play some of the bad moments. Not my worst ones, I wanted Jade to keep working for me, she was good at her job.

“Chill! Lord boy, you know how to ruin a good time.”

I stared flatly at a wall and wondered when I had ever actually been part of a good time. Maybe the lust dimension had come close, except for how brief my stay was. Just long enough to hope for a better future before the realm had collapsed under the psychic power of an entire race.

“Maybe you should hit that joint when you’re done.”

“That’s sound legal advice,” I said dryly. “Anyway, this guy, he wants to offer me a job.”

Her thoughts tilted sideways for a moment and I felt the confusion come across. I banged my head slowly against the phonebooks side in hopes that she could pick up the self-inflicted pain. Chances are it would work against me. Most people with mind powers were kind of screwed up. They often went to extremes when it came to human emotion. Honestly I wasn’t sure how Jade even managed to get through law school.

“A lot of hard work at the right tables,” she answered my unspoken question. “Anyway, the job, it’s not like, I met this super villain who wants to use me a cannon fodder, right?” Jade asked.

“No. It’s a reporting job. I think it’s a reporting job.”

“Really? That’s-“ she paused then shook her head. Other images had almost filtered through before halting again. Thank fucking god she started to control herself. “It’ll be a nightmare either way.”

Thinking of the man seemed to call him from whatever hidden dimension he had been tucked into since the robbery. He stood on the other side of the street. His arm was busy waving at me from the side of an ugly white van. I didn’t even have the energy to sigh, or get upset. What did one more messed up situation in the long line of them matter?

“Come on!” Ted hissed loudly.

I waved at Ted and pointed to the payphone at my ear.

“Is he there?” Jade’s voice sounded amused. She might have found the show still being projected by her powers across our line amusing, or my lack of emotion while staring at Ted. “Put him on. I need to get his groups information and make sure they’re above board.”

I held the phone out while trying not to frown. If Jade liked to screw with me, there was no telling what would happen if Ted got on the line. Actually, scratch that, I didn’t want to know at all.

The other man walked over as if nothing else in the world bothered him. How anyone could pretend to be so nonchalant after robbing a store was beyond me. I didn’t even have time to see where his dirt made gun actually eneded up, but the man had probably already collected it. Maybe he had a cleaning crew custom on that dial under his arm.

“What’s that?” Ted asked while walking over. His hand pointed at the payphone booth.

“An alien communication device, it’s currently dialed to Mars,” I said dryly. My sarcasm had turned a bit snider as exhaustion wore on. Having a blade in my pocket helped me feel a bit more in control, not that it would stay in my possession for long. Being kidnapped constantly had a way of making personal possessions a transit concept.

“Really?” He asked with a look of delight.

“Yes, go ahead and talk to them. They’ve got legal paperwork to sort out.” That made him pause. Finally he caught on to my sarcasm.

“Ah, yes, your razor wit.” His accent switched to a professional sounding businessman. “Who is it really?”

“My lawyer. If you really want to try and employee me, you’ll want to clear it with her.”

His eyebrows went up. Ted was probably trying to figure out if I had been joking about that or not. You couldn’t really blame the guy, he probably didn’t talk to lawyers that often. Or maybe he did. I had no clue what reporters who were part time super villains actually did aside from try to frame people.

I sat down, pulled out the lighter and reefer, then lit up the tip. Ted’s eyes were probably trying to burn lasers through the back of my head, but I rapidly felt beyond caring. It was that kind of life.

Character Dossier
Name: A Gorral Borro Alice
Gender: All 36
Age: Eternity + 3
Generalized Ratings as follows
Strength: ?? (Incalculable)
Intelligence: ?? (Alien)
Agility: 3 (Doesn’t seem to care)
Luck: N/A
Attitude: Generally Hungry, Upset Sounding
Other items of note
Huge. Absolutely huge. Eats metal like candy. Doesn’t show any regard for other life forms. Also afraid of its spawning pool and dark places. Has eaten at least three realities in exchange for cookies. Cats give it indigestion. It refuses to eat any birds.
Powers
Unknown. Doesn’t seem to care in the slightest about other people. It’s behavior during all three summons has involved completing one task, while devouring anything in its way, and then marching back to the portal it spawned from. It is suspected to come from a dimension filled with water as it always rises from the ocean.
Fun Fact
Most recently this creature was encountered in San Diego California. It proceeded to walk down through the bay, destroy the Golden Gate Bridge (For the 4th time) then ate a bus full of lawyers. One seat was reportedly empty, and a funeral was held for the bus driver. In all this was considered a tragic event.

 

 

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5 thoughts on “Part IV – Firearm Safety is Overrated

  1. Pingback: No CO Today « FrustratedEgo Stories

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