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Time Out of Mind

Part 1



            David Hallsworth rose from his cot in the morning, excited at what the day would bring.  He had only a few adjustments to make, and then he could try out his newest device.  Walking through his cramped kitchen, Dave grabbed two pieces of three day old pizza, a half a beer from the night before and the dregs of the orange juice from his mini fridge. 

            “Ah, a great way to start the day, several food groups here,” Dave spoke to no one in particular.  Donning a fresh pair of underwear, knowing that only crazies worked in the nude; he sat his breakfast down at the only table in his humble abode, took a bite of stale pizza and got back to work on his latest, greatest creation. 

Most would consider his workspace as too jumbled to accomplish anything.  Eating at a table covered with chemicals, metal shavings, shell casings and a plethora of various other dangerous items would be bad enough, doing it while making use of these items could be considered inviting disaster.  Of course Dave invited disaster on a daily basis; he had little to be concerned about here.  As Red Sniper, Dave faced numerous persons and constructs that wanted him dead several times a day, a little mess could pose no real threat to a super hero.

“I’ve done it,” Dave exclaimed to his vacant, but messy trailer.  “Damn I’m good; this would have cost… crap.”  Gingerly placing his new creation on the floor, he grabbed the nearest grease rag and sponged up the spilled Harp lager that was spreading across the work table.

Once the mess had been dealt with, Dave donned his “crime fighting duds,” as he referred to them.  Though his new device was one of the bulkier items on his belt and ammunition harness, it was still only several inches across and weighed only a few pounds.  It would take very little time to become familiar with the feel and weight of it on his belt.  Red Sniper knew just the place to try out his new trinket.

Stepping from his humble trailer and taking a full deep breath of the stale air around him, Dave prepared to head to Steel Canyon.  The morning mist was thick as ever in his tiny corner of the city, of course the fog was always thick in Astoria, but at least no one really bothered him; and since there was no rent to pay, the price was right.  Like always, the hero had to be careful with his comings and goings to his home; lest the wandering undead fund him.  But to a man like the remarkable Red Sniper, it was more a game than a caution.  Before long, he found himself standing at the large ominous gate in the war wall that divided the mist ridden bone yard from the rest of the city.

“Mornin’ boys,” Red Sniper greeted the two city guards as he passed by.  Stunned that a hero would be emerging from Dark Astoria at this time of morning, the two guards looked at one another.

“How long have you been in there?”  One guard asked the hero.  “We’ve been here since midnight and I don’t recall having seen you go in.”

“Pulled an all nighter,” Red Sniper lyingly bragged while pretending to stretch and acting tired.  “Evil never sleeps kids.”  With that he was through the gate and in the light once again.  Even through his targeting helm, Red Sniper had to squint for a moment to become accustomed to the light in his eye.

“Another day…” he sighed to himself.


*   *   *


John Fix was truly fed up with the hero business.  His latest ordeal had landed him a nearly suspended in the use of his powers.  He fully agreed that the way he treated that little boy was pushing the limits, but it got them very important information on a rather big case.  Once again though, his team’s hard work had been overlooked in the press. 

“At least we made the paper this time.”  He grumbled to himself while fitting parts together on a newly refinished beamer, an unlit cigar hanging from his mouth.  “Buried on page twelve with a mere mention is better than we’ve ever done before.” 

The part time hero, who went by the name Fixit on his finer days, stopped his work.  Over the smell of paint, body filler and grease there was an enticing and familiar fragrance.  Gathering the courage to turn around and face the intruder, his cigar dropped into the engine compartment.  Cursing softly under his breath, John Fix collected himself and turned.  The skimpy outfit the alluring woman wore was even more pleasing to the eye than her perfume was to the nose.  Psirene was an astoundingly beautiful woman, Fixit had wondered on several occasions what had brought her to him in the first place.  While he had never heard any complaints, quite the opposite really, he hadn’t truly expected to ever see her again.

“Hi Psirene,” he said; not knowing what else to say.

“I never got to thank you for helping us out at the review board.”

“Statesman is putty in my hands. He never could say no to me.” she purred. “But don’t worry about it, I already received my payment up front,” she flashed an enigmatic smile at him.

His brow furrowed, he found her reference confusing.  Sensing his bewilderment, she leaned in and whispered,

“I’m carrying your child.”

Fixit’s mind instantly became a whirlwind of confusion, emotion and questions.  The floor seemed to be slipping away from under him and he had to lean on the car to keep upright.  The mind reader had expected the rush of emotion and confusion, especially from a man as unpredictable as this one.  His next response proved to her again just how incalculable he really was.

“Bullshit.”  He spat.  The surprise outburst caught even a telepath off guard.  Steeling herself, so as not to show her disappointment in his reaction, she took a step back.  Fixit turned his back on her and stalked towards his office.  He stopped long enough to grab his jacket off the chair and then continued out the door and on to his Harley-Davidson.  Though she could have stopped him, she let him go.  He may be unpredictable but she also knew deep down inside, somewhere, he was also the hero he so longed to be.  The roar of his engine died away in the distance, and P sirene collected herself to leave.


*   *   *


There was noise. This place had so much noise.  The man awoke in a pile of strange objects.  The ground below was hard as stone, yet smooth and flat like a well traversed path.  There were also six demons standing over him.  At least they seemed like demons at first glance.  Being a man of the brink as he had been, fear held little sway over him and he readied himself to fight for his soul.  Rising to his feet amongst the pile of trash bags and rubbish proved a more difficult task than he had anticipated and his first steps in this new world were not graceful ones as he struggled to keep his feet.

“Drink too much last night hero?”  One Hellion spat out in mock concern.  When the hellion spoke, the newcomer realized that it was not demons he faced, but men; most likely, men with ill intent.  He had been to strange places, with stranger customs; he decided to give these men a chance to prove what they were truly made of.

The leader of the small pack of hellions pulled out a switchblade and pointed it in the direction of the apparently unarmed man.

“You are truly brave when you outnumber an unarmed foe.”  The stranger spoke to his intended attackers.  His voice was thick with an accent, not quite Scottish or Irish, but similar.  The hellion didn’t respond, just sneered as he approached his victim.  The stranger shifted his stance, preparing for a fight; as the rubbish shifted at his feet, he found a glimmering surprise.  Looking up at his foe, the man locked eyes with the hellion and grinned.

Unnerved, but not wanting to lose face with his fellow gang members, the hellion dove at the strange man with his blade.  With a single, nimble move; the man turned the attack and drove the hellion into the wall behind him.  There was a hollow knocking sound when his head hit the wall and the gang member fell to the ground unconscious.  Continuing the motion in a full circle, the stranger bent down, retrieved a sword from the pile of refuge and faced the small band of hellions.

“Your friend’s attack was sloppy,” he taunted the men before him with his strange accent, “who thinks they can do better?”  With that, five hellions joined the fray against the foreign stranger.


*   *   *


The sound of Fixit’s Harley-Davidson Evolution engine reverberated off the buildings in Kings Row.  The thrumming sound helped to cool his blood and collect his thoughts.  Bianca was a beautiful woman, her blonde hair and violet eyes had haunted his dreams between their encounters.  He had never dared to believe they could carry a true relationship, he wasn’t even sure he wanted one.  With a child on the way, his child, things got much more complicated.  Did she want a relationship now?  Did she want child support?  Surely a woman with her resources wouldn’t bother with such a trivial thing; especially when the fa ther of her previous child was nowhere to be seen as he had it.

Fixit’s thoughts were soon interrupted by the thunderous sound of a fellow biker pulling up from behind.  Without thinking, he moved to one side of his lane for the other rider to pull up along side.  The machine that pulled along side was a modest chopper.  Though it was obviously a custom affair, and had huge potential to be a great ride, it lacked good paint and custom chrome.  Sporting flat black paint, the chopper was a non-descript match for the man riding it.

The new rider wore a plaint black jacket, much like Fixit’s, and blue jeans.  Beneath the jacket he wore a wife-beater tank top.  The tall man had blonde hair and wore rings on his fingers.  A brief, polite smile, from the corner of his mouth, told Fixit that this rider was generally a somber man.

His troubles forgotten for the moment; Fixit looked over at the man and gave the throttle a decisive yank.  The other man smiled more broadly, the challenge was on and the two raced across Kings Row towards Skyway City and long stretches of open highway.


*   *   *


Over the din of gunfire and Prototype Oscillators falling apart, Red sniper heard the sounds of a fight.  Paragon was well known for these sounds, but there was something different about the voices rising up to the rooftops of Galaxy City.  The voices were full not only of fear, but of pain and agony; a much more rare sound in the city.  Quickly losing interest in breaking robots, Red Sniper abandoned his vantage point, heading in the direction of the alley from which the sounds of pain and terror originated.

To his surprise, Red Sniper turned a corner finding a team of ranking hellions being literally torn apart by a man with a sword.  Two men were missing a hand; one had been run through and bled out into the gutter.  Red Sniper watched with horror as a hellion was beheaded in a single swipe of the stranger’s razor sharp sword.  The final hellion turned and ran from the sword swinging foreigner, bumping Red Snipers shoulder as he ran past.  Too stunned to go after the gang member, Red Sniper stood agape at what he had just seen.  Taking care of gang members was one thing, murder and maiming was another.

“Hold up murderer!”  Red sniper shouted, leveling his firearm and taking careful aim.  “One false move and you join your friend over there on the ground.”

“There has been a mistake friend, these men attacked me.”  The stranger approached Red Sniper.

“Stop moving, put the sword down!”  Red Sniper loudly urged.  When the man did neither, the hero was forced to fire.  The report of the rifle echoed like thunder; and immediately Red Sniper found himself wondering for the first time if he had done the right thing.


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