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Time out of Mind Part 3

 

 

The world was spinning, tearing through Red Sniper’s head, threatening to rip apart his soul the way a tornado splinters a small house.  Even through the turmoil in his head, his hero’s instincts saved him a painful impaling from a zombie’s attack.  Rolling with the momentum from his dodge, David Hallsworth came up swinging.  A vicious left upper-cut caught one Banished Pantheon zombie square in the jaw, knocking it to the ground.  Kicking another away, Red Sniper reached to tap his Comm. Device in his cycloptic targeting visor and summon his friends to aid him.  As before, Medik did not answer, neither did Fixit.  Picking up a discarded sprinkler pipe and wielding it like a club, the masked hero prepared to defend his life as he had lived it; alone. 

“Do you ever wonder why the people you call your friends are never around when you need them lately?”  Red Sniper stiffened at the eerie voice coming over his communicator.  The voice seemed familiar, but he could not place it.

Banished Pantheon were all around him.  Red Sniper Stabbed a short spike into the ground at about knee height he placed a small box looking contraption on it.  Tapping a few buttons on a remote control, the small box erupted in gunfire and spun to track several targets.

            “At least my newest device works,” the masked hero said to himself.  Reaching for his rifle, he was surprised to find it missing.  “Damn,” he cursed out loud, “I’m gonna have to get creative this time.”

Red Sniper considered himself something of an inventor.  Always tooling around in his trailer, he had managed to imitate several pieces of otherwise expensive equipment.  Never intended as a means of truly defending ones self, they were intended to supplement his firepower.  Now he found himself in a running fight against a horde of zombies with nothing but his wits and a few gizmos. 

“Have you heard about Medik’s capture?”  The voice came over his communicator again.  “The Council captured your friend and has replaced him with a synthetic life form they cleverly call Kidem.”  Red Sniper did not answer, choosing instead to concentrate on living through his fight.  The gun toting hero, registered as a blaster, was a nimble man.  He also wore red Kevlar body armor.  Despite these factors, Red Sniper’s body was taking no small amount of damage from his horde of foes.  Several times he found himself surrounded.  Every time he managed to knock a small hole in the closing circle of shambling flesh and escape.  He was quickly growing tired.  His camouflage pants were torn and one had become un-tucked from his combat boots.

Turning a corner, the crimson clad hero stopped to catch his breath.  Thinking himself safe for the moment, he let his guard down.  Red Sniper barely felt the eerie, cold touch of the hand that came from behind.

 

*   *   *

 

“Here,” Fixit handed the sword to his new companion.  Darr took it, returned it to its sheath and looked once again at his identification card. 

“It truly is amazing that a likeness can be so acutely accurate.”  Holding the card in both hands, he touched his picture gingerly; seeming afraid to break, or hurt it.

“Technology is a wonderful thing kid,” Fixit lit a fresh cigar.

“Is it truly?  I do not understand how you prevent from getting soft.  My life may not have been easy, but it has made me what I am.”

“I live here, I’m tough.”  Fixit raised his eyebrows at his younger partner.

“Look around you,” Darr pointed at several people, “there, there, there, so many luxurious figures.  In my home, only the wealthiest of nobles could afford such sloth.  I am not impressed by your ‘technology’.” 

Darr seemed to care very little about who he insulted as he pointed out several more overweight people on their journey back to Kings Row.

Psirene had explained to Fixit that a rogue maniac; part monster, part man; had been creating havoc in a warehouse party.  Immediately some of the heroes patrolling the area had been called in.  Almost as quickly, they had been dealt with at the hands of an eight foot tall man with skin like pale stone.  The monster’s eyes glowed with a pale blue light that flared when acting out destruction on his enemies.  Bald on top, thin strands of cobweb and moss hung from the sides and back of the monster’s head, giving the appearance of thin, stringy hair.

Having no difficulty locating the warehouse that was the center of the monster’s attack, Fixit and Darr approached the officer in charge.

“I’m Fixit,” he said, shaking the officer’s hand, “this is Brinkman.  Psirene, of the Nameless sent us over.” 

“Captain Juarez,” the officer returned the handshake and nodded to Fixit’s partner.  “All I can tell you is that you probably want to call any friends you have and make sure they aren’t one of the heroes in there.”  Giving the captain a puzzled look, the cigar chomping hero began asking why when he was stopped.

“Don’t talk about it out here,” Juarez looked over his shoulder as he spoke, “too many reporters.  Come inside.”

Exchanging worried looks, Fixit and Brinkman followed the captain under the police tape and into the charnel house that had recently been an ordinary looking warehouse in a section of town known for warehouses.

Immediately upon entering, the heroes could smell the death within the building.  Darr covered his nose, Fixit simply puffed harder on his cigar.  Inhaling the aromatic smoke a few times through his nostrils, he deadened his sense of smell.

“We’re not telling the press much of anything right now.”  Captain Juarez told the heroes.  “I’m not sure how many he put in the hospital, but this beast has flat out killed at least three supers and over twenty civilians.  The poor people who did survive are the only reason we have as good a description of the perpetrator as we do.”

Juarez uncovered the three heroes as he spoke.  Fixit knew one of them; a beautiful young woman who had called herself Ray-Vinklah.  He remembered the time they had teamed up, almost a year ago.  He had teased her relentlessly about transparent Harry Potter references.  A quick check on his phone revealed that he still even had her number.

“She was only about twenty-three.”  Fixit’s voice betrayed both sorrow and anger.  Rubbing his temples, he continued. “I forget sometimes how young most of these newbies are.”  No one saw for sure, but it looked like fixit wiped a tear from his eyes.

“You should stay here sir,” Brinkman offered to Juarez, “my fellow and myself will take care of this.  Am I correct in believing that our prey has not left this building?”  The captain nodded, ‘yes’.

“We’ll take care of it.”  Fixit waved Captain Juarez away.  The passion Darr had seen in the hero’s eyes earlier had returned along with Fixit’s dour face. 

Using his phone to snap quick pictures of the destruction to the building, Fixit lead the way through the devastated structure.  Bodies had been flung uncaringly around the rooms.  The only consistency in all the havoc was the terrified look on each of the deceased. 

“These people were tortured.”  Darr half whispered as they traversed the darkened corridors.  “I thought you people were soft, I see now that you are vicious, brutal people, hiding behind your civilization.”

“Trust me kid, noting civilized about what happened here.  Whatever did this was a monster, not a man.”  Debating his next move, Fixit looked around the large room of a multi story warehouse.  “Take the communicator I gave you,” he pointed toward the standard issue comm. link from Freedom Corps.  Darr eyed it suspiciously.  “You remember how to use it?”

“I can manage.”  Darr wondered where the more experienced hero was going with this.

“Good, take it and keep it close.  If we’re going to find anything, we need to split up.”  Fixit walked to a stair well in the corner of the large room.  “If you find anything, call me, I’ll come running.  If I call you, I need you to do the same.”  The swordsman eyed his erstwhile partner in the same way he had the communicator.  “I don’t usually trust people Darr,” Fixit’s voiced his concern, “prove me wrong.”

With that, the hero clad in leather jacket and yellow bandana was gone, up the stairs.   

 

*   *   *

 

Red Sniper’s vision returned slowly, accompanied with the pins-and-needles feeling of blood flow re-circulating through his limbs.  He could tell he was being dragged, he could guess by what.  Without moving, Red Sniper eyes his surroundings.

“Looks pretty grim my friend,” the gravelly voice was still in his ears.  “I would recommend quickly using that knife you carry in your boot to disable the shambling zombie carrying your left foot.  The second you are free, kick the one carrying your right.”  Red Sniper listened carefully to his mysterious benefactor.  “These zombies are slow to respond; acting fast enough, you should be able to gain your feet and find a way to disable the last of them.  After that, you’re home free.”

The crimson clad hero was reluctant to follow the advice of a vaguely familiar voice coming over his communicator, but he also had little choice.  Adhering to the mysterious voice’s plan, Red Sniper freed himself from the grip of the Banished Pantheon minions. 

Few living people knew Dark Astoria as well as the remarkable Red Sniper.  Within a few seconds of freedom, he knew where he had to go to get to his trailer.  There he had a spare rifle and more of his gadgets.  From his home, he could attempt to get his friends together again.

“You aren’t still trying to call your teammates your friends are you?”  The voice interrupted his thoughts.  “Have you ever noticed how often those two go on grand adventures without you?”  Red Sniper tried to ignore the voice, but the more it spoke, the more it made sense to him.  “Think about it, they are always around for each other, but how often do they come to your aid?”

“Fixit came to help today.”  Red Sniper reasoned with the voice in his head.

“How long was he with you before siding with the enemy you brough into the hideout?”  The sinister voice sneered.

The hero in red crossed the scene of his earlier battle on his return trip to his home.  He almost missed it.  A minute detail that had somehow escaped his attention until that moment nearly got away from him.  There, in the dirt, a familiar piece of equipment rested on the ground.  Reaching up slowly, David Hallsworth touched his head.  The cycloptic targeting visor that he normally wore, was resting quietly in the dirt.  As he had done in the dojo headquarters of his super group, Red Sniper felt the pockets in his flack jacket.  What he did not feel gave him serious cause for concern.  His medication was missing.

Running at full tilt, Red Sniper rushed back towards his home.

“In a hurry now?”  The voice returned.

“Shut up!”  The hero shouted.  “I’m off my pills. I’m confused, I’m sick.  You aren’t real!”

“I never said I was coming over your headset, you simply assumed it.”  The gravelly voice rasped.

“How do you know my thoughts?”  Red Sniper’s voice became more frantic.

“I’m in your head figure it out.”  The voice retorted.  “By the way, you don’t need to talk out loud; it only makes you seem crazy.  Well, crazier anyway.  When was the last time you saw your face?”

Red Sniper reached his home, or rather, what was left of it.  From outward appearance, it seemed that no one had inhabited it for several years.  Dust, cob webs, debris, rust and broken windows all marred the outward surface of his home.  None of these were present when he had left that morning.

“This isn’t real,” red Sniper clutched his head again, “This isn’t real, I’m sick, I need my pills.”

 

*   *   *

 

“Fixit,” a voice broke over the communicator, “I think you may want to see this for your self.”

Reaching the stairwell, the regenerating hero leapt into the space between the stairs, covering the distance from top floor to basement in a matter of moments.  The fall would have broken both legs of a normal man, but Fixit’s dense muscle mass protected him from such falls, as well as allowing him to leap great distances.

In less than a minute, Fixit was beside his new side kick; looking into a deep hole in the floor.

“What is beneath this building?”  Darr asked.

“Nothing of any interest,” Fixit started, “just the…”  His sentence stopped mid thought.

“Shit.  If our monster’s in the sewers, he could come up nearly anywhere in the city.”

TO PART 4 >

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