In our ongoing lessons on story development, I give you part 12 of “Wanted, A Superhero to Save the World.”
In this excerpt, you will see that Eddie has accomplished the final step in his preparation phase. He now has all he needs to battle the antagonist. And it’s a good thing, because Mephisto isn’t waiting around. He launches a strike that will force Eddie into action.
If you have any questions or comments, please post them.
Wanted, A Superhero to Save the World – Part 12
You can read Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, Part 4 here, Part 5 here, Part 6 here, Part 7 here, Part 8 here, Part 9 here, Part 10 here, and Part 11 here.
What Do You Do With a Ghost Superhero?
Sam and I hurried up the stairs. When we reached our apartment door, it opened. Mom stood at the threshold wearing a fresh waitress smock to go with pressed jeans and a black “Magruder’s Italian Restaurant” polo. Her worried expression melted into a smile. “So you two rascals went out on a shopping expedition, did you?”
I shrugged my backpack. “Yeah. Got some stuff from Jack. I traded my VR helmet.”
Mom’s eyes shot wide open. “You did what?”
“And we got snow cones!” Sam spread out her blue-stained hands.
“What happened to your arms?” Mom grabbed Sam’s wrist and looked her over. “You’re all swollen! You must have had an allergic reaction.” She gave me a scolding stare. “Eddie, I’ve told you about her sensitivity to food dye. The snow cones were probably loaded with it.”
I hid my relief at her mistake. “Probably. I didn’t think about it. Sorry.”
Mom pushed Sam inside. “Get in the tub and scrub every inch. Eddie will get you some Benadryl.”
I slid off my backpack. “Why me?”
“Because I’m working two shifts today, including prep for the lunch crowd, so I have to hurry. And I’m closing, so I’ll be late tonight.”
“Around midnight, probably, but it could be later.”
I tried not to flinch, but she might have seen it anyway. I had to leave at around eleven, and I’d have to take my hologram projector with me, so she wouldn’t see me tucked safely into bed. “Are you working so many hours because the rent’s late?”
Her brow furrowed. “Who told you that?”
“You know you can’t hide stuff from me.” I withdrew the remaining cash from my pocket and handed her all but what I needed for bus fare and a bit extra. “I paid the overdue rent and next month’s. This is for food.”
As she stared at the money, a tear sparkled in her eye. “You sold your helmet to pay our rent?”
“More or less. I kept a little for stuff I need. I hope you don’t mind.”
“Mind? Mind?” She pulled me into a tight hug. “Eddie you are such a godsend! I don’t know what I’d do without you!”
When she let me go, she brushed tears from her cheeks with trembling hands. “Listen. On the way home tonight, I’ll stop at Fred’s and get some ice cream, and we’ll have sundaes for breakfast. How’s that sound?”
“Great, Mom, but since the rent’s paid, can’t you skip the late shift?”
She ran her fingers through my hair. “No, silly. I promised Satchel. But I can cut down my hours next week, and we’ll plan an outing for the three of us. All right?”
“I guess so, but—”
“I gotta go.” She scooted past me and headed for the stairs. “We can talk about it over ice cream tomorrow.” As her no-slip sneakers squeaked on the steps, she called back, “And don’t forget Sam’s Benadryl!”
Seconds later, she was gone.
I heaved a sigh. Getting out tonight without her noticing would be tough. I often avoided going on patrol whenever she planned to work late, though sometimes I would catch a nap and leave after she came home and checked on me.
Exhaustion swept over me like a ten-ton weight. I yawned. I had plenty of time to get some sleep. Better to be wide awake for testing Damocles’s hologram. I took the new computer out of its box along with its detachable power cord and plugged the unit into the wall to charge its battery.
After arranging for Sam’s lunch, I gobbled a baloney sandwich and flopped into bed. Sleep pounced on me like a lonely puppy. I dreamed about strawberries battling blue raspberries on a field of crushed ice until something shook my bed.
I grabbed the mattress and looked around. The entire room rattled. My photo of Damocles fell over. The crack in the wall widened. Sam ran into the room, shouting, “It’s an earthquake!”
When I reached out for her, she jumped into bed with me. For the next twenty seconds, we hugged each other and rode out the tremors. Finally, they stopped.
“Mephisto?” Sam asked.
“Has to be. I’ve never heard of an earthquake in Nirvana.” I jumped out of bed and flipped on my desktop computer. Nothing happened. I hit the light switch. Again, nothing. “Power’s out.”
I picked up my backpack and laid it on the bed. After withdrawing my hologram projector and unplugging the new handheld computer, I added the projector adapter and snapped the two units together. The combination still fit in my hand and wouldn’t be too heavy attached to my belt.
I turned on the projector. When it powered up, I plugged in Damocles’s flash drive and waited for it to process the loaded image. As before, the AI unit appeared in clear 3D, though still motionless.
While the computer portion of my combined device powered up, I looked for a battery meter on the screen but found nothing. Had it been plugged in long enough? I glanced at the desk clock—dark. “Any idea what time it is?”
“I was watching Princess Queenie,” Sam said, “so it’s between five and five-thirty.”
“Then I slept more than four hours. The battery should have enough juice.” I glanced at the window. Even closed, honking-horn blasts passed through. “Mephisto scheduled the quake for rush hour. That’s the best time to cause the most chaos.”
Sam laid her hands over her ears. “People are shouting bad words.”
“With all the signals out, probably the worst traffic jam in history’s going on.” I drew a mental picture of the jam—a tangled mass of cars and trucks going nowhere. What about the busses? Would they run at all? If not, I might have to walk downtown.
I turned on the handheld computer and booted up its embedded AI program. Within seconds, Damocles began moving. The handheld’s built-in camera, a sphere on top of the unit, lit up with a blue glow all the way around. “Can you see us?”
He nodded. “So you were able to get the devices you needed. Well done.” The computer’s built-in life-tech speaker made his voice sound like he was really in the room.
I gave him a rundown of the recent events and the problems I faced with getting to the Stellar building. Without a bus, I might have to walk all the way. I finished with a sigh. “Do you have any ideas?”
“My current programming provides instructions to help my successor create this hologram. Now that you’ve succeeded, I need to load the next programming phase—the essence engine.” Damocles leaned toward me. “Did I give you a red wallet?”
I reached for my backpack and pulled the wallet out. “Right here.”
“Turn it inside out, and you will find a standard interface that will connect the wallet to a computer. Plug it in, and I will access the code.”
I did as he asked and found a plug buried in the material. I plugged it into one of the handheld computer’s ports. “Done.”
Damocles bowed his head. “It has been a pleasure, Eddie. Stand by for further instructions.”
The image flickered and faded. Damocles’s voice emanated from the speaker. “Enter password. Make sure it cannot be guessed by anyone.”
I brought up the keyboard and tapped “cabbageflavoredicecream.” The screen flashed, and Damocles’s hologram reappeared, clearer than ever. He looked like a real person, as if he really stood in the room with us, though this time he wasn’t wearing a cowl. His dreadlocks framed his chiseled ebony face as he looked straight at me. “Eddie?”
Categories: Story Development