Truth. Justice. Minesweeper.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

As best I can remember--because, let's face it, I've kind of been out of my freaking mind recently--I started thinking about Cassie. I missed her. So I got the brilliant idea, hey, why not fly out to California and get her back? What's to stop me?

I mean, sure, there was the whole superhero thing. I still didn't want her to be a superhero, and I knew that that was still a dealbreaker for her... but now that I had superpowers too maybe it wouldn't matter as much. Or that's what I figured, anyway, and the thought of going flying with her was and is a very appealing one. So I got myself a big bag of change, and went down to the corner store to stock up on supplies for the trip. I figured it'd take me a day or two, so if I got some Gatorade and beef jerky and whatnot I'd be okay.

(Since then I've recalculated and figured out that I'd be lucky to make the trip from Empire City to LA in a week. And that's with not a lot of sleep.)

So I collected an armful of junk food and brought it up to the cash. The store guy punched it all in and said, "That'll be $34.82, please."

I checked my wallet and found no bills. I had turned them all into coins in the past week or two. So I picked up the bag of goodies and said, "I don't have any bills and I can't spend these coins. We'll figure it out later."

"Hey! You can't take that without paying for it!"

And I got mad. All I wanted to do was fly out to where Cassie was, and this insignificant guy was getting in my way with his little technicalities. "I don't have time for this," I said, and turned to go.

He yelled something else at me and hit the alarm button. At about that time Linnet poked her head into the store. "Hey, Dennis," she said. "What's up?"

"Nothing," I told her. "Out of the way, please."

"That guy's trying to leave without paying," the store guy said.

"You stealing stuff now?" she asked.

"Look," I explained, "I need this stuff. It's important. We can worry about the money later."

She noticed my backpack and the contents of the bag. "You going someplace?"

"I'm going to California to get Cassie back, and I think you should get out of my way."

"Oh, I get it," she said, sneering. "You're becoming a stalker. And here we were worrying about you turning into a supervillain! I suppose I should have realized you'd let your dick do all your thinking for you."

[Time out. I was using pretty bad judgment there, no question. And the California trip was one of the stupider ideas in the history of upright man. But I wasn't so far gone that you could really call me a stalker; even at my worst I realized that Cassie might not go for it, and in my mind, if she didn't, that would be that and I'd turn around and come back. I just wanted to have that typed out someplace. Time in.]

"I gotta go," I said, gulped a dime, and flew out of the store with my stolen stuff through the plate glass window.

"Shit!" Linnet said, and leaped for me. She caught hold of my legs as I was about fifteen feet in the air. I lurched back down toward the street.

"Let go!" I said, kicking at her.

"No! Now come down and we'll try to fix this! It's possible you haven't completely screwed the pooch here!"

But I wasn't in any mood to listen to her. I tried to do some loops and stuff to shake her off, but I just couldn't fly with all the extra weight, and in a few seconds wasn't really doing much more than bouncing us off the pavement.

I scrambled to my feet and tried to boot Linnet in the ribs, but she dodged easily, popped to her feet, and grabbed my arm. "You're not taking off again," she said. "Now calm down."

I tried punching her and she dodged again. "Is that martial arts?" I said.

"Yeah, it's called 'boxing'," she told me, punching me in the stomach but only hitting armor, "Ow! Damn it!"

We struggled some more and completely failed to hurt each other. She couldn't do much to get past my armor and I was too incompetent to hit her.

Then I heard, "Dennis. Enough."

"Don't call me that!" I yelled at him. "That's my slave name!"

He laughed. I had never heard him laugh before. Of course, I don't think anyone has ever said anything so obnoxious and loserly to him before.

"He was shoplifting supplies to fly to California," Linnet supplied.

Greyghost took this in and said, to me, "Well?"

"I don't have to answer to anybody," I said. "I'm going to California, and you don't want to get in my way."

"I'm in your way," he told me.

I wrenched away from Linnet and flew straight at him, fists first, like I had done to Icecap. If I had been thinking clearly, I would have noticed that he was in the shade. Of course, if I had been thinking clearly none of this crap would have happened in the first place.

As soon as I launched myself, Greyghost faded. He rematerialized once I was in his patch of shade, with one arm around my neck and the other hand on my face. He gently clamped my nose and mouth shut, and I heard him tell Linnet, "This is how you get around that kind of skin armor." I struggled for air, uselessly, and eventually blacked out.

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