Truth. Justice. Minesweeper.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

I have to start keeping clothes at the office. I keep guessing wrong about what I'm going to have to wear. First I show up to a bank wearing shorts and a ratty T-shirt--in March--and now this.

Wore my good suit to work today. First thing I see when I walk in is a Post-it from Greyghost:

"Apprehended the Midnight Mover in Boundary Road junkyard last night. His Darkgun was lost at the scene of our battle, near western gate. Retrieve it ASAP. --GG."

I took a couple of minutes to make sure the office wouldn't fall apart without me, and another to figure out where the hell Boundary Road is. Sensibly, they keep it on the boundary of the city. I collected the company car from out back and hit the streets. Hanging around my neck was a camera in case I needed a cover story.

There were already quite a few cars in front of me when I parked on the dirt area by the junkyard. The west gate was closed and locked, but since it was only attached by one hinge it didn't stop anybody from getting in. Although I did have to wait for one guy coming out; he was dragging an old desk chair behind him through the gap.

I tipped the gate up and clambered under. The place was, as you can imagine, pretty fragrant. It was noisy, too, with seagulls all over the place. There were no signs of superheroic mayhem obviously visible, although in a junkyard, I'm not sure what it'd look like anyway. I picked a direction and walked in it.

My first clue that I was on the right track was a set of footprints caused by someone landing in a muddy area hard and from a strange angle. I poked around in the trash near the impact, but didn't find anything. It looked like a washer-dryer set to my right had taken some recent punishment, though, so I worked my way over to them.

And ran into a family out having an excursion. The mom and the dad were trying to tug an old couch out from under a pile of tires, and a couple of nine-year-olds were running around. The parents looked up at me and went back to what they were doing. I tried to continue searching for the Darkgun, but I have to admit I was kind of distracted by these people.

"Find anything good?" the mom asked me as the dad got out a measuring tape.

"Oh, I'm not browsing," I said, indicating my camera. "I work for some lawyers."

"Ahh," said the dad. "Somebody around here's got a lawsuit?"

"Something like that. I'm just looking for where it happened."

"Yeah, I guess you can't go moving furniture around dressed like that. You ever come here for stuff?"

"No, I haven't," I said. "Is it worth it?"
"Oh, yeah," he said. "You can't beat it. Sure, you have to clean things up a bit, but they're free!"

"Hm. I'll keep it in mind."

The mom chimed in. "Taylor! Tyler! Don't go too far!"

The girl called back, "We're just over here!" from the other side of the pile of tires.

"Okay! Don't go too far!"

I lifted up a pile of rusted license plates that were suspiciously disorderly. Nothing. The boy yelled from where he and his sister were, "Hey! I found a ray gun!"

Oh, hell. "That's good," his mother answered, measuring her new couch. I tried to unobtrusively make my way around to where the kids were.

"Mom! I disintegrated Taylor!"

Figures. Oh, no. "That's good," she said. "Don't go too far!"

"I'll check on them," I said. "I think I have to take a couple of shots over that way anyway."

"We're never going to get this in the car," the dad said.

I ripped my suit a couple of times clambering over a collapsed dishwasher, but I got to the kid before he busted out crying. "It's okay," I said. "Let's see if we can fix it." He was just staring at the gun, tears brimming. The girl was nowhere around.

I took the gun from him. It was black and looked a little like a cordless drill. "I didn't think it'd do anything," he said. "I didn't mean it."

"I know. Let me see if I can figure out what it does. Maybe we can bring her back," I said. The only obvious control on it was the trigger, but there was a plate on the side of the... handle? Butt? That. I slid the plate back, and there were a couple of little red dials inside. One was labeled 'Distance' and the other was 'Direction'. The indicators were pointing to '7 MI.' and 'N', respectively.

Oh, I get it. The Midnight Mover. He moves things at midnight. How? With his Darkgun. That's pretty cool. More importantly, little Taylor, or possibly Tyler, wasn't hurt.

"You're Tyler?" I asked the boy. He nodded. "Your sister's okay. We just have to go get her. She's-" What was seven miles north of here, anyway? Just a lot of suburbia, as far as I knew. It was going to be a pretty rough job, driving around wherever shouting 'Taylor!" out the window.

Then I got a better idea.

I shot Tyler. When I pulled the trigger, the gun shone a black ray on him. He looked up at me, surprised, and vanished, leaving a faint popping sound behind him.

Next, the parents. They looked up when they saw me again. "Everything okay?" the mom said.

"Fine," I said, and shot her.

"What the f--" said the dad as I got him too.

Okay, so it was kind of a mean thing to do. But they'd be better off all together in a strange place than they would be worrying and driving around trying to track each other down. They'd figure out where they were and how to get home and when they could get a ride they'd come out here for their car. Of course, this was all assuming that I had understood the gun's function correctly and not just murdered three people.

I walked into my office an hour later, smelling of coffee grounds. Greyghost was there, rifling through the files.

I held up the gun. "Is this your gizmo?"

"That's it. Was there any trouble?"

"Not really. What's this thing do, anyway?"

"It teleports its target away. Useful for theft."

"That's neat. Can I expense my suit?"
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