Truth. Justice. Minesweeper.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Broke my own personal record this weekend. And that's something I hope I'll never be able to say again. Perhaps a timeline:

Saturday, 11 a.m.: Wake up. Breakfast, errands, newspaper, all that stuff.

2:30 p.m.: Roll into work, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and with a healthy coat on my tongue.

2:50: Begin compiling and entering local, national and international supervillain updates into the database. There's a big pile of these every day when I come in, and some of them have the sources stripped off of them when they get to me.

3:45: I first hear the word 'Skeletron' come out of Greyghost's mouth. I fail to grasp what will turn out to be its historic import.

4:00: Feed fish.

4:30: Finish pulling up everything we know about Skeletron from Greyghost's databases and various internet locations. He scowls at me when I refer to this process as 'consulting the Bat-Computer'. One would think it'd be hard to tell when a guy in a full-face mask is scowling, but really it isn't.

4:47: Locate blueprints of David Tremayne Hall for Greyghost. Tremayne Hall is apparently some local auditorium or concert venue or something.

5:12: Receive instructions to drop Greyghost off in an alley behind Tremayne Hall at 8:53, and pick him up again two blocks north at 11:48.

5:41: Order pizza.

6:07: Pizza arrives - late! Free! In your face!

6:32: Finish eating pizza, for now. (Total cans of Jolt Cola consumed: 1)

7:10: Finish with the supervillain updates. This is actually earlier than I usually finish with them. There are more coming in all the time, but when I'm in the office I can keep current. It's the backlog that's the pain.

7:30: Out to put gas in the car.

8:01: Back.

8:27: Pack up car with a costume kit and some other thises and thats that I always have along when I'm driving Greyghost someplace.

8:35: Leave, with Greyghost, for Tremayne Hall.

8:53: Tremayne Hall. Greyghost exits the car. It's all in the wrist.

8:57: I park the car and go see a movie. If I don't stay for the credits it'll fit in perfectly.

11:30: Conclusion of Kick Your Ass II, another heartwrenching tale of postmodern angst. I hadn't seen the first one, but I found I was able to follow along okay anyway. Leave to pick up Greyghost.

11:48: No sign of Greyghost. This is somewhat worrisome but not unprecedented. Standard operating procedure is just to head back to the office after a couple of minutes, the theory being that if it's nothing serious he's a grownup who can take care of himself, but if it is something serious there's not a lot I can do.

Sunday 12:01 a.m.: Arrive at office. Switch on TV and fire up web browser.

12:12 a.m.: The media helps me attain partial understanding of what happened. Apparently Senator Joe Hood, who seems to be some kind of politician, perhaps even a senator, was giving some kind of talk at Tremayne Hall tonight, and Skeletron showed up to assassinate him. Greyghost interfered, and there was general chaos for a while. The result of the chaos was a big fight between Greyghost and Skeletron, on board Skeletron's flying electro-skull-hovercraft thing as it careened out into the night. I didn't know about any of this until now, of course, but at least the movie was terrible. (Jolt Cola count: 2)

12:15: Inner debate about whether I should try calling Greyghost on his cell or not.

12:18: Inner debate concludes. No phone call.

12:32: Cruickshank arrives with a carton of audiocassettes. He needs them transcribed by Monday at 8 a.m. Quick calculations show that there are approximately thirty-one and a half hours between now and then, and twenty hours of tape. I tell him I can't guarantee anything, and start into it. Tapes are somewhat interesting--wiretaps of an actress who had been having simultaneous affairs with an assistant district attorney and a supervillain named Fly Girl.

2:13: Jolt Cola count: 3.

4:11: My cellphone rings. It's not Greyghost, though; it's Ingrid. Apparently she was staying with a friend of hers out in Cransford, because a library out there has some stuff she needed. But her friend's boyfriend came home about an hour ago, drunk and abusive, and there was a huge fight and Ingrid can't stay there now. So I get to go pick her up.

5:35: Arrival in Cransford. Ingrid enters car. She thanks me but looks too tired to be grateful.

6:50: Drop Ingrid at her apartment.

7:05: Pick up a couple of muffins for breakfast, and a paper.

7:10: Back to the office for more transcribing. (Jolt count: 4)

12:15 p.m.: Leftover pizza for lunch. (Jolt count: 5)

2:01: One of Greyghost's anonymous wire-service things announces that there's been a sighting of Skeletron's airship deal out over Empire City Harbor, approaching Horst Island.

2:32: First lack-of-sleep hallucination. I was thinking about a baseball game I had been to last week, and the stuff I was transcribing began to merge, in my mind, with what had happened in the game. I had to stop typing for a while. (Jolt count: 6)

3:00: Feed fish.

5:55: Garbled phone call from Greyghost. The gist of it was that he wanted me to bring some of his equipment to Horst Island as quickly as possible.

6:01: Locate Greyghost's special - I don't know; 'Skeletron-shooting gun' in room 32. It's obviously busted. I crack it open and start trying to fix it. Not that I know anything about this stuff; I'm just looking for anything obvious.

6:11: The handy-dandy ray gun produces an orange beam - it was an accident, I swear - that makes a lamp explode and cures fin rot on a couple of the fish. I pronounce it fixed.

6:15: Leave.

6:35: Arrive at ferry to Horst Island. (Jolt count: 7)

7:20: Ferry docks at Horst Island.

7:30: Rent bike. No cars on the island!

7:55: Spot crowd of pointing people and TV remote units a second before I spot hovercraft floating about a hundred feet in the air. Now what?

8:00: Join crowd. Raygun seems pretty conspicuous in my backpack. Why are no cops here?

8:03: Hovercraft zips off at high speed in a northern direction. Now what?

8:30: Catch ferry back to mainland.

8:35: Call from Greyghost. Can't understand a word he's saying.

8:50: Back on mainland. Stop for supper before heading back to office. This is now officially the longest I've ever gone without sleep.

9:05: In office again. Eating and transcribing at the same time. (Jolt count: 8)

10:10: Falling asleep. Eyes hurt, can't get comfortable. Hallucinating about the fish all around me. Turned up the tapes really loud to help stay awake. (Jolt count: 9)

10:30: I blast myself with cold water from the sink in the blue room. Doesn't really help.

10:45: Phone rings, leading to the following conversation:

Me: Hello?

Metallic voice: Who is this?

Me: Who is this?

MV: I have Greyghost. I was wondering if there was a reason I shouldn't just kill him.

Me: . . .

MV: Are you there?

Me: I'm sorry, what? Who's this? Hi.

MV: Put someone else on.

[clatter, clatter]

Me: Sorry, dropped the phone . . . I'm really tired . . . Who did you want to speak to again?

MV: I want to talk to someone about Greyghost.

Me: He's not here.

MV: Put someone else on.

Me: . . .

MV: Hello?

[sound of snoring]

MV: [click] [dial tone]

Me (about ten seconds later): Aah! What? Damn it!

Fortunately, the cellphones we use are set up extremely conveniently for this kind of thing. First, they're encrypted, so nobody can listen in on us. And part of the information that comes through on the encryption is GPS data. So it's pretty easy for me to look up exactly where that call came from, and I did so. (Feeling pretty awake, now that I've messed everything up.)

The call came from the boathouse at 7-Race Park. Of course, the hovercraft could just have been floating above there at the time, but what are the odds it'd be exactly over the boathouse?

I called Greyghost's cellphone back. No answer.

11:15: 7th Street overpass over the Race River Parkway. Below me is 7-Race Park. I ran all the way here, with the special Skeletron-shooter in my backpack, and, man, did that take it out of me. I practically had to crawl down the concrete steps to the park. Legs? Rubbery.

11:30: Creeping toward the boathouse. Yeah, there's a light on in there.

I peek in the window. Greyghost is tied up against a wall, but is surveying the scene calmly. There's a big guy who looks kind of like a robot and kind of like a skeleton fixing the hovercraft, which looks like it's taken a lot of punishment. A few other guys are hanging around doing various things, but nobody ever takes their eyes off Greyghost for long.

Then someone grabs me from behind. It's a tall gentleman in a blazer. He has his own guys with him. "Not another buyer, I think," he says.


"Bring him," he tells his flunkies. They bring me; I go quietly.

We all approach the boathouse. Biff Blazer knocks on the door, and says, "Carver."

Now, in all the time I've been working for Greyghost, nobody ever explained to me what the man's super powers are. I have some ideas, though, and now's as good a time as any to try them out. Biff is the first one in, he sees Greyghost, and says, "So you do have him. Gratifying. How does one hundred thousand dollars sound?"

The rest of us file in after him, and as I enter, I flick the lights off. I anticipate panic and hubbub. What I actually get is one of Skeletron's guys flicking the light back on and clouting me upside the head. "Who's this?" he asks.

Biff--is Carver his name?--speaks up. "We found him--where's Greyghost?"

Gone, is where he is. The light couldn't have been off for more than three seconds, but he's nowhere to be seen and the ropes that were around him are lying in loops on the floor. My backpack is also gone.

Everybody turns to look at me. "I'm worth way more than a hundred thousand bucks," I say. "Someone's walking out of here with a bargain."

They advance on me, and the lights go out again. This time I get hauled through a pile of people and dumped in the water. While I'm floundering around, I can hear fighting and see the occasional orange flash. And then it's quiet, and I can't see or hear anything, but the smell of burnt wiring is everywhere.

Monday, 12:47 a.m.: Back in the office. Greyghost has turned everyone over to the cops and gone home. I'm sitting here wrapped in a towel, transcribing. I'm in some kind of gritty-eyed state beyond tiredness. My arms and legs are shaking a lot and I can't exert myself, but my mind is reasonably alert.

3:13: Jolt count: 10.

7:30: Cruickshank shows up. He is nonplussed that I'm half-naked while working on his stuff. "You're not done?"

"Things came up," I told him. He took what I had finished and left instructions to courier the rest to him as soon as possible.

9:55: Done. Sent the rest of the transcripts out by courier, and went back to the apartment for some sleep.

10:20: Pager goes off. Greyghost wants to go over cellphone security. I ask if maybe we can't do this another time.

10:30: Lying on the couch, staring at the ceiling. Can't sleep.

10:45: Still can't sleep.

11:00: This is ridiculous. Maybe there's something on TV.
He works you so hard!
where is empire city?
Empire City is basically New York without being New York. Like Gotham City and Metropolis are.
Empire City is clearly a real place, otherwise Dennis couldn't live and work there.
Fair enough. Let me put it this way, then: New York must not exist, because if it did, it'd be right where Empire City is.
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