My name is Liz and I’m a reporter for the Daily Bulletin, Corville’s largest news outlet. The Event, as it is simply known, happened just over three years ago. It wasn’t a bright flash of light or a great disaster. The Event just happened. Everyone went about their day and then just stopped. No one remembers it, but it did happen to everyone. The only evidence we have it happened is the forty-five-minute gap in our memory. That and random surveillance video feeds showing people standing or sitting completely still. It made the news, but it really was secondhand information.
I know not everyone feels the same about The Event. Hell, it’s been over three years ago and I’m still confused about it. It doesn’t help I wasn’t affected by it, at least not directly. Instead, I get to report about the people that have been directly affected by it. Most have been improved in some way. A woman in the more rural area gained the ability to run at nearly thirty miles an hour. I know that doesn’t sound fast, but she is able to clean her house and other random tasks in a short amount of time. She also happens to be fifty-two years of age.
Soon after The Event, a high school janitor invented a device to mow open fields without being controlled. He said he got the idea from one of the robo-vacuum things. Once he got his machine made, he tested it on the football field and it worked the first time. He took his life savings and got a patent. Next, he sold it for five times the amount. Since then, he has invented several other gizmos. In the span of six months, he went from a lowly janitor to a wealthy individual. Now, he’s a millionaire. He still invents stuff and sells it too.
Thaddeus is one of our less successful stories on this front. Thaddeus can make things disintegrate. It was the City that first hired him, then the County. He would work in the landfills and dumps making the garbage go away. The thing is, he worked so fast he has to wait nearly a year before the dump fills up again. When he goes back to work, it’s for a few weeks. They won’t pay him when he isn’t working, so he struggles to pay his bills. He hires himself out from time to time for demolition work. This isn’t steady work, so he has to do other things. His biggest problem is he destroys his own clothes. Imagine buying a new shirt, then a week later, it’s shredded or just gone. With his low income, he’s struggling just to live.
Then there is Over Lord. That name is self-given. He’s nothing but an over inflated ego. He’s strong and he can fly, but otherwise, there isn’t much else. It seems every few months he tries to rob a bank or some tech company here. We have plenty to choose from, but seriously. Every hunter will tell you don’t crap where you live. No one told Over Lord. He goes out of town, but usually comes running back when some other super powered person has chased him away. The way he uses his powers here scares the crap out of me. It would take nothing for him to level any one of a dozen skyscrapers or demolish a parking garage or five. The only thing that keeps him in check, a person really, is The Woman.
The Woman, no one knows her real name, is exactly like Over Lord. Maybe not exactly alike. He has a silly nickname and she doesn’t. The few times I’ve seen her, she had on regular clothes like she just got off work or is late for the bus.
Over Lord’s last foray into downtown happened two weeks ago. Being between stories, and on my lunch break, I was in Henderson Park enjoying a bologna sandwich with extra mayo. Several people pointed up as a dark figure descended and landed in the open field. It was Over Lord and as he walked I could see his lips move, exposing clenched teeth. His head jerked left and right as people scampered away from him. When his feet touched the sidewalk, he clenched and unclenched his fists. Unlike other villains, he didn’t have a costume or uniform, per se. There was no spandex, cape, or mask. The only thing covering his face was wrap around yellow shooting glasses. His outfit that day consisted of dark running shoes, rugged cargo pants, a t-shirt, and some type of belt with things hanging from it. In my opinion, it was a practical choice.
At this point in his career, people knew who he was and what he could do. No one was running in a mad panic trying to get away. He hadn’t done anything to anyone in the park. A few near misses drew a narrow-eyed stare, but otherwise, he moved with long rapid, strides and a fixed gaze.
Stuffing the remains of my lunch in my purse, I grabbed my phone and recorded a video. I am a reporter after all.
Getting to my feet, I hustled after Over Lord and kept a safe distance behind him. He fidgeted with his belt and then tossed a softball-sized object across the five-lane road. It was the Grimes Industry’s building. The device he made bounced once, then connected with the glass wall with a hollow thump and stuck in place. A second later the glass frosted over with fine cracks and fell in a dust pile on the sidewalk. Over Lord stepped into the traffic. Trucks, cars, and motorcycles screeched to a halt as he walked across the faded asphalt. I watched as blazer wearing security guards hustled from the Grimes Industry building. They stood in a line, shoulder to shoulder, on the sidewalk. Several had draw handguns and stood ready.
The wail of a police siren pulled my eyes and I saw the black and white car roll over the sidewalk. People darted for the cover of other buildings and shops. The police car stopped at the break between Grimes Industry and Alice’s Boutique. “Over Lord. You are under arrest for destruction of private property and reckless endangerment,” blared a cop’s voice over the loudspeaker. “Put your hands in the air and stop hostilities.” I’m not sure what the cop was trying to do, but there was no way words would stop Over Lord.
Creeping behind the now abandoned cars, I moved close enough to hear Over Lord speak.
“I am here to get a piece of equipment,” Over Lord said, his voice clear. “I don’t want to hurt anyone, but if they get in my way, it will happen.” He tugged on the belt draped diagonally across his torso.
This was one of his more popular phrases. It’s why we considered him a sociopath.
“Do you have the means to pay for the H-1 Sound Modulator and Enhancer?” A new person stepped between the Grimes Industry security force. His Tom Ford suit fit him perfectly. The blank face carried a cocked eyebrow and small smirk. “If you do, then we can work something out. We’ll even overlook the destruction of our window.”
“Unfortunately, I am light on funds,” Over Lord responded. “Perhaps, Alex, we can work out a payment plan?” Over Lord reached for his equipment belt and put various items together.
“That won’t work for me,” Alex, the CEO of Grimes Industry, said. “It would look bad on us letting a known villain just take something.”
“Then this is will be a bad day for you,” Over Lord said and pointed his item at Alex. “That is what I’m going to do.” I saw the item jerk and a popping noise sounded.
A Toyota Yaris flew license plate over headlights and intercepted the projectile Over Lord shot. The blue car erupted in shards and shrapnel. Black smoke followed behind the husk of the vehicle as it slammed into the asphalt and slid into two more empty cars.
The security and Alex scrambled to their feet. Several guards had wounds, but they were all ambulatory. The cops had clambered behind their cruiser and leaned over the roof pointing their weapons at Over Lord. Several cars had broken windows and holes in their bodies. The sound of a tire popping made me jerk.
I shifted to the hood of the car I hid behind and put both hands on my phone. Inching up, I saw her. Her hair splayed everywhere, and she limped. A closer look showed she had broken a heel on her shoe. Her lips parted, showing clenched teeth, and her eyes bored into Over Lord. Both of her fists shook at her sides as she walked.
“You’ve been warned before,” the Woman shouted stabbing a finger at Over Lord. “I am now officially late for my job and I’ve only been there a week. The best I can hope for is my boss is held up by this traffic jam you caused.” She pushed two cars out of her way and continue on the path to Over Lord. “With a brain like yours, you’re smart enough to know this stupid. Just get a job, like everybody else. Then you can buy the stuff you like.”
“Where would the fun in that be?” Over Lord’s hands flew over his belt. “I enjoy our tête-à-têtes. They are so invigorating and get my blood flowing.” His smile reached his eyes as he turned in my direction. “Besides, we both know what they will use their devices for. I’m just being honest about the whole thing.” He spun around and face The Woman and flung something.
I couldn’t see what it was, but the orange object poked over their heads. Blue beams shot from The Woman’s eyes and intercepted the device. The trajectory kept it going, but only for an eye blink, then it exploded, sending dark smoke and dust everywhere.
Choking coughs came from the center of the cloud. A breeze carried most of it away, and I saw both of the combatants get to their feet. Over Lord was first and he didn’t look happy.
“Eyebeams, now?” He wiped the soot from his eyes on a sleeve. “Seriously? When did you get those?”
Waving a hand in front of her face, The Woman coughed once. “I’ve always had’em. Just don’t use them often. They dry my eyes.”
Looking down at her red blouse and tan pants, she swore. “You’ve got to be kidding me. I just bought these.” Her face took on a sour expression as she looked Over Lord. “Screw it. I’m already late.” Throwing a fist back to Montana, she leaped in the air. Her mouth opened and let out a roar as she swung.
Over Lord backpedaled and tapped something on a wrist.
As The Woman’s fist inched closer, a tangerine-colored glow enclosed around Over Lord. He held his hands up. A hissing static sound blasted my ears and the field around Over Lord brightened.
“What?” The Woman looked at her fist then grimaced at Over Lord.
“Force field,” Over Lord said with a chuckle. Tilting his head left and right, he said, “You can’t hit me.” He turned and took a step.
The Woman lunged at him, reaching around his upper arms and chest.
Over Lord’s eyes went wider than a swimming pool and his mouth fell open. He pushed his arms away from his body, keeping The Woman’s fingertips from touching. Over Lord put both hands on his hips, tossed his head back exposing the tendons and lines in his neck.
First two fingers brushed each other, then three. Finally, all four hooked together.
“NO!” Over Lord’s arms were pinned at his sides.
I saw The Woman’s eyes close tightened her grip on her hands and squeezed. Her whole body shook and she screamed past Over Lord’s shoulder.
The force field flickered twice, then went out. Two loud cracks came from the duo, and Over Lord bellowed. His head hung limp at his chest.
“I ain’t fallin’ for that again,” The Woman said shifting her hips. Sweeping a leg in front of Over Lord she swung it back, taking his feet from under him. Both of her hands pushed on his shoulders and he went face down in the air. Next he bounced three times like a basketball on the road, then stopped moving.
Turning from the prone form, The Woman dusted herself off and ran a hand through her hair. Limping from the broken heel, she walked the direction she came. I saw her bend over at the sidewalk and pick up a purse, then she disappeared into the crowd.
Stepping out from behind the car, I approached Over Lord. I felt his pulse tapping on his wrist. Both of his arms had odd lumps in them. He still lay face down in the hole his body made.
“Step back, lady,” one cop said as they approached. “He could be faking it.” I nodded, stepped back, then stopped my video.
“Crap!” I looked around at the mess. “My car is back there.” Hustling back the way I came, I found my car and took the back way to the Daily Bulletin. After parking, I made it into the building and dashed to my editor, Hank. We talked about what I saw and I showed him my video. He damn near kissed me when he saw it.
“Liz,” he said. “Get this to the IT department. They are going get that off there and on our website. You just got front page. In twenty minutes I will need copy from you. Get it to my assistant ASAP.”
“She in there,” Hank waved a hand to the main door. “She’ll even sign your check for this.”
I stepped through the door and looked at the desk. Then I damn near fainted.