Malcolm looked up from his computer screen, stretched his arms over his head, then sighed. “I am ready to call it a day,” he muttered to himself. His hands gripped the push rings of his wheelchair.
“What do you mean I can’t go home?” Anders Brady’s loud voice came over Malcolm’s cube wall. “I’ve done my shift and responded to two calls. I’m tired and need the down time.”
“Oh, crap,” Malcolm said under his breath and hung his head. “I forgot.”
“I understand,” Danforth said. “But you signed up to be on the medical response team for the Society. We didn’t make you.”
“Crap!” Anders said. “I even read the email when I went on shift.” His sigh carried to Malcolm. “Fine. I’ll stay, but I’m not part of the regular queue.” A squeak of an office chair followed and the sound of rapid typing came next.
“That’s how the contract reads,” Danforth said, and appeared in the walk-space between cubes. “Plus, you get extra money for it. That can’t be bad.” He banged a fist on the wall, did a finger gun at Anders, then walked away. His path took him deeper into the cube farm.
“Yeah, that part ain’t bad,” Anders’ voice carried into Malcolm’s cube.
“I did the same thing,” Malcolm said out loud. “I was logging out when I heard Danforth talking to you. Gonna be a long night.”
“Yeah,” Anders said. “Who’s in your cue?” Anders leaned out his cube entrance into the walkway.
Malcolm leaned over an armrest, poking his head past the edge of his cube entrance. “My cue just dumped. So, no one.” He flashed a smile and bounced his eyebrows. Sitting up, he logged out of the workstation and tapped his wrist panel. It showed special duty active status with red letters. Rolling his wheels backward, he pivoted then rolled into the walkway. He looked into Anders’ cube. The large poster of some anime show he never watched grabbing his eye.
Anders straightened and eyed his monitors. “I got the big guy, Paladin, and Fold,” Anders said. “Plus Damsel and Glimmer. Two hot chicks for me.” He chuckled and turned to face Malcolm with a leer on his face.
“Pig!” Edie’s voice came over the cube wall.
“No,” Anders said, looking at the top of the cube wall and wagging a finger in the air. “I turn into a gorilla. You could get away with monkey.”
“You know what I mean,” Edie said, her voice carried a small edge. “No woman out there wants to be referred to as a hot chick.”
“I don’t know, Edie,” Anders shot back. “I bet Spangles might. And I’m pretty sure Showgirl would insist on it.”
Malcolm put his forehead to his hand and shook his head.
Edie let out a heavy sigh, the sound carrying over to Anders and Malcolm. “No decent woman would.”
Malcolm looked up and nodded.
“Let’s agree to disagree,” Anders said, waving a hand at Malcolm and turning back to his station. “Who are you monitoring, munchkin?”
A dark red ball appeared behind Anders and bounced off his head. The force sent his forehead into the keyboard with a loud clack. “Everybody gets one. That was yours. I won’t even bother talking to HR if it happens again. I’ll just tell Garbage.”
Sitting back and rubbing his head, Anders sucked air between his teeth. “Oh, yeah. Your boyfriend. The large man in the Society.” He closed his eyes and mouthed the word stupid. “Sorry. I won’t do that again.”
“As long as you learned your lesson, we’re good,” Edie responded. “And I’m monitoring Garbage, Twins, and Filament.”
“Hey,” Lawrence’s voice came from the cube diagonal from Edie. “You only have three.”
Malcolm spun his wheels in opposite directions, pivoting towards Edie’s cube and rolled to the opening. He saw the four quadrants fill up the vitals monitor.
“Twins is two,” Anders said. “And better her than me. I picked them up once. Odd to the extreme.”
“How so?” Edie tilted her head to face the top edge of the cube wall. In profile, Malcolm thought the blond bun made her head look bigger than normal.
“They finish each other’s sentences,” Anders said. “Or worse, each one says one word back and forth until the sentence is complete.”
“Yeah, that would be odd.” Edie grimaced then refocused on her screens, shaking her head.
“The rest show up on my end,” Lawrence said. “I’ve got Telestic, Fisticuffs, Titanium, and Cutlass. The entire A-List and reserves out on a mission. Whose day are they about to ruin?”
“They said they were going after The Circle,” Edie answered. “At least that’s what I heard while we were on break at the briefing this past weekend.”
“The Circle,” Anders said. “Really? What a dumb name.”
“Yeah, well,” Lawrence said. His head of black, tight curls and two coal-colored eyes floated a finger’s width over the wall. A bump on his forehead caught the light and glowed red. “It might be a dumb name, but some of their B-List members trapped members of the A-List from the Society. Not to mention,” the sound of chewing muted what he said next, and the head disappeared.
“Lawrence, buddy,” Anders said. “Not with a full mouth. We’re trained in CPR and rescue breathing, but I’m not interested in fishing a donut out of your throat.”
The sound of smacking lips and a heavy gulp of a beverage came from Lawrence’s direction. “Sorry. The Circle has to be bad news if the entire Society is doing a raid against them.” Silence fell on the four EMTs. Malcolm looked at the floor and tapped a finger on an armrest.
“What about the others?” Edie’s voice raised in pitch. “We weren’t the only ones there.” She let out a heavy breath, then muttered, “We better not be the only ones here.”
“Yeah,” Lawrence said as he put his drink down with a loud clank. “Malcolm, Karl, Casey, and that other guy I’ve never seen before.”
“I’m here,” Malcolm said. “I logged in, but nothing in my cue. You three have them. I’m on ready standby.” He waved his wrist panel over his head.
“The last person is Jason,” Anders added. “He’s an EMT, sort of. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have any transport powers. He’s been working with Dr. Reymark, the coroner.”
“The coroner?” Edie’s face contorted for an instant. “Why?”
“From what I understand,” Anders said. “He has a knack for it. Able to identify cause of death and other wounds on sight. I’ve seen a few of his reports and Reymark backs him a hundred percent.”
“That’s just creepy,” Lawrence said and chewed into something crunchy on his side of the wall.
“Yeah,” Anders said. “But he does good work, and I bet he got a raise. Plus, he was handpicked for the same team we were.”
“How does he get around?” Edie slid pushed her cube chair into the walkway, next to Malcolm. “You said he doesn’t have transportation powers.”
“The old-fashioned way,” Anders said looking at Edie out of the corner of his eyes. “Ambulance.” His hands mimicked holding a steering wheel.
“Ehhhh,” Lawrence said. “That’s gotta be a pain.”
A gust of wind flowed through the walkway. It washed over Edie and Malcolm, fluttering a dangling memo tacked on the outside of the fabric covered walls.
“Nocallsyet.Thatsgood.Iwasplayingfoosballagainstmyself.Helpsmeburnenergy,” Karl said as he appeared next Edie.
“Blahhh!” Edie jerked around facing Karl. Both of her fists held black spheres and she stared daggers at the tall, skinny man.
“Karl, that is never a good idea,” Malcolm said. “You need to stop ten feet back and walk up at a normal speed.” Malcolm laughed. “Also, slow down your speaking. You sound like a chittering rodent on too much caffeine.”
Karl flashed a smile on his face and his eyebrows went high on his forehead. Small beads of sweat rolled down his face and soft hum emanated from him.
“You might get the chance to burn that off,” Lawrence said. “Cutlass and Telestic are spiking. Nothing serious, but that can change any moment on a mission.”
“Did you say someone was spiking?” Casey’s voice came from Lawrence’s side of the cube wall. “Who?”
“Them,” Lawrence said.
“Who’s Cutlass?” A low, dull tap sound came over the wall. “Hmmm…General agility, decent health rating. He wields a power from his hand like a sword.”
A beep sounded from Edie’s cube. “That’s me.” Shuffling her feet, she pulled her cube chair into her cube. “Twins are up. So is Garbage.” Touching the screen, she pulled up details on Garbage. “Be safe,” she whispered. In a louder voice, “What’s that humming?”
“Karl!” Malcolm called, pivoting to the thin EMT. “Calm down. You’re wasting all that energy.”
“Nervous,” Karl said, his features blurring. His red hair flew in small waves, looking like low flames on a candle.
“Hey, man.” Malcolm reached out and grabbed Karl’s arm. “Go get some food. You might need the calories soon.”
“Goodideaman,” Karl said, then bolted past Malcolm and disappeared from view. Another gust flapped hair and dislodged papers from desks.
“Is he off his meds?” Edie rolled out of her cube but kept facing her monitors.
“He has to be,” Malcolm said. “He’s three times faster off them, then on them.”
“Whoa!” Anders chimed in. “Seriously? That fast.”
Malcolm nodded. “Plus, he’s been working with doctors to manually control his ADHD. If he can burn off the energy he naturally creates, he’s good to go.”
“Hey, Mal,” Casey said, her head and shoulders hovering over Lawrence’s cube wall. Her smile showed plenty of teeth and a sparkle in her eyes.
“Hey, Case.” Malcolm waved back, hiding a blush.
“And all the monitoring EMTs have a hit,” Anders said. “I have Fold and Glimmer.”
“Keep us posted,” Malcolm said and rolled into the main hall. “I’m gonna get Karl and grab some food.”
“Good idea,” Casey said. She lowered below the wall.
Malcolm rolled down the main hall as Casey caught up with him. “Mal,” she said. “How do you like being the primary support for the Society?”
Malcolm sighed. “It’s a pretty big job. Honestly, I hope we don’t get called.”
“Why?” Casey looked him in the eye. “I would think it would be good to save a hero.”
“If we’re called out,” Malcolm said as he turned the corner. “It means a hero went down. That’s never good.” Casey closed her mouth and looked away. She felt her ears heat as they both turned into the kitchen.
“MalcolmCasey.Itlookslikewegottago,” Karl said as he stood. He grabbed a long sandwich off the table and brought it to his lips. In a few bites, half of it was gone.
“Dude you better walk while you eat,” Malcolm said, rolling to the table and pulled two of the sandwiches into his lap. “Casey, these are for us. Or at least Karl and me. You can have one.”
“Uh, sure,” she said, reaching out taking a smaller one. “What did Karl say?”
“He hears on the radio frequencies,” Malcolm said as he rolled back to the hallway. “He said we are going.”
“Society EMT team,” the flat and emotionless voice sounded in their earbuds. “You are being requested to deploy. Twins, Glimmer, and Telestic are unconscious.”
“Crap!” Casey shoved the sandwich into a pouch on her waist and moved to the aerial launch pad. Stopping before they separated, she looked at Malcolm. “If you aren’t busy this Saturday, we should see a movie.”
Malcolm did a double take, making his brown, curly hair bounce. “What? A movie? Saturday?”
“You heard me,” Casey said with a smile and walked away.
“Great,” he muttered. “I’ve got a date.” The pink on his cheeks flowed to his forehead and disappeared.
Pushing his chair back to the group, he worked a sandwich to his mouth. Through the mouth of food, he checked in. “EMT Malcolm Forsyth checking in.”
“EMT Forsyth,” the metallic-female voice said. “Codenamed Mag Wheels. Acknowledged. Designated leader.”
“I forgot about that,” Malcolm said. “Stupid Mitch.” Rolling to a stop, he spotted Edie leaving her cube. “We are go, I heard.”
“Yup,” she said looking back at him. Her steel-blue eyes flashing in the bright fluorescent lights “I’m headed to the flyer’s deck. Is Casey heading that way?”
“Yup,” Malcolm said. “I better get. The elevator won’t wait too long.”
“Be safe,” Edie said.