A terriblemind (Chuck Wendig) flash fiction challenge – Superhero plus
„I bite ’n won’t let go! Go ahead! Call me a hard-headed dog!“ The dark haired man flashes his widest grin. Fingers skidding along the keyboard in amazing speed.
„Meh- That’s just a load of bull!“ Next to him, a blue eyed man adjusts his glasses and throws a crumbled up napkin at him. „Chew on this, Black…“
„Don’tcha ´Meh` me, Zeroes! Glue your eyeballs to those Dummy Barriers. Watch me blow’em away… Last one in, buys me beer,“ he laughs.
The left-over sun seeps through the half closed blinds. The hotel room’s a mess. McDonald’s paper bags and cups lie around scattered among other trash. The telly reports some celebrity news to itself. Both men work on their laptops, hammering away line after line into black and white console windows. They are about to pull an all-nighter, snooping around in some nasty corporate networks. Tonights black-out winner: Strix-Genome Engineering! This company hits jackpot, with a full scale forced shut down.
In the lobby of the same hotel, Andy flops into a leather armchair, observing the comings and goings. Near him, neatly folded, tomorrow’s newspaper. The header of a small article, on the upper page informs about a fire on the tenth floor of this hotel. Starting in room 1024. Fifteen injured, five dead. Among those – two unidentified murder victims. Each of them with a bullet in their skulls. Cause of fire? Unknown. It must be them alright…
He leans back, massaging his temples. Outside, the city’s night shift wakes up. Adds, intersection and street lights flare on, sending screaming signals into his mind, beacons of high-frequency-annoyance. His head has doubled its size. A clawed and fanged something tries to escape his skull, by gnawing its ways out through the temples.
His notebook rests open in his lap. He has been sketching the last hour like a maniac. The drawn scenario shows two men in a hotel room in front of their laptops. Maybe surfing the net. And they’re both as good as dead. In less than two hours. The skin on his back and shoulders burn, like his eyes. The hole in his stomach sucks down his mind. Bad timing. He needs to eat.
It’s always hard to pinpoint induced continuum errors, costs him so much energy. „Nothing good ever comes from aberrant timelines,“ he hears himself mumble. Not good. Talking to self is just…bad. Hypoglycemia is a bitch. He tucks away the folded newspaper into the book, like a reading sign.
This whole timeline is going to obliterate under his grip. Coincidences will fishtail him across the continuum anyway.
First things first. Two corpses less is a fine way to jump in, isn’t it? BAM! Right into the causal string. Stop those two brain-challenged hackers before it’s too late. It may even suffice to stop the chain reaction. They’re about to dismantle the Strix-Genome Engineering site, to leak information. Those dumbfucks trigger large scale corporate terrorism. A chain reaction leading to war, eventually…
The elevator door slides open with a „ding“. Andy walks down the hallway, munching on his third chocolate bar. Sugar’s the best to power up his muscles. The thick carpet feels good under his bare feet.
Room 1024. He knocks. Nothing. „Playing possum?“ He grabs the handle and begins to tense and relax the muscles in his lower arm. He shorts the lock with bare hands. It clicks softly and the door swings open.
The two hackers goggle at him in shock. He enters smoothly and closes the door. Listening intently, only picking up the electricity in the room. It masks all sound distortions that could be caused by a newly branching timeline.
„Wrong room, fucker!“ Black’s the first on his feet, grabs Andy’s jacket, pulling him onto the tip of his toes.
„Not at all.“ Time to deal with this lunkhead his way. Andy stiffens back and arm muscles. The sugar fix pays off, he’s easily building up electricity. His punch stuns the dark haired guy, sweeping him straight off his feet. Zeroes’ next, he comes at Andy growling, fists swinging like barn doors. No effort dodging those. It isn’t even fun. The logo of Strix-Genome appears on one of the monitors. „Shit!“ He shoves Zeroes out of the way, and palms the nearest socket. He fries the room instantly – the floor, maybe the whole hotel… Lights out, screens black. The headache’s gone.
Zeroes ogles at him dumbstruck. On the floor Black groans, „…what hit me?“
“I suggest, you numb skulls hightail out of here. Try ’n stay alive.“ Andy answers in a flat tone.
Black sits up, wide eyed. With a foot he nudges his dead equipment, then points at Andy’s feet. „Dude? Shoes?!“ Andy looks down at his toes, wiggles them. Yeah. Shoes do not work for him, too much insulation.
„…EMP… Sick! You with Strix-Genome?“ Zeroes finds his mouth again.
„- No. Get going, stupid.“ Both hackers jump up and start to throw things hastily in their bags.
Dimly glowing visions of fire dissolve into the room door. There it is! The timeline shift, finally! Andy starts walking out into the now dark hallway, a bit nauseous. The old continuum’s collapsing, and with it a part of him perishes too. For a moment, his legs almost give out under him… No more chocolate bars in his pocket. “Shit.” Maybe he causes the fire after all. On the way out, he has to pull the fire alarm, and check the newspaper…
„You can’t just take off like that! At least tell us your name!“ The hackers follow him down the hallway, like puppies.
„Leave Strix-Genome alone!“ Andy insists, moving faster.
„What’s it to you?“ Black queries.
„Nothing but a giggle…“ Without looking Andy shrugs and walks off to the staircase. He needs to clear out ASAP.
„Their security system is kaput, and the data is drifting into oblivion… We wanted to blow the whistle. Or at least earn cash. Either way… Looked easy.“ Zeroes explains half running, to catch up.
„Well it’s not! You have no idea, what you’re getting yourselves into!“ Andy snorts annoyed.
He needs to eat.