Preterhuman Normal Chronicles (PNC)

Preterhuman Normal

It’s in the water

 

Part One                                                                                  July 24, 2016

 

He pulled the bullet out of his thigh with tweezers made from surgical steel and dropped the casing into a steel bowl.  Who first said all the freaks creeped out of Between Town’s  woodworks after Levitar first appeared?  He was five, watching TV with his mother when the first superhero in Between Town appeared.

Norma Nethers sat on the creaking couch in their moldy apartment with the dripping pipes while drinking cheap wine and smoking the thrown away butts of cigarettes Norm had found for her that day.  He sat cross-legged on the floor staring up at their 32” LED TV watching Midtown News anchorwoman Alejandra Ceto talk to a very tall man wearing a bourbon colored Corinthian helmet so only his eyes were visible.  He wore black overalls covered by a bourbon cuirass, and brick red plates that covered his forearms, groin, and knees.  A billowing blue cape covered his back from his broad shoulders to bulging calves.

“How do you fly into the air?” Alejandra asked him in her sensual, Spanish voice as wind whipped her long blonde hair across her beautiful oval face. Even at five he could see the intrigue in her dark blue eyes for this mysterious man.

“I levitate, not fly,” he answered with a deep, caring voice.

“Could you give us a demonstration?”

“Of course!  Would you like to join me?”

“Okay, but what should the World call you?” she asked slipping off her white French heels.

Norm watched wide eyed as the tall man slipped his one arm around Alejandra’s tailored stonecutter grey suit jacket and the other at the hem of her grey skirt just behind her knees.  He hefted her once.  “Call me, Levitar.”  Norm’s jaw dropped as he saw the two of them shoot into the air so all the street level cameraman could film was a dot in sky.

“Isn’t he amazing Normy?” his mother said, squinting her eyes as she blew out a cloud of smoke.

“Yes,” he replied, watching as Levitar returned to Earth and gently set Alejandra down.

The news skipped to Alejandra standing in the newsroom studio talking about Levitar’s achievements as images of the Midtown superhero played on a screen just to her left.  Norm saw Levitar push a derailed train back onto the tracks.  In the next clip he saved a young child who had fallen into a zoo display full of orangutans.

“Mom!  I want to be like Levitar,” he said as the news turned to the weather.

“Oh, darling,” his mother said, “We don’t even know if he’s human.  Just be a normal boy.”

Norm got to his feet and jumped into the air.  His hands touched the nine foot ceiling.  He landed as quietly as he jumped.   He tried to levitate but maybe he just didn’t know how to yet.

 

 

Part Two   July 24, 2016

 

The bullet shouldn’t have gone through the Kevlar thigh guard.  He lifted the casing up with long nose pliers.  Someone with a lot of money had these made.  It would take a very special type of single shot rifle to fire a bullet through his body armour.  This casing was made of plastic with an inner wall of steel for weight.  For short bursts he could move his arms and legs as fast as a bullet but his armour took care of most of them.  They normally just stung and left a welt.  He was a young kid when he discovered that he could move faster than any normal human.

The Margot Kidder elementary school was only a short distance away from Between Towns’ railroad station.  Habby Brooks, a short, skinny kid with unruly blond hair on his unusually large head told Norm he was the greatest athlete, ever because Norm ran circles around his classmates in gym class.  “Bet you can run faster than the Midtown Express train,” Habby said at the end of the school year.

“Bet I could,” Norm replied, he felt confident that he was the best athlete and the smartest student in the entire district, so he should be able to outrun a train.  They talked to their other schoolmates and agreed that a students would stand at the kilometer mark along the track for the first four kilometers.

Saturday morning of that week Norm saw a large group of students and even some teachers and parents standing around the railroad station.  The only parent missing was his mother.  He knew Habby was already waiting at the four kilometer mark.

The other students walked to their positions while workers unloaded crates from the cars at the Midtown Express onto the docks of Helio Technologies.  When they were finished and the engine revved up, Norm started jogging on the spot.  I am like Levitar he told himself.

He kept pace with the train as it sped up.  The goal was to stay with it until the fourth kilometer and then dash ahead.  The faster the train went the more he pumped his arms.  The second kilometer sign passed in a blur.  At the third kilometer mark the train began to edge ahead.  He pumped his arms harder.  Just before the fourth kilometer marker the caboose passed him.  Trailing the train he slowed down to a jog and turned back towards Habby.

Habby showed him his stop watch.  “Two minutes to run four kilometers!”

Norm grimaced at the time.  “Well, I’ll do better when I get older.”

“You’re only seven!” Habby said slapping him on the shoulder.  “Wait until you’re a teenager.”

Despondent Norm hung his head as he walked to his apartment building.  Levitar could out race a train.  So shouldn’t he be able to?  He saw a haze of smoke as he went into the living room.  His mother was watching the news.  He sat down in front of the couch with his legs crossed.

Alejandra Ceto stood in front of the Cobb’s Warehouse on Eve Street in downtown Midtown.  Soot and charred furniture lay strewn inside a gaping hole in the warehouse’s front entrance.  “It was ten hours ago that the police raided the Aka Manah gang’s hideout,” she said as wind blew strands of her hair across her face.  “The fighting was at a standstill until Levitar appeared.  All the
Aka Manah gang members were rendered unconscious and arrested.  However, only half of the two billion dollars believed to be stashed inside from numerous robberies throughout the Toronto Metropolis has been recovered.  But now police are wondering where is the other half?  Five years ago police informers said three billion dollars was stashed in the basement of Midtown’s Grand Hospital.  Only half was recovered.  I am about to talk to Robb Helio of Helio Industries.”

Norm saw a tall man with black hair cut in the layer style so it wasn’t short or long.  The man’s dark blue eyes drew you in so the chiseled face with the square, dimpled chin seemed like an afterthought.  The man’s beige Artvictus dress shirt stretched over his muscles so tight you could see them moving every time he shifted his arms.  The leg muscles inside his dark grey Brunello Cucinelli jeans reminded Norm of the legs of an elite hundred meter athlete.  “You look beautiful as always,” Robb said with a deep and down to earth voice.

Alejandra’s face turned red.  “Thank you Mr. Helio.”

“Robb,” he said with an easy smile.

“Helio Industries is only three years old now.  Are you worried that one of the many gangs in Midtown or one of the surrounding towns, like Between Towns will rob your company?”

“It’s possible,” he replied with a shrug.

“What do you think about the police only recovering half the amount of money their informer told them was in Cobb’s Warehouse?”

“I guess someone needed the money.”

Norm grew tired of their flirtatious conversation.  He wanted to see if he could get an old laptop he found in someone’s garbage to work.

 

 

 

Part Three                                                                                         July 25, 2016

 

He flexed the knee of the injured thigh and grimaced.  Already the a burning sensation surrounded his wound.  It hurt real bad but he knew he was already healing.  He was ten when he learned fighting wasn’t a good idea if you had no idea how to control your uncommon strength.

 

Norm won at sports and scored the highest in tests and projects.  Shows of strength or speed didn’t mean anything to him, he was always a geek at heart and Habby Brooks was the only person who could almost keep up to his thinking.  So they tried to be in the same groups or be partners when it came to school projects.  Habby was also the only person Norm ever invited to his house.  The first time it happened Habby went on and on about how he wished he was as strong and fast as Norm.  Norm handed him a soldering iron he found in an old tool box someone threw away.  “Help me get this radio to work,” he said.  Maybe it was the way he looked at Habby when he said it but the boy never talked about how we wished he had Norm’s strength or speed again.

Kyle Whittleway beat up anyone who didn’t share their candy or lunch money with him when he asked.  He left Norm alone but talked trash about him when he wasn’t around.   Norm didn’t care and he didn’t challenge Kyle’s claim to toughest kid in Grade Five.  Habby had asthma and now wore thick glasses that made his eyes look huge because of poor eyesight.  Kyle decided Habby was the perfect person to take lunch money from.  That wasn’t okay with Norm.

Kyle wasn’t a big kid but he was stalky and compared to others he was strong.  His parents had enrolled him in Karate when he was four and now he had his brown belt.  Talk is a big part of intimidation with kids.  A lot of toughness comes from how cool you act and how vigorously you make your claims of hurting the other person if they don’t do what you say.

Norm didn’t know how to fight.  If someone chased him while he searched in garbage for electronics or picked up cigarette butts off the curb for his mother, he just outran them.  This was different.  He was the aggressor this time and he wasn’t sure what to do.

“Kyle!” he said in the boy’s washroom at 10 a.m. that morning.

“Hey Norm,” Kyle replied, the toughness in his voice missing.  Two of Kyle’s friends were also at the urinals.  That was something Norm noticed, Kyle was almost never alone.

“Back off Habby!” he warned.

Kyle looked scared for a moment until Norm saw him glance at his two friends.  “Or what?”

“I’ll hurt you,” Norm replied.

Kyle made a pfft sound.  “Meet me at the park after school punk,” Kyle said staring up into Norm’s face as his two friends stepped to either side of him.  “And so you know, when I’m done with you, I’m gonna beat the snot out of your freaky fatheaded friend.”

“Four O’clock,” Norm said, “Or I’ll come to your home.”  He sounded far tougher than he felt as he walked out.  His heart pounded.  He would go to the park but he didn’t know what he would do.

“You’ll kill him,” Habby said as Norm walked silently towards the park.

He could see a large group of students already there.  It reminded him of the train race.  Be like Levitar he thought and this time don’t lose.  “Go home Habby.”

“Why?”

“If I lose he’s going to come after you.”

“You won’t lose,” Habby replied and Norm felt more at ease.

He felt shaky as he walked past students he knew and didn’t.  There were Grade Six students there, inciting the younger students to chant:  “Fight, fight!”

Kyle was in the centre punching and kicking the air while his friends yelled “You’ll kill him Kyle.”

Kyle did a spinning roundhouse that caught Norm in the face.  He expected it to hurt but it didn’t.  A look of surprise crossed Kyle’s face.  Kyle jabbed him in the nose.  It stung but not too bad.  Norm charged in and grabbed the front of Kyle’s shirt.  He wrapped his right arm around Kyle’s neck in a choke hold he’d seen on Wrestling.  Kyle’s knees buckled to the ground and Norm let him go.

Norm froze.  Everyone was silent until one of the Grade Sixers knelt down beside Kyle.  “He’s breathing.”

“Let’s go,” Norm said to Habby.

“You won!” Habby shouted out.

“Yeah, hurry.”

“Why?”

“Because I don’t ever want to almost kill someone again.”

 

 

 

 

Part Four                                                                                 July 27, 2016

Naturally healing is best if you are abnormally quick to recover but there wasn’t time.  He held an ice pack on his injured thigh and swallowed some anti-inflammatories.  Geeks can be as deadly as the best fighters in the world if the goal is to find damaging information or financial theft.  He was twelve when he found that out.

Technology had surpassed its need to improve for the common person.  Where did the big production companies get their money if they weren’t selling new technology?  They stocked the refurbishing stores that popped up everywhere.  Norm didn’t have access to the Internet at home so he and Tabby studied what they could off of Tabby’s old Blackberry Z3 at lunch-time.

Norm also used the Z3 to see how old you had to be to get a job.  His mother still worked at the Cleaner’s on Bent Street but her health was deteriorating.  She wheezed, took a puff of her used cigarette, and wheezed again.  He knew soon he might be the only provider.  You had to be fourteen to get a Social Insurance Number so you could get a job.   He couldn’t legally work yet but he went into Joe’s Entertainment and Refurbishing store with a plan.

He walked past the monitors and TV’s and noticed they were all in inches.  At the back of the store, behind the counter where Joe stood were numerous types of car stereos from DVD to HDI.  Norm found it interesting that interspersed between the TV’s at the back were some old electric pianos and brass instruments.  He also noticed up-to-date electronic books and magazines.

Joe had a circlet of black hair and large hands compared to his average height.  He wore a blue striped white dress shirt, black leather belt, and beige cargo pants.  “I need a job,” Norm blurted out.  “I’m not fourteen but if you pay me under the table I’ll repair anything you bring in.  Ask me anything.”

So Joe did and Norm was able to answer almost everything.  “We’ll try it out but I can’t pay you much.”

“Okay,” Norm replied.  He took another glance at the books and magazines.  “Do I get a discount if I buy something in the store?”

“After a month,” Joe said.

A month later he was reading up on the latest software programming and robotics.

“You should hack into Helio Technologies!” Tabby challenged him two months later.

“I could,” Norm replied, “I saw Joe punch in his WiFi code when he wasn’t looking.  But I don’t want him to get into trouble if they trace it.”

“What about using Kyle or one of his buddies’ tablets?”

“That would be stealing.”

“Borrowing,” Tabby corrected.

The idea thrilled Norm.  During a Friday History class he shared with Kyle he slipped the phone off Kyle’s desk and into a binder he was carrying so fast it wasn’t until the end of the class that Kyle realized it was missing.

After school he worked at Joe’s while going over all the pros and cons of breaking into Helio Technology’s computer software.

He went to Stan’s Park, a small park near Joe’s store, with benches and picnic tables around a pond full of Canada Geese.  It took him two hours to get through the firewalls.  When he had access he went into a menu area and started looking at the technology.  He saw schematics for altering cars and something about body armour.  He clicked on the body armour and the tablet went blank.

Monday he slipped the tablet out of his binder onto Kyle’s desk.  On that Thursday as he worked in the backroom of Joe’s on a 60” 3-D Sony TV he heard Joe call him to the front counter.  “This is Ms. Abigail Grady.”

A short, buxom woman with smooth dark skin and wide hips, wearing flat white pump shoes stood at the desk.  The tresses of her long blonde hair and burgundy eyes went well with the form fitting black Vfemage wiggle dress she wore.  She wrote something down on a pad.  “This is my licence’s plate number and you have my name,” she said in a serious tone that didn’t fit well with her slight lisp.

“Your mother said I would find you here young man,” she said to Norm.  She slipped on a pair of mirror sunglasses.  “We’re going for a little ride.”  She turned to Joe, “For about an hour.”

He followed her to a cherry red Audi R8.  “Climb in,” she said.

His eyes wandered over the stone grey dashboard.   He could understand everything but a button with Esc written in the centre and one that said Turb.

“Never been in a sports car,” Ms. Grady asked lisping the S’s?

He glanced around, “Never been in a car before,” he replied in a hushed voice.

“Your apartment reeks of smoke,” she said, “doesn’t that bother you?”

“Not so far but I think it hurts my mom.”

She pulled into Carnival Park’s parking lot.  He saw the high chain-link fence with the barb-wired tops that surrounded the Ferris wheel and other rides.

“I’ll be right back,” she said.

He watched her go to the trunk and take something out.  Back inside the car she passed him a long thin box.  It felt light for its size.  “May I have that back.”  Norm passed it to her.  He watched as she took out some kind of handheld scanner with a black handle and about the size of a shaver.  “I work for Helio Technologies,” she said looking at a screen on the top of the scanner.  “We have a match.”

“Oh,” was all he could say preparing to open the door and run.

“First we went to Kyle Whittleway’s house but he didn’t seem the sort who could break into a business’s secure cloud site.  We asked at your junior high school and they gave us two names.  Your house doesn’t have a phone but Habby Brook’s does.  But the fingerprints we took off Kyle’s tablet didn’t match Habby’s so that leaves you.”  She turned the ignition on and without another word drove him back to Joe’s store.

As he started to get out, she said, “We will be watching you Norm Nethers.  Be good and don’t try to break into Helio Technologies again.  What you do now will help determine if your future is bright or dismal.”  He watched her speed off.

 

 

 

Part Five                                                                                  July 28, 2016

 

Body armour can never be too light or it bends and shifts from sword, axe, broken glass, or bullet attacks.  Bent anything digging into your skin is very painful.   Norm knew because of its weight most people could never move fluidly in his suit.  But at fourteen there is always someone.  Someone who doesn’t necessarily have bulging muscles but who is just as uncannily strong.

Grade Nine gym classes were mandatory so Norm feeling disgruntled beat everyone at push-ups, chin-ups and laps on the track.  After class his gym teacher asked him to play on the junior team; Norm said No; the teacher who was also the coach asked and asked him until he finally agreed.  The only stipulation Norm insisted on was that he played positions that didn’t require him to tackle anyone.

In practice no one could stop him.  Students and adults started to sit in the grandstand to watch.  He started to see a voluptuous amazon of a woman with long raven hair and wearing pink rimmed sunglasses in the shape of a heart in the seats every practice.  On the hot days she wore white or yellow T-shirts stretched out by her large bosom.  The T-shirts always had sayings like Watchin’ You, I’m A Lover And A Fighter.  On cooler days she wore a white leather jacket with Love Ya written on the back in black studs.  He could see the muscle definition of her legs through the tight fitting cobalt blue capris she always wore.

“Hey Norm,” the coach said, pulling him aside, after they had won the sixth game in a row.  “I want to switch you to quarterback.”

“Okay,” Norm said.  He didn’t mind switching positions as long as he didn’t have to tackle.

“Can you practice throwing so you don’t knock the players off their feet?”

“Sure.”

“And, I need you to get a blood and urine sample.  I’m sorry but other coaches are accusing you of taking muscle enhancement drugs.  I can tell by how thin you are that’s it’s impossible but just to assure them.”  The coach handed him a slip of paper.  Follow these instructions and meet a Dr. Caligulass tomorrow at 3 p.m. in the school’s medical office.

Norm looked at the sheet.  He was instructed to drink lots of water before he saw Dr. Caligulass.  “You could ask me not to get a touchdown every time or just not throw to me,” Norm said.

The coach shrugged.  “Kyle isn’t that good of a quarterback but he might be a great receiver.”

The next day Norm went to the head office at 2:45 p.m.  He saw the very tall and buxom woman with the heart shaped sunglasses come in wearing a tight blue medical smock that left her cleavage completely uncovered.  Her white stilettos made her a head taller than him.  “Come with me,” she said with an exotic voice that reminded him of a warm summer day just as the sun was going down.

She passed him a vial.  “I need you to pee in this sweetie,” she said, nodding towards a small bathroom in the medical room.

He was nervous and tried not to miss.  The vial was nearly full when he finished.  He sealed the vial and put it inside a Ziploc bag before he washed his hands.

“Now have a seat and put your left arm on the armrest,” Dr. Caligulass said pointing to a chair beside an adjustable bed.  She leaned close to him so his eyes bulged at her open cleavage.  “It will just take a moment,” she cooed wrapping surgical tubing around his upper arm and tying it.  He watched as she pressed the needle of a long syringe against the underside of his lower arm.  Her eyebrows knitted.  She pushed again.  “Who are your parents darling?” she asked with confusion in her voice.

“I don’t have a father,” he replied.

“Disappointing,” she said and he wasn’t sure if she meant she was disappointed that he didn’t have a father or that she couldn’t get the needle to puncture his skin.  “Well, we’ll have to leave it at that darling.  You can go.”

He glanced back and saw her put the Ziploc bag into her black Crossbody purse.  Seemed strange for her to do that but he had to get to Joe’s store for 4 p.m.

After work he saw a red Citroen Aircross SUV parked in front of his apartment building.  Inside he could hear his mother talking to a woman who sounded familiar and a man with a very soft, soothing voice.  He followed the cigarette smoke to the kitchen where he saw his mother talking animatedly to Dr. Caligulass and a man whose back was turned to him.   The man’s hair stood up from his head like white stalagmites.

“Norm has always been a healthy, good boy,” his mother said through drags of new cigarettes.  She took a crystal wine glass and Norm noticed in the centre of the table a bottle of Inniskillin Riesling Ice Wine.  “But he has no father, one day he just started growing inside my belly.”

The man turned his head towards Norm.  His irises appeared to be white but Norm could see a very faint pink pigment.  His long hooked nose barely extended farther than his jutting chin.   “I need your blood so we can discover who your father is,” the man said with a soft voice as he smiled with blood red lips that seemed to spread too wide for his narrow face.

“Just give me a moment,” Norm said as he slipped into his room.  Under his bed he took out the Helio Tablet Ms. Grady had given almost two years ago and typed Dr. Caligulass.  The screen showed a half body picture of Dr. Caligulass but without her sunglasses on.  Her cornflower blue eyes were wide and menacing as she smiled for the camera.  Under her picture, written in red, he saw DANGEROUS.  There was no other information.

Norm took his tablet with him as he stepped back into the kitchen.  “Really have to go but we can discuss this later.”

“The thing about being extraordinary Normy, is people either want you on their side, or they want to get rid of you as competition.”  The man said as he began to stand up.  Norm dashed towards the front door.  He felt fingers brush against his arm as he opened the door and fled.  Terror made his heart pound.  No one had almost caught him before!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part Six                                                                          July 30, 2016

Different polymers layered with Kevlar are the common material for body shielding.  Norm slipped on a pre-used cuisse over his injured thigh.  He didn’t have a lot of time to re-engage and it reminded him that desperation shows you who you really care about.

Since nearly killing Kyle Whittleway he had tried not to be confrontational or violent.  Now what choice did he have?  Dr. Caligulass and the man with the whitish-pink irises had his mother!  He ran towards Helio Technologies.

The front of the building stood six stories high with modern cobalt blue steel and long silver coloured windows.  He stopped down the street to watch people showing their badges to a huge security guard.  Norm took out his Blackberry and typed in Ms. Abigail Grady’s name.  He saw her picture and a short description underneath that told him she was Vice President of Helio Technologies.  Below her title he saw her contact information.  He clicked into her e-mail and typed:  I need you my mother is a prisoner in our apartment of Dr. Caligulass and a dangerous sort of albino man.  Norm Nethers.  As he typed he kept an eye on the road for the red Citroen Aircross.

Speed was something he knew how to use.  He slipped in behind a tall man waiting to get into the building.  As the security guard checked the man’s badge, Norm dashed inside.  He didn’t stop running until he got to the front desk where another male security guard stood.

The security guard blinked when Norm suddenly appeared before him.  “How did you get here?” The man asked.  “Where’s your badge?”  Without hesitating the guard started talking into a Bluetooth mic attached to a headset.  “We have–.”

Norm put his hand over the mic.  “I e-mailed Ms. Grady,” he said feeling tears fill his lower eyelid.  “My mother is in trouble and I need help getting her back from some bad people.”

“You need to leave here right now son,” the guard said putting his hand over Norm’s.

“You need to get help for my mother!” Norm hissed at him.

The guard tried to pull Norm’s hand away but couldn’t.

Norm felt a pain across the back of his shoulders.  He whipped around and grabbed a telescoping baton off the door guard.  The guard’s jaw dropped and he stepped back with his hands up.  Norm glanced back at the other guard and said: “My apartment, she’ll know.”  He looked at the guard who had hit him.  “I need this,” he said holding up the baton.

“Kid, you’re making a mistake,” the guard replied with hands still up.

“Just remember I never hurt you,” Norm replied and he ran out of the building.

The Citroen Aircross was gone!  He held the baton in ready as he entered his apartment.  No smoke, no voices!  In the kitchen, under a new pack of Marlboro Special Blend he saw a pink sticky note with semi-circular writing on it.

Your beautiful, wonderful mother is going to spend some time with me and my friends.  She has such exquisite hands!  One delicate finger for every day you don’t give me a sample of your fascinating blood.  Unless I get impatient!  She probably won’t appreciate the name ‘Stumpy’.

Yours in good health

Softie

 

 

 

Part Seven                                                                               July 31, 2016

 

He glanced at his Blackberry DTEK50’s screen.  No return to Call of Duty message yet.  But you’re always on call for family.

The message said nothing about where he should drop off his blood to get his mother back!  He looked up Dr. Caligulass on his Helio tablet but there was no information.  No hidden site to break into!

He heard a knock at the door.  A lanky man wearing a red and white uniform with matching baseball cap stood there with a large white pizza box with the words Fingerlicking Good Pizza written in black magic marker.  “Hey,” the man said with a husky voice.  He gave Norm a toothy grin as he passed him the pizza box.  “Compliments of Helio Industries.”

“I’ll get you a tip,” Norm told him as he searched his pockets but couldn’t find any money.

“Sure,” the man said.

Norm took the pizza box to the kitchen.  He found four dollars in change and hurried back to the door.  The man was gone.

He returned to the kitchen and flipped open the pizza box.   Fingers covered the pepperoni, cheese, and mushroom toppings.  Norm gagged.  In the centre he saw a small, pink envelope beside a test tube with a stopper.  His hand shook as he pulled the envelope off the cheese.

The message was written in semi-circular lines.

When you’re busy you forget things Normy.  I—forgot to tell you how to give me your blood.  It’s Easy!  Cut yourself, gouge yourself, but fill the vial.  Leave it in the fridge and go away .  RETURN THE DAYAFTER.  You’ll find your mom happily sitting, drinking, smoking, watching the news on your wonderful sofa.  IF you do it Today she’ll be able to hold a remote with all her fingers.

Your BFFOREVER!

Softie   

PS The fingers are delicious

Norm took a butter knife and poked one of the fingers.  It split easily with cream custard inside.  With an evil grin he sat down and ate a few of the fingers before he started on the pizza.  Was there a time he had ever bled?  He couldn’t think of one.  But he would fill the vial.   And when he got his mother back he was going to teach Softie and Helio Technologies what a smart, fast, and strong teenager could do.

 

 

 

Part Eight                                                                                August 1, 2016

 

He walked around the living room of his Condo, warming up his injured leg.  So much was happening he wasn’t sure who threw him out of danger’s way after he was shot.  You have to learn patience to know who your true friends are.

Norm stared at the pizza box as he sharpened a steak knife while he waited for water to boil.  He thought Ms. Grady had sent the pizza with a message inside.  But no!  It was from Softie.  The water boiled so he dipped the knife’s blade in and held it there for a minute.  Helio Industries would pay for not helping him.  But Softie was first on his list.  The time for not hurting people was over.

He had to press the blade into his right palm with all his might before a trickle of blood came out.  The wound healed so fast he had to repeat the procedure over and over again.  Cut, let the blood drip into the vial, and cut again.  It hurt to the point that his eyes blurred with tears and his body shook with shock.  A little more he thought when he heard banging on the door.

He put the knife down and hunched his shoulders.  The door was open before the person behind it could blink.  “What?” he said with a growl.

“We need to hurry,” said Ms. Grady.  She was dressed in a dark green bodysuit with purple greaves, poleyns, cuisses, and vambraces.  It looked like she was wearing a corset under her bodysuit.

“It’s too late,” Norm said as he started to close the door.

“We’ve been tracking him for some time Norman,” she said with her slight lisp, pushing her way into the apartment.  “I wasn’t going to involve you but—my help is preoccupied right now.”

“Hold on.”  Norm hurried into the kitchen and placed the test tube with his blood into the fridge.  Better to have a backup plan in case Ms. Grady couldn’t find Softie and Ms. Caligulass.  He grabbed the baton he had taken off the Helio Industries security guard.

Ms. Grady led him to her cherry red Audi R8.  Norm got into the passenger side and immediately noticed a difference.  Holograph dials and buttons covered her dashboard.  In the centre he saw a map of Between Towns with a blinking red dot on Main Street.

“He’s stuck in traffic.  I was rushed but see if any of these fit,” she said as she pulled a white duffel bag from behind her seat.

He pulled out a bicycle helmet with a Bluetooth mic.  It was loose when he tried it on.

“Just tighten the straps as best you can,” Ms. Grady told him as she turned a corner.

Norm slipped on a pair of gloves that were one size too big and a vest that looked similar to the ones police wear.

The car turned onto Main Street.  He saw Ms. Grady reach under her seat and pull out a gun with a long barrel and place it in her lap.

“People like Softie are very arrogant,” she said to him as she steered the car through traffic.  “That’s their only weakness.  They are also devious, strong, fast and quite intelligent.  He probably wants you to join his gang and that’s why he took your mother.”

Norm stared out the front window looking for the red Citroen Aircross SUV.  “He wants my blood.”

Ms. Glady glanced at him in shock.  “Why would he want your blood?” she asked in a quiet lisp.

Norm could tell she was talking to herself and not him so he stayed quiet.  Ahead he could see a white Citroen Aircross.  He looked from the map to Ms. Grady.

“Devious isn’t he?” she said keeping her eyes on the car.  “The SUV can change colour.”

The Citroen turned onto Don Valley Parkway.

“He’s getting ahead!” Norm said his eyes glued to the Citroen as it weaved past other vehicles.

“We have to wait until he pulls over or goes where there aren’t any other cars,” she told him.  “The longer he doesn’t know we’re trailing him the better.”

 

 

Part Nine                                                                                 August 4, 2016

He grabbed his spare goggles and hobbled into the bathroom setting his Blackberry on the sink counter.  From inside the vanity he pulled out a bottle of Rain-X Anti-Fog spray.  Never go into battle with untried equipment he was told; sage advice from a villain.

The white Citroen slammed on its brakes so he and Ms. Grady were right behind it.  Norm saw the right rear signal light slide out and up.  Something spilt onto the road.

“Shoot!” he heard Ms. Grady say as she swerved towards the side of the road.

Norm pressed his hands against the dashboard as he felt the car drop closer to the ground.  The Audi banged off the railing and the driver’s side of the car lifted off the ground.  “Lean my way!” Ms. Grady shouted.

He leaned until his forehead touched the gun she kept in her lap.  A jolt went through his spine as the car dropped back down.  The car slid to a stop and his head banged into the steering wheel.

“Are you okay?” Ms. Grady asked as he felt her pushing him away.

“Yes,” he replied rubbing the side of his head.  He saw her push something on the side of the steering column and underneath as the Citroen raced down the highway.  His heart panged.  Would Softie still find the blood and let his mother go?

Ms. Grady got out of the Audi and started kicking spiked ball bearings off the road.  As she did he felt the car rise up to its original height.  She jumped back in and put on her seatbelt.  “Should have told you about seatbelts,” she apologized.  The car started moving as he snapped his on.

“Will we catch them?” he asked.

“Someone will,” she replied, pressing harder onto the accelerator.  The Citroen turned right onto an empty country road with deep ditches and no rails.

Norm heard a loud clap sound overhead.  In the sky he saw a black figure slowing down as it shot past them.  The Audi sped up and he could just see the white Citroen turn into Taylor Creek’s parking lot.  The dark figure matched the speed of the car, flying just above its roof.

The dark figure dropped onto the Citroen’s roof and grabbed a hold of it.  Black smoke from the car’s tires obscured his sight as the car was yanked up into the air.  He heard a terrible crashing sound as the black figure dropped the car on its side.

“Is that a person?” he asked.

“I think so,” Ms. Grady replied but she didn’t sound that surprised.

The person in the black outfit wore a helmet with a silver lining around the rim.  As they came closer he could see the helmet had a visor.  He strained to see but the face was hidden behind the tinting.  Norm’s jaw dropped as he saw the person in black push the Citroen so it rolled until it lay on its side against a maple tree.  The person in black glanced his way before shooting into the air.

Ms. Grady pulled the Audi to the side of the parking lot road.  He saw her holding the gun against her belly as they hurried to the mangled Citroen.

“Are you okay?” he heard her shout into the shattered driver window.

“That lisp is like music to my ears,” he heard Softie say inside.

“Where is the boy’s mother?” Ms. Grady said with a hushed voice.

“Are you going to help us?” Softie asked and Norm realized he was becoming entranced by that voice.

He shook his head.  “Where’s my mother?” he asked.

“And what do I get in return?”  Softie’s soothing voice now sounded malicious.

Norm took his baton and rammed the point into Softie’s hand where it rested on the steering wheel.

“That hurt!”

Norm drove the end into Softie’s temple.

“Okay,” he heard.  “Warehouse on Devon Street.  I still like you Normy, we’re going to meet again.  Under my terms.”

Norm’s head rocked back.  He instinctively touched the forehead of his bicycle helmet where Softie had punched him.  It was cracked.  “Hope you have a spare, oversized helmet.”  Softie said smiling at him with his unusually wide grin.  “Always have a spare Normy, and get something that fits.”  Norm saw Softie’s fist shoot out towards his face again.  He threw his head back and moved away.

“Darling,” he heard a sensual, throaty voice say, “It’s not very comfortable in here.  I’ll let you know what it’s like later.”

Ms. Grady pulled him further back.  He watched in disbelief as she took out her gun and shot both of them.

Ms. Grady turned to him.  “They won’t remember the last twenty-four hours.”

“You didn’t kill them?”

“No.  We stop the criminals, the justice system judges them.”

“Won’t my mother be in danger again?”

“Yes.”

Sirens blared behind him and Norm turned to see two police cars followed by a fire truck and ambulance.

“You’re taller than me, pull the darts out of their necks,” Ms. Gady said as she walked back to the Audi.

Norm had to climb half way in the driver’s window to reach and pull out the dart from Dr. Caligulass’s neck.  He was just yanking the dart out of Softie’s neck when he felt a large hand on his shoulder.

“Are they still alive, son?” a deep voice asked.  He turned and saw a fireman standing behind him.  A little farther back another fireman held the Jaws of Life.

“Yes, sir but you should hurry,” he said, slipping the darts into his jeans.  Don’t poke me he thought as he walked over to the Audi where Ms. Grady was giving a police officer an account of what she saw.

“We’ll skip the park today and we should go so we’re out of the way,” she said to him with a motherly smile.

“Yeah,” is all he could think to say.

Once they were in the Audi and moving he undid the button of his jeans and carefully reached inside his underwear.

“What are you doing!?” Ms. Grady asked.

His face turned red.  “Had to put the darts somewhere!”

He saw her shake her head and laugh.  “Let’s get your mother.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part Ten                                                                         August, 8, 2016

 

He pulled on his black Galeton RESIST™ Cut Resistant Knit Gloves.  It’s brutal to watch someone destroy their lives from addiction while you feel hopeless to help them.  Another cruel lesson he learned from Softie and Ms. Caligulass.

Ms. Grady punched in Devon Street on her holographic map.  It was a new street between Broadview Ave. and Pottery Road where a new suburb was being built over the torn down buildings that once stood there.

“There,” he said pointing at a metal sided building with a flat tar roof.  Above the sliding doors he could see “My Place” spray painted in blood red over a faded sign.  Ms. Grady pulled into the gravel parking lot.

Norm grabbed the baton as Ms. Grady slid her gun into the back of her pants.  She held her cell phone out at arm’s length as she watched its screen.  “No one is outside and I don’t see any traps on the doors,” she said, her lisp sounding serious and sensual at the same time.

He grabbed the padlock on the door and yanked it until snapped.  Inside was dark until his eyes adjusted to the few overhanging fluorescent lights.  Throughout the floor he saw small piles of crates.  In the centre of the floor a large TV flickered.  Siting in a Lazy Boy chair across form the TV was his mother.  She took out her cigarette and popped a brown sugar cube into her mouth.  He saw a bowl of the cubes on a side table beside a half empty bottle of Vodka.

“Mom,” he said in a small voice as he glanced at her fingers.  Just after her knuckles he could see circles made of blue marker.  She was watching the news.

On the TV Alejandra Ceto stood in front of pro and con demonstrators; some with signs praising Levitar, others cursing him.  Abilgail asked one of the demonstrators with a sign that said “He’s saved my Son!” on it, what Levitar had done?

“My son was stuck in his school while it was burning and Levitar swooped in and saved him, along with other children.”

Another demonstrator shoved his face in front of the Midtown News camera and shouted, “My daughter was struck by a drunk driver and Levitar just let her bleed on the street.  Another pedestrian made the 911 call.  That pedestrian is a hero, not Levitar!”   Norm turned his attention back to his mother.

“Let’s go mom,” he said.

“Why?” his mother asked popping another sugar cube into her mouth.

Norm felt Ms. Grady’s hand on his shoulder.  “Look at her eyes Norm, this is bad.  We have to get her to an addiction clinic.”

“It’s just sugar,” he said.

“No, it isn’t.”  He saw her dial 911 as he stood their feeling hopeless.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part Eleven                                                                              August 7, 2016

On call means eat when you can.  Food didn’t affect his metabolism but it did make a difference to how he felt.  He cut open an avocado and spooned its insides into a blender.  He added a tablespoon of hempseed oil, two scoops of whey protein, a handful of strawberries, and a banana.  He learned about nutrition from an unlikely source, a former enemy.

By the time Norm was in Grade Ten Softie didn’t bother him anymore.  He was incarcerated for selling psilocybin cum heroin as brown sugar cubes shortly after he and Ms. Grady rescued his mother at the “My Place” warehouse on Devon Street.  There was no news on Dr. Caligulass’s whereabouts.  Helio Industries was paying for his mother to see a councillor.  She was no longer addicted to the brown sugar cubes so the councillor was now encouraging her to slow down or stop her drinking and smoking.

First day of football practice the junior coach took him aside.  “I don’t want to go through this enhancement nonsense again Norm, so you’re strictly the quarterback from now on.  Throw some passes to Kyle.  Not too hard!”

Kyle was still a bit shorter than Norm but over the summer he had put on a lot of muscle.  To anyone who didn’t know either of them Kyle would look like the stronger athlete.  “Norm,” Kyle said as he jogged over, his voice deeper and more mature sounding.  They walked down the field away from the others.

“You remember that fight we had?” Kyle asked.

Norm groaned inside, Kyle thought because he put on a lot of muscle he could now take Norm.  “I’m not interested in a repeat,” Norm said.

“Me neither,” Kyle continued.  “I just want you to know that I learned a lot from that about how I was treating others, like Tabby.  You could have turned around and started picking on me but you didn’t.  You just minded your own business.  It took a while because bad habits can be hard to break but I forced myself not to be a bully.”

“That’s good,” Norm said.

“One other thing, I want to be a police officer or Mounted Police, so I’ve learned about exercise and nutrition.  No sense talking to you about exercise, I’ve never met anyone as strong or fast as you—maybe Levitar but he wears a suit.  But, if you want to know about eating let me know.   I’m also backup quarterback, so please don’t throw the ball so hard you break my fingers.  You almost killed me a couple of times last year.”

“Let’s do short passes,” Norm suggested, “so I can get used to how hard to throw.”

Kyle ran, turned and Norm threw the ball towards Kyle’s waiting hands.  Kyle flew through the air and landed with a thump.  Norm ran up to him.

“Not so hard,” Kyle said as Norm helped him to his feet.

It took Norm about five passes at different distances to figure out exactly how hard to throw the ball.

As he was throwing the ball Norm thought about Kyle’s offer to explain nutrition to him.  He could just look it up on the Internet but the information on the Internet wasn’t always reliable.  When they finished practicing he asked Kyle why some foods, like potato chips and chocolate bars made his stomach feel bad.  Kyle admitted he was still learning but did explain that junk food couldn’t be absorbed and used like fresh fruit, vegetables, or meats.

“Thanks Kyle,” he said as they separated.  Kyle’s comment that Levitar relied on a suit for superpowers made him think of Tabby.  His one real friend and his family had moved away at the end of Grade Nine.  They lost contact but maybe he could find Tabby on one of the social networks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part Twelve                                                                                       July 8, 2016

 

He glanced at his Blackberry DTEK50’s screen.  No message yet.  Either they didn’t need him or they couldn’t send him a message.  Or they were dead!  He grasped onto the edge of the kitchen counter!  Images of the first terrible loss in his life overwhelmed him.

“Look Normy!” his mother said as she curled five pound dumbbells in front of the 42” 4K TV he had bought at Joe’s store at a discount.  He looked up from where he was sitting cross-legged in front of the couch half listening to the news while he read the latest magazine on robotics.

Alejandra Ceto stood in front of Midtown Elementary School, her blonde hair whipping into her face.  For the first time it was hard to understand her Spanish accent as rain pelted down.  “A man calling himself Allaric Hemping has told us he hid a low-yield nuclear bomb somewhere in the Midtown Elementary School,” she said.  “If you look at the left corner of the screen you’ll see a grainy image of the man himself.”

Norm leaned closer to the TV screen.  A black and white image of a man with unnaturally raised eyebrows that reminded him of Dr. Seuss’s Cat-in-the-hat was shouting into the screen with a French accent.  “…will transfer three million dollars to the account I have listed.  If you do not BOOM!  ALL THE CHILDREN AND TEACHERS WILL BE GONE!  I am watching and if anyone tries to enter or leave the school, it and the surrounding area will be Destroyed!”

Norm heard a thunderclap on the TV.  A red blur shot down towards the school’s roof.  He saw Alejandra’s face turn towards the sky where the camera followed another red blur as it shot high into the grey sky.  There was a massive explosion and the TV screen went blank.

He heard his mother’s weights thud onto the floor.  “What just happened, Normy?”

“I think everyone is dead,” he said.

The TV showed the inside of the Midtown Newsroom.  “We have heard that the school and surrounding area are okay!” a male anchorman said with relief.  Alejandra is in contact with us through text messaging.  Something fell out of the sky.  Hold on!  It’s Levitar’s helmet.  I’m sorry folks, but there is no indication that Levitar survived the blast.”

Two days went by and Norm still felt numb from the news.  Levitar was the first person he ever related to until he met Softie.  He wiped away tears as he walked to Joe’s store.  His heart felt ruptured.  The Midtown News asked people to send their thoughts on Levitar.  Many said Levitar was a saviour who had saved countless lives over the years.  Others asked who would stop Allaric Hemping now.

That question got Norm thinking.  He went onto Facebook, Snapchat, and any other social media connections he could find.  Tabby was on Facebook.  “I’m no good with chitter-chatter Tabby,” he wrote in a message, “so you’ll be my only friend, but I could really use your insight into a project idea I have.  You heard about Levitar?”

 

 

 

 

Part Thirteen                                                                  August 11, 2016

 

He pulled on his dark brown Anfibio all-weather mid cut boots.  Cleanliness and how you look is important, a girl in high school pointed out to him.

Sitting on the floor before school he watched the news with his mother.  The demise of Levitar meant someone else had to stop Allaric Hemping.  Norm decided that would be him and Tabby.  The man in the black outfit, who tossed Softie’s car around so they could save his mother, stepped up first.  The suit was almost identical to Levitar’s but bulkier and much taller.  The black cape with the stone grey undercover humped in the back giving the figure a hunch-back appearance that Norm hadn’t noticed before.

“Who are?” Alejandra asked as she stared up at the huge suited figure standing before Between Towns’ Royal Bank on Frazetta Street.

“Call me Event Horizon,” the figure said with a deep, English RP accent, through a circular speaker the size of a silver dollar.

“You are from England?” Alejandra asked.  Norm could see her standing on her tiptoes, trying to make out the face behind the visor.

“I won’t tell you where I’m originally from but I have lived in Canada for a long time.  I will not let Allaric Hemping destroy another–.”

The double glass front doors of the bank blew out and the screen went blank.  “No!” Norm said from the floor.

“You better go to school,” his mother said and he could hear the trepidation in her voice.

Norm left the apartment with his knapsack as anger seethed inside him.  He went to his Geography class determined to build a suit with Tabby and rid the GTA of Allaric Hemping.

“Hey Norm,” he heard a girl say beside him in class.

“Hey,” he said back keeping his face towards the top of his desk.

“Do you think you could help me with a math project?” she asked.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw her moving her hips ever so slightly.  He glanced up.  “You know the Royal Bank blew up, right?”

She smiled at him with pouty lips.  Her straight black hair with its blue highlights accentuated the cognac brown of her almond shaped eyes.  “I heard; that’s really sad.  Can we meet at lunch-time?”

“Sure, Aisha,” he said with a grumble.  He didn’t understand how the news didn’t affect everyone else as much as it did him.

At lunch-time he sat at a nearly empty table.  Aisha came in and sat across from him with her lunch and math project.  She wore a black T-shirt with “Mars Landing” written on the front in brick red.  He pulled her paper over and read the instructions.

“I have a pencil if you want to write anything,” she said sliding one over.

He took the pencil and started writing down sentences and calculations to answer the questions.

“We went to Elementary and Junior High together,” she said as he wrote.

“I know,” he replied taking another bite of his tuna sandwich.

“To be honest,” she said with a laugh, “you use to come into classes with dirt on your face and shabby looking clothing.  You kind of smelt like old, sweaty socks.”

“Our plumbing didn’t always work until I learned how to fix it,” he replied.  He remembered looking through the garbage behind Kirby’s Plumbing and finding soldering, and old pieces of copper piping.

“Saw you on the football team,” she continued.  “You’re still an amazing athlete, and super smart.”

He slid her answers over to her.  “I have to go, Aisha.”

Aisha drew her index finger along the sheet of paper.  “I was hoping you would work with me on the project, not do it for me.”

“It’s easy, you really didn’t need my help,” he said and left for the library.  He had a spare after lunch and wanted to research jetpacks.  And the library had a NO TALKING rule.

 

 

 

 

Part Fourteen                                                                 August 12, 2016

 

He clipped on his Yates Gear-360 Stabo/Tactical Full Body Harness.  Sometimes you get so busy you forget what you have.

After school Norm watched the news with his mother as he typed rapidly on his Helio tablet.  Allaric Hemping was given ten million dollars by the Between Towns’ city council.  Alejandra was healing, Event Horizon had blocked most of the explosion with his body armour, but three of the banks tellers were dead along with five of its customers.  The news commentator suggested Hemping knew Alejandra would be interviewing Event Horizon in front of the bank.  “If so, there could be bombs anywhere,” the anchorwoman said.  “Ambulances were too small so a cube van was brought in to take Event Horizon, I assume to the hospital.  Nothing more has been heard of him since the explosion.”

He hacked into an e-mail account in Ireland and used it to break into Helio Industries’ secure website.  It took him an hour to find the schematics for the suit he had found years ago.  The download said it would take two minutes.  After the first minute his screen went blank.

“Don’t you need to get to Joe’s?” he heard his mother ask.  Whoever her shrink was he or she was making a tremendous difference to his mother.  For the first time in his life she sounded aware of her surroundings.

“I forgot,” he replied, shutting the tablet down.

It took him three hours to fix the TV’s, monitors, and laptops Joe had waiting for him.  He spent the next hour trying to get his tablet to turn back on.

At home he was still trying to get it to work when he heard the balcony outside their third storey apartment creak.  First he checked on his mother, who was in bed, next he went to the kitchen where a door they never used led to the rusting wrought iron balcony.  There was no mistaking who was waiting for him.  He pried the door open.

“Got your laptop,” the deep voice boomed at him.

“Yes.”  He went inside and brought it back out.

Event Horizon took the tablet with one hand and placed his other on Norm’s shoulder.  “You were warned about this.  You’re endangering the entire GTA.”

Norm tensed with anger.  “You’re the one who failed to save those people in the bank!”  He grabbed the gauntleted hand on his shoulder and squeezed.  Metal began to bend in.

“Now I know why they wanted your blood,” Event Horizon said with disbelief in his voice.

Norm felt heat brush against him.  Event Horizon’s cape billowed out and he began to rise into the air.  Norm let go of the gauntlet.

“Let me work with you!” he shouted as the black suit disappeared into the night.

Clenching his fists he went into his room, and searched under his bed for the test tube with his blood.  He pulled out the cork stopper.  His thumb touched the end of the cork that was inside the test tube.  The blood seeped back into his skin.

 

 

 

 

Part Fifteen                                                                    August 13, 2016

 

The argument that humans can’t fly with wings is because, unlike birds whose bones are hollow, humans have too much bodyweight in comparison to their strength.  He still didn’t know how truly strong he is, but strong enough to use a cape made of Porcher Skytex 32 fabric.  But!  Until you can afford the really good equipment you have to learn to adapt.

Norm could see Between Towns ghetto getting worse and heard that Midtown wasn’t fairing any better.  On TV Alejandra Ceto stood before the glass doors of Toronto’s City Hall.  The convex roof of the centre building looked so low compared to the two curved sky rises that surrounded it.   “What can you tell us about the GTA’s deal with Allaric Hemping?” she asked Mayor Janice M. Kidder.

The mayor smoothed out her dark green blazer and skirt before running her hands through her curly ginger hair; she smiled cheerlessly into the camera.  Norm could see the dark, puffy bags around her slate blue eyes.  “We’re trying to come to a peaceful solution,” she said before pushing herself past Alejandra’s outstretched mic hand.

At Joe’s store he found a used Blackberry Passport.

“I thought you had a tablet?” Joe said as he passed Norm a receipt.

“A really big guy took it from me,” Norm replied with a squeamish shrug.

He went outside the store and typed in the Wi-Fi password Joe had given him a year ago, when he started running the front desk on Saturdays.  He sent Tabby a message that his Helio tablet was taken by Event Horizon and he couldn’t download the suit’s information.

The one thing he really missed about the Helio tablet was he could use it anywhere without asking for a Wi-Fi password.  Now he would have to go to a restaurant to research suit designs.

 

 

Part Sixteen                                                                             August 14, 2016

He reached towards his left ribs and took out his Webley Tempest tranquilizer gun from its holster.  Before you go into combat, check your equipment, if you have the time.

Norm sat in English class, bored out of his mind.  He put his Blackberry on his lap and glanced at the message from Tabby.

Too bad you couldn’t send me the info on the suit.  I’ve started studying modern alloys and jet propulsion.  Originally jet packs used hydrogen peroxide; too hot, too expensive, too short lived.  Event Horizon must be using a different energy source.  I don’t think we can build a jet pack right now but I also looked at Able Bionics and Ekso Bionics along with some other exoskeleton designers.  We could do this Norm!  One other thing, remember when Levitar was killed from the bomb but his helmet fell to the ground–intact?  It doesn’t make sense.

Levitar had kept Midtown and Between Towns fairly safe.  He thought of a song by The Crash Test Dummies, about another superhero.  Levitar reminded him of that other superhero.  Right now he didn’t have time to think about the helmet.  Joe could only give him so many hours at the store and he had to make enough money to go to college after Grade Twelve.  He also wanted the information on Event Horizon’s suit.

On his way to work at Joe’s store he stopped by Vallejo & Bell’s Discount Store.  He walked along an aisle with shelves full of clothing and  grabbed a Toronto Blue Jays baseball cap, a pair of Anchor Brand dotted work gloves, and a pair of Alger midnight sunglasses.  He couldn’t fly so he went down the hardware aisle and picked up a Ninja Grappling Climbing Folding Hook with 15m of rope.  He already had a set of screwdrivers, an exacto knife, longnose pliers, electric tape, and wire cutters in his knapsack.

The office building stood six storeys high with a signal tower on the very top.  Behind the office was a huge warehouse.  A single burly guard let people in and out of the building.  Norm wondered, why go in the back door, when the front door is faster.  He took out the sunglasses and put on the Blue Jays baseball cap.  He walked up to the front door just as a man in pinstripe suit and wearing a fedora headed towards it.  He had never tried what he was about to do.  As the guard looked at the man’s I.D. card Norm slipped through.  The inside was unfamiliar so he ran away from the front counter towards a hall.  Down the hall he stopped at an elevator where he pushed the Up button while he listened for the guard’s shouts.  The door opened and he still hadn’t heard anything.

There were almost as many buttons under the G as above it.  He pushed the sixth floor button.  As the elevator went up he could see a bubble camera on the ceiling above the door.  He kept his head down and hoped his face wasn’t visible.  The goal was simple, hack into a computer, download it to his Blackberry, send it to Tabby, get out, and crash his blackberry’s software so it couldn’t be traced.

“Identification,” a woman’s voice said inside the elevator.  Norm pulled out a flathead screwdriver from his bag and used it to pry off the button panel.  He glanced over the wires and using the wire snips removed the one that held the door closed.  In a blur of movement he moved by a number of men and women in business attire.  Every room he passed had large TV’s with schematics of high tech devices for military use.  The technology made him drool with desire but he needed to finish up–fast.  Frustrated he went to the stairs beside the elevator and started down.

When he reached the ground level he continued down the stairs.  The stairs ended at a large metal door that had Level 5 written on it and no doorknob.

 

 

Part Seventeen                                                               August 15, 2016

 

He clicked his Blackberry’s sound onto ON.  Sometimes you forget to turn things back on when you’ve been shot in the leg.  He reached into the holster on his right side and took out an RCMP CEW made by Taser.  He thought about his first experience in a cage as she checked the CEW for damage.

Levitar could break through this door so Norm would try.  He pushed and got nowhere.  Frustrated he punched it.  His knuckles hurt but he did manage to dent the door.  There wasn’t much space to maneuver so he went up a few stairs and ran down them throwing all his weight at the door.  It creaked.  His right shoulder throbbed but he didn’t see how any of the tools he brought would open the door.  Three times he smashed into the door until it fell in.

An underground tunnel with a paved road led into darkness.  A bus could drive through the tunnel and he wanted to discover where it led to but he needed access to a main computer.

He turned back to the stairwell, rubbing his right shoulder, and stopped at Door 4.  Another large metal door but this one had a knob.  It wouldn’t turn so he used all of his strength as he bashed it with his shoulder.  This one swung open.  He gasped.  Barred vaults full of gold bullion, jewels and stacks of cash.  Whoever owned Techly Industries didn’t trust all their money in a bank.  The entire room was painted grey but he could see a large off colour grey line above him.  There was nothing on the metal floor to show a compression pad so he stepped forward.

Nothing happened and he took another step.  He felt a slight depression in the floor below his feet.  The bang of metal made him ground his teeth.  He was surrounded by thick bars.  No!  He shouted in his head.  He grabbed two of the bars and tried to bend them.

From outside the door he thought he could hear a car coming.  He refocused on the bars.

Glowing blue eyes came towards him.  “Do you know why prisoners can’t break through Between Towns’ Penitentiary?” asked a deep, husky male voice with a British accent.  “Because the bars are reinforced steel with a second bar inside that just rolls if you cut the outside one.”

Norm quivered as the powerful form of Event Horizon took shape before him.  “Levitar,” could he retorted.

“The archangel from the heavens?”  Norm could hear the anger in Event Horizon’s voice.  “Your saviour?  He’s dead, remember?”

 

 

 

 

Part Eighteen                                                                 August 18, 2016

 

Norm learned that all superheroes understand they must keep one hand on the ground.  When the suit is off you’re just like everybody else.  Not so with Supervillains.   The suit never seems to come off for them.  He checked each of the compartments on his belt and remembered his second encounter with Event Horizon.

“Let me out.  I want to work with you,” he said tensing his muscles against the strength of the bars.

“Scum belongs behind bars.”  Event Horizon said as he turned his back on him.

“I can help you stop Allaric Hemping!”

The Spartan helmet turned and the glowing eyes blinded him.  “Do you know who Allaric Hemping is or where he is?”

“No, but I’m a nobody.”

“You’re constantly in the daily newspaper.  The best senior quarterback Between Towns has ever seen.  And who do you think sent Softie to get your blood?”

“My mother!” he shouted.  “Will they come back for her?”

“We’re watching over her but there’s no guarantee.”

“Levitar could stop him,” Norm said sitting on the floor with his legs crossed.  He felt despondent.

“Levitar should have let the GTA’s finest sneak into the school and diffuse it.”  Event Horizon said.  “And I have an idea where Allaric Hemping is.”

Norm stood back up and shook the bars.  “Let me help!” he pleaded.

“I’ll let you watch a video of what we have on him.  Then you can decide if you really want to get involved.”

He saw Event Horizon’s fingers move and the bars rose back into the ceiling.  His fingers moved again and a section of wall lifted in the room; big enough to drive a bus through.

He followed Event Horizon’s giant form into the tunnel to an area lit by flickering fluorescent lights.  A black Maybach Exelero with added tailfins in the shape of angel wings sat idling, the grill facing them.  Event Horizon climbed into the adapted driver’s seat.  “Get in,” he said to Norm.

 

 

 

 

Part Nineteen                                                                 August 19, 2016

 

Howard Shore’s The Fellowship blared from his phone.  He glanced at the messages.  The words “Need Help!” caused him to gasp.  It was Event Horizon who told him to get an apartment on the top floor of the highest building in Between Towns.

The Maybach Exelero accelerated along the tunnel, its high beams showing only rock and the occasional exit, until they came to an upwards slope.   Norm saw double metal doors appear out of nowhere.  He clipped on the seatbelt he had forgotten all about and braced himself.

Event Horizon glanced at him as the doors shot up into the cavern and they entered a room so large it had two sets of balconies filled with large screens.  He got out of the car and followed Event Horizon to a large curved screen above a counter with just a keyboard and mouse.

Norm heard a whirring sound as Event Horizon said, “Watch these video clippings.”  He turned his head and saw a disc shaped section of floor lift and turn the Maybach Exelero around towards the double doors.

“Watch,” Event Horizon said as he stepped away from the screen.

Norm saw a poorly lit room not much bigger than his apartment’s living room.  A prisoner no more than five foot two was pushed onto a folding chair by two much larger RCMP officers.  The prisoner’s hands were shackled and locked onto a U-shaped bolt welded onto a steel table.  “Is he a mutant?” Norm asked.  He couldn’t believe the muscles bulging through the prisoner’s grey uniform.

“He’s using a new muscle enhancement drug.  One that blocks the myostatin protein that controls muscle growth.”

Norm pushed his face closer to the screen.  “He’s missing the top of his nose.  Are you sure it’s Allaric Hemping?  His eyebrows look normal.”

“This is from twenty years ago.  After serving only five years of a fifteen year sentence for robbing a bank in which three people were, as he put it, accidentally killed from one of his bombs.  He didn’t waste time in prison before talking to other high profile inmates about what he planned to do when he got out.  The inmate who told the RCMP about Hemping’s schemes found he couldn’t breathe underwater for very long in Lake Ontario, with cement shoes.”

The video switched to a grainy image of a group of men robbing a bank. Norm saw a short, powerfully built man wearing a grey fedora hat and grey pinstripe suit with a nose the size of Cyrano de Bergerac’s.  “Is that him?”

The video showed a gruesome image of a tall man lying in mud with his nose chopped off.  “He likes to wear his victim’s noses,” Event Horizon said with disgust.  “That’s all we have on him.  We don’t believe Allaric Hemping is his real name and we can’t find anyone who is willing to tell us.

“I’m going to take a chance on you.  I’ll arrange for a new apartment for you and your mother, on the top floor of one of the new skyscrapers.  You will have a designated room with all the equipment you need.  A room your mother shouldn’t go in.  First I need a scan of your body so we can design a suit.”

“How do we do that?” Norm asked as Event Horizon stepped back from him.  A rainbow beam of light shone out of the Spartan Helmet’s visor.

The beam turned off and Event Horizon started walking towards the Maybach Exelero.  “I’ll drive you back to Helio Industries, but you‘ll have to get yourself home from there.  Some other day we’ll talk about my suit with your friend Tabby.”

 

 

Part Twenty                                                                            August 20, 2016

 

He zipped up the leg wing of his cloak and connected the clips to his arms.  Now he could glide.  He remembered when he first saw his suit.

“Norm,” his mother called from the living room of their apartment.  In his bedroom he put down the book on robotics he was studying.

“This was just slipped under the doorway,” she said passing him a thin white legal sized envelope.

He looked at her face with its sheen of sweat and the full figure under her baby blue sports bra and matching yoga pants.  It made him smile to see her so healthy.  The envelope contained a contract that gave him and his mother two years rental of room #25 of the 10th floor of the Thorson Skyscraper.   Three entrance cards slipped out with a note, debit card, and a $1000.00 in $50’s.  Two of the cards were green and one was blue.  All the note said in Times Numeral font was: “Keep the blue card for the door inside your closet.  The debit card code is 1947.”

“We’re moving!” he shouted to his mother.

“Neither of us makes enough money for that!” his mother shouted back from the living room.

“Got a new job,” he said.

His mother’s mouth was agape from the time they stepped out of the taxi cab to the moment she looked out the apartment’s living room towards the Main Street of Between Towns.

Norm searched through the three bedrooms for the one with the secret door inside its closet.  The room faced Kaare River which ran perpendicular to Main Street.  “I’d really like the room opposite to this one,” he said to his mother who was running her fingers over the white linen curtains of the Master Bedroom.

“Sure Norm,” she said her voice distant and dreamy sounding.

He waited until she went to bed before opening the secret door.  Midnight blue military coveralls hung from a bar along with a dark green cape with clips and black full body harness.  He tapped the groin area of the coveralls and felt hard plastic underneath.  In a shelving unit he found dark blue limb and joint protectors.  On the very bottom shelf were brown boots.    Goggles and a dark green Spartan helmet hung on hooks above the shelves.

He saw a safe on the floor under the coveralls and cape.  A sticky note said in black marker: “Same as your pin number turn as you would your school locker.”  He dialed right twice to nineteen, left to four, and right again to seven.  Inside he found a gun with a long nozzle and simple trigger.  Darts and CO2 cartridges filled a shelf below.  He also found a conducted electrical weapon.  The CEW looked like a black cell phone with two nipples at the end.  Beside the CEW was a Blackberry DTEK50 with another sticky note attached.  “Keep this phone with you at all times!”

Norm tried to sleep but he couldn’t, he kept getting up to look inside the secret room.

Part Twenty-One                                                           August 21, 2016

He put on his googles, strapped on his Spartan helmet, and opened the large window in his room.  The first time he did this didn’t go over so well.

The Blackberry DTEK50 vibrated inside the left breast pocket of his olive green polo shirt just as he was replacing a motherboard into an old Apple Macbook Pro at Joe’s.  He flipped the lid open.  Ms. Grady will pick you up at 8:30 p.m.

As Norm walked towards his new apartment building he saw a cherry red Audi R8 parked in the curved driveway before the entrance.  He walked up to the driver’s side.  The window rolled down.  “Been awhile,” Ms. Grady said with her innocent sounding lisp.  She passed him a large hockey duffel bag with a large Toronto Maple Leafs logo covering the side.  “Should be able to get everything inside.  I’ll wait for you here.”

He saw his mother sleeping on the couch.  The news was blaring from a 60” 4K Panasonic TV that came with the apartment.  On the screen Alejandra Ceto was standing in front of protesters.  One of them said into her mike, “Allaric Hemping’s monthly demands on the city are killing our ability to live!  We need a new hero!  Levitar is dead and Event Horizon is a failure!”

He went into the secret room and gathered up all the equipment.  Allaric Hemping had to be stopped!  Was all he could think of as he put the bag into the Audi’s trunk and jumped into the passenger seat.

“Seatbelt,” Ms. Grady said.

She drove to the warehouse behind Helio Technologies main building.  A security guard inside a booth pushed a button that opened the corrugated steel door to the warehouse.  Norm saw large crates to either side and the occasional forklift and pump truck.  They came to another corrugated door.  Ms. Grady pushed a button on the dashboard and the door opened to an elevator.

Norm could see a digital display through the front window.  It counted to THREE before stopping.  The elevator doors opened and Norm’s jaw dropped.

“Helio Technologies is part of the Alpha Five program attached to the CSIS.  Whatever you see in here is classified and you will be killed if you speak of it.”  The cuteness to Ms. Grady’s lisp didn’t sound so heartwarming to Norm at that moment.

Inside the room along half of its rotunda wall were alcoves with a variety of suits with jetpacks and other devices he didn’t recognize.  The other half of the rotunda was made up of police silhouette target sheets or what looked like shot up robotic mannequins.  The ceiling of the first floor was simply a net.

“Out we go!” Ms. Grady said getting out of the Audi.  “We’ll go to the third floor so you can practice.” A curving stair led up to a second balcony with monitors that would take up the entire surface of one of his bedroom walls; there were no keyboards.  Between the monitors were exits with signs for washrooms, cafeteria, and other symbols he didn’t understand.

Another stairway led to the third balcony.  The balcony was empty except for an opening in the cast iron railing.  A platform that reminded him of an oversized diving platform stretched a few feet from the railing.

“Put your outfit on,” Ms. Grady said.

She checked him over when he was done; tightening his harness here and there and making sure the clips of his cape were all attached.  “The clips for your legs should come off easily when you land.”

“Land?” he asked.

“You’re going to learn to glide.”

Norm looked at the platform, the netting below, and the floor below that.  “Any other instructions?!”

“If you can’t land on your feet land on your back or you might snap your spine.”

He stood on the platform shaking.  The net might break but others must have done it before him, he thought.  He felt a hand on his back.  And a push!

Part Twenty-Two                                                           August 22, 2016

He waited for the wind to pick up.  When it did he jumped.  In Junior High, Tabby showed him an old video of Luke Aikins jumping out of a plane at 25,000 feet without a parachute and landing on a lit net two hundred feet above the ground.   Norm now knew to spread his arms and legs as soon as he jumped.

“Lucky your different,” he heard Ms. Grady say from above him.  He opened his eyes and instinctively rubbed the top of his head.  “Try spreading your arms and legs next time,” she said.

“What did I do?” he asked, sitting up, and shaking his head to clear the fuzziness.

“You dived down head first.  I lowered the net as soon as you stopped bouncing on it.”

“Why didn’t you tell me to spread my arms and legs?”  He pulled off the Spartan Helmet.

“You’re only the second person we know of who has the strength and lightness to glide with a cape at low heights.  He spread his arms and legs so I assumed you would.”

“That means?”

“The upward thrust of the cape when its spread would tear most people’s arms off at the shoulders.”

“Who else?”  He stood and rolled his shoulders to loosen them.

“Softie.  It didn’t last long and it was years ago when he was your age.  We were at a different location then and we gave him a concoction to wipe his memory for the short while he was here, so he’s still alive.  But you’re stronger than he is.  I don’t think the concoction will affect you.”  Ms. Grady leaned in closer so all Norm could see were her burgundy eyes and the dark freckles on her cheeks.  “We know nothing about Softie’s parents, and nothing about your father but I don’t think you two are related.  Also you have unruly raven coloured hair.”  He saw her squint at his head.  “Almost more blue than black.  Your eyes are light blue with specks of green.  To be honest, you’re unspectacular looking.”

“Thanks?” he said with a lisp.  He shut his eyes and grimaced, “I’m sorry, I like your lisp.”

“It’s not going away.” she lisped with noticeable defiance.

Norm put his helmet back on.  “Let’s give it another whirl.”

“Spread your legs and arms this time,” she said as they stepped up to the third floor.

“You always remind me to do things after the fact.”  He said strapping on the Spartan helmet.

“What do you mean?”

“The seatbelt, the spreading of arms and legs.  Is there anything else I should remember before I try this again?”  His voice shook as he spoke and his legs trembled.

He saw her go to the rotunda wall to a console about the size of tablet and push a button.  “Wait until you hear the net click into locked position.”  She walked back to him.

“Stay back a bit,” he said.

“Why?”  She moved closer to him.

“Because you pushed me last time!”  He took a step away from the edge of the platform.

“You remember that?” she asked with a tilt of her head.

“Yes, back up,” he said making pushing movements with his hands.

“You look a little pale,” she said moving closer.

“It’s probably my average looks,” he grumbled.  He inhaled deeply, turned and jumped off the platform with his arms and legs spread.

Without an updraft gliding is a constant downward motion.  He didn’t get as much wind as he hoped.  The sniper turned just as he was diving into her.  He twisted to avoid Ms. Caligulass shooting him.   But he needed to remove that rifle.  Another bullet hole in his thigh as he grabbed onto to her!  Hurt a lot more than the AA 89K 9MM Pistol Allaric’s stooges normally use.

Part Twenty-Three                                                                  August 27, 2016

Without an updraft gliding is a constant downward motion.  He didn’t get as much wind as he hoped.  The sniper turned just as he was diving into her.  He twisted to avoid Ms. Caligulass shooting him.   But he needed to remove that rifle.  Another bullet hole in his thigh as he grabbed onto to her!  Hurt a lot more than the AA 89K 9MM Pistol Allaric’s stooges normally use.

“Just hit the mechanical mannequin in the head and as you do get into a lung stance so you don’t topple over,” Ms. Grady told him.

“And break my hand?”  His Galeton knit gloves.  Good for gripping but they weren’t padded like boxing gloves.

“Hit it Norm!”

He grit his teeth, punched the mannequin in the head, at the same time moving his feet apart.  The mannequin flew across the rotunda’s floor and Norm slid back.  He didn’t get his feet apart fast enough and fell on his back.

Ms. Grady offered him a hand.  “We’re in the stopping people from getting killed Norman.”

He thought of the time he almost killed Kyle Whittleway.  “How do I control it?”

“By controlling it,” she said.  “Hit the mannequin gently, then a little harder, and you should be able to learn how hard to hit.  You’ve worked on electrical components for years so you know you can control your strength.”

He did a long exhale and inhale.

“Yes,” he heard Ms. Grady say into her Blackberry as he practiced punching the mechanical mannequin with different intensities.  “Theory and practice are over Norm, time for practical.  Put this Bluetooth headphone with mike.  Sometime we’ll add a communication and camera into your helmet.”

He held his Spartan helmet and with his googles inside, on his lap as Ms. Grady drove to wherever they were going.

“Dollar store goggles won’t save your eyes,” she said turning down Shatner Street and making a left onto Shuster Crescent.  “I’ll get you military grade goggles that will fit under your helmet if we get back.”

“If?” he asked.

“This is for real.”  She pulled into the gravel driveway of a box warehouse with rusty corrugated walls.  He put on his helmet.  His heart was pounding like it did when they went after Softie.  He saw Ms. Grady lower her window and point her Blackberry at the warehouse.

Norm got out of the car and drew his Webley Tempest.  A red beam pointed at his chest and he fell back from numerous hits to his chest and groin.  When the pinging noise of his suit and the Audi being hit stopped he sat up.  Bullet casings popped out of his skin as his blood drew itself back into his body.

He was in the warehouse shooting his tranquilizer at anything that looked human.  At the front wall he saw two men shooting through steel panels cut into through the metal.  They went down first.  He felt numerous hits to his helmet and upper body as he spread his legs so he wouldn’t fall down.

He shot a dart into a man with a 89K rifle as he peaked around a stack of crates.  Ms. Grady came in with her own tranquilizer gun drawn.  She started handcuffing the unconscious goons’ wrists and ankles with lock ties.  Norm waived the Webley Tempest side-to-side as he walked between the crates.  At the back he went into an empty office and removed a laptop.

“Clear,” he said into the Bluetooth as he made it back to the front of the warehouse.

“I’ve called the local authorities,” she told him.  “As long as they get here before Allaric’s stooges wake up the Hemping’s lawyers won’t be able to impede any investigation.  No sign of Allaric?”

“No, but I’ll check through this laptop when we get back.”

She looked up and down his body.  “Your suit is ruined but I don’t see any wounds.”

“No,” he said climbing into the passenger side of the Audi, putting on the seatbelt, and flipping open the laptop.

She climbed into the driver’s side, started the engine, and turned to him.  “Shouldn’t you be dead?”

 

 

Part Twenty-Four                                                          August 28, 2016

 

He turned at the last moment so his back would hit the factory floor first and Ms. Caligulass would be protected.  She bounced off him onto her feet and he felt her kick right between his legs.  “Ouch darling!” she cried out, “you’re so hard!”  Chivalry and fighting women are what Norm considered a moral oxymoron.

Seven months passed of finding hidden storage areas of concealed brown sugar cubes and explosives.  Each time he got shot less.  It wasn’t for equipment; it was because he and Ms. Grady were a team.  Now he didn’t jump out of her Audi until she told him to.

The weight of the throwing star in his hand seemed off.  He took another one from his belt; better.  “When do I get a suit like Event Horizon?” he asked throwing the star into a mechanical mannequin.

“You’re learning not to hit the vital parts,” Ms. Grady said.  “You don’t get a suit Norm.”

“I think you can trust me know!”

He heard her sigh.  “Event Horizon is an exceptional individual, compared to the average person.  You’re something else, you are a suit.”  She turned her back to him and started walking away.

He deflected the dart with the palm of his hand.

“You’re learning Norm, better to deflect than try to grab a hold of.  But don’t try do that with a bullet.”

“I would never betray you,” he said feeling betrayed himself.

She holstered her tranquilizer dart gun.  “I wouldn’t have shot it if I didn’t think you could stop it.  Don’t ever use your abilities without a helmet, mask, or some other disguise.  Many humans hate anything more powerful than they are.”

Part Twenty-Five                                                             August 29, 2016

The wound in his leg made him grimace as he dived towards the rifle before Ms. Caligulass could grab it.  She was quick.  The second bullet went through the shielding of his cuirass.  There wasn’t time for him to wince; he knocked the rifle from her hands and wrapped his arms around her.  Watching wrestling came in handy as he did a belly to belly suplex.  As he held her on the ground he could feel his body trying to push the specialized bullet casing out of his thigh but it couldn’t.  “I didn’t know you liked me so much,” Ms. Caligulass said.  “But a woman should always give her permission, first.”  He groaned in pain as she rolled on top of him.  His blood was entering his body and running out simultaneously so he didn’t think the wounds would kill him but he was fading into unconsciousness.  Under different circumstances I would he thought.

“I can’t get access to a suit,” he wrote to Tabby during a Mechanical Engineering class at Bateman College a satellite of Ryerson University.

“We’ll make our own,” Tabby wrote back.

At the end of the class a girl about five foot four with large aqua green eyes and unruly blonde hair stepped in front of him.  She wore a white t-shirt with a silver wolf on it tucked into Wrangler blue jeans.  “You don’t notice much do you?” she asked with a soft, arrogant voice.

“What do you mean?”

“I’ve been staring at you during class since it started a month ago, to get your attention.”

“Oh,” he said noticing she seemed underdeveloped as a young woman.  “You’re young to be here aren’t you?”

“Just overly fit,” she replied.  He saw bite her lower lip and tilt her head to the right.  “We have to work in partners for the next project.”

He thought of the girl in high school who asked his help with a math project.  “I’ll just do it and you can share in the mark,” he said with a shrug.

“I don’t need your help, I’m just curious about you.  If you’re as intelligent as I hear we might be able to go into business together.  Making suits.”

Norm blinked.  “Making suits?”

She stepped aside.  “I always check out who I’m partners with.”

“You’ve had many partners?”

“Actually, just you.  Who’s Ms. Grady?”

“How did you hack into my account?”

She smiled.  “By being smarter than you.”

 

Part Twenty-Six                                                               September 2, 2016

He tried to pelvic thrust Ms. Caligulass off but she just laughed.  “Now you’re being naughty,” she said with a throaty voice that drained all his energy.  Throughout the warehouse he could hear the pings of a semi-automatic Norinco 911A1 pistol mixed with the occasional whooshing sound from Ms. Grady’s Webley Tempest tranquilizer gun.  He thought they would have run out of ammunition.  He glanced left and saw Event Horizon combating both Softie and Allaric Hemping.  He focused on Allaric Hemping’s nose; it was small, like a woman’s.    Rage ran through him, something he had only felt once before.  He flattened his hands on the warehouse floor and pushed down as he heaved his pelvis up.

Norm felt his Blackberry vibrate in his pocket as he waited in his Introduction to Robotics class for Tyna to arrive.  He took it out and saw a message from Tabby.  “I studied the JB-9 by JetPack Aviation and the later versions.  The JB-9 used kerosene.  Event Horizon must use some other power source for the speed and time he can fly.”

“I can’t get access to anything on the suit Tabby, and the only energy source I can find that’s remotely close enough is nuclear.  I met a girl, Tyna Darya.  We’re collaborating on a paper that analyses if suits designed by Nuytco Research Ltd., b-temia Human Augmentation, and Body Armour Canada equipment can be incorporated into a single suit.”

“Too bad we can’t get a hold of Maurice Ward’s Starlite plastic.”  Tabby wrote back.  “Nuclear energy just might be an option then.”

“You should thank me for asking you out,” a male voice said behind him in a very aggressive tone.

“Gotta go Tabby,” he wrote and shut off his Blackberry.

“Lucky?” he heard Tyna reply with sarcastic hurt in her voice.

“It’s out of the kindness of my heart I asked you out.”  The male’s voice sounded violent.  “You said you’re eighteen but you look, what, fourteen at the most?”

Norm turned around and saw a husky male student hovering over Tyna who he had pressed up against a desk.  His whole body shook with anger as he stood and stared up into the much bigger student’s face.  “Leave her be!” he warned.

“Mind your own business you little skinny nerd!” the student scowled back.

Norm grabbed the male student’s arm and squeezed until the he was on his knees grimacing in pain.  Norm saw red and clenched his hand tighter until a hand grabbed a hold of his forearm.  His vision cleared and he saw the hand was Tyna’s.  He let go of the student’s arm.

“I’m sorry!” the male student said.  Norm watched him hurry out of the room.

“I didn’t need your help,” Tyna said, squeezing his hand.

Norm gritted his teeth and tried to calm his nerves.  “Didn’t want you to hurt him.”

Part Twenty-Six                                                               September 2, 2016

 

He tried to pelvic thrust Ms. Caligulass off but she just laughed.  “Now you’re being naughty,” she said with a throaty voice that drained all his energy.  Throughout the warehouse he could hear the pings of a semi-automatic Norinco 911A1 pistol mixed with the occasional whooshing sound from Ms. Grady’s Webley Tempest tranquilizer gun.  He thought they would have run out of ammunition.  He glanced left and saw Event Horizon combating both Softie and Allaric Hemping.  He focused on Allaric Hemping’s nose; it was small, like a woman’s.    Rage ran through him, something he had only felt once before.  He flattened his hands on the warehouse floor and pushed down as he heaved his pelvis up.

Norm felt his Blackberry vibrate in his pocket as he waited in his Introduction to Robotics class for Tyna to arrive.  He took it out and saw a message from Tabby.  “I studied the JB-9 by JetPack Aviation and the later versions.  The JB-9 used kerosene.  Event Horizon must use some other power source for the speed and time he can fly.”

“I can’t get access to anything on the suit Tabby, and the only energy source I can find that’s remotely close enough is nuclear.  I met a girl, Tyna Darya.  We’re collaborating on a paper that analyses if suits designed by Nuytco Research Ltd., b-temia Human Augmentation, and Body Armour Canada equipment can be incorporated into a single suit.”

“Too bad we can’t get a hold of Maurice Ward’s Starlite plastic.”  Tabby wrote back.  “Nuclear energy just might be an option then.”

“You should thank me for asking you out,” a male voice said behind him in a very aggressive tone.

“Gotta go Tabby,” he wrote and shut off his Blackberry.

“Lucky?” he heard Tyna reply with sarcastic hurt in her voice.

“It’s out of the kindness of my heart I asked you out.”  The male’s voice sounded violent.  “You said you’re eighteen but you look, what, fourteen at the most?”

Norm turned around and saw a husky male student hovering over Tyna who he had pressed up against a desk.  His whole body shook with anger as he stood and stared up into the much bigger student’s face.  “Leave her be!” he warned.

“Mind your own business you little skinny nerd!” the student scowled back.

Norm grabbed the male student’s arm and squeezed until the he was on his knees grimacing in pain.  Norm saw red and clenched his hand tighter until a hand grabbed a hold of his forearm.  His vision cleared and he saw the hand was Tyna’s.  He let go of the student’s arm.

“I’m sorry!” the male student said.  Norm watched him hurry out of the room.

“I didn’t need your help,” Tyna said, squeezing his hand.

Norm gritted his teeth and tried to calm his nerves.  “Didn’t want you to hurt him.”

Part Twenty-Seven                                                                    September 3, 2016

Ms. Caligulass bounced off him onto her side.  As she scrambled to her feet he drew his Webley and shot her in three different locations.  “This is no way to seduce a woman,” she said in a dazed tone, falling to her knees.  He used lock ties to bind her wrists and ankles.  9mm rounds from one of Allaric’s goons’ Norinco 911A1 pistol tore through his outfit.  He forced himself to raise Ms. Caligulass’s rifle.  A red dot appeared on Softie’s thigh as he struck at Event Horizon’s armour with a hammer.  Norm didn’t want to hit the femoral artery so he took careful aim.  Softie fell to one knee.  Event Horizon, who was limping, blocked an attack from Allaric and smashed Softie in the side of the head.  Norm aimed the gun at Allaric as the cartoonishly muscled freak struck Event Horizon with a Streetwise Stun baton.  He was so tempted to blow the maniac’s brains out, but as Softie had learned, he wasn’t a killer, so he lowered the rifle and fired at Allaric’s right ankle.

Norm sat in the college’s cafeteria with Tyna.  His mother was now a health addict, so she made him a brown bagged lunch with a tuna sandwich and protein smoothie at least three times a week.

“You should have let me handle Cassius Nukpana,” Tyna was saying as he took out the contents of his lunch.  He pulled out a tuna sandwich wrapped in Saran Wrap, and a cold Hamilton Beach Smoothie thermos as she talked.  “He’s part of the Egil gang.”  Norm saw a stain on the bottom of the bag.  “He’ll come after you with his pals now.”  He reached in and pulled out a sticky, red napkin with something long and thin inside and a tiny pink envelope.  Tyna went silent as he lifted the napkin to let whatever was inside roll out; a finger.  Tyna leaned over and smelt the package.  “It’s Ketchup.”

Norm’s heart raced as he opened the letter:

Got out my BFF, on good behaviour.   Went to see you but it seems you moved.  Don’t know where yet but I did find out where you go to school.  Interesting girlfriend but a little young isn’t she?  I still want your blood.  Could even be we’re related!  Girlfriend’s fingers aren’t as pretty as your mother’s but they come off just as easily, I’m sure!

Softie

“I’m so tired of people saying I’m too young,” Tyna said as she stared over his shoulder at the note.

“Aren’t you afraid?” he asked.

Tyna took the steak knife that came with her lamb chop lunch from the cafeteria.  He saw her look around.  Holding her left hand close to his face she cut into her palm.  She was only able to make a miniscule cut but some blood came out.  A moment later the blood on the knife and wrist drew back into her body.  “Maybe you and I are related,” she whispered.

“Stay safe,” he said grabbing the note and turning to go.

“I could help,” Tyna said.

“Work on our project,” he said with a sad grin.

Softie had to be near; Norm only had one class before lunch-time.  He went to his locker and started asking anyone he saw, “Seen an albino?”

“Yeah,” one student said, “he gave something to that tall guy, Cassius.”

“Do you know where Cassius’ is?” Norm asked.

“I think he’s in the Biochemistry lab.”

“Thanks,” Norm said as he hurried down the hall.  He peeked through the classroom door’s window.  Cassius was in a white smock and wearing safety glasses putting drops into a beaker.  He slipped in, and put on a smock from the closet and a pair of safety glasses.  In a blur he was beside Cassius.

“Got your note from Softie,” he said holding out the little pink envelope.

“Softie’s a friend idiot, now you pay for what you did the other day.  We’re going–.” He didn’t get a chance to finish before Norm had snapped his wrist and taken his wallet out of his blue jeans back pocket.

“Now I know where you live,” Norm hissed as he dropped the wallet into the beaker.  “I would get different friends.”  He shifted to Cassius’s other side and grabbed his left wrist.  “Where’s Softie.”

“I don’t know,” Cassius replied with terror in his voice.

“Something happens to anyone close to me and I come for you,” Norm said.  He had the smock and safety glasses back in the closet and was out of the room before Cassius grabbed his right wrist and screamed in agony.

The two bullets Ms. Caligula put into him were draining his ability to heal and the bruising from the 9mm shots wasn’t helping.  He heard a gun click empty.  “I’m out the!” the stooge yelled.

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