Joaquin jumped down from his pallet spy tower. He rubbed his knuckles against his eyes and willed the bleeding white stars away, an after effect from the super power he’d witnessed in secret. With the world now returned to its colors, objects took healthier shapes, outlines and details became solid, Joaquin found his way back to the red door with crimson light seeping into the night. He rapped the signal against the decaying dented surface. Rust flaked off of it where his fist landed urgently.
After a palm-sweating moment a man’s face appeared through the opening of the door swung ajar. His face was pinched, and his eyes narrowed. Joaquin made sure he was first to speak spitting his thoughts out fast.
“Do you have room for one more bruh?”
The man in the door chewed on his bottom lip sizing up Joaquin. He saw crusted blood over Joaquin’s brow, torn clothes and bullet holes without matching wounds. Joaquin was a circus attraction, a sight to behold, but a deep plea in his eyes still watery from the impossibly fast transition from light to no light spoke a powerful enough tale to the man guarding the door. He stepped aside and let Joaquin enter.
Joaquin felt the man grab him above the elbow and lead him through the pitch black. It was like walking blindfolded and no matter how much he blinked Joaquin couldn’t detect any shapes. He followed the directions blindly, allowing the man to steer him by the elbow. A lit barrel emerged instantly from nothingness. Glowing embers faded as they launched on fragrant wisps of smoke. The scene reminded Joaquin of some space sci-fi movie. That’s how he felt too, stepping into seemingly thin air approaching a circle of light supported by nothing, surrounded by nothing. It just floated there ominously. But he heard – proof of a solid plane under his feet and of reality. There were people and sounds that they made that were too audible for his ears. Did the oppressing darkness heighten other senses? Joaquin would never know.
The people in a circle around the barrel emerged from nothingness; they were all quiet waiting for Joaquin to enter the halo of light and reveal his face. A woman in her mid-thirties stood up first from her red plastic chair. “We won’t turn you back now that you’re here but-” she paused and met each of her companions’ eyes, “how did you find this place?”
Joaquin took in the sight of them. They appeared to be ordinary people. Even his former guard was behind him toying with the keys on his belt. It was such a common thing to do. The one playing with his keys was the short one; the tall man had his hands in his pockets but his eyes were dark and sharp like the knife tattooed on his left cheek. The woman had the look of a kindly kindergarten teacher as she nervously pushed her glasses back up her nose. A pimply teenager somewhat younger than Joaquin kicked his backpack further under the red plastic chair and stared at Joaquin with wide eyes.
Completely ignoring the woman’s question, Joaquin’s laugh echoed off the tall roof of the warehouse. “You guys have powers!”
The quartet looked at each other.
“Are you fuckin’ retarded esé? Isn’t that why you’re here?” The tall man with the knife tattoo chuckled rubbing the back of his head.
“He shouldn’t be here. What about Miles? What if he comes back?” It was the teenager who now stood too.
“Shut your mouth kid, we talked about this.” The tall one hissed back.
Joaquin stood dumbfounded in the middle of them. The warmth of the burn barrel embraced him and he started to see clearly for the first time since the cabin in the Canadian wilderness. He slowly started to realize what was happening, how his destiny was coming together. He now knew that he hadn’t failed Andy. He wasn’t going to fail Massey. He wasn’t going to return to being nobody, a kid with a mug shot and a knife robbing his neighbor. He was going to be better than Kristof – a hero, not a villain. He wasn’t going to be the quiet passenger on the bus just biding his time until his stop came.
“Miles was innocent.” It was easy for Joaquin to say that now having seen the proof. He barely caught how sullen their faces turned at the mention of Miles from a stranger.
“You know Miles?” The woman asked and took a step closer.
Joaquin met her eyes. “My friends tried to save him but it was too late.”
“Speak up puta, what’s too late? What do you know about Miles?” The tall man scratched the knife tattoo.
“He didn’t kill those kids!” the boy blurted.
Joaquin bit his lip. The gravitas of the situation hit him. He was the one delivering the bad news, the partial failure on his and Andy’s side. They had discovered that Miles was innocent, true. But they hadn’t done anything to help show that. Everything had gone haywire.
“Your boy Miles, he didn’t do nothin’ to those kids. He got hurt real bad and there ain’t no coming back from that stain. You got Major Globe to thank for that.”
“Major Globe? The scientist, Jacob Globe, who’s running for Mayor? He did this to Miles?” The woman sat back down, a trembling pink-nailed hand clasped over her mouth.
“He’ll do much worse to people like us. It’s a genocide comin’ up on the bright and blue horizon. But I know how to fuck him over,” Joaquin said. His plan was coming into view, the one idea that had tormented him for days under Massey’s roof. The feeling of being useless sitting in the back of the cruiser, hiding, pretending it was fading away, blown to pieces by this new vision finally fitting into reality, finally shaping up to be a chance. The old detective and Anne had a game of their own and they would use him as a pawn to see their way through just like they had until now. But Joaquin had a plan of his own. He was going to be a vigilante protecting his city his way. With the help of some people just like him who would suffer a similar fate to those poor bastards, Globe had already fucked with he could force a change. Using the streets to their advantage they could make people see that people with super powers weren’t some kind of monsters. They would all be forbidden passengers on the Jacob Globe train. No, not passengers. They were banditos. They would derail Globe’s train, or die trying. He had a new message to all forbidden passengers, and that message started right there in the glow of the fire barrel. Right there in the hungry eyes of those that stood before him. They would take Jacob Globe down and save the world.
Next: No Guts, No Glory