Wrong Place Wrong Time (FFC2018)

I was inspired recently. Cindy and I are gearing up to write the third book in the Sixteen Sunsets Saga. Here’s a little short to whet your appetite. I’ve included prompts by Chuck Wendig & Bree Salyer.

They were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Joaquin and Quake picked their way through the debris left in the demolition of Globe Tower. They both wore backpacks stuffed with bottled water, air filtration masks, and first aid supplies. Joaquin wanted them both to be armed in the brave new world that they fought against, but their leader, Anne Henderson, insisted that although Major Globe was dead, his legacy of discrimination, bigotry, and hatred lived on. As a couple of college-age kids picking through the debris, they were at most, trespassing. Armed, they were insurgents. Terrorists. Criminals.

The two didn’t speak. It wasn’t that the masks they wore made it difficult; it was the devastation all around them. Their mood was somber. Neither of them knew what sights their little excursion would bring. Their destination was the unknown. They’d left the safety of their hideout in the dark hours. It was the only time that people with superpowers could travel. Their movements went unnoticed, the Seattle Police tried to enforce curfew, but they were spread thin due to daily rioting.

The riots were getting worse. Those with super powers tried to defend their right to exist. The Superhub was in shambles. Andy still hadn’t recovered from his experience at the base of Globe Tower. His ramblings of a phantom self only served to fuel the image of an unstable young man. No one at the hideout had stopped them. Anne seemed to ignore anything not directly involved with tracking down Kristof. It didn’t mean that she was unaware of their nightly romp through the disaster area. She likely had eyes everywhere. Joaquin was certain that having an immortal super in their midst was an asset, but there were those that remembered Anne’s previous affiliation, albeit a forced one, with Major Globe.

It felt good for Joaquin to do something. The losses were staggering. Frank Massey’s daughter did her best to keep their outfit running. Her eyes were always puffy. With their numbers dwindled, it was not hard to hear her crying in the wee hours. Inside the warehouse, sound carried with no concern to snores, the sounds of sex, of a grieving daughter over her hero father.

Hero.

Detective Frank Massey was a hero. Even before the disaster, the city had been in chaos. Their covert underground railway orchestrated by Massey’s partner, Betty Patterson, smuggled many supers out of Seattle. The police presence before Globe Tower fell was one thing – now, Seattle was a police state. The streets were crawling with armed soldiers, the Army National Guard called in to assist getting the populace under control. Something Joaquin knew that Frank Massey would’ve rallied against. For a hero cop, the old man wasn’t half bad.

The duo had been out every night searching for their family. Neither of them had a biological family. Quake was cast out by his parents fearing that his emerging superpowers would bring unwanted scrutiny to their family. This was before the “supers crisis,” initiated by a confused super-powered Miles Jensen, dubbed The Madison Park Butcher, and the machinations of an egomaniacal kingpin by the name of Jacob Globe. Now… Quake’s story played out again and again as worried people lashed out against those that were different. Co-workers “outed” supers living as if they had no powers.

Parents against children.

Husbands against wives.

Neighbors against neighbors.

The urge to purge the deviants was nothing new – humanity had always feared those it labeled “unnatural,” or “profane.” They clinged to ancient writs spoken by men who claimed to be prophets. These writings were bundled and announced to be the one true way. Others wrote their ideas down and claimed theirs was the one true way. Such division among the experts was commonplace. As long as experts had existed, the debate between them raged on. Anne knew a thing or two about heated debate.

A gust of wind found purchase on Joaquin’s exposed skin. He wanted to smell the salty air that had been his life for his short eighteen years. The mud from Seattle’s constant rain and the debris had caused more than one mudslide. Although the destruction was limited to Globe Tower, and the surrounding buildings, the aftermath seeped into every nook and cranny that Seattle held.

Joaquin and Quake summited a pile of concrete and glass. The sight below stole his breath. He knew Quake felt the same way when the pile vibrated before Quake could control his powers. All that was left of the affluent business park was abandoned husks of office buildings. Their steel girders exposed as the destruction ripped away facades.

The loss of life was beyond comprehension. Joaquin had experienced both the massacre of the Ninth Street Kings, and slaying at Madison Park, but the devastation at Globe Tower was beyond the pale. The media downplayed the destruction and the allegations against Major Globe. Claims of “fake news,” and the talking heads that trotted out experts, claimed that subversives to impugn the reputation of a great man planted the bodies recovered from Globe Tower. It was gaslighting at its finest. A term that Joaquin didn’t know weeks ago. He knew what had happened. The Nightcrawlers knew what had happened. Once Andy had recovered, the world would know too. That is, if Andy ever recovered from his out of body experience.

As they made their way closer to ground zero, the air changed. Smoldering debris mixed with building materials spanning decades and the constant drizzle created a paste on his mask. His boots squelched through mud made of God knows what. Quake believed in Joaquin. Anne believed in Joaquin. Massey believed in him, but did his trust lead to his death? Quake didn’t intrude on Joaquin’s inner dialog. He did clear his throat and point out a parking garage on the perimeter of the destruction. The entrance easily missed with the building above it collapsed into a pile. The telltale signs of clean up was evident even at night.

Quake spoke for the first time that night with a shaky voice. “We’re here.” He made his way calmly; shoulders squared and back straight toward those that lived below the streets. He knew that inside the parking garage were the new dregs of society. Those cast out as if defective. Some with powers, other who loved them. Here, they would find their army to fight the upcoming war with Kristof. Kristoff fancied himself as a God. A shining star to light the path to righteousness. Joaquin knew that even the stars could fall.

About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degrees in Computer Systems and Applications and Applied Human Behavior. View all posts by Mark Gardner

5 responses to “Wrong Place Wrong Time (FFC2018)

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