“Tick, Tick, Boom!” – Part 8

Fight Crime! Banner

 

The back of Dave’s skull felt like a cash register that had been smashed open with a crowbar. He put a hand to his head, groaning, and tried to get his bearings. His eyes were closed. Why were his eyes closed? Well, that was easy enough to fix. He opened them and saw a hole in the ceiling, sparks jumping from torn electrical wires. When had that gotten there?

Jeffries spat a curse.

Oh, right.

Dave pushed himself up so fast that dizziness nearly took him back down again. But it wasn’t fast enough. Jeffries was already on his feet. His massive fist swung at Dave’s head, and Dave knew instantly that he wouldn’t be able to dodge in time. He flinched back on instinct, but Jeffries’ fist never made contact.

The bulky man screamed, clutching his head as if someone had set his brain on fire. Movement caught Dave’s eye near the hole in the ceiling, and he saw the Black Valentine glaring down at Jeffries like a vengeful goddess. Either she’d just saved Dave, or he’d hit his head so hard that he was hallucinating.

Jeffries’ eyes widened as he saw her, too, and he jumped a good four feet into the air. His meaty hand grasped for her feet, but she scrambled back just in time. Instead, Jeffries grabbed the edge of the hole and tore off a chunk of ceiling as he came down. The same chunk that the Black Valentine was standing on. She fell with a startled cry. Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Web Serial

“Tick, Tick, Boom!” – Part 7

Fight Crime! Banner

 

Val sprinted up the stairs. She’d gotten a stitch in her side on the fourth floor and was still climbing. Why was this building so big? What did a courthouse need besides a few courtrooms, some private offices to bribe people inside, and maybe a food court? What exactly was on all of these floors? Nothing interesting, that was for sure. She caught the thoughts of a few frightened bystanders hiding under desks and gave them a telepathic nudge to get out of the building, but there was no sign of the action yet. Wait—

The feel of a punch knocked her back a step. She wavered and barely managed to catch her balance. That was White Knight’s mind. He and Jeffries were fighting, and she stayed on the very edges of their thoughts so she wouldn’t feel any more hits. They weren’t alone. Nearby, someone dashed down a hallway, calling for JB. That would be the DSA agent in the ugly brown pantsuit. Val couldn’t remember her name. But where was JB?

Val raced up one last flight of stairs, the kid’s panic calling her like a blinking neon sign. She could feel the sweat dampening his shirt and dripping down his face. His hand touched the plaster wall, tracing it as he tried to find the stairs, but each doorway he reached had furniture inside. Where was the damn stairway? He’d gotten turned around and there wasn’t enough time—

“JB!” she shouted. She could see him now, moving in quick jerky steps. He stopped at the sound of his name, and the sheer explosion of emotions he felt made Val lightheaded.

“I can’t find the way out,” he said in a dazed voice. “I keep looking into the future, and no matter what I do it’s just the bone-shaking boom of the explosion and the building crushing me as it comes down. I can’t get it to change.” Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Web Serial

[Insert Update Here]

Today’s the first day after my big cross-country move, and I figured I wouldn’t have time to post this week’s update until late evening. What I didn’t take into account is that I won’t have internet set up at my new apartment for a few days. I’m writing this on my cell phone, and the next update is saved on my laptop, so…yeah. *headdesk* I’ll post it as soon as I can. Sorry for the wait!

2 Comments

Filed under News, Uncategorized

“Tick, Tick, Boom!” – Part 6

Fight Crime! Banner

 

Agent Moreen Lee rushed up the stairwell after Dave, her breaths short and quick. She didn’t like trailing behind him, but there was something to be said for having a bulletproof human shield in front of you.

“This place must have ten floors.” Dave’s voice echoed off the tall, blank walls. “They could be anywhere.”

“The Black Valentine mentioned a helicopter. Head for the roof,” Moreen said.

Which meant they had to climb every single stair in the whole damn building. When they reached the tenth floor, Dave yanked open the door so hard that it came off its hinges. He tossed it aside, and they found themselves in the corner of a nondescript gray hallway.

“See any way to the roof?” Dave asked.

“You go right, I’ll go left. Shout if you find more stairs.”

Dave turned to her, his eyes full of annoying concern. “If you run into Jeffries—”

“I’ll shout. You’ll be able to tell I found Jeffries and not the stairs because I’ll be shouting profanity.”

“I think I’ll shout a polite request for help if it’s me.”

“Great. Get going.”

Moreen walked swiftly down the hall, Glock held out in front of her but pointed at the floor. The walls were lined with wooden doors that opened to small offices. Plaques displayed room numbers, and she kept her eyes open for one that said “Roof Access.” The whole floor was ominously quiet. If Jeffries had already left in his stupid helicopter, she was going to be pissed. Then again, maybe the Falconer or whatever his name was could ask his birds to track the machine to where it landed.

A bump came from the room to her right. Either something had fallen off a shelf, or someone was in there. Moreen’s arm muscles tightened, but she kept her gun pointed at the floor. The door was cracked open. Moreen approached it slowly, alert for any sign of movement. This could be a trap, someone waiting in there to shoot her. She shouldered the door open, and of course the hinges creaked. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Web Serial

“Tick, Tick, Boom!” – Part 5

Fight Crime! Banner

 

Dave’s gaze darted from the hostages to the exit and the gunmen in the space of a second. He had to get these people out of here.

“Shit,” Moreen said, indicating she’d gotten the message, too.

The jerk with the mohawk thinks his boss won’t set them off now that they’ve gotten the Prophet Kid, the Black Valentine said telepathically. The other guy—the one who should’ve been a juggler—thinks he’ll blow the place just for kicks. He strikes me as the smarter of the two.

“Their boss,” said Moreen, “Pretty Boy Jeffries. He’s here?”

According to these two, he’s on the top floor, but he’s out of my range. I can’t sense him. The other gunman is bringing the Prophet Kid to him now. Once he checks that the kid doesn’t have any visions of their getaway plan failing, he’ll signal the others, and they’ll make their escape. They have a helicopter, by the way.

Moreen pinched the bridge of her nose. “Of course they do.”

“We don’t have much time,” Dave said in a low voice. “Do they have any other men left besides the two down here and the one who took the Prophet Kid?”

The Black Valentine closed her eyes again, her eyebrows scrunching together. If they do, the ones down here don’t know about it.           

“Okay,” Dave said, “Then our biggest problem is that walkie-talkie. We don’t want Four-Arms over there to warn Jeffries when we make our move.”

“Agreed,” Moreen said. “Valentine, I’m guessing you can do something about that?”

She raised her eyebrows theatrically. “Is a DSA agent suggesting I use mind-control on an unwilling victim?”

“I’m asking if you can stop him from using his walkie-talkie. How you interpret that is up to you.”

The Black Valentine smirked. “Oh, I can stop him. But I won’t be able to focus on anything else while I’m doing it.”

“Then I’ll handle the one with the mohawk,” Dave said.

Moreen glanced at him. “He’s pretty far away. You sure you can get him before he starts shooting?”

“I can get him.”

“Fine, I’ll watch your back.”

Dave looked at the Black Valentine. “Tell me when you’re ready.” Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Web Serial

“Tick, Tick, Boom!” – Part 4

Fight Crime! Banner

 

Dave sat cross-legged on the floor next to Moreen with the rest of the hostages. Muffled sobbing came from someone behind him, along with soothing whispers and a murmured Hail Mary. “Everything’s going to be okay,” Dave had told everyone when the gunmen had first corralled them. He fervently hoped he hadn’t lied.

Out of the six gunmen who’d stormed the lobby, only the last three were still conscious and on their feet. The one with four arms stood watch over the hostages, two arms crossed, one holding a pistol, and the last carrying a walkie-talkie that he checked into every three minutes. Another gunman with a scarlet mohawk kept his gaze on the front entrance. The crowd outside had dispersed, replaced by police, red and blue lights splashing rhythmically across the glass doors.

The final gunman would regularly disappear for several minutes, returning with anywhere from two to six more hostages to add to the growing group on the floor. Janitors, clerks, lawyers—there were a lot of people who must have hidden themselves when the gunfire started. The courthouse was ten stories tall, but the third gunman seemed to be searching every nook and cranny.

When the Prophet Kid had been arrested, the DSA had captured five out of the estimated dozen members of the Monstro Gang. But they hadn’t caught the leader. Bradley “Pretty Boy” Jeffries was the brains of the operation—and the brawn. He could rip apart a car like wrapping paper when he was in his monster form. He was the whole reason the DSA had sent Dave after the gang; they were hoping White Knight would be strong enough to stop him. But he’d gotten away.

Four-Arms was talking to someone on that walkie-talkie, and whoever it was couldn’t be too far away….

Dave shifted his weight atop the hard tile floor, moving his legs so they wouldn’t cramp. The Monstro Gang had given their demands to the police negotiator who’d come in, but with the Prophet Kid spirited away by some mysterious third-party, this could only end in violence. He had to be ready to act at the first sign of trouble.

“Heads up,” said Mohawk Guy.

And trouble strode right through the front door. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Web Serial

“Tick, Tick, Boom!” – Part 3

Fight Crime! Banner

 

Arm linked with the Prophet Kid, Val escorted him to where Eddy waited in a parked car behind the warehouse. Val opened the back door and nudged the kid inside.

“Eddy, meet the Prophet Kid. Prophet Kid, Eddy.”

Eddy Capello was a big, barrel-chested man who’d worked for Val’s family since before she’d been born. Despite having sat in the comfy air-conditioning all this time, he’d taken off his suit jacket and rolled up his sleeves, revealing a huge tattoo of a skull on his forearm. (Val had always thought it was tacky but didn’t have the heart to tell him.) Oh, and without his jacket, you could see his shoulder holster with two Brownings. That was probably more noticeable than the tattoo.

“Hey, Kid,” he said, putting the car into drive.

“My name is Jean-Baptiste Dupree,” the kid muttered.

“You sure you’d rather go by that?” Val asked. “It’s kind of a mouthful. And that’s coming from Valentina Mariangela Belmonte.”

“Whatever.”

“Can you believe this kid, Eddy?” Val asked. “The Black Valentine breaks him out of police custody—something that I’m sure is the start of a fantasy for lots of teenage boys—and all he can say is ‘whatever.’ Not even a thank you.”

“Kids these days.” Eddy shook his head as he drove five miles under the speed limit. “No manners at all.”

Val watched the Prophet Kid’s reaction. He was slouched over and scowling, ignoring their banter. Oh, well. She would have preferred a thank you and a profession of undying devotion, but she didn’t strictly need it. This was a job, after all.

“So do you really go by Jean-Baptiste, or do you have a nickname?” she asked.

He didn’t answer, so she read his mind.

“JB, huh? I like that better.”

“Only my friends call me that.”

“And we’re not friends? After I risked life and limb to keep you out of prison? JB, I’m hurt.”

“Did you ever think that maybe I didn’t want to get broken out?” Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Web Serial