Day two of NaNoWriMo, trudging right along.
Chapter Two — The Heel
Russ sped down the roads approaching the plantation, a small consolation for living in the middle of nowhere. He knew the roads well enough and he had plenty of time to react to any and all emergencies. Ironically, when a ‘surprise’ came up it was more about slowing down than making a snap decision.
He took the approach to the house at full speed, the spot next to his was empty, so he turned the car into power slide through the adjacent spot. Russ had done it dozens of times, by now he could do it with his eyes closed.
The plantation home of Raymond Teller was nice as far as homes went. The nearby bayous gave it a perpetual swampy smell, but it gave it character. On record, he lived there alone, but each of the members of the Macro Corp. had their own living quarters.
Russ stepped out of his car, glanced down at his watch, stretched and ran full speed to the front door. Dirt flicked into the air at every footstep, tumbled and made it’s slow descent back to the ground. Board meeting might have been dull as hell, but this is what he lived for.
He tightened his focus and all at once the flying soil flattened to the ground and went back to the waiting game at normal speed. The door to the foyer squeaked as he opened it, per usual.
Doctor Joycelyn Teller, A.K.A. Medica, stood in the foyer. By day, she’s a doctor specializing in long words Russ couldn’t pronounce. She acted as the Macro Corp.’s third in command. Her height did little to diminish her beauty; she had a curvy Amazon thing going on. She wore her usual doctor duds a modest white one-piece dress with a purple collar.
“Afternoon, Russ. You’re home early,” she said.
“I could say the same about you. Shouldn’t you be at the hospital?”
“Ray called me about a migraine, figured I’d come by and check it out. You hungry?”
They walked into the kitchen, an array of sandwich toppings littered the counter. Russ snagged a piece of roast beef on the way to the fridge.
“I saw you on the news,” Joyce said, taking a seat on a stool.
He cracked open the fridge, pulled out one of the dozen gallons of milk and shrugged. “Yep, public D-bag mode. How fun.”
“We all appreciate it though. Still, it sucks you have to do it alone.”
Russ shook his head. “It’s cool. I mean, it’s not all lies. Cirrimus is on ice for now, we shouldn’t be doing patrols. If anything we should be looking for the bigger fish to fry.”
“Well, hopefully there aren’t any other bigger fish,” Joyce said. “It’s a stalemate and we need to stay sharp. So we might as well do some good for the city.”
“Yeah, until they start trying to send us to the middle east to peacekeep.” Russ popped off the top of the milk and drank.
“I was going over your medical records today too.”
“So what’s the bad news?”
Joyce smiled. “Good news actually, your increased metabolism doesn’t seem to be aging you quicker. So, rest easy.”
“That’s all I ever do,” Russ said. “I hardly get to go on patrols these days. Not that I want to do them, but people are gonna make the connection if we’re not careful about it.”
“It’s fine. Ray has a plan.”
“Oh this should be good.” Russ polished off his milk, tossed the jug and grabbed another.
“Dave’ll pose as you at your meeting tomorrow. You’ll be with us when we cover the children fundraiser.” Joyce shrugged. “You’ll be in costume tomorrow. Feel free to ham it up.”
“Nice,” Russ said. “I always wanted to cuss myself out.”
“Kirin is looking for you too, something about the neighboring area being unstable. I’m afraid I don’t do so well it supernatural nonsense.”
“Joyce, we’re super heroes. How can you say that with a straight face?”
“We’re here because of science. Not magic.”
Russ didn’t argue further, instead he worked on the dagwood sandwich to put all others to shame. Six slices of bread, alternating slices of cold cuts, piles of peppers, loads of mayo and just enough veggies for some crunch.
“I still don’t understand how you eat all that without getting fat.”
“Paranormal influence, obviously,” Russ said.
Joyce’s sandwich, a miserable little single-layer-roast-beef number, looked sad by comparison. It fell under the shadow of his gargantuan tower of Deli. He took his sandwich, pressed it to eating size and took a bite. Perfect.
“So what happened with Kari?”
Russ took another bite to dodge the question.
“I saw your broadcast. Is it true?”
Russ shook his head, finished his bite and swallowed. “Usual propaganda. The guy pulled a knife on me, Kari made the right call.”
“Oh.” Joyce said. She sounded disappointed.
“Penny for your thoughts, Miss Teller?”
“I agree with what you said on T.V. It’s only a matter of time before people start fearing us. We don’t really have a way to convince people we’re still human. Hopefully the charity stuff tomorrow helps.”
“It will,” Russ said. “Even Mr. Belkin will have to back off a little tomorrow. Especially if he starts getting his way.”
His phone beeped. Russ pulled it from his pocket. “Huh, new follower. Phinneas Duth?”
“I don’t recognize the name.”
“Let’s find out.” Russ flipped over to his browser, leafed through a few sites. “Here we go. Marketing Guru, owns his own firm. Guess it couldn’t hurt to follow back. Bap.”
“Don’t enjoy yourself too much.” Joyce said. “How’s the hate site going?”
“It’s not a hate site. O.K. so it sort of is… but it has one million members and gets about fiv hundred hits a day. I’m willing to bet more than eighty percent of those people are right wingers.”
“We even get donations. I’ve put it all into charities for now, but we may have to do a big event soon. Dave has the domain running at one hundred and ten percent.”
Joyce chuckled, picking up her sandwich. “You might be in the wrong business.”
“Maybe, hey guard my sammie will you? I’m gonna see what Kirin needed.”
Russ checked his mail as he walked, plenty of solicited offers, extremist declarations and– of course– white supremacy crap. Deleted. Of course there were the occasional normal emails as well, people thanking him for his hard work of showing the truth. He got plenty of hate mail as well, but the spam filter culled those out pretty well.
Kirin took to tending the small garden in the corner of the Plantation. The place already had a ‘naturey’ feel to it but Kirin’s garden took this to an extreme. The outdoor section had all the indigenous plants you’d come to expect. The indoor greenhouse had a stunning array of exotic plants and vegetables.
Russ found her inside ‘Greenhouse Three’ where all the cool weather plants like collards, cabbage, spinach, and kale made their home.
Kirin stood from her plant work and smiled. “Oh hi.”
“Heya, don’t let me interrupt. Do what you need to.”
Kirin, unlike many of the Macro Corp., was a petite woman. She was barely five feet tall, shorter than him with delicate features. A little pack sat high on her back, filled with delicate contents. People joked she looked young, not to Russ. Sure, she was petite, but she had a certain refinement no kid could ever have.
“Joyce told me you needed to talk to me?”
“Mmm hmm. I figured you would be the only one to listen.” Kirin hesitated. “There’s something bad happening in the nearby forests.”
“Something is missing.” Kirin straightened. “Can we talk inside, I need to stretch out.”
Russ knew the feeling, but no one had it worse than Kirin. He followed her inside the house and they settled into his room on the second floor. Thankfully, he remembered to clean it up. She took a seat on his bed. “You need help with that?”
She nodded. “Please.”
Russ stepped behind her and pulled at the hidden zipper on the pack. He pulled away the vinyl cover and Kirin spread her wings. Translucent butterfly wings, decorated with light hints of pastels, flitted behind her.
To the uninformed Kirin was a young girl, the truth she was a grown fairy. A poorly worded wish cursed her to be his size at all times. Thankfully the wish kept proportion in mind, but now she had no choice but to stay with them. Other than her wings, she looked like a normal Caucasian woman. She had the same skin color as him, but she had pale red colored hair to his blonde.
“Much better,” she said, sighing.
“Sucks you can’t keep them out. They’re beautiful,” Russ said shrugging. “We all have our secrets, though.”
“It is fine, really. I am just happy I can help you all. This is why I need to tell you. Someone or something stole a part of the forest. A very important part.”
“Wait. Hold on.” Russ scowled. “Stole?”
O.K. So I see why Joyce is treating her like she’s crazy. “What part? Did someone steal all the tree trunks while we weren’t looking?”
“Oh heavens, no. That would be horrible. I mean they stole part of the forest’s soul.”
“No problem,” Russ said. “I got just the thing.”
“We’ll set up giant speakers and blast James Brown music for a few hours.”
“It was a joke.”
“This isn’t a joke! It’s serious.” Kirin pouted. “You do not believe me?”
“I do, but my Soul Society expertise is limited to Bleach episodes.”
“What does cleaner have to do with–”
“Forget it,” Russ said. “We just need an expert. Have you talked with Sam about this?”
Kirin shook her head.
“Cause she scares me.”
“Sam? Oh come on. So what if she practices voodoo– O.K. yeah, saying that out loud makes your point crystal clear. Lemme talk to her for you.”
“You would do that?”
She hugged him, giggling.
Russ hugged her back, careful to keep his hands away from her wings. “I should whip up some karma for all that public ass-hattery.”
Kirin pulled away, looking confused. “You have an ass-hat?”
“Forget it, Kirin. Too hard to explain.”
He left her to relax in his room, clicking the door shut behind him. He made his way back to the kitchen and saw the worst possible case scenario.
No Joyce, and an American Brown Bear at the counter, eating his sandwich.
Russ covered his face with his palm. “God damn it, Rusty.”
Now of course, Rusty wasn’t a normal bear. That would be too easy. Dave insisted on giving the smarter-than-average-bear opposable thumbs. Metal bands wrapped low around his palm with a mechanical device meant to emulate the wonder of the human hand. With it Rusty could do all sorts of things, but none of them were good.
“Gra!” Rusty said. For the record, he said that a lot.
“O.K. big boy, we’ve been over this a few times. No bears in the kitchen. That’s my property you have there and–”
Rusty took a bear sized bite. Half the damn sandwich– gone.
“I know you can understand me you overgrown brillo pad, you’re not gonna get away with this.” The truth was, he would. Unless Russ kept his power up full time, things could catch him off guard. Someone pointing a gun at him? Big deal, bullet time on! But someone eating his sandwich? The crisis didn’t click in until too late.
Russ walked over to him and smacked a button on his collar. A moment later, a mechanical voice, vaguely resembling Larry the Cable Guy spoke: “Oh, hey there Russ! Needs more Mayo!”
Both devices were Dave’s idea. Their shape shifting tech expert thought it would be such a great idea for a bear to be obnoxious and apologize for it. At least that was the theory.
“Seriously? You eat my damn sandwich and you criticize it? Forget you.”
Rusty folded back his ears and hung his head.
“Oh, no. Don’t try that crap on me. I’m immune to puppy eyes, kitty eyes and bear eyes thank-you-very-much. You got thumbs, make me a damn replacement sandwich.
For the record, the second one was amazing. Who knew? Bears are natural sandwich makers.