Chapter 24

The bright light danced over Tom’s eyelids, prompting him to wake up. He shifted around in bed uncomfortably trying to dodge the light before opening his eyes.

As he opened them, even the indirect light burned. He groaned and grimaced as he adjusted to the brightness.

“Neil, are you there?”

“Yeah, just in the other room, give me a sec.”

Tom pulled back the sheet cautiously, revealing a properly dressed wound and clean bandages.

“Um, Neil, man, how long have I been out?”

Neil walked in, holding two lit incandescent bulbs in his hands. Tom’s head hurt too much to be impressed.

“Goddamn it, Neil, those are so bright.”

Neil nodded. The bulbs slowly dimmed before flickering a few times and turning off.

“Sorry Tom. I’ve been working at getting a handle on things. How are you feeling?”

From head to toe, Tom felt like he was a human bruise. Everything – every single body part ached somewhere on a range from painful to on fire.

“It’s not great man.”

Neil nodded.

“Well, this is the first time that the pain didn’t make you pass out, so there’s that.”

Tom shrugged as Neil continued.

“We’ve had similar conversations a few times now, but usually before we get to this point, you pass back out.”

Tom started to worry.

“How long have I been out?”

“Long enough. More than days. Less than months.”

“That’s a huge range, Neil. What aren’t you telling me?”

“It’s been about 6 weeks since you were shot.”

Tom clutched at his face and felt a serious beard. He started to feel his temperature rise as his mood deteriorated. He could feel his pulse quicken. He flew into a rage.

“You left me for dead in a hospital parking lot, and I vaguely remember you throwing me out of a window and now we’re in a seedy hotel room and it never dawned on you to maybe bring me back to the hospital? What if I died?”

Neil kept a calm demeanor.

“Well Tom, you were pretty close to death. It took me a bit to find a doctor who wouldn’t ask questions, but he did a hell of a job, snuck me some IV equipment and cleaned your bandages a few times.”

“You got us into one hell of a mess, Neil.”

Neil nodded.

“Yeah, I’ll take on some of that. Most of it. But I wasn’t the one who shot you in the gut. Twice. I’ve been in over my head and I’m doing my best to fix what I can.”

“Some fix, Neil. Some goddamn fix.”

“You’re not dead and Conrad isn’t a threat right now. Small victories, man. Listen, how much do you remember? Do you remember the explosion? Do you remember that my father was killed? The deal?”

“Your father was killed?”

“Okay, I guess you don’t remember. Sorry, that was a pretty indelicate way to get you up to speed.”


Neil brought Tom up to speed on everything, from the explosion to the standoff in the hospital room and their hasty trip to Mondale.

“Shit Neil, I didn’t realize your father died. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t apologize. You needed to get that off your chest. It’s a fair assessment. Don’t worry. This is only temporary anyway. I’m going to get that son of a bitch and then we can go back to our old lives.”

“Neil, it sounds like Conrad wants to learn how to reproduce the accident. He wants your abilities. You can’t let him get them.”

“I agree. That’s why I’ve been training and honing my abilities.”

“Training?” Tom scoffed, “What kind of training, Neil? Do they have a special course at the community center for revenge-driven-self-defense?”

“Well, first off, did you not notice the light bulbs? Also, Yes, I have been taking some self-defense classes, but more importantly, I’ve been kind of – um – patrolling.”


“Maybe you could call it crime fighting?”

Tom started to laugh but it was stifled by the pain.

“Jesus, Tom, grab a pillow and hug it before you rupture something.”

Tom grabbed the pillow and managed to contain the fiery pain in his gut as he caught his breath. Soon the pain passed.

“Thanks, Neil. Sorry, I couldn’t help but laugh. Everything seems so goddamn funny when you know it’ll hurt to laugh. I can’t explain it.”

“No problem. I don’t know why it’s funny, I’ve just been out there trying to find criminals and stop them.”

“I expected spandex tights and the image was just too much for me. Make any big saves?”

“Hardly. It’s mostly waiting. It’s not like the movies, I guess. Maybe if I had some kind of other supplemental ability like enhanced hearing or precognition, I’d be able to find the crimes, but I don’t so I’m mostly just sitting out there in seedy neighborhoods, hoping that the law of averages is in my favor. I did stop a mugging, but it was hardly the hand-to-hand combat training I was hoping for.”

“What about a police scanner?”

“Yeah, that would make a lot of sense. They’re expensive though. Oh, that reminds me. I’ve spent a lot of money from your credit card and your bank account. I don’t know what your limits are, but I’m sure I’ve put you into significant debt.”

“Wait, what? You’re using the credit card? That’s stupid, Neil. That’s the first thing they’ll track.”

“Oh, god, no. I haven’t used it since we left home, Tom. The entire time you were in the hospital I was withdrawing your daily limit at the bank machine for your bank and credit accounts. I was also buying Bitcoin. I’ve stashed a good chunk of money for cash on hand and for emergencies and it’s untraceable. I had a ton of time to think that through when you were in the hospital. I was worried they’d freeze your accounts, so I started that early on. My concern is that I’ve probably overextended you or drained you financially.”

“Well, if it makes you feel any better, you probably didn’t even make a dent. There was a lot of money in there.”

“Then I’m sorry for draining your retirement fund, Tom. I promise I’ll make it up to you.”

“Hah, as if I had a retirement fund. Most likely, it’s your money that you’re wasting. After you died in the accident, with me being your executor and with your dad of unsound mind, all remaining titles and assets went to me. So, if there’s money in there, it’s probably your estate. And even if you did manage to drain that, it’s probably been topped up with insurance money from the explosion. If I had my cell phone I could check.”

“If you had your cell phone, Conrad would have already found us.”

“Fair enough. So back to the crime fighting, we’ll need a police scanner and I’ll make up a list of components we’ll need to build some gadgets.”

“Oh, Tom, no. I’m not going to do that. I don’t need a gadget guy. I’m just trying to learn how to control my powers in stressful situations. This isn’t a new career; I just need practical training before I face Conrad.”

“Dude, you’ve been patrolling the streets for what, 6 weeks and you didn’t think of a police scanner. Your operation clearly needs some brains. Also, I’m probably going to be bedridden for a while yet and I’ll need something to do while you learn how to handle yourself in a fight.”

“I think it’s unnecessary.”

“Humor me, I need something to look forward to so I don’t succumb to depression and ultimately stop caring about recovering and die.”

“That’s a low blow, Tom. Fine. You can be the brains of the operation.”

“Awesome, Neil. The first thing we need to do is come up with a name.”

“Absolutely not. I’m taking a pass on that. I don’t need a code name.”

“Come on, you need one. Every super—“

Neil interrupted, stopping Tom mid-sentence.

“I am not a super anything. I’m not even a hero. I’m just learning, or rather, trying to learn how to kick some ass. No names. No way.”

“Alright Neil, loud and clear. When do we get started?”

“I’ll go pick up a police scanner.”

“And a laptop.”

“Sure, and a laptop. I guess we’ll start tonight, if you’re up to it.”

“Yeah, I think I should be up to it. You got a costume yet?”

“No costumes!”

Tom grabbed his pillow and let out a laugh. Neil threw his hands in the air.

“Fine, I’m off to spend my money.”

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1 comment:

Richard Belzile said...

I just didn't have anything noteworthy to post when I published this.

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I am Sinewave: Spark

Written by Richard Belzile

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I am not a professional author, this is my novice attempt at creating a novel in an episodic fashion. Comments, critiques and compliments accepted.

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