Chapter 27

Neil crept back into the loft after an evening of tinkering. His shoulder was sore from lugging around the duffel bag. Carefully he set it down, purposefully, as not to spill the coffee he grabbed from the corner store.

He knew the corner store made garbage coffee, but he was desperate for a jolt and the aroma sucked him in. He was looking forward to taking a minute to himself. He would sit down and sip his terrible coffee while he read the comics and did the puzzles in the newspaper he picked up as an impulse item.

“Or, I might just grab a nap,” Neil thought to himself as he struggled to put one foot in front of the other.

“Hey, is that you, Neil?” called out Tom, with an excitement that Neil knew he just didn’t have the energy to process.

Tom came around the corner from the lab area. He was practically vibrating with excitement, waiting to hang on every one of Neil’s words.

“I am not ready for this,” Neil thought to himself, as he purposefully avoided eye contact and started sipping his coffee. He silently hoped that it would help him match Tom’s enthusiasm, or, at the very least, help him tolerate it.

Tom did not pick up on the cues. Regardless of eye contact, he was undeterred and started to talk.

“So? How did the cannons work?”

Neil knew that he could pause the conversation a little by slowly sipping at his coffee. He took the time to find his words while he swallowed. “Yup,” he thought to himself, “the coffee is garbage.”

“They were good. They needed quite a bit of calibration, I needed to adjust quite a bit, but all in all, they were great.”

As Neil spoke, the enthusiasm drained from Tom’s face.

“Just great?”

Neil tried to channel the excitement he had when he wasn’t exhausted before responding.

“Tom, I’m so impressed at what you made for me. They were awesome. I’m just exhausted.”

Tom seemed satisfied.

“Oh, okay. So what’s the plan now?”

Neil held up the newspaper.

“The plan now is that I do some puzzles and sleep, possibly not in that order.”

Tom snatched the paper out of Neil’s hand.

“Dude, they’re talking about you!”

Neil grabbed the paper back and looked at it briefly. His exhaustion vanished as he anxiously spread the newspaper out in front of him.

“This is not good, Tom”

“I know, they didn’t even give you a name.”

“That’s not what I mean!”

“Oh, never mind, they DID give you a name!”

“What?” demanded Neil, as he scanned the article.

Tom pointed at the newspaper as he declared the new name:


“Sinewave?” asked Neil, “Sinewave? That’s not even correct. That’s stupid. It won’t stick.”

“I don’t know Neil, I think it’s pretty cool.”

Neil rolled his eyes. As he spoke again, he started to remember his original concern.

“Tom, how many other large cities surround us back home?”

“Well, there’s three of them.”

“Do you think that Conrad is still looking for us?”

“Well, yeah, of course, why do you ask?”

Neil pinched the bridge of his nose to try to suppress the headache that was starting to set in.

“Well, Tom, do you think those other two towns have vigilantes with electrical powers?”

“I suppose not. Oh, hey, look, there’s an article here about a major electrical storm east of town. Was that you?”

Neil nodded and responded. “Probably, I was east of town last night.”

“Awesome,” responded Tom.

“Not so awesome, it’s yet another news story in a major paper that will entice Conrad.”

“The article says that no people or animals were hurt last night, if that means anything.”

For some reason, that thought brought some relief to Neil. He nodded.

“It does mean a lot, actually. Thanks for mentioning it.”

“The cannons worked well enough to make the experts think it was a storm, you’ve got to tell me more now!”

“The cannons worked well. I have some notes – just some quick modifications that I’d like – maybe kill the lights on it, or make them less bright, oh, and some external way to turn them off, maybe some kind of contact or hidden switch. It’s just that I want them with me, so I can get used to wearing them and fighting with them on, but I’m not quite sure I’m ready to use the cannons – I’d just love the ability to decide that at game time.”

“Can’t you just calibrate them better?”

“Well, no, they’re calibrated, but I managed to vary the system quite a bit just by varying the voltage I put into it. Without adjusting the calibration, I went from being able to knock rocks over to being able to vaporize them completely.”

“So what’s the problem?”

“I really don’t want to vaporize people.”

“Yeah, but they’re bad people!”

“Still. I’ll be no better if I kill.”

“And what about Conrad?”

“Well, I’ll make an exception for him. I’d probably vaporize him completely. The world is safer without him in it.”

“No, Neil, I was changing the subject. What are we going to do about Conrad?”

Neil caught himself on a tangent. He really needed that nap.

“Oh! Yeah, Conrad is still a problem.”

Neil paused a bit to think of the big picture before continuing.

“I guess that this might work to our advantage a bit, you know. I mean, It’s not like he can just up and move the lab here. If anything, it means that we’re probably going to face his goons in smaller numbers until he confirms that we’re really here.”

“Yeah, Neil. Oh, and now that you have a ranged weapon, you can do a bit of sniping from rooftops.”

“Speaking of the rooftops, did you manage to find anything to help me jump off of them?”

“Actually, Yeah, I got something interesting. You ever hear of an ionocraft?”

“I think so, those tin-foil models that use a ton of energy to float on air, right? Neat but impractical because the amount of voltage needed to lift them requires a battery that is too heavy to lift.”

“Yeah. We’re going to play with one and see how well it will work with the amount of voltage you can pour into it and how much we can tweak it to hide in a costume.”

Neil smiled. He appreciated Tom’s ingenuity.

“Yeah, that’s a great idea, Tom. I’m looking forward to trying it.”

Tom smiled. At that moment, Neil noticed that his lips were pale. He looked at Tom’s arms as well. They were equally pale.

“Tom, you’re not looking so great. Everything OK?”

“I don’t know. I mean, I stayed up all night too, and I guess I’m OK. I don’t think I’m ever going to be back to 100% again, the whole being shot and thrown out of a hospital thing took a toll on me.”

“Well, have you being doing what the doctor told you to do?”

“I have been listening. Hell, he gave me some exercises to do. I actually did them before you got back, but now I’m pretty wiped. I think I just had enough fuel left to be excited about the cannons, but I think I need a nap.”

“Yeah, that could be it. A nap would help.”

“Neil, I’ve been feeling pretty good lately, all things considered. I appreciate the concern.”

“I have to be concerned, you’re the only family I have left.”

“Thanks man. Alright. Well, I’m going to set the alarm for 8 or 9pm, then we’ll fire up the police scanner.”

Neil walked over to Tom and helped him get up. Slowly they moved towards Tom’s bed. Tom continued to talk.

“On the table over there, I made you another headset. I tweaked the shielding. Maybe this one will work. What’s your plan for today?”

“I feel beat myself. I’ll probably have a shorter nap and then I’ll hit a self-defense class and do some meditation.”

Tom stopped walking. Concerned, Neil was about to ask him if everything was alright, but Tom started talking.

“Neil, the self-defense class isn’t the answer. You don’t need self-defense, you need self-offense. Time after time you’ve been caught unaware. The times where you haven’t, you’ve sat back and waited to be attacked so you can react the way you’ve been taught.”

Tom caught Neil off guard. He snapped back a quick reply. “You’re not the one out there, you have no place to judge.”

“No, I’m not the one out there, but I know that you need to be getting the drop on the bad guys, as opposed to being the dude who manages to trudge into dangerous situations obliviously.”

Neil felt betrayed. He had trouble finding words.

“So you’d – what, you’d do it different?”

“Neil, you’re not going to become a badass from going to a self-defense course taught by some middle aged lady in a community center. Look, I did some research and you need something like sambo or maybe even Krav Maga. Attack. Jump in.”

“That kind of instruction is full contact. My touch is lethal.”

“Maybe that’s your incentive to get it under control.”

“That’s irresponsible, Tom.”

“No more irresponsible than trying to fight crime based on a pseudo-martial art being taught by someone in sweatpants.”

Neil noticed that Tom was getting more and more agitated. He tried to diffuse the situation.

“She wears black sweatpants, Tom, that’s gotta count for something.”

“Piss off Neil, you know I’m right. The bullshit crime fighting isn’t a challenge to you, you’re just as inept as you were on day one. You need to learn to be proactive. You need to learn how to assess the sketchy situations and you need to be decisive enough to throw the first punch. You said it yourself, the paper is bringing attention to you – to us – and the goons that are going to start to come will be way harder to deal with.”

“Maybe I could try the Krav Maga. Maybe we could design some kind of fabric that dampens my powers?”

Tom shoved Neil back, catching him off guard.

“No, you idiot. You don’t need special fabrics. You need to stop letting your power control you. I just, I look at you and you’ve come so far, but until you challenge yourself to make contact, you’re doing this in easy mode.”

Neil started to get angry. Between being shoved and what Tom was saying, he could feel his blood pressure rise. He could feel his body temperature warm up.

“Tom, what would you know about it? Don’t you need to take a nap anyway?”

“What do I know about it? I know that Conrad isn’t half-assing it this badly.”

Neil stepped forward and shoved Tom.

“What, do you think I’m not committed to this because I don’t pick a stupid name? I’m scared, Tom, scared as hell. I’m a bad mood, a stubbed toe away from electrocuting people!”

Tom shoved Neil back.

“Oh yeah?”

Neil shoved Tom again.

“Let me tell you something else, Friend.”

Tom fell to the ground, cutting off Neil mid-sentence. Neil looked at his hands. For a second he wondered if he might have electrocuted him. He felt guilty for pushing him. He got down to the ground to find Tom gasping for breath. Neil noticed a bit of blood leaking through Tom’s shirt. Tom’s grim expression said it all.

“Tom, you’re not doing well. Not one bit. It’s not just a nap you need.”

“Nah, it’s nothing major.”

“That shouldn’t be bleeding Tom. It should have healed at least somewhat by now.”

“It happens. I’m not resting as much as I should I guess.”

“We should get the doctor back in.”

“With Conrad sniffing? No thanks, Neil. I’ll just take it easy.”

“Come on, man. You need a doctor.”

“Nah, I’ll just rest up. I’m serious. Besides, I just got some good news.”

“What good news?”

“Well Neil, you got angry, shouted and shoved me. The lights didn’t flicker and I didn’t get electrocuted.”


“You can obviously control it completely - even at some subconscious level. You need to stop over thinking it.”

“Dude, this isn’t the time for this.”

“Neil, Conrad won’t wait for the right time. You can do this. Go find a Krav Maga course. Don’t over think it, you are completely capable of controlling it.”

Neil thought about what Tom was saying. It had been a while since he accidentally lost control. He had been practicing. And he hated to admit that Tom was right, but he was.

“I’ll do it.”

Carefully, Neil helped Tom to his feet.

“Easy does it, Neil. My gut feels like it’s on fire, just help me get up slowly.”

Neil nodded and let Tom set the pace. Slowly he got him back onto his feet and started him towards his room.

“Tom, promise me you’ll take it easy. Just hold off of everything. Don’t even set your alarm. Get the rest you need. I’ll stop patrolling at night until I take a few Krav Maga courses, so you won’t need to worry about watching my back. We’ll take next steps once you’re doing better. It might not hurt to fly under the radar either.”

“I just need a few days.”

“Nonsense. We’re not moving forward until you heal completely.”

“I guess,” replied Tom, “and hey, maybe the ionocraft will be here by then!”

“Yeah, maybe. I’m going to go look up some martial arts and see what I can join. You rest up. We’ll take a week off, hide from Conrad, heal up and prepare.”

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1 comment:

Richard Belzile said...

Didn't have any notes or remarks at time of publish, sorry.

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I am Sinewave: Spark

Written by Richard Belzile

Updated semi-infrequently

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

Richard Belzile and, 2015-2018.

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