Chapter 28

Neil sat perched on a rooftop, looking down at the street, thinking about Tom. It was their first night back on the job since the discussion. Neil was a little disappointed with how quiet things were tonight. He was hoping for something to distract him. Something to help him stop worrying about Tom.

As he felt the cool night air on his face, Neil tried to associate the cooling feeling with relaxation and calm. He took a couple of deep breaths and let the cold air fill his lungs. He thought about the Krav Maga he had been working on and worked through some of the exercises in his head.

The more Neil tried not to think of Tom, the more he found himself focusing on Tom’s recovery and the tension at the loft. Between Tom being angry with Neil for holding back and Neil being angry with Tom for hiding his recurring injuries, it was a hostile place to be. Every day he went to three Krav Maga classes and then went out until late in the evening practicing with the arm cannons. He wanted to convince himself it was dedication to the mission, but he knew it was really just a good excuse to avoid being at home.

Neil felt his face turn warm. Thinking about the whole situation made him feel embarrassed. “Why am I acting this way,” he asked himself. “We’re friends, we’ve been through a lot and this is relatively minor.”

Taking a deep breath, Neil pressed his finger to his ear and started talking.

“Hey, you around?”

Neil waited for Tom to answer. It felt like it was taking too long. Neil started getting visions of Tom keeled over on the floor bleeding out. He was sure he was just being paranoid, but he could feel his breathing getting more and more shallow as his chest tightened. Just as he was ready to rush back home, Tom answered.

“Yeah, I’m here, Neil. Sorry, I was distracted.”

Neil felt better immediately.

“Yeah, just wanted to check in. It’s been a slow night. I’m honestly pretty disappointed. I was looking forward to testing things out.”

“Yeah,” replied Tom, “The police scanner is pretty dead tonight too. Maybe things will get worse after bars let out?”

“Maybe. Here’s hoping. I was kind of hoping for more than drunk crowd control.”

“Neil, at what point did it become normal for us to start wishing for more crime?”

“At the point where it became normal for me to be a human battery.”

“Point taken. So, did you get the cannons calibrated?”

“Yeah, they’re pretty good. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be ready to take them into action at first, but the last week has helped me hone it in. I did set an upper limit on them though. I don’t want to kill with them, stun is enough.”

“Oh.” replied Tom. Neil bristled at Tom’s response. This whole conversation felt forced. The awkward silence got to Neil and he continued his thought.

“So, yeah, the cannons have pinpoint accuracy too. It was hard to aim at first, but I’ve kind of got used to it. They should stun an opponent and probably throw them back quite a bit at max power for now. As I get better, I’ll adjust the upper limit. I figure I don’t need much more than that.”

“Yeah, that’s a good idea.”

The radio went quiet for a bit. Neil had hoped that the conversation would flow more easily, but things still felt forced. He decided to bring up a topic he was avoiding.

“So, um, Sinewave?” Neil asked, daring Tom to reply.

“Oh yeah, I’ve been watching social media, it’s trending big time.”

Neil shook his head.

“Trending? Really? It’s not that great of a name, Tom”

“What are you talking about, Neil, it’s an awesome name.”

“But why Sinewave? It doesn’t even make sense.”

“Dude, Neil, it was probably thought up by some journalists, they probably brainstormed it using an online thesaurus, they looked for electricity and liked that the best, because it’s catchy.”

“But what about Livewire?”

“Probably copyrighted.”


“Also probably copyrighted.”

“Professor Arc?”

“Potentially copyrighted, definitely stupid.”

“Doctor Watt?”

“Derivative and super-stupid.”

“Those are all worse than Sinewave?”

“Yes. Sinewave is awesome. You’re super lucky that they chose a cool name for you and that it stuck. Enjoy it. Own it.”

“I’ll take your word for it.”

“You should, Neil, as I said, it’s trending. Oh, did you get my note about the hover suit?”

“Yeah, I’m wearing it.”

“Have you tested it yet?”

“Nah, not yet.”

“Not even a little glide?”

“I’m working up to it.”

“Just don’t forget to press the button before you jump. I haven’t figured out how to get the accelerometer to work yet.” Tom stopped talking abruptly before continuing. “Oh, dude, there’s a bit of chatter on the scanner. Something big.”


“I don’t know where you’ve hunkered down. The trouble is at 16th and Westcott.”

Neil took a second to get his bearings before replying. “Wow, that’s actually fairly close. Can you map it for me? I’m on 14th and Easton.”

“Neil, you’re right on top of it. I don’t know how you don’t see the lights or hear the sirens at this point. There’s a large building south of you and then two large buildings west of that. It’s the second one.”

“How confident are you in the suit, Tom?”

“Extremely confident.”

“That large building south of me is quite a bit shorter than the one I’m on. I think it’s a good excuse for me to jump across to the next building. It’s not too far, but it’s not close enough for me to get there by jumping. And depending on how well it works, maybe I can go from roof to roof and get at the trouble via rooftop, maybe drop down from above.”

“You sure?”

Neil winced. He was not sure. He couldn’t tell that to Tom. He needed to show him that he was willing to take some risks. “Yeah, I guess so,” he lied, quickly changing the subject. “What’s going on anyway?”

“The police scanner says armed robbery.”

“Again? Wow. Are the police pinned down this time too?”

“It doesn’t seem like it, but it looks like the robbers have holed themselves up in the building.”

“The big brown building? One south, two west? Alright, well, here goes nothing.”

As he inhaled a deep breath and felt that cold air on his lungs again, Neil alternated between clenching and unclenching his fists as he stared at the other rooftop. He shuffled his feet and felt the gravel shift on the roof. He wondered if he’d get enough traction and considered how much it would hurt if this didn’t work. Finally, he breathed out and just started running.

As he ran, he clicked a new switch on the cannon, the one Tom was nice enough to remind him to press. Neil felt his hair rise up as a flicker of static electricity hung in the air around him with a blueish hue. Reaching the end of the roof, he jumped…

…and was surprised to find himself gliding toward the other roof, hardly losing any altitude as he sailed through the air. He arrived at the other rooftop and let go of the button.

Misjudging the distance, he fell onto the roof and rolled funny. The burning sensation in his leg gave him the strong impression that he had broken it. That burning pain would probably last for a minute or two.

“WELL?” asked Tom, practically shouting into Neil’s ear.

“Well, it looks like the ionocraft thing you designed works. I did lose a bit of altitude, but for the most part, I was gliding down, not falling. I don’t know if there’s anything we can adjust. I’m happy with it.”

“It’s not an ionocraft,” Tom replied impetuously, “It’s a glide-suit. The ionocraft design did inspire it, but I had to start all over and add some of the wingsuit physics. I had to do electrical work and I had to sew, even though I said I didn’t want to sew. The least you can do is call it by the name I’ve given it.”

Neil winced, both from the pain and from Tom’s reaction. Neil had forgotten how anal he was about his inventions. He used to do this all the time at work.

“Alright, sorry, Tom. Glide-suit. It’s a great glide-suit.”

“Awesome, man. Good feedback. So, are you at the scene yet?”

“Not quite. The equipment – um, glide-suit worked, but I botched the landing. I’m just taking a second while my leg heals.”

“Tough break.”

“Ha-Ha, you’re SO funny, Tom. Alright, here goes attempt number two. If I can stand, that is.”

Tentatively, Neil got to his feet and put some weight on his leg. There was no pain, so he slowly started walking to the other end of the rooftop. There were two more buildings to jump across. He decided to go for it.

Repeating the process, he still managed to botch the landing on the third rooftop, though without injuring himself. The fourth landing was perfect and gave Neil a boost of excited energy.

“I’m here,” said Neil over the headset.

“Great. How did the rest of the jumps go?”

“Better, not perfect, but better. Once again, well done on the glide suit. So awesome!”

“Good to hear. Do you see it yet?”

“Yeah, I think so.”

As Neil approached the end of the building, he looked down and saw a number of police cars, their red and blue lights flashing off every surface in the dark night.

“There’s definitely a standoff of some kind,” said Neil to the headset. “It looks like the building across from me. I’m going to figure out what floor they’re on and go in for a better look.”

Neil jumped across to the building. He hoped that the blue lights on the police cars below would take attention away from the blueish hue from his glide-suit. As he moved through the air, he noticed that only one floor in the building had lights. He counted windows down from the top of the building as he sailed across. Finally, he landed on the building without issue.

“Alright, I’m going in, so I’m going to go quiet on you. Also, don’t get me wrong, this flickering blue static looks really cool, but it calls a lot of attention to me. Just something to keep in mind.”

“Just own the blue static look. It’s probably pretty menacing from above. Either way, be careful.” replied Tom.

Neil walked around the rooftop, noticing a huge rooftop air conditioner. He knew this building was too tall for ladders and that something like that would need maintenance, so there had to be some kind of door or access hatch. After fumbling around for too long, he found it.

He pulled at the hatch. It wouldn’t open. “Probably some kind of latch in there,” Neil thought to himself. He looked back to the huge air conditioner. There was a bundle of cables that ran from it down the side of the building. He followed the bundle and carefully looked over the side of the building to see if he could trace where they went in.

As Neil contemplated jumping, he started to hear noise from the police. Instructions were being shouted over loudspeakers. Neil couldn’t quite make them out. He started toward that side of the building to hear what the cops had to say. As he neared the hatch, he could hear the metallic sound of the hatch mechanism opening.

Just in time, Neil dove behind the air conditioning unit as the roof hatch popped open. The barrel of a rifle started poking out. Neil could see a figure peeking over the edge of the hatch with the rifle tentatively. The gunman used the scope on the rifle to scan the rooftop. After a few passes, the figure emerged from the hatch, crawling across the rooftop towards the front of the building.

Neil waited. The air conditioner stood between the hatch and the front of the building. He held his breath as the man inched closer. “Just a few more feet,” Neil thought to himself as he felt his heart beat in his ears. Neil carefully inched his way around the big machine and dove on the gunman, placing his hand on his neck at the base of the thug’s skull. Carefully he willed a bit of electricity out. The thug went limp.

Slumping to the ground, Neil took a second to collect himself. He felt the villain for a pulse. He was pleasantly surprised to find the villain was still breathing. He pulled out some of his heavy duty zip-ties and locked the gunman’s hands behind his back.

Neil picked up the rifle. “I don’t want to leave him up here with this,” he thought to himself. He ejected the magazine from the rifle, unloaded the bullet from the chamber and smashed the scope against the roof as hard as he could. He pulled the rifle apart as much as he knew how to. Satisfied, he threw all of the components in different directions on the roof and headed toward the open hatch.

Tentatively, Neil leaned into the hatch head first. As he looked around and listened carefully, there was no sound or motion in the hallway. Carefully, Neil lowered himself down the ladder, carefully closing the hatch and locking it from the inside.

The hallway was dark, but the emergency lights and the fire exits were lit. Carefully, he moved to the nearest fire exit and followed the stairwell down to the next floor. If he counted right, he had two more floors to go. He continued down the stairs until he was pretty sure he was at the right door. He carefully opened the door a crack. The lights were on that floor. He could hear noises on the floor.

“This must be it,” Neil thought to himself. “Thankfully, it sounds like they’re on the other side of the floor.”

Neil pushed the door open carefully and looked around. It was a typical corporate office with a ton of tall beige cubicles. He darted from cubicle to cubicle towards the noise. Finally, he arrived at a cubicle that had a decent vantage point. As he climbed up on the desk to take a look, he cursed himself for smashing the scope. It would have helped him look without sticking his neck out.

As he carefully raised his head over the cubicle he got a good look at the situation. It looked like there were three men holding guns and some hostages.

“Hostages,” Neil thought to himself. “I’m going to need an accurate headcount of the bad guys so nobody gets hurt.”

Just then, the lights to the floor cut out. Neil looked around helplessly while the hostages gasped out stifled screams.

“Get those cops on the phone. NOW,” Shouted one of the thugs. “Let them know that for every minute we sit in the dark, we shoot one of the hostages.”

Neil rifled through the pockets on his cargo pants. Since he had been working mostly at night, Tom had set him up some night vision goggles. He put them on. Obscured by the darkness, he stood up tall and got a good look. There were just three of them. Two of them stood fairly close together while the third one ranted at the police over the phone, negotiating for light. Neil realized that the darkness wouldn’t last. This was probably the best time to take them all out without killing a hostage. “Okay, Neil, this is probably your only chance,” he thought, as he started to creep toward the two thugs grouped together. He concentrated on his breathing.

He managed to sneak up to the two thugs. Bringing his fist back, he prepared to slug one of the villains. Just as he connected, the lights turned back on, blinding him.

The extreme brightness hurt Neil’s eyes and he failed to follow through on his punch. Leaning in, he managed to continue the momentum of his punch as he pulled his fist toward his own body, bending his arm and to land a sharp elbow to the thug’s windpipe. As the first villain fell to the ground gasping, Neil peeled the goggles off his face and threw them at the second thug, distracting him enough for Neil to run at him.

As Neil engaged the second thug, he swore he heard one of the hostages exclaim, “Hey, It’s Sinewave,”

“Are you serious?” Neil thought to himself as he landed a kick to his opponent’s knee, taking him down. As the thug fell, he squeezed off a shot or two from his rifle. Neil could feel bullets hitting his stomach, knocking him back. As he sprawled backwards, he somehow managed to hook his foot on the thug’s leg. As he struggled to get his hands behind himself to land, he panicked and electrocuted the thug. Almost simultaneously, Neil and the second thug fell to the floor.

Gasping, Neil could feel the pain fade as he started to heal. As he collected himself, he realized that the third gunman stood over him, holding a hostage in close, with his rifle trained on the hostage.

“Get up. NOW,” ordered the gunman.

Neil complied. He got up to his feet. His head danced and the room felt like it was spinning.

The gunman continued to bark orders at Neil. “Stay over there. If you step any closer, I will shoot this hostage.”

“Please, Sinewave, I have kids at home,” the hostage added.

“There’s that name again,” Neil thought to himself, “What the hell does trending mean anyway? I guess it is popular.”

He pushed the thought out of his head as the thug started to speak.

“Did you hear that?” asked the thug, “He has kids at home. So both of you listen to me and you might get to see that kid again.”

Neil carefully put his arms out, palms facing forward.

“Listen,” spoke Neil in a calm voice, “I’d really prefer if you kept that gun pointed at me. Just let the hostage sit down. I promise I won’t do anything.”

The gunman pushed the hostage to the floor and kept his gun pointed at the hostage. He looked back at Neil with hesitation and regret.

“You know what,” replied the gunman, “I’m not letting you call the shots.” The gunman leaned down to grab the hostage again. Neil took a step toward the gunman. He turned his rifle towards Neil. In that split second, Neil knew what he had to do. In a smooth motion, he snapped his outstretched hands downward so they pointed at the last thug. As he did that, he activated the cannon, firing it at both the thug and the hostage, knocking them both out.

The other hostages gasped and screamed as Neil deactivated the cannon and ran over to the downed hostage. He felt for a pulse. He couldn’t find one. In that split second, he thought of the hostages’ kids and how they would be without a father tonight. He could feel the panic in his chest and tears started to well up in his eyes. Suddenly he felt a pulse. The hostage was alive after all.

“He’s alive,” Neil shouted to the group of hostages, as the panic faded. “He’ll be fine.”

Neil even managed to allow himself to smile. Just then the door to the stairwell slammed open. Neil raised his hands and activated the cannons.

“Get behind me,” Neil shouted to the hostages.

A bunch of SWAT officers busted into the room.

“POLICE! Everyone down on the floor. Now!”

The hostages dove to the floor. Neil ran toward the nearest window.

“Stop, or we will shoot,” shouted the police.

“That’s what I’m hoping for,” Neil thought to himself. “There’s no way I can break through tempered glass.”

The police opened fire. Even though they clipped him, they also put bullet holes in the window he was heading toward. Neil jumped into the weakened window, shattering it. Activating the glide suit, Neil vanished into the night.

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1 comment:

Richard Belzile said...

No notes, starting to get into the final few chapters though.

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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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