AC: Bush43 Daily Week Three

Jason Kenney jasonkenney at
Wed Jun 21 06:05:17 PDT 2006

Artifice Comics -



BUSH43 #32
By Jason S. Kenney


I looked from the phone to the front door and hesitated.

What the hell was going on?

I hung up the phone and walked to the door, slowly and quietly
unlocking it, then opening it a crack to peek out.

The hall was dark, except for a single light at the end with a man
standing under it, dressed in black, only now without the mask.

He wasn't Simon, but he was still familiar.  I just couldn't put my
finger on why.

"Little pig, little pig, let me in," the man taunted down the hall, and
I opened the door and stepped out.

"I thought you wanted me to come out?" I said, as I stepped into the
hallway, glancing down to the other end to see if anyone else was

No one.  We were alone.

The guy shrugged.

"Fair enough.  So, you're Bush43, huh?  You seemed bigger when we last

"This suit's slimming," I said, clenching my fists, planting my feet,
bracing myself.

"So, how many people do you think are in this building right now?" the
man asked, looking around the hall, as he gestured wide, to the
building, all to emphasize his question.  "I mean, ten floors, eight
apartments on each, half and half between one and two bedroom places,
ninety percent occupied, give me a rough estimate."

I narrowed my eyes and waited.

"You're not so much with the small talk tonight, are you?"

"What do you want?"

"We're just making a statement, Jeffery," said the man with a smile.
"I'd say there are close to a hundred and ten people in this building
right now.  Give or take.

"So, let's say there was an explosion here on the sixth floor, right
where I'm standing, next to one of the support pillars," he patted the
wall behind him.  "The four floors above coming down on the others,
that'd probably flatten the whole building, right?  And, at the angle
the top floors are coming down, you might have a bit of slide into the
place next door, nice brick structure with twice as many apartments.
Man, there could be a hell of a lot of damage done to that building
while this came down.  One hell of a mess, let me tell you.

"You'd be just fine, though, wouldn't you?"

He smiled wider with a pause, letting that hang for a bit before he

"How long would it take for you to dig yourself out?"

"You willing to kill yourself to find out?" I asked.

"I can't really explain it," said the man, as he looked into the palms
of his hands, studied them as if he'd find answers there. "But, I seem
to come out on top of these things."

He looked back up to me and shrugged.

"One of life's great mysteries."

He put his hands behind his back, breathed deep, and straightened
himself up, giving me a short, crisp nod.

"I'll see you on the other side, Bush," he said.

I charged at him.

I'd taken all of three steps before he blew up.

The blast caught me and threw me back down the hall, into the far wall
and through it, pushing me through the wall of a building across the
alley next door.  I tumbled down a hallway and came to a stop about
halfway down, dust and debris blowing past me, clouding the hall,
filling my lungs.

I pushed myself to my hands and knees and felt the building rumble and
shake.  I tried to get to my feet but stumbled, collapsed and fell,
laying there, trying to breathe, trying to get some air into my lungs,
some feeling back into my body other than this pain.

Get up, Jeffery.

Get up.

People are dying right now because you're laying on the goddamn floor.

I groaned and clenched my teeth, as I got to my feet, starting to move
down the hall, through the fog, towards the hole I had made.

"Jeffery," I heard behind me, and I spun and tried to plant my feet,
losing my footing, slapping my hand on the wall for support and to stay

Erlend Romanov stepped through the flickering lights and dust, as he
came down the hall towards me.

"Help me, Erlend," I said.  "We have to get them..."

"You are done here, Jeffery," Erlend said, no smirk, no smarm, just a
sad glare, his hands buried deep in his pockets.

"No," I said, shaking my head. "There are people out there who need our
help.  We have to help them."

"You are in no condition to continue, Jeffery.  You are of more use
back at City Hall."

"THERE ARE PEOPLE DYING!" I shouted, nearly lunging at Erlend but
stopping because I couldn't keep myself upright.

I fell, caught myself on my hands and knees, coughed, hacking up dirt
and dust and blood.


Erlend rested a hand on my shoulder.

"You are not the only hero in this city, Jeffery," he said, and I
closed my eyes, trying my damnedest not to scream, not to lunge at him,
not to cry.  "Go clean up.  You have a city to address."

His hand was gone.  I lifted my head and opened my eyes.

"Erlend, I..."

I stopped, as I found myself in my office at City Hall.

I stayed there on my hands and knees, jaw dropped in mid-sentence.

I lowered my head, closed my eyes again, clenched my teeth and tried my
best not to scream.

A knock on my door got my attention, and I looked up and over to see it
open, Nancy Meyers on the other side, a fresh suit hanging from her

"You have a press conference in an hour, Mister Carter," she said, her
face unreadable as usual.

"People are dying, Miss Meyers," I said from my place on the floor.

"And, those that aren't need reassurances that they won't, Mister

She walked in and past me, laid the suit across the back of a chair in
front of my desk, and then turned and walked past me again, stopping in
the doorway.

"There are fresh towels in your washroom, Mister Carter.  If you need
any medical assistance, please let me know; I can have a doctor here

"Thank you, Miss Meyers," I said, looking to the floor, studying the
carpet.  "But, I'll be fine."

"Of course you will, Mister Carter."

And, she closed the door behind her.


I squinted, as I stepped into the press room, the bright lights
silhouetting the crowd that awaited my arrival.  I was surprised at the
number of people in the room at three in the morning, at the number of
new faces, at the number of foreign journalists eager to hear what I
had to say.

I dreaded to hear what they had to ask.

I visibly winced, as I stepped up to the podium, not meaning to, not
wanting to show any signs of pain or weakness, not here, not in front
of these sharks.

Blood in the water.

Fresh meat.

"Good morning," I said, clearing my throat, taking a drink of water
while a few reporters returned my greeting.  I blinked, as my eyes
tried to adjust to the light, took a deep breath, as I tried to adjust
to my role.

Stay strong, Jeffery.

Hold it together.

"I'm sure that while you are all eager to hear what City Hall has to
say on tonight's events, many of you have probably had just as long a
night as I, so I'd like to keep this as brief as possible.

"I want to start by saying our thoughts and prayers go out those
affected by this tragedy."

I paused and cleared my throat, looked down at the podium for a moment
and collected myself.

"There are very few details available on both attacks, as it has only
been a few hours since the series began.  Given that, the police and
City Hall are unable to confirm at this time whether the two events are
related.  The investigation has just begun at the PC Hilton and any
investigation into the bombing of the Ferguson Place apartment building
will have to wait until rescue operations are complete."

"Mister Carter," shouted someone from the back of the room, an
unfamiliar face but someone who probably knew the game better than I.
"Where is the Mayor right now?"

"Mayor Romanov, as well as a few of the city's science heroes, is
currently helping in rescue operations at Ferguson."

"And, where were the Mayor and the city's science heroes during the
attack on the PC Hilton?"

"While the attack on the PC Hilton may have felt like an eternity to
some of us, it in actuality occurred in just over three minutes.
Unfortunately, the response time was a little longer than that, but
thankfully injuries were few and minor.  Miss Wilson?" I said, pointing
out the reporter from the PC Globe, trying to regain control of this
press conference.

"First question," she said, locking eyes with me. "How are you?"

"I'm fine all things considered, Miss Wilson; thank you."

"Second question: after the attack on PC Hilton and you personally, you
left the building in quite a hurry, especially given your condition.
Where did you go?"

"I came here, Miss Wilson."

People started to shout out other random questions, and I held up my
hands quick.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I'm afraid I will not be addressing any further
questions about my personal involvement in this evening.  Like I said,
I would like to keep this brief and on topic as to City Hall's reaction
to the events.  Yes?" I said, pointing to another lady in the back,
another unfamiliar person.

"Are there any estimates on casualties in the Ferguson Place bombing?"

"The police have not released any numbers at this time, but, as I've
said, it is early in rescue operations, and I am sure emergency
services will have more information as the morning goes on."

"Any estimate on the number of occupants in the building?"

"All I can say for certain is that it was an eighty unit complex split
evenly between one and two bedroom apartments.  How many were occupied
at the time, I do not know and again is something that will probably be
known as the morning goes on."

I pointed to someone else.

"What leads you to suspect that these two events may be related?"

"We do not believe them to be related at this time..."

"But you suspect enough to say that?"

"No, the press has begun speculating on whether or not the two are
related, and I was simply addressing that upfront.  Like I had said,
though, at this time, there is no evidence that these two are related."

"Mister Carter, did you know your assailants at PC Hilton?"

"I have already said that I will not be addressing any questions
concerning my involvement in tonight's..."

I paused, as Nancy Meyers emerged from the side door and came to me at
the podium.  I covered the mic, as she leaned close to my ear and held
up a folder to cover what she was saying from the crowd.

"The Palace Apartments just partially collapsed," she said, and I
stepped back a bit further from the podium.

"Next door?" I asked.

"Yes, sir."

"Was anyone inside?"

"They were in the process of evacuating the structure but aren't
certain if they had gotten everyone out.  There were also rescuers in
Ferguson who may now be trapped in the rubble."

I closed my eyes and hung my head.

"Mister Carter," said Meyers, getting my attention again. "You are
being watched."

I nodded.

"Thank you, Miss Meyers."

I turned back to the podium and stepped up, noticing a couple people on
their cell phones, probably receiving the same information I just had.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I have just been informed that the Palace
Apartments located next door to Ferguson Place has partially
collapsed."  I paused to let them write that or comment on it to
themselves and each other.  "I'm afraid I don't have any more
information either on this recent development or on any of tonight's
events, but there will be another press conference at five this morning
where we will cover any developments and new information.  I would like
to keep an every two hours schedule for updates so you all can get the
information you need.

"I ask that you all please keep the families of the residents and
rescuers in your prayers."

I stepped away from the podium and turned to Nancy who stood just off
to the side.

"Could you please get Tina Wilson for me?  I'll be just outside."

"Yes, sir," she said, and then she went into the crowd of reporters, as
I stepped into the hall beside the press room and closed the door
behind me.

I crossed the hall and leaned against the wall, pressing my forehead
against it, taking deep breaths, trying to force the pain and tension
out of my body, trying not to think about what all had gone wrong

Everything that had gone wrong tonight.

I heard the door open behind me, and I straightened up and turned
around to see Nancy leading Tina Wilson into the hall, the door closing
behind them.

"You wanted to see me?"  Wilson looked impatient and somewhat upset
that I had pulled her away from going to file her story.

"Do you know how Cassandra's doing?"

Her face relaxed a little, and she cleared her throat.

"She's fine," Wilson said, and I sighed.  "Just a cut on her forehead.
They treated her at the scene and sent her home."

"Okay," I said, nodding, relieved, feeling some of the tension leaving
my body.

"How are you, Mister Carter?" she asked.

"On the record, I'm fine, Miss Wilson," I said.  "I'm very worried for
those people in the apartment buildings.

"Off the record, I should probably see a doctor sooner rather than
later."  I gave her a forced smile and hoped she figured I was joking.
I couldn't tell if she did or not.

"So, you haven't seen a doctor yet, Mister Carter?"  Always the

"I'll let you get to your story, Miss Wilson," I said.  "Thank you for
the update on Cassandra."

"You should call her, Jeffery," Wilson said.  "She's probably worried
about you."

I nodded and hung my head for a moment, taking a deep breath and
looking back to Wilson.

"I'll do that.  Thank you."

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