8FOLD/ACRA: Jolt City # 19, "The Little League of Doom!" (3/3)

Tom Russell milos_parker at yahoo.com
Sun Jun 13 20:54:37 PDT 2010

THE STORY SO FAR: Eight preteen boys, given the powers of gods, have
wreaked havoc in Jolt City, leaving a trail of pointless death and
destruction in their wake.  Unable to enlist the help of other heroes,
Green Knight made a near-suicidal attempt to stop them, costing him
his left hand.  Blue Boxer and Dr. Fay were able to rob them of their
powers, and the children have now been taken into police custody.

               "THE LITTLE LEAGUE OF DOOM!"

    ////  //////  /// //////  ////// /// ////// \  //
// ////  //  //  ///   //    ///    ///   //     \//# 19
//////  //////  ///// //    ////// ///   //      // PT.3

Beep-beep-beep-clomp-clomp-whirl-pagingdoctortanner-doctortanner: the
hospital seeps into Martin's ears.  He feels the sweaty weight of his
mask against his face and its absence around his nose; his nostrils
breathe free-and-easy, free and easy and open, and he lets his eyelids
flutter.  White light, white walls, and a man in black, head-to-toe,
sitting beside him in a wheelchair.  Darkhorse.
   "I'll let Lt. Handler and the others know that you're up," says
Darkhorse.  Martin watches as he pulls out a cell phone, flips open
the lid, and closes it again; in between, he had sent six text
messages at super-speed.  "We've been taking turns watching you since
you got out of surgery."
   "Surgery?"  Martin starts to sit up, but Darkhorse gently pushes
him back down.
   "Your hand."
   Martin lifts his arms in the air; he stares first at the green-
gloved palm of his right before moving left to the bandaged stump
ending just before where his wrist should be.  He shuts his eyes and
brings his right hand to his spandex-covered mouth.  "Oh God."  He
opens his eyes again, looks at the stump, blanches, turns his head
back towards Darkhorse.  "It's just the hand, right?"
   Darkhorse nods.
   "God, 'just the hand'," says Martin.  "I mean, Jesus, it's my
hand.  God.  I've been shot, stabbed, I've been doing this for years
and nothing's ever stuck.  I think I'm going to be..."
   Martin starts choking.  He flails for the bottom of his mask with
his hand, lifting it up over his mouth.  A bag materializes seemingly
out of nowhere (Darkhorse) and Martin throws up in it, throws up until
his eyes tear up.  He wipes the vomit from his mouth with his glove,
pulls the mask down, and looks back at the stump.  "What the hell am I
going to do with that?"
   "I don't know," says Darkhorse.  "And I can't say that I know
exactly what you're going through, but ten months ago, I was in a
hospital bed, and..."
   "Hold on, the, the kids," says Martin.  "The eight boys.  Are they
still out there?"
   "No, the police got 'em now."
   "Did somebody come through?"
   "Your boy did," says Darkhorse.  "Blue Boxer."
   Derek.  Huh.  "How, how did he...?"
   "Just figured out some way to get rid of their powers, I guess.
They're harmless now.  Still, something like thirty deaths, God
damn... I'm just, I'm just sorry I failed you.  I did try.  I called
everyone I knew, again and again.  But I guess I'm... well, I've been
out of the game for ten months now, and that's a long time.  I thought
I had a lot of friends, but I guess I had a lot of fair-weather
friends.  Maybe it'd even be different if I had been fighting some
villain or saving the world instead of, well, instead of what
happened."  He thumps his fist against his wheelchair.  "Made me kind
of a laughingstock, I guess.  Only Phil returns my calls, and of
course he's been retired ever since that thing with the Dingham kid.
Da... the missus and I, we were used to being kinda gregarious, and
we've been isolated a lot the past year.  I...  You don't want to hear
my sob story, though, I'm sorry.  I just wish I had been able to get
someone to come, or that I was recovering faster, so that... well, so
that you wouldn't have had to go through this.  So that we wouldn't
have lost so many lives."
   "It's not your fault," says Martin.  "And I guess I can't blame any
of the other heroes for not coming, because really, who would stand a
chance against those kids?"
   "Well, you went in swinging, just the same," says Darkhorse.
   "Yeah," says Martin.  He looks at the stump again, and wishes it
would be the last time he'd ever see it.  "But looks like I came up
short.  You think it was a dumb thing to do?"
   "I would've done the same thing, powers or no powers," says
Darkhorse.  "I, um..." He blushes, the white muzzle peeking out from
under his mask turning red as christmas.  "After I heard that the
President had said no, I tried to, uh..." He smirks and pulls up one
of his legs; it's covered in bandages.  "Shouldn't have been trying to
run so soon, I guess, not when I just started walking again.  And I
knew it was a stupid thing for me to do, but... I needed to try, I
needed to do something.  Maybe if I had tried harder..."
   Martin cuts him off.  "You've done me no wrong."
   "I still can't believe I let that punk Martin Rock get the best of
   "Don't beat yourself up," says Martin.  "And I'm a hundred percent
sure he feels just as bad about doing it.  Hey, listen.  I know I gave
you a lot of crap since we've known each other.  And a lot of it was
uncalled for."
   "Like the time you told the Snail-Earth my name was Dipshit?"
   "Well, except for that one.  That one was totally called for."

Tad Dmowski, handsome in profile, thirty-five, widowed, focused, long
swoops of auburn hair that fall over his forehead, piercing eyes,
energetic fingers, prone to sweating, always standing never sitting,
likes to drink now and then: Jolt City's newest ADA comes in behind
his boss, but the Mayor cranes his neck past Blake Foster (that bulky,
shambling dinosaur) to take a look at him.
   Foster takes a seat at the conference table; Dmowski remains
standing over his boss, resting the tips of his right fingers on the
back of the old man's chair.
   "Blake," says the Mayor.  His eyes are red and bleary.  "Tadeusz.
I'm not ashamed to tell you gentlemen that I've been crying all
morning.  Crying with parents, with siblings.  People who can't
believe that their loved ones are gone, and people who can't believe
that their children did this.  And in an hour, the President will be
here, and the governor, and I'm to go out there with them and tell
this city that a terrible tragedy has befallen us, but that we will
rebuild."  He smiles weakly; they all know that after Proposal 2,
there isn't enough money left to run the city, let alone repair all
the property damage.  "And that there will be justice.  And maybe
we'll discover, in due time, that what we saw with our own eyes is
untrue.  An illusion.  A misunderstanding.  Then we can find the
person who is really responsible, and we can bring them to account.
That would be easy.  But we live in the world we live in, and it's not
an easy world.  Those boys... eleven-year-old, twelve-year-old boys...
they are the ones who did these heinous things.  And so, the question
we're going to have to answer is, what do we do with them?"
   Foster takes one of his big gnarled hands and rubs it against his
lips.  "Damn tricky thing.  Sad and tragic.  I think about the people
who got crushed under that rubble or burnt up in those buildings, or
about that girl, and it makes me so angry; I think about what those
monsters did, and it makes me so angry.  It offends me so much,
offends my sense of justice, that it seems an insult to seek anything
less than death.  But," here he rubs his hand against his maw again,
"Thompson v. Oklahoma."
   "Last execution of a minor was in fifty-nine, I think," says Tad
Dmowski.  "Shockley.  And he was seventeen.  Black, white jury.
Youngest was George Stinney, in the forties.  He was fourteen.  Black,
white jury."
   "Thank you, Dmowski," says Foster, witheringly.  "But we don't need
the history lesson."
   "Don't we?" says Dmowski.  "You're right, even if we could seek the
death penalty against eight kids, it would look pretty bad.  But if
eight white kids get off with a slap on the wrist in a predominately
black city, it looks worse.  Especially for a white mayor and white
District Attorney both up for re-election in the fall."
   "That's certainly a factor," admits the mayor, "but it shouldn't be
the factor.  We're not talking politics, here.  We're talking
justice.  We're talking morality."
   "Believe me," says the ADA, "I'm still young enough to be
disappointed in myself for thinking it.  But I'm old enough to know
that this is the world we live in."
   "And we're not slapping them on the wrist," bristles Foster.
"We'll try them as adults, put on an SV charge on top of every other
charge, put them away for life in Earbox."
   "If they were fifteen or sixteen, I'd be right behind you," says
Dmowski.  "But locking an eleven-year-old kid up with black masks for
the rest of their life is a little touchy.  We got to find a way to
balance between the two.  Don't want to be too soft or too hard.  How
about, we give them a chance to plead guilty, and those that do, we
recommend leniency-- maybe a ten or fifteen year sentence for each
count, but served concurrently.  Those that don't take a deal, we seek
the life sentence with the SV charge."
   "Which means everyone seeks a deal," says Foster.  "Which spares us
the trial, which would just open up the wound a year or two down the
line anyway."
   The mayor nods.  "It lets us move past this."
   "And if we let it leak that we'd be seeking the maximum penalty
that we can, if they don't plead guilty," says Foster, "it'll look
tough enough to quiet the vengeful."
   "Let's not leak just yet," says Dmowski.  "I mean, I agree, it's a
solid idea, but it's just my gut reaction and I think we need more
information about what role each boy played."

Press conference: J. Donald Proctor and City Councilman Carlos Canton.
   "Since my father sold his first unicycle," says J. Donald, "the
Proctor family and the Proctor company have been dedicated to Jolt
City.  I grew up here, went to JCU, married the girl who lived two
houses down: I'm dedicated to Jolt City.  And now, in this time of
terrible tragedy, let it be known that we are dedicated, that we will
put as many of our resources as possible towards rebuilding, towards
growth, towards healing.
   "What makes this tragedy doubly painful is the apparent cause.  I
knew some of those boys, shook their hands, cheered them on last year
as they took the championship.  And it seems almost unimaginable that
these children were responsible for these... terrible, gut-
wrenching... atrocities.  I hope that there is some other
explanation.  I think that we all do.
   "But the truth will out, and when it does, whatever the case,
whoever is responsible, let us not have vengeance but justice.
Vengeance is angry and wild; justice is fair and sober."  It's a nice
phrase; he'll have to thank his writer for it later.  "Our system
depends on each accused person having adequate legal counsel.  Because
I believe in this justice, and because I hope against hope that this
was not the work of children, I am personally, at my own expense,
offering legal counsel to each of the eight boys currently under
   "This, I know, will not endear me to some.  I only ask that we let
justice, true and impartial, do its holy work.  Thank you."
   Canton takes the podium.  "I commend my friend Mr. Proctor for his
family's dedication to this city, and to that justice.  This is a
difficult time for all of us, rich and poor, white and black, as we
mourn our loved ones and bear witness to the senseless devastation
that surrounds us.  We want answers.  We want this to make sense.  And
I promise you that it will.
   "I have complete and total faith in our police department, and our
District Attorney's office.  The truth. Will.  Out!  And it will out
because you, the people of Jolt City, made it possible.  Last
November, even as many in City Hall tried to kill it, you voted to
give the police department the resources it needs to do its work.  We
have empowered that system to give us the answers and the justice that
we require."

Dmowski stares at Jack from the other side of the two-way mirror.
There's something about the boy he doesn't like, something that's
palpable and immediate.  He tries to push it away.  The last time he
went on a gut reaction, it nearly broke him, it cost him too much; he
wasn't always a widower.  Be objective and impartial.
   Jack sits with his fingers clasped over his nose, his palms
squished together to obscure his mouth.
   The cops pull out a few grisly crime scene photos and plop them
onto the table.  "This is your work, right?"
   Jack's lawyer leans in.  "You don't have to say anything.  In fact,
it'd be in your best interests if you didn't."
   "It's hard to remember," says Jack.  "I didn't want to do any of
it.  But he made me do it."
   "Who made you do it, Jack?" says one of the officers.
   "I, uh... I..."
   His lawyer launches into a nasty, hacking cough.  He pulls out a
handkerchief, flapping it open in the air before bringing it over his
   "Was it an adult?" says the officer.  "Was it your coach?"
   "No, it wasn't coach."
   "Who was it, Jack?  Was it an adult?"
   "It was, it was Fish."
   The second officer nudges the first, shows him a name in the file.
   "Joshua Berg?" says the first.
   "Yeah, we, we call him Fish."
   "He's in the hospital now," says the officer.
   "Yes, that's him," says Jack.
   "He seems kinda scrawny from the photo.  You're saying he made you
do it?"
   "I guess I... it's hard to explain, I guess I was scared.  Scared
he might hurt me like... he might kill me like he did with coach."
   "He killed your coach," says the officer.  "He was calling the
shots, he was the ringleader."
   "Yeah," says Jack.  "We didn't really want to do that stuff, to be
tearing apart the buildings and, and hurting people.  But he told us
to do it, and he said we had better do it or he'd hurt us, kill us,
even kill our families.  I mean, I guess, I've had time to think about
it since then, and we could have stood up to him, the seven of us,
could've protected ourselves, but I guess we didn't think of it.  We
should've, but we just weren't thinking, we were just so scared.  I
was scared that the others would go along with him if I didn't, and
that they'd all... I just didn't want to die."
   "And the woman?" says the officer.  He tosses another photo down.
   Jack covers his eyes with his hands, starts sobbing with his
mouth.  "I didn't do it!  The others did, because of Fish.  Fish
pulled her out of the car, and told us to do it, or else he'd do it to
our mothers or sisters.  So we felt like we had to do it.  He didn't
do it at all, he just watched and made sure we did it, but by the time
it was supposed to be my, my, my turn, she was, there wasn't any,
wasn't enough of her left to...  I should have stopped them, oh God,
oh God, I don't want to go to Hell..."
   The officer pats Jack on the shoulder and heads out of the room.
He grabs Dmowski by the elbow.  "Only fingerprints on the car were
Fish's.  He had to be the one to pull her out.  And the only two semen
samples missing from the remains were Jack and Fish."
   "And that would be consistent psychologically with that sort of
sociopathic bully," says Dmowski.  "He'd derive his real pleasure from
controlling the other boys.  Let's talk to the others, see if it
checks out."

   It does; the other six boys close ranks and finger Fish.  "Fish,
for his part, says it was Jack who was in charge," says Dmowski to
Foster.  "And if Jack was the one who was least involved in the
carnage, it'd make a twisted kind of sense for a sociopath like Fish
to try and lay the blame at his feet."
   Foster nods.  "Little bastard."
   "This changes things," says Dmowski.  "My previous recommendation
to you and Mayor Bates depended on the kids being equally
responsible.  But it's clear that that's not the case.  All those kids
were scared for their lives, and they weren't thinking rationally.
They were following orders out of fear.  Fish is the one who was truly
   "So what are you suggesting?"
   "We try the other seven boys as adults, but let them plead to
lesser charges, no SV charge, and they testify against Fish," says
Dmowski.  "We recommend leniency to the judge, especially in the case
of Jack, who seems to be the least responsible."
   "And Fish?"
   "Fish is the cause of thirty-four deaths.  Fish made those other
boys rape a woman to death.  Fish is... evil.  Pure, senseless,
unforgivable evil.  Fish doesn't get a plea bargain.  Fish deserves
that life sentence in Earbox."

Press conference, early April: Canton is alone this time.  Earlier
this morning, amidst the District Attorney's announcement, it was
reported that Proctor had withdrawn his offer of legal counsel to
mastermind Joshua "Fish" Berg, who is still in the hospital, his legs
paralyzed from his fall.
   "We now have some of the answers we needed," says Canton.  "We know
who led seven of those boys astray, we know who is truly responsible
for the horrible events of that night.  To think that someone so evil,
so completely inhuman, will be able to spend the rest of his life
behind bars, where he will be fed, clothed, and medically cared for,
while his victims had their lives so violently, so brutally snuffed
out-- it is of little comfort to us.
   "We know who did this," continues Canton, "but we still don't know
how it happened.  How it came to be that our protectors failed to
protect us.  I am not blaming valiant citizens like the Green Knight,
who bravely rushed in, with no thought to his own safety.  But just
last year, a department was created by our Mayor and the other members
of the City Council to safeguard us from these kind of threats.  This
department was supposed to have a system in place to contact other
costumed heroes should our own prove to be not up to snuff.  This
department is headed by someone who, along with our Mayor and the
other members of the City Council, tried to cripple traditional law
enforcement by opposing the very ballot proposal that you, the people
of Jolt City passed.  This department, this government, which put so
much importance into trying to secure its own authority at the cost of
public safety, has failed us.  And Jolt City needs to ensure that its
government never fails us again.
   "It is for that reason, after much introspection, that today I
announce my candidacy for Mayor."

JCU, March, four days after the amputation.  Green Knight and Dr. Fay.
   "It's myoelectric," says Dr. Fay, as she attaches the green
mechanical hand to Martin's stump.  "We take these little doodads here
and attach them to your arm.  When you flex those muscles, it will
allow you to rotate your wrist, open and close the palm."
   Martin gives it a shot; the metal fingers close into a fist.  He
   "Now, this is just temporary," says Dr. Fay.  "You can trust that
the world's most gorgeous gadgeteer is going to fix her favourite four-
colour up with something really special when I have the time.  Maybe
three weeks or so.  Less if I have coffee."
   "I'm glad this is fun for one of us," says Martin.
   "I'm sorry," says Dr. Fay with a sad little smile.  "But I'm really
no good at being solemn and sensitive.  Especially when the occasion
demands it.  Let me know in a couple days how it's working for you,
   Martin nods.

   Derek's there when Martin arrives.  "Dr. Fay build that for you?"
   "Hmm-mm," says Martin.
   "Did... did you guys talk about anything?"  Like, how I may have
told her your secret identity?
   "Just the hand," says Martin.
   "Hmm."  Well, that's good, because I was worried she was going to
tell you she knew who you really were.
   Martin scratches his chin with his real hand.  "Hhhhhhh."
   "I, uh, I guess this is sort of a delicate subject," says Derek,
"but what are you going to do about, y'know, your secret?"
   "Hhhhhhh.  I don't know, Derek.  I'm not even thinking about it at
this point.  I'm just... I can't even begin to think right now." He
sighs again.  "I'm sorry.  I know I'm in a crabby mood, and I'm
probably going to be in a crabby mood for a while."
   "Not really all that different," says Derek.
   Martin stares at him.
   "It's a joke."
   "So, uh, now probably isn't the time..."
   "No, it's not."
   "No, it's, it's something else," says Derek.  "I was, uh, talking
to Dr. Fay, before, when we were trying to stop them, before we did."
   Martin rotates his hand impatiently: get to the point.
   "Wuh, wuh, well, I think I, uh, said your name.  I think, I'm not
sure, but I think I said 'Martin and Dani' when I was talking about,
you know, something you had done as, as the Green Knight."
   "Hhhhhhh," says Martin.  He brings both his hand and his prosthetic
to his face.
   "I'm, I'm really sorry, I'm not even sure if she picked up on
   Martin waves his hand at him, starts trudging up the stairs.
   "Um, I just thought I should tell you..."
   "Pam, you home?" says Martin.

   She is; she's just finishing up her workout.  She cracks a weak
smile at the sight of his prosthetic.  "Hey, baby."
   Martin slips his real hand into her sweatpants and pulls her into
her bedroom.
   She closes the door behind them.  "Looks like somebody wants to de-
   "I just don't want to think about anything right now," says
Martin.  "Except for you."
   "That's all you want to do, is think about me?"
   "Well, more than think," says Martin.  He drops to his knees and
tugs on her sweatpants.  With a few back-and-forth tugs, he manages to
pull them down over her sumptuous ass.  He stands up, his back
creaking, and pushes her onto the bed.
   She bounces joyfully and peels off her top.  "Boobs are all
sweaty," she says, and he knows it's as much an invitation as an
   Martin climbs onto the bed.  He puts his flesh hand against her
back, pulling her bosom close; as he drinks the sweat dripping from
her nipples, he supports his leaning weight by placing his green hand
against the bed.
   He looks up from his feast to see Pam staring at the green hand,
grimacing.  She feels his gaze, meets it, blushes.  "I'm sorry, baby,
it's just really... I'm sorry."
   "I'll take it off if it's bothering you," says Martin.  "I just
want to forget it right now."
   "I know, baby, I know."
   He gets up from the bed, detaches the electrodes, pulls off the
hand.  He puts it on the floor next to Pam's sweatpants.  Martin turns
back towards the bed, and struggles to undo his own pants with one
   Pam springs up to help him.
   "No, let me do it!" says Martin.  It takes him a bit of fumbling,
but he undoes the button and the fly.  Down go his pants, followed by
his boxers.  Four strokes brings his dick to attention; he climbs on
the bed, and pushes Pam onto her back.
   She spreads her legs; with his one hand, he pushes himself into her
   "You're really dry," says Martin.  She usually gets wet at the drop
of a hat; it's Dani that requires a lot of coaxing and foreplay.
   Pam doesn't answer; she simply closes her eyes as Martin proceeds
to hump her.
   She opens her eyes for a split-second, and zeroes in on the stump.
She immediately starts to get queasy.  "Stop.  You gotta stop."
   Martin pulls out.
   "I'm sorry," says Pam.  She gets up off the bed and grabs her
   "What?" says Martin.
   "I just, I guess I need to get used to, to..." says Pam as she
pulls on her shirt.  "I'm sorry."

April.  Mayor's office.
   Dani shakes the Mayor's hand.  "I heard about Canton running
against you, of course," she says.  "I just want you to know that you
have my vote."
   "I'm not sure if I do," says the Mayor.  "Sit down."
   "If my loyalty's been called into question..."
   "Sit, please."
   Dani sits down.  "What's the deal?"
   "I need you to fall on your sword," says the Mayor.
   "You want me to resign?"
   The Mayor nods.
   "You know this wasn't my fault," says Dani.  "You know I tried to
move heaven and earth to get someone, anyone!, to come and help us.
Green Knight even talked to the President, and he said no.  No one
would help us, how is this my fault?"
   "I know you tried, you know you tried," says the Mayor.  "But we
still failed.  And the city looks at this as a failure on the part of
my administration.  And Canton is going to use that.  You bet your
tuccus he's going to exploit that every way he can, and he just might
win.  And if you care about Jolt City..."
   "Don't give me that shit, Bernie," says Dani.  "I was standing
behind you on Proposal 2, even when all my friends turned their backs
on me."
   "... then you don't want to give Canton that edge.  He will ruin
this city.  He will bleed it dry!" says the Mayor.  "You're dead
weight, Dani.  We jettison you, it looks like I'm making changes."
   "Thus validating his argument that changes are necessary."
   "Well, changes are necessary, Dani," says the Mayor, "because if
they weren't, those people wouldn't be dead."
   "Well, I'm willing to make changes."
   "Past that point."
   "Are you going to move me somewhere?"
   "It'd look like cronyism," says the Mayor.
   "Never stopped you before."
   "I'm sure you'll land on your feet."
   "How, Bernie?  You know no one's going to hire me, not after what
   "And that's exactly why you have to go," says the Mayor.  "Now, you
can resign and get the full severance package, or I can fire you.
Either way, I have a chance of saving my ass and this city from
Canton.  I'm just giving you a choice out of friendship and respect."

Canton pays a social call to J. Donald Proctor.
   "Hey," says J. Donald.  "You got Bernie Bates running scared.
Handler stepped down this morning."
   Canton nods.  "Don't have much time to celebrate," says the
councilman.  "I just wanted to be frank with you for a minute."
   "Fine by me."
   "I know those kids did the Cradle job for you," says Canton.  "And
since Fish was the only one who said anything about that, I know he
was the one that was telling the truth.  And you probably know it
   J. Donald shrugs his shoulders and nods.
  "What I need to know are two things from you.  First, I need to know
if it extended beyond the Cradle job."
   "No," says J. Donald.  "Absolutely not.  Screwing over Cradle is
one thing, but I didn't want anybody dead.  It was just the one job,
through their coach."
   "Fair enough," says Canton.  "Secondly, how'd you get them all to
lie to protect you?"
   "They flip on me, all that can be tied to me is the Cradle
Refinery," says J. Donald.  "Which, sure, would get me into a heap of
trouble.  But the city's not mad about corporate property.  The D.A.
wouldn't give them squat for flipping on me, and they know it.  Either
they can spend the rest of their lives in prison, or they can lie
about it.  My lawyers just... pointed out those nuances for 'em.  And
when it became clear that Fish wasn't biting, well, he became the
villain of the story."
   "Tough break," says Canton.  "And that's everything?  Nothing
you're not telling me?"
   "Yeah, that's everything," says J. Donald.  "Hey, look, neither of
us are above playing dirty or covering our tracks, but we do it
because we want to change the city, because we care about it.  We're
not going to do anything on purpose to put it danger."
   "Not anymore than we can deal with, anyway," says Canton.  "What
happened is kind of a boon for us; it's going to make beating Bates a
lot easier.  It's also going to make it harder when I get into
office.  Proposal 2 already put enough strain on the budget without so
much of the city being reduced to rubble.  I think I can handle it
   "I know we can," says J. Donald.  "There's a bright future ahead of

By the time Fish goes to trial, Martin Rock is no longer the Green
Knight.  The justice system is always deliberate, even if it is not
always right.
   What can be said of that trial?  What can be said of his life?
Only the slow, sad truth: that the trial was long, and the evidence
overwhelming; that the sentence was life, and he found himself in
prison; that he died, at age thirty-three, seemingly of natural
causes.  He filed his appeals, and they were denied.  His mother
visited him every week, and his father flew in from the coast a grand
total of three times.  Upon his death, his mother wrote a memoir, in
which she claimed to have always known that she had given birth to an
evil child.
   The other boys served their sentences, none more than ten years in
length, and went on to live their lives.  Most adopted pseudonyms to
divorce themselves from their notorious past.  Some spent their lives
in and out of prison, and, yes, Jack was one of them, and, yes, he
died in a knife fight some years before Fish went in his sleep.  Some
went on to live ordinary lives, clocking in at nine and out at five,
and among these was Ralph, perhaps the only truly blameless party.
The twins, always an exception, felt their guilt rather acutely, and
each sought redemption: one as a monk, taking a vow of silence, and
one taking on a costumed identity that proved to be only a footnote in
four-colour history.  So it goes.
   I'd like to say that one day, the truth did come out, that poor
Fish was vindicated from the grave.  But what good would that do him;
what comfort would it provide?  The dead are dead.  The future holds
promise and terror in equal measure, but it only does so for the

Dani's room.  Door's locked.  The day after her resignation.
   "Tough break, kiddo," says Martin.  He cozies up behind her and
unclasps her brassiere.  With his hand, he pulls down one strap, then
the other; she lets it fall from her breasts.
   "Can't go back to the police," says Dani.  "Not after all the
bridges I burnt on Proposal 2."
   "Ssh, we'll be alright," says Martin.  He rubs the knotty spot
between her shoulders before letting his fingers stretch up the back
of her neck.  It's hard to do it for very long with just one hand; his
palm starts to cramp sooner than before.
   "You don't need to rub it," says Dani.  "I don't want you to hurt
your hand."
   Martin being Martin-- that is, being obstinate-- he keeps rubbing
anyway for half a minute.  He stops and leans forward, kissing her
from her cheek to her forehead.  Four days worth of stubble rubs up
against her, burning her gently.
   "Mmm, that's nice," says Dani.
   She stretches out on the bed, belly to blanket; Martin leans down
and begins rubbing his stubble up her back, supporting his weight with
his hand.  He used to do this for Ree, when he had a beard.  Ree
Cradle, Anders's mother, Ray's wife.  He used to miss her, used to
think about her a lot, used to think about Ray a lot, used to wonder
what the old man would make of what Martin had done with his legacy.
More time passes, though, the less he cares about yesterday, more he
cares about tomorrow.  The more he worries about it.
   Dani flips over, sits up, and takes off Martin's green hand.  She
kisses what's left of his arm.  "You don't mind if I kiss you here?"
   "I guess not."
   "It's not a, it's not a turn-on or anything," says Dani.  "I just
love every part of you."
   "What's left of me," says Martin.  He reaches out and grabs hold of
one of her breasts, and then the other.  "Time like this I miss having
two hands."
   Dani smirks.  "Boys and boobs.  I was thinking, maybe we could get
you a cast.  Like, a fake full-arm cast that you could wear as
Martin.  Have Derek build it.  Just say that your arm got broke, maybe
even the same night."
   "Maybe," says Martin.  "I dunno."
   She brings his stump closer, kisses the healing scar from the
surgery.  "That way you can get out of the house.  Maybe take me out
to eat once in a while."
   Martin nods.  "Yeah, Pam's been wanting the same thing."
   Dani pulls back.  "Yeah, I guess you could take both of us out,
sure."  She lies flat on her back.  Martin draws his fingernails
across her skin lightly.  "A little harder," she says.  "Just a
   Martin applies more pressure, running his nails across her belly,
her thighs, her breasts, her shoulders.  "I dunno," he says after a
while.  "Cast would only protect my identity for a few months."
   "How much longer are you going to need it?" says Dani.
   "I don't know," says Martin.  "Maybe till the end of the year.
Give Derek enough time to, uh..." He smiles with his eyebrows, tries
not to laugh.
   "Yeah," nods Dani, giggling.  "You sure didn't teach him grace."
   "He was a lot worse before I got ahold of him," says Martin.  He
slides off the bed, his knees against the carpet.  With his hand, he
tugs at her legs; when he had both hands, he was able to pull her
gently by the hips.  She scoots her rump over to the edge of the bed
and lies back, her thighs resting on Martin's shoulders.  With two of
his fingers, he parts her folds; with the tip of his tongue, he teases
out the pink little bud of her clitoris.
   He presses his lips to it, kissing, licking, breathing out through
his mouth; he looks up over the mass of her tightly-wound hairs, past
the slight slope of her belly, past the soft heaving globes of her
breasts, to her face: the tiny nibble of her nose, the lips that
disappear and reappear behind her upturned chin, then rising again,
opening, giving a slight moan as her legs tense up and her pelvis
thrusts back, her body trying to get away from him even as he makes
her come.  He gives chase, relentless in pursuit of her, in the smell
of her, the taste of her, the love of her, until she grows quiet and
   He grabs a small white towel from her bedside and wipes his face.
Dani climbs up fully on the bed.  "Was it a little one, or a big one?"
he asks.
   "A little one," she says, "but it was nice."
   He climbs up on the bed and melts into her.  He used to prop
himself up with his two arms, their bodies forming two sides of an
acute triangle; now, he smooshes himself atop of her, moaning
breathlessly into her neck; she grabs his ear with her teeth, chewing
on it, until he, too, grows quiet and warm.


Writing a story that, to some degree, is about the potential for evil
in the very young, a natural and obvious touchstone is Golding's LORD
OF THE FLIES.  I haven't read the book since high school, but Ralph,
Jack, and Piggy have stuck with me over the years, and since my
characters needed names, I borrowed Ralph and Jack and transmogrified
Piggy into Fish.  I wouldn't call this any sort of homage to Golding
or any kind of 1:1 allegory; just a little seasoning to enhance the
meal for those who've acquired the taste that can be ignored by those
who haven't.

I also drew rather heavily from my memories of certain neighborhood
kids (and family members) who specialized in a kind of senseless
cruelty, feigned ignorance of "big words" and otherwise disdained any
show of intelligence, and hid behind "games" like "Doorknob".  And,
yes, suffering from frequent congenital flatulence, I did for a long
time carry a doorknob in my pocket.  None of those neighborhood, to my
knowledge, ever crossed the lines that these characters did.

This took a long time to write, and a lot of that stems from the
difficulty of the subject matter.  I am, as many of you are no doubt
tired of hearing by now, very much an enthusiast of superhero stories
as opposed to anti-superhero stories, of optimism as opposed to knee-
jerk grim-n-gritty cynicism.  This being a story, to some degree,
about utter impotence and powerlessness in the face of evil, there's
definitely the potential for it to fall into the sort of ugliness for
which I have such disdain.  I think that I managed to find the proper
balance, partially because the story hinges on Martin's decision to
try anyway, no matter how impossible the odds: it adds, in this
writer's not-so-humble opinion, a moral or ethical dimension, which,
more than tone, is what separates superhero stories from anti-
superhero stories.  And partially I hope that the characterization and
humour helped to alleviate some of the doom-and-gloom.

Speaking of that: many moons ago, I put out a public request for short
vignettes featuring Darkhorse as he tries to convince other heroes to
come to Jolt City's rescue.  Their absence in these pages is
conspicuous, and that's not because I didn't receive them (I got quite
a few) nor is it because they lacked for quality-- they were just what
I was looking for.  The problem is, between then and now, what I was
looking for then and what the story eventually became were two very
different things, with vignettes that seemed perfect before now
disrupting the sense of pacing/tension (they were intended to be
intercut with Martin's following-the-carnage-sequence in the second of
the three parts) and/or tone.  So it goes, especially when you're
writing and rewriting over the course of, geez, I think it's been like
ten months since I started this one.

Again, this had nothing to do with the quality of the writing-- and if
anyone would like to share their vignettes in this thread, I encourage
them wholeheartedly to do so.

Administrata: this is Eightfold story number 84.  If I've marked
another story as being # 84, I apologize--my count was a little off.
But I've gone through and made a master list of every Eightfold story,
checking each month since Eightfold came into existence, and, to the
best of my knowledge, this is actually number eighty-four.

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