We were looking over downtown.
Downtown is a mixture of modern, glassy buildings like you see in any big city and 19th century architecture. The 19th century stuff includes buildings that must have been intended to be beautiful—marble pillars in front and ornate sculptured cherubs holding up the roof—and brick factories that existed only to pump out as much furniture as possible.
Grand Lake was nationally known for furniture production back then.
The building we were on used to be a movie theater back in the era of silent films. Now the bottom story was “The Black Crow Tavern.” The other stories held offices.
According to Daniel and Cassie’s list, Haley and I were on patrol tonight.
The evening so far had all the awkwardness of a first date and none of the excitement. Just like the time I’d gone on patrol with Daniel, we hadn’t found any crimes that I felt comfortable interrupting. I’d been listening to police and fire departments over the suit’s radio, but they seemed to have everything well in hand. After half an hour of running across rooftops Matrix-style, Haley had suggested we find someplace to sit down.
“Not what you expected?” I stepped a little closer to the ledge where she sat. The street still looked a long way down.
“Oh,” she said. “I’m not expecting anything. I’m just along for the ride.”
“Along for the ride?”
“Travis loves the idea of bringing back the Heroes League,” she said. “He was so excited he called me at one in the morning from his dorm to tell me about the meeting. And I thought it sounded fun, so I came.”
"I think we've got different definitions of fun,” I said.
“I didn't mean the meeting. I mean Travis. Having him be excited about something is fun. Don't tell him I told you,” she said, "but I don't think he's been this into anything since before the Air Force Academy rejected him..."
She paused, then said, "What about you? What got you into it?"
“Me?” I asked. “I don’t know. I think Cassie and Daniel nagged me into it.”
We talked for a few minutes after that about classes and then just watched the city. It was around nine at night and we could see solitary cars moving down the streets. Once the tourist season ends, Grand Lake doesn’t have much nightlife.
Just below us someone crossed an intersection diagonally, ignoring the stoplight.
“Hey,” I said, “we could go down and tell off the jaywalker. I think that’s the only illegal action we’re going to see tonight.”
She laughed. “That’s okay,” she said, “It sounds like we’re both just out here for the exercise anyway.”
Just as I was about to ask her if she wanted to go home, I saw a beam of bright red light strike something and then realized that the pole in front of Channel 10’s studios was burning.
“Did someone shoot Willy?” Haley asked.
Willy the Weather Worm is a metal earthworm covered with lights. It glows different colors for different forecasts. The local NBC affiliate, News 10 came up with it in the 1960’s, took it down in the late 70’s and pulled it out of a junkyard in the late 90’s—though it briefly had to compete with the Weather Worm remnant Channel 6 pulled out of a different junkyard for being the real Weather Worm.
I wish I were joking about that.
“Are you up for checking it out?” I said, running through a systems check on my suit. Glowing readouts appeared on the inside of my helmet.
Over the radio, I could hear the police and the fire department being dispatched… “We’ve got a 10-80 downtown…”
A 10-80 is an explosion.
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Bio: Jim Zoetewey grew up in Holland, Michigan, near where L Frank Baum wrote The Wizard of Oz and other books in that series. Admittedly, Baum moved away more than sixty years before Jim was even born, but it's still kind of cool. Jim didn't attain his goal of never leaving school, but did prolong his stay as long as possible. He majored in religion and sociology at Hope College, gaining enough credits to obtain minors in ancient civilizations and creative writing—had he thought to submit applications to the relevant departments. He attended Western Theological Seminary for two years. He followed that up by getting a masters degree in sociology at Western Michigan University. Once out of school, he took up the most logical occupation for someone with his educational background: web developer and technical support. Simultaneously, he finished all but three credits of a masters in Information Systems, a degree that's actually relevant to his field. He's still not done. In the meantime, he's been writing stories about superheroes and posting them online at http://legionofnothing.com. He's still not sure whether that was a good idea, but continues to do it anyway. He's also not sure why he's writing this in the third person, but he's never seen an author bio written in first person and doesn't want to rock the boat.