100 Words A Day by Hydrargentium

Well, at least 100 words — best served random….

Tag: Arrow

This was the kind of thing he hated the most.

The remote stretch of highway, a hundred and fifty miles from anywhere, was lit with the harsh orange glow of roadside flares. Work crews were already cleaning up the wreckage, and both the injured and the dead had already been taken away.

It was a head-on collision, out here in the middle of nowhere, and there was nothing he could do. There were no villains to fight, no rampaging robots to stop, no burning buildings to pull children from.

Even though he’d flown here at top speed, he’d only arrived a few minutes before the first ambulance. Passersby had stopped to help, and someone had pulled a fire extinguisher from a trunk to put out the engine fire. There wasn’t even anyone who he could’ve flown at top speed to the nearest hospital: the young man and woman in the Fiat had been very clearly dead when he touched down, and the family in the Suburban had nothing worse than a broken arm and a neck injury.

Not that he wasn’t glad that everything was well in hand, but adrenaline was a funny thing. It came quickly, demanding action, and hung around like an albatross when it couldn’t be spent.

“Do you smell smoke?”

Mason sniffed experimentally, his large nostrils flaring above his moustache.

“No. You?”

Arrow rubbed his chin, drew a long breath of the evening sky through his nose, holding it like a fine wine.

“I think so. Hard to tell from where, though.”

“Hmm.” Mason pulled a cellphone from its holster on his belt. “Let me make a phone call.”

Arrow floated a little higher into the wind, trying to get a feel for the currents, to see if the smell got stronger or weaker. After about thirty seconds, he heard Mason finish his call.

“So?”

“Called a fireman buddy of mine. Says there are no calls in tonight.”

“Weird. Must just be someone’s chimney or something.”

Arrow watched as Mason put the phone back in its pouch. It was the only thing Mason seemed to carry, attached behind his back, on the left side, closer to his hip than his spine.

“Is that some kind of hardened device? Did Larry put it together for you?”

“What, this?” Mason pulled out the phone again. It looked normal enough. “Nah, it’s just a Samsung something-or-other.”

With a flick of the wrist, Mason tossed his phone up to Arrow. Without really thinking about it, Arrow caught it, only realizing after that it ended up right where it would be easiest to catch, in exactly the right position for his hand to grab it.

He looked at it, turning it over in his hand. It had a simple plastic cover on it, and a film of screen protector that held tiny air bubbles in one corner. Still looked normal.

“How do you keep it from getting wrecked? I’ve seen you take some pretty big hits.”

Mason smiled a lop-sided grin.

“Easy. I don’t let it get hit.”

Arrow was surprised by how little he hurt. He thought an explosion that loud would have torn his limbs off.

For a moment, he thought he’d been blinded. Then he straightened his mask and opened his eyes.

Satin was there, brushing dust off her thighs as she sat on the hard-packed earth. Even though she didn’t react to his movement, he somehow got the feeling she had acknowledged his presence.

Behind her, a line of grey spikes angled off into the distance. Looking more closely, he realized they were trees. Petrified trees.

Behind them, he saw movement, human-shaped, but ungainly.

“Is that a troll?”

Satin’s lips were pressed tight together. Arrow thought it looked like her eyebrows were raised as well, under her mask.

“I don’t think we’re in Kansas any more.”

A gentle breeze tugged at Arrow’s hair where it tufted out. The night was nearly still, but fifteen feet above the street, the buildings funnelled what they could into a shadow of the wind. Down on the street, the serenity should have been near-complete.

“It’s not like you didn’t have the money, Dave!”

The woman, her short, dark hair glossy in the streetlight, spat out her boyfriend’s name.

“Says the woman who has no savings! You spent four hundred dollars on a pair of boots!”

The man, Dave, had his hands up in exasperation.

“What do you care? It’s my money!”

This had been going on for a while now. It occurred to Arrow that this argument may have been going on even longer than what was coming out on this cool autumn night.

“Your money, Lisa? Yeah, it sure is! Just like my money, whenever you want something and you’ve already spent all of yours!”

Arrow closed one eye, thinking and half-listening. This was conflict, but what was he supposed to do about it? Anything at all? Wouldn’t he just make it worse if he floated down beside them?

The intro to¬†Welcome to the Jungle filled the sky, breaking Arrow’s reverie. Reaching for his hip, he yanked his phone out of its holster, nearly fumbling it into the big blue yonder in his haste.

“This is Arrow.”

“Arrow. Where the hell are you?”

“Larry? Hey, geez. I don’t know. Somewhere over Kansas?” Arrow searched the horizon, looking for anything other than flat land full of wheat fields.

The voice on the other end grunted. “Whaddaya mean, you don’t know where you are?”

Arrow shrugged, exasperation clear in his voice. “What am I, Map Man? You tell me. You can read the GPS from this thing.”

“Nah, I’m just messin’ with you.” The sound of crinkling junk food packaging could be heard in the background. “You’re about two hours out of Kansas City. Just keep on in the direction you’re headed, and I’ll give you a call when you get close.”