100 Words A Day by Hydrargentium

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

Tag: Call-out

Call-out opened his mouth to speak, then closed it again. His eyes darted around the chaos.

“Call-out…”

Ranger hoped he wouldn’t have to do something drastic to get him to focus.

“Okay,” Call-out said, still shouting above the din, but in a more level tone, “grab my arm and don’t let go, no matter what. And if you see anyone, grab hold of them too.”

Ranger reached for Call-out, his strong fingers wrapping around the other hero’s arm just above his elbow. Moments later, everything changed.

The instant of blackness from Call-out’s jump was the only transition into the rain of glass and plaster. The stuff falling from the ceiling rattled dully on Ranger’s helmet. His HUD picked up three moving figures in close range, and Call-out was already in motion toward the two on his side. Ranger went with the motion, keeping his fingers locked on Call-out’s arm, but giving it a squeeze.

“One more!” he yelled.

Call-out, in his black body suit, was a shadowy blob in the chaos, and Ranger could just make out the motion of his other arm, reaching out to the two people nearest him. As soon as he thought it was safe to, Ranger took two strong steps in the direction of the third target, dragging Call-out and his pair along.

A moment later, Ranger shouted, “Now!”, his free hand on his target’s shoulder.

There was black, and then there was open sky. They were on a rooftop two blocks away, with two women in coveralls and a man in a suit. Ranger let go of the man.

“Clear!”

Another instant of blackness, and they were back in the destruction.

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She was a black woman in a camel coat. Her skin was very dark, and accented the much lighter brown of the coat nicely. Call-out was not disappointed.

He was wearing black spandex, accented in grey. Although slender for a superhero, he was in shape enough that the tight suit looked dramatic rather than awkward. Since the fabric was immaculate, Deborah considered that he was probably a man who thought himself stylish. Metrosexual, if nothing else.

“Like the suit?”

Deborah blinked. She thought she’d been discreet in her appraisal.

“It shows the dust a lot, but hides blood stains. And I find the colour quite slimming.”

The comedic nature of his eye-roll nearly made her laugh.

For someone who sounds so formal in emails, he thought, she certainly has a natural way about her. Put her in a more relaxed style, and her own family might not even recognize her. The way she wrinkled her nose just there — you couldn’t teach people that.

Before Call-out could come up with a snappy response, Mu interrupted.

“Maybe we should get to the problem at hand?”

“Right, right,” Big Dave grinned. “You can see her from the back windows over here.”

Navigating a path through the rows of tables, occasionally pausing to knee a bench back in place underneath, he led them to the far corner. One wall was painted boards, and covered in art made from macaroni and twigs and a clamour of liberally applied water-based paints. The other held long windows full of small dusty panes.

Pulling a red bandana from his back pocket, Dave rubbed the dust from a couple of the window panes.

“If you look that way,” he suggested, pointing to a spot beyond the corner of the building, “you should be able to see her. By the tire swing.”

Leaning forward, Mu and Call-out looked out the cleaned-off panes. Through the curtain of rain, they could make out a large tree overhanging the waterfront, although it was only visible as a dark mass against the expanse of churning lake behind it.

Call-out shook his head. “I don’t see anyone-”

“Just wait for it,” Dave interrupted.

A few moments later, a bright flash illuminated the tree. On the ground nearby, on a normally beaten-down patch of dirt made muddy by the weather, a human figure could be seen, glowing brightly.

“She’s on fire.” Call-out looked dramatically at Mu. “In the rain.”

Mu shrugged.

“In this rain. This downpour to end all downpours.” He cleared his throat. “On. Fire.”

“Yes,” Mu replied. She was used to this.

Call-out looked more closely at the girl. He guessed seven or eight years old, judging by her size. She was lying on her belly in the mud, kicking her legs and slamming her fists into the muck. The flames surrounding her subsided somewhat, then flared up again.

He realized he could hear her screaming. Not in pain, but like a child throwing a tantrum — which, he also realized, was exactly what was going on.

He caught Mu’s eye. She seemed to have come to the same conclusion. Together, they turned to the camp director, who was mopping his forehead with his bandana.

“That,” said Call-out, “is one unhappy camper.”

Coming in from the storm was like stepping out of a waterfall and into the cavern behind it. The noise was still there, even amplified by the tin roof and wide open space of the mess hall she found herself in, but the physical presence, the sheer weight of the falling water was instantly abated. Even though she hadn’t been, she felt like she’d been holding her breath.

She turned to her host, who had flung off his poncho as soon as he entered, dropping it on a bench by the door. Similarly, Mu had flung the water off her flight suit, a barely conscious thought pushing it back out the doorway as she crossed the threshold.

The big guy stuck out his hand, clearly trying to see through the tint in her helmet to view the face hidden behind as he greeted her.

“My name’s Dave Miziewzki. I’m the camp director. Everyone calls me Big Dave.”

Her faceplate slid up into her helmet as she shook his hand.

“I am called Mu. Can I get you to not move for a few moments?”

“Wha? Uh, sure.” Big Dave looked around, then at his rubber boots, but kept his feet planted.

“Thank you,” she said to him, then seemed to be talking to the air. “The area is clear. Call-out, do you have enough visual?”

She paused for a moment listening.

“Right. C’mon over.”

If Big Dave thought this a bit odd, he quickly forgot about it when a second hero, tall and lean and wearing black spandex, suddenly appeared in the open space in front of him.

“Hoo! Wow, that’s… that’s a neat trick.”

Call-out turned around at the sound of Big Dave’s voice. He opened his mouth to introduce himself, but before he could, the camp director interrupted him.

“Can you guys stay for the talent show tonight? The kids’ll love you!”

“Don’t look now, but that guy is totally checking you out.”

Recalling her training, Kat-grrl turned to peer at the store-front window. Sure enough, in the reflection of the street behind her, stood a man in a suit — not a cheap suit either — totally ignoring the iPhone in his hand to stare at her. His close scrutiny made her tail twitch.

Her admirer almost dropped his cell.

She looked over at Call-out. He seemed to be staring further down the block, but it was impossible to tell with his goggles. She’d have bet money his eyes were actually on the guy across the street.

“I think he’s into cats.”

Call-out’s smirk twisted at the corner of his mouth. “I think he’s into you, honey. Or he wants to be, anyway.”

“What are we doing here again?”

Psyche’s wings fluttered behind her as she leaned over to look at the plaza below.

“Because Firecracker is supposed to be attacking the Senator after he leaves the conference.”

Call-out shook his head. “That’s why you’re here. But why am I here. Why are we here?”

Psyche looked back at Call-out, drawing her wings together to keep them from blocking the view. The teleporter was squatting against an AC unit, tossing pebbles over the side of the roof, and then calling them back to his hand just before they dropped past the edge. He always did stuff like that when he was feeling put-upon.

Call-out looked back at her. He couldn’t help thinking how cute she looked with a question clearly written in her knit brows, in the way she pulled one corner of her mouth down. He’d always liked that about her.

“Can we… talk about this later?”

“Zombies. I hate zombies.”

Ranger shook his head, and unholstered his #2 sidearm.

For most people, a second weapon would be a small pistol, or a collapsible baton, or a folding knife. Call-out had seen this device, a matte grey lump that hung under Ranger’s left arm and called to mind a set of brass knuckles, but never gave it much thought, and never ever thought it might be a weapon. Well, pretty much anything could be a weapon in Ranger’s hands, but he certainly never thought this nondescript tool would be useful against zombies.

“Wait. You’ve dealt with zombies before? I thought they were just a fiction, until recently.”

Ranger nodded, then headed down the stairs. He didn’t bother to look back to see if Call-out would follow.

“You’re right. They were.”

Pieces of the ceiling were falling around them, as the walls and support beams trembled and hummed across the factory floor. Fluorescent tubes shattered in their fixtures, raining white clouds of razor sharp glass throughout.

Call-out and Ranger looked at each other as a deafening crack ripped through the massive space, and the concrete floor split raggedly like the skin of an apple squeezed too hard. Ranger seemed nonplussed, although it was hard to tell behind his darkened goggles. Call-out’s face showed his usual twitchy franticness, only pumped up to eleven million. If Ranger had been the kind of guy who laughed in-mask (or at all, really), he might have even done a spit-take.

Instead, he leaned over and spoke directly into Call-out’s ear.

“Get us out of here.”

“But what about the hostages?!?!”

Ranger was glad for the active sound cancelling built into his headset’s earpieces, taking the edge off of Call-out’s shrill response.

“If you can take them with us, then do it. But otherwise, we’ll be good to no one if we’re in here when this place implodes.”

“Hurry!”

“I’m hurrying. Screw off.”

Ranger wasn’t sure why, but the way Call-out was waving his hands really pissed him off. Something…. not effete, but ineffective.

“They’re coming! Around the corner! Right now!”

In time with Call-out’s narration, the trio of Deadlies came stomping into view. Ranger’s HUD showed them at 16.2 metres, closing at a rate of 3.3 metres per second. Plenty of time.

“I see ’em. Unknot your shorts, Call-out.”

Ranger connected the last two wires with a quick twist and a swatch of electrical tape. A tell-tale came on in his helmet, in tandem with a red LED on his kit-bashed device.

“Done. Get us out of here.”

Call-out practically dove at Ranger, annoying, ineffective hands clutching at his sleeves. A moment later, there was a blackness, and then they were up on a roof, two blocks away.

0.78 seconds after that, the Deadlies reached the edge of the cobbled-together proximity sensor they’d left behind. From their vantage point, the light show was impressive, eclipsed only by the howling of the three Deadlies as they arced through the air toward the lake.