Ok, that might be an overstatement, but it no longer felt deserted. Travis sat at one of the command consoles at the main table. A pile of books sat next to him. His Spanish book was open and he was making flash cards with a Spanish word written on one side and the English equivalent on the other.
“It got too noisy in the dorm,” he’d said. “I didn’t want to go to the library, so I came here. Hope you don’t mind.”
“No problem,” I’d said.
So now he sat there, flashcards in one huge hand, pen in the other.
Meanwhile, I sat in front of one of the other command consoles going through the messages in the voicemail system. It had a lot of messages because I’d never gotten around to listening to them.
When I say “never got around to listening to them,” I mean it in the most literal sense possible. I mean that my grandfather’s voice still welcomed people to the Heroes’ League even though he had been dead for five months, and he was the last person who had checked for messages.
There were hundreds. Scrolling down the screen, I highlighted everything except the last week’s and deleted them, hoping that I wasn’t losing anything important. Then I listened to the hundred or so that were left.
I deleted reporters asking for interviews instantly, leaving the ones that were more problematic. A few were from established teams like the various regional Defenders units congratulating us on reestablishing the group. Did we have to make a response? I decided to put it to the rest of the group later.
Then there were the calls from people who probably ought to have called the police or the fire department instead. We had a “my cat’s stuck in a tree” call from a couple days ago. Hopefully it was down by now, but we really ought to set some sort of policy on things like that.
We also had a call from an angry sounding man who ranted about the state of the world and finished by shouting about how kids our age ought to be in school instead of beating up people. That was quickly deleted.
Finally, the Mayor’s office had left a voicemail asking us all to come down and meet him. I kept that one.
Then I headed off to the bathroom—though “bathroom” is a bit of a misnomer. It’s actually more of a locker room. It’s got six stalls, four urinals and ten showers. Plus lockers.
The original League only had one woman—Ghostwoman—and she wasn’t all that active after the 50’s, making the old League something of a sausage fest. The “New Heroes League” (or so the press had named us, much to Cassie's annoyance) was closer to equal and had three girls and five guys and it looked like we were already beginning to compete for control of the facilities.
At any rate, that’s how I interpreted the existence of three boxes of tampons and pads that had been placed under the sink.
When I finished my business in one of the stalls, I discovered that someone had again flipped the toilet paper—which made it twice in the past two weeks. Instead of going over the top, it now fell behind. I switched it back.
I checked the other stalls. They’d been changed too. I switched them back for good measure.
When I got back to the table, Travis put down the cards. “We missed all the action a couple nights ago.”
“It worked out,” I said.
“We can’t count on these guys having heart attacks. We’ve got to work out a better system. Instead of having everyone do backup, we have a couple people we assign to do backup. That way they’ve already made their excuses and they’re ready to go.
“I was in the library talking with a girl, and then my phone goes off and I have to run across campus, get my costume and my car. If I’d been prepared, I’d have been there faster.”
We talked about it for a while longer and then he said, “What we really need is faster transportation. The League had all that shit. Any idea what happened to it?”
“It’s probably all in the hanger,” I said. “You want to take a look? My grandfather mothballed all of it, so I’m sure it can work, but I doubt it does right now.”
I went back to the main menu on the command console, clicked to open the hanger doors and turn on the lights.
And now we begin to get into the meat of the story. We also begin to talk about toilet paper a little. Because toilet paper is important.
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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.