We moved through the garage and out onto the small, exit ramp. By small, I mean it was a car length from the road.
Sunlight hit my eyes for the first time in eight hours. I blinked and then watched for a break in traffic. You can’t expect a lot of traffic at four o’clock on a Saturday, but enough cars passed that I couldn’t enter the right lane instantly.
It made sense. This part of downtown was a mile of hospitals, medical and genetic research facilities, and doctors’ offices. Hospitals don't close down.
Further down State Street, the company that ran most of the city’s hospitals had a data mining operation. I intended to get in there someday.
“Nick,” Cassie said, ”go. The lane’s open.”
“Right,” I said.
“Honestly,” she said, “you’re so distractable.”
I pulled out and merged into traffic. The car responded beautifully. It had a smooth acceleration, matching the speed of the other cars almost before I noticed. I wondered if I could get away with testing how it handled high speeds on the freeway.
“Hey Nick,” Cassie said, “How’s the research on the contact list going?”
“Well,” I said, ”that depends on your point of view. Almost everyone on it is dead, but they work or worked for someone named Martin Magnus who might not be dead. I plan to bug his house as soon as the parts I need come in the mail.”
Cassie sighed. “We should have just called the Midwest Defenders and had them look into it. It’s been more than three weeks since we got that list.”
“With all that happened in Chicago,” I said, “Magnus is probably dead too. Whatever was going on might have died with him.”
“If we’re lucky,” she said.
I was paying too much attention to the road to know for sure, but it seemed like she frowned.
“I didn’t know it was going to be this hard,” she said. “Do you know how many people skipped out on their patrols this week? Jaclyn and Haley had tests and wanted to study and Vaughn’s mom kept him home again. Daniel went, but he barely put any time into it.”
“Everyone is pretty busy,” I said. “Maybe patrols aren’t the best thing we could do. Or maybe just less often would be better?”
“I don’t know,” Cassie said. “I just thought it would be good to bring the League back.”
“It is. We’re all just feeling our way into it,” I said. “Pretty soon we’ll know what works for us.”
It was the nicest thing I could say. Personally, I’d enjoyed the quiet.
We had gone far enough down State Street that we’d passed Grand Lake University Hospital, the Hardwick Institute for Biomedical Research, the non-descript, brown, brick building that housed the data mining facilities, and the street had turned from four lanes to two.
The traffic was sparse. The nearest car in front had to be a couple hundred feet ahead of us. A police car was close behind us, but not much of anything was behind it.
“Cassie,” I said, “I think we’re about to have a problem.”
“Why? We aren’t breaking any laws.”
“We don’t have a license plate,” I said.
Before Cassie could reply, the lights started flashing and the siren began to wail. I started to slow down, but Cassie shouted, “Don’t stop. Go!”
She had a point. Neither of us were wearing costumes and I had no way of explaining who exactly this car belonged to.
I gunned it.
I’ve watched a lot of car chases on TV in my life, but it’s interesting to learn that one thing about them is true. The police really will chase you if you drive away from them at high speed.
If the car had had a different driver, we would have lost them without a problem. Beyond being able to corner well, the car could pass two hundred miles per hour easily. It had all the standard accessories for a hero’s or villain's car—caltrops for popping tires, the ability to release a blinding wall of black smoke…
I could have used them, but I wasn’t willing to risk killing people who were, after all, just doing their job.
When you’re watching TV, the drivers in these chases never slow down. They don’t stop for signs or they never pass them. They have the sense to get into chases on the highway instead of residential streets.
Me? I slowed for stop signs and barely ever got above forty miles per hour. I drove down the twisting streets of nice neighborhoods, doing everything I could to avoid dead ends, worrying that I might slam into a kid on a bike.
Cassie seemed to know more about the layout of the streets than I did. “Don’t go that way. Go that way!”
I’d swerve and go the opposite direction of the one I’d been intending, skid a little, and stay away from the police a moment longer.
“That way,” Cassb4 hyie pointed. “Get on the highway and you can really make the speed count.”
We were getting close to where one of the development’s streets—Northwood—exits onto Belmont (a four lane road) when I realized that the police had blocked the intersection.
Three cars parked at the end in front of the traffic light. Two more followed behind us. It was almost a relief. I was finally in a situation that could be solved by technology instead of my skill at driving.
I pressed the button that extended the wings, guessed how much thrust it would take to clear the cars, and pressed the button to fire the car’s rockets. It couldn’t fly far, but this was exactly the sort of situation Grandpa had designed it to handle.
I felt just like I did in the suit or an airplane as we took off--like I’d left my stomach back on the ground.
We easily flew over the cars, crossing all four lanes of the intersection, and smashing the traffic light on the other side of the street.
They’re bigger than they look from the ground.
I managed to touch down without destroying the car and we drove off without stopping.
“They’re not following us,” Cassie said, craning her neck to look out the back.
“Do you think they finally recognized Night Wolf’s car?” I asked.
“Let’s hope not."
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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.