Having watched the recording, I understood why the mayor had slipped under everybody's radar for so long. We had video right here of him planting commands into the brains of an entire team of heroes while simultaneously having almost no evidence of it.

The fact that everybody had stopped and started talking on his cue pointed in that direction, but not inarguably. It was purely circumstantial evidence.

"Purely circumstantial is okay," Daniel said. "People get convicted on circumstantial evidence all the time. I don't know what my dad would say about this particular piece of evidence, but --"

"He'd say I needed to get five more."

Daniel laughed. "I got that lecture too. Remember when I was releasing everything I could find about the mayor to the press?"

"Yeah. What happened with that?"

"I ran out of good stuff to release."

I looked up at the screen again. "Do you think we ought to alert everybody?"

"I don't know. I'd send them a yellow, not a red."

"I suppose there's no reason to summon everybody here," I said.

I went into the command console and set everybody's homing devices to blink yellow. Hopefully people were wearing them. I'd passed them out the first time we got together as a team -- more than enough time for everyone to forget about them.

With any luck, we'd be getting calls in the next few minutes.

"Think anyone's still wearing them?" I asked Daniel.

He held out his right hand. The dark gemstone on his ring flickered yellow. 

The phone rang.

Daniel pointed to the phone, "It's for you."

I picked it up and pressed line four, answering with, "Hi."

Haley said, "Hi Nick, I'm at work. Is something going on?"

"I don't know yet. The mayor's got some kind of control over all the out of town supers, and he's sent them out, but I don't know why."

"I don't see any of them here," she said, "but I'll look. Oh, my parents don't want me taking phone calls at work, but calling around now is okay. We're usually really slow before five."

And that, Daniel thought at me, is a hint that she'd like you to call her at work occasionally.

I'd have mustered up some righteous indignation against his assumption that I'd missed it, but, unfortunately, I had.

Marcus called next, followed by Travis, Cassie, and Jaclyn. We were only missing Vaughn.

"Vaughn doesn't have one," Daniel said. "He didn't make it the night we passed them out."

"Oh, yeah," I said.

"We should call Cassie," Daniel said. "They hang around sometimes."

"Wouldn't Cassie have mentioned it if he were with her?"

"Probably," Daniel said. "But she might know where he is."

The phone rang again.

"It's not Vaughn," Daniel said.

"Who is it?"

"I don't know. Just not Vaughn."

If I had the ability to sense the future, I'd want it to be a little more precise.

I picked up the phone. "Hello?"


It was my mom.

"Don't come home. Don't go out. There were two..." She paused, "superheroes here asking about you. Nick, are you..." She paused again. "Nick, forget that question. Just don't come home right now."


She hung up.

It had to be the block. We grandchildren got the weak version, something that prevented us from talking about things we shouldn't. Our parents had gotten something more extensive, possibly more sophisticated. I didn't know anything about the details, but it sounded like she was on the edge of knowing something, but just... couldn't.

"My dad hated it," Daniel said. "He still does."

Then I started thinking about what she'd actually said. Two of them had been at my house.

"Red," Daniel said. "Set everybody's devices to red."

You know, I really like writing that point in the story where everything goes to hell.

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About the author


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 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.

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