Trinkets and Trash
The beam hit me like a lance, driving through my body and tearing up my insides. On the good side it seemed to be cauterizing the wound it created so there was little chance of me bleeding to death. God, how did I get involved in this mess? He came at me again, pointing his fingers at me like I used to do with my kid brother when I was young, index finger out, thumb up like the hammer of a pistol. Only this guy had a lot more punch behind the gesture than me shouting ‘bang’. He grinned evilly as the tip of his finger began to glow bright yellow and I managed to roll to the side just as the lance of laser light bore through the wall I was leaning against.
All of this over a damn trinket. When the gal asked me to go after it I thought it would be nothing more than a milk run. How difficult could be to recover something like that? Sure it had some sentimental value, but that was it. There was no intrinsic value in the thing at all. It was just an angry ex-husband lashing out at his estranged wife. It hadn’t taken long to track him down to this old condemned warehouse. He left a trail of robberies and murders in his wake that the greenest of detectives could follow with little effort. Forcing my mind back to the here and now I pushed up off of the floor as another lance of light melted a barely discernable hole in the floor where my head had just been.
No way was I going down like this. Killed by some two-bit super in an old washed out warehouse in the slums of Union City. Focusing my mind I held my hands out in front of me in a fighting stance as I regained my feet. The bastard actually laughed at me then, the dark curls on his head bouncing happily created a stark contrast to thickly scarred skin criss-crossing his face. His one good eye was an acidy yellow color, the other useless orb was white with scar tissue. He laughed loudly, presumably at my having taken up a fighting stance. He thought he had me. He thought his little laser beams could cut me to ribbons at will. He had no idea who he was fucking with.
“Laugh all you like. I am taking it home with me.” I commented seriously.
He laughed more, finally managing to choke out some words in arrogant reply. “You don’t stand a chance dick.”
He was right of course. I AM a dick. A Private Investigator that is, but of course it doesn’t sound nearly as glamorous when he says it like that. “Quit yer yammering and get on with it then freak-o.”
His lips twisted up into a cruel sneer at the word and his good eye actually glowed for a second before he started rapid-firing lances of light at me. Focusing my mind I blanked out the rest of the world so that I could see nothing but him and his laser beams. Time slowed down around me as I forced myself into an alternate state of perception.
It took tremendous energy to make it happen but I was able to move between the lances of light as I closed the distance between us. I don’t want to give the impression that it was easy or anything. The closest analogy I can offer is for you to try and imagine dodging a non-stop volley of arrows shot out of compound hunting bows. Sure it’s possible, but I would never recommend it as a recreational activity.
Willing my body into maximum performance I dodged and wove my way through the assault, watching his face change in slow motion from one of gleeful, care-free, wholesale destruction of property, to consternation at not being able to hit his ‘helpless’ target with volley after volley of white-hot death. Imagine his surprise when I closed the gap and let fly with an attack of my own. I cocked back my back hand and drove it with all the strength in my body, straight into his ugly, scarred nose. I felt the cartilage crack and break under the force of the blow, and suddenly time snapped back to normal like a rubber-band returning to true after being shot across a room.
The perp lay on the ground cradling his nose and wailing like a baby as blood filled up his cupped hands and spilled out onto the floor. I rolled him over onto his stomach roughly with my food and then drove my knee into his back as I kneeled on him. With no small amount of pleasure I hauled his hands back behind him and cuffed them behind his back with the reinforced cuffs I had just bought the day before. All these supers showing up in the city had finally forced me to start buying the expensive gear in order to get my job done. As I stood up and pushed his forehead into the floor roughly just to rough him up a bit more. Nice thing about being a PI was that I wasn’t as tightly bound by the niceties as the cops were.
Finally I had a moment to take stock of my injuries. Looking down at my shirt I could barely see the half a dozen pinholes he had burned through it. Lifting it up and looking at my athletic stomach I was able to see a few small discolored spots where the beams had cut through me. It was uncomfortable at best, having a lance of laser light stab through your body like that. But in the end I would probably have to go see my doctor to see if anything had been really badly damaged internally.
Enough of that for now. Dropping my shirt back into place I scanned around the room for my target. Finally I found it sitting on a messy table, covered with old fast food wrappers and other trash. I quickly moved across the room and snatched the thing from its resting place amid the refuse and stench. Looking at it for a moment it still struck me as odd that someone would steal it, let alone pay my exorbitant fee for its recovery. Still, they had hired the best and that is what they were going to get.
“Time to get you home to mama.” I muttered to the thing as I turned around to collect my perp and head home. Imagine my surprise when I found myself face to face with him. His nose was swollen up like a balloon and his good eye watered like a hose left on in the yard after the kids are done playing with it. I was only startled for a moment, but I’m sure it showed on my face. He grinned like a kid with a new toy on Christmas morning.
“You’re gonna die dick.” He snarled at me. And as crazy as it sounds, I believed him. But I couldn’t let on to that fact. Fight to the end. Never give up. Fight. Fight. Fight.
“Don’t fuck with me freak-o. Get down or I’ll put you down again.” That’s it. Sound tough. Straight to the end. The sinking feeling in my stomach was making my vision blurry. “You can’t touch me with your hands restrained.” Something was wrong and I knew it.
“Just cause I never used my powers with anything but my hands before don’t mean I can’t.” He sneered. “Always good to have a back-up plan.”
All of a sudden it was clear to me. In all the intel I had pulled on this guy it always said he had one useless, scarred eye. But none of it ever mentioned how it got that way. I looked on in horror as the scarred orb began to glow brightly, and I knew it was over. I couldn’t focus fast enough, much though I tried. This time, time slowed down in a much different manner than when I caused it. This time it was the slowed down time of a dying person who’s life was flashing before their eyes. A condemned man on their way to the chair after their last meal. The beam cut through my skull like a hot knife through butter. I saw him move the eye this way and that, carving up my brain like one might scramble an egg. It all happened so fast that there wasn’t even time to feel it going on. An instant later I was sightless and falling to the floor in a heap. My body stopped feeling and my mind closed up shop and shut down. All this over a damn teddy bear…