Flying through smashed windows wasn't something
Red really enjoyed doing; nevertheless, he found himself doing it for
the second time that day. He couldn't get Argento or Chelsea to wake
up, and when the police started pulling up to his apartment building,
he didn't know what else to do. He shot out the window in his computer
room, pick the two sleepers up again, and flew off into the night.
He wasn't sure how the police had found him. He was reasonably sure
they hadn't followed him. He'd checked as he'd flown away, and besides,
why would they wait two hours to come get him if they had known he was
there all along? He didn't leave any fingerprints on anything, since
he was in this armored suit. Would Steve and company have turned him
in? He sort of doubted it, considering that they would have had to reveal
a few secrets in order to do so. As it was, they'd have an interesting
time explaining all those sub-basements.
On the up side, Red was really getting the hang of this flying thing.
Most of the flight controls were in the legs and feet. The feet controlled
propulsion and height, while the legs controlled pitch. If he straightened
his knees, it turned his body horizontal, while a slight crook at the
knee would adjust him more vertically. It was actually fairly intuitive
in practice. No, flying wasn't the problem; the fact that he had no
He headed towards one of the taller buildings downtown and brought
himself and his companions down onto the roof. He put them down as gently
as he could, took off his gloves, and started going through their pockets.
Both of them had electric keycards for the Howard Johnson's in their
pockets, and even more fortunately for Red, Argento still had the little
cardboard sleeve the cards had come in, with the room number written
Red threw his gloves back on, grabbed his passengers again, lifted
off the ground, straightened his legs, and headed for the strip where
he knew the HoJo's was located. He stayed hovering a number of stories
above the building for a few minutes, waiting until there was no one
around to see him swoop into the lot. Once the coast was clear, he angled
himself down to the second floor of the motor lodge and walked around
for a moment until he found room 206.
It was definitely theirs. They had set up a whole base of operations
here, decked out with all sorts of info on what Red and the Mediators
had been up to. Red looked proudly at photos of the Wal-Mart mission
for a moment, but quickly became disgusted when he remembered how he'd
He lay Argento and Chelsea on the queen sized beds, tried one more
time to wake them (in vain), and went out to look at the information
they had gathered. He pulled off his helmet and gloves and flopped down
on the couch, reading a file folder that was on the table. At this point,
he figured it was mostly a waiting game - he wanted to wait for them
to wake up, talk to Argento about things, before he made another move.
"We can wait as long as it takes," Tim said to Alison. He
was sitting across the table from her in the interrogation room. He
was holding a coffee cup that he was occasionally nursing, and Alison
envied it greatly. They'd kept her in lock up all night long and between
being arrested (again) and her vision of Red at the head of a future
American dis/utopia, she hadn't gotten much sleep. They had denied her
request for caffeine, and now, of course, Tim was subtly rubbing it
in her face.
He took another sip. "Who are you protecting? Who was that in
"I have no idea what you're talking about," Alison said. "I
told you, I just came by for some ink cartridges."
"That story only gets more foolish with age," Tim said, "And
I didn't believe it the first time you said it. There are just way too
many… imponderables here. First, you're at Circuit City when a
maniac tries to blow the place up. The guy ends up dead, and some guy
in a scarf, who may or may not have stopped him, gets away by cutting
a hole in a concrete wall. We've found the exact same type of hole at
some of the other places that were attacked recently. There were… two
at the campus computer pods, one in the ceiling of Wal-Mart, and another
at the CCI/Target riot. And, I might add, I have here a report in which
someone matching your description is seen at that Target, but slipped
away before being identified. So… anything you'd like to tell
me about these incidents?"
"I have no idea," Alison said. "What could cut through
a concrete wall?"
"That's what I'd like to know."
"Ask a scientist. I'm an English student."
Tim sighed. "How about this whole Alison Innes issue? How is it
that your prints come up as being identical to Miss Innes, to whom you
also bear a strong resemblance, while we have it confirmed that Miss
Innes is, in fact, in her home in Long Island?"
"As long as you've got that scientist on the line about the cinder
"Dammit, Alison, this isn't a game! People are dying! These are
acts of terrorism! Tell me what you know about them!"
"I don't have anything to do with people being killed, or terrorism!"
"All right, then you mind telling me where the money came from?"
Alison could feel the blood run out of her face. "What?"
"Money? Cash? You know, US currency?"
"What money? What are you talking about?"
Tim leaned back in his chair. "Over one million dollars in nicely
bundled twenty dollar bills, tucked away in a suitcase in a closet.
Ring any bells?"
"You went through my apartment?" Alison said. "You have
"You think we had trouble getting a warrant?" Tim glared
at her. "Alison, we can place you at the scene of three of the
attacks that have occurred in this town, and at this last one, it looked
suspiciously like you were fleeing the scene for some reason. Given
all that and the million? Things aren't looking too hot for you right
"It's not proof, it's all circumstantial!"
Tim leaned in towards her. "Ok, so where did you get the million?"
Alison frowned and squeezed her lips together.
"Fine," Tim said. " I told you, I can wait. I'm a patient
guy. And hey, if I grow tired of waiting, I can always call some people
who are even more patient than I am."
Alison hesitated, knowing he was baiting her into asking, but eventually,
she gave in. "Who?"
"Homeland security," Tim said. "I'm sure they'd be very
interested in the circumstances here. They're very patient folks, and
they don't even need to hassle with lawyers or Miranda or, you know… civil
Tim relaxed again and sipped his coffee.
"I can wait. You might as well get comfortable," he said. "We're
not going anywhere."
Argento had no idea where he was. The last thing he remembered was
being in Circuit City and realizing how physically exerting it was holding
up an electronics store. The next thing he knew, it was the next day,
Halloween, and he was awaking to a radio alarm clock playing the Beatles "Good
Morning." Chelsea was rubbing her eyes in the next bed over when
Red walked groggily into the room.
"Red?" Argento asked. "What happened to us?"
"You fell asleep. Both of you," he answered. "Actually,
everyone in the store except me. Anyway, I flew you out of there."
"Thank you very much," Chelsea said.
"Where's Alison?" Argento asked.
"Yes, I need to apologize to her," Chelsea said.
"Um… yeah, good question," Red said. "I guess
I assumed you knew."
"Red, she was there with us! She was out in the car!"
Red blanched. "The police must have gotten her… that's why
they showed up at our apartment. Bastards!"
"The police work hard at their jobs," Chelsea added, "And
are frequently under paid and under appreciated."
"Ok, what the hell is wrong with her?"
"I have no idea," Argento said. "She was like that when
I got there."
"Very funny, boys," said Chelsea. "It's nothing mysterious.
I just… I remembered how much God loves me, and I'm trying to
share that with everyone. And I wanted to speak with you about it, Red.
You should really be spreading God's love as well, instead of all this
Red stared at Chelsea for a moment, and then turned to Argento apologetically. "Well,
Frank, I can admit when I'm wrong. It seems there is some sort of mind-control
"Finally!" Argento cried. "Thank you!"
"Between her behavior and you both falling asleep, I think it's
obvious, something was done to the two of you. I can only guess it was
the same money-grubbing corporate swine who are behind all of the suffering
hoisted upon the masses of our country."
"If only they knew how much our Savior cared about us," said
Chelsea, "they would see how little material wealth meant."
Argento's head fell into his hands. "God save me…"
"He already has," Chelsea said.
"Can we just… ok, can we just settle down for a minute?" Argento
got up off the bed and put his arms out, signaling the other two to
silence. "Let's do this in an orderly fashion, we can pool everything
we know, and I, as the objective one, can try to determine just what
the hell is going on here!"
"Ok, Frank, relax!" said Red. "Jeeze."
"Watch your language," Chelsea said.
Argento had his hands full getting the pair settled down enough to
give him any straightforward information. Between Red's anti-Capitalist
rants and Chelsea's pro-Jesus raves, it was like pulling teeth from
a baby. All told, the process took them a few hours, until after-noon.
He had Red begin. Red told them all about the DVD announcement that
sparked his new philosophy, all about the CCI riots, and of course,
everything he knew about the so-called Liberal Mediators. Chelsea then
let them in on what happened to her in the Circuit City. Apparently,
hearing a song on some portable device had 'made her realize' such and
such about God. Red opened his mouth to make some sort of a comment,
but Argento shot him a look that closed him back up. After they had
both finished talking, Argento sat thoughtfully in the momentary quiet.
"OK," he said at last, "This is how it's going to be.
I am going to tell you what happened, and neither of you are going to
disagree with me, no matter how wrong you think I am. These people,
these Circuit City workers, have technology that is capable of doing
something to people's minds. It seems it works through technological
media, be it through music, television, or God knows what else. That
does seem to fit with everything we've seen recently. It would explain
the boys in the computer pods, the video store explosions, the CCI incidents,
hell, it could even explain Alison's computer getting ruined. I bet
if we checked we'd find even more instances of electronics being destroyed
accidentally recently in less dramatic gestures."
"But why would they do that?" Chelsea asked, blinking her
"It may seem a bit obvious, but I should think they did it for
money. They are causing a demand for electronics while limiting the
supply to only what they themselves sell. It would write them a blank
check, in the area at least."
"What about the crazy guy attacking Circuit City?" Red asked.
"I'm not sure, to be honest. I'll have to think about that."
"So, what can we do about it?" Red asked.
"Nothing, just yet" said Argento.
"What?" Red's face matched his name. "How can we do
nothing? We can't just sit back and let these pigs get away with pulling
this kind of crap! This is the exact thing that is wrong with Capitalism:
the rich have the capital to make exponentially more money. We can't
let them literally brainwash people into being good consumers! It's
"Red, you are a Saint, gifted with abilities beyond those of normal
men, and whether you want to admit it or not, there is a good chance
that your judgement has been compromised! The same goes for Chelsea!
We can't risk you falling into their clutches again, either of you!
Now, I am going to call into DI&R and make my report. I can tell
them what we know about this, leaving you out, of course, and tell them
that something has affected Chelsea's personality. Hopefully, they can
come up with some… they can come up with something to…"
Red's eyes were already looking right through Argento paying no attention
to him whatsoever.
"What?" Red said.
"There's no way you're going to wait around for me to call this
in, is there?"
"Well, it's just… Chelsea does need to apologize to Alison…"
"That is true," Chelsea added. "I've been awfully mean
"So, maybe we should go find her, don't you think?" Red said.
"She's probably at the jail. Do you think she knows God is with
her, even when she's all alone?"
"We could always tell her."
Red turned towards Argento and smiled. Argento did a bit of math in
his head. He tabulated about how hard it would be to reign Red in while
dealing with Chelsea's sweetness, weighing that equation against the
pain he would feel pounding his head against a wall for a few hours.
There was a decent space on the wall near the door that began to look
like a promising location.
"Fine!" he eventually shouted, throwing his hands up in the
air. "Fine, we'll go rescue Alison first, but I'll have you know
that as soon as we get back, I am putting in a report and we're getting
to the bottom of this mind control nonsense!"
"I would expect no less," Red said.
Argento wondered why he had expected more.
Orloske's head was still aching from the night before, but he didn't
have the time or the patience to wait for the aspirin to take effect. "We
can't afford to wait any longer, Katz," he said. "We're going
to have to go to phase three, as well as initiating Delta project."
"Sir, Phase three is only in a preliminary stages," Katz
replied, "it's still not able to function on a total immersion
"What's the problem?" Orloske said. "I thought we worked
out all the details with the test subjects?"
"With all due respect, sir, I think the fact that one of our test
subjects came to our store and tried to blow it up shows that there
were some sort of flaws with the system."
Orloske scowled at Katz, who broke eye contact immediately and looked
"At any rate," Katz continued, "the only way we can
get specific results is by keying into a certain attribute and getting
in through that. Our test on the callers at CCI was successful by piggybacking
the impulses in on the fact that they were all on the phone. Through
that shared experience, we were able to target a large group of people."
"So, that's fine, we'll just do that then."
"What criteria should we use?"
"I don't know… it's Halloween, isn't it?" Orloske asked. "Why
don't you have it effect… everyone wearing lipstick. That would
only effect women and freaks playing dress up, much easier to chalk
everything up to hysteria. Do it."
Orloske headed out of the room.
"Where are you going to be, sir?"
"I'm going to suit up for Delta project. I need to take care of
our little Red friend before he becomes a problem for us."
"Is there a problem?" Sergeant Harris said, making Tim jump.
She had caught him by surprise while he was staring in at Miss Ames
sitting alone in the interrogation room. As she opened the door, some
music drifted into the room, a few notes of What a Fool Believes coming
from a radio in the main room. Sgt. Harris was a large black woman,
physically imposing to those who didn't know her. When Tim had first
joined the force, he'd been terrified of her, afraid that at any moment
he would make a mistake and she would crush him.
"No, ma'am," Tim replied. "I'm just sweating her out.
I think she'll tell me what she knows."
Tim looked again to the girl sitting in the room. He couldn't understand
it. She really did look like Alison Innes. I mean, Alison Innes had
been all dark and gothic, but… he could see it. He'd always thought
Innes would have been cute, if she'd just wash all that make-up off
"You want me to give her a try?" Sgt. Harris asked.
"No, I can handle it," Tim said. "She's been stewing
in there for a while now. I'm about to go back in. I can get this girl
to talk. I know it."
"Turn on the old Rodriguez charm?" The Sgt.'s dark lipsticked
lips spread into a smile.
"Something like that," he winked.
"Do your best," she said. "I'll observe, in case you
Tim was about to thank her when a tremendous crash came from the main
room of the station house. Tim and the Sgt.'s eyes met, and they both
leapt for the door.
The first thing Tim heard was the explosive shattering of a computer
monitor which, he saw instantly, was being smashed by a couple of prostitutes
who were being processed. The women appeared to have completely snapped;
they were fighting, bucking, and flailing with ferocity Tim had never
seen in such a simple arrest. He wondered if they were on something.
The second thing he heard was the radio, now playing My Sharona. He
didn't hear that for very long, however, as moments after they opened
the door Sergeant Harris grabbed the radio from the desk it sat upon,
raised it up over her head, and smashed it down as hard as she could.
The device sparked a bit as it splintered into many bits and cracked
pieces. Sgt. Harris's hands were bleeding as she let out a wordless
groan of victory, her widened eyes moving on to the phone that sat near
the decimated radio. Her hands began grasping at it, leaving bloody
smudges on it's face before getting a good enough grip to do to it what
she'd done to the radio.
"Sergeant?" Tim asked, somewhat futilely.
It was then that Tim noticed that the two prostitutes were not the
only ones freaking out. A number of the female police officers also
appeared to be smashing things. The number of working computer monitors
in the room was quickly shrinking.
"What the hell is going on?" Tim shouted, but everyone about
was a little too busy to answer him, either going on a mindless rampage
or trying to put a stop to one. Tim entered the fray on the side of
Tim grabbed a hold of Sgt. Harris's left arm while a colleague, Lt.
Shuster, grabbed her right. They attempted to get the woman to the floor,
trying in vain to knock her legs out from under her. She had them quite
outclassed on that front. She wasn't acting rationally, she was just
striking out with all her force. It was as if some switch had gone off
in her mind, dialing her anger up to its highest possible setting and
removing any impediment of reason.
Lt. Shuster caught an elbow in the face and fell over backwards. Sgt.
Harris grabbed Tim by the hair and began yanking at his head until she
finally wrenched him off of her. She then moved on to the scanner attached
to a nearby computer, tearing it off its wire connection and then using
it as a bludgeoning instrument against the computer's keyboard.
Tim heard a gunshot. He looked over to its point of origin to find
that a few fellow officers, having been unsuccessful in reigning in
the prostitutes, had drawn their weapons. One of them had fired. From
what Tim could see, it appeared to have been a warning shot. The ladies
had not stopped.
"I will shoot you!" Officer Howell shouted. A moment later,
he did just that. Another shot rang out, and a bullet flew out of the
gun and into the shoulder of a gaudily dressed lady of the night. A
spurt of blood exited the girl's body, and she let out another wordless
scream. She did not, however, stop.
Officer Howell fired again, this time into the other girl, who took
the shot in the chest. She fell to the ground, moaning. A moment later,
she was attempting to rise, stumbling about, and pounding on a digital
clock. Officer Sheri Doelling put a stop to that particular shooting
spree when she smashed an HP Deskjet on Officer Howell's head.
From what Tim could see, other than when attacked, the chaos all seemed
to focus on destroying electronics.
All around the precinct room, Tim could see guns being pulled where
the destruction could not be stopped. Fortunately, before more shooting
began, someone hit on the much better idea to shoot off tear gas. The
canister shot into the room, and smoke began billowing out, filling
Tim leapt up and went back through the door into the interrogation
room, shutting it behind him. He could hear the chaos continuing on
the other side of the door. A glance over at Alison revealed that she
was fine, not crazy at all, even with a tape recorder sitting next to
her. He thought it would best to just leave her where she was for now.
A pounding began on the door. Loud, forceful pounding. Tim looked around.
Quite a few electronic devices in the room- monitor, camera, VCR, other
recorders. Tim threw his back against the door, bracing it. The pounding
continued, and doubled, and redoubled. He wasn't going to be able to
keep this door from opening.
He looked over at Alison. If he could get her to help hold the door… but
how? He might be able to reach her door, if he… Tim planted one
foot firmly on the ground, leveraging his weight and strength on it,
holding him back against the door. With the other foot, he reached out
towards the interrogation room door.
The handles were the type that looked like sideways hooks, rather than
the traditional round type, so he thought he had a chance. The toes
of his shoes could just barely touch the handle from where he stood.
It tapped up against the handle at the same moment a particularly large
bang walloped the door, unbalancing him a bit, making him put the foot
He repositioned his planted foot and reached again for the door handle.
His foot was able to tap it down just a bit. Through the observation
window, he saw Alison look up towards the door. He pushed down a little
more on the handle and shouted.
He then jiggled the handle up and down. Alison made a curious face.
She rose and slowly approached the door. Another bang made the door
shake in its frame. Tim lost his footing again, but rebraced himself
quickly and reached once more for the handle.
Alison approached the door and stepped out of view of the observation
window. Tim pushed down on the handle with his foot again, and Alison
opened the door.
"Tim?" she asked, seeing him.
"Alison, I need you to-"
As he said those words, Tim realized it was too late. The door burst
forward from its housing in the wall. Tim screamed as the leg he used
to brace himself cracked under the weight of the force tumbling in on
him. The door landed on top of him. Behind it, through the tear gas,
came five to ten women, including Sergeant Harris, eyes red and swollen,
tears and spit dripping down their faces, but still strangely determined.
Tim could see in their faces the moment they saw the electronics. They
scrambled forward into the room over the door and Tim. They began to
barrel into the room, offices and prostitutes alike, and with each step,
Tim felt the door press deeper into his body. He heard his own ribcage
shatter and felt the wheeze of air rushing out of his punctured lungs.
The last thing he saw was the stiletto heel of a two hundred pound streetwalker
stumbling towards his face.