Wednesday, November 11, 2009

NaNoWriMo '09, Chapter Eleven: Spukhafte Fernwirkung

The below is a section of the novel that I wrote for National Novel Writing Month. It isn't a stand-alone story, and it's probably not worth your time to read. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000 word novel in a month so wordcount is valued above quality. This is a good thing, as it encourages people to actually finish a project. Nobody expects that the result will be ready for public consumption without heavy editing. If you want to read it for some reason you can view the whole thing in one place HERE although that's still totally unedited and terrible. You have been warned.

Interrogating freaks is what we have agents for, and those mad scientists downstairs. It isn't the job of the Director. I have more important things to attend to. Still, Franklin Reese was on the short list of high risk freaks and I should probably get my fingerprints on this operation so that Black doesn't take all the credit. For all the trouble he causes me I might as well get some sort of benefit from it. Shorehoff most likely won't have any information that we can't get through torture, so unless he gives me something really compelling this will be a short meeting and I can move on to debriefing the field commander from the Reese strike. The team is already on the way back.

Agent Barker is storming down the hall towards me, all muscle and no brains. He's a suck-up, and an untrustworthy one at that. He doesn't understand that he'll never be fit for any kind of high level position, but he just might step on my toes to reach for one. He's a disgusting worm, and if he didn't anger Black so much I would probably have him transferred.
"Director Doyt, sir, agent Black is being completely unprofessional with the freak."
He falls in next to me when he sees I'm not going to stop for him. I really don't want to hear about whatever it is. It seems like my entire life is filled with these stupid distractions, these pointless wastes of time. I could be actually getting things done.

Barker is still talking, but in the end I know I'll have to read the report anyway. I can already see the paperwork stretching ahead of me, Barker's transcript of the conversation will make Black sound immature and reckless while somehow coming off as whiny, like a child tattleling on his little sister. Black will counter, something about how he was trying to gain the subject's trust - it will end up being more plausible than the alternatives even if it's completely false. I'll send it up the chain of command, but the flag on Black's file will cause it to go right to Washington where whatever politician it is that he's been blackmailing will sweep it under the rug.

He's dangerous, yes, but recently he's been primarily tiring. All of my suspicions go nowhere. I know I'm right about him, he knows I know, but there's nothing to do. Speak of the devil, here comes the insufferable waste of space now.
"Hey there Doyt! Agent Barker, weren't you supposed to be watching Eddie? If you're here who, exactly, is with him?"
Barker looks ready to explode, but instead of saying anything he charges off ahead of me down the hall.
"Make yourself useful, agent Black, and reassure me of the safety precautions."
For a moment it looks like he's trying to think of a snide remark, but he straightens up somewhat and answers.

"He's telekinetic, apparently in line with the others we've researched. There are no loose items in the room and guns are pointed at him from the adjacent area. Obviously he has been thoroughly searched. According to all of our safety protocols, Eddie is a code yellow."
"Yellow?" I can't remember how far up that even is on the scale. I think it's low, but not the lowest. Why is it not the lowest?
"Yes sir. In theory he could throw you against the wall. It wouldn't be likely to do much more than give you a concussion before the men opened fire, but it's still a slight risk."
Good. Just what I need right now. Black mumbles something about having the plague and slips away, which is a relief. I can have agent Ferris search his office while he's gone.

Ferris wants to get right back to field work, but after the damage done to his arms on that botched strike I have to leave him on light duty. I'm tempted to suspend him pending review just for losing those implants, but it's better for me to focus all blame on agent Black. One of these days something will have to stick to him. In the meantime I have Ferris researching him - that way if he stumbles across anything looking where he shouldn't I can deny any knowledge and fire him, and if he actually does turn something good up I can use it against Black. Either way I win.

I step into the holding area and it's see Edward Shorehoff for the first time. In person, anyway. He looks like a low-life. A weasel. I wave agent Barker over, ignoring Shorehoff's greasy smile.
"Barker, you're confident that this is safe?"
He nods. "Absolutely, sir. He makes one move and we blow his brains out. He doesn't have any abilities that will be an immediate threat, just standard pushing, pulling, and lifting. Lightweight. He also hasn't made any attempt to contact other freaks since the two he was with were killed in Mexico."
Fine. I guess I might as well get this over with. Barker has set up another chair, flimsy plastic like the one Shorehoff is in, and I sit down. It's awkward, and uncomfortable - I'm not used to being so exposed, so out in the open. I want my ancient desk in front of me, but I know that would be a security breach. Meanwhile Shorehoff makes it look like he's sitting in a throne.

"Edward…" best to start this off friendly. "We appreciate the information you've given us so far. What can you tell us about this weather?"
He looks offended somehow. Did I get his name wrong?
"Man, Reggie! You move right in for the score! Aren't you going to buy me dinner first or something? I don't put out on the first date unless you buy me dinner."
I see. As far as I'm concerned I'm done here. Even talking to these disgusting freaks makes me feel dirty. "Mister Shorehoff," I start, but he cuts me off.
"Mister? Aw, we were on a first name basis for a second there. Fine, Mister Doyt. Go ahead."
I could give the order to open fire. It would be so easy.
"Mister Shorehoff. You want to work with us, but I have several problems I would need to address. I have no reason to believe you will continue to have useful information, and I have no reason to believe you will not betray us like you betrayed Franklin Reese."

"Reggie… can I call you Reggie? Those are some great questions, Reg. Let me answer those for you. First of all, I have all kinds of valuable information. I can tell you why there's a storm over your head right now. I can tell you the names and powers of all active freaks in Los Angeles, plus where most of them live. And… I can tell you about the huge mistake you feds made today. Heck, let me start with that one. About half an hour ago, your guys made the biggest mistake they could have ever made. It might even ruin you completely. You killed Franklin."

He's still smiling, still calm. What is he talking about? "Mister Shorehoff, is this some kind of joke?"
"Oh, no, Reggie. It's pretty fucking serious right about now. For you. For me… well yeah, it's a kind of joke. See, I hated Franklin. He threw his weight around, intimidated us while trying to act like he was our big strong protector - but we were always hiding. He said we were a family, you know that? I can't think of many parents that blame their children for getting kidnapped instead of trying to do something about it. But, see, Franklin didn't want to rock the boat. Why would he? He was in charge! But then… then your guys went and shot you in the foot. Without Franklin, the freaks are going to fight back - and there won't be any one leader to go after. Just one big angry family. There's a new world order now, you understand?"

I can see where this is headed. I'm not an idiot. Shorehoff is trying to make it sound like we need him more than we do. It's a bluff, obviously. We've been containing the freaks until now and when they see that we can reach Franklin they'll be more afraid to fight, not less. "Well, mister Shorehoff, where do you fit into this new world order?"
"Who, me?" he asks, with a look of mock humility. "I'm just the telekinetic. I provide… action at a distance." He smirks when he says that, like it's some sort of clever joke. I don't get it.
"But hey, I haven't answered those other clever questions of yours yet. You still want to know about how trustworthy I am?"
Something about the way he says that makes me very nervous. He knows that he'll be shot as soon as he tries anything, he must just be attempting to intimidate me.
"I would rather start with this weather, mister Shorehoff."

"Nah, I'll get to that in a second. You wanted to know how you could be sure I wouldn't betray you like I did Franklin. It was a good question, Reggie. See, the thing is that I'm a cheat, a liar, and a thief. You can't trust me as far as you can throw me, and judging from that little paunch you've got that wouldn't be far at all. I'm an ass. But… and this is the thing, Reggie… I draw the line somewhere. I'll cheat my friends at pool, because they should know better than to play against me in the first place. I'll con a family member out of some money if they've been getting on my nerves - or, you know, if I'm broke. But I won't sell someone out. I won't do something to get them in serious trouble."

"I'm confused, mister Shorehoff. Isn't that exactly what you are offering to do for us?"
He's got that obnoxious slimy grin on again, and he's shaking his head. This is absurd, I have other things to attend to.
"No, no, no. You've misunderstood me. See, I said I can tell you all sorts of stuff. I didn't say I was actually going to. Franklin wasn't the only one who crossed the line. Your little clan of men in black are worse by far. I won't let a bunch of thugs get away with hunting my friends and family. Never again. Do you understand me now, Reggie?"
I snort accidentally, and try to recover by coughing into my hand.
"Mister Shorehoff, is that a threat? You do understand that you're surrounded, don't you?" He says something under his breath… did he just tell me to wait? Does he really think he's leaving alive, that some moment will come when he won't have guns pointed at him? This has been a colossal waste of my time. I stand to leave, and -

Purple and white spots are floating across my vision, and my ears are ringing… the back of my head feels like a knife has stabbed through it, pain radiating out from the wall I'm pressed against. Oh dear lord! I can barely breathe, and my feet aren't touching the ground. That son of a bitch has me pinned to the wall. The sound of assault rifles is deafening, and I feel disoriented. My vision seems to clear and I can see it, this faint distortion in the air snaking out from Shorehoff and wrapping around my chest. Telekinesis isn't supposed to be visible, is it? The muzzle flashes are reflecting off of the air as bullets ricochet off of nothing - some sort of rippling wall in the air. Oh, god. He's becoming more powerful somehow. His telekinesis is getting stronger.

Agent Barker is firing at him too, but suddenly Shorehoff swipes a hand across the air and Barker's arm drops off a split second before the rest of him slides in half and collapses to the floor. This isn't happening. Next he thrusts the palm of his hand at one of the gun slits and the entire wall rips apart, flying into the next room and burying the guard. The gun through the opposite wall stops firing as well, for all I know the coward is running, but Shorehoff shatters that side anyway. It's silent now except for the ringing in my ears. Dust is everywhere, making the strange telekinetic tendrils reaching out of Shorehoff more visible.

"Reggie… where do you keep the others?" I need to buy some time, I need to make him keep me alive long enough for my men to bring in something he can't deflect. An energy weapon, a flame thrower, something. I tell him it's three floors below us and realize too late I should have lied. I can't think straight. He drops me to the ground and then as I stand he grabs me by the throat - with his hand, this time.
"Oh, god. Please, please, I'll tell you anything just don't kill me!" the words are coming out involuntarily, I want to be brave and spit in his face but I can't stop blubbering. "Just tell me what you want. Anything! Just tell me what you want!"
"Rodriguez." He says. What the hell does that even mean? He laughs, and we drop impossibly through the solid floor.