approximately nine PM, without warning, the lights went out. Paul Canton
paused, one hand holding the skillet handle as he waited for the
electricity to return.
a good sixty seconds had elapsed, and the butter threatened to smoke, he
sighed with resignation. "All right. Have it your way."
turned off the gas range. Flaring up enough so his body emitted a small
glow, he hurried down
into the basement, stomping on the right edge of the eighth step with
more force than usual. Before he reached the bottom, the back side of
the room opened up, revealing a dark, cavernous interior.
tunnel extended for another couple hundred feet before he reached the
reinforced steel door. Once that was opened, he stepped over the
threshold and paused. The familiar hum of power that should have been
permeating the walls was eerily absent. Slapping the silver plate on the
wall behind him, he smiled as a pure luminescence filled the chambers.
Across the room, the bank of monitors lit up, revealing what he already
blackout didn't affect just his block or area. The entire city was down.
The only pinpoints of light came from the traffic, and the odd
flashlight and candle popping up.
like we might have a problem, kemosabe," he muttered. Striding over
to the computer console, he backed the surveillance feed up prior to the
power outage, then leaned on the table as he watched. Searching for a
clue, like an exploding transformer, an animal sacrifice at a
substation, a vehicle hitting a pole. A person.
moment the city was lit. The next, it went dark. Not in sections, but
all at once. As if someone had pulled a major plug.
you have something to do with this, bitch?"
he hurried into the next room to change. Whether or not Sherandar was
responsible for the outage, he couldn't wait for the power company to
restore the lights, which could take hours, or days. He knew looters
could be ransacking businesses. People could be trapped in elevators.
There were a hundred possible scenarios occurring right that moment
under the cover of darkness. Many of them unlawful, some serious and
possibly fatal. Too many problems for the overburdened and understaffed
law enforcement officials to handle on their own.
swore under his breath. No telling what kind of mess that evil woman
genius caused. Or what kinds of messes awaited him. Once again, he was
relegated to mopping up and cleaning up after her dirty work, and he
couldn't begin to guess what her encore might be.
his mask over the upper part of his face, he took a deep breath and
stepped inside the narrow brick tunnel leading upward. A second later,
Quazar zipped into the night sky, undetectable against its velvety black
he took a deep lungful of the autumn air. Amid the exhaust fumes and
food odors, he could smell the wet pavement from the early evening rain,
and the dull rot of fallen leaves. If circumstances were different, he
would have enjoyed a stroll down the block to Maggie's Bakery for a
couple of raisin bagels.
The way I see it, I have two choices. I can flare up and put a little
light on the problem, give the police and fire department an assist. Or
I can try to hunt down the cause of this mess."
came to an abrupt halt, suspended in the air, and spread his arms and
legs. "Guess that wasn't a hard decision to make," he
muttered, and flared. "Guess it's time to bring a little clarity on
emanated from his pores, muted only minimally by his uniform to prevent
blinding anyone who stared at him. Quazar lit the sky, spreading his
brightness down into the city. Below, people gazed upward. Many cheered,
some yelled at him, although he couldn't make out the words.
cold wind gently pushed him toward the southeast. Rolling his head
around his shoulders to relieve the tension, he wondered how long he'd
need to keep shining. As long as he remained conscious, he could keep
this up until morning. And maybe that's what it would take until
HP&L and law enforcement got things taken care of.
he scanned the streets and rooftops for anything suspicious. Not
ordinary humans doing bad, nasty, or illegal suspicious. More like...
sound of her laughter floated to him on the breeze. He rotated to his
left and stopped.
yards away, Sherandar crouched on what appeared to be a pair of
motorized hubcaps attached to her boots. She grinned at him from behind
polarized goggles, her head moving down and up as she scoped him out
from boots to mask.
the matter, Quay-Quay? Afraid of the dark?" She taunted him in that
way she had that always irked him. Quazar gave her a dirty look.
the date, Sherandar. You'll answer for this mess."
returned his dirty look with her are-you-kidding-me? expression.
"This? Whatever are you talking about? Besides..." Her
glistening red lips curled into a sardonic smile. "You know there
isn't a cell made that I can't escape from. Unless you'd like to tie me
up and see if I can manage to get out of that." The last
sentence was purred seductively.
glanced down at the people who had emerged from their homes and
apartments, and were gathering in the streets. When he looked back at
her, she'd moved closer to him. The smile she flashed him gave him an
ominous feeling. "I gotta hand it to you, bitch. You may not rob
banks or kill people, but you win the prize for making our lives
shrugged with one blue jean jacket clad shoulder. "Hey, a girl's
gotta have some fun, right?"
she finished speaking, she grabbed one of the many necklaces she wore
around her neck, and pulled on it until it broke. With a flick of her
wrist, she tossed the string of little thumbnail-sized black balls at
him. Within that split-second of time, Quazar stared at the dozen or so
objects hurling across the divide between them until he redirected his
left arm to sear the things into oblivion. At the first touch of heat,
the balls exploded into hundreds of multi-legged creatures that suddenly
dispersed and spurted downward toward the watching populace. Too late,
Quazar realized his mistake.