Sunday, July 29, 2012

Flightpath Issue 2

Moving Pieces, Piece 1; 1981-JAN-06, 2330 hrs:

A television set, seen through a store window. The set is on, and a live news broadcast is coming over the air. We focus in on the television.

A man can be seen on the tv, dressed in a tan suit. It is dark all around him, although light shines on him. A microphone is held close to his face, up under his chin.

“Matt and Dinah, this is Jason Clark, and I’m reporting live from…well, for my own safety I will decline to say what building this is. But we are stationed here on the roof as the army has advised us that it is simply too dangerous to be out on the streets at night, even for news reporters. Nobody is safe in the city of Calgary after dark.”

The man in the suit presses his free hand to his ear, as a female’s voice can be heard asking him what the conditions are like. The reporter nods several times after the voice has finished speaking, and then removes his hand from his ear.

“Yes, thank you, Dinah. It is still a bit hard to hear, even as high up as we are stationed currently, there is still sporadic gunfire that deafens the night sky. It is truly like a war zone. I’m going to ask Hector, that is Hector Juarez my cameraman here, to move towards the edge of the roof and give the viewers a glimpse of what is going on down on the streets.”

The reporter is quiet momentarily as the camera angle moves, after a few seconds showing the street below the building where they are situated.

“As you can see, the streets of Calgary are empty, as Commissioner Tardison has worked hard at getting the police force to enforce the curfew, keeping people inside as much as possible for their own protection. We thin…”

His voice is momentarily cut off, as sirens race through the night air, and four local police cars suddenly come into view of the camera, racing up the street at high speed.

“Dinah, Matt, it looks like the police are responding, possibly to another act of vandalism, or terrorism, possibly a hostage taking…at this point, we are unsure, it could be anything, unless you have any other news about what is going on right now.”

A different man’s voice comes over the tv set now. “Jason, we have no news of anything currently happening.”

After several seconds of dead air, the rooftop reporter’s voice can be heard again.

“Yes, Matt, thank you. As I have said, it could be just about anything. The army has been working hard, they ensure us, at keeping the city as safe as possible, but for the last several weeks now, Calgary has been a haven for the Cloak Gang once the sun sets; they seem to have this city in their grips, firmly in their grips, and so far nobody has been able to do anything to stop them. As far as…well, if you are ready in the studio, why don’t we roll the clip taken earlier yesterday evening of the tragic attempt by local Albertan super hero Bunny Girl to try to take back the streets…”

As his voice fades out, an army tank can be seen slowly lumbering its way up the street below the building the cameraman is shooting from.

Moving Pieces, Piece 2; 1981-JAN-02, 1300 hrs:

A wide, white hallway. Nothing says ‘government facility’ like a wide, white, barren hallway, sterile and putrid, going nowhere, and sucking the people’s money down a fast-draining hole to oblivion. Government at its finest.

So thought Dr. Theodore ‘Teddy’ Abrahams as he walked said hallway, shaking his head and suppressing a rueful chuckle.

The man to his immediate left stopped walking and faced him. “Is there a problem, Abrahams?”

It was said more out of concern that out of annoyance, or so he sensed, so Dr. Abrahams let the tone slide. No sense ticking off the boss, after all.

“No, not at all, Dr. Schmidt. I was just lost in thought; please continue.”

Dr. Arden Schmidt looked carefully at Teddy for a moment. Although the two of them weren’t exactly opposites, they certainly weren’t built from a like mould. The white lab coats they both wore over dress shirts and slacks were the only things, besides an air of educated intelligence, that they shared. Dr. Schmidt was tall, 6’5”, a thin man with sharp yet handsome features, glasses in front of his blue eyes, in his mid-forties, his short brown hair combed forward and showing greying at the temples and over the ears. Dr. Abrahams was a heavier man, neither fat nor thin, more ‘full-bodied’ or ‘big-boned’ as they like to call it; the mid-fifties man stood 5’10” in height, had brown eyes, receding brown hair besprinkled with grey, and a nearly completely white beard.

“Yes, really, Abrahams, keep your head in the game. We’ve got a deadline to keep up with, and this needs your full attention.”

That last comment came from the man on the other side of Dr. Schmidt. Dr. Melvin Saunders was an overweight man, and if that had been his worst quality it could have been overlooked. Unfortunately, the man’s brilliance also came packaged hand-in-hand with his overwhelming arrogance.

The egotistical Dr. Chalmers was in his early forties, balding, brown squinty eyes hidden behind glasses, 5’6” in height and of a rather rotund fleshly nature. And he currently had a nasty smirk on his face that was directed towards his colleague, Dr. Abrahams.

“Very well,” said Dr. Schmidt with a slight nod, and the three continued walking. There was silence for a few seconds while Arden Schmidt gathered his thoughts.

“So,” he continued at last. “Is everybody here settled in? Things running…smoothly?”

“We need more staff,” said Dr. Abrahams quickly, before Dr. Chalmers could start speaking. “Besides that, Dr. Schmidt,” Dr. Abrahams shrugged.  “We’ve been using this facility, and doing this very research, for going on five years now. We’re just more ‘hurried’ right now, that’s all; other than that, we’re used to this. We’re excited, and the staff are operating more on a rush of emotions than on actual sleep…”

“Well, he’s right about one thing,” interjected Dr. Chalmers. “We definitely need more staff. But besides that, I’ve been going over some of this paperwork from last month, and I am wondering if…”

They turned a corner and strode into the large overhead observation room. Dr. Schmidt waved a hand in mid-air as they did, cutting off Chalmers. As he angled his two colleagues towards the coffee cart, which was positioned by the water cooler on a small table well back from the huge plexi-glass wall, he let them in on a little something.

“Let me fill you two in on something,” he said. “I’m doing everything in my power to bring more people in here. If the government wants us to finish this project on time, they’re going to have to up the budget and free up some of their brightest minds from the other projects they are involved with. In fact, I plan on telling…”

The ding-ding of the elevator doors opening cut him off.

Besides the three of them, the only other person in the area was Salvador Bussemo, the day-time janitor for the center, and he was moving past them and down the hall they had just come out of, push broom in hand.

Six eyes in that observation room, and every one of them paused to momentarily take in the breath of fresh air that got off the elevator.

She more floated than walked as she exited the elevator onto the upper deck. Dressed in a tight knee-length skirt with alternating vertical stripes of white and bright yellow, matching yellow slip-on shoes, and a button-up white blouse with her usual pink lab coat overtop, it was hard to miss the entrance of Misuki Chen-Schmidt. She stood 5’2”, and as the mixed-heritage Asian woman stepped off the elevator the man beside her simply towered over her. He was 6’4” in height, stood straight and tall and stiff, had grey hair and a matching moustache, and wore the traditional military dress uniform for a Canadian Forces Colonel.

Misuki shot the three scientists a quick glance as she and the Colonel exited the elevator and started towards them, following it up with a brief smile. Dr. Abrahams found himself smiling back in a friendly manner. Dr. Saunders gave Misuki a quick look, before his attention turned toward the newcomer; Saunders had a puzzled look, with furrowed brow, as he waited for them to approach. And Dr. Schmidt himself shot his wife a hurried smile, causing her to nod at him and then lower her gaze, before he turned his whole attention to the man beside her.

Dr. Schmidt’s mouth took on a brief hint of a smile as he stepped forward a pace and extended his hand. “Colonel Turner, thank you for coming,” he said as the two shook hands.

“Of course, of course, Schmidt. I feel like this baby is partially mine as well, you know.” The man was brusque, stern-faced, and to-the-point, but not unfriendly.

“If you’ll excuse me,” Arden Schmidt said to the Colonel, turning now towards his wife. “Mizuki, are the psychiatrists on-schedule for tomorrow?”

She carried a clipboard full of papers, but did not consult it. “Yes, Arden, they will be here tomorrow morning,” she said quietly, with a brief glance into his eyes before lowering her gaze. “Where do you plan on them setting up their work area?” She continued to gaze downward, her long black hair beginning to fall forward and hiding the left half of her face.

“Sub-Level Three,” stated Dr. Schmidt. “You’ll see to getting it ready for them?”
 He dictated more than asked.

“Of course,” she said back to him. “As well as seeing to the other things you have asked.”

He gave her a brief, puzzled look, before turning his attention back to the Colonel.

“Again, Colonel, thank you for taking time out of your schedule to come by so promptly.”

“Well, don’t make me go all Looney Tunes, here; tell me what’s up, Doc.” Even the Colonel’s own joke didn’t crack the stern countenance he emitted.

“Gentlemen, if you will excuse us…” prompted Arden, and the other two doctors murmured pleasantries and turned toward the elevator, Dr. Abrahams pulling Mizuki along with him in a friendly manner as he asked her how she was feeling.

“I need more men, Colonel, more people with skills. I don’t care if they have finished all their studies or not, just find me some more brilliant people and get them in here!” A little bit of stress and frustration showed on Arden’s face and in his voice. 

“I’ll do what I can, Doc, of course. There are probably a few folk working on other projects and government sponsored programs that I can call on, get them temporarily assigned to your program…”

Arden Schmidt ran his left hand through his hair nervously, exhaling deeply. “There are just too many tests that need to be run, and re-run, never mind the recalibrations of things we hardly even understand, the deciphering of old log books and notes that we still struggle with, the…Colonel Turner, unless you WANT to see this project fail, I need to see some new bodies striding in that doorway, TOMORROW.”

“One of those psychologists you’ve just hired on, she has an accomplished cousin who may be able to help, if we can convince her; apparently, she is like some sort of, whattaya call ‘em…like an idiot savant, only not dumb.” Colonel Turner turned to Arden for help with a questioning look.

“Hmm?” mumbled the distracted Dr. Schmidt. “Oh…oh, do you mean Dr. Bendtsen’s cousin? Heldorf, I think her name is. Yes, somebody like that would do fine, if you can get her. It’s pretty hard to pry her away from her studies, I hear she has a real voracious appetite for all things scientific; she has pretty much done at least SOME study in almost every scientific field there is. Hm…yes, she might do, at that…”

“I’ll see what I can do, Doc,” said Colonel Turner. His green eyes turned sympathetic. “Just between you and me, Schmidt, I think you should have been given more time. But,” he shrugged, “the world has gone to hell, and we need a solution.” The Colonel stuck his right hand out in Arden’s direction. “And I want you to know I’ll do everything I can to pull some favours and get you your people.” As the two clasped hands, the handshake oozed mutual respect.

Moving Pieces, Piece 3; 1981-JAN-15, 1700 hrs:

The television set is small, brown wood panelling surrounding the CRT screen, the knobs on the front of the tv are grey and large and dusty. A crushed can of generic Canadian beer is sitting on top of the tv, along with a half-eaten piece of pizza, and we can just see a large white bag with a big black dollar sign sitting on the floor leaning up against the television set. The toes of a large purple pair of boots cut off some of the bottom of the television picture, the owner of said boots unseen as he sits in a recliner chair behind our viewpoint.
The television is on, and a man and woman appear on the screen, seated behind a desk. The man’s voice is familiar. “This Matt Davidson and Dinah Carey, and welcome to Channel 14 news, your Albertan news station. Our top story today, Calgary is once again safe from the Hooded Cloak Gang. Just two hours ago, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau joined Calgary Police Commissioner Terry Hardison, Calgary Mayor Herman Brooks, and Major-General Earnest Thompson of the Canadian Armed Forces, as they thanked the Supers who made this all possible, and remembered the fallen police and armed forces and civilians who lost their lives in Calgary in the last two weeks.”

Video of men in suits on a stage flashes up on the tv screen, the Prime Minister front and center stepping up to a microphone. A woman’s voice continues where Matt’s left off. “As well as promising that this sort of thing would never be allowed to happen to Canada and her people again, Prime Minister Trudeau thanked the four Supers who came and saved the city of Calgary, tracking and arresting many of the Cloak Gang, and driving off the villainous Dead Edna, Wolf Spider, and The Hooded Cloak. The four refused to be publicly acknowledged, as apparently, Matt, they were just too humble.”

Back to live shots of the two newscasters seated behind their desk. “And, Dinah, those four Supers were none other than Bunny Girl, who was previously captured by the Cloak Gang on the evening of January 5th and then subsequently found and rescued by the army the next morning, as well as Zoo Man, an unknown hero who is apparently being treated for injuries sustained in the city-wide battle, and also the sisters Image and Citron, who viewers may remember as having briefly been part of the old Sasquatch Squad before it disbanded three years ago.”

“Matt, we should also point out the ‘extreme’ heroism of Bunny Girl, who when rescued by the Canadian Forces on January 6th had just been badly beaten and repeatedly sexually assaulted by numerous members of the Cloak Gang; the fact that she could re-don her costume and go out there and kick some butt, just a week or so later, is simply amazing. Bunny Girl, and the other three Supers as well, we here at Channel 14 salute you.”

“That’s right, Dinah. Bunny Girl has been a fixture as Alberta’s champion for several years now, but Albertans, and especially Calgarians, have never been prouder of her than right now. And, right before we go to our reporter on the scene, Jason Clark, live from the aftermath of the Prime Minister’s news conference, we’d like to remind citizens of Calgary to be careful, as there still may be criminal elements hiding out in their town that have not yet been ferreted out. The Cloak Gang members that remain will be sought after, caught, and brought to swift justice, as Commissioner Hardison has stated, and while it is believed that Dead Edna, Wolf Spider, and The Hooded Cloak have all fled Calgary, nobody knows for sure. So, citizens, stay safe out there.”

A crumpled beer can comes sailing out of nowhere and collides hard with the television screen.

Moving Pieces, Piece 4; 1981-JAN-05, 0700 hrs:
What does it mean to be a hero?

How is it that some people have greatness and opportunity bestowed upon them by cosmic chance, while others can never catch a fair break?

What does it take to be the hero that captivates a whole community?

Some people have luck. Two kids fall into some quicksand; one kid dies, while the other gains sand-based super-powers. Or a child is born with webbed toes and a thick tail, and becomes a water-based hero when older, protector of the high seas; meanwhile, another kid can’t even get born because his mother is whacked out on LSD and doesn’t have time for children so she goes to the back alleys for a cheap coat-hanger abortion.

Life seems…indiscriminate, don’t it?

Then there’s me. I had everything I ever wanted, and life tried to take it all away from me. But I’ve always been a fighter, stubborn, ready to stand my ground.

Although, nowadays, the ‘standing’ part isn’t as easy as it used to be…

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