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Chapter VI

05/02/10

Chapter VI

 

            Jackson considered himself lucky to have such a cushy gig.  It beat the old days of running around in those God awful tights and tacky gear, fighting villains as Mr. Extraordinaire.  He was happy that it was all behind him.  This was much better.  He was still in the spotlight, even though it was slightly dimmed by Colonel Courageous’ shadow.    At least he was still doing something.  The occasional fight helped to satisfy his need for violence, and there were enough women flowing in and out that he was never lonely at night unless he choose to be. 

            True, he had aged, unlike the Colonel, but it didn’t show quite so much.  In his late 40’s, he still looked as though he were in his mid 30’s.  He had more endurance and stamina than even the most physically fit Olympian, and was stronger than the world’s strongest weight lifter.  Still, compared to Colonel Courageous he was only “human,” and as the days went by, he felt it more and more.  Every fight he had ever been in was tattooed on his body in the form of a scar, and he would relive them on any given day. 

            Jackson tugged at the collar of his shirt and pulled it down some.  The high collar shirts he wore had a tendency to feel a little restrictive after a while.  The occasional discomfort was worth it.  Jackson would do anything to hide the four foot long scars that ran diagonal across his chest, from his left shoulder to just under his right pectoral.  His last battle.  He was forced to give up the mask after that. 

            Jackson knew how lucky he was.  Half an inch to the right, and he probably would have lost his head.  He didn’t know if it was a slight hesitation on the part of his attacker, or his hyper-reflexes that saved his life.  Some nights he couldn’t sleep not knowing the answer to that question.  

            “Time heals all wounds.”  Jackson said to himself.  “But some scars are more noticeable than others.”  Unfortunately, he’d earned those four scars just like he had all his others. 

            Jackson went upstairs into the manger’s office and knocked on the door.  He expected the room to be empty, but better safe than sorry.  When Ricky didn’t answer, Jackson pulled out his key and opened the door.  The room was empty.  Jackson gave it a quick look around and checked the two safes; the obviously hidden one, and the real safe. 

            A person would have to be a complete moron to try and rob ’82, but you never knew.  There were a lot of things Jackson thought were beyond possibility, but everyday it seemed as though he was scratching another off his list.  He rubbed the itchy scars under his shirt and walked out of the office.  He would get the deposit in the morning and carry it to the bank. 

            Jackson took the service stairs down into the lower level and to the security office.  The club’s security room was only accessible to Jackson and Colonel Courageous.  Jackson leaned into the retinal scanner and unfocused his eyes for the laser scan.  It was so hard for him not to flinch.  The laser made him think of Destrominator’s laser death blades.  For the first few months after it was installed he would have to try the scanner repeatedly until he could convince himself to hold still.  Memories. 

            Jackson grabbed the pressure control handle and pulled.  The security door had been calibrated to only open with the proper amount pressure and force applied to the handle.  It wasn’t a matter of strength, but a controlled application of force.  A sort of combination pressure lock.  Both he and the Colonel could access it, and each had their own “combination.”  . 

            Inside the room were monitors and security video for the cameras hidden in every inch of the club; with the exception of the Colonel’s room.  Designed by Dr. 253, the walls and ceilings were filled with micro-cameras that were programmed to capture every person that entered ’82 and follow them the entire time they were there.  As the person moved outside the recording field of a camera, it would transfer to another camera to pick up and follow.  The cameras were built with autonomous hive mind software that allowed them to act collectively while remaining independent.  Cameras on the streets would follow patrons for up to four blocks after leaving. 

            The monitors in the security room were also linked to the Justice Squad’s central computer and patrol satellites.  ’82 was Colonel Courageous’ home away from home.  He needed to have everything there that he would have at the Cubicon, his home base. 

            Jackson looked at the monitors and reviewed the camera’s output.  The system would report and play any behavior that it found suspicious, or faces that matched any criminal database from the FBI to Interpol.  

            The club had been pretty quiet. 

            Jackson looked at the time on the monitor.  It was almost four o’clock in the morning.  Time for him to lock up.  Time to wake the Colonel. 

            Jackson pushed the button for the alarm in Colonel Courageous’ room.  The Colonel would be up soon and Jackson would have to see his “entertainment” to the door.  He already had cabs waiting out front for the two women.  He learned long ago it was best to send them both on their separate ways.  Having them share a cab ride home was too much, considering they had already “shared” quite a bit for one evening. 

            Jackson stored the security recordings and left the room.

            The door to the Colonel’s room was open by the time Jackson made it back upstairs.  While the Colonel showered, it was Jackson’s job to wake the women and usher them out before he finished. 

            Jackson had the most difficulty with Karen.  He knew the affect that the night had had on her.  He couldn’t look her in the eyes, and averted her gaze the entire time.  Even when she gave him a kiss on the cheek before entering the cab, he couldn’t look at her or acknowledge the sympathy he felt. 

*****

 

            Kenneth pushed the elevator’s ground floor button and poured hand sanitizer in his palm.  He rubbed his hands vigorously, working the creases of his fingers especially.  He squeezed out another large glop and used it to work his cuticles.  There had to be something better for removing bloodstains. 

            As the elevator door opened, Kenneth was still wringing his hands and working the tips of his fingers.  He addressed his unusual behavior as he walked to the condo’s lobby door.  Lillian and her husband were the eight and ninth people he had killed over the past month.  Or, was it ninth and tenth?  He couldn’t remember. 

            Kenneth pondered his number of victims for a while before getting back to his true query.  Why had he suddenly started killing people?  There hadn’t been an urge.  He didn’t feel repressed, or angry.  He was really quite happy with his life and the direction it had taken.  Of course, there were incidents he could do without, but he always thought of them as necessary to be where he was today.  A chain of events that put him where he wanted to be.  Well, almost.  He could do without the murdering.  And, exciting as it was, he could do without the infidelity, too. 

            In truth, Kenneth was very disappointed with his life the past two months.  It was all so uncharacteristic.  He seemed to recall it started that day at work.  The high pitched squeal that seemed to last forever, or at least until he passed out.  Kenneth.awoke with an urge for alcohol, and left work early in search of a bar.  He went to Lex’s three blocks from his job and spent the next four hours doing shots and drinking anything that could be mixed with Coke.  Two hundred and eighty dollars later he awoke again to find himself naked on the floor with Tana, the waitress. 

            Kenneth couldn’t believe what had happened, or what continued to happen.  He started seeing Tana three nights a week, while telling his wife he was working late on a big project.  Within another two weeks, he and Tana were binge drinking and doing coke in Lex’s backroom.  It only got worse from there.  Kenneth couldn’t tell if it was a horrible case of mid-life crisis, or something worse.  Maybe a brain tumor.  That would explain the high pitched squeal that started it all. 

            “Could that be the answer?” Kenneth wondered.  He dismissed the thought with some minor disappointment.  Happy that he wasn’t dying, Kenneth was equally upset that he didn’t have an answer to his bizarre behavior.  It just wasn’t like him. 

            “Why couldn’t it be a tumor?” Kenneth questioned again.  He barely remembered any of the things he did, always blacking out and waking up later either with Tana, in a dirty motel, or covered in blood next to a dead body.  It sounded like a brain tumor to him. 

            “Oh yeah.” Kenneth remembered. “The super strength.”  Kenneth had found himself unbelievably strong the past two months, and getting stronger with each day.  It seemed as though this past week, he had maxed out at being able to lift up a city bus. 

            When he first noticed that he felt stronger and doors seemed to open with a little more ease, he began testing himself.  Lifting his desk by the corner and hefting boxes of paper with ease.  The true revelation came when he lifted Tana and her friend up together with one arm. 

            As he walked to the subway, Kenneth looked down at his blood spattered clothes and laughed sharply.  All that time he wasted on cleaning his hands, he failed to notice that his clothes were practically drenched in the couple’s blood. 

            Kenneth had ripped the husband in half while Lillian watched in fear.  He ended her life by crushing her head between his hands. 

            Kenneth suddenly realized that he remembered this all too well.  He really hadn’t blacked out the last week, or so.  It was more like he daydreamed for a bit.  Like he was watching himself from over his own shoulder.  Odd. 

            “Nine and ten!” Kenneth shouted unconsciously, recalling the actual number of people he’d killed.  The more he thought about it, the more he realized he was still… Hungry.  His urge to kill wasn’t satiated. 

            Kenenth’s upper lip curled into an ugly sneer. 

            “Back to work, I suppose.” he said to himself, watching a small group of college kids walking out of the subway entrance and onto the street.  “Humans are so easy to kill.

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