Chapter 15 – Freedom Squad Nanowrimo
Matt Johnson sat in a tired old recliner and stared at a feature article about up and coming American Olympic athletes. His photo was in the middle of page. He was holding a medal in one hand and wearing his Penn State colors.
That all seemed to be gone now.
He kept wondering how it had happened. Was it the diet? The training? Had someone slipped something in his drink?
The speed was one thing, but he had broken his own weight lifting record without breaking a sweat. He felt indestructible. He also felt healthier than he ever had. It was as if some magical genie had given him everything he had ever wished for when he was training.
And that meant he would never be allowed to win an Olympic gold.
The doorbell buzzed. Angrily, he got up. The reporters were wearing him out. It was late enough that he could be asleep. He wished that the whole thing had never happened. Stupid other coaches started going crazy. Coach Hudson, his coach, hadn’t said anything. He just seemed sad.
The last look Coach Hudson had given him stung him. It was betrayal along with dashed dreams, mixed up in a confused whole.
The doorbell buzzed again. “I’m coming,” Matt said, doing his best to move slowly.
Swinging the door open without checking the peephole, he didn’t know what to do when he found himself face to face with Rigel and Nightstar of Freedom Squad.
“G’Day, Matt,” said Rigel. “I’m sure you know what we’d like to talk about.”
Matt stood in the doorway, staring blankly. “Uh…”
Nightstar extended his hand. “I’m Nightstar, this is Rigel. May we come in.”
“The place is a mess, but sure,” said Matt, suddenly aware that shorts and a t-shirt might not be the best clothing choice.
Rigel noted the pictures of Matt on the walls, trophies on bookcases, and a general state of disarray, including multiple video games and weights lying around. Matt led them through a hallway to a dated kitchen with a number of dishes in the sink.
“Do you live by yourself?” she asked.
“Right now, I do. My parents left me the house when they died, and my girlfriend used to live here, but we’re working through things at the moment.”
“Oh?” asked Rigel.
“A bunch of rumors… well, you know. People hear things and then they think that I’m some kind of mutant who has been cheating…” Matt didn’t know what else to say. Somehow, he didn’t think that telling a couple of superheroes that he might have to give back scholarship money and that several people were talking about suing him was exactly what to say to a couple of strangers.
“Can I ask the two of you a question?”
“Sure,” said Nightstar.
“Okay, before I offer to make you some coffee, how do I know that you are Nightstar and Rigel? I mean, you definitely look like them, but a guy like me would look a superhero too if I was in the right costume.”
“That’s true, you would look like a superhero,” said Rigel. “Would you let me wash those dishes of yours?”
“Um… okay,” said Matt, feeling confused.
Rigel gestured with her hands and dishes floated in the air, the kitchen faucet turned on and the dish soap opened itself and poured itself into the sink. Soon, bubbles were flying and clean dishes floated over to a towel for drying.
Nightstar chuckled. “I was just going to activate my psychic sword for you. This way you are getting clean dishes.”
“Whoa, um, you don’t need to do that if you don’t want to,” said Matt. “But it’s okay.”
“No worries. I suspect that you can clean this place pretty quickly if you’d like to,” Cori said. “So,” she asked, “how fast are you?”
“Listen,” said Nightstar, “we aren’t going to broadcast your abilities, but we could use some help.”
“Is this a recruiting visit?” asked Matt. “Seriously, are you guys here for a recruiting visit? Like the coaches used to do when I played wide receiver in high school?”
“Yes,” said Cori matter-of-factly.
“But, I can’t… I mean, even if I do have superpowers if someone finds out definitively I’m going to have to play back my college scholarship, I’ll be blacklisted and banned from track and field events, you have no idea.” Matt sat down heavily in one of the kitchen chairs. He didn’t know what to do.
Cori turned off the water and finished drying the remaining plates.
Nightstar asked, “So, would a half million dollars give or take cover the college scholarship?”
“And do you really think you’ll be competing again, regardless of whether anyone finds any evidence of a suspected power?” Nightstar asked.
“No, I don’t.”
“Okay, I’m going to offer you a half million dollars to show me what you can really do. I have a motorcycle outside. I’d like to see if you can keep up with it.”
Matt looked at Rigel and then at Nightstar and then back again. He stood up. “I guess I don’t have much to lose at this point.”
“That’s the spirit,” said Rigel, patting him on the shoulder.
“We need to go outside,” said Matt. “I have a slight friction issue.”
They went outside. The house was on a quiet road in rural Pennsylvania. Neither Nightstar or Rigel had seen much traffic. Matt shifted from foot to foot.
“I can’t go full speed,” he said, “and well, I’m also scared to try.”
“Why?” asked Cori.
“Remember the friction thing? Well, if I start going too fast, my shoes begin to melt.”
Nightstar adjusted his mirrorshades. “If you can keep up with the Night-Cycle, we’ll get you back to Megalopolis and run you through a few tests there.”
“Okay… but I don’t think this is going to be much of contest,” said Matt.
“We’ll see,” said Nightstar. “This isn’t a normal motorcycle.”
“Want to head to the county line and back?” asked Matt.
“Sure,” said Nightstar. “What’s that? Five miles?”
“Yeah,” said Matt.
“Okay, so on your mark, get set, GO!” said Rigel.
There was a burst of wind and Matt became a blur. The Night-Cycle streaked out of the driveway and came to a stop. Rigel flew over. “Nightstar, what’s wrong?”
Nightstar pointed down the road. As far as Rigel could see, there was a trail of flame faintly flickering out.
“Watch the timer,” said Nightstar pointing to a set of numbers on his dash.
At the fifty-nine second mark, Matt was back in front of them. His t-shirt had a few holes and burn marks, and his tennis shoes were smoking.
“That was six hundred miles an hour,” said Rigel as her eyes widened.
“I’m pretty sure I can go faster,” said Matt. “It actually feels good. I think that my speed increases a little every time I run.”
“You would need a costume that could survive your speed,” said Rigel.
“Has he passed all the background checks?” asked Nightstar.
“Yes,” said Rigel.
“Sounds good to me,” said Nightstar, “Rigel, I think you should do the honors.”
“Thank you, Nightstar,” she said, offering Matt her hand. He shook it.
“Welcome to the team, Velocity.”
Posted on November 25, 2013, in Freedom Squad, HeroNet Files, NaNoWriMo and tagged Defiance, Freedom Squad, Harry Heckel, HeroNet, HeroNet Files, Megalopolis, Nanowrimo, Nanowrimo Novel, Nightstar, Rigel, superhero, Superhero Nanowrimo, Superhero team, Velocity. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.