Andy puffed on a cigarette. It was burning between his thin fingers, ash gathering at the tip threatening to tip over. He crushed it inside the ashtray.
“Well, what do you know?”
Joaquin looked up. The screen displayed six videos, and when Andy played the first, Joaquin quickly found Jensen among the crowd of people and saw how he slipped away into a dark alley pulling at his clothes and falling to his knees, his hands buried in his hair. Then there was a flash of something bright distorting the camera and when it regained focus a large spot on the ground and on the walls of the opposing buildings were covered in glistening pristine ice. The camera flipped sideways and after a few shaky seconds and curses from its owner it switched off.
“That was Jensen alright. Seemingly unable to contain and control his power. Let’s see video number two.”
The second video was much worse. Its quality was bad as it was filmed from under a table as far as Joaquin could see. The audio crackled and the picture was blurry when the phone moved in someone’s sweaty hands, but it was clear that the target of the video was Jensen. He was wearing the same outfit, pacing back and forth in a coffee shop, fuming at the end of the line. He exchanged a few loud and harsh words with an oafish man in front of him and then after a display on machismo, that man pushed him, he put his hands on the man’s chest and pushed back. The man fell to the ground, kicking and screaming, and Jensen ran away driving apart the growing crowd. Joaquin could see the white fumes swirling from the victim’s body and when he ripped his shirt open the thin crust of ice covering his chest.
“Whoa!” Joaquin sat back. “He froze that dude for no reason! Play the next one.”
But Andy wasn’t moving. He continued to stare at the screen. Slowly, he declared, “Something isn’t right.”
“Yeah, no shit. Jensen is guilty that’s for sure, homie.” Joaquin felt his fingers tighten into a fist. He remembered how he wanted to beat Jensen into a bloody pulp, serving justice the harsh way.
“No, something isn’t right with the videos. Look – they were all uploaded two days before the attack in Madison Park. It seems… too easy.”
Joaquin shrugged. “I don’t know man, I see what is before me, and that’s Jensen goin’ crazy on some dude’s ass. Ain’t that enough evidence to predict him capable of blasting those kids earlier?”
Andy played the other videos. They showed a progression in Jensen’s violent behavior and growth in his power. He wasn’t just freezing small areas; he was turning himself into ice, a single touch away from making everything freeze. One video even showed reflections in glass – clouds obscured the sun, and Jensen staggered past a blue-framed window, the cityscape pristine in the background. In others, he displayed violent fits and body alteration, limbs gaining misshapen extensions constructed from ice and “firing” ice spikes, the impact lodged them in solid concrete. It was inhuman. Joaquin was speechless, both impressed and terrified.
Above his head, the air conditioning rattled back to life. The light buzz faded in filling the dust-covered silence between the two men. Joaquin watched a fly crawl near the narrow slit where the cold air escaped to fight the stale warmth in Andy’s room. It got sucked in, or perhaps it just crawled inside to cool off too. Finally, Andy slammed his hand on his knee like he had just been forced awake, and spoke.
“This isn’t right! I watch every video that the watchers deliver and I have a strict rule that no one keeps an original file on his personal computer. Everything that the SuperHub has is stored on flash drives right here with me.” Andy waved a hand toward metal filing cabinet.
* * *
“Maybe someone decided to play you playa’,” Joaquin offered. “Some other traveller scopin’ out supers.”
“No, no, no, no.” Andy sighed and rubbed his eyes. “I would have seen these videos, they all go through me for approval when any of the admins wants to upload.” Andy clicked on the username of the uploader. The video was shared by nano123, a very general user Andy hadn’t seen before, and he knew all of them. Only the six videos were associated with the user and when he clicked on the profile it was empty aside from the picture of a white bunny rabbit with purple headphones.
“They must all be fake!” Andy exclaimed.
Bingo, jackpot, touchdown kiddo. You would have gotten a stiffy if a super like this existed. Freezing objects! What a talent, eh?
Andy shook away the voice that always buzzed inside his head. It was louder this time almost clouding his thoughts.
Joaquin pointed toward the screen. “No way these are all fake man. They look like-”
Andy interrupted. “Like they were made in a movie studio with a ton of cash and a lot of CGI. In the past months since this supers uprising started there hasn’t been one, not one super powered person with abilities as strong or pronounced as these shown here. There would have been something already.” Andy emphasized the word by banging his fist against the desk. A pile of papers toppled over and crashed to the floor.
Joaquin’s eyes followed the new mess and then returned to Andy.
“Plus,” Andy insisted, “they all appear in one day just in time to secure Jensen’s conviction. That’s kind of convenient, don’t you think? The FBI will no doubt pull them from the network and use them in court. It’ll prove Jensen capable of murder. But this kind of power spike… Jensen would have been all over the news, no doubt SPD would have issued an arrest warrant. We would have found him much earlier and predicted that he’d be an up and coming murderer. He doesn’t exist on the SuperHub aside from these videos. It makes no sense.”
* * *
Joaquin finally nodded. The tension and his anger died down. Now in his mind’s eye, he was beating his fists into the face of a frightened, innocent man. The thought made him sick, so he was quick to chase the nauseating feeling away. He shook his head and met Andy’s intense stare. “Globe made sure that Jensen stayed nice and pretty in jail.”
Next: Last Words