Massey descended the steps of the hospital building and dialed Anne’s burner. The call went straight to voicemail. This was nothing unusual. After all, Anne had to tread carefully with Major Globe.
Massey sighed and started to record his message. “Anne, I’m going to Harlow Island. I think our mutual friend might have gone there. I’ll explain when…” The ratcheted slide of a pistol was audible enough to make Massey pause.
He heard falling footsteps, heavy boots on cement. The static of a police radio overrode the white noise that was his city trying to slumber. The noise was a mirage replacing common sense. Their flashlights awoke the night, basking it in a cruel bluish light. It was a light that blinded him for a moment, and then he blinked, bringing the beams back into focus. Black, glinting riot visors glared at him. Their eyes were hidden to prevent him from gauging their resolve. Black rifles aimed at him, ensuring no confusion at who they were after.
One of them spoke his voice muffled by the mask. “Detective Frank Massey of the Seattle Police Department! You are under arrest for harboring a dangerous super, withholding and interfering with private information belonging to The Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
Massey dropped the phone and smashed it with his boot before kneeling on the ground with his hands behind his head. He doubted his efforts to conceal his secret communication would survive even the most cursory inspections. He hoped that Anne had the sense to dispose of her own burner.
* * *
At the entrance to the hospital, Silas pulled Anne back. “Wait. And… Watch,” he told her. A scandalous wink betrayed his lust for showmanship.
He leaned against a wooden telephone pole. His eyes narrowed at the scene unfolding a few yards away. Time began to bend when he clicked his fingers, but it didn’t stop completely. It slowed down, so all surrounding movement was a prolonged explosion of colors and distorted sounds. People’s voices still carried in the space between, ricocheting and overlapping. The cacophony was beautiful as it was horrifying.
Silas took Anne by the hand through the cluster of sight and sound and led her up the steps. She caught sight of her friend as he left the hospital. His footsteps fell lazily, the look on his face content. Anne understood what Silas had wanted to show her. The hidden observers were quiet as shadows of ten men fell upon Massey. The time bubble caused the images to jump like snapshots from an instant camera coated with a filter of high contrast and exposure. People moved like ghosts, but they were so very much real only Anne couldn’t reach out and touch, nor warn. She watched a progression of heavily armed men glitch through Silas’s volatile world of living mannequins. One black-clad image left behind a trail of slowly fading copies. At the final stage of action the ghosts coalesced into a solid image.
She sighed, her throat parched. She thirsted for action but was forced to play her role. Silas’ display was unexpected and inconvenient though perhaps she should have considered it was happening since Globe had been so furious on the phone. He couldn’t blame himself for neglecting obvious clues. It annoyed him to be foolish. So he took it out on Massey and put him in the spotlight of a political and federal scandal. Discredit was a tool to divert focus from more than just a rebellious detective and his motley crew of misfits and fringers. No, Anne thought, misinformation was weaponized long before today.
The resignation on Massey’s face was evident to observers outside and within Silas’ time bubble. Massey sunk to his knees. Ghost images handcuffed and carried him away in a bulletproof van. After they were gone Silas twisted time even further completely stopping it. Even sound seemed to give up against his power. Anne wiggled her jaw back and forth, trying to clear the pressure in her ears.
Silas grinned. “Batiste actually came through with his plan! From our brief encounters, I was left with the assumption that the rotund man was all grease inside and out. I guess he has some brains in that thick head of his. Now that Massey’s acts of rebellion have been concluded let’s interview Mister Kitz and get this whole sordid affair over with.”
Time snapped back to normal, and Anne felt the pressure behind her eyes dissipate. She looked forlornly at the spot where Massey was arrested. Globe still didn’t have Joaquin, but like wood that resisted flame, eventually the flames of genocide consumed everything.
* * *
When they arrived at the room that which Andy Kitz was assigned to, they found a missing bed and a doctor who couldn’t explain how his patient had disappeared. His babbling was unbecoming but was something Anne had come to expect in her long life. From blue-collar workers trying to make it through their day, to immigrants yearning to be free, to the highest levels of the aristocracy frowning at the actions of those they deemed beneath them, when confronted with the seemingly impossible, humanity was quick to assign blame and denounce responsibility.
Silas nodded in grudging appreciation of the tactic. “Massey works fast I’ll give him that. Do we have time to question him about where he’s hidden, Andy Kitz? Or do we just search this entire hospital?”
In the pocket of her pea coat, Anne’s fingers brushed her burner. There was a message. She had heard the beep after she’d powered it back on. No doubt the waiting message was from Massey. This choice-making ordeal was starting to get on Anne’s nerves, but still, she had to play the chess game she and Massey had begun. Of greatest importance was that she had to get him out of whatever shithole he was currently in.
Silas was ignorant of the undertow of thoughts and feelings that boiled below Anne’s calm exterior. Oblivious to Anne dodging his question, Silas answered his own question. “I doubt a guy on painkillers would be very good at communication right now even if we found him.” He smiled. “Massey, however, is a different cookie. His daughter works for Globe. He’ll talk.”
Next: Supers Anonymous