It’s hot as hell out there today, so turn up your A/C, lay out on your couch and enjoy chapter five!
After the conversation with my parents went about as well — and as poorly — as it could have, I walked just down the street from their house and took flight. It takes less than five minutes in the air to get to my usual landing spot in the city.
It’s still pretty early, so I decide to swing by the bar and see how everything stands there. I named my pub Dive. It’s an ironic name — or at least I like to think so. It’s small, seats maybe fifty at capacity, and we don’t serve any food other than your typical bagged bar snacks.
I live in Manhattan, but Dive is in Astoria because it’s way cheaper to lease a joint out there. We’ve got satellite set up, so we can put on any and all the games that we want to. Twelve TVs hanging from the walls, so we get plenty of local sports fans. I pride myself on keeping the good stuff on the taps and on the shelves. The patrons seem to appreciate it.
We’re still in September, so Sunday Night Football is airing on all the TVs. Bar’s about half full, which is typical for this time. I only keep one bartender and two waitresses on nights like this. I chat up the staff while seating myself at the bar and knock back a few while I watch the game.
When it’s time to leave, I duck into a narrow alley a few blocks down, make sure there’s no one watching from the windows and launch myself into the sky. I drop down on a rooftop down the street from my apartment building and float down slowly, again making sure no one is watching me.
My apartment is nothing to scream about, just a third-floor walk-up near Gramercy. Truth is, since I’m no longer collecting those loaded briefcases from Weston, I may end up moving closer to my bar in Astoria. Dive does well enough, but I’m not exactly a billionaire playboy.
But that’s a problem for later; right now, I just want to plop down on my sofa and enjoy my freedom. Of course, I have to feed Neena and Veena first. My lifestyle made it difficult to have high-maintenance pets, so I got myself a couple of dwarf hamsters and named them after a pair of bellydancing twins that I saw on an infomercial late one night.
They’ve got a lot of personality for such little critters, but at least I don’t have to take them out for walks a couple times a day. That being said, I do give them plenty of time in their plastic balls to go for a run around the apartment. Since my schedule is about to become a lot more manageable, I might think about adopting a dog or cat.
I thought I’d sleep better after simplifying my life, but that’s not the case. In fact, I barely sleep for more than a few minutes at a time. My mind keeps racing to the beat of all the remarkable and terrible things I’ve seen.
Aliens, monsters, doomsday devices, displays of power that would make a normal person lose control of their bowels. And I’ve seen too many of those normal people suffer at the hands of beings that are almost impossible to believe exist.
As LightBlast, I fought the battles that most people couldn’t. I mean, I personally blasted spaceships out of the sky, for cryin’ out loud!
Then, as DarkLight, I used those same abilities to assist Drake Weston in accomplishing whatever heinous ends he sought. But who am I now? Am I just Tom Reynolds: an aimless, self-employed twenty-something?
I still have my powers, and as far as I know, they’re not going anywhere. Do I just waste them and prove, once and for all, that I was never really worthy of having them?
I’m done with Weston; that’s not even a debate. But I can’t very well go back to fighting against him and his kind, either.
Drake Weston knows everything about me now. Which means that, if I piss him off, then everyone I care about could end up getting hurt. They might just vanish to some dark fate notated by a single shorthand line in one of Weston’s ledgers.
I’ve never once cursed my powers. In fact, I oftentimes defined myself by them. But to have them now, and not be able to use them?
I have to remind myself that I should be relieved. After all, there will be no more flying into fights where my opponent could make me explode with a wink of his eye. And yet relief never comes.
My personal identity crisis lasts until the sun forces its way in through my bedroom window. A bowl of cereal and a glass of juice later, I find myself finally passing out on my sofa.
Just as I’m settling into a mildly inappropriate dream about the redhead I spotted leaving Weston’s office yesterday, my phone rings me back awake. The number is blocked, so I’m about to let it go to voicemail when curiosity gets the better of me.
“Hello,” I yawn into the phone.
“Thomas.” Hearing Elizabeth Stokes’s voice on the other end of the line clears up my head in a hurry. “We need your help.”
“I’m done helping you and your boss,” I say with anger in my voice. “A deal is a deal. You might remind him about that.”
“I can’t remind him of anything,” Elizabeth says with some concern registering in her normally unshakeable voice. “Because he’s gone missing.”