I recognized most of the costumed types from the pictures my parole officer had shown me. I was in the midst of the "Super Anti-Crime" group he wanted me to join. In front of us is some guy in a suit. Other than the suit (blue, double breasted pin stripe), he looks like the 'Q' guy from Star Trek.
He shouts some nonsense about us being tested and WHAMO! T-ported again. Or am I? A fast glance shows that it's Storrow Drive, but no noise. No traffic, no people, nothing. What I do see is the other costumed types. I feel a bit out of place. No tights or cape, just a rumbled blue suit. Oh well, at least I didn't double over like the guy in the black cloak.
Some guy dressed like cross between Bogie and The Shadow steps up to me and stares at me through his mirrored aviator glasses.
"Who are you?", he asks.
"Norm. Who the hell are you?" I never got around to picking out some fancy hero name.
"I am the Eluder. Why have you been brought here?"
"I'm part of your merry band of do-gooders. Just haven't gotten around filling out the paperwork yet. Could you point some of these fellows out? Starting with Robin Hood over there." I'm not kidding, green tights, dark brown leather coat, soft leather boots, an elf hat, and a freaking long bow. How he walks the streets and doesn't get picked up is beyond me.
"That is Forrester, the dark clad one next to him is Merlin, ah, strike that, he goes by Spellweaver."
"And I'm Max." The new speaker was clad in a dark jumpsuit with a black ski mask and cloak. The cloak was trimmed with rainbow striping. I wonder if he got it at Filene's Basement.
"Max, right. Nice name. I'm Norm."
By now, Eluder had gone over to talk to Robin and Merlin. As I was wondering what Max was going to do if he had to sneeze, Eluder called over and said something about getting under cover. Then he disappeared. If that wasn't bad enough, he reappeared right next to me.
"Save you fellows a trip." was his comment as he reached out a hand to touch both Max and me. As soon as his fingertips rumpled my suit, I was under an overpass. Three t-ports in as many minutes. I'm going to have a word with my PO. I want to go back to installing alarm systems. Nobody t-ports you in that line of work. You don't see a lot of dead bodies in the alarm business either. In the Hero biz, you get dead bodies inside of five minutes.
"Yo fellows, a clue. Too bad he's dead"
Max and Eluder took a look were I was pointing and saw the body wedged into the framework of the overpass. It used to be a teenage boy. A wannabe street tough by the looks of the leather jacket and the $150 sneakers. The really disturbing bit was his missing stomach. Just a hole torn through his T-shirt. Somebody or something had made off with his guts. From the right angle, you could make out his spine through the hole.
"Wow! When did it happen? According to my watch, we haven't lost any time since Q zapped us." The edge in Max's voice showed he wasn't used to dead bodies either.
"Not when, but where, is the proper question." Spellweaver put in. The Sherwood Forest rejects had reached us by then. "He sent us through a rift. We're in a different Boston now and it doesn't look pretty."
"Except for the lack of people, everything looks normal." Quick on the uptake. Gotta give Eluder that. "Let's head back to our HQ. Something of this size would have been reported there."
I remember my PO mentioning that at least one of these bozos could fly. Well, I can't. Don't t-port either. I spotted an alternate mode transportation a few blocks away.
"Let's drive." I said. "We can check things out along the way without attracting too much attention."
I headed off toward our future Heromobile, the others followed without resorting to t-ports or flying. Not even a nuclear powered skateboard.
A quick check showed that the Heromobile, a Dodge Caravan if you want to get picky, didn't have any obvious alarms. Q was nice enough to send my picks along, so I was able to open it up just as quickly as if I had a key.
As everyone was climbing in, I decided to look that part of a resourceful adventurer. A little concentration and presto! No more Norm, the ex-con, but adventurer and hero to millions, MacGyver.
Max happened to be sitting in the front seat by then. He observed my changing act.
"Christ on a Crutch! How did you do that?"
"Give it a rest Max. You didn't bat an eyelash over Eluder popping all over the place. Why should this bother you?"
By then I had the ignition wires in hand. A few sparks later, the Heromobile was started and ready to go. I pulled out onto the street and headed for our HQ building in Watertown.
What we saw on the way wasn't pretty. I had to drive around crashed cars, and in a few cases, bodies. Some were pretty ripe. What ever hit this place, hit it fast, and kept on coming. To add to the weirdness, the street lights were still functioning. As we drove past an electronics store, we could see the TVs in the windows showing the regular afternoon soaps.
"Hey Max, turn on the radio. If the TVs are working, the radio should as well."
"Good idea. Hey! BCN is broadcasting. But what is Chuck doing on at 3:30 in the afternoon? He's the morning jock." Lacquidara was indeed spouting his usual drivel. At least Tank wasn't reciting the Globe's sports page.
"Well, let the man speak!" Robin Hood didn't sound very happy.
The radio was just the standard. Music, commercials and mouthy DJ's. The senery didn't get any better either. The ride to Watertown was quiet. I guess we were all still in shock over the magnitude of what had happened. The city of Boston has over one million daytime inhabitants. We had yet to see one alive.
The silence continued till after I stopped the Heromobile by the front door of our HQ building. Max hopped out and stared back at us.
"Come on you stiffs! Let's show some life here. Someone has to."
We all piled out of the van and headed toward the door. There was a feeling of dread about the group. I felt like were about to enter some alien artifact. The time for MacGyver had past. I shifted to Mr. Sulu. He always beamed back up alive. The change got a strange look from Forrester, but that's it. I've got to try harder.
Our office space was empty. No sign on the door, no furniture inside, nothing. Even the lights didn't work. A quick run downstairs showed that we weren't even listed on the building registry anymore.
So we decided to go downtown and look for clue. We figured the Pru would be a good start.
Max asked if I could do anybody.
"Ya. As long as I've seen 'em."
"Ok, do Chuck Berry." Max has decent taste in music, but needs to get out more. I make the change. He looks closely, then whistles. I shrug and keep driving.
Then we saw our next clue. This one was alive. Moving quickly across the street was a hunched figure. My co-pilot, Max, had spotted her as well.
"Slow down! There's a live one! Looks like a CENSORED bag lady. Let's nab her and ask what the hell is going on"
"Norm," said Eluder calmly. "Please stop right now. I can get there faster."
He got a nod in reply as I applied the brake. As soon as the Heromobile
stopped moving, there was a popping noise behind me. In front of me was
the Eluder standing by the bag lady. The Heromobile's doors opened as the
rest of the group piled out to join in the glory of capturing a bag lady.
As for me, someone had to watch the car.