Doc Tesseract

The adventures of Greg Silverman, retail industry employee, prospective college student and superhero.

Monday, August 29, 2005

A Hell of a Town, Pt. 2: The Fastest Man in New York

So, after getting into costume, I ported back to the Central Park Zoo. I realized I'd look kind of ridiculous standing around waiting for Zulfikar, so I ported on top of one of the animal cages and hid up there, keeping an eye out for him. At around 3:30, I saw a crimson blur running down the path towards the Zoo.

Right on time, I thought. The blur suddenly decelerated, and Zulfikar stood below me.

"'Lo, Doc!" he yelled up. "Y'know, you get a better view of the animals down here."

"Eh. You see one endangered species, you've seen them all," I joked. "So, what's our itinerary for tonight?"

"Well," replied Zulfikar, "I figured we'd go out on patrol for an hour, then call it a night."

"Why an hour?" I asked.

"Because right before sunrise is when it gets darkest," he said. "That, and I've been up for the past twenty hours, and I can't be arsed to stay upright much longer. I mean, I'd usually patrol until 8, but y'know."

I ported down to the ground so that I could talk to him face-to-face. "So, where are we going first?" I asked.

He handed me a photo of a row of stores in Times Square. "How's Fifth Avenue sound?" he said. "Race you there." And with that, he was gone. One second later, I was in Times Square... just in time to see the red blur approaching.

"Good one," he said. "If you'll excuse me." He sped off, then came back a few seconds later. "No crime here," he said. "Now, let's see who gets to Greenwich Village first." He handed me a photo of the statues of the gay couples, and was off.

It continued this way for the next forty-five minutes; we'd go somewhere, he'd do a quick check to make sure everything was okay, and then we'd be off. We ended our patrol on Liberty Island-- "just to make sure no one's trying to blow it up," he said. After that, we just sat on the grass and stared out at the river.

"Look, Zulf," I asked him, "why'd you even bring me out tonight? You seemed to have everything under control."

"I just wanted someone to share my route with," he said. "Besides, the city won't fall down if I take a few minutes to talk with a fellow colleague." He paused. "Listen, Doc, I have to know; after Talin--"

This again. "Look, Zulf," I interrupted, "I'm fine. There was no way to do that without killing him. I've accepted that, and moved on."

"That's good to know. I'm sorry if--"

"Don't be. If anything, I should be thanking you. Sometimes, we have to do things that are difficult for the greater good. You helped teach me that. I'm still going to feel somewhat bad for what happened to Talin. But I just have to compare what happened to him to what would have happened to millions of others. It was an important lesson, and Ahmed... I'm glad you were there to help me learn it."

There was a bit of silence. "Thanks, Greg," he finally answered. "Just don't let it all grind you down, okay? Take a break when you feel it's getting too heavy. No one will blame you."

I laughed. "Good advice," I said. "I should probably staple it to Quint's forehead."

After that, we just talked about stuff: college, politics, some shop talk. When 4:30 rolled around, Zulfikar and I parted ways. I ported back home, changed back into what I'd been wearing before, and ported to an alleyway behnd the hostel. I didn't want to risk waking Will and Reed, did I? So I went into the hostel, walked upstairs, and opened the door to the dorm...

...only to find Will and Reed, wide awake and sitting up on their beds, waiting for me.

"Greg," Reed said. "We need to talk."

Shit.

To be continued...

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