Friday, November 07, 2008

"Never Special," Pie, pt. 1, 497 words

It's been months since I last answered my phone. I never canceled the service, but the fact of the matter is, I don't use it anymore. I've got a cell phone, but the only people who have that number are Lucila, a couple people like Iron Will and Aegis, and a bookstore that I occasionally order something from. My landline phone's still plugged into the wall, but I turned off the ringer and let the answering machine get everything. Occasionally, there's something useful, that I actually want to hear.

Occasionally.

I don't get too many crank calls anymore, at least. Still, there's a surprisingly large number of people out there, in Grey City and beyond, who feel the pressing need to talk directly to a "superhero" about... anything, really. And I'm one of the few whose number they can easily find.

So I'm only just waking up, lying there in bed and wondering whether to face the afternoon because I don't have to be up for a few hours yet for my new job, when I hear a familiar voice leaving a message on the machine. I can't make out the words, but I know that voice.

My sheet and blanket collide with the wall hard enough to dent the plaster as I fling them off and leap out of bed. Despite my greater-than-average speed, though, I'm only in the next room in time to hear that soft, nervous voice say, "Goodbye." I snatch up the handset to dial tone and nearly break it in surging frustration.

Eleven messages on the machine already. I keep hitting the Next button until I get to the latest one. "Ms. Park," Ned begins, his voice tinny on the machine's cheap speaker.

And I'm not sure what his message actually means. Pier 9? Well, it was Pier 16 where he held Lucila hostage a while ago. Does he really want to hang out so close to that? Or is he telling me something else, with the suggestion of tea and pie? The diner where we always met up after our playacting and practice, perhaps.

Nine to twelve, though. That's a three-hour window. Even if I guess wrong on the first try, that's plenty of time to check half a dozen places easy before he leaves. I still have to figure out what I'm actually going to do once I see him, though.

I mean, it's been almost a year since I last even talked to him. We've met a couple times since then, but it's not the same. I don't know whether I want to hug him or hit him, kiss him or arrest him. Okay, maybe not kiss him, I admit guiltily, because it wouldn't be right or fair at all to Lucila to let myself get swept up into my old crush on him. The only thing I know for certain, though, is that it'll just be him and me.

It can't be any other way. He's my nemesis.

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