Hey, who wants to read part of the first chapter?
Chapter One: I Hate Waiting in Line
I’d just pushed my way through the revolving door when I heard a snicker. My first instinct was to give someone a smack for the disrespect, but seeing as I was in the St. Louis city central police station, I decided to forbear. It wouldn’t exactly set the right tone.
“Hello,” I announced. “I’d like to turn myself in.”
“End of the line,” the functionary behind the glassed-in desk said. There was a short queue of people standing before her. I went to gently nudge aside the sweating man at the front and he said, “Back off, fruitbat!”
“I don’t think you understand.” I tried very hard to be patient, and to display my patience. “I’m Sinner. The supervillain? Perhaps you’ve heard of me?”
“All I see,” he snorted, “Is a pansy in a purple suit acting the nutjob and tryin’a cut in line.”
“Everyone will be seen to in order,” the woman said, not looking up from her computer monitor, raising her voice authoritatively but with a tired note. She was sick of this, I’m sure, and who can blame her? No doubt she saw more than her share of cranks, weirdos and impostors.
“I can do this,” I explained and, running a finger through the inch-thick bulletproof plastic, swept a circular hole in it as easily as you’d pop a soap bubble. The hidden layers of plastic fluoresced purple, as matter always does when I disintegrate it.
The policewoman screamed. The sweat-hog dropped his forms on the floor and fled, shoving a woman aside on his way to the revolving door. Other people started shrieking and fleeing too, pressing back against the walls, lunging into the bathrooms, cramming themselves in the chambers of the rotating exit, which clearly wasn’t spinning anywhere near fast enough for them. Then there was a brief pause before patrolmen bubbled out of the back—not rushing, but emerging in a resolute, steady stream, guns drawn and aimed.
“You won’t need those,” I said. “I’ve come to surrender.”
“Yeah right,” one announced. “Keep your hands where I can see them!”
“They are where you can see them.”
“And keep ‘em there!” he barked, as if he’d adroitly defeated me in a battle of wits.
I sighed and turned towards the nearest cop, who backed up a step and aimed at the dollar sign on my chest.
“Gentlemen,” I started. “You know bullets can’t harm me. You know this. You’ve seen it on the television. I’m not going to hurt you. Honest. So really, let’s put the guns away before one goes off and wings a bystander. Doesn’t that sound like a good idea?” My tone sounded inane even to myself, the falsely upbeat voice most folks use when offering a hand-sniff to an unfamiliar dog.
One cop, older and stouter, holstered his weapon and produced a pair of handcuffs. Then he paused.
“You could just break these, couldn’t you?”
“Would you feel better if I had them on?” I asked.
“Well… it is part of the arrest procedure.”
“Go ahead.” I held out my wrists.
“I’m placing you under arrest for the murder of David… David…”
“Stansfield,” I prompted. “You might as well arrest me for Hugo Specktor too.”
“I guess we’ll have time for all of them, if you’re really surrendering.”
“I prefer the sound of ‘voluntarily remanded into custody,’ thanks,” I said. “Doesn’t have that… mm, that implication of a spiritual defeat, you know?”
He gave me a slow blink. “I’m Sergeant Goodall,” he said. “You have the right to remain silent.”
# # #
The next phase was not very pleasant. A man with gray hair, black skin and a doubtful expression took inventory of my possessions.
“One helmet, purple… one belt, black, with six pouches… one smartphone, black… $400 in twenties… one pair of gloves, black… one keyring with six keys… one finger ring…”
“Careful with that. Behind the amethyst, there’s a tiny needle coated with a neurotoxin. It won’t kill a grown man, but it’s fast acting.”
He looked up, his eyes cowlike in their weary disbelief.
“I’m not kidding,” I said. “I shaped the amethyst to cover it. As a weapon of last resort I could dissolve the gem and…”
“So you figured a needle in a ring would work where disintegration wouldn’t?”
I looked down. “I was kind of young,” I muttered. “But, um. Yeah. I mean, there’s a reason I never used it, I suppose.”
“I’m going to send it over to evidence as a concealed weapon,” he said sternly. “C’n I see them boots?”
I pulled them off and handed them over. He examined them for some time, possibly with a metal detector before nodding. “No laces, that’s good.”
“Yeah, those are just boots.” I’m a half size, so it’s hard enough to get comfortable footwear without trying to hide stuff in the heels or whatnot. He returned them and I put them back on.
I then turned my attention to my intake form. When I turned it in, I had to apologize to the clerk for leaving so many boxes blank.
“We get that all the time Mr… Lear?”
“You can call me Sinner.”
“Please hold this number by your chest, Mr. Lear.”
I was photographed, front and side, trying to keep my face neutral. It seemed quite possible that my mug shots would wind up in the papers. I didn’t want to look beaten, but neither did I want to seem snide or smug.
They tried to take my fingerprints several times before they accepted my explanation that I had none and no idea why not. Their antimicrobal soap and coarse paper napkins weren’t up to the task of getting the ink off my fingertips, but it was a simple matter to de-adhere it and leave my hands spotless.
Next up was a strip search, louse inspection and a cold shower. The less said about that, the better. Getting back into my trademark purple bodysuit wet would’ve been quite a task (their towels were as substandard as you’d expect) but, again, I fell back on superpowers. In many ways, it’s the little things that make matter control worthwhile.
Cleaned, presumably disarmed and back in the remainder of my uniform, I was brought back to Sergeant Goodall, who led me to an interrogation room.
I expected his first question to be about the details of my career, or possibly some legal issue about waiving my right to an attorney’s presence, but in fact we sat down in an enclosed room, each of us on either side of a plain wooden table, and he said, “You want some coffee?”
“It’s really good here now,” he said. “The coffee used to be terrible, but now we’re having it brought in. Quality stuff. I was just going to get a cup myself.”
I gave a little smile. “I’ll have a decaf then. Thanks.”
“I’m going to have to lock the door,” he said.
“I understand.” We both knew a sturdy deadbolt would slow me down, but not much. The cuffs were still on, too. While I waited for Goodall to return, I decided to free my right wrist. It was uncomfortable.
“Is that hazelnut?” I asked, when he returned.
“That’s all they had left in decaf. You take cream or sugar?” he asked, filling his own cup with nondairy creamer and sugar-free sweetener.
“I see you slipped the cuffs.”
“I tried not to damage them.”
“It says here your name is Hector Lear.”
“It was. I’m Sinner now.”
“Okay. Sinner. Tell me about Officer Stansfield.”
# # #
I sat in that interrogation room through three cups of decaf, (one bathroom break), a banana and a nice meatball sandwich from the sub shop down the block. I started off talking with Sergeant Goodall, but quite soon a detective let himself in. That one’s last name was Ellingboe—I didn’t catch his first.
He folded his arms and leaned in the corner, glaring.
“You’re Sinner, huh? I thought you’d be taller.” He turned to Goodall. “How do we know this smartass is even the real deal?”
“I’m pretty sure…” Goodall started, but didn’t get a chance to finish before I’d crossed the table, seizing Ellingboe’s gun and shoving him back until he was pinned. His eyes widened as I put my left foot on the wall beside his arm, pushed off, flew across the room and adhered to the corner opposite, up against the ceiling.
“Look,” I said, pressing the muzzle to the top of my head.
“Don’t!” Goodall cried, on his feet, quick for a large man, but I pulled the trigger. Then I took the safety off—an embarrassing oversight, that—and shot myself in the head just as the door slammed open and more uniformed officers forced their way in.
Needless to say, I didn’t answer any questions for a little bit.
To his credit, Ellingboe’s first action was to bellow “Don’t shoot!” I smiled and gently tipped the gun down, letting the deformed shell rattle out of the barrel and hit the floor.
“I’m putting the safety on now,” I said, and did. “Mr. Goodall, if you’d be so kind? Sergeant, I mean.”
He slowly approached, eyes wide and face pale, but his hand was steady as he took Ellingboe’s gun out of my hand. Ellingboe, on the other hand, was crimson.
“Stand down!” the detective barked, and as the officers hesitantly complied he said, “Get out! It’s… just clear the room. You too, Goodall.”
This surprised me. When we were alone I tilted my head to the side. I was still looming in the corner, like a spider in a web, looking down at him.
“What’s this about, Sinner?” he asked, visibly seething. I dropped to the floor and he flinched.
“May I sit?” I asked.
“I think you’ve made it clear you can do any goddamn thing you want!”
“I’m trying to comply.” I couldn’t help smirking as I said it. An odious habit, I know.
“The hell you are.” Ellingboe was lean, racially ambiguous, with the drawn features of a patient man stretched to his limit. “What’s your game? You going to come in here, brag about your crimes on tape, then kill your way out when you get bored?”
“Why would I have to kill my way out? I could just disintegrate walls until I was free. Or doors. Fire exits have to be clearly marked in public buildings, don’t they? Isn’t that some sort of… zoning regulation?”
He paced back and forth, hands behind his back. Then he stopped and turned. “Javelin’s on her way here, you know.”
I felt my shoulders slump a little. “No,” I said. “No she isn’t. Though I reckon you can count on the Cephalopod and Probe-5. I’m sorry Detective, but Javelin’s dead.”
He didn’t back up, but his posture shifted away from me.
“That’s a lie.”
“No. The Black Marvel… killed her.” Not the most factual truth, but I didn’t want to get into complexities.
“I don’t believe you!” Like a child throwing a tantrum, Detective Ellingboe spun to the door and slammed it behind him.
Five minutes later, Goodall came back with the banana and the meatball sub. “The armored car in 2009, outside Cincinnati,” he said. “That was you?”
“Me and Egghead,” I said.
# # #
The next time Detective Ellingboe entered, he had a woman with him.
“Mr. Lear? I’m Julia Cramer, your attorney.”
“I assume the court appointed you?” I asked, standing to take her hand.
“I’m not sure your services will be necessary,” I said. “Oh, would you…?” I gestured to my chair. She laughed.
“A regular gentleman, I see.”
“Goodall, grab a few more chairs, c’mon,” Ellingboe called through the doorway.
“Even if you intend to plead guilty to all charges,” Ms. Cramer continued, “It’s a good idea to have an attorney present. Just to… properly file affidavits. Make motions. That sort of thing.”
“You weren’t afraid to shake my hand, were you?” I asked.
She tilted her head to the side. “I’m not going to say a few worries didn’t cross my mind,” she admitted. “But what would be the point? I mean, I’m here to help you out, what’s your motivation to rip my arm off?”
“Don’t let the charm fool you,” Ellingboe said as Goodall re-emerged. “He’s admitted to three murders already.”
“And six counts of mayhem. That’s all of them, I assure you,” I said.
Cramer’s chair grated across the scuffed linoleum. She was a chunky woman in a poly-blend pantsuit, a sort of lavender gray number over an ivory blouse. Little enamel earrings and a matching pendant. Double chin, tired eyes and a bob haircut. I liked her right away.
“It’s turning into a media circus,” she said. “There’s a lot of reporters out there, and once their stories hit the web and the evening news, you can expect a crowd. Maybe a mob,” she said significantly. “I’d like to recommend you be moved, in the interests of safety.”
“Whose safety?” Ellingboe asked. “Your client shot himself in the head at least once today.”
“You surely don’t think people would riot trying to free me, do you?” I asked.
“Mr. Lear, you’re a self-confessed member of the Night Syndicate,” my attorney said. “I’d be more worried about them trying to lynch you.”
I glanced at Ellingboe. “If that happens, Detective, you might want to just fall back and let them have me. I’ve been mobbed before.”
“That’s Cider Falls?” he said, giving me that skeptic head-tilt again. He unfolded his arms long enough to consult his clipboard of notes. “Five assaults, one act of mayhem?”
“This time I won’t fight back,” I said. “I’m sure they’d get tired eventually.”