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Friday, May 25, 2018

Microstory 850: Relative Majority

Even before he was elected, I knew that the mayor of this fine city was corrupt, but nothing could have prepared me for the whole truth. He took money from people he shouldn’t have, promising to return the favor with unethical preferential treatment. Of course, as any good married Christian man, he also spent a lot of time sleeping with people who were not his wife. Now, normally this wouldn’t bother me so much. I don’t personally care what a political leader does on their own time. It’s only when those extracurricular activities begin to have a negative impact on their constituents, and the area that they’re meant to be serving. During my research, however, I uncovered that the mayor used campaign contributions to pay off his primary mistress—which is a sexist term I don’t particularly like, but also the one the mayor himself used to refer to her—so that she would keep quiet about their affair. Evidence suggests that their relationship has been over since the night of his swearing in ceremony, but that doesn’t mean he’s passed the statute of limitations. I’ve recently learned that he has taken up a new extramarital relationship, this time with a man who lives thousands of miles away. What’s strange is that there is no paper trail showing that that he travels there regularly, or that he’s ever been out that way at all. After all, his business is with the city, he has no reason to go all the way to Kentucky. I spend weeks trying to figure out how he’s paying for shopping sprees on a secret account in Bowling Green on a Saturday afternoon, then having dinner with the Somerset comptroller’s family that evening. It should take at least eight hours to fly from one city to the other, and that’s assuming there’s an airstrip close enough to each location. I hire a private detective in the Bowling Green area, which as an investigative journalist, I’m not keen on doing, but I can’t be in two places at once. The mayor, on the other hand, almost can. He’s a speedster, like you find in comic books, except that he’s real.

I don’t know where he got his speed, or what he does with it when he’s not just off to see his lover, but my instinct is to confront him on it. Sure, I have proof now of what he can do, but if revealing his secret identity puts innocent people in danger, I can’t take that risk. I have to understand him myself, and if that means being pushed into a wall going a thousand miles an hour, then I just call that an occupational hazard. Unfortunately, I’m not the only one who knows what he can do, and I wasn’t exactly able to be choosy when it came to finding a P.I. who works on the other side of the country. He flies up here, and interferes with my plan, deciding the best course of action is to kidnap both the current paramour, as well as the earlier mistress, and make the mayor choose which one he’ll save. As the detective and I calculated together, he’s fast enough to make it all the way to Bowling Green before a supposed bomb goes off if he leaves right away, but not if he has to spend precious time searching Somerset for the mistress. As he races off for Kentucky, I use my own investigative skills to find where the woman is, and try to rescue her myself, but my former business associate just kidnaps me too. After his watch begins to beep, the kidnapper looks at it in horror. “He’s not that fast,” he says. “He shouldn’t be so close already.” He takes out the detonator for our building, and heads for the exit, apparently deciding to cut his losses.

Before I know it, though, a blur of light bursts into the room, and I feel myself being lifted from the ground, still tied to my chair. Adrenaline pumps though my veins, and time begins to slow. I can feel the heat around me, and see the fire rising from the explosives. We don’t make it all the way out of the building before a flash of purplish light overcomes my eyes. When it dissipates, we’re all the way on the other side of town. My skin is still scalding hot, and itchy. My clothes are seared, and in rags. The mayor is trying to catch his breath, and the other two of us are vomiting from the trip. He makes sure we’re both well enough to stand, then he zips away. He returns seconds later, holding a newspaper from a hundred and fifty years ago. He guesses that he ran so fast, he sent us back in time, but he doesn’t think he’ll be able to do the same in reverse, so he takes out some futuristic gadget, and makes what appears to be a phone call. We find an abandoned building to hole up in while we wait for who he calls his future mentor. He hasn’t even bothered asking who I am, or why I was kidnapped as well. He almost acts like a hero, like maybe I haven’t read him right. But no, I have. He’s as bad as they come, and the fact that he saved me at the same time says little about his character. The next day, a creature walks into the building, and greets the mayor like they’re old friends. “I’ve found you a subliminal ship,” it says to him. “I’ll send you on a trip seventy-five light years away, and program it to turn around and head back after that.” When I question what we’re supposed to do for a hundred and fifty years, he just smiles. “It’ll only feel like eighty days.” Still...this is gonna be awkward.

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