Saturday, April 11, 2020

Firestorm: Delmar Dupont (Part III)

I struggle to open my eyes. I can see a silhouette watching me from the corner, but I can’t gather enough strength to figure out who it is. I keep working at it, though, and I’m eventually able to confirm that it’s human. Then I can tell it’s a woman, and then I can see her blurry features, and finally, I would be able to recognize her, if we had met before.
“Delmar Dupont, my name is Dr. Mallory Hammer. I’m a choosing one who—”
I sigh. “I know who you are.”
“Do you remember what happened?” she asks.
“I know what happened, but I don’t know why.”
Now she sighs. “Lemme guess, you practiced your latest trick with a comparable-mass dummy?”
“No, that girl couldn’t have been more than forty-five kilograms. I practiced with a dummy that weighed twice that much. It should have been easy.”
She started shaking her head. “It doesn’t matter; it was still a dummy. A living organism—especially a human—is infinitely more complex. Miss Turner has blood in her veins, and electricity in her brain. You’re lucky she’s spawn, or I would have demanded Beaver Haven lock you up.”
“What’s Beaver Haven?”
“It’s a prison for people like us.”
“What’s a spawn?”
“It’s when a salmon or chosen one somehow converts a human into someone who can experience nonlinear time with no further aid.”
I wait a moment. “What the hell is a chosen one?” I can see that she’s not used to having to explain quite this much about our world. I have a time power—well, it’s more like a space power—but I haven’t met a lot of people like me. My abilities are extremely limited, so others don’t have much use for me. I kind of stay in my own world. My knowledge of what’s going on out there doesn’t go beyond knowing that the others exist.
“As I was saying, Miss Turner is strong. What happened to you—if you had chosen a human as your volunteer—would have happened to them, but about ten times worse. They probably would have died.”
A man walks into the room.
“Mr. Demir, I understand you’re upset about your daughter, but this man deserves as much privacy, and time to rest, as anyone else would.”
“I’m not mad,” this Demir guy says. “I heard you through the door, though. Why isn’t he going to Beaver Haven anyway? Why hasn’t The Warden already arrested him?”
“Wardens don’t arrest people,” I point out.
“This one does,” he replies. Yeah, maybe I should recognize that I don’t know what I’m talking about. “He exposed us to the humans just by having a magic show in the first place. Isn’t that enough?”
“No,” Dr. Hammer says. “By disguising his powers in a magic show, he’s actually helping his case. No one in his audience thinks it’s real, even now that he’s done his grandest trick yet. One or two might believe, but not enough to raise concerns on a larger scale. Plenty of people believe in aliens among us, but that barely impacts social practices.”
“Yeah, that’s right,” I say. “I’m just not powerful enough for anyone to worry about what I’m doing.”
Mr. Demir squints his eyes, and stares at Hammer for a moment. “Are there aliens among us?”
She smiles, not expecting such a light question. “Not that I know of; not in this time period. Now, as I was saying, Mr. Dupont requires rest. I would thank you to leave and let him be for now. You can ask him your questions later.”
Now he may be getting a little upset. “The longer he sleeps, the longer my husband is sitting in Beaver Haven. I want him out, so give this man whatever it is you need for him to magically recover, and let us get on with it.”
He starts to leave, but I urge him to wait as I’m finding the remote. I see that I’m in a hospital bed, but this just looks like a bedroom. Once I’m sitting up, I catch my breath. I have to help these people however I can. I guess I owe them that much. “What do you wanna know?”
Demir steps closer. “We need information on someone we’ve heard you met. His name is Austin Miller. No, Agent Austin Miller.”
“Agent Miller, yeah. He came to a lot of my shows, for months. I thought it was weird, because no one else does that. Well, I do have one groupie, but she’s there for a different reason. I’m not that good. I only chose the profession because of what I can do, but I’m lacking a lot of showmanship. I would much rather just be selling insurance, or something. Anyway, this guy seemed like he was studying me, like he knew that my tricks were more than just tricks. I was about to pack up, and move on before I got caught, but then he finally approached me. He said he thought he was one of us, but wasn’t sure. He could remember things happening that no one else can. He can see alternate realities, or something? I dunno. You could probably better explain it.”
“What did he want from you?” Demir asked.
“He could see that I wasn’t anybody important, but he hoped I knew someone who was.”
“Who did you lead him to, Dupont?”
“Ya know, when I was just trying to get my magic show off the ground, this guy who called himself The Delegator showed up. He warned me that there would be consequences if I got too big. He and his people would allow me to proceed, as long as I didn’t try to go viral, or something. I had to keep my act moving, and not making any waves. He told me there were others like us, and offered to put me in touch with your little network. I declined, because I didn’t really care. I still don’t. I’m all right with my life, and I have no interest in getting mixed up in all the craziness I’m sure you people go through on the regular.” I nod over to the doctor. “He gave me your card, in case I ever needed medical attention, but other than that, I don’t know anybody. He didn’t even say you had powers yourself. He just said you treat our kind. Well, I didn’t give her up to the agent, and I didn’t give up the Delegator either. That was only because he didn’t give me the means to contact him again anyway.”
“Who did you lead him to, Dupont?” Demir asks again.
“Oh, don’t be so concerned. I’m just giving you background; not building suspense. You see, the agent wasn’t the first person to come to my show, looking for answers. There was another dude. Wore a button-up white shirt, and a skinny black tie. He looked like a mormon, and he was very interested in basically giving me anything I wanted. He was treating me like a god, and it freaked me out. I almost moved because of that time too, but then he left me alone, so I let it go.”
Dr. Hammer looked confused. “I don’t know who you’re talking about.”
“He introduced himself as Orson Olsen,” I explain. “He doesn’t have powers. If he did, he would be worshiping himself.”
“He worships people with powers?” Demir questions.
“He sounds like a cult leader,” Hammer points out.
“That was the impression that I got,” I agree. “I think he sensed how uncomfortable I was, and also realized I wouldn’t be able to help him, so I never saw him again. I didn’t feel bad about giving the agent his name, though. I don’t know what he did with it.”
“When was this?” Demir asks. “When did you last see Agent Miller?”
“A couple weeks ago,” I answer honestly.
“Where can we find this Orson guy?”
“I don’t know,” I say, also honestly. “I have a picture of him, though. I took it on the sly when he was in my audience.” I grab my phone from the bedside table, and swipe through the camera roll until I find what I’m looking for.
Demir studies it a moment, then shows it to Dr. Hammer, who shakes her head, indicating that she doesn’t know who he is. He takes out his own phone, and double bumps it with mine, to transfer the photo to himself. “Thank you. I think that will be all from me. Don’t leave town, though.” He starts to walk out again.
“I think I have to,” I remind him. “What your daughter did on stage; that was probably too much. I have to move my act to the next location.”
He looks over at the doctor. “Can you keep him in one of your basement environments until we’re sure we’re done with him?”
Dr. Hammer frowns. “That’s not really what those rooms were designed for.”
He lets out an apathetic wince. “You forget, I’m a time traveler. I’ve been here in the past. This is Fletcher House. Those rooms weren’t designed for what you’re using them for either.”
She stands up for dramatic effect. “Yes, they were. The architect knew where history was headed.”
“Please? For Paige?”
It’s obvious the doctor is about to give in. “You’re lucky she’s one of my favorites. You’ll have to clear it with Carmen, though.”
“Who’s that?” Demir asks.
Demir and Paige—who looks far too old to be his real daughter—help me down two flights of stairs, to the most insane basement I’ve ever seen. At the bottom of the steps is a giant bank vault. When they open it for me, I see it’s not a real vault, but the door must have been stolen right from a bank. He called this Fletcher House, which is a name that sounds familiar, but I can’t place it. The first room beyond the vault door contains two angled desks facing each other, but there’s nothing on them. I see four more doors, all of which are closed. This place is real creepy, and I don’t understand who these people are.
A woman is standing to the side, wearing a toothless smile, with her hands holding each other in the front. “My name is Carmen Felt. I’ve been told you need a room. You have three options.” She points to three of the doors. “1987 to 1997, 1998 to 2008, or 2020 to present. The other one is being used for 2013 Saskatchewan.”
I casually walk towards two of the doors. “These lead to other points in time?”
Carmen laughs. “No. Ashlock sends our operative through time by switching bodies with someone who lives there. That individual then waits here, in one of these rooms. We dress it up to look familiar to them, so they’re more comfortable. And when I say we, I mean mostly me. I’m the interior designer.”
I point to the door on the opposite wall to the vault door. “Where does that one lead to?”
She turns to take a quick look at it, even though she knows what I’m talking about. “You don’t need to know that. You’ll be in one of these three rooms. Or, if you would prefer, I can have you placed in one of the holding cells.”
“The twenty-twenty room will be fine, thank you.”
“Is she always so scary nice?” I ask Paige after Carmen leaves.
“I have no idea,” she answers. “I met her when you did.”
“So, you don’t know if she’s single?” That’s an inappropriate thing to ask a teenager I don’t know.
“No. But I’m sure Morse will kick you out as soon as you’re well enough to leave, so it doesn’t really matter. This is a special place, for a special team. Outsiders like us can visit, but not stay.”
“That’s all right. I need to start thinking about where I’m gonna go next.”
She nods. “Well, while you do that, I’m going upstairs to help plan the mission.”
“Wait, you’re going to confront that mormon?”
“That mormon is my responsibility,” she explains. “I’m the one who told him to start a church to worship us. I was a child at the time, but it was still stupid.”
“He’s dangerous.”
“So am I,” she says.
“Wait.” I sigh again. “I lied upstairs. The Delegator wasn’t the only time traveler I met. There’s another one, but I promise I haven’t told anyone else about him. I think I can trust you guys, though, and I know he’ll be able to help, because he used to be a cop.”
“His name is Bran...Kallias Bran.”

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