Show and Tell (part 9)

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The slow, steady beeping from the monitors that sat by his bed roused Eddie from his sleep. His eyelids fluttered open slowly, and he struggled to focus his eyes. Now that he was fully awake, his senses sharpened, granting him a much wider field of view. To the left and right were two beds, holding Maddie and her mother respectively.

He tried to rise, but found himself unable to move his limbs.

From a speaker near the door, a voice blurted, “Hello there! You’re being held still for your safety, if you’ll just relax, the doctor will be in to see you momentarily.”

Sure enough, the door opened just a few seconds later, and a late-middle aged man entered, followed by his father, who didn’t seem to look any worse for the wear from the mauling he had received.

“I’m Doctor Herrera, and old friend of your father. The four of you seem to have had quite the scrape,” he inspected a tablet, and tapped its screen a few times.

“Son. I’m so sorry,” His father interrupted, “I tried to keep you safe. I guess I failed.”

Eddie pulled himself upright like a marionette using his mind, “Is Mads OK? I saw her…”

The doctor swiped his tablet, scanning the contents, “She’s received some head trauma, as well as a broken arm and leg. She’ll have a full recovery in a moment. She’ll wake when the treatment is complete.

“What?” Eddie blurted, a look of confusion clouded his face.

“Well, son, this is a special doctor, he normally treats  …special patients,” His father said, cautiously.

“Let me release the paralysis,” Dr. Herrera said, swiping back and tapping his screen, “Please refrain from using your powers for now.”

Suddenly, Eddie had full control of his body again, and swooned, but caught himself. He saw that Maddie had begun to stir, while on the other side, her mother lay still, inside an open meshed enclosure containing small machines that raced around on the wires, and casting invisible beams of energy over her wounds.

“It’s too much. I see too much.” Eddie groaned, rubbing the heels of his palms into his eye sockets.

The doctor tapped his tablet. “Please bring a sleep mask please.” Directing his attention back to Eddie, he nodded, “For now, please keep your eyes closed.”

Eddie nodded, and closed his eyes.

“I can still see!”

“Is it as intense?” The doctor asked.

“N-no.”

The door opened, and a cart was wheeled in by a short bald man, “Masks, sir.”

“Thank you, that will be all,” The doctor’s eyes scanned through the various masks, and lit on one. “This will do.”

He slipped the mask over Eddie’s eyes, and tightened it down lightly using its velcro straps, “Too tight?”

“No. It’s fine, thanks” Eddie’s shoulders slumped slightly, but perked up again, “Mads is awake.”

A groan from the bed next to him confirmed this.

“Yeah, Yeah. I’m awake. Unhook me from alla’ this.” She flailed weakly.

The doctor removed the probes and deflated the sheath that held her leg in position as it healed, before removing it.

“You should be fine now. Try to take a few steps.”

Maddie swung her legs over the edge of the bed, and eased herself off gingerly. Her eyes widened, “I’m healed!”

The doctor smiled, “Be more careful in future. Don’t waste my hard work.”

Maddie caught a glimpse of her mother, on the other side of the room and rushed to her side.

“Mom! What did they do to you?”

The doctor cleared his throat, “She’s had extensive damage to her face and hands. Give her another day, and you’ll never know she was hurt. We’re keeping her asleep until then, so there’s no complications with treatment.”

“Mads, I’m so glad you’re OK.” Eddie said, choking up, “You were thrown into the room like a rag doll.”

Maddie frowned, but quickly covered it with a grin, “I got too cocky, lesson learned, but more importantly….” She stared at his father intently.

Jake sighed, “Whelp. I knew this day was coming.”

Eddie stared at him through his mask, “You knew I had powers?”

His father looked embarrased, “No. Well, yes. But no.”

Eddie cocked his head, “One more time, but this time, go with one answer.”

“Ah, well. The powers are hereditary, and either you have them from the beginning, or puberty activates them.”

“Does mom know?”

He looked alarmed, “Gosh no. She’d flip her lid. And it’s gonna stay that way, you got me?”

Maddie held up an arm, “But I know, and my parents too.”

The doctor too this moment to interject, “That can be fixed. We used to have to ‘fix’ memories all the time, back in the day.”

Jake nodded, “So, that’s what brings us to this point in the conversation.”

“Not sure I’m liking your tone, Dad.” Eddie crossed his arms.

“I don’t like it either, but Sue and Ned are my best friends, and knowing this could be dangerous. More to the point, do I really want Ned to be haunted with the memory of his wife being tortured in front of him? It’s has him broken. I’ve been trying to talk him down for hours, and I’ll be honest. It ain’t going well.”

“What about me?” Maddie asked.

“Every hero needs someone to confide in. If you want, you can remember, but it’s a heavy responsibility.”

“I trust her. Always have.” Eddie said, reaching out towards her.

Maddie took his hand and squeezed it tightly, “Make them forget. Can you give them a good night out instead? Something sweet?”

Jake smiled, “Sure. We can do that.”

“Thanks.”

“OK you two, Eddie needs to have some more treatment soon, but if you two want to stretch your legs a bit while we clean up here…” The doctor said, opening the door  and beckoning Maddie’s father who had been waiting outside on an old couch covered in clear plastic.

***

The loud clunk of the vending machine dispelled the silence, he reached into the slot and pulled out the ice-cold beverage. He rolled it against his face, it’s coldness soothing to the touch. He popped the tab and took a deep swig.

“Well, Eddie. Our lives just changed in a weird way.” Maddie said, staring down at her own cola as she sat.

“It doesn’t feel real to me yet. Not really.”

“You mean despite the fact that you can see perfectly clearly when you’re wearing a light-blocking mask?”

He chuckled half-heartedly, “Yeah, despite that.”

“Well you’re a super hero now!”

“I dunno. I don’t feel very super.”

She scooted closer to him a bit, and kissed him on the cheek, making him turn a deep crimson.

“Well you are. Trust me.”

“Uh, thanks.” He took another deep pull on his drink to buy him time while he thought of something cool to say.

“You need a super hero name,” She said, rubbing her head thoughtfully.

“Do I?” He asked.

“You do. I got it!” She exclaimed, standing, “You will be called UnstEddie.”

He grinned, “I like it.”

 

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Show and Tell (Part 8)

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Eddie slammed into the room, startling the principal, who looked up from her bloody handiwork.

Principal Thrope scowled, “Dee! Take care of the kid. I think we’re about to finally have a breakthrough here.”

MissDemeanor nodded, and donned a mask.

“Unless you start seeing things my way, it’s detention for you.” She snapped her fingers at Eddie, sending a series of waves of light at him.

Eddie blinked. Yeah. She was right. His parents would be furious if he got detention. Better to just obey authority, that was safe.

“Yes ma’am,” he said, listing somewhat.

“Good. Now sit down, and be silent. This is a grown-up conversation we’re having here.” She pointed to a chair against the wall.

Eddie nodded.

That sounded like a great idea. He sat down and stared vacantly ahead, oblivious to his surroundings.

The tiniest of niggles wiggled in the back of Eddie’s brain. This wiggling became more insistent when the wall crashed in revealing a muscular man in a flashy costume.

No. Best to not pay it any mind. I might get in trouble.

But the man seemed awfully familiar though.

Ah. I see. He’s pretty angry. But the Principal is shouting something at him. Must not be very important, though, because he couldn’t seem to quite make it out. He’s just thrown a filing cabinet at her.

That niggle is back. This time, it’s back with a vengeance.

The big guy is shouting at me for some reason, but I’d be better off just ignoring him.

Maddie is thrown into the room, and slides to a stop beside Eddie, who looks down at his fallen friend. A brief ripple of emotion crosses his face, then he returns to looking into the mid-distance.

Miss Meanor points at the large man and shouts something very angry and very specific. He seems to have taken it seriously, and staggers a bit. As he did so, the principal leaped on his back, and revealed a mouth full of large –and lengthening– fangs, before burying them in his shoulder, he screamed out in pain, and that brought that persistent niggle to the very front of his mind.

That’s.

My.

Dad.

Eddie leaped out of the chair in horror as his father fell under the weight of the principal.

MissDemeanor gestured at him with both hands this time, but the waves of light crashed against him without effect.

Suddenly, everything came into focus. It was as if his entire life had been lived in a haze. He could see everything in the room in such detail, that it almost made him dizzy. He stared at MissDemeanor and could see into her. He knew what to do.

Reaching out with his mind, he touched her head.

MissDemeanor’s eyes narrowed and began shaking wildly before falling to the floor, trailing a plume of vomit as she went.

He turned to Principal Thrope, who had just realized what happened.  She stopped worrying his father with her bite, and growled at him, her features becoming bestial.

“Down! Bad doggie!” Eddie shouted.

As  he reached out for her head, he saw Helga enter the room, behind him. Raising her hockey stick in the air to fell him, he raised both hands to the air, feeling everyone’s position out.

“Everybody down!”

Like a sack of grumpy potatoes, Helga fell without resistance, but her mother continued to approach, unfazed by the vertigo he had inflicted on the others.

“Get back!” He shouted, and the principal was flung against the far wall.

With a yelp, the principal bounced with a meaty thud, but recovered herself easily and leaped at him, fangs bared.

Reaching out again, he caught her midair and found her jugular, pumping wildly with rage. He squeezed with his mind, blocking the blood flow until she passed out. Releasing her, she fell to the floor, looking more-or-less normal once more, albeit covered in his father’s blood.

Eddie fell to his knees, as a sudden wave of exhaustion swept over him.

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Show and Tell (part 7)

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Eddie paused as he saw Maddie charge down the stairs and around the corner into the basement of the school, and cast his eyes to the ceiling in frustration. She was surely about to get into a world of hurt, but if his father had imparted one thing to him over these years, it was that you never let a friend go into danger alone.

Even when you couldn’t actually fight.

Yes, his father had on more than one occasion suggested –sometimes forcefully– that he join Maddies martial arts classes, but he couldn’t find it in himself to do it. Not that he was a pacifist, it just didn’t feel right. His mother sometimes took his refusals as an opportunity to try to get him to come to the range with her, as she was not only a gold-winning Olympian in the marksmanship sports, but quite famous in the Single Action Sports Shooting competitions. (She had the reputation of being the modern-day Annie Oakley, but she insisted she was better than that, even.) But this too, didn’t quite fit his style.

Despite all of that, he found himself hurtling his way into the dimly lit basement, hot on Maddie’s tail.

***

As she dashed down the stairs, she felt her heart rate raising, and through her training, her vision became sharper, revealing a figure standing at the end of the hall. Through her heightened senses, she recognized Helga, a sixth-grader who was not only the head of the field hockey team, but the principal’s daughter, and she was prepared for company, holding her hockey stick over her shoulders.

“Well Well. Madison, right?” she sneered, “Hope you’re ready for a whoopin’.”

With a well practiced move, she spun the stick off of her shoulders, and into a ready position.

Maddie grinned. She ate bullies like Helga for breakfast. It seemed weird that she had never come up on her bully radar, though. Regardless, she streaked towards her and leaped with a flying front kick, but was dodged easily. It seemed that she may have underestimated her opponent. She spun her stance, and threw a tornado kick.

As her foot arced towards Helga’s head, she interposed her hockey stick in between them, and a sharp pain flowed up her leg and out of her as a shout of agony, her stick was reinforced! She managed to tumble away and back up, wincing as she put weight on her foot.

“This is no good,” she thought, “I think I fractured my leg.”

“Eddie! Get in there, I got this!” She shouted, and advanced on Helga again.

***

Eddie saw the two of them mix it up with a flash of motion, and Maddie come out worse for the wear. Despite that, she still had the swagger to keep fighting. He sometimes wished he was like that, but as it was, he seriously hoped he wasn’t about to be pulverized by a cranky sixth-grader with a blunt object. Taking advantage of the highly polished linoleum flooring, he dove to the floor as he neared the melee, slid past them and thankfully out of the range of that brutal looking hockey stick. Standing, he approached the door and saw the principal reaching back to take another swing at Maddie’s mother.

Taking a deep breath, he pulled open the door and charged inside.

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Show and Tell (part 6)

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Eddie dodged past Maddie, kicking in his full speed as he dribbled the ball, and leaping as he shot. It soared gracefully towards the hoop, but he had imparted a little too much spin as he threw, and it ricocheted away, to be snatched up by maddie, who quickly shot, and sunk the ball.

“Owned!”

“Yeah, yeah. Beaten by a girl. I’m totally used to it by now,” Eddie said, retrieving the ball.

“Naw, you’re not half bad, I’m just awesome. In fact–”

“Shh!” Eddie said, cocking his head.

“What is it?” Maddie asked, straining to hear it as well.

A faint sobbing was heard, followed by a short scream.

“What in the heck?” Eddie set the ball down, and carefully scanned the room.

“We’re the only kids here, right?”

“Uh, probably? The kids who wait for rides usually hang in the cafeteria, but it’s kinda late.”

Another faint scream was heard.

“Gotcha!” Eddie rushed to the far wall, and ducked behind  the collapsible bleachers that lined the walls, quickly followed by Maddie.

“Where does that come from?” she whispered.

“Ah, the boiler room, I think.” he replied, frowning.

“Then let’s go.” Maddie bolted towards the double doors that led out to the main hallway.

“No! Mad! Wait!” Eddie hissed as he chased after her.

As he hit the double doors that closed just as he arrived, he saw Maddie dodge around the corner, further down the hall.

“Mads!” He pushed harder in an attempt to catch her, “Stop!”

He plowed into her as he turned the corner, “Mad, you can’t just charge in, guns blazing.”

He panted heavily, hands on his knees. “I got somethin’, hang on.”

Eddie pulled the hexagonal box from his hoodie pocket, and pressed a button on its underside.

“What’s that?” Nancy asked.

“I snagged it from your dad’s utility belt.” The box unfolded into a small drone. He twisted it ninety degrees, splitting it into two pieces.

“Wow, that’s cool”

“Yeah, I didn’t have a chance to show you yet. Open the door to the basement. I’ll send it in.

Maddie nodded and opened the door quietly, “OK.”

Eddie maneuvered the drone into the doors, awkwardly at first, but then with confidence as he  got used to it, eyes fixed on the controller’s screen.

“Holy guacamole! It’s the principal, and she’s torturing… Ohmygersh, it’s your parents! Mad, call my dad, tell him what’s up.

Maddie pulled her phone from her pocket and tapped the screen quickly.

“Ah! Mister Jones! It’s Maddie, we need help! My parents are being tortured by my principal. No, The cops would think I was pranking if I called. Yes sir.”

Maddie shoved the phone back in her pocket, and ducked as the drone buzzed back through the doorway.

Eddie snatched it out of the air and connected the two pieces with a click.

“Your dad said he was inbound.”

“Inbound? That’s a weird thing to say.”

“Whatever. He’s on the way, so I’m going in.”

“No, Mad! Wait for my Dad.”

“No way. That’s my mom in there.”

She pushed the door open, and turned to her friend, “You coming?”

 

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Show and Tell (part 5)

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The lunch room was chaos, kids were streaming here and there, finding seats with their friends, creating a cacophony of voices which made it hard to concentrate on his lunch. Just as well, he supposed.

It was meatloaf day, which was by far, the worst of the lunch menu. It was rumored that the meatloaf was the remains of lunches past, ground finely and ketchupped beyond recognition. Even worse (and more unbelievable) was that sometimes, students went missing, and found their way into the meatloaf.

“EDDIE!” Maddie slapped him on the back loudly.

Eddie jumped in fright, “Dangit girl, why can’t you just greet me in a normal way?”

She grinned toothily, “where’s the fun in that?”

Eddie rolled his eyes as his companion dropped her tray of mostly-but-not-completely edible lunch beside his and plopped down beside him. He eyed her as she dug into her meat composite cross section with gusto.

“Blech. You want mine too?”

Before he could finish his sentence, she had speared his from his plate and began working on it.

“Hey, I got a text from the ‘rents, we have to have a parent/teacher conference after school, so don’t make plans.” She mumbled around a mouthful of meatloaf and mashed potatoes.

“Aw man. Hope it won’t take too long, If we gotta hang here till it’s done, we might not get any game time in.”

Maddie nodded and shrugged, as she took a pull on her bottle of apple juice. “It is what it is, man. I just hope I’m not in trouble again.”

Eddie raised an eyebrow, “You been fighting again?”

Maddie grinned, “I’m scrappy, what can I say?”

“Bullies?”

“Yeah. You’d think they’d learn by now, they must be new here.”

Eddie snorted, “Mad. You’re ten, stop being a hero, and just enjoy life.”

“Lookit you talking, you’re only eleven, Ed. And only 3 months older than me, don’t get all adult on me,” She shoved the now empty tray away, “besides, I love beating on bullies.”

Eddie sighed, “Yeah, you do.”

***

Susan blinked, and a figure swum into sight as she came to. She tried to rub her aching head, but found that she was tied to a chair.

“Ned!” she called out with her best effort at a shout, but fell somewhat short and only managed a raspy mumble.

Her husband grunted, and looked around. “Sue, what happened?”

“I happened,” Principal Thrope said, her voice full of unspoken threat.

“So. Now that the two of you are awake, we can get started.” She unrolled a cloth bundle, revealing various tools, both blunt and sharp.”

“What’s going on here!” Ned shouted, his voice quavering.

“You and I are going to have a conversation,”  she pulled a rubber mallet from the collection of tools.

“Hey, there’s no need for violence. We’ll tell you whatever you want.”

The principal smiled, as if she was just offered a cold glass of lemonaid. “I know you will. But, in order to make sure you’re telling the truth, I’m going to have to use these,” She wiggled the mallet in their direction. “And to make it effective, I’m not going to use it on you, sir,” She pointed it at Susan. “I’m going to use it on her, and you’re going to watch.”

She nodded and his chair was pulled away from his wife’s and turned to face her.

“Well then, shall we get started?” she paused and lifted Susan’s chin, staring her in the eye, she leaned in and whispered into her ear, “just so you know, this is going to hurt him a lot more than it’ll hurt you.”

 

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Show and Tell (Part 4)

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By the time homeroom rolled around, Maddie’s stomach was growling. She was normally one to sneak a snack, but the whole superhero thing had her surrounded on all sides every time she had a free moment.

Maddie knew that something had just gone wrong, as the crowd around her shut up in unison, and a beat later scattered in all directions, leaping to their assigned seats. Turning, she saw Miss Meanor glaring at her and cringed. Time had taught her that being on the bad side of this particular teacher was a bad idea, not that she was a troublemaker by any means, just that she was perceptive enough to realize what was about to happen, if she didn’t throw some spin into play.

“Well hello Miss Meanor, boy am I glad to see you!”

Her homeroom teacher stared at her, nonplussed.

“Well,” she pressed on “I brought this in, and was hoping we could do a little show and tell.”

The teacher glanced at the scrapbook, and back to Maddie.

She scowled and held her hand out. “I’m going to have to look at it first.”

Beaming, Maddie closed it and placed it into the proffered hand, “Thank you!”

Returning to her desk, she dropped it in front of her and flipped it open. The color drained from her face, and she flipped through it faster until she suddenly stopped, leaped to her feet and clasped a hand over her mouth.

“Madison, are these…”

Maddie grinned, “yeah! They’re my parents!”

Miss Meanor dashed towards the door, but spun on her heel, snagged the scrapbook, and pointed to the class and shouted, “nobody move!” before disappearing into the hall.

***

Miss Meanor threw open the door and rushed into the principal’s office.

The principal, a middle aged woman with a severe appearance glanced up with a dangerous look, “Is something the matter, Dee?”

She nodded quickly, and shoved the book in front of her boss, pointing to the picture that had captured her attention.

“…Is that?”

“Madison Grey. She said it was her parents.”

“Which ones?”

“Does it matter?”

“No. Not really. I’ll take care of this. You get back to class,” she closed the book and passed it back to Dee, who scurried back to her classroom, slamming the door on her way out.

The principal picked up the phone and pressed a button.

“Edna? I need you to call in the parents of Madison Grey, 5th grade. Pronto.”

With a satisfied grunt, she hung up the phone and leaned back in her chair.

“After all these years…”

 

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Show and Tell (Part 3)

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Having figured out the gimmick to make the secret panel close again, the two of them snuck the scrapbook into Maddie’s room, where the two of them pored over its contents carefully.

“I can’t believe it! Our parents were superheroes!” She squealed.

“I know! We gotta show our friends! They’re going to be so jelly!”

“Supa jelly!” Maddie nodded, closing it with finality and shoving it under her pillow.

“Tomorrow then?”

A car horn tooted twice in quick succession.

“Ah! Your mom’s here. Check your place to see if your parents have anything.” She spun Eddie around and shoved him out the door of her room.

“Yeah, yeah. I’m on it.” Eddie waved as he snagged his book bag from the couch and headed out.

***

“Hey Mad,” Eddie said as his best friend slid into the bench of the cafeteria table beside him, “You bring it?”

“You betcha,” she grinned, “Ready to get this show on the road?”

He grinned manically, mimicking her “You betcha.”

A few minutes later, the two of them had a large crowd of students around them jockeying for the best spot to see the scrapbook. Even before the first bell had rung, the entire school had heard about it, which suited Maddie just fine, because neither of them had ever really been the center of attention of anything.

“Hey, Maddie,” Julie whispered, “Are your parents still superheroes?”

Maddie shook her head, “I’m pretty sure they retired, my dad is an IT manager. I can’t really imagine him going out and fighting crime anymore. It’s a career for the young, you know. He’s almost thirty-five.”

“Wow, that’s old.”

“Yeah, but he’s still active.”

Julie nodded as if she had grasped something deep and wandered away.

“Ah, I’ll see you at lunch, Eddie. Gotta get to science class,” Maddie closed the notebook, and shoved it under her arm.

“OK, Mad. I have something to show you too.” Eddie held his fist out, and it was met with Maddie’s, “Later chick.”

***

Mr. Horowicz tapped the blackboard with his pointer.

“And if you move further into the solioquy, you’ll see more phrases that have been taken into common usage. For example, Here, where it says  ‘When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,’ and further down, ‘The undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveler returns’ Who can tell me how these were used in pop culture in the late twentieth century?”

Eddie had only been listening with half an ear, as he had been fiddling with a gadget that he had snuck off of the utility belt of the costume in Maddie’s closet.

“Mister Polowski!”

Eddie jumped up, the unknown gadget tumbling to the floor where it began to slowly unfold.

“Ah, yes. There’s a Star Trek reference there, sir.”

Mr. Horowicz glowered at Eddie for a moment, then glanced to the floor where the device had unfolded to reveal itself as some sort of a mini drone, “Yes, that’s right. Do I really have to tell you that we don’t allow toys in class?

The bell rang, and the class immediately began to leave, causing Eddie to snatch the drone up, to keep it from being trampled inadvertently by his classmates.

“S-sorry! I forgot I had it with me.”

His teacher grunted and dismissed him with a wave, which Eddie gratefully accepted, grabbed his things, and joined the press of bodies heading into the hall.

 

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