Act I: Origins
Chapter V

Dick was washing his hands when they arrived at his apartment; he was still washing his hands nearly five minutes later when the two decided to take a seat in the kitchen. Typically, his place was kept the cleanest out of the group, but today seemed to be an exception. They liked to joke that he suffered mild OCD. Dick never laughed.

Finally satisfied with the amount of cleaning his hands received, Dick focused his attention on his two friends. He rummaged through his bag, produced his iPad and a folder of paperwork, and then placed them neatly on the table. The two visitors just stared blankly at him.

Dick cleared his throat dramatically and spoke, "Alec, how is your head, dear cousin?"

Alec glared at the obvious tone in Dick's voice and the subject of the question. "It's fine, of course."

"That's good, because I'm about to unload a massive load of shit on you. Not literally, of course. On my iPad here are photographs I took at the hostage-robbery-thing at the mini-mart in downtown. Look at the destruction on that. Look at the two bodies – sorry if you're squeamish but they're both dead."

"Don't worry about it, I've seen dead bodies before," Alec assured him.

"That's great! Well, it's not great, but you know –"

"Dick," Alec sternly interrupted. "The point, please?"

"The police report – located to your right, it's in chronological order so if you open it please keep it together – says that those two men and the destruction on the wall was caused by a misfired bomb. But I was there, and there was no bomb. Nothing. Not even a firecracker," Dick explained.

Alec briefly stared at the massive amount of text in the folder, and then turned his attention back to the photos. He pushed them over for Charlie to look at. She appeared to be a lot more concerned than Alec, and after quickly skimming through the report said, "They lied? Why would they do that?"

Before Dick could answer, Alec asked, "So what did happen?"


Silence. They waited for him to explain. Annoyed, Alec questioned, "James, what?"

"James happened. He broke the concrete wall. He killed the two guys," Dick said.

"You're fucking joking," Alec said. It wasn't a question; he meant for it to be a statement, because he couldn't handle it if Dick was being serious.

"Look, man, I'm straight and sober right now, alright! I know for a fact what I saw last night! And if it's true James got those pills from the military, who knows what kind of cover up we could be exposing? It would explain the weird attack that happened to us last night and the fact the police lied!"

Another round of silence hit the group. Dick needed a chance to breathe after cranking out so much wordage in one breath. It was broken when Alec said, "Physically speaking, what we think we saw isn't possible. I'm sorry, Dick, but it's the same thing with whatever you think happened with James. It couldn't have happened."

A loud beep at Alec's waist shut everyone up. The radio attached to Alec's belt screeched, "All units respond, two-four-six in progress on West Canal Avenue, multiple victims."

Almost immediately, a loud whine from Dick's scanner echoed off the walls of his apartment and a similar message hit their ears. Alec grabbed his jacket and was halfway out the door before he said, "I have to go. I'll meet you back here!"

The two watched as Alec skipped out with a small wave. At the sound of the door closing, Dick let out a loud sigh. He took the chair that Alec had previously occupied and propped his head with his hand. A comfortable lack of dialogue set in between Dick and Charlie. She occupied herself with the impressive amount of data Dick had managed to procure in a short amount of time. Her curious attitude perked Dick's interest.

"So, how are you holding up?" he suddenly asked her. She stopped rummaging through the reports in order to make eye contact, but no response was given. His lazy stare made it almost appear as though he didn't care, but she knew it was a genuine inquiry. Afraid she didn't understand, he clarified, "You were – well, you know? – attacked. The rest of us were completely done. Out cold. You're not worried or anything, are you? You can sleep alright?"

She loved him because of moments like this. He was the caring little brother every girl needed; he was the first to stand up for her or rush to her side when she was hurt. It wasn't done out of any romantic inclination. He worked hard to protect her because he understood her place in their small group. He knew that James and Alec were too emotionally attached to see things clearly whenever she was involved. She truly appreciated his existence at times like this.

With a smile she finally answered him honestly. "Physically I'm fine. It hasn't been easy, though. I want to know who they were and why we were attacked. Why can't I remember anything? I guess I'm worried they'll show up again."

Without thought or hesitation he reached out to grab her wrist. The movement caused her to let the iPad slip out of her hand. The impact of it crashing onto his table didn't seem to faze him. She allowed his hand to fold into hers, and he gave it a reassuring squeeze. He said, "They won't. And, what if Alec is right? What if this really is all in our head?"

"Do you think it is?"

It took a beat for him to speak again. "I don't think so. But, I'll be honest for once – not that I'm a liar, but I like to extend the tale for entertainment's sake – it's hard to imagine things like that really happening. That's the stuff I daydreamed about in school. It's not reality. Maybe I've just gone crazy."

She smiled again, but this time it was a different type. Before, she had smiled to give herself confidence in her own words and to pass that on to him. This time, it was a sad slip of the lips; it curled itself back down almost immediately.