You’ll Never Believe A Man Can Fly, Part 14

Posted: 24 January 2013 in fiction, writing, You'll Never Believe A Man Can Fly
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Chapter Seven (continued…)

“He might very well be dead. I just don’t think that he knows that.”

Doctor Rosemary Clooney’s words hung in the air for a moment, and then she pulled some papers towards her. She scanned some of the pages, discarded a few and then pounced on one sheet. She studied it for a moment and then passed it to Docherty who looked at it carefully.

He read the paper with speed, and then read it again, more slowly. “Ah…” he said at one point, and then carried on reading. “Umm…” he vouchsafed when he was about half way through, and then when he’d finished, he raised his head. A wary and worried look on his face, one hand holding the paper lightly on his leg, and nodding slowly, he offered, “Yes, I see…”

Clooney looked at him and said, with complete confidence, “You don’t have a clue what you’ve just read, do you?”

Docherty stared her in the eye, as if daring her to repeat a base lie and then admitted, “Nope.”

Clooney sighed and took back the paper, attaching it in the file. “All right, we’ve computer modelled the situation that occurred and in my opinion, leaving aside Davies for the moment…”

“Isn’t that a bit like ignoring the elephant in the room?” Docherty asked

“Shut up a moment, ok?” Clooney said and Docherty wisely followed the suggestion. “As I was saying, we computer modelled the event and based upon that and the empirical data…”

Docherty thought that the moment for silence had passed and jumped in again, not caring at the raised eyebrows from Clooney. His voice was deep, slow and dangerous as he asked “What empirical data? I thought that the entire sample had been destroyed.”

“It had been,” Clooney said, “but how do you think we knew the material was mutagenic? We tested it on rats, remember? Well the last batch died, but hadn’t yet been disposed of. The reason I was back in here today was because I got a call from the lab telling me that three of the rats had commenced moving.” She rubbed the bridge of her nose and told him to come around to her side of the desk. As soon as he was there, she clicked on her computer and began playing a video sequence. “The cage you can see is made from steel, with bars one-half inch thick. The three rats were in there purely by chance. We’re lucky they were.”

“What do you mean?” he asked and then fell quiet as he watched the screen. He only said three more words before sitting back down again in shock. “Oh”, “My”, and “God.”

– o –

Luck didn’t come into it, Jordan later thought. It was too perfectly timed to be luck. It could only be fate.

What cannot be denied was that it was an incredibly complex set of circumstances that placed him and Davies at the scene of what could only be described as a tailor made inaugural event for London’s first super-hero.

Suffice it to say that when the two groups of men who were exchanging large wads of cash for equally large wads of drugs met, they hadn’t intended the meeting to end the way it did. A minor disagreement about the quality of the drugs quickly led to a full blown row about one gang trying to con the other. And from there it was just a matter of moments before three of them had been killed; the rest of them were either in the car that was currently racing along the streets of London trying to escape from another car, or in the vehicle that was doing the chasing.

The drivers of both cars decided, on balance, that they’d place their own interpretations upon the traffic by-laws and shot through successive sets of red lights with increasing abandon.

Davies and Jordan were approaching the pizza restaurant when they heard the squeal of tires getting louder. A couple crossing the street with their children at a pedestrian crossing turned in horror and froze as the cars bore down on them.

For Davies, it seemed as if time slowed down. He looked at the cars and somehow instantly gauged the speed they were going. Without looking, it was as if he could see the two adults and three children standing there unmoving in shock. The cars were getting closer and he knew that he had merely seconds in which to act. When he did move, his actions were purely those of instinct. He grabbed the handkerchief from Jordan’s top pocket, without knowing why for a moment. Then he looked at it, had an idea, and two holes appeared in the material. He was already running while placing it around his head, the holes over his eyes, and he felt the material ‘move’ behind him as it fitted itself securely around his head and gripped it. Without conscious effort, he left the ground and flew directly at the family, picking up speed as he did so. He slowed down momentarily as he grabbed them and hoisted them into the air as if they each weighed no more than a bag of sugar. The lead car ploughed through where they had been a second earlier and he memorised the details of both cars as they shot past him. He spun in the air and shot back towards Jordan, putting his passengers down in front of Jordan.

“Stay here,” he said, “I’ll be back.”

And with that he was gone again, flying about ten feet off the ground, following the cars. People stopped and looked in amazement at him but then he was past them. He caught up to the rear car and looked at the tyres.

All four blew instantly and the car slewed before it seemed to be driving through thick tar and slowed to a halt. Another glance at the metal around the doors and it melted, sealing them in the car. He carried on without slowing and reached the lead car. He frowned as a gun was pointed at him and suddenly the gun flew out of the hands of the man holding it. It rocketed upwards out of sight, and at the same instant the tyres blew on the car in exactly the same manner as on the other vehicle. It slowed to a halt and all four doors opened.

Davies stood there, floating five feet off the ground. The three men exited the car and looked around.

“Up here,” Davies called, and then, as each man looked at him, they reacted as if they’d been punched directly in the solar plexus. They went down hard, gasping for breath from paralysed muscles.

Davies felt himself sweating under the outfit, and when he realised what he’d done, his heart starting beating like a trip-hammer. He looked around him at the gathering crowd and then a policeman forced his way to the front.

“What the…?” the policeman asked, viewing the scene. “Come down here!” he called, and Davies thought that of all the things he wanted to do, talking to the policeman and his colleagues all night at the local station was so far down the list, it was actually on a separate piece of paper.

He flew up into the air fast enough and high enough that it looked like he’d vanished from view, then shot back towards where he’d left Jordan, who had by then interviewed the couple. He grabbed Jordan under the arms and flew back to the Ritz, landing in front of the foyer.

The doorman, who’d thought, after thirty years in the job, that he’d seen everything, merely nodded. “Good evening, gentlemen,” he said, and opened the door. As they walked in, Davies felt the cloth loosen around his head and he pulled it off. “Let’s go to the room,” he said.

“OK,” said Jordan, knowing that whatever Davies had planned, what he had in store was a front page story.

– o –

And so it turned out to be.

To be fair, even if Jesus had landed in San Francisco, gotten out and danced naked down Lombard Street commenting on how steep it was, it’s unlikely that The Guardian would have led with any other story.

Davies had already told Jordan what he wished to be known as and it was just unfortunate that the duty typesetter, in the best traditions of The Guardian, gave their corrections and clarifications column the following day the best correction it had ever had. It was quoted on The News Quiz for years afterwards, and was a staple internet bloopers headline for decades.

That didn’t help Ian Davies though when the banner headline on The Guardian’s front page read:

The Pubic Defender:

London super-hero debuts

– o –

© Lee Barnett, 2013

To read part 15 of You’ll Never Believe A Man Can Fly, click here.


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