Wally West was the Flash, the Fastest Man Alive, and on this day in particular he was glad of that fact. Man, what with teaming up with Dick and Betty for that outer space case, attending little Debbie Dibny’s christening, and patrolling Central City, I’ve barely had time to crack a book for college, he mused as he poured through a heavy tome. (*) Good thing I can read as fast as I can run. I wouldn’t advise the ‘wait until five minutes before finals to do a semester’s work’ method for anyone else, though. Good thing I have time to reread some of these texts until it all sinks in. Thank goodness the computer held up, too. Last one burned out on me.
He smiled as he placed his paperwork in an envelope. It meant a lot to him to be continuing his education. His beloved uncle Barry Allen, the original Flash, had valued learning over almost anything except for family, friends, and justice. Wally hoped his physics education would one day make him the kind of man Barry had been, both in and out of the red costume of the Flash.
“The remnant of the lottery cash leaves enough to pay off the monthly bills, tuition, and it helps me make sure I can find the time to be Flash without worrying about holding down a steady job,” he said to himself. “Plus, I can show a certain blonde a night on the town.”
He gazed at a photograph of a stunning blonde named Frances Kane. She lived across town and was his steady girlfriend. He could tell she disapproved of his heroic lifestyle, but since she saw how vital it was in his life, she still accepted it.
Poor Frances, he thought. She’s barely come to grips with her own magnetic powers and how they make her a target for creeps like the alien we fought. I hope she can relax tonight and enjoy our date.
He did not realize that his evening would be spent with a young woman of a entirely different type than the demure Miss Kane.
Lisa Snart smiled for the cameras and ran her hand through her long blonde hair. Modeling was easy work, paid well, and allowed the ex-Olympian to travel, but she missed the action. As the Golden Glider, she had been part of Captain Comet’s team of rehabilitated criminals, the Rehab Squad. She had left that team after a foe tried to frame her for crimes she committed while wearing a copy of the Golden Glider costume. (*) Lisa had felt hurt that some of her allies had been all too willing to accept the idea that the attractive blonde had returned to crime.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Captain Comet’s Rehab Squad: The Beginning of the End.]
Her sibling, Captain Cold, had been part of the scheme to lure her back into a life of crime, and this came after her own efforts to offer him a chance to reform had failed; she could not forgive Len for this. She sighed and wondered how Adam Blake was doing. He was better known to the world as Captain Comet, and she’d had romantic feelings for the man of the future, but he seemed to only think of doing good and nothing more intimate. She frowned.
Adam, why couldn’t you put aside that heroic reserve for once and respond to me like any other man would do? she thought, but she knew he had been busy leading his current team of Forgotten Heroes.
She signed a few of her swimsuit posters for some young fans, then drove off toward her next personal appearance location. She would not reach that venue.
The Flash raced through the streets of Central City and smiled. So many locations, from the grand Flash Museum to the small family diner, reminded him of his mentor, Barry Allen. The memories were no longer painful. Healing had begun, and he could accept his loss and enjoy what had been. Funny, for every memory of just having family fun with Barry and Iris, I can also recall a fight with some alien, super-villain, or common thug; still, I would not trade my childhood for anyone else’s, he mused as he rocketed through the streets and casually retrieved a boy’s baseball from the gutter of a nearby building. He wondered if life back in Blue Valley was equally tranquil since his move to Central City. He visited his folks regularly and remained close to them both, but he had realized that Central City needed a Flash more than the peaceful little town in which he had been born.
Wally hurried forward when he saw his grandfather, Ira West. The absent-minded professor was walking along toward the center of town and seemed lost to the world about him. Better help him. He could be lost, thinking about sub-atomic particles and such.
He switched into his identity of Wally West and greeted the old man. “Hello, Grandpa! How’s it going in the wacky world of science?”
Ira beamed and said, “Well! All is well. I did get the oddest call, though. Someone just now has reported that that girl… what’s her name? You know, the one with the blonde hair… has vanished!”
Wally frowned. “Uh, could you narrow it down a bit?”
Ira said, “The Connors? Conway? The college girl who stayed with Iris and Barry a while back. She vanished from her dorm, and her relatives wondered if we had seen her. They didn’t realize that Barry and Iris were… gone. Called me as the only other West who was at home. I’d wager they tried to get you.”
“Conwell,” Wally said, frowning. “Stacy Conwell?”
Later, after returning a call, Wally learned that Stacy Conwell, the pretty blonde cheerleader who had roomed with the Allen family while attending Central State University before heading west for graduate school, had vanished. Her few friends and relations were naturally concerned, since Stacy had always been a paragon of reliability. Wally remembered the older woman as someone he had found attractive and something of a babe. He immediately decided to take an active hand in searching for the comely co-ed.
Stacy was pretty serious about her studies; she would never pull a stunt or just take off without letting someone know. I’d better check out her dorm, he mused as he sped through the campus of UCLA. Nothing disturbed, he mused as he gave her room a look-over. No prints that match any criminal or any improper entry. Thanks to Barry, I have those basic police techniques down pat.
CNN’s attractive Bella Shaw reported an earthquake in Detroit as the Flash exited the student union at high speed. “Better see if I can help,” he muttered. “I never even knew Detroit had quakes!”
In Detroit, the Flash was soon racing up the side of a building to carry several trapped occupants to safety as the panic and chaos grew.
“Easy, honey,” he said as he reassured a small girl. “You’ll be down in a flash with the Flash!” Placing her with her relieved family, he vibrated directly across the rampant faultline.
Got to take direct action, he thought. Even I can only rescue so many people before fires, tremors, and stress cost some lives. I’d better try to halt the quake. This artificial fault-line is the source of the quake. It’s definitely unnatural. His scarlet form dashed back and forth across the line, sending counter-vibrations into the gap until the earth suddenly stopped its turmoil. “No such fault-line exists in this spot. The experts are harping on that even as I speak.”
He glanced at the courthouse clock tower. “Man, I’m late for my date with Frances!”
The Flash received the cheers of the crowds as he raced toward his love. He did not get far before he heard a high-pitched whine. He glanced up as his super-fast perceptions registered a projectile hurtling toward his head. He quickly began vibrating, so it passed harmlessly through him, then he winced as it erupted into an explosion. He created a smothering whirlwind to muffle the damage and frowned.
“The thing was rigged to explode when and if my vibrations came within its proximity,” he said to himself. “It’s a boomerang. I guess I know who attacked me, even if I don’t have a motive beyond pure malice.”
He traced the trajectory to a hilly slope and saw… no one. Boomerang made good his escape, thought the Flash. Of course, he’s used rocket powered ‘rangs before to get away from Barry. He then said determinedly, “Now to get to Frances and explain, then look for Stacy.”
Frances Kane paced angrily. She looked lovely with her golden hair curled and upswept. Her strapless black gown revealed a lot of back, but she wore it well. She frowned as the clock ticked. “Wally, where are you?” she whined.
He suddenly raced inside with a dozen roses and an apology. “Frances, I’m so sorry. A case came up. I need to find Stacy Conwell, Barry’s old roomer. She’s missing.”
She took the flowers and, with some effort said, “I understand. Go.”
“Honey, I really am sorry,” he said, sensing her anger. “It’s just that–”
“Go! I promise I am not mad,” said Frances softly. He kissed the blonde and exited. She frowned, and the metal vase holding the roses slammed into the wall with crushing impact.
She saw the result of her anger and sank to her knees in concern. Tears filled her eyes. “What am I doing?” she said. “Why can’t these powers be taken away?”