by Hitman 44077
It had only been a second or so ago when the Flash saw the thick smoke rising in the sky, but now, thanks to his super-speed, the speedster was already at the scene of the crime. If he had any doubts before about who was behind this latest attack, he had them no more. The burning vehicles and the smoldering bodies of people whose identities Flash did not know made his stomach turn. The fiery message etched at the gates of the oil drilling operation only confirmed his suspicions. But now wasn’t the time for viewing the destruction. Rather, it was time for action.
There’s fire everywhere! the Crimson Comet thought to himself, speeding toward one of the larger oil drums filled with the now-fiery crude. It shouldn’t be a problem stopping this carnage, but time’s limited.
Before Flash could start his assault on the flaming drum, he heard the slightest sound — a human voice among the inferno.
“H-help… someone… please…” the voice managed to cry out before the sound of coughing took over.
“Good God!” Flash shouted aloud, realizing that there was at least one person in imminent danger. I’d forgotten that this place operates non-stop, he thought to himself as he sped toward the area where he’d first heard the human sound. “I’m on the way!” he shouted, hoping that whoever called out could hold on.
He sped into one of the burning buildings and explored the area at super-speed. Though mere seconds passed, it seemed more like an eternity as Flash continued to search for survivors. The only saving grace was that so far the Scarlet Speedster had not come across any more casualties in Firefist’s reign of terror. Soon, he finally located one of the people in the building laying on the ground next to a window on one of the upper floors. Flash tended to him, checking first to see if he was still breathing.
“Thank God!” Flash said aloud before hoisting the unconscious man over his shoulder and speeding him to Central City Memorial Hospital. Entering through the Emergency Room doors, he placed the oil worker onto a gurney and alerted a nearby doctor. “There’s more people on the way, Doctor. Make sure you have enough people staffed,” he said urgently, pointing to the unconscious oil worker before speeding back to the site.
With that, Flash continued his search for survivors. What might have taken hours was completed in roughly a minute — a minute of thorough searching, of locating further survivors, and even locating a few people who, from the looks of it, didn’t have much chance of survival, if they were alive at all. He brought everyone to the emergency room, making sure that the most critical were attended to immediately before heading back to tackle the new priority — stopping the fire before it was too late.
He immediately resumed the task of stopping one of the many oil drums seemingly ready to explode, tackling the one he deemed as the most dangerous.
Using his speed to funnel the flames, Flash sped faster and faster around the drum. However, even as he continued, it seemed that the flames weren’t dissipating. Instead, the drum continued its hellish blaze even as Flash started to notice.
What on Earth?! he thought, clearly puzzled. This fire won’t go out!
Indeed, the fire continued, barely fazed by the winds the speedster was generating. This is insane! Just what did Firefist use?! he thought through clenched teeth. This guy introduces a new trick each time he attacks! But how do you stop a fire that seems impossible to extinguish?
Flash sped over to a fire hydrant nearby, sliced open the nozzle with his hand at super-speed, and contained the rapid flow of water within the folds of one arm while funneling it through his other arm. It sprayed over the oil drum at full force, but it did nothing to stop the blaze.
Let’s see: wind resistant, water resistant — this isn’t good. And liquid nitrogen isn’t an option, either, Flash thought bitterly. And this is getting worse by the second.
The Flash continued his assault on the drum but slowly came to a sort of revelation. I can’t be sure, but it seems to me that whatever Firefist used to create his latest weapon, he may very well have mixed the oil with the substance, he thought calmly. Knowing him, I’d bet on it. And if that’s the case, this whole place could become a bigger hotbed than anyone realizes. I can’t risk this flaming stuff reaching into the drilling areas. And that means I have only one realistic option.
Running just outside the oil dig, Flash sped again, containing the entire drilling operation within the folds of wind generated by his speed. But this time, he had an idea.
Once, I managed to contain the blast of a nuclear explosion within the same folds — first by slowing the blast down by stealing speed from the explosion, then by lending enough speed to accelerate nuclear decay to what I held within the same winds. I can’t guarantee that this place won’t be burned up into nothingness, but it’s better than the alternative, he thought grimly.
He continued his run, holding the flames within his winds while lending so much speed at once that the fires slowly started to extinguish. Some structures survived Flash’s actions, but some had already been beyond repair and simply burned into nothingness. Luckily, as the first of the fire engines arrived on the scene, Flash had finished putting out the massive blaze. He slowed to a stop, even as the firefighters began to attach fire hoses to the fire hydrant right outside the oil dig.
Thank God! Flash thought, viewing his accomplishment. I wasn’t sure how that approach would work. Well, it was a lot better than I thought. Instead of gradually turning up the speed, I managed to force the fire to extinguish itself not by lack of oxygen, but from accelerating the speed of the flame in an immediate fashion. It burned itself out before burning down the entire structure. Even after all this time, I really haven’t used the ability to lend or steal speed all that often. I’m glad it came in handy today.
Seconds later, Central City’s fire chief arrived at the scene. Exiting his vehicle, he glanced at the extinguished structure and, with a sigh of relief, made his way to the Scarlet Speedster.
“We just received word that this branch of United Fuel Industries was on fire, but it looks like you saved the day,” the fire chief said appreciatively. “Thanks, Flash.”
“I’m glad I was able to stop it, Chief Grindle,” Flash said before solemnly motioning to the charred bodies nearby. “Unfortunately, Firefist made his presence known again — more victims in this perverse game.”
Chief Grindle saw the bodies, sighed, closed his eyes, and shook his head slowly. “Even after all these years on this job, I’ll never get used to that,” he said.
“I know,” Flash agreed, turning back to look at the fallen. He quickly turned back to Chief Grindle and addressed him in a reserved anger. “This is ending tonight.”
“What do you mean?” Chief Grindle asked, puzzled.
“Just a hunch I have. I’ve got a guess where this is heading, and I think this guy feels he’s brave enough to try something else. Who knows? I could be wrong, but it wouldn’t be the first time this maniac launched two attacks in a day. And what this guy presented me with tonight has me believing that this may have been a simple distraction,” Flash said calmly. “But I’m not going to accomplish anything standing here. I’ll see you later.”
“Good luck, my friend,” Chief Grindle said, extending his hand.
Flash shook Grindle’s hand and replied, “Thank You.” Releasing his grip, Flash sped off back toward the city, hoping that this time he could outrace the arsonist who seemed to seek nothing short of burning Central City to the ground.
Elsewhere within Central City at the Central City Police Department’s Forensics/Police Science building, a lone figure made her way into the building entrance and hung her winter coat onto a nearby coat rack. Removing her winter cap and placing it upon the same rack, Angela Margolin — with a flip of the light switch — was as ready for the day of work as one could be working nights. However, the expression on her face was one of sheer exhaustion. Clearly, the twenty-something police scientist had seen better days.
She walked toward the small refrigerator sitting on one of the counters within the police lab itself and, after opening it, pulled a can of coffee from within and placed it next to a coffee maker. She yawned, then quickly rubbed the right side of her face as if she felt some sort of discomfort.
Last straw — that’s the last straw, she thought bitterly as she started to prepare the pot of coffee. I’ve done what I could to sever ties with him. And at times, I’ve beaten myself up over this. But this — this, she thought, looking at the cast on her left hand, then once more rubbing the side of her face as she closed her eyes tightly. She reopened her eyes, looking slightly upward, and slowly narrowed them. “I will not live this way ever — ever again,” she vowed to herself defiantly.
Angela finished preparing her coffee, and slowly the coffee began to brew. She calmly walked toward the desk that she used while working on the documents portion of her job and saw, sitting on top of the desk, various papers, files, and reports pertaining to several cases that she and her shift partners were working on. She picked up several organized papers and thought to herself, Looks like Patty and Dean have kept busy. Let’s see what’s new.
She examined the reports and evaluated the aspects that she’d recommended in previous reports she’d filed in regards to these current affairs. One particular item brought a sly smile to her face, something that had been all-too rare in recent weeks. I had a feeling the suggestion I made to Patty would pay off, and it did! Different traces of chemicals, brought to the forefront with some of the newer techniques I learned in school. Looks like some of the cases’ll be brought to a close quicker than expected!
As Angela continued her approach, she heard the creak of a door from behind. The noise immediately brought her back to where she was, and she turned around quickly, speaking aloud, “Who’s there?” Even as she said that, the answer presented itself unpleasantly, but not exactly unexpected.
Paul Margolin stood by the door to the police lab, shutting the door behind him as he smirked. He pulled out a cigarette, lit it, then took a puff. “You know, I couldn’t let what happened earlier just sit.”
Angela grew angry, her eyes and voice matching the anger she was experiencing. She slammed the report down on her desk and yelled at her husband, “Get out, Paul! We’re through! We’ve been through for a long time!”
Paul just stood there, quietly chuckling even as he took another puff from his cigarette. He drew long, then released a puff of smoke before responding. “You know, when you said you wanted a divorce, it broke my heart. You have to know I love you too much to just let you go. And I figured we’d best pick up where we left off. Good thing the science building isn’t completely tied to the station. I’d hate to be interrupted.”
Angela realized the same thing even as the fear within her grew, but tried to address things that her husband had said without showing just how terrified she was. “Love?” Angela said quietly, then shouted again in anger, raising her left arm toward her husband. “Love?! When I met you in high school, it was love. When we married, it was love. When we tried to have children, it was love. When did it change? When?! Do you even know?!”
Paul’s smirk quickly faded even as his eyes narrowed. He spoke to his wife with restrained anger. “You’re sassin’ me again. You know I hate that.”
“Listen to me, Paul — I pledged for better or for worse, sickness and in health, ’til death do we part. Maybe that was a mistake. I love you — I do still,” Angela said as the tears started to drop, “but I hate the person you’ve become — the vicious, violent man who, at no notice, goes off if you even look at him wrong!”
Paul rubbed his moustache as Angela grabbed some tissue paper to dab the tears. “I have always taken a hands-on approach to my affairs. You seem to think you’re innocent in this, but I know what type of person you are,” Paul said with some sort of condemnation.
“What?!” Angela said in shock. “I was faithful, Paul. I’ve been faithful, but I can’t do this anymore, and I won’t do this anymore. You can have the house, you can have it all, but I’m out. I’m out unless you get help.”
The mention of the word ignited the rage that was building up within Paul. “I’m not sick, you stupid cow!” he shouted in anger, lunging toward Angela, who managed to avoid contact by side-stepping her husband. The strong smell of whiskey coming from Paul at such a close distance told Angela enough: that Paul was beyond any sensible reason.
“This isn’t helping, Paul!” Angela said to her estranged husband. “Hitting the sauce is only making this worse!”
Paul glared at the brown-haired woman and pounced again, grabbing Angela and pushing her against the wall. “Stinking bitch!” he seethed as he placed one hand around the woman’s throat and raised his other hand to strike his wife’s face. As the open-handed slap approached her face, Angela managed to raise her left hand up in time so that not only was the blow blocked, but the impact left Paul clutching his own hand in pain, releasing Angela’s neck in the process.
“AAGGHH!” Paul seethed, his hand visibly injured.
Angela saw that she had to act quickly. Knowing that she had a limited opening that could close at any moment — especially with the anger Paul was sure to be experiencing with this injury — Angela made a quick grab for her husband’s gun and pulled it free before Paul could respond. She then aimed it at her husband, her hands shaking in fear. “I told you to leave! You wouldn’t leave me alone!” she screamed frantically.
Paul looked up through the pain and coldly stared at the woman to whom he was married. “I hope you plan on shootin’ to kill, bitch. That’s the only way either of us is going to be single,” he said through gritted teeth.
Angela shook slightly, then yelled back, “I just want to be left alone. I want to be free from you! But I’m not a killer, you bastard!”
With that, Angela made her escape. She quickly raced outside the building to her car and, upon unlocking it, entered, started it up, and took off. Paul got to the door to see his wife drive off. He paused angrily, then started to smile. You think you’ll ever be free from me, Angie? Oh, no, no, no, love. Whatever I have to do to make you mine, I’ll do it. And I have an idea on how to start, Paul thought, glaring at his hand, then clenching into a fist despite the pain.