Story Every Day – Day 6

Did my writing early today. Weekends are always crazy busy around here, and this weekend is no exception. We’ll be having a little Mystery Science Theater Birthday Party for Kevin tonight (I don’t believe it is his 3,000th, though).

A few posts back I mentioned a new character for my superhero universe, Astro Jack. I envisioned him as a Superman-type hero from the ’40s and ’50s. So I thought I’d give him a little chance to breathe. I may expand this into a full-fledged story. It’s only a little over 500 words at the moment.

Astro Jack

Jack Halloway shifted his hat back on his head and leaned down to peer between the warped, cracked boards of the pier. Red-tinted waves gently lapped at the beach below.

“What do you think, Jack?” Jack’s partner, Nathan, stood back a ways from the pier. He had a thing about large bodies of water.

“Definitely something in there,” Jack said. He stood and looked out to the horizon. In the distance drifted a massive freighter. A few smaller ships rode the waves nearby, just private sailboats and yachts. The sun beamed down lazily from a clear sky, a beautiful day for a trip to the beach. Jack reminded himself to bring Susan and the kids here sometime. “I’d bet it has something to do with that freighter out there. Why don’t you go talk to the harbor master, see if they can clear out some of those boats, get people off the beach. Shut everything down. We don’t what this is yet. The water might be dangerous.”

Nathan hesitated. “What are you going to do?”

“I know a guy down here. I’ll get us a ride out to the freighter,” Jack lied.

Nathan didn’t appear convinced, but he nodded anyway. “All right, Jack. I’ll see ya later.” A note of resignation crept into Nathan’s voice. He jogged away down the beach.

Jack sighed. Nathan knew. Or at least suspected. It was bound to happen sooner or later; Nathan was a detective, not an idiot. Jack owed it to him to explain. Nathan’s life might depend on it one day. He didn’t look forward to that conversation.

Jack reached into the water and let the blood part around his hands. It was definitely blood, thick and sticky on his fingers. It washed up all along the beach and stained the pier supports. But there were no bodies. He couldn’t even be sure it was human blood, but there was no time for lab tests.

In just a few seconds he changed, stowing his civilian clothes in a small bag and burying it in a shallow hole in the sand. In Jack Halloway’s place, Astro Jack stood tall, his red and gold cape fluttering in the wind rolling off the ocean. He quickly snapped up the last few buttons of his double-breasted shirt and straightened the stars embroidered on his side. Jack took a deep breath, then leapt from the end of the pier.

He rocketed toward the distant freighter, keeping his speed low enough not to break the sound barrier. He’d want some element of surprise. As he approached the ship, he slowed, keeping close to the water. The freighter’s hull rose a good five stories above the water. The name San Gabriela was emblazoned on the side of the ship. Jack saw none of the activity he’d expect on a cargo ship. Then he spotted the bodies. Dozens of them, floating in the water just off the side of the ship.

Jack hovered close to inspect them. Dark complexions, simple, rough clothes. “The crew,” he muttered. They’d all been stabbed to death. But it wasn’t enough—there had to be some other source of all the blood.