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NEW FICTION: NYSS: post nine-eleven (Chapter 4)

August 16, 2002

Continuing the speculative tale of real-life super-heroes in post 9-11 America...

I raised a protective cerebral shield to guard against psychic attacks. It took less than a second to erect the mental shield, but I’d forgotten—for the slightest instant—I’d forgotten about Barry. It was all the time Al needed to react. Barry’s expression and stance transformed from alert and combat ready to that of an arachnaphobic child who’d been tossed onto a bed of tarantulas. Eyes rabid with fear, Barry ran toward the nearest window and began digging into the wooden boards that had been hammered atop the window frame. He didn’t speak, but his breath was fast and heavy with fright. I reached out with my mind, but Barry’s mind was locked drum tight.
“What did you suspect was going to happen here this morning? Did you think you would ‘get the drop on me’”? Al placed a hand on the two vertical poles. An electrical hum began to build, becoming louder with each passing second.
“This is my home. It is the very source of my strength—my energy. Look around you, dearies. You’re surrounded by gray matter. I’ve harvested the energy of over 100 minds and have harnessed it through this remarkable device.”
The house roared with energy, with raw electrical, cerebral power. The room glowed with light, illuminating the contents of the shelves which were, I saw, containment units in which were stored Emotion-Al’s collection of human brains, each carefully preserved, each floating in a semi-translucent fluid, each connected to electrodes with wires that led to the platform upon which he stood.
Barry turned toward me and spoke, but the words, the inflections, were Al's: “Before he kills you he’s going to have some fun—he so rarely gets to indulge himself in this manner.” He stopped clawing at the windows; his hands were covered in blood—he’d ripped off several fingernails in his panic. Barry began to sob and fell heavily to his knees at which point he started to scratch and claw at the top of his face, across his forehead.
“I’ll have his mind,” Al said. “Best of all, he’ll deliver it to me personally.”
During this time my temples were pounding. I’d blocked my mind from Emotion-Al, but he was still trying to break through the wall. Fighting him on an emotional level was impossible. I quickly changed tactics and pressed a physical confrontation, acting on instinct rather than thought, shutting down my mind to all but the most primitive of commands. I crushed his trachea in a single action, my fingers squeezing and tearing through soft tissue. I tore open a vein and blood rushed out in a fast and steady stream. Emotion-Al’s reaction became one of self-preservation as his command upon Barry’s mind was relinquished. Barry walked toward me. We stood over Al and watched his last, brief moments. I kept anticipating a final, desperate assault. There was none. He simply died, an aging, little man whose denigrations against society would forever outweigh any acts of decency he may have once enacted from within his twisted, tormented soul.
Barry was shaken and bloodied but otherwise unharmed. He turned to me and quietly whispered:
“Aren’t you going to try it?”
He pointed toward black platform; its electrical hum still sang its song of power. I thought about the destructive energy the platform had given to Emotion-Al and then considered how I might be able to harness the energy toward a more noble purpose. I walked toward the dark platform and placed my hands upon the black bars for a moment. The feedback knocked me to the floor. There was such power to be held. But it was built upon the torment of those souls whose minds Al had stolen; it was an anguish unlike any I’d ever felt and it tore through me as if I’d been physically ripped apart.
“We burn it,” I said, “but not before we disconnect those unfortunate bastards acting as its source of power. They’ve suffered enough.”
At 5:04 a.m. we phoned Yevick with the news that Al had been eliminated and that if she could send in a squad to clean up the mess we’d be especially thankful. It was then she told us about the Demolition.

A Change of Plans

“It was supposed to be a simple plan,” she said. “I lost three good agents.”
“What happened?” I asked.
She didn’t answer, but I knew the consequences awaiting me and Barry as a result of her squad’s incompetence. It translated to one simple fact: One more name had just been added to the kill list.
Barry didn’t sleep that morning. He claimed it was due to the pain in his hands—the torn fingernails. But I could see the torment on his face; he was still spooked by what Al had done to him. I considered walking along the outer edge of his mind—just walking—to induce a bit of relaxation. But he’d been through enough, and soon after the 757 was airborne for New York he fell asleep. I didn’t sleep, but stared into the morning sun through a 10” x 13” passenger window that looked as though it’d been drooled upon by a six year old, wondering what immeasurable power might have been like. When we touched down at JFK a few hours later, I felt relieved that we’d burned it all; I’m not sure I could have trusted myself otherwise.

Another Change of Plans

June 17. The magic number was three: Fault Line, Storm Central, and—thanks to the FBI’s blundering efforts—the Demolition. Three was the number and the plan.
Plans change.
“Fault Line,” Yevick said through the speaker phone.
”What about him?” I asked.
“He’s dead.”
“Say that again,” I said.
“He’s dead, BB.”
And suddenly the magic number was again two. I felt relieved, exhilarated. Not because Fault Line was dead, but because it meant that Barry and I would not be his assassins.
Given who he was and the immeasurable power at his command, Fault Line’s death was indeed tragic.
It happened in Boise, Idaho on June 7. Mr. J. G. Jones, age 47, was driving the short distance from his office at the North American Refinancing Company—where he was employed as a loan-fulfillment manager—to his comfortable, suburban apartment at the Commodore Glen. Jones, who his coworkers jokingly referred to as Mr. Drymouth—because of his constant, nagging thirst—had, while enroute, discovered that the glove compartment of his SUV, in which he typically kept a supply of saliva-inducing chewing gum packets, was devoid of all-things Wrigley. As he turned onto Taylor Street, three blocks from his residence, the compulsion to stop and restock his glove compartment became overwhelming. His mouth had reached Sahara dryness. He pulled into the Stop N’ Shop Mart at the corner of Taylor and Francis where he purchased a 24 oz. bottle of ginger ale and six packages of Dentyne Chewing Gum, original flavor. He paid with a twenty-dollar bill.
Standing at the store counter, Jones did not notice the clerk’s eyes as they grew wide with panic. Was indifferent to the heavy, booted footsteps that closed behind him. The shotgun exploded inches behind him, its twin shells entering the top upper portion of Jones’ skull and exiting through the middle of his forehead. Whether Jones had heard the explosion is a matter to be discussed among those in the afterlife. The clerk at the Stop N’ Shop, though bludgeoned with the gun’s butt and robbed of cash and several cartons of cigarettes, survived.
The body of J. G. Jones was positively identified by family members at the city morgue the following morning, June 8. Jones was buried later in the week. Two days after the funeral, homicide detective Robert Ward was contacted by Jones’ younger brother, Dick, who upon sorting through the belongings of his departed sibling had discovered documents he believed were linked J. G. to the arch criminal Fault Line. A detailed search of Jones’ apartment resulted in the discovery of evidence that not merely linked Jones with Fault Line, but proved Jones and Fault Line were the same person. Detective Ward contacted the FBI, and Jones' apartment was throughly searched. The FBI's findings were fast and certain: 1. DNA of Hair follicles taken from Jones' apartment matched hair follicles of Fault Line that were in the FBI’s possession. 2. Several handwriting samples from past ransom notes written by Fault Line also matched hand-written documents found at Jones’ residence.
In addition, the latex uniform typically worn by Fault Line was discovered the following week in an airport storage locker, the key to which had been discovered in a desk drawer at Jones’ office.
Thus it was that Fault Line, who by thought alone could reshape the earth, was undone. Not by a means one might expect, but through a simple act of random violence, an irony that did not escape my thoughts. My mind turned again to September 11 and the irony that so many years of sweat, life, and hope that had been poured into the WTC Towers could so quickly and arrogantly be destroyed. I stared out the window toward the Statue of Liberty, past the Financial District where not long ago the Towers bustled with life. There were heavy clouds on the horizon; storm clouds. Barry walked into the room looking as if he’d just been shown there was no God.
“What?” I asked.
“Storm Central. They’ve escaped.”
The clouds across the river were growing darker and were moving against the prevailing winds. If Storm Central were indeed awake, they were apparently pissed.

The Gathering Storm

Any plans Barry and I may have had to take out Storm Central covertly vanished like grains of sand in a windstorm. I wondered why we hadn’t gone after them first, and why Yevick hadn’t taken them down herself. She, like us, no doubt didn’t view them as an immediate threat. Barry and I quickly reviewed their dossier.

The conjoined twins Sarah and Philip Davidovich were born January 14, 1960, of Peter Davidovich and his cousin Lucy Myer, both of Plainsville, Indiana. The site of his newly born twins was apparently more than Davidovich could stomach. He returned to the hospital the following evening and shot his wife and children before turning the weapon on himself. Lucy Myer died of extensive blood loss and kidney failure; Davidovich died instantly from a wound to the head. The twins underwent 26 hours of emergency surgery and their survival was considered a miracle of the time. Sarah, however, suffered brain damage. The twins were placed under the care of the state of Indiana and were quickly forgotten by all but the most curious of medical professionals.
During childhood Philip developed multiple personality disorder, with as many as seven separate personalities emerging. Sarah’s IQ was 47; she was by definition mentally retarded. The twins bickered often; though Sarah’s frequent outbursts were more a factor of her reduced mental capacity than anything else.
In 1973, at the age of 13, a bitter disagreement developed between Sarah, Philip, and Terrier Rose (one of Philip’s personas at that time—a 19th century whore-beating pirate of the South Seas). The argument centered over a birthday cake being ordered for the twins. Sarah’s repetitive cry for “chocy-chocy-chocolate” infuriated the Terrier Rose persona of Philip. He began beating upon his sister, bloodying her nose and mouth. Eyewitnesses to the event remarked that Sarah “began a series of guttural screams” after which “an incredible wind tore open all of the windows and ripped the roof from the building. Outside, however, all was calm. The skies, cloudless. The trees, unmoving. The storm had manifest inside the room.”1
Astonished, social workers and visitors at the 113 Bell Street home watched in bewilderment as Philip and Sarah spun around the room in mid-air like a carousel ride gone astray. Philip’s eyes were wide with fright; Sarah’s, with bemused excitement. The turmoil eventually ceased at which point the twins were sedated and subdued. Following a series of tests and research at the Jackson Clinic in Lincoln, Nebraska, it became apparent that Sarah possessed an ability to manifest storms upon provocation through an unexplained genetic mutation, a fact that did not escape the cunning, young Philip who began to sow in Sarah’s innocent mind seeds of distrust and fright. Although the twins were kept under constant sedation with IV-administered Ấ-aminobutyric acid (20 mg), Philip whispered to his sister whenever the day’s drug dosage was at its lowest ebb within their bodies. He spoke simple, suggestive phrases that his sibling’s limited mind could process. By day, the twins were the subjects of various research scientists, curious to unlock the secret of Sarah’s awesome ability. Several years passed with no success until it was agreed that the incident at 113 Bell Street should be reclassified as “unexplained phenomena.” The twins were transferred to the Elk Grove Healthcare Center (EGHC) in Elks Grove, Nebraska, on March 1, 1974 where, curiously, they remained sedated. Three weeks later, on the morning of March 23, a violent explosion ripped through the borough of Elks Grove. The explosion was felt by all who dwelled within a 2-mile radius of the EGHC.
Astoundingly, the EGHC had been torn asunder. The twisted, mutilated bodies of the 136 employees and patients within the EGHC were found scattered in the vicinity of the grounds, but no one individual was found within 100 yards of the facility. There was no sign of fire; no burnt embers. There was only unprecedented destruction. Although the National Weather Service reported clear skies in the Elks Grove tri-county area, due to the intensity of the destruction, a tornado investigative damage team was brought to the scene of the disaster. Investigators formed a hypothesis based on the evidence around them, stating that the building had been destroyed from within by a force equivalent to an F-5 tornado. Following a tally of the victims, investigators realized that the twins, Sarah and Philip, had not been found among the dead. A search for the twins quickly ensued, and they were spotted several hours later walking naked through a corn field in Pine County, approximately 57 miles west of the explosion at the EGHC.
Philip was singing aloud in his persona of Corey Alistar, an aging, little-known Irish folk singer. The twins were anesthetized and transferred to a maximum security hospital and rehabilitation center. The actual cause of the EGHC's destruction was attributed to the twins, though it was not learned why the storm had manifest. Several doctors theorized Sarah had had a nighmare; that she'd manifest the storm subconsciously during REM sleep. Following this report, the court requested the twins be ordered into a state of conscious sedation until further studies could be conducted to determine the exact source of their destructive powers. Like an unwanted package, the twins were transferred to the West Virginia Psychiatric Hospital (WVPH), where they received a daily drug regimen consisting of 30 mg IV succinum, a mineral drug for tranquilizing the mind and producing central inhibition, for the past 28 years. Every day for 28 years.
Every day…until yesterday.

The following events occurred (reported by a WVPH staff RN and a visiting physician, both of whom were injured but survived):
At approximately 15:34, June 25, conjoined twin patients Sarah and Philip Davidovich (room 13) unexpectedly awoke from long-term conscious sedation. Philip began to scream aloud, and RN Kathleen Stevenson entered the room to investigate the disturbance. She quickly summoned physician Kaarl Lundquist (who was nearby conducting patient visits at the time) and the pair attempted to sedate the twins. Sarah remained docile. Her brother, however, was awake and enraged, staring at a wall calendar and flailing his left arm and shouting obscenities at Lundquist and Stevenson. Philip bit the arm of Lundquist who, inappropriately, proceeded to punch Phillip in the face, at which point Sarah’s eyes opened wide and she replied to Lundquist in an elegant Manchester accent:
“You will kindly cease and desist this unprovoked and unwarranted attack upon my sibling posthaste.”
Gail force winds suddenly ripped through room 13. Lundquist and Stevenson were tossed about the room like plastic toys in a wind tunnel. Victoria Rosenfield, a first-year RN who was walking from a patient room to the nurses’ station, heard Stevenson’s cries for help. She entered room 13, and became caught in the hurricane-force winds. Her body impacted with the south-east corner wall, snapping her neck upon impact.
“Sarah?” Philip asked. He looked at his sister curiously.
“Shut up. I don’t know what I find more aggravating—your mannerisms or the irritating sound of your shrill, nasally voice. Just…just shut up for a minute will you?”
Philip did not speak, but it is quite conceivable his speechlessness was due, in part, to his bewilderment that their long sedation had not only healed Sarah’s mind, but had altered it, perhaps in ways he could not imagine.
“We leave; now,” Sarah said.
The window to the room exploded; shards of splintering glass filled the air. A small funnel cloud, the radius of which was 1.5 to 2 feet, materialized outside the window frame.
“Step on the funnel.”
“Sarah, you stupid—what the hell are you talking—”
Philip gasped in midsentence, unable to form the words to complete his question. Sarah siphoned the air from his lungs, adding it to the spiraling funnel. Philip tried desperately to breathe but found no air. His temples budged; his face reddened.
“I don’t need you, Philip. Never forget that.”
Air returned to his starving lungs at last and he consumed deep, gulping breaths.
“Now step on the cloud. I shan’t ask again.”
“Where are we going?” he asked, his voice barely a whisper.
“Swimming,” she replied.
The funnel cloud grew slightly in diameter as the twins stepped across the broken glass and onto the cloud. They were quickly engulfed within the twister. The funnel cloud arose further into the air and slashed a path across the hospital parking lot on a direct route to the Atlantic coast. Within room 13 the winds died as Lundquist and Stevenson struggled to their feet. It was discovered that the twin’s sedative had, through a pharmaceutical clerical error, been decreased from a daily dose of 20 mg to 2.0 mg, resulting in the twin’s ability to regain consciousness.
By the time this information reached NYSS, the storm had already begun.


  1. These comments were initially published in the collection Unexplained Anomalies and Strange Occurrences: A Modern History of the Bizarre (Meadowbrook Press, NJ; 1976). The quote is attributed to Dr. Philip Swanson who was visiting the group home where Sarah and Philip spent most of their childhood prior to this event. Swanson suffered a concussion during the incident when he was hit by a ceramic planter twirling about the room. Other witnesses including social worker Sherrie Median, who at the time was the twin’s primary caregiver, described the event as being “like something out of the Exorcist.”

    NEXT: NYSS post nine eleven concludes!
    Watch for more new stories coming soon including:
    The Man Who Could Not Die

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