You Can Call Me Isaac III

The human body is a sack of water.

A sack of water held together by the thinnest of walls, shot through with electrical cables and guitar string. From the tips of our fingers the current flows, water and energy radiating from our heart, our brain.  Turn the dial on the microscope and our cells are the same. Tiny bags of fluid and light.

The water, the walls, our bones, our cells — these are all physical things who do not react well to being flung against a hard surface at 67 mph.

But the energy, the electrical impulses controlled by the human brain, these are intangible things. They care not for matter, or gravity, or pain. If one has the way of it — the will, the training. The mind’s electricity can illuminate us.

Isaac Whitaker was a lightbulb turning on, tungsten wire glowing red hot.lightbulb

—-

He was a few paces from the smoking Regal before he came to.

His left leg below the knee was a red ruin, a thin sheet of blood covering his calf and black dress shoe. In his left hand he held the Regal’s driver-side door. His fingers had bent the frame when he ripped it free. Isaac tossed it absently to the ground, noticing that his vision had an odd jagged line across it.

Isaac groped at his face with both hands, and pulled his steel-rimmed spectacles off. The top half of the glass had shattered in a ragged horizontal line. He tilted them up with bemusement, and saw green light reflected.

The middle-aged man in ripped, bloodstained khaki hung in the air — his feet several inches above the pavement. He levitated, a nimbus of green energy surrounding him. Around his head the energy spiked and rippled, a crown of light.

Shit. I forgot about that part.

Isaac shut his eyes, and concentrated — fumbling  through his own mind, like a man exploring his childhood home in the dark. The green light faded and he slowly sank to the pavement.

He put on his broken glasses and peered around the crash site. The iron training held him fast. Zero exposure. No witnesses.

A pair of civilians were trotting up with concerned looks on their faces. An elderly black woman holding a grocery bag, and a thin white kid wearing a leather jacket.

“You allright, man?” the kid called, an unlit cigarette dangling from his hand.

Isaac held up his hand, just as the masked man had in the parking deck. You remember how, Captain. Now do it.

“You didn’t see anything. You are already forgetting this. You are walking away, and going around the corner and thinking about what you need to do when you get home.” Isaac commanded, his voice harsh.

m4lice-alice.tumblr.com/
m4lice-alice.tumblr.com/

The old woman and the kid stopped in their tracks, and turned as sharp as a military parade. They both marched away out of sight. The street he was on was deserted otherwise,   blank warehouses on either side. He would have a few moments to collect himself, to try to grapple with the situation.

“How can I?” he said to the empty street.

His feet carried him over to the crumpled car, and he looked at his reflection in the rear window. It was the same face he had looked at this morning in his office mirror, the same spreading paunch, the same khaki uniform shirt missing one button. But he was not the same. Isaac Whitaker was gone, he was Hermes again.

The messenger god. The god of crossroads. The god of vagrants and thieves.

He felt the tears and hysteria beginning to build behind his eyes again, and he pushed them away.  His thick hands curled into fists and he brought them down on the Regal’s trunk.  No pain, though he could see that two of his fingers were broken — puffy and purple at the joints. That was the danger of the psychic field, of harnessing the mind’s energy. The sack of water was weak and you could puncture it without realizing it. They had been trained to constantly check their extremities for damage, much in the way that lepers were taught.

The scientists hadn’t thought about that when the experiment began. It had been something that General Thurman had come up with, when one of the unit had died of gangrene after some bullet holes went unnoticed. The mission had been a success but Hephaestus was dumped into a body bag, and shipped back stateside.

The mission. Something for me in the trunk.

Isaac made himself walk back to the driver’s seat and retrieve his keys, instead of simply ripping the trunk open. Control was important, restraint was important. Only using the field when needed, that was something most of his unit never understood. It was why he had made it back with most of his sanity intact when the unit was decommissioned. The band of steel stapled around his leg, his abilities caged, and a place found for him in the JAG Corps.

The key turned in the trunk slot and it popped open. A green Army backpack was wedged in one corner. His hands trembled only slightly as he pulled it out. A white stamp was on the top flap – an army boot with crude wings on either side. His mark, his call-sign  Isaac pushed the flap open.

There were various items stuffed down in the bottom, but on top was a manila envelope. He bent the metal tabs and opened it, a large picture spilled out into his hands.

The picture was of a thin man, wearing a Navy dress uniform. Isaac recognized him

Artist - Jack Foster
Artist – Jack Foster

immediately.

“Jack Ross? What do you have to do with this?” he asked the air.

Ross was a colleague, a military prosecutor. A much younger man than Isaac, no way he could have been involved with the experiments, the training, the black operations, the casual slaughters. Isaac turned the picture over.

Scrawled in red lipstick were instructions. “KILL. 0 EXPOSURE. RETURN.”

“Goddamit.” He stuffed the picture and envelope back in the bag, and pulled the strap over his shoulder. “I don’t do this anymore.”

He needed time. Time to think, time to let his heart stop bleeding adrenaline. He knew the masked man would be watching. I’ll go through the motions, think my way through this. 

Isaac turned and started walking away from the wrecked regal. He ran through the laundry list. Clothes, bandages, time to further inspect the contents of the backpack, locate Ross, reconnaissance, infiltration, interrogation, termination.

He stopped a dozen yards away from the car, caged by his training. Zero Exposure.

Isaac concentrated, the electricity of his mind tearing through the air behind him. This was not his strong suit, but he should be able to make a small spark.

The gas line of the Regal ignited, and a thick whump-sound filled the air as the gas tank went up. Smoke and fire spread through the car quickly.

Isaac straightened his jagged spectacles and walked away. He was committed now. Police would find his car within the hour, and in a few hours more connect the charred license plate with Captain Isaac Whitaker. The DC police weren’t exceptionally competent – but a missing persons report could prove troublesome. He would need to act fast.

A grim smile stole across his face. He was Hermes, the messenger. He could act very fast indeed.

Isaac ripped his uniform shirt off and tossed it in a nearby dumpster. He walked on in a plain white undershirt, as the smoke from the burning car rose behind him.

 

You Can Call Me Isaac II

“Ah, so familiar and friendly.” The masked man giggled.

Isaac carefully backed out of his space, his eyes locked on the rearview mirror. The black wooden mask his passenger wore was purposefully featureless, and his hunched posture made it difficult to estimate his height or weight.

“Which one are you? Apollo, Dionysus…Ares?” Isaac shifted the car into gear and put his foot on the gas.

“You remember!” the masked man said, high pitched voice sliding like a manic violin. “So digidash_buickrivieragood to know that you haven’t forgotten your old comrades. That there’s something of my old war buddy in that fat old man suit you’re wearing.”

The Regal roared sedately around the wide curves of the empty parking deck. Isaac’s hands gripped the wheel loosely, hands at ten and two. He braked as they approached the parking lot attendant, a bored-looking man idly spitting sesame seeds into a paper cup.

“Not a word now.” the masked man pressed the barrel of his gun more firmly into his neck for a moment, then shifted it to press into the soft flesh over his kidney.

Out of the corner of his eye, Isaac saw the masked man press his hand against the glass of the back window. The masked man’s hands were gloved, plain black cotton gloves – workman’s gloves. The attendant ran his eyes over the Regal, and stared into the back seat for a moment. Bored eyes looked at the black splayed fingers and saw nothing. The masked man giggled again in triumph.

The attendant didn’t see the masked man. Because the masked man wouldn’t let him.

Isaac nodded at the attendant, who waved politely with his paper cup.  The pulled the Regal to the edge of the deck, nose pointed into the street. The oncoming traffic was steady – Isaac laid a hand on his blinker. He tried to keep his voice calm, and his heart rate down — Training, Whitaker, training. Remember it. — but the slow trickle of sweat down his back revealed the strain.

“Where are we going? Left or right?”

“Oh…..right.” The masked man stretched out on the backseat, gun barrel steady in Isaac’s side. “Right will be fine.”

He doesn’t care. That’s not good. Not good at all. Isaac pushed up on his blinker, and pulled into traffic. He scanned the sidewalks without moving his head, hoping to spot any sort of ally. I’d even take Weinberg right now.

Isaac only saw a few strangers, civilians.

“Take a left at this light…Isaac,” the masked man said his name with a sing-song reverence. “And speed up, we’re in a hurry.”

He took the green light, and accelerated slowly. The street was lined on either side with various government and office buildings. There wasn’t a lot of traffic on the four lane street, and he was able to move between the other cars with little difficulty. It was just after dusk, the street lights burned orange and remote.

“Okay. I’ve had enough. Enough of this. What’s going on? Why are you here? What do you want with me?” Isaac’s gaze burned into the rear view.

The masked man curled up  and flopped a friendly hand over Isaac’s left shoulder. The mask leaned into his peripheral vision on the right, black gun barrel dangled over his chest with elan.

“How rude of me! Of course you want your marching orders, you good little soldier. To the point, Captain Whitaker, to the point! Just like always. You have an important mission.” the black wood vibrated with the man’s laughter.

“Mission.”

“Yes,”the masked man whispered. “You are being reactivated. Today. Now. Most expeditiously.”

“Reactivated?” Isaac felt his stomach drop and his veins begin to drip acid. He had expected to be quietly terminated, driving himself to a quiet grave site that the masked man had prepared.

This was much, much worse. He felt a hot, wetness on his cheeks. The masked man chuckled with sympathy, and dabbed at his face with his free hand.

“But…I can’t be…there’s no way…they promised…”Isaac managed. “There’s no way. There’s no way.”

6128343165_c917ef77cd“Oh, there’s a way. There’s most assuredly a way. Now pick up your left leg.”

Isaac could feel a slight tingle on his scalp, but it might have been a memory. Something in his bones screamed at him, and he kept his leg where it was.

“Mmm. Resist. Yes. Please, resist,” the masked man crooned. “Pick up your left leg.”

Slowly, as if through water, Isaac pulled his left leg up and propped his foot up on the dashboard. It was a strain to keep his right foot on the gas pedal, but he managed.

“Pull up the pant leg.”

Isaac kept his right hand on the wheel, and grabbed the khaki fabric of his uniform  with his left.  They were tight around his calves, they had begun to spread just like his middle. He grunted with the slight exertion, pushing the fabric up his hairy, white leg.

Tight around his left calf was a band of steel. It was about two inches wide, with grommets every inch of circumference. There was a serial number, but it had worn off years ago.

“There it is. Your chain. Good, Isaac. You’re doing so good.” the masked man sighed with pleasure. “Rip it off.”

His hand began to slide towards the steel band. It’s grafted to my leg, some of the pins go into the bone. It was never supposed to be removed. Isaac began to pant as his hysteria mounted.

“Rip it off. Rip it off!” the violin sawed at the air.

He tried to resist, he tried to remember his training. But the masked man’s voice hit him like a whip, and he watched as his left hand moved forward. He watched as his finger nails dug into his own flesh. He watched as they curled under the edge  of the metal band, blood and pain flowing. He watched as his left bicep flexed and tore the steel band free, the metal halting and bending as each grommet tore free.

Isaac stared straight ahead, his right hand in a different continent. He changed lanes in front of a blue coupe, even managing to signal. His left hand tossed the steel band over onto his passenger seat. His blood was going to leave quite a stain.

“Now, listen closely.” The masked man sighed. “In a moment you are going to wreck your car. Drive as fast as you can into the nearest obstacle. With the inhibitor band removed your abilities should return in a matter of hours, but we need to jumpstart the process. A little mortal trauma should do nicely.”

“I didn’t want this.” Isaac said numbly.

“I’ve left a little package in the trunk of your car. Some supplies, a bit of your old equipment, a snack for later, and of course the details on your mission.”

“I didn’t want this.” Isaac repeated, his eyes moved to the mirror. “And I will make sure that you don’t want this either.”

The masked man nodded with approval. “There’s the Isaac I used to know. Welcome back, Hermes. Now it’s time to wreck your car. There, that rail should do.”

The black glove gestured towards the right side of the street, and Isaac’s hands began to turn the wheel. He pulled  his bleeding leg down off the dash, his right leg stomped down on the accelerator.  The tingle on his scalp was now a steady vibration and it was not a memory.

Isaac looked into the mirror, and saw that his back seat was empty.

The Regal hit the steel rail at 67 miles per hour.

You Can Call Me Isaac I

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[If there’s something that the world doesn’t have enough of, it is most certainly A Few Good Men fanfiction.  I’m currently appearing in a local production of the play by Aaron Sorkin, playing the role of Captain Isaac Whitaker — a very minor character who only appears in the first few minutes of the play. I have time backstage, so please allow me to present my humble theory of what happens to the character when he leaves the staqe.]

“This shirt does not fit.” Isaac told his reflection. “Nope. Just doesn’t fit.”

He turned sideways, and looked at himself in profile.  His stomach bulged and pressed against the buttons of his shirt, the second above his belt seemed to be wincing in pain as it strained against the crisp khaki. The rest of his frame still held a warrior’s shape – broad shoulders and thick arms – but the irreverent curve of his gut better suited a comfortable chair, or a plush barstool, or a voluminous couch.

“Just gotta get a bigger shirt.” Isaac told himself philosophically. “All the running just isn’t burning this pooch down.”

He turned back forward, and sucked in his stomach. His men always seeemed a little skeptical when he told them about his morning PT. 2.6 miles at 0600 every morning, from his front door to the end of the farm road on his property. Then a quick shower and chow, hopping into his car and driving into the city for the 0830 morning meeting. He’d tell Kaffee or Weinberg about his morning jog and their eyes would always slowly dip down to his stomach.

“Those fucking guys.” Isaac straightened the points of his collar, adjusting the gold insignia at his collar.

On one side were two gold branches for the JAG Corps, on the other an eagle for his rank. Captain Isaac Whitaker, administrator of the Washington branch of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps for nine years — seven from retirement,  gut busting its way out of his tightly tailored uniform shirt.

“Maybe I should eat a salad for lunch during the week,” he mused. “Salads.”

Isaac turned from the mirror hanging on the closet door and sat down at his desk. A stack of legal briefs were neatly organized on the left-hand side, color-tabbed with translucent tape. Blue tape for any Class B misdemeanors or below, green tape for Class A.  He tagged them himself when they were brought to him – he wouldn’t waste any of his men’s time with such menial organization.  It helped him plan his time, work through the stacks. Clean and calm, folders came in and folders went out — assigned to the best available litigator on his staff. Isaac liked to have a nodding familiarity with every case that came through his office. From the most standard Drunk and Disorderly to the occasional more serious offenses requiring a full court-martial. If there was one thing his time in the Navy had instilled in him it was a serious devotion to knowledge of the battlefield. It didn’t matter that now his battlefield was made of paper instead of water and dirt.

“Salads, salads, salads.” Isaac pulled the first green-tabbed folder off the top of the stack, and peered over the rim of his red-gold-tan-black1glasses at the heading.

“Hey, Captain.” Weinberg stuck his head through the door. “There’s some lady here from Internal Affairs. ”

Isaac looked up, the brief still open in front of him. “What?”

“Some lady. Here to see you. From Internal  Affairs,” his officer repeated.

“Oh, yeah. Bronsky called me and said something about her stopping by. Some case they want to reopen. Send her in.” He flexed his hands on the desk and sighed.

Isaac took off his glasses for a moment, and pinched his rubbed his brow with both hands. His eyes fell on the front of his shirt again.

“Just doesn’t fit. Damn thing just doesn’t fit.”

His office door swung open, and he put his glasses back on. He stood to greet his guest from Internal Affairs.

—-

It turned into a long day.

The lady from Internal Affairs, a Lt. Commander Joanne Galloway, had been the herald of a red ball case. Isaac had needed to dig around in his desk for a few minutes before he found the appropriate scarlet tape to mark the folder.  Some Marine in Guantanamo Bay was dead, and two of his squadmates were charged with the murder. Division was giving a lot of attention to this one – the base commander at Gitmo was a favored son, slowly making his grand ascension to the Pentagon. They wanted the case done quick and quiet with no collateral damage. He would need to keep close tabs on this one and make sure his guys didn’t let the whole thing go pear-shaped.

The 1500 staff meeting was quick and to the point. Division had pre-selected Kaffee as the lead counsel for the Defense so it was just a matter of briefing him on the particulars, and letting Commander Galloway fill in the blanks. Kaffee was a good litigator, a whiz at the plea-bargain. No way this thing would ever see the inside of a courtroom. Perfect, as far as he was concerned.

After the meeting he worked through the rest of his case-load for the day, but he went ahead and put in a few phone calls. First a few minutes shitting in Bronsky’s ear for sending this little package for his office to deal with. Bronsky laughed and they made plans to get a drink on Friday — first round on him. Then a few messages with some connections in Division, and to a friend or two at the Pentagon. Just to see how much crossfire his guys would be dealing with.

The battlefield was paper, but he wasn’t going to let his men march out without some covering fire and as much intelligence as he could scrounge up.

5855139554_b27543aa79_zIsaac walked out of the office about an hour later than usual. The parking deck was mostly empty, yellow lights buzzing against gray stone. His white Buick Regal was parked in a corner near the entrance, the rest of the row was empty. He dug  in his pocket for the keys and spent a moment finding the keys as his mind wandered. He was tired, maybe he’d skip his morning jog tomorrow. Get a little extra sleep.  Not doing a damn bit of good, anyway.

He unlocked the door and tossed his briefcase into the passenger seat. He slid into the driver’s seat and leaned out pull the door shut.

A small pop came from the front of his shirt. A sudden looseness.

Isaac looked down and saw that the second button from his belt was gone. “Shit. Goddamn it.”

He slammed the door and began to fish around the floor of the car. He peered all around, lifting his feet to search — but the button seemed to have vanished. “GOD. Goddammit.” he slammed his head back against the seat in frustration.

His eyes came up to the rear view mirror.

That’s when he saw the mask.

The mask that the man in the backseat was wearing. It looked to be made of black wood, narrow slits for the eyes and mouth. Isaac felt the familiar pressure of a gun being pressed firmly to his neck.

“Captain Whitaker, how pleasant to see you again.” the masked man said cheerfully. “Drive.”

” You can call me Isaac.” he replied, and turned the key to start the car.

[To be continued.]

Fanfiction under Duress

They were warriors.

Gods of battle.

Heroes of legends forgotten.

Their hands were formed for the hilt of a sword, their eyes had seen red blood flow.

Demons of night, and unending legions of evil had fallen before them.

But tonight, no conflict had prepared them – no sword was sharp enough for this challenge.

Mooglesitting.

—–

The three men stood around the ornate brass crib, and stared at each other.

One was blonde, with sharp features — he grasped the brass bar tightly and tried to think of anything that would delay the inevitable.

The older man straightened his dark sunglasses, and grunted.

The final man pushed his long, dark hair out of his face and casually thumped the delicate blue stars that hung above the crib — the mobile spun, emitting a light jingle in protest.

“Well, I guess we should…”he began, making an indistinct gesture towards the crib’s occupant.

“…should…what?” the blonde man replied.

The older man said nothing.

“You know—“the dark haired man continued, repeating the same vague gesture.

“No — absolutely not.” the blonde man said firmly.

“We have to, it’s our duty.” the dark haired young man insisted.

“Is that some kind…of joke?” the blonde man said.

The two younger men locked eyes, then shifted their gaze to the older man wearing sunglasses.

The older man said nothing.

“Kupo.” the moogle chirped, rolling over onto it’s stomach.

The dark haired man shrugged, and pulled off his jacket. The collar was a fluffy mane of white fur. He laid it carefully on the floor, and rolled up his sleeves.

“So, you’re going to do it then?” the blonde man said hopefully.

“Can’t be too bad – I mean, look how cute they are…probably has cute…you know…” he stopped, his hands hovering over the crib.

“I guess.” the blonde man said.

The older man, straightened his sunglasses and pointed down into the crib.

“Baby’s crying. Our time is now.” he said.

The baby moogle sobbed. “Kupoooooooooo0-po-pooo.”

The three men leapt – the call of battle overcame all their hesitation. Each burned with a golden light,  their eyes gleamed with purpose.

The dark haired youth took off the soiled diaper.

The blonde man wiped.

The older man with sunglasses put on the new diaper.

“Kupo!” the infant moogle cooed, hanging on to the older man’s finger. It snuggled in, and quickly fell asleep.

The older man pulled his bottle with the other hand, and took a long swallow. He passed it wordlessly to the other men.

“We shall never speak of this.” he said quietly. “Ever. This is not our story.”

The other two nodded, and tiptoed quietly from the room.