I was truly annoyed right then. Some pathetic excuse for a villain calling himself “Cogsworthy, the Clock Fancier” had actually managed to force me into an armwrestle with one of his clocks, loudly proclaiming, “My gleaming clockwork can defeat any propagator of such direly chaotic abstractions as ‘freedom’ and ‘compassion’. Face the perfection and truth of a clock’s steel hands!”
So there I was, being yelled at by a fascist with a clock fetish, yet another bizarre evening for Glimmer Girl, when my phone rang. Obviously I was a little preoccupied so I let it go to voicemail. I figured it was probably just Tanya trying to bother me about something slightly less important than this lunatic’s nearly finished clockwork behemoth he was hellbent on unleashing to destroy the city. After all, it was Tanya who insisted I keep my phone on me at all times today, saying something about Christmas shopping.
Well, that was just peachy, but in the meantime I had to turn back the clock, literally. The second hand was inexorably ticking down to the 6, despite throwing all my strength into my efforts. Twenty seconds left. I glanced over my shoulder at the captives being lowered into one of the great vats of molten metal. I had to give Cogs that one; usually it’s a cliche and there’s no real reason for them, but a clockwork engineer working on building immense weapons of war honestly needs vats of molten metal.
As I turned my head back, fifteen seconds, I noticed the gap between the clockface and the date ticker. Or whatever that’s called. Of course, I realised, and zipped through the gap. Though the hands on the clock were ridiculously strong, the clockwork inside was just a single component going out of alignment away from stopping the whole mechanism cold. Bouncing off the numerous reflective surfaces countless times I tried to force it all apart, but nothing budged until a whole second after entering. That’s when a spring popped out. I zoomed right back out again and in the next two seconds, as I slowed myself back down to regular human speeds, the gears ground to a halt and the hands stopped.
I was flushed with the thrill of victory, having saved the hostages with twelve seconds to spare. Any later and they’d probably have suffered some nasty burns at the least. It always annoyed me that in tv shows and movies someone being lowered into molten metal or lava could be almost touching it and come away unscathed. The whole thing where they’ll be being lowered fast enough that when it cuts away they should be five seconds from burning alive yet when the camera goes back to them a minute later they’re as high up as they were at the beginning of the last shot on them? Sure, that’s even more obviously stupid, but at least no one would believe that’s how it works. The getting really close thing could get someone seriously hurt.
My phone started to ring again and I ignored it once more. I had hostages to save. Only, I actually didn’t. A tall, handsome man in a suit, trenchcoat and dark glasses was standing around them, all gathered safely on the floor several steps away from the vats.
That still left the Clock Fancier, who I can’t imagine has ever had contact with another human being for the last two decades, given both his mania and choice of villainous moniker. I shouldn’t joke about that, admittedly; it’s not nice to speak ill of the dead.
Yeah, that’s right. I looked over to where I last saw him, and this time he was sprawled facedown in a pool of his own blood. Now, if he was hoisted by his own petard in some way, I could have dealt with it. But no, there was someone, a scrawny teenage boy with neck-length hair in a suit, I guessed, holding a smoking gun while standing over Cogs. I hate killer vigilantes, but an apparent kid younger than me? Disturbing.
I looked back at the handsome man, intending to call the pair out, but he’d vanished and the hostages looked perplexed. Glancing back in Cogs’ direction confirmed his killer was gone too. That’s when the phone rang a third time, and this time there wasn’t anything else to do. I answered, then grinned when I replied to the caller’s initial greeting. “Brandon? I don’t know any Brandon.”