Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Red Reaper: Volume 2 (Chapter 1)

Chapter 1

            Danny’s grandmother, Barbara, was officially released form the hospital.  He felt he had been walking on egg shells for the past few days.  He made sure to watch his front and his behind.  Danny stayed on alert for another assault like the one that nearly crushed half his rib cage just days ago.  His main concern was keeping an eye out for the new kid on the block with powers just like, or more powerful than his own.
            Danny accompanied Christine to the hospital to pick up their grandmother following her discharge.  The doctors said she made a full recovery.  While he was in the building, Danny picked up a stronger perception and strong twinge of pain in his ribs.
            “Here come my two favorite grandchildren.”  Barbara’s smile lit up the whole hospital lobby.
            “Granny.” Christine spoke cheerfully and approached to embrace her favorite grandmother.
            Danny walked over to complete the group hug.  He let out an abnormally high pitched and awkward sigh of pain masked as a sigh of relief.  “Aaaaaarrgh…..”
            The joy of seeing his recovered grandmother in good health helped numb the jolt of excruciating pain in his severely bruised ribs.  Barbara and Danny spoke about her encounter with the Rinaldi goons when the Red Reaper saved her.  The whole story was so overwhelming.  She thought the whole thing was a coma-induced dream, but Danny convinced her otherwise.  She coped with the facts like only a grandmother could.  She was proud to have a super-heroic grandbaby, and she assured him that his secret was safe with her.
            Danny and Christine drove Barbara to Hartsburg.  After a home-cooked dinner with their mother and grandmother, Christine and Danny rode back home in Stentine Valley.  There was an extra car in the driveway parked next to their father’s Nissan Xterra.
            As they walked up the driveway, Christine asked, “Whose care is this?”
            “That’s a new Infinity G35,” Danny said.  “It looks like one of Jim Bronson’s cars.”
            The Trapp House was actually blessed by two guests on this particular evening.  When Danny and Christine walked inside, they saw Jim Bronson and Chip Wellington sitting in their living room talking to Charles Trapp, the head of the household.
            “Dad, why didn’t you tell us we’d be having company?” Christine asked.
            “Yeah, if we’d known Chip and Mr. Bronson would be stopping by, we would not have stayed out so late,” Danny added.
            “It’s no big deal,” Charles assured his son and daughter.
            “Our visit was unannounced anyway,” Jim said.  “Chip and I wanted to wait for you to arrive before we delivered the good news, but once we started speaking with Charles we had to let the cat out the bag.”
            “What’s the good news?” Danny questioned.
            “I just signed an endorsement deal with Quail Tek,” Chip revealed, “and Mr. Bronson told me the Mariners are going to use their number one pick to acquire me in the upcoming MLB draft!”
            “Really?  That’s not good news.  That’s great news, Chip,” Danny congratulated.
            “Geez, I’m really happy for you too, Chipper,” Christine said.
            “I’m super stoked,” Chip said.
            “But wait, there’s more,” Jim interjected.  “Quail Tek is about to launch a new national marketing campaign, and I want Chip and Danny to be the main spokespersons and pitchmen.”
            “Cool,” Danny said.
            Jim continued, “This campaign will be very time consuming.  I spoke with Mr. and Mrs. Wellington earlier via telephone earlier.  They’re out of town on vacation.  I also discussed the campaign with Charles.  I’d like to pull Chip and Danny out of school after the Snow Games.  I’ve scheduled a photo shoot for you two in Times Square in New York!  What do you think about that, Danny?”
            “I don’t know, Mr. Bronson.  This is our senior year.”
            Jim addressed Danny’s concern, “Don’t worry.  I got approval from the Stentine Valley High School administrators.  Principle Payne was actually pretty enthused about the prospect of getting you off campus, Danny.  New York will only be the fist of many stops nationwide campaign.  There will be plenty of commercial and photo shoots in big market cities across the country.  I’ve hired a tutor to home school you two on the road, so you’ll be able to pick up the remaining credits required for graduation.  If you want, I can flay you back to Stentine Valley to get your diplomas and walk with your classmates at graduation.”
            “What about the prom?” Chip inquired.
            “I can fly you back for that took,” Jim replied.
            “Excellent,” Chip spoke and pumped his fist.
            “Chip is on board, and his parents approved.  What about you, Danny,” Jim asked.
            “Sure, I’m down if it’s okay with you, Dad,” Danny turned to his father.
            Charles nodded and said, “I think this is a great opportunity.  As always, you have my full support, son.”
            “I’d like to join you guys in New York if that’s okay with you, Mr. Bronson.  It’s been a long semester for me at the community college, and I could use a vacation,” Christine suggested.
            “Dud, we don’t need a chaperone,” Chip joked.
            Danny knew his big sister did not intend to intrude.  With all the new revelations, Christine simply wanted to help her little brother watch his back.
            “That will be fine with me,” Jim said.  “I won’t mind flying you to New York if you can watch these guys and keep them out of trouble.”
            They were all in agreement on that issue.  It was settled.  Charles retreated to his study to get some more work done, and Jim made his departure.  Chip stuck around because he was in a celebratory mood.  He had a conversation with Christine and Danny.
            Chip said, “My parents are out of town, bro.  Can you say house party?  Chrissy, you’re invited, too.  We’d better get a move on because the other guests will be arriving soon.”
            Danny, Christine, and Chip made it to the Wellington residence right before the party-goers started to arrive.  Soon, the driveway was littered with random vehicles.  Gaggles of rowdy teens occupied the front and back yards.  Chip stayed inside to tend to his party host duties.  Christine and Danny intermingled with everyone outside near the gazebo.  Their main responsibility as to steer everybody in the direction of the kegs.
            Danny’s fingers tingled while he held the red plastic cup of beer in his hand.  A loud rumbling sound in the distance approached from the east.  It wasn’t thunder rolling, and everyone at the party including Danny recognized this familiar and antagonizing noise.  A large green monster truck with a dorsal fin mounted on the hood came barreling into the cultesac.  After violently whipping a few lawn-mauling doughnuts in the Wellington’s yard, the jacked up truck came to a screeching halt near the gazebo.
            The Hemi-charged super duty monster truck was one of the Sharks’ most infamous trademarks.  It was big.  It was loud, and it personified the Sharks’ strong arm mentality as a gang.  Seth was behind the wheel of the monster truck.  He dropped from the driver’s seat with a looming smirk on his face.  Apparently, word about Chip’s party spread quickly through Stentine Valley, even to the undesirables.
            Seth took one last drag of the clove hanging from his lips before he flicked it away and said, “I’m here for the three B’s:  beer, bitches, and bud.  There’s a Shark in the water.  Let’s party!”
            Chip heard the clamor caused by Seth’s verbose and unexpected visit, so he was already making his way to the front yard.
            Chip immediately confronted the uninvited guest and said, “You don’t belong here, Seth.  You and that B.S. truck of yours are gonna get the cops called on us with all that racket.”
            The words that Chip spoke were true, but they were certainly fight words to a violent and volatile individual.  Seth, and instinctive creature, did not hesitate to react by lunging at Chip with a wild haymaker.  Seth’s technique was sloppy.  He reached way back to the 90’s with his windup before executing a punch that everybody saw coming, even Chip.  He had plenty of time to evade the blow, but oddly, made no attempt to dodge Seth’s fist.  The hook caught Chip square in the eye, and he was staggered backwards.
            Chip Wellington tumbled unceremoniously to the ground in front of the watchful eyes of his party guest.  He was surely embarrassed, but he was not itching for a fight.  Chips ego was bruised worse than his puffy eye, yet his goal was to diffuse the situation without ruining the party’s mood.  He simply walked away from Seth while the gangster spewed insults at him.
            “You’ve always been scary, Wellington.  Consider yourself lucky.  Most people don’t walk away from a Shark attack in one piece.”
            As Chip retreated to his house, Danny decided that he had seen and heard enough.  He crept away to a secluded section of the backyard where he could morph into his Red Reaper costume without being noticed.  Danny made an airborne entrance to the party as the cloaked Red Reaper.  He angelically descended from the dark night sky and landed on top of Seth’s monster truck.  Everyone watched in awe as Danny raised his foot and stomped on the roof of the truck, pulverizing the custom fitted dorsal fin.  Then he flipped off the truck and landed right if front of Seth, who was completely thunderstruck.
            “You again!” Seth scowled.
            “That’s right.  Me again!” Danny retorted.
            “So you can talk.  You must have lips under that mask after all.  Why don’t you unmask and reveal yourself, you coward?  Most of us are convinced that you’re an alien freak-o,” Seth sniped.
            Before Danny could respond, the sound of police sirens in the distance alerted Seth to make a swift escape.  He sprinted to his now finless Shark-mobile and climbed up to the driver’s seat.  He cranked the engine and floored it in a hurry.  He drove over two cars parked near the road.  The people with the big grimaces on their faces obviously were the cars’ owners.
            Soon, the Wellington residence was surrounded by patrol cars and cops with a SWAT team.  Either Chip, a concerned party guest, or an angry nosy neighbor must have called the fuzz.  Danny had tome to make his escape too, but he decided to stick around instead of running away from his problems.
            “Maybe we can talk things out,” he thought.  “That’s what I learned in peer mediation courses and workshops.
            “Freeze, Reaper!” a cop commanded.
            All the cops’ guns were fixed on the Red Reaper.  Danny put his hands in the air in a very non-threatening manner.
            “He’s got weapons!”
            “Weapons?” Danny thought.
            Right before they law enforcement officers opened fire, Danny noticed the two small glowing red min-scythes in his hands that got them up in arms.  Danny skillfully twirled the sharp blades to deflect all the incoming bullets.  Then, a bolt of blue lightning stuck and destroyed the SWAT van.  It stunned the unaware policemen, and it surprised Danny.
            “Hold your fire!”
            The barrage of bullets ceased.  Blue light illuminated the sky.  The blue aura faded when the mysterious costumed newcomer made his own airborne entrance to 1705 Castillo Lane.  He had a glowing weapon as well, a long sword.  Danny knew he was in the midst of the being who blindsided him near Mt. Bethel.  Danny could sense the immensity of the new blue guy’s powers.
            The Red Reaper made an uncharacteristic and spontaneous move next.  It was partially fueled by a binge for revenge, but Danny also wanted to test out his new toys and gauge the Blue Blindsider’s powers in a fair face-to-face confrontation.  He also wanted to draw his attention to keep the cops and partiers safe.  Danny lashed out with his glowing, red mini scythes.  The Blue swordsman blocked and parried all of Danny’s attacks effortlessly.  Danny raised his arms to deliver overhead swings with his weapons, but his blue adversary turned his weapon horizontally and blocked the blows with only on hand on his sword’s handle.  He used his free hand to blast the Red Reaper square in the middle of his chest with a blue bolt of energy.

            Danny’s limp body was hurled backwards through the air by the impact.  He was sent crashing through the windshield of one of the idle police cruisers.  In one quick blue flash, the Blue Knight made a getaway by air.  One of the policeman had the gumption to unholster his cuffs and approach the Red Reaper while reading him his Miranda Rights.  When he got to “you have the right to an attorney”, Danny shook the cobwebs loose and had the wherewithal to fly away himself. 

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