Wilfredo furrowed his thick brows and shuffled a few magazines forward, then one backwards, hoping he’d skipped an issue. No such luck he said to himself, the one issue you’re missing, the comic book shop is, too. Flipping the issues back and forward once more, just to be certain, he let out a sigh and straightened out the issues in the rack he’d moved. The cardboard bin, labeled with a letter T, didn’t really let the comics get too out of sorts, but Wil didn’t want to risk creasing the pages of a valuable, rare issue. Looking up, he saw a familiar face with a bit more five o’clock shadow than usual across from him, looking through the back-issues of Doctor Strange.
“Arac,” Wil greeted him, “It’s a shame you missed Halloween.”
“Yeah, surgery,” Arac explained, gesturing with joking melodrama at the small scar on his neck, “I miss anything good?”
“Just a few scary stories and the like, we didn’t have a party or anything this year,” Wil said, “so it wasn’t too big a loss.”
After a few moments of silence, Arac looked up at Wil again. “They don’t have the issues you’re looking for either, huh?”
“Nope,” the dark-haired mage said as he exhaled.
“Well, I know one thing we could surely find that would make up for missing halloween,” Arac whispiered, a cryptic undertone to his voice.
Sir Percival Rhyndon, often called the Gallant, tried to find peace in the crisp November morning. The leather glove on his outstretched hand was not taken to protect him from the cold, or for some unusual stylistic stament; it was the landing pad for his falcon. Falconry, one of the many arts of nobility in which Sir Percival had trained, was a way he often found to calm himself, to shake the uneasy feelings that gripped him or ease his fret, but today it did neither. Paladins, holy knights of the highest order, can sense evil the way normal warriors would smell a burning village, a Paladin can sense the evil long before the village is burned or the flames would reach his nose. This sense had led paladins to be seen by some as paranoid; off tilting at windmills at an upset stomach because they were certain it heralded teh coming of some great demon.
On peaceful days like this, when he felt evil, Percival wished he, too, could convince himself that his precognition was paranoia, his extrasensory perception nothing more than an unfortunate result of eating spiced lamb too late, perhaps, at a banquet. He know, though, that this feeling was different, like an ugly yellow weight on his ribcage, the same weight that warned him of evil coming in the distance.
Heaven’s Soldier, a young warrior very much enamored by Sir Percival’s skill and grace watched from behind. He had requested to come with the knight, and the kindly soul agreed to bring him along. Watching the Paladin’s muscular frame so stock still, staring at the sky in thought, Heaven’s Soldier wondered just what it was that troubled the great warrior. Sir Percival knew something was wrong, certainly, or something was personally wrong for Sir Percival. He didn’t know which. He couldn’t feel anything different in the air, an element he felt very closely tied too. Then again, how could the air tell him something bad was about to happen. Was that what the Paladin was worried about? What was going to happen?
Heaven’s Soldier heard a twig snap and hoped he hadn’t done it and somehow disrupted the falconry; he couldn’t tell if the process required complete silence or not. Turning with a flinch to look at his foot, which he was certain was the offender, he was quite surprised by what he saw.
“Blue. Blue, come in, this is Window,” a dark-garbed figure said, cursing the inane choice of nicknames in his head. Why could he be Black, at least, if the other agent got to be a colour? He’d rather to be named after his clothing choices than after a lame pun. “Come in Blue, let’s jsut get this over with and get paid, huh?”
“Widow? This is Blue, I think I’m in position,” a voice crackled into his ear. Bastard got the nickname wrong, “Window” said to himself before realizing that “Widow” was at least a little better than his real nickname, and deciding not to correct him.
“You think? Ugh, if I coulda done this alone,” Window said back, knowing the mouthpiece would both transmit and muffle the sound. It was marvellous technology. He reminded himself he, unfortunately, couldn’t do this alone, and cut himself short before he went off any further on Blue. “Okay, I can’t give you better than that. Release the lightning at the third one over.”
“The third what over?” Blue asked. Why’d they put me with this kid? Window sulked, Nobody else could provide the lightning for the break-in? Nobody with any knowledge of this business? Amatures.
“Okay, see the panel. The third socket-thing over, the third place it looks like electricity would go,” Window explained, doing his best to sound patient but knowing his tone betrayed him.
“Got it!” Blue yelled intothe comm piece. Nobody else would hear it, but it was loud enough to be painful to Window. As the lights went off below the grate in the air duct Window looked through, and the fans all went silent, Window figured Blue just might’ve “got” a little bit more than he meant to.
“Old halloween candy?” Wilfredo asked Arac, incredulously.
“Cheap halloween candy,” Arac corrected him with a massive grin, loading huge bags of mostly non-chocolate candy, with a few exceptions, into a cart.
“I don’t know–” Wilfredo said, before his eyes caught on the price of a particularly large bag of candy. “This is cheap!” he interrupted himself to say.
After both of them had loaded carts with sweets too low-priced to resist, they wheeled them eagerly towards the check-out lanes, looking around to see which one was open. None of the numbers were lit.
“That’s weird,” Arac said.
“Lunch break?” Wilfredo asked, before his eyes widened and the extra bag of candy held in one of his hands dropped to the floor. “On second thought, I don’t think so.”
“Why not?” Arac asked, still scanning the unlit numbers.
“Look,” Wilfredo said, pointing below the numbers to Arac’s eye level. In case Arac still couldn’t see, he clarified, ominously, “Zombies.”
“So it would seem,” Arac said, calmly, “Guess we aren’t getting our candy, then. This day really can’t–”
“Don’t say it!” Wilfredo’s cliche-sense forced him to scream.
“–get any worse,” Arac finished, thereby making it so things would invariably become worse.
The lights all went out.
“Well, I’ll be damned,” Arac said, “it did get worse.” Feeling Wilfredo’s glare despite not being able to see his hand in front of his face, Arac added, “In my own defense, that would’ve happened no-matter what I said, it was just bad timing.” Wilfredo didn’t say anything, but the loud moan said the zombies either didn’t care or were not convinced.
TO BE CONTINUED. . .
The mysterious origin of the Zombies almost revealed, but not all the way!
The identity of Blue and Window, um, not revealed!
More characters introduced!
Existential questioning on whether or not the Shrodinger’s blackout proves that we are all just fictional characters being moved by a cold, invisible hand for purposees of plot! And given the cliche of such a blackout, a bad plot, at that? Or, a SATIRE? (that’s right. Satire is a clue. A clue with hints in it)