The Amy Dilemma – Chapter 1
Written by Dru1076 :: [Tuesday, 13 August 2013 14:51] Last updated by :: [Friday, 06 June 2014 18:44]
The pub was busy, as it always was on a Friday night. The music was too loud, the band too drunk, and Joe was too sober.
“Hey! How much longer you gonna make me wait?”
The bartender gave Joe an unfriendly glare.
“Shouldn’t you be home beating your wife?”
“Just mind your damn business and give me a fucking beer.”
“Fuck you,” Joe told him, as the bartender passed him over for a friendlier patron.
“Excuse me …”
“What the?” Joe turned to see who had tapped his shoulder.
“I’m sorry, but are you Joe Harding?”
Eyeing the guy up and down, Joe briefly wondered if he should run. The man looked like a cop. No, not a cop, thought Joe. A fed.
“Who wants to know?”
“I’m Special Agent Gordon. I work with a new branch of the NSA, and I think you’d be interested in what I have to say.”
“The only thing I’m interested in right now is beer. Fuck off.”
“Now, Mr. Harding, I’m not going anywhere until we have ourselves a little chat. You might be in very real danger. I know you don’t think I can, but unless you want me to arrest you, how about you come with me?”
“Come with you where?”
“Just out to my car. I don’t have clearance to discuss this matter with anybody but you, and I don’t want to be overheard.”
Joe was nervous. He had lots to feel guilty about, but this fed just wanted to talk. Curious, Joe nodded and followed the suit out to the carpark.
“I assure you, what I have to say is of great importance to you. Please get in.”
Stopping beside a black Cadillac, Gordon noted Joe’s hesitation.
“Don’t worry. We’re not going anywhere.”
“Why don’t we just stay out here?”
“It’s the middle of winter, Joe. But have it your way.”
Gordon opened the car and retrieved his laptop. Opening it up on the bootlid, he turned it on and let it boot up.
“I want to show you something before we start. You’ve no doubt seen this before, but I want show you again.”
Tapping a few keys, Gordon turned the computer so Joe could watch the video play. The image was that of a beautiful girl who appeared to be in her late teens. Gordon instantly recognized the girl, and the scene. It had been filmed two years ago in a small town in Montana.
“Why on Earth are you showing me this?” Joe demanded, watching the girl stroll the middle of the road as countless bullets sparked off her increasingly revealed flesh. As she strode coldly through the gunfire, and soldiers moved around in the background, she casually tossed an abandoned vehicle from her path. Behind her, a tank came around the corner and stopped about a hundred yards away. “Didn’t it turn out to be fake?” Joe asked, watching the tank blast a shell into the unmoving girl, leaving her standing in her birthday suit but otherwise unharmed by the image shuddering explosion.
“All such incidents have been discredited by my department,” Gordon told him.
On the screen, the girl was now stranding on her tip-toes with the tank balanced casually on the extended fingers of her left hand. And then the tank was gone, sailing off into the distant mountains. Gordon paused the image as the girl turned toward the camera, unblinking as a bullet sparked off her eye.
“She’s one of five girls we’re currently working with. She’s the weakest, though not by much.”
“What’s this all about?”
“She was the first. After initial tensions, we convinced her to work with us. Then another one showed up in Tennessee, a few months later a third girl starts tearing up Washington State. By the time the fourth girl showed up in Colorado, we were able to predict her appearance.”
“The girls emit a unique radiation signature. We’ve developed scanning technology that allows us monitor for this radiation using the mobile phone networks. Once we locate a general area with that, we can pinpoint a girl within about month of them going ‘nuclear’.”
“Why the fuck are you telling all this?”
“Because we’ve found another one, Mr. Harding. And I’d like your permission to talk to your daughter.”
“Yes. We believe she could transform at any time.”
“Transform?” Joe was angry. “Are you saying she’s one of these … these girls you’re looking for?”
“Not just that. We think she might be the most powerful of all. By quite a wide margin.”
Joe shook his head. “How can you possibly know that?”
“There’s a direct correlation between the physical power displayed, and the strength of the radiation these girls emit. The readings coming off you daughter are off the charts. We’ve had to adjust the scale of our measuring equipment three times in the last two days.”
“If she’s so damn radioactive, why aren’t I sick?”
“It’s not any kind of radiation we’ve seen before. If anything, we think it actually has beneficial effects on those the girls are in contact with. How many beers have you had tonight, Joe?”
“’Bout nine. Why?”
“You look kinda sober for man with nine beers under his belt. Have you always been able to hold it so well? How about sleep, Joe? How are you sleeping lately?”
Hardly at all, Joe mused, but he wasn’t about to tell this guy.
“I can guarantee she’s not strong enough to throw tanks around,” Joe blurted. Just last night he had dragged the girl up the hall and tossed her in her room for back-chatting him.
“All the other girls appeared quite normal.”
“She’s lazy. Disrespectful, and unappreciative.”
“There’s a very real danger for you, Joe. They didn’t mean to, but the first three girls killed quite a few people before we talked them down. We can make the transition an easy one for her. And for you.”
“Just let me get this straight. Are trying to tell me my lazy, good-for-nuthin’ fat-assed daughter is some kind of supergirl?”
“Yes. And if our readings are any indication, the most powerful seen so far by a factor of eight. And that factor keeps rising every day.”
“By a fucking what?”
“The strongest girl we have can lift an estimated twelve-thousand tonnes. We believe Amy will be at least eight times as strong if she changes today. If the change doesn’t happen for another month … and we’re not sure when she’ll transform...she could be tens or even hundreds of times more powerful than that.”
“This is ridiculous.”
“I know it’s hard to believe. But you must understand, Mr Harding. Your daughter is very special, and at any moment she’s going to reveal to the world how special she is. If she is not made ready, the danger for this community is immeasurable.”
“Amy? A supergirl? Fuck-off freako. This is stupid.”
As Joe turned away, Gordon stopped him.
“Hey!” Joe span around and hit the man in the face, putting him down on the icy tarmac. “Don’t fucking touch me!”
“Mr Harding, wait!”
“I don’t know what you’re trying to pull, asshole, but it’s not going to work! You come anywhere near my daughter and I’ll give you worse … you hear me motherfucker?”
“We know, Joe! We know what you do to your family … how you hit on your missus. How your daughter shows up to school with bruised arms and legs …”
Joe came back, far more furious than before.
“Fuck you! I’ve been to court already, asshole! And I got cleared!! If you got proof, motherfucker, then bust my ass!”
“It’s not Amy’s safety we’re concerned about. She’s the only person in this town I’m not worried about.”
“Just stay the fuck away from me and mine, you hear?”
Gordon got back to his feet.
“Have it your way, Mr. Harding.”
Joe spat on Gordon’s shiny shoes, and went back into the bar.
Gordon watched him go, taking out his phone.
“Gordon here, Sir. I think you were right, we’ll get nowhere with this guy. Should I approach the mother?”
“No. We’ve done what the Senator asked: his ass is covered. Come on home, Special Agent Gordon.”
“If it’s alright, Sir, I think I’ll stick around for the transition. I want to see this guy get his dessert.”
“What did he do? Punch you?”
“In the face.”
“I heard he was prone to violence. I saw the photos of what he did to the girl last year. I can’t believe the judge didn’t put his ass away. Alright Gordon. You’re about due for a break anyway. But if anything comes up, I’m going to need you ready to fly out at the drop of a hat.”
“I know the drill, Sir. I’m always ready to drop my hat.”
“And don’t get yourself too close when the action starts.”
The Director hung up, leaving Gordon to pocket his phone and shutdown his laptop. It was going to be a bit of a wait, but he was looking forward to seeing Joe’s karma bite him on the ass. If the girl in the grainy footage was a superhuman, then Amelia Harding was going to be a god.
“I don’t think you’ll be tossing your daughter around much longer, Mr. Harding,” Gordon mused aloud, hopping into his Caddy and driving off into the night.