Ian Page ran through the night. The darkness held tightly around him. He knew they were after him, somewhere out in the night, but he couldn’t let that stop him. He couldn’t let them catch him. He couldn’t guess what they would do to him—or already had.
Besides his name, his memory was nearly blank. He knew what things were, how the world worked, but his identity was gone past a simple name.
He didn’t realize that fact until several minutes after he awoke alone on the cold iron slab just a few short hours ago. The room felt like a morgue, silent and dead. But when he heard the men outside, he knew he needed to escape. He knew they were dangerous.
He caught only a glimpse of one as he ran down the hall. They came dressed in some kind of full body armor that completely obscured their flesh, complete with a helmet and face shield. The rifle in the soldier’s hands made the danger all too clear.
He ducked into a door to avoid the masked trooper. He found himself in an office, just a simple desk and computer crammed in a space no bigger than a broom closet.
He found a flash drive plugged in to the USB slot. He read the screen, the open text file loaded from the device. It was a simple list of names and addresses.
The first was all too chilling:
Ian Page, address unknown.He yanked the device free before he ran back into the hall and out of the building.
That was hours ago. Now he was lost and alone. His feet ached and he was in a city he didn’t know and couldn’t begin to navigate.
And they were after him.
Ian was cold, freezing. He knew it was only November, but it was late and the winter creeped in early. A cold breeze flowed off the Mississippi and sent chills down Ian’s back.
He stumbled hard in to a sign post. The darkness swam away from him as he fell hard to the ground, his focus gone. Suddenly visible, suddenly completely exposed, outside his illusion, he felt exposed.
He quickly raised his illusion again. He disappeared into the darkness once more. But as he did, he looked up at the street marker.
Linden Drive. He knew this road. Perhaps it wasn’t too late.
Ian’s mind flashed back to the computer screen. The list of names and addressed. The fingered the flash drive in his jeans pocket.
497 Linden Drive. It was the first address on the list.
He didn’t have a clue what the names meant or why they were even gathered. He only knew that he was the first on the list and his current condition marked that list as dangerous. And he knew he didn’t have anywhere else to go.
Ian took a deep breath and ran a hand through his floppy blond hair.
Three blocks. Three blocks between him and fate.
The address was a simple duplex. The neighborhood seemed run down, but this particular home seemed to be much better maintained than the rest of the homes in the vicinity.
Ian walked up the short walkway to the front porch. He slowly ascended the three stairs to the door. He stopped in front of it and looked both ways down the street.
It was late and a week night. The streets were empty. Still he couldn’t get over the feeling his hunters were still out there, lurking, waiting for him to slip up.
He took a deep breath and let the illusion fade away. He reached out and rang the doorbell.
Ian almost disappeared again when he heard the tumbler turn in the lock. He took a deep calming breath and focused himself. He needed help and this is where he would find it. Or so he hoped.
The door opened and a young man in his early twenties stood before Ian. He was maybe 6’ 2” with light brown skin and a wild afro atop his head.
“Uh, yeah, dude. What you need?”
“Garrett, I need your help. Only you can save my life.”
Garrett stared blankly at Ian. Ian could only shake out in the cold. His throat went suddenly dry. He opened his mouth to speak, but couldn’t make the words pass his lips.
Garrett grabbed Ian by the shoulder. Ian flinched at the contact.
“Come inside, little dude. You look like you’re gonna turn into a popsicle. Get warmed up and you can tell me what the heck you’re doing on my doorstep.”
Ian settled in to a black leather futon in a snug living room. In front of him, a seventy inch screen covered an entire wall of the room. To its right, a wall of pictures featured Garrett with dozens of local celebrities, community leaders and neighborhood kids.
Garrett pulled a folding chair from a hall closet behind Ian, just beneath the stairs that lead to the next level. He carried it over to the futon, opened it and sat down. He stared at Ian for a moment before he spoke.
“Now, little dude, I love my town, but even I’m not a fan of some guy showing up at night at my house. You’re lucky I was up watching some flicks, otherwise I wouldn’t have even answered the dang door. Now what you want?”
“My name is Ian. And men are after me. They’re after me and I think they might be after you too. Our only hope is to—man, it sounds dumb just saying it—is to team-up.”
“Look, little d—n, you got the wrong idea about me. I ain’t one of those vigilante weirdos. I’m just a guy trying to do right by my town and make a little money doing it.”
“But you are metahuman? You go by the nickname Stomp.”
“Well, I—how do you know all of this about me?”
Ian reached his hand in to his pocket. He pulled the tiny black flash drive from his pocket and held it up for Garrett to see.
“I read it. On this. There’s not much else there. Just your name and address.”
Ian quickly explained his sudden awakening, his escape into the streets of River City and the soldiers that held him.
Garrett listened intently, never taking his eyes off Ian.
“Cool story, bro. But no offense, I don’t know what any of this has to do with me.”
“Because they want you too. And they’re coming for us both.”
“After me? What does that even mean? This isn’t some movie. People just don’t hunt down other people for fun.”
You have powers beyond human comprehension a few years ago, but a secret society hunting metahumans seems implausible to you?”
Garrett shook his head. “All I’ve got is your word on this. You want me to believe I’m on someone’s wanted list and you’re just a knit that showed up at my doorstep in the middle of the night. No offense.”
Ian sighed. His head slumped down.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I shouldn’t have come here.”