Author: Rollin T. Gentry

Sweating and panting, I skid to a stop in front of apartment 4-G.

Old Haxalot might be losing his touch. He normally locates the newbies in half this time.

The black SUVs are only three blocks away. On the other side of this door is a young man named Donnie Howard. He’s glad to be out of the hospital, but he’s pretty sure he’s gone insane. Hearing the thoughts of the entire city has taken its toll. Matted hair, dark circles under his eyes, looking a total wreck, he’s lying on the sofa with a huge, medieval sword floating in the air, pointed down at his right eye.

Impressive. He figured out levitation all by himself in something like two days. He has potential.

“Don’t do it, Donnie,” I mind-speak in a stern, matronly tone. “My name is Jemma. I’m here to help you. I can explain what’s happening. Please put the sword down and let me in.” I wait. He slowly moves the sword over the carpet and lets it drop. I don’t need him to open the door, but Donnie needs to get grounded in the real world again. The black SUVs squeal their tires to a stop in front of the building as the goons pour out like clowns at the circus.

Donnie opens the door and seems surprised. Maybe he thinks I’m another hallucination, maybe it’s the purple hair and tattoos, or maybe he wonders how little old me could possibly help him. “I’m the cavalry, dude, get over it,” I say out loud. “When you were in the hospital, did you get any blood transfusions?”

“Yeah, two bags worth.”

“There’s something in the blood causing all this. The people who did this to you are coming to take you away. They just got in the elevator downstairs. Unless you want to become a lab rat, we need to go.” I take Donnie by the hand, leading him into the hallway, but not before leaving the latest version of Firecracker’s F-Bomb hanging from the inside doorknob of his apartment.

By now, they’ve covered all the exits. In the center of the hallway are the elevators. At one end of the hallway are stairs; at the other end is a brick wall. We run toward the brick wall.

The elevator dings just as Donnie and I pass through the concrete.

We land on the gravel roof of the dry cleaners next door and start running. I hear the explosion above.

Looking down into the alley at the back of the building, I see the white van that Turbo boosted last night. Once on the highway, I stop to take a look at Donnie wrapped in a blanket, sedated, and wearing one of Haxalot’s tinfoil hats. I think he’ll make it. At the safe house, we all part ways with another successful rescue under our belts.

Two weeks later, my name comes up in the rotation. It’s my turn to spread the love. With my fake ID and a passable disguise, I approach the blood drive bus. Blonde and business casual this time, I answer all the screening questions perfectly. The nurse sees the tats, but I make her forget before it matters. As the needle goes in, I remember my days at the lab. Oh, so many needles.

I smile.

Just think. Little old me spawning another half-dozen bastard children of the lab. Angry children, increasing in number and power, hearts all pumping my bad, bad blood.

Oh, who am I kidding?

This is the best blood in the whole wide world.