The Messenger: Supernatural (Chapter Four)
Presenting original in-universe fiction from The Line. This series focuses on the team's resident fanboy The Messenger, and is set slightly before he is invited to join the team, battling the menace of Breathtaker.
Read Chapter One
Read Chapter Two
Read Chapter Three
TENDER IS THE NIGHT
The Balrog-shaped digital clock next to Newhaus' bed shone the time as 2:43 AM, and he lie still, staring at his stuccoed ceiling. He reached out with his thoughts, finding his sleeping goth neighbors cuddled up in each others' arms, the crazy cat lady upstairs not noticing the six tabbies and two siamese strolled indifferently over her as she snored into her carpet. He noted the buzz of telepathic static which was his friend Justice, asleep on his couch with a PlayStation controller on his lap, then chuckled at the memory of being in the shower, noting the stillness of that static and switching off the TV with a levitating fork two hours prior. They'd worked up some "plays" to practice in an abandoned canyon in Rancho Palos Verdes before the fight near the Promenade, and it all sent Newhaus to the warm embrace of his Royale shower head.
In the dead of the night, however, Newhaus found slumber challenging. He thought back to the "training sessions" Justice had given him after finding him -- crying, alone and surrounded by shattered glass and mangled metal -- after his powers had manifested six months before. What was up with those books he just had "lying around," ones that talked about magnetism and telepathy and levitation, Newhaus wondered. He never wants to talk about this crazy family of his back east ... I wonder ...
Suddenly, he heard the buzzing vibration of his phone, still tucked in his jeans, and reached out, levitating the pants by the belt buckle and the buttons, then freeing the phone and sending it zipping over to his hand. He smiled as he looked at the display, and spoke softly. "Hey, Tara."
"Hey, you, I missed you tonight!" the bouncy blonde said. "What happened? I thought you and Rasul were coming through!"
Thinking quickly, he said, "Uh ... I got an emergency thing from my clients at Digital Domain. They needed a copywriter, and Rasul was with me, so we sold 'em a package deal."
"Uh huh ... so you two ended up playing Grand Theft Auto all night?" Vasquez laughed.
"No, of course not!" Newhaus protested. "... well, he did, his part was done first. But I didn't."
"Well, I hope I see you Saturday," she purred.
Dreamily, his eyes closed, imagining her voice saying the same with her lips near his neck. "I promise you will," he said softly.
"Oh, you know what?" she said excitedly. "I got so mad, did I tell you? Oooh, there's this guy I've been seeing, Chet, right?"
Gritting his teeth and clenching his fist as his arm lay across his eyes, Newhaus replied, "Right."
"So I'm working, you know, rockin' tunes and keepin' it groovin' and he's dancing with me. Which is cool, you know. But then this a**hole decides to start trying to rub up under my skirt like we're at home, and I tell him ..."
Frustrated in the dark and the quiet with the light from his clock shining the late hour on his hairy skin, Newhaus simply listened, making the appropriate sounds she expected to prove that her sounding board remained in place.
A cluster of expensive condos loomed over Santa Monica Boulevard at 4th Street in Santa Monica, baby blue paint softening the hard modernism of the metallic railings. Hours later, as the sun started brightening the far eastern horizon, after Nate Newhaus had driften into dreams, Rasmussen was dragged out on to the balcony of the sparsely opulent corner condo by two huge bruisers, one Black and one caucasian, in matching black suits with earpieces. They shoved him up against the railing, two floors above the street, and indicated he should stay put. He heard the sliding glass door close as they retreated and stood, looking down at the boarded up windows from the earlier excitement.
The sliding glass door opened again and Rasmussen tensed up. He heard the scraping of a deck chair on the concrete surface as someone sat down behind him.
"Your uncle," a calm voice began from behind him, "was worried that you didn't have the temperment for the family business. I owed him a favor for a certain kindness he provided in San Pedro, so I agreed to make sure you didn't die in this ... partnership of yours, provided that I could avoid the one thing I cannot abide. Do you remember what that was, Luciano?"
"No surprises," Rasmussen whispered, shaking not from the briskness of the oceanside air, but terror.
"Do you know what I am called, Luciano?"
"The Scientist," Rasmussen whispered.
"Do you know why I am called that?" the voice asked, almost playfully.
Rasmussen shook his head and whimpered a bit.
"Scientific principles can be applied to virtually everything," the Scientist noted, drawing closer. "Cause and effect, if this, then that, et cetera. That's how I organize my business, and why it is both a success and almost invisible to law enforcement. Then ... tonight."
"He won't listen, I..." Rasmussen sniveled, eyes on the ground below as two drunken buddies stumbled by, laughing and holding each other up.
"The best part about science," the Scientist continued, now standing to the right of Rasmussen, "is the tools it gives us to adapt to surprises. In an orderly experiment, a new and unpredictable stimuli is introduced. Science teaches us to study that new element and see what can be learned from it. That's where you, my wondrous little control element, come in."
"I can't control Josh," Rasmussen said sadly, looking as though he were trying to collapse into himself. "He ..."
"He is going to be contacted by some ... associates of mine," The Scientist said evenly. "You will facilitate this contact, making things so easy that your Mister Reagan will believe it's the best approach to things. I will never come up. My associates will offer Mister Reagan a means of revenge in return for his help in their criminal enterprises. You will mention natural points where Reagan's business -- where Breathtaker's business, we'll start calling him that -- will benefit from this and he will join them. This will attract lots of attention."
Confused, Rasmussen started to look up and said, "I don't under ..."
A set of fingers gently pushed the back of Rasmussen's head forcing him to look down again. "You know you're not allowed to look at me without my permission, Luciano."
"I'm sorry, sir," Rasmussen apologized.
"You don't have to understand, you have to obey," The Scientist said absently. "Look for the words 'Northern Lights' or 'Autumn Shadow.' Whatever you see in relation to that is important to this goal. Do you understand?"
"Yes sir," Rasmussen said, pondering what the huge political and philanthropic corporation Autumn Shadow had to do with anything.
The Scientist was quiet for a moment, as if regarding Rasmussen silently, and then said, "You will now turn around to your left, walk to the door without looking at the reflection and leave. One of my men will get you back where you need to be. That is all."
Rasmussen faithfully obeyed and was gone in seconds. After a few moments, the Black man who'd brought Rasmussen in came out on the balcony, watching the back of the Scientist.
"Danny is driving the Nephew, as promised, sir," the man said.
"Thank you, Willie," the Scientist said simply.
"Sir ..." Willie asked timidly, odd for a man of his grandiose size, "isn't it hard to keep him from seeing your face? Should you wear a mask or something."
The Scientist laughed and turned around, walking up to Willie, visible at last as Rasul Justice. "People mostly see what they want to see," he said, smiling. "Luciano sees as little as possible, because seeing things has never gone well for him. Basic psychology. Science. Good question, though. I love a good question."
Willie smiled nervously, nodding.
"You're new, I know," Justice said. "Career ending ankle injury, endorsements gone, NFL money gone, debts to pay. I'm happy to have you here, Willie, and you're a valued part of this team. Don't let the stuff Dan and the others told you scare you. If we all do exactly as I say, we're as safe as can be. Now, please bring the car around. You can call me when you get downstairs, if I don't see you."
"Yessir," Willie nodded before leaving quickly.
Justice returned to the rail and stared into the night, singing softly to himself, "... nobody said it was easy ... no one ever said it would be so-o-o hard ... I'm goin' back to the sta-a-art ..."