Hurricane slowly removed Vanessa Varian’s blindfold and smiled at her with uncertainty in his eyes. “Tell me, what have you learned so far about the murders?”
Vanessa squinted and looked around. “Hurricane? What are we doing here?” She slowly moved her hands, surprised at the lack of bindings. “Was I kidnapped?” Her brow furrowed with confusion, and she looked up at the windy superhero.
“I brought you here for safety, but that’s beside the point. What do you know so far about the murders in city hall?” His tone was slightly panicked as he stepped away from her to allow her to rise from the too-small wooden chair that looked stolen from an elementary or middle school.
Slowly, she rose and placed a hand on her hip. “What’s this all about?”
“You were the only one present who is still alive. You are the only witness.” He pointed at her. His eyes were wild. “There were two glasses of poisoned wine in the room with the mayor, and only one person could have whipped the fire up so high.” He began to laugh softly as he slumped his shoulders. “We both know who did it.”
Vanessa took a step back. The knife she carried for self defense was small but sharp. She slipped the blade from its handle and shifted her weight. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Say it. Say the name of the one who killed so many.”
Her grip on the pocket knife tightened, and she lunged at him, her eyes on his neck.
He stepped forward, one hand closed into a fist and aimed at her belly. She drove herself into it, and he pulled his hand back and grabbed the knife from her by its blade. He tossed it aside and grinned. “Say the name of the person in front of you.”
The reporter stumbled back a few steps, then looked up at him. “You’re not serious.” She began to laugh, harsh and raspy as she tried to catch her breath.
Hurricane let her rest until she could breathe again before he spoke once more. “Say my name. Say I’m the one who did it.”
“Let me tell you how it happened.” She took a deep breath and stood. “If the mayor survived the poison, that knife would have killed him. If the fire didn’t start, the bombs placed carefully through the house would have destroyed every life inside. I know this because-“
He cut her off. “Say my name, Vanessa! Say I did it.” He stepped toward her.
“No.” She laughed softly. Vanessa was nervous, and it was audible in her laugh. She stepped back. “I’ll say who it really was.” Hurricane quickly became tense and waited as she lifted a hand and pointed at him. He began to grin before she spoke. “It was not you.”
Hurricane paused and stared at her with his mouth open, like an idiot. “What?” His shoulders slumped forward, giving his coat the appearance of tar that had dropped on him.
“If anyone asks, I only know who it wasn’t, and you only know who it wasn’t. Nobody will find out, and the city will eventually move on.” Her tone now was calm as she felt the tension slowly leave the room. After a moment, she paused and walked to him. His uniform didn’t include a shitty trench coat. She yanked it from him and gaped. “Your arm!” She dropped the black cloth and covered her mouth in shock. His arm was gone, and in its place was a neatly-stitched stump that ended at the shoulder.
“Have you gone to a hospital?” She asked numbly.
Hurricane shook his head. “No. Too many questions. I decided my alter ego died. Incinerated entirely.” He forced a smile. “I think I might retire, actually.”
Her hand impacted his face sharply. “No chance. You can’t just fade in to the back after this. I won’t allow it. If I have to be in the public eye, you do, too.”
The young man in front of her rubbed his cheek. “You’ve got a hell of an arm.”
“Yeah, actually.” He grinned sheepishly. “I’ll stay in public,” he finally agreed, “If you…” He trailed off. “Nevermind.” Slowly, he sighed. “I can’t think straight.” Hurricane stepped back as Vanessa took a step toward him. “No. Just get going. You need to be in your apartment. I can’t take you there.” He pointed to the door. “Your apartment’s back entrance is through there and to the left.”
With those words, Hurricane disappeared into the air.
Left without a choice, Vanessa left the building and followed his directions. She arrived just in time to clean up before someone pounded on her door.
“Vanessa!” The pounding continued. “Vanessa! We have a story! It’s huge, and everyone else is there already! Stop sleeping in!” It was the frantic voice of her camera man. “Report in your PJs if you have to, we’re leaving!” He began to pick her lock just as she opened the door.
“Calm down, I was getting ready. Let’s go.” She grabbed the van keys from him and darted to the news truck. “Are you coming?” she asked the stunned man.
“Yeah, coming.” He turned and followed after, then climbed into the passenger side and fiddled with the camera while he quickly described the situation at City Hall.
The pair arrived quickly and scrambled from the van. As she waited for the OK, Vanessa fixed her hair. A glance to one side gave her a clear view of a body bag being loaded into an ambulance. She had to fight a sense of victory as the camera man began the count-down.
“We’re live in three, two, one.” He pointed to her, and she began to speak. Across the city, televisions tuned in to see her stand in front of a charred husk and report on the damages.
“We’re live in front of City Hall, where a massive fire broke out earlier this morning. Police have no leads on who committed this horrible act, but urge citizens to call the hotline number, shown below.”