Tuesday, April 15, 2008

002: The Land Captain

Fifteen minutes later, after eating some delicious waffles, Charleston had come to a decision. He was not really in the mood to deal with things he might not be able to see, and might not even be there. This ruled out everything but the giant frog, and seriously, how much of a problem could a giant frog be? He should be there and back before dinner. He pulled out his phone and called up the Dispatcher.

"Is the giant frog assignment still available?" he asked.

There was some static, then an obviously disguised voice said, "Indeed it is, Mister Charge. The car has already been sent to take you to your destination. Have a nice day, Mister Charge."

The phone clicked, and Charleston went outside to find a man dressed like a captain standing by a Buick. The Buick's back door was open and the captain was grinning like a madman.

"Are you the driver the company sent?" asked Charleston. Several times in the past, he had been kidnapped by various opponents to his company. He found it paid to ask these kinds of questions, because at the very least it gave you plausible deniability.

"I sure am, Mister Charge," said the driver, "You can just go ahead and call me Land Captain."

Charleston raised an eyebrow, "Land Captain?"

"I'm a superhero. I generally fight aliens. I've saved the universe a few times, you know. Me and Ishmael, here."

"You named your car Ishmael?"

"Sure did. We can chat more in the car, but we'd better get going."

Charleston nodded and got into the car, and the Land Captain got into the driver's seat. He pulled some switches, turned the key, and they were on their way.

"Do you know the way there, Land Captain?" asked Charleston, fighting the urge to doze off.

"Nope, but Ishmael does," said Land Captain, "He's pretty smart as far as cars go."

Charleston knew he would have to keep an eye on this Land Captain. He seemed to be insane, but the Company wouldn't send a madman to drive him, would they? He was about to pass a comment about the unlikeliness of a superhero working as a driver when he realized that the car was going a wee bit too fast. The world outside was little more than a blur.

"Land Captain! How fast are we going?"

"Fast as we can, sir! Speed is of the essence, and ol' Ishmael here can go pretty darn fast. Don't worry, though, we won't run into anything and no one will see us. Like I said, Ishmael is a special sort of car."

Charleston nodded, then quickly buckled his safety belt and tried to dig his nails into the car's seat. He closed his eyes and prayed they'd be there before...

The car stopped.

Oh thank whatever gods there were, the car stopped.

"We're here, Mister Charge!" said Land Captain with a smile, then he chuckled, "Don't worry, I've been assigned as your personal driver. You'll get used to ol' Ishmael eventually."

All the blood drained from Charleston's face. He had faced down demons and hydras in the past with a knowing smirk, but this car was something altogether different. There was something unearthly about it, and Charleston decided he would some day find out what it was.

"Ah, before I forget," said Land Captain, reaching into his pocket, "When you're done, or when you need a ride, just give me call." He handed a card to Charleston, who took it and shoved it into his pocket.

"Thanks a million. I'll be sure to do that."

Charleston had barely gotten out of the car when it zoomed away. He let out a sigh of relief, and then looked around. He was surrounded by woods. There was a damaged building nearby, and it was built by a stream. Off to his left there was a path leading into the woods, away from both the stream and the building.

He wondered if he should investigate the building, follow the stream, or go into the woods...

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