A week had passed and Jacqueline had promised not to speak or have anything to deal with the iron clad boy. The days were quiet as daily routine covered awkward moments as conversation would at times weave into trying to understand what happened that night; but Kendrick would always steer the topic away. Jacqueline had simply finished to report with the information she had left, and a half butted report it turned out to be due to the lack of first hand information. She wasn’t sure of what to do or how to take in the situation with their relationship at first, but it was now becoming a thorn in Jacqueline’s side.
The air circulation turned on in the study room she was typing up a report in and shifted her bangs over her eyes. She skillfully blew them over to one side without even flicking her neck. She had tried over and over to figure out what had happened that night. What had gone wrong, and more importantly what was going through Kendrick’s head. The more she thought, the more she didn’t understand.
The scene had not pan out well the night of the rooftop incident. After the iron clad boy had leaped away, Kendrick had quietly gathered the pieces of the broken camera and took Jacqueline by the hand back home. There wasn’t a word spoken until they got to their apartment doors, and even then it was just a simple good night. Kendrick didn’t even look Jacqueline in the eyes until a few days after.
Oddly enough, the week simply went by without much thought, and Jacqueline was starting to get irritated as Kendrick lived his life ignoring what had obviously happened. He had failed to confront the issue.
The study room door opened revealing Kendrick with a seemingly proud look on his face; as fate would dictate, in that same moment, a simple email was delivered into Jacqueline’s email. Kendrick placed a newspaper wrapped package in between her and her laptop, just as Jacqueline had clicked to open the strange, anonymous email. The package blocked the view of her screen as Jacqueline was a bit confused as she was trying to figure out if she had forgotten if today was a special day.
Kendrick nodded and motioned Jacqueline to open the package. She gave Kendrick a puzzled look as her hands moved quickly to tear off the newspaper wrapping to reveal a box. She opened the box and stood to get a better view of what was inside. Her eyes widened, not because of the contents inside the box, but the words she saw on the screen of her laptop.
“You are cordially invited to Richards Conglomerate Annual Ball by Solomon Richards.”
Kendrick started to explain the details of how had fixed the broken DSLR and had to order in special parts in order to do so and how he knew how important the camera was to a journalist, but Jacqueline didn’t care. This was crazy. Jacqueline moved the box with the DSLR aside without even looking at the contents and turned laptop screen towards Kendrick. Kendricks face instantly changed from self contentment to disagreement. He shook his head and crossed his arms.
“CHECK YOUR EMAIL RIGHT NOW! MAYBE YOU GOT ONE TOO!” Jacqueline was obviously ecstatic, but Kendrick didn’t like what he saw.
Before Kendrick knew what had happened he was driving a carefully, pampered princess to the ball. Jacqueline was always resourceful in minimizing spending on her wardrobe and maximizing her value. She wore a pouffy lime green dress she found at a local thrift store that had pouffy sleeves to match. She held her hair in a neat bun, and her jewelry matched her crystal studded dress.
“This shouldn’t be overdoing it,” Jacqueline thought to herself. She looked on ahead at Kendrick’s butler outfit. She thought she was quite the genius being able to find a cheap butler outfit from a local party and costume store for cheap, she even found an awesome top hat for him to wear for kicks. It wasn’t as if he was going to step out of the car for long periods of time anyways. Soon enough, the car came to a stop in front of Richards Tower.
The building standing a stout 144 stories tall belittled the rest of the surrounding skyscape as flood lamps, strobe lights, and a million other different lighting and decorations nearly lit the entire sky from night to day.
“Wow, this guy really knows how to party,” Jacqueline muttered under her breath.
Kendrick looked back and asked, “You ready Jacqueline?”
Jacqueline nodded in response and swallowed the lump in her throat from the nervousness. She double checked her clutch to see if her journalism pad, pen, and other simple necessities were still in place. Business first she thought.
She breathed in one last time, and patted Kendrick on the shoulder as she left, “I’ll stick to the plan, I shouldn’t be more than an hour, and I’ll call you once I’m done. Thank you boyfriend.”
Kendrick simply grunted in response and drove the car away to find the parking lot. He wasn’t very amused at being the butler. He tried to be as supportive as a boyfriend could, but he was still irked by not receiving an invitation.
Jacqueline made her way past the dazzling lights into the doors and handed over her carefully printed invitation to the receptionist. They smiled and pointed her toward the elevator. In the movies, Jacqueline remembered some business parties would happen in the lobbies, perhaps this one was a bit more like Die Hard she thought. Hopefully there won’t be any terrorists to ruin this party, but secretly she thought it would be exciting to journal the events into the Megapolis Collegiate Post as an eye witness.
As the elevators zipped up one hundred floors in a matter of seconds Jacqueline had to nearly hold her stomach from losing her lunch. She breathed one last breath as the elevator doors opened.
“Here we go…” She took out her journalism pad to make sure she went straight to work.
The sight of the room was incredible. She was expecting an elevator lobby, however the whole room was a makeshift conference room with a ceiling at least three stories high. Red and Gold seemed as if they were the prominent theme as large silk streamers flowed from the rooftops. Roses and Yellow flowers Jacqueline couldn’t recognize strewn across the room in large vases. Food, servers, and socializing… Everywhere! There was even a small band decked out in all gold, with gold instruments to match, playing near what looked as if a dance floor. She wasn’t sure where to start, as the whole place was difficult to take in. She took a few steps in and bumped into the Mayor of Megapolis.
“Excuse me young lady,” The fat, jolly mayor replied cordially.
Jacqueline cringed as she realized the stature of the man, and bowed away. She realized she was in the company of people way out of her league. None the less, she pushed on to find her subject. Black suits, stunning dresses, alcoholic beverages, and more diamonds than a single mine in Africa could produce. Her crystal studs and jewelry looked paltry, not to mention her lime green dress made her a sore thumb in the sea of red and gold. None the less she continued to make her way through the crowd.
She was careful not to bump into some A list celebrity, or the mayor of Megapolis again, but maneuvering around these crowds looking for Solomon Richards made her thirsty and tired. Nearly twenty minutes into it one of the servers came to her rescue.
“Something to drink miss?”
“Yes, please!” She took a glass of red liquid from the server’s plate and took it down. It had a bitter and hard taste.
“You know that’s red wine…” A voice intruded
Jacqueline spun around and nearly yelped. She was shocked at how much her subject looked like a boyfriend. She nearly thought that Kendrick had come to find her.
“Careful, you are going to spill that on my carpet. I do not believe you know how much this carpet cost me.” Solomon shook his head and pried the half full glass of wine out of her hands returning it to the server’s plate. He continued, “as well as throwing me in jail if the chief of police finds out that I’m serving alcohol to a minor, whom is stand twenty feet from here.” Solomon pointed out a skinny man about six foot four in a clean cut tuxedo, with a look of an ostrich.
Jacqueline’s eyes became wide with embarrassment.
“Shall we dance young lady?” Solomon took her by the side and proceeded to maneuver through the crowd so skillfully making his way to the center of the dance floor with ease. Almost at cue the music changed to a slow paced beat, perhaps with a bit of a creepy undertone, a waltz perhaps? Jacqueline wasn’t much with music. The dance floor followed the flow of the music weaving, enter twining itself, locking itself into a sea of carefully orchestrated dancers.
Solomon Richards spoke in a whisper and held her close. “I love the dress your wearing, it made it easier to find you.”
Jacqueline realized how close she was to Solomon, and nearly jumped out of his arms. He was so fast, he moved with so much confidence, with a hint of arrogance. She snapped back at him going straight to business, “How about we begin with introductions?”
Jacqueline blinked as she stared at him, then looked away from his face. They were so close.
He whispered into her ear, “my party, my invitation, I say… you start.”
“Jacqueline, Jacqueline Narcisa”
“Well, I believe you know me, I own this place.” Solomon grinned as his sharp eyes glimmered looking at Jacqueline. They continued to sway and move as the music continued, striding to the left at times, and to the right in balance.
He moved, confidently with a hint of arrogance in his step. His personality much different from Kendrick’s. Yet, their similarity in stature, even skin color, to distinction was uncanny, at least at first glance. The only blatant feature that separated these two had to be the eyes. Kendrick’s eyes was much softer, when the doppleganger looking directly at her was much more sharper.
She broke the silence, “Solomon, I have a few questions.”
He smiled and replied in a cool whisper, “you are amazing, unrelenting. what are you anyways? You do know that curiosity killed the cat.”
“Then why did you invite me if you knew I was going to ask questions?”
“Maybe I wanted to kill the cat?”, He looked straight at her in a menacing glare. This was the first time in the night that Jacqueline was a tad bit scared. Suddenly, Solomon broke out into laughter turning a few heads.
“Give it a rest, Reporter girl can’t take a joke? Is it all facts with you?” He loosened his grip on her sides a bit reassuring he wasn’t going to hurt her.
Jacqueline shook her heads and smashed down on his foot with her heals. Solomon’s face cringed as he looked at Jacqueline in a confused, pained state.
“Don’t mess with me like that again.”
Solomon groaned, “Spicy… I would have never thought that you would have a bit of an attitude problem.”
“And you have a bit of an arrogant problem.” Jacqueline shot back.
“Ouch, call me arrogant when I own the place…” He kicked out the pain from his foot. “I like that.”
“Excuse me?” Jacqueline was caught off guard again.
“Let’s cut to the chase. This past week I was thinking about the little endeavor we had. I think I like you.”
“What the hell..?”
He cut her off, “I was a bit irritated about the situation that we were in, and I thought you may be just another fan girl or some crazed woman, but just by the past few minutes I’m beginning to change my mind.”
“Are you cra-”
Solomon interrupted, “I’ll make you a deal. You be my girlfriend for… let’s say a month? And I’ll let you in on everything that I’m doing, the “Big Picture”, but it has to be on my rules and my terms. What you say? Isn’t that a win, win situation for both of us?”
Jacqueline couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Her eyebrows furled as she wasn’t sure how to react. She heard a whirring noise that came from Solomon’s watch from her right ear, as he brushed her hair over her ear.
“Oops, that’s strange, but I have an appointment that I must have forgotten about. I would love to hear your answer after you think about it, I will contact you soon for your answer.” He detached himself from her and stepped away. Jacqueline caught a glimpse of his glowing watch as he walked away, and stood stunned again.
The boy loved to make a good getaway, and before she knew it he was gone. She made her way near the edge of the party and found herself a seat. She jotted down a few notes including the strange watch, and the details of the conversation. Boyfriend, One month, Watch, the Big Picture, and what else was there. She shook her head, all this that happened that evening was a bit exhausting and going to look for the boy would be even more challenging. Perhaps the spoiled brat would show himself later in the night looking for her response. Jacqueline had no idea of what to say.
A loud shrieking bell pierced the softly playing music. The band that had been playing halted their symphony and everyone looked around in confusion. The tall, ostrich- like police chief took control speaking in a scratchy, rusty voice over the bells.
“Fire alarm! Everyone stay calm. It is MOST LIKELY an accident and not the real deal. To be safe, let’s all slowly make our way to the exits, and we shall all be fine!”
People started to mutter, but his presence seemed to put them all to rest. Jacqueline thought to herself, walking down one hundred flights didn’t seem very entertaining, and the night had been exhausting. She had no choice but to leave. Inside, she was a bit happy the spoiled brat might have his big, expensive building burn down, then her heart skipped a beat.
“DIE HARD!”, she exploded, and had to clasp her hands around her mouth in order to control herself.
The calm crowd in exodus looked back at the sudden outburst by the small girl in the lime green dress.
Her thought raced at the chance to be in a great heist, or some terrorist scheme. Even if it was a small chance. Why would the fire alarm go off while there were celebrity A listers, the mayor of Megapolis, ALL THESE FAMOUS PEOPLE THERE HAS TO BE SOMETHING BREWING! She swiftly turned around and ran to the opposite direction. She pressed the button for the elevator and the elevator door immediately opened. She hopped inside looking for adventure.
Solomon dashed down the hallway loosening his tie as the bells shrieked. Note to self, he thought; change the fire alarm bells to something a bit more soothing. But no time for jokes he thought, his mind raced, swelling with thoughts. He wasn’t really a genius, but rather a fast thinker. One of the passive alarms had gone off and upper story windows had been broken into, thus the silent alarm was triggered. It could have been a pigeon, or anything, but the fact that multiple windows had been breached would mean that it had to be intentional. He wasn’t the brightest in the bunch but his fast thinking was enough to set him at the front of the pact, and at the moment his legs were moving as fast as he was thinking.
He slammed through the double doors yelling out his voice signature to unlock the doors. His office was quiet. Thank the Lord all mighty. That meant that his armor he had stored the night before would still be intact. He pushed a button on his desk as an armor rose slowly out of one of the panels of marble flooring. He breathed a sigh of relief.
“Sir, I believe there are intruders on the 107th floor of the tower.” Kenzington’s voice boomed over the phone speakers in the room.
“Thank you for the silent alarm Kenzington,” Solomon sighed, “but was it really worth it to stop mah paa- – -… Oh my goodness.”
As Solomon looked onto the security camera feeds on the 107th floor he saw glass strewn across the grown, broken window, and the image left him speechless.
“Kenzington, can you monitor these… things and direct uplink their locations to my head unit. I also want a parallel feed of where my guests are and a damage report when possible. Wait, scratch that, just the feeds and isolate and lock down the floors for me.”
“Yes, sir… and the feeds?”
“Yeah, both of them!” Solomon hastened to done his suit of armor. He was shaking. He barely couldn’t coordinate his armor as the images of the security feed continued to dance around his mind. He couldn’t believe what he saw. He dashed out of the room at frightening speeds breaking the marble ground as he sped out of the room.
“Kenzington, I’m on the 144th floor right? What’s the fastest way down to the 107th?”
“I would say the stairs sir.”
“Wrong answer!”, Kenzington dashed straight down the hall and crashed through the window of the 144th floor of his building. He could hear Kenzington mutter something to himself as he screamed in excitement of the freefall. As a counter at the top left of his visor ticked off the flights he had dropped he activated his boots to boost him into the broken window. He tumbled in scraping the flooring off the ground.
“Boom Kenzington. I am a genius when it comes to thinking fast.”
“and a dunce when it comes to money management, sir…”, Kenzington muttered as he thought of all the repair work that he would have to coordinate after this fiasco.
“Oh your too harsh, but I still love you Kenzington. Remind me to double your pay.” Solomon began to stride through the hallway looking for his first opponent.
“I do not get paid sir, all of my work is done because, may I remind you of my debt to your family.”
“Yeah Kenzington, I remember. That’s why I love you so much.” Solomon’s grinned a grin that could probably be seen through his transparent visor.
Solomon reached the end of the hallway standing at a fork. “Kenzington, left or right? and why aren’t streams up yet?”, at that moment three small images flickered at the top of his visor. The security feeds of his enemies, the feeds of his guests, and… the feed of his current love interest he had invited.
“Wow Kenzington, you are good. I like the extra care on the feeds so I can make sure my girl gets out safe and sound.”
Kenzington’s voice cackled on the radio, “No sir, a girl has wandered into your vicinity and was locked in when I locked down the 107th floor. Last time I checked she may have been in the process of being attacked by our unwelcomed guests…”
At that moment, on the right side of the forked hallway, he saw Jacqueline screaming, running away from her assailants clutching her journalism notepad. Solomon was impressed by her persistence. Fear and tears swirled together in her eyes as she shrieked at the top of her lungs.
“ZOMBIESSS!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHH! HELP SOLOMON!”
Zombies Solomon thought as he was still shaking. Not so much because he was scared, but more so at the thought of being able to fight them with the suit. He grinned at the thought of being able to save his damsel in distress. Perhaps the night wasn’t going to be a complete disaster.
Solomon scanned the zombies to identify the lifeforms as humans, but every scan came up negative. It was time for some action, but he needed to remove the girl from the picture if he wanted to get down and dirty. He lurched forward and boosted into the hallway and swiped Jacqueline into his arm. He flipped over one zombie, still holding Jacqueline in her arms. Her dress was flailing and hair amuck, but he noticed out of the corner of his eyes she was still clenching her journalism pad as if her life was in it, this girl was incredible. He side swept another, and had to boost his way onto the ceiling to run through the rest.
Zombies were probably not the best term, but the closest term for them. Most closely resembled in feature, with the wild eyes and decomposing skin. The look of a human being that had not taken a shower in years. They even sounded like zombies, with the grunting and moaning, perhaps hungry for human flesh. Yet the defining factor was that, they were quick. The zombies in the movie weren’t this quick. At least the movies Solomon had seen.
Solomon flicked open his visor open and looked down as he continued to sprint down the hallway. “Well, this isn’t anything new. Remember when I saved you the first time?”
Jacqueline simply shook her head. Solomon was grinning a lot that day and the same grin was plastered on his face. “Just think about it.” He smirked.
He broke into a faster run as he saw the open window.
He leaped out the window into the open air. He had never gone into a free fall with another human being in his arms and wasn’t sure how this one was going to end up. Always thinking as he was in the motions and never thinking before, he decided to burst his booster into a controlled burn as he neared decent. Still, it was a bit bumpy landing. He set her on her feet, flicked open his visors and blew her a kiss.
“That makes TWO times I’ve saved you! If that doesn’t seal the deal, I don’t know what will. Think about it!”
Jacqueline was too dizzy to know how to respond. The wind was knocked out of her and she struggled to stand up. Kendrick whom had been standing nearby with the parked car ran to catch her just as she was fainting. The armored boy was running toward the building to restart his fight.
“Kenzington, what’s the fastest way up to the 107th floor?”
“The elevators I presume sir.”
“Negative, I think running and power boosting up the side of the tower would be faster.”
His speaker cackled once again, “you never fail to surprise me young master.”
With that Solomon began to boost and leap and stride, running up the side of the building. He was running so fast, and so high that He saw the clouds approach him, and before he knew it, he had arrived at the broken window and leapt in. The zombies were right where he left them, in a sort of organized chaos, just as zombies should be.
He boosted forward and leapt up and tried to smash his boot into one of their heads, but only nicked its temple. As his hand passed neared his face he went for the neck trying to slam the zombie down to the ground, instead his head ripped from his neck leaving its torso smashing into the ground. Solomon was throughly disgusted. Even though these things weren’t real human beings, they still looked as if they were humans. He tossed the head to the side to realize that there was no blood. These bodies may literally be corpses. He activated a thermal scan taking note of current body temperature.
What the hell is going on? There were three more zombies in front of him, hopefully they were the only zombies left for him to dismantle. In a horrifying maneuver one jumped onto the ceiling and started to claw his way over, simultaneously the other two leaped on the walls and began to claw their way over at terrifying speeds.
Solomon bent low to bring his center of gravity down. He breathed in. He began to concentrate and the suit of armor began to glow. Closing his eyes he felt his enemy approach him, he heard their groaning, he knew right where they were. He gathered and gathered moving the energy through his body and into his right hand, he felt it pulse, he waited for to come, and opened his eyes.
He grinned, they were right in front of him, he sent the energy he had piled up into his fist straight into the three zombies. The energy burst from his hands sending forth what looked like a ray of light smashed into them as if a car had slammed into them at high speeds. Ohhhh, batman had nothing on him! Shooting energy beams through his hands. He did a little victory twiddle as he activated his voice com again.
“Uhhhh, Kezington, do you think we can get some research done on what the heck these things are… and I think we’re going to have to do a little damage control about the fire alarms going off. It’s going to be a loooooong night.”
“Yes sir, I’ll send a heli-rotor to bring in our intruders and I will begin the research immediately.”
“Thanks Kenzington, and can you send in a freshly pressed suit? I’m just going to do the press release right now, If it’s possible.”
“Already done sir, and the press should be available as you make your way down.”
“You the best Kenzington.”
“I’m glad I can be of service.”
“I’ll be home by midnight. I’ll help you with the research once I get there.”
Solomon made his way to the broken window and shook his head. He had no idea where these zombies had come from, or what their objective was. If they wanted to crash the party and were after the guests it would have been easier to land on the 100th floor and not the 107th. If the objective was to simply ruin the party, one could have done that in a much more, simpler manner. This, was different. The suit then? But no one knew about the suit except the girl, unless she leaked it. No, judging by her personality this wasn’t possible. 107th floor was for Research and Development, would that possibly be it? But what could zombies possibly do to steal research?
It had to be something different, the Richards family had always had enemies, big and small, in many different places. He just hoped this wasn’t something he couldn’t deal with, but he already had a bad feeling that it probably did.
He opened his visor to take in some fresh air and stared into the night skyline.
“Oh boy, does something wicked this way come? Or has it come already…?” He looked down at the head of the first zombie he decapitated, the lifeless zombie head looked as if it were smiling at Solomon, mocking him.
“Cheh… Wipe that smile off your face.”
He kicked the head backwards.