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36. Conference

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The sun was still rising as a gaggle of reporters and photographers gathered around the podium in front of city hall. An old man in a suit behind the podium addressed the crowd.

“As mayor of Heaven’s Head, I understand there are many questions about what transpired last night. Fortunately, we have an eyewitness who can give a firsthand account of this woman named Mother Martyr and her intentions to destroy our city.”

The mayor looked to his right. “Please,” he said. You may approach the podium.

Nodding, Lance Whitlock approached the podium and began to speak.

“My friends in the press,” he began. “Last night, Mother Martyr had acquired a device that she intended to use to flood our city and drown everyone in it. Fortunately, her plans were foiled by some heroic individuals, and she is now in police custody.”

Lance cleared his throat before continuing. “The first such individual was a man named Vulcan Hephaestus, who was well-liked by all the members of the Heaven’s Head Police Department, as well as the public at large. He sacrificed his own life last night in order to stop Mother Martyr from succeeding in her plans. I know that we will all miss that moment roughly once every week I which we hear about the latest literature-related crime that he solved through all sort of hijinks, but after eight years of service, maybe it’s for the best if he is finally given the chance to rest. Personally, I look forward to going back and revisiting the crimes he was able to solve during those second through fourth years of service.”

Lance took a sip of water. “The second individual is someone who I had the personal pleasure of being wrong about last night. Many of you probably know who I am talking about. She’s been in this city for months, doing everything she can to protect us from harm, but more often than not, her arrival has been greeted with shouts of fear rather than acceptance. Before last night, I too distrusted the Night Retcher. But not only did she rescue me from the Librarian–who we can all agree is the lamest villain in Heaven’s Head–she then went on to stop Mother Martyr and save the rest of our lives. And for that I thank her. Her abilities may be different from what we’re used to, but I think I speak for all of us when I say that the Night Retcher is always welcome in Heaven’s Head.”

Lance looked down at the reporters. “I will now take any questions.”

Davy watched the reporters begin to shout questions to Lance. He was standing across the street from city hall, under the shade of an awning and completely inconspicuous. Olivia, Steve, and Sarah were standing in either side of him.

“Man,” Steve said. “This Lance guy is weirdly eloquent.”

“I’m just glad he agreed to omit us from his account of what happened,” Davy replied.

Steve frowned. “Yeah, about that,” he said. “Did we really need to do that? You know how much I enjoy the adulation of the public.”

“Yeah,” Olivia added. She had changed out of her vigilante hood and was wearing a slightly oversized blue sweater and jeans. Even with the pale gray skin, she didn’t stand out too much from the people around her. “You two did a lot last night as well. It doesn’t seem fair to leave you guys out.”

Davy shrugged. “Well, I mean, there’s an evil alligator who wants to kill me, so I thought it would be better to stay under the radar. Besides, you were kind of the key player in stopping Mother Martyr,” he told Olivia. “I’d consider growing into a giant eyeball-teeth creature and eating the supervillain a major contribution.”

Sarah nodded in agreement. “You deserve this Olivia,” she added. “After all you’ve done to protect this city, everyone is finally going to see how great you are.”

Olivia put her hand to her cheek. “Aw shucks guys, you’re making me blush.” Her face morphed into a giant eyeball again. “Eyeball Face thanks you for your kindness,” she said, bowing, before turning her face back to normal.

“So what now?” Steve asked.

Davy thought to himself. “Probably go back home to Bayou City,” he replied. “I’ve got a feeling that our next step will make itself clear to us once we get back there.”

Olivia looked down at the ground. “About that,” she began. “You said you needed people to help you. Mind if I come too?”

Davy answered with no hesitation. “Man, you’re the most capable person out of all of us. I would have died several times if it weren’t for you. I’d be happy for you to come along.”

A thought came to Steve’s head. “But what about Mother Martyr?” he asked Olivia. “What if she tries something while you’re gone?”

Olivia laughed. “Please, if there’s one thing I know about being a superhero, it’s that once they go to jail, they stay there and are never a problem again.”

Olivia turned to her sister. “You gonna be okay if I go out of town for a while?” she asked.

Sarah smiled. “Absolutely,” she answered. “You go on ahead. Have an adventure and make sure these two don’t die,” she said gesturing at Davy and Steve.

“You could come with us too if you wanted,” Davy offered.

Sarah chuckled and shook her head. “Thanks, but I’m a medical student. I can’t just drop everything to go on a quest.”

“Oh, right,” replied Davy, the law student who dropped everything to go on this quest. Davy suspected he may not have fully thought this whole thing through.

It looked like the press conference had concluded, as the crowd was beginning to disperse. “I guess it’s probably time to go,” Davy said. “We got two artifacts down, we just need uh,” he looked at Steve. “How many are left?”

Steve shrugged. “I don’t know. You didn’t tell me.” Steve was silent for a moment. “Did you?”

Davy tried, but he couldn’t remember how many artifacts there were in total.

“Well, shoot,” he said.

“Adventure!” Olivia shouted.


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