“Other than a large purple bruise, your chest appears to be OK,” the first paramedic said to me. “We’d like to run you into the hospital to be sure, though.”
“Funny thing is,” the second said. “If you were shot in the chest, why would you have amnesia? Amnesia typically comes from head trauma.”
“Maybe getting shot in a burning building caused the trauma,” the first suggested. “Can you remember anything, sir?”
“Yeah,” I thought and thought. “I can remember…”
“What is it?” the second paramedic said as the two leaned closer.
“I remember… the Alamo,” I answered.
“Funny,” the second paramedic said. “You’re a real comedian.”
“No wait,” I answered. “There was a travel brochure for San Antonio on the counter. It had the Alamo on the cover.”
“Yeah,” I added glumly as everything else on the counter rushed back into my head. “I also remember the Seattle Space Needle, the Hollywood Sign, and the Sears Tower.”
Wait a minute, the Sears Tower? I see that thing all the time. I’m from Chicago.
“So you saw a lot of travel brochures,” the first paramedic said. “Maybe you were going to take a vacation.”
“No wait,” more information crashed into my head. “My name is Jon.”
“Yes,” I answered. I was starting to remember everything. “Jon… the Intergalactic Gladiator.”
“Interga-what?” the paramedic asked in disbelief. “Maybe we should bring you in to have your head checked out.”
“No no, I’m fine now. It’s all coming back to me,” I assured them. “Plus I have this creepy old guy in my head saying my name over and over again. So I totally remember now. Honest.”
“Oh yeah,” the other paramedic said. “We definitely need to get you to the hospital. Maybe it’s just a concussion.”
I can’t let them take me in. Zartan and Mystique are getting further away and if I don’t get going now, I’ll never catch them.
“No need,” I replied. “I have an appointment elsewhere that I must attend.”
Before they could answer, I aimed my Wristcomm skyward and fired the harpoon. It hit its mark on the top of the building and the monofilament cable reeled back in, hoisting me into the air.
“Whoa, that was a pretty cool exit,” the first paramedic said to the second.
“Yeah, way cooler than Batman,” the second agreed.
“No way,” the first said. “Batman’s exits are always the coolest.”
“Yeah, but he was just a regular Joe doing it,” the second said. “Not some superhero with a black cape and all.”
“That’s what makes Batman’s better,” the first said. “He’s got the cape, man.”
I dropped right in front of Zartan, who was attempting to make his getaway through an alley a few blocks away.
“Going somewhere?” I asked.
“Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator!” Zartan shouted in surprise. “But I thought you were—”
“Dead?” I answered. “The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
“What rumors?” he asked. “I shot you in the chest.”
“I was going for a literary reference,” I sighed. “You know, Mark Twain.”
“Yeah, I don’t see how that fits here, really,” Zartan shrugged.
“Never mind. This set up to knock me out of the presidential race and put you in,” I growled. “I want to know who hired you.”
“Nobody hired me, fool!” Zartan smiled smugly. “I’m doing this all on my own.”
“I don’t think so,” I answered. “I’ve read up on you and I know this type of an operation isn’t your style. “You’re only in it for the money; therefore, someone must have hired you for this.”
“And you think I’m just going hand you a name?” He drew his pistol. “You are a fool.”
I spun around and kicked the weapon from his hand. I spun again and my second kick sent him flying. He quickly got up and assumed an unusual fighting stance.
“I must warn you,” he smiled. “I am highly trained in the ancient and forbidden Eastern martial arts. Hiiiiii!”
“I doubt it,” I answered as I blocked his kick. “You are a skilled assassin and perhaps the greatest master of disguise on this planet, but I doubt you are anything else.”
“Shows what you know,” he swung at me again. “I am a ninja.”
“Again, I don’t believe you,” I answered as I caught his arm and flipped him over me. “If you were, why would you need to brag about it?”
“Argh!” I he snarled and flung himself at me again.
“For instance, I’m a master of the deadly Kairos Fu,” I said as I spun away from his attack.
“Oh yeah, what’s that?” the master of disguise sneered as he threw a fist at me again.
“Nothing,” I answered as I threw him down again. “I just made it up, but it sure sounded cool, didn’t it? And you’re nothing but trash.”
To drive home that point, I hit him with a garbage can. OK, I admit it, when I saw the can there I knew that I had to use it as a weapon along with a witty action hero line.
“Wait, wait,” Zartan pleaded.
“You’re not going to ask for mercy are you?” I asked sourly. I grabbed him by his coat and pulled him up close to me. From out of his coat a folded sheet of paper poked out. “What’s this?”
“Uh, nothing,” the Dreadnok leader answered innocently.
“Yoink!” I pulled it out and took a look at it. “An itinerary for a flight to Washington DC.”
“No kidding,” Zartan replied sarcastically. “Wow, you sure are some master detective, aren’t you?”
“This is for one. What about Mystique? Where’s she, huh?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “We split up after we left her place.”
“Really?” I scoffed. “After you two were getting all hot and heavy in her shop you just decided to part ways?”
“Fine,” he gave in. “We made out behind a van in the alley for 20 minutes or so, then she took off. Happy?”
“Ew, no, too much information,” I winced. “So who are you going to see in Washington? Tell me!”
“Why should I tell you?”
“Oh I don’t know, I guess I could kick you around this alley a little more.”
“All right, all right,” he conceded. “My employer did not give me his name but I was supposed to meet him to receive my payment.”
“Where?” I demanded, pulling him closer by his jacket.
“When it’s time for change in Washington, where would you go?” Zartan asked mysteriously.
“I dunno,” I shrugged.
“That’s the clue,” Zartan said. “When it’s time for change in Washington, where would you go?”
“Time for change, huh? Well it wouldn’t be congress, they don’t like change.”
“No no, you’re not getting the clue right,” Zartan sighed. “When it’s time for change…”
“Time for change,” I repeated. “Oh, that could be a bank. Or maybe a laundromat, you can get change there.”
“Argh, no you’re still not getting the clue, idiot,” Zartan spat. “When it’s time for change! Time! Time is the clue!”
“Oh OK,” I said. “Thanks I guess. Hey!”
I was caught off guard as Zartan disappeared right in front of me. I was so surprised by it that I loosened my grip and he shook himself free. I know it was just some sort of holographic trick that he pulled so I couldn’t see him, but it was a total rookie move of me to let him go like that.
“Ha ha ha ha ha! See you later, Joes!” his laughter echoed off the alley walls.
“That’s Jon!” I shouted.