Afflictions: Part Twenty Three

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Jude, Guillermo, and Zoey all sat on a table outside a local restaurant in a small town in Iowa. They were on the tail end of a long drive, and had made a slight detour to get dinner. Paul had said he had been to Iowa a few times to see family, and highly recommended ‘The Quarry’, a diner in the area. It was a bit out of the way, but the promise of a particularly good burger had piqued Jude’s interest enough to stop here anyways.

They had all finished their food, and were generally appreciating the atmosphere of the day. It was the perfect temperature, they had full stomachs, and were almost done driving for the day. Jude was really glad that he had decided to listen to Paul on this one, both the trip and the stop. This really was what he needed, a proper vacation. Even if a road trip can be exhausting, it’s more than nice enough to make up for it.

Zoey looked off in the distance for a moment, then back at her dad. “Hey, what was this town called again?”

“I think it was…” Guillermo paused for a moment in thought, “Hamilton?” He looked to Jude.

“Hammerston, I think.” Jude had been navigating, so he felt reasonably certain.

Zoey pulled out her phone and scrolled for a moment, before looking up with excitement. “It’s him!”

She held up her phone, and showed a picture of a young white man, dressed in trendy clothes, who had weird black tentacles coming out of his back. She then directed their attention off into the distance, where, sure enough, a white dude with similar looking tentacles was walking.

“Who is he?” Guillermo asked.

“Timtastic!” Zoey began to clean up her trash and gather her stuff. “He’s one of the Hammerston heroes. I follow him on Instagram!”

The name rang a bell in Jude’s mind. He had heard about the ‘Hammerston Heroes’ in meetings with the DSR. They were a solo group with little interest in joining with any larger organization. It was only legal because the local police deputized them, and they worked with other small town police departments. They had a disproportionately large social media following because of ‘Timtastic’, who ran a bunch of social media pages. Jude wasn’t sure exactly what there was to do around here really.

“Yeah, I think I’ve heard of them now that you mention it.” Jude nodded.

“Let’s go say hi! We’re supers too, is there some kind of code?” Zoey jumped up from her seat.

Jude laughed a little. He was really reluctant to go harass the man, but Zoey had been having a particularly ‘low energy’ day before this, so he was really just glad to see her happy. He was also admittedly wary of wandering around too much in a rural white town, but he supposed this wouldn’t take too long. It wasn’t sundown yet either way.

“I don’t see why not.” He shrugged and looked to Guillermo.

“I don’t have a problem with it.” He nodded, and gathered his own things.

Jude cleaned up his trash, packed up his bag, and the trio went to approach ‘Timtastic’. As they got closer, Jude got a better look at the tentacles. They were certainly something. They didn’t seem to be made of any kind of flesh, they seemed a little spectral really. It honestly looked a little sinister. He was walking alongside an older looking white guy. As the trio grew nearer, they turned to face them.

“Are you Timtastic?” Zoey stepped forwards, beaming.

“Why yes, I am!” He smiled and placed his hands on his hips. His tentacles began to do wave in a pattern behind him. He looked over to Jude and Guillermo and thought for a moment. “Hang on, are you… Dayspring?”

“Yup, that’s me. You can just call me Jude.” Jude nodded. He wasn’t really sure how this would go, since Josh wasn’t exactly clear on the relationship here.

“I’m Jimmy, or ‘Captain Iowa’.” The older man stepped forwards and shook Jude’s hand. He didn’t appear to take the super hero persona too seriously. “You here on business or pleasure?” He raised an eyebrow.

“Was just passing through town when Zoey here,” He gestured to her, “Noticed you and wanted to meet you.”

“Glad to hear.” Jimmy nodded and shook Guillermo’s hand as well.

“I’m Guillermo Rodriguez, or ‘Super Dad’ I guess.” He laughed. “I’m Zoey’s dad.”

Zoey rolled her eyes at the joke, but still laughed. “I’m Crystal! Well my real name’s Zoey, but I have powers too so I go on missions with him sometimes.”

“Oh really?” Tim turned to Zoey, looking surprised. “How old are you?”

“I’m 15, but I’m basically 16.”

Jude’s heart raced a bit. He hadn’t quite considered the possibility that Zoey would mention her powers. He and his dad agreed it was best for her to keep it a secret wherever possible, but he should have seen this coming. Not to mention, while her dad agreed, and Jude made sure Zoey was safe, she was a little young. Jude looked up and saw a slightly judgmental look from Jimmy.

“We’re with the DSR, so really our job is more like being celebrities than anything. We always follow strict safety protocols.” He nodded, feeling slightly better. These people were relatively high profile, and nobody had mentioned anything about them being dangerous, so he figured he’d just keep a closer eye on her for a bit.

“Of course.” Jimmy nodded.

“How long are you in town for?” Tim turned back to Jude and Guillermo.

“Well, we were just passing through. We stopped at The Quarry for dinner.” Jude nodded.

“We totally need to do some kind of collaboration while you’re here!” Tim’s energy was almost overwhelmingly positive. “How long could I convince you to stay for?”

Jude looked around, then over at Guillermo. He wasn’t excited about staying in a small white town, but if he was to some extent working with some popular locals, he wouldn’t mind. “I guess we could do a night?”

Guillermo nodded. “We’re on our way to Wyoming right now, but we could do a night.”

“So we get to do a collab?” Zoey looked over to Jude, taking on Tim’s positive energy.

Jude sighed then laughed. If Zoey was happy, he was happy. “Sure, why not. I’d need to call the DSR first, but what did you have in mind?”

Tim thought for a moment, but was cut off by the squealing of tires on a truck. Out from the truck jumped a woman about Tim’s age.

“Tim, Jimmy, hop in. We found another tent.” She waved them on, then noticed Jude, Zoey, and Guillermo.

Tim thought for a moment then nodded. “How does a mission sound?”

Jude immediately began to regret getting up earlier. He was basically committed at this point, though. “I’m gonna need some details.”

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Hello traveler! You’ve happened upon my serial, or maybe found it intentionally. If you like what you see, be sure to check out the reading guide and read the rest of the series! This may be season 3, but there’s pretty comprehensive recaps, so it’s not as if there’s an enormous backlog.

Greetings all! Everything is still on fire, but I’m managing better. Got a swanky new recording setup, so that’s nice. Am I writing? Don’t ask. I also just noticed I failed to change the name on last post (note that I copy the formatting and blurb shell from the last post to make it easier), and nearly failed to on this one. Happy little accidents or something.

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