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Chapter 11

I greet Friday morn with a yawn and a grin. I was planning to spend this morning shopping for some UV-lenses and the other photolithography equipment I'll need to create the gecko pads for my grapple gun, but after finally getting back on my skates yesterday, I'm just not in the mood for it. Instead, I fire up some Japanese punk rock and head to Flywell Skatepark to bust some moves. I'm working the kidney pool when some guy on a board drops in. Oh, it's Patches. We thrash together for a while before heading to the snack bar to refuel. "So," I ask between taquitos, "how's the fuzzy lyfe been treating you?"

"Pretty rad, man. Ever drive a cruiser?"

"What do you think?"

"Man, I dunno, you're pretty crazy. But the cool thing about a cruiser is people get outta your way. Well, on the freeway at least. It's a huge drag in the city because everybody stops speeding and traffic bogs down. But out on the highway, you just drive and they flow aside for you."

"So you're basically Highway Moses."

"Thou shalt not exceed the speed limit before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee turns without thine signals. Thou shalt not take the signal of the turn in vain. Remember the blind spot, and keep it clear. Honor the space of the vehicle in front. Thou shalt not text. Thou shalt not commit adultery while thy vehicle is in motion. Thou shalt not steal thy brother's vehicle. Thou shalt not bear open alcoholic beverages. Thou shalt not pivot thy vehicle across the median."

"Amen."

"Hah, as though you care about traffic violations. I heard about you skitching last week."

"Dude, my mom was getting mugged. I was in a hurry."

"She okay?"

"Yeah, we chased them off."

Patches nods. "I know, I saw the report. But is she okay? Those were some scary guys. If she needs it, I know a good therapist. PTSD's no joke, man."

"She's fine. I think she was more upset with me pulling a knife on them than she was about them trying to mug her."

"Well, she's a mom. At least those guys are behind bars now."

"Yeah, I heard about that, but it doesn't seem like it's had much news coverage?"

Patches shrugs. "Reporters like conflict. Buildings getting blown up or burned down draw a lot more attention than arresting the guys responsible."

"Sure, but this is suspicious levels of inattention. They haven't even released anybody's names yet. Almost looks like you guys are trying to keep it quiet?"

He looks uncomfortable as he takes another bite from his chimichanga. "That would not be a thing I can comment on, man."

"Alright, fair enough." They're probably trying to keep the lower-level Cueballs who are still out there in the dark about just how much the police have on them now. "Lemme ask you something else. Have you guys pinched Larry?"

"Which one? Merry Larry, or Larry the Knife? We picked up the Knife a few weeks ago."

"Um, no, I'm talking about Merry Larry."

Patches shakes his head. "Haven't heard of any run-ins with him in a month."

"Hmm. I haven't seen him in a while either, so I thought maybe you guys nabbed him."

He shrugs. "Far as I know, he's still a free man. Maybe he just decided all this noise with the Cueballs was jacking up the price of weed too much and moved out of town?"

"Could be."

Patches finishes his chimichanga and then stands. "I gotta get to work. Stay rad, man!"

I spend a couple more hours skating and hanging out with my skater friends I've been neglecting while I recovered. Hannah and some of her team drop in too, several already wearing Halloween costumes. Costumes that make me consider retiring from the hero gig to free up time for dating. But never fear! I am made of sterner stuff than that!

I'm definitely feeling a lot less uptight by the time I head home to shower and finish my costume for the party tonight. Days like this are how you relax, not all that walking around slowly nonsense I've been doing the last week. Healing is the opposite of relaxing. And party or not, I don't plan to do much walking today. It is a holiday, after all. Thus why I'm using a robot costume. Unlike with humans, it is almost always socially acceptable for a robot to have wheels on its feet. I'll be using quads instead of blades since they've got a more compact form factor, but that's still way better than shoes.

I roll up to Brianna's large house in Parkville at about seven with my chrome shiny and my blinkenlights glowing brightly. I've never been here, but I can tell it's her house because it's the one with jack-o-lanterns wearing pom poms as wigs. The little Uncle Jeff in my head starts raising a fuss about that being a huge fire hazard, but he shuts up when I peek inside and confirm that they're using flickering LEDs instead of candles. A girl in a witch costume who just showed up looks at me funny as I replace the jack-o-lantern's cover, so I turn stiffly to face her and speak with a stilted robot voice. "This illumination device is compliant with standard safety protocols."

She sneers at me. "Okay, dork. Who are you even supposed to be?"

"I am Safety Droid Forty-Three Thousand Nine Hundred Fifty-Seven, but humans such as yourself may call me Safety George."

"That is literally the lamest, most pathetic thing I have ever heard. This party is for people, not robutts. You don't belong here."

"I belong in any location with a high risk of danger. Social gatherings of young humans are known to have an increased risk of fire, alcohol poisoning, suffocation, sexual assault, allergic reactions, and hearing loss."

"Go home and drink motor oil, Tin Man. You won't get any here."

"Ouch. You appear to be so proficient at making sick burns that you are, in fact, a fire hazard." I stiffly raise my arm until my wrist is pointing at her, then squeeze a button on the side of my index finger to send a splash of water into her face from my integrated wrist-mounted squirt gun. "Hazard neutralized. This sector is now safe from fire. Please carry on."

"Whoa there, Safety George!" calls a voice from behind me. "Don't you know witches melt?" I rotate my head to see Tiffany and a bunch of green rubber snakes looking at me from the door. "That doesn't seem safe to me!"

I turn back to the spluttering witch and her running makeup. "Error acknowledged. Correcting." I raise my other hand, which is encased in a cannon-like cylinder, and press a button inside it. There's a soft huff sound and a rolled up napkin bounces off the witch's face. "Absorbent towelette deployed. Risk of slipping has been mitigated. Please carry on."

Tiff cracks up as I follow her into the house. "I've wanted to do something like that to Allison for years, but I never have the guts."

"As a robot, I am unconcerned about human inhibitions and social rankings." I work the pump to re-pressurize the Napkannon. "Safety is my only concern."

"So... are you planning to stay in character all night?"

I stare at her for a moment. "Mythical identification in progress... Complete. Classification: Gorgon. Species 'Gorgon' is known to cause petrification among humans, such as are present at this gathering." I open a compartment at my hip and withdraw a plastic sandwich a handful of tiny bits of black construction paper cut to look like sunglasses. "Please utilize appropriate safety precautions to protect your peers."

"Oh, um... the snakes already have, um, special contact lenses. It'll be fine."

"Multi-layered defenses decrease risk of failure."

"Yeah, well, I'm not putting shades on my snakes."

"All snakes must wear shades in accordance with Safety Protocol Seventy-Six, Sub-Section B!"

"George, if you squirt me it's going to be your safety that's in danger."

"Water is not known to be an effective deterrent to the Gorgon petrification process, and I am not equipped with a whipped cream cannon. The contact lenses will have to suffice until this oversight is rectified."

"Speaking of whipped cream, let's go see what they've got for food here."

"Agreed. Fuel is essential to creating a safe environment for social gatherings of young people."

We begin following the smell of grilling, but we don't make it far before a girl dressed as Wheels clumsily rolls up and intercepts us. And of course, she's got a voice recorder all up in my robot mask. "What do you think, George?" Paula's voice asks from behind her own mask. "Is it accurate?"

"Negative. Records indicate that Wheels does not place listening devices near other people's face plates in a manner non-conducive to the safety of optical receptors in the event of trippage, nor does Wheels obstruct upstanding Gorgons and robots from procuring much needed nourishment and fuel as they go about their duties enhancing the safety of dangerous outpourings of youthful enthusiasm."

"But what about my costume?"

"Your garments are recognizable as a crude portrayal of Wheels, but most small details are wrong, and you lack many pieces of critical safety equipment. Attempting to conduct heroism in this arrangement would be a violation of Safety Protocol Seventeen, Sub-Sections C, J, K, and N."

"Details like what?"

"Your diversion is ineffective to my robot brain. Causing the resident safety droid to deplete its fuel source through tangential debate is a violation of Safety Protocol Two, Sub-Section B. Remaining functional to ensure safety compliance is higher priority than addressing attempts to temporarily steal the fashion of innately unsafe vigilantes."

Tiff nods, sending her snakes bobbing wildly. "But the two biggest errors are right under your nose, Paula. Wheels is a boy."

"Incorrect," says Paula. "I have three first-hand accounts of Wheels being female, including one from her boyfriend."

"Oh yeah? And who's that?"

"Nope, confidentiality is something I take seriously. Besides, if I were to reveal a masked vigilante's secret identity, George-Bot here would probably have an aneurysm about safety protocols."

I make a stiff nod. "Affirmative. And speaking of protocols, procuring fuel is-"

Paula sighs. "I know, I know. And you're right. I haven't exactly been treating you fairly lately, have I?"

I press another button inside the canister housing my left hand, and this triggers my lights to all blink in unison as I raise the Napkannon to point at her face. "Impersonation detected! Place your hands upon your head and reveal the location of the real Paula so that we may ensure her safety!"

"Ha ha, very funny. I'm serious though. You were right last week. I've been so self-centered that it didn't occur to me why you never want to cooperate. Since you clearly value getting to lunch early, and I can't skip class to interview you after you eat, maybe we could just arrange to meet before or after school instead?"

I turn to Tiff. "My social interaction subroutines are geared for safety related situations. They do not include instruction on what to do when a human apologizes for something they are still actively doing."

She shrugs. "Sorry, we Gorgons don't really have a template for this either. Usually it's easier to just petrify them."

I can't see Paula's frown behind her grinning mask, but I can hear it in her voice. "What are you talking about? I literally just got done offering to accommodate your schedule."

"You are smart for a human. I am sure you will identify your error shortly. In the interim, I must leave immediately to refuel my safety augmentation reactor." I skate around her and start heading to the food, and I can almost hear the light click on in her head as I glide past.

Tiff walks alongside me and laughs. "So what did she get wrong in her costume?"

"Protocol demands hand guards, not simple gloves. Gloves lack the extra protection on the knuckles and base of the palm. Her elbow pads are too tight for optimum mobility, while her shin pads are too bulky. She has foregone hip padding entirely. The leather jacket she wears is thin and inadequate. Her vest has a high likelihood of not being bullet resistant. Her helmet is cheap and naked, with dangerously positioned straps. Her skates have large heel brakes, which can get caught during a crossover maneuver and cause tripping. Her bearings are noisy and would give away her position during stealth operations. Her wheels are too small, increasing vibration, fatigue, and danger of tripping. Her-"

"Okay, I get it. Also, you know she's following us, right?"

"Negative. Her bearings do not appear to be louder than the Monster Mash." I turn to look behind us, and sure enough, there's Paula struggling to keep her ankles straight and trying not to trip over or crash into the rest of the party-goers, some of whom are snickering at her. Especially a mummy girl who I can't recognize through her bandages.

"No no no, don't stop for me! Get your food, George. I don't want to hold you up anymore."

"You are following me."

"Well, I thought we could talk after you ate, or maybe during."

I sigh. That is an improvement though. Baby steps, I guess. Maybe after- Oh crap, she's not stopping. I slide out of the way and she catches herself against the wall. "Wheels are for robots," I say. "As an untrained human attempting to employ wheels within a human place, you are a safety hazard. Safety protocols demand that you use shoes like a normal human, as safety takes precedence over authenticity."

"I didn't bring any other shoes, and going barefoot is also a safety hazard. I'll make do, George."

I frown inside my robot mask. "Beside your obvious skill deficiency, my database shows that those are one of the least suited kinds of skate for indoor use. Inline skates are bulky even without large brakes projecting out of both of their heels. You are going to hurt yourself or somebody else if you do not comply with basic safety protocols. This house belongs to the human Brianna. We must locate her and inquire into borrowing safer footwear." I do a quick visual scan of this part of the house, then stop a passing werewolf. "Excuse me. I am Safety Droid Forty-Three Thousand Nine Hundred Fifty-Seven. I am looking for this party's hostess. Have you encountered the human known as Brianna?"

"Rrrr, I ain't seen no human Brrrianna, but Elf Queen Brrrianna's in the back yarrrd."

"Thank you. You are a good doggy."

"Watch yerrrself, rrrobot! If you werrre made of meat I'd be eatin' you rrright now. Still have half a mind to anyway!"

"Upon further reflection, you are not a good doggy. You are, in fact, a bad doggy." I raise my right arm and take aim, but Tiff grabs me and starts rolling me away like a piece of luggage before I can squirt him. "Authorization for biscuit procurement revoked!" I call back as I bump over the threshold of a door.

Paula follows awkwardly. I can tell by her movements that this isn't her first time in skates, and she'd probably be okay out on the street where there's space to work with, but it's clear that she overestimated her abilities when it comes to confined spaces with lots of people around. I can't say I've never made that mistake before, but I did at least have enough sense to bring shoes with me in case it didn't work out. That was also how I learned that mall-cops are footwear-bigots who work to perpetuate the oppression of non-pedestrian travellers.

Anyway, we go through the back door to find the yard full of ghosts and bats hanging from the trees overhead, along with spiders, gremlins, and several decapitated dolls. A pudgy middle-aged guy with silver hair and a mad scientist lab coat is handling three grills at once in the left side of the yard. He's got a perimeter around him marked off with caution tape to keep the party goers out of his hair, and it's the only part of the back yard that's clear. There's so many people back here that I almost miss the fact that some of them are in a hot tub. There's a volleyball net as well, but nobody's using it since there are too many monsters milling about around it.

Fairy Queen Brianna is pretty easy to find; she's sitting on top of the swing set like it's a throne. There are a few other girls up there with her, all with pointed ears, but she's the one with the biggest wings and a crown. The rest of her costume catches me by surprise. I was expecting a typical fluffy fairy princess type deal, but she's got more of a wood-elf theme going on. Lots of green cloth, brown leather, and a crown woven out of leafy twigs. Centered in the middle of it is a glowing green gem of some sort; probably just a plastic trinket with an LED in it. Very neat. My opinion of Brianna has already grown three sizes tonight.

Her little fairy court of cheerleader minions is attired similarly, but with other colors and generally simpler designs. Except one girl, whose costume is by far the most impressive, while somehow also being more subdued than Brianna's. I don't recognize her, and now that I'm thinking about it, she seems a few years older than everybody else. Oh, never mind, that's Brianna's big sister Elizabeth. I only met her once, when she chewed me out for "standing up" her little sister. She hadn't listened at all when I'd tried to explain that it was all Hannah's meddling and I'd never agreed or even implied I wanted to go on that date. If anything, I think she got more angry when I said that.

Good thing I'm inside a robot costume. I doubt she'll recognize my voice, and hopefully this won't be one of those times I'm immediately proven wrong. I hate those.

"Who goes there!" Elizabeth shouts down as we approach.

"Hello pretty bug ladies. I am Safety Droid Forty-Three Thousand Nine Hundred Fifty-Seven. I have come to your court to request the Administrator's aid in assisting the clumsy human beside me to more closely adhere to the safety protocols that protect this social gathering from the danger posed by excessive numbers of youthful humans gathered in close proximity. More specifically, she requires temporary outfitting with alternate footwear of a more stationary nature."

"Um... what?"

Paula clears her throat. "What Chrome Dome means to say is that we're wondering if I could maybe borrow some shoes? These skates are turning out to be more trouble than I expected."

"Is that you in there, Paula?" asks the pink fairy to Brianna's right. One of the Ashleys, I think. "That's like, such a cute costume! Wheels should totes be a girl from now on!"

"I am so shipping this," says the blue fairy, who I think is the other Ashley.

"Wait, shipping who?" asks Pink. "Wheels and Paula, or Paula and George?" I glance at Elizabeth when my name is dropped, but she doesn't say anything. She just stares at me through squinted eyes.

The Ashleys don't notice. "All three of them!" says Blue. "In all four combinations!"

Have I mentioned how nice wearing a mask can be? I'm sure Paula's learning to appreciate them as well.

Queen Brianna is opening her mouth to throw in her own two pence when a familiar and angry witch shoves between a zombie and a skeleton to stick a finger in my face and scream at our Fairy Queen, "That's him! He's the one who ruined my makeup!"

Brianna heaves an annoyed sigh. "What art thou speaking of, Lady Allison? Thy paints are fine."

"Yeah, now, after I fixed it. No thanks to this freak shooting a bunch of water in my face!"

"Safety Droid, what sayest thou to this accusation?"

"The witch human is employing hyperbole, Your Administratorship. The volume of water was not an amount that could be classified as 'a bunch.' It was a small volume of several milliliters, appropriate to the burn hazard presented at the time, in accordance with Safety Protocol Ninety-Eight, Sub-Section C. Additionally, risk of other humans being endangered by slipping on melted witch facial tissues was mitigated through the pneumatic deployment of an absorbent towelette, as outlined by the recently added Sub-Section D."

"See!" screeches the witch. "He admits it!"

Brianna frowns. "Why didst thou takest that action, Safety Droid?"

"As you have observed, Your Administratorship, the witch human has a fiery temperament. She accosted me as I verified the safety compliance of this facility's gourdic illumination devices and proceeded with multiple attempts at burning me in the manner humans describe as sick. As a roasted robot cannot perform its safety enhancing duties, and as humans such as herself are composed in part of fatty tissues and other flammable or heat sensitive materials, her inflammatory behavior was deemed to be a Dangerous Fire Hazard as per Safety Protocol Ninety-Eight, Sub-Section B. That is when I reacted in accordance with Sub-Sections C and D as previously stated."

"Lady Allison insulted thee?"

"Affirmative. The witch human Allison made multiple robophobic assertions and attempted to escalate her privileges over Your Administratorship's by ordering me to abandon my duties to the safety of this social gathering. She also ordered me to consume motor oil. I am a robot, not a car. Compliance with that malicious order would be self destructive."

Brianna glares at the witch. "Lady Allison? Had thou cause for thy hateful bigotry?"

"What bigotry?! He was staring at the jack-o-lanterns like a retard and doing this stupid robot routine, so I teased him about it. Big deal!"

"And in response to thy teasing, Safety Droid teased back. Thou art reacting in excess."

"But he ruined my makeup!"

Brianna shakes her head. "Oft have I extolled the virtues of going waterproof for events such as this, yet always mine efforts fall upon deaf ears." She tilts her head toward Pink Fairy. "Demonstrate for us, Ashley."

Pink Fairy swings her legs around to the other side and hangs down from the swing-set by her knees with a huge grin. "Hit me with your best shot, Safety Dude!"

"Request acknowledged." I flip the synchronized blinking switch and press a button that triggers a rising whine as though I'm charging a laser as I take aim. Finally I press the button to squirt, and the water splashes off her face with no effect. I shoot her two more times for good measure. Nothing. I lower my arm. "Squirtation is complete. You do not appear to be melting. Would you care for an absorbent towelette anyway?"

"No thanks, I prefer to use natural alternatives like the air and stuff."

"My records indicate that while napkins do not occur in nature, they are made out of trees. Trees occur commonly in nature." I point off to the side. "There is one now."

"Yes, yes," says Queen Brianna, "we know all about trees in this court. Now, hereafter thou art not to squirt my guests unless they are actually on fire. Am I understood, Safety Droid?"

"Affirmative."

"Good. Now, if there is no further-"

"What?!" yells Allison. "That's it?"

"Lady Allison. Thine outbursts irk me. Cease at once or be removed from my presence." She snaps her fingers and suddenly three ghosts, a space marine, Frankenstein's Monster, and Hello-Kitty-Vampire-Deadpool are all looming around us. They trade glares with Allison for a bit before she pivots and storms off in a huff.

Blue Fairy sighs gustily. "So much passion. We're gonna need a bigger ship."

"Now," says Brianna to me, "couldst thou repeat thine original request?"

"Affirmative, Your Administratorship. The Wheels human requires alternate footwear of a stationary nature in order to better comply with safety protocols."

"And thou doest not?"

"I am a robot. My programming has substantial support for maneuvering safely upon wheels."

"Suit thyself." She swings down to the ground. "Come with me, Lady Wheels, and we shall find thee suitable shoes for the night."

The crowd that had gathered disperses as Paula and Brianna head into the house. Well, maybe disperse is a poor choice of word; more like the people distribution smooths back out over the yard instead of being bunched around the swing-set. Now it's just the four remaining fairies, Tiff, me, and my growling stomach.

"Secondary mission objective complete. Proceeding with primary objective: fuel procurement."

The fairies wave and say goodbye as Tiff and I depart and make our way through the press to the folding table Brianna's dad is putting the food on. As we wait for the next batch to be ready, Tiffany looks at me. "Hannah told me you're a little nuts, George, but wow."

"Records show that boredom leads to inattention, and inattention is not safe."

"Oh, of course. That's definitely the reason."

"Affirmative."

Suddenly Brianna's dad throws his arms in the air. "Yes! At long last, my creation is complete! Baaaaask in it's gloooory!" He descends into mad laughter as he flips a bunch of burgers out onto a plate that he drops next to us before returning to work.

As I'm assembling my cheeseburger, it occurs to me that there is a massive flaw in my plan. My mouth is currently obstructed by the grill of my robot mask, and I didn't have the foresight to make the grill detachable. I'm going to have to de-mask. Darn. But when it comes to the fight between hunger and staying in character, hunger wins. And heck, if I'm going to remove my mask to eat, I might as well take off the Napkannon too so I can use both hands. I pop them both off and start stuffing my face with gusto.

Paula and Brianna show up as I'm starting my second burger. Brianna frowns at me. "It's about time you got here, George. You're only thirteen months late for our date."

I try to protest, but my mouth isn't having any of it. Too many burgers, too little time. Objecting sounds seep out, but no actual words.

She shakes her head and smiles. "I'm kidding, I'm kidding. Paula was just telling me about how you've had a secret girlfriend all along. She won't say who, but I think I've got an idea." She gestures with her head at Paula and wiggles her eyebrows. "And the two of you are so cute together! Go George, woo!"

"What?" Paula stops halfway into her chair and starts to stand. "No, I was being hypothetical, and I certainly wasn't implying it was me!"

Brianna winks. "Your secret's safe with me, guys. And you can return those shoes whenever, there's no rush. But I've gotta get back to work. Try not to start any more fights, kay?" Then she cartwheels off toward the swing-set. Don't ask me how she manages to do that without banging into anyone. It's some kind of arcane cheerleader magick, I'm sure.

Paula sits down with a grumble and Tiffany looks back and forth between us. "So... you two are together?"

"No we're not," we say in unison. "I'm married to my job," we both also say in unison. Okay, that's creepy. It's so creepy that we both blink and say, "That's creepy, stop it." In unison.

"Yeah," says Tiff, "I think I'm joining the Georgla shipping convoy. Besides, what job, George?"

"Um... safety!"

"Right... Well, I'm glad you two are being safe. That's very important."

"We're not-"

"You're not being safe?"

Paula -- who has pulled up her mask so she can eat -- rolls her eyes. "As my non-boyfriend would say, that question is stupid."

"Right," I say. "Paula, you said earlier you had non-stupid questions you wanted to ask me while I try to eat? Let us commence with that chicanery post-haste!"

"Indeed. Especially since you finally stopped doing that stupid robot act."

"It's not stupid, and that's only because I'm out of mask. Safety Droid Forty-Three Thousand Nine Hundred Fifty-Seven will return once I'm fed."

"Great... but before that happens, could you give your opinion on why Wheels hasn't been active lately until last night, when she was spotted mugging alleged drug dealers? Was she ashamed of killing another person last week?"

"Um, no, I'd guess Wheels was just busy healing. I heard it was a hard fight. There were what, nine or ten of them?"

"Seven. Nancy Jones, Gerald Swanson, Robert Yancy, Jacob Manly, Harris Neyland, Thomas Brooks, and the late Perry Fredericks."

"Wait, you've got actual names? Where'd you get those?"

"I am good at my job."

Tiff cocks her head. "How is this your job? You're on the student newspaper, not the Forchester Pester."

"I may not be on the Forchester Paper yet, but I'm pretty sure Wheels is another student at Coldriver, therefor her antics are within the scope of the Coldriver Chronicle."

I'm biting into my third burger when I hear the sound of somebody sobbing. I turn to my right to see Lucy leading Hank to the next table over. She's a vampire and he's a... gargoyle, I think. But not just any gargoyle. A very sad gargoyle. Tiffany starts to get up and then hesitates and sits back down. "They're Marco's friends. I don't know them very well, and they might still be mad at me."

I consider putting my Safety Droid mask on and heading over, but I'm not done with this burger yet, so I leave the mask and take the burger instead. "Sup?" I ask as I sit down on Hank's other side. "I don't know what's wrong, but if you need me to squirt some witch in the face, I'll totally do it, never mind what I told Queen Brianna. I ain't afraid of her ghosts."

"It's his older brother, Brian," Lucy says. "He caught that flu that's going around. Hank just found out."

"Hey, man, it'll be alright. That's what we've got doctors for."

Hank shakes his head. "N- nobody comes b- back from Tolman's Flu. M- Marco, Lizzie, G- Garret, my cousin Barry... and- and now Brian's got it. H- he went to the d- dentist today for a ch- checkup, and they w- wouldn't let him leave. M- Mom says they k- kicked her out, and th- then an ambul- amb- ambu- They took him, and... and..."

What. So this Brian kid was so obviously sick that a dentist recognized the symptoms that his own family didn't, and so contagious that they had to throw the kid's mom out and immediately quarantine him... but not contagious enough to quarantine his mom and brother just in case? No. This doesn't add up. Do you see that thing flapping off into the night sky like a bat after a moth? That's my suspension of disbelief, and it is way past gone.

Somebody is screwing with my city.

I will destroy them.

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