<< Item: One, dropped on the counter in the kitchen in a cardboard-backed paper envelope, note hastily scrawled on the exterior -- 'For Rent' >>
Contents: Showcase #4 (October 1956), first appearance of The Flash, one note.
I'm sorry -- I can't seem to stay for more than a couple of minutes, I don't know what's happening. I'm fine, but I don't know when I'll be able to fix this.
(Pinned to the apartment's virtual message board and left -super retro- on -actual paper- pinned to the fridge)
Hey guys --
Just in case you see this guy (pic of Alistair) lurking around the apartment -- he's my father, apparently, so I guess that means he occasionally picks locks and drinks tea in our living room and makes doctors appointments for me. I don't think he's a supervillain but y'know, use your best judgment.
btw we are out of everything but gold and jewels.
First, please let me apologize for my rudeness at our last meeting. While surprise is no excuse, it is an explanation; twenty-five years of imagining who you might be was confronted with an actual person, and that left me at a loss.
That’s no excuse for bad behavior, though.
I was hoping that you might provide me with some information about family medical history. It’s something I’ve wondered about for some time, due to some risks on my mother’s side. I’ve attached a questionnaire which would be very helpful if you’re willing to fill it out.
I’m not quite sure where to go from here; I’m not sure if you want to get to know me, or if you would like me to get to know you. I would like to know more about your side of my heritage, if that’s all right, even if you’re not particularly desirous of more of a relationship.
Male Voice: “Hello?”
Adelle: “Uh. Hi. Is Layla Moody available?”
MV: “May I ask who’s calling?”
MV: <bumbling the phone> “Oh! Of course. I’ll get her, she’s just doing her yoga. Just — don’t hang up.” (muffled, a few seconds later) “Honey? It’s Adelle. Yes, I know.”
Layla: (breathless) “Hello? Adelle?”
A: “Yeah, it’s me. Listen, I’m still — I just want to know. Do you know, I mean, did you know a man named Alistair Fraser-Urquhart?”
<< 28s silence >>
A: “Are you there?”
L: “I’m here. Yes, I knew him. There’s a strong possibility that he’s your father. I was always nearly sure it was him.”
<< 9s silence >>
A: “And you never thought to tell me.”
L: “Would you have believed me if I had?”
A: “Probably not. All right. Thanks.”
L: “Addy, wait — I know you won’t talk to me, but please. Are you okay? Your voice sounds — different. Synthetic.“
<< 18s silence >>
L: “Are you there? Addy?”
This wasn’t how she thought she’d die.
In the back of her head, she’d figured it would happen when she was traveling. Pop back and land by accident in front of a bus or a train. Get caught out in a blizzard or a hurricane.
She wouldn’t have guessed ‘asphyxiated by coolant on an exploding ship due to her own damn stupidity’ in a million years.
Breath burned in her lungs and she held on, cold gas seeping in through her cracked helmet as she pried at the door sealing her in. Without a line of sight she couldn’t teleport to safety — she’d waited too long, trying to be a big damn hero, to travel back in time and avoid the collapse. If only she hadn’t been so stupid, tried to do too much.
But no. You panic, you die. They’d all said that, her teachers, the ones with old eyes and claws and no visible scars for all the wounds they’d carried.
They’d tried to hold the door for her as she’d shouted that she’d be back, she had to try one more time to get one of the others free before that section of the ship was sealed off. And because she hadn’t retreated like she was supposed to do, the next section of the ship had failed, too, and only by grace and luck was she the only one stuck behind.
Couldn’t hold on —
Couldn’t breathe —
Spots danced before her eyes and her stored up air ran out, bursting from her lungs with a gasp, the caustic coolant filling her throat and nose and burning, burning so much. It was a relief to closer her eyes, tearing up against the pain, to slip into unconsciousness.
If she’d been awake when hands grabbed hold of her and pulled her through to safety, she would’ve told them that it was her fault; when the medics brought her around, oxygen and advanced tech working to heal her damaged lung tissues, she tried to say that, too —
But all that came out was a raspy croak, her voice too damaged to make more than the roughest sounds.
< Video Message Begins >
< Moody is looking into a mirror, frowning a little as she finishes the gesture to start recording. Orianne can be heard roaming around in the background, looking for stuff to throw into a bag. >
"Hey -- I don't have much time, but I thought I should say --" She pauses. "Let me back up."
She looks over her shoulder, checking on Orianne. "We're going on a mission to try and save Richard and that kid that was taken with him, and maybe fight a big, big bad in the process. Richard told me once that time worked differently for him, so, I honestly have no idea when we might get back. If you're still in New York, it might not be the worst idea to maybe leave town for a while, but from what the green lady said, I don't think it'll matter much if things go really south."
She smiles shakily and looks down for a moment. "I never really explained why I -- well, why I am the way I am."
"I don't ever expect to come back." It's said quietly, like a confession to the sink beneath the bathroom mirror she's talking into. "It's not fair to saddle anyone else with that. So. Anyway. I don't know if we're coming back. I'm sure as hell going to try to, though. Stay safe, will you? Rohan's coming, so maybe take care of the kittens while we're gone, or get someone else to look in on them?"
Orianne yells something that sounds like, 'Ready!' Moody straightens up and smiles, "Take care. Don't get into too much trouble while I'm gone, okay?"
She gestures the recording off and hits 'Send'.
Hi guys --
We had a client -- well, okay, not an official client, I think -- who came in asking us to post a poster of a missing teen. He didn't go into much detail about his son's mutation, but he did provide a photo and date last seen.
(( Information included -- there's a photo of Alistair's son, dark hair, last seen in NYC about two months ago. ))
If anyone sees him, please give a shout? Thanks!
<< Attached: POSTER.jpg >>
Posted to the XFS Social Site:
<< Video Begins >>
(Moody is adjusting camera from right up close in front of it, getting a weird fish-eye look of her face before she sits back. She's in her room, the shade up and casting bright winter daylight all around as she sits on the bed.)
"So the difference between science and screwing around is writing stuff down -- but this is the 21st century, so I think video's the way to go. I just hope this camera works -- I bought it at a bargain bin shop in Chinatown, and nothing that cheap is super reliable."
She takes a deep breath and smiles at the camera reflexively. "I've been practicing meditation with a little success, but I think it's time to really get started. So today, I'm going to try and meditate and voluntarily trigger a time jump. As you can see, I'm dressed for adventure." 'Adventure' apparently requires dark sturdy clothing with lots of pockets and shoes she can run in.
"If all goes well, I might be able to start getting an idea of ho--"
There's a flicker, and the bed is empty. The camera continues to run until its battery runs out of charge, two hours later.
They stopped putting out phone books in New York around 2010. This is something Moody knows well, because if there’s one thing she needs when she first pops out somewhere, it’s information.
She appears in a corner of the New York Public Library in the late afternoon, the quiet lull between the homeless people stopping in and the students cramming after school. It’s quiet. Chilly. The patrons are wearing scarves and hats, heavy coats on the chairs behind them. Winter, then. Her Eye flickers with the ‘connection failed’ blink, unsurprising, and goes into sleep mode after thirty seconds.
She knows that it’s exactly 3:46:29 when she emerges, pretending that she was coming from the lady’s room.
God bless the NYPL. They hardly ever remodeled.
There are public terminals here, ancient computers with plastic screens as thick as her thumb, a bit grungy. Thank god for the hand sanitizer tucked discretely at each carousel. She has the patron numbers memorized, renewed with different names and identities over the years.
For 2019, she uses Jane. Good solid name, Jane.
December 23rd, that’s the date, and the news is mostly holiday themed. Some political — it’s primary season, another presidential run around the corner — and some more sad, international strife, refugees. But that isn’t what she’s looking for.
She was hardly ever this close, and this time of year —
Addy cut off the thought, typing carefully on the clunky mechanical keys. She knows the neighborhood, yeah, but the address, that takes a little hunting. She’s good with finding information. She has to be. Never know where she’ll be next. The address is familiar when she finds it; she knows it’s right. Too far, though, to teleport directly.
The subway, though, that’s easy. Blend in with the crowd, duck behind a pillar, blink to another pillar on the other side of the turnstiles, blink again to a shadowy spot on the opposite side of the tracks. Stay out of people’s line of sight, when she can. It’s building on toward rush hour, people hurrying home early for the holiday.
Her Ear doesn’t work without net, so all she has to listen to is her heartbeat and the screech of the rails as the train carries her away, north and east, to Queens.
2019 isn’t so bad. The fashion’s a little goofy — god, big hair, it was terrible the first three times — but the air smells all right and nobody cares that she’s black or a woman or wearing pants. She pins herself in a corner and stays watchful, but nobody pays her mind. Good. The train’s convenient but getting out safely if she needed to blip, that was tougher. Harder when she’s moving fast, harder when she can’t see.
By the time she climbs the steps to her grandmother’s house, it’s nearly five thirty. The sky’s a funny shade of dark, the clouds pale gray and low, like cotton, promising the potential for snow. Cold, too, now, that wet, clinging cold that makes her breath billow in rolling clouds like they’re trying to join the ones up top.
The buzzer doesn’t work, so she leans way over to peer through the grimy wired glass, just enough to get a line of sight into the building. A quick check, no witnesses, and she hops inside. Warmer, but not by much.
The first floor is easier for an old woman, one that’s afraid of falling. Grandma lives down at the back of the hall, over the alley, and Addy wipes her damp palms on her coat to smooth away nerves. She remembers this building, though she remembers it being taller, bigger, the perspective of a five year old looking way up. The carpet’s a little newer, the walls not so gray.
Still smells like garlic, though.
1D is a one bedroom, bars over the windows to keep out prowlers; when Addy knocks, she hears someone moving around inside, turning the television down — but not off — and the click of the peephole cover being flung back as a woman’s soft voice called out, “Who is it?”
“Mrs. Lincoln? I’m with Precious Baptist Church over on Fowler, volunteering for the holiday. I just thought I’d stop by to see if there was anything I might go and get you from the store. It looks like a storm is coming up.” She made sure her face was in clear view of the peephole and waited, breath caught. Lies were easy. Find a little truth, stretch the rest.
Where’re you from? Who’re your people? She never had an answer. Never had one that folks would believe, anyway. it didn’t matter.
The only person that loved her undid about thirty chains from the inside of the door, a processional of clanks that worked its way down from top to bottom. When it finally opened, the door stayed cracked with the length of one sturdy chain remaining to keep it shut. Marabelle Lincoln had beautiful brown skin, lightly dusted with freckles, and hair the color of salt spilled across a mahogany table. Her hands were strong — joints only a little swollen with arthritis. It always bothered her when the weather got damp.
“From the church?” Marabelle studied her for a moment and then nodded a little bit, saying, “That’s right, that’s right, I think I do remember you. Why don’t you come in, I’ve just pulled some cookies out the oven. I’ll get you my list.”
As the door swung wide, Addy took a big breath in, smiling at the scent of cinnamon and lavender water, old cotton and hair relaxer. The scent more than anything told her where she was.