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Chapter 6, or Chapter 3.4

Precursor to the actual chapter:

My wife, someone who’s actually spent a good deal of time working as a physical therapist in Los Angeles’ medical facilities, pointed out after reading the last chapter that the UCLA Medical Center would be directly visible from where Vikki and Lisa crashed, and the idea that they’d head to Westwood instead of the hospital is ludicrous. (You were right, Heather! Who knew?) 
So I’ve mapped out Lisa and Vikki’s route via Google Earth, and I’ve rewritten pieces of the last chapter posted, as well as much of the stuff going forward. It doesn’t require huge revisions and doesn’t redirect the plot at all, but I thought that before I post the next piece of my original Chapter Three – I really think it needs to hang together rather than be split up like this – I ought to give you the revised chunks from the last chapter so you can make some sense of everything going forward. (In addition, I discovered that it’s the West Gate of Bel Air, not the South Gate, that exits out on to Sunset. I’ve changed that in all the necessary places, too. I won’t post those changes. Just… please make a note of it.) 
Here are some revised pieces from the last chapter:
_______
Not enough people were on the UCLA campus on a Friday night, Lisa thought. A crowd was the only way to hide. Either that, or a building. But none of the buildings were open this long after dark.

Except the hospital!

There it was, shining in the distance. The UCLA Medical Center. It wouldn’t take too long to get there, either. They were moving much more quickly now since Vikki had picked up the pace and toned down the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. It was probably because her arm, which had no doubt been at least bruised in the fall back at David’s house, was now seriously broken and misshapen. She was in real pain, and she couldn’t afford the energy to sustain her previous performance.

“Just a little farther,” Lisa implored, even though Vikki’s stride was longer than Lisa’s, and the shorter girl had to scramble to keep up.

Yet Vikki’s eyes were starting to glaze over. I’ve got to keep her moving, Lisa thought. She’s going into shock.

“How… how much farther?” Vikki asked, her voice tiny.

“Just until we can get to the hospital,” Lisa said. “It’s just up ahead.”

“How far up ahead?” There was a note of muted panic in her voice. She thinks it’s too far, Lisa thought. And she’s probably right.

“It’s where you need to be, sweetie,” Lisa reassured her, trying to sound as soothing as possible.

“This sucks,” Vikki sulked.

Lisa nodded. “It sucks big time,” she said, all the while trudging forward.

____________

The girls passed a handful of people along the way, and none of them volunteered to help them, despite the fact that Vikki clearly needed medical attention. She was starting to weigh heavily on Lisa’s tiny frame, and Lisa wasn’t sure how much longer they could maintain forward motion. They were passing under some fairly bright street lamps, which was not, in Lisa’s mind, a good thing. It made them more visible then when they had walked past the dimly lit running track. Lisa would have stopped to rest, except she knew that Vikki was being propelled by pure inertia now. If they stopped, she would pass out, and this would all be over.

Lisa kept scanning behind her, praying not to catch a glimpse of David, or, at the very least, to see him before he saw her. She did her best to stick to the shadows. Part of her brain was telling her that surely they were safe, that David had lost their trail and given up.

Her gut told her otherwise, so they kept moving forward toward the bright red sign.

“He hurt me,” Vikki muttered to no one in particular, no inflection in her voice. She was on autopilot now.

“I know, honey,” Lisa said, sympathetic for the first time. “He hurt a lot of people.”

And he’s far from being done, she thought, as they made their way forward.

_______________________
[Okay? Got those chunks in the brain instead of the old stuff? Just to clarify – they’re on their way to the UCLA Medical Center, not Westwood Village. Excellent.]
Now, without further ado:

CHAPTER SIX – i.e CHAPTER 3.4


The truth was that David had just about given up.

It wasn’t because he had lost his murderous intent; it was that there were simply too many places they could have gone. He was slightly worried about the scene back on Sunset, but he thought it highly unlikely that he would actually be caught. The police would have a hard time imagining that a scrawny kid could have tossed cars aside like playthings. They might, however, want to ask him some questions, and he was in no mood for interrogations. The guilt he had wrestled with back at his father’s house had receded into memory, or someplace deeper. He felt none of it, anyway, and it was almost as if it had belonged to someone else. In a few more minutes, it would be gone completely. David already had a hard time even recalling what it had felt like.

Instead, he was enjoying moving beyond David, or beyond what David had been before. Now he was something Other, something new, yet ancient, something with a destiny he could embrace, or, at the very least, a destiny that had embraced him. There were no more doubts. All that was left was a bright, shiny purpose, gleaming like a diamond in the noonday sun, leading him through the darkest places of his soul.

It all begins, he thought, with the death of those girls. Then we’ll see where the wind takes me. He smiled as he savored the possibilities. There was no door closed to him now. At least, no door that he couldn’t rip and tear and power through with his bare hands.

There’d be time for that later, he said. First, I’ve got a couple of girls to kill.

Wait a second, he thought. Is that a hospital up ahead?

________________

“Look, I’m not trying to make fun of you,” Jeff assured Walthius. “I know this is serious.”

“Serious as a heart attack, my friend,” Walthius agreed. “If you’re going to do this hero thing, you’re going to do it right.”

“Okay,” Jeff said. He stepped back from the fantasy, with the option to return when the moment presented itself. “So now we’re talking,” he said, as much to himself as to Walthius. “Now we’re getting somewhere.”

“So, with all things considered,” Walthius continued, “it sounds like you’re going to need some help.”

“Right.” Jeff was nodding vigorously. “That’s right. Help. So what do I do?”

“Well, step one is pretty obvious,” Walthius said.

“I know it is.” He breathed out a sigh of resignation. “I just have no idea what to say to her. ”

“Her?”

Her? You idiot! Not her! Think, Jeff, think!

Walthius regarded him coolly. “Say to her? Say to who?”

“Say to them!” Jeff said.

“Who’s them?”

“What do you mean, who’s them?” Jeff said, far too defensively. He needed a “them,” and then he came up with one. “My parents! Them! I totaled the car! And soon everyone at school is going to hear about this. You should have heard Lisa Meyer after I fell off the bleachers. ‘You sure are a good jumper.’ Like I’m a kangaroo or something. What a –“

Walthius interrupted him with a clean slap across the face.

“Ow!” Jeff said. “That really hurt!”

“Yeah,” Walthius said, “it hurt me.” Walthius was now clutching his own hand in agony.

Jeff rubbed the side of his face with his hand where Walthius had made contact. Of course it hurt! Didn’t it? He couldn’t tell. If there had been any pain, it was gone now. Maybe he only thought it had hurt because Walthius had taken him by surprise. And Walthius was now opening and closing his fist, apparently trying to shake off some of the sting. “If someone doesn’t believe you, just have them slap you. One time. That’s all it takes.”

“What did you do that for?”

Walthius started wincing. “I may have broken something.”

“Focus, Walthius!”

You focus!” Wealthiest shouted back before returning to wincing. “Focus on step one,” he said in a pained voice.

“I am.”

“No, you’re not. You’re blubbering about your little personal kerfuffles. I’m talking about step one.”

“All right,” Jeff said, humoring him. “I’ll bite. What’s step one?”

“Step one: tights.”

“WHAT?!”

Walthius reached under his seat and, with his good hand, he pulled what looked like a shirt box. He tossed it into Jeff’s lap.

“Open it,” he said. Jeff complied, and then he gasped.

He lifted out a gold and brown unitard with a large sunburst on the chest. It was attached to a white, nylon cape. Jeff let out a long, low breath. If anything, this was an even more surreal moment than the first time he flew.

“So?” Walthius asked. “You like?”

Nope. He didn’t.

________________

Lisa kept glancing behind herself. Did she hear something? Was she being followed?

She had tried to stay off the main path, cutting through bushes and the darker parts of campus. She knew she had gone too far when she hit Sawtelle, which was too far west. To the right of the girls, bathed in creepy moonlight, was the veteran’s cemetery, which struck Lisa as a bad omen. She could see the edges of nearby Westwood Village and the throngs of people crossing Wilshire from the Federal Building. She felt her heart skip a beat as she realized she was probably more exposed than ever, and too far away from her goal.

“Are we there?” Vikki breathed, barely able to get the words out.

“We’re almost there, honey,” Lisa lied. “It won’t be long now.”

Vikki ignored her and kept going straight on her originally programmed course. Lisa had to grab her to get her to make the sharp turn back toward the hospital. She shifted her sideways, which jostled her broken arm. Instinctively, Vikki let out a blood-curdling scream.

They could hear that from a mile away, Lisa thought.

________________

“Where did you get this?” Jeff demanded. They were about a mile away from the Wilshire onramp, just on the other side of the Federal Building.

“I didn’t get it. I made it,” Walthius said. “That’s bending the rules, I know. Even Peter Parker made his own suit. I should have let you make it. But circumstances being what they are –“

“You made this?”

“You can’t get something like that off the rack,” Walthius said. “You gotta have your own colors.”

“You made this,” Jeff said again, still disbelieving. The thing was, it was actually pretty good. It had clearly taken some time and effort – more time and effort than Walthius would have had after he had gotten the phone call.

When did you make this?” Jeff asked.

Walthius shifted in his seat. “You don’t like it.”

“No, that’s not it. It’s just –“

“It’s the school colors, I know. I should have picked something else. And that sunburst on the chest. Let me explain. It seems a little gaudy, I know, but it will come in handy if you have to -”

“What are you talking about?”

“Look, if you don’t like it just say so.”

“I didn’t say I don’t like it. I just don’t understand-”

“Did you see the mask, too?”

“Mask?”

“At the bottom.”

Jeff fumbled around the bottom of the box and found a black, Zorro-like linen mask. Walthius had clearly thought of everything. It made Jeff unusually queasy.

“Something wrong?” Walthius asked.

“Yeah, there’s something wrong!” Jeff blurted. “I’m supposed to wear this?”

“What did you think you were going to wear?”

“Well, unlike you, I hadn’t planned all this in advance.”

Walthius let out a sigh. “Do not tell me,” he said impatiently, “that you’re not willing to do the tights.”

“How did you know –”

“Never mind that!” snapped Walthius. “It’s the tights that matter.”

Jeff just stared at him with his mouth hanging wide open. Walthius broke away from watching the road and stared back. Jeff thought for a moment that he could establish some kind of psionic connection, where he could scour his friend’s brain and discover something that might explain all of this. Maybe this is just one more of my superpowers, Jeff thought. I’m sure it is. I know I’m feeling a connection here…

Then Walthius blinked. “So that’s a no, then?”

“A what?” This didn’t jibe with the psychic readings he was getting.

“A no. On the tights.”

“Really? That’s what you were thinking?”

Walthius turned back to the road and rubbed his face with his hands. “You can’t read minds, you idiot.”

Jeff’s pride was bruised. “Who said I could?”

“The tights, you moron! You’ve got to wear the tights!”

“Why should I?”

“Because.”

“Because why?”

Walthius began to sputter. “Because… because…”

“Why?”

“Because it’s the tights, man!” Walthius said. “That’s self-explanatory.”

“Not to me, it isn’t,” Jeff said, “Why should superheroes was all feel this unyielding urge to dress up in silly clothes?”

“They’re superheroes, you dolt. That’s what they do.”

“Well, yeah,” said Jeff, “I mean, sure, they can move mountains and everything, but can’t you do that in a pair of jeans instead of a leotard?”

“Look to the classics, my friend.” Walthius said. “The classics. If you’re going to quote Peter Parker, you have to dress like him.”

“But I don’t look like him.”

“So?”

“So he’s got muscles that ripple when the wind blows. I’m six foot four and weight 165 pounds.”

“So?”

“So who wants to see a guy with a caved-in chest and a pair of chicken legs in a unitard?”

“Are you going to take this seriously or not?” Walthius asked. They were finally at the onramp, at the end of the line to get on to the freeway. Jeff decided that the rest of the ride might go more smoothly if he played along.

“Yeah, I guess so.” Jeff sighed, giving in. “Fine. What’s a pair of tights between friends?”

“Good,” Walthius said, satisfied.

“Yeah, good.”

They drove in silence for a moment.

Then Walthius spoke. “Well?”

Jeff stared at him. “Well, what?”

“Well, nothing!” Walthius shot back. “Aren’t you going to put them on?”

Jeff looked like he’d been hit in the head with a frozen duck.

________________

David turned to face the noise. That was a girl’s scream, he was sure of it. And it wasn’t that far away.

David ran out to the end of the street and turned on to Sawtelle, where he saw two girls crossing the street before the lights had changed.

They were at least three football fields away from him. So close, and yet so far. Too far to run and catch them unawares.

But close enough.

________________

Jeff kept protesting, but once he realized that Walthius would not be denied, he began undressing in the passengers seat. His legs were too long to fully extend them as he removed his jeans, so he arched his back up and slid the wet, heavy denim off his legs. He was left in his soaking wet underwear, and realized he would have to take that off, too. He looked left and right, as traffic was moving too slowly to prevent any curious onlookers from peeking in on him. As soon as he was convinced that none of the other drivers were paying attention, he ripped off his undies and with lightning speed, he yanked on the tights, flailing against the space constraints and smashing his elbow through the window, sending shattered glass out into the street.

“Watch it!” Walthius shouted.

“Sorry!” he said to Walthius, and then “Sorry!” he said to the car next to him, waving and grinning sheepishly before slinking down and ducking his head below the window. He tried to scoop up the bits of broken glass that had fallen inside instead of out, and then he went to open the door to dump it all into the road. In his frenzied state, he lacked the control to keep from ripping the door handle clean off the side.

“Oh, that’s real nice,” Walthius moaned. He had to moan pretty loudly, too, since the newly absent window was welcoming in all of Santa Monica’s nighttime cacophony.

“I said I was sorry!” Jeff yelled. “I didn’t do it on purpose!”

“Of course you didn’t,” Walthius yelled back. “Anyway, how do they feel?”

Jeff looked down at himself. The truth was they felt pretty good,. They were dry, anyway. And while there were no rippling muscles to speak of, his skeletonic frame meant that there were no unsightly bulges, either.

“They feel good,” Jeff said. “They feel really, really good.”

Walthius smiled. “I thought they would,” he said.

“Where do you want these?” he said, dangling his shredded briefs in his hand.

“Oh, man!” Walthius said. “You were supposed to leave those on!”

Jeff laughed. “What, you think Superman leaves them on?”

Walthius shook his head. “Superman wears those yellow things on the outside.”

“Yeah, great,” Jeff said. “I’m not wearing these on the outside.”

“Toss them in the back, then,” Walthius ordered. “It’s time for step two.”

“This thing is okay now, but I’m pretty sure that when I stand up it’s going to start riding up my crotch,” Jeff complained. “And it’s not long enough.” He looked down at his exposed white, flabby thighs, and it undermined his confidence to leap tall building without looking like he was waiting for a flood.

“Who cares. We’re at step two now.”

“All right, fine,” Jeff said. “Step two.”

“Good.”

Jeff tilted his head, “There’s a step two?”

“Step two,” Walthius said. “A name.”

________________

There was a line of parked cars all along Sawtelle, the last bit of free parking available before heading into Westwood. David started running down the side of the cars, and in an instant, both of his arms had ballooned to giant size, along with, for the first time, his feet, which burst out of their shoes. They provided the power to dash down the hill at breakneck speed. He was definitely running faster now, picking up cars as he went and throwing them as he gathered steam.

He got it down to a pattern: two steps, throw car. Two steps, throw car. Soon he was lost in the rhythm of it.

The girls were entering the village now. He couldn’t see them. He did see a few horrified people on the other side of the street, which made for good target practice.

You should all feel lucky, David thought. You each get a car of your own.

Science for Girls: Smart, not Clever
Stallion Checks Out

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  1. Ah, much better. Back to the novel, away from smart, not clever Darren (no offense, Darren — I’m sure you’re music is great). Anyway, here’s my comments:Walthius, not Wealthiest (“you focus, said Wealthiest”). Search your writing — you know it to be true!Also, enough with the car throwing. First, he thinks that he got away with it crossing Sunset, now he’s just rhythmicly chucking cars? That seems a bit strange.I want to know the name, although I think I already do. Is it Jumper? I’m basing that on the fact that you said that was the original title of the story. If it’s not Jumper, than whatever the name is also the name of the book. If not, your new title is “Friend of Walthius!” Or, “The Boy Who Jumps!” OK, those both suck, but if you say them right, with the right emphasis, you’ll at least smile.

  2. Sorry, one more comment. I’m not buying the homemade costume. It obviously fits Jeff, who does not appear to have a typical body build. Therefore, it was made with Jeff in mind. Yet, Jeff just called Walthius a few hours ago! That is one fast seamstress (or seamster, or sewer, or whatever. You get the point.) So, unless Walthius had some advance knowledge that all this was going to happen to Jeff, the costume makes no sense. If Walthius did have advance knowledge…do I smell a plot twist? I hope so. Since I like to predict, I predict that Walthius came up with some secret formula that he injected into the rabid dog and then he forced the rabid dog to bite Jeff. Or maybe Walthius is the rabid dog… (hmmm)

  3. “weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth” Too religious perhaps?“Wait a second, he thought. Is that a hospital up ahead?” Would he really have thought that? I mean, he does live there so he would recognize it right? Perhaps a re-wording is in order. Maybe even just. “He looked up and saw the hospital. He smiled.” (Or preferably something much better than that.) So, is Wealthiest Walthius’s nobler brother—like Goofus and Gallant?“Why should superheroes was all feel this unyielding urge to dress up in silly clothes?” (extra word)I’m six foot four and weight 165 pounds.” (lose the “t” in “weigh”)Why would there be any sense of urgency to put on the superhero costume in the car? It feels very much like you are having him change JUST so he can be dressed as a superhero when he needs to go save the two girls. I just don’t think the motivation is clear here.And from an earlier chapter, I wonder if you should include some acknowledgment of the by-standers (by-drivers?) who witness Lisa and Vikki crash. Would a crammed-full-of-cars street really yield not one Good Samaritan to offer help? This is something you can do with a simple visual in a film, but in a book it feels very strange that they could crash, struggle out of the car and away without someone at least asking “Need help?” I also realize that perhaps you don’t want to slow down the narrative with such minor details, but I do think it could play very well into Lisa’s state of mind too.

  4. I’m thinking it’s pretty clear that Wealthiest (hee hee) made it earlier with Jeff in mind. I’m curious as to how and why…..which is good. Keep me curious.24 gets LA geography all wrong, why shouldn’t you? 🙂George and Thursowick got all my typos. So, he’s the hulk? Really?

  5. Ok.I wish I had a little more context about why David and Jeff have such opposite reactions to their new found abilities. I’m liking the story as it progresses, but I’m still bugged about the initial set up that led to all this. Sorry I’ll try to get over it. Little things: Sawtelle is not as well known as the other streets-you might want to add blvd the first time you mention it. Also I would rethink saying it wasn’t long enough right after mentioning the crotch. I like where we’re going though. I forsee a great Walthius twist.

  6. I’m still confused about David. What is his shiny purpose and this destiny that has embraced him? Why does his destiny require him to kill these girls?Why does his destiny/purpose want him to see where the wind takes him. Following the wind seems to me like a lack of purpose.What doors were previously closed to him that he is so excited to open now? It seems like he was the spoiled child of a well-known father, and that instead of a life of closed doors, that he’d have experienced a life with many opened doors.I do very much like the phrase “something new, yet ancient.” It makes me interested about the origin of his powers and that you’ll explain it before the end of the book (or series).How does Lisa know that that David has hurt a lot of people? How does she know that he’s far from done?I don’t really think that you need to answer these during the chapter. I wanted you to be aware of what I was thinking as I was reading. I do think that I would enjoy the story a little bit better if I at least could get a better idea of why killing these girls is so important to David. Why is it the first step on his wind guided journey?

  7. Since you’re away tonight, I’ll leave a comment here since we may not forget about it and I’ll forget. If he has to put tights on, that’s fine. But lose the bit about the underwear and definitely the crotch bit. We’re wanting this to be a junior high novel. So clean it up. Also..why are his flabby white thighs hanging out. And if you’ve already mentioned the 6’4″, 165 lb thing, how could he possibly have flabby thighs?? (I think you should lose the 6’4″, 165 lb thing because when you sell the screen play it will be too hard to cast.)

  8. Okay, I’m tired of the cars!! I don’t know LA streets at all, so the context means absolutely nothing to me, and frankly, it’s driving me a little batty.This chapter feels a lot choppier than the others (or maybe I’m just grumpy.) The beginning feels like what it is—something you’ve hasitly rewritten. It needs another revision.I’m also getting tired of the back and forth. Can we get to the next action sequence, please? I mean, I know that he has to be dressed and everything, and I do like the idea that Walthius knew that someday Jeff would become a super-hero, but all of this is taking too long. I also agree with everything Wiz DH said. I don’t get a read for David at all. He’s all bummed in the prologue that he has to ride the bus, which means that a life of luxury was his all along, so why does he feel so liberated now? He is by far the least vivid of all your characters.And I agree with Mrs. Cornell. You can’t use “skeletel” and “flabby” to describe the same guy. ANd I guess I missed something, because when I think of tights, I think of things that go all the way to the ankles, or ones that are enclosed around the feet. Thus, I was really confused when you mentioned the flabby thighs. This is a thigh long unitard? It doesn’t compute.More along those lines, what’s up with him ripping off door handles and smashing windows, but he doesn’t rip the tights? And tights are not that easy to get on–surely in your acting career you’ve donned a pair? They are a beast to get on, especially in the car. If Jeff is accidentally ripping off door handles, and he’s 6’4″ no WAY would those tights stand a chance in the front seat.Ok, I’m done with the tights.

  9. “Walthius turned back to the road and rubbed his face with his hands”.That sounds like he is driving without hands. I’d just change it to “rubbed his face with his right hand”.And sorry, on the re-read I saw that it was “skeletonic frame”. Still, can’t use that phrase and flabby at the same time. ANd seriously, if it’s not long enough, talk about calves, not thighs. The imagery—it’s just too disturbing. I dunno–maybe I’m just scarred from our time in that wretched house in Jackson when you thought undergarments were for weaker men.