Upville, Episode 11: Breaker’s Bar

“Five Apollo shots!” Fern shouted over the bar, slamming a twenty down.

The bartender nodded while passing another customer a drink, then began throwing several types of very potent liquor into the metal mixer.

“There’s only three of us…” ventured C.K., who was looking more and more uncomfortable by the second.  When Fern didn’t seem as if he was going to give him a response, he tried another angle,  “What are we doing here, again?”

Blackout was already chatting up a woman standing next to what was obviously her boyfriend.  But he glanced over his shoulder at C.K.’s comment and raised an eyebrow, “You don’t know what to do at a bar, man?”

This obviously wasn’t a regular bar.  C.K. recognized a lot of faces from the news and other media as low-level villains or heroes.  In fact, if he had to guess, he would say they were all supers.  That would explain the monstrous bouncers with beady, wildebeest eyes posted up in every corner.

Five shots lined themselves up on the bar.  The bartender was already making another drink, his back turned, facing the register.  C.K. raised both eyebrows.  A telekinetic, he thought.  He guessed that made sense.

A hot grin rose to Fern’s lips.  He grabbed Blackout’s shoulder and spun him around.  The woman looked relieved, but her dude was still pissed.  So Fern hooked his arm around both of their shoulders and slid them a shot, all smiles.

C.K. was about to put his fingers to the glass, but Fern plucked his index finger into the air, “Wait!”  He then proceeded to shoot five, tiny fireballs into the space above the bar, each of them landing perfectly on one of the shots, which then erupted into blue flames.  The trick had garnered the attention of several people around, and they turned their gaze to the strangely-euphoric pyro.

Blackout scrunched his face so hard that his eyes all but disappeared.  C.K. slid his tongue through his own clenched teeth to try to get the taste off of it.  The girl opened her wide, yellow eyes and let out a small, “Woo!”  Her dude had tears forming in his eyes.

Fern laughed as he saw all of their reactions.  He held his glass above his head, still alight, then tilted it into his mouth from several inches away, igniting the liquid as it poured into his mouth.  This garnered a bit of amused applause from the onlookers.

“What’s up with Fern, tonight?” C.K. asked Blackout, before he started hitting on the girl, again.  “I thought he would be more upset about this afternoon…”

“He woke up feeling cheery, that’s for sure,” Blackout agreed.  “It’s a good thing we didn’t show him those pictures, huh?” he whispered while Fern was leaning over the bar, buying another drink.

C.K. shrugged off a small nudge from someone pushing to get to the bar, “Has this ever happened before with other people?”

Now that was an interesting question.  Blackout thought about it for a solid half-minute before intoning a soft, “I don’t know…”

“You don’t know?” C.K. looked incredulous.

“I never stick around to find out,” he said with a quick tilt of his head.

Fern’s drink floated over to his waiting hands, a bright purple with red, irradiant ice cubes floating around in it.  He took a sip, nodded satisfyingly, then heated the glass so that all of the ice cubes melted in almost an instant, threatening to send the purple liquid overflowing into the floor.  But Fern addressed this issue by taking a large gulp.  The dissolved ice cubes didn’t float in a muddled mixture to the top of the drink, though.  They sat heavy on the bottom of the glass, in the same luminous crimson as before, splitting the drink into two layers.

Now, more people were watching Fern.  He put one finger in the center of the bottom of the glass, stirring it in small circles in the air.  The incandescent, bottom portion of the drink began sending large, red bubbles drifting viscously into the purple atmosphere above it, creating what seemed like a small lava lamp in a glass.

He downed it in three mouthfuls; the crowd cheered.

In the back, the DJ was just finishing setting up his tables.  C.K. watched him plug into the speakers, check his mic and music set.  When the beat started, he hooked Fern away from the spectators and yanked Blackout to a corner.

“What’s going on, man?” Fern asked, still grinning.  “You not having a good time?”

“Does the ‘C’ in your name stand for cockblocker?” swiped a bitter Blackout.

C.K. blew an exasperated breath to the ceiling, “Do either of you realize what’s going on?”

Fern and Blackout exchanged a confused look, then waited for C.K. to explain.

“Have either of you thought that Fern is a little too…sparky this evening?”

Several sharp head nods showed commiseration from Blackout.

Fern seemed a bit wounded.  “Hey, I’m just having a good time.”

C.K. and Blackout ignored this.

“Alright,” C.K. began, whipping out his tablet, “I did some tests, and your vitals are all very similar from before you encountered Blackout’s ability.  Except,” he paused, bringing up a pair of graphs on his tablet before spinning it around to show him, “your breathing and heart rate both are still dramatically lower after you woke up.”

“Uhhh,” Fern examined his hands and arms, “is that bad?”

“Actually,” C.K. answered, “it’s excellent.  It looks like your high blood pressure issues have been, at least for the short term, completely resolved.”

Fern raised his arm into the air, “Next shot’s on me, guys!”

Blackout caught Fern’s elbow, “Hold on there, firecracker.”

“Plus,” continued C.K. “your T cell counts are almost double what they were, and the amount of free radicals in your system have been halved.”

“Get to the damn point, C.K.” Blackout said.

“The point is” pointed C.K. with widened eyes, “in exactly 10 minutes of blacking-out, if these effects continue, Fern has most likely gained 10 years of life expectancy and essentially eliminated his risk of any outside illnesses or infections.”

“Holy shit,” said Blackout.

“Holy shit,” repeated Fern.

“Holy shit,” followed C.K., “is precisely what your ability is doing to people.  At least,” C.K. paused, “that’s what I have to assume until we have more data.  Not to mention the obvious psychological effects.”

“I keep trying to tell you guys I’m—”

“What day do you think it is?” interrupted C.K.

“It’s Saturday.”

“Okay, that’s either really good,” said Blackout with raised eyebrows, “or really bad…”

C.K. scribbled a note down on his tablet.  “It’s Sunday.”

“Since when?”

Blackout was incredulous, “Since yesterday passed!”

“Oh,” said Fern, not so easily deflated, “That means we’ve gotta get Sunday Slammers!”  He rushed back to the bar, greeted by cheers.

C.K. shrugged and trailed behind Fern while Blackout went back to yellow eyes.  The music was starting to pick up, and the DJ had begun stomping to the bass rhythm, sending small shockwaves through the floor.  They bounced C.K. a bit, and he let himself enjoy the vibe for few, cloudy moments while the Apollo shots did their job.

After two more drinks with Fern and his new fan club, C.K. was finally feeling loose.  He was about to press toward the dance floor, when two figures emerged from behind a curtain in the back of the bar, moving slow, a path opening up before them, step by step.  The DJ stopped stomping; Fern’s crowd grew quiet and turned their attention towards the encroaching silence over their shoulders.

And C.K. realized who it was—Frigidier and Yellow Bolt.

Everyone was struck.  All they could do was shuffle away from their commanding presence.  Frigidier was covered in diamonds, with two necklaces, a watch, and a bracelet all glittering in their own rhythm.  His face was cold.  His steps were soft.  There seemed to be a chilled fog surrounding him, threatening and entrancing, asking you to come closer but warning you against it.  One woman couldn’t find her feet fast enough and was left in the path to the door.  Frigidier came within inches of her, touched her drink with his index finger, frosting the glass and coating the surface in a thin coat of ice, and then he flashed a smile and kept walking.

Yellow Bolt was at Frigidier’s shoulder, sending goosebumps rippling across the skin of anyone within two feet and long hair dangling helplessly in the air before falling as he passed.  A blue blazer with gold trim on the lapels traced sharp lines down his solid frame.  One thin, gold watch with a crocodile band peeked from above the pocket that held his left hand.  Leather shoes made crisp clicks on the floor.  And he was beaming.  His teeth were impeccably white, always visible.  He saw a familiar face and shook hands with the finesse of a politician before glancing at the bartender and holding a finger in the air, whirling it into a tight circle.  One round on Yellow Bolt.  He didn’t even have to say anything.

Fern was powerless.  He could only stare.  The drink in his hand chilled his fingertips as he watched the two leave between the two towering bouncers, a line of tall women in heels tailing them out the door to a waiting, all-black limo with chrome accents.  Frigidier hadn’t noticed him.

At some point the music started again and the floor was bumping, but Fern wasn’t having it, anymore.  He didn’t even take his free drink.  Blackout had stopped hitting on yellow eyes and was leaning on the bar, focused on his glass.  C.K. looked at some videos online in a corner near the bathroom.

Fifteen minutes later they all met at the entrance, trudging reluctantly back to the meter-parked Villain Van two blocks away.

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