Superpowers In A World Gone Mad
Subscribe to the feed Feed
Comments feed Comments feed

The Midnight Runner, Issue #006

August 6, 2013 in The Midnight Runner Tags:

midnight runner header
Issue #006 – – – – – controlled by Ken Thompson – – – – – Credits 30

The Midnight Runner took a deep breath and counted quietly to ten.  It was always best to approach situations calmly, but it was not always easy to do so.  When he felt ready he spoke, slowly and deliberately, to the computer system:  “Xara, access the back up files.”
“Yes, Sir,” Xara responded.  “I have opened the files.”
“Do whatever it takes, no holding back this time.  I want to know everything.  Including the names of the other six escapees.”
Xara paused.   “There is a password, sir,” she said, as apologetically as a computer is able to be.
“Bypass the password.  I have ultimate authority over my own system.”
“You installed the password,” Xara reminded him.  “You must have had a reason.”
“Things change,” The Midnight Runner said.  “Brute force.  Break the block and access the data.”
“As you command, sir.”

The computer whirred and lights flashed.  Then, abruptly, all the system lights went out.  For a moment the control room was plunged into darkness and then the orange emergency lights blinked on as the backup generator was accessed.  “Xara?  Status report!”  The Midnight Runner said.  There was no response from the computer so the hero walked over to the main power console and checked the readings.  Everything looked normal with the exception of a data block in the central mainframe which appeared to be dead.  The Midnight Runner retrieved a fusing kit from his store and plugged it into the board, smiling as the power came back and the screens in the room began relaying information again.

One year Ago:

The Midnight Runner did not know why a number of deep storage units containing living people were floating in a void outside reality.  But neither could he simply leave them there.  Upon his return to the lab with the orange globe he instructed the scientists to leave the building using a ruse that some powerful entity was about to enter through the rift and kill them all.  Hurrying them out and promising to bring them back when all was safe he cleared the area quickly.

Retrieving the pseudo-coffins took some time.  There were fourteen of them of varying sizes.  Each a futuristic design that he did not recognise.  Although The Midnight Runner did not recognise any of the people he could see sleeping beyond those glass lids, there was definitely something familiar about them.  Once they were safely through he made some calls to people he trusted – people his security company had employed before – and arranged for transport from the back of the lab building to his own base of operations.  Once that was done, he summoned the scientists to finish the job of securing the rift they had inadvertently opened.

Once the units were secure in his basement storage area, The Midnight Runner began to ponder the situation.  He realised that it was entirely possible that these were dangerous individuals who had been stored outside reality in order to protect the world from them.  Perhaps his intervention was a bad idea?  But they could also be innocent victims.  He resolved to store them securely under high security while he investigated their origins.  In this way he would be fully informed before taking any further action.  He did consider handing the whole thing over to the government – but he had seen first-hand the sort of job they tended to do of security.  It did not fill him with confidence.

Over the next month he tried to investigate the individuals.  Other than the mysterious names on the coffins, he struggled to find anything about them at all.  It was as if they did not exist.  Given where he had found them, The Midnight Runner had to assume that perhaps they did not.  Another concern was that as his investigations progressed, so the hero began to feel unwell.  At first this was merely headaches, but then he lost his appetite, began to suffer from strange inexplicable panic attacks, became forgetful and started making foolish mistakes that were uncharacteristic.  It was really affecting his work.

The first escape changed everything.  One evening he returned to his base to see warning lights and alarms flashing everywhere.  Xara informed him that the Deep Storage area had been compromised.  Given that all conventional readings he had taken suggested the people in the boxes were dead, or in a state so deeply catatonic that they may as well have been dead, The Midnight Runner had not expected one to wake up, break free and then escape his high security containment area.  But the individual known as Virus, a pale white kid who looked about as unthreatening as it was possible to be, had managed to do so.

After the breakout, Xara began finding pieces of information about the individuals in the coffins.  Midnight did not know where she was finding this stuff, since the computer would always respond: “Web Search” to queries about it, but gradually he began to discover bits and pieces.  Some were heroes.  Some were villains.  Occasionally he would get a news report about them, or details of their powers.  When he checked this information, there were often holes or irregularities.  Once, a town that didn’t even exist was named in a news report.  Another time, a team of super-villains was referred to which not only didn’t exist – but was the name of a team found in a comic book!

At first The Midnight Runner suspected data corruption.  But gradually, he grew to believe a different scenario was more likely.  He suspected that these people in his basement must come from another reality entirely.  One similar to, but not the same, as the real world in which he lived.  Still he continued to get more and more sick and his symptoms grew both more severe and more numerous.

It was Xara who finally helped him wake up and see what was happening.  The computer pointed out that these individuals were not part of the real world.  For all intents and purposes they should not exist.  The fact that they did was dangerous both for him personally and for the world.  His knowledge, as it grew, was making him sick.  It was a consequence of the forcing together of two parallel realities.  Just the things he had learned already were slowly killing him.  The more he knew, the faster his demise would arrive.  The best solution, the computer summised, was to lock away the prisoners securely forever and to erase his memory of it.  The alternative was that he would die – and soon.


“Sir?  Are you well?” Xara asked.
The Midnight Runner was not well.  His head was pounding.  His heart was racing.  He felt weak and listless.  Concentrating on what was going on was becoming hard.  His mind kept wandering off to dark thoughts and shadows.  He felt jumpy, frightened.  “This has happened six times before?” He asked.
“Yes.  Each time you erase your memory again to stop the sickness from killing you.”
“But if these people keep escaping, surely they are endangering the world?”
“You can’t do anything about that if you are deceased, Sir,” Xara pointed out.  “Each time you come to the conclusion that the only answer is to remove your memories again because when they return you are sicker each time than the previous instance.  Your heart rate and brain waves are highly irregular at the moment.  You are at high risk of  a stroke, or even death.  One of these times you will die before you get the chance to remove your memories.  This is why you keep increasing the security to prevent yourself from breaking through.”
“Why haven’t I just deleted the information entirely?”
Xara was silent for a moment.  The console whirred.  “I do not know, Sir,” She said.  “You did not share that information with me.”
“Okay.  I want the list.  Who is in those caskets and who has escaped?”
“I strongly recommend you do not access that information sir.  It may well kill you.”

3 Responses to “The Midnight Runner, Issue #006”

  1. Keith Nixon Says:

    Ooh, the Virus I remember it well.

  2. False Bill Says:

    the more we learn the less we know, but the virus is out there as well, I do wonder if he manipulating Xara to free the others?

  3. Ken T Says:

    Had the same thought about virus but why release them one at a time!!!


Leave a Reply