The worst part of Rod's schemes was the lecture that went with them. I was already in a bad mood because it was a little too quiet after school. Although Allen had run off most of the media shortly after the kidnapping, there were still a few paparazzi lurking around. As Darklight, I could've checked, but I was stuck as mere Tom Reilly, which gave my suspicions nowhere to go. It didn't help that Rod had us bike to a vacant lot near school. The area didn't get a lot of traffic, and I hoped to avoid a drug bust from curious cops. I thought our old headquarters would've been better, but we were still avoiding it then.
"Your problem," Rod began, "is that you keep forgetting that time only changes in a small area. When you sped up your chores Saturday, the sweeping went pretty well—"
"The dust kept flying out of the time field, so I had to chase it," Allen complained. "It took longer personally, but only a second in normal time."
"But you were in your suit and could go faster," Rod said. "And you still messed up the mopping."
"The mopping went okay; it was the drying that didn't work out."
"Because you thought really extending the time field would make the floor dry faster. But it didn't, because the field locked out the dry air currents and heat that would've done the job. That's why I've come up with some experiments to help you figure out how to use that toy right."
It was a good idea, though better to watch than to read. Delete that: there was the bit about running at a wall and trying to climb up. That was good. Allen had tried running up a wall before, and it only worked when he wore his suit. But crawling up caused the controller to interpret his momentum as gravity--probably a feature, not a bug: Genie couldn't be fooled that easily--and he could crawl for several seconds up a wall before he lost gravity--enough to reach a second-story window with practice.
Maybe it was his impact against the semi-condemned building on the east of the lot that shook the vermin loose, or maybe it was the darkness that crept up on us as we endured Rod's lectures, but just then some thugs rearranged our agenda. They looked like they might do the same for our faces. There were just four of them, but they looked tough, and we looked like the Geek Quartet.
"Well, look what we have here," one of the goons said. "Some kids with no one to take care of them."
"We'll have to take care of them, then," another said.
"I dunno," a third mumbled. "They look like they're doin' okay. Besides, I thought we was gonna find somebody to rob."
"'Scuse me," the second goon muttered. He began beating up his associate. Since "Manny" was the only thing he said afterward that was neither vulgar nor profane, I suppose it was the idiot's name.
It was a splendid time to leave. Delete that: we thought it was. The leader of the group disagreed, and so did his gun. "Not unless you're faster than a speeding bullet, kids."
With his time-field controller, Allen probably was. With his suit, he definitely was. But then, with his suit, he was bulletproof, too. He could get away easily, but could he get a cop back there in time to save the rest of us? Apparently he didn't like the odds.
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