Buddy looked at the door at the bottom of the stairs and paused again. The door looked warped, like something on the inside had pushed against it with a great deal of force. Yet the door appeared to be such as could withstand a nuclear blast.
He again questioned his reasons for being in this situation, looking up the stairs as he considered turning tail. Curiosity ended up winning out and he slowly opened the door, peeking through the small crack he had created. He wanted to make certain the man he was visiting was still placed in the opposite corner of the room. He was, so Buddy cautiously entered.
“Hello?” Buddy spoke softly. The man looked at Buddy and a sign of recognition and joy washed over his face.
“Buddy, old chum!” the man exclaimed as he moved quickly in Buddy’s direction. “I was beginning to think you’d never show.” Buddy backed himself against the door. He took a long look at the man who yelled his name. This man was a giant, easily 5 inches taller than Buddy. Yet, Buddy couldn’t help but think there was something familiar about this blond haired muscular gentlemen.
He was certain he had never met him before the events outside of Maggie’s Diner, but something in his eyes, his bright green eyes, made Buddy feel slightly more at ease.
However, the speed in which this large man was bearing down on his location quickly removed any ease Buddy felt.
“I’m sorry, I’m pretty sure you have me confused with someone else.” Buddy said.
“Ah, I missed the famous Buddy Jackson banter. Come on over here and give your old sidekick a hug.” The man’s voice boomed through the room. “Don’t tell me you don’t recognize me.”
“I’m sorry,” Buddy said meekly.
“Ha! Hilarious!” He stopped, noting the lack of recognition on Buddy’s face. “It’s me! Zero! I’m back! It hasn’t been that long, has it?”
Buddy wondered why the government would be so interested in a man who was obviously insane. Zero walked closer to Buddy and looked into his eyes. His grin fell.
“Then it’s true. You don’t remember me either.” Zero said, looking very disappointed. His green eyes looked deep into Buddy’s.
“Sorry. Wish I did,” Buddy offered honestly.
“I knew something was amiss, but I was certain you, at least, would remember me.”
“If it helps, it would seem that there are a couple of men upstairs who remember you.”
“Ah, yes, those two boring-looking men. Of course they would remember me. But who cares about them, am I right, chum?” His laughter echoed through the room as he slapped Buddy hard on the back.
“Um. . . sure?” Zero’s eyebrows furrowed at this response.
“I don’t understand, Buddy. What happened while I was away? Was it the Time Geek again? Or perhaps our old enemy The Metronome? Did someone break your brains in my absence?”
“Did you go somewhere?” Buddy humored the man.
“Of course I went somewhere. I went on the greatest journey. You even tasked me with it, my old friend. You were the master of ceremonies at my going away event.” He wrapped his arm around Buddy and Buddy slowly twisted himself out of the hold. “It was a pretty big deal, you know. TV cameras, pretty news women, bubbly drinks. . . everything.”
“Sorry I missed it.”
“But–” Zero stopped himself. “Right. So, you don’t remember me at all? What about the old team? You have to remember the team, right? All those fights and stuff. You can’t tell me you’ve forgotten about those.”
“Oh, wait, you were a boxer?” Buddy asked, quickly working through his past opponents to determine if that was why this man looked vaguely familiar.
“A boxer? No. What? You mean that silly thing where men wear padded gloves and fight in their underpants? Oh no, old chum, I am most definitely not a boxer.”
“Oh, I just thought that since you were talking about fights–”
“Ah, yes, the fights. The constant battle for justice against injustice, going into the fray to defend truth, our constant quarrel against all that stood in the way of freedom. Our engagement with destiny.”
“Um. . . yeah. Truth, justice and the American way, right?”
“See, you do remember!”
“Yeah, that’s Superman’s whole thing, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, you know, cape and tights and fighting bad guys. Superman. Faster than a speeding bullet?”
“Yes, super men, that’s what we were. We were so super, in fact, many considered us gods.” Zero struck a pose as he said this, as though he were running for political office.
“You’ve definitely got the wrong guy if that’s the case.”
“Oh no, my amnesic ally, I most definitely do not have the wrong guy. You are Buddy Jackson, the world’s greatest hero!”
“Heh, yeah, sure pal.” Buddy laughed.
“You are Buddy Jackson, aren’t you?” Zero asked seriously. “It would actually make a lot of sense if you weren’t.”
“Yeah, my name is Buddy Jackson.”
“Brother to Maggie Jackson, culinary genius who operates the establishment known as Maggie’s Diner?”
“Yep, that’s me.”
“Well then, you are the right guy.”
“I don’t know how to say this, but between the two of us, I’m pretty sure I’m the one who has the more reliable brain at the moment.” Buddy looked at the windows above, hoping the men who were watching would see this as a plea to let him leave the room as quickly as possible.
“I’m not sure what you mean. Are you saying that they found me infected with some sort of,” he paused for dramatic effect, “space sickness?”
“Space now? Look pal, I think this has–”
“Perhaps I can prove to you that you and I were old chums.”
“I don’t see how that’s possible, but–”
“Oh, I’ve got it. Your origin story! You never tell anyone your origin story. No one, that is, except your old pal.”
“Yes. The story of how you found out about your ability.”
“Your incredible feats of strength. Is it possible this too has been erased from your memory?”
Buddy looked up to the windows again, “I’m sorry guys, I can’t do this anymore. This is nonsense.” He began walking to the door.
“Nonsense?” Zero yelled. He looked across the room at the table his lunch had been placed on. The tray of food lifted off the table and flew across the room, hitting the wall. “Is it possible for you to label that as nonsense?”
Buddy hastened his speed toward the door, while staring at the tray as it clattered to the ground. He turned around and pulled on the door, trying to open it. It was locked from the outside. He yelled out for the door to be opened. A loud buzzing filled his ear and quickly shifted into a sharp squeal. Buddy fell to his knees. The world turned a hazy shade of purple, disorienting him.
He looked at Zero and wondered where he was, why the man standing over him looked both angry and concerned at the same time, and what he was doing on the floor. The door behind him opened and Agents Kent and Parker entered. They picked Buddy up from the floor and dragged him out of the room. The world slowly came back into full focus. Zero called after them to Buddy.
“Something is wrong, old chum! You must remember. Remember me, remember the team. Damon’s back, Buddy, you must remember!”
Buddy was assisted in walking up the stairs to the observation room and placed in a chair. He looked up at the gentlemen who had pulled him out of the room below.
“What’s going on? Where am I?” Buddy asked.
“You’re fine, Mr. Jackson,” said Agent Kent. “Perfectly fine.” He looked at Agent Parker who was staring intently at Buddy.
Buddy also looked at the man staring at him and noticed his dark unforgiving eyes. He couldn’t remember why, but something about this man struck a fear within Buddy’s heart that made him want to run.
Go to Chapter Nine