The Flash: Evil to Burn, Chapter 2: Sick Game

by Hitman 44077

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As the Flash continued battling between consciousness and unconsciousness, his thoughts sped ahead a few hours later when Central City’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was in full force.

***

The chill of the air did little to disrupt the mood of the Thanksgiving Day Parade. City dwellers dressed in winter attire watched as various floats, large parade balloons, bands, and other such entertainment filled the main streets of the city with joy and hope. The sun-filled sky illuminated the events further, giving balance to the cold weather.

On a parade float sponsored by the Central City Police Department, the Flash and Captain Invincible stood and waved to the citizens of Central City, even as they carried on a conversation between one another.

“It’s good to see you again, Darryl,” Flash said to his friend. “I try to keep in contact for the most part, but the last few weeks have been anything but relaxed.”

“I understand completely, Wally,” said Darryl Frye, dressed in his Captain Invincible outfit. “I’ve been busy myself — with my job and assorted cases, of course — but also trying to lose enough weight to fit into this costume again.” The Flash chuckled as the Captain continued, “Looks like I succeeded once again — until dinner’s over, anyway.”

“Yeah, I hear that — well, maybe not, when it comes to my metabolism,” the Flash replied, prompting a chuckle from his friend. “Barry told me about your secret identity when I was with the Titans a few years ago, but I never really knew all of the details behind it.”

“There’s a story behind it,” the Captain said solemnly, though he continued to greet the crowd with a smile. “Several incidents within this city a few years back led me on that path. It was a very dark period of time, and the aftermath still affects all of us who lived through it.”

“I suppose it would,” the Flash replied with understanding.

“I’ve got to admit, those events have been on my mind as of late. The business six months ago with Fiona, and then the unsolved arson a month back,” the Captain said before continuing. “It’s bothered me more now than it had in the last few years.”

“But you managed to get through it — you persevered,” Flash said, supporting his friend. “The past can’t hurt you anymore.”

“And you’re right — I control my destiny. But sometimes the past can affect others differently — haunt them. I think it did with Fiona Webb, and I’m starting to wonder if maybe it’s done the same to Mick Rory,” the Captain admitted.

The Flash shared his further thoughts. “I’ve wondered myself if Rory’s been involved with the arson, but there’s been no trace of him in at least a year and a half. I want to believe he’s still reformed, but until we can track him down…”

Suddenly, a large explosion erupted near the front of the parade, engulfing one of the floats in flames. The crowd erupted in fear as the fiery wreck began to turn toward them. Much of the crowd tried to move out of the way, but chaos ensued, preventing some crowd movement and knocking several citizens to the ground.

“My God!” the Captain shouted, even as further explosions claimed other floats.

The Flash had already taken off after the first fiery float, speeding to it quickly enough so that he could stop it by disabling the wheels and fanning the flames into nothingness with his arms.

Good God — we’ve got a full-scale riot on our hands! the Flash thought, grabbing people who’d fallen to the streets and preventing them from being trampled. He carried each to safety, and when he’d saved those who would have been hurt, possibly killed, he began to focus on the further dangers.

The Central City Police began to intervene, aiding the other citizens as best they could under the circumstances, even as the Flash continued his efforts. But when the parade balloons burst into flame, those who’d been acting as moving human anchors fled in fear for their lives. Oh, great, Flash thought grimly, now finding himself and the city in a new peril.

Captain Invincible didn’t sit idly by either as the disaster continued to ravage the city streets. He leaped off the float he’d been standing on and aided in efforts to help the crowd escape. When one of the floats ahead of him suddenly exploded, he rushed toward several citizens who were in the path of the float.

“Get out of the way! Move it!” he shouted desperately, narrowly shoving them out of the way of imminent danger.

“Thank you!” one of the citizens said, visibly shaken from the near-death experience.

“Just get to safety, all right?” the Captain said between heavy breaths.

As Captain Invincible continued to recover, he saw that one of the abandoned cars in the parade was speeding toward a child too petrified to run. The potential horror raced through the Captain’s mind. Dear Lord, he thought before reacting.

He ran, grabbing the child and pushing the little girl toward several police officers before the car could make contact with her. However, before he could avoid collision himself, he was struck instead, flipping over the car, and landed on his back. He didn’t move even as the car crashed into another vehicle and came to a stop.

“Captain Frye!” yelled one of the officers in horror, even as other officers tended to the fallen hero.

Nearby, the fiery clouds — no longer simply balloons — spread all about, expanding everywhere and catching some of the city buildings on fire.

I’ve got to stop this before the whole city’s burnt to the ground, the Flash thought, speeding toward each cloud.

Spinning in a cyclone-like shape, the scarlet speedster managed to capture each and every fire cloud and funneled them into the sky safely. Though there was the momentary fright of a sky on fire, it quickly dissipated, which caused some minor relief.

“Takes care of that, but damn it!” The Flash seethed in anger. “Someone risked a lot of lives in a sick, twisted game — and I have a good idea who.”

The Flash sped back to the area, putting out any and all fires from buildings to wrecked floats, until he stopped by the float he and Captain Invincible had occupied. What he saw shocked him.

“My God,” he said with a whisper as he stared at several police officers surrounding a costumed figure being gurneyed into an ambulance. “Darryl!

He instantly ran toward his friend, even as efforts were being made to keep him alive. “What happened?” he yelled to the officers.

“He — he got hit by a car! He saved a child from the vehicle. But he’s in bad shape,” one of the officers responded sadly.

“He’s got to get to the hospital — fast!” Flash exclaimed.

“Let me do that!” a voice called from above.

The Flash and the other police officers looked up to see Polara floating to the ground.

“Good to see you, Polara,” Flash said, knowing not to refer to the woman he loved under the mask by her real name.

“I saw it all on TV as the pies cooled. I tried to arrive as soon as I could, but–” Polara said, evidently upset by what she’d witnessed.

“I understand,” Flash said. “Let’s just get Darryl to the hospital.”

Polara nodded in agreement and, using her magnetic abilities, lifted both herself and the ambulance into the air. She floated the ambulance toward the hospital, even as the Flash made his way there first to alert emergency room officials on what to expect.

***

A short time later, at Central City’s Memorial Hospital, doctors attended to Darryl Frye as preparations were being made for surgery. One surgeon approached the Flash, who awaited word on Darryl’s condition in the emergency room lobby.

“How is he?” Flash asked calmly. “We got him here in time, right?”

The surgeon responded slowly. “He’s in bad shape. He’s got some broken ribs, some internal bleeding, a dislocated hip, and a severe concussion. The good news so far is that his back wasn’t broken, though a vertebrae may have been cracked. You two were lucky to bring him here in time, but we’re not going to fully know everything until he’s on the operating table. He has family, I assume?”

“Yeah. I brought his wife here,” Polara replied, even as the Flash and the surgeon turned toward the emergency room entrance. “And a trusted friend.”

There, standing alongside Polara, stood Darryl’s wife and Detective Frank Curtis. Both wore expressions of horror on their faces, even as Thelma Lorraine Frye made her way to the surgeon.

“Where’s Darryl?” Thelma asked, her eyes beginning to tear up. “Lord, tell me he’s all right!”

Polara watched as the woman, who couldn’t have been more than a few years removed from her own mother’s age, spoke to the surgeon. Though the mask she wore covered her face, she was obviously troubled judging by her body movement and mannerisms. The Flash watched as well, feeling horrible not only for Darryl, but for all who knew the brave man he called a hero.

Frank Curtis walked over to the scarlet speedster, placing his hand on Flash’s shoulder and speaking to him even as Flash turned in his direction. “I can’t believe someone would do something so evil on this day,” Frank said with quiet anger. “I saw it on TV, and when I hit the road to head to the parade site, the emergency channel on my police scanner alerted me on what had completely transpired. I turned my attention to picking up Thelma, but when I arrived, there was Polara, who brought us both here quickly.”

“I know,” Flash said, his voice a mix of sadness and anger as images of the parade flashed before his eyes. He could only imagine the impact his friend felt, and the thought caused him to close his eyes tightly for a few seconds. But within seconds, he’d opened them once more, his voice somewhat more positive. “I’m glad both of you are here.”

“Luckily, there were no fatalities today. You saved a lot of lives out there — a lot more than we would have had you not been there,” Frank said, reminding Flash that there was indeed something to be thankful for.

“Darryl saved some lives himself today. I just wish I could have prevented this,” Flash said quietly. “He’s too good a man for this city to lose.”

“Darryl’s a fighter, Wally. No way is he going to die this day,” Frank replied with certainty.

The Flash watched as Darryl’s wife shook with worry, then began crying over what the surgeon had told her. “I’ll be back in a second, Frank,” Flash said sadly, his heart going out to Thelma Frye. Flash immediately approached the woman whose grief was overwhelming, and he opened his arms. She held him, weeping, even as he placed his arms around her.

“Darryl needs us right now… needs our love, needs us to be strong… and he needs our prayers,” Flash said solemnly. “All of us, the CCPD, Frank, Polara and I — we’re here for you. We’re not giving up on him.”

“Thank you,” she said through her tears.

Slowly, Flash let Thelma go, even as Polara walked toward the woman to offer comfort. Flash walked back to Frank, his anger rising.

“I want to stay here, Frank, to help Thelma through this, but that son of a bitch is still out there. This game has taken a sick turn, and I’m not resting until I find him. There’s no telling where he could have planted bombs, and if there’s more out there, then that means more danger to the people of this city,” the Flash whispered angrily so as to not disturb Darryl’s wife any more than she already was.

“I understand, and she’ll understand, too. And you’re right. Whoever is behind this has covered this city in fear, and sometimes that’s worse than the action itself,” Frank replied with anger of his own, even as he briefly turned toward Thelma and Polara.

“How is he?” a female voice called from behind, loud enough for the Flash and Frank to notice. Both turned around to see Officer Angela Margolin who, aside from a cast on her left arm and a slight bruise on the left cheek of her face, seemed to be all right.

The Flash and Frank eyed her with shock, unsure just what had happened to the petite, brown-haired officer clothed in a sweater and jeans.

“He’s being prepped for surgery, Angela, but what happened to you?” Flash said, almost horrified.

“I took a spill,” Angela said in a hurry, “but I’m still walking. I was checking out when I heard the news on one of the televisions here.”

The Flash eyed her suspiciously, thinking, I don’t know many spills that cause damage like that. But before Flash could respond further, Angela spoke again, turning attention back toward Darryl’s health.

“Captain Frye’ll make it, right?”

“Of course he will,” Flash responded, even though he now had more than one thought on his mind. “But right now, you’ll have to excuse me.”

Before Angela could respond, Flash sped outside the hospital and headed for what had once been the parade site with hope that he could find clues that would lead him to the culprit.

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