by Martin Maenza
The next night at Taylor High, the gymnasium had been transformed with streamers and cutouts to resemble a shimmering ocean floor. The D.J. had just switched to a slow song, allowing the young couples to get closer under the soft blue lighting.
Hal Jordan, dressed in his nice brown suit, held close Cindy Simpson, dressed in a light pink Mad Mod original dress. The young lady was enjoying the whole experience. “I’m having a totally awesome time, Hal,” she said as she laid her head against the young man’s shoulders. “Thank you so much.”
She paused for a second, waiting for a response. When none came, Cindy raised her head up and noticed that Hal had a glazed look in his eyes. “Hal,” she said, “Earth to Hal.”
The young man blinked. “Oh, I’m sorry, Cindy,” he said. “My mind was someplace else.”
“Obviously,” the young blonde replied. “What’s the matter? You not having fun?”
“Oh, I’m having fun,” Hal said. “Really, I am. I just couldn’t help thinking about yesterday and that case.”
Cindy rolled her eyes. “You need to learn to, like, take a break,” she said. “Take some time to unwind and enjoy life. Just be Hal for a while.”
“Yeah, you’re right,” Hal admitted.
“Here,” Cindy said. “Maybe this will help.”
She leaned into him and placed her lips upon his. She held them there for a moment and, after seeing no resistance, pushed further. The young couple had their first kiss, one that lasted until the end of the song a minute and a half later.
In a hidden base of operations somewhere in the Midwest of the United States, a number of criminal scientists sat around the table discussing their activities. All wore lab uniforms with a stylized skull insignia on the lapels.
“Agent Dukeston failed us,” one of the men said. “We were forced to terminate the operation to avoid confiscation of the equipment.”
“At least we know the suicide mode worked well,” the other man said.
“But we lost a valuable asset,” the first man replied. “That and the failure to secure a foundation to the domestic oil cartel as we planned!”
“It’s not a major problem,” a woman with dark hair said. “Just a minor setback. Taking the oil cartel first, there are more big players in the business besides J.D. Ehling. We can approach them if we want to continue that route.
“And as for loss of assets, remember that it is a simple matter for us to program another unit. We can create another Dukeston if we so desire.” The two men nodded in agreement with her. “One thing we will do though is tweak the programming; I don’t want the next unit misbehaving as that one did.”
“Agreed,” both men replied.
“We’ve been in hiding for too long, gentlemen,” the woman said. “In our absence, groups like HIVE have sprung up, while our old competition the 100 has retooled itself as the 1000. It is time for SKULL to reclaim its premiere position in the ranks of organized crime!”
“Hear, hear!” one of the men cheered.