The Flash: Unfinished Business, Chapter 2: Trouble at the Nurblin Home

by Hitman 44077

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The Flash began examining the facts as they’d presented themselves so far as he headed toward the home of one Basil Nurblin. You have commercials popping up on television with subliminal attachments encouraging people to act out against society, which sets up a toy company in serious trouble to take the fall, he thought while continuing to run. Someone has a serious stake in this matter.

Without warning, a sudden noise alerted Flash to a danger that was now unfolding. He turned his head toward the direction of the noise. Gunfire! Nurblin’ll have to wait! Flash thought as he turned his body and headed toward the source of the noise.

Nearby, merely a block or two away in the business sections of Central City, a shaggy-haired man in his mid-thirties wearing army fatigues held a shotgun in his hands, firing at buildings where citizens had holed themselves up in. Seemingly on edge, this man shouted all that appeared to be on his mind. “No one understands, no one!” the man screamed, wiping sweat from his head with his free hand. “Society wants to change us, to think for us! Only by anarchy can we govern ourselves!”

Flash arrived almost instantly and, upon spotting the man holding the shotgun, used his super-speed to disarm him. It took a few seconds for the man to realize the gun was no longer in his hands. But when he looked straight forward, he saw a smiling figure clad in red, holding the very gun that had been in his grip only a few seconds earlier.

“Looking for this?” Flash said to the man before using his hand at super-speed to melt the barrel of the shotgun.

No!” the man yelled at Flash in anguish. “You don’t understand! I followed the predetermined rules, and what did it do for me? Society is the enemy, here.”

The Flash looked around and saw the damage that had been caused by the shaggy-haired man. “And this is going to fix things, right? Sorry. It doesn’t work that way in the real world.”

The shaggy-haired man placed his hands over his face and shook, as if he’d suddenly realized the truth in Flash’s words. “But… society… the problems… and anarchy’s role in fixing things. What’s… what’s wrong with me?” he asked aloud.

The Flash himself realized something was up. I can’t be sure, but the way he was rambling about… it makes me wonder if this guy watched some of those Robot Ranger commercials that have been airing, he thought.

Before Flash could act further, a police squad car arrived at the scene and, along with two police officers, stepped out one detective Frank Curtis. “Good job, Flash!” Curtis said to the speedster, even as the two police officers arrested the shaggy-haired man.

“Thanks, Frank, but I have a feeling that the troubles have only begun,” Flash said reluctantly as he watched the shaggy-haired man being forced into the police car.

“Huh?” Curtis asked the scarlet speedster.

“This, I believe, is only part of a case I’ve just started, Frank,” Flash said before explaining further. “There’s been a commercial airing with subliminal messages, some of which this guy was shouting about when I found him. I have a feeling that there may be more such cases before things are finished. Just remember that people like this guy aren’t doing this under their own free will.”

“I’ll keep that in mind when I speak to Captain Frye, Flash,” Curtis said, understanding all that he’d just been told. “And we’ll keep an eye on the matters here in Central City while you continue your end of things.”

“Thanks, Frank,” Flash said appreciatively. “I’ll talk to you and Darryl later.” With a wave, Flash took off with his super-speed and headed toward the Nurblin home, hopefully without any further distractions.

In only a matter of seconds, Flash arrived at the residence of Basil Nurblin. Walking up to the front door of the house, Flash stopped and knocked on the door with his right hand. “Nice and quiet area, probably one of the reasons they live here, if they still do, anyway,” Flash said, turning his head ever so slightly. “I’m sure I could just enter the home by moving at super-speed, find out that way, but that’s not how I operate.”

The Flash heard some slight movement come from the home, and within seconds, a middle-aged woman with curly hair and glasses, wearing dress slacks and a long-sleeved shirt, answered the door. “Oh, my!” the woman exclaimed in surprise. “The Flash?!”

“Yeah,” Flash said, smiling pleasantly. “I’m looking for a man named Basil Nurblin. Is he here?”

The woman tilted her head downward and paused, as if there was something bothering her. She looked back at the Flash and pushed her glasses back on the bridge of her nose. “I, well, I’m afraid he’s not here,” the woman said, her voice shaking somewhat.

Flash could tell something was wrong by the woman’s behavior. He was determined to learn just what was on her conscience. “I’m guessing you’re his wife?” Flash asked, being careful on how he worded things in front of the woman in front of him.

“Um, yes… yes, I am,” the curly haired woman said as sweat beads began to develop on her head. “I’m Francine Nurblin. What is this about?”

“May I come in, Francine, so we can talk about this privately?” Flash asked, seeking to help ease the woman’s apparent worries.

“Y-yes, o-of course,” the woman said, her voice continuing to shake.

Once Flash had entered the Nurblin home, Francine shut the door quickly and wiped the sweat off her forehead. Flash noticed several items of interest immediately: electronics covering desks, a medium-sized personal computer, and mementos that had been earned by Basil in his years at the Wiggins Toy Corporation. Though his suspicions were all but confirmed, Flash turned his attention to Francine, wanting to learn anything that could help him on this case. “I can tell something’s wrong, Francine. And judging by your behavior, you might be able to enlighten me on the whereabouts of your husband,” Flash said, getting to the point immediately.

“That’s just it, Flash. Basil, he — I just don’t know where he is,” the woman said, removing her glasses to wipe her eyes.

“You’re saying you haven’t seen your husband?” Flash asked, narrowing his eyes ever so slightly.

“Basil and I — we had some problems a few years ago,” Francine answered as she placed her glasses back on her face. “Basil had an idea for a toy, something he thought could make him wealthy. He called it Colonel Computron.”

I’m familiar with that portion of events, thanks to Willard W. Wiggins himself, the Flash thought, remembering his earlier conversation. He looked back at the curly haired woman, who’d paused in the meantime. “I see,” he responded.

Francine continued to speak. “He grew angry when he didn’t end up with the fame, or notoriety, of creating the concept. He not only lost his job with the Wiggins Toy Corporation, but he grew obsessed with the idea of running his former employers out of business. And then, one day soon after, he appeared.”

“Colonel Computron, come to life,” Flash said, seeing how things were fitting into the current state of affairs.

“Yes,” Francine said distantly as she looked away. “Someone dressed as the character Basil created, and seeking to not only destroy the company which had inspired him, but the owner of the company as well.”

“Francine, I need to know. Was Basil Colonel Computron?” Flash asked urgently.

“I — I can’t answer that. Not in any way that I could prove,” Francine responded slowly, turning around once more to face the Scarlet Speedster. “All I know is that Basil continued to change in his moods, even after Colonel Computron vanished, growing angry at me, and–”

Suddenly, there was the sound of glass breaking, which interrupted the conversation between Flash and Francine. “That came from the kitchen!” Flash exclaimed as he prepared to investigate.

“It’s all right, Flash,” Francine said, her voice seeming calmer. Then, in the direction of the kitchen, Francine yelled, “Luna! What did you drop?”

Several seconds passed, and slowly a large woman with long brown hair and wearing what amounted to pyjamas walked out toward Flash and Francine Nurblin. The large woman seemed confused, even as she spoke to Francine. “Uh, I’m sorry… I, uh, I didn’t mean ta… break it,” she said slowly.

“Look, Luna, just sweep it up. I don’t want to step on any glass,” Francine said sternly.

Luna looked down at the floor, in much the same manner as a young child would when scolded. “I’m sorry, Mom. I’ll clean it up,” she said quietly. She then lumbered back to the kitchen to start sweeping the mess.

“I apologize for that disruption, Flash,” Francine said.

“I’m guessing that’s your daughter,” Flash asked, puzzled.

“Yes,” Francine answered. “She hasn’t been quite herself for little over a year, now.”

“What do you mean?” Flash asked.

“Luna was born with a genius-level I.Q. and a gift for understanding and building electronic devices, something I believe she inherited from Basil and myself. Unfortunately, she fell late last year and suffered a tremendous blow to her head. Her recovery, sad to say, hasn’t been all that progressive. That was around the time Basil decided to leave and go God knows where,” Francine said, clutching her right hand in a fist.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Flash said solemnly. “I hope she recovers.”

“Me, too,” Francine said quietly.

“Did your husband ever mention another idea he might have had when it comes to toys or electronics?” Flash asked.

“No. Why?” she asked.

“That’s the main reason I’m looking for him,” Flash said, feeling he could trust her. “Wiggins Toy Corporation happens to be in a lot of financial binds at the moment, and there seems to be some type of toy being released right now with the Wiggins name. It’s called the Robot Ranger, and there have been several commercials already aired on television containing subliminal messages urging viewers to rise up and engage in anarchy. I hate to say it, but I think your husband’s involved with this case.”

Francine placed her hands over her mouth and slowly whispered, “Oh, no…”

Flash looked away for a second and spoke. “From what you’ve told me, I think there’s a good chance he might be looking for revenge against Willard W. Wiggins, and maybe as Colonel Computron.”

“You have to believe me when I say I believe in him,” Francine suddenly said, beginning to shake. “If he is behind this…”

“Look,” Flash interrupted. “Do you love him?”

“Of course I do!” Francine angrily exclaimed.

“Then believe me when I say I’ll do all I can to help him,” Flash said with calm determination. He offered his left hand to Francine, who graciously accepted his handshake with her bare left hand.

“Thank you, Flash,” Francine said.

“I’ll return when I have some news, Francine. I’ll talk to you soon,” Flash said as he walked toward the front door and opened it. He then sped off into the city, even as Francine watched on for a few seconds before closing her front door.

***

Elsewhere, in a small Volkswagen car, two figures were making their way home. One of the figures was the young boy Franklin, who began to open the toy box containing his Robot Ranger action figure while sitting in the passenger seat. “Isn’t it cool, Mom?” Franklin said with excitement as he unraveled the plastic cords holding the figure in place.

“Very nice, Franklin,” his mother said, sounding very interested in the toy that had captured her son’s imagination.

“Hey, look! It even comes with batteries already inside!” Franklin said loudly. “Lights up, makes neat, weird sounds and stuff! I’m gonna turn it on right now!” Franklin flipped the switch on the back of the figure, and it came to life slowly.

It lit up and spoke to the young boy. “Thank you, citizen!” the toy said through his speakers. “You are a true cadet of the Robot Ranger!” The toy began to raise its arm, which only excited the young boy further.

“Look, Mom, look!” Franklin said, his eyes growing larger, as did his smile.

Franklin’s mother briefly glanced over, keeping her eye on the traffic. “I see,” she said with a smile.

Suddenly, the toy fired a small electronic dart, one from each of its arms, one of which struck the head of young Franklin, the other striking the head of his mother.

The car skidded briefly as Franklin and his mother shook before finally coming to a sudden stop. It was safe to say that there wasn’t an auto accident, but that was the least of the child and mother’s concern. The darts that had struck them in the head had lodged a small electronic chip onto their skulls, and now they were no longer in control of their lives.

Something similar was happening in many places elsewhere in the city. From houses to playgrounds to vehicles, wherever a child possessed one of the Robot Ranger action figures, once it was turned on, it would fire such devices from its arms into the heads of adults and children alike.

All were briefly motionless, until for some odd reason, all began to march to an unheard beat. For some, it was a brief stretch to travel. Others, it was somewhat longer. But all arrived at their destination and to the individual who’d summoned them. They stared at the figure with glazed eyes, emotionless as the figure known as the Robot Ranger addressed them.

“You are parts of my guard, citizens,” the Ranger spoke civilly. “In a world where order is failing, I control your destinies, so that others may follow and learn from your examples. And there is no one who may challenge that control I offer you!”

The Robot Ranger paused for but a second, and with no further regard, spoke his orders: “Destroy this city, and let none oppose you!”

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