by Martin Maenza
A day later, in a parked refrigerated truck just off of Highway 441, the criminal Mister Freeze slammed his fist down hard and cursed. “Damn those fools! They think we’re bluffing!”
Captain Cold rubbed his gloved hands together, in part to keep his blood circulating. This specially designed truck was very frigid inside. “Go figure,” he said. “I take it the Florida officials don’t have much experience with dealing with men of our caliber.”
“This is your show, Freeze. What’s the next move?”
“Why, we follow through! If the state does not want to give in to our demands and pay us off, they’ll pay anyway — as their economy crumbles to the ground! Ha-ha-ha!”
Captain Cold could see a mad look in his new partner’s eyes. Freeze was obviously very serious about this whole thing. He was committed, or maybe he should just be committed. Villains from Gotham City had that reputation. Still, Cold figured he had little to lose in this venture. Besides, it could be a lot of fun. “Sure, why not? We’ll show these guys that it’s a cold day in hell when they cross us!”
“Exactly!” Freeze said, grinning.
Barry and Iris Allen held hands as they strolled through the mock-environment laid out to simulate a French countryside village. “Enjoying yourself, Wally?” Barry asked over his shoulder.
Wally West was a few steps behind, eyeing some of the young ladies dressed in pretty peasant frocks who worked here. One giggled and the other waved at the handsome young man. “Oh, yeah!” he said. “Most definitely!”
“Isn’t this park a lot more fun than the one with all the cartoon characters?” Iris stated. “Here we’re getting a taste of many different continents without leaving the confines of the country. We can have authentic French cuisine for lunch and Chinese delicacies for dinner.”
“I could get all that for you easy enough,” Barry reminded her. “Paris and Beijing aren’t that far away, you know.”
“Oh, Barry!” Iris said, rolling her eyes.
“I’m going to get something for my folks,” Wally said as he broke away from the couple and headed for a small souvenir cart nearby. As he approached, he noticed two young men wearing berets who were huddled in one corner of the stand, talking in an agitated way. “Bonjour, fellas. What’s up?”
“What?” one of the young men said nervously. “Sorry.”
“Can we help you?” the other said as he switched off a small transistor radio and shoved it under the counter.
Wally looked at them oddly. “Say, guys, what’s the deal? Listening to the ball game while on the clock?”
“No, no!” one of them said.
“That’s against company policy!” said the other.
Wally held up his hands. “Easy, guys, I’m not gonna nark on you. You just looked concerned about whatever it was you were listening to.”
“It is kind of disconcerting,” one of the young men said. “That was the local news. Some costumed criminals were trying to blackmail the state agricultural department. Said they wanted five million dollars, or they’d trash this year’s citrus crops.”
“Costumed criminals?” Wally said. “Did the news mention the names?”
“Yeah,” said the other guy. “Something about Freeze or Cold or something.”
Freeze? Cold? Uh-oh! “Thanks, guys!” Wally said rather excitedly. He rushed back over to where Iris and Barry had just ordered some food at a small cafe. “Barry, Barry! We’ve got trouble right here in orange country!”
“Trouble?” Barry asked. “What kind of trouble?”
“Possibly Captain Cold and/or Mister Freeze!”
“What? Where?” Barry asked. Wally quickly conveyed what he knew from the secondhand report. Barry rose from the table. “We’ve got to look into this!”
“Ahem,” Iris said, clearing her throat.
Barry looked at his wife. “Iris, sorry,” he said. “We’ll be back as quick as possible. You just keep enjoying the park, and we’ll be back before you know it.”
Iris glanced at the two. They were practically jumping out of their skin, ready to rush off into action. “OK, fine,” she said. “I’ll see you two–” They were gone before she could finish her sentence with “–later.”
After finding some privacy behind one of the buildings and with a click of the triggers on their special rings, Barry Allen and Wally West let their hidden costumes expand into the air upon release. In a blink of the eye, the two men were clad in their costumes. “Where should we start looking?” the yellow-costumed Kid Flash asked.
“There are plenty of fruit orchards all over this part of the state,” the Flash said as they took off running from the theme park. “We’ll just have to keep looking until we find the right one!”
The specialized refrigerator truck served more than just to keep the odd Mister Freeze cool and comfy during the drive down to the Sunshine State. When reconfigured and activated, it became a huge snow-maker much like those used by the ski resorts to keep the slopes covered with fresh powder during the slightly warmer weather. The two costumed criminals looked on as the truck, now parked in the center of a fragrant orange orchard, began to spill forth a blizzard into the air.
But one of the men was a bit skeptical. “You sure about this, Freeze?” Captain Cold asked. “That thing seems to be working, but can it cover a large enough area in a short time and still drop the temperature sufficiently to trash the crops?”
“Indeed!” said Mister Freeze. “Part of the time while you were driving these last few days, I was adding the finishing touches to this wonder. Why do you think I was asking you about the workings of your unique weapon?”
“Exactly! This modified system now works just like your wondrous cold gun, but on a larger scale. In no time at all, we’ll have the entire Florida citrus crop suffering from a severe case of freezer burn!”
Cold laughed. “Talk about your frozen concentrate! Ha-ha-ha!”
“I don’t think so, boys!” a commanding voice shouted. The two villains turned to see two costumed figures standing to defy them. The Flash gestured to his partner. “Kid, put a stop to their evil machine. I’ll take care of the troublemakers.”
Kid Flash gave a quick salute to his mentor with his red-gloved hand. “Roger dodger,” he said. “One trashed snow-cone machine coming up!” He raced off toward the converted truck.
“No! Not them!” Captain Cold exclaimed. “We’ve got to stop them in their tracks!”
“With pleasure!” Mister Freeze said. He took his specialized weapon in both hands and compressed the trigger. A sound came from the tank on his back as the gun fired out an icy stream toward the approaching scarlet speedster.
The Flash felt the spray hitting his body, instantly forming into icy crystals. Obviously Freeze doesn’t realize my experience with ice-blasting foes, the hero thought to himself as he began to vibrate his body a bit faster to heat up his special aura. I can easily shake off his little cold front without much effort.
“No! No, you fool!” Captain Cold snapped as he pulled out his own cold gun. “With a running foe, aim for the feet! That’s how to give them the slip!” He compressed the trigger on his weapon, shooting a stream of ice at the ground before the Flash’s feet.
The speedster had to adjust his running style to avoid skidding off into the citrus orchard.
“I know what I’m doing!” Freeze protested. “I’ve gone up against the likes of Batman!”
“Batman’s nothing compared to this one!” Cold retorted. “You go take out that troublesome brat!” He gestured toward Kid Flash, who was running circles around the truck, causing its icy spray to shoot straight up into the atmosphere, where it dissipated instead of coating the nearby trees. “I’ll deal with my old enemy!”
Freeze glanced over to see the damage the teen hero was doing. “No! Nooo! Get away from there!” he shouted as went after the lad.
Cold adjusted his stylized white goggles. “OK, now for some fun!” Flash had recovered and was heading toward him again, this time on grass free of the slippery ice. “If anyone’s putting the Flash on ice, it’s me!” He opened the gun up to his highest setting and fired. The air was filled with a screeching sound and a sudden drop in temperature as the villain created an instant glacier in front of and then around his approaching foe. “Ha-ha! Gotcha!”
“Why do they always have annoying sidekicks?” Freeze cursed as he kept firing shots at the quick-moving Kid Flash. “Someone should report them to children’s services!” The young speedster dodged one blast after another, or, more accurately, Freeze managed to miss one blast after another. His truck was taking the brunt of the shots, but the villain didn’t notice. He was too intently focused on his target.
Finally, one stray icy blast managed to catch Kid Flash’s leg. “Whoa!” the Teen Titan exclaimed as he tumbled forward, his feet surprisingly caught up in a block of ice. He managed to catch himself with his hands before hitting face first on the ground.
“Got him!” Freeze crowed. “Now to finish him off!” He took aim.
Captain Cold approached the glacier and began to rub the frosty front with his hand. “Now to see that look of frozen terror on his face when I killed him,” Cold snickered. He began to rub, then harder still. He couldn’t make out what was inside his ice. “Hey…”
A hand tapped him on his shoulder. When Captain Cold turned his head slightly, a red-gloved fist with yellow lightning trim punched him in the jaw. Cold flew backward and slammed into his own icy glacier. His weapon fell as he slumped to the ground.
The Flash picked up the cold gun and began to rub it faster and faster with his two hands. “You never learn, Snart,” he said as the weapon was vibrated to dust. “It was too easy for me to tunnel down through the ground to get out of your trap before it closed me in.” Flash then turned to see how his young ally was doing, only to notice Mister Freeze taking aim. “Kid Flash! Look out!”
Freeze whirled around at the sound and fired instead at the Flash. The speedster instinctively dodged it. “Damn it! Cold screwed up!” Freeze said. “I guess I have to do everything myself!”
Kid Flash saw the villain engaging his uncle in battle. While he knew the Flash had things under control, he wanted to help out. Spotting something nearby, he got an idea.
“Hold still, you!” Freeze spat as he kept firing at the Flash.
“What?” said the Flash. “And spoil all the fun? No way. Why don’t you just give up and come along quietly?”
“Never!” Freeze said. “I’ll–” Suddenly, he felt his back pelted by hard objects, over and over. One nailed him in the helmet, sending a ringing in his ears. “Aaahhh!”
The Flash took the opportunity to get to the villain and relieve him of the weapon and tank on his back. “That’s the end of that!” He turned to his nephew, who was now working on freeing his legs from an icy block. “Quick thinking, son!” The Flash picked up one of the many objects that Freeze had been pelted with — a frozen orange. “Looks like you were done in by your own plan.”
Mister Freeze grumbled while the two heroes laughed.
Over breakfast the next morning, Iris Allen finished reading the front page headlines. “Well, well, well,” she said as her husband and nephew polished off their pancakes and eggs. “It looks like the citrus crop was saved after all, thanks to two certain heroes.” There was a picture of the Flash and Kid Flash smiling for a photo on the sidebar.
“Indeed,” Barry said, picking up a glass of orange juice partially full and swiveling it around slightly. “All’s well that ends well.”
“It didn’t take much to pulp the two of them,” Wally joked.
“Ouch,” Barry said. “That was a bad one.”
“I know,” the teen said. “I need to stop hanging around with certain friends so much. Their tendencies to bad puns rubs off on me.”
“Well,” Iris said, putting down the paper. “With all this settled, what say we enjoy the rest of our vacation while we still can?”
“Definitely,” said Barry. “Definitely.”