Bureau of Monster Capture and Rehabilitation
Volume 1: Boot Camp
By Wulfric Van Howlietzer
Author’s Note: This chapter feels a bit disjointed, but I like the way it turned out. I plan on making major revisions later anyways, so please enjoy the latest chapter as is.
Daryl woke up early the next morning. He hadn’t slept at all. The idea of leaving his home gave him pause. It was inevitable. He would leave for college, get a degree, and get a job somewhere… he didn’t expect any of this.
He stared at the ceiling, his covers assured him that all was fine, wrapped in them like a cocoon… It was so unreal. He was about to join the Justice League!
Kinder’s voice startled him out of bed. Even after 4 years, Daryl had yet to get used to the being sharing his every thought. It got really awkward when girls popped up…
What you’ve gotten us into is not at all what it sounds like. All they want is to use you for research. They’ll do things to you that can’t be reversed.
“Kinder, you’ve never been outside of Point Pleasant.”
You forget where I come from. And stop talking to me out loud. Everyone will think you’re crazy.
“My mom is going to think I’m crazy when I tell her what’s up… I don’t know Kinder. None of this is what I planned.”
Of course not. Things don’t typically fall into a nice bundle for you to stow away in your backpack. And trust me, I know we’ve had our differences, but what is coming is going to be grueling. I may not have ever been captured, but I’ve heard stories about those who have.
“Really? Like Area 51?”
Something like that… he sighed, Today is not the day, Daryl, but it will come when I tell you about me. For now, you have to tell your mother what Crouse instructed you. It’s a lie, but it isn’t entirely false, regardless of how out of character it may seem.
“I don’t trust him Kinder.”
“Honey? Is someone up there?” Daryl’s mother called from downstairs.
“No mom. Just talking to myself.” he said, ‘I guess I should get this started.’
Daryl put on his clothes and stepped out of his room. He walked down the stairs, down the hallway, and into the kitchen where his mom was making pancakes.
“Mom,” said Daryl, “Are you working today? You’re not typically up this early unless you’re going to work.”
His mother smiled at him. “Well Daryl, I just figured that since you’ve been taking care of me this whole time, I wanted to make breakfast for you.”
“Mom, you’re the one working hard to take care of me. I’ve just been… around.”
“Don’t think I haven’t noticed.”
“What now?” said Daryl, his voice squeaked.
“You’ve been studying late, trying to get into a good school. There’s not a whole lot I can do to help in that regard. Education is so expensive.”
“I know mom,” said Daryl, “But I’ll manage. I can always get a student loan.”
And pay for it until you’re 65? That’s stupid! said Kinder
“Well that may be a plan,” his mother said half-heartedly. “I just feel like there is more I can do for you.”
“Mom you’re doing enough. Don’t work yourself so hard…”
Tell her Daryl. Military pays for education, Kinder goaded.
“Actually mom,” said Daryl, “I’ve made a decision last night that will ease your mind about my schooling. I’m joining the army.”
It was almost as if someone muted the world. It was so silent and still. His mother froze. She almost looked statuesque. The pause lasted forever until she spoke.
“Why would you want to that?”
Daryl forgot what he was going to say.
Daryl, the army will pay your full tuition after a full year of service. It’s practically free education, Kinder coached.
“Well the Army will, uh,” said Daryl.
“Where is this coming from? You never expressed interest in the military.”
“It just seemed like a good idea. I mean, I can get scholarships but this will help me…”
Become disciplined, develop patience, shoot a gun… Say something!
“It will help me become a disciplined, patient shooter…” said Daryl.
His mother gasped. The horror on her face made Kinder laugh, and Daryl wince.
“I mean, I don’t want to shoot anyone. I’m not a killer or anything. I just… It will pay for education and I can probably learn a lot. Maybe travel to… Afghanistan?”
You’re not helping yourself here, said Kinder.
“I’m not going to let you kill yourself for some overvalued piece of paper from a shit school that only wants your money and doesn’t care about your future!”
Game, set, match, said Kinder.
“You’re not joining!” she finished.
“I… Already signed the paper?” Daryl tried to smile, but the wrath of his mother pressured him to cower under her indignant fury.
“I want to talk to your recruiter! Give me his number!”
“Dummmm,” stammered Daryl, “It’s in my room. Let me get it.”
“He is in for a real ass-whooping when I get a hold of him.”
Daryl couldn’t think; Kinder was laughing too hard. ‘Dude! Shut up! Where did I put Crouse’s number?’
It’s in your pocket. Chill out.
‘Dude, she’s my mom. I can’t chill out.’ Daryl dug into his pocket. “Got it!”
You can’t hand her that. It has who he really is. Call him and let him know the situation.
‘Are you crazy I can’t call anyone in my room. Mom will hear.’
Oh like you’ve never sneaked out your bedroom window! Get out of here, Daryl! Call Crouse… We don’t have the option to run… Not anymore.
Daryl opened the window and slid one leg out the window. He reached his foot out to a nearby tree branch he’d been using since he got his powers. Gingerly he felt the strength beneath his toes and gently placed more weight on it. He almost pulled the rest of his body out before he saw Mr. Crouse standing in his front driveway.
“What are you doing?” he asked, his eyes narrowed and nose turned up, like he smelled something rotten.
Daryl nearly lost his grip on the window.
“Mr. Crouse?” said Daryl, “I was about to call you. Why are you here?”
“Go inside. I’m going to talk to your mother. I’m your recruiter, after all.”
He watched Mr. Crouse walk up to the front door. “Do you think he has the place bugged, Kinder?”
…I’m not sure. The thing about these men, Daryl, is that they have a lot of secret technology that the world isn’t aware of. They are listening, however, watching us somehow. He was aware you were leaving before you were.
We’ll have to play along for a while, until I can figure out how to get us out of this mess. Let’s go back inside.
Daryl still half in, half out, ducked his head and tumbled back inside. He hurried out his bedroom door in time to see his mother opening the front door. He was shocked to see what looked like a young man in his late twenties, wearing a camo uniform and tan boots, his hair, dark brown and crewcut; he extended his hand with a charming smile that made Ms. Kearn’s anger immediately subside into a shameless, giggling grin.
“Hello Ms. Kearns,” he said, shaking her hand, “I am Staff Sergeant Edmund Crouse and just wanted to stop by and meet with you.”
Daryl’s eyes popped. ‘Kinder, what’s going on?’
“May I come in?” he asked, “I don’t have long, it’s just that Daryl signed up to leave for training Monday, and I figured you would have some questions…”
“Monday?” Ms. Kearn’s gleeful expression shifted instantly back to incredulity. “Daryl is still in High School! He can’t just up and leave!”
“Ah, I guess Daryl hasn’t told you a lot of what has happened in the past couple of weeks.” He laughed, his eyes drifted up to Daryl’s, sparkly fiercely.
“Yeah,” said Daryl, his hands flying behind his head. He gave a little chuckle.
“Your son has actually graduated early. I’ve got a copy of his diploma right here that he gave me when he signed up.”
Daryl’s eyes popped again, but he feigned a smile when his mother looked up at him, surprised.
“I’ve been studying real hard,” he said, “All those late nights… really paid off.”
“Let me see that!” said his mother. She looked over the copy intently, looking for any signs of a counterfeit.
“He should have the original, mamm,” he said, “Now I don’t know how much Daryl has told you, but he has signed a six year contract with the United States Army.”
She looked furious.
“There is nothing to worry about. Though the political climate is shaky at best, Daryl’s MOS will primarily keep him within the states. Deployment is a possibility, but fairly unlikely…”
“What is an MOS?” she asked
“Military Occupational Specialty, and Daryl’s is top secret.”
“So that’s it? I can’t know what kind of danger my baby is in?”
“Your son isn’t a baby, Ms. Kearns. He’s a grown man.”
“I just can’t deal with this right now!” she said, “Please leave, you’re not taking my son!”
“Mom,” said Daryl, suddenly compelled. “I want to do this. It will be good for me. I’ll get to travel and meet new people and I’ll get money for school. Any school I want.”
The words just tumbled out, as if he was reading a script. He didn’t know where they came from, only that he was having a hard time hearing Kinder.
His mother stood up and left the room. She didn’t say a thing.
“Well, Daryl,” said Crouse, standing up, “I will see you on Monday to drop you off at the airport.”
Daryl, compelled, stood up with Crouse and headed to the door.
“What is going on?” Daryl asked in a whisper.
“Neural disruption,” he whispered back.
“Mr., er, Crouse,” said Daryl, “Any chance I can leave sooner than that? I kind of just want to get out of here. Get started and all.”
“Sure. We can leave whenever you want.”
Relief washed over Daryl as he watched the young Crouse turn old again. He could hear his thoughts, and and suddenly he fell to his knees by a screaming Kinder.
“Holy Shit! Kinder! What’s wrong?”
You didn’t feel that? I feel scrambled! It was agony inside your head!
“Neural disruption…” said Daryl, he wiped his nose, smelling that familiar metalic scent. He looked at his hand to see his nose was bleeding.
Because of the neural disruption, Daryl had pushed his leave time to Sunday instead of Monday. He spent the rest of the day packing a single suitcase. Crouse recommended it; it was unlikely he would be coming back.
It was incredibly hard to do anything for the rest of the day. His mother had shut herself in her room for the remainder of the day and for the whole evening. Daryl worried, but he couldn’t let that get to him. It didn’t change anything; he was stuck. He couldn’t get out of this. And if he tried he would probably only bring her more pain…
Samantha was true to her word; she was gone. Not a trace of her. Her parents came to him that evening to see if she was there. He had to turn them away; he would never forget the fear and sadness on their faces… He hoped she would send them a letter soon.
The morning came soon enough. Daryl couldn’t sleep. He just laid there. Kinder was silent. Daryl suspected that he, too, was trying to mentally prepare for what was coming.
“Kinder. We’re going to be OK.”
There was nothing but silence.
Finally his alarm sounded. The restless night was over and he could finally get on with it. Crouse was picking him up at 0700. He, Daryl, was to be out on the curb waiting for his arrival.
He carried out his morning duties of showering and urinating, brushing his teeth, and getting dressed. He grabbed his suitcase and took one last look at his room. He was going to miss his comic book collection. “I’ll come back someday.”
“I hope so,” said his mother.
Daryl turned around to see her standing in the dark hallway, wearing her thick pink robe.
“Daryl, honey,” she said, “Please be careful. I know you need to do this. Why I don’t know. Write me everyday. And please visit when you can.”
“I will mom.”
They hugged. It was a long one; she wouldn’t let go. “Mom, I got to go wait outside for… Sergeant Crouse to pick me up.”
She let go. She kissed him on the cheek and said, “Write me! I will kick your ass if you don’t.”
Outside he stood. The early morning chill kept him awake. The rustle of leafs overhead in the wind. It was rather quiet. He looked down the street, right to left, searching for a car. Nothing. He checked his watch. 0702.
Crouse didn’t strike him as the type to be late. He wondered if this was an omen of things to come. The wind picked up drastically. The trees danced and released their leaves liberally. It was loud. The whirring of blades came from overhead.
Daryl looked up. A helicopted was landing in the street below. He braced himself as the gusts threatened to knock him down, playfully pushing him back towards the house. He immediately wanted nothing more than to lie in bed.
Effortlessly, the helicopter landed, and amist the noise the door slid open and Crouse peered out. “Get on Daryl, we’re running late. No time for dawdling.”
Daryl smirked. Late. What could possibly be waiting on them at the next point?