"My name is Alpha-Woman,” she said by way of answering both who she was and why she had a big “A” on her shirt. “The men outside in my car attacked me and my friends. If you don't believe me, come outside. You can even come with me back to Highland Township if you want to see what's going on there."
Everyone has a good laugh at Alpha-Woman's expense and she was almost ready to start roughing up cops when a patrolman came up to her, looking serious, and said to the others, "No, hey -- hey! I get it. Alpha-Woman. Don't you get it? It's like Superman. She must be one of them crime fighters you hear about on the radio or the newspapers. Now," he said, turning back to Alpha-Woman, "who do you have in your car?"
He followed Alpha-Woman outside. Since no one else had volunteered to drive back to Duluth with her, she had one prisoner in the trunk, one in the front passenger seat, and one lying in the back seat on top of three more men pressed together. The officer whistled. "You beat up six guys and drove them here? What did they do? They attacked you?" The officer paused and gave Alpha-Woman a more skeptical look before saying, "Are you going to stay and file a complaint against them? Because I need something to hold them on."
"Well, these guys were trying to kill us. They were sent by somebody." She tapped her chin, looked the officer over, then added, "If you were wondering what my real name is, it is Cleo Evans."
"Wow..." the officer said, taken aback. "I thought costumed crimefighters went for being anonymous. Not that I'm complaining -- you just made my job a whole lot easier!" With that, he offered to shake Alpha-Woman's hand. "My name's James. James Claybrooke. Let's get these guys put away first and then we can fill out a complaint form. Hey!" he announced once they were back inside the station house. "She's right -- I've got six perps out here and need some extra handcuffs!"
Some other officers went outside to see, looking at Alpha-Woman incredulously as they left and with wonder or admiration when they came back in with one of her prisoners in tow. "You're going to be a hero around here in no time," Officer Claybrooke joked as he sat down at his desk. He pulled out a form and fed it into his typewriter. "Okay, have a seat, um, Alpha-Woman. You don't have to share any more with me about you than you feel comfortable, but I'm going to need your story as to how you wound up slugging it out with these guys in the middle of the night."
"Well, hmmm... All I can say is they were sent to kill us and we don't know who sent them. The others are busy trying to figure that out."
"Others?" Claybrooke asked. "Sounds like there's a lot more to this. Highland Township is outside our jurisdiction, so there's nothing I can do but hold these guys overnight and contact the township sheriff in the morning. Though, if things are really so out of hand up there, I don't see why he hasn't called the state police already. Anyway, is that all you can tell me for the report?"
As Alpha-Woman looked at Claybrooke, she could not help but notice the beat cop had a passing resemblance to actor John Payne and that he was very handsome. "I can't really tell you much more. I just need to get these guys off my hands and put somewhere where they can't run loose. I need to get back there and help the others." She flirted with her eyes and added, "So, do you have anymore questions for me?"
Office Claybrooke looked into Alpha-Woman's flirting eyes, was lost for a moment, and then said, "Er, no, but..." and he wrote down a number on a scrap of paper. "If you need anything, maybe you could...well...call me," he said, looking slightly flushed and embarrassed.
"I will most certainly call you if there is... any trouble." She winked at him. "Well, I've got to go thanks for helping!" Then she got back into her empty car and headed back to Highland Township.
About two hours later, Alpha-Woman's Chevy came rumbling down the dirt road and Silver Scorpion flagged her down. The two women caught each other up to speed and then rejoined the others. Alpha-Woman then set up her two-man tent and shared the other side with Silver Scorpion. There were watches throughout the night, but everyone got enough sleep that they were not fatigued in the morning.
Dawn. Friday, May 3, 1940.
It's was a cool 45 degrees out the next morning. Pretty windy too, with the wind gusting up to 21 MPH from the west. The dew was thick on the ground.
Alpha-Woman got up and looked around. She stretched and yawned after her much-needed beauty sleep. She heard a noise and it was her stomach. She mumbled to herself, "Uhhmmm…I am hungry..." Her next waking thought was that she kinda’ wished that dreamy cop was here to take her out to breakfast. Less groggy, she snapped awake and went to her car to see had any packed snacks left in it. "I can't work on an empty stomach..." she mumbled to herself.
Chuck was pretty annoyed by the time he was untied back at the motel in the morning. "I didn't think you were going to leave me tied up there all night!" he complained in his thick Scandinavian accent. After his grousing, however, he had little choice but to lead the Heroes to the temple.
The first leg of the journey followed Barleycorn Creek upstream to Lake Misty. They were still surrounded by farmland, though the land was not being maintained as it ought. By now it was mid-morning. After skirting the lake, they headed into some wooded hills. Visibility, which had been seven miles before, dropped to half a mile in the hills. By noon, the hills seemed to be behind them -- and stomachs were rumbling. The last leg of the journey looked like it would be through a dense forest of 70 to 90-foot evergreens.
The Mountain Man, meanwhile, was already splitting up provisions he had brought with. He knew his skills in the outdoors would help them get more food if it became necessary. He and Alpha-Woman had already picked some berries for a midday snack on the way this far.
En route, Dice Morgan had complained about the bugs, the cold, the dirt, and most of all the lack of a good cup of Joe. He muttered that the beauty of Nature would be greatly enhanced by pavement, skyscrapers, and a few gin joints.
Also en route, the Mountain Man found his magic gorget and his bulletproof vest somehow…incompatible. As if wearing one made the other one too uncomfortable to wear. By afternoon he had realized he would have to settle for wearing either one or the other.
Although it is much easier finding the temple with a guide, it would have been possible to find it without Chuck. There is a trail that is perfectly visible in the daytime and infrequent signs that there had, within recent years, been a road here. Elaborate steps had been taken to conceal the presence of the road and trail, even so far as to plant saplings in the middle of it.
Silver Scorpion eyed the thick trees. She thanked the Mountain Man for his offered provisions. Never did she think she would be camping out in a forest last night, but there was a first time for everything, she guessed. "Are there any guards or patrols around?" she asked Chuck, figuring it could not hurt to inquire.
"Oh, not so much around Roostertown, you know,” Chuck said with a shrug, “but right around the temple and the gardens around it, the fence is patrolled. And at night...well, you don't want to be in the temple gardens at night..."
Chuck was asked to elaborate. "Well, Roostertown is what we call the shacks St. Stephen and the other saints have us holed up in when we're not needed for temple duties. I've never seen the things they let out in the gardens at night, but I've heard some other guys who aren't crazy that it's giant roosters!"
Black Cat by Steve Rude
8 hours ago