The Arsonist’s Flywheel

“Okay, folks, stay close. Our next stop is Techno Wonderland,” the museum guide said. He was a scruffy guy with a greying bushy mustache that belonged on a failed 70’s cop show. Lindsay wondered if perhaps that was the reason he looked so scruffy and dejected.

“Oh wow,” someone on the tour said as they entered the exhibit. All around them in glass cases were artifacts from the villains of yesteryear. The aluminum jetpack and asbestos pantaloons of Jet Hawk, the lightning gun invented by Mega Tesla, Ghost Bandit’s see through revolvers, and in the center of the room an incongruous little display with a single round metal disc in it. The plaque on the case read: The Arsonist’s Flywheel. Lindsay took a picture of it.

“Take a look around,” said the museum guide, his voice scratchy, his eyes heavy. “What you see before you is fifty years of Wonder Tech, so called because the incredibly deranged and gifted minds that created them were years, even decades ahead of modern science. Their gadgets and gizmos almost seem to operate *yawn* on magic rather than science, so advanced. Are they. Ahem. Why don’t you folks go explore a bit and we’ll meet up on the far side of the room.” The museum guide left the tour, presumably to go find a closet to nap in.

Everyone separated to gawk at the wonders of mad science. Some snapped pictures. Some were trying to snap pictures of themselves, something called a “selfie”, even though there were plenty of people around to take the picture for them. Lindsay didn’t understand it and she didn’t care to. She went to snap more pictures of the flywheel.

“Hey cutie.”

Oh God, Lindsay thought.

“Hello,” she said, still focused on taking pictures.

“I saw you were hanging around by yourself,” said the guy.

“Uh huh,” she replied.

“All alone,” he said.

“Yup.”

“No guys.”

“What do you want?” Lindsay asked. Her accoster was a pudgy bastard with a five day smattering of peach fuzz on his face and a T-shirt with an Atari game cover on it. At her questioning, his face suddenly went blank, erasing the creepy grin from before.

“I want to get into your panties and fuck you on my bed with my penis,” he said in a dull monotone.

“How about you leave me the hell alone,” Lindsay said.

“Yes, my Queen,” said the guy. He turned and walked away, leaving the museum and catching a taxi home, locking himself in his room and lying under his bed until his parents found him a week later.

Crap. She hadn’t meant to do that. Lindsay checked her watch. She would have to deal with that later.

“Yawn, okay every people,” the museum guide said, stumbling back into the room. “Let’s see if we can’t find the food court for some yummy, delicious…”

The ceiling exploded and a man in a yellow costume rappelled to the floor, yelling, “Butter!” Everyone in the room screamed, ducking out of the way and hiding behind whatever they could find. The smart ones tried to run, but they were corralled back into the room by angry teenagers wearing yellow uniforms.
“Greetings, ladies and gentlefolk. It is I, Lord Butter, come to claim the Arsonist’s Flywheel to fuel the meteoric growth of my criminal empire! Henchmen and henchwomen, begin with the raiding and the pillaging.”
“If you do that, the alarm will go off and the American Hero Society will be notified,” said the museum guide.
“As if those has-beens even matter anymore,” said Lord Butter.
“And like, three SWAT teams,” said the guide.
“Oh. Well turn off the alarm then!” Lord Butter commanded.
“Sure, pal,” said the guide.
“It’s Lord to you. And why are you being so calm about this? This is a once in a lifetime event for most people,” said Lord Butter.
“Eh, I don’t care. None of this stuff is real anyway,” said the guide.
“What! A deception? Where is the real Arsonist’s Flywheel?” asked Lord Butter.
“What makes you think it’s here?” asked the guide.
“A museum wouldn’t just set up a bunch of fakes for no reason. This is an exhibit, not a house of props!” Lord Butter exclaimed.
“What do you want me to say, huh? Nothing here is real,” said the guide.
“I will not be made a fool of! I am Lord Butter! Criminal mastermind and genius inventor of the artificial butter enhancement formula! Leader of the Margarine Men!”
“And women!” one of the henchwomen said.
“Yes of course. Now, tell me where I can find the real Arsonist’s Flywheel before I drown you in deadly soy butter equivalent!” Lord Butter commanded.
“Can’t help you, boss,” said the guide.
“Is Lord Butter gonna have to shoot a bitch?” Lord Butter said, drawing a stick of butter with a pistol grip attached to it from his hip holster.
“Guys, where are we on security?” Lindsay asked.
“Almost done cutting feeds. We are live in five seconds,” said the voice in her ear.
“I will count to three,” said Lord Butter.
“Crap,” said Lindsay.
“One.”
The guide swallowed nervously.
“Two.”
The hammer on the butter gun clicked back.
“Th…”
“What the what?”
Everyone turned to see the museum guide walking back from the hallway, a half eaten Twinkie in his hand.
“Do you have a twin we don’t know about?” Lord Butter asked the guide he had at butter gunpoint.
“Mission is go.”

Lindsay commanded the room to sleep. The pheromone mixture spread, causing everyone to slump to the floor. The henchmen saw this but didn’t know what to do. Suddenly their heads and chests began to explode as elite black ops soldiers came from behind and above. Two, three, now four of them, gunning down the henchmen with precise aim.

“Eat trans fats, motherfuckers!” Lord Butter shouted. The fake guide’s head became a massive set of jaws and bit Lord Butter’s hand clean off. “AAAHHH!!!” Lord Butter screamed.

Lindsay waited for the shooting to stop. When it did, she got to her feet. One of the soldiers approached.

“Nice work, Collins.”

“Thanks, Wasp man,” said Lindsay.

“You idiot! We need him alive!” another soldier said to the hugely jawed guide.

“He was threatening me. I don’t like when people do that,” the guide said as he morphed back into his true body.

“God damn it, Centipede!” the solider yelled.

“This is Boar. We have target,” said another soldier.

“Evac already en route,” said the voice in everyone’s ears.

“What are you people? Government spooks come to stop my crime spree?” asked Lord Butter.

“We are going to be your new best friends for the next few hours. Or until you’re dead. Whichever comes first. I guess it depends on how cooperative you are,” said Boar as Wasp patched Lord Butter up.

“Shit. Shit. What do you want?” Lord Butter asked.

“You’re going to tell us who your friends are. Your colleagues in the Evil League of Evil. Names, aliases, and other personal details. We also want your suppliers and contractors, who you hire out to for all these fruity minions you employ,” said Boar.

“Used to employ,” Centipede corrected him, rifling through several henchmen’s pockets.

“Holy shit. What the fuck is this? I’m nobody. I’m just a guy in a butter costume.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” said Lindsay. “You’re the illustrious, suave, overly hyped Lord Butter.” She motioned with her hand and Lord Butter drifted off to a coma like sleep.

“Bleeding’s under control. Let’s move!” Wasp ordered. The team left. Lindsay took one more picture of The Arsonist’s Flywheel before lying down and commanding everyone to wake up.

An hour later, the police had gotten the last of the crime scene tape up and finished taking witness statements. A representative from the American Hero Society, a guy called Super Sleuth, had shown up but there wasn’t much to look at. Just an ultra violent crime scene with no witnesses and no surveillance footage to examine. Lindsay’s interview was a breeze. She asked the officer to give her easy questions and he complied, like everyone did when she asked nicely. On the bus ride back to the safe house, as she tapped on the grimy window glass, she wondered what someone could possibly want with a flywheel.

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6 thoughts on “The Arsonist’s Flywheel

    1. Thank you! I’m working on the novel but it has been an achingly slow process. Luckily the Flash Fictions have been helping me get the gears turning and the juices flowing so I can flesh out this world. Always a pleasure to hear from you, Ms. Jones.

      Liked by 1 person

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