Bank of America Plaza, Atlanta, Georgia - The Present
The pile of money burnt, flames creating a dramatic backdrop as the man in the black and yellow chevron marked fire suit and gas mask unclipped the pistol from his belt. Levelling it at the elderly man with the crooked nose standing in-front of him, he took a deep wheezing breath as he waited for his partner to speak.
“James, your grandfather wouldn’t want to see you this way.” The elderly man spluttered, as he looked down the barrel of his opponent’s gun. “He would be disappointed with what you’re doing with his name.”
“No, you see I don’t think he would be Mick!!” James snarled, as he watched the older man’s eyes move slightly, obviously in an attempt to find a way out of his situation. “He would be proud that everyone remembers the Salamander again!!”
“He never wanted his legacy to be this.” Mick sighed. “I admit that I pushed you into this, but I hoped that you were smart enough to know what your grandfather did. Yes he robbed banks, yes he fought the law but he never…and I mean NEVER killed innocent civilians, he even hated putting them in danger. He was better than either of us, or at least he was, now when people look for his name all they’ll find is images and pictures of you and what you did today!!”
“Oh it doesn’t end here, not till everyone who forgot him remembers what he did, who he was!!” James snarled, as Mick sprinted forward, his legs covering the ground much faster than the vast majority of the men his age. He almost reached James, only to be cut short as the younger man fired, a beam of light lancing out and striking him in the chest, his body popping like a balloon, flakes of ash falling to the floor. “Anyone who gets in my way gets burnt!!!” He roared, the flames crackling behind him as he looked over the balcony to where his colleagues were positioned, the few remaining hostages secured in the centre of the room.
“Is everything all right?” A voice called from the floor. “It smells like something is burning.” It added, the voice causing James’s head to ache, Mick was right his grandfather would be disappointed with him.
“Everything’s fine Ram-Raider, but it’s funny you mentioned burning, you see I just had a brainwave and it involves you, all of you. Actually Mick helped me come to terms with it seconds before I vaporised him, and guess what guys…” James said before pausing for dramatic effect, “…now it’s your time to be burnt!!” He cackled before opening fire at the group of assembled robbers and hostages. His grandfather would be disappointed alright, but in James’s mind it was because he hadn’t achieved anything alone.
Athens, Georgia – Eighteen Months Previously
James McCloud sat in-front of the TV mashing button as the avatar on the screen ignited a wave of zombies with his flamethrower. Taking a sip from his bottle of Coda Loco, the young man didn’t notice the elderly gentleman of sixty-seven stagger in, a pile of timber under his arm.
“You’re wasting your talent James.” The old man sighed, as he walked past James. “That thing will rot your brain, get up and do something constructive.”
“Like you, all you do is hide in the basement or walk down the park and feed the ducks with your old man friends.” James replied, as the old man put the pile of wood down. “I don’t see why mom doesn’t kick you out, you don’t do anything useful here.”
“Just like you then.” The old man replied as he looked the eighteen year old up and down, his goatee untrimmed, his long greasy blonde hair causing zits to form on his chin and crumbs over the wrinkled jeans and band t-shirt. “Your mother works hard in her job at the bank, and I worked hard to get this house, despite our disagreements we both understand each other. Unlike you who sits there doing nothing, go to college or get a job, make something of yourself James, don’t waste your life.”
“Yeah whatever Gramps.” James snorted, as he looked at his grandfather, the slight hunch on his back, the balding scalp of white hair and the field of wrinkles across his face. Some part of him knew his grandfather was right, but it was lost under the indifference of youth.
“I tell you what, come down with me and see what I’m doing.” His Grandfather suggested. “If you don’t find it cool or whatever word you use now, then you can come back up here and waste your time.”
“Yeah whatever.” James moaned, as he paused the game and watched as his grandfather picked up the timber and carried it to the basement, before placing it on a work bench.
“Okay so you know how the dining table needs a new leg,” His Grandpa announced, as he went and removed a pair of goggles off the wall before handing them to James. “Well I’m going to make one.” He continued, before removing a key on a loop of string from inside his shirt and walked to a drawer, his sharking hands clasping the key before twisting it in the lock. “Most guys would use a saw and sandpaper but not me, at least not today.” He announced, as he pulled out a chrome pistol with a power cell mounted on the back. “I made this back in the tail end of the seventies, while your mother was just a little girl.” He mused, before flicking the switch and twisting the barrel.
“Wow big whoop you made fake space guns.” James moaned as he walked upstairs. “I’ll be killing things upstairs you senile old twit.” He added, before slamming his door, the noise and his words causing his grandfather to flinch.
“One day you’ll understand.” The old man sighed as he powered up his laser gun and began to cut the wood down to the right length. “I just hope you learn it before you ruin your life, just like I did.”