Los Angeles7:57:292 AM, Central Standard Time
The semi-trailer truck careened out of control down the 405. Its diver’s hands were clamped tightly on the wheel, but his mind was elsewhere. The security and safety of his fellow motorists were low on his priorities as his heart seized up and squeezed the life out of him. Cars moved as quickly out of the truck’s path as they could, but even this early in the morning it was difficult on the crowded freeway. The truck crashed into the back of a compact car. The impact caused the smaller car’s rear end to crumple and collapse under the truck’s massive front. The young man in the driver’s seat of the compact screamed as the truck prepared to run over his car and crush him inside it.
But in the blink of an eye he was gone. The truck crushed an empty car and skidded to a stop on the freeway. The young man now stood on the side of the freeway, confused about how he had arrived there. The cab of the truck was also empty. The driver was two miles away on a gurney at a hospital’s ER. Nurses swarmed the man who had suddenly appeared in front of them writhing in pain.
The man who had swooped in and saved two lives was now skating across the water of the Pacific at forty-six times the speed of sound. He was going faster than he usually did on his morning workout.
He was running late.
London7:58:002 AM, Central Standard Time
“Everyone settle down! You fucking move and we all go to meet God.”
The nearly thirty customers and employees at the upscale West Kensington bank huddled together on the floor of the bank's lobby just in front of the teller cage. The man in the snake mask stood over them. Strapped to his chest was enough plastic explosive to level the bank and the adjoining buildings on both sides. The only thing that kept it from happening was the dead man’s switch in his hand.
A phone somewhere in the lobby chirped nonstop, but the bomber ignored it. It was probably Special Branch trying to negotiate. He’d already told the Met his demands -- full immunity and the release for his brothers unduly arrested by imperialist thugs -- and they balked. No doubt MI5 would start the hostage negotiation playbook and try to get him to slowly release the hostages one by one. But the time for talk was over. He either got results or he would act and blow up himself and all these….
He didn’t know how, but he was now in the bank all by himself. Every single hostage was gone, the floor that had been filled with people was now empty. Where the fuck had they gone? He felt a brush of movement in front of him before a hard pull shook him. A loud clatter made him look down. His vest and explosives lay at his feet, disassembled and now fully unarmed. He held up the dead man’s trigger and saw the disconnected wire dangling at the end where C4 had once been attached.
“What the fu--”
A fist moving at incredible speed cold-cocked him. He collapsed to the floor and lost consciousness about the same time his attacker hit the the United States’ eastern seaboard running west.
Metropolis7:58:546 AM, Central Standard Time
The woman on the side of the road didn’t know what to do. Her old car had blown a tire on the way to dropping her kids off at daycare. She was going to be late for work and her boss did not tolerate lateness. She was already on thin ice with him after what happened last week. Being late might be the last straw, and she really needed the job for her and her boys.
Cars passed by her on the freeway, ignoring her plight and going about their day. Inside the car her youngest began to cry. She leaned against the side of the car and closed her eyes. She willed back the tears and tried to swallow the lump in her throat. She couldn’t cry. She couldn’t cry. If she cried now, she'd lose control.
Something fast blasted by the car and made her look up. She noticed the car was sitting funny and her eyes widened when she saw the spare tire sitting on the car, ready to go. She looked around confused at who or what had saved her day.
But her savior was already in Indiana and racing west.
Class was about to start.
Central City, Missouri 8:00:002 AM, Central Standard Time“Oh, come on,”
Bart Allen grunted as he pulled at the lock door. “Come on, come on.”
The door to Physics 150 wouldn’t budge. He rapped against it. When nothing happened he pounded later and waited before the door opened and the tall, lanky man with dark hair looked down his long nose at him.
“Allen,” he said in a measured voice. “Class begins at 8 AM.”“It’s eight right now, Professor Thawne.”
“8:01 by watch," he said with just a hint of condescension. "And I have already had to interrupt my lecture thanks to your disturbance.”
A smile crept onto Thawne’s face as Bart stammered and tried to come up with an excuse.
“You have no consideration for my time, or the time of your fellow students, Mr. Allen. By showing up late you show us that you have no respect for us. You expect the world to cater to you. You are a very selfish young man. Try to make it on time next class.”
Thawne shut the door in Bart’s face without another word. Bart clenched his fists. It would be the easiest thing in the world to blast the door off its hinges with a supercharged kick. Kick it in and shout in Thawne’s smug face about all the lives he had saved in just the past minute while he was here in his little world where he was the boss.
But instead he took a deep breath and shifted his backpack to another shoulder. The fantasy of confronting Thawne was just a fantasy. He couldn't let him or anyone else know what he was capable of. Maybe being branded a flake was the lesser of two evils? He walked away from the classroom and headed for the library. He would miss Thawne’s boring lecture, sure, but he could at least study. He couldn't get revenge by showing Thawne what he could really do, but he could at least ace his tests. That would wipe the creepy smile from his face.
"Hey... hey... hey!"
The last hey was loud enough for Bart to hear over the sound of the synthwave playing in his earbuds. He looked up from his physics book and almost gasped. The cute dark haired girl from class was standing in font of him. He took the earbuds out and tried his best smile."Hey there."
"What's wrong with your face?" She asked with a furrowed brow."Sorry, that was me smiling... or at least trying to."
"Need to work on that," she said with a sigh. "I'm glad I ran into you. I figured that was you Thawne was giving a hard time earlier.""Correct. I'm starting to think my sole reason for existing is to be berated by that man."
"Well, you didn't deserve it. You weren't that
late. Umm... if you want, I can let you copy my notes from the lecture.""Yeah?"
Bart asked, a smile creeping on to his face.
"See there?" she said with a laugh. "That smile is much better.""Well I had your great advice to work with."
"You know, I don't see you around a lot outside class," she said as she looked through her backpack. "Do you live in the dorms?""I live off-campus with my family. I'm a townie."
"Well, townie." She laid her notes on the table in front of Bart. "Copy those and give them back to me. I'll be at another table.""You can sit here if you want,"
Bart said. He motioned towards the three empty chairs at his table. "I'm not exactly expecting any other study buddies."
"Oh, so we're study buddies? Maybe I should know your name first. I've just been calling you Late Guy.""I'm Bart,"
he said with a laugh. "Bart Allen."
She raised her eyebrows. "Wow.""What?"
"I just didn't think there were any Barts under the age of sixty."
She pulled out one of the chairs and sat down across the table from Bart.
"I'm Valerie Perez. Call me Val.""Wow,"
said Bart with a grin. "Now who has the old name?"
"You know, I can always go back to calling you Late Guy.""Valerie is an old name, but it's making a comeback I hear."
They shared a laugh and Bart shook his head. It looked like Thawne had ended up doing him a favor.