The Dynamic Duo

By the time I came to, my surroundings were pitch-black. I must’ve been out for hours. I couldn’t move my right arm, either. I awkwardly reached in my pocket with my left arm to grab my phone and call for help. But there was no pocket. What I was wearing appeared to be some kind of robe.


I felt around the floor in hopes that I could crawl my way to the car and activate its distress signal. I tried not to bump into anything. What disturbed me was that I was successful… a bit too successful. It didn’t seem like there was much to bump into regardless of which direction I went in.

Fortunately, there was a faint, blue light in the distance, almost beckoning me to walk toward it. That’s when I realized…

Holy fuck! I'M DEAD!!

I got on my feet and made an instant one-eighty, sprinting as fast as I could. But no matter what I did, the light just kept getting brighter and brighter until it was so bright that it was dark again.

Then, without warning, a lightning bolt struck the ground right in front of me, erupting in a crack of thunder and knocking me to the ground.

Once my eyes adjusted, I was able to make out a four-foot tall humanoid, glowing a blinding blue-white. The edges were ill-defined, and there seemed to be extremely spiky “hair”.

I slowly and cautiously stepped toward the entity. As I did, my arm began to tingle like crazy, and I could feel my own hair start to stand up. I stopped cautiously in my tracks to avoid being hurt or killed by whatever this thing was.

Umm... H-h-hello there, little fella!

Whut? Do I look like a little fella to you? Huh?

He sure didn’t sound like one. His voice was so manly even I sounded feminine next to him. Or maybe that was just because I was so frightened.

Are you an angel?

An angel? Puh! Everyone knows angels ain't real.


Depends on who ya ask. Give up already?
I'm... Electricity!!!

Hmm… I guess there’s a special afterlife for electricians. I’d hate to see what the afterlife for plumbers looked like. Perhaps if I got more information I could negotiate to get my life back.

You're electricity? What a coincidence... I'm Sparky.

Of all the names... You're gonna be famous now, kid!

Very funny... Now what the HELL is going on?

For starters, I'm trapped in some kid's almost lifeless body.

Kid? I'm a grown man, and you're half my size. Now answer me already!

If I had to guess... Our beings must've fused when you touched 120 volts... Like a kid!

This all seemed like a full load of gobbledygook. Electricity already coursed through the bodies of every animal on the face of the earth. That’s how nerve impulses worked, after all.

That's electricity with a lowercase e. I'm Electricity with a capital E.

Well that makes total sense. Anybody else would’ve gotten that. Now how about doing me a capital favor and waking me up from whatever this is, huh?

Hey! Hold your horsepower, kid! Since you’re so accident prone, how's about I throw in a special ability?

Special ability, eh?

Conductive reasoning - it might save you when you're about to screw up again. Help you see the big picture.

In this case, “the big picture” was the subtle stimuli our sensory inputs normally ignored. Much like the people who can sense when their cellphone is about to ring, Electricity promised that the ability would radically alter the way I saw the world.

This is starting to sound like a deal with the devil. What's the catch?

Catch? Now that you mention it...
Oh! I know!  Do you mind letting me borrow your body when you’re not using it? You know, between the hours of 12 to 7 AM?

Gross... Not a chance.

Fine. Be like that. Guess I’ll just pop in every now and then and offer you my advice. You know, like a little angel on your shoulder? Except… You know, not an angel.

That sounds annoying, but-

Something tells me you’re not much of a chick magnet. How about a wingman with an ELECTRIC personality? Eh, kid?

Say no more. Now wake me up before I die for real.

Okay. But this might hurt. On the count of three-

I awoke in a hospital bed. Oxygen mask. Tubes everywhere. My right hand was covered in bandages. I looked out the window and guessed that we were about four stories up.

The Sun was out – probably midday, and I could see the Hazard City skyline. But my geography is terrible, and I still had no idea which hospital this was. So I did what I do best and looked at the fire alarms.

Yup, this was Lyon Flats General Hospital, the same hospital whose parking garage I’d just worked on a day ago. Or was it longer? I wondered how long I’d been out and looked at the clock. It said 12PM, but that wasn’t very helpful without the date.

A depressed-looking man walked in, appearing as though he was carrying the weight of the world on his chest. Whatever news he had for me, I could tell it wouldn’t be good.

Hello, Sparky. My name is Dr. Firestone. You're awake sooner than I had... erm... expected. I'm glad to see that.

Unghhhhh... I just had the craziest dream... How long have I been here?

Three days and counting.

Three days makes that… Sunday? No. I went to reappropriate the fire alarms on Friday, so it was Monday! I was missing work!

Panicked, I started yanking at all the stuff they’d hooked me up to, but the good doctor was quick to stop me.

Not so fast, young man. We'll be keeping you here for observation for a while.

I am *so* fired!

Just relax. Try not to think about that right now. Your parents will be here to see you shortly.

I thought you told me to relax!

My dad stormed in so fast the doctor had to hold him back. You could tell he was happy to see me alive and conscious. A tear even streamed down his face as he wrapped his arms around me. Here we go…

Once the doctor left the room and the coast was clear, he made sure to chime in with something negative.

Buddy... What were you thinking running in there? This obsession of yours is really getting out of hand.

Sparky, honey. Give the boy some time. He... Just. Woke. Up!

Out of hand and earning me fifty grand a year, Dad.

Mom was probably right that I needed some time to rest. But now I was starting to get curious. Something didn’t add up. Just how did I get rescued so quickly when the place was abandoned?

The cops noticed your car and decided to investigate. It took me two hours to convince them not to file charges. You didn't see that big NO TRESPASSING sign? Smarten up!


Mom started sobbing uncontrollably, and the doctor had to come back in to kick my parents out of the room. Even with all this negative attention, I was thankful that my “hiding the Sparkymobile behind a bush” idea failed miserably.

Mr. Sands... I'm sorry for having to remove your pants-


*COUGH* Parents! I meant to say parents... It's for your own good. Allow me to explain. You went into cardiac arrest last night.


People take the term “electrocution” lightly, and use it to mean any form of electric shock. But the actual definition is death resulting from electric shock. Boy, was I going to have something to brag about once this was all over.

The doctor went on to explain that it was a delayed response, which could indicate permanent damage to the heart’s natural pacemaker. Though my heart rate was currently stable, he recommended keeping me here under observation for at least another week to see if it happens again.

I also recommend you undergo a psychological evaluation. I think you could benefit from some counseling.

Over my dead body… Between all the time off I’d taken to work on Yumi, and all the work I’d be missing now, I figured it was time to thank Ashton for the pleasure of working with him and begin updating my résumé (which I always write with the accents to appease the snobs).

I asked for a moment to make a phone call. But before Dr. Firestone even had a chance to answer, there was a knock on the door. I was starting to get sick of all the interruptions.

The doctor sighed and opened the door. In walked Ashton, carrying a slow cooker. What kind of hospital was this, anyway?

I always tell you - if you're going to get into an accident, make sure it's somebody else's fault. How are you feeling, Sands?

Never better. And you can put that down on the table over there. I should be good by tomorrow.

Excuse me? Don't pull the wool over my eyes and tell me it's raining! You'd better rest up so you're fit for duty.

So... I'm not fired, then?

Thin ice. I'm putting you on the customer training detail once you get back.

Apparently, my parents had abused their privileges as emergency contacts and told him everything – and probably invited him to boot. Still, Ashton’s famous Three-Alarm Chili was a welcome surprise, as was not getting fired.

With the chili still hot, and hoping that everybody’s tempers had cooled, I invited my parents back into the room to share in the bounty. The doctor had a worried expression on his face, and I politely asked him to give us some space for the sake of his cardiac health.

Fool me twice… Once the coast was clear, my dad quickly steered our pleasant conversation from how to cook the best chili to how I was an obsessed idiot with no life.

So, Mark... He must be bringing home a shit-ton of alarms, huh?

Oh, yeah! Guy can't get enough of 'em. Buying, selling, trading. Gotta collect 'em all, I guess. Even if it gets you killed.

Puh! He'd make a girlfriend out of one if he could.

I'm sure he would. *WINK*

Hey! That's not true!
Is it, Sparky?

If there were a sentient fire alarm panel, we'd just be friends! Happy now, Dad?!

*Snicker* You're so easy...

This cringeworthy conversation was starting to give me a migraine, and I had this funny feeling that something terrible was about to happen. For all I knew, it could be the “feeling of impending doom” that often precedes a heart attack. Or maybe…

*WHOOP WHOOP!* Code red! Code red! Code red! *WHOOP WHOOP!*

The SafeAlarm / 4903-9101 combo in our room began flashing, and I could hear a large, single-stroke bell in the hallway sounding in code 3.

Speak of the devil!

It's the fire alarm. Just stay calm, and they'll let us know what we're supposed to do.

That reminds me. I gotta get back to work. Good seeing you folks. Get well, Sands!

We all said goodbye. Ashton left us the rest of the chili and said I could return the cooker the next time I saw him. Once Mom saw Dad going for another scoopful, she slapped his hand away and told him to save some for me because I’m a skinny boy. Oh, parents.

Mom or Dad... Mind getting that on camera for me? Y'know, for posterity's sake?


No, Sandra! Don't encourage him! We're gonna let you rest, Sparky.

There was no way I could rest with all this whooping and hollering, and I felt useless just sitting there while Ashton, a dude twice my age, was out in the field working on fire alarms.

Hey, kid! Over here!

Electricity had materialized like a genie from the fluorescent light fixture on the ceiling. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

*GASP* You?

Quiet!!! Nobody else can see me. I just wanted to warn you... Something serious is going on here. Get up!

Half-convinced I was going crazy, I contemplated whether I should listen. All I had as evidence was the fact that a fire alarm was going off, and that didn’t prove anything. But the more I tried to ignore the impulse, the stronger it got.

Take some initiative for once! I told you this was serious. You don't want people to die, do you?

Even if he was just a voice in my head, I couldn’t risk it. Plus, I liked this newfound sense of determination. No ohms about it, I was going to take action. The first step was to create a diversion.

Ugh... That chili really isn't sitting well. I need to go to the bathroom.

You can just... go.

Yuck! No thanks. Restroom, please.

Being a certified nurse assistant, Mom was able to help me to the restroom without messing up any of my equipment, not noticing that I had snuck my cellphone and keys. I started pulling wires and tubes. Before I could finish, my status alarms went off. I made a break for it as quick as I could, trying desperately untangle myself before finally breaking free.


My dad started yelling and calling me a psycho, while my mom tried (and failed) to deescalate the situation. Dr. Firestone and one of the nurses heard the commotion and tried to blockade me inside the room.

Don't touch me! I know my rights!

Code white!! We got a combative patient in the ICU!!!

Code red, code white... all we need is another code blue, and it's the Star-Spangled Banner. SORRY, GUYS!

I brushed past him and slipped away. I could hear him trying to recruit my parents, but Dad had learned a long time ago that laying a hand on me in public could land him in serious trouble. I could definitely hear Mom crying.

I crept around the narrow hallway, trying to look as normal as possible (I was doomed). An announcement came on over the fire alarm speakers.

Attention all Lyon Flats personnel. That was a false alarm. No further action is required.

Too late now! Keep moving!

A burly security guard spotted me and approached slowly to try and calm me down. But I knew better. Surrendering myself meant an instant trip to the psychiatric ward.

I rounded the corner and sprinted toward the elevator bank, while a passing cleaner robot got in the guard’s way and bought me some time.

*BEEP* The floor is now... wet and slippery. *BEEP*

With just my left hand, I scrambled for the key that would allow me to seize control of all the elevators – a trick I’d learned from the elevator geeks within the fire alarm community. Since I’m not a firefighter, this was a big no-no, but at this point, who could blame me?

Elevator recall!! Phase one, activate!

I turned the key, and the internal bell began ringing madly. The guard had nearly caught up to me and ordered me to stop. Right in the nick of time, I hopped in the first one to open and jammed my right elbow into the “⇨|⇦” button as hard as I could to shut the doors. Now, for the fun part.

Alright, now... Phase two!

As the cabin began to descend, the guard started banging on the door and shouting for me to open up. I sent the elevator to the ground floor.

Phew!!! That was a close one, kid!

DUDE! What the hell? Now I'm a fugitive!

You'll thank me later.

Somehow, I doubted that I would. I pressed “⇦|⇨“, returned the elevator to normal operation, and removed my keys from the switch. I briskly walked toward the exit while shrugging off the questions from the guard desk as politely as I could.

Lyon Flats was taller than it was wide, and wasn’t very tall to begin with (if that makes sense). It certainly wasn’t some sprawling campus like St. Martin’s. Lucky for me, the nearest shopping plaza was located right across the street.

I walked into CJ Slax, trying my best to keep a low profile so nobody noticed I was still in a hospital gown. I found their men’s clothing section and changed into something at least vaguely similar to my work uniform. The cute girl at the checkout counter looked at me like I had two heads when I asked her to just scan the tags. That’s when I realized I’d forgotten my wallet.

Let's make like lightning and BOLT!

You never used mobile pay before? It's like... super easy.

You're a lifesaver, erm... Brenda. Especially since I kinda went Xentex Commando3, if you know what I mean.

Whoa - TMI! I was gonna ask for your number, but whoa...


Having lost the battle before it had even started, I left the store immediately after paying. I thought Electricity was supposed to be my wingman!

Nah, I'm not really into short-haired chicks.

Come on… This was getting ridiculous. I guess now would be a good time to call and check in with my parents. I knew they were going to be pissed.

Buddy, where the hell are you? Security's looking for you!

Is that the fire alarm again? I'll be right over there. Tell them to call off the search. *CLICK*

I walked briskly back to the main entrance of the hospital. By the time I got back inside, the fire alarm had been silenced again, but the Synthex 4100 console at the main entrance was in “trouble” mode. The guard at the desk gave me a funny look, as if she wasn’t sure if she’d seen me before.

Hello, sir. Who are we visiting today?

Actually, I'm here on business. Fire alarm business. Inspector Sands, at your service!

Wow, those Synthex guys sure are quick. Right this way... Oh, BOB!

Hey-yo!!! Wait... You're the Amco guy. And you're not in uniform, either.

I came in on my day off, so you can tell Synthex their services won't be needed. Now what seems to be the matter?

What seems to be the matter?! WHAT SEEMS TO BE THE MATTER?!!!

What seemed to be the matter was that nobody seemed to know what the matter was. What began with a false alarm had ballooned into multiple “Bad Answer” troubles affecting everything from smoke detectors to the modules that interfaced with building systems.

With my β-key in-hand, I opened up the cabinet to the 4100, and started pressing buttons.

**TROUBLE**   Press <ACK> to review.
FIRE = 0    PRI2 = 0    SUPV = 0    TBL = 3

********* EVENT LOG *********
BAD ANSWER - ICU Fire Doors - Relay Module
BAD ANSWER - ICU Room 350 - Smoke Detector
FIRE ALARM - ICU Room 350 - Smoke Detector
BAD ANSWER - Cardiology Room 424 - Smoke Detector
FIRE ALARM - Cardiology Room 424 - Smoke Detector

A Bad Answer typically occurs when a device is configured for the wrong input type, e.g. if a smoke detector is configured as a pull station. Based on the event log, I had a pretty good picture of what was going on.

Alright, who's taking out smoke detectors and not putting them back where they belong?

What are you looking at me for? I waited patiently for you to get here. Nobody touched anything.

And then there's that module. Well, then. The next best explanation is water damage.

Are you sure? Sheesh, this place is going to crap all at once. First C. diff, now this?

C. diff?!

Clostridium difficile was a common hospital-acquired pathogen whose prevalence has been on the rise in recent years. It was a bacterium that affected the lower digestive tract and had the potential to be dangerous. I really hoped I wouldn’t get sick.

Hey, where's your Omnimeter?

Don't need one. Where's your workstation?

How'd you know about the workstation?

Come on, it's the year 203X. Synthex is practically giving them out like candy these days.

Bob sighed and told me to come with him. I followed him down an increasingly narrow set of corridors, toward the back-end of the hospital. I was starting to get the same strange sensation I did right before the fire alarm went off.

Is that a diode I sense? Because this feels like a one-way trip. Don't turn your back on this guy for a second.

Umm... Bob, isn't the workstation normally at the security desk?

At this hospital? That would be too easy. We need to go down the service elevator.

This was a special elevator that required a key to operate, and was for maintenance personnel and service robots only. Even though Bob was probably telling the truth about the workstation’s odd and inconvenient location (I’ve seen weirder), I made sure to keep my guard up just in case Electricity was right.

We were now in the sub-basement, where they kept the metal shelves, garbage bins, and other odds and ends. Pipes were everywhere and everything was painted beige. Another cleaner robot was waiting to board.

*BEEP* Protein spill in... infectious disease department. *BEEP*

We got out of its way, and Bob showed me to the machine room, the site of an even bigger Synthex 4100 than the one in the lobby. This was a three-bay cabinet, the largest size available, and next to it was an amplifier cabinet of equal size, which powered the speakers.

Beside the towering beige behemoth was a small office desk, an old CRT monitor, a dusty keyboard, and a dot matrix printer. This was the original version of the Synthex’s SiteRite graphical workstation – not one of the newer ones they were giving out like candy. I sat down at the little swivel chair and got to work.

An oldie, but a goodie. Log me into Level 4, please.

Level 4? But that's the highest clearance-

Trust me.

He typed in the default access code while I pretended not to peek, granting me access to a complete map of the building and all of the devices contained within. No additional troubles had manifested since I last checked. Knowing it would take a while, I immediately began printing maps of each floor.

Why couldn't we just physically check for water damage?

You never know when a map will come in handy.

While the printer screeched and sputtered in the background, I disabled the devices I was going to be working on, and started poking around the virtual map to get a better sense of my bearings. Once the printer finished up, I stapled everything together, highlighted the troubles in yellow marker, and had Bob bring me up to the third floor.

The ICU’s fire doors were still closed because of the malfunctioning door holder relay, but life-safety came first. The first smoke detector was in Room 350, across the hall from where I’d been staying. I knocked on the door and identified myself as the fire alarm inspector. But the room was empty.

A photoelectric smoke detector on an addressable base.

I got up on the footstool and twisted the smoke detector off its base. A thick clump of dirt fell down and nearly hit me in the face. Except it wasn’t dirt.

You need to call pest control, stat!

Thanks to my cross-disciplinary Wiki-surfing, I knew exactly what these were: Crazy ants. Specifically, Rasberry crazy ants. And no, that’s not a spelling error. That’s a guy’s last name, not the fruit.

These little shits can detect electric fields, and love to cozy up to your circuitry. Then they die and release alarm pheromones, causing even more ants to show up and leading to all kinds of nasty faults and shorts. They’re usually a problem in the Deep South, and I’ve never seen or heard of any instance of them as far north as Pennsylvania. We’d have to deal with them before we could do any more work.

Can I help- Oh! It's you. Glad to see you've made a speedy recovery. But I should probably inform you that a patient just died in this room.

I warned you, kid.

I'm really sorry to hear that. What happened?

I shouldn't be telling you this, but somehow... ants got into his IV and caused an air embolism. Your mother tried to save him, but it was too late. Guess there are some things even world-class health insurance can't buy.

I couldn’t help but find it a bit cold to bring up health insurance in such a context. Bob radioed over to his staff to be on the lookout for the ants, and began the process of setting bait traps while we waited for pest control to arrive.

So... You two know each other?

I thought you knew. This is the patient who tried to escape!

Whoa, what?! Mr. Sands, I'm gonna have to ask you to come with me.

You rat!

Bob grabbed my arm and dragged me away. I relaxed my muscles and made sure to appear non-threatening, allowing him to lead me past the double doors and into the elevator bank. That’s when I started gasping for air and clutching my chest. My body went limp, and he released me.

Sorry, Bob!

I went straight for the stairwell. It was no contest, and Bob was far too out-of-shape to keep up. Figuring they were expecting me to try to flee the hospital, I went upstairs to continue my investigation.

I can't help but wonder if the C. diff and the ants are related somehow.

You might be on to something, kid!

An announcement came on over the public address system, saying “Attention, all personnel. This is a code white!!! We have a dangerous individual running around in a blue shirt! Do not approach!”

That’s when I found out the hard way that the cleaner robots served a dual purpose – tackling combative people to the ground and spraying them down with disinfectant. Now I smelled really weird.

*BEEP* Got the humanoid, got the intruder! *BEEP*

No, you didn’t. I picked myself back up, climbed on the robot’s back, and tried to flip through my map while being spun around like cotton candy. Room 424 was just down the hall, but first, I had to find a way to get off this thing without breaking any bones.

I opened the robot’s soap intake door, and pressed the emergency stop button. It stopped dead in its tracks, though it probably didn’t have much time left anyway – the inside was crawling with ants. Not even the cleaner bots were safe from this invasive menace!

I made a beeline toward the room in question, and locked myself in. This room was a doctor’s personal office and was considerably smaller than a patient’s room. It was very cluttered, and ants were everywhere. They seemed particularly attracted to the scent of disinfectant on my clothes.

Wait... Maybe this isn't disinfectant. *Sniff* I think this is the alarm pheromone that's causing them to congregate. But that would mean... These ants were introduced deliberately!

I had to warn everybody about this sabotage. The lack of disinfectant was at least partially responsible for the disease outbreak as well. But when I tried to leave the room, the lock refused to release – they’d trapped me here. The wall-mounted intercom crackled on, and I heard a familiar voice. Was it Bob? No!

Hello, "Inspector Sands". Apologies in advance for my poor bedside manner, but I believe you're intruding on my colony. And I can't allow that.

Firestone! But why?

If you're talking right now, I can't hear you. Turn on the microphone.
It's the corruption in our healthcare system. Nobody cares if hundreds of poor people die every day, but if I can off just a few rich ones, maybe-

What about your Hippocratic oath?!

More like "hypocritical oath". I know it sounds callous, but sometimes you have to kill a few healthy cells to get rid of the cancer.

I've heard enough. You're going down, Firestone!

No. You are. Release the bulldog ants!!!


Tiles fell from the ceiling, and I found myself being rained on by a hellfire of bulldog ants. They were some of the most vicious and venomous ants in the world, and just 30 stings was enough to kill a person. I was already at about 10, and it felt as though rusty drill bits were digging through my flesh.

First, I tried wiping them away with my rolled-up map, but their jaws kept digging in. Then I grabbed a high-capacity gossip magazine off the desk. But they were coming faster than I could kill them, and I was practically on fire. That gave me an idea!

I grabbed the “World’s Best Doctor” coffee mug off the desk and threw it at the sprinkler. Dirty water started spraying everywhere, and the bulk of the ants were washed away in the torrent. It smelled awful.

Wait for it... Come on...

The delay on the waterflow switch could could be anywhere from zero to ninety seconds, and there were still a significant number of leftover ants falling from the ceiling. I kept on swatting.

*WHOOP WHOOP!* Code red! Code red! Code red! *WHOOP WHOOP!*

I was saved. The fire alarm had bypassed the access control system, allowing me to escape the locked room. The rest of the hospital was still dry because Hollywood’s been lying to you about how sprinklers work.

Trying not to be spotted, I removed the blue overshirt, and walked to the nearest stairway in a calm and orderly manner. But it was too late.

POLICE!!! Put your hands over your head!!!

Shoot him! He's dangerous!

The officer pointed his stun-gun at me and fired without warning. It felt as though a giant had kicked me to the ground, and it was unimaginably painful. The officer then grabbed me and clamped his handcuffs around my arms as tight as he could.

Holy smokes! What happened to his face? Yeesh...

Is it really that bad? And am I under arrest?

He's having an allergic reaction! Just jab this autoinjector into his thigh. Quick, he can't breathe!

Instantly, the cop’s mind shut off, and he did whatever Firestone told him to. The alarm bells in my head were ringing so loudly that they drowned out the real ones.

STOP!!! He's probably trying to poison me! Look in his office! There's lethal ants everywhere!  TERRORIST!!!

This patient is severely delusional - trust me, I'm his doctor. Now remove his pants, and jab him in the thigh!

One, two, thr-

You're the one who's gonna take the fall for this, officer!

The seed of doubt was planted. Unsure of what to do, the officer called for backup and waited. It wasn’t long before the floodwaters had reached us, carrying the drowned corpses of hundreds of ants from an office clearly marked “Dr. Buzz Firestone”. All eyes were on him, now.

Well, I guess it's over... Officer, get out your notepad, because I'm about to make a statement.

Go ahead.

At first, raising ants was merely an escape for me. But the more I studied them, the more I realized how efficient we could be if we just put our minds to it. Do you know how cheap surgery would be if there wasn't so much damn paperwork to file?

That's when I started thinking about how ants go through metamorphosis. It's a brutal process, really. The entire body must be broken down and rebuilt. Yes, in order to transform something soft and squishy into something useful, some cells will need to die.

Even Electricity was listening, standing there with his arms crossed and contemplating. With a speech that eloquent, I was almost ready to vote for him were it not for all the murder stuff.

Before I go, I ask you all to remember me as King Fire-Ant, and may providence favor my undertaking.

Alrighty, pal. You're under-

In the blink of a strobe, “King Fire-Ant” snatched the autoinjector that was still in the officer’s hand and stuck himself with it before anyone had a chance to stop him.


Firestone keeled over, and collapsed onto the floor just as Bob had arrived to replace the sprinkler head now that the water had finally been shut off.

Well, folks. What did I miss? Sweet Jesus!!

Meanwhile, the medical response team pronounced Firestone quickly and painfully dead. And to think that could’ve been me.

Well, kid. We got him. I think we made a great team.

I nodded subtly in agreement. By now, I was actually becoming a bit short-of-breath, so the officer escorted me down to the emergency room to treat the stings. Word got around about the poisoned autoinjector, and the hospital was forced to discard their entire supply of epinephrine. I guess you could say his efforts weren’t… in-vein! Kidding aside, they were able to treat me with over-the-counter antihistamines.

By the time I was released, Pest-O-Bomb was hard at work remedying the situation. Fortunately, the attack was foiled in its early stages. Nobody else died that day, and the damages numbered in the “mere” tens of thousands of dollars.

I disclosed my location to my parents so they could take me home. This whole time, they’d been worried sick about me and really thought I had gone crazy. Boy, did I prove them wrong. I gave them both an air hug, since I was still in considerable pain. We walked and talked in the parking lot.

You guys still think my hobby is a waste of time?

I think you're like your dad - you get carried away sometimes. Right, Sparky?

Yeah, I'm sorry, bud. I'm really proud of you for figuring it out. I was counting on you.

Thanks, Dad. And honestly, what I did was stupid. I shouldn't be going into abandoned buildings alone.

Especially not that one.

My parents were parked in the same garage that had the finicky Fezworths Fastboot. I took the opportunity to tell them about how I fixed a map fault on that panel the other day, by finding the pull station that didn’t belong.

Oh, no... There he goes again.

Hey, kid. Just so you know, we're probably not out of the woods yet. Don't pretend like you don't know what that is.