Chapter 3.6.5: Flashback, Part Five

Previously: Flashback, Part Four

And then, just like that, just like nothing at all, Snake-Boy felt weird.

His cold blood thumped harder in all five of his heads than he had ever known it to do.

Even before he could see the Three Towers breaking over the horizon, he knew where he was. It was like he had returned to an uncomfortable dream after being awake for a second or two. Some part of him had never left this place. Or, rather: the place had never left him. He had carried it with him in his head, without remembering to dwell on it. But there it was. There it always had been. Here, for example, in front of this nondescript concrete-and-glass drugstore, is where he had hatched out of his egg. Here, on the edge of the Three Towers Plaza, was where he and the other Snake-Boys had stopped, unsure of their mission. The slaughter of his snake-brothers had begun on this very spot, with the Blue Spark and Beast Mistress — Lady Dogface’s parents — leading the charge. Over there was where Sky Prince had thrown up and fainted, and where Sky Prince’s father had split Snake-Boy’s soul away from his body by glancing at him with that awesome and horrible third eye.

“Why did you bring me here?” said Snake-Boy. His shoulder-snakes hissed at his head. Then they turned to hiss at the sky. “What is this place, anyway?”

“This is where we live,” said Beast Mistress, in a matter-of-fact tone. She said, “Most of us,” looking with something like sly humor at Sky Prince. “Some of us think we’re too good to live with all the other heroes.”

Sky Prince shrugged. “Well yeah.”

Lady Dogface slapped him on the shoulder. She said, “The sad part is he really means it.”

Sky Prince said, “Well yeah.”

Snake-Boy took a breath. He forced himself to calm down. There was really no reason to feel weird. He was with friends. He was on a — what did they call it? — jaunt.

He took another breath and looked around.

The Plaza between the towers shone, partly from the stadium lights ringing it, partly from the natural incandescence of some of the young superheroes horsing around in the crowd. They were playing some sort of ballgame, maybe more than one game. Snake-Boy saw numerous balls in the air, of various kinds: baseballs, footballs, kickballs, medicine balls. It sounded like a party. From the decks that jutted out of the windows of the residential tower, characters flew down, yelling and laughing, bearing coolers of canned beverages and ice, or grilled meats, or whatever, back and forth.

“Is it always like this?” said Snake-Boy, as the spider-vehicle eased them up to the edge of the crowd.

“Every night in the summer,” said Lady Dogface. “Yeah. Block party!”

“Unless there’s an emergency,” said the Beast Mistress, in a tone of slight reprimand.

“Right,” said Lady Dogface.

“Like an invasion of snake-boys?” said Snake-Boy.

“Yeah, like that,” said Sky Prince, hopping down off the spider. Lady Dogface jumped down after him.

Snake-Boy started to jump down too, but Beast Mistress turned, touched him on the elbow. “Why don’t you hang out with us for a second?” she said. “My husband and I would like a word.”

Next: Flashback, Part Six

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