THE SECRET SOCIETY WELCOMES ITS NEWEST MEMBER!

PLEASE ENJOY THIS SPECIAL BONUS EPISODE OF AGENTS OF KARMA:
THE TOTALLY SECRET ORIGIN OF FLOWER POWER!


1.

[1991]


Dr. Roberts screamed.

His arms and legs twisted and stretched. His torso warped twice around. He howled as the thorns grew, his head shriveled, then opened up into a purple rosebud.

Jack McCormick watched this happened. In fact, he watched his wife make it happen. The killing. The murder. She …

“Did you, Doris, did you just do that? Am I still hallucinating? I must be, but doesn’t feel like it.”

“I killed him,” she said. “I really killed him. I turned a glass of water into a rose, yesterday, but I thought it was just the stuff they gave us, too. Then I turned my lunch tray into soft green grass … I killed him, Jack.”

Jack looked at the mangled mess of plant life. “His fault,” he said, “his fault, wouldn’t let us go. Not your fault. They did something to us.”

“Do you think you can do it, too?” she asked. “Do you think they gave you some kind of weird power?”

He didn’t answer because a bullet hit him right between the eyes.


2.

[2000]


“Stop complaining. I can’t drive when you’re whining.”

Wendy glared at her mother. “They use animal fat to make the fries!”

“Ugh, no they don’t, not anymore. At least I don’t think so.” Doris thought about the days when she and her husband thought changing stuff like that meant everything. Make a world born of common sense. “Your dad and I wrote letters and lobbied against Happy Face Incorporated’s misuse of animals for years, sweet pea. They’ve gotten smarter now. Bigger concern is the trees, plant life, the world of oxygen. We were real tree-huggers.”

Doris kept looking in her rearview mirror.

The light turned red.

“Damn.”

“What’s wrong?”

“I think they followed us again. I think they’re following us.”

Wendy didn’t say anything. At eight years old she wasn’t sure who “they” were anymore than she knew the Easter Bunny or Jesus Christ. Well, she was pretty sure the Bunny was out there, maybe a league of bunnies, but God felt far away. If gods do watch over us, she thought, why do we have to be scared all the time?

“Getting dark. We’ll drive on.”

Doris and her daughter Wendy drove north for another hour, Doris tapping her fingernails on the steering wheel. The sound started driving Wendy crazy.

“Can we turn on the radio?”

“Huh? Oh, sure, fine.”

Wendy turned the dial until she found something she liked. “Put Your Lights On” by Santana and Everlast filled the car and the tension eased a bit. Doris hadn’t seen anything suspicious since Lodi. Maybe they could get a motel. All this driving, she thought, bad for the environment. Right. Like anybody gave a damn.


3.

[2006]


Happy Face Ranch “for runaway girls.”

After lights out Kara leaned in close to Wendy and whispered. “Wanna sneak a smoke?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“The people that run this place, they want you to do that. They put addictive chemicals in the cigarettes to get you hooked.”

“How do you know?”

“My mom told me.”

“Yeah, she still around?”

“Yeah,” she said, “she works for them now.”


4.

[2003]


From the Diary of Wendy McCormick:


They found us.

Mom had a friend in the valley.

Canoga Park?

I don’t know if the town is called Canoga or the park but they caught us in the park.

When the men tried to grab Mom, Mom turned them into lemon trees.


5.

[2004]


From the Diary of Wendy McCormick:


I cried all night.

I couldn’t stop crying, and when I wiped the tears from my face rose petals fell to the floor.


6.

[2001]


The headlights were following them again.

Doris pulled into a parking lot and watched the gray car float on by.

She looked at her daughter and said, “I want you to try it.”

“What?”

“You know what I’m talking about.” She looked at the cold cup of coffee in the cup-holder between the seats. “Try to turn that cup into something.”

Wendy looked like she was going to start crying.

“It’s okay, sweat pea, just try it.”

“I don’t know how you do that stuff.”

“I just touch it, think it, it happens. They did this to me, and they want to know if you’ve got something in you, too. I need to know. You need to know.”

Wendy touched the cup. She thought of orange poppies; she thought of daisies; she thought of cherry blossoms, but nothing happened.


7.

[2009]


Sacramento.

Nighttime rain …

Winter solstice and the world was an admixture of garish cheer and consuming darkness. People walked quickly by, layered in jackets and raincoats and umbrellas as she moved in close to Joe Moon’s Coffee Shop to avoid the downpour. The passersby looked dark in their aspect because of the weather but inside the surrounding homes were lit with lights and Christmas tree glee.

There’s two sides to everything, she thought. Mom is like the rain. Maybe she wasn’t always that way, but she gathered the gloomy side of nature into herself.

Meanwhile, Wendy had been working at a retro clothing store, falling in love with brighter fashions from happier times. She too wore a long coat to fight the cold bite of winter’s fingers, but if you could see her getup under that hide you’d think she was off to a costume party.

The rain is good for the flowers, she thought.

The rain is good for the flowers.


8.

[1992]


A baby is born and her name is Wendy McCormick. She is the daughter of Jack and Doris McCormick, whom both took part in an experimental study concerning the hybrid cellular biology of human life and plant life.

Can flowers think?

One of the questions. What if we could truly empathize with the plant world?

They took the experimental drugs in a lab located in Davis, California.

At first they hallucinated.

Then they got sick.

The following day they screamed a lot.


9.

[2002]


From the Diary of Wendy McCormick:


My mom can turn people into flowers.


10.

[1993]


Doris McCormick couldn’t tell you exactly how she got out of Dr. Roberts’s lab. Her life quickly became a blur that made very little sense. She couldn’t tell you if the lab had really been funded by the Department of Knowledge as they had said or if the experiment was privately funded, as she suspected, by Happy Face, Inc.

After Jack was shot something snapped inside her head.

Literally.

She could hear it, could hear a branch just

snap.

The man who shot Jack wanted to take her somewhere, alive, but had made the mistake of getting too close to her hands. She remembered that, remembered the gun turning into nothing more than a dandelion and things get blurry after that.

She had made her way home, somehow actually driving their little Volkswagen to their little apartment as if everything was normal. She remembered that, too, remembered the cold shakes and the tears and getting sick, and finally discovering she was pregnant.

She thought of the blur of phone calls as she sought help. The police telling her there was no evidence of a crime at the address she gave them. Telling her she was under stress. Suggesting she get help. Reminding her of the extreme dangers of taking narcotics while pregnant. Confidentially and empathetically letting her know that sometimes guys run out and simply can’t handle the responsibility.

All in her head.

Didn’t happen.

Couldn’t happen.

Dr. Roberts didn’t exist.

She was lucky to still have her job at the health food store, lucky to have insurance to help cover the medical expenses. Her health plan even provided for up to six months of mental illness coverage. Six months.

She kept her mouth shut.

She had her baby.

Alone.

And she drove on.


11.

[2005]


From the Diary of Wendy McCormick:





They called her “Mother Nature.” A codename, like in the comic books or spy movies. She has awesome superpowers. For real.

And

so

do

I.


12.

[1994]


Doris worked in a diner called The Happy Porkchop. Can you believe that? I mean, she thought, what could possibly be happy about a pork chop?

They let me bring Wendy to work; that’s what.

As she cleaned a countertop she wondered if she should head down south and try to connect with her family. Would they think she was crazy, too?

Wendy let out a cry from the backroom and she felt a wet spot on the front of her blouse. Nature doesn’t think I’m crazy, she thought. She was a mother. Her child needs her, and that’s as real as it gets. No one, she thought, no one can take that away from me.


13.

[2007]


Ethel Duke was the biggest and meanest “girl” the Happy Face Ranch “for runaway girls” had to offer. She looked like a tank having a bad hair day. And her favorite game was cornering the new girls and letting them know the rules. Her rules.

“Follow the rules, blondy, and maybe you won’t get punched in the face.”

Ethel backed Wendy against the back wall of the bathroom. One of the other girls, about to wash her hands, backed out the door.

“She won’t say nothing,” said Ethel. “She knows the rules.”

“Move,” said Wendy. Her voice sounded much smaller than she intended and that made her cheeks feel hot and red.

“You sound like a Barbie doll I once had. It could talk, too, when I pulled its stupid string. Look like Barbie, too. I like this pretty blond hair of yours.”

Ethel raised her hand. “Like your little baby face, too, girl.”

“Don’t touch me,” she said. This time her voice sounded a little less mousey.

“I’m gonna punch you in the stomach if you don’t French kiss me.”

“You are so disgusting,” said Wendy.

Ethel stuck out her tongue.

Wendy touched it with the tip of her finger and said, “Poison ivy.”


14.

[1995]


A man in a gray suit ordered a black coffee and wrote something down in a notebook.


15.

[1996]


Doris and Wendy had moved on. Doris thought about leaving California, but decided against that option. I’m a California girl, she thought. Why should I let them take that away from me?

“I’ll go down south,” she said to herself, then regretted making her plans aloud. I’m getting paranoid, she thought, but they are after me.

I mean, she thought, they really – really are after me.

Us, she thought, after us.


16.

[1997]


As soon as the sun set she pulled into a rest stop in Barstow and waited.

The gray car pulled in and parked a few parking spots over to the right.

Wendy was asleep. Doris got out of the car, acting as if she was stupid enough to leave her baby in the vehicle while she went to the restroom.

She suddenly turned and laid her hands on the hood of the gray machine. She stared at the men in suits through the windshield. They moved to get out, but the doors were already turning into redwood.


17.

[2008]


Nighttime and Kara was up to her usual tricks. She leaned in close and asked, “Wanna go raid the kitchen?”

Wendy shrugged her shoulders. “All right,” she said.

“Raiding” the kitchen wasn’t the easiest thing to do. Happy Face Ranch meals were precisely scheduled and kept under lock and key, but when you knew how to turn a lock into a flower petal, it gave you options.

Inside the kitchen, drinking Happy Face orange juice out of those mini half pint containers that are always hard to open, Kara helped pick up the evidence. “Don’t leave anything behind. You know they’re trying to get something on you.”

“They already know who I am and what I can do.”

“Think so? Guess you’ve done enough weird things to make it hard to miss.

Everybody’s scared of you, you know?”

“Think so?”

“Yeah.”

“I wish we could get out of here.”

“I wonder why they haven’t taken you, done something with you. You know, if they really know.”

“My mom made a deal with them.”

“I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or what. Wanna bust out of here?”


18.

[1998]


“Mom?”

“Yeah, sweat pea?”

“Are you gonna change the bad men into flowers?”

“Yes I am, sweat pea.”


19.

[1999]


The gray men followed them to the edge of the world and it became plain to Doris McCormick that this was a game that may never end. She felt like a rat in an experiment, an experiment that just wouldn’t end. Obviously, they knew where she was. They always knew, and they just kept coming. If they really wanted to take her she thought they would have done it by now.

They like to watch, she thought.

They want to see what’s going to happen.

She stood on the southern California beach shoreline, the wet mud underneath her feet and screamed. “This is what’s going to happen!” She stared at the gnarled seaweed creature of a man standing before her. “This is what’s going to happen!”


20.

[2010]


Inside a punk club full of good noise, Wendy McCormick had heard of a strange “Society” rumored to have people like her working together. She had gotten close to an underground buzz of artists and creative people who often felt as hounded as she.

She looked at the address in her hand for a “secret tryout” called “Agents of Karma” and figured, if such a thing really did exist, it probably belonged to the bad guys. But what if it was real? What if there were good guys in the world, a secret society willing to combat the controllers of mainstream society?

If something like that really did exist, she thought, it would be worth anything to be a part of it, to be a part of something real and good and a part of the sun and not the mud, even if you did have to look for it underground.

“Well, well, well,” said a soft voice behind her.

She turned, ready to meet a new crisis, already mad at herself for not having her personal radar up.

“Uh, oh,” he said, “sorry! Didn’t mean to startle you. It’s just, I’m going to that particular party, and if you’d like a ride …” He wore a pink suit. She had never seen anyone like him before. “I would be happy to give you a lift,” he said.

She didn’t know why, but she trusted this young man in the pink suit. “Well, yeah, maybe,” she said. “I really don’t know if …”

His eyes lit up. “Do you have a power? A special ability? I do,” he said.

She smiled, the first time she smiled since they picked up Kara and sent her back to the Ranch. “Actually,” she said, “I’ve been thinking about calling myself … Flower Power.”



And, if you're reading this, you probably already know by now ... it's official! FLOWER POWER is the winner of the AGENTS OF KARMA competition for membership within THE SECRET SOCIETY: AGENTS OF KARMA division of the underground world of mystery and adventure -- waiting for you here on MYSTERY ISLAND!

HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM ALL OF US @ MYSTERY ISLAND PUBLICATIONS!

And we'll see you all in 2011 for more action-packed thrills and the best in original pop culture entertainment!


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SECRET SOCIETY: AGENTS OF KARMA!

Created/written by Bradley Mason Hamlin.

Art by MORT TODD!

Secret Society: Agents of Karma Bonus Episode 001: The Totally Secret Origin of Flower Power!
Published December 31, 2010 by Mystery Island.
Copyright © 2010 by Mystery Island Publications. All rights reserved.


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