EPISODE 016: KID TELEPATHY


Prologue:



As Lucy turned from the port rail she noticed Kid Telepathy staring out to sea from the starboard side. He was still wearing that old football helmet and seemed deeply lost in thought …

She turned to Yuki. “What do you think he’s doing?”

“The Kid? I never quite know.”

“Um, I hope he’s not like trying to talk to the mushroom guy.”

“Let us ask him,” said Yuki.

But before they could take a step the Kid turned around and approached the ladies.

Lucy smiled. “Not peeking … are you?”

“I’ve been trained,” said the Kid, “to be aware of Agent Yoshimoto’s priorities. Sorry, it’s not a conscious thing. I’ve also been trained not to … peek into, you know, private things.”

“We were just wondering,” said Yoshimoto, “if you were feeling aware of …”

“The Mushroom Man? No. I think as long as we’re out to sea we’re safe from his influence.”

Lucy tried not to frown. “That’s an interesting hat you have.”

“Yeah,” said the Kid, “just an old football helmet.”

The women were silent but he didn’t have to read their thoughts. “I’ll tell you about it if you want, but it’ll be easier to project the story into your minds.”


Capital City Boys Home

April 1, 1955



The boys at the Home jeered at Joey. “Hey kid, come on. We’re short one man.”

A battered football helmet rolled next to Joey as he sat on the floor, eyes glued to the black and white television screen.

“You deaf or something … or just dumb?”

Joey briefly turned from the set, his eyes squinting against the light coming in from the open window. “Short? What?”

“Football!” they said. “Come on, already! You don’t wanna watch that crummy ol’ show, do ya?”

The fattest of the lot, Brian Flubber, a boy who loved to tackle other boys laughed: “Captain Blast,” he slurred through rubbery lips. “Nobody believes in sissy outer space stuff.”

Todd Krieger flexed his chest muscles. “You oughta be watching cowboys killin’ Injuns.”

“Heh, heh, good one, Todd.”

Joey ignored them, ignored their laughter, ignored their footsteps falling away as they all followed Krieger the quarterback out the door and into the light.

“The Robots from Uranus are attacking! Don your Blast helmets, Cosmic Champions! Only you can send me enough energy to charge my Atomic Ray Gun! Only your dedicated imagination can save the day!”

He felt numb inside with the wanting. Kids all over America were no doubt right now strapping on their official Captain Blast helmets and doing their part for truth and justice by aiming their energy via television waves to Captain Blast and his Atomic Ray Gun.

“If only you believe,” said the Captain, “you can make real magic happen!”

“If only you believe,” Joey whispered. “If only you believe …”

Joey turned to the football helmet, picked it up and put it on. “I believe,” he said.

On the screen Captain Blast, his Ray Gun seemingly fully charged – blasted a robot into bits of nuts and bolts.

“I believe,” said Joey, and a voice somewhere – within the helmet or his own mind – whispered back: “I believe you.”

#

The boys came back into the Home with all of the loud menace boys of twelve and thirteen have no control over.

Joey ignored them. He sat on a chair in the common room reading a Captain Blast comic book.

“Well,” said Flubber, “look at the big bad footballer now.”

The boys all laughed, pointed, and made “ha ha” sounds.

Joey had not realized he never took off the helmet. In fact, it seemed perfectly natural that the thing should stay on his head.

Todd snarled. “Give it here, sissy, don’t want your Brylcreem greasing the ‘quipment!”

Joey shook his head. “Nobody uses this helmet, been kicked around too much.”

“For football,” said Flubber, “you gonna play quarterback?”

Again, they laughed.

Todd pointed. “Get him,” he said. “Weak cub of the pack. Our duty to get rid of him. Remember that doc’mentary we saw?”

Joey stood, ready to run.

He didn’t make it very far.

Todd and Brian were masters in the art of Indian rug burns and belly busters. Soon, Joey was close to tears as the skin on his arms turned bright red from hands wringing him like a dish rag, his belly stinging horribly from the repeated slap-slap-slap.

All the while he hung on to the helmet as if it were his secret life line with those words still echoing inside: “I believe you. I believe you. I believe you.”

#

Joey took to wearing the helmet whenever he got a chance. The kids took it as a sign of mental retardation and stopped trying to take it away. Who would want a helmet with cooties like that anyway?

Of course it wasn’t long before Joey could read minds while wearing the helmet. That was actually the easy part. Todd Krieger claimed he came to the Home after his father died in Word War II, but he knew differently. His parents abandoned him and moved to a place called Las Vegas, Nevada.

Todd Flubber never knew his parents at all.

Tony Sandore still wet the bed.

And Jack Dante did things to himself you’re not supposed to talk about in polite company.

#

Saturday mornings were the best. No school. And after morning chores – you could watch television.

Time for Captain Blast.

Joey pulled the helmet down around his head …

“Turn it off.”

Todd stood behind him, football wedged in one hand. “Turn it off. You’re coming out on the field with us. We’re gonna tackle all of those creepy little things you’ve been whispering about everybody right out of your head.”

Joey ignored and Joey waited …

… until the football crashed through the glass screen of the TV set. He leapt to his feet like a frightened animal, eyes wild and confused, peering out from behind the mouth guard of the helmet.

Without him, Captain Blast would die. Every kid tuned in to the greatest show ever, every Cosmic Champion, knew that. Captain Blast would die.

The hands grabbed Joey by the arms and grabbed Joey by the legs, marching him out onto the field.

If only I had mind control, Joey thought, that would be something. I could make them do anything I want. But he didn’t have mind control. Yet, he could hear their thoughts. All of them.

And he came up with a thought of his own.

What if I could push my thoughts?

They threw him onto the grass and started beaning Joey with footballs. Good thing he still had the helmet on but the balls hurt and he didn’t even attempt to catch them.

If I can give Captain Blast energy from my Cosmic Blast Helmet – then maybe …

A direct hit in the face guard gave Joey a bloody nose. He scrambled up. I can’t take this lying down. What kind of a Cosmic Champion gets beat up on the grass and doesn’t fight back?

He growled, running head down at the closest boy.

Laughing, Wally Harriet smacked Joey back down to the ground.

Breathing hard, Joey thought of all the kids like him, kids with helmets watching Captain Blast right now at this very moment. I need you, he thought. I need your energy. I need you to hear me. Believe me … I can’t kill the Robots from Uranus without you guys.

He thought of robots.

He concentrated on robots.

The helmet seemed to buzz on top of his head.

He could hear the voice again, but not just one voice, a legion.

The boys on the field started screaming.

“Where did they come from?”

“Do you see that?”

“They’re going to kill us!”

“Robots! Robots! Killer robots!”

“Help!”

The boys proceeded to pound each other bloody and senseless, fending off that “sissy outer space stuff” that “nobody believes in.”

#

Joey still wasn’t a hero or a champion, not by a long shot. Rumor got around that Joey was really a witch of some sort. Not that anybody at the Home believed in magic, but they believed a crazy kid could have poisoned the water supply in order to make the footballers hallucinate.

Wasn’t it obvious the boy was off? He never removed that dirty football helmet, unless ordered to do so, and he didn’t even play the game.


Capital City Asylum

June 21, 1955


Joey Thompson was scheduled for electroshock therapy.

The orderlies unlocked his room and proceeded to strap Joey down to his bed.

Wheeling toward the lab Joey thought of Captain Blast and the Cosmic Champions. Just TV, he thought, silly old television show. If he had been smart he would have been out there in the sun, laughing, and trying his best to knock down his housemates.

He couldn’t remember how many days had passed since he’d seen that stupid helmet that got him into this big mess in the first place. Better off without it. Something must be wrong with me, he thought, wrong with my brain.

They’ll fix me now.

I believe. I believe it.


Epilogue:


The vision dissipated, leaving the women flustered and sad of heart, wondering how the boy had survived, and even more puzzling, how the hell he got from 1955 to the present day Secret Society, let alone inside their heads.


To be continued ...



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SECRET SOCIETY: MONSTER ZIPPER by Bradley Mason Hamlin.
Lucy Hell comic book art by Mort Todd!
Episode 016: "Kid Telepathy."
Published June 3, 2010 by Mystery Island.
Copyright © 2009 by Mystery Island Publications. All rights reserved.


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