Obfuscation

Author: jamjar (jamjar.livejournal.com)
Recipient: derryderrydown
Prompt: Linda Park
Notes: Gen, no recent spoilers.

She wakes up and opens her eyes. There's a flickering light overhead and it's too bright. For a moment, the world tilts, the angles wrong and unsteady and Linda has a moment of pure déjà vu, Oh, please, not another dimension, before it stabilizes. The angles are wrong because she's lying on her side, and the room is moving because she has concussion, probably.

And-- there was a crash, she remembers that much, and the building shook and she'd rolled off the desk she was lying on and hit the floor, hard--

There's something wrong, and she needs to get her mind together enough to think. She was on the fifth floor, trying to find out where the office of Byron and Byron Accounting was, so why is it pitch black outside the window? She doesn't recognise the room at all.

Deep breath, no panicking. This isn't the first, second or third time she's woke up like this, and the absence of cackling villains means this probably isn't personal.

That's not actually comforting, because if it isn't personal, they won't try and gloat about this to Wally, and he doesn't even know she's here and--

"Shock." It's comforting to hear her voice out loud, so she puts on her reporter voice; clear, Linda, keep it clear enough so they can hear you over an earthquake. "While suffering from shock, this brave –no, this courageous reporter was instantly aware of how dangerous her situation was."

That's better. She can picture herself, microphone in hand, leaning forward. The image gives her enough strength to push herself up on to her feet and ow. Sprained ankle. Dammit. No, she's not going to cry, and she knows, with absolute certainty, that Wally will rescue her if she needs it, but he's not going to have to. She's not some damsel in distress, this is not some alien world. It's downtown Keystone and she can rescue herself.

She's still wearing her jacket and her cellphone is in her pocket, right where she left it. No reception, but at least she knows she hasn't lost a day.

She's not going to win any races, but she can manage a fast limp over to the window. If it's just dark outside, there would still be street lights, lights from other buildings -- it's Keystone. Even in a blackout, there are still some signs of life, but now, there's nothing. Pitch black.

The flickering light fails to show a catch. It's a new building, must be one of those where it's 100% climate controlled and impossible to open a window. The thought makes her realise that she can't hear the air-conditioning and the room is stuffy. No air coming in, none going out. "Join us tomorrow, when KFMB's very own reporter Linda Park reveals a shocking expose on the dangers of modern architecture," she says, leaning her head against the cool glass. It feels good and it helps clear her mind. No way to find out what's happening outside except by getting there, and that leaves the door.

Wait. There's a bump on the back of her head and bump on the front, and the front probably came when she rolled off the desk, and--

Why was she on a desk? She reaches up to feel the back of her head and yeah, it's nigh up and angled just so, just where they always seem to aim when knocking you out, but when she tries to remember, there's a blank space.

She limps over to the desk and opens the draws. Nothing useful, no company paper, nothing at all. There's nothing on the walls but pseudo art deco light fittings, most of which seem to be broken. There's a plant on its side, and that's it.

The building was new and a lot of the offices were still empty. She's probably in the same building, and that's something. "Intrepid reporter, Linda Park-West, stumbled across a nefarious--"

Linda shakes her head. Maybe the concussion's giving her a bad case of cliche. Focus, Linda, get yourself over to the door and-- locked. Now would be a really good time to develop superpowers.

No. If they didn't come for Grog or Kadabra or Zoom, they're not going to come now, and she doesn't need them, because it's just a door.

Think, Linda, think. It doesn't move when she tries to throw her weight against it, and her bad ankle means she can't kick it properly so…

The desk's pretty heavy, but she manages to drag it over to the door, lies back on it, grips the edges and kicks out with her good foot--

There! She sits up too quickly and her head spins for a second, but the door is open and she can get out. She stumbles into the hallway and it's even darker than it was in the room, but at least she can breathe, finally.

The floor is vibrating. For a moment, she thinks "Wally?" but it doesn't feel like him. She knows what it feels like when it's him and this feels wrong. It increases and then she can feel the building shake then--

And then it's like an explosion, but not exactly the same, and Linda can identify that as the effect of someone or something with superhuman strength slamming someone or something into a building that really wasn't designed to take that kind of punishment. She has to get out, now. One hand on the wall, Linda feels her way along the corridor. The floor is covered with bits of paper. Her feet rustle against them as she walks. It shouldn't be this messy. It's a new building, people are still setting up. There hasn't been enough time to get this many bits of paper everywhere.

The building shakes again and she almost slips and has to put a hand out to steady herself. She can feel the wall move and that's never a good sign. "Linda Park, live from Keystone, delivering this special report on the top ten signs a building is going to collapse on you." No, wrong voice, that should have a lighter tone. She tries it again, "Linda Park, live from Keystone, delivering this..."

Much better, and there's the reassuring green glow of an exit sign. She gets to the stairs, feels the building shake and hangs on to the railing until it calms down. There are at least five flights of stairs between her and the ground floor, and she's having trouble standing up. She leans over the railing and half-slides, half skips down the stairs. The building shakes more as she gets closer to the ground and she slips on something and lands hard on her back. There's paper on the ground and she can feel the odd bit flapping out above her, like when Bart does his homework. Maybe she can just stay here for a while--

Or not, because the wall next to her buckles and she rolls away. It holds, bulging inwards, but even in Keystone, that's a bad sign. Most buildings can't take that kind of strain for long. On her hands and knees and then she pulls herself upright, using the railing, and thanks whatever god or saint or mystic force that looks after wayward reporters, because there's the firedoor.

Linda opens the door and it's pitch black outside. She reaches out a careful hand and pushes at the darkness. It gives way like nothing, a little cooler than air, and she takes a deep breath, holds it, and walks through.

And out, into the light.

The substance, whatever it is, clings to her like soot or printer ink. At first it looks like the buildings around her have been replaced by black silhouettes, but one of them moves, hit by something she can't see, and she realizes they're covered by the same thing that's on her. A building folds in on itself, the black broken up by fragments of brick and furniture and--

There, just in the corner of her eye, the familiar almost-seen edge of something, someone, moving faster than she can see. It slows down enough that she can a red blur that she knows like she knows her own heart. She ducks, pressing against the black wall, trying to track whatever he's after and, there, just a brief moment when she can see something move before it blends into a wall, black on black, coming closer and--

It's too perfect. All she has to do is stand up, now, smile and punch. Perfect. He goes down in a crumpled heap, a barely visible outline of something humanoid in a business suit. Wally zips over and clamps something on his neck -neural inhibitor, it looks like-, then stands back.

"Linda?" He says, like he's not sure or can't believe it. She nods and he reaches out to touch the side of her face, checking. Comforting. She matches the gesture.

"Yeah," she says. Not her best line ever, but she's entitled to a little monosyllabic, after taking down the bad guy. "You were in there?" Wally's face is white. She can count every freckle not covered by the mask and the one smear of black from her hand. "I-- I didn't know. You could have been--"

"What kind of a wife would I be if I let you do all the rescuing?" She says and leans on his shoulder. His arm goes around her waist and she lets him take her weight, holding him up. "Wally? Can you prop me up against a wall and get me a camera?"

End.