Every so often, Ash would hear footsteps outside, and his hopes that someone was coming in would rise. Someone to talk to him or let him go. But no one did.
What were they doing with him? If they were going to ask him questions, they wouldn’t get far. Having no identity wasn’t a crime, especially if he hadn’t done anything wrong in the first place.
Or maybe he had. He did have amnesia after all–who knows what he could have done. But even so, there was no reason for the police to hold him like a prisoner while real criminals got to walk out.
He could set fire to something, like he did in the clinic, to try and escape. But there had to be security cameras watching him. They’d discover his secret and turn him into a lab rat, if he wasn’t one before he lost his memory.
Ash looked up at the clock and realized he’d been in this room for an hour. This was so unfair. The pothead hadn’t even stayed at the station this long. And he was the one being punished?
Enough of that. He wasn’t going to be a fool for the police. He opened the door and poked his head out as an officer in full dress walked past.
“Hey,” Ash said, “I’ve been waiting here for an hour. What’s going on? Is someone coming?”
“Just stay in the room,” the officer said. “Someone will come in soon, I’m sure.” “Not ‘I’m sure’,” Ash said. “I deserve to know what I’m being detained for. I haven’t committed any crimes. The drug dealer gets let go, and I’m here because I have no ID.”
“I’ll find out where they’re at with you, sir. Just stay in the room.”
The officer approached, moving so close that Ash had to retreat back into the room. The door closed, followed by the unmistakable sound of a setting lock.
Oh shit. Now he was trapped in here. He’d just made it worse. Now he was scared, more than he’d ever been in his short life.
Ash paced around the table, trying to think straight and evaluate the situation. He couldn’t start acting like a panicky child.
They don’t know who I am, do they? he thought. They don’t know what I’m capable of. I’m probably a wanted man, and they’re contacting whoever’s in charge of me. They’re keeping me ignorant for their own safety.
But if they knew what he was capable of, they’d take more precautions to protect themselves. They were the police, they wouldn’t hold someone who didn’t deserve it. Being anonymous wasn’t a crime. They were probably seeing if he matched any missing persons.
The door clicked and opened. A different officer walked in, holding a pair of handcuffs.
“What-” Ash started.
“I’m here to transfer you to a holding cell.”
Ash jumped at the word cell. “What?” he yelled. “Why? I’ve done nothing wrong.”
“You don’t have any identification or known address, and you refuse to give any.”
“I don’t know any. I can’t give you what I don’t have.”
“Since you either can’t or refuse to cooperate, we have the right to detain you for at least twenty-four hours.”
“Twenty-four hours? You can’t do that. I came here to report a crime, and you’re treating me like the criminal.”
The officer told him to turn around and bend down to the table. Ash considered making a break for it. He could use his power, but that would hurt innocent people.
“What about Ivan? Did you call Ivan?” Ash said. Tears started to form as he felt the metal rings encircle his wrists.
“The leader of the White Knights.”
He shrugged. “We’re still trying to get a hold of him.”
“Well…” Ash didn’t know what else to say. “There’s other people. Anfernee or Jamal or Ivy. They know me. They know who I am.”
“All right, we’ll get that information from you later. But right now, you have to come with me.”
“You’ll call them?”
“Yes, but we need to transfer you first.”
If they weren’t willing to call, Ash would have fought back. He would have blazed the station up to try and get out, but out of four possible people to call, one of them had to get him out of here.
Ash touched his pocket, empty of his cell phone. They made him drop all his belongings in a cardboard box and sent him into a large barred room–the bullpen, they called it. He didn’t have much to give them besides his sash, his phone, and some pocket change.
He was really regretting not going with his original plan.
Six other genuine criminals milled around him as he sat on a bench with his arms crossed. He felt like pacing with them, but he didn’t want to lose his seat.
So he watched the window in the upper wall. Each time he looked, the sky had darkened and he thought how he was supposed to be on a date with Ivy. The only reason he hadn’t collapsed into tears or smoldered the station was that he had to be strong for her. He thought about being with her, what she would say when he got out, her beautiful face. But he had to limit his thoughts, because each time he did, he had to cover his crotch.
If he really was a criminal, this treatment would do nothing but make him resent authority. The whole point of the police was to make people respect the rules, but all he wanted to do was spray paint the precinct wall and steal some shit, just to throw it back in their face. No wonder most criminals were repeat offenders.
His fellow occupants were no strangers to the system. They weren’t worried about getting out, talking to each other in accented Spanish and ghetto slang. How much did it cost to hold these people, only to have them come back. All that time, all that money wasted.
Were these people that needed to be kept around? People that contributed to society? He could do the police a service by burning them all right here and now. Save them a lot of time.
A big man’s shadow woke Ash out of his reverie.
“Gimme that bench,” he said.
Ash looked up at a black man with a big nose and piggy eyes. These lowlifes were ugly too. He could also make the world more pleasant to look at by striking a few.
“No,” Ash said.
“Gimme that bench. I wanna sit down.”
“I found it first,” Ash said, keeping his arms crossed. “Go lie on the floor.”
“Hey,” he said in a thick accent. “You a queer?”
“I said, you a queer.”
“No, I’m not a queer,” Ash said, wishing he’d said something wittier.
“You look like a queer,” Piggy-Eyes laughed. “You got them queer clothes, queer haircut.”
A Hispanic from the back said, “Lea’im alone.”
Piggy-Eyes turned. “Hey, shut up. I’m done talking with you.”
“You know” Ash said, “Psychologists say wives should listen to their husbands.” This prompted some chuckles from the others. “It makes for a good marriage.”
His tormentor fumed. “You think you’re funny, don’t you?”
“I think I’m funnier than you. How many brain cells did you kill to come up with ‘you a queer’?”
“Gimme that bench, ya little bitch,” he said and moved closer.
Ash threw back his hand like he was holding a samurai sword, and reared back. He wasn’t going to start the fight, but he was sure as hell going to finish it.
“Come and get it.” Ash brought his power to the edge, ready to unleash it.
Piggy-Eyes grabbed Ash’s shoulder. Ash shoved him as hard as he could.
Piggy-Eyes flew back like he had touched an electric fence, colliding with two others and clanging against the barred wall. The onlookers fell silent and froze.
What was this strength? This was what he felt when he fought the Vortex owner, and the panhandler, and Ivy’s stalker. There was a faint red glowing within his hands.
Piggy-Eyes staggered as he got up, balancing his bulk. “Mother fucker, I’m gonna fuck you up.” He raised his fist in the air like a hammer.
Ash stepped back and summoned the fire again, ready to light him up like a torch. Secrets or not, he wasn’t taking any more shit. Piggy-Eyes screamed and charged like a rhino.
There was a small chuff of air. Piggy-Eyes’s knees collapsed, his eyes rolled back, and he melted to the floor like Jell-O.
An officer had a small metal rod stuck through the bars.
“Ooh,” someone said, “Bitch got tranked.”
“What?” Ash said, still charged up.
“Cattle prod for humans,” another said.
“Another fine product from Starkweather Enterprises,” the Hispanic mimicked.
Ash stood straight and relaxed, realizing the threat was over. “Thanks,” he said to the cop.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw another cop pushing a metal rod towards him.
“Hey, wait-” Ash said.