Kayla Hicks - Author Kayla Hicks - Author

Into the Grey: Sneak Peek

6 min read

By The Backup Superhero fanbase request, Into the Grey is releasing this Friday, March 1st!

A book based on Seed but the starting and ending chapters are from Tanser Girls' point of view.

Here is a sneak peek:

𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐒𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐏𝐮𝐳𝐳𝐥𝐞

𝐓𝐚𝐧𝐬𝐞𝐫 𝐆𝐢𝐫𝐥

“What seems to be the problem?” I asked.

“The guy is holed up near the entrance of an old building. He’s got a hostage,” the officer explained. “He keeps babbling nonsense.”

“By nonsense, you mean…?” Frank prodded.

Since the beginning of the new and improved Superhero League, Frank was stepping back into the action. Who would have thought he’d had a past life as a superhero himself? We were all shocked. Especially the customers of the Hero’s Cave Bar.

“He keeps rambling, ‘Boom, boom, bam, it’s all I got. Boom, boom, bam, it’s nine o’clock.’”

Frank looked down at his watch. “It’s eight forty. If he’s waiting for nine o’clock to roll around, the question is, what’s happening at nine?”

“I, for one, am not waiting around to find out,” I said.

“Tanser Girl, you can’t just go charging in there. He has a hostage,” Frank argued.

“Did I say I was going to charge in there? You have known me long enough to know I am always formulating a plan, Frank. I’m going to try to reason with him while you guys come around the sides or the back.”

Frank’s mouth formed into a hard, thin line, making the stubble on his chin stand out in the bright squad car headlights. “Fine, we’ll follow your lead. No one gets close to Tanser Girl. We want his focus on her.”

Nodding in agreement, I turned on the heel of my red boot and walked across the wet, shiny pavement. The red and blue rotating police lights flashed in the rain puddles as I walked, messing with my eyesight. As my gaze wandered up towards the man in question, I could see this was going to take some magic to work.

His appearance was bedraggled, with his ripped, left coat arm, unkempt hair, and a black eye to back up his crazy demeanor.

The young woman with long, blonde wavy hair sobbed silently as a small pistol was held directly to the right side of her head. Her makeup running in zig-zagging trails down her cheeks.

“Don’t you come a step closer!” he shouted, his voice cracking from the sudden screaming. “Unless you want this young lady splattered across this building, you will stop right there!”

“Alright, I hear you,” I called back, holding up a hand.

Now standing with twenty feet between us, I could see the man’s gaze flickering between me and the watch on his wrist, worn on the same arm he held up to the hostage’s head.

“I hear you’re talking about nine o’clock. What’s happening then?” I asked.

“Nothing! That’s what’s happening! Ain’t no one and nothing going to get me here with a big show like this!” he yelled, his eyes now looking around at the party of police, bystanders, and superheroes he had assembled as a result of his actions.

“What do you mean, no one?”

A cynical laugh escaped him, his voice crackling once more. “It’s a dog-shit world these days, ain’t it?”

Okay, now we’re getting somewhere.

“Tell me about it. Ever since Goffman’s fallen from his pedestal and The Superhero League has begun restructuring, it feels as if the world as we knew it has changed.”

He froze momentarily. “There’s a bigger picture here than what’s been painted by reporters delivering their lies to the public’s doorsteps and the news anchors delivering their nightly news updates to the public’s televisions. The largest and most invisible change in the public eye has been the whole criminal world. Let’s just say that the pecking order is ready to crumble.”

“Is that why you’re here?”

“No…I…boom, boom, bam, it’s nine o’clock,” he rattled off, shaking his head causing the woman to release a strangled sob. “At nine o’clock, I’m supposed to be erased.”

“By whom? And why?”

“By the pecking order. Once I’m gone, the new way of the criminal world can begin. No loose ends.”

In the corner of my eye, I could now make out dark figures of the waiting SWAT officers on either side of the building.

“You see, this hostage is no random abiding citizen. She is the direct descendant of Grover Pavlov, one of the unknown kingpins of this city. With her in my grasp, no one is going to touch a single hair on my head,” he said with a wide yellow, toothy smile.

“I’ve never heard of him,” I admitted.

“Of course you haven’t. Most of the people in this city haven’t, and that’s the way he likes it. To be the silent guiding hand behind the scenes. Enjoying all the torment he brings from his iron castle,” he said, gesturing around with his weapon. “I just hope that you all get to—”

Before he could finish his sentence, a shot echoed across the buildings and brightly lit streets before he dropped to the ground before our very eyes, a bullet hole clear as day in the middle of his forehead.

The hostage fell to the ground, scooting backward across the small splatters of blood that now decorated the cracked concrete staircase, her mouth agape to scream, however, the shock of it all had rendered her silent.

SWAT members on either side of the building swung their weapons around, searching the nearby buildings.

“That wasn’t any of you, was it?” I asked, spinning around to ask the police behind me.

When I was met with confused expressions, more officers turned their attention toward the buildings surrounding us.

I dove down next to a nearby squad car for cover, my gaze swiveling towards the woman.

“Ma’am, are you alright?” I asked the terrified young woman frozen on the light grey concrete steps; her eyes unable to leave her captor’s vacant open eyes. “Ma’am?”

Without receiving a response, I slowly crept forward and knelt in front of her. “Is what he said true?”

She shuddered slightly before her eyes drifted in my direction. “I don’t know…no…he wasn’t making any sense. My father asks corporations and wealthy people for money for charity. He’s been doing it for… forever.”

Standing up, I scanned the dark towering buildings surrounding us. From here, there were no visibly open windows or glaring obscurities.

“All clear!” SWAT announced.

“Ma’am, an officer is going to need you to come to the station for questioning. We are in the process of contacting your father,” an officer behind me explained. His hand reached over me to help her up.

“Well, this has all gone to shit, hasn’t it?” Frank commented, walking up behind me.

“This is something big, and I feel like it’s just the beginning,” I said.