Wray was disgusted. Jack Moore was a hero again. It wasn't as if he'd earned it. Jack was just standing there when a sign came plummeting from the rigging and hit him on the head. But because it hit Jack, it missed the sea of tiny Captain Raakers who were clustered around him. He was hailed as the savior of a bunch of kids. And to make it worse, one of them was carrying a puppy. “Damn, a puppy!” Wray swore. “Could anything be more of a cliché than that?” Apparently it could. Jack was claiming to have amnesia. His trademark perfect hair was ringed with a bandage he probably didn't need. He sat in a cushy chair in his booth, propped up by pillows, while fans arrived to remind him of meaningful moments in his Spectrum life. They quoted line after line from episodes Jack didn't remember even before he got hit, hoping to be the one who would miraculously touch their captain with healing.
Wray couldn't stand it. The lines for Jack stretched around the building three times while Wray was collecting barely enough in fees to pay his rent --- and forget his bar tab. Bobbie perched on his table wearing a wig with spikes of green hair topped by tiny yellow girlish bows. “This will never do it Wray. We need to do something to attract attention back to you.”
“What do you mean we?” Wray retorted. “Is this another one of your insane schemes that either gets me fired or arrested?”
“No,” Bobbie returned undaunted, “We just need to arrange to make you a bigger hero than Jack.”
Wray shook his head in disbelief. “What could make me a bigger hero than saving little kids and a puppy?”
“Simple,” Bobbie replied. “You save the hero that saved them. You need to save Jack Moore.”
Wray scrubbed a hand over his face. “And exactly how am I supposed to do that? He's surrounded by six security guards, his assistant, and his private nurse. Joss Whedon couldn't get to him.”
“No, but Wray Nerely can,” Bobbie insisted. “Tomorrow the two of you will be posing in the mock up of the Spectrum Bridge, right?”
“Bobbie, he may not even be there. He's got amnesia, remember? He doesn't even remember playing Captain Raaker, or at least he says he doesn't. Or he might have other plans. He played an amnesiac in all those Jason Thorne movies. And he played that writer who had his memory wiped too. He knows how to carry it off. He could get away with any kind of crap.”
“Oh he'll be there alright,” Bobbie declared. “I talked to his agent. That appearance is contractually required to promote Spectrum to raise money for the movie. Jack will be there if his agent has to have him carried in on a stretcher. And you'll be closer to him than anyone.”
“And then what?” Wray demanded. “How am I supposed to rescue him, and from what?”
Bobbie patted Wray's shoulder. “Don't worry about it. I'm working on it.”
Wray sighed. “Right.”
With his head still wrapped in gauze, Jack Moore looked even more heroic in his Spectrum uniform. His memory of his iconic lines refreshed for the occasion, he and Wray played out what the Speckies had voted the most memorable scene of Spectrum's all too short tenure. Just short of Wray's famous tag line, “I'll see you in hell,” a Spargelotian strode through the rapt audience of fans.
The intruder lifted a spear gun, an electronic voice emanating from his chest. “Raaker, you have flouted our plans for the last time!” It was Wray's cue. Just as the attacking alien fired, he pushed Jack out of the way, letting the darts harmlessly penetrate the command seat.
A shout rang out from within the crowd, sounding suspiciously like Bobbie. “Wray Nerely is a hero! He saved Jack Moore!”
Jack sat up slowly and painfully on the deck of the ship, holding his right arm. “Wray --- it's Wray, right? Why did you do that? I think you dislocated my shoulder.”
“Jack, what are you talking about? I saved you from certain death.” Wray pulled one of the darts out of the captain's chair and pointed to the shiny tip. “See, solid steel. It would have penetrated your heart.”
The tip of the dart began to wiggle and it was grabbed away by the massive Spectrum actor, Stutter. “Nerely, you asshole! It's plastic.” Stutter shook his head in disgust. “Democrats,” he muttered under his breath. “You people know nothing about weapons.”
Wray gazed out at the crowd, locking eyes with Bobbie, who was trying her best to slink away. She shrugged, fading back into the mass of fans.
Wray found his agent in the bar. “Bobbie, what the hell! Plastic darts! What the hell were you thinking? I don't look like a hero, I look like a total loser!”
“Sorry Wray. They were all I could get on short notice. They were selling them in the Spargelotian booth. They sell to kids, Wray. They couldn't sell anything dangerous. But listen, it was obvious you didn't know. The way you answer questions at panels, the fans think you're kind of a jerk anyway. At least now they'll think your heart was in the right place.”
Wray ordered a zombie. “Well I know the right place for this, this and at least three more of its undead buddies.”
Wray jammed a pillow across his face to block out the light that was stabbing through the hotel drapes. The floppy weight only made the pounding in his head worse. He tore it away in frustration. His eyes struggled to focus on his watch. Damn! He only had half an hour to get down to his autograph session. That wasn't even enough time for aspirin to kick in. But hero or not, he had to make rent.
Fans waiting for autograph sessions to begin, were lined up like the scales on huge patchwork serpents. Wray took his place at the Spectrum table, but there was no sign of Jack. With a bad feeling in his already queasy stomach, Wray watched as Jack's assistant Faith hesitantly picked up a microphone. "Jack is so sorry,” she announced. “He's starting to remember enough to really want to be here with all of you incredible Spectrum fans. But the extremely painful injury he sustained to his shoulder yesterday makes it impossible for him to sign autographs."
Angry fans surged through restraining ropes and the security staff. Wray realized they were shouting his name, and not in a friendly way. “It's all Nerely's fault! Cash Wayne crashed Captain Raaker again. We'll see Wray in hell!”
Wray ducked through the curtains behind him in panic, running down a hall. Desperately, he searched for an elevator or staircase that would take him back to the safety of his room. There was none. Wray could hear the angry crowd getting closer. Searching for any hiding place, he squeezed into the bottom of a kitchen serving cart. The smell of anchovies and old cheese wreathed him. Retching, he pulled out his phone. Jack's too handsome face appeared on the screen looking drowsy but happy. “Hey Buddy! Wray right? What's going on? I'd ask Faith, but I forget where she went. The hotel doctor gave me some really good stuff.”
“Jack, you've got to get down here,” Wray whispered into his phone. “These people are about to kill me, just like on Athalon Five. Oh, you probably don't remember that either, but I'm begging you Jack. They're like a pack of wolves. They'll be on me any moment.”
“Whoa, sounds like one of the stories Faith told me where Cash Wayne got himself in the soup,” Jack replied muzzily. “Guess if I'm Captain Raaker, I should come to the rescue.”
Wray huddled in the evil vapors of his hiding place, dreading the moment of discovery. Minutes ticked by with agonizing slowness until he finally heard the amplified voice of his co-star. “This is Captain Raaker. I'm ordering all of you to stand down. The ship can't fly without its pilot. But I swear by P.J. Haarsma, creator of all rings, I'll be knocking some sense into Cash Wayne soon. I might even shoot him --- in some spot that won't keep him from flying the ship. You wonderful Spectrum folks all know my shooting and signing arm is out of commission for now. But I will offer each and every one of you the opportunity to touch my hair or hold my official Spectrum energy pistol. Your choice.”
Wray could hear a roar of approval rise from the crowd. Slowly he felt safe enough to leave his tortuous refuge, the stomach twisting ghosts of tiny dead fish still clinging to his hair. The sounds of Jack's ecstatic fans rang in his ears as he finally located the freight elevator. He pushed the button, curses filling his throat. Freaking Jack Moore! He's still a big damn hero.
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