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Saturday, June 20, 2015

That's it.

I started writing this blog back somewhere in 2007, when I knew that I was leaving Fort Wayne and because I needed a way to remember city where I'd spent the majority of my life.

I kept writing this blog through the entirety of my twenties, and it lurched forward in fits and starts. Through many acts of self-sabotage I made sure that it never really got off the ground. More than once, I drove home from Indianapolis and deleted the entire thing, determined to exorcise the story from my mind and with it, the doubts and struggles that found their ways into my stories. I finished the first draft of this story just a few days before my thirtieth birthday, and today we find the story finished, or at least where we'll leave these characters for now.

Back in 2007 when I started this project, people weren't proud of Indiana. All anybody ever talked about was getting the hell out of here, and frankly, I was among those that didn't feel accepted at home. Still in my bones there is a sense of restlessness, a reverse polarity to the land that seems the most familiar.

Part of this perception, I'm sure, was my age--back then I was in my early twenties, and most everybody wants to just get the hell out from wherever they are. However, I think there was a sort of pervasive embarrassment that we didn't border an ocean. Instead of focusing on what was here, we said things like "Room for Dreams" in the misguided conceit that were a place defined by what we lacked.

Now, people are invested in the concept of home and place. People are proud of Indiana, and people want to fight for what they want this place to stand for. Sometimes, walking through Fountain Square or any of the other places I haunt at night, I can barely recognize this state, as Indiana t-shirts and Indiana tattoos are more pervasive than any other logo.

People are not only proud of living here, they wish to be defined by it. I still can't believe that people willingly take up the mantle of the Midwest, but now it's happening, my fight is at an end. I realize now the inevitability of it all, the implications of our geography. I think I'm okay with it, actually.

I'd like to thank my friends that have checked in on this space over the last eight or nine years. I cannot put into words what it means to me that you read even a few of the words I've struggled to write. It's been a long and lonely road here on Anthropolowhat, but there's a sense of peace at finding the end.

Anthroplowhat is the story of my twenties; it's the story of living in Indiana and never getting up the escape velocity necessary to leave. It's the story of falling in love and then back out of it, never really capturing it no matter how hard I tried.

I'm not a professional writer, as the content of this place proves over and over again, no formal education in how to build a story or write dialogue effectively. But I tried, in my own fumbling way, to write something that was very important to me, in the hopes that sharing it with you we could better understand what the hell we're doing in the middle of the continent.

I'm still lost, more so than when I started. But for eight years I tried to make sense of this place and where I stood in it, and in doing so I felt just a little bit less alone.

Thank you for coming along with me.

The end

Elliott nervously stood in the foyer, checking his reflection in the mirror. He smoothed his hair down for the thousandth time when he saw his brother appear next to him in the mirror. 

“Hey,” Matt said.

“Hey,” Elliott said.

“Looks like everybody's here,” he said. “It's a packed house.”

Elliott swallowed nervously. “I'm going to throw up,” he said. "Or trip. Probably both." 

“We've rehearsed this,” Matt said. “And besides, you've been walking your whole life.”

“Do I have the vows?” Elliott said, patting his pockets with a panicked gesture. His shoulders slumped in relief when he felt the outline of the cards in his pocket. “Thank you, by the way, for helping me figure out what to say.”

“No problem,” Matt said. “That's kind of my thing now.”

Elliott grinned. “Your wedding present better not be a signed copy of your book. I bought six of them when they came out.”

“I thought my gift was planning the bachelor party!” Matt protested, a smile on his face.

At his brother's presence, Elliott felt himself relax. He could do this. It was only a couple hundred of his closest friends and family. 

“Did you bring somebody?” Elliott said. 

Matt shook his head. “Nah,” he said. “Didn't feel like it. O'Reilly, on the other hand—I think he brought two dates.”

Elliott laughed again. “That's ridiculous.”

Matt agreed, peeking out the door to look in the sanctuary again. “Musicians just took their seats,” Matt said. “Should be any minute now.”

Elliott felt his heart drop in his chest again. “Hey, Matt,” he said. “I'm really glad you're here. I don't think I could do this without you.”

Matt smiled and pulled his brother into a hug. “I'm glad too,” he said. “Gonna be a great day.”

Just then, the music struck up.

“Alright,” Matt said, opening the door. “You ready for this?”

Elliott stood up to his tallest height and took a deep breath. He felt strong and sure.

Elliott nodded. “Yeah,” he said. “Yeah, I really am.”  


Margot smiled, stretched in one of the deck chairs that lined the beach. “Unemployment is fantastic,” she said, reaching over for her margarita. “Why couldn't you have fired me sooner?”

From his place next to her, Jack laughed. “I seem to remember this being a mutual decision,” he said.

“Neither of us have to work, ever again,” Margot said. “Between the royalties from Matt's book deal, and the reward from the city, we're set.”

“Yeah,” the Captain said. “But where's the fun in that?”

Margot smiled, shaking her head.“Always the hero.”

“That's my job,” Jack replied, flashing a brilliant smile.

“We'll have to get back pretty soon,” Margot said. “We've been gone nearly a week, and there's still a ton of work to do.”

“From what I hear, Rufus and O'Reilly are handling it pretty well right now,” Jack said. “We've earned some time off.”

Margot nodded, sipping nosily on her margarita. “Ah,” she said, stirring her straw around the ice in the glass. “This one's almost out.”

Jack jumped up to grab the mix from the cooler and refreshed her glass. .

“I could get used to this,” Margot said, smiling. She was feeling plesantly tipsy from the sun and the alcohol, and with her best friend beside her, there was nothing else she wanted in the world. Faintly, she realized that this vacation was the first time she and Jack had been alone since the attack two months ago.

Jack settled back into his chair after taking a swig of the tequila from the bottle.

“Be careful,” Margot said, frowning at her friend. 

Jack laughed. “I'm fine,” he said. “Just gotta catch up to you.”

“Damn straight,” she said, raising her glass in salute.

On the horizon, the sunset stained the sky a thousand brilliant colors.

“It's gorgeous, isn't it?” Jack said, finally feeling his own buzz set in.

“Yeah,” Margot said, “it really is.”

A peaceful silence descended over the pair as the sun slipped lower in the sky.

“Margot,” Jack said, his voice hesitant. “I know you've been joking that you're unemployed now, but do you know what you want to do next?”

“What do you mean?” Margot asked.

“I mean, now that you're not my assistant,” Jack said. “Are you—I mean are you gonna leave like you said?”

Margot looked over at Jack, and saw her former boss looking quite concerned. Sitting up quickly, she felt a rush to her head.

“Woah,” she said, gripping the handle of the chair to steady herself. “Jack—I mean I hadn't really thought that far ahead.”

“I mean, it's fine if you stay or if you go,” he said. “I know you had talked about it before and if you want to do that, that's fine. I was just thinking about the future and all--”

“--I really hadn't thought that far ahead,” Margot said. “I was still just focused on getting the city back together.”

Jack's face turned beet red. “Oh,” he said, taking another long pull from the tequila bottle sitting between them, trying to settle his nerves. “Yeah, I guess it would be a little early to think about that.”

“And I guess I don't know,” Margot said. “I got a sister down in Indianapolis, I hear that place is pretty nice. Or maybe I'll go to New York. I don't know.”

“Right,” Jack said, his face turning a darker shade of red.

“Why do you ask?” Margot said, swinging her legs off the chair and sitting to face Jack. He did the same, his knees nearly touching hers.

“Oh, no reason,” Jack said, trying to act nonchalant and failing miserably.

“Jack,” Margot said. “What's going on? We've been down here all day and it's been fantastic. Now you're being weird. Tell me what's going on, right this minute.”

The superhero smiled at Margot's familiar, demanding tone. “Oh really it's nothing,” he said. “I just--” he paused, avoiding his friend's penetrating gaze.

“I was just thinking,” Jack said, his voice higher pitched than he intended. “That maybe whatever you're doing next, I could be a part of it? Not as your boss but just—I just don't want us to lose touch. I'm just worried is all.” He looked up hesitantly to see Margot looking at him intently.

“What?” he asked. Margot shook her head.

“For being a superhero,” she said. “You can be a big sissy sometimes.”

Jack made a face, and was just about to say something else when Margot grabbed his hand. “I don't know what's next for me,” she said, rubbing her thumb over the back of his hand.

Jack held his breath and closed his fingers around Margot's.

“But whatever it is,” she said. “I want you there with me. I guess I've gotten used to your dumb face, and no point in starting over now.”

Jack made a face and Margot laughed. “My dumb face?" Jack said, doing his best to act scandalized. "That's what I get after all this time?”

Margot continued to laugh, and Jack pulled his hand back, crossing his arms. “What a world,” he said. “To have to withstand such cruel words.”

Margot's giggles subsided. “I'm sorry,” she said, still smiling.

“Well, the damage is done,” Jack said, shaking his head and trying to look serious. “There's nothing that can be done to make it better.”

Darting up, Margot kissed Jack on the cheek. “There,” she said. “Does that make it better?”

She caught Jack's eye and in that moment all sight, all sound diminished.

“Well,” Jack said, his voice suddenly quiet. “It's a start.” 

In the next moment, he pulled her into his arms and kissed her soundly. 


Rufus looked out over the vast hangar where his drone army once stood. Now, it was filled with wreckage, both from his as well as Amber's armies. Together with Matt, he'd begun a program to sort through all the junk, recycling what they could and making use of the rest. 

He was sitting on one of the catwalks with Alice, who'd come over after her shift at Starbucks.

“Hard to believe it's been a month,” Alice said.

“Yeah,” Rufus agreed. “But at least things are taking shape again.”

“Thanks to you,” Alice said, leaning into Rufus with her shoulder. The former supervillian blushed.

“It was easy enough,” he said. “Really just tweaked some of my own designs.”

“Cleaned up the city in half the time,” she said.

“And now we can rebuild,” Rufus said. “That's the part I'm really looking forward to.” He sighed, putting an arm around his now-girlfriend.

“All that time, I thought I wanted to knock it down,” Rufus said. “I was such an idiot.”

Alice nodded, but didn't say anything.

“I guess I didn't really get it—even after I quit being a bad guy—not until I saw Amber on that field. She just—she couldn't let go. When she realized destroying Fort Wayne wasn't going to fix anything, it just killed her.”

“That had to be hard to watch,” Alice said quietly. 

“Yeah,” Rufus said. “Yeah, it was.” He sighed, resting his head on Alice's shoulder. “I don't deserve to be here,” he said.

Alice reached up, encircling her arms around Rufus. “Hey,” she said.

“I just—I'm so glad I figured it out,” Rufus said. “Before it was too late, you know? I could have been her. I could have been in that same place, doing what she did.”

“Yeah,” Alice said, holding Rufus tightly, as if she feared the thought itself could make it true.

“You wanna go home?” Rufus asked quietly.

“Yeah,” Alice said, kissing Rufus on the cheek. “Let's go home. And Rufus?” she asked, standing up. “Let's walk home tonight. No jetpacks.”

“Aw man,” Rufus said, smiling. “Yeah, that's fine.”  


“So there going to hire me on as a research assistant,” John said eagerly, his mouth full of pancakes. “And it pays pretty well too. We've got so much work to do, it's really hard to explain. I get to help design the museum pieces, it's really almost too much!”

Kate smiled quietly across the table, watching with amusement as John told his girlfriend about the good news.

“That's awesome,” she said. “That's really great.”

And I think they're going to name the park after my grandfather,” John said. “I thought that was really nice. That way it's still in our family, you know? At least in a way.”

“Yeah,” Kate said.

“But man, couldn't have done this without you,” John said. “I mean these last couple weeks since the attack—it's been crazy! I really appreciate you being there for me, letting me vent about everything.

“That's 'cause I love you, ya big idiot,” Kate said, flicking a bit of egg at her boyfriend.

John stopped chewing for a minute before swallowing quickly.

“I love you too,” he said.

“Oh, you don't have to say it just 'cause I said it,” Kate said quickly, her face turning red. “I didn't even mean to say it just then, I mean you were just being so cute and everything—”

John reached across the table and took Kate's hand in his. “Hey,” he said, his voice earnest. “I love you too. You're the best—I mean Kate, you really are.” He stood up over the table, and leaned over to kiss her.

“ Hey quit that," Kate said sheepishly. "people can see." 

“Don't care,” John said, pulling her in for another kiss. He felt her smile, and pulled back, laughing.

They settled back into the booth, and John dug into his plate with renewed fervor.

“These pancakes are great,” he said.

“They're not bad,” Kate said, unable to keep a grin off her face. “Not bad at all.”  

At the end of the day

Sir Agnes stepped into his house, closing the door quietly behind him. His wife stood at the kitchen table. For a minute, it seemed as if all time, all space passed between them. Sir Agnes took a step forward.

Silently, he reached out for his wife. She walked forward to embrace him, and the much taller Sir Agnes folded over, holding onto her as if his life depended on it.

In many ways, it did.

At the end of Main, next to the newspaper

“I can't believe this place didn't get hit,” Matt said, peeling the label off his root beer. “I mean, it catches on fire every other month, even when there isn't a supervillian around. 

O'Reilly laughed and picked at the french fries sitting in front of him. “It was far enough way, I can see why it wasn't it. I just can't believe it's open,” he said.

“People gotta eat,” Matt replied. O'Reilly laughed and threw another handful of fries in his mouth. 

It was a week after the robot invasion, and the two men had met up to swap stories. O'Reilly had been busy coordinating relief efforts, while Matt had been busy help Rufus clean up the remaining detritus.

“Seems like we'll be able to recycle most of Amber's junk, actually,” Matt said, thanking the waitress when she brought over his hamburger

“That's good,” O'Reilly said.

Just then, the pair was recognized by some incoming bar patrons. They came up and offered to order the pair a round of shots. Matt thanked them politely, catching O'Reilly's eye as he declined the offer. The men stumbled away from the table, and peace descended back over the pair.

O'Reilly smiled. “Hard to get used to this,” he said. “And it's all your fucking fault.”

Matt leaned back in his chair. “What?” he asked.

“Your big write up,” he said. “If you'd just changed the damn names--”

“--they wanted the truth,” Matt said. “That was the only way they said they'd publish it.”

O'Reilly shook his head, popping another french fry in his mouth.“It was a good though,” he said. “You did a good job writing it, I mean.”

Matt looked down at the table, clearly uncomfortable with his friend's praise. “Just wrote about what happened,” he mumbled.

O'Reilly laughed. “Couldn't have made it up, even if you tried," he said. 

Matt grinned and shook his head. “Hand me the ketchup, asshole,” he said, still smiling.  

Just then, two young women in impossibly short skirts approached the table. "I'm sorry to interrupt, she said, "but are you two the guys who helped save the city?" 

O'Reilly arched an eyebrow, and Matt moved over to make room for the two girls in the booth. 

"Why yes," O'Reilly said. "Yes we are." 

At the end of the day, at home

Elliott came home and flopped on the couch, unable to move. It was well after midnight when Julie came through the door, her eyes red and puffy. At the sight of his girlfriend, he jumped up, meeting her when she was only two steps in the door.

“I'm glad you're alright," Elliott said. "I know you texted me that things were fine at the hospital but still--"

“--it was horrible,” Julie said, falling into Elliott's arms. “We had a lot of casualties come in from the attacks. Most everybody made it, but not everyone,” she said. “It was just hard,” she said, dissolving into sobs. Elliott gripped her tightly. 

“I was so worried about you,” Elliott said. “I couldn't be there with you, and it was killing me.”

“It wasn't any easier for me!” Julie said, wiping her nose ineffectually. “I was stuck there, but all I could do was worry about where you were, what you were doing.”

Together, they sat down on the couch, sharing the stories from the day. After some time, when Julie's breathing had evened back out, Elliott looked at her earnestly.

“Hey,” he said. “I was wondering if—I mean I had thought about it sometimes, but never really planned anything, and now I'm just wondering,” Elliott said, trying desperately not to ramble.

Julie looked at her boyfriend with a small smile. “Elliott,” she said. “Are you alright?”

Elliott felt his hands go clammy. “I mean, yeah,” Elliott said. “Actually, I'm better than I've ever been. And I was just wondering,” he said, sliding off the couch and onto one knee.

Julie took in a sharp breath as she realized what was happened. “Wondering what?” she asked quietly.

Elliott looked up at her, and took a deep breath.

I think they lived a lifetime in that moment.  

Probable cause

The Captain and Rufus stood next to each other, the superhero still cradling his unconscious Margot in his arms, watching as the field burned.

“I really liked that stadium,” Rufus said.

“Yeah,” Jack agreed. “It was fun to watch games there.”

“I mean, hopefully they'll build another one,” Rufus said.

“You might be able to help with that,” Jack said. He felt Margot stir in his arms, and he felt his heart ache as she murmured his name. 

“Hey,” he said.

“Hey,” Margot said, smiling slightly, wincing as pain rushed into her consciousness. “Put me down,” she said.

The Captian shook his head. “No way in hell,” he said. “Not until we get you to a doctor, make sure that you're alright.”

Margot wriggled, trying to free herself, but Jack held firm.

“You need to go help the firefighters,” she said. 

Jack frowned, realizing that she was right. He set her down gingerly, but didn't let go of her hand. 

A loud siren announced the arrival of O'Reilly, tearing around the corner in an open-air armored car.

“I've been looking for you!” O'Reilly said. “Perimeter is secure. Nobody was in there, so the fire department should be able to do its job.”

“I'll go see if there's anything I can do,” Jack said, squeezing Margot's hand before letting go. He took to the air and headed towards the direction of the flashing lights.

“We did it,” Rufus said, wiping a hand over his face. “I can't believe we fucking did it.”

“I can't either,” Margot said. “This whole thing--”

“--yeah,” Rufus said. “I don't even know what to say.”

Beside them a manhole cover clattered, and from it shot the grease covered arms of a tattered suit. The mayor pulled himself up and out onto the pavement, his chest heaving.

“Oh, police, good,” he said, looking at O'Reilly. “I need you to arrest this young man,” he said, gesturing at Rufus. “He was in on this attack with Amber. You need to take him into custody immediately.”

O'Reilly laughed, grabbing the mayor's wrist and wrenching it behind him, flipping the cuffs with a practiced ease. “You left your mic on,” he said. “We've heard everything since you stepped on that stage and gave that bullshit speech.”

The mayor sagged forward, and O'Reilly pulled him back to his feet before throwing him in the back of the cruiser.

“I gotta get this guy downtown,” he said. “We're still trying to asses the situation, make sure that everything's alright.”

Margot nodded. “We'll head back to headquarters, make sure she didn't leave any more surprises.”

O'Reilly sped away, leaving Margot and Rufus to watch as the Captain helped fight the blaze in front of him.

“Do you remember that one restaurant that used to be here, before they put in the field?”

“Kind of,” Rufus said. “I was little when they knocked it down.”

“I think Dave Thomas worked there—that's at least what my Dad said,” Margot replied. 

Rufus nodded, and together they made the walk back to the GE Building. 

In the field

After snatching Margot from headquarters and flying quickly across the city, the robot landed less-than-gently on the pitcher's mound of Parkview field. There, in the arms of Uncle Sam, Amber lounged, swiping at something on her phone and smoking a vape pen. 

“About time you showed up,” she said, taking a long puff. “We've been waiting.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Margot said, spitting out her words. "I don't think we've even met." 

“No,” Amber said, surveying Margot critically. “We haven't. But you're very important to someone I need to kill today.” She took another puff of her vape pen. "You're the bait." 

Margot felt the cold rush realization wash across her mind. “You mean Jack.”

“Jack, Captain, whatever you call him,” Amber said lazily.

“But how did you—I mean, nobody knows that I even work for him, except for--” Margot said.

“--you said you graduated top of your class,” a voice said, interrupting her. The mayor stepped out from behind the robot, wiping some dirt from his lapel. “I would have thought you were a bit quicker than that. He paused before continuing. "I mean, I guess you did go to IPFW, so it can be excused.”

Margot frowned. But before she could launch into a defense of her university, Rufus landed on the field i front of them. 

“You're not the one I want,” Amber said, firing off a lazy shot at the former supervillian. Rufus dodged the shot and landed on the ground.

“Amber,” Rufus replied. “People have been hurt. You've gotta stop this.”

Amber pointed to a recently-installed statue of a large apple wearing a tin pot as a hat. “You see that, right there? Got enough explosives to level the city and half of the north side while we're at it. You do anything, we all go up. So get the Captain here.”

Rufus opened his mouth, but couldn't find anything to say. He raised his weapon, only to lower it again. He looked at Margot, who met his eyes with a helpless gaze.

Amber looked at the mayor with a grin. She offered up her vape pen, which the mayor accepted. “I mean, did Captain Stupendous see the giant Uncle Sam statue smash its way in here?" she asked, annoyance lacing the edges of her voice. "It's not like I was trying to be subtle." 

Just then, the Captain descended from the sky.

“Good lord,” Amber said. “Finally.”

Jack landed on a knee, springing up to place himself in front of his friends. “Amber,” he said. “It's time to stop.” He trailed off once he saw the mayor standing next to Amber. “Wait,” he said. "What' going on?" 

The mayor stepped forward, taking a familiar swipe at his nose. “Here's the deal,” he said. “We're going to work out a little deal. Amber's going to level half the city, and you're not going to stop her. In exchange, I'm going to make you richer than you've ever imagined.”

“This is sick,” Rufus said. He started to say something else, and Amber raised the robot's arm level with his head. He put his hands up and backed a few steps away, making a locking motion over his mouth. 

“We'll let you stop her, and then you'll be the hero,” the mayor said. “Amber will go away for a while on a well-needed vacation, and then we can bring her back for a few more fights in a couple years, whenever the economy gets a little stagnant.”

“Wait, what?” the Captain said. “Why the hell would I agree to—this is fucking insane,” he said, running a hand over his face.

“Listen,” the mayor said. “I've spent the last thirty years of my life trying to 'revitalize' this city, whatever the hell that means, and the only thing that's worked is this fight between you and Amber. I got her on board right away, and now that it's working we're coming to you, making sure that you're on in this plan.”

“No,” Jack said. “Absolutely not. You hired me to protect this city, not help destroy it!”

“That's really a matter of interpretation,” the mayor said. “The way I look at it, we get to start fresh. With half the buildings gone, we can build it better. And if anybody gets in our way, there's a sure-proof plan to get rid of them with an accidental robot attack.”

“No,” the Captain said again, shaking his head vehemently. “I can't let you do this.”

“You don't let us do this,” Amber said, “we'll kill Margot.” In a flash, she picked back up his assistant by the throat, dangling her in front of the superhero.

Jack jumped forward, grabbing the robot's arm and wrenching the arm holding Margot loose. She dropped to the ground with a harsh thud. Rufus ran over to make sure she was alright.

“Oh man,” Amber said. “You shouldn't have done that.” With the remaining robotic arm, she smacked the superhero so hard that he bounced off the far bleachers, rolling back onto the field unconscious.

Rufus leaned over Margot, who whimpered quietly before closing her eyes. He checked her pulse and was relieved to find one. He looked up to see Amber and the Mayor looking back at him.

“Well,” the mayor said. “It's just you.”

Rufus pulled himself up and cross his arms. He had no weapons to defend himself, and no idea what to do. 

“Why?” he said, his voice quiet. “What happened, Amber?”

“Why not,” Amber said flippantly. “Whether we destroy this place or anywhere else, what does it matter?”

“This is our home,” Rufus said. “You went to Snider, your parents live outside the city. Why would you want to take that all away?”

“Every place is the same as the other,” Amber said. “And you're the one that sold out, not me. I want to see this through to the end, I want to make it stop.”

Rufus felt his shoulders sag under the weight of the situation. “It wasn't supposed to get this far,” he said. “I didn't know what I was doing. I didn't know what I was doing with that lab, I didn't know what I was doing to you--”

“--I'm fine,” Amber said. “You didn't have anything to do with what happened.”

“--I know,” Rufus said. “But I feel bad, is all. I just think maybe we all let this get out of hand,” he said. “Maybe we've been all worked up about being supervillians, about making something out of ourselves, and we're forgetting to enjoy what's left of our twenties, you know?” He watched as tears welled up in Amber's eyes.

“Are you alright?” he said.

“Yeah,” she said. She reached up on the machine, and Rufus heard the unmistakable whine of a weapon powering up.

“Amber,” he said. “Amber, don't do this—you don't have to do this--”

“It'll take out most of the infield,” she said, climbing back into the cockpit, “but if you run I think you'll make it.”

Rfus dragged Margot as fast as he could, turning back to look at Amber over his shoulder.

“Amber,” he said, his voice filled with anguish. “Please, don't do this.”

“I thought if I destroyed the place that made me so unhappy,” she said. “Then maybe it'd stop. But here we are and half the city's on fire, and I'm just as sad as ever.”

The air around the Uncle Sam robot began to shimmer with heat, and Rufus helplessly tried to drag the unconscious Margot faster.

In the next moment, he felt a wave hit him like a freight train. By the time he realized it, he was outside the stadium, looking over the Captain's shoulder as Parkview Field was engulfed in flames.