It's not often that I go looking for trouble; it usually has an easy enough time finding me.
Life is good right now. The bad guys have gone easy on the steroids and even my social life isn't leaving much to be desired. I've got a steady flow of cash coming in and can support my family. So yeah; everything's peachy. Then why am I walking around a dark sewer with a flickering flashlight?
It's like this: a new Halloween store just opened up on Cooper Avenue. According to hearsay, it's got all sorts of pretty cool decorations, costumes, and other spooky memorabilia. Being busy with work, I haven't had the time to scope it out for myself. One of my Halloween-obsessed co-workers, though, seems to visit it just about every day. And she told me a rather interesting tidbit: she always encounters a person standing at the back of the shop, seeming to be transfixed by something on the wall. She initially thought that the guy was just some kind of prop, until she spotted him breathing. What struck her as odd was that this guy was always in costume… which just happened to be that of a giant turtle.
Surprised by that last detail, considering some old friends of mine, I decided to check the shop out myself after work. When I reached out for the door handle, let's just say that I got a bad vibe. A really bad vibe. A vibe so bad that I was literally thrown to the ground, with passerby asking if they should call an ambulance. Try as I might, I couldn't convince myself to enter the store. Even getting close to the window set me ill at ease. Already feeling the bad news creeping in, I decided that I'd go and pay my friends a visit, and see what was up.
You'd think that they'd leave a number or at least one of those nifty shell cells with me, but ninjas tend to be a secretive lot. Having lost the paper with Donatello's e-mail address, I had no choice but to suit up and grab the first flashlight I could before diving into the nearest sewer. It's not a pleasant experience, and I don't even know where to begin searching, but I figure that I'm bound to trick some kind of alarm sooner or later. Ninjas are also a paranoid bunch, so I'm sure it won't be long before one of them…. Oh hey, I'm right.
"I coulda sworn we sprayed this place for bugs," I hear Raphael say from behind me. Turning around, I focus my dying flashlight on him and see that he's leaning against a sewer tunnel, his arms crossed over his chest. "Judgin' by the clothes, I'm guessin' this ain't a social call, huh?"
"What?" I ask. "I'm not allowed to show up in formal wear? All of our dates can't be casual, you know." Seeing the hard look he gives me, I decide to take it light on the jokes. I don't know exactly what's going on, and I'll never find out if I antagonize lover boy too early on in the game. "Easy, pal. I thought I'd drop in and see what's what. There's something rotten going on in Denmark. Or, rather, Queens. Glendale, to be more precise."
"Aren't ya part of a superhero team or somethin'?" Raphael asks. "I thought you guys had radars or artificially intelligent computers that pinpointed these things for ya. Why you buggin' a group 'a mutant turtles because of somethin' goin' down in a little section 'a Queens?"
"You know," I tell him, "I could have sworn that we practically made you card-carrying Avengers after our last encounter. So technically, we're teammates. Let's act like it, huh? Keep it together for the kids? What do you say?" He looks like he's about to snap at me again, so I quickly add, "Besides, I think this might be affecting one of your brothers."
He stares at me for a good while before telling me that he's listening. "Have any of you been visiting a Halloween store that just opened on Cooper?" I ask him, daring to step towards him. "And by visiting, I mean practically living there?"
He pauses before answering, "Not that I know. Mikey's been out a lot more than normal, but I don't know where. We kinda don't always announce where we're headed before leavin'. We like to think of ourselves as adults."
I resist the urge to tell him that I like to think of myself as the Supreme Potentate of Earth. Call me crazy, but I don't think that's going to get me any answers. "Mikey, huh?" I muse. "I wouldn't be surprised. Is he home? I'd like to talk to him about something weird that happened to me today."
"How about talkin' to me about it?" Raphael asks, not budging from his initial stance. "Heck, we're 'teammates,' right? Ain't nuthin' you can say to my bro that ya can't-"
"Raph, give it a rest." I look up to see Donatello approaching from the darkness. "Nice to see you again, Spidey. I picked up your image on the security cam, but Raph managed to get here before me. Something up?"
"Kind of," I respond. I manage to pull together a rather quick version about what my co-worker told me concerning the costume shop and about what happened to me when I tried to go in myself. My explanation didn't seem to sit well with either of the turtles.
"How come he talks to you?" Raphael asks Donatello after I'm done with my story. "What, is it some kinda nerd bonding or somethin'? Do I need to know a certain number 'a ten-syllable words before I gain clearance?"
Ignoring his brother, Donatello murmurs, "Raph says it's not him and it isn't me, and I hardly think that hanging around a store like that would be Leo's cup of tea. Mikey has been headed topside a lot lately, but I thought it's because he likes watching the seasons change. Hm. Can't even recall if he was in the lair when I left. I'll give him a call on the shell cell."
As Donatello takes out the communicator, Raphael rolls his eyes. "Yeah, I don't got the nerd clearance. That's gotta be the only reason no one notices I'm even in the room when these two geeks get together."
"Raph," I tell him kindly. "You know that's not true. With your mouth, it's impossible to not know when you're in the room." Knowing full well that he would attempt to deck me, I duck even as he realizes that he has a reason to swing at me.
"Okay, that's only really weird," Donatello says quietly. As Raphael and I look at him, Raphael asks if Michelangelo isn't picking up. "It's not that," Donatello answers. "His shell cell's not even ringing. It's completely bizarre."
"Maybe he didn't charge it," Raphael shrugs. "I know mine gets like that sometimes when the battery's low. Let's head back to the lair; maybe he's there now."
"Actually," Donatello tells him, "I'd much rather head over to this Halloween shop and see what's going on. I'll call Leo and let him know where we are."
"Should we have him meet us?" I ask.
Donatello shakes his head. "Nah, I don't think that's really necessary. Besides, it's always good to have someone back in the lair as a standby, just in case. If Mike's at the store, I'd like to think that we could just investigate and pull him out, but if things get hairy, Leo's a good person to have on reserve."
"He'd be an even better person to have hangin' around," Raphael brings up. "Besides, if ya call 'im, he'll probably just worry and follow after us anyway." Donatello seems to agree. After a moment, Raphael brings up, "Spidey says that he can't even go near the place. We're probably better off talkin' this over with Leo 'n Splinter, then checkin' it out ourselves. The last time Spidey went someplace despite the butt-kickin' his spider-senses were givin' him, he and Nightcrawler ended up being trapped in a crystal."
"Don't remind me," I mutter. "I still have nightmares about skewed perspectives and bright white vacuums. Being sucked into a demon-summoning crystal is not an experience that I care to repeat any time soon."
"Point well taken," Donatello says. "Okay, Raph and I can go back to the lair and relay this information to the others. Thanks for the info, Spider-Man. I'll call you if we turn anything up." I blink and ask how he was going to call me, since I don't really have a listed number or anything. He only smiles and proclaims, "I have my ways."
Ninjas, I think as I watch Donatello and Raphael run off. Why can't they ever give a straight answer?
I groan as I hear the phone ringing, waking me up from what had probably been a really nice dream.
Mary Jane moans and rolls over. "It's your stupid cell phone, Peter," she mutters. "Either pick it up or do something about that ghastly ringtone." Mumbling something under my breath about how we can't all like show tunes as much as she does, I get up and stumble towards my dresser.
My phone's charging on top of it, and I take a look at the display. It's almost four in the morning, and I don't recognize the number. Feeling grumpy, I decide to pick it up in case it's a wrong number that I can curse at. Unplugging the phone from its charger, I take it to the living room as I answer it. "Hello?"
I don't hear anything for a moment except for some kind of crackling or blowing wind or something. Thinking that I'm the victim of a drunken dialer, I sigh and am about to end the call. I flinch when it sounds like the person on the other end drops the phone. Just when I pull my phone away from my ear, I hear somebody call my name. Lifting the phone up again, I hear, "Spidey! Quick! There's something… I don't know what to do. Spidey, please, you were-" And then the line went dead.
My blood runs cold as I recognize the voice as Donatello's.