I apologize for the hiatus with this story; due to financial issues I haven't had access to the internet in quite some time. I'm ready to continue updating now though, and I hope that I didn't lose any of you awesome readers in my absence.
Chapter Three: Speed
Max Crandall was seriously behind on his grading. He had a reputation for being the fastest teacher at Keystone High School, collecting papers at the beginning of class and having them graded by the end. However, since the death of his former colleague Barry Allen, his mind had been in other places. Of course Barry's death had been labeled a suicide, but Max didn't buy it. Barry was a dedicated S.T.A.R. Labs scientist, and a very happy man. He had been on the verge of a world-changing discovery, according to his letter. What on Earth would drive him to take his own life?
Max was skeptical. Back when he'd worked at S.T.A.R. Labs, he was highly respected as one of their top biochemists. He had even earned himself the nickname "Max Mercury," although he couldn't quite remember where that name had come from. Despite his fame among the scientific community, even he could not deny that Barry Allen possessed a brilliant mind. Hell, even the notoriously tough Dr. Jay Garrick had been forced to admit to Barry's genius. After Jay disappeared, Max decided it was time he handed over the reins to Barry as S.T.A.R. Labs top dog. Max, well into his sixties, was not content to be bored. After retiring from S.T.A.R. Labs, he'd taken up a job as a chemistry teacher at Keystone High School.
But now Barry was dead, and everything felt wrong. Max looked over at the clock and saw that it was 9:30, well past the time any normal teacher would have stayed. Max turned back to his grade book and put in one last F for West, Walter. Max let out a deep sigh; "That boy is so intelligent. I don't understand why he can't just do his homework for Christ's sake."
Max got up, slipped his coat on, and turned off his desk lamp. Moving with a youthful vigor that was quite uncharacteristic of his age, he locked up his classroom and stepped out into the hall. By this time, even the janitors had left the building. Luckily, they almost always left the back entrance of the building unlocked at night. Max pushed the door open and stepped out into the dimly lit parking lot. No matter how much he tried to fight it, Max was getting older, and he couldn't see very well at night. He strained his eyes to find his Prius parked among the lot. Once he caught sight of the vehicle, he approached it swiftly, opened the door and moved into the driver's seat.
However, he soon found that the car would not start. He tried again. Nothing. "Well that's strange…" Max muttered.
"Car trouble, Mr. Crandall?" A smooth voice suddenly echoed through the darkness. Max recognized the voice immediately, and it made his skin crawl. Max looked through his window to see Dr. Edward Clariss… Barry Allen's former partner at S.T.A.R. Labs.
"What are you doing here Edward?" Max questioned.
"What? I can't come by and visit an old colleague of mine?" Edward smiled coldly, in a manner that only he was capable of; a bizarre mixture of friendly and threatening. Edward Clariss was a debonair man, always dressed in expensive suits, with slick black hair and inviting brown eyes. His suave smile and smooth voice could lure anyone into a false sense of friendship. Anyone except Max Crandall.
"Did you do something to my car?" Max asked accusingly.
"You think I would sabotage your vehicle? Max, I'm hurt!" Edward exclaimed, clutching his chest as if the notion had actually caused him physical pain. "By the way, you may want to get your spark plugs replaced."
"I'm not playing any games Edward. What do you want?"
"I just want to give my old friend a ride home, talk about old times. I mean, with Jay disappeared and Barry dead, so tragic by the way, you and I are the only two members of our little clique left."
"We were never a 'friends,' there wasn't a 'clique,' and I'll walk home."
"I don't know Max. It's late, in a big city, pretty dangerous for a man of your age…"
Max was about to tell him to go to Hell, but then noticed Edward's accomplice. A tall, very muscular blonde haired man in a black suit, wearing a pair of black sunglasses… and a gun on his belt. Deciding he didn't want to start an altercation with this gun-wielding giant around, Max begrudgingly accepted the offer. "Fine," he exited his vehicle and stood eye-to-eye with Edward Clariss. Clariss looked over at his daunting bodyguard and said, "Marco… why don't you call a towing company, have them take Max's car to someplace where they can get it fixed."
"Of course Mr. Clariss," the man nodded, and immediately withdrew a cell phone. Edward waved his hand, and a limousine pulled up next to them. In the driver's seat was another thug decked out in black, and he unlocked the back doors. Edward pulled the door open and motioned for Max to enter the vehicle. Reluctantly, he obliged. It didn't take long for Max to find comfort in the expensive leather seats of the limo, decked out with a mini bar, a flat screen TV and an expensive stereo system playing what Max guessed was Beethoven. All the commodities I expected from an egotistical douche with too much money, Max thought.
Once Max was seated, Edward Clariss entered the limo and sat across from him. They were soon followed by Marco, the blonde-haired gun-toting thug. About five seconds into the ride, Edward began running his mouth. "So Max, I must say I'm surprised that you've stuck with the teaching game. I thought you would've retired to a life of luxury by now."
"I tried the whole 'luxury' thing. It got boring quickly," Max replied.
"That's because you don't know how to do it right," Edward smiled as he went to work on the mini bar. "I'd be happy to give you some pointers. Champagne?"
"Oh come on Max, have some champagne," Edward slid a glass toward Max. "Truth be told I'm more of a Scotch man myself, but-"
"Quit beating around the bush Edward. What do you want?" Max demanded.
"I'm sure you've heard of my partner Barry's tragic demise."
"Former partner. He cut ties with you after you tried to take the credit for his discoveries, just like you did to Jay."
"Are you still hung up on that?"
"You stole the fortune Jay deserved. You stole his entire life's work."
"Let's not dwell on the past, shall we?" Max leaned forward. "You remember the good old days, don't you Max? You, me, Jay and Barry… we were S.T.A.R. Labs golden boys. The brightest minds they'd ever known, all working in one lab. But now… Jay has disappeared, you've retired and Barry is… expired. That leaves only me, Max."
"And now you have no one to steal ideas from. I bet you just don't know what to do with yourself."
"That's precisely what I'm here to talk to you about Max," Edward pressed onward. "I'm sure you're aware that after Jay turned up missing, Barry decided to continue his research."
"And he fired your conniving ass. I remember."
"I'll admit that we had a little disagreement, but… it's my understanding that Barry was close to perfecting Jay's formula, before his untimely demise. Max, I want to help Barry's legacy live on. I want to finish his work, don't you see?"
"You want to steal his formula and make a fortune. Another fortune."
"Barry would have wanted to see his work completed, you know that Max. The problem is… I just can't find it. You wouldn't happen to know where that formula is, would you Max?"
"Nope. Not a clue."
Edward Clariss eyed Max for a moment, before returning to his debonair smile and leaning back in his chair. "There's actually something else I wanted to ask you about, Max."
"Barry's nephew, Wally West… he's a student of yours, isn't he?"
Max stiffened. "Sounds familiar…" he said carefully. "But… I am getting old, you know. I have trouble remembering names."
"Perhaps this will jog your memory," Edward withdrew a folder, and from it revealed several photographs of Wally West, as well as a few of Eddy Thawne. "Ringing any bells, Max?"
"Why so interested in him?" Max asked, dodging the question.
"I think that Wally might have something I want. Something he really shouldn't have. I'd like to take it off his hands."
"Care to fill me in? I'm very interested in the safety of my students."
"So he is a student of yours, then?"
Max pursed his lips. "What does Wally have that you want, Edward?"
"Are you aware that earlier today, Barry's house was burned down?"
"Yes. And the authorities have reason to suspect that young Wally here was somehow involved in the fire."
"I don't know anything about that, but I can assure you that Wally is no arsonist. He's a good kid. Lazy and irresponsible, but good nonetheless."
"I'm going to be blunt, Max; I think that Wally suspects Barry was murdered. Now, you and I both know that's ridiculous… right Max? We both know that Barry committed suicide, just like the authorities said, right?"
"Right…" Max lied.
"But young Wally seems to have other opinions. Poor, misguided kid. And I think he broke into Barry's house looking for evidence. And I think he may have found something of great significance… something he doesn't quite understand the importance of, you see."
"You think Wally found the Velocity 9 formula?" Max gaped.
"I do. Now, we both know that this could turn out dangerous for the young man. He obviously doesn't know what he's in possession of. I want to help him, Max. Don't you think that we need to take this burden off his shoulders?"
"I think…" Max paused, "I think that if Wally West has the Velocity 9 formula, then it is in far better hands than yours. And I think that if you go anywhere near him, I'll call the police and tell them that you killed Barry Allen, because you wanted that formula for yourself. That's what happened, isn't it Edward?"
Edward let out a deep sigh. "So, so disappointing Max. I really thought we could help each other here. But… I guess we'll have to do this the hard way." Edward looked to his accomplice. "Marco, do it the hard way."
"Yes Mr. Clariss," the thug replied. He then withdrew his pistol, and without hesitation, emptied the clip into Max's chest. The driver pulled the limo off of the back roads he had been sticking to, next to a swamp buried deep within the woods.
"Y- y- you won't get away with this…" Max choked out, coughing up blood.
"Funny thing Max," Edward grinned, "That's exactly what Barry said."
Marco then dumped Max's body in the swamp, and the limo took off. "Where to now, Mr. Clariss?" The driver asked.
"Back to the school, Bruno. I have a teaching job to apply for."
Eddy Thawne's House – Same Time
"This is really bad Eddy," Wally paced back and forth frantically, as he had a tendency to do when under pressure. "We are screwed. Utterly, completely screwed. We're screwed so hard that Pam Anderson would be jealous."
"Shut up! I need to think for a minute!" Eddy sighed, tugging on his own hair.
"We just torched my dead uncle's house! I'm sure we left all sorts of DNA and shit, and as soon as the cops find out we were there when the house went up in smoke, they're going to start thinking that I killed Barry! And then I'm going to go to prison, and some big-ass thug is going to make me his wife!"
"I said shut up!" Eddy let out a deep sigh, and closed his eyes to think. "Ok, the Men In Black were there too, right? And they're the ones who actually lit up the house. If we go to the cops and explain that to them, we'll have a much better chance of coming out alright.
"Yeah, and then we get to explain why we were breaking into my dead uncle's home. I'm sure that'll go over well."
"A breaking and entering charge is better than an arson charge, and it's sure as hell better than being a suspect in a murder investigation."
"My dad would kick my ass, disown me, and then kick my ass some more no matter what kind of charge I get."
"Seriously? All this, and you're worrying about your dad?"
"I don't know, ok? My head is spinning at a million miles an hour right now."
Both were quiet for a long moment. After escaping the fire, the two had immediately gone back to Keystone and taken refuge in Eddy's house. Eddy's mom worked the night shift at a local gas station, meaning that the home would serve as a safe hideout for the next several hours.
"Speaking of things spinning at a million miles an hour," Eddy began, "How'd you do that back there?"
"You know what. You created a vortex and drained all the oxygen from the fire. How?"
"I don't know. It just happened."
"It just happened? You didn't even think about it?"
"I… I don't know. It was like… I felt my brain speed up, and suddenly everything else seemed to slow down."
"Think it had to do with that Velocity 9 formula we found in your uncle's desk?"
"I doubt it's a coincidence," Wally nodded.
"Well… let's do it again."
"Do what again?"
"Make your body speed up. Let's do it again."
"I don't even know how I did it the first time."
"That's the difference between you and me, West," Eddy smiled. "You are content to leave mysteries unsolved. I, on the other hand, cannot tolerate the unknown. I want to know what's going on with you, and you dragged me into a definite arson investigation, as well as a possible murder investigation, so I think you owe me enough to perform a few little experiments."
"What do you have in mind?"
"Just go to school tomorrow. Behave normally, go about your business. If we're both absent from school the day after the fire, that's bound to raise suspicion."
"What are you going to do?" Wally eyed his friend quizzically.
"I'm skipping… I need to set something up."
"Care to be a little more specific?"
"Just get to school, ginger. Those of us with souls have work to do."
"Very funny, asshole." Wally smiled, and allowed himself to doze off into an uneasy sleep. He dreamed about his uncle Barry.
Keystone High School – The Following Morning
Wally arrived late to school, which was not unusual. What was out of the ordinary, however, was the small armada of police cars parked outside the building. They're here for me, Wally thought immediately. The police found my DNA at the site of the fire and they're just waiting for me to walk in that door.
With a deep sigh, Wally pushed open the doors. He remembered Eddy's words; Behave normally. Don't raise suspicion. As Wally neared the main office, he peered through the window and saw a man who he recognized from his father's politics-talking-buddies; Clifford Devoe, the chief of the Keystone City Police Department. Because of the angle he was standing, Wally could not quite make out who he was Mr. Devoe was speaking to, but he could tell that it was another man of about equal height, who appeared to be wearing a highly expensive suit.
Wally walked past the office quickly, not wanting to be seen by the chief. He stopped by his locker, threw his backpack in haphazardly, and dug through his piles of papers trying to find his chemistry book. Once he found the book, its binding stuffed with papers that he'd never completed, he pulled it upwards and forced his locker to shut against the bulk of clutter it contained. Wally turned around, stopped for a moment knowing that he had forgotten something, and then pondered it a moment. "Shit. Pencil," Wally looked back, realizing that he had forgotten a writing utensil. He considered going back to retrieve one for a moment, but soon shrugged it off. "Nah, I'll just borrow one from somebody," he muttered to himself.
Wally walked into the classroom, late as usual, and was both relieved and confused when he saw that Mr. Crandall was not present. There appeared to be no person of authority in the room, and the students were taking full advantage of their freedom, chattering loudly. Wally noticed the new girl, Linda Park, smiling at him from across the room. Wally hadn't gotten much sleep on Eddy's bedroom floor, so he had chosen to energize himself that morning with about a dozen Monsters and a Red Bull, and simply double dosed his ADD meds to keep from bouncing off the walls. The two balanced each other out well. In addition, the mixture had imbued him with a temporary confidence that motivated him to do things he otherwise never would; such as actually approach her rather than just stare across the room all day.
"Hi," he smiled.
"Why do you smell like smoke?"
Wally frowned immediately. Damn it, I didn't even change clothes after the fire. I probably smell like a walking bonfire. "Um… I got a ride from Eddy this morning. He refuses to roll the window down when he smokes in his car," Wally lied.
"Oh yeah, like, chain smokes," Wally nodded. In truth, Eddy had never touched a cigarette in his life and probably never would. Wally again thanked the mixture of energy drinks and ADD meds for keeping him at the perfect balance of calm; normally he got all nervous and sweaty when he lied.
"Wow, I never would have guessed."
Wally noticed the bag hanging off of Linda's shoulder. "Your camera?" He asked.
"Oh, yeah. I've gotten really into photography. Nerdy, I know…"
"No, it's cool." Wally assured her.
"Thanks. You have any hobbies?"
"Does sleeping count?"
She laughed a little, but before she could form a response, the door opened and a tall man entered, wearing a suit that had likely cost more than Wally's house. His very presence commanded immediate attention, but his expression was warm and friendly. He allowed everyone a moment to quiet down. While the students took their seats, Wally felt the man's eyes lock on his, and he stared with a hungry interest; like a hunter eyeing its prey. Who is this guy? Wally thought as he sat down next to Linda.
"Good morning class," he said in a voice that was smooth and charismatic, drawing in the class's attention effortlessly. "Mr. Crandall is not present today. I will be your instructor." Wally pursed his lips. Mr. Crandall is never absent. Ever. Who is this guy? The man continued, "Allow me to introduce myself."
He turned and began writing his name on the board. "I'm Mr. Clariss." Immediately, Wally's stomach flipped. Clariss… I've heard that name before… Edward Clariss! That's the guy who worked at S.T.A.R. Labs with Barry. Mr. Crandall said they had a 'disagreement.'
Wally leaned over to Linda and whispered, "Mr. Crandall's gone? That's a first."
"You didn't hear?" Linda sounded surprised.
"Mr. Crandall never came home last night. His wife reported him missing this morning."
Now Wally was nearing panic mode. Barry dead, Mr. Crandall missing… all in the same week? And now their old colleague is my substitute teacher? No way that's a coincidence. There was one element of relief, however. The police could have been just looking for clues about Mr. Crandall. Maybe they weren't there for Wally after all.
The class went by at an excruciatingly slow rate. Mr. Clariss wanted to see just how well his old colleague had educated them, and so the whole period was basically a giant trivia challenge; Mr. Clariss bombarded the students with questions, but he did it with charisma and charm, and kept humor flowing. The class quickly fell in love with him, enraptured by his performance. He seemed to call on Wally for every other question he asked, and was quick to make a fool of him if he gave anything short of a perfect answer.
"Damn, what did you do to piss this guy off?" Linda whispered.
"He's jealous of my amazing good looks," Wally responded.
"Well I can't argue with him there," she laughed. After that, Wally sat and smiled like an idiot until he was hit with the next question.
At the end of the period, Wally was quick to jump for the door, but that smooth, debonair voice caught up to him; "Mr. West, I'd like to see you a moment." With a deep sigh, Wally waited for everyone to exit the classroom and then approached Mr. Clariss at the front desk.
"Yes sir?" Wally asked as plain and ordinarily as he could.
"I was just looking over Mr. Crandall's grade book here… and I'm a bit confused as to how you are failing this class. From what I observed today, you're without a doubt the sharpest knife in this backwoods hillbilly drawer."
"I take it your from Central City, sir?"
"Yes. How did you know?"
"People from Central City tend to be stuck up, two-faced pricks."
Mr. Clariss stiffened, and locked his gaze on Wally for a moment, as if pondering how to react. He settled on a laugh, and shot Wally another friendly smile. "Well I hope you didn't feel that way about your uncle Barry." Wally noticed immediately how he used the word 'didn't' when talking about Barry. Past tense.
"I wasn't very familiar with my uncle, sir. He didn't come around much except on Christmas."
"Yes, Barry always was very absorbed in his work. I was his partner for several years, you know."
"Until you tried to take all the credit for his work and he booted your ass out the door."
"You've been talking to Mr. Crandall, haven't you Wally?"
"He told me a thing or two."
Mr. Clariss stared at Wally a bit longer, with that same hungry expression in his eyes. He was constantly analyzing Wally, formulating his next move. But he kept that same warm smile plastered on his face. This guy would be a damn good poker player, Wally thought.
"Wally, I want us to be friends. It's true that I had a bit of a falling out with your uncle, but he was a dear friend to me and I'm greatly saddened by his suicide."
"I think that you and I could have a very lucrative relationship Wally, I really do."
"Are you coming on to me? Because I can get you fired for that."
"Are you aware that there was a fire at your uncle's house, Wally?"
"Just last night. Rather tragic."
"It is sir."
"I was just wondering if you might have any idea as to what started that fire, Wally. Do you have any idea?"
"I noticed that your friend Eobert is absent today."
"He goes by Eddy."
"Eddy. Of course. Where is he today?"
"Sick I guess."
Mr. Clariss stared for a while longer, and finally leaned forward. "Ok then, you're free to go Wally. And hey, just because we're friends, I'm going to bump your grade up to a B. Deal?"
"Ok, but if this turns into a sex thing, I can get you fired in a heartbeat."
"I admire your sense of humor, Wally. That was something your uncle severely lacked."
"Good to know sir."
"Oh, and Wally…"
"It really is in your best interest to accept this friendship. Because I have a feeling that I'm going to be here for a very long time…"
West Home – Several Hours Later
Wally decided to stop home before meeting with Eddy. Partly because he hadn't seen his parents in over twenty four hours, and partly because he was hungrier than he had ever been in his life. As he approached his home, however, he spotted a police cruiser parked outside. "Crap."
As Wally neared his doorstep, the door opened to reveal Clifford Devoe, the chief of police. "Hello Wally," he said in a gruff voice. "Good day at school?"
"Yeah," Wally lied. He found himself doing that more and more lately.
"Good. I was just informing your aunt Iris about the fire at her home in Central City… so tragic. First her husband dies, and then in the same week she loses her house."
"Yes sir. Very tragic," Wally nodded, relieved to learn that Devoe wasn't there to question him. Suddenly, Wally's stomach let out a guttural roar. Devoe's eyes widened, and he chuckled.
"Sounds like I'd better get out of your way so you can eat, son!"
"Thank you sir," Wally moved into his house and let out a deep sigh. He could faintly hear his Aunt Iris weeping in the other room.
"Wally," said the gruff voice of Rudolph West.
With a groan, Wally turned and faced his father. "Hey dad."
"I noticed you being exceptionally polite to Mr. Devoe, thank you for that."
"No problem," Wally quickly threw together a sandwich compiled of his favorite ingredients; everything. As he ate, he headed for the door.
"I'm supposed to meet Eddy, we're going to study."
"Uh-huh," Wally's father rolled his eyes. "You're always going to study. And yet your grades never improve."
"Actually, you might want to check my grade in Chemistry. I think you'll be surprised," Wally grinned, remembering Mr. Clariss's offer to raise it. Of course Mr. Clariss's friendliness was only a trap, to lure Wally into a false sense of security. But that didn't mean that Wally couldn't take advantage of it.
By the time he stepped out onto the porch, Wally had already finished his giant-sized sandwich, and was already hungry again. He texted Eddy; 'Hey, where are you?'
A few moments later, Eddy replied; 'In the woods. Meet at the old tree house.'
Wally hopped on his bike and took off. When they were little, he and Eddy had built a makeshift tree house in the woods, just out of city limits. They hadn't been there in years.
Wally arrived about fifteen minutes later, to the area devoid of anything but birds and trees. Leaves crunched under his feet, which made him cringe. He had always hated that noise. He looked around the area diligently, looking for some sign of Eddy, but found none.
Just as he pulled out his phone to text Eddy again, a sharp pain jolted into his back. Wally let out a yelp and leapt forward, clutching his lower back. He spun around to see Eddy, holding a new BB gun and wearing a smug expression on his face.
"What the hell dude?" Wally shouted.
"We're going to test your super speed, remember?" Eddy began to pump the gun. "I'm thinking it might be reactive. Like, in that fire last night, you were in danger and your brain sped up to compensate. So we're going to simulate danger."
"By shooting me?"
"Yup. I bought this today; it's the most powerful BB gun on the market. If this bitch doesn't draw some superhuman reaction time out of you, nothing will."
"Wait, if we're testing my reaction speed, then what was the point of shooting me in the back? I can't react if I don't even know it's there!"
"Yeah… that one was just for fun."
"You are kind of a shitty friend, you know that?"
"Oh quit complaining, it's not like you can do better," Eddy laughed, and took aim for another shot. Wally prepared himself, Eddy pulled the trigger, and… the projectile pelted Wally in the chin. He let out a scream and clutched his chin, where the skin was already bruising.
"I don't like this!" Wally shouted.
"Were you even trying?"
"Yes I was trying!"
"Well… try harder," Eddy shrugged.
"Can you aim a bit lower? I really don't want you destroying my beautiful face."
"Fine," Eddy fired off another shot. This one blasted Wally in the crotch. The redhead immediately fell to his knees.
"You said aim lower!"
"You shot me in the dick!"
Eddy let out a disappointed sigh, and propped himself against the gun. "Maybe it was just a one-time thing."
"I'm thinking so," Wally agreed, still in pain.
"Let's try it one more time."
"Don't be a pussy."
"You shot Little Wally, man. When you shoot Little Wally, the game is over."
"Alright. I just thought you might humor me in what could be our last moments together, before we get locked up for the rest of our lives… because of that arson charge you dragged me into… oh, and that possible murder charge… you know, the charges that I'll be getting because I decided to be a good friend and help you? But, you know…"
"Fine. One more time, and if it doesn't work, I'm kicking your ass."
"Fair enough." Eddy raised the gun, and began to take aim. "Now, Wally, I need you to really concentrate on this one. Don't just let it fly and expect your reflexes to take over; actually think about it."
"Yeah, just shoot."
Eddy squeezed the trigger, and in the same instant the shot was fired. But this time, something different happened from Wall's perspective. The entire world seemed to slow to a crawl. Wally could see the projectile leave the barrel, and begin its path toward him. Wally could see the bullet's every spiral, and watched his perception slow as his mind began to process faster and faster.
In one swift movement, Wally caught the BB between two fingers, rolled it over in the palm of his hand, and zoomed behind Eddy… all before Eddy had even heard the gun fire. Wally flicked the BB and hit Eddy in the back of the head.
Surprised, Eddy spun around, dropping the gun. "Whoa! That is awesome!" Eddy laughed, smiling triumphantly.
"Ok, I admit, that was really cool," Wally smiled back.
"Now we just need to figure out how to trigger it manually. Did you do anything in particular?"
"Not really. I just sort of… tried to think faster, and my brain compensated for it, and suddenly I sped up, and everything around me slowed down."
"So… your body responds to how fast you want to move, and in turn, your brain speeds up function to compensate for your body's speed… which in turn, causes you to perceive things as moving more slowly.
"Um… yeah. Let's go with that."
"Whoa…" Eddy reached toward Wally's chin.
"The bruise on your chin. It's gone already."
"Really?" Wally noticed that the pain was suddenly absent.
"I think that when you speed up, everything about you speeds up, including your healing."
"Makes sense I guess," Wally nodded. Suddenly, his stomach roared again. "Think that includes my metabolism? Because I can't seem to get full today."
"Come on then, let's go get something to eat."
"Ok, but you're buying."
"Dude, I shot you in the dick. Of course I'm buying."
"Good. That almost makes us even."
"Yeah, just one thing…" Without warning, Wally punched his friend mercilessly in the crotch. Eddy hit the ground, enveloped in a mixture of surprise and pain. "There, now we're even."
Burger King – Ten Minutes Later
"So… Mr. Crandall is missing?"
"Yup," Wally replied through a full mouth.
"And this Edward Clariss guy is suddenly taking his place?"
"Just until Mr. Crandall comes back. But as I was leaving today, Mr. Clariss said, 'I think I'll be here for a very long time,' or something like that."
"What the hell does that mean?"
"I don't know… maybe he did something to Mr. Crandall…"
"But why? I mean, is he that desperate to become a High School teacher?"
"I think it goes deeper than that," Wally shoveled another order of fries into his mouth. "Like, way deeper."
"That's what she said."
"Dude… really? Are we twelve now?"
"I couldn't resist."
Wally inhaled his fourth burger, and Eddy gazed at him in awe. "That is disgusting, bro."
"And I'm broke, so you're going to have to slow down."
"So…" Wally leaned forward. "If Mr. Clariss did something to Mr. Crandall… do you think he might also be the one who shot Barry?"
"Maybe. But then what do the Men in Black have to do with it?"
"I don't know, maybe there his henchmen or something."
"Henchmen? Wally, we aren't dealing with Dr. Doom here. This is a disgruntled scientist who likes expensive clothing and has a grudge against your uncle."
"Come on… Barry dies, Mr. Crandall goes missing and Edward Clariss, Barry's former partner, suddenly replaces Mr. Crandall? That cannot all be coincidence."
"I'm not disagreeing with you, Wally. It's just… this whole thing is freakin' insane."
"We should go to the police. Chief Devoe is friends with your dad, he'll hear you out."
"But it won't matter if we don't have proof. Plus, what am I going to say? 'Hey, I broke into my uncle's house because, even though it's officially a suicide, I used my tenth-grade education to determine that he was actually murdered. And then these thugs in suits showed up and burned the place down, but I escaped with a super speed formula that I accidentally blew up?'"
"Ok, you're right. So what the hell are we supposed to do?"
"I've been thinking about that…" Wally sighed. "There's only one reason I can think of that Mr. Clariss would take a teaching job. And it's the same reason those thugs were at Barry's house last night. He wants the Velocity 9 formula."
"And he knows you have it," Eddy nodded. "Or at least, he suspects that you do."
"Right. But he probably doesn't know that it blew up in the fire, or that I have some kind of weird speed powers because of it."
"Probably not," Eddy agreed. "Continue."
"Well, we know that my uncle Barry perfected the Velocity 9 formula… but he didn't start it. Jay Garrick started working on it years ago, but then he disappeared, and he left a bunch of notes begging that his research not be continued by anyone. But my uncle didn't listen. Barry finished the formula, and then Dr. Clariss killed him for it."
"Right. How does any of this help us?"
"Because there's still someone out there with knowledge of the formula. It's a long shot… but maybe he'll help…"
"Wait, Wally, are you talking about…"
"Yeah. We need to find Jay Garrick."