Lightningman Strikes!

Diet Another Day!

a.k.a. "Genocide as a Method of Insider Trading"

A 13-chapter Superhero Saga!

"Royal" Richard K. Lyon

About the author
"Diet Another Day" is the third Lightningman story.  The first two,  "The Secret Identity Diet" and "The Chocolate Chip Cookie Conspiracy”, are available on request from the author at

PREVIOUSLY: Having deduced that a diabolical conspiracy is underway, Charles Kent -- aka Lightningman -- is desperately seeking someone who will listen to him. FBI Director James Gordon refused to hear him and has been kidnapped. Hoping to publicize his fears, Kent goes to the hotel of Joan Rivera, a TV journalist. When he phones her room, the man who answers is shot. Ms Rivera is being kidnapped!

Episode Three:

Lightningman Strikes Back!

I HIT THE PHONE'S CONFERENCE CALL BUTTON and tapped in 911. When the viewscreen split, showing both the dead man's face and a sleepy eyed police dispatcher, I snapped, "The D.C. Hilton, Room 1237, they're kidnapping Joan Rivera!" and hung up.

The dead man's face filling his viewscreen ought to prompt the police dispatcher into rapid action, but was it already too late? The kidnappers were likely to have Joan Rivera in the black limo and be speeding away in only a few minutes. Could the cops get here that fast?

What should I do? Stand idle while a pregnant young woman was carried off to probable torture and death? Did I dare attack a gang of well armed professional thugs? Me, Charles Kent, the fat little kid all the bullies picked on? When I'd tried to take a course in Judo and Karate, they told me they'd be glad to arrange instructions in a different Oriental Martial Art, for which I was "better suited". Only when it was too late to get my money back did I find out I'd signed up to study Sumo.

While a direct attack on the gangsters would be suicidal, doing nothing was not an option. Maybe, if I could reach the black limo before the kidnappers did, I could let the air out of their tires.

Taking off my coat, I attached it to my back like a cape, put my helmet on, visor down, and sprinted back to the corner of the Hilton. I peered around and saw that now there were two guys, guns in their hands, pacing back and forth between the limo and the service entrance. As soon as I started to approach the limo they'd see me.

Or maybe they wouldn't. The service entrance was on a slopping side street with a high curb. Since the only light was what came streaming out the door, the gutter lay in dark shadow.

Covering the lightning stroke reflector on my chest with my coat, I waited a moment until there was a burst of street noise. Praying that the two thugs would be distracted and looking the other way, I ran. Dropping, I rolled onto my back and started coasting down toward the limo.

It was working! There'd been no sound of alarm from the two thugs. Now I was rapidly approaching the limo and its vulnerable tires. Soon I'd ‑‑

Abruptly a door banged open. I heard running feet, the car's doors opening and banging shut. Just as I reached the limo, it started moving. Before it could speed into the night I grabbed the fender and held on.

As the limo left the side street and turned left on 8th, it accelerated, nearly throwing me off the skateboard. As I struggled to keep my grip on the fender, the limo slowed and I nearly went under it.

Three police cars, with lights flashing and sirens screaming, shot past us in the opposite direction: the cops I'd called, headed for the Hilton, too late!

There wasn't anything I could do except hold on and I didn't think I could do that for much longer. If I let go now, I'd get clobbered, but wouldn't the limo pause for a traffic light? I could let go safely then. That would mean abandoning Ms. Rivera to her fate, but I couldn't do anything for her anyway.

Unfortunately the traffic lights in D.C. were timed so that a car traveling at 35 mph could hit them all green. Just when it seemed I couldn't hold on another second longer, the limo slowed to a stop. I let go, flexed my fingers, remembered all the bullies who'd made my childhood so miserable and grabbed hold of the fender again. What these men were planning to do to Ms. Rivera was considerably worse than anything the bullies had ever done to me and I just could not let anything like that happen.

At the next red light I used the opportunity to pull the upper half of my body under the limo. BINGO! Despite the new paint this was a very old car, the underside heavily rusted. Good. There was something I could do. It would be dangerous. I'd have to stay under the limo while it traveled some distance and if in that time it hit a pothole, it would bounce down and squash me.

Reaching up, I grabbed a part of the limo's anatomy that felt as if it might be something vital. The limo started again and accelerated. When its speed seemed right, I pulled as hard as I could.

Whatever it was came loose in my hand and, after that, a lot of things happened in a very short time. I lost my grip, slipped part way off the skateboard and scraped the pavement. The friction flipped me over and abruptly, instead of rolling down the road on my back, I was sliding face down.

Whatever I'd torn loose had only come loose on the front end. With the back end still attached, it dragged on the pavement for a moment, then struck an obstacle. The limo was suddenly impaled. Its forward momentum lifted it up and, with its rear wheels completely off the pavement and spinning wildly, the limo skidded to a stop.

I was still sliding forward on the skateboard. Just as my head was about to smash into the rear fender, I pushed myself up and slid over the gentle curves of the limo's rear end, coming to a halt with my face a few feet from the rear window.

Inside the limo, one of the thugs was shouting obscenities; two others, sitting in the back seats, turned just in time to see me. "IT'S LIGHTNINGMAN! STEP ON IT!" one screamed.

The rear wheels began to spin furiously, going 120 miles an hour in the empty air while the engine roared like a lion. With the limo balanced precariously on the torn remains of its muffler, it could slip off at any instant and go speeding away. Grabbing the fender with both hands, I struggled to keep it in balanced while the car shook furiously.

The thug in the rear seat shouted, "NO GOOD! Lightningman's holding our rear wheels off the ground! We're not going anywhere!"

"THEN," one of the others yelled, "WE GOTTA RUN FOR IT!"

The doors opened and they started spilling out. Two of them ran away from me without a backward glance, but one whirled to face me, aimed his gun at the lightning stroke reflector on my chest and fired. The bullet bounced off my titanium chest plate and struck him in the knee. As he fell crashing to the ground, he dropped his gun.

He stared up at me. The accelerator had jammed so that the limo's rear wheels were still spinning 120 mph. If I let go, the limo would shake itself free, speed off, and smash itself, killing Joan Rivera, who was still inside.

The thug lying on the pavement must have realized some of this for he said, "Kinda got your hands full there, don't ya?" Reaching out to recover his gun, he continued, "I think I'll find out just exactly how bulletproof you really are."

Back to Episode 2....A Job For Lightningman!

On to Episode 4....Secret Message on a Billboard

Back to Pulp and Dagger

Back to Diet Another Day!

"Diet Another Day!" and the character of "Lightningman" are copyright by Richard K. Lyon. It may not be copied or used for any commercial purpose except for short excerpts used for reviews. (Obviously, you can copy it or print it out if you want to read it!)