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: Lightningman, supposed visitor from another planet, is in reality Charles Kent, a fat middle-aged low level federal bureaucrat. Kent has discovered a plot to make billions on the stock market by killing most of the people in Southeast Asia. Failing utterly to get anyone to listen to him, he resolves to go there and thwart the plot...

Episode Seven:

Angel of Mercy Airlines

IT TOOK ME LONGER THAN I EXPECTED to reach Kennedy Airport. I'd visions of my whole plan collapsing before it even started but fortunately I found a coin-operated phone almost immediately and prepared to make a very important and complex phone call.

I do have two ‑‑ well, not superhuman powers ‑‑ but two very much above average abilities: perfect pitch and truly extraordinary penmanship is. When I was talking to FBI Director Edgar I didn't mention either of these abilities. Somehow I didn't think he'd be impressed. Still, there are times when they can be very handy. I can, for example, whistle the exact notes that the buttons on a touch tone phone generate, which is quite useful if you're a phone freak.

First, I call‑forwarded the phone so that it would send its next incoming call to Ms. Rivera's apartment in D.C. The next step was more complex. By whistling some notes an ordinary phone's buttons don't have, I called a moon bounce station. The Earth stations that are linked to communications satellites handle the great bulk of phone traffic, with moon-bounce stations being used mostly for computer-to-computer data transmission. In case of emergencies, however, the moon-bounce stations do have the ability to handle voice-only phone calls.

The instant the call went through, I whistled and hung up. That converted a call going out of a pay phone to a moon bounce station to one coming from a moon-bounce station to a pay phone. Since my outgoing call was now an incoming call, the call forwarding kicked in and the phone in Ms. Rivera's apartment started ringing.

Later, when the FBI traced this call, they'd find that Ms. Rivera had received what seemed to be a simple call from a pay phone at Kennedy. Digging deeper, they'd find a trail that apparently ended on the surface of the moon.

Joan Rivera answered her phone instantly. "Who is this?" she demanded.

Though I risked having her hang up, I counted to three, a round trip to the moon at lightspeed, before replying, "This is the man to whom you made a promise. You saw something of mine and promised never to tell."

After a sudden intake of breath she asked, "This thing I saw, what color was it?"

Again I waited before replying, "Green and it glowed some."
"But I can't talk," she protested, "I'm sure the FBI is tapping this phone!"

After a counted pause I told her, "Don't talk, just listen. I want you to contact Gerald Maritson, the CEO of Double X Oil Company. Tell him that there is a major conspiracy underway to destroy his company and that I may need his cooperation to thwart it. He's to stand for my call. I'll identify myself as Mr. Greenblood. You must forward your phone to his."

With that I hung up and raced for my plane.

Thirty six hours later I was in Singapore's Changi Airport and horribly hungry. The problem with flying standby is that if there aren't enough meals to go around you're the one who doesn't eat.

As I ran to catch my next flight -- a helicopter ride to Terminus -- I passed a stand selling durans; that's an Asian fruit with the taste of a pear, the exterior of a porcupine and a faintly skunk-like odor. They're actually quite good, very satisfying and almost no calories. Since I almost never find them in New York, the stand was a rare opportunity, but I couldn't take it. With so many lives in the balance, I couldn't do anything that might risk missing my flight.

Fortunately I didn't have to go through Singapore customs because Terminus was legally an American flag facility. Trying to explain my Lightningman costume to an Asian customs agent would not have been easy.

The gate for Angel of Mercy Air Charter Service was in a dark and out of the way corner of the terminal. As I approached, I saw two people standing in front of it, a nun and a Japanese man. When he handed her a small attaché case, I noticed that the little finger on his left hand was missing. Before I reached the gate, however, he slipped away.

Turning to me, the nun said, "Mr. Kent, are you after knowing anything about my airline?"
She was, I realized, wearing a pair of pilot's wings beside her rosary. "Well," I admitted," actually no."

"Then I must tell you. We began a little before my excommunication as part of Pope Joan's 'Working Hands/Helping Hands' program. Angel of Mercy carries paying passengers like yourself on routes the commercial airlines don't fancy because they're too dangerous. The profits cover the expenses of flying rescue missions. Generally I try not to take passengers on completely suicidal flights ‑‑ so, Mr. Kent, tell me, just how important is this trip of yours? The satellite photos are showing a typhoon that'll hit Terminus in an hour and twenty minutes. Flying there will be more than just risky. It'll be facing death at bad odds. Are you willing to do that?"

While I'd known that I'd be in danger once I got to Terminus, the thought that getting there would also be hazardous was a most unpleasant surprise. After a moment's hesitation, I said, "Yes. If there's any chance you can get me to Terminus, I'll take it."

"Good!" she declared cheerfully. "I have to go anyway and I'll be glad of the company but we do have to hurry. Terminus, you see, is a drilling platform five hundred fifty-four klicks from here with a postage stamp for a helipad. You can't be landing on it except in perfect weather, and just barely then. My poor old chopper's best air speed is three hundred seventy and just because you're doing long division in your head, Mr. Kent, is no reason to be making such a face. Not reason at all."

"But," I objected, "what you just said means the best possible flying time is an hour thirty minutes. The typhoon will get there ten minutes before we do."

"Have faith in the Lord," she told me cheerfully.

Back to Episode 6....Death Sentence For Half the World

On to Episode 8....Into the Storm

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!)