2019-08-28 - Remember My Number


A chance encounter at a Queens pizzeria turns into a twisted encounter between an unexpected villain and the original Spider-Woman

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Wed Aug 28 19:26:55 2019
Location: Queens

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Theme Song



The world may be a divisive place, but everyone can agree on one thing; LaGuardia sucks.

Not far from the airport, a motorbike comes growling up to a parking meter nearby a pizzeria. An old 2014 model Harley Sportster in gunmetal gray, with what might appear to be some superficial modifications. It's rider is an African man wearing blue jeans, riding boots and a black leather riding jacket, sans helmet. After parking the bike and slinging a satchel over his shoulder, he retrieves a cell phone and is on it while walking toward the pizzeria with that quickened, 'I sure am hungry' gait.

"Hallo?" he says into the phone, his words a mixture of some foreign language and English. "Nooooo, I just got de bike from airport. Is a thing. Eh? Quana no esa tona, getting pizza. Yeah, so hungry! Ina… les see, be dere in half hour."

Gwen is inside the pizzaria already, and she just got her personal deep dish pie. She's settling in at a table, and she watches through the window as a man gets off of a motorcycle and onto a phone. Nothing out of the ordinary, really. Especially this near the airport. People from all over, doing anything and everything. But Gwen's a people watcher, and this people is gettin' watched, if for no other reason than he's on the other side of the glass from her.

"Ah huh. Goodbye." Kwabena puts the phone back into his pocket, then steps into the pizzeria with quick steps. He's not exactly paying attention to anybody, but secretly, his eyes are taking in every face inside. It happens quickly, with a brief glance around the room that is paired by a disarming, pleasant smile, as he moves into the line to order.

Gwen, dressed in light, distressed jeans, sneakers, and a light pink hoodie that hides whatever clever quote is probably on the t-shirt beneath, is about to take a bite of her pizza when she gets a little bit of a shiver. There's a sinking feeling in her gut. At first she isn't sure that she felt it at all, but there's something tugging that little cord inside her that says 'caution.' Since the guy from the bike is the only new presence in the place, he suddenly has Gwen's full attention. She doesn't even attempt nonchalance, she just stares, like he might be her next ex-Mr. Stacy.

"Yes, hello," Kwabena says to the stoner behind the counter. "Two slices of de peppahroni, and, ah, two cheese. Trow in a beer, eh?"

After paying, the young man turns to wait for his order to come up. As he does, eyes that are strangely silver examine the room, and eventually fall upon the young woman who is staring at him.

Truly, he carries a polite air about him that might not exactly add up with the feeling she's gotten, and he just smiles and nods his head to her. However, when he turns away, his smile fades into a blank stare. Not pleasant, not unpleasant; the best way to describe it would be 'absent'.

Gwen reacts when the stranger looks at her by offering him a big grin that crinkles her nose a touch. When he looks away, she tilts her head, trying to see if she can tell the look on his face. She can't see it from this angle, but she finds that she can see his reflection in the plexiglass over the menu. And the eyes put her ill-at ease. Because well, that's really all she can see. It's just plexiglass over a menu, for God's sake, not the Hubble mirror. So, committed to this stare, she continues, watching the man intently. Either she'll make him uncomfortable, or he'll talk to her. Or both. Or he'll leave. Any of these would be okay with her at this point.

Once his four slices of pizza and bottle of beer are in hand, Kwabena turns around and looks for an empty seat. There are a few scattered around, but he chooses the one right next to Gwen. That blank stare is gone, and he now appears perfectly pleasant once more. "Is okay if I sit?" he asks politely. "Is… wait, how to say it? Do you mind if I sit?" English doesn't seem to be his primary language.

"I was hoping you'd sit," Gwen replies, scooting her giant lil mini deep dish behemoth closer to her, and lifting her Dr. Pepper to take a sip through the paper straw. "It's hard to stand while eating four slices of pizza." She makes chiding remarks, but that feeling deep inside her is stronger, the closer he gets to her. Still, it's…disonant, somehow. As if some danger removed, or remembered. She watches him curiously. "I don't place your accent, exactly. Can I ask where you're from?"

A bout of earnest laughter comes from Kwabena, and his eyes twinkle with genuine humor and gratitude. "Yes, I have done dis thing and is not easy!" He gratefully sits down and takes a moment to devour half of the first slice as if he hasn't eaten in a day.

"Urm." He swallows, cleans his face and hands with a napkin, then turns toward Gwen. "Sorry, is rude of me. I am Kwabena. And de accent is because I am from Ghana." He offers a hand in greeting.

"Ghana!" Seems legit. "I'm Gwen. Nice to meetcha." She takes his hand and shakes it. "Ya looked a little distressed earlier. Everything okay?" She lifts an ooshy, gooshy slice of melty cheese heaven to her lips and takes a bite, rolling her eyes in ecstasy, as if forgetting how delicious the pizza she had JUST now ordered would be.

"Yes," the man says in agreement, seeming genuinely pleased to have met the woman. He takes a drink from his beer, then sighs in an exasperated manner at her concern.

"Yes yes, is okay," Kwabena answers. "But I have been, what is to say, stuck in airports for seventeen hours. I am… tired, and hungry, and want my couch." He replaces the beer with his pizza, and holds it up with a clever grin. "But dis is good, is worth de wait. Much bettah dan ovahpriced garbage dey have in LaGuardia."

"Seventeen hours!" Gwen sets down the little slice of melted cholesterol heaven, her blue eyes going wide. "Seriously, they kept you stuck there for 17 hours? That's crazy. What happened? They lost your luggage? Your dog? Your…wife?" She waggles her brows suggestively.

"Mm hmm," Kwabena nods with his mouth full, and shakes his head to debate all of those ideas. "Mmmno, no no. Rerouted me. Was supposed to connect tru Cincinnati, instead dey sent me to tree diffahrent airports, just to get back here." He shakes his head. "I am nevah flying again, I swear. Louisville, den DC, den Boston, DEN LaGuardia."

That lingering sense of warning is still there, even if it is subdued. It seems to follow him, or has something to do with his presence.

"Well THAT sucks. I mean you've been in Louisille, now. That alone is enough to mess with some people. How will we ever know if you're sane again? Would you know for sure? I mean, if you've lost your mind, how do you know if what's left is really yours?" She's rambling, and getting a feel for that little tingle, trying to decide where it's coming from - what it means.

It may well have been innocent or nervous banter, for all we know. However, something in Kwabena's demeanor changes when she speaks of him losing his mind. The man slows his chewing, eyes rising to stare out the window for a moment, before they turn and look at Gwen.

Fear. Crippling fear, with equal parts anger. Malicious anger. He looks at her for all of two seconds, before dropping his pizza on the paper plate. "I have to go. I am late."

Rising quickly, Kwabena makes for the door.

Gwen makes for the door the moment his reflexes are given away. She grabs him as he runs out, attempting to stop him before he can get to his bike. Or really, even beyond the doors. "Wait, talk to me, what the hell, Man? Something isn't right!" she shouts, grappling at his clothes and trying to keep him in place.

Kwabena manages to make it just past the doors before he's detained. He fights for a moment, but she is surprisingly strong. Turning, he faces her once more, eyes meeting hers before looking beyond to the pizzeria, and the handful of New Yorkers who are watching.

Eyes turn back on Gwen, and they are no longer friendly. "Do not do dis," he tells her with a quiet, warning tone. "You do not want to do dis, Gwen."

Beneath his clothes, something seems to be changing. The human body, be it an arm, or a torso, has a certain feel when felt beneath clothing. Kwabena's flesh seems to be changing; as if it's being replaced by steel.

"Oh, am I making you hard, Baby?" Gwen asks, noting the feel of steel replacing flesh beneath Kwabena's shirt. "Hey, I'm not tryin' to hurt you, I just wanna help. I feel like maybe you're in trouble," she adds with a lowered voice, too low for those inside to hear. "I can help, if you'll let me…"

Kwabena looks at her for a long moment. There is a moment; a brief one; when it appears she might have gotten through to him. It's short lived.

"No." A grin forms. "You cannot."

Suddenly, there is no body. Gwen will have that fleeting moment's warning, before the man disappears. His clothing falls slack, the shirt in her hand unless she's let go, and a cloud of black smoke spills out from where Kwabena was moments before.

Inside the pizzeria, those watching gasp in alarm and fear.

For a brief moment, Gwen looks confused, bewildered. Then, it all comes together. "Sonofabitch," she says to herself, narrowing her eyes as she peers into the black formless cloud. "You're that smoke monster off of "Lost."

Pretty much. Except no clicking, and no haunted numbers.

The smoke suddenly transforms into something of a liquid state and falls onto the discarded clothing. Why this happens is unclear, but what once was black smoke just became black goo. Then it turns into smoke again, and goes whooshing down the road to where the Harley sportster is parked - zooming like an elongated bullet.

Gwen watches for a moment, totally at a loss as to what she's witessing. She shakes her head, but she doesn't give chase. What would she do if she could catch it anyway? Smokity has left the building, and Gween can clearly do /nothing/ to stop it.

The smoke zooms over to that motorcycle and then, it takes the shape of a man once again. However the man doesn't seem to have a face, even as it solidifies into what seems to be a human male, the same size and shape of Kwabena. He seems to be completely encased in gunmetal grey. The motorcycle growls to life and peels out into traffic, dodging between cars in what is clearly a mad attempt to put distance between himself and the pizzeria.

Gwen steps back to the table, scoops all the now cooling pizza into the waxed to-go box sitting on the table - his pizza included - and shoves it in her backpack. The direction he's headed, she can cut across and intercept him, if she works quickly enough. While everyone who's watching, is watching after him, Gwen slips on her backpack, pulls up the cuffs of her hoodie, takes a ginormous leap, and thwips out a web skyward, catching the top corner of a building at the apex of her leap, swinging with blinding speed toward the cutoff point. There's something that tells her this guy needs help. Or at very least, his pizza. So she moves swiftly to intercept him, and hopefully follow until she can catch up with him.

The motorbike goes ripping through traffic, bending and weaving and taking dangerous turns. It's almost as if the driver cares not for the safety of his own life, or any others. Gwen comes close to losing him, until she reaches that height and earns a bird's eye view of the surrounding streets.

Kwabena takes a hard right on the motorcycle and opens the throttle, headed toward the East River. He's not yet aware that he's being pursued.

Gwen intends to keep it that way. She stays well above and off to one side of the the cyclist, pausing only for the briefest moment atop one building to pull her hooded mask over her head to make use of her HUD in order to track the cyclist in case she loses him.

Once she's pacing him, she can change direction on a dime, and she follows as he heads for the river. If it weren't for the fact that she smells like pizza and she's following a red dot on her heads up display, it would be a leisurely swing, racing the wind through the city.

Thirty blocks later, and the motorcycle finally pulls up to a rest. The neighborhood isn't pretty; largely abandoned properties, the perfect nesting ground for hobos, addicts and rats. The police don't patrol here often, because frankly, nothing ever happens here.

The figure kicks down the kickstand on his motorcycle and quickly hops off. The gunmetal gray still encloses his face, making one wonder just how he's seeing through it. He moves around to the cargo compartment on the back of the motorcycle, grabs his satchel, and heads for a presumably abandoned building.

SpiderGwen takes only a moment to decide where she goes from here. If she moves forward as planned, this man has seen her face. And if she confronts him…well, he knows her name, as well. With no time to change, she presses on, making that conscious decision. She leaps lightly from roof to roof in this abandoned part of town, watching from afar as the metal man disappears into a building.

Just before entering, Kwabena turns and looks around for signs of followers. He doesn't think to look up. Just before he enters, the mask around his face seems to peel away, disintegrating in layers as if it were alive, until he's exposed from the neck up. The expression on his face can best be described as quietly angry. He finally turns around and enters the building, closing and locking the door behind him.

Gwen considers going inside, but that's suicide, she finally decides. No need to trap him in his own maze. While he's inside, Gwen lowers slowly down near the bike, and she takes out the box of pizza slices, placing it carefully atop the seat of his motorcycle. She takes out a yellow post-it note and affixes it to the box, and writes a phone number on the note in pink ink, then she climbs back up the buiding to watch from above.

Four hours go by, with naught but sign of activity from the building aside from the glow of a single light. Eventually, the door opens again, and Kwabena steps out. He's still wearing the same skin suit of gunmetal gray, but when silver eyes see the motorcycle, he freezes for a moment.

Following that pause, he approaches the box and rips the post it note from the lid. Studying it, he then opens the box only to find his three uneaten slices of pizza, now stale and cold.

"Son of a bitch," he curses.

Gwen sat atop the roof of a two-story building above the bike for four hours. She played games on her phone, and watched. By the time Kwabena emerged, she was dressed in her spider suit, and after his reaction, she can't help herself. She lowers down on a web line near him, landing lightly. "Son of a what?" Her hooded mask holds her vacant gaze as she tilts her head. "I thought you'd be hungry."

The man spins at first sound of a new arrival. He stares at the masked figure for a few silent moments, before crumpling up the note and tossing it aside. "Is important dat you listen," Kwabena says, in a very serious tone. "Who… whatevah you are, you don't want to get involved in dis." His eyes are dangerous. Without the pretext of being in a public place, it would seem as if his politeness and good nature may have been nothing more than an act.

"Best ting fah you," he says, lifting a gloved hand. "Is walk away. Is much biggah dan you or me."

SpiderGwen tilts her head. "Y'know, I've never really been interested in the best thing for me. It's weird, people have /tried/ to tell me what's in my best interest, but usually they're fulla crap, or they just don't know. Or sometimes they do, and I just don't listen." She shrugs. "You're gonna want that note, though." She nods to the number he just unceremoniously tossed aside. "Don't get me wrong, I'm used to guys losing my number in all kinds of creative ways. One guy said an /alligator/ ate it!" She cups her hands along her masked cheeks in mock surprise. "I suspect it didn't, though."

Kwabena just stares at the woman as she talks. The more she does, the recognition settles in. Suspicions are confirmed. They told him to be ready for this; he got cocky. He didn't listen. They will punish him.

They will punish him if he doesn't end it.

"I don't need a note to remembah numbah," he tells her. "Giving it to me. Dis was mistake." He starts walking toward her now, unarmed. "Big. Big mistake."

Suddenly, he transforms into a cloud of black smoke, which rushes toward her as if fired from a cannon!

Gwen instantly curses herself for not arming herself with magic missile to attack the darkness. Because what the HECK is she gonna do to a puff of smoke? Besides…grab a canister off her belt and pop off the top, scooping it through the air and capping it again. "Because I want a little of you to carry with me, wherever I go." Her tone of voice suggests cartoon heart bubbles all around her. She can't shake the feeling that this guy isn't genuinely nasty. But for some reason he's doing a big job of trying to act like he is.

Despite the fact that part of him was 'captured', the cloud of black smoke still moves toward SpiderGwen. It surrounds her, envelopes her, and begins pressing toward her nostrils. It is oppressive in nature, smelling like burnt flesh as it draws closer.

"Okay okay stop already," Gwen backs up swiftly. "I'll leave you alone, Jesus! Just remember the number. You don't seem like an asshole or anything, so I figure you're just posturing, but I am gonna need you to calm down a little, cause I have SO MANY questions. Like did Jack really die? Was that you impersonating Locke or was it just some other weirdo? Or was it maybe Locke had a split personality? And seriously why didn't you just eat Shannon that first night on the island?" She's fanning at the smoke and backing up till she trips and tumbles backwards. "You want me to let that little whiff of you back outta the canister?"

The cloud of smoke is persistent, but she somehow manages to keep one step ahead of it every time. The constant talking helps; every time it comes close to finding a way into her lungs, it's expelled out. It is relentless until she offers to let that part of him free.

The cloud suddenly roils backward. It forms a haunting shape in the dimly lit night sky, and the air vibrates. It vibrates loudly, as if the cloud itself were screaming at her.

"Dude…Dude! DUDE." Gwen gets up and dusts herself off. "Okay fine, I'll let it out. Probably something vital, like your ear, or your left nad or something, anyway." She pulls the canister off her belt and opens it, giving it a little push toward the rest of the cloud, as if it were a butterfly, or a lightning bug. "Be free little…well, I mean not that size matters…whatever you are…." she says to the wisp of dude she releases.

The smoke that was captured immediately zooms out and rejoins the rest of the cloud, which immediately drops to the ground and reforms into Kwabena.

"Smart move," he says, pausing before adding, "Gwen."

Turning, the man leaps toward his motorcycle once more. Before he can hit the ground, he transforms into smoke again. Only this time, he doesn't reform.

If Gwen's spider sense was alarming before, this time it is positively SCREAMING. Danger. Mortal, imminent danger, as if a nuke were about to blow and she was at ground zero.

The cloud suddenly begins to glow. In the span of half a second, there are thousands of tiny sparks throughout the cloud, which become millions in the blink of an eye. Then, the entire block is lit up with the blinding brilliance of a star.

The cloud becomes a ball of plasma, enveloping the motorcycle, the note, the box of pizza. It's hot enough to send a shock wave of burning heat through the air, melting the asphalt in a concave half circle while completely disintegrating the motorcycle and all that was on it.

Never let it be said that Gwen can't take a hint.

She stands there for a moment and shouts toward the vibrating, sparking, probably fusioning thing. "What part did I have in the canister?" But it doesn't seem like he's in the mood to answer her. About the time the asphalt starts to melt and vapourize, she figures there's probably somewhere else she should be, before it melts her suit right off of her, because that would be SERIOUSLY embarrassing. She takes flight on a web, in the opposite direction. But somewhere among the rooftops as she disappears can be heard a voice, calling out:

"Call me!'

She gets out just in time! The shock wave of heat melts sign posts and street lamps, and when the light dies down, all signs of… whatever Kwabena is… are gone.

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