Flash: F is for First and Foremost

Photo 16440074 | Tin Can String © Alexstar | Dreamstime.com


“The trackers on your phone. You don’t think your phone isn’t buggy?” I asked.

Cage’s bedtime voice rumbled from the cell beside my ear. “Enlighten me.”

“Sure thing shadow boy.” He asked for mansplaining, I can give him mansplaining. I stuffed my third pillow under my back and retucked the blankets against the winter chill. “First you got the basic GPS tracking which is necessary for cell phone pinging and has the benefit of helping with maps and finding services so most people just leave that on. Downside of that is companies ping cell phones, gathering meta data to sell things. Once I drove through Ohio and then next week a highway restaurant asked if I wanted to drop by. I was back in the Carolinas by then. All phones have this general privacy infringement, it is the cost of cells. With me so far?”


“And, as television shows indicate, cell towers keep track of cell phones in their area. That is how they instantly connect phone calls even when you are traveling. You text, phone, or use a service, you are tracked. But you got a government-issued cell phone.”

“I do,” growled through the line. My toes curled. I could live inside his voice.

“Right, so you got all the basics of tracking everyone has, plus whatever Uncle Sam drops into his toys, and if I had the responsibility of keeping track of supers, I would load up everything I could. The phone would have an additional tracker, likely hardened against electrical bursts and other acts of quirks. I would also put in a repeater on all email messages and texts sent through the phone. Monitor website and social activities. Nearly all that is already built into phones today so you can pull up text threads excreta. And, of course, I would record all phone messages.”

“Of course.” The statement carried a question mark about the level of my paranoia, but there was a reason why I never registered.

“Yes, I would also put tracers in all the shoes because while someone might forget their phone, few people leave buildings barefoot. Your bosses likely line some basics into the uniforms including heartbeat monitoring, although those likely would need to be replaced often after battles between damage to the uniforms and energy powers.”

He chuckled darkly. “They are replacing my uniform right now. Gremlin’s mech suit shredded it.”

“Exactly. But even with the constant replacement, I would make sure the uniforms also have cameras, for the same reason police are required to have them. To protect citizens and the blue. Well, the supers in this case. Not all of this is just to keep you on a leash. Although that is high on the list. They also are gathering scientific information figuring out how our powers work.”

“And how to neutralize them.”

“Exactly, not everyone is going to march into a regional headquarters and sign up. A lot of people don’t trust governments. And people who run to the not-nice side of things never do.” My fingers start playing with my fur blanket, but I grip them into a fist. Nope, not another random whatever. It hasn’t even been twenty-four hours. “Not all of it is big brother government. Some of the monitoring is beneficial just like why they monitor firemen, police, and military – easier to direct in an emergency, keep track of your health, find you if something bad happens, do post action reviews, all of that. But,” I sighed, rubbing between my eyes with one hand,  “first and foremost it’s all about tagging and tracing supers.”

“Paranoid much?”

“Tell me I’m wrong.”

He made a grunt-like sound, then asked, “Are you wrong?”

“Can’t say for certain, but…” I paused, turning things over through my gut. I don’t have precog or meta level knowledge some supers can claim. Still, just living as a human being in America who grew up during the Cold War gave me insight to just how controlling toxic my government can be. “I’m certain.”


Cage made some uncomfortable sounds on the other end and I wince in sympathy. Doc Peterson did some damage.

“So how are you stopping the tracing?”

“How do my powers work? Isn’t that a bit personal?”

“Um, well…”

“Kidding. My quirk,” I giggle at the term, remembering the pure joy my niblings had explaining me all the lore of the anime, “is connections. Creating them or breaking them. If you looked at the symbol I drew, the doodle is two tin cans with a string looping between them.”

“Fuck,” he grunted in surprise. “You’re right.” comes more quietly, like he pulled the phone away to look at the symbol.

“Of course I am. Just repeat after me, Vector is always right.”

He dropped his voice into his lowest register. “Vector is always right.”

“Oh. You’re good.”

“Except when I’m very bad.” The hero chuckled.

“Put a bookmark there. We are still on our first date.”

“Are we? We are, aren’t we.” After clearing his throat and raising his voice out of the bedroom levels, to my curled toes disappointment, he asked, “Where were we? Vector is always right … symbol of tin can. Ah, how does that symbol work?”

“Right now your phone and mine are connected like two cans with a string. We aren’t going through cell towers, no energy is being used. Your voice to my ear.” I swirl my finger in a circle, connecting beginning to end. My power adds a bit to the existing symbol. “Your battery isn’t being drained.”

I hear another “Really” and picture him pulling the phone away from his ear. “What do you know?” More clearly he says, “That’s cool.”

“I added a cloud of matching parenthesis around the outside so no one else will hear what you or I am saying either through bugs or eavesdropping. Always close your parenthesis so words don’t fall out.”

“Fuck, my apartment is bugged isn’t it?”

“What do you think?”

“I am much more naïve than I thought I was.”

(words 1,007; first published 4/7/2024)

Hold Me Against the Dark series

  1. I want you beside me… (12/31/2023)
  2. Someone who cares if you come home (3/31/2024)
  3. F is for First and Foremost (4/7/2024)


  1. Bridesmaid (6/30/2024)

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