Bob Sparker and the Static Addicts
Written and illustrated by Pauli Kohberger
Table of Contents
Fall in Electricopolis was largely indistinguishable from spring, summer or winter, save for the crisp bite of cold in the air and the seasonal menu changes at the various cafes and coffeeshops. It was at one of these coffeeshops that Bob Sparker sat at, bundled up in a coat and scarf, with one of his very best friends, Kelly "Cowboy" Kim.
"You always were pretty skinny, long as I've known you," Kim remarked. He wore a long-sleeved shirt, jeans and a bandana, and that was all he needed. "You should put some meat on those bones."
"You sound like my mom," Bob laughed. "She's always saying that. Say," he said, nodding over to the pile of mail Kim had brought with him, "what's all that?"
"Oh, it's old fan club stuff," Kim replied mildly. He flicked open a small pocket knife and sliced open one of the envelopes. "I found some letters I'd never opened, back before the Cowboy Kim Fan Club shut down."
"I remember that," Bob mused. "I used to be way into that back in the day. Man," he sighed. "I wish I had a fan club."
"You probably do," Kim said. "Have you ever checked your fan mail?"
"Fan mail? It all goes to Zap! Entertainment," Bob said, thinking about it. "I guess I could check it out sometime. I never expected I'd get very much of it."
"Try it," Kim suggested, smiling warmly at his friend. "A lot of the clubs are online now, from what I hear, but they still get together sometimes. You just gotta..." He trailed off, unsure how to approach the subject. "You just gotta be careful, sometimes."
"Careful?" Bob repeated, leaning over the table. "Of what?"
"Well, you know how it is," Kim laughed nervously. "Sometimes these fans can get a little overzealous. I tell you what, I've never had any hate mail, but I sure have had a lot of love letters. You just gotta let 'em down easy, sometimes."
Bob sat back, laughing too. "Not me," he said. "I'll date all my fans. Why not?"
"Don't joke, Bob," Kim admonished lightly. "Some of these folks'll want you all to themselves."
It was a few days later that Bob Sparker called him up, talking a mile a minute in his slightly high-pitched, wheezy voice. "You won't believe it," he stammered. "I do have a fan club!"
"I told you so," Kim laughed. "Tell me all about it."
"It's called the BSSA–Bob Sparker's Static Addicts!" Bob explained. "They watch every episode of Shock 'Til You Drop as it comes out, and they have T-shirts and pins and everything. They even make zines!"
"Zines, huh?" Kim considered. "Those little handmade books? I've got some of those from back in the day. People used to write their own episodes of my radio show."
"Yeah! Anyway, all this is to say that I reached out to them and we're gonna plan a meet-and-greet! I rented out a restaurant for it on the 13th!"
"Did you run this past your manager?"
"My manager? Well, my manager is basically Mr. King, at this point," Bob reflected. "My real manager answers to him, anyway. No, I didn't tell anyone. I kind of just wanted it to be a surprise."
"You really should do this by the book, Bob." Kim grabbed his landline phone--an old-style rotary one--and began to pace around, talking. "I mean, the relationship between stars and fans is an old one. There's rules in place and everything to keep folks safe. And besides, your manager probably has a lot of experience with wrangling stuff like this. At least let them know you're doing it."
"Okay, okay, I getcha," Bob groused. He tended to do this often, steaming full-speed ahead without thinking of the consequences. "Say...you wouldn't happen to be free that day, would you?"
"The 13th? Believe I am," Kim said, his characteristic drawl creeping into his voice. "Why?"
"Well, I was wondering if you'd come with me," Bob asked. "I mean, it's my first time doing anything with my fans, and, well..." He trailed off for a moment. "I'd just like you to be there."
Kim hesitated, leaning against his sofa with one hand on the phone and the other holding the receiver. Bob's voice had a note of vulnerability in it, something young and tender that always made Kim stop in his tracks. In many ways, Bob Sparker was still the starry-eyed fan around Kelly Kim that he had always been, and Kim felt a sort of paternalistic urge to protect and mentor him.
Despite his misgivings, he smiled. "Sure, Bob," he said warmly. "Sure I'll come."
The meet-and-greet was surprisingly low-key. Kim had been expecting something with balloons and noisemakers, given how rowdy Bob himself was on TV. But when Kim and Sparker arrived early at the restaurant, there was only one person at the table.
"I'm Matthew Kuromori," said the leader of the fan club, who was a lanky, lean young man with sleepy eyes and a faint mustache. "Thanks for this. I know you must be a busy man."
"It's no problem," Bob said eagerly, shaking the man's hand. "By the way, this is a friend of mine, Kelly Kim. I asked him to come along--hope you don't mind."
"Of course not," replied the young man, smiling under heavy-lidded eyes. "Cowboy Kim, right? I've heard of you."
"You have?" Kim replied, surprised.
"Well, most serious Bob Sparker fanatics have," Matthew replied. "I mean, it's hard to forget his role as Cottonmouth. Really dramatic. 'Kim Meets Cottonmouth' is one of my favorite stories, honestly."
"Well, that's real nice of you to say," Kim said warmly, smiling back. "Don't mind me, though. I probably won't talk much."
"Oh, talk as much as you want to!" Bob laughed, nudging Kelly Kim with an elbow. "It's good of you to get out once in a while."
Slowly, the other members of the fan club trickled in. There were only about seven of them. They varied wildly, which Kim didn't quite expect: one was a young girl who could have only been about eight years old, and another was an older lady whose eyes sparkled with glee when she talked about her idol.
"It's all about how you move," she gushed. "The way you just dance across the stage, oh, my! It's mesmerizing!"
"Aw, thanks!" Bob grinned from ear to ear. The flattery definitely didn't go to waste with him. "I've got all that excess energy to burn up, you know. Say, what's everyone's names here?"
"Oh, let me introduce everyone," Matthew said. He went around the table. "Like I said before, I'm Matthew Kuromori. I live on the outskirts of 2-3 North. That's Evelyn Lee," he said, gesturing to the older woman, who blushed and waved. "She makes a lot of handmade goods for our meetings, like shirts and flyers. She's very talented."
He continued, pointing past Evelyn further down the table. "The girl down there is Lucy Thorn," he said, and the girl nodded solemnly. "She's our vice president, actually. She's super serious about the whole thing. More than I am," he joked.
Moving down, he pointed to two laughing ladies sitting next to each other on the opposite side of the table. "Next we have Fujiko and Raiko," he explained. "Fujiko is the tall one with the long hair and Raiko is the big one with the short hair. They're sisters I met in college. I kind of roped them into the club," he said, winking at Bob. "They help out with all kinds of stuff, though. They're really good sports about it."
"Then the guy with the glasses is Cecil Notus," Matthew continued. Cecil adjusted his glasses nervously. "He's our treasurer and event planner. And that's all of us!"
"Matthew, Evelyn, Fujiko and...Raiko?" Bob repeated. Raiko flashed him a grin and a thumbs-up. "Raiko, got it, then Cecil. Sorry if it flies out of my head," Bob laughed. "It takes me a while to learn names."
"Oh, don't worry about it," Lucy piped up. "Um, we actually have something for you that might help. We all signed this for you."
She pulled out a card and passed it over to Matthew, who passed it to Kim, who took a glance at it as he handed it to Bob. It was a get-well-soon card signed by the members of the Static Addicts, with little messages and lightning bolts doodled in.
"We heard you had to go to the hospital," said Lucy. "So we made a card for you. We were gonna send it in, but then you got out the day after, so..."
"Awww, thank you so much!" Bob held the card to his chest, beaming. "Really, you're great, all of you."
The rest of the meal passed without incident, although Evelyn did tend to steamroll the others when it came to conversation. At some points it was all Bob could do to smile and nod, but then he would deftly turn the conversation to focus on someone else. He's not bad at this, Kim thought, watching him. He's a natural, actually.
Kim watched him carefully. Still, something wasn't quite sitting right with him. Maybe it was nothing, but...
He let his gaze drift a few inches to the side. Matthew Kuromori sat with his elbows on the table and his hands folded together under his chin, nodding along with the story Bob was telling. But his eyes weren't focused on Bob...
They were focused on Kim. And the look in his eyes was cold...
Kelly Kim caught his gaze, and Matthew instantly looked away.
"So, what do you think?" Bob asked, as they walked back to Bob's apartment from the restaurant. "Nice bunch, don't you think?"
"I think so," Kim said, "though that Evelyn lady talks a mile a minute. Kind of reminds me of someone."
"Even I had trouble keeping up with her!" Bob laughed. "Still, it's probably just nervousness. After all, it's not every day you meet Bob Sparker." He smiled up at his friend. "Say, something on your mind?"
"Just that Matthew kid," Kim confessed. "He seems nice, but...he kept looking at me."
"I noticed that. Maybe he's got a crush."
"Why not? You're a handsome guy," Bob remarked nonchalantly.
Kim's face began to turn pink. "Aw, Bob, you don't mean that."
"I do." Bob grinned. "Why do you think I was in your fan club?"
Kim attended a few more of the low-key get-togethers. Slowly, the club started to expand: seven members became eight, eight became ten, and soon, ten became twenty. "Well, we're going to need another venue for the 28th," Bob said over the phone, hashing out another meet-and-greet with Matthew. "That restaurant's not gonna be big enough for all of us."
Kim looked through a magazine, only half-listening to the conversation happening in the background of his house. Bob hadn't come over in a while, but now that he was here, he seemed to be spending all of his time talking about and to the fan club. Kim tried not to let his irritation show.
"I did get your package," Bob said, pacing through Kelly Kim's living room. "Yeah, I'm wearing the new tie right now! It looks great! You didn't have to go all out like that--" He paused. "Oh, she did? Well, tell Miss Evelyn that it sure fooled me! Looked like my own tailor did it!"
After a few more minutes, he hung up the phone. "I gotta find a new venue for this shindig on the 28th," he said. "You know any good places, Kelly?"
"There's the Summer Theater," Kelly replied slightly absentmindedly. "I think it's on 2-2."
"That place closed years ago," Bob replied.
"Oh," was all he said.
Bob paused, waiting, and then rolled his eyes. "Okay, what's wrong?" he asked. "C'mon, tell me, won't you?"
"It's not nothing. It's the fan club, isn't it?" Bob said guiltily. "I know, it's rude of me to just gab on the phone while I'm here. I'm sorry."
"It ain't that. I mean, it is, and thanks for apologizin', but..." Kim gave him a look. "Don't you think you're getting awfully cozy with your fans?"
Bob wrinkled his nose. "What are you talking about? I was joking about dating them."
"Not like that, just..." Kim set down his magazine and sighed. "You know what, forget I said anything."
Bob stared at him for a moment, and then his brow furrowed in a glare. "I know what this is," he said. "You're jealous."
"Wh--" Kelly pulled back. "I am not--I'm not jealous," he protested, and even as the words came out of his mouth, he realized Bob was right.
"I can't believe you. I thought you'd be happy for me," Bob said, and in his voice was a mixture of anger, hurt, and confusion. "I mean, all my life I've wanted this--to be like you!"
"Like me?" Kim repeated, aghast. "You?" He was not a man who was quick to anger, but the comparison burned in him like a lit coal, and he scowled. "Bob, I like you. Really, I do. But I don't prance around on the stage, sendin' people to the hospital 'cause they wanna make a quick buck. We are not the same."
Bob pulled back as if he'd been slapped across the face. He looked crestfallen for a moment, and then he erupted. "Well, too bad for you, you washed-up old fossil!" He strode over to the door, opened it, and looked back over his shoulder with a glare. "Maybe you'd still have your fan club if you were!"
The door slammed shut with a loud bam that knocked a packet of letters off of the nearby desk. Kelly cringed at the sound, then knelt down to pick up the letters.
They were to Bob, from his fan club. He groaned, tossing them aside.
He didn't hear back from Bob for one week, then two. Ordinarily, Kim would have reached out first, but (and he had to admit this to himself) he was afraid. Afraid that not giving his friend enough time would irreparably harm their relationship, and afraid of the conversation they'd have to have. Despite playing a heroic cowboy on the radio, Kim felt like a coward instead.
And then he saw it in the newspaper:
MAJOR STAR DISAPPEARS! WHERE IS BOB SPARKER?
"MAJOR STAR DISAPPEARS!" read the headline. "WHERE IS BOB SPARKER?"
Front and center of the newspaper was a photograph of Bob grinning ear to ear as he signed autographs outside of the studio. "Bob Sparker, well-known game show host and one of Top Tier's highest earners, has never been late for work," read the article. "Only very rarely, due to medical issues, has he ever missed a day..."
Kelly looked down further in the story, skipping past the biographical patter. "The last time witnesses recall seeing Sparker was after Saturday's taping of primetime game show Shock 'Til You Drop, when he signed numerous autographs and joked with his fans. After security waved them away, Sparker entered a dark car with one of them and exited the scene. Since then, any attempts to contact him have failed, and neighbors report not seeing him return home."
Kelly looked back at the image, scanning it for clues. The first thing he noticed was that, while Bob was signing one of the autographs, he wasn't looking at the adoring fan he was signing it for. His head was turned, his mouth open, smiling at...a familiar face with sleepy eyes, messy hair, and a faint, patchy mustache. Matthew Kuromori.
The young man had an arm around Bob's shoulders and appeared to be tugging on his lapel with the other. His head was turned towards Bob as if he were whispering to him.
Kelly felt his stomach twist. He knew that kid hadn't been up to any good, although, to be fair, his hunch was based mostly on jealous suspicion. Was he the fan Sparker had entered the car with? Where had they gone?
He paced around his living room, thinking, feeling the slow chill of nervousness crawl up his body. Certainly the police were involved, if there was a write-up in the paper. They'd be able to do more than Kelly Kim,aging radio star, surely could. And Mr. King of Top Tier wouldn't spare any expense to find his number one earner.
And then Kim remembered:
"Did you run this past your manager?"
"My manager?" Bob reflected. "No, I didn't tell anyone. I wanted it to be a surprise."
Kelly groaned and rubbed at his face. Had Bob been meeting with his fan club behind his crew's back the whole time?
The fan club...
Kim turned around. The packet of letters was still sitting on the desk from where he'd haphazardly tossed them after Bob stormed out the door. He drew close to them, reaching out his hands to shuffle through the pile. None were from Matthew, but one of them--a yellow package envelope--had the home address of a Miss Evelyn Lee.
"Oh, Mr. Kelly Kim!" Evelyn gushed as she opened the door to her modest townhouse. "The cowboy! Please, come in!"
"Thanks," he said, smiling nervously as he stepped over the threshold. "Sorry for callin' on you like this out of nowhere. I just want to ask a few questions."
"It's my pleasure. Just imagine, having a radio star come to my humble home!" Evelyn laughed, walking past her living room to the kitchen. Kim peeked in the living room as he passed: there was an ironing board set up with a white T-shirt with a cartoon of Bob's face printed on it. Kim looked away. "Can I get you something to drink, sweetheart?" she cooed. "Some tea or coffee?"
"No, thank you very much," Kim said in his deep voice. "I actually wanted to ask if you'd seen Bob recently. Everyone's looking for him."
"Oh, that nasty business," Evelyn sighed, putting a hand to her face. "I do hope Matthew knows what he's doing. That whole business about 'making Bob Sparker exceed his limits' sounds so...ominous."
"His limits? What?" Kelly stammered, shaking his head and trying to focus. "What exactly is Matthew going to do?"
Evelyn shrugged. "I wish I could tell you, dearie, but Matthew wanted to keep the whole thing a big surprise from us plebeians. I tell you, the boy's a darling, but he drives me crazy not letting me in his 'inner circle!'" She busied herself with putting on a cup of coffee as she yammered on and on, seemingly unconcerned by what she was saying. "He says it's something about the initiation being too much for an old lady to handle. Well, the joke's on him: I'm not even that old! In any case, I've been part of the fan club since the beginning, so you'd think I would be allowed. Humph... Are you sure you don't want something to drink?"
Kim held up a hand. "No, no, I'm...I'm fine. Where is he? Where can I find him?"
"Well, I can tell you where he lives. He's on the far side of 2-2, in a big old house right up against the city walls. You can't miss it; it's made out of black wood. And if he happens to be there," she said, her face betraying a sly smile, "give him a good box on the ears for me, will you? And tell him that he should really be treating old ladies like me with more respect!"
She was right: it was a hard sight to miss. The Kuromori house was a slightly run-down, slightly lopsided monster of a house, made entirely of ebony wood and wrought iron. It towered over the rest of the lot it was on, which was bare save for a sorry-looking wooden bench.
Kim hesitated. There was a good chance Matthew was inside the house. Was he ready for this? Half of him wanted to run away and leave the whole matter to the cops, but from the sound of things, time was ticking, and Bob might not have much of it left.
He tried the doorknob, and it turned easily. He pushed the door inwards and it swung open with a creeeeak. Kim stepped inside.
The house was full of dust, and the nearby lightswitch didn't seem to work, so Kim pulled out a heavy flashlight and flicked it on. A carpet led up a nearby hall from the foyer to the kitchen, passing a room he guessed was a parlor. And directly in front of him was a flight of stairs that led up to the second level. He swung the flashlight upwards, revealing a teenage girl with pale skin and long, black hair, clutching a knife in her hand.
Kim let out a yelp and jumped so high he nearly hit the ceiling, but the girl simply looked at him stonily. "You a burglar?" she asked.
"N...no," he gasped, putting a hand over his heart. "No, ma'am, I'm not."
"Oh." She lowered the knife. "Okay, then. You could have just knocked, you know."
"A-apologies, ma'am." Kim was still vibrating with shock. "Uh, I'm looking for someone."
"Is it my big brother?" she responded in a deadpan voice. "If you're looking for him, he's not here. He's off playing with his little fan club."
"How--how much do you know about the fan club?" Kim asked, finally regaining some of his composure. "Can you tell me what he's gonna do with Bob Sparker?"
"Buddy, I can't tell you what the hell he's on about, ever." The girl shrugged. "I'm trying to do a podcast and he's on the phone talking about how Bob Sparker is what the town needs to survive, and I'm just like, damn, shut up already. I'm trying to record. He should go marry the guy if he loves the little gremlin so much."
"What's a--" Kim was about to say 'podcast,' but he shook his head. "Never mind. Do you know where they are now?"
"Yeah." She hesitated. "Wait, who even are you? Why should I tell you any of this?"
"I'm a friend of Bob's," Kim explained. "Kelly Kim."
The girl pulled back, her eyes wide. "Oh my god. You're Cowboy Kim? The radio guy? Oh my god, you are. You got the voice and everything." She waved her hands close to her face, almost squealing. "I gotta ask you about your setup! What kind of microphone do you use? Should I get a pop filter after all?"
"Ma'am," Kim said, exasperated, "I'd be happy to answer your questions, but right now I'd like to stop your brother from doing whatever he's gonna do to my friend."
"Right, right. Serious time." The girl's face fell back into her normal stony visage. "Anyway, there's this power plant he and his weird friends hold parties at down in the first tier. He said he was gonna go there and not be back until late. Here, I'll write it all down for you."
As he held the flashlight, Kim watched the girl write down an address. And, underneath it: firstname.lastname@example.org. "That's my email," she said. "The name's Annie Kuromori. Drop me a line once you're done kicking my weird brother's ass. I wanna collab."
Normally it was impossible to get into the maintenance level without authorization, but before he had left, Annie had explained how to get to the power plant without being seen. "Just be careful," she said. "My brother's kind of a pushover, but I don't think his goons are. You'd better take something with you."
And that was how Kelly Kim, aging radio star and part-time cowboy, found himself sneaking into an abandoned power plant while clutching an aluminum baseball bat to his chest. It wasn't hard to figure out where exactly they had taken Bob Sparker: the lights along one exterior stairwell grew brighter and dimmer, rhythmically, like the beating of a human heart.
The pulsing lights grew stronger and stronger as Kim ascended the stairwell, criss-crossing along the outside of the structure as it jutted high into the air. Above him arched the cavernous ceiling of the maintenance tier; he could hear something echoing off of it. Something that sounded like a cry.
Kim leaned over the side of the stairwell, squinting up past the lights, trying to see toward the roof. He was still only halfway there, and if Bob was in danger, he might be running out of time...
He looked around. There was a ladder that traveled up on the outside of the stairwell. Kim steeled himself, tucked the bat under his arm, and started climbing up the ladder. As he drew closer and closer to the roof, he could hear voices that grew louder, and as he pulled himself up onto the top of the power plant, he finally, finally saw Bob Sparker.
He looked terrified. He was standing on the roof with his arms out to the sides, his wrists bound with copper cables that were bound to the jutting spires of the distribution machinery. Near him was Matthew Kuromori, his back to Kim, holding a walkie-talkie.
Kim barely had time to look Bob in the eyes before a blast of electricity crackled along the wires and into the man's body. He yelped, his hands tightening into fists, his body stiffening up. There was a faint smell of smoke and ozone in the air.
"I'm telling you, I need more power!" Matthew ordered into the walkie-talkie. "It's not enough!"
There was a crackle from the transceiver. "We don't wanna kill him!" said someone; Kim wasn't sure, but it sounded like it might have been Cecil Notus, the treasurer of the club.
"Aw, stop your whining!" came a young, bratty voice from the walkie-talkie. Lucy, probably? "How's he holding up, Matthew?"
"He's fine," Matthew responded. Bob was anything but: he panted heavily, his body sagging against the wires. "Give him another jolt."
"Stop!" Kim cried out.
Matthew turned around to look at Kim, and grinned at him from under sleepy eyes. "Oh, it's you," he said nonchalantly. "You're just in time. Pull up a seat and maybe you'll get to see the fireworks."
Kim advanced on him, brandishing the baseball bat. "What are you doing? What are you talking about?" he demanded. "What's going on here?"
Matthew's grin grew broader. "History, Mr. Kim. I'm giving this city what it needs--what it deserves." He lifted the walkie-talkie to his lips. "Hit him again."
Another jolt. There was a sizzling sound as Bob cried out again, louder, his body writhing in the cables. "You see," Matthew intoned, "what I'm doing is pushing Mr. Sparker here to his limits--past his limits. When a human transcends their limits, only then can they become a god!"
"You're killing him!" Kim cried out. "Stop it, before I--"
"Before you what? Beat me with a baseball bat?" Matthew laughed. He squatted down and waved a hand. "Girls!"
A pair of shapes stepped out from the shadows. Kim blinked. He recognized them as Fujiko and Raiko, from their body types, but their faces were hidden behind smooth, egg-white masks.
Before Kim could say anything, Fujiko lunged at him. Her long, pale arms shot outwards, and it was all Kim could do to duck just in time to feel the air whistling past his head. Unfortunately, Raiko was shorter than her partner, and she was able to knock Kim to the ground with a well-placed punch. Soon the two were bending his arms behind his back, making him groan with pain as he struggled to his knees.
"Nice try," Matthew chuckled, leisurely walking over to him and placing a knee underneath Kim's chin. He tilted it upwards, forcing Kim to look him in the eye. "You're pretty fit for an old guy."
Kim gritted his teeth. "So you're all in on it," he said. "This was never a fan club, was it?"
"Oh, it's totally a fan club. We love Bob Sparker!" Matthew laughed, turning to where Bob panted and heaved in the cables. "That's why..."
He paused to pull off his long, striped sweater. Kim gawked. Crawling up Matthew's arms were long marks like lightning bolts, pinkish-red on his pale skin. They traveled all the way from his fingertips up his elbows and down his torso, converging on his heart like a map of his nerves.
"We want to be just like him," Matthew said. "We electrocute ourselves. This is what you have to do to become a member of the true organization...the Order of the Shattered Sky." He drew himself to his full height. "We're the only ones who see Bob Sparker for what he really is, and what he truly can be--the god of Electricopolis!"
There came a faint whisper. "Stop..."
Kim turned his head. So did Matthew. Bob raised his head slowly from where he hung from the cables, wincing as he did so. "I'm not anything like that," he protested quietly. "I'm not a god..." He hung his head. "I'm just a guy on TV."
"What? That's not true!" Matthew said. He knelt down, grasping Bob's face in his hands and turning it upwards. "You can withstand more shock than any of us! People line up for months just to get a taste of your power," Matthew explained with a fervor that made Kim shiver. "And they come back for more! They worship you!"
"No." Bob turned his head away, breaking the boy's grasp. "I--I don't want that. That's not what I want to be."
Matthew looked at him for a long moment, then began to shake with anger. "Too bad!" he spat, "because that's what you are!" He raised the walkie-talkie to his mouth once more. "Cecil! Lucy! Hit him a--"
All of a sudden, Bob brought a knee up into Matthew's stomach, making him double over in pain. Fujiko and Raiko lurched forward reflexively, and Kim took the opportunity to wrench his arms free and yank their legs back, one of Fujiko's legs in one hand and one of Raiko's in the other, sending them slamming face-first to the ground.
He looked around, grabbed a coil of nearby cable and quickly looped it around their ankles and wrists, hog-tying them with a practiced ease. Matthew looked from him to Bob and back again, and, not liking his chances, turned tail and fled for the other stairwell.
"He's getting away!" Bob yelled.
"Nope," was all Kim said. He grabbed the cable, looped it together, swung it round his head and sent it flying towards Matthew Kuromori, a picture-perfect lasso toss that yanked the boy back so hard he fell backwards onto the rooftop.
With Matthew and his henchwomen seeing stars, Kim raced over to unbind his friend. "You okay, Bob?" he asked. "Usually you can handle a shock or two."
"That...that was stronger than anything on the show," Bob laughed weakly, slumping against Kim's broad frame. "I guess I'm not much of a god after all, huh?"
Luckily, Bob had his cellphone in his pocket, and the police arrived not soon after Kim made the call. In the few moments before they and the media showed up, Kim and Sparker sat together on the rooftop of the power plant, with Kelly Kim's strong arm wrapped around Bob's shoulders.
"I'm sorry about all that stuff I said," Bob sighed, leaning against his friend. "About you being old-fashioned."
"I'm sorry too. I didn't mean what I said about your job."
"No, no, you're right." Bob looked downward. "I'm starting to think this game show host gig isn't all it's cracked up to be."
"Well..." Kim looked out over the expanse of the maintenance tier, dotted with lights. In the distance, he could see the sparkling blue and red lights of the cop cars coming nearer. "I wouldn't blame yourself for this one. I don't think anyone could have seen this kind of thing coming."
"I guess not." Bob let out another sigh. "I just..." He trailed off. "I really am not like you at all, am I?"
Kim looked down at him, a pang of sadness in his heart. "Hey, now," he said quietly, giving Bob's shoulder a little shake. "Enough of that. You don't gotta be anything except Bob Sparker. That's enough for me."
"Kelly..." Bob smiled. He sat up and closed his eyes, giving Kelly Kim a brief kiss. "Thanks for saving me, cowboy."
Kim blushed. "Anytime, partner. Anytime."