Author: Randall S Crowley PM
A couple of high school kids are brought closer by their mutual interest in the nameless vigilante that appeared in their city. But in their quest to discover his identity, they may put themselves in greater danger than they thought as they become targets to his enemies. Rated T for violence and language.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Romance - Chapters: 17 - Words: 65,333 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 04-03-13 - Published: 01-07-13 - Status: Complete - id: 3090048
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"Dinner, Billy !"
"Coming, Mom !" the boy said, before returning to his Facebook conversation with Sally:
William: u serious ?
Sally: yes, I'm sure there's a guy after me. Saw that car many times, always near me. Near the house, near the handball club, always see it. Even took a picture. Look.
Seconds after he received the picture of a white van, the kind that had no windows on the back. Billy couldn't distinguish the driver, but the licence plate was clearly visible.
William: creepy. I can tell my dad if you want, they'll find him easily with the licence plate.
Sally: no, I got no evidence, maybe I'm just imagining things. And I don't want to have bizness with the cops again, not after september and the whole thing with Tommy.
There was a pause in her writing. The rest of her message appeared about a minute later, and it made Billy's breath stop:
Sally: but if something happens, you'll know what to do right ? I mean, someone else but the cops can deal with it.
His fingers remained still over the keyboard. He didn't know what to answer. What exactly did she know ? Had she found out ? Had she guessed it all by herself, or had he been careless ? He liked her, no, he loved her, but he knew her admiration for him had no limit... and she might put herself in danger. That's why he'd never told her anything.
"Billy !" his mom called, impatient. He saw this as his chance to escape. He hastily wrote an answer and logged off:
William: right. Gotta go, mom's calling for dinner.
A wolf whistle resounded in the night, among the low brick buildings of the older part of the town, stuck between the recreational area - where all the bars and clubs were concentrated - and a residential neighborhood of modest apartments. The boy who had produced this whistle laughed at the girl to whom it was directed, a rather pretty blond who looked like she was leaving a club and going home. He laughed as the girl quickened up her pace in fear. His five friends laughed with him. The predators had found their prey for the night. They were all wearing white caps. The street was empty: the crowd was concentrated in the bars up the street, and down it was only the apartments, where everyone was sleeping. The girl was alone and defenseless, and they knew that.
They chased her, jeering at her distress. She didn't respond, only stepped faster and faster, until she started to run, and they ran after her, excited by the chase. In her desperate flee, she turned at a corner, and left the street to enter a parking lot nested in the shadow of the apartment buildings all around it. Bad choice, they thought, enjoying their victory. But when they arrived in the lot, they found no living soul. There were a few cars parked, and the place was only lit by one lamppost.
"Where is she ?" the boys wondered aloud.
"Looking for someone ?" answered a growling voice behind them. They startled, turned round and saw the black figure of the vigilante standing on a car, looking down at them. "The girl is safe," he continued, jumping down to their level, "her help was greatly appreciated. I've been dying to meet you bastards. Good thing you're easy to notice with those caps."
And without any further introduction, he punched the nearest boy. His move triggered a chaotic ballet of punches and elbow strikes, tackles and headbutts, roars and groans, sweat and blood. They all went after him. And he had the upper hand. They were many, but they were used to taking on weak, terrified targets. He was used to taking on targets larger than him. Two were down when the unexpected happened: a shock on his back. Pain radiating from a shoulder to the other. He groaned, tripped. Looked around quickly. Reinforcements. He hadn't been fighting the whole gang. Now he was. They were about a dozen. The one who attacked him from behind had used some kind of stick. One of them took advantage of his loss of balance to tackle him against a car, then a sharp pain appeared on his stomach. He looked down to see a knife plunged deep into his jacket. Not that deep, he thought, superficial wound. Don't lose it !
The knife bearer must have been surprised not to see him fall dead, for the vigilante easily snatched the weapon from him, then grabbed his head and smashed it against the car's window. It broke, an alarm echoed loudly in the night. He took advantage of the confusion to force his way out of the melee. Using weapons was not in his habit. Not comfortable with the knife, he waved it in front of him in large slashing moves. He didn't touch anyone, but at least he had broken free and now turned round to come face to face with the gang. Too many, he thought. He'd never fought that many at once. He breathed heavily, adrenaline rushing at full speed. They charged. The boy with the stick was the first to attack. The vigilante had to drop the knife to block the attack with his two hands, then pushed, ramming the other end of the stick into the guy's gut, who released it. Alone against a dozen, he now had a weapon to even the odds. He did well for about thirty seconds, before he was overwhelmed and wrestled to the ground. They were all over him, holding his arms and legs, keeping him down. Another pain in his gut. He had just been stabbed again. And once more. And once more. The knife had cut three times into the jacket. The vigilante wasn't struggling anymore. He went limp. Slowly, with heavy panting, the gang members stood up and dusted their clothes, laughing in relief.
"Fuck, we got him at last ! Sucker was a tough one ! Hey, dude !" he said in the direction of the corpse. "Mr Jones says hi !" He then spat on it.
"Guys," another one said, the one who'd stabbed him, "wanna know who was behind that mask ?"
"Sure, man ! You deserved it, do it !"
They all gathered around the corpse, bent down in excited expectation. His knife still in one hand, he put his other hand under the helmet, searching for the strap. He found it, and just at this moment a gloved hand grabbed his wrist and a heavy boot kicked him in the crotch. He dropped the knife and collapsed. The vigilante had come back to life ! Swiftly, without giving them any time to recover from the surprise, he kicked wildly around to give him space to get up, got up, picked up the knife as he did, and slashed the air to keep them at bay. He felt the blade hit something. Heard a yell. He had touched one of them, a large scar now cutting across his cheek, gushing blood.
He turned back and fled. A wooden palisade stood in front of him, separating the parking lot from an inner courtyard for the tenants. In his rush, he climbed it easily, dropped in the lawn on the other side, rushed to the opposite palisade and climbed it to land in the street. The gang was after him, he heard them climb. He ran down the street like Hell, trying to get to his bike. Too many, he couldn't fight them all. Had to run.
Two White Caps boys appeared in front of him, forcing him to stop. Crap. They had taken another way to surround him. The others quickly caught up behind. He raised the knife in a threatening manner, ready to fight to the end. A siren echoed in the night. It was not the car's alarm, it was another sound. Getting closer and closer. They saw it rush in, an unmarked police car with a single flashing blue light on top. The car parked hastily beside the group and two cops in plain clothes jumped out, guns in hands.
"Police ! Freeze !"
The White Caps boys wasted no time running away. One of the cops took out a walkie-talkie and called for backup to catch them, while the other was pointing his gun at the vigilante. He was shocked to recognize the famous Lieutenant Jack Brewster.
"Drop the knife, boy !" he ordered. The vigilante complied. Lieutenant Brewster said: "Don't use weapons, ever. If you end up killing someone, it's jail for you, get it ? Now, get lost, and stay out of our job. If we see you again, we'll have to arrest you."
He holstered his gun and was ready to return to the car when the vigilante called out: "Have you found the crack houses ?"
Brewster sighed. "You were misinformed, buddy. It was all empty when we checked them. Told you, it's our job, we don't need you. Go home."
The car sped away, leaving him alone in the street. He clenched his fists in despair and frustration. How was it possible ? He was sure of it ! Burton must've warned them but they would never have had time to empty everything ! Unless... unless there was a mole among the cops who helped get rid of the evidence. Trying to calm down, he rested against a wall and sighed deeply. He was exhausted, both physically and mentally. He unzipped his jacket to look at the armor he was wearing underneath. It was a red foam breastplate, the kind that was used in martial arts competitions. There were four holes in it, and now that the adrenaline was receding, the pain was coming in with full force. That kind of protection was only meant to cushion blows, it was easily pierced by a blade. Its thickness had just prevented the knife from digging too deep into the flesh, but it had still cut the skin in a painful way. He'd never been through that before. He had been reckless, and he lost his first fight. He realized now that he had been successful so far because he had counted on the effect of surprise, beating up people like meat before they could understand what was going on. This time, they were expecting him. He remembered the words, "Mr Jones says hi," and realized this gang was no ordinary gang: they knew he would come after them for their crimes, and their objective was to kill him in the name of Bronco Jones. Burton had warned him. Maybe he really was starting a war that was too much for him to handle.
Billy struggled through class the next morning. He hadn't slept well that night and was in zombie mode now. At noon he tottered through the cafeteria in search for a place to sit, looking at the food on his tray and thinking it might awaken him a bit. He had barely settled when Sally showed up. She looked damn serious.
"Bill ? Can I talk to you ?"
"Err, yeah, sure... something's wrong ?"
"You remember that weird van following me ? I saw it this morning, near the school... Bill, I'm scared."
This woke him up completely. "Sally, you sure you don't want me to call my dad ? This looks really serious here. Last night he arrested two guys from the White Caps Gang, you've heard of them ? He caught only two but the rest are still running around. What if it's them ? I don't want you to get hurt, Sally, I lo... I like you, and..."
"No," she said, "told you I may be wrong about it... sometimes I just think I'm getting paranoid... and I don't want to get noticed... again. Just, if something happens, will you..."
Again, she'd ask that. What exactly did she know ? That was bugging him to no end, and he interrupted her: "I'll take you home after class."
"Can't," she answered, "I finish earlier than you today."
"So you can wait for me ?"
"No, I got handball right after class."
"And you can't skip handball just this once ? Sally, please do that for me, it'd kill me if something happened to you."
She smiled warmly at him. "Thanks, Billy... you're a real friend, you know... okay, I'll do that, I'll wait for you."
A voice called out her name. She turned round to see a group of kids waving at her. The popular kids. She was to eat with the popular kids, not with him. "See ya later, Billy !"
He was now fully awake, but this situation worried him greatly and he couldn't focus any better in the afternoon classes than in the morning. When the so awaited five o'clock bell rung, he rushed out of class and went to his locker where Sally was supposed to wait for him. His heart froze. She wasn't there. He looked around, panicked, like a rabbit caught in the lights. She was nowhere to be seen. Impossible, he thought, this must be a nightmare, she couldn't have gone on her own when she had promised...
His phone vibrated. He took it. Answered immediately when he saw the name.
"Sally !" he shouted. "Where are you ? Are you okay ?"
"Billy !" her voice was choked with tears of anguish. He could hear it. Oh my God. "I'm sorry," she said, "I should have listened to you... I tried to go on my own, and he got me ! I'm scared, Billy !"
"Where are you ?"
"I don't know... in the back of the van. I'll send you my location. Please do something !"
She hung up. For a few dreadful seconds nothing happened, then he received a Facebook notification. The GPS Location app !
"Sally Lomax is at Cavalera Bvd with 0 friends."
He sighed in relief. He had the position. Time to move on.