Author: Radiki PM
In a city ravaged by violence, two vagabond teens with dark pasts and unusual abilities struggle to uncover the mystery behind the sudden crime wave and destroy it at its source. Fans of comic books and superheroes will especially enjoy this story.Rated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi/Adventure - Chapters: 9 - Words: 18,544 - Reviews: 10 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 4 - Updated: 05-09-13 - Published: 02-02-13 - id: 3097867
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The sun was once again setting over the city of Redhaven, radiating brilliant beams of red, orange, and azalea across the cloudless sky. Perched atop an old five-story parking garage, I reveled in the beauty of this river of color, savoring every second as that great big orb of life disappeared behind the mountains. Sunsets like these were one of the main reasons I came to Redhaven. However, casting my gaze down to the broken city beneath, I remembered the reason why I stayed.
Redhaven had been cursed in recent years with a drastic influx of crime: scores of thieves, vandals, and murderers, who pillaged as they pleased until the streets ran red with the blood of their victims. Its dimly lit streets, abandoned complexes, and hushed atmosphere all hinted of the dangers of wandering out at night. However, there I was, peering over the edge of my favorite garage, scanning every visible nook and cranny for trouble. One might ask what a 17 year old boy was doing, playing around in such a thug-heavy territory during their business hours. Well, let's get one thing straight: I am not an average teenager by any means. And those raggedly dressed muggers I spotted harassing an unfortunate (but stupid) young girl were about to find out why.
"… look, I don't have a lot, but here's my money. Please, just take it and go!" the girl bravely commanded, as the thugs backed her into a dead-end alley lit by two dim streetlights.
"Wow, lookie here, ten dollars! At this rate, we'll be rich!" the first mugger joked to his more reserved partner, who was repeatedly lifting his baseball bat and gently smacking it back down into his other hand. "Ha! Mommy shoulda given you a little more allowance, sweetie. Might have saved your life."
"Wh- what are you doing? I don't have anything else!" The girl barked, retreating futilely into the corner of the alley as the thugs inched towards her. With each step, her confidence slowly faded as the gravity of her situation began to sink in.
"Sorry, little girl," the first thug resumed, "but we have to get our payment one way or another. Blood works just as well as money."
Just as the muggers readied for their merciless attack, they were startled by the sound of footsteps and a sudden descent of darkness.
"Who's there?" the second thug growled, noticing his normally blabby partner was shaking too violently to speak.
"You want blood?" I hissed in a distorted, inhuman snarl, "Have a taste of mine!"
Before the first thug could open his annoying trap again, a crimson fist shot out of the shadows and decked him across the cheek bone. The force sent him flying into the wall face-first, just a couple of feet away from the increasingly terrified girl.
The second thug, being smarter than he looked, was able to locate my position in the darkness based off of the angle of my punch. He immediately swung his bat straight at my face with as much force as he could muster. The resulting impact snapped the bat in half, but something didn't feel right to the slugger. Knowing his adversary was entirely unphased, he began to step back.
The crimson hand flashed into sight again, grabbing the thug by his collar and yanking him into the unforgiving shadows. The girl heard a bloodcurdling scream, followed by the sickening thud of his skull on the pavement. And then, silence.
As suddenly as the lights went out, they came on again, revealing me, the average-looking kid in ripped jeans and a dirty gray t-shirt standing in the middle of the alley with a devilish smirk across my face. I began to walk towards the girl (who was still shaken, but relieved at this point) as the two red orbs I sent to blot out the lights jumped down to my shoulders before disappearing into my shirt. I stopped to check my reflection in a piece of broken glass on the ground, brushing a tiny chip of wood out of my jet black hair and blinking my icy blue eyes a couple of times. Satisfied, I raised my head in the direction of the girl. At this distance, I was able to get a good look at her.
If I had to guess, I would say she was about my age, standing (much to my chagrin) a couple of inches taller than myself. She was also wearing jeans and a t-shirt, but her purple top and intact denim were much more pristine than my getup. Flowing down her head, just past her shoulders, was a cascade of wavy, dark brown hair that beautifully complimented her auburn eyes and her tan skin. And those gleaming eyes were scanning me up and down repeatedly, while her lips widened in a nervous smile.
I guessed she was exhibiting… gratitude? I couldn't tell for certain. It had been too long since I interacted with another human. Anyway, I had also taken the opportunity to survey the entire length of the little lady standing in front of me. All I could think about… was how absolutely stupid it was for a beauty like her to be wandering alone at night in this creep-filled city! However, now was not the time for a reprimand.
"You dropped this." I stated as I handed her the ten dollar bill she tried to offer for her life.
"Your voice, it's… normal now," she exclaimed breathily, her heartbeat finally beginning to slow.
I returned that remark with an annoyed stare.
"I-I'm sorry. What I meant to say was thank you." She waited again for me to respond, and after a couple of seconds, decided to continue. "My name is Vanessa. Vanessa Bolting." She offered me her hand.
"Cole." I muttered, reluctant to draw out the pleasantries any more than I had to.
"… Cole, what?" she retorted with a little more confidence. When I again refused a response, she audaciously extended her hand further, never breaking eye contact.
Fine, I thought. One handshake wouldn't kill me. "My name is Cole Hawkins" I replied, resigning myself to the meeting of our hands. Hers was soft and smooth to the touch, while mine was rough and worn with battle.
"That's better!" She grinned victoriously. "So… you gonna let a girl walk home alone on a night like this?"
I grunted with amusement. Though annoying, this Vanessa girl was at least more interesting than the two meatheads I had just clobbered. Besides, I was planning to escort her home before I had even taken out the thugs. Otherwise, she probably would have been attacked by someone else.
So we began our leisurely stroll to her house, which she told me wasn't far. Normally, I would have tied up the unconscious thugs first, but I wasn't worried about them waking up. Although they were every bit as slow and stupid as the criminals, the police would eventually come by that spot on their nightly patrol and clean up the trash. After a couple blocks went by in awkward silence, little miss spunky decided to initiate some more small talk.
"So you must be the famous Redhaven Vigilante that people have been talking about," she said.
"You mean infamous," I swiftly corrected.
"Depends on who you talk to," she replied, just as quickly as I had. "To me, you're like a… a superhero or something!" She beamed at me.
With visible discomfort, I shrugged and joked, "Maybe I should wear a cape."
"I'm serious!" Vanessa snapped, slightly annoyed at my patronization. "You are making a difference here," she continued, and noticing my smirk at this remark, added, "if only a little," smiling impishly. "How do you do it, anyway? I saw that crazy hand of yours, and not to mention that terrifying voice. What's up with that?"
"That's my secret!" I snapped, shooting her an ocular warning. We were not about to cross into that territory.
"Ok, ok, geez… Anyway, we are finally here!" she exclaimed, stopping to lean on the post of an old bus stop.
"Good. Now go inside and stay out of tr-"
"Boy, am I hungry!" she interrupted, calling out to nobody in particular. "I could eat a horse right about now!"
"I told you to come alone," growled a shadowy figure that emerged from behind some old dumpsters across the street. He was wearing a black overcoat with a matching fedora, and appeared to be a peddler of questionable merchandise.
"I know, I know…" Vanessa began in a placating tone, "But it's dangerous for a defenseless woman such as myself to be running around at night. I needed some protection. So do we still have a deal or what?" she shouted at the mystery man, pulling several Benjamins out of her shoe and offering them to him. Somehow, it hadn't crossed her mind to offer that money to her previous aggressors…
"I was very clear earlier…" the man grumbled.
Picking up the threatening overtones in the man's voice, I swiftly stepped in front of Vanessa.
"Deal's off!" the man shouted as he brandished a tarnished silver pistol and raised the barrel towards my head. Chuckling at my chivalry, the man shouted, "I hope your 'protection' can take a bullet!"
"Oh, I'll do more than that," I snapped back. "You gonna shoot, or do you have as few bullets as you do balls?"
Insulted, my foe unloaded a single bullet square between my eyes. Vanessa's shriek of terror pierced my ear canal like a jagged knife, while the impact of the bullet sent a shockwave of pain rippling throughout my entire body. But I did not falter. Before either of them knew what happened, I shot the bullet (which failed to even penetrate my skull) right back out of my head and straight into the stranger's firearm, sending it flying into the air and almost breaking his wrist. Then, as quickly as I had returned his little present, I dashed straight for the stunned fool and finished the job with a flying kick to his cranium. My foot sent the man rolling fast and hard into the dumpsters he was hiding behind, his fedora flopping off his head in the spot where it first struck the tar. His limp body stridently collided with the metal trash receptacles before resting in a crumpled heap.
Now slightly angered, I turned to face Vanessa with as menacing of an expression as I could muster. The sight of my bullet wound closing on its own intensified the effect. She winced slightly, but otherwise remained glued to the ground. The game was up, and she knew it.
"You're coming with me!" I snarled as I power-walked towards her and snatched her arm. There was no doubt in my mind that someone had heard that gunshot; whether it was the police or more armed goons, I was not going to stick around and find out. Once we were safely tucked away in an alley a couple of blocks away, I resumed berating the lying "woman," as she apparently thought of herself.
"So let me get this straight…" I began in a deep, intimidating tone, "First, you pretend to be a damsel in distress to lure your 'superhero' out of hiding, and then you trick me into walking into a deal with an armed thug?! What were you buying anyway? Guns? Drugs?"
She didn't respond, probably out of shock that I was no longer fooled by her earlier performance.
"You have three seconds to answer me befo-"
"OK! OK!" she yelped, tears starting to well up in her eyes. "Look, I'm sorry! I just… I knew I couldn't trust that guy, but I'm running really short on food!"
"You're telling me all of that was over canned goods?"
I wasn't actually surprised, but my temper was still flaring. In truth, her story seemed plausible. In the especially impoverished areas of Redhaven, such as the Southern district we were currently in (as well as the Western and Eastern districts), even the food supplies were being controlled by dangerous folk. Most of the grocery stores in the city had closed shop to avoid the inevitable daily stickups, and the big chains that could pay for security had jacked their prices up to unaffordable levels. A vast majority of the food banks, soup kitchens, etc., had also been mercilessly conquered by the multiplying criminal factions. One might think that the police would have been able to prevent this violence, but they were too busy combating the many gangs, thwarting bank robberies and such, to help the little guy. And that's where I came in, although I was constantly struggling to keep things under control.
"Yes," she calmly responded to my outburst, "And that man supposedly had a big enough stash to keep me fed for quite a while. It's a shame that I just lost the only opportunity I had to find it."
"It would have been a bigger shame if he put a bullet through that pretty head of yours." I wasn't quite sure why I used those exact words. It seemed my normally vast reserves of anger were drying up. Not only that, but when Vanessa's cheeks started to flush with an alluring shade of rose, it only disarmed me further. After a short, but torturous silence, she spoke up again.
"Well, I have to thank you again. You've saved me twice now. In one night, no less…" she uttered, smiling in a way that was foreign to my socially inexperienced mind. "Maybe I am a damsel in distress!"
To this, I simply let out a single nervous chuckle.
"Ha! I knew I could get a laugh out of you!" She joked, chuckling herself. "So, um, would you be mad if I asked you to actually take me home?"
Regaining my stiff composure, I cocked an eyebrow in annoyance.
"I swear I'm telling the truth this time!"
"Fine. Lead on." I mumbled, surrendering yet again to this maddening girl. All of my instincts were telling me to leave the lying little vixen, but for some strange reason I just couldn't bring myself to abandon her. If any other person had been yanking me around like this, I probably would have given them the same treatment as the gunman or the two stooges. I was becoming a complete pushover…