Monday, May 21, 2012

Chapter 3

     More gunfire ripped through the subway platform, punching holes through the policemen before they could pull their weapons. The old station master was nearly beheaded by the sustained fire of a Tommy Gun, while Mullins took two square to the chest and one to the throat. The coroner, diving face first into the liquid remains of Four Fingers, squawked like a bird as the bullets flew over his head.
     Rose lay on her back, mere inches from the dreaded third rail, coursing with the power to push a ten ton train through the dark tunnel, the wind knocked out of her from the fall. As bullets tore into the rear wall, raining concrete debris down on her, she tried to get to her feet.
     A hand shot from the shadows, grasping her arm, pulling her to the ground.
     “Stay down”, commanded a voice from the darkness.
     She couldn't help herself as the scream of shock and horror passed from her mouth. A figure stood beside her in the darkness, holding her amidst the carnage. She tried to pull away, not registering that he meant her no harm as he flung her around to the safety of the wall.
     “Damn. Now they know you still live.” The voice was calm, in control, and the hand that clasped her was strong in its grip, but not painful. “Stay against the wall, woman. Don't move and I may be able to cover you.”
     As he let go of her, he spun towards the platform, pressing his back against her. She felt a light, but thick fabric cover her as the illumination from the station was extinguished by the gunfire. Up on the platform, voices could be heard, and running feet. She tensed herself to scream for help as electric lanterns pierced the dark, but she caught herself at the last moment. It wasn't help that was coming.
     It was the killers.
     Through the fabric she could make out the shapes of men as they neared the edge of the platform, sweeping their lights along the midnight-dark tracks, searching for the survivor who had screamed. Their lights passed over she and the mysterious figure, but the men didn't seem to register them. It was as if they weren't there at all. And in that moment, in that perfect instant of silence, she knew...
     It had started a few months before, the whispers among criminals and those who held the night of a vengeful and terrible force that hunted the worst of their kind in the darkness they preferred. Some claimed it was a man who could fly, others that he was impervious to bullets, but most of all, that in the stillness of the night, he was invisible, undetectable. Others claimed it wasn't a man at all, that nothing human could do these things.
     It was a legend of course. Everyone who had heard the mad tales had assumed that the urban jungle had merely created another myth, like alligators in the sewers, and generations living in the tunnels beneath the city. Rose herself had laughed when a scared old wino, having discovered the body of a degenerate rapist, shot through the heart in the park by persons unknown, had told her of a winged man that had disappeared before his eyes.
     But it was true! The dark figure held her tight behind him, unmoving, barely breathing, his great coat shielding them somehow, even when the light was directly on them. She realized in that moment, that the legend must be true.
     “Get down there and find it, dammit! And find the girl, too.” The voice from the platform was commanding, forceful and full of menace. One of the men jumped to the tracks, only three feet from where Rose and the mystery were hidden. He swept his lantern across the ground, illuminating the debris, the dust, and Billy Fische's face, no longer handsome, or attached.
     Rose gasped at the sight, and all lights turned towards the sound. The figure dropped the hiding cloak, and spun, twin .45 automatics in his grasp, spitting death into the villains, hurling the one on the tracks to his death, if not from the bullet in his chest, than from his contact with the electrified rail. As electricity coursed through the murderers body, he stiffened and convulsed, firing his Tommy Gun uncontrolled into the subway platform, killing one of his cohorts, while her savior killed two more in the same instant. The villains retreated.
     The myth turned to her as he fired. “Down the tunnel, while you still can!” He continued firing as she raced into the darkness.

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