The Midnight Rider - Party Time

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
The hero known as the Midnight Rider recounts his tale of how he came to be a superhero while he tracks a serial killer on the loose.

Submitted: October 31, 2011

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Submitted: October 31, 2011

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The Midnight Rider

“Party Time”

By

Matthew Blake Norwood

 

 

I’ve been hurt more times than I can remember.  I’ve been shot, stabbed, bitten, broke several ribs, and even had a tooth knocked out (it’s very noticeable too).  Yeah, I’ve had my fair share of pain, but nothing compares to the hurt you get from losing someone you love.

 

My wife, Annie McDermott, was murdered about two years ago.  Where was I?  I was away fighting the never-ending war on terror over in some Afghanistan hellhole; I was protecting the freedom of every citizen in the good old United States of America.  I hated every God forsaken day over there, and the only way to get through it was to remember her face.  The blue eyes, the sweet smell of her White Diamonds perfume, and that never ending smile was what kept me going for those six months.

 

I left that place for a much-needed six-week break; I remember being so excited on the plane ride home to see her.  I was welcomed home by yellow police tape and a barrage of cops asking me who I was.  William Hayes, the detective on the scene, reluctantly informed me that she had been murdered just two hours earlier.  I was absolutely devastated.

 

I immediately left Lincoln City.  I didn’t want to see her body because I didn’t want that to be my last memory of her.  I did go to the funeral, but I didn’t stay long.  I drowned my sorrows in Jim Beam for the next six weeks, and then went back to fighting the good fight.

 

My last few weeks over in Afghanistan ended with a discharge from my Commander.  He deemed me unfit to serve further in the US Army; he said something had changed in me.

 

I grudgingly came back to Lincoln City to find the place just as bad as ever.  It seemed like no one cared about anything anymore.  No one knew I was back and I intended to keep it that way, well, except for my best friend.

 

Gary Lewis is quite a character.  He’s like a blonde Silent Bob without the trench coat, and he never shuts up.  Gary’s father had passed away several years ago and left his son with a large inheritance fund.  Gary, not surprisingly, opened up a comic book shop in the heart of the city.

 

It was definitely a refreshing change of pace to see him; I was actually happy for a bit.  He quickly tried to con me, just like in high school, into doing something for him.  It’s funny; if I wouldn’t of accepted his “offer” then my life would probably be a lot different.  I’ll never forget the conversation.

 

“So,” he asked with that cocky grin, “You need a job?”

 

“You hiring?” I asked, not trying to be interested.

 

Gary looked around his comic shop, and it was empty as usual.

 

“Comics?  Hell no, that’s my job, but,” he said, pointing his finger right at me.

 

There was always a “but” when it came to Gary and his schemes.

 

“But, what?” I asked.

 

“I need you to be the Midnight Rider.”

 

“Okay, and who’s the Midnight Rider?” I asked.

 

Gary clapped his hands together with glee and that distinct toothy grin spread on his face.  He had me, and he knew it too.

 

“I’m glad you asked,” he said.

 

Those were the death words.  I could never say no to him whenever he uttered those four words.

 

So, to make a long story short, I agreed to play dress up as the famous comic book superhero.  He offered to put me up in his spare bedroom until I got on my feet, and I couldn’t say no to that.  I’ll admit, he was right about one thing.

 

“Dude, you are perfect for the part,” he said.

 

Yes, I was a young, tall and muscular guy, and I was pretty athletic. I also had what he called the superhero square jaw, whatever that means.

 

So, after I agreed to play the part, he told me it was a simple meet and greet with kids and their parents the next day at his store; there’s always a catch when it comes to Gary.  Now that I think about it, I’m not sure what he would’ve done if I hadn’t shown up.

 

I took the suit to my new place, and the suit fit right in.  The spare bedroom was being used to store dozens and dozens of different little superhero dolls, statues, posters, and other stuff; it was a freaking museum in the place.

 

I unzipped the suit bag and took it out.  It was kind of hokey, but put together well.  The suit was almost all black, but it had a dark blue tint to it.  It came with a black/blue trench coat with a hood, and a Batman-like cowl that had the top cut out; I don’t know why, but I guess the Midnight Rider liked to show off his hair or something.

 

I spent the rest of the night hanging out with Jim Beam and making fun of Gary’s corny superhero stuff.  I woke the next day in a drunken haze and looked at the clock.  It was noon and the superhero meet and greet started at noon.

 

I ran the six blocks to get there, suit in hand.  I was almost there when I bumped into a women and her young son, who were coming out of an ice cream shop.  The kid’s ice cream cone was now all over me; luckily for the Midnight Rider, his outfit was protected in a bag.  After apologizing, I walked the rest of the way still covered in vanilla goo.

 

I finished the meet and greet and entertained the kids.  It was kind of fun, and I enjoyed it.  I know Gary enjoyed it; he apparently made a lot of money.

 

As I went to leave, I realized my clothes were still covered in vanilla ice cream, and there was no way I was getting back into those.  I decided that since the costume had a coat, I could just cover up with that and be good.  I was about halfway home when Jim Beam came calling, and I figured “what the hell”.  It’s funny, I went into that store a drunk looking for a fix, and came out a hero.

 

I entered the small store quickly with my head down.  The store clerk, whose nametag read Marcus, didn’t even bother to look up.  I marched to the liquor aisle and found Mr. Beam, and that’s when it happened.

 

Two armed men came into the store and pointed their guns straight at the clerk.  I quickly ducked down in the aisle so they couldn’t see me.  I just wanted to stay there until they left, but something got under my skin.  I kept thinking of Annie, and how she had died.  I then thought about the store clerk and how if he died then it would be my fault.  I didn’t want to live the rest of my life with this guy’s death on my conscious too.  I finally snapped.

 

I put the cowl on, but I wasn’t sure why at the time; I guess because I didn’t want to be seen.  I would love to say that I jumped into action and sent those thugs to planet Jupiter, but that’s not exactly what I did.  I calmly stood up and spoke like an idiot.

 

“Get out of here,” I snarled.

 

The two thugs turned and looked at me like I was completely insane; I probably was at the moment.  They laughed at me as one of them turned his gun on me.  I began walking towards him, not caring if he shot me; I guess I had a death wish. I guess the costume had the thug mesmerized or something because I went straight at him, and in a flash, disarmed him.  I was unbelievably quick; so quick, that the guy didn’t know what hit him.  The other thug turned around just in time to take a punch square in the face and went down.

 

They were both out cold.  I checked their weapons, and unsurprisingly, they were unloaded.  I stood up and looked at the clerk.  He was still frightened, but was now jumping up and down with excitement.

 

I walked back to the liquor aisle, grabbed a bottle of Jim Beam, and headed back to the checkout counter as the clerk watched with amazement.  I sat the bottle down.

 

“I’ll take this,” I said.

 

The store clerk chuckled and waved me off.

 

“Shoot, brotha, it’s on the house,” he said.

 

He picked up the bottle, studied it for a second, bagged it, and then handed it back.  I didn’t know what to say, but I figured I should say something.

 

“Thanks,” I growled.

 

I turned to leave.

 

“Say, Jim!” yelled the clerk.

 

I turned back to him and stared.

 

“That’s one bad outfit!”

 

The media frenzy the next day was unbelievable.  The Midnight Rider incident was everywhere: newspapers, television, radio, and the Internet.  The leaked surveillance footage was a big hit on YouTube; it had racked up almost 10 million views in less than twenty-four hours.  It was crazy.  Fortunately for me, the lone camera in the store had been positioned behind the clerk, and didn’t manage to catch my face as I went into the store; it did, however, capture the entire Midnight Rider takedown of the thugs.  Everybody was caught up in the craze, especially Gary.

 

“You need to keep doing it, it’s awesome!” he said.

 

This was after he figured out I was the culprit everybody was talking about.

 

I’ll admit, I did feel good after taking out those guys; I actually went to sleep that night without even opening up the bottle of Jim Beam, and I haven’t drank since.  I still keep the bottle as a reminder of my first heroic attempt.

 

For the next several weeks, I actually considered taking Gary’s advice about becoming the Midnight Rider for good.  After debating forever with myself, I finally decided to do it.  I asked Gary for his opinion.

 

“What, are you crazy?” he asked.

 

That wasn’t the response I was looking for, but I could tell in his eyes that he loved the idea.

 

“A few weeks ago, you told me I should keep doing it,” I said.

 

Finally, that familiar smile spread over his face and I knew we were both in for a hell of a ride.

 

The next few days were bizarre; Gary was into full-blown superhero mode.  He scoured the Internet for supplies.

 

“Supplies?  What do you mean?” I asked.

 

He pulled an assortment of things on Amazon.  I’m not even joking.  It’s actually quite amazing what you can find on that site.

 

“You need a better costume.  A bullet proof vest for starters,” he said, as he added it to his online cart.

 

We got all kinds of different things; throwing stars, some kind of tree climbing spikes, night vision binoculars, smoke grenades, and some kind of Para-cord bracelet.  We got everything.  The suit was almost entirely new; I became outfitted with protection over my entire body.  I did, however, keep the original trench coat and cowl.

 

The first few times out as the Midnight Rider were a bit rough.  I got my previously mentioned front tooth knocked out courtesy of an altercation with a group of gang-bangers.  It was worth it, though, as I saved a poor girl from being raped.  I managed to survive my encounter with the gang by using some of my trusty smoke grenades.

 

I didn’t go out every night, at first, but I started training every chance I got.  It was like I was preparing for a marathon; I would run eight miles a day.  I still do.

 

As I prowled the streets as the Rider, I kept in touch with Gary via Bluetooth that was connected to a handheld walkie-talkie.  Gary would monitor the police airwaves and alert me where to be and when to get the hell out.  He would also keep track of me through a GPS device; we actually had a pretty cool set-up.

 

I was cleaning the streets of Lincoln City up.  There was one particular problem, however, that kept eluding me.

 

The media dubbed him the Raven Killer; a serial killer that had a current confirmed body count of 29.  He would strike at least once a month, sometimes twice.  When I began researching this sick bastard, I stumbled upon something that turned my blood ice cold.

 

I posed as an Internet blogger doing a “whatever they do on Internet” piece on serial killers and snooped around the police precinct.  It turns out that the detective in charge of my wife’s still unsolved murder, William Hayes, was also in charge of the Raven Killer’s murders.  I found out that was no coincidence.  Hayes informed me that my wife was the very first victim; this revelation prompted Gary to spew one of his most insulting lines ever to me.  I will admit, though, he was right.

 

“Dude, this is weird.  It was like you were meant to be a real superhero,” he said.

 

I really didn’t know where he was getting at.

 

“How so.”

 

I was curious.

 

“You have the cliché superhero backstory and everything,” he said.

 

I still didn’t know what he was talking about.  I just looked at him funny.

 

“Well, this Raven Killer guy, he’s like your main villain.  Well, he was responsible for your wife’s death, which in turn, caused you to do what you do.”

 

Call me whatever you want, but I couldn’t take that.  I left and stayed away for a few days.  I went out as the Midnight Rider to clear my mind, but I found myself in a few situations where I needed Gary.  I was lucky to get out of those altercations as good as I did.  I went back to him and we both apologized to each other.

 

Oh, did I mention why they call this murderer the Raven Killer?  The sick fuck (excuse my language, but I feel it’s appropriate here) likes to carve out the eyes of his victims.  Creepy, huh?

 

Well, all of this backstory leads to now.  It’s Halloween and I have exactly three hours to investigate eleven parties before the Raven Killer strikes his next victim.  How do I know this?

 

A couple of days ago, I received an unmarked envelope in the mail from the Raven Killer himself.  The envelope contained a typed letter and eleven Halloween party invitations.  The letter read:

 

Dear Hero,

 

I know you are on to me.  Good job, so far.  I propose a challenge to you.  You are eager to meet me, and I am just as thrilled.  You have no doubt looked over my little party invitations.  Trust me, they are real.  All of the parties happen to begin at 7 o’clock, which means you have exactly 3 hours to find me at one of the locations.  I shouldn’t be hard to locate because I am you and you are me.  Have fun, and don’t forget the clock starts ticking at 7.

 

Your pal,

The Raven

 

I knew he was the real deal because he had somehow found where I lived.

 

It’s four o’clock right now.  I’m not sure where to start.  It was obvious that he was going to be dressed as the Midnight Rider.  Guess what the most popular costume in Lincoln City is this Halloween?  Bravo.  Marks my words, I will find him.  I will make him pay.


 

It’s after midnight, and what a night it’s been.  Let me start from the beginning.

 

I grabbed my Rider gear and left at five o’clock to prepare myself.  As I began to head out, Gary chimed in.

 

“Dude, you’re leaving now?” he asked.

 

“I just wanna clear my head before it begins,” I said, “I’ll turn on the Bluetooth at seven.”

 

Gary understood that tonight was THE most important night of my life.  My face burned hot as I thought of Annie.  I held back tears.

 

“Just be careful,” he said.

 

It’s funny; Gary has never once said that since we started this whole crime-fighting thing.

 

I arrived at the first apartment building and decided to head to the roof and wait.  The place was very affluent; rich kids, no doubt.

 

As night began to creep in, I paced the roof in nervous anticipation.  I didn’t expect the Raven Killer to be present at the first party, but I was taking no chances.

 

I peered out to the city and watched the various cars go by.  The city looked quite beautiful from this vantage point; the orange and purple blend of the falling sun perfectly outlined the giant skyscrapers that overlooked the city.  Tiny chatter from some kids below forced a small smile out of me.  A strong breeze blew in and cooled my warm face; I had to admit that the setting was great, peaceful.

 

I took in a deep breath of the cool air, and that’s when the stark smell of something burning brought me back to reality; it smelled of stale gunpowder mixed with a little bit of death.  It was the smell of war.

 

The setting before me was a façade, but it was a definite goal.

 

I opened my bag and proceeded to transform into the Rider.  As I put the cowl on, I looked out one more time at the setting.  I made a silent promise to restore this city to good, and bring this Raven Killer to justice.

 

I looked down at my watch; it read 7:01 pm.  It was officially party time.

 

The first five parties were clear of the killer; all I got were strange looks from the partygoers.  It was as if some of them knew that I was the real deal.  The sixth party would turn out to be the one, sort of.

 

Party six was located on the eighth floor of a high-rise apartment complex.  I pounded on the door in an effort to combat the loud rap music coming from the place.

 

An Asian kid dressed up as a pirate answered the door.  He slurred his way through a greeting.

 

“Come on in!”

 

I brushed him aside and made my way through the maze of people, searching.  I ran into no less than two Midnight Riders, but neither were the killer.  After searching for several minutes, I was about to give up when the party DJ made a peculiar announcement.

 

“This goes out to that special hero that haunts the streets of Lincoln City.”

 

“The Midnight Rider” by The Allman Brothers Band began to play.  I knew he was here.  I looked around some more, but couldn’t locate him.  It was after nine and time was running out.  This place was huge, it seemed like it took up almost the entire eighth floor.

 

I finally spotted another Midnight Rider hanging around the entrance of the party.  He was watching me very closely.  I stopped dead in my tracks and penetrated him with my gaze.  He met my cold stare with a silly clown-like wave and left out the front door, in a hurry.  It had to be him, and I followed.

 

As I reached the hallway, the dark figure went through a corridor leading to the stairs.  I went through and saw him heading for the roof of the place.

 

I opened the door to the roof and was immediately met with a steel pipe shot to the back of the head and I went down.  The killer proceeded to kick me in the ribs several times, but they didn’t phase me.  I don’t know if it was my gear or if I was being fueled with anger, but I didn’t feel anymore of the connecting blows.  I stood up like a man possessed and stalked the killer.  He began to cower away from me; I couldn’t believe it.

 

The anger flooded through my veins as I picked him up and stared into his glazed eyes.  I began to beat the crap out of him.  In between gasps for breaths and cries of pain, he kept telling me to stop.  I finally stopped as he lay in a heap on the ground; I wasn’t going to kill him.  He would rot in prison for what he did.

 

“Matt?  Are you there?  Matt?”

 

It was Gary.  I had lost communication with him sometime between the third and fourth party visit.

 

“Yeah, I’m here,” I said.

 

“You are being played,” Gary said.

 

“What do you mean?” I asked, still watching the killer lay in his own pile of blood.

 

“You’re being played for a fool,” he said, “He’s already struck.”

 

Impossible, I thought, I have him right here.  I then realized I was completely wrong.  I had been played for a fool.

 

I looked down at the decoy, and felt ashamed of myself.  The poor guy was now crying.

 

“One second,” I told Gary.

 

I bent down to the crier.  He looked up and shielded his face with his hands.

 

“No more, no more!  Please!” he screamed.

 

“Who told you to do this?” I asked.

 

I knew the Raven had convinced this guy to do it.  I should have known this would happen.

 

“Some guy.  He paid me five hundred bucks and told me to watch for a big guy dressed as you,” he revealed.

 

My blood ran hot; I was so angry.

 

I stood up and began to pace.

 

“Gary!  Where’s the victim?” I shouted into my Bluetooth.

 

“Just come home, dude.  I’ll tell you when you get here,” he said.

 

I knew something was different this time.

 

“Tell me.  Now,” I demanded.

 

“Alright.  Okay.  It’s at Quickies,” he informed me.

 

Quickies was the store where I had became the Midnight Rider for the first time.

 

“A body was thrown the through the door.  The eyes have been cut out,” he said.

 

“I’ll be back soon,” I said.

 

I knelt back to the decoy.

 

“Did he give you anything?” I asked.

 

The guy’s eyes grew wide and he pulled out an envelope.

 

The envelope had something small, solid, and square inside.  I opened it and took out the letter first.  It read:

 

Welcome to the party!

 

I then took out the object; it was a nametag.  It read the name “Marcus” with the words “says hi” underneath in blood.

 

He had welcomed me to the party, all right, his party.

 

I will find him.  I will make him pay.  Today is the day I prepare to crash the Raven’s party.


© Copyright 2017 blakenorwood. All rights reserved.

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