Dark Alleys: Vigilant

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic
A man, like any other man, makes it his responsibility to purge his city of crime. But does he have what it takes? Is he willing to sacrifice everything and everyone he loved?

Submitted: November 11, 2011

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Submitted: November 11, 2011

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illis quos amo deserviam

I live in a city no longer in serenity, where the streets are overrun by riots, with corruption around every street corner, a murder in every bleak alley and not one person to try and stop it. I lived my life wishing and hoping the world will soon be rid of these creeps. But now, I realise that without these yobs, how would we know if it is peace that we want and, on the occasion, wish for. It is peace that I am thriving for now. When will that be? A question, I know, may never be answered. Though nothing - and I mean nothing - shall stand in my way to achieve it. Tonight is a dark and cloudy night, a night I feel most in content with. A night, provided I stay out of the streetlights, hides me very well. Sitting, perched on a graffiti ridden wall, I listen for the incoming police sirens and to what direction they are headed. I hear them slowing down near the high rise flats, a block away from where I am located. Using my in-ear radio transceiver, I hear on their radios they are going to do a drug raid in the ground floor flat of the high-rise next to me. By what it looks like, the police do a poor job of surrounding the area. So I guess there to be only a handful of police officers.

They say nothing not even to announce their presence. Obviously the sirens were enough of an announcement. They break down the council door. I guess they would more likely fine these crooks to pay for the damage. Shouts echo, shots are fired, glass shatters and fall to the floor. It is then I remember my mortality, not the fear of it, but the fact this could be my last act is enough to give me a buzz. Fear is something I have not felt for so long. I hear feet treading on broken glass, running from the scene with a couple more speeding footsteps behind them. I rush towards the runners with my black, hooded cloak billowing behind me. Keeping out of site, running and leaping from garden to garden, I keep a steady pace behind them. One set of footsteps I hear, quickly taking a different direction and the pursuers carry on running forward.

I run into a shadowed corner so to shroud myself from view. I see a small, stocky, kind of tanned male who could be no older than 19. This had no concern to me, crime is crime and crime has no limit on age. He was twitching, looking nervously to his left and right, probably to see if anyone was still pursuing him. On the odd occasion he would look up, so, he could be on something. He’s paranoid and it gives me the advantage. Small garden lamps and one security light reflect off of his blue and white tracksuit. Judging by the state of his hair, I presume he also sported a baseball cap that must have fallen off during his escape. I switched on my distorted voice amplifier situated around my neck like a choker, pulled up my hood – since that is where the microphone is built in to – and spoke. The distortion gave my voice a smooth, tri-octave tone.

“Hiding does not seem to be your forte. You may have eluded the police, but no one, ever, escapes me.”

His eyes dart around with fear. He must not know where the voice is coming from. He tries to bring courage to his aid. That or just sheer stupidity. There is a very fine line between the two and I should know. From his hiding place he walks out, and while looking for where my voice could be coming from, he calls out, trying to keep some form of courage in his voice.

“Where are you?” Obviously the courage does escape him. “S-stop playing games and show yourself, y-you coward.”

“So you think this is a game?” I respond. “So says the one, the one who is running from the drug raid and the police.”

“I run from no one.” Now, you can hear he is trying to be tough.

I laugh a bit. “Ha-ha. Foolish, you are. You try speaking brave to something you cannot see. To someone you know nothing of.”

By this time, though I believe he may not have known with his back to me, he was quite close to where I was hiding. This in mind, I activate the light on my full face mask. Not bright enough to blind me, but enough to startle and catch the attention of this brute. He quickly turns around to find a crescent floating about a foot above his head. With this new light, I could see he was either Hindi or Pakistani. On me, the light lit up the definition on my all black outfit though it made the emblem on my chest glow a slight purple.

The idea for this outfit came from my most favoured comic book hero, I remember. How his emblem sat upon his dark chest. How his cape made him look omnipotent. How his mask helped induce fear into his enemies. The way his costume completely masks the true nature, the person it contained. To keep and maintain a certain obscurity about this said character. Yes, he may be fiction, but all the crimes he fights, I know are real.

“W-w-what, who are you?” Whatever courage he had had definitely avoided him.

He tried to run away, but he didn’t get far when I pulled my whip out from behind me and cracked it at his ankles. He found himself stumbling clumsily to the floor. I walk towards him, whip in hand. As he got up, he tries to deliver a punch to my stomach. I move to the side just in time and bring my knee up and into his side in which he collapses to the floor. He tried to make a grab for my feet and he merely misses. He spins round on to his back and manages to sweep me off balance slightly. He uses the moment to get up off the floor and I see something glint in his hand. In a matter of seconds, he was right in front of me. Close enough for me to smell the weed on his breath.

Suddenly, I felt the knife sink slowly through my side and it just missed the kidney with warm liquid starting to escape, little by little. No, it doesn’t hurt but it is oh, so, mightily uncomfortable and has restricted my movements, rendering me unable to twist my waist much. So, now the choice is whether or not I pull out the knife or do I just leave it in? I weigh out the pros and cons. Once out, my movement won’t be so restricted and since I seem to heal fast, I know the blood will clot within half an hour and will start to scab over. The knife in; means I can dispose of this evidence to my being, in a careful, subtle, discreet manner.

The guy uses my indecisiveness to his advantage to escape. It was then I decided to pull out the knife, bury it in a rubbish bag and chase after him. He weaved in and out of alleys, crossing roads and eventually near the local police station. I think he was ready to hand himself in instead of getting more of a beating from me. But the anger of getting stabbed was so overwhelming that we ended up going at it with our fists. Judging by the way he moved I assumed he was an ex-boxer. After only a few moments of fists slamming into faces and barraging into ribs, I swing my head forward right to the top of his skull. His legs falter and he collapses, I tie his arms and legs up with those little plastic ties you can get from any DIY store and left him on the doorstep. That was when I realised, remembered and spotted the CCTV on the corner of the road. I had been knocking him unconscious under the watchful eye of the law.

The mystery on how countless criminals ended up handed to them on a silver plate, how some evidence manages to get delivered, anonymous tip offs to certain drug handouts now gone. Yes, there may be a mask over my identity, but I didn’t want publicity. No knowledge that there is at least one of me trying to keep the streets clean. But now, my existence will be discovered by anyone who watches that video. It’s not like I have a hook up to where the feeds go to. I only setup a retrieval cable to send me information via satellites that are easy to hijack. I run as fast as I can, making sure I run in the opposite direction of where I want to go, knowing that whatever camera is watching me is following me. I am very grateful that the top I wear absorbs any blood spillage so it doesn’t land on the cement. I run off into an alley, phone the police to let them know about the delivery, and I follow the alley to a residential area, where I go the way I need to so I can get back home. Back to assess what damage I have taken and make repairs where needed. Make repairs to my body and my clothes. All I can say for now, at least my identity is safe.

After taking a quick patrol round the area, keeping the radio transceiver on, I go home. Even though I live on my own, I still keep myself hidden, making my way to the garden and through the back door. Off comes the uniform and underwear; on go a clean pair of boxers and a bathrobe. I lay the worn, sweaty clothes onto the sofa ready to be washed. I cook myself grilled steak and omelette, keeping my protein and iron up to subsidise for my lack of sleep and help maintain my muscle mass. As the sun decides to glimpse over the horizon, I begin my daily workout; stretching, sit-ups, press-ups, chin-ups, squats and jump rope. Doing this ritual, I stare off to the open door way, recalling a memory of not having such an empty house.

A bit over a decade ago, way before I had the thought of donning a mask, I had a normal job; a basic, forty-hour, steady paid, slow paced job. At home or down the gym, I would exercise and also do kickboxing. When I devoted time to exercise and kickboxing at home, I would occasionally spy my little girl watching me with intrigued eyes. Then on other occasions I would catch her mimicking me in her bedroom which I thought was cute. You could see the determination on her face, as if she had the aspiration to ‘be like dad’. It made me feel so warm inside. But I noticed her form was sloppy and, though she was young, I asked her if she would rather do it with me. My wife, who had a keep healthy kind of policy, had no qualms with it. If anything, she encouraged it.

Exercise became more fun; I was able to sell most of my dumbbells and, with the aid of my daughter, was able to pick her up for my biceps and triceps and other muscle building exercises. She would also sit on my back as I would do my press-ups. She would obviously do the same exercises, but with obviously much lighter objects. I wouldn’t allow her to have anything on her back during her press-ups as her little body was still developing. I didn’t want to even consider causing damage to her. As she got older, she steadily got heavier which helped me to tone up and not to uncontrollably bulk out. It was perfect. The Mrs would sometimes sit in and watch or join in. I was even able to bench press her as she was a stone or two heavier than our daughter.

Not only would I train at home and the gym, I would sometimes go down to the exercise park which was just over half a mile away from where I lived. There are balance beams, climbing poles, net ladders, chin up poles and the rest. I would set myself a course and always aimed to beat the time I set the last time I was here to insure I will improve. Afterwards, I sit myself down and begin to meditate. A balanced mind helps a balanced body and vice versa. I do this to try and keep in tune with everything around me from a blade of grass, to the busy traffic on the motorway 3 miles away from me. Yeah, I know, it’s corny, but it is the best way for me to wind down and beat my insomnia, other than a bit of puzzle solving to keep the brain stimulated.

-

Four years later (which also happened to be about four years ago from the present) was the turning point for my life. I was at work sorting something out in the store cupboard when I hear bangs cracking through the air, and shouts echoing through screams. I guessed we were being robbed. Why else would there be such a ruckus in such a small box of a building? I tried to figure out which choice was better, escape, fleeing like a coward, or hide, cowering in this small dark room. Seconds went by and my decision was made for me as I heard footsteps treading heavily along the carpeted hallway floor. I hid myself into a corner, away from the opening of the door. He slowly opened the door and poked his head in.

With a sudden rush, impulse and instinct taking over my body, I grabbed hold of his head, my hand closing around his mouth. He was quite a big lad and I managed to summon all the strength I had to slow his breathing down enough just to make him pass out. I have no intention of killing anyone. Why should criminals get the easy way out? I dragged this lump into the storage cupboard, thoughts running through my head. ‘How am I to escape?’ ‘Should I try to save everyone and help them to escape?’ ‘How could I do any of this?’ ‘Can I really take down a group of people?’ I close my eyes and take a deep breath. I know someone is going to come looking for him, soon. That’s how it would normally play out in the movies. So I take his jacket and balaclava to put them on myself, I was really grateful that we shared the same clothing size.

I find some bandages with which I tie his feet and hands together and duct tape to gag him. I didn’t want him coming to and out while I try to solve my way through this extreme puzzle. I picked his gun up with the tip of my fingers so not to get my finger prints on the weapon. I place it on shelving situated above and behind his head, in view for anyone who came in to see. I nabbed a bit of paper and quickly, I roughly scribbled a note saying ‘come in and get me’ making sure it didn’t look like my handwriting and I roughly, shove the note into my pocket.

I knew taking them down was not going to be an easy mission. I know the dangers it possesses, the difficulty of such task. But I had to do something; I couldn’t just sit it around and wait. At least here was an opportunity for me to put everything I have learned to good use. I felt the adrenaline pump through my body; sheer excitement tingled over my skin, the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end. I felt alive. I tried to think this carefully through, but before I had the chance, I hear another set of footsteps approaching. This was easier than I thought. Maybe, I would be able to just play it all by ear. But I know a job can only be done as great as the formula that bonds it.

Again, I push the door to, but, instead of the crook peering in, he walked steadily pass the door. With him ahead, I gently pull the door open which eventually let out an excruciating but silent creek. A slight disappointment, but as he turned his head around to find out what had made that sound, I jabbed forward and hard straight to his temple. He fell to the ground like a sack of potatoes; no sound escaped his lips, except for the ‘oof!’ as his lungs made hard impact with the floor. Knowing the others in the main room were probably filling the sacks, the sound of their looting deafening them from what was happening back here. I tied him up like I did the other thug and placed him close to the other one, tying both makeshift cuffs together to make it hard for them to break free.

I made my way to the main room without being noticed and surveyed the area. I noticed that the small explosions I heard were the security cameras being taken out. All my colleagues were huddled together, one, a middle-aged woman, had her hand cupped other a bloody mess on her thigh. I felt anger rising up inside me though I made sure my logic was still intact. I see where the other crooks were and felt relieved that there was only two left. I hear sirens and cars screeching to a halt. I had to work fast, so I casually walked over to the robbers, then behind them. I picked up a monitor and with a swift movement, to the oaf nearest me, brought it down hard over his head. He went down and his friend looked round, his eyes wide with shock. He quickly brought up his gun and aimed it at me.

“What are you doing?” He asks me, obviously thinking I was one of his friends.

I shrug my shoulders, ducked down away from the gun and ran straight for him. He tried to hit me with a punch, slow enough for me to avoid and punch him straight in the chest. I was thankful that my colleagues stayed where they were told. They must have been scared since one got shot, afraid for someone else to get wounded or worse. I manage to weave my arm behind him and grabbed him by the scruff of his clothes. I spun him round and slammed his head hard onto the desk. I felt powerful, invulnerable; I had taken everyone out which I thought would have been the hardest part of the job. Now, I had to get everyone out without them noticing that it was me who had saved them.

“Get to the entrance now and keep on looking out!” I bellowed, knowing that they will obey from the shock. “Then leave!”

As they all got up I managed to get off the jacket and mask. The mask I kept on me, knowing my DNA was inside it and I rushed to join them leaving. I don’t think they would realise if I was there or not through all this shock. We got escorted by the police to a safe spot and the officer that escorted me, I gave the note to, and explaining that one of the crooks gave it to me to give to them. I felt relieved I had gotten away with it. It was then I decided to fight crime and I have always used this first experience as a monumental day in my life, the day of my transition. The day I put on a mask.

After finishing the body warm up, I go into the shower to get myself cleaned and to inspect the wound I sustained. No inflammation around the area was a good sign, and it had formed a nice, dry scab. The shower got steamy at a steady pace - I never liked really hot showers - so the progression helped relax my body. I saturate my body in water and scrub myself down. After 20 minutes, I dry myself thoroughly and put on my lounging clothes. Lucky that today was a Saturday, I would have had to go to work and I throw myself into the armchair with the remote in my hand and I switch the television on. I flip the channel over to a news station so I can keep up with what is going on out there and to see if there was a follow up on anyone I handed in. After one bulletin, about an achievement of some elderly, a video capture was shown. The video displayed a man being hit from a black blur. I never thought that capture shot would have been so bad. My guess is that they had attempted to zoom in.

“It was brought to our attention early hours of the morning,” the news reporter announced, “that the victim filmed was apprehended and soon discovered to be an escapee from a drug raid, late last night. Information shows no idea on how the man had got here but from what can be seen on the video feed.” She took a breather for the clip to be shown again. “The man in question said it was like he was fighting something that had come out of a comic. We don’t know how legitimate this comment is, since drug tests proved him positive of class-A drug use.”

I was amazed at the outcome but still knowing that everyone will be watching this, publicity will soon follow along with assumed rumours.

The reporter carried on; “no-one, so far, can determine who or what exactly attacked this man, but if anyone has any information about this attack, could they please contact the proper authorities as soon as possible.”

Just before the news story ended, my landline rings. Knowing who was on the other end, I went straight to the phone to answer it. As soon as I picked it up, the voice confirmed it.

“Why don’t you just give it up? You’re known of.” My ex-wife must have been watching the news, her voice was erratic. She had made me choose between family and fighting for what I believe in, yet she is persistent in making me give it up. “Surely, the criminals are going to think twice now they know something is watching the streets at night. If you stop now, I will come back to you.”

“It’s not as easy as that, and you know it,” I say calmly. “Crimes don’t settle down. They try even harder.”

“You are just bringing up excuses to carry on. I thought you loved me?”

“Hey, don’t you try that on me. You know I love you, I just wish you would support my beliefs.” Sometimes I do wonder if she is thinking about me in all of this, or herself.

“I don’t want to find out that your body got picked up out of a ditch somewhere.” I hear sobbing down the receiver and I roll my eyes. “I don’t want to be the one identifying your body.”

These conversations were always endless. She always has the option to come back home, but she refuses unless I give it all up.

-

It was dark and I was out on my usual patrols, darting in and out of shadows. Right between a pair of commercial buildings, I see a shadowed figure easily identified as a female. She stood with arms folded, her face masked and her clothing, black, clung to her figure. She seemed, judging by the way the light would bounce off of her body, reasonably toned. On her feet, she wore a form of stiletto. Not the type a woman would wear to a club, but the kind that could be worn on a daily basis with a wide heel and very boot like. She also adorned a hooded cloak. If I didn’t know better, I wouldn’t have thought she was trying to be another me.

With the distorter on, I speak. “What is your deal here?”

“There is warrant out for your arrest,” she replies with a cocky attitude. “We either go to the police quietly, or we can do this the hard way.” Her voice, though cocky, showed no indication of fear. Either she thought she could take me out, or she has a really good technique of hiding it. But I didn’t allow it to affect me as I let out a snigger thinking to myself that she couldn’t do any severe damage. But I know I shouldn’t make assumptions at face value. I know that there is a possibility that she could have a few tricks up her sleeves. Maybe she has guns, maybe a plot to trap. Or she might not even be trying to receive any kind of bounty, but to maybe make a name for herself.

She paused for a few seconds for effect before saying; “not only are you endangering yourself, you are endangering others. You don’t see how you have hurt others.” I hear rage building up in her voice and what she had said rung a familiar bell. She turns her body to face me and begins to step, one foot perfectly in front of the other. I didn’t want to get caught off guard, so I keep my composure. “Just surrender yourself.”

I would never surrender to anyone, especially not to her. But just before I could respond, this woman charges at me. I find myself dodging her flying fists aimed at my head. I understand that crime is crime, but I could never bring myself to hit a female. But still this lady had not committed a crime so I have no problem with her. I avoid attacking her, but allowed her to hit fairly solid objects as I blocked and parried her attacks. Her fists zooming pass my head and colliding into the lampposts, walls and skips. She did not falter but carried on. Oh, how I admire her endurance and more thoughts ran through my head on the identity of this mystery person. I need to end this now and she didn’t seem to be getting tired of whatever grudge she held against me. An arm started to thrust into my chest which I caught straight after impact. She had knocked a bit of wind out of me but I used this power to my advantage as I spun her round, her back leaning against my chest.

“Now quit it,” I say as I remove her hood and mask with my free hand.

Her hair fell and bounced. I turned her around grabbing both her wrists so she couldn’t punch. I was surprised she hadn’t once tried to kick me which showed me that she wasn’t aiming to hurt me. But as I looked at her face, I realise my suspicions were true.

“I just want us back together.” A solemn tear falls down her face. “Why can’t you just leave this alone, or at least let me come with you.”

“I can’t be worrying about your life when I’m doing all this.” I respond to her. “Like you said, I am endangering others. So working with me is putting you in danger.”

“But I know how to look after myself.” I saw no evidence of that, but as always, she had potential.

“Does your mum even know you are out here so late?” She was only fifteen after all and I swear she had a curfew.

As she leaves, the late autumn wind blows hard through the alley, picking up the litter on its way like the dead leaves in the park. Then I am reminded of two years ago. Reminded about how my second life became a burden. Reminded of the only loves in my life eventually became lost. The beginning of my bitter heart:

It was my daughter who first found out what I did of a night. My wife was never suspicious for a while since she had gotten used to my night time strolls. On occasion, I would take her along with me for company (obviously, I am referring to the strolls). It was nice, peaceful and a great time to escape everything. It helped ease my chronic insomnia. She was the most beautiful thing to have entered into my life. Her pure, pale skin lit up the darkest of corners. Cute freckles dotted her cheeks and the bridge of her nose. She had green-gray eyes that I could stare into endlessly and she had hair like the fires from the sun, burning wonderfully amber. Then she gave birth to another beauty, our daughter, a mix of the two of us, though some features were more prominent of each of us, like her mums amber hair and my big, dark eyes.

I had felt really happy when they entered my world. The happiest I had ever been and as my little girl got older, I was there to help teach her the wonders of life. To understand and appreciate whatever was left of it, the wonders of the nature around her. Yes, she will make her mistakes, no matter how much I will advise her against making them. She will also know that, no matter what, I will be there beside her and for her. Always be there for her.

One warm, autumn evening, which does happen occasionally in England; nights were getting early, a mugging occurred. I was a few blocks away, but, lucky for me, the radio transceiver also helps amplify the sounds around and help pinpoint where they are coming from, acting a bit like echo radar. Like all the gadgets I own, it was purchased off of the internet, shipped in all the way from Japan. The whip, though, I had hand crafted myself out of scraps of leather and a small grappling hook. It was difficult at first but eventually, I got it.

Hidden by the shadows cast by the setting sun, I walked towards the sound. I witness two broad figures hovering over a small, dainty looking figure. I see light reflecting off a blade and I bolt towards them. My shoulder rams into the assumed, unarmed thug and forced my fist into the stomach of the blade wielder. He briefly loses his balance and attempts to punch me. His movements were sluggish, so I managed to avoid his incoming fist. His other hand, which held the knife, went towards my thigh, and the blade sunk in deep. How did I not predict this manoeuvre, I do not know. This will be a mistake I will learn from.

I grabbed the handle of the knife, looked at him and, without making a sound, pulled it out and stored the knife in a spare sheath I have. My attackers looked shocked and if I wasn’t wearing this mask, they’d see I was rather smug of myself. They look at me and each other as if to think that I had just jumped out of a comic book. It pleases me to know that though whatever I do would be expected, it would be unpredictable. They know I have no rules to abide by. No law restricting what I will do. Enough to bring a little bit of fear into their minds and that is all I need. I pick up a fairly heavy object and threw it directly to the knife-wielders friends’ head and it knocked him out.

I take a quick look at the victim and the first thing I notice is her wavy, fiery, orange hair. Her eyes were tightly shut but her features were recognisable. My daughter had fallen victim to a crime. How could she have allowed this to happen? Had she not learnt anything from me? Or maybe she was waiting for the opportune moment to strike. Using my voice distorter, I tell her to leave and call the police.

“I will take care of these, just run.”

“But I can help,” she retaliates. I felt overwhelmed that she was willing to help a stranger fight these criminals.

“Just run.” I say back in a firmer tone.

She doesn’t argue but looks at me curiously and begins to run. One thug attempts to grab for her.

“Leave her alone!” I bellowed.

I quickly sweep his legs from under him and he goes hurtling towards the paving at quite a pace. With a sudden crack, his chin meets the cement very harshly and I guess his jaw broke. He seemed to be unconscious, lying quietly and motionless. My daughter looks over in dismay. At this time, I feel blood leaving my leg and hitting the ground.

“Now, leave and do as I say,” I said as I bandaged my leg up with a bit of black cloth.

She obeyed the command, her legs pumping as fast as they could move, fleeing from the scene. After she briefly turned to me and mouthed thank you, she pulled her phone out. I can only assume she called the police as I hear her put on a panicking voice and told a little fib. Obviously, this would get the police to the spot quicker. I stiffen my fingers and start scratching hard and fast at the blood spots, cement chipping away then I brush them up into my hand, placing the dust into a pocket. I waited around for a while until the police turned up. On the odd occasion, one of the assailants would stir; I would give him a quick sharp tap to the head to render him unconscious again.

-

The police had been and gone with me hidden well in the shadows and I decided to call it a night. Too much of a shock to carry on patrolling, I just wanted to make sure my little girl was ok. I enter into the loft via the sky light I leave open and take off my outfit. I neatly put it away hidden between rafters underneath floor boards. I have several hiding places up here to store my gadgets also. I own a few sets of my outfit just in case damage is endured or if it will need a wash. I always hand wash them and dry them in the drier while I have the house to myself. We had converted most of this loft into a study, in which I personally installed the secret hatches. Always, it would always be a chore when I end up deciding to go out to patrol; having to leave the house from the front or back door, climbing up the tree beside our house high enough to get through the skylight. Thankfully I had hidden ropes in and around the tree well enough that you’d have to actually be looking for them to see it.

I snuck back out the skylight and descended down into the unlit garden and made my way to the front door. As I went in, I was greeted at the door by my wife. She tells me that if I want something to eat to keep it light. Since we are trying to stay healthy its best not to eat anything before sleeping, which is something I feel I will definitely be doing tonight and for the fact I didn’t have any dinner. My daughter should be in bed so I made up my mind to pop in to her after eating. I quickly do myself a small salad and eat it in nice peace and quiet, a nice rest from the bustle I had to tolerate. I silently walk into the bedroom and I sit down on her desk chair. She was sound asleep or so I thought. She turned round, looked at me and smiled. Her smiles were always warming, warm enough to melt butter.

“Thank you, dad” she mutters.

“Thank you for what?” I ask, confused.

“No one, but you, ever uses that tone with me. It may have been a different voice but I know my own father.” The smile still stays on her face. Not to say she is disappointed but as if to say she was proud.

It was from then I promised I would talk to her about what is going on, keeping her in the loop and worry free, provided she doesn’t tell her mum. She even managed to help invent excuses for me to leave the house for a small patrol. It was nice having someone I could open up to instead of keeping it inside, letting it build up. Never did I know she was keeping everything logged. A journal that seemed to have stored a majority of the things I have done. She told me it was in code, but somehow my wife managed to put two and two together. It was this that started the arguments off, when the threats of leaving came into play. Our daughter wanted to stay with me, but her mum was afraid that she will get too involved and will get hurt.

And now, I wonder to myself, do I regret making such a decision?

Would it have been better to have taken her on as an apprentice or sidekick?

I walk around and perch myself on a bench veiled by the shadows. Someone nearby was watching the news. I never turned the transceiver off. There was news about a local school and its increase in bullying, how there could be a serial car-jacker and information on the increase of drunk driving. Then I was mentioned, or rather was asked for. Not by name, but by the description they could only attain from the footage that was captured.

A Chief Constable was talking down the microphone. “Who or whatever that black blob is, if you are watching or listening to this, we could really use your help.”

Thoughts rushing through my head, suspecting that this could be some kind of trap, suspecting they were trying to lure me out of hiding. I thought it best to listen on.

“You wouldn’t need to come in,” continued the Chief Constable, “but it would be preferable. The Mayor has somehow managed to get herself kidnapped. With all of our resources, we are stuck on trying to locate her. We only have a ransom tape.”

He sounded anxious and distraught. This was definitely genuine. He played the tape and I put my transceiver on record, something to analyse later, to use as I see fit. It was up to me to figure it out, kind of tells me that they do appreciate my kind of discreet arrests. But, am I up to something that is this challenging? Could I really take this opportunity to prove myself? Normally, the police would try their hardest to discourage acts of vigilantism. Since it is to do with something, well someone, of high importance, they feel they need all the help they can get.

They say it takes a small action to create a big impact on change. Or at least, leads onto a much bigger change. But I am just a tiny minnow in a vast, deep ocean. If only others could stand up for what they believe in, then maybe I won’t be standing alone. Though in today’s reality, standing alone makes you better off because anyone is willing to stab anyone in the back. No one you end up caring for or looking out for will get hurt. Would it be better for me to just take care of myself than complete strangers? Do I risk my life in sake of the many? I tear myself up with this question night after night. If it would be better leave those people to their own devices, why do I do, what I do?

In the end, I know there are consequences for my actions and I don’t know if I would be ready for it. Someone out there will try and match up with me. As I notice in comics, though I do know it is fiction, heroes create the villains. There wouldn’t be the competition on who is better than whom. I am not so much afraid at the possible future I have laid for myself, but more for the fact that someone that shouldn’t get hurt will. My own daughter wants to follow in my footsteps, but she is, by far, not ready to face the challenges that lay ahead. I know there will be more publicity about me, good and bad, rumours flying from street to street, door to door. It may or may not be a hindrance on me; it might bring up everyone’s incentive to come together, not to back stab each other, to fight against mobs and ASBOs themselves. Or like I said, I maybe the reason to be the gateway for harder to catch criminals, better prepared gangs.

At least for now, I can say, ‘I have no nemeses’. Because in the end, only two people know about the face this mask hides. Only the two people I love and care about more than anything. But are they a strong enough reason for me to give up this double life? It may not pay but at least I am doing something I enjoy and love. Yet, they worry for my safety, where I thought I would be the one looking out for those too weak to stand, my own daughter wants to stand and look out for me. Can I really put her in such danger? Do I want to be identified by a mask at night and nobody during the day?

These emotional scars I know won’t fade like the scars inflicted upon my body, but can I keep such burden? Will I ever be able to separate man from mask? All I can hope is that no one will follow in my dangerous footsteps. I will keep known as a phantom, only seen by security cameras those few times with no real evidence to my existence, an urban legend, a myth.

The ultimate vigilante...


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