WRITER’S NOTE: Hi there! Emmanuel here! The nature of the plot of this story requires that you have read the previous episode. So, if you have not, please read the previous episode first. Just my advice. Here are the links:
It was the worst of times; it was the worst of nights.
For Jerry Jenson at least. Not everyone that has lost everything just like he had could muster up the strength he still possessed. And even that was slipping away.
He sat on the doorsteps of his apartment, a very strong drink in his hands. If he was drowning he might as well go down with a blast, right? Nothing made sense to him anymore. Even his attempts to do what was right all seemed to end badly. At every turn, reality stood in his face and shut him up.
He had gone out to rid the city of the Dope problem. He thought he was really making a difference, helping the Towne’s youth by rooting out the man behind all this, Kraven Moore. But not all was black and white in Towne, apparently. Even the police were beholden to Moore, and those that stood up above the herd like Jerry were weeded out. He could not even call Clint Barker, his best friend, mostly because his phone was history.
This was a night of nights in his career. What cop would not want to be out on the streets on a night when the elusive vigilante, the Taser, might strike? But he was no longer a cop. He was fired. He could not even report the people involved in this conspiracy… for he too had some incriminating history. The narcotic kind. His life was over.
He exhaled, trying to think of a reason why we was not a loser. Bah, fat chance! Great, he had failed as a father, failed as a cop, he could not report this stuff to anyone … and he was still trying to think of a reason why he was not a loser?! What was he even thinking?
I can’t do the right thing, Marty. I can’t do anything right.
He sniffed and stared into space. Wow, what a day it had been. What a day indeed…
What a day indeed…
Only one thing made sense there and then: he was a dead man already. If he was going down, he would not go down alone.
He examined the revolver in his hands. It glistened in the moonlight. There would be more than one killer out there tonight. Only this one would be out for vengeance.
For Marty, his daughter that died from an overdose. For his job, and all that he had lost. For his life.
There is no redemption where I’m going tonight.
I’m coming for you, Kraven Moore.
Most of the cops out that night probably knew nothing about his dismissal so he had free passage on the roads. Most just waved at him as he passed by. He did not see or acknowledge them because he was operating on hyper-energy now.
He was high, but did not even feel it. He told himself that he had no choice, that he could not do it on his own. He was burying himself, he knew, but this might as well be the last night of his life. He was going.
I’m sorry, Gigi. I’m sorry you put so much faith in me. But in the real world … not everything works out well.
Finding Kraven was not as hard as one might assume. Jerry had always been working this angle, questioning detainees, and narrowing down Kraven’s location down for the day he would need it. Little did he know that such a time would be sooner than he expected, and under different circumstances. He was not here for an arrest, but for vengeance. Rumor had it that Kraven spent Friday nights at his luxurious complex, The Centre, Towne’s largest and most secret casino and hotel. Most people did not even know it existed, but only those in Kraven’s circle did. And, as Jerry was now realizing, that circle was much larger than he had ever imagined.
He parked across the road from the dark block. No police patrolled this part of Towne. The building looked ordinary to the untrained eye, but two huge men in suits and specs stood guard at the door. He considered taking them out at this distance, and rushing in.
What’re you thinking, Jerry?! You’re not a killer! You don’t even know what’s waiting for you on the inside.
He was operating on adrenaline here. All reason was gone, and for some reason, that did not feel like such a bad thing.
He slammed the car door behind him and walked across the road. If it came to fisticuffs, he was certain he could take out these men. He prepared to pull out his gun if the need arose.
The bouncers stepped forward and accosted him. They tried to stare him down, but Jerry was big enough to stare them in the eye; unfazed but wary. “State your business, foo’,” one of them said. Under other circumstances, Jerry would have dressed the Mr. T-wannabe down. He was not even black, for goodness’ sake!
But Jerry had not thought this through enough. He blurted out the only thing that came to mind. “I’m here to see Kraven Moore.” There, he had signed his death certificate. He placed a hand near his holster, concealed within his jacket. He could not tell what was going on in their minds because their eyes were hidden behind the shades. This is it.
They stepped aside and opened the door, leading into a dark stairway. Perhaps he was dreaming again. Were they actually letting him in?
He stepped in, and the door slammed shut behind him. He had actually survived that. In the stillness that followed he heard the boom-boom of music coming from beyond. He inhaled and took a step forward. There was now no going back. He trudged on, as the music grew louder. At the bottom of the stairs, a veil opened for him to enter into a crowded hall. A sea of humanity danced to the music blaring in the hall. Some men and women stood around tables scattered in the corners of the room, gambling in card games, some played darts, some at the roulette tables.
“Welcome to Centre, sir,” a man in a suit said. “How may I be of service?”
“I’m here for Kraven Moore,” he repeated.
“Right this way,” the man said, and he led him down through the crowded hall.
The alarms in his mind were at fever pitch. This was all just too easy. Why had no one searched him for weapons so far? Were they expecting him?
The air was acrid with some odours. Self-conscious, he placed a hand over his holster as they made their way through the sea of people on the dance floor. The crowd was so thick, he could barely breathe. They were young men and women, teenagers, adolescents. It dawned on him that, had Marty lived, these would have been her age mates. These people danced with abandon, their eyes glazed. Like zombies. Intoxicated. Towne was in a state of emergency out there, but these ones were dancing away in secrecy, under the influence. Kraven’s mindless minions.
There’s no turning back now.
They got to a wooden staircase and the man stopped, halting him. Jerry gave him a look.
“Master only take one guest at a time, sir,” he explained in his limited handle of English. He had to shout because of the music.
“So he’s here?”
He nodded. “He just beyond curtain!”
Jerry squinted at him for a moment, and nodded. Suddenly, two men in suits and dark shades burst out of the curtain beyond bearing what he guessed was a body covered in a sheet. As they passed, Jerry noticed a fresh drop of red on the end of the sheet where the head would have been. None of the men stared at him as they moved. Jerry held his breath for a moment. Kraven was certainly there, and he was a terrible man. This is an ugly place. Kraven is a murderer.
So this was it. He felt sick. He was actually finally going to meet the man, Kraven Moore. In the flesh! What had been just a name on paper for so long was finally becoming a reality. He walked cautiously. One step after the other. And another. And another.
He stared back at the crowd below. So many people, minding their own business. This was a cesspool of all that he stood against, yet here he was. He placed his hands on the velveteen curtain ahead.
God, please forgive me for this… if You can…
Whoosh! The curtain swung open to reveal a small room padded with walls. The ambience was entirely different from the hall behind him; very quiet. A long couch sat behind a large circular desk. And there seated beyond, was a tall man with white hair in a dark suit.
“Ah, the prodigal son has returned,” he said calmly, a smile on his lips.
Jerry blanched. Where were the guards? Why was he alone? What was really going on?
The man’s smile vanished. “Well? You’re here, and I’m here. Pull out the gun, we haven’t got all day.”
This was simply stupid on so many levels.
But he swung the gun out of the holster anyway and pointed it at Kraven. Just like that. This moment he had imagined all night long was finally playing out. The gun was in his hand, and he was pointing it at Kraven Moore. The Kraven Moore. Just a trigger away from justice.
Kraven simply stared at him, emotionless. Jerry knew that he should pull the trigger, but he just stood there. All the memories that had plagued him rushed to the surface. Marty. This was the beast that had caused everything. Kraven Moore was in his sights.
What’re you doing here, Jerry? What’re you doing here?
“Can’t pull it, can you?” Moore said with a sneer in his voice, a smirk on his face. “You can’t pull the trigger on me because you don’t have it in you.” He spoke so slowly and soothingly, it sunk into Jerry’s soul with every word. “Because you’re spineless. Weak. You haven’t the power to control your world, and you want to fight for that.”
Jerry was suddenly perspiring. His hand was still extended with the gun pointed at the baron.
“You have never been free, Jerry,” he said soothingly, that wicked smile on his face. “And you never will. You will never find the peace you seek until you accept that truth.”
Jerry was heaving now. Why couldn’t he just pull the trigger on this monster? What was wrong with him? This was his moment.
“The values you hold so dear never stood up for you when you needed them,” Moore said, staring up at him, unafraid. “Like grass in a furnace, they withered away … in the face of true power. My power.”
He stood up and stared straight into his eyes. “I can help you, Jerry.”
You’ve helped enough. And ruined my life. He wanted to speak, but nothing came out of his mouth. This was getting frustrating. Too frustrating. He yelled in anger and pointed the gun at the roof. BLAM! There, straight at Kraven…now! But he couldn’t shoot at him. Aaargh!!!
Kraven was still smiling. “Alright, enough with the ceremony. Put that toy away and let’s get down to business.” Jerry was angry as ever, his face wet. He would have grabbed Kraven and strangled him if he had to, but he couldn’t. “Now.”
For no apparent reason, there would be no shooting the baron. Jerry lowered his hand, whimpering in anger and frustration. His gaze never left Kraven’s sneering eyes. I’m going to kill you, Kraven. You’ve ruined my life…
Kraven sat. “Please,” he pointed to a seat on the other end. Jerry sank to his seat.
You can’t kill him. He’s controlling you.
Moore just never lost that annoying grin from his face. “I’m sure that, by now, you know that I orchestrated everything to simply … invite you here. Pretty ingenious, don’t you think? From Jamie’s arrest, to Baynes… oh no, wait, wait! I forgot about Marty!” He dragged the name out of his mouth with a wicked grin. “You blame me for that as well. My fame even precedes me, apparently.” He bit into a fruit. “I would express my sympathy, but … well … that wouldn’t mean so much to you, coming from me.”
Jerry clenched his fists. Tears came to his eyes at the frustration he felt.
Kraven lowered his voice. “It burns you, doesn’t it? To have no power to control your life like you want?” He poured a drink into a glass and offered it. “Drink?” Jerry did not move.
Moore slid it to him and poured his own glass. “You lack the strength to do the right things you want to do. You don’t have the strength to stop yourself from doing those things you don’t want to do. Especially when the low … depressing times come up.” He paused and stared into his eyes. “The memories of Marty. The drugs and alcohol… You know, Jerry, it’s like we’ve known each other for so long yet we haven’t even met! All that guilt and pain you feel…” He chuckled. “I am totally responsible for all that. Your daughter experimented with my drugs. And all this time, you’ve been after me. It’s OK; you don’t have to feel behooved to thank me.”
Jerry squinted at him. “To thank you?!”
“For opening your eyes to the truth.”
“You ruined my life. You killed my daughter. You took my job away from me. My life…my…”
“Shhh…shhh… it’s OK, you’ll be fine.” Kraven took a drink from his glass. “I want to help you, Jerry.”
“I don’t want your help.” A sob almost clogged his throat, so it came out as a whisper.
“Oh, but you haven’t heard my offer. Here it is.” He cleared his throat. “It is no secret that I am lord in Towne. It took you two years to figure that out, I know. And I didn’t need to say it again, but I will anyway, because I can!” He chuckled. “See? I am the overlord of every living breathing human in this Towne. In the end, they all depend on me. You too can be a part of this, Jerry.”
“I will never work for you!”
Kraven laughed. “Never work for me? Who are you kidding?! You’ve always worked for me, Jerry Jenson. Get that into your thick skull and this would all make sense.”
“Kill me right now.”
Kraven shook his head. “Listen. I take good care of my friends. Even when they get in trouble with the law, I get them out. Kraven always looks out for his friends. But for those that betray me, I have my ways of getting the law to deal with them.” Jerry’s eyes widened at the realization. “There is no one you have ever taken into custody that was not sent there by me. In the end, no one ever leaves my authority.” And he smiled again.
“This is my bargain,” Kraven said. “I want you to be my friend. I will give you your job back, if you want it. I will place you wherever you want to be. You will have access to all the money, all the girls, to all you could ever want. You will never remember your pain again, because of the bliss that will come from our … partnership.”
“You’re a monster,” Jerry whispered. “I could never work with—“
Kraven slammed his fist on the table. “You have nothing to live for! Your life has been taken away from you. You’re nothing but a mindless automaton in the stream of my power. I’m offering you an opportunity to come up, out of the abyss, and into my realm. I am offering you power … and control. I am offering you your very life.”
Jerry stared up at him, his eyes misted. The sobs were already coming.
“It has always been in my hands, you know. I could have killed you in your very own house anytime I wanted. But I want you to come to something deeper. Something bigger… and better.” Kraven smiled. “This is my bargain.”
Jerry was visibly crying now. He lowered his head and stared at the table. He was in the belly of a whale, and was sinking to the depths. He could never get out. He was trapped…
There was no way he was leaving that place alive, he knew. He had nothing more to live for.
The lights went out. Jerry stared up, gasping. Is it too late? He stared up at Kraven, but he could not see in the dark. Dear God, please make this painless.
A scream from the hall carried through into the room. Shouts and scuffles, and the breaking of tables. Something was going on there. The lights flickered overhead, making Jerry blink. He was still alive. Thank God, he was still alive.
Another scream. Then footsteps. The curtain flung open, and a grunt peeked inside. “Sir, it’s the Taser!”
It felt like cold water was poured down Jerry’s gut. The Taser! Uh-oh, this was not good. Not at all.
“The Taser?” Kraven asked. When Jerry turned he saw a very strange sight. For the first time, Kraven was visibly scared. “The Taser is in my house?” The Taser was, apparently, one person who was not under Kraven’s control. And he was afraid?
The grunt looked back just in time as he was pulled into the hall, screaming. He was grabbing on to the velveteen curtains, so they were ripped as his body was pulled away. The hall beyond was upside down with broken tables and chairs. The patrons were gone, and only the many bodyguards in black remained to fight the vigilante. The music was also gone.
Concealed in a jacket, the vigilante had been on the steps, but he sprang back into the air and descended on the men below. Jerry realized that he could beat for an escape in the scuffle. But he had not intended to come out alive. He had come for Kraven. Was it even possible…?
He searched the room for his gun, but he saw that Kraven already had it in his own hands. If Kraven was scared of the Taser, then he was all that they had thought and much more.
A sense of familiarity and fear rushed through Jerry as he stared at the vigilante, the elusive stranger whose likeness had never been captured before. The flickering lights hurt his eyes, but he was almost sure he was seeing the impossible below. Static flashed from the vigilante’s hands as he struck the guards.
Jerry was about to doubt it when the Taser finally thrust his hand out, releasing a bolt of lightning that sent a huge guard sailing into the far wall. Jerry’s jaw fell open. Had he just seen that? Again, another flash. Jerry turned to Kraven. The baron had already gotten another weapon, a shotgun, ready and was fiddling with it, fixing the cartridges. Where was the other gun?
Jerry, you should not be here. Strange things are happening.
The Taser was looking up at them now. Uh-oh. He slowly took the steps up to Kraven’s little room. Jerry hurried to the far wall, panting. No windows. No way to escape. Nowhere to run.
He stepped in. “I am here,” he said. The lights came back on. Jerry blinked. Kraven held the gun, pointed at the Taser. “I am here for you.”
He was not tall or stocky. He was even shorter than Jerry. But his heart still did flippity-flops as he stood in the presence of the most wanted person in Towne. This was the little man that Towne’s Finest had gone out to arrest, with lightning in his hands. Jerry thought of the rumors of how he electrocuted his victims. No way…
“I thought I told the police to deal with you,” Kraven said, anger in his voice. But was that fear as well.
The vigilante removed his hat and stared at them past dark shades. “Not to be rude, but I wasn’t referring to you,” he said. Jerry gulped. He was not going to leave that place alive after all, was he?
And wasn’t the Taser’s voice strangely high for…? And that gait, what was up with that?
And that’s when Jerry saw it. The vigilante’s long dark hair sank below his gently sloping shoulders… But that could not be right. He was a…
“You’re a woman?!” Kraven screeched in shock.
“I warned you to be careful around these people,” she said to Jerry, removing her shades.
That was the moment Jerry knew the world was going to end. For before him stood the only woman he could never mistake for anyone else. The voice. Those piercing green eyes. It couldn’t be…
TO BE CONTINUED… in THE ALTERNATIVE
If you’re new to this site, you might as well check on some of the other amazing stories here, filled with humor and unforgettable lessons. They include Bill’s Car, Unchurch, The Elevator, and many more articles. You might also want to check up on the first feature presentation on this site, The Love Revolution Trilogy. You’re gonna love ‘em.
Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment.
God bless ya!
Thanks for reading.