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Wednesday
Oct242012

Fall of the Light Brigade

Physicists argue about what constitutes reality and what exactly the place we call the universe is that we inhabit. There are theories that there a countless amount of dimensions that humans do not have the mental capabilities to comprehend along with other worlds that mirror or differ dramatically from ours. These topics are enjoyable to try and wrap our heads around, but in the end, we never come to find out what exactly is going on.

Regardless of what scientists discover, we can always get lost in other worlds and realities whose only requirement to visit is a quick trip to the library. Justin Rutledge provides a new world for us to spend time in with his saga that follows the crime fighting team, The Light Brigade. His knowledge of the universe he created results in an enjoyable read that feels like a comic book without the pictures. The following is a segment in a series of stories that follows the team in a dystopian-esque future. 

“Five years. It has been five years that we’ve been doing this shit. For five years I’ve been living in a God damn cement compound. For five years I have been fighting day after day for a thankless city and an asshole boss. For five years my friends and I have put our lives on the line, worn down our bodies and souls; and how do we get thanked? They bring in some kids straight out of the academy to replace us. After five years of lost innocence, lost time and lost loved ones, I’m still doing this shit. This is not what I signed up for.”

Eddison Graves spoke these words to himself and the blackness surrounding him in the locker room. After a long sweaty day on the streets of a crumbling city in chaos, Eddison was peeling off his standard issued uniform, the one that took his identity away and at the same time marked him as different from the rest of society. As Eddison removed his uniform, it desperately tried to hold onto him, like a kracken’s suction cup. As the uniform gave way it exposed Eddison’s body to the cold air. Marred with the remnants of old wounds and the calling cards of new ones, every day of every year was apparent on his body.

After freeing his upper body from the black, restrictive, form-fitting protective material, Eddison sat on the cold metal bench and tried to relax. He sat, trying and forget the day while preparing to face tomorrow.

The still, cold ambiance was shattered by a jarring alarm. It was the sound that told Eddison that he and those of his friends that were left were, once again, about to risk their lives to help an ungrateful city. Like a person dreading an early morning start, Eddison sat in the locker room, hoping the alarm would stop.

“What are you doing, Eddie,” Angelique asked as she passed the locker room and saw him sitting inside. “Don’t you hear that alarm? It’s our cue. It’s time to go back out.”

“Yeah, I heard it,” Eddison said. His voice was raspy and scratchy. “I’m just waiting for it to stop, for you guys to head out on this one without me.”

Angelique entered the cold locker room, approaching Eddison from behind, and put her arms around him. Her skin felt smooth and refreshing on his. Her skin, still bound tightly in her ponytail, fell over Eddison’s right shoulder like a dead python. Eddison ran his hands across the skin of her scarred arms lightly as she talked.

“You know we can’t do that, Eddie. We have to go out there, whenever they call. There’s no punching out for us, my dear. Besides, we all need you to lead us. You’ve done it for so long. Why stop now?”

The only reason Angelique encouraged him to go along was her faith in him and the safety she felt when he was with her. Long ago she had expressed her qualms with their situation, their missions, their methods. All that bound her to the team was her word -that and a five-year-old contract with God-only-knows how many years left on it.

“I know I have to go, Angel. I know what I have to do- what we have to do. Let’s go.”

Angelique and Eddison exited the locker room and walked down the hallway towards the garage. As they proceeded down the hall Eddison put his layers back on and joined the rest of the team. First, they passed Terri, who was fighting with her boots as she came out of her room. Over the past five years, Terri had lent herself more to looking out of windows and daydreaming, often admiring birds while they were in flight. When she got her boot on, Terri walked with them. Though she took her fair share of punishment, Terri’s body had taken it well –no scars, no nagging injuries. Other than a short haircut, her appearance had not changed. Eddison noticed her usual uneasiness as she caught up with him. She had never quite gotten a taste for their job. She only did it out of fear and lack of options. Constance was readjusting her ankle brace on a bench in the hall. Constance had been the fastest, most agile person in the group until she blew out her knee chasing a bank robber through an uneven field on the outskirts of town. Though the injury was relatively minor, since she was forced to work on it the injury never healed fully. The limits her injury put on her mobility caused her to gain a bit of weight. Eddison waited for Constance to put on her brace before they entered the Main Hall.

The gang was all there. The lawyer that had brought them into the organization, Maxwell Diego, stood at the far end of the metal boardroom-style table. He was wearing another one of his mother’s hand-made suits and a grimace on his face that had gotten worse since his hair started turning gray. He waited patiently with his hands crossed behind his back. The scanners were blaring as usual. The ten screens that were perched high on the walls showed news feeds from a number of news organizations. Naturally, the professional propagandist to the great city of Deliverance, Russel “The Voice” Tremaine, was on the main screen behind the lawyer. The New Kids, as Eddison called them, were seated around the table.

“Nice of you to join us, old timers,” Benji, who came from a family of law enforcers and led the New Bloods, said from the left side of the table. “You guys have to replace your plastic hips?”

“Don’t tease them, Ben. They’ll be the ones keeping you alive, should you get in over your head like you always do,” said the new buttoned-down military girl, who sat one seat away from Benji.

“While you guys are exchanging witty banter, people are in danger and the city is being threatened,” barked the large straight-faced 20-year-old from across the table. “Don’t you think we should get the show on the road?”

“Thank you, Jeff. I can always count on you to have your head in the game,” Diego said. “We have Bartholomew Reas. He and his friends have been terrorizing blood banks and hospitals. Apparently Reas has a rare blood disorder, so he and his crew have been knocking over any place that has blood on tap.”

“So we’re here because some sick kid is being proactive about getting a blood transfusion?” Eddison said. “Sweet. This doesn’t seem like a waste of my time at all. Why don’t the police just handle this?”

“Weren’t you listening? This guy deals with blood,” Benji said. “Blood carries diseases.”

“So we have the honor of contracting Super AIDS while the police get to stay at a safe distance? Awesome.”

“This is our duty,” Jeff said. “This is what we volunteered for.”

“Some of us didn’t really volunteer for this job, but whatever. Let’s get this going.”

The team crowded into the steel elevator and cruised down to the garage, just below the main level. The man-made cement cave made a perfect home for the chilly air that preceded the approaching winter. Every breath formed into wispy ghosts, floated and dissipated. The inside of their “A-Team-mobile” was even colder. It may have been reinforced and bullet proof, but heated seats would have been a vast improvement. The hummer-like vehicle rumbled along the streets towards the St. Sarah and Deanna Hospital, no lights, no sirens. The New Kids were as excited as kids going to the state football game, while Eddison, Angelique, Terri and Constance sat quietly and centered themselves.

“What’s the plan boss man,” Benji called to Eddison when they reached the hospital.

“It’s the same as any other time,” Eddison replied. “Get in. Get the bad guys. Get out.”

“Sweet and simple, just the way I like it.” Benji gathered himself and concentrated on doing his best as the van jerked to a stop.

“You know I use small words just for you, Benji. I have to make sure you can understand everything.” Eddison just cracked his knuckles and sighed as he waited for everyone in front of him to exit the vehicle.

The rear doors burst open and the team filed out, prepared to face another one of their city’s finest forgotten sons. The glass sliding doors and pane glass windows of the hospital were spider webbed around the gigantic holes that had been broken in them. The usually clean and sterile floors were blanketed with the shards and marred by the skid marks of the converted pickup trucks and Jeeps that Bartholomew and his gang used. Luckily, this group of blood bank bandits either had no money or used it all for sprucing up their cars and equipment, so there was no need for worrying about firepower. To safeguard them from any biological hazards, the team was outfitted with masks that fit tightly over their head and neck areas and made them look like futuristic ninjas.

Armed with glorified zip ties for subduing and apprehending, the group passed through the line of onlookers, useless policemen and journalists. They carefully entered the debris-ridden waiting room. Once inside they were confronted by Bartholomew and his gang. They stood across from one another, seven against eleven. Like any smart leader, Bartholomew stood behind his men. Like any good leader, Eddison stood with his men. It was an imposing sight: one large man, standing behind ten others of similar stature covered in tattoos and ragged tattered clothes, facing seven unformed men and women wearing medical masks. Bartholomew made a sweeping gesture with his hand and his men rushed Eddison and the others. As the ten minions advanced, Bartholomew calmly walked over to the blood and organ storage.

The horde of ten advanced wildly on the calm Light Brigade, letting them crash upon them like ocean waters on rocky cliffs; and Eddison’s team was just as steadfast, scattering many of the bodies and halting the remainders. From there the waiting room was chaos. Eddison and Jeff would send bodies flying using their strength, while Constance, Angelique and Terri utilized throws and speed to take on their attackers. Christina and Benji opted to use heavy strikes. No matter the method, the horde just kept getting up and coming back for more.

As usual, Eddison, Constance, Angelique and Terri fought in one group, while Benji led the New Bloods in their battle. Eddison’s group used more conservative techniques to dispatch their attackers, while Benji’s team put on a show for the rolling cameras, using wide, looping flamboyant attacks accompanied by Bruce Lee Screams. One attacker charged Eddison with his arm raised over his head. This rush was put to an end when Eddison pie-faced the man, planting the back of his head into the ground. With one quick tightening of his hand, Eddison broke his attacker’s face. Meanwhile, Benji took on a smaller attacker by using multiple stunning shots, making sure to strike a pose afterwards so the cameras could get a good shot.

When the miniature onslaught let up Eddison rushed back to where Bartholomew had gone. When Eddison arrived upon the sick man, he was searching the freezer like a bear looking for food. He was rather large and brooding for someone who was deathly ill. Bartholomew was dressed in camouflaged pants and heavy boots, with a black device strapped to his back. Small, thin, clear plastic tubes with medicine ran from the pack to the veins in his arms and back of his hands. Larger tubes lead up to a mask that covered Bartholomew’s nose and mouth. The mask looked like a cross between a surgical mask and a gas mask. Bartholomew’s hands were covered by leather gloves with holes in the fingertips, where sharp yellowish nails came out. The treatments Bartholomew had been through had caused him to lose his hair and put an olive green tint to his skin, but those were only a few of the changes he had undergone.

“What are you going to do with whatever you find in here,” Eddison asked as he entered the cold foggy freezer. “You have no means to make any of this stuff useful to you. You do realize this is no way to get back on any donor list or back in the spotlight for treatment development.”

“No, it won’t,” Bartholomew agreed, turning around and standing up straight. He had a large plastic bag of blood clenched in his right hand. “You’re right, but once I get what I need, all I have to do is get a doctor able to do the work, and those aren’t too hard to find. Once I get the doctor, it will all be falling dominoes from there.”

“Why do all this? Why these extreme measures? All you are doing is making yourself less likely to get the help you need.” Eddison strategically inched closer to his target.

“You, my friend, know that when what you want isn’t made readily available, sometimes force is necessary.” Bartholomew stood his ground.

“That may be the case, but regardless, I cannot let you out of here with that bundle of burgled blood and organs.” Eddison got a bit closer.

“That’s too bad.” With his free hand, Bartholomew slowly unsnapped his mask, revealing pulled back lips, bleeding gums and stained piranha like teeth.

To distract Eddison, Bartholomew slung the bag at him. The swing was hard enough that the bag tore, sending blood showering all over Eddison. As soon as Eddison wiped his face off, Bartholomew set on him, swinging hard, furious and fast. The barrage took the two out of the slippery storage room and into the hallway, backing him against a white wall covered in charts and graphs. Eddison ducked a right cross that wound up making its impact on the wall instead of Eddison’s face. Bartholomew’s hand made a crater where is impacted the wall. He then tackled the Blood Bank Bandit to the ground, landing on top of him. From there Eddison began striking Bartholomew using his elbows and fists. Eddison targeted the man’s face and head. A desperation claw to the face stopped the assault, and Eddison staggered to his feet, holding his face. Bartholomew got up and charged the stunned leader of the Light Brigade, unleashing an inhuman roar. Listening to the footsteps and the noise coming from his advancing enemy, Eddison judged the distance; and in one flipping, twisting move used Bartholomew’s momentum to send him into the air and bring him crashing down on to the back of his skull. The tile floor had no give. The impact barely cracked the tiles. The Blood Bank Bandit’s skull cracked, leaking blood onto the floor. Eyes closed, limbs spread, Bartholomew was defeated, out cold.

When Eddison rounded the corner to the main room, dragging Bartholomew by the foot, the henchmen were bound and being loaded into police vans. Terri, Constance and Angelique were by one of the ambulances as the back was being closed.

“It’s okay. It’s clean blood. I don’t have any new diseases,” Eddison said when he saw the looks on peoples faces when they saw his crimson colored face. Angelique looked as if he had gotten his face ripped off.

The officers on hand put the bad guys into their transport vehicles to take them to Cthulu State Penitentiary; and once Benji played to the cameras and the viewers around the city, the Light Brigade went home to end their night.

The next morning plans were put into motion that would shake the Light Brigade to its core. One letter went from the penitentiary to a young lover of science named Bourdain Monclove IV. Another letter went to Drake Barnes, from an unknown sender.

“It’s time, Gobie,” Bourdain told the heir to the failing Nero Family Pyrotechnics and Fireworks Co. “The first domino is getting pushed today. Are you ready for what you have to do?”

“I think so,” Gobie said, nervously looking around the crowded hallway of their high school. “I just plant the case, cause the destruction and watch from there, right?”

“Exactly. We’ll meet up with them afterwards, at the place we all agreed upon.” Bourdain said as he scanned the faces of the hallway.

“Are you sure your guy is as good and well connected as he said he was? Are you sure he can do what he claimed?” Gobie adjusted his backpack that hung on his shoulder.

“That guy, first of all is my hero. Second of all, he didn’t get to be one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the world by breaking promises.” Bourdain got closer to Gobie’s as he spoke.

“I’m sure he didn’t land himself in jail by selling Girl Scout cookies; and I’m sure he didn’t do it without making some enemies either. Come on, we’re going to be late for chemistry.” Gobie made his way to class ahead of Bourdain.

Later that day, at the penitentiary, there was a meeting in the walled yard of the high security prison. The city’s Rogues Gallery convened in the lot comprised of cracked concrete every day around lunch. Two in particular met up at a dirty picnic table on the far corner of the yard. Jake Nice Jr., who went on a path of destruction before Eddison put him down, awaited Alton La Seure, a tech-savvy tycoon who tried getting back at his former employers by going after their children.

“Is everything going down like you said,” Jake asked Alton as he approached the table.

“Everything has been set in motion, Jake. Don’t worry. The guys I’m working with are the best,” Alton assured Jake.

“I don’t know. The idea of hinging our escape on two high school kids, tainted brownies and fireworks doesn’t sit well with me.”

“These guys are solid. The scientist won my old company’s Alchemy Scholarship when he was in eighth grade. People going into college apply for that. The other one has explosives in his blood. His family has made its living on them for years. Between the poison and the pyro –as long as he put the explosives in the place you said- our escape should be a simple matter of walking out of a very large hole.”

“When is this supposed to be happening?”

“The tainted treats should have arrived a while ago, so the guards have most likely eaten them by now. The poison should be taking effect right about…”

That instant the guards in the yard and in the towers began to double over in pain. The contents of their stomachs surged out of their mouths and noses like geysers. They collapsed to the ground, eyes watering, covered in bile, stomach acid and half-digested breakfast. With no one to stop them, the other convicts went insane. Some started fights while others made mad dashes for the doors. Jake and Alton just calmly watched them.

“It’s time to go,” Alton said after a while, and the two began to walk calmly across the yard.

The scene was chaos. Violence and incontrollable excitement consumed the inmates as they ran around the yard like kids on the last day of school. Jake and Alton stuck out against their frantic brethren. The explosion that took out the thick cement wall on the opposite side of the yard shook the ground, knocking some men off their feet. Everyone looked in shock at the demolished structure. All the other inmates sprinted towards the gaping aperture. Still calm, Alton and Jake walked towards freedom.

“Let’s go find our boys,” Jake said once they cleared the wall.

The news channels were buzzing with stories of the massive exodus from Cthulu State Penitentiary later that night. The police and the Light Brigade were on high alert and extremely busy. Every cook house, bath house and whore house was turned upside down and inside out looking for the escaped convicts. The effort was so large the Light Brigade members were divided into teams of two and put in charge of groups of police officers. Each team was given a fleet consisting of SUVs and cruisers to work with. Eddison was paired up with Benji. They were in the cruiser, leading their group back to the stronghold.

“Poisoned cookies. These assholes broke out of jail with poisoned cookies,” Eddison said in annoyed disbelief. “Someone’s losing their job over this one, I’m sure. These are the crack team of law enforcement professionals that are protecting us.”

“Hey, don’t mock them,” Benji said. “These cops are putting their lives on the line and doing a dangerous job in order to keep us safe. They’re an inspiration. They’re heroes. They’re the reason I took this job.”

“They’re overpaid, corrupt slackers.”

“My father was a cop. My grandfather was a cop. They served this city without fail or question for years. Are you saying they’re corrupt slackers?”

“If the shoe fits.”

The mood was tense as the team filed out into the garage with their newly reacquired escaped convicts. The other teams were in the parking facility when they arrived.

“These men and women are not slackers, Eddison, and they are working with us to get the guys that escaped earlier. I would think you would show them some respect. They are our city’s finest. Without them we-”

Just then one of the recaptured escapees broke loose from one of the officers. Hands still bound behind him, the man made a futile dash for the garage door.  Most of the others were caught off guard, so they were a few steps behind him.  When the fleeing man got close to Eddison, the convict was stopped in his tracks as Eddison delivered devastating body check that knocked the man off his feet, and almost out of his shoes.

“Our city’s finest, eh,” Eddison said. “What a crock. I’m tired. You sure you and your boys can handle this, or should I hold your hands?”

As Eddison walked away Benji lost his cool and laid a straight jab into the back of his skull. Eddison whipped around and grabbed Benji. The two wrestled around, punching each other and bouncing off the cars and SUVs.  Eddison’s face smashed into the hood of one of the cruisers. Benji’s head went through one of the SUV windows.  The battle left dents, sweat and blood on the vehicles. The fight ended when Eddison shot a double-leg take down and dumped Benji on his head, knocking him unconscious and splitting his head open. Eddison stormed to the elevator to go up and change. Angelique hurried in after him.

“What was that all about,” she asked as the doors closed. “I’m guessing the ride along wasn’t all that fun?”

“It’s not just him,” Eddison said. “It’s this whole setup, this way of life. I don’t know if I can do it anymore.”

“I know Eddie. I feel the same way. You know how I feel about this whole thing and what they’ve had us do.” Angelique reached her hands up to touch Eddison’s face so she could kiss him lightly, but he moved away.

“Not tonight, baby. All I’m in the mood for is a shower, silence and sleeping. I hope to God this shit ends soon.”

The elevator stopped and the doors opened. Without a word to Angelique, Eddison stepped out and went to his room. Angelique walked slowly to hers, taking her hair out of its ponytail and preparing for her evening shower.

Meanwhile, on the outskirts of the city, Alton and Jake met up with Bourdain and Gobie. The foursome was in Alton’s workshop below the house. It was where he and his private team would construct and test new products. Alton and Bourdain led the introductions. Then it was down to business.

“So why precisely did I help bust you two out of jail,” Gobie asked Alton. “I need to know what more I have to do in order for you to help save my family’s business.”

“It’s very simple,” Alton assured the young man. “We destroy the Light Brigade.”

“How are we supposed to do that? They outnumber us, first off. Secondly, they are some tough motherfuckers. Have you seen some of the shit they’ve done on the news? Those are some intense people.”

“I know, but I have a plan, and, as long as everyone does their part exactly as I tell them, it cannot fail.”

“How long until we can get this operation up and running,” Jake asked.

“We start tonight. Everything should be ready by week’s end.”

The next few days, tensions ran high in the Light Brigade HQ. Passing in the hallways turned into intense stare-downs. Sparring sessions became more intense, sometimes turning into full scale fights. It got to the point where Maxwell didn’t even put them out in the same groups on calls.

One night, towards the end of the week, Angelique and Constance were responding to a call at a bar. An enormous brawl had broken out and the police couldn’t handle all the bodies. Angelique was looking for people who had run out of the bar and gone out back when she saw him. He stood about three inches taller than Angelique with a hardened physique. He wore baggy street clothes that included a hooded sweatshirt that concealed his face. When Angelique began shouting commands to him the figure didn’t move. She continued to deliver the order with the same result. When she approached him, the man surprised her with a fierce blow to the face.

“I have only one order I have to follow,” the man said in a monotone and ominous voice. “That order is to kill you, Angelique Honzo.”

“Who are you, and why do you want me killed,” Angelique asked, holding her face.

“I am Drake Barnes. I want you dead because the man that hired me told me of your past misdeeds. More importantly he paid me very well.”

Drake and Angelique squared off. The battle was fast, furious and evenly matched. Each combatant would block or evade the other’s attacks and then land one of their own. Drake got the upper hand when he staggered Angelique with a kick to the stomach. He put her on her heels by delivering more crushing shots. A haymaker to the jaw liberated some of her teeth from her mouth, broke her jaw and sent her crumbling to the pavement. For the next five minutes Angelique was a rag doll in Drake’s arms, as he threw her into walls, dumpsters and garbage cans, stopping only to wipe the sweat from his brow. Drake was about to deliver the final blow when Constance burst into the alley with a team of officers. Drake fled the scene with the other officers in pursuit. That grimy dirty alley would be the last view of the city Angelique would ever see. In their zealous pursuit of Barnes, the officers neglected to call an ambulance, delaying its arrival ten minutes.

Eddison and Terri had been at the headquarters all night, and Constance got back before Benji and the others. When Constance told Eddison what happened he flew into a rage. He tore out doors, broke glass and dismantled benches. His face turned red and hot as magma. A trail of dents in walls, broken glass and doors off of hinges followed Eddison as he made his way towards the Main Room. Everyone kept their distance and tried to talk Eddison down to no avail. Maxwell met him at the double doors with a stern, unfazed look on his face. He pointed a stern picture at Eddison and prepared to use force to camp him down. Without missing a beat, Eddison broke the lawyer’s finger and then gripped his throat, squeezing it tightly. The only thing that caused Eddison to release Maxwell’s throat was hearing officers caught Drake. Without a single word Eddison rushed towards the elevator, with Terri and Constance close behind. Eddison jammed on the gas and headed towards the police station. He swam through the streets, hitting holes in the traffic that no SUV would normally fit into. The traffic thinned and cleared as they neared the police station.

Eddison’s emotions were ready to boil over when, out of nowhere, some kind of rocket broad-sided the vehicle and exploded. The SUV flipped over a number of times, destroying pavement, benches, signs and plants in the process. The vehicle came to a rest against a large skyscraper. The remains of the truck were a dented, mangled mass of metal. The glass was shattered and spider webbed. Constance, Terri and Eddison had to kick open the doors so they could get out. When they were free of the wreckage, the team surveyed the scene, they were confronted with a terrifying sight.

Jake, Alton, Bourdain and Gobie were standing across the street from the wrecked SUV. Jake wore heavy camouflaged pants and black army boots. He had black gloves on his hands as he gripped the shaft of his large solid metal sledge hammer. Alton wore a body suit designed for military use that increased his speed and strength. Bourdain was dressed in a long coat, which was lined with chemical concoctions. Gobie was dressed in traditional Japanese robes, with bombs he hand-mixed from his family’s recipe. These ranged from timed fuse bombs to ones that would explode on contact. The two groups advanced on each other, meeting in the middle of the street. When they were a few feet from one another Gobie struck up a lighter and tossed it behind him. The small flame ignited a ring of flames around them. The burning ring was enormous, stretching to the curbs and out ten feet on each side.

The battle broke out in a flash, with Gobie and Bourdain hurling hazardous homemade mixtures at Constance and Terri. The two women were forced to take cover behind debris on the edge of the circle. Eddison, outnumbered two to one, struggled to keep Jake and Alton at bay. The two had Eddison down to one knee when Benji and the others stormed onto the scene. The mass amounts of backup made a wider perimeter around the flaming ring, while the cruiser holding Benji and the others leapt over the flames. When the car skidded to a halt Gobie and Bourdain hurled bombs and napalm through its windows, causing it to explode. Using the distraction to their advantage, Constance and Terri came from behind their shields and flanked the young men. Unprepared for the attack the boys were put on their heels.

After being knocked backwards, Bourdain produced one of his glass orbs filled with acid and threw it at Constance. She managed to catch it and hurl it back at him. The ball crashed and spilled the chemicals all over Bourdain’s face. The chemicals momentarily blinded Bourdain, its powerful aroma clouded his senses. Seizing the moment, Constance knocked him into the fire, where the other chemicals on his coat heated and erupted from their containers, engulfing him in flames. Constance then set her sights upon Gobie. She and Terri began to grapple and tussle with the young man, so he couldn’t get at his bombs or defend himself. In the struggle, Terri was pushed away, but she took the pins from a few of the timed bombs with her. She tried to warn Constance in vain. By the time she realized what was going on, Gobie’s bombs exploded, sending the two fighters flailing in opposite directions. There was no chance of survival.

While Terri was in shock, Jake turned his attention to her, winding up so he could deliver a killing blow. Luckily, she snapped out of it before he could hit her. The two pairs fought in the streets, sweating, bleeding and panting. Terri used her speed to counter Jake’s power. Eddison and Alton just exchanged one thunderous blow after another. Eddison gained an advantage on Alton as they grappled in the streets. Strategically placed strikes incapacitated Alton’s body parts –a broken elbow joint; a demolished knee; a shattered orbital bone, collapsed nose and knocked out teeth. One final blow to Alton’s temple ended the fight for good. Exhausted, Eddison turned around just in time to see Jake crush Terri’s chest as she was on the pavement begging for mercy.

Eddison roared, every muscle, tendon and sinew tensed and rushed Jake. Hearing his opponent coming, Jake swung his hammer as he turned around, but his arms were tired too and it affected the speed and power of his swing. Eddison caught the head of the hammer with his right hand, breaking three bones in his hand. With his left hand, he delivered a paralyzing uppercut. Eddison dropped the hammer on the ground and continued his assault. The weighted head of the hammer landed with a thud, the long metal handle sticking straight up in the air. Using his left hand, knees and elbows, Eddison battled with Jake. Jake threw a last ditch haymaker at Eddison, but Eddison dodged the blow and tripped the lumbering man. The sound of bone scraping against steel when it punctures a rib cage is unnatural, unforgettable. Eddison slowly rose to his feet as Jake’s torso slid down his hammer’s handle.

“Not bad at all,” a familiar but unwelcome voice came from beyond the fire. “You can still beat up tired injured people. Some things never change.”

Exhausted, Eddison straightened up and turned to face the figure on the opposite side of the inferno. The flickering orange and yellow wall only permitted him to focus on a wavy, unclear silhouette of the man on the other side.

“What brings you to this neck of the woods after all these years Al,” Eddison said, struggling to remain up straight. “I figured you had skipped moved on to bigger and better things by now.”

“My business is personal and business related.” Eddison gave Allister a confused look as his old friend crossed the flaming threshold in front of him. “I have a friend in the morgue and an associate in jail.”

At first Eddison was confused, but as he realized just what Allister was saying the life drained away from his face; his jaw dropped. Disbelief filled his being, changing into sorrow. After five years of fighting thugs, gangsters and gun-running biker gangs it was a friend that got him. After five years he was truly alone. After five years, he had no purpose, no reason to go on and no reason to live.

“What will you do now,” Allister taunted Eddison. “You have no one to lead, no one to turn to, no one to fight.”

“You’re wrong,” Eddison growled. “I do have one thing. I have one enemy that I will destroy.”

“Who might that be, Eddie?”

“You, Allister. I have you. For what you’ve done, I will hunt you down and make you pay.”

“No need to hunt, boy. I’m right here.”

Allister threw off his long overcoat, revealing a belt with numerous small projectiles attached to it. Keeping eye contact with Eddison, Allister took that off, as well as his gloves. Now the only things protecting him from Eddison were his clothes and his bare hands. The fires raged around them as the sirens from the encircling police vehicles sounded off, and their lights cast alternating red and blue spotlights on the area. Cameras from news crews recorded the event for the world to see.

“Leave it to you to have high school kids, low level crooks and shot assassin do your heavy lifting for you,” Eddison said. “You couldn’t even take the man’s way out and try to take us out one by one. Nicely done.”

“I didn’t have those guys come after you, Eddie. Did you ever stop to think that after five years of cleaning up this city that the dirt you swept away might try to come back? I only hired Drake. Granted I hired him to help me take out all of you, but the hammer-wielding convict with the Tron look-alike and the kids was all on them.”

“So what were you going to do, Al, take me out when I sitting on the crapper, or while I was sleeping? At least your hired gun had the balls to take Angelique to her face.”

“Well, tonight’s killing ain’t over yet, boy,” Allister hissed with an evil smile. “One more person still has to die.”

 

Justin Rutledge | Age 25 | Shaker Heights, OH

Fell into a wormhole on his 22nd birthday and found himself in a universe where Lebron James was an old white woman.

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