Exit The Shadow: Djinn And Tony

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    Herr D

    A contest might eventually be set up to field pics I have not made for my fiction on here.

    Exit The Shadow: Djinn And Tony
    by Herr D

    The Shadow stepped out of the darkness. “Yes?” he said in a whisper faint enough it almost wasn’t heard. He lifted an eyebrow just slightly gray enough to stand out from the inky blackness of his form.
    Troll leaned surprisingly close to the Shadow. “Stupids fail.” Troll was only five feet tall and cowardly as he was ugly, but he was obviously not to blame. He couldn’t lie well enough to pull off such a casual indictment. He pointed to them, waiting in the common area of the Leader’s suite. Wrecking Ball, Granite, and Basher were standing there looking ashamed. And more than a little afraid. “Ran machine I did. Hero fled.”
    The Shadow’s eyes turned an angry white. “Stop talking like Yoda. It doesn’t make you any more pleasant to look at. Or to listen to.” The Shadow looked up at Granite, the stooped ten-foot gray giant who couldn’t talk, down at Wrecking Ball, the six-foot orange—thing that could roll or be propelled at the enemy, that could BARELY talk, and then looked down at Basher. Basher had taken off most of his armor, by the house rules, and stowed his weapons properly. Even without his armored shoes, Basher was a six-footer and built like a brick outhouse. He was surprisingly articulate, but normally wouldn’t talk much. “What happened, Basher?”
    Basher cleared his throat and looked around nervously. “We thought it would work. The recorded screams of the woman caught in the factory machine baited Foldout right into the alley. Troll had the machine running at its slowest speed with the speakers going, just like we talked about. Granite shouldered the building to the right, brought down a few tons of rubble, blocking the exit. Foldout opened the door where I was waiting, and I grazed him with an eight-pound sledgehammer, but he rolled with it and slammed the door! Wrecking Ball bounced down the fire escape only slightly off cue as I kicked the door open again. Foldout was nowhere to be seen. Troll said he went under the machine and went looking, but said he got out the sewer. We thought it was blocked. There was no manhole cover on it, though. There had been earlier. We had no idea how that happened. Granite clapped four times to let us know he found something and showed us where. Broken rubble and a toy we didn’t know Foldout even had. It lifts and shunts manhole covers. I tested it. It’s with my armor if you want a look. I’m afraid he got away.”
    The Shadow nodded gravely. Troll piped up with “Stupids. I SAID Wrecking Ball come faster.”
    The Shadow nodded again. Wrecking Ball WAS a great deal tougher, so he’d be harder to kill. He was also not as useful as the others. Not as bright, not as good at following instructions. Screwed up a lot more—with that, the Shadow made his decision. He put a hand on Wrecking Ball’s back and nudged him toward the Leader’s door. “YOUR turn to tell the Leader . . .”
    All four of the lackeys looked terrified. Even Troll, who had nothing to lose.

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    Herr D

    ETS: Djinn And Tony, Part 2

    All four of the lackeys looked terrified. Even Troll, who had nothing to lose. It had to be done, though, reasoned the Shadow. And Wrecking Ball MIGHT survive the Leader’s response.
    Wrecking Ball trembled—all six hundred pounds of him. He walked as gently as his bulk would allow into the Leader’s room. A few moments passed. There was a muffled ‘whump,’ and a sound like the beginning of a hail storm. The Leader’s door opened. The Leader stood there, tiny pieces of orange shell falling everywhere. The Shadow’s eyebrows went higher and lighter gray. Wrecking Ball was no more. The Leader looked like any ordinary schmuck, not a hero or a villain. Certainly not like he could destroy ANYTHING. He looked like he’d have trouble eating a whole FOOTLONG with relish. The Shadow paused, considering the pun as a way to calm himself. The Shadow didn’t like surprises like the Wrecking Ball dying, but they happened more and more with the Leader. The Leader pulled a pen and a pack of Post-It notes from a pocket. He scribbled for a moment. “You three,” the Leader said, “The Shadow will give you a list of what I want next. See if you can bring me what I need without screwing it up?” He wrote a short list, handed it to the Shadow, and closed his door.


    Herr D

    ETS: Djinn And Tony, Part 3

    Closed doors were a theme for the night. When the seventh one slammed in his face, he shrugged. He pulled his chin in and concentrated on making his voice sounding piteous. “Please?” he whined, “Tell me where I can meet a hero. I really need one. The regular police aren’t enough. They would DIE if they got involved. I just want the killing to STOP.” He unfurled his jet-black cloak and imagined as best he could that he was wearing a starch-white uniform, apron, and one of those friendly little hats.


    Herr D

    ETS: Djinn And Tony, Part 4

    He heard the latch go on. The door opened a crack. A boy not six years old peered out at him from atop a stool with outright suspicion. “You are a BAD man.”
    “But I don’t WANT to be!” said the Shadow smoothly, “I want to help! Like now, for example. Don’t open the door for me, my boy, I MIGHT be LYING.” He waggled his eyebrows menacingly.
    “But you told me you’re lying? How’s THAT supposed to WORK?!”
    “No. But I want you to practice! To stay safe. If I REALLY wanted to get you, wouldn’t I ask you to come out for something? Lie and say I had something you like? Like a hot dog?”
    “Like candy.”
    “Like candy. What a bright boy you are! But I say—stay in there and don’t take ANYTHING from me. Just in case! Right?” The Shadow paused, imagining lovingly mixing six varieties of mustard.
    The little boy scratched his head thoughtfully and picked his nose a bit. Then he nodded. “Okay.”
    “How do I get a hero? I mean, get in touch with one.”


    Herr D

    ETS: Djinn And Tony, Part 5

    The boy thought a moment. “You could place an ad, maybe?”
    The Shadow shook his head. “Quicker than that. You probably don’t know where their lair is, do you? I couldn’t be that lucky.”
    The boy squinted, “BAD guys have LAIRS.”
    “Maybe a phone number, or a place they hang out? A bar and grill or a donut shop?”
    The boy laughed. “That’s POLICE. You don’t know ANYTHING about heroes.”
    “You’re right. I don’t. That . . . is why I’m asking you.” The Shadow took a deep breath. At least this wasn’t any worse than explaining things over and over to Granite.
    The boy nodded. “They have to know when people are in trouble. They probably listen in at the police station.”
    The Shadow nodded. “Thank you. I’ll look there. You may have helped save someone. I hope so. I hope to have a job soon. I hope I get to sell to you. A bright boy.” He faded back out of the light.
    The Shadow crossed the city blocks out of view of passersby. He crossed the lighted areas right behind the larger people or slow-moving cars. He found a pile of discarded boxes right near the police station. Tearing out a panel, he took some black, sooty residue from a gas pipe, noting in satisfaction it was only as black as his own carefully tended skin, and wrote a quick sign. “Please meet at 3rd and Main. 2 a.m. Need a hero.” He watched as a homeless man set down his own sign to pick up a penny and swapped it. The homeless man lifted up the new sign without noticing a difference as the Shadow flitted away.


    Herr D

    ETS: Djinn And Tony, Part 6

    The Shadow returned after serving the Leader his nightly drink. Right to the corner. He walked, cringing and squinting, right out into the streetlight’s glow, held up a blank piece of cardboard, and made a long, sooty mark on it.
    “Put your hands on your head.” The voice was hoarse, bass, menacing.
    The Shadow startled, and did what he was told. “I do hope you’re a hero. I need one.”
    “You don’t look it.”


    Herr D

    “I want out,” said the Shadow, “I don’t want to be a villain’s lackey anymore. I don’t expect you to trust me or sympathize with me. I just want to tell you who my master is. And caution you so you won’t die.”
    “How do I know it’s not a trap?”
    “I want you to assume it IS one. I’ve seen him kill three heroes in ten seconds flat. Maybe you should bring ten. Maybe you should have ten waiting across the street in case ten isn’t enough. Let me just give you the address. If he sees you coming, he might try to make me fight you. If you just shine a strong light on my chest, it might be enough to paralyze me. I’m really not sure how much control he has over me.”
    “What’s in it for you?”
    “If you destroy him, I have no master. I am free. I might ask you to break something for me, to make it permanent. I won’t have to do anything he tells me anymore.”
    “You could do evil on your own.”
    “That’s true, but you could watch me. I wouldn’t be in hiding.”
    A softer voice spoke then. “Like, how do you mean?”
    “I mean, no one knows where I am, where I come from. But if I took a job as a street vendor, maybe right between two tall buildings during the day, EVERYONE would be able to find me during the day. You’ll probably have to kill him. He WILL kill you otherwise. I’ve seen it.” The Shadow shuddered, feeling very like a french fry under a heating lamp turning extra crispy.


    Herr D

    ETS: Djinn And Tony, Part 7

    “Who did he kill?”
    “He killed Snakeeyes, Ropadope, and Juker in ten seconds flat. He killed quite a few others. Octopus is bound to work on his cleaning crew for life. You know how he was with promises.”
    “Octopus is alive? He’s been missing for two years!”
    “In exchange for his life, he swore to clean up messes for the Leader. He’s working as a night janitor. Closed gig. He works for the Leader’s messes in town and out-of-town stuff only.” The Shadow faltered. “Could you—get between me and the streetlight? It hurts, and I have to get back before I’m missed. Thank you. Portsrow Office Park. M-L Building. Top floor. Watch out for security cameras and traps. Take your time, of course. I want you to succeed.” The Shadow fled. Two shadows paused, slightly away from the streetlight. One of the shadows had horns.


    Herr D

    “Rammit? I’ll have to check, but those three DID disappear about the same time as Octopus. Let’s check the approach Octopus would have to make to the M-L Building.”
    A grunt sounded in the quiet street. The two figures walked purposefully away to the south. A mere hour later, six figures rappelled down a single rope onto the roof of the M-L Building. The nearly silent mini-helicopter landed, its padded outriggers bending upwards to prevent any creaking, and silently stopped running. One figure stepped forward, folded a heavy tool to stick out of his vest, and snapped the doorknob off the roof stair access door. He pulled the door open, and the six figures trotted quietly down the stairs into a large penthouse apartment.


    Herr D

    ETS: Djinn And Tony, Part 8

    “Stop right there.”
    The team of heroes looked confused. This was an ordinary man in front of them? He wore business casual and had a dour expression on his face.
    Foldout shook his head. “Who ARE you? I mean, what do we call you?”
    The Leader pulled a small pistol out of a pocket and shot Zoom, the only speedster, while he was still stunned at the ordinary-looking person in front of him after all that buildup. “Mike.”
    Foldout cringed at Zoom’s blood all over his face. “Just . . . MIKE?!”
    Mike, the Leader, nodded. “Yes.” He shot Foldout in the left eye.
    Rammit grabbed the gun right out of Mike’s hand. “You shoot people, eh, Mike? That what you do?” He stepped closer and swung.
    Mike ducked, “Nope.” He put his back to the wall.
    Rammit turned and squared off, measuring the distance with his eyes, carefully. “What do you do, then, MIKE?!” He pawed the floor twice with the outsized running shoe he wore on his right foot. He charged.


    Herr D

    Mike ducked and rolled to the right, easily evading the bull-charge. Rammit went right through the wall and tumbled out of the skyscraper. Rammit, falling some twenty stories, probably didn’t hear Mike as he stood and said, “Anything I want.” He pulled a remote out of a pocket and pushed a button. Mix and Match, walking around what they had assumed was a regular television, watched in horror as it unfolded. Six blindingly fast robotic arms holding machetes stuck out and chopped them up. Rage and Stretch gasped at the carnage. Mike pushed another button on the remote, and the arms folded back up into what looked like a television.


    Herr D

    Rage turned three shades of purple, vibrating. “But you have to have a THEME, man! A motif, a signature fighting style, or—” He stomped forward.
    Mike pressed another button. The cuckoo clock’s door opened, and instead of a cuckoo, a tube stuck out. There was a puff of air, and a dart was sticking out of Rage’s head. “No, I don’t.” Rage fell over, foam coming out of his mouth.


    Herr D

    Stretch faced Mike alone. His arms bent at the elbow and started undulating forward. “You can’t just do things like that! I’ll—” Stretch fell over choking. His face turned scarlet.
    Mike smiled and turned off the x-ray machine behind Stretch. “Yes, I can.” Mike walked away from the kill zone he’d created and sounded a small gong.


    Herr D

    ETS: Djinn And Tony, Part 9

    The Shadow appeared in the doorway. Slowly the eyebrows turned light gray and raised in surprise. “How!?” He recovered. “What happened HERE?! How could you make such a MESS? I was in here five minutes ago! You don’t have that many lackeys LEFT to kill!” He pulled up one of the dismembered hands and examined the fingers. The right size, but not pink enough to look right on a bun. The big body stretched out twelve feet and half-melted had lumps sticking out of his dead mid-section. The Shadow poked at it. “Gyro,” he thought.
    Mike, the Leader, nodded as he warily watched the Shadow poke idly at the dead bodies. Mike noticed the Shadow displayed no sign of attachment. “You’re right. Those were heroes. Check Security. If they’ve been arrested or the police are on their way, we may have to move quickly. Then come here and let me know. I’ll call the cleaning crew.”
    The Shadow nodded slowly, incredulous, trying to imagine a bus full of vegans shaking their pointer fingers at him. He startled then. “I should check and see if there is a warrant for this address or your legal name, if they’ve figured that out. I’ll be gone longer for that.”
    Mike nodded wordlessly, cupping a hand over the phone. He pulled his driver’s license out of his pocket and expertly flipped it right into the Shadow’s hand.
    The Shadow melted into the darkness. Several minutes later, six blocks away at the police station, an officer left his terminal for the bathroom. The Shadow stepped up to it, fingers flying. The screen showed no active warrants for the area of the Leader’s penthouse. Not so much as a noise complaint—which did seem odd. The Shadow shook his inky-black head. He typed in searches for the owners of the three buildings surrounding the Leader’s building on the three sides away from the ocean. One at a time, he discovered them. After two minutes of straight typing, he leaned back. One warehouse, one factory with permits to operate during daylight hours only, and one housing project for the deaf. All of them partly owned by one Michael Ledraheim. No warrants out for the Leader. The Shadow shook his head in wonderment again. He looked at the ordinary driver’s license in his hand for a moment. Then, he googled the name in desperation. After a few mouse clicks, the Shadow smiled an ugly smile. He glanced at the policeman’s half-eaten meal in the garbage, nodding. “One with and mustard.” He smiled that ugly smile all the way back.


    Herr D

    ETS: Djinn And Tony, Part 10

    He was hiding that same smile the next day, when he slipped into the non-descript office in the swanky building on Main Street. There wasn’t even a name on the door.
    The backlit figure at the desk looked up at him. “Stop right there.”
    The Shadow stopped, respectfully. “I want to make a deal, Tony.”
    ‘Tony’ shook his head. “Demon? Sorry. No deals with demons.”
    The Shadow lengthened. “I am no demon. I think—I am an outcast djinn. In any case, I don’t want YOUR soul. I want mine.”
    “. . . Keep talking.”

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