Exit The Shadow: Djinn And Tony

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    Herr D

    ETS: Djinn And Tony, Part 11

    “A man has a glass relic. I want it broken. I will be free.”
    “Why not do it yourself?”
    “If I do it, it will end me. If someone else does, it frees me.”
    Tony nodded. “Free to do what?”
    The Shadow froze. “I—I . . .”
    “What?” Tony sounded irritated.
    The Shadow raised pleading hands of jet black. “I’ve always wanted to be a hotdog vendor.”
    Tony cocked his head. “THAT’S your dream? HOT DOG VENDOR?!”
    “To work for myself. A simple trade. To be no one’s lackey.”


    Herr D

    “I had no idea the simple life could sound so appealing. You don’t even want to be in villain work OR hero work anymore?”
    “No. I want to be free of all of it. To go straight. I might even join a church someday.”
    Tony sat back. “So you trick someone into doing it.”
    “There’s a problem with that. The only one who knows where it is IS the Leader. A fearsome man with the capacity to end every villain and every hero in the city. Maybe more.”
    Tony snorted. “There will always be heroes and villains here. How fearsome could he be?”
    “It took me a while to understand how he got this way. He knows how to kill everyone and everything I’ve seen him interact with. It’s terrifying to watch him wade through the gore. Do you know he has OCTOPUS on his cleaning crew? He took out seven heroes just last night, and no one even knew because Octopus and the others are so fast.”
    “Which seven?” Tony was leaning forward, the Shadow thought, just like someone studying a menu full of interesting choices.


    Herr D

    “Zoom, Foldout, Rammit, Mix, Match, Rage, and Stretch. I checked the footage myself. Octopus was very upset. He recognized two of them.”
    “I used to know Octopus in his prime. That’s sad. So you’ve figured out this ‘Leader’s’ secret?” Tony leaned on the arm of his chair.
    “Yes. His name is Mike Ledraheim. He writes comic books.”
    Silence fell in the darkened office. The Shadow tried not to fidget. Time seemed to stretch out forever. At last Tony let out a long, disgusted breath. “HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Get out. I’ll make a few calls. See what happens.” He spun a business card at the Shadow.

    The Shadow got out.


    Herr D

    ETS: Djinn And Tony, Part 12

    Several hours later, the phone rang on Mike Ledraheim’s desk. Mike looked at it quizzically. He didn’t recognize the number. He let it go to voicemail. After a beat, he picked up the receiver to check the voicemail. The message went: “Mikey? Word is, you’ve been stirrin’ the pot a bit too much. Takin’ advantage. You’re gonna lay low for a little while. You’re ALSO gonna let the Shadow go. Free and clear. Cut ties, no vengeance allowed on either side. He’s got a business license form waiting for him downtown. You see him, you can buy from him if there’s no hard feelin’s, but other than that—no nothin’. He walks out that door in an hour, or you’ll regret it. Capiche?” The message ended.
    Mike sat back in his chair. He picked up a pencil and flicked it at the small gong by the door. At the sound, the Shadow appeared in the doorway. “Have a seat,” said Mike.
    The Shadow flitted to the chair opposite Mike.
    “I know you were listening in. So let’s get to it. You have been in my thrall for two years, Mr. Shadow. Ever since I had your file stolen, I’ve been straight with you. I know you’re not supernatural, just a special human being. I told you that I’d let you earn your way to freedom. Now you set up someone to threaten me? Why shouldn’t I end you right now? Why shouldn’t I end whoever’s making the threat? Why shouldn’t I make you start ALL OVER AGAIN, EARNING YOUR WAY UP? Huh?”
    The Shadow smiled a gray-lipped smile that looked way too large for a human face, and not very friendly-looking. “You should end me. Right away.”


    Herr D

    Mike stared at him for a moment. “But?”
    “Your troubles won’t end there. You might not believe I’m a djinn or a demon, but you’ve read my file. I DO. And you gave me access to your true name!”
    “That’s absurd.”
    “It doesn’t matter that it’s absurd. I believe it. Therefore, your true name enabled me to get power over you.”
    “You mean, you looked up some information about me? I’ve never even been suspected of a crime. There is no evidence of me committing crime able to be removed from this building. There is no power to be HAD over me.”
    The Shadow smiled even wider, picturing blissfully telling a customer he hadn’t enough change from a fifty. “It took me a while to figure out why you can always deal with whatever happens. Defeat ANYBODY. At first, comic book author doesn’t seem that—impressive.
    But when people stopped reading so many comic books, since so many things that used to be amazing now just—aren’t . . . you still have the advantage of knowing from the insignia a person has on their chest what they’ll do next. How they’ll try to attack. Where they tend to stand in a room or an alleyway. It’s your level of experience with the field. That was the key to knowing how to get the upper hand.”


    Herr D

    “There IS no upper hand. Lean back in your chair. I think I’ll kill you with ultraviolet light.”
    The Shadow leaned back, “I would rather watch Tony work, but—”
    “Tony is his name? Tell me the rest. What’s his last name?”
    “I’ve no idea. I don’t want power over him. He’s saving me.”
    Mike paused, his hands on a desk lamp. “You didn’t try to find out?”
    “Of course not. If you had freed me or given me some reason to believe you really would someday, I wouldn’t have tried for yours. I’ve betrayed you several times now. Just nothing WORKED before. If I knew his name, it wouldn’t matter. I could tell it to you, and you still couldn’t win.”
    Mike rolled his eyes, then frowned. “How did you find this person I stand no chance against, if you don’t know his name?”
    The Shadow smiled, relaxed, desk lamp inches from his face. “I found your old publishing company. Tony’s was the office the receptionist sent me to.”


    Herr D

    ETS: Djinn And Tony, Part 13

    Mike narrowed his eyes. “Another author? No big deal. Tell me something IMPRESSIVE.”
    The Shadow closed his eyes for the burn he was about to receive. “He specializes in graphic novels where dead characters get resurrected or haunt the living, and he currently has a bestseller out where writers are all Mafia and get ‘whacked’ for not following instructions. His business card is in my left shoe.” He felt his left shoe being yanked off and opened his eyes. Mike stared in terror at the business card. He staggered back to a recliner. The Shadow nodded. “By my count you’ve killed about eighty heroes and eighty villains, give or take. You’ve GOTTEN another two hundred people killed, if you count the mundanes, and that’s just in the two years I’ve known you. I’ll be happy to come back to haunt you. Go ahead and kill me.” He shut his eyes again.


    Herr D

    Mike groaned. “No vengeance either way, right? Get out, then.”
    The Shadow’s eyes sprung open, stark white with surprise and irritation. “That’s what Tony asked for, but it’s too late. It would take me longer than an hour just to pack. Feeding my ‘delusions’ as YOU call them is a difficult thing! I have all these stretchy black garments in special laundry preparations. My makeup laboratory is a lot to pack up, too. And let’s not forget I have to walk from shadow to shadow. Besides, I would have to take EVERY shard of glass, if you even broke the bottle to free me! It’s just too late. You have to kill me.”
    Mike stood. He turned to a picture on the wall. He tossed it aside to reveal a safe. “You will now promise me you WILL be packed and out the front door in fifty-eight minutes, with or without whatever is yours. You may call me and ask that the rest be brought out to you at our mutual convenience. Promise me now.”
    The Shadow stood, startled. He felt the same compunction as usual. Wary of some trick, he nodded. “I promise.”


    Herr D

    Mike spun the dial of the safe remarkably quickly. He pulled out a little bottle in a gallon Ziploc baggie. It was ancient, hand-blown green glass with gilt edges, some fake rubies, and some damaged Arabian letters on the front of it. No one knew why it said ‘Dangerous’ on it in Arabic. Mike took the baggie by a corner and swung it at the safe door. It shattered in the baggie. He tossed it into the Shadow’s pitch-black hands. He blinked and the Shadow was no longer in the room. Mike hadn’t heard a thing. He froze for a moment, considering. Then he rolled his eyes. “Carpet,” he muttered. He walked to the bar opposite the safe and made a drink.


    Herr D

    ETS: Djinn And Tony, Part 14

    Basher needed a drink. He was confused. Well, he was usually confused, but this made less sense than normal. “You want me to tell Granite to open the door, step out, turn around, and come back in? Why?”
    The Shadow was hopping from pillar shadow to pillar shadow across the lobby. He felt nervous and most undignified. “It’s symbolic. I believe that you could become the Leader’s next butler. To do that, you will not be doorman anymore. You must be authoritative.”
    “AuTHORitative. That’s like, pushy?”
    “LIKE pushy. But more stern and quiet. You’ve seen the Leader talk quietly, haven’t you?”
    “Yes?” Basher looked a lot less certain of this than he did a moment ago.
    The Shadow darted a glance at the clock. “If you get this job, you will no longer be at risk for punishment at failure for away missions.” He spun around. “Careful with that, Troll! It has to be shipped tomorrow. The shipping company will pick it up off the back loading dock like the last several packages. I don’t need you to check it; I packed it myself. Go on, then! Well, Basher?”
    Basher had finished thinking. He straightened. He smiled, showing all five of his teeth. “Will-that-be-all?”


    Herr D

    It WAS all shortly. Tony’s men were waiting in the van on the street when Granite walked out, casting a very long, oddly-shaped shadow, turned, and walked back in, looking all around confusedly. Tony’s man Chuck nodded. “They’s lookin’ to see if we’s heah, yet. Call Tony, Sam. We’re about to go in. Nobody left.”


    Herr D

    The Shadow smiled at hearing those words from behind the van. Betrayal was an art, he thought to himself. Faked char marks next to a UV lamp, originally used to harden a villain’s skin, were waiting to be found in his old quarters. Mike was sure to be whacked any minute now. Soon, in a neighboring town, he’d be disguised as a regular person, selling those tubular snacks that are . . . REMARKABLY bad for everyone. And laughing, laughing at the money they PAID him to do it to them. Freedom was GRAND!



    Herr D

    I hope you enjoyed. As of this moment, I am considering suggestions and queries from anyone who wishes to collaborate (illustrate) the above story. I have the bottle somewhere, and may provide the text to someone who wishes to incorporate it inside an illustration.

    1. Eventually, I will ask for the text from some of the submissions so I can post them with the appropriate segments. Some of the posts will obviously be better with multipanel pics, just like comic book pages. An easy cheat is to put the Background/Std picture frame with colors 1, 2, and 3 at 100% white over a panel when done to fix the edges. I will also be sharing that text with whoever wants to ‘be true to the other pages’ style.’

    2. Word balloons and thinking bubbles from any character but the Shadow will be white. His wlll be black.

    3. Obviously sticking to the text I’ve written will bring favor to any submission.

    4. If the moderators wish to make a contest out of one of these or any of my other fiction posted here, I will be flattered and consider canonizing any pics that both impress me and are true enough to the entire text and incorporated style elements so far.

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