This story ‘A Tale of Two Dark Nights ‘ was created from a task as part of a writers group I am in. The task was to write a short story, but the twist was to do a gender reversal on an established character. I chose my character and went to work and came up with this.
A Tale of Two Dark Nights by A D Small
“Caller 4, you’re through to Finger on the Pulse, so come on myth or fact.”
“Well, I’m not sure if…”
“Come on put it on the line the truth is out there, the light, the rumours, scared criminals…this ain’t no Charles Bronson death wish guy, this is a professional…you with me here?”
“Err you can’t.”
“Can’t my ass live in the now, the police deny it so must be real!! Line 5”
“Well, I think it is fact. I have seen it.”
“It, you say, not a man or women?”
“I couldn’t see the face as the mask covered it.”
“Where did you see this?”
As Bill waited for the caller to respond he spun around on his old weathered swivel chair. His eyes glanced at the wall. Newspaper clippings, copies of police reports all linked to sightings of the cities Vengeful Gallant, the Night Demon, the Dark Devil. Some newspaper clippings mentioned sightings of other vigilantes in other cities, the Red Streak, the Green Hood and the Amazonian.
“Well, it was near…”
“Come on don’t waste my time spit it out.”
“Near the water district tunnels.”
“Ok, ok, thanks, caller.”
“Is this Demon of the Night even human??? Line 3 you’re on the Finger on the Pulse!”
“Yeah, Bill what’s with this obsession…you’re a crazy son of…”
“Hey! Who let this guy on!?! Are we not vetting the callers anymore? Get the hell outta here…Next Caller!”
“Bill what about the Jester sighting?”
“God sake! Next!!!”
“Come on people let’s have a proper discussion of the things we want to talk about but don’t let’s not sit on the fence here. Something is happening to our city, is it what we want or is it what we need?.. You’re through to Finger on the Pulse, what’s your name, caller?”
“Hi, my name is Edyth Nigma, Bill.”
“Welcome to my show, Edyth, what do you want to say?”
“I think you’re right, Bill we need to talk about the conundrum is it what we need or what we want in our city. Do we need to be scared to walk the streets at night or can we walk them with the knowledge we will be safe?”
“Edyth, we need to be safe but that is what the police are there for. Is it right to have someone going around and acting like judge, jury and executioner? Do, two wrongs make a right?”
“Well Bill, are the police actually doing what they should be doing? I have heard lots of rumours regarding the police being bought, by the Family. Maybe this Knight of the Shadows has had enough of injustice.”
“If you collate solid evidence, Edyth, criminals will be punished.”
“But how many and who have been bought?”
“Well, that is all hearsay. But we must follow the legal process if not we will have a city full of costumed weirdos, nut jobs running around, and some innocent people will be hurt.”
“Aren’t the innocent being hurt now though, Bill?”
“Would love to chat all night, Edyth but we have other callers coming in. Thanks for the call…Line 6.”
“Bill, I spotted the Night Demon last week, it climbed the building the roof of the building facing my apartment.”
“So, how much did you see caller? And where did you see it?”
“I couldn’t see the face, the black mask covered it. I live in the Kubrick District.”
“So, we are still unsure if this vigilante is male or female.”
“So, caller, do you think this character is a hindrance or a massive help to the city?”
Bill turned around and stood up and grabbed a black coloured pin, he moved his finger over the map then tapped it when he found the location. He firmly pushed the pin and stood back to overlook all the sightings looking for a pattern. But nothing.
“Well Bill, I honestly think it is a help. Maybe the Night Demon will deal with the criminals that have been flooding the streets.”
“Another fan of the Night Demon, I see.”
“Thanks for the call. So, do we think the Night Demon is what we need or what we want? Jump on the chat boards and let’s get a poll going. Finger on the Pulse will be back at 10pm, but before I go, I will leave you with the classical songs of Zins Hammer.”
Bill swung his chair around and stared at the wall of mystery, this vigilante didn’t have a name, the press hadn’t settled on one yet. Vengeful Gallant, the Night Demon, the Dark Devil were the most popular ones used by the citizens of the city. He glanced up at the door and could see the light had finally faded behind the on-air sign. Bill grabbed his jacket and a file of papers, he left his booth and headed for the stairwell. He wanted his favourite spot on the roof, a small sheltered space, that he could see the cape carmine and the start of the river than runs through the city. The sound of the night filled his ears, sirens and screams. He loved the city for all it’s good and bad, but he found it hard to side with the winged vigilante. Do two wrongs make a right, he thought.
As he leaned into the door, he got his first whiff of the city at night. La Mazza’s famous Meatball dish was to die for, Bill had managed to eat there when he interviewed Mrs Wayne, she paid. He felt she was a beautiful woman, flowing black locks fell over movie star face but her eyes were always sad. People used to say her eyes sparkled but that died that night in the ally almost 10 years ago. Bill remembered the meal well they spoke of the rising crime figures and how nothing was being done. He thought of her husband who was a doctor, but also an investor who pumped his family fortune into rebuilding parts of the city that had been left to rot over previous decades. After he had finished the interview they carried on with the bottle of wine and delicious food. Bill offered her his, jacket as he escorted her to her car, she accepted it graciously.
“Thank you for the interview and the meal, Mrs Wayne.”
“It was a pleasure and I enjoyed the company; it was nice to not wear a mask.”
“What do you mean? If It is ok for me to ask.”
“Well we all have to put masks on throughout the day, don’t we? We act a certain way in front of everyone. I do it for meetings and interviews, but not this one. You got the real me.”
“I can understand that, Mrs Wayne.”
As they got to her car, her chauffer had the door open.
“There you go, Mrs Wayne.”
“Thank you, Alfred.”
“Good evening, Mr Kane.”
“Good evening to you too, Mr Kane.”
As his mind came back to the present, he found his spot on the roof and sat on the bench. From it, he gazed out over the rooftops. He always felt the city had two faces; the day was easier to handle but the night was when all the crackpots came out to play. The rise of the Night Demon brought with it some crazy people, someone who left a playing card at all her crimes, alleged man-sized crocodiles in the sewers and numerous other weird sightings. What would this city be like in the years to come, Bill thought that it was the start of a new era, one never seen before. He sat under the shelter and blocked the city noise out and opened the file, his inside man at the police station who owed him a favour, brought him some old reports. Each report was from all the sightings of the Night Demon, given by all the criminals that had been brought to justice and locked up by Eva Dent, behind the tall walls of Blackgate Penitentiary. Reports read, that the Night Demon, had black wings and a black mask, moved in the shadows. He glanced at the medical reports to, some of the beatings the criminals took had them in the penitentiary hospitals for months after. Bill thought the Night Demon had to be former military and would chase up if any soldiers had been discharged in the last 10 years. He pulled a packet of cigarettes from his pocket and flicked his lighter. As he continued to flick through the pages of the report, he began to take drags of the cigarette. He started to cough on the smoke as he came across a name Joseph Chilton, but what caught his interest more was a previous case connected with that name. The name hit him like a bullet to the head, the Wayne Murders. That was the night in the alley, where her husband and son died in her arms. The police had looked for Chilton but no sign of him anywhere in the city or neighbouring ones. As Bill combed through the page, he heard a thud on the roof of the shelter, seemed too loud to be a bird, maybe something bigger. He closed the file and placed it on the bench. Bill edged out of the shelter and wondered if he would be attacked by an owl or something. As he looked up nothing was there, he looked down the side, but it was empty. But as he looked back to the bench, the file was gone. Bill moved back towards the door to the stairwell and as he reached for the handle something moved past him and stuck in the door. His heart raced as he looked towards the door and a shiny piece of metal glistened in the moonlight. He stood tall and turned around, then he saw it, the black cape, and a black mask. Bill could feel his bladder empty as the eyes stared back at him, he could see the anger and rage in them.
“I haven’t done anything wrong!”
“Procuring copies of police files is a crime.”
Even with the mask on Bill could hear the words clearly and the night demon had to be a man.
“Someone owed me a favour and I collected. His debt is paid now. Bit rich from you to be here saying I have committed a crime.”
“So, you’re not a big fan of my work?”
“I agree that the streets a rife with crime, but who gives you all the power.”
“I am giving back to the city. I am what the city needs right now.”
“What it needs?”
“Yes, the city is full of disease, and I can cut it out and help heal it.”
“Can you now? By wearing a mask and a cape-like Zorro.”
The Night Demon pulls a gun from its belt and points it to the roof of the building behind Bill.
“Well, we all wear masks throughout the day.”
And as the last word hits Bills ears the Night Demon flies over his head and into the darkness. The words bounce around his head like a pinball but then he realised he had heard those words before. But nobody would believe him, he had no proof to back his claim up and give it to the police. He ran forward and spun around, he gazed into the darkness but nothing. As Bill looked back towards the shelter, he could see the file on the floor, he rushed over to it and on top of it sat a note weighed down with another piece of metal. He looked at the note.
I ask you for a favour burn the file, carry on questioning the citizens on what I do and my ethics. This city needs my help, and with your help, I can hide my identity.