Stories # - L | M - Z | Authors

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Several years ago…

 

            Deep within the shadowy concealment of an abandoned warehouse, a young woman sat tied and bound to a wooden chair. A thick strip of duct tape covered her mouth. Her eyes danced around at the shadows of the room and shouting voices could be heard in the distance along with the mechanical rack of the charging of automatic weapons. Rope looped around her arms and legs tied to the chair by secured knots. She could not scream, she could not move, helplessly she awaited her fate at the hands of her captors.

            Her eyes moved to the doorway. The door swung open to reveal the man who had seemed to take charge of her kidnapping. The muscular thug wore the tell tale colors of the notorious street gang known as the Outcasts. He stepped into the room with an air of fury she had not yet seen. His eyes leered at her and he bared his discolored teeth at her angrily. She looked at his right hand where he held a knife that caught the reflection of light that poured in from the next room. The young woman whimpered and shook with fear at the sight of the knife wielding man. He rushed forward and tugged at a lock of her hair that he pulled and cut with the knife. The man held the lock of blond hair out in front of her and shook it angrily.

            “They want proof!” he barked. “I’ll give them proof! And next I’ll give them a finger. Your daddy dearest better pay up or they’ll get you back piece by bloody piece!”

            The thug leader stormed back out of the room slamming the door behind him. The bound woman’s sobs filled the room but fell upon deaf ears as she was once again was alone in the dimly lit room.

“Stop your crying you spoiled little bitch!” a voice demanded from outside the room.

She looked down at the once clean designer clothing she was wearing, now smudged by dirt and smelling from a week of unbathing. Her expensive jewelry had been removed and even her designer shoes were gone. The young woman had never endured such terror and mistreatment. She had lived a life of lush riches that could only be afforded by being the only daughter of Boomtown’s billionaire industrialist Simon Stern. It had been almost a week since she had been taken by force from a limousine that had been taking her to her first class of her senior year in high school.

“What could be taking so long?” she said to herself. “What price wouldn’t he pay to have me back?”

Her sobs continued until exhaustion finally took its toll and she passed out.

 

From high in the rafters of the abandoned warehouse, a hero watched and prepared for his next move. David Fallen’s steel blue eyes peered down from beneath his yellow mask that was shadowed by his signature blue hood. A thick cape hung down from his shoulders and draped ominously from the wood framing of the ceiling. His familiar symbol of a blue hand stood out upon his chest, a reminder to those who dared to commit crime in his glorious city of Boomtown. The Hooded Avenger’s muscles tensed as he looked upon the helpless Outcast thugs who would soon feel the sting of committing criminal acts upon the citizens under his protection. He had been searching the city for days since the news of Veronica Stern’s disappearance hit the police band. The hero had observed the Outcasts lack of activity and followed a group to this warehouse where he soon learned of their plot. He knew for certain that the thugs couldn’t afford to be caught holding such a prize and most likely would kill her after the ransom was received. The Hooded Avenger couldn’t let that happen. His business was saving lives and he took his business very seriously.

The hero dropped from the ceiling spinning his heal into the face of one of the Outcasts who crumbled to the floor in a heap.

“The Hooded Avenger!” another Outcast alarmed as he too met with a boot to the sternum. Again and again the hapless Outcasts fell at the Hooded Avenger’s feet until he was the only one left standing.

The Hooded Avenger kicked one of his boots through the door where Veronica was being held. Her eyes widened and brightened at the sight of the superheroes colorful costume.

The Hooded Avenger carefully pulled the duct tape from over her mouth and wiped a gloved hand across her cheek smearing away the tears, “You’re safe now young lady.”

Veronica whimpered again her tears of fear turning to tears of joy, “They were going to kill me…you saved my life.”

“Just doing my duty,” the proud hero smiled then began removing the ropes from around her. “Let’s get you back home.”

 

Television media gathered outside of the warehouse surrounded in yellow crime scene tape and law enforcement officers protecting the scene. One by one, the members of the Outcast kidnapping crew responsible for the kidnapping of Simon Stern’s daughter were lead out in handcuffs with police escort. The crowd cheered as the reporters cast their live reports to viewers across Boomtown.

“Today in a glorious display of heroism,” the beautiful channel 4 newswoman Gale Fairchild reported. “The daughter of billionaire businessman Simon Stern was returned to the loving embrace of her father. Just moments ago, Boomtown’s own Hooded Avenger brought these criminals to justice and those responsible were handed over to authorities.”

The criminals snarled at the media as they were lead away in handcuffs televised by the reporting media. The Hooded Avenger’s blue handprint was imprinted upon each of the arrestees’ chests displaying the hero’s handy work to all of Boomtown.

“Once again a life is saved by the Hooded Avenger,” the reporter continued. “This is Gale Fairchild reporting for Channel 4 ‘Action On The Spot News’, proud to say that we are lucky to have such a hero.”

Gale handed her microphone to her cameraman and looked up to see the Hooded Avenger perched upon the stoop of one of the tallest buildings. She winked and gave the hero a beautiful smile. The Hooded Avenger looked down smiling back and raising his hand in a salute. The reporter and the hero had become very close over the past year, rumored to be dating, with a flirtatious attraction between them that the two had come to savor. The Hooded Avenger watched the crowds cheer for the arrest of the criminals and chanted the hero’s name. He stood and basked in the glow of his praise. There was no better gratitude in the world than the public’s chants of recognition and admiration.

Suddenly, the chants silenced as a dark shadow began to loom over the great city. The crowds looked to the sky in amazement of something that left them breathless. David too looked to the sky to see a sight he thought was impossible. A fleet of massive space crafts loomed over the city. The shuddering hum of their powerful engines shook the earth. The crowd began to gasp as additional spacecraft began to drop from the atmosphere blocking the sun and darkening the skies. The ships gathered together and openings began to form beneath the ships. David’s heart sank as he turned back to the helpless onlookers, standing helplessly witness to what could only be an alien invasion. The Hooded Avenger cried down to them as the first hail of alien laser fire impacted the city. The crowd screamed with terror and ran for cover as explosions rocked the city and toppled skyscrapers. Explosions ripped through the city streets and sent cars ablaze. The Hooded Avenger jumped down to the street level and directed the citizens to move under cover. A city bus stopped suddenly as he ordered some of the citizens to board and evacuate. A massive chunk of concrete dropped from the sky on direct course for a young woman holding her infant child. David reacted, leaping forward and saving the woman and child from the falling debris. She thanked him as he moved her onto the bus and turned to the bus driver ordering him to take the citizens to safety.

The alien ships continued to pummel the city with their advanced laser fire. The hero turned to see Gale rushing for her news van as skyscrapers continued to topple around them. The bus he had sent away slid to a stop as a stack of rubble blocked its escape. Before there was anything he could do, the bus was crushed by falling wreckage and enveloped in a fiery explosion. He gasped then turned back to Gale who too became engulfed in fire and explosions. The city was being completely obliterated before his eyes. There were too many to save, too many people to save. The invasion was overwhelming and totally devastating. The aliens had caught them off guard and completely helpless. What kind of heartless monsters could enact such devastation?

The Hooded Avenger leapt again in hopes of saving the lives of any one in the city. A massive explosion rocked him from his grapple and sent him falling to the earth. A deafening explosion rocked his senses and fire enveloped around him. The pain of searing heat consumed him and then there was nothing, silence, darkness…death.

 

 

A great light then appeared before him. David Fallen, the heroic Hooded Avenger stood in an empty darkness reaching out toward the light. The light was warm and inviting, calling to him like a mother would call to a child. He smiled and felt the warmth of the light upon his face. For the first time in a long while he felt joy. An overwhelming joy greater than anything he had ever left before. He stepped forward out of the darkness toward the inviting light completely overwhelmed by his feelings of total contentment, but suddenly he began to remember. The sight of the citizens of Boomtown dying in pain and agony halted his assent into the light. He stopped and looked back toward the darkness, the cold hateful darkness that made him tremble with fear.

“I can’t leave,” David said to the light. “I can’t go yet.”

The light called to him again, the feeling of joy stronger now and almost unbearable to deny.

“No,” David turned his back toward the light. “My work is not done hear, I have to serve the people. Justice must be brought to the innocent. I will not go into the light.”

David stepped toward the darkness leaving the light behind him. The warmth slowly began to fade and suddenly he was falling. The cold darkness rushed around him spinning him and tossing him about. David tried to reach out for something to hold on to but there was nothing there. The emptiness was all that remained now and it engulfed him, swallowed him whole. He screamed out into the darkness but his voice was gone as well. David continued to fall endlessly. He called into the darkness for help again and suddenly his falling stopped.

            David felt around him feeling that he was trapped in some kind of box. The air was stale and a dead smell gagged him. He punched and scratched at the box feeling it come apart and warm earth falling in on him. David dug at the earth pulling him upward through the ground. He pulled and clawed with his hands feeling an irresistible sense of freedom to reach the surface. David’s hands breached the earth where he could feel the open air. Frantically he pulled himself from the ground and opened his eyes for the first time. The colors danced like they had never done before. Swirls of light filled his vision and a colorful fog cast a haze over everything he looked at. Thick grass was all around him and large stones with etched names stood in columns. He looked up into the colorful sky where a ball of light could be seen casting rays of light down upon the ground.

David covered his eyes at the sight of the light thinking for a moment that he was looking into the sun. He soon learned that it was not the sun but was in fact the moon. David could see at night as brightly as he could during the day. He looked down at his hands and saw that his body had changed as well. His skin was gray and dead like leather, hard to the touch and tight against his muscles. David’s muscles seemed tight and bound but they did not ache. His face also felt tight pulling his lips from his mouth exposing his teeth. David looked at his right hand to find that he did not have any skin or muscle, just the horrific sight of bony fingers. The stifling rotting smell still remained, the smell of death that emanated from his decaying remains. David realized that he was somehow one of the undead, a zombie, reanimated by some unknown force. He thought that he should be disturbed by this vision but he was not. David couldn’t feel anything at all or remember anything from his former life, but something called for him.

He slowly began to walk finding that his balance was not stable from the tightness in his joints. David’s head slung to the side uncontrollably where he saw others like him walking alongside him. A mass of walking dead followed him as he stepped out into the city streets. A fog surrounded them and encompassed the city as they proceeded forward. David stepped through an arched iron gate that read “Moth Cemetery” continuing toward this unknown calling. People began to see the exodus of walking dead and began running in terror. The screams angered him and he called out with moans and grunts for the others to stop the screams. David’s zombie minions attacked the innocent civilians, smashing into businesses and toppling cars. Police sirens howled through the streets meeting the mass of undead with a hail of gunfire. The bullets were useless against the army of zombies who could not be stopped by mere man made weapons.

David directed more of his zombie minions to attack. Hundreds of undead soldiers abided by his commands and sent more of the public screaming in terror. David questioned why they listened to his orders but seemed not to care about the answer. As if programmed, he continued forward on his mission against the living sending them back and destroying everything in sight. Suddenly David stopped as he looked ahead to see a news van and a reporter covering the sighting of the undead upon the streets.

“Mercy Stevens with ‘Action on the Spot News’ live in Astoria where the dead appear to walk the streets,” the blond newswoman reported. “For unknown reason, hundreds of zombies have dug themselves from Moth Cemetery and begun to attack the people of this once peaceful island. The facts are unclear but the authorities are warning for everyone to stay away from Astoria or leave the island in a calm orderly fashion until they can bring this situation under control. But with the heroes of the Freedom Phalanx fighting a desperate battle against the alien invasion that began three weeks ago leveling Boomtown. For weeks Astoria has fallen into darkness and it seems now that this darkness has awoken the undead.”

David stared at the newswoman, something stopping him from continuing with his assault. He groaned and fought against the orders in his head to kill. David began to remember a hero who used to save lives in the name of justice; a hero who used to stand for truth and stood against those who would prey on the innocent. David began to remember those people who died in Boomtown, the people he had tried to save and lost his own life in doing so. He was once the Hooded Avenger, a hero, not a murderer. David fought against the orders of destruction in his head refusing to obey them.

“I won’t kill these people, I won’t listen!” David screamed aloud causing the rest of the zombie horde to turn to him.

Suddenly David fell to his knees a splitting pain arcing its way through his body.

A figure appeared before him through the haze that encompassed Astoria chanting and casting a wand of voodoo magic upon him. A Voodoo Shaman was decorated with skulls, tattoos of ancient symbols, and tribal feathers. His body was painted with blood and his face was streaked with white paint over his dark skin.

“I not cast you from the abyss to fall back from your duty!” the Voodoo Shaman ordered. “I bring you back to the living to lead my army of the dead! You will do as I say zombie, or sending you back to hell I will cast you.”

“Who are your?” David groaned falling forward succumbing to the pain.

“I am Pappa Shaman, your master,” the evil Voodoo Shaman informed. “After my army of the dead have darkened Astoria…soon the rest of Paragon City will be devoured by the undead.”

David fought against the pain and rose to his feet, “I will not allow you to hurt these people.”

Pappa Shaman laughed out loud exposing his rotten teeth, “You have no choice Zombie, you are the general of my army of the undead. You listen to me, I am your master.”

“I am not a killer!” David demanded. “I am a hero!”

The evil Voodoo Priest’s eyes widened seeing something in David he had not expected. Pappa Shaman had found the fallen hero’s grave believing that he could make him into a zombie slave, but he had not predicted that David would have kept his soul.

David refused to leave the mortal plane and go into the light. In doing so, his soul fell into the Netherworld, a limbo between heaven and hell, lost in a sea of darkness. Pappa Shaman had resurrected him and in doing so had given the hero new life.

“If you won’t fight the living then you will join them in death,” the Voodoo Shaman proclaimed ordering the horde of undead against the Zombie hero. “I’ll take your soul!”

David felt a power build up inside him. He began to think back to when he had left the light and fallen into the darkness. David’s soul had become lost and merged with the Netherworld itself. The Voodoo Shaman’s black magic had pulled him from the Netherworld and in doing so had changed David’s soul. David was resurrected into his dead body’s Zombie husk but the exposure to the Netherworld had been endowed him with powerful black powers. David conjured these new powers and cast them upon the undead horde sending their lifeless bodies into darkness. Pappa Shaman turned chanting and drawing forth his black magic against David. The ground rumbled and the sky turned into a powerful lightning storm. The evil Voodoo Shaman’s elemental powers irrupted but were no match for David’s new gifts. Black tendrils of Netherworld power surrounded the Shaman leaving him helpless to their embrace.

Citizens of Astoria stepped out from hiding watching the Zombie hero with confusion. Once he stood as a symbol of heroic servitude to the people of Boomtown. But what was he now? Astoria police took Pappa Shaman into custody looking fearfully at the Zombie who had saved them. David turned and walked back to the cemetery through the thick fog that still covered the city.

Mercy Stevens quickly set up her crew after witnessing the amazing rescue by the undead savior.

“Once again peace has been restored to Astoria but a dark presence still remains covering this city in a haze,” newswoman Mercy Stevens reported. “And what of this Zombie Avenger who saved the citizens here? Is he friend or foe?”

The camera panned to the view of Pappa Shaman being taken into custody by police a green skeletal hand print left on the bare skin of his chest.

“As witnessed by this reporter,” Mercy continued. “A true hero rose today, regardless of how he came to us, the hero saved the people of Astoria. And with this continued darkness falling over the island, the citizens here could use a hero like him. Mercy Stevens Channel 4 ‘Action on the Spot News’.”

 

David stood over his own empty grave looking upon the headstone that barred his name. David removed his glove exposing his skeletal hand that he placed on his headstone leaving a print upon the stone. David Fallen was no more, he was truly dead.

David had died a hero defending the innocent. But now he had been born anew among the living as a legion of the undead, vowing to use his new powers to once again protect the innocent.

“The Zombie Avenger,” David stated aloud.

He would accept his fate regardless of the penalty to continue the struggle against injustice; to avenge the innocent and cast fear into the heart of his enemies. Soon the evil of Paragon City would fear this Zombie hero until the evil would be no more. Only then could David go into the light and find peace. Until then the Zombie Avenger remains vigilant.






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