Nate Peterson

Final Twilight Trinity, Chapter 1

Thursday, January 1st, 2004

The heat of summer had passed many weeks before and the chill of fall had begun to settle into the bay. The days were still warmer than the nights though, and as the miles of heated pavement met the chill of night a thick fog formed just above the surface and rolled out into the streets.

High above the city the moon began to rise over the mountains. It was almost surreal, with the fog rolling in and the moon casting shadows with the mountains over the city.

Far away from the busy streets, still brimming with life and activity, a man stood gazing at the sky as the moon rose. More than one hundred stories he stood above the people, standing on the edge of the one of the oldest buildings of this magnificent city. He breathed deep, taking in the cool night air and seeming to bask in the moonlight. Silently he watched the city from his perch, eyes gazing through the bricks and alleys, watching, waiting…in the distance, sirens rang clear and true through the night, echoing through the alleys and fading away. Slowly, he closed his eyes, stretched out his arms, and stood a moment'before simply letting go.

Down the side of the building he fell, racing time and daring death. It was an exciting, exhilarating feeling, one he would never forget in all of his days. The sensation of the wind in his hair and on his face, the cool caress of the night air whipping by, the feeling of timelessness as if for a moment the Earth stood still and the world held its collective breath. It felt as a dream would, whistling down the side of the building, passing bricks and ledges ticking down the moments until the inevitable end, the sound of his trench coat flapping in the wind behind him, riding his heels and biting at the wind. Through his closed eyes, he saw streams of color and light sailing past, colors of every kind.

He whispered slightly, his words taken by the wind as if speaking to the night, carrying them skyward. As he spoke, he was oblivious of the impending disaster, careless of what was to come, of the certain eventuality.

The ground seemed to stretch up to him in those final moments of his decent, reaching out to embrace his fall. His feet swung down from above him, carrying with them the tail of his coat, which enveloped him in shadow. Bowing his head and touching his fists to either shoulder, crossing his arms across his chest, he continued his low chant.

On the ground below, the papers that littered the ground began to twist and turn, the dust blew, clearing a patch where the impact would take place, and the chain-link fence nearby rattled with the change in air pressure as the man’s darkened form continued its decent. He opened his eyes and looked downward as if finally realizing the seriousness of his situation, but yet he continued whispering to himself. A look of determination settled on his face as his features grew stern. He closed his eyes tightly for but a moment, opening them an instant later, revealing a bright, but icy cold glow, piercing the night sky. The ground grew nearer and nearer and yet he still whispered, but something was different. He was speaking faster, his voice growing louder, until just moments before impact. His voice didn’t seem to shout, but a thunderous roar filled the alley and an explosion of energy and power filled the air.

The dust and debris settled after a few moments…the alley was more of a mess than it was before, with paper plastered to walls of the buildings. A thin layer of dust covered all of the plastic bags and upturned trashcans, which lay scattered about. At the very end of the alley was something new however… in a cocoon of blue energy, a dark shadow hovered just above the ground. Below it, the cement had been crushed and fractured, as if someone had just dropped a massive truck on it. The shadow lingered there for a moment before it moved, the tell-tail icy blue points of light rising and faintly illuminating the features of a weary, unshaven face. Determinedly, the eyes rose skyward to see the moon emerge from behind a bank of clouds. Crouching low, the air seemed to shimmer a second before the shadow leapt into the air…and continued to rise.

High above the city he rose, coasting on currents and manipulating airflow to carry him higher. With but a word, he altered his course; left, right, up, left, right, and ever higher. The power to alter the city, the land, the very fabric of reality lie on the tip of his tongue, but never once did the thought cross his mind and never did his lips utter those accursed words. This was his city, true, but his alone to protect, never to harm. Of that he had vowed long ago and he would die to defend that vow.

Reaching almost a celestial pedestal, he finally stopped, bringing his cloak around him and leveling off. Looking below, everything was different. The buildings that seemed so tall to those on the ground were now as mere building blocks, children's toys. The streets, packed with cars, trucks and all manner of vehicles, now narrowed, almost to the point of disappearing, becoming nothing more than a grid upon which to place the toy buildings.

When he closed his eyes again, the world changed once more. The buildings and network of streets and vehicles disappeared, replaced instead with a vision of rivers of light flowing through the city. More than visions in his head, these rivers of light represented the very essence of power and life itself. Focusing more, the rivers vanished, replaced instead with a million points of light, more than could ever be counted in a lifetime. His mind's eye danced from light to light, touching just briefly then moving on. Each point of light was a life under his vigil, a single human in a greater sea, and each was as important to him as the next.

As his mind danced across the light he came across a particular one, one which brought him a sudden burst of emotion: fear. Fear is the most common emotion among humans, but this was different, this was immediate. Fear of now could only mean one thing, and the man leapt into action. Pulling his cape around him, he rocketed toward the earth to defend one of his charges.

In a dank, dark alley, far below the monolithic buildings and shining stars, a young woman stood beneath a dim streetlight. Terrified, she frantically scanned the alley, looking for some form of escape. She bolted into the darkness, running into a series of cans and bags, falling over them. Quickly she recovered, grabbing the beret she was wearing and clutched it and her purse to her chest.

From the shadows, two men slowly advanced. The foremost was a short, tacky, man with greasy black hair, dressed in a white suit and a tacky, tropical print shirt. A massive, simple looking brute in a dark suit and shades followed him, watching silently. The men blocked the alley in such a way that no one could see in, and she had no way out. She was trapped.

“Look lady, I don't want no trouble, ok'?” the short tacky man men said. “Look, please, just give it to me, my employer will be happy, and you can go home to your little cat and live to see the sun rise tomorrow. Trust me toots, this ain't worth your life!” he was almost pleading with the woman, who managed to stand, petrified, backed against the wall of the alley.

“L-listen you'” the woman finally mustered the nerve to stand up to the two. She boldly stepped toward the short man, who seemed to be the spokesman of the two, and pointed a finger at his protruding nose. “I don't know who your employer is'” her voice almost quaked while her knees were already doing so. “'But I am not giving over anything! If he or she or whoever wants it, they can come talk to me, but fear tactics will not work!” she finished breathing almost frantically. Her eyes darted back and forth behind her long blonde locks, trying to read any expression from the greasy little man. He merely lowered his glasses and looked up at her incredulously.

“Okay Bruno'” he said finally, cracking his knuckles. “Seems like she wants to do it the hard way. Lets show her how serious the boss really is about getting that info.” He crossed his arms and watched as the young woman's gaze fearfully shifted from his face to his companion's mammoth shadow. “Well, lets get this done, what do you say eh?” the short man said, thumbing his nose. The woman retreated a few steps, her eyes never leaving the brute. “Well? I got other things to do tonight you know?” Frustrated with his companion's lack of response, the short man turned around and placed his hands on his hips. “Bruno!” he shouted at the man, looking up.

“Hello Vinnie…” he heard from the shadows. From behind Bruno, he saw the shadows move and two icy blue points of light emerged, eyes staring at him from the darkness.

“M-mark!” Vinnie stuttered. It was now his turn to tremble with fear. “W-what do you want?” He quickly glanced at Bruno, who stood motionless, frozen in time. The same was true for the girl, it was just him and the shadow named Mark.

“First things first Vinnie.” The voice said, emerging from the shadows but not from the night. Even under the glow of the security light, the man remained cloaked in blackness, all except for those two chilling eyes…”What possible reason would you have for mugging young women in the middle of the night? I thought you were on the up and up…” he advanced slowly.

“H-hey man, its not what it looks like, okay?” Vinnie was paranoid, more so than Mark had ever seen. Vinnie swallowed hard, holding his hands out as if to stall Mark’s advance. “T-this lady, she’s got something see…my b-boss, he needs it, it ain’t hers man…” Vinnie had gone as far as he could possibly go and his back was now against the wall.

“Really now?” The eyes looked over the form of the frightened young woman, frozen in time. “She doesn’t seem that threatening to me. Hardly seems to fit the profile for a thief, or at least anyone you would need to send two thugs after…” his attention returned to Vinnie. “How about the real story?” the eyes narrowed and the shadow’s voice became low and harsh.

“Leave me alone man!” Vinnie shouted. His outburst, both physical and vocal, caught Mark off guard as Vinnie shoved him aside and bolted into the night.

“Well, that was unexpected…” Mark thought as he picked himself up off the ground. He walked determinedly into the night, melting into the shadows…

The streets were silent, whether because of the effects of Mark’s spell or the lateness of the hour he wasn't sure, but Vinnie was the only person on the street. He barreled down the sidewalk, his feet pounding the pavement and echoing through the alleys he passed. He repeatedly glanced behind him to see if the shadow was on his heels, but each time he looked he saw only barren street. Panting heavily, he blazed down the next alley, running in backwards and crashing into trashcans and containers, tripping over them in a paranoid frenzy. Scrambling, he rolled off the piles of garbage bags and onto his feet, racing down the alley. At the very end, a wooden fence blocked further passage. Frightened like a trapped animal, Vinnie searched the alley, spying a fire escape ladder hanging several feet off the ground. Backing up a couple of steps, he ran forward and leapt, barely grabbing the lower rung and pulling himself up. Hurriedly he scampered up the ladder and onto the stairs, racing to the top of the building, glancing below him upon arriving on each landing. Racing up the last set of steps, he jumped onto the roof of the building, watching the skies and looking around in a panic. Spying an air conditioner vent, he ducked behind it. He sat down, his back to the vent and his eyes watching out of the corners, trying to see around the edge of the vent.

“You can’t give me the slip that easily Vinnie…” he heard. His head whipped around to face forward where the shadowy figure floated above the edge of the building. The glowing eyes shifted downward as the shadow cocked its head, watching Vinnie. “Now then, shall we finish our conversation?” Mark advanced.

“H-hey man, come on!” Vinnie pleaded, holding his hands up.

“Aside from the fact I just caught you in the act of committing armed robbery,” Mark said, still approaching.

“I told you before man…” Vinnie struggled to get to his feet. “Just back off already!” he screamed, reaching into his jacket in one swift movement, producing a nine millimeter handgun.

“A gun, Vinnie?” Mark seemed puzzled. “You know I don’t like guns…” He continued his advance.

“Don’t make me use this, don’t make me…” Vinnie’s arms were shaking as he tried to keep a steady sight on Mark. “Stop right there man!” he yelled, firing several shots. The air before the shadow seemed to split and shimmer for an instant, as each bullet seemed to dissipate into thin air.

“And I told you before,” Mark spoke sternly. “I do not like guns.” With a lightning quick reaction, he reached out and grabbed Vinnie's arm and threw him over his back. Vinnie landed with a crunch upon the loose stone. Sprawled out, his body took a moment to recover from the shock of the abrupt landing. Still holding the arm that held the gun, Mark pressed several pressure points on the arm, causing Vinnie to cry out in pain and release his firearm.

“Finishing my last thought,” Mark said, leaning over and grabbing Vinnie by the lapels of his leather jacket. “I was looking for you anyway.”

“W-what do you want from me man?” he whimpered.

“Information.” the shadow said sternly. “And I know you have it.” He carried Vinnie just inches off the ground over to the edge of the building. “Something's going on in the underworld Vinnie, I know it is. The signs are on the streets, may as well be written in plain English! There's been a shift in the balance, hasn’t there Vinnie?” he glared at Vinnie, who only cringed and continued to whimper. “Hasn’t there?!” he raised his voice and spoke with more force and emphasis, shaking the frightened hoodlum. Vinnie continued to remain silent. “You know I don’t like resorting to force Vinnie…” Mark took a couple of steps forward, enough so the man’s legs dangled over the edge of the building. Terrified, Vinnie gasped as he looked down. “I mean, you really do know better'” Mark looked down as well. “Not everyone can fly you know…” he said, studying Vinnie’s face. His eyes darted back and forth between Mark and the ground, his lips quivering and his forehead drenched with sweat. “Very well then…” Mark said simply, loosening his grip. The jacket slipped slightly in his hand and Vinnie’s eyes grew wider.

“No man, come on come on come on!” he rambled.

“Then tell me something!” Mark said through gritted teeth, pulling Vinnie closer. Through the ethereal glow of Mark’s eyes, Vinnie could see their natural, bloodshot intensity.

“I can’t man!” Vinnie whined. “I can’t, I really really can’t…” he continued to whimper.

“Have it your way.” Mark said, letting go.

“No man, no!” Vinnie screamed on the way down, clawing at the air. The bricks passed one by one swiftly, counting down the moments until his death upon the sidewalk. Frantically, he kicked his legs and waved his arms, screaming all the way down. He watched as Mark floated at the edge of the building, his two cold blue eyes glowing in the darkness. Tears welling up in his eyes, he looked down to see the ground moving ever closer. He closed his eyes tightly and began to mutter a prayer and prepared to meet his creator. After what seemed like an eternity, he felt his body jolt and all went dark.

“Did you hear that?!” Officer Roberts bolted straight up, disturbing several hours worth of fast food wrappers..

“Sure did'” his partner, Officer Carlson, said, looking out either window.

“What do you think it was?” Roberts started scanning the buildings near by, coming up with nothing, only the faint glow of the lights from the ships. “Think we should check it out?” He was obviously anxious to see some kind of action, the rookies always were.

“Nope. Orders are to watch that ship.” Carlson said plainly, nodding to the vessel docked in the harbor just across the street and readjusting himself in his seat. The streets were dead this time of night, the only other sound audible was the forklifts up and down the stretch of the harbor, the night shift unloading various shipments. The fog rolling in off the harbor made it seem as if everything was floating on a cloud.

Stakeouts were always boring it seemed, and the one time there could even be a little bit of action, Roberts was forced to baby-sit a boat.

“Look, that was pretty close right? What would it hurt, there hasn't been anything going on here for the past couple of days, what are the odds something will happen tonight?” Roberts pleaded.

“Listen, kid trust me. Chief wanted us to watch this boat, we got a credible tip from one of our informants that something was going to happen.” Carlson explained. “Besides, I don't think that's something we should stick our nose in.”

“What?” Roberts was now lost. Ben Carlson was one of the most upstanding police officers he's ever known, and in these six months as his partner he never once passed up an opportunity to help someone. This was totally out of character. “What are you talking about?”

“This is the first time you've worked nights down here at the dock, right kid?” Carlson asked, stroking his white mustache.

“Yes'” Roberts replied, still wondering.

“You believe in like guardian angels, urban legends or folklore or whatever kid?” Carlson asked, completely serious.

“I've never really put much thought into it'I suppose some of them could be real, but what does that have to do with checking that out?” Roberts asked confused.

“They say these docks are haunted Roberts.” Carlson said grimly. “But not by one of those poltergeist things or whatever. They say its some kind of angel of justice that watches over these docks.”

Roberts snickered. “Now that I don't believe! I mean, its one thing to have those stories of kids scaring themselves to death or some kind of phantom killer wandering around, I hear those all over the place, but guardian ghosts?” Roberts shook his head laughing.

Carlson smirked. “Laugh if you want kid, I did too when they first told me.” Carlson glanced behind them. Down the street shadows could be seen on the wall, shadows cast by a burning barrel from vagrants seeking warmth. “Did you know, of all of the major cities, New Metropolis has the lowest death rate among the homeless? We have hundreds of these poor people living on the streets and only a handful of injuries a year. In the past five years we've yet to have one of them die, from anything!” Roberts simply looked at him. “Someone's watching over those people Joe, someone's keeping them safe.”

“Is that all you have to base your ghost story on?” Roberts asked.
“Not at all, that's just the most obvious proof.” Carlson answered. “It all started about five years ago'if you think things are bad now, you should have been around then, whew'” Carlson whistled. “Violent crime was at an all time high. Every day, every night, the phones were ringing off the hook, and there was nothing we could do about it. Drug lords and lowlier gangs ruled the streets, it was all we could do to keep a few city blocks safe. One by one though'the drug lords began pulling out. We'd receive anonymous tips about various key deals that would happen, when and where. Some of them were already broken up by the time we got there. At first we thought it was one of the other lords out to stick it to his opposition while letting us take the heat for the busts, but that wasn't the case. Those bastards were just as confused as we were, and hurting a lot worse for it too.”

“Eventually the majority of them pulled out of New Metro, it had become way to hot for them to even try to stick it out here. After that, the gangs moved in, tried to take up the power left by the retreating cowards, but even they couldn't handle their own mean streets. We began finding them in the strangest places, and I do mean strange. A lot of them were tied up like presents. Some of them even bore gifts of their own; evidence tying them to crimes our labs hadn't been able to do anything about. And all those perps could do was moan about some kinda shadow that came out of nowhere.”

“Everyone at the precinct thought the guys were on a bad trip, got a bad batch of whatever it was they were pushin and gone off the deep end. With all of the evidence we were given, we nailed guys we thought were untouchable, and there was almost nothing their lawyers could do to stop it. We were content to believe what we did and things just kept falling into place.”

“All of that changed one night, a fall night, actually kind of like this. George Benson, the Chief before he got promoted a few years back, was out on patrol. A couple kids had robbed a gas station, made off with a few hundred dollars, some booze, and hijacked a sports car, were tearing through town like there was no tomorrow. George was the closest to the scene, so he took off in pursuit.

“As he got closer to the kid's vehicle, he swears he saw the sky above the car literally disappear, the stars, everything, as if someone had thrown a blanket or something over that part of the sky. Next thing he knows, the kids are swerving all over the road like maniacs, it was all George could to keep on the road himself the way they were driving. After a few minutes of weaving in and out of traffic like that, he lost control and hit a hydrant. The kids had gone off the road too, and took off into the night like a couple a bats outta hell. George took off after them on foot after calling for back up, following them through the back alleys. He could hear them up ahead, screaming like banshees about something following them, George just figured it was him they were so afraid of. Well, the kids turned down one of the alleys that dead-ended a fair way in, and by the time George got there, his backup had already arrived and could be heard scrambling down the alley behind him.

“As he rounded the corner, he had one of those massive flashlights in his hand, kind of like a handheld spotlight almost, and it lit up the entire alley'all except for one area, a shadow in the shape of a man! This shadow had apparently knocked out one of the two boys, and it had the other one by the collar of the shirt and was about to clock him when George stumbled in. That shadow, it just whipped around, stared at George with these two, brilliant, ice blue eyes'” Carlson narrated, pointing to his own eyes as Roberts grew even more tense. “Old George, well, he was scared stiff! He had drawn his weapon and stood at the end of the alley, blocking the shadow's only means of escape, and prepared to be attacked. But the shadow, he just stood there silently for a moment, nodded at George, and looked at the sky'and according to George, took off into the night, like a leaf on the wind or something'”

“To this day, no one else has seen it. The backup officers ran in moments after it disappeared and cuffed the unconscious kids. When they came to, they rambled about the same shadow the other punks did. The incident never made George's official report, he was afraid the suits would think he was on the same dope the dealers were, but he told the rest of us. Some of us didn't believe it, myself included, but since then I've seen enough weird stuff to know something is out there helping us.”

After Carlson finished, all Roberts could do was stare at him. After a long pause, Roberts finally spoke. “Y-you're saying, that shout'?”
“You learn things on the streets, especially in this city.” Carlson nodded his head. “You learn the people, the smells, the sounds. You know.”

“So, what makes you think that scream had something to do with that guardian angel?” Roberts asked, still perplexed.

“It came from above us.” Carlson said flatly. “As it passed and I looked out the window, I watched the stars. You see the dipper over there?” Carlson pointed out the window to the constellation of the Big Dipper.


“Well, when that scream passed us, the dipper disappeared, just for an instant, just like someone had thrown some giant cosmic blanket over the whole thing.”

Written by Nate Petersen. Copyright 23, 2004 Nate Petersen, Neo Productions Unlimited. All rights reserved.