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    It's been rumored Wayne Knight (Nedry) was the first actor cast in JP. (From: T-Rex)
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    Nightshade version 2; Chapter 4 and Chapter 5
    By Aragorn

    CHAPTER 4~


    Bright and early a few mornings later - far too early as far as many of the younger people who had to go to school that day were concerned – Jenna was already up and getting ready for one of her three jobs when Jeff walked out of his room, yawning. Most of his cuts and bruises had been masked by the cream he had put on every night that he came home from his double-life.

    Jenna put her glass of orange juice on the kitchen counter and faced Jeff with a stern look. “So where were you last night?”

    Jeff’s heart raced, wondering how Jenna knew that he had left in the middle of the night. He decided he’d tried to cover it up the best he could and play it cool. “What do you mean? I was sleeping.”

    Jenna’s eyes narrowed, knowing better, “I woke up in the middle of the night to get a drink and saw that your bike was gone. I opened your door to let you know that someone stole it and you weren’t there.”

    Jeff knew he couldn’t continue on with that lie, but telling Jenna the truth was also not an option. He knew she wouldn’t understand. “I couldn’t sleep so I went for a ride, is that so bad?” He realized right away that he probably shouldn’t have snapped at the end.

    “It is when it’s in the middle of the night! You know how bad this town is. I know its your life, but you’re also my friend and I feel comfortable with you riding that thing in the middle of the night like that. I don’t want to wake up one morning and find out that you were in an accident.”

    The motorcycle helped Jeff out so much at night; he didn’t have to walk everywhere and he could intercept so many more people in such a shorter amount of time. The motorcycle was the sole reason he was able to get home at an earlier time and actually get some sleep the last few nights He couldn’t just throw all that away, yet he knew he had to take Jenna’s reasonable concerns into consideration. She was just concerned for him.

    “Look Jenna, I understand where you’re coming from,” Jeff remarked. “And I’ll try to cut back on it, but in the middle of the night, when I have a lot on my mind, a bike ride helps clear it. Even if it’s just a short one.”

    “But Jeffrey, its not only that I’m worried about. Biker gangs like the Hells Angels come through here all the time during the night. I don’t want you coming across any of them and getting in trouble with them. Please, I beg you, don’t go out at night any more.”

    “It’s my life,” Jeff grumpily replied. “I can do what I want with it, no offense.”

    “I’m not about to just stand by and watch yourself get killed!” Jenna shouted back at him. “I hate to do it Jeff, but I’ll have to tell your parents about it if you keep doing it.”

    “I can’t believe this!” Jeff turned and stormed off, leaving the room in anger.

    “Where are you going?” Jenna called out after him.

    “To get ready for work. Or do you have a problem with that too?” Jeff snapped, no longer caring if he sounded mean.
    “Jeff, I’m sorry…” Jenna was cut off as Jeff slammed the bathroom door, the sounds of the shower turning on quickly following. Jenna sighed with frustration before glancing at the clock in the living room for an instant to see how much longer she had before she had to be at work, not wanting to be around for when Jeff got out of the shower.

    ***

    Jeff stormed across the parking lot to his motorcycle, which no longer had the Nightshade symbols on it. He took the helmet , which also no longer had the symbols on it, from under his arm and slid it on over his head. He then jumped on his motorcycle, revving it up loudly.

    He zoomed out of the parking lot, purposely making as loud a noise as possible to match with his current state of anger.

    ***

    Jeff pulled up to a stop at the front of North Peace Secondary School on his way to work. Various heads turned to look at the motorcycle as Jeff climbed off and removed his helmet. Karsen pushed through a crowd and approached him with a smile.

    “Awesome wheels, man. Get it for your Birthday?” Karsen asked.

    “Yeah,” Jeff smiled, instantly forgetting about his fight with Jenna earlier. “Took Sonum out for a spin on it last night.” Jeff quickly brought Karsen up to speed on the Sonum situation.

    Karsen didn’t really like Sonum too much due to some bad blood between them from the year before, however he couldn’t argue with anything that made Jeff happy as it was such a rare thing these days, it seemed. “Great!” Karsen exclaimed. “See, told you it wasn’t too soon to make your move.”

    “I don’t know what it is. I can never stop thinking about her,” Jeff openly confessed. “When she was going out with Ryan, I kind of got over her, because I knew it was pointless to pursue it, but now that she’s single again, all these old feelings keep coming back.”

    Karsen patted Jeff on the back as Jeff put the helmet back on. “You’ll do good. She’ll be yours before you know it.”

    “I hope so. I don’t know how much longer I can stand to be ‘just friends’.”

    “Give it time, my friend. Give it time.”

    “Do you work today?” Jeff asked.

    “At 4:00, yeah.” Karsen answered. “But Dane starts at 2:00. He has the last two classes off in this new semester.”

    “Lucky him,” Jeff exclaimed, wishing he had been as lucky when he was in high school. “Well I’m off at 4, but tell Dane I need to talk to him when he gets to Sobeys this afternoon.”

    “Alright, will do.” Karsen and Jeff banged knuckles before Jeff closed his visor and started his bike up again. With an engine-ripping roar, Jeff sped away from the school and onwards down the hill towards Sobeys.


    ***

    Later that afternoon, once Dane had finished classes, Jeff was wandering through one of the aisles in the store, a bottle of bacon bits in his hands, as he looked for the spot on the shelve to put it. Jeff was always annoyed by the customers that went to buy a ton of groceries, just to end up taking half of it off the order, as he was always given the task of putting everything away back on the shelves.
    After briefly helping another customer find a specific kind of salad dressing, Jeff resumed his search for the bacon bits location. Before he could find it however, Dane walked down the aisle toward him, dressed in his Sobeys uniform.
    “Karsen said you wanted to talk to me,” Dane said as he neared. Jeff looked over, giving Dane a confused look until he remembered his and Karsen’s conversation earlier that morning.
    “You’ve been shunned by a lot of people for telling too many lies in the past, right?” Jeff asked, knowing full-well from many people, that Dane was not very well-liked by a lot of people due to his constant tall tales.

    Dane hesitated, wondering what was up with Jeff asking such a weird question. “What kind of question is that? Why do you want to know?”

    “Oh come on Dane, you can tell me,” Jeff pushed. “I heard all about your habit of lying from a shitload of people. You can tell me.”

    Dane heard enough. He wasn’t sure what Jeff was playing at, but he didn’t like it. “Is that what you wanted to talk to me about? Cause that’s pretty immature, even for you.” He started walking away back down the aisle, but Jeff caught up and moved in front of him, blocking his path.

    “I also know you’re good at electronics and building things.”

    “So?” Dane asked, getting even more annoyed and wanting to swipe in for work before he was counted as being late.

    Jeff took out a crumpled sheet of paper from his pocket and ripped a piece off, and wrote an address on it. “Come to this address at 6:00PM.”

    Before Dane was able to decline, Jeff turned and walked away back down the aisle to continue his search for those damned bacon bits. Dane looked down at the piece of paper, his mind racing with confusion. Any questioning of his during the rest of Jeff’s shift was just met with silence from Jeff.

    ***

    When his shift ended that afternoon, Jeff went to one of the town’s gyms, dressed in his white tae-kwon-do uniform and with a black belt tied around his waist. Other people in a variety of colored belts also occupied the giant room around him.

    After the hour-long warm-up exercises at the beginning of the lesson, the class moved on to a sparring match. Each person paired up with another of the same rank and belt color.

    Jeff sparred with the only other black belt in the class, other then the teacher, who was a guy named Wes, who oddly enough, doubled as a substitute teacher at the high school. Jeff easily blocked a punch from his opponent, and then he blocked a kick. A series of various kicks and punches followed, all of which Jeff blocked and dodged, except one. He fell onto his back, coughing. Wes reached a hand down and helped Jeff to his feet.

    They bowed and went back to their fighting stances. The two people engaged in a spectacular show of honorable martial arts, which moved them both across the expanse of the entire room. The battle lasted for several minutes, during which, everyone else in the class slowly noticed how spectacular and fluent the battle was and crowded around to watch and began cheering them on.

    When it was time for the battle to end, Jeff had lost the battle, but just barely. He bowed to Wes and they shook hands, both sweating profusely.

    “Spectacular display, gentleman!” the teacher complimented as the room cheered and clapped. “You have both come a long way and are a great show to the other trainees as to how to properly spar.”

    ***

    After his Tae-Kwon-Do class that evening, Jeff arrived home and walked into his house, still dressed in his white martial arts uniform.

    “I’m home,” he mumbled as he entered, suddenly sour again from his and Jenna’s argument that morning, however he got no answer in return. He threw his bookbag to the floor and walked through the apartment and into the living room, which was empty of Jenna, to see the kitties. While he greeted them as they awoke from a deep sleep, he saw a small red light blinking on the answering machine so he went over and pressed ‘Play’.

    “Hey Jeff,” Jenna’s voice filled the air. “I’m gone out for dinner with Andrew. Our six-month anniversary is today. We’re going out dancing after supper, so I won’t be home until late. And please Jeff, don’t take the bike out after dark.” And with that, the message ended with a high-pitched beep.

    “I’ll take the bike out whenever I want to,” Jeff said nastily to the machine as he walked away. “It is mine after all.” He arrived at the fridge and just as he opened it, there was a knock at the patio door. Jeff closed the fridge with a sigh, wondering who it could be. Tae-Kwon-Do lessons always had him starving after and he was anxious to get something to eat.

    He walked to the door and slid it open it to discover Dane standing there. Jeff shook his head, putting himself in a completely different frame of mind, and put on a smile. He had temporarily forgotten about his invitation to Dane earlier, but was now finally on the same page. “Come in.” He stepped out of the way and allowed Dane to walk into the apartment. He closed the door behind him.

    “So what did you want me to come here for?” Dane asked, getting right to the point. As far as he was concerned, he was missing some valuable time to work on his car, and the only reason he was even the least bit intrigued was cause Jeff had been so cryptic about it. He just wanted it over as fast as possible so he could get home before he lost too much light.

    Jeff on the other hand, couldn’t believe that he was about to tell Dane his secret. He knew he could go on without the need to tell anyone, but Dane had abilities that could be extremely useful to Jeff, not to mention that even if Dane did decide to try to tell people, nobody would believe him anyway. Dane was a Godsend to Jeff and his situation.

    “Dane, I’m about to give you the opportunity of a life time,” Jeff began. Dane scoffed, but Jeff ignored him and continued. “I’m going to tell you the biggest secret in the world, but you can’t tell anyone, because if you do, I’ll have to kill you.”

    Dane chuckled a bit, thinking that Jeff was joking around. After he noticed that Jeff’s serious expression wasn’t changing, he began to slightly doubt that Jeff was actually joking. “No one would believe me anyway,” he finally said.

    “I know. That’s what I’m counting on,” Jeff stated. “That’s also part of the reason why I chose you to tell this to.” He took a short pause, still trying to grasp the idea of telling someone. He took a breath and made the plunge. “Have you heard of a vigilante that stalks the streets at night and takes out criminals?”

    Dane nodded. “I’ve heard a bit here and there. Mostly rumors. Saw an artist’s rendition in the newspaper once.”

    Jeff looked Dane deep in the eyes for a few long seconds and then confessed, “That’s me.”

    Dane bursted out laughing so hard, tears flowed from his eyes. “Yeah, ok, and I’m the Queen of England in drag!”

    “Stay here,” Jeff sighed, knowing that there was only one way to prove it to his friend. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.” He turned and disappeared deeper into his apartment while Dane continued to laugh. Now he understood that he had actually been called to Jeff’s house for a joke, but it was actually a joke that he enjoyed for a good laugh.

    ***

    Down the street a ways and around a couple corners, Sonum walked into her bedroom, still dressed in her Dance class clothes. She dropped her bag to the floor and looked at the clock.

    Shit, she thought to herself. I better hurry if I want to be ready for when Jeff gets here. She ran to the small bathroom that was attached to her room and turned on the shower as she ran back out and over to her closet, choosing what to wear.

    ***

    Back in Jeff’s house, Dane’s laughing died down to a slight giggle as he waited patiently for Jeff to return with whatever it was he planned on coming back with. Probably a camera to capture what was supposed to be Dane’s surprised look, but Dane knew better then to fall for that.

    Suddenly Nightshade walked into the living room from around the corner in the hall. Dane looked him over, inspecting the costume, and instantly stopped laughing. “Either you’re extremely messed up in the head to go through such lengths to trick me,” Dane said, eyes wide with shock. “Or you really are the guy that’s trying to stop all the crime.”

    “I was getting sick and tired of the way this town is,” Nightshade explained. “Crime rate has been going up and the cops hardly do anything about it. I have a theory that they’re being paid to ignore most of what happens. On top of that, I’ve known way too many people who have been robbed or victims of crime. When one of my friends was raped a couple months ago, I was at my wit’s end. I decided that I could either sit around and bitch and moan about it, or actually try to make a difference. Apparently I’ve been doing quite good at the latter.”

    “Why me?” Dane asked. “I mean, I understand why you chose me above other people, but why anyone? You didn’t have to tell anyone about this.”

    “I need help,” Nightshade confessed. “Last night I was almost beaten by a few petty stoners. I need weapons to help, and I know how good you are with building things. So now that you know the secret, I ask you: Will you help me?”

    Dane thought to himself about it for a few minutes. He still wasn’t quite convinced that it wasn’t a prank, however he was definitely coming around. For the sake of argument, assuming that Jeff was telling the truth and was the real Nightshade, Dane knew that even if he wanted to tell someone, no one would listen to him. Even though he wasn’t good at keeping secrets usually, that would really help him with keeping this secret. “I rarely ever get picked for anything,” Dane finally said, giving into the idea that it was actually real. “It’s a great honor to me, to be in on one of the greatest secrets this town has ever seen.”

    “Good,” Nightshade exhaled, having been nervous by what Dane’s answer may have been. “I need some kind of weapon as soon as possible. My body can only go so far as a weapon.”

    “That shouldn’t be a problem. Give me a couple hours and I’ll be back with some stuff.”

    “Good. See you then.”

    Dane turned and exited Jeff’s apartment, leaving Nightshade to smile to himself under his handkerchief bandage.

    ***

    As the sun finished fading away, giving way to the night’s blackness, Alan, Jason, and Brad were among a group of dozens of people, all thugs and gang members that were standing around in the middle of a lonely deserted street. Jory had combined many of his gangs together and had commanded them to listen to Alan Lannigan. He then gave Alan the location where they would be massing and so Alan, along with his own trio, arrived and was surprised to see the large number of people he was now in command of.

    “Alright, listen up!” Alan shouted to the giant group, hiding his nervousness under an exterior of tuff badassness. Although his fingers betrayed him by nervously playing with the golden medallion that hung around his neck. “Mr. Rowe put me in charge of all you, so if any of you have a problem with that, you can take it up with him after. In the meantime, I want you all to listen to me and listen good,” he paused, scanning the crowd. Most of the faces belonged to people he didn’t know, but there were a few familiar people in there. Some he had seen only in The Snake Pit while passing through, others he had personally done business with.

    He continued, “We are going to do everything we can to draw this motherfucker out. Break into stores and homes, steal, deal drugs in the open, whatever you want, just as long as it draws him out. We have insurance, so the pigs won’t be making any busts on us tonight. If they do show, it’ll be to help us out. Anyone sights this…Nightshade, as he calls himself…you contact me over the radio. He’s mine. Any questions?” He paused to let his new crew voice any concerns they may have had, but no one said a word. “Good. Now let’s get to work.”

    The group cheered as they all split up, some going solo while others went off in groups of all sizes.

    That night, Fort St. John had finally become the literal meaning of Hell on Earth…



    ~CHAPTER 5~


    Driving I his rusted truck, Dane zoomed down a street lined with stores, Dane’s bookbag in the seat next to him, bouncing wildly with each bump and pothole that the truck hit hard against. He turned down a Cul-De-Sac and slowed his truck down as he neared a store named ‘Lucas Guns’.

    Rushing out of his truck, Dane grasped the door handle and leaned against it until he composed himself a bit more. Finally Dane turned the handle and opened the door, walking inside the brightly lit room.

    All the walls were lined with so many guns of all shapes and sizes, there was barely an inch where you could see the actual wall. In addition to that, there was a glass case below the counter, which held a few smaller guns that were mostly for display.

    Dane walked across the room as the clerk behind the desk looked up at him and his eyes grew wide with excitement. “Dane!” he shouted and walked out from behind the counter. “How’s my favorite nephew doing tonight?”

    “I’m your only nephew apart from my brother, and its not hard for me to be your favorite above him…” Dane forced himself to grin at the age-old joke that his Uncle Albert said every single time he saw him.

    Uncle Albert let out a deep bellow of laughter and patted Dane on the back. “Originally I was just going to deal with it, but since you’re here I have a favor to ask,” Uncle Albert said as his laughter died down.

    “Actually, I’m in kind of a hurry and…”

    “The bank closes in a couple minutes and I need to pay a bill ASAP,” Uncle Albert cut Dane off. “You can take care of the store for twenty minutes or so, can’t you? It’s been a slow night and I doubt you’ve forgotten everything that you learned when you worked here last summer.”

    As Uncle Albert grabbed his jacket and rushed across the store, Dane spoke up, “I really can’t tonight, I’m…” but he was once again cut off by the sound of the door closing behind his uncle as he rushed out of the store.

    “Shit,” Dane mumbled as he looked around the empty store.

    ***

    Sonum Sidhu glanced up at the clock that hung above the stairwell in her house. She eagerly paced the hallway and living room, waiting for Jeff to arrive. The movie started in five minutes and he was running late. With every second passing, she continued to worry more about if he’d show up or not.

    She had known all along that she had feelings for Jeff, but kind of put them on the back burner while going out with Ryan, and never really thought too much about them until recently, when she had broken up with Ryan. She had really been looking forward to their first date and had thought that Jeff was too. She knew he wouldn’t blow it off.

    Would he? Sonum looked up at the clock again. Sighing heavily with disappointment, she finally hung her head low.

    He would.

    ***

    Jeff, now dressed back in his regular clothes, led the newly-arrived Dane to his room. “So what did you manage to rig up?” Jeff asked him.

    Dane opened up his bookbag and pulled out a pair of 9MM guns with extra ammo. Jeff’s eyes lit up. “Dane, I don’t think guns are the answer for me. I don’t want to kill anyone.”

    “I wasn’t sure what your stance on those were, so just in case, I also got these,” Dane also pulled out a pair of similer-looking Air Pellet guns, with non-life threatening but harmful-all-the-same ammo for those. Jeff smiled, those being more his style as they’d do enough damage without killing anyone. “I was able to sneak those out of my Uncle’s gun store,” Dane explained. “I went over to try to talk him into giving them to me, but he got me watch over the store while he went out to run some errands and I kind of snuck them into my bookbag instead.”

    Jeff picked the air pellet guns up and tested their handling and weight in his hands. Growing up, he used to spend quality time with his father at the shooting range, and his father, who had been in a gun club, was often surprised by Jeff’s natural hand-eye coordination in regards to aiming them.

    Dane reached into the bookbag again. “There’s more?” Jeff asked joyfully. “This is like Christmas.”

    Dane pulled out a circular device the size of his palm. Located on the side of it was a round red button. Jeff laid the guns down on his bed as Dane passed him the device and explained it to him. “It’s an old invention of mine. Press the button on the side.”

    Jeff did so and a small near-invisible strip of some kind of paper came out. Dane reached over and ripped it off. “All you have to do is stick this on something and apply pressure,” Dane explained, “and the strip will explode a few seconds later.”

    Jeff looked the device over quickly and then laid it down as Dane reached into the bookbag again and took something else out. “A watch?” Jeff asked. “Sorry Dane, but I already got one.”

    “It’s not an ordinary watch. Sure it does tell the time, but it also has a small built-in laser and a recorder. Oh, and it also tells the temperature.” Dane handed it to Jeff, who looked it over.

    “Tells the temperature?” Jeff asked, not quite sure what to make of that little detail. “Really?”

    “I was bored one night,” Dane explained.

    Jeff pushed a couple buttons on the watch, getting a feel for what buttons did what. When he was done, he laid the watch in the pile of other new items Dane had brought for him. “Great work, Dane. These are great and will really help.”

    Dane smiled with proudness, feeling that he finally fit in and belonged someplace for the first time in his life.

    8/4/2007 1:15:23 PM
    (Updated: 8/4/2007 1:16:15 PM)

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