The Lost World
By Michael Crichton
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    #264
    A low-budget 1993 film which attempted to capitalize on the success of JP was called "Carnosaur" -- Ironically, it starred Larua Dern's mother, Diane Ladd. (From: jurassiraptor)
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    Nightshade version 2; Chapter 6 and Chapter 7
    By Aragorn

    ~CHAPTER 6~


    Jen Sell, a single mother of two, had been watching TV when she heard her two-year-old twin boys crying from their room down the hall. They had only just recently entered their ‘Terrible Two’s’, but it was already getting close to the edge of Jen’s nerves. She had no idea how she’d be able to put up with it for a full year.

    However all those thoughts swooped away from her head as soon as she entered the baby room and gasped in fright. There were two bulky men and one female with more facial peircings then should be allowed to any one person, climbing out of the opened window with Jen’s two children in their arms.

    “Hey!” Jen screamed at them as she tore across the room. They ignored her and by the time she reached the window and began climbing out, they were already half-way down the street. Their voices drifted through the air back to her, and she picked up on talk of selling her kids to some Child Slave ring and making hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    The primal need to protect her children took over and she leaped out of the window and charged down the street towards them. The female who’s face looked like a robot due to the peircings turned around at the sound of approaching feet and slugged Jen in the side of the head, knocking her to the ground.

    “Please,” Jen cried as she looked up at them. “Give me back my children…” The only response she got was laughter from the criminals and crying from her sons.

    One of the men turned and unexpectedly kicked her in the ribcage. She moaned as she spat blood onto the ground and rolled over onto her back, heaving for air. She let the tears flow freely as she already knew that she had lost and she would never see her sons again.

    Just as the trio of filth began to walk away, laughing at the mother’s misfortune, a booming gunshot sounded out and the metal girl screamed bloody murder in pain as she fell to one knee after having a pellet slam painfully into the back of it.

    The two men whipped around and spotted a figure leaning up against the wall of a nearby building, one foot up against it. He had a gun pointed out at them.

    “Put the children down,” Nightshade ordered as he twirled one of the air pellet guns around his finger.

    The men looked at each other and did so, but then turned back to Nightshade and took out their own guns. Nightshade fired three more shots before they could even blink. One of them fell to the ground, two pellet shots to his chest. The third bullet had went wild.

    The one last standing punk fired at Nightshade and he dodged, the real bullet embedding into the wall where he had been seconds before. He fired his own gun and knicked the punk in the arm, forcing him to drop his gun as pain shot through his nervous system, stemming from his arm.

    Without hesitation, Nightshade fired again, just as he took out his second gun and crossed it overtop of his other arm, firing at the other male punk. Both their heads were hit head-on by the pellets and they fell to the ground, unconscious.

    Nightshade uncrossed his arms and walked over to the fallen female punk, who was crying her eyes out. “Don’t shoot,” she begged him. Nightshade put his guns back to the pockets inside his jacket as he turned away and she sighed with relief. Then he suddenly turned back just long enough to kick her in the head, knocking her unconscious as well.

    He turned to retrieve the two children, but Jen had already done that and was running back to her house with them in her arms, screaming.

    Her immediate plan was to call the police and inform them of what happened to her and that some kind of gang war was going on, but in order to do that she needed to get away from the new thug as quickly as possible. He had no trouble attacking those other people, and she feared that he wouldn’t have any trouble attacking her if she had stuck around.

    ***

    On an empty street not too far from Jen’s neighborhood, Alan, Jason, and Brad, along with a small group of others, were breaking into all the cars parked along that street. They smashed windows, dented the bodywork, removed hubcaps, and stealing anything of value from inside.

    Jason lit the oiled rag of a Molotov Cocktail and threw it through the smashed window of the closest car, causing the car to quickly light up in a bright blaze. He laughed as he began work on creating a second bomb.

    All of a sudden a motorcycle zoomed around the corner. Nightshade let go of the handlebars and balanced on the bike, as he took out his two air pellet guns from inside his jacket. He began firing, hitting the street near the thugs’ feet, hoping to scare them off.

    One shot ricocheted off the gravel and broke Jason’s newly made Molotov, splattering the booze all over him. The burning rag touched his hand and ignited the spilled alcohol, lighting Jason ablaze. He ran around, screaming until he threw off his leather jacket, dropped, and started rolling around.

    Alan turned when he heard the commotion and smiled in amusement as he looked at Nightshade.

    Nightshade put the guns away as he grabbed the handlebars again and zoomed right into the midst of the gang. He slammed on the breaks and lifted the back tire up in the air, turning the Nightbike around as he did so. The tire slammed into the heads of a few of the thugs, knocking them down. The tire landed back on the ground and Nightshade had turned in a 180 degree circle.

    He put the kickstand down and removed his helmet. He jumped in the air and away from his bike. He landed and started firing, making the thugs scatter and take cover. Alan however, stayed rooted to on his spot, holding his smile as if he was watching something amusing on his stolen TV.

    After firing for a bit, Nightshade whipped around and trained his guns on Alan. “I thought I told you I never wanted to see you again,” the vigilante growled in a low voice.

    “It should be you that listens to your elders, boy, not the other way around,” Alan said, still not breaking his smile. With that Nightshade fired at him, but instead of the sound of a bullet firing, which he had grown accustomed to, he heard a very loud and noticeable click. He looked down at his empty guns, surprised, and then back up quickly, placing the guns back in inside his jacket.

    Alan snapped his fingers and the thugs came out from behind the cars and benches and other hiding places that they had dodged to for cover, and rushed Nightshade.

    The hero stretched his leg back, kicking one and sending him falling backwards. He swung the same leg out in front of himself, kicking another. Then he ducked to avoid a punch and while he was ducking, he rammed both his fists forward into the chest of his attacker. Another person swung his foot out in a sweeping arc, but Nightshade performed a backflip and landed behind yet another thug. He bashed him in the back of the head, knocking him down, and then went in to jump-kick the person that had swiped his foot out.

    Before Nightshade reached him though, another thug elbowed him in mid-air, causing him to fall to the side. Nightshade started to stand, but Brad was next to him with a baseball bat. He slammed it down on Nightshade’s back, forcing him to buckle under the pain and fall back to the ground again. He raised the bat once more but Nightshade shot his hand out and grabbed Brad by the ankle. He yanked back, slamming Brad against the ground. Nightshade shot to his feet, grabbed the fallen bat, and swung it around as he turned.

    It connected to someone’s head, a loud crack being heard as the body fell down. Nightshade swung the bat at the two nearest people, hitting one in the leg, causing him to fall, and hitting the other in the chest. He brought it back and swung again at the same person when they didn’t go down. The person tried to dodge, but still managed to get hit in the side.

    Nightshade turned once again, but was met with a fist to the face and stumbled backwards. He raised the bat, but got punched in the head from behind, and then in the gut from the front. He dropped the bat as he fell to his knees.

    The man behind him wrapped his arms around him in a huge bear hug as he lifted Nightshade back to his feet. The man in front took out a switchblade, laughing insanely. Nightshade leaned back, swinging his feet out and up, kicking the blade from the man’s hand. Then he swung his feet back, kicking the person behind him, in the chest. The person stumbled back, letting go of Nightshade. Nightshade landed back on his feet and did a roundhouse kick to the guy in front of him.

    Out of breath and breathing heavily, Nightshade turned to face Alan and resumed a strong fighting stance, even though in his head, he knew he would not last much longer unless a miracle happened.

    Alan just merely smiled back, unimpressed with the stance. “Goodbye ‘Boy of the Streets’.” He pulled a hand out from behind his back, revealing a loaded gun. He pointed it at Nightshade and fired.

    The bullet sailed through the air and embedded itself into Nightshade’s chest, splattering a small amount of blood. Nightshade screamed in pain as he stumbled back and fell to the ground. Alan walked over and knelt, pointing the gun right up against Nightshade’s head.

    “Well you did put up a good fight, but alas, all things must have an end. But first, I want to know who’s under all this.” Alan reached down and removed the handkerchief cloth covering Nightshade’s mouth. Blood ran freely from his nose, streaking down the side of his bruised face. Before Alan could remove anything else though, he saw Nightshade manage a weak smile.

    “Why are you smiling?” Alan asked, laughing. “You welcome your death that much?”

    On the ground right in front of Nightshade, his thumb pressed down on something that he had just placed there. It wasn’t visible to anyone, as it was only a slight movement, but Nightshade smiled, knowing that his miracle was about to happen in the form of Dane’s explosive strip of tape.

    Nightshade quickly rolled away, putting the cloth back up around his mouth. Alan’s smile faded as he fired, but the bullet hit the ground an inch away from Nightshade. Alan aimed his gun once again. He got Nightshade directly in his sights, but before he could fire the ground in front of him exploded, showering him with scorching gravel. Alan screamed in pain and covered his face with both hands.

    Roaring with rage, Alan kept his face covered with one hand while he tried to aim his gun on Nightshade with his other. However Nightshade had already reached his motorcycle and was driving away as he slumped over the handlebars.

    Alan screamed in both anger and pain as he threw his gun to the ground in frustration.

    ***

    Nightshade zoomed down a street, driving with one hand while the other hand covered the wound on his chest. He swerved the Nightbike in a zig-zag matter to avoid and rush past the slower-moving cars that were on the same road.

    His attention was diverted to a connecting street as he passed by it and noticed flashes of red and blue lights and heard a siren come on. He looked back and saw several police cruisers barreling out onto his current road, in pursuit.

    “Shit.” Nightshade made an incredibly sharp last-second turn and swerved the Nightbike into a back alley, hoping to loose the pursuing corrupted police. He glanced behind him and saw them driving past, continuing on down the main road and not even slowing down.

    Nightshade continued down the back alley for a minute, relived that he lost them. However just as he was about to exit onto another street, one of the cops cars appeared and screeched to a stop, blocking the end of the alley. Nightshade slammed on the breaks, trying to turn back around, but there hadn’t been enough time and side of the bike slammed up against the front of the cop car.

    He took off again, deciding to go out through the very limited space between the side of the cop car and the end of the alley, just as the cop leaned out the window and fired a shot off at him. Nightshade used the motorcycle to swerve away from the bullet and continued down the road, gunning the engine to its maximum speed.

    The cop car reversed and started the chase again. Nightshade noticed that three other cruisers were heading towards him from the other end of the street. He decided to keep driving straight, playing chicken with the lead car. At the last second, he realized the cop wasn’t going to give in and swerved away an inch before being hit. The cop driving the car had a victorious smile show on his face, but only for a second. After that second, he saw the car that had been chasing Nightshade from behind and the two cop cars barreled into each other, head-on.

    The other two cop cars veered away in opposite directions to avoid the crash and then drove around in a semi-circle to continue the pursuit. Nightshade was far enough ahead however, that he was able to turn and take off down another back alley, this one a bumpy dirt road. He quickly slowed the bike down to a stop as he drove off the dirt road and into someone’s grassy back yard and hid himself and the Nightbike in a thick patch of plants and bushes.

    He moved his hand and looked down at his blood-soaked shirt, feeling a wave of dizziness hit. He knew he needed to end this chase and get some help as soon as possible, or he would die.

    The occupant of the house, a short old lady, glanced out her back window to inspect her backyard after hearing an engine near it a minute earlier, and Nightshade cowered deeper into the dark shadows, not wanting to be seen. He exhaled in relief when the old lady disappeared back inside her house, moving the curtain back over the window.

    Nightshade took a small quick glance back at the main street he had come in from, and saw that the two cop cars had stopped at the front of the dirt alley and that the four police that occupied the cars had gotten out and were carefully walking down the ally, shinning flashlights around as they inspected every inch of the dirt road.

    The back door of the house swung open and the old lady from before stepped out. “Officers!” she called out to them. “He’s here, in my backyard!” The old lady pointed to the spot where Nightshade was currently hiding.

    Nightshade stood up and jumped back on the Nightbike. He started it up and zoomed down onto the dirt road and took off down the alley, heading away from the cops.

    Over the noise of his engine, he could hear a few gunshots go off but nothing hit him as he skidded out onto the street and zoomed off around the corner.

    ***

    Once he was sure that he had lost the cops, Nightshade made his way across town. He passed a few more gangs wrecking things and causing havoc, but could barely keep conscious enough to ride his bike. He knew there was no way in hell he could take all them on, plus he wasn’t sure how close or far away the cops were. He hated himself for it, but he had to just ignore it all for the time being.

    He arrived at his planned destination and hid his bike in a small shed behind Dane Lucas’ house, and then stumbled up the steps to the front door, weak from the fights, gunshot wound, and chase. He reached up weakly and pressed the doorbell.

    A few minutes passed, and Nightshade felt like he was about to pass out before anyone came to the door. Just when his eyes began to flutter close, the door opened and Dane stood there in a house robe, rubbing sleep from his eyes.

    “Who’s ringing the…” he trailed off as his eyes focused and he saw who it was. “Jeff? What happened?”

    Nightshade moaned as he finally gave in and collapsed. Dane caught him before he hit the ground and helped him walk inside, closing the door with his foot.

    Nightshade tried to speak, but was extremely weak and was fading in and out of consciousness, fighting just to explain everything. “Shot…I’ve been shot. Cops…after me… I knew you’re father was…doctor….”

    “He’s on call at the hospital right now!” Dane whispered loudly, not sure how to handle the situation. “What do I do?” he asked that more to himself then to Nightshade. He looked around franticly for a few seconds, hoping for an idea to form, and that was when one hit him. His mother! She was taking a course during the days to train as a paramedic! “I’ll go wake my mom up!”

    Dane helped Nightshade onto the nearby couch in the living room. “I’ll be right back.” He turned and took off up the stairs, taking them two at a time.

    Nightshade leaned his neck back and rested his head on the back of the couch, softly moaning as he fought his hardest to stay conscious. He needed to make sure that Dane’s mother didn’t try to remove any of his face gear. His identity still had to stay a secret.

    A minute later Dane was tugging his mother down the stairs. Miranda Lucas looked extremely groggy and tired, and she was hoping that she was only having a dream, as she wanted to still be sleeping.

    “Dane, what’s going on?” she asked as her mouth opened wide in a yawn. When she finished yawning and opened her eyes, she spotted Nightshade on the couch. She had heard stories about him, but up until just then thought that’s all they were. “Oh my...”

    “Mom, this is Nightshade,” Dane explained. “He was…” he paused as he thought of a story. He wasn’t dumb enough to tell her the truth of what happened. He knew that she’d side with the cops. Why wouldn’t she after all? As far as she knew, the cops were the good guys. Dane was suddenly very glad that his lying abilities actually came in handy for a change. “…assisting…the police and he was shot in a chase.”

    “Why doesn’t he just go to the hospital?” Miranda probed, suspecting that something was up.

    “They’ll want his Identification, and he wants that to remain a secret,” Dane explained, this time not having to lie. “If people ever found out who he was…”

    “No, I understand,” Miranda cut her son off, having already decided to help. “Ok, go to the back room and get the First Aid kit. I’ll go boil some water.”

    ***

    An hour later and one bullet less, Nightshade had his jacket off and his shirt lifted up, and his bare chest was tightly covered in a white bandage. He lowered his shirt down over it, and then slowly slipped his arms back into his jacket sleeves.

    “There, all fixed up,” Miranda smiled. She had been awfully tempted to take a peek under all that material covering Nightshade’s face, but she respected him enough not to do that.

    “Now just get some rest,” she said. She didn’t have to tell Nightshade twice. His head had already slumped to the side, having passed out even before he had his jacket fully on again.



    ~CHAPTER 7~


    When the sun rose the following morning and the light broke through the living room blinds, Nightshade’s head slowly straightened up. He yawned as he gently sat up, massive pain still coursing through his body. He took his time standing up and lowered the handkerchief cloth from around his mouth. Using the wall as support, he made his way to the downstairs bathroom and closed the door behind him.

    Taking off his cap and cracked sunglasses, Jeff turned on the sink’s cold water. He let it pool into his cupped hands and then splashed some over his face, causing some of the facepaint to run. He grabbed a nearby cloth, stuck under the running tap to wet it, and started wiping the rest of the facepaint off. As he removed more of the blackness, he quickly discovered that he had a fairly large black eye and there was dried blood caked around his nose and a slight cut on his lip.

    When he was done cleaning up, he removed his jacket and lifted his shirt to check the bandage. There was a small dried bloodstain where it covered the wound, but apart from that the bandage was still pretty good and secured tightly.

    He threw his broken sunglasses in the garbage and bundled his cap and handkerchief cloth into his jacket and walked out of the bathroom. Dane was just walking down the stairs as Jeff walked around the corner.

    “Hey Dane,” Jeff called out. “Do you have a bag or something I can put this stuff in?”

    “Sure, hang on.” Dane turned and went back up the stairs. Jeff sighed as he relaxed on the couch again. A few minutes later Dane returned with a bookbag. “Here.”

    Jeff took the bag and put the bundle into it, zipping it up and slipping it over his shoulder as he stood once more. “Thanks for everything,” Jeff said honestly. “I’ll see you at work on Monday.”

    “Always glad to help,” Dane replied. “Just as long as you’re ok, that’s what matters.”

    “I am now, thanks to you and your mom.” Jeff and Dane said their goodbyes to each other and Jeff left the house, going to the shed to retrieve his motorcycle. He removed the ‘N’ symbols from it and the helmet, and started the bike up as he slipped on his helmet.

    He roared out of the shed and off down the street.

    ***

    When Jeff arrived at his own apartment and walked into the kitchen sporting the black eye and cut lip, he saw Jenna serving a cup of coffee to his father, who looked up from the paper he was glancing at and looked over.

    “Jeff, I’m very disappointed,” Mr. Long said sternly. “Jenna has informed me of some very disturbing news.”

    Jeff once again tried to cover it up by lying. “I don’t know what…”

    “Don’t lie to me, son!” Jeff’s father shouted as he interrupted. He was sick and tired of his son’s recent trend of lying, and he wasn’t going to allow it any longer. “You know full well that I wouldn’t condone your riding that bike so late at night. And not only that, but you’ve had poor Jenna up all night, worried sick about you. You’re just getting back now! Where the hell have you been all night?”

    “I went out for a ride and decided to end up sleeping at a friend’s house,” Jeff explained half-truthfully. No matter how much he wanted to tell his parents, and Jenna, the full truth, he knew they wouldn’t understand and he’d get in even bigger trouble then he was already in. “I don’t have work today, so I don’t know what the problem is,” he snapped out after a slight pause.

    “The problem is taking the bike out at night!” Mr. Long continued to argue in a raised voice. “And not informing Jenna of the fact that you were sleeping over at a friend’s house! Would it have killed you to make a 10 second phone call? What the hell are we supposed to think when you just disappear and come back looking like this?”

    “The bike tipped over when I was on it,” Jeff lied once more. “I won’t do it again.”

    “Damn right. Because I’m taking the bike back to work and re-selling it.”

    “No, you can’t!” Jeff shouted. That motorcycle helped him out so much! He was able to travel throughout the entire town in one night, which was something he couldn’t do when he had to walk, and he was able to intervene in four times the amount of crimes that he could if he had to go everywhere on foot. Not to mention that the only reason he escaped the corrupted cops the night before, and more importantly, the only reason he even lived, was because of that bike.

    “It’s not only that,” Jenna chimed in, feeling that she needed to say her piece as well. “You’re constantly showing up late for work at Sobeys, when you don’t call in sick that is. Jeff, you’re going to loose your job there soon.”

    “I’ve already talked to Marnie! I’m going to try harder! Dad, just don’t take the bike away!” Jeff pleaded. They had no idea how much that bike really meant to him.

    “I’m sorry son,” his father sighed, not lifting his stance. “Maybe you can have another one next year when more mature, and after you’ve gotten your priorities in life sorted out.”

    “Fine, whatever,” Jeff threw his hands in the air, giving in. He had nothing left to say to them that would convince them. Even if he did tell them the truth, he knew it would just make matters even worse. He turned and stormed out of the kitchen.

    On his way to his bedroom, he picked up his cell phone from the end table in the living room and checked his one new message. “Jeff,” Sonum’s indignant voice filled the earpiece. “I waited around for you all night. When you never showed up, I realized that I was being an idiot and fooling myself into thinking you actually liked me and were any different then Ryan. Don’t bother calling. I won’t answer.” And then the message ended.

    “Fuck!” Jeff shouted loud enough for his neighbors to hear if they had been awake. How on God’s green Earth could he possibly have forgotten about his and Sonum’s date? Of course he knew why. He had been so excited over letting someone in on his secret and getting some new toys for Nightshade, that he had forgotten about everything else.

    He stormed into his room, slamming the door behind him. He threw the bookbag on the floor and winced in pain when the sudden movement hurt his injury. He lifted up his shirt and slowly removed the bandage to check the wound.

    His eyes glanced at the bookbag, and then to his closed door. He glanced back and forth between the two a few times over. I can’t be both, Jeff said to himself in his head. One of me is going to have to be no more. There’s not enough space for both Jeff and Nightshade.

    He heard a noise from his opened window and glanced out, seeing some guy grab a woman’s purse and run off down the street as she screamed for help. Looked like some remnants from the gangs from the night before were still out and about.

    “I keep this town safe,” Jeff said quietly. “But the people I protect rat me out to the enemies. The cops that I help, turn on me and spend more time after me then they do on most of the criminals in this God forsaken town.” Jeff turned away from the window and glanced at a smiling family picture on his night stand. “I’ve fucked up my family, and I’ve hurt Sonum.” Jeff looked back down at the bookbag with the Nightshade attire in it, his mind made up. There is no room in this town for an unwanted hero.

    Jeff bent down, grabbed the bookbag, and threw it under his bed. He picked up the cordless phone that he had lying on his dresser and dialed a number. After three rings, Sonum answered.

    “Hey Sonum, it’s me,” Jeff said into the phone.

    He could hear Sonum frustratingly sigh over the phone. “I knew I should have checked the Caller I.D.,” she said. “Look Jeff, I’m really busy and can’t really…”

    Cutting her off, Jeff quickly went into an apology. “I’m so very very sorry. Words can’t express how sorry I am,” he said truthfully. “But my parents…” Jeff hated having to lie to Sonum, but this would be the last time. Nightshade was no longer part of his life and he just had to cover for him one last time. “…I got into a fight with them my dad took the bike back. I tried to call, but my cell was dead. I really am sorry.”

    There were several minutes of silence on the phone. Just when Jeff began to wonder if Sonum was even still there, her voice came back to him. “Well I do believe in second chances, I guess…” she finally said softly and slowly, as if she already thought that she making a mistake by giving in.

    “Great! I swear, you won’t regret it!” Jeff grew a giant smile.

    “I better not.”

    “How about I make it up to you tonight?” Jeff asked. He knew that Sonum’s favorite course in school was Musical Theater and that she was absolutely in love with stage plays. Luckily there was one currently playing in town. “There’s Broadway Babylon playing at the Performing Arts Theater tonight. I can’t pick you up on a motorcycle or anything, but we can still go if you want.”

    “Sure,” Sonum replied, slightly giving up her anger. “Walks can be even more romantic then motorcycles anyway.” Jeff’s smile stuck around for awhile as he was thankful that he was able to salvage at least part of his life.

    ***

    That evening before his salvaged date, Jeff stood in front of his mirror, looking at himself in it as he straightened up a fancy shirt, preparing for his date with Sonum. Normally he hated dressing up in fancy clothes, but it was an extremely special occasion and he wanted to make a great impression.

    There was a knock on his bedroom door and he looked back at it for a minute, thinking that it was Sonum. Even though he was supposed to pick her up, she was usually filled with surprises.

    “Come in,” Jeff called out, trying to hide his uncontrollable excitement. The door opened and Dane walked in. Jeff looked at him, surprised and extremely disappointed that it wasn’t Sonum. “What are you doing here?” Jeff asked. It sounded a lot harsher then he actually meant, but he wasn’t able to hide his disappointment.

    “I have an idea for a new invention, and I wanted to run it by you first,” Dane exclaimed excitedly, completely oblivious to Jeff’s tone.

    Jeff didn’t quite know how to break it to him, so he decided to just come out and say it. No beating around the bush. “I’m not going to be Nightshade anymore. That part of me died last night when I was shot.”

    “But…” Dane tried to argue, but Jeff was quick to cut him off. Nothing was going to change his mind back now.

    “I’m sorry. I can’t protect a town that doesn’t want the protection. It’s affected my life way to much. I can’t be both Nightshade and Jeff and seeing as how no one wants Nightshade around, it wasn’t that hard of a decision. I’ve already salvaged my relationship with Sonum, and now I just have to get my work attendance back up and get myself in my parents’ good graces again and everything will be back to the way it was before I had this stupid idea. No, things will be even better.

    “Nightshade was just an immature boy’s wild imagination taken too far. Nothing more. I could have died, Dane! That never really hit me before last night. And what happens then? I die and everyone I love; my family, my friends, Sonum, they’d all be hurt. I have to think about them too.”

    “What about the public?” Dane argued back. “You have to protect them or they’ll get hurt too! Only the difference is that they’ll get hurt physically!”

    “That’s what the police are for,” Jeff replied coldly.

    “But you even said it yourself, most of them are corrupted! The few that aren’t need your help!”

    “Why should I defend a public that doesn’t even want me to? I can’t help people if they don’t want to be helped.” Jeff repeated, hoping that this time it would sink into Dane’s brain.

    “It’s your job!” Dane continued his argument. “You have to protect them, because no one else will. If you don’t, people will die.”

    Jeff got a sad, but firm look on his face. “I’m sorry, but I’ve already made up my mind. I chose Jeff over Nightshade. Nightshade is gone…” he paused, and then added in a whisper, “Forever.”

    “Then I guess I’ll have to revive him!” Dane yelled. “For the good of everyone.”

    “Dane,” Jeff sighed, getting frustrated and fed-up. “It’s over. There’s nothing you can do or say that will change my mind. Now can you please leave? I have a date with Sonum.”

    Dane turned and stormed out of the room without saying another word. He wasn’t quite sure if it was anger or disappointment he felt towards Jeff, but either way he had to find a way to change his mind.

    ***

    Jory Rowe sat alone at a table in The Snake Pit, thick cigarette smoke clinging to the musty air. ‘Bodies’ by Drowning Pool boomed over the speakers as Alan, part of his face now bandaged, found the table and sat across from Jory.

    “That fucking kid!” Alan shouted before he was even finished being seated. “Look what he did to my face! He burned Jason up real bad too.”

    “Please, keep your voice down,” Jory replied in a calmed voice. “I’m enjoying this music.” Jory kept quiet for a minute as he tapped his left foot to the beat of the music.

    Alan looked at him impatiently for a minute, before speaking again. “How the fuck can you be so calm?!” he shouted, ignoring Jory’s request for silence. “That son of a bitch is out there, cutting us off at every turn, and nothing we do stops him! Fuck, not even your pigs could stop him.”

    Jory’s voice kept the same calm tone, however his eyes pierced deeply into Alan. “I can stay calm, because I did not get to where I am today by loosing my cool every time something doesn’t go my way.” He paused as he listened to a new cord in the song and then continued when the chorus arrived again. “As for the brat, you need to strike when he’s at his weakest.”

    “How can I do that?” Alan asked. Before he could go on, a tall and gangly man in a gigantic coat walked over and opened it up, revealing dozens of different kinds of drugs.

    “Can I interest you in some…”

    “Get the fuck out of here,” Alan pushed him away before he could finish his sentence. The man closed his jacket and walked off. Fuckin’ amateur, Alan thought. If people wanted that guy’s drugs, then they’d go to him themselves. By him going to them, it just annoyed the piss out of everyone. Alan turned back to Jory and continued from where he left off, “We don’t know any of his weaknesses.”

    “He’s basically just a kid,” Jory explained. “Every kid has a weakness. You just need to find it out and exploit it the best way you can.”

    8/5/2007 2:51:33 AM
    (Updated: 8/5/2007 2:51:46 AM)

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