A Legend Lives On

A fantastical hero of the past has returned to save the world once more in this pseudo-noir detective story.

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1. A Legend Lives On

2:43 AM - Dockside
    Dim yellow lamplight bounces off the tide in the harbor. Ships moored for the night bob like silent leviathans making no sound, save the creak of the mooring lines. A lonely horn sounds in the distance and the bell on a marker buoy dings softly. Two men, both bathed in shadows, step quietly to an open storage container.
    "This it?" The shorter on asks, running his hand over a crate. His hand is rapped with a pry bar and is jerked back.
    "Of course it is!" Hisses the taller figure. "And I'd appreciate it if you didn't touch the merchandise."
    "Okay, okay. Just make sure this gets to Boss Boko quick. Guy has a temper you don't want to be on the wrong side of."
    "It'll be there on time. Be ready with our payment. This thing was difficult enough to find, let alone ship. I'll be damned if I'm gonna be stiffed on the bill."
    Both men give a quick peek over their shoulders and slip back into the shadows, allowing the sounds of the bay to take over once more.

10:45 AM - Later that morning
    An alarm clock clangs to life, and a sunbeam hits a man in the face. The man is Alex Linkoln, head detective for the Gash City Police Department. Groaning and wiping his eyes, he sits on the edge of his bed. He smacks his alarm, silencing its annoying ringing.
    "Here we go again." He comments to no one.
    After a cold shower and his regular breakfast of toast and lukewarm coffee, he dons his holster ad badge, then throws on his overcoat. Years of use have dulled theleather, but it was comfortableenough. Locking the door to his apartment, Alex makes his way downstairs. He's greeted with the same sounds as always: Ms. Chen yelling at her cats in some Asian language, Gary and Martha threatening to leave each other, and the piercing eyes of his neighbor in B7, peering through the mail slot. Alex never learned the man's name, but he seemed to have a a fascination with paper. Stepping from the front door of the building, Alex is met with the sounds of the city. Cars putter by, children play on the sidewalk, and men and women alike pass by.
 Preferring to walk, Alex heads for his precinct. A familiar blue cap springs from a news stand.
    "Mornin' Mr. Linkoln! Your usual paper?"
    "Hey Rory, yeah, just the paper. Anything interesting today?"
    "Just more of the same, boss. The crossword was a real doozy this time though."
    Rory hands the paper to Alex. Kid had been at this stands shilling papers for few years now. How old was he? Seven. No wait, eight? At any rate he had a mind for crosswords and puzzles. He'd make one hell of a detective one day.
    "I'll take your word for it kid." He gives Rory a sly smile and flips him a large coin. "For the paper, and the rest is yours."
    The coin lands with a small thwap into Rory's hand.
    "Thanks Mr. Linkoln! You're the best!"
    "Yeah, yeah. Just don't get used to it." He gives Rory a small wink and continues on. Unfolding the paper, the headline quickly catches Alex's eye. Mob Goons Strike at Docks. "Perfect. Starting things off on a high note I see." He folds the paper under his arm and mounts the steps to the police station. Same walls, same desk, same clacking of typewriters and mumbled conversation. Alex was just about to enter his office when a booming voice stops him.
    "Linkoln! My office! Now!"
    That was Dan Gorozzi. Chief of Police and quite possibly the toughest man in Gash City. Alex steps into Dan's office and closes the door behind him.
    "You wanted to see me, Dan?"
    "Dammit Linkoln, I know we're close, but in this office you address me as sir! Clear?"
    "As crystal...sir. What you got for me?"
    "You seen this yet?" The chief throws down a newspaper hard enough to make is trademark red tie flap in the small burst of air. The same striking headline seems to glare at the two.
    "Yeah, just saw it myself. We have any decent info?"
    "I was hoping your contacts had something." Dan adjusts his tie.
    Alex gives a slight nod.
    "I'll look up Nate. See if he's got anything. He this weird ability to find things. Maybe he has something."
    "Good. Get on the and keep me informed. Oh, and Alex," Dan folds his hands on his desk, "be careful."
    "Always." Alex heads out the door and back through the forest of desks and back onto the street.

9:45 PM - That Night
    Alex strides down the sidewalk. Store fronts shut out their lights as their owners get ready to head home. A lone orange sign shines in the darkness. Alex stops at the door. Papa Rico's Pizza Village. This was the place. Alex opens the door and enters. Empty tables are placed about, the baking ovens have died down to embers. A lone figure in a green coat sits at a back table. Alex pulls out a chair and sits.
    "Evening Nate. Wish you would've picked an earlier time, I'm getting hungry."
    Nate leans forward, his sickly thin frame seems almost skeletal in the candle light. He wipes his nose with a quick backhand before speaking.
    "It's a book." He looks around nervously. "A black book. Old. Big."
    Alex gives a questioning look.
    "A book? What are you talking about?"
    "Out at Jabhu Harbor. That's what Boss Boko was after."
    They'd been friends long enough for Alex to take Nate at his word, still, Boss Boko killing for an old book...
    "Any idea why a book?"
    "None, but that's all I got right now." Nate pulls his coat tighter around himself. "Might have more later, but for now, I need to make myself scarce."
    "Thanks Nate. Call me when you have something."
    Both men exit Papa Rico's and go their separate ways. There is a peal of thunder, and the sky opens up. The rain intensifies and Alex hails a cab and heads back to his apartment. He unlocks his door and goes about his evening routine. Sitting in an armchair, he clicks on the news. He doesn't watch though. His mind is preoccupied with a the info he had gotten from Nate.
    "A book? What kind of book could Boss Boko want so badly he'd kill for it?"
    This thought rattles through Alex's head as he falls asleep in his chair.

10:40 PM - Boss Boko's Office
    High above the main floor of the High Roll Casino sat Boss Boko's office. From here he and his goons could peer out over the gambling floor, keeping tabs on the tables and wringing their hands as money poured in. Tonight, however, was different. Tonight Boss Boko's attention is focused on a large black book. He turns the book over again and again in his large hands. A gold lock shines in the dim light. it binds the book tightly shut, preventing any from opening it.
    "The key! The damned key! Did anyone think to check that rad bastard's body for the key?!"
    Boss Boko's voice had a soud like gravel in a blender. He leans his thick pig-like face to the book.
    "Where the hell is your key?" He ponders loudly.
    With a snap of his fingers, he summons a minion to his side. "Find me the idiot who brought this book."
    A quick scurry and a phone call later, a short suited man half steps, half stumbles into the room. He keeps his head down and shuffles twards the desk.
    "You...you wanted to see me boss?"
    Boss Boko slams the book down with a loud thud. The short henchman jumps slightly.
    "I pay my men well. I pay them very well. All I ask is that men in my employ are at least semi-compentent at their jobs." He steps from behind his desk and places his hands behind his back. "There were two things you had to do. Inspect and deliver the book, and make the dropper disappear." He steps forward and stands in front of the now cowering henchman. "You saw the book, so you knew about the lock, yet I have no key." He places his large hand on his now quaking minion's shoulder. "There wasn't supposed to be any connection back to me, but the newspaper seems to think we were involved." Boko walks his minion to his desk and peers at the book. "So I have no key, a locked book, and now the cops will be sniffing around." The minion started to cry, his knees knocking together. "What the hell do I pay you for?!" Almost as an emphasis on the question, Boko grabs the back of the minion's head and smashes it into the book, crushing the minion's forehead and splattering blood acress the desk. Boko turns and cleans his hands on a handkerchief, and goes to a window to peer down at the people below. "Someone clean that up."
    Two men step forward and pick up the body. One man gasps lightly and stares at the book.
    "What the hell?"
    Boko turns and looks at his minion then follows his gaze to the desk. The pooled blood on the desk slides up and onto the black book. The small puddle slides acreoss the cover and flows into the lock. No sooner does the blood vanish when the lock opens with a small snap. Boko hurries to his desk and sits, bringing the book in front of himself. A dark grin spreads across his porcine face.
    "Looks like he wasn't so useless afterall."
    Boko gives a deep chuckle and grips the topcover of the book. "Let's seewhat all the fuss was about." The cover opens and the office goes black. The sound-proofed walls muffle the pained screams of Boko's men, as the gamblers below continue rolling, spinning, and betting, blissfully unaware of the horror occurring above their heads.

88:88 AM/PM Unknown Location
    Alex peers about. Nothing but darkness in all direction. He calls out, "Hello? Anyone there?" Nothing. He calls a second time, "I said hello!"
    The darkness befins to recede, revealing a lonely street lined with buildings. The shadows begin to combine in the street, growing and rising from the asphalt. It coelesces into the form of a large man. The man speaks, his voice unmistakable.
    "Alex Linkoln. My constant shadow. You're always chasing me, but never quite catching. Why is that, you think?"
    Alex draws his revolver and aims at the figure. "Boko. Why are you here? What is this place? Where is everyone?!"
    Boko laughs, "So many questions, so few answers. Why don't you ask them?"
    Three people step from behind Boko, they're familiar but seem skewed somehow.
    "Rory! Dan and...and Nate! Why are you with Boko?! Answer me!"
    Dan steps forward, his body twitches slightly. "Failure! That's all you are! Useless! Worthless!" He screams and bursts into flame, which is pulled into Boko. Alex lowers his weapon.
    Nate was next. He strode forward, hands in his pockets. "Without me you're nothing! Just another schmuck with a badge!" He begins to age very quickly, his skin flaking and dropping off until he crumbles to dust and is swept into Boko's dark form.
    Alex drops to his knees in horror and fixes his gaze on Rory, who steps to the front. "You're a fool Alex! Nothing but a witless fool!" Rory's body seems to melt, and Alex rushes forward to grab at the water, hoping to maybe stop what was happening, but it was useless.
    "Dan...Nate...Rory...what did you do to them?!" Alex glares at Boko with renewed anger.
    "Freed them from their earthly bonds. Their minds and bodies are mine now. I will soon do the same to your precious Gash City." Boko laughs darkly, his shadowy figure flashes into a building, the door bands open. Alex leaps back, and grabbing his revolver, follows Boko into the building.
    It's empty. An empty hallway. Doors stand open on each side, raising caution in Alex's mind. He passes two doors without incident. At the third, a telephone rings, startling him and almost causing him to fire. Alex steels his nerves and continues on. Phone begin ringing as he passes more room, seeming to become louder and closer the further he went. The noise is deafening as he reaches the end of the hallway, it is punctuated by a single door.
   

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