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A Common Weakness – Chapter 1

Written by Dumano1r :: [Saturday, 01 February 2020 20:42] Last updated by :: [Sunday, 02 February 2020 00:41]

A Common Weakness – Chapter 1

Gianni felt cautious as he entered the bar. He was not a man accustomed to fear, but that day he felt a nervousness that had rarely assailed him. As per his instructions he had travelled to the bar alone, and the absence of his henchmen around him alone was unsettling.

The bar was thick with tobacco smoke, the lights few and hazy amidst the enclosing gloom. It was hard to say how many men were in the room, but Gianni could sense judging eyes watching him from the shrouded corners.

The barman watched his approach. Unconcerned he spat into a glass and proceeded to wipe it with a dirty rag that had been slung across his shoulders. He didn’t speak as Gianni slid onto one of the tall stools at the bar. The barman’s unwelcoming gaze made Gianni shiver in his expensive suit, another sensation that felt unnatural to him. The barman didn’t speak, just stood there polishing the glass with his filthy rag.

“I’d like a pink gin, please?” said Gianni awkwardly. The barman smiled with his mouth and nodded to a dark corner of the bar where a single table stood. A light above the table cast shadows on a single figure who was sat with their back to the corner, lost in the murky darkness. Gianni nodded a thank-you, and headed across the open space towards the figure. Seeing his approach, the figure leaned forward, thoughtfully resting their elbow on the table, though the darkness still smothered their face. A brief flash of light as they drew deep upon a cigar was lost in an instant as Gianni cautiously looked for a stool to sit upon facing them.

“Stand,” the figure commanded. So Gianni just stood awkwardly, facing a figure shrouded in darkness, with the single light shining in his eyes. Behind him he heard the denizens of the bar moving, drawing knives, priming pistols. Who knew? He realised he was trembling.

“You have transferred the money.” A voice from the darkness, a statement rather than a question.

“Yes, I have made the transfer, as you said. Can you get it done?” Gianni asked.

“Of course.” The cigar flared, briefly revealing green eyes in the smoke filled gloom. “They all share a common weakness.”

“How can you be so sure?” Gianni stuttered. “The things he can do…”

The figure chuckled, and a hand reached from the darkness to tap ash into an overflowing ashtray. “It doesn’t matter. The common weakness dooms them all.” The hand lifted the cigar to a mouth and again the light flared and Gianni saw the cold eyes upon him. “You may leave now.”

Gianni turned to go, but a sudden moment of pride made him pause. He turned and faced the figure that was slouched in the smoke wreathed depths. “Why did you need me to come here? I sent the money…”

“I always see the faces of those I kill for.” The cigar flared again. “I consider it… insurance.”

Gianni turned and fled, abandoning composure in his haste to be free of the place.

*******

The robbery had not gone to plan.

That was an understatement. Jimmy had got cocky and unloaded his shotgun into the crowd of bystanders, which would have been bad enough had he not exhausted his ammo. A security guard had taken him out as he stood prone, hastily shoving cartridges into his 12 bore.

Dragging Jimmy’s bleeding carcass and a bag stuffed full of cash they had fled the bank, staggering into the alley where an unmarked blue van waited. “He’s fucking dead, leave him!” Tommy had shouted, and Jimmy’s body had been unceremoniously tossed against the wall as the others threw the cash laden bags into the rear of the van and jumped in after them. Crazy Pete gunned the engine, then floored the accelerator as they sped up the alley and onto the highway.

Except they never made the highway.

One moment the alley was empty. The next a single figure in a dark blue uniform stood before them. They hit him at speed, but he didn’t flinch as the van folded around him. Crazy Pete screamed as the front of the van crumpled in upon him. The three men in the back were slammed forward into the cab partition. “It’s fucking Ultraman!” someone screamed.

Danny was the quickest to react. Throwing open the rear doors of the van he leapt into the alley, and sprinted headlong away from the van. Behind him he heard the squeal of metal being ripped apart, the dull percussion of bullets and brief screams cut short.

Danny turned a corner. Leapt some trash. Caught his shoulder on a fire escape ladder and rolled, twisting to turn a corner. He glanced behind him, seeing an empty alley. Rebounded against the alley wall. Sprinted ahead.

And was stopped.

One second the alley was empty, the next Ultraman was standing directly before him.

The huge man didn’t even flinch as Danny crashed into him, reeling off to tumble to the floor. “Going somewhere?” A supercilious voice asked.

Danny felt a huge hand upon his collar and suddenly he was lifted into the air as though he didn’t weigh a thing. He was turned to face the hugely muscular figure of Ultraman. “I think you’ve made some bad choices this evening,” Ultraman said with a confident smile.

Danny felt his shoulders slump as adrenaline abandoned him. The game was up.

“Police! Freeze!” a voice yelled.

Danny was unceremoniously dropped, hitting the wall with enough force to leave him stunned. A single cop stood at the end of the alley, her revolver drawn and aimed at the figure of the titanic hero that dominated the alley.

*********

Ultraman turned confidently to face the cop. She was young, maybe in her mid-twenties. He could sense her caution. “Relax, officer, there won’t be any more trouble.”

“I said freeze!” she shouted again.

Ultraman looked at the cop. The police officer was quite attractive in a conventional way. She was tall and slender, with long blonde hair tied back in a tight ponytail. She looked great in her police uniform and Ultraman found himself smiling. “Or what?”

“Or I’ll shoot!”

Ultraman laughed. “Go ahead!” He placed his hands upon his hips and faced her squarely, his muscular chest puffed out.

He could see her fingers trembling as she pulled the trigger.

He watched the bullets fly towards him with arrogant confidence. The first bullet struck his rippling abs and ricocheted harmlessly away, like a soft tickle on his skin. The second bullet him higher, just below his massive pectoral muscles. It bounced off like a drop of rain.

Then the third bullet hit him.

It crashed through his skin like a bullet tearing through flesh. The pain was unreal, unlike anything he had ever felt before. Blood gushed from a gaping wound as his titanic strength drained out of his body. His legs felt feeble and suddenly his knees buckled beneath him. The cop was striding towards him now, a smile upon her pretty face. He gasped, trying to speak, but the ruined mess of his lungs just filled his mouth with blood.

“What hap–” he began. “Why?”

She stood before him, then raised her gun so that the barrel was pointed at his head. He looked up pleadingly into her startlingly green eyes. She smiled coldly. “A common weakness,” she said, and pulled the trigger.

*********

Danny watched incredulously as Ultraman’s head was ripped apart by the cop’s gunshot. For maybe half a second his body remained upright, resting upon his mighty knees, before it slumped slowly forward in a growing puddle of his own blood.

“You killed Ultraman!” Danny spluttered.

The cop looked at him as though aware of him for the first time. Without a word she stepped over Ultraman’s corpse, raised her gun and shot him in the head.

***********

The police arrived minutes later. At the end of the alley they found an unmarked blue panel van, with metal panels twisted by some mighty force. Three unconscious robbers lay amidst the debris of the van, a van torn apart by clear superhuman might.

Then further up the alley they found Ultraman’s body. Cops used to dealing with death stared in shock and awe at the body of the once mighty hero, whose dark blue blood was pooling beneath his navy clad torso. The corpse of a single robber lay slumped against the wall.

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