Yes, this is yet another Chuck Wendig flash fiction challenge. 🙂
The challenge was to mash-up a superhero story with a different genre. I picked noir.
It had been so long since she’d seen daylight that Drea sometimes thought she was part bat. She trained and fought in the darkness, slept during the day, and stalked the city streets like that night creature. The comparison didn’t continue, though. Bats hung together, flew together and occasionally communicated with one another.
Drea worked alone.
She double-checked the motocross armour under her leathers, wrapped her hands, pulled sap gloves over them, and donned a full-face leather mask, its IR goggles adjusting to the dimness in her warehouse space. Eschewing the brightly lit front gate she slipped onto the fire escape and in two quiet leaps and one flip she reached the alley. No-one had heard her, and her matte leathers blended in with the late evening shadows. Now all that remained was roaming through the night and stomping all the cockroaches that came out when the sun went down.
She pulled a hood over her face and left the alley, striding with confidence, but in no particular direction. This neighbourhood of warehouses, seedy clubs and bodegas came to life at night in a way it never did in the daytime. Urgency, for drugs, sex, money or a combination of those, was endemic. It pumped a nervous energy onto the streets that belied the leisurely strolling and leaning against walls. This wasn’t where Drea would choose to spend her nights if she could take off the mask and rub shoulders with society, but she sometimes wished she could join this melee rather than ghosting through it and culling its bad seeds.
She slipped from shadow to shadow, listening to conversations, absorbing the goings on. The nights were longer, so there was more time for the street’s sordid business, but it was colder, so fewer people were out just for the sake of being seen.
Drea heard rumblings as she passed an alley. She couldn’t see the situation clearly, but it looked like a couple of thugs had a woman cornered behind a dumpster. She crept into the alley and hopped silently onto the dumpster. Two guys, medium size, looked like they hadn’t slept inside for a few weeks, had cornered a woman who looked a few steps higher on the social ladder. One of the guys brandished something that looked like a knife, the other kept looking around as if he expected someone to show up. Drea decided to be that person.
Without warning she leapt from the dumpster, cranking her body around so that she kicked both of the thugs in the head before she landed on the ground. She watched the woman squeak and run deeper into the alley, and so missed the three monstrous goons who came in behind her, followed by a tall, slim man in a grey mohair overcoat. She turned around just as the tall man gave his thugs a nod and they came at her. Drea backflipped back onto the dumpster to get some height advantage, then chose the stupidest looking dude in the bunch and launched herself feet first at his chest. The impact jolted him backward and she used the momentum to drive her fists into his nose a couple times. She wasn’t big, but body mechanics and weighted gloves kept her on par with most opponents. This one was no exception. His hands went up to protect his shattered nose, and Drea was off to the next man. She was just levering off the first guy to put a boot in the second guy’s teeth when she was slammed to the ground with a blow like a sledgehammer from the third guy, who she had forgotten.
He had, in fact, hit her with a sledgehammer. Her body armour distributed some of the force, but the blow still drove her directly into the cement, knocking the wind out of her. The tall man took the hammer.
“You lads should leave,” he said. “I don’t need you to see this.” They nodded and filed out of the alley.
Drea lay on the ground, sucking in breath and trying to get her wind back. The tall guy loomed over her, a quizzical grin on his face.
“Why, you’re not even really a superhero, are you? You’re just a little thing that knows how to fight.” He reached down, grabbed her by the collar, and hoisted her up so she was leaning against the wall. Holding her collar with one hand, he used the other to rip the mask over her head. He examined her face and gave his head a little shake.
“Not even a single superpower,” he said. “I’m disappointed.” He ran his index finger down her cheek. He shivered and his eyes narrowed, but he still grabbed her uncovered chin. He didn’t notice his hand turning blue.
“Give us a kiss, normal girl,” he said, his hand now shaking. Instead she spat in his face. His eyes widened and he froze so quickly she had to reach up and take his icy hand off her chin. He fell rigid to the ground and broke into four large pieces. She looked down at the pieces, wishing she didn’t have to touch them again, but she picked each one up and tossed it into the dumpster before it started to thaw.
“No superpowers I like using, anyway,” she said, pulling the mask back on and the hood over her head. She stood for a minute, reveling in the heat she had taken from the dead man. Her whole body was warm, so warm. She headed out of the alley to resume her patrol.
It was always good to be warm on such a cold night.