Creatures of the Night
By Matt Shade
If someone later asked police officer Baites at the NCPD what he thought about the man's sudden appearance he would say that it had seemed like the shadows had just opened up and spewed the man out. And if asked about the man's landing on top of his patrol car he would answer that it had looked like the man had been discarded, rather than thrown himself, onto the hood like a worthless piece of garbage.
But at the moment it actually happened he had neither the time or the calm state of mind required to think up any of those fancy statements. He was too busy instinctively transferring all of his weight onto the brakes of the careening vehicle.
"Oh SHIT!" he exclaimed but it was drowned by the screeching sound of rubber tires copying their own patterns on the suddenly slippery road and suddenly cease with the surprising bump of hitting solid pavement.
It was impossible to see what the unknown object was between the virtual millions of white cracks in the windshield it had caused, but judging by the muffled metallic bangs he could hear from the hood it rolled off the police cruiser and dropped down below it.
Officer Baites took a second to check on his partner before stepping out of the cruiser. Officer Norman had suffered quite a blow by the dashboard, but he did not seem too badly hurt, judging by the cursing and slamming of his fist to the car door.
"Alright, hold it right there," Baites ordered as shuffling sounds were heard in front of the car. A typical cop cliché, but effective. Maybe even because it was a cliché since the perps could recognize it right away and act accordingly, his mind drifted as he pulled the flashlight from his belt and approached the source of the sounds.
The vaguely human thing had its arms held up to protect itself from the seemingly painful brightness of the headlights. The beams revealed the so-called man to be a mess. His clothes were torn, his breathing hard and the visible parts of his body covered with cuts and bruises. But nothing serious, the worst just seemed to be the gravel lodged into the flesh of his hands, now held up in the universal sign of capitulation.
"Please help me!" the man struggled to say, speaking even as he was trying to catch his breath. "Its after me! Its gonna get me! It knows!"
"Is he dusted?" Norman asked coming out on his side of the patrol car, one hand rubbing his forehead but the other on his sidearm and both eyes on the wildeyed man, prepared for anything he might pull.
"Could be," Baites answered after trying to make out dilated pupils behind a greasy mess of hair.
"It knew!" The panicking man was now yelling, leaning on the car's side to aid him in the struggle to get up on his feet. "It knew what I was gonna do!"
Baites saw Norman pull his long-range tazer in the corner of his eye and silently agreed with him. The man was definitely unbalanced. Yet he didn't reach for his. He didn't want to provoke the man, and if that turn of event presented itself he already held a fairly heavy police-issue flashlight.
"It knew I followed her for weeks! You gotta believe me! It knew I was gonna kill her! I had this!" He held up his clenched fist at officer Baites. "I s-stabbed it!"
"Hold it right there!" Norman trained his stun gun on the man, repeating Baites previous command.
Baites, taking one step back and no chances, was now also reaching for his holster. "Alright, put it down. Real slow." Another cliché.
"Please take me away! You have to protect me from it! Her name is Wanda Sparks! She works at Cygnus Construction! She lives on Obsidian Avenue! She'll tell you! Her phone number is..."
"Okay, pal, we'll look into it. Just put the knife down."
The man complied, but Baites did not think it was out of fear of being shocked. Judging by his own words, it seemed his choice to obey was rather out of fear of them leaving him right where he was. As instructed, he slowly bent down and dropped the object to the ground and Baites trained the circle of light on it. It was a knife . At least it had been, before its blade was broken off. In its current state the knife was nothing more than a handle with a few rough spikes of metal jutting out. Not exactly lethal, but still sharp enough to cause some damage.
"Hands on the car. Spread 'em." Third time's a charm, right? Baites was just full of them tonight.
After making him put his bloodied hands on the hood of the car, Baites noticed three things about the man while patting him down for any other kind of weapons or any narcotics that could explain his state of hysterical paranoia. First of all was the putrid stench of blood and urine mingled with sweat, the smell of fear, real fear. Secondly that none of the man's injuries seemed serious enough to come from any weapon or fighting. More likely, if he was being pursued as he claimed, they could have been self-inflicted while him trying to get away from whatever 'it' was chasing him. And last but not least he took notice of something barely glimpsed under the torn shirt.
"And what's this?" he asked as he snatched it from the man's belt to take a closer look. At first he had thought it was a small plastic bag containing the narcotics he was searching for, but when introduced to his flashlight it proved to be something else.
"Is that....?" Norman asked, not about to take his eyes off the man, now classified as 'suspect'.
"Yeah, looks like it."
What it looked like to Baites was a simple calling card, neatly folded and as grey as a stone. On the outside was an embossed symbol. A jet black Egyptian-stylized symbol in fact, looking most of all like a triangle standing on its tip on top of a 'T'. On the inside was a message. A simple message comprised of two words, written with what would he would guess was black ink. Didn't look like whoever wrote it was in any hurry doing it either.
"That's all it says. 'Believe him'."
"Sounds like him alright. Just like the papers said. The 'Stalker of stalkers' is back."
"Its got his symbol. Okay, pal, we're taking you in."
Baites had half expected the worm to drop to his knees and kiss their feet in gratitude, but when hearing he had a right to remain silent, he became what they would later describe as 'as calm as a lobotomized psych patient'. After a barely discernible nod at the question of him understanding, he let Baites usher him into the armored backseat of the cruiser and calmly lied down in the backseat and curled into the tightest fetal position possible, seemingly catatonic to the world. Except for his eyes. As wild as before, they were trying hard to look in every direction at once.
He could feel it. Still out there somewhere, in the darkness. As the darkness. Watching him. Eyes as chilly as the coldest wind at night and glowing like the brightest bolt of lightning. Shape like the grim reaper coming to take him with him, away to the darkest of places. He huddled tighter, but the warmth of the vehicle gave him no comfort.
While officer Baites had read the man his rights and put him away, officer Norman had turned a small transparent bag inside out by pushing his hand into its bottom, producing a makeshift forensic glove to carefully pick up the useless weapon without erasing any eventual prints. As he pulled the bag off his arm to cover the evidence in order to cause the minimum tampering of it, Baites had proceeded to open the car's internal evidence locker, by placing one hand on the palm-reader plate and tapping the code on the nine-digit keypad with the other.
With both culprit and evidence safely stashed away, the patrol car backed away from the curb and started its journey back to the station, its tail lights strangely seeming to reflect off something in the air. For a brief second in time one might catch the crimson light move across the shape of a dark figure, a silhouette standing tall on the pavement. Just for a moment and then it was gone, again indistinguishable from the other shadows of the street. But in its stead there was a sound, easily missed, easily confused with the flapping of forgotten laundry catching a breeze or the rustling of a discarded newspaper taking flight.
Welcome to Noctropolis.
To be continued...
Disclaimer: Noctropolis is a trademark of Electronic Arts. (C) 1994 Electronic Arts and Flashpoint Creative. Electronic Arts is a registered trademark of Electronic Arts.
Author's note: This means that Darksheer, Stiletto and all the characters featured in the game 'Noctropolis' are the property of Electronic Arts or Flashpoint Productions. This story was written in pure appreciation of the City of Night and for the sole purpose of entertainment and for no profit whatsoever. Feedback is always appreciated so if you have any ideas, advice or complaints about this story, send it to me at Mats@letterbox.com, and I will look into it. I am also open to suggestions about future stories, so if you think you have an idea for a Noctropolis-related story you'd like to share but don't feel like writing it yourself, just send me a letter.