A quiet and subtle voice, barely heard above the howling wind outside the hundred and second floor of Grayson Tower, the tallest building in the center of Hub City. “I suppose I will have to have those claw marks buffed out of the front of my building.” The speaker has his back to the window, sitting down, hunched over a desk. “You know, we do have an elevator.”
A thick cane leaned against the desk with a large black stone on its tip. He was writing something slowly. Once done, he folded the letter meticulously and placed it into an envelope. Slowly he rose, gripped his cane and turned around to face the window and the towering form of Hyde.
He wore a grey suit and over it a white lab coat. His suit, obviously expensive and his cufflinks flash in the brightly lit room. His face was brown like a burlap sack and his age was indeterminate. His eyes, black as coal, peek out from underneath wide and bushy eyebrows. He is bald but his face bears a well-manicured goatee. His full lips are peeled back in a predatory and menacing smile. His eyes however, do not share the smile. He leans back onto the desk. “Do you mind if I smoke?”
The man is calm, I’ll give him that. “Enjoy. It will be your last.” Hyde’s voice is gruff, coarser than usual. He was just finished healing from the beat down, he received two months earlier from the super-soldier commandos. The only thing that made that drubbing worthwhile was watching them turn into smoking, cancer-ridden piles of rotting meat. Whatever technology they were using was not ready for prime-time. It had taken two months of hunting, limb-breaking and old-fashioned detective work. The trail led him here. It was time for some payback.
Hyde turned his head to take in the room and saw an extensive laboratory filled with a variety of computers, autoclaves, other machines, some familiar, others not. A flash of memory sweeps over him and he remembers a biometric monitoring system across the room. He is not sure why he recognized it, but the memory was strong. Whoever this doctor was, he had money to spare. Not just anyone could afford this setup. Another mystery.
“You like my lab? It is only one of many. I will take you on a tour tomorrow, if you like.” The man uses his cane to point around the room.
Hyde snorts, “What makes you think you’ll be alive tomorrow? I plan to rip you limb from limb.”
“Really? Before you get the answers you have been searching for? Or should I say, Carlucci is searching for? That would be so anticlimactic.”
“Spare me the small talk. I think I will prefer the answers you will give me when I am ripping open your chest. People lie less when I am eating their ribs before their eyes.” Something’s wrong.
“Spare me the posturing, Mr. Hyde. I know who you are. I know what you are. In a way, I helped to create you.” He stood up from leaning on his desk and squared his shoulders. Though not quite as tall as Hyde, he was nearly six feet tall himself. “Now we can have this conversation, the easy way or the hard way. Your choice.”
Hyde clenches his hands and his knuckles crack with a rhythmic precision. He turns his head and his neck bones crack as well. A hot, metallic smell starts to rise from his person and his ragged jumpsuit begins to smoke. “You know what, let’s do this the hard way. I am sure I won’t break a nail on that nice Armani, you’re wearing. What do your friends call you? I want to know who to mail your head to.”
“In Japanese tradition, it is considered polite to give your name to your enemy. You have chosen the nom de guerre, Hyde. I will be Doctor Jekyll to you, sir, after all, I did help create you. And like the good Doctor, I too have a dark side.” Stepping out of his shoes, and taking off his lab coat, he throws it over the chair. “Anytime you’re ready, sir.”
Hyde needed no more prelude than that and leapt across the room arms outstretched, his carbon-hardened claws, extended, fangs opened in a bestial roar. In a movement Hyde can barely see, Jekyll steps to the side and grabs Hyde’s arm and whirling him around he slams him across the room into a bookcase. The bookcase crumples under Hyde’s massive weight. The two hundred pound teak bookcase crumpled like tissue. Hyde laughed, knocking books and wood off of his back. “Nice throw, Doctor. I hope your plan does not include Aikido to save you. It’s not nearly going to be enough.”
“Not at all Mr. Hyde. I am not counting on Aikido to save the day. I was simply giving you the chance to see you were out-classed and offering you one more opportunity to see reason before I have to actually hurt you.” While Hyde was climbing out of the bookcase, the doctor had taken off his suit and laid it upon his desk. He was wearing a skintight undergarment that covered him from neck to the ends of his extremities. Only his hands and feet were naked. “I await your pleasure.”
Hyde turned to the doctor again, trying to figure out what his senses were telling him. The smell was not one of fear, it was one of excitement, and something else, something chemical. It reminded him of the metallic scent of his own transformation. But the doctor looked completely unchanged.
Hyde exploded across the room, books flew from under foot as Hyde moving as fast as a train, reached out with a clawed hand directly pointed at the doctor’s face. And again, with only a minimum of movement the doctor spun and avoided Hyde’s hand. Completing his spin he kicked Hyde right out of the window. The doctor stopped to grab his cane and looking out the window, leapt after Hyde to the nearby rooftop where Hyde would land, hard.
Hyde crashed into a concrete stairway rising onto the roof. Tearing through it, he lay stunned. As he tried to get up, Jekyll land squarely onto his chest, driving Hyde into the reinforced roof of the building. Jekyll bounces away lightly and lands nearby. Hyde’s response was immediate. He swept rubble with both of his arms toward the Doctor and bounded to his feet, while the doctor used his cane to deflect the rubble, Hyde began attempting to close the distance between the two.
Despite the fact, he had just jumped thirty stories out of a building, the doctor didn’t even appear to be winded or surprised. Hyde kept up his assault his clawed hands lashing out as fast a cheetah’s killing blow and with as much power. The doctor used his cane to block Hyde’s strikes but did not attack. This only seemed to infuriate Hyde further. Their exchanges were faster than the eye could see and the doctor retreated the entire time. Hyde pushed the doctor back to the edge of the rooftop. Leaping over Hyde, he landed twenty feet away.
Hyde pushed his body further, and felt his arms growing longer, muscles changing in texture and tone, hyper-oxygenating them, exchanging strength for speed. Hyde rushed the doctor and his clawed arms slashing out, striking the doctor on the belly and shoulder. The strange undergarment acting as an armor, the blows drew no blood. But Hyde was testing its strength and knew he could overcome it. His nails sharpened into needle-like points. The doctor withdrew outside of Hyde’s assault. He held his cane in two hands. Twisting the head, it transformed into a sword cane and armored sheath.
The two of them clashed together, a blur of motion, both landing strikes and taking blows, the sound of claws on steel range around the glass canyon as the two titans struggled for dominance. The doctor began to give ground as Hyde blows landed and one even tore his left arm’s armor away revealing muscular flesh beneath and the lacerations of Hyde’s diamond-tipped claws. The doctor, using his sheath, smashed Hyde in the mouth and knocked him across the roof.
Hyde shook his head, wiping away blood, “Nice. You’ve survived a lot longer than I expected. But this fight is just about over.” Hyde’s jumpsuit was bloodstained and nearly completely destroyed. Carlucci bought them in bulk since their arrangement. He was crouched and studying Jekyll for any sign of weakness. He didn’t see one. Palming a piece of rubble, an idea formed.
“I was trying to show you the pointlessness of this exercise and how we could work together. With my genius and your brawn, we could rule Hub City and remove the criminal scum that infests her.”
“You care about Hub City? I don’t think so.” Hyde stood gauging the distance between the two of them.
“But you do. Once we clear away Hub City’s vermin, I will show you things that will make Hub City worst criminals look like Girl Scouts.”
“You do realize I am an unreasonable person, right?” Hyde began to breathe faster and deeper. His muscles and bone density began to multiply. The scar on his chest began to heat up and his overall temperature rose.
Doctor Jekyll’s eyebrow rose in surprise. He is altering his nervous system, attempting to increase his reaction time and attack speed. He is reducing his mass to increase his speed. This was unexpected and exciting to learn. What is the source of his transformation energy?
Cupped in his hand, Hyde threw the piece of rubble with supersonic speed. As his deadly projectile crossed the distance between he and his target, his mighty legs were already propelling him right behind it.
Jekyll, momentarily stunned by the speed and ferocity of this improvised attack was struck by the deadly projectile in the left shoulder and dropped his sword. The missile exploded into dust.
“So you can be surprised.” Hyde landed his punch squarely across the jaw of the doctor and the doctor’s head snapped to the right with the force of the blow. With a reflexive backhand the doctor knocked Hyde sailing across the roof.
Hyde rolled with the blow and landed on his feet sliding across the rooftop. What the hell? How did he do that? I thought he was on the ropes. What did I miss? I need to buy some time. “The commandos, they were yours, weren’t they? They move like you do, fight like you do, mixing martial arts with superhuman strength and speed. But they turned into piles of rotting meat. But you don’t appear to be about to turn into a pile of organ-bursting goo. Why is that?”
“Nice strategy, make me talk while you look for my weaknesses.” Doctor Jekyll smiled. He rubbed his jaw. “That was a surprise. I didn’t know you could do that. I see why you refuse to use a weapon; its visceral, primal, savage. You see, there is so much we can learn from each other. But I think our time is done. I have learned all that I think I can today.”
Dropping his sheath, he turned toward Hyde, dusting himself off. “You, for instance, will learn…” He disappeared from where he was on the roof and reappeared in front of Hyde. Hyde never saw him move. He punctuated every word with a powerful strike from his fists, driving Hyde’s face into the rooftop with each blow. “I.” Boom. “Don’t.” Boom.”Have.” Boom. “Any.” Boom. “Weaknesses.” Boom.
And then Hyde lay still.
Smoke rose from the hole in the rooftop. A light rain started to fall. “I know you are teetering on the edge of consciousness, Mr. Hyde. I trust I have made my point. I will have need of you at some time in the future. When I do I will call for you. And you will come. Otherwise I will destroy everything you hold dear, Mr. Carlucci.”
Doctor Jekyll walked to the edge of the rooftop. He stopped to pick up his sword cane and sheath. Locking them together he leapt away into the night.
Hyde sank into unconsciousness.
Hyde: Portrait of a Modern Monster © Thaddeus Howze 2011. All Rights Reserved