Portrait of a Modern Monster
a tale of Hub City
If you commit a crime in Hub City, it’s said the wind will reveal your sin to him. Pray the police find you. Before he does.
I was a policeman in another life. I can’t say I was the best, but I certainly wasn’t the worst. In Hub City, it was a brutal life, violent and often meaningless. I was bound by the law and told I would have to obey it to punish the guilty.
I watched the guilty escape more often than not. They laughed, they were bold. They were fearless. I had enough of that. Fate changed that for me. Now I am Hyde. And the guilty no longer get to pretend they are fearless. They fear me. And it is good.
I run, tireless, through the night. I can see them fleeing from the scene of their crime. A brutal thing; rape and murder of young coeds whose only crime was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I found their prey dying in an alley, too far gone to save. I could smell their attackers all over them. I could see their scent in the air. They were high, a variety of toxins. That does not matter. Nothing can excuse them and nothing will save them.
I can feel my body changing, muscles growing, changing, growing faster. Bones hardening, leaping further and faster. I can see the fender of their car growing closer, I can see their excitement, they are smoking and drinking. They do not see me yet. My footprints tear into the hot tar of the night, my weight nearly three times that of a normal man, my muscle density nearly five times that. My skin is like iron, hard, hot, with a strange chemical stink, like oxidizing metal.
I leap, this time with the intent to stop their car. I land on the hood, from my high arc and drive their engine block into the ground. Their car folds up around me and the two in the front seat, shoot pass me through the windshield, showering me in shards of glass and steaming metal. I consider stopping them. I could have. I don’t.
The three in the back seat slam against the front seats. The one riding in the center flies into the front seat and his head lands outside the windshield region. He lies there in shock. I can smell his fear. I can smell the guns in the back seat being drawn, the fumbling, the shock, the terror. I can see it, I can see the faces of the young women these monsters killed. I can feel their terror, smell it on their clothing. I can taste the tang of the blood of the women, still on their clothing.
I hear their guns being cocked. I stride forward, ripping the car in half, the tearing sound of metal drowns out the screams of the monster whose head is slashed apart by the car being shred beneath him.
The two in the back seat mean to shoot their weapons. Their intent was initially clear, but as I tear through the car, they hesitate. Their hesitation is based partially in their belief of the futility of their action. The other is pure fear. They are unable to push their way through the fear which they are usually used to delivering not having.
In another two seconds, it no longer matters. I grab the muzzles of their guns and crush them around their hands. Bones crumble like tissue and their screams rub my nerves wrong, worse than nails on a chalkboard. I want them to stop. Stop screaming, stop, stop, stop.
They stop as I pound them into raw hunks of meat, bloody meat flying everywhere.
The third rider in the backseat was howling and clutching his wounds and bleeding profusely from his face as he sat outside the broken hull of the car. Once he saw me pound his friends into hamburger, he stopped screaming and whimpered quietly as I kick the door off the vehicle and exit. I walk past him toward the two leaders who were flung free. I pick up one. His head lolled to one side at an odd angle.
Dead. Broken neck.
The other, larger, stronger landed, rolled and had a terrible road rash. He got up. One of his hands was a bloody mess. It had been underneath him. The entire hand was gone, scrapped away as he slid. He reached for his firearm, but it was more than he could manage as I dropped his friend and walked toward him.
He said something, but I don’t listen to dead men.
There was nothing he could tell me. I could see the lingering scent of all of the women on him. His hands reeked of violence, the smell of their blood, the oils of their flesh, their fluids were all over him. He lingered, he took his time.
I grabbed him, smacking his gun away. He swung weakly, striking me, but in my current rage, there was nothing he could do to me. I pick him up, raising him over my head and slam him into the ground. I hear his ribs snap. I put my hands on his back and press down. I then drag him across the ground, pressing him harder until a red streak begins to flow behind him. He screams and screams until his lungs were a smear on the ground.
The last one sat in horror. Wiping the blood from his one swollen eye that still worked, he looked at me but realized I had no pity in me. He defiantly raised his chin to me.
I laughed and slapped him in the face, like the young woman he had planned to rape but lost his nerve. His nose was broken, like hers, his facebones shattered, like hers. His eye destroyed, like hers.
I bend over him, whispering. “Tell them. Tell them, these are my streets now. Tell them Hyde is coming.”
* * *
I hate Hub City. I grew up here and I remember it being a better city then. But that is because I didn’t know what I know now. My father was Vince Carlucci. I didn’t know what he did for a living but we lived well and I never wanted for anything. I found out when I was a teenager, my father was a member of a criminal organization. But he always told me I could be anything I wanted and I wanted more than anything to be a cop. He laughed. Told me I would grow out of it.
My phone rings. It’s about eight. “Carlucci.”
“We need you downtown. It’s him.”
“Are you sure?”
“Forensics is gathering evidence, but it is pretty much a done deal. There was a witness.”
“I will be right there. Give me the address.”
I get out of bed. My loft is lit by the morning sun and I shield my eyes. The skylight is open and I tap it closed on the way to the bathroom. My bathroom has no mirrors. I turn on the shower and step into the scalding stream. My bathtub runs red. I don’t look at it. I wash up cleaning up and emptying my mind of all thoughts.
I never outgrew my urge to become a cop. I think it was the uniform. I graduated the Police Academy at twenty. My father and I stopped speaking moments after my graduation. He, of course, came to it. He had a reputation as an honest businessman to maintain. He was gracious that way. I found out later he and the Police Chief were friendly. They talked more than we did after that.
I did my job, and he did his. Our paths rarely crossed, and to be honest, I preferred it that way. Until I made Detective, I never had anything to do with my father’s business or his work. I now knew what he was. Scum. He and his friends moved drugs into Hub City and had a finger in every kind of vice the city had to offer. In the twelve years I was a cop, I watched the jewel of the Midwest, a burgeoning technology center slowly drown in illegal deals, both private and corporate, rotting the city from the inside out.
From the outside, Hub City was still clean and beautiful, a city with millions of people living lives varying from wealth and opulence if you lived on the Northside, to squalor and filth if you lived on the Westside. It was very nice squalor and filth, relatively speaking, in comparison to some of the older cities like New York or Chicago, but it did not take away from the overall hidden menace our beloved Hub City held to its breast. We believed in our city. We believed it could be better. We were wrong.
I drove through the city, on autopilot, and found myself knowing, without knowing where I was headed. When I got there I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. A car, literally ripped in half. Bodies torn to shreds, pulped like hamburger. And one of them, I recognized. The son of a rival crime family. Dodonavich. The only part of him left intact was his head. The rest had been dragged across forty feet of concrete.
“Nasty bit of work here.” Peters was eating a donut. He had a flair for understatement. I could never understand how he could eat at crime scenes.
“Is that Dodonavich?” Peter pointed with his donut.
“Yes. This cannot get out. You know his father will go ballistic. Blood will run in the streets.”
“What about the witness? We can’t keep him. We might be able to work up a minor drug charge but nothing that will hold him more than a week.” He was reaching but I knew we needed some time. If this got out, it could escalate.
“We have all the photo work done. We have all the samples. Do you need anything else, Peters? Sean White was the forensic head, and while he was talking to Peters, he was looking at me. Peters looked at me.
“Give me ten minutes, and then you can cart all this stuff down to the station for a further workup.”
“Carlucci.” The one voice I didn’t want to hear and the one person who knew how to push all of my buttons. My former boss.
“Do I still pay you?” The same introductory joke when I haven’t seen him for a couple of weeks.
“Yes, and less every time you make that joke. Sir.”
After I became a Detective, we opened a Special Crimes Division. Crime in Hub City had grown darker, scarier, more dangerous. We assumed it was just a tone, something that had rippled from the older cities and had made its way to the Hub. We started seeing experimental drugs, strange technology we couldn’t easily identify, weapons we had never seen before. Our task force was created to investigate, understand and handle these kinds of crimes. We were good, my partners and I, there were eight of us, at first. At the end of two years, there were fourteen. In two more, there were twenty. Special Crimes was nearly one third of the budget of the Sixteenth Precinct.
“I haven’t had a chance to talk to the witness, but from reading the statement, he said it was done by a man. And this is the third incident in as many months, but the first with a witness. He said the man called himself Hyde.”
“Hide?” What kind of name is that? What is he doing ‘hiding’ from the police? Not the brightest light, I think he became Captain because of his connections.
“No, Captain. I think he means Hyde as in ‘Jekyll and Hyde.’
“So our perps were killed by a bedtime story?”
“I can’t say, but I will poke around and I am sure we will be able to get something from the scene. We haven’t been able to lift a print but its only a matter of time.”
“Well, keep me informed. Peters, you have the duty. Carry on.” The duty meant being my police liaison and watcher while I conducted my investigation.
I lost my badge in my fourteenth year. Excessive force. That was the story. It wasn’t true. By that time, I was the second in command of Special Crimes. But they could not bury this story. It had been made public by no less than my father and his goons. I was let go. They did what they could for me, so I was able to not be completely disgraced. I did that to myself. I had to push the issue and investigated the people who framed me. Instead of vindicating myself, I was played and nearly implicated in a murder. My rep was nearly done. From super crime buster to nearly lunatic, Hub City’s finest avoided me like the plague.
So I became a private detective. Hub City had lots of crimes and I was the best detective money could buy. I had a knack for Special Crimes and eventually I got a call from Hub City’s finest. Its been three years, since I left the force. My own investigations outside of the Hub City Police taught me things were even worse than I knew. When I recovered, I was being hired by the Sixteenth as a paid consultant. Same work, slightly worse pay. My paychecks just come signed differently now. I work for the same people, in the same department, making the same calls. Except I work in my own office and drink my own coffee. Much better that that swill at the station house.
It’s better this way.
So those mornings I come in late, no one questions, much. They ignore the rumpled suits and the dark sunglasses. They assume I am just having a good time and forget how to come home at night. If I don’t answer my phone, they figure I must be getting some, because strangely enough, I am more popular with women now than ever. I don’t understand it. Half the times, I can’t even remember their names.
I circle through the wreckage, amazed at the catastrophic level of damage. They need a forklift to dig the engine out of the ground. The car looks as if it were torn apart by a bulldozer, shards of sharp metal are everywhere. As I stand over Dodanovich’s body, I am struck by a memory.
“Wait, man, you don’t want to do this. I got money, I will pay you whatever you want.”
I have had enough. “Peters, let’s get to the hospital and talk to this guy. There is nothing left to learn here except for why this happened.
Man, is this about the hookers? They were just hookers, man.
“Peters, were there any other bodies?”
“No, everyone in the car was accounted for, two shot out the car when he stopped it. The survivor said he didn’t draw down on him so maybe that is why he was alive. The others tried to shoot him and he went wild.”
“The question is why?”
“See if you can pull some traffic feeds and see if you can figure out where this car was coming from.”
“We got a call off one of the phones so we know about what time it got here.”
“Its a start. I’ll meet you at the hospital.”
I miss the honesty. I miss being able to tell them what I really do at the end of the day. I miss being able to tell them how much I want to keep fighting the good fight with them. I do my part during the day, investigate those things I can help them with, and then when we go home, I wait. If He saw something, He comes. I can’t stop him and I don’t even try anymore. I tried once, when it first happened. I don’t remember what he did, but when I came to, I was sleeping on the side of a lake about eighty miles outside of town next to the remnants of a deer. I did not drive there. More than half of the animal was consumed, bones and all. I had never seen anything like it. But I remember the feeling and I never tried it again. He talked to me, a sympathetic vibration, I could feel in my inner ear.
He said, Stop me again, and I will eat one of your friends, just like I ate this deer. Without any relish or pickles. You cannot enforce justice in your city. There isn’t enough fear. Stay out of my way.
I called him Hyde. He liked it. We are going to come to blows. Its only a matter of time.
Hyde © Thaddeus Howze 2011. All Rights Reserved [@ebonstorm]
HYDE – Measure of a Man (3)