Before I left New York, there were rumors. There are always rumors, of course, in the Big City—alligators in the sewers and whatnot, but these were specific and they were consistent. A superhero, they called it. Not just some nutjob vigilante, but someone with actual powers. There are levels to believing a rumor. “it’s not powers,” my boyfriend, the “real” journalist, said. “If it’s happening at all, it’s a guy in a suit with elaborate gadgetry. If I were you—or if I believed it at all, which I don’t—I’d start looking into really rich orphans.”
But there was no mistaking it. “I’m talling you, mom,” said one thug in police questioning, “I could feel motherfucker’s hand on my threat even though he’s at the end of the motherfuckin’ alley. Motherfucker picked me up four feet off the motherfucking ground, threw me into the mutherfucking wall. I’m telling you, that motherfucker is real!”
So how should we account for this oedipal demigod?
He stood accused of Telekinesis, but of something else, too.
Before he came, there were whispers. Every windless (though admittedly some of them only when pressed) remarked that just before the “creature” appeared, they heard whispers that seemed to be coming from inside their own skull. “Who’s there?” they might say, or “The fuck is happening to me?” and in the case of violent crimes, usually this distracted them enough for their (intended) victims to get away.
Then NightShade would get to work.
That’s what they called him. He’d sweep in “like a shadow in the night”—all anyone ever saw was his silhouette against slightly-lighter backdrops. It was fitting because he did act like a poison for the people he attacked.
The problem was, not all of his victims were guilty.
I guess that’s really the issue with every vigilante, whether or not they have “superpowers”—there’s supposed to be due process, protections for the innocent, but this NightShade isn’t subject to any of that.
It wasn’t long before the NYPD came up with a task force to track down this vigilante, but of course that didn’t work—it couldn’t possibly. NightShade has superpowers, for crying out loud, and apparently knows very well how to use them. None of the cops were ever able to even get close to him. How can you exert authority over something you can’t destroy? Or even hurt? And so the reign of terror continues. Last week, apparently, a young father was flung around an alleyway and strung up by his ankles to dangle from a fire escape, apparently just for yelling at his kid for misbehaving. Even if that was a crime, what kind of punishment is that? I managed to pull some strings and get hold of the transcripts of the report. The young father was one of the few who said he could actually make out some of the whispers he heard beforehand. Words like “trafficking”, “kidnapping”, and finally words like “molest”. I’m not going to mention the guy’s name, out of privacy and such (though it’s remarkable how few news outlets are respecting that) now that he’s essentially been accused of child abduction.
Here’s what really bothers me, though—well, two things: first of all, of course, if he’s such a nutjob, how are we ever going to catch him or even negotiate with him? But perhaps more importantly, at least the one that really strikes me: these whispers. I mean, he’s obviously telepathic… how is he getting things wrong? How is he making any mistakes? I mean, clearly he’s out to clean up the streets… is it possible he knows something we don’t about these people who are supposedly innocent?
I’m not saying we should trust NightShade blindly and crown him king or anything weird like that—at the very least his methods are cruel and unusual.
But what if he’s right?
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