This was the last in a long line of Fanfics I have posted at www.shadowsanctum.net
It was one of the better ones.
My name is Jonny Algot Rider and my hopeless twin, Mick 'da wrench' Rider has finally gotten us in over our heads. What my beloved enthusiastic barely older brother had gotten us into, I do not know. Nor do those leveled gats, Thompson and single massive automatic exactly make this conversational appropriate.
I just assumed that we were in it deep, deep as one could be in a field full of cow pies. Mick wanted to leave the homestead soon as he could run and me, I'd followed as I always did. Often as not fishing his sorry tail out of those same cow pies that we were trying to avoid. At sixteen, we struck out from the open, wild prairies of home only to end up in a different kind of wilds: The city that never seems to sleep, the concrete jungle of New York City.
Fortune favored us, two dunder-head farm boys from the west. We found a place, an old garage with a grandfatherly landlord whom took pity on us. He took us in and gave us a chance to thrive, thus Rider Express was born. And in his death, he left us everything. That was a week ago and now we find ourselves facing gun-wielding maniacs. It would seem the old man was a serious thorn in the local mobs side.
"Here's the deal," the thug with one of the two revolvers shifted his aim. "You!" He waves his weapon towards me, "We're going for a ride."
"We?" I inquire my graze shifting warily towards the one with the Thompson.
"Yea," he snarls in reply, "we…" I heard Mick swallow, nervously and I knew we were seriously up a crick.
"Ok," was my only answer.
Me, and at least one other pile into the sleek Ford Cord. Runner as I called her, certainly wouldn't win any beauty contest, but man could she run. My hand barely twitched towards the ignition when I felt the cold iron of the unmistakable automatic barrel against the nape of my neck. At least it wasn't the Thompson, I shuddered at that thought.
"You'll drive," states an impassive voice, "and you will listen to what the boss has to say…" He pauses pressing the massive gun a little deeper. "Try anything," there was a slight hiss to his tone, "And you will not be the only one whom will suffer…" One glance in the review mirror and I understood the veiled threat all too well. Mick was shaking like an autumn leaf in cold remorseless winds, cowering beneath that accursed Thompson and sole revolver. I finally felt Runner settle with the full of weight of three men, then.
"Drive!" It was an order, which I obey turning the cord over, then slipping Runner out onto the rain slick streets and dark night.
The pressure of the automatic lessened, allowing me to shift gears and drive, but it was still there not allowing my thoughts to wonder. The first few moment that silence, that stillness held the cord's interior in its' unrelenting grasp, then he spoke.
Jonny Algot Rider. To my surprise it was the one whom currently held me at gun point. Except his voice had taken on an authoritative quality, yet that sibilant whisper, that haunting eerie tone I recognized immediately. I doubt there was not an American who could not identify that voice and tone. It belonged to one man and one man, alone.
And he held me at gun point. Suddenly I was more afraid than the time Mick had double dog dared me to go into the Witch's Woods back home. I was a good man, and so was Mick, then…
Why? Came The Shadow's tone as he had divined my thoughts, and at this exact moment, he probably had. I nodded, unconsciously keeping to the darker streets and avenues.
Guther, he pronounced the name with a thick Germanic accent, was an ally, a very old friend. He pause and for a second, I'd believe even something as mythical and legendary as The Shadow could feel remorse. His death was inexcusable. Such hatred, such anger causing me to grip Runner's wheel with white-knuckles.
Left. I took the curb without question, not because of the gun--but who held it.
Turns out his death had been designed. The Shadow continues once the whimpering from the other passenger subsided, by our good friend, Benny here.
Benny the Fink. Guther told where and how to avoid him, but never why. Suddenly I knew why I was driving and was glad. Nothing good could be said about Benny. Thief. Pan handler. Crook… and now. Murder. What astounded me was that fact he knew; The Shadow knew and he acted upon such acknowledge.
Right. Again I took the direction and found the coldness of those infamous .45 was no longer against my skin.
Benny. Again there was the pitiless whine, had been led to believe that your benefactor, Guther, knew my lair. There was a pause, and perhaps my true identity…
"Did he?" I immediately clamped my trap shut cursing my own curiosity. Momma did always say it would be the death of me. Yet, all I got from the darken backseat was a laugh. Mocking, cold as any wintery wind I'd ever known. Even though, I was not his prey--I could not help but to shiver.
It was a ploy, Jonny, The Shadow stated coldly as the echoes of his blood curdling laugh fades, One that worked, far too well… Again there was no regret and somehow I knew Guther would not want us to regret.
Right. Another command, obeying brought us to first lit thoroughfare, yet somehow he'd managed to stay enshrouded in the gloom of Runner's rear.
Speak. He broke the stillness that once more had ensnared the cord's interior and I could not help, but comply.
"I don't." I hesitated, my own deep woody tone sounds rough and uncertain. I took a breath like I use to right before I took that terrifying first leap into our favorite watering hole then said.
"I do not see, Sir." I took a hand from Runner's steering wheel and waved about her conformable interior. "What any of this has to do with us?"
Guther, he broke the quietness that loomed for breath, Spoke highly of you… The Shadow paused, then corrected himself, Of both of you. There was a sigh, accompanied by a whimper.
I did and to my amazement we were right in front of the local precinct.
As to you, Benny! The tone alone would've sent me running, instead I held on to Runner's wheel for all I was worth. I give you a choice. To this the door on Benny's side opens of its' own accord.
The Law. In a petrified awe I watched the gathered shadows, the very darkness itself points toward the building. Or, The Shadow stressed the next word as if to drive it home.
ME! Benny the Fink fled like a frighten hare before the hungry fox and I could not blame him. The door slammed shut jump starting my heart then came another command.
Drive. I did without contest of any kind. Stillness managed to range once more within Runner broken only by The Shadow shifting to occupy the entire seat.
"My brother," I said not daring to look into the review mirror, "what of him?" Again he laughed as I heard something, I never heard before. A click, then a drawer being drawn out.
One life for two. The Shadow states calmly, bits of light catch him as he drew that enshrouding cloak about his shoulder, then dawning that wide-brim slouch hat.
"Meaning?" I ask trying to sort through all those un-cooperating thoughts, failing miserably.
That you, Jonny Algot Rider, there came an odd chuckle from him, for the first time in your life you hold not only yours… He paused, then stressed, but your brother's life in your hands. The Shadow left it at that allowing me to actually think. I considered much. What had just happened, what could possibly happen--then I thought about Mick and finally about me.
"Whatever, it is. Sir," I did not lament as I said, for the first time I had no reason to, "you have it."
Obedience. The tone causes me to straighten my shoulders.
"You have it, Sir." I said without a thought.
Then, I finally heard that hidden drawer close, you and your twin brother shall have a life. The Shadow paused, only to proclaim, One with honor, but certainly not without strife. I shrugged stating
"What's the point in living without a little pain?" Suddenly I got an impression, don't ask me how, that The Shadow may've actually smiled at that statement.
Indeed. At this he shifted into view, emerging from the gloom which concealed him like living shield and I got my first good look at The Shadow, himself. What the light hadn't caught reflected in my review mirror was the crimson scarf, the harsh angles of the face, nor their sternness. But, these were nothing when compared to his eyes were drowning pools of azure fire. Cold. Calculating. Deadly. Only a glimmer of blood broke their soul searing hold.
Not blood. A gem glinting, sparkling from a simple silver band upon his left ring finger. What it was, it to disappeared into night's realm as we pass back into the dimness of poorly lit roads.
Jonny. I nearly jumped at my name.
Rider Express. To this I could not help, but to smile giving Runner all she was worth. The cord did not disappoint, she never did, but this night--she even surprised me.
Stay. Was the command and I wasn't one about to argue. I fancy I saw his silhouette creep towards the garage, but I couldn't be certain. Seconds became minutes and minutes hours. My only companion was Runner's thrumming engine. I jumped when the front passenger's door open and in slide Mick. I nearly let out a whoop of joy and relief, then I notice for the first time since I knew my bother. He was silent and still. I nearly voiced my inquires when the back door open and in slide The Shadow. Both doors slammed shut as somewhere in the distance of the night, a bell began to toll the hour.
I could help the irony of smile, one that crossed my lips as I took all of us for The Midnight Ride.