What is there to redeem when you kill for a good cause?
Nick is a boxer with a taste for blood. He prowls the streets of Hillside City every other night to kill criminals, abusive parents, and such. On one night, he comes across the Doll Factory, a secret organization that sells people as sex dolls. Doubts about his vigilantism come in and he has to decide whether or not if he should keep killing or help people in a more peaceful way. Will Nick kill more or let more people be used as objects rather than people? One more massacre? Or a dozen more victims?
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“The whole question here is: am I a monster, or a victim myself?”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment
Prologue – The Beginnings of a Killer
Many people choose what they want to be when they grow up though some are not as fortunate. Nick is one of those people. He wanted to be a boxer like his father and mother, but they didn’t allow it. They wanted to be the only ones in the family who held the fame. Like most children, Nick didn’t listen to his parents and practiced boxing behind their backs. He watched videos of them boxing and made his own style from theirs. When he got older, he contacted their trainer and told him to train him and why his parents didn’t want him to be one. The trainer sympathized with Nick and trained him behind his parents’ back. To truly test Nick’s skills, his trainer got Nick into several underground boxing tournaments. Nick ended up winning all of them, which lead to his trainer turning him into an official boxer.
His parents were left in the dark by everyone about Nick’s first real match, but they heard about it when social media started blowing up about their son beating a professional boxer without getting hit. After the match, they confronted Nick and started beating on him in public. The rage he’d held onto in his past finally exploded as he fought back against his parents. Since he’s studied their moves for years, he knew how to counter their attacks and fought against them effectively. Things went wrong once Nick had them against a wall with jagged metal sticking out. He punched them against the wall and the back of their heads hit the wall so hard that the impact kills them. Once his rage subsided, he saw what he’d done but he barely felt any regret. His trainer span this as an abused child finally being getting revenge on his parents for everything they’ve done. The trainer’s exposing of Nick’s parents saved Nick from being arrested and shamed his parent’s legacy as honorable fighters.
Now finally freed from his parent’s influence, he boxed without worry and forgot about their deaths a few weeks after it happened. His popularity rose, and his story became one told to inspire people. Eventually, he met Allison, a fan of his who he gave his number to. The two spent some time with each other and got married. They settled in their hometown of Hillside City and traveled together as Nick fought to win not only for himself now but for his treasured wife.
After fighting for three years, he got tired of doing it since it didn’t have the same excitement that killing his parents had. On one Halloween night, he created a mask for himself and went out into the streets of Hillside City. He searched for someone to fight in a city known for its crime and crazy people. Finally, he found a couple of people who were stealing from a stranger. He defended this stranger and beat the two thieves to death. The stranger thanked Nick before quickly walking away as Nick scared him. The thrill came back to him and Nick found his true passion. From then on, Nick went out every other night to find another criminal to beat to death. He particularly liked to kill child abusers. The excuse he told Allison was that he went out every other night to practice with a few of his boxing friends, which she bought since she trusted him so much.
Allison is the person Nick values most in the world. Everything he does is to help her. He’s now a killer vigilante in Hillside City so that he can create a better city for her to live in. They’re now staying in Hillside City after Nick’s recent victory in another boxing tournament. Soon, Nick’s killings will resume, something that he eagerly awaits.
Chapter 1 – A Killer’s Night
Tainted blood is going to be spilled tonight as Nick takes his mask, hides it in his jacket, and walks into the worst parts of Hillside City. His habits of going out every other night have gotten him used to what sounds like trouble and what doesn’t. Sometimes he runs to find two people messing with each other or forcefully enters a house to find a couple roleplaying. Now he can better determine what is and isn’t trouble, or at least he can most of the time. Besides looking for people who could be in trouble, he also keeps a list of criminals living in the city. Since Hillside City and its police force have a low tolerance for criminals, it doesn’t matter to them if these people are taken in alive or if their corpse is sent to them. Of course, Nick doesn’t need the money from the bounties on their heads, so he just lets the nearest person call it in with the promise they’ll receive a reward and the same treatment if they should become that criminal.
He’s gained a reputation for himself as a vigilante. The name that’s been given to him is The Fist of Punishment. Even though Nick could think of other names, he sticks with it as the name does have a ring to it. There have been other vigilantes who have popped up here and there inspired by his actions. Even some cops celebrate his name as Nick does what some of them want to do.
While walking the streets, he sees a drug deal taking place in a dark alley. The dealer and buyer catch sight of Nick looking at him and retreat further into the alley with their hands in their pockets to hide what they have. Nick puts on his mask and enters the alley. The two get back to their deal, but once they look back outside of the alley they see Nick fast approaching. One tries pulling out his gun, but Nick gets to him and knocks it out of his hand. He then punches the dealer in the throat then takes the seller by the head and beats his head against the wall. After that, he finishes off the seller by breaking his already broken throat. Nick then leaves the bodies in the alleyway to rot as he does with most.
Nick could get away with taking the money off the criminals he kills since he wears gloves to avoid getting his fingerprints on things, but he doesn’t unless he wants to get something extra for Allison or himself. The criminal industry is rich and a good place to find rich people in though there aren’t many rich criminals in Hillside City. Most are either middle class or poor and Nick detests taking from the poor. He doesn’t mind, however, taking away evil people from their families. He thinks to himself that he’s doing them a favor because if they really cared for their families, they wouldn’t be committing evil deeds.
Some of the older abandoned buildings are used by criminals and is usually a good place for Nick to find new prey despite him clearing them out every now then. He goes to a nearby abandoned food corner store and enters in through the alleyway door, which is already open. Nature has taken over some of the building and slowly is destroying it as vines and foliage are on the walls and in the floors. Nick watches his step while being sneaky. He can hear two people talking about combining forces to better their business within the city. From a hole in the wall, Nick can see four people with pistols and a lone guard with an automatic shotgun near the only door in. Nick finds a pebble on the ground and throws it through the hole, which makes everyone look to see where it lands.
“This place is falling apart. We shouldn’t keep meeting here,” one of them says.
“Our family used to own this place. I’d thought you’d be more sentimental.”
“I’m more sentimental about my life.”
“Don’t worry about that, nature is holding up this building for us.”
Nick manages to get to the guard and snap his neck then take his shotgun. Just because he’s proficient in using his fists doesn’t mean he isn’t good with firearms. The criminals were about to take out their pistols, but the sight of Nick’s makes them hesitate since they remember the rumors about The Fist of Punishment. This hesitation gives Nick the opportunity to blast the criminals away or at least most of their body parts. Two are dead while one is clutching the place where his left leg used to be. Nick finishes the injured man off with the last shotgun shell. The fourth one that managed to take cover is shaking from a paralyzing fear. He begs for mercy, which Nick has none of. Nick punches the man in the face then impales the man’s face on broken glass. Knowing that the police should be here soon, Nick quickly leaves the scene by going through the back alley.
While going through the alleyway, his eyes catch a fresh bloody handprint on one of the backdoors of a house. He quietly goes into the house and checks upstairs to find a single sleeping guard. He’s wearing a weird masquerade mask that appears to be horror themed with weird makeup and blood red marks on it. He has a silenced assault rifle by his side leaning on the chair. The guard appears to have been guarding this house by a sniper’s window but fell asleep. Nick easily snaps his neck and takes the man’s assault rifle just in case there are more people in here with the same weaponry. He also finds a key on the man, which he uses on the nearby bedroom doors. In them, are several other people like the guard with different masquerade masks like his. Nick finds their weapons next to them and one of them has a knife, which makes his work easier. With the guards upstairs dead, he goes downstairs to the basement. The door is locked, so he uses the key he found on the guard.
Down in the basement, he has to unlock another door to see the horrors it contains. Each of the basement rooms contains a single naked man, woman, or child who is strapped to a bed and appear to be sex slaves. Some of the slaves have one or two of their limbs cut off while some even have their eyes sewn shut or pluck out entirely. The place smelled strange when Nick entered and now he knows why. There’s a map in the basement with certain houses circled including this one. He unlocks the cell doors then uses one of the guard’s phones to call the police and notifies them of what he found before leaving the house with only the map in hand.
Not too far from the house, Nick comes across two hooded people who are wearing purple butterfly masks.
The man says, “Out on the town again on this beautiful night? It’s a wonder that we keep seeing each other.”
“Have you reconsidered our offer yet?” the woman says.
“I haven’t. I’m not going to be part of your little group so you can tell Maria to stop asking if she wants me to keep being friendly.”
“Hey, you don’t need to be like that,” the man says, “So, meet any interesting people tonight?”
“There’s some sort of sex slavery organization here in the city. I just cleared out one of their houses and freed their victims.”
“We heard rumors of them being in the city. Thanks for confirming them. They’re an international sex slavery organization called The Doll Factory. They do business with all sorts of nasty groups. I heard on the news that they even caught an army sergeant and made her into a baby maker.”
“Don’t worry about her since she eventually broke free and got her revenge. You should worry about their current and potential victims. Join us and we’ll help you get rid of them from this city.”
“You can do your own thing, but I will let you copy of this map I found in their hideout.”
“Let’s see it.”
The two put the locations of the Doll Factory’s hideout into their GPS on their phones.
“Your help will not be forgotten. We could still use your help though.”
“I’ll help by taking out locations that you aren’t.”
“What are you two even doing around here anyway?”
The woman answers, “We’re going to visit a man who’s a lot like you. He’s a married serial killer who needs a punishment worse than death.”
“Kill his wife. That’ll do the trick. A woman married to a serial killer can’t be that innocent.”
“We were thinking the same thing. Before we go, we have to call you by a certain name. You can’t just keep leaving us before you give us your name?”
“You want my name? As in my real name?”
“Or some sort of code name.”
“Call me Amon.”
“Call us Sirene and Caim.”
“Heh, you like that series too?”
“Nevermind. I need to get back home.”
“See you again, hopefully.”
Nick walks away from the two and back home to Allison. He sleeps with the aching feeling that he shouldn’t wait a day before going out again to kill especially with the Doll Factory in the city. He hopes that his time with Allison tomorrow will change his mind.
Chapter 2 – Keeping your Demons
It’s three at night. Nick has arrived home after being out for four hours. Sometimes he stays out longer or comes home even earlier because the police send out more officers if the criminal activity becomes high, which usually happens on full moons. He lays down on his bed with his sleeping wife. He thinks about what happened as he tries to fall asleep. His wife holds him while she’s sleeping as if part of her can feel his anxiety. Her touch puts him at peace. As he smiles and touches her face, she smiles as well before her head slowly cracks open in two. Nick quickly forces it together before going to the nearby bathroom to see that his head is completely spilt in two. His mirror image smiles at him and starts pulling out insects from his head.
The mirror version of himself says, “We have to clean out our head more often, don’t we?”
Nick then reaches into the mirror and puts the mirrored version of his head back together then goes back to sleep. As soon as he hits the bed, he wakes up holding Allison and Allison holding him. She wakes up and smiles at him, which makes him smile in return.
“Good morning sunshine,” she says before kissing him then getting up, “Are you ready for today?”
The couple goes downstairs, and Allison begins making breakfast while Nick sets the table.
“Did you have fun last night?”
“I did. How was work?”
“It was “great” as always.”
“You could take up boxing like I do. We could go into mixed leagues together or maybe even do professional wrestling. I taught you how to defend yourself already.”
“You want us to be like your parents?”
“We aren’t going to let the fame get to our heads like them.”
“We don’t even have any kids yet and I expected them after we got married.”
“I just want to be set in life before we have our child, so we don’t need to worry about money.”
“We already don’t have to.”
“Ok, how about we do this next week when we go to Italy?”
“You better butter me up today, so that’ll sound like a good idea.”
“Do you mean literally or…”
“I will mean literally if you keep it up, mister.”
Allison makes French toast today and the two eat while watching the news. Nick likes watching it to see people recognize his work and if there are certain criminals he should look out for.
“So, if work was “great” as always, does that mean that the doctors are still being hard on you?”
“Of course, and how can you blame them? Hillside City is a hot place that always has people coming into the hospital. I have to make sure everything is correct and prepared for them so that they can treat their patients properly. I don’t mind it when they get agitated at me because I understand how they feel.”
“I mind it. They should understand your situation as well.”
“They only know me as Nick the Young Boxing Legend’s wife. They think I live an easy life and shouldn’t even have my job.”
“I don’t think you should either. You can probably do more good by getting your name out there and supporting charities like I do. It’s better than being a doctor’s assistant or nurse or whatever you call it.”
“Well I’m doing what I want, and I’ve helped dozens of people by doing it.”
“I’m not trying to say you’re not.”
“Then that’ll be the end of that discussion.”
The news talks about the Doll Factory hideout Nick went to and describes what they found.
“That’s absolutely horrible,” Allison comments.
“If only we could do something about it.”
“Maybe you can talk about it on your social media accounts or during your next interviews?”
“I will,” Nick says as he spreads the news about the Doll Factory, “I just wish I could do more.”
“Like what? Challenge them to a boxing match and beat their face in?”
“As much as that idea sounds appealing, you can’t always beat down evil in the face. Violence isn’t the best answer to anything in my opinion.”
What Allison says catches Nick by surprise.
He says, “Oh, but what about the vigilantes in the city like the Fist of Justice. He has a stupid name sure, but he seems to be doing a lot of good.”
“Not really. All he does is go around town and kill people. We’ll probably end up saving more lives than him even if we don’t get rid of criminals like him.”
Now Nick is completely caught off guard. He never got Allison’s opinion on his vigilantism until now because no one like the Doll Factory came into town until now.
“Are you okay babe?” Allison says to Nick who’s shocked.
“You’re better than that loser who’s trying to act like a hero.”
“Anyways, should we go out now?”
Nick isn’t sure what to think anymore. The person he listens to most just made him doubtful of what he likes doing the most besides being with her. He puts the thought aside so he can enjoy his day with his treasure. They go out together to the suburban part of Hillside City, which is called Hillfall Town. Allison always liked nature more than the city. There’s a clearing in a nearby forest that they like going to and where people usually go for picnics or big events. They set up a little picnic and just enjoy the nice weather. Their lives are filled with noise and they’ve already said what they’ve wanted to this morning, so it’s refreshing for them to tell each other how much they love each other in a soundless way. Allison lays down in Nick’s arms as they sit in the shade. A slight breeze makes the weather feel perfect while the chirping of birds gives the forest a nice background noise. They sit this way a little more than an hour, which results in them falling asleep.
Another hour passes and a noise in the forest wakes up Nick while Allison still sleeps. He looks around and the noise continues as it sounds like a person walking. He slowly puts down Allison on the blanket then gets up to search the area. The noise stops and starts almost randomly. No matter what direction Nick seems to go in, he can’t seem to find the source of the noise. Nick’s own shadow begins to take form. It tries to grab Nick, but he grabs it instead. The shadow takes the form of Nick, but with black scars on his body.
He says, “I was just going to give you a little scare. Nothing serious.”
“I know what you’re thinking. We’ve been through this before.”
“And I’m never going to stop unless you let go. You can’t control the powers of your nightmares for long. It will overcome you eventually.”
“Not if I can’t resist it.”
Nick lets go of the other him’s throat before continuing his search.
He says to it, “The thing in the forest wouldn’t happen to be one of my monsters, is it?”
“No. It’s probably someone who wants to enjoy the forest…or take advantage of people relaxing in it.”
“Which one do you think it is?”
“What do you think?”
The two Nicks combine to form one being made of nightmares. This usually happens to Nick without his knowledge on his killing nights. His face changes to a mask with a split face and a broken red halo on the back of his head. His hair is longer now and his back sprouts black wings. The shirt and pants on his body disappear so that his legs and hands are now made of jagged metal. Black markings hug his shoulders and sides and a red heart is exposed on his chest. Nick’s senses are now enhanced so he can hear and see better. He picks up the source of the sounds and chases after it. He sees a figure in the distance with a mask that’s like the ones that the Doll Factory have. Nick quickly runs to the mysterious individual to kill them before Allison wakes up. The mysterious individual is startled by the sound of Nick coming in their direction and unknowingly runs in the direction where is Allison. Nick quickens his pace until he can clearly see his target who can see him too. Nick appears to be the monster he is in the eyes of the mysterious individual, which only makes them run faster.
Nick eventually gets close enough so that he can tackle his target, but he tackles them in front of Allison, which wakes her up. Nick’s monstrous appearance disappears from the minds of Nick and the mystery person so that he looks normal now. Seeing that they’re in front of Allison, Nick repeatedly beats the person thinking that this was their intention all along. To find another person to kidnap and sell.
Allison separates the two then says, “What are you doing Nick?”
“This guy was sneaking around here in one of those masks that the Doll Factory have! We can’t let him escape!”
Allison turns to the person, “Tell me who you are.”
The mystery person reveals themselves to be a woman in her middle ages. She says, “I just came here to play a little prank on people. I run this web series where I scare people. It’s pretty popular right now, you might’ve heard of it.”
“Yeah, right. I don’t believe that for one second,” Nick dismissively says.
“Stop it, Nick. You can leave here miss. Just be careful next time you do something like this.”
“Thank you, and I’m sorry for intruding,” the woman says before running back into the forest.
There are a few moments of silence before Nick says, “You shouldn’t have let her go. She had one of those masks.”
“Then what would we do? It looks like you were going to kill her.”
“If she actually was one of those Doll Factory members, I probably would’ve. Those people are scum.”
“You shouldn’t think that way, Nick. You aren’t like that!”
Again, Allison criticizes Nick’s hidden killer personality. He doesn’t know what to do besides going out again tonight to get rid of the Doll Factory, so he doesn’t need to worry about them. After putting this situation behind them, they continue enjoying the rest of the day together until they go back home after watching the stars for a few hours.
At night in his sleep, he dreams of himself in a calm place with all of his monsters on a leash. Some of his monsters look like different boxers he’s fought and criminals he’s fought. Two of the monsters are his parents, which the other monsters continuously beat on. Nick is pondering on going out again tonight while his monsters try to break free from his control with more force than they usually do.
His other him sits by his side then says, “You know you want to go out there and paint the town red. What’s stopping you?”
“I don’t know.”
“Is it Allison? She’s usually right when it comes to moral judgments. Maybe you shouldn’t be a vigilante after all.”
“How about this. The Doll Factory will be my last targets. Once they are dealt with and their captives free, the city will be safer, and we can live in relative peace.”
“If you think that is the right option, then go for it. You do know the consequences if you fail, right?”
“I do, but I won’t fail. Not now and not ever. I will never fail Allison.”
“It seems like you already have.”
Nick gets up from his bed, gets his mask, the Doll Factory’s mask, and goes out for one last killing spree. His body is transformed and ready for all of the carnage he is about to relish in.
Chapter 3 – A Massacre Everyone Will Enjoy
Starting with the closest location on the map, Nick begins his crusade against the Doll Factory. The first location is a small warehouse not too far from the city. A location this close to the city would’ve gotten them caught a couple of days after they appeared, but they seem to be settled in. Nick thinks this could mean that the Doll Factory has ties to people in Hillside City, but it won’t matter what connections they have after tonight. As soon as he sneaks in, the building changes and the door behind him disappears.
“Surprised?” the other him says as Nick hides.
“I’m glad you’re here.”
“Don’t think for a second that you summoned me. There is another force at work here that wants to see the slaves set free and you’re being used as their means of liberation.”
“Give them my thanks. So they don’t care if these other people die?”
“They do, but these people are far more gone than you are. They don’t even sense beings like me.”
“It’s a shame.”
“You don’t mean that.”
“Of course I don’t.”
The other him gives Nick some of its power. Nick then uses it to make the guards think they’re hallucinating. Even though their senses are dull to their monsters, their minds are foggy. Nick has the power to easily make them see their own monsters who will destroy them, but he won’t. He’s a hands-on type of man. With his transformed body, he brutally kills every guard. They try to fight back hand to hand, but Nick has them beat in that regard with his skills and enhanced abilities. Some of the guards try using their guns, so Nick uses his new ability to blur the vision of the guards so that they see triples of Nick who act on their own and hurt them all the same. With all of the guards dead, Nick frees the prisoners and heads to the next location. He calls the police to get these people the help they need.
Along the way, he comes across Sirene and Caim who he cannot avoid talking to. They quickly catch up to him since they are excited that he’s out hunting with them.
Caim says, “Amon! You’re out at the right time. We’ve already planned what we’re going to do.”
“Just show me your plan of attack. We’ll work together on this one.”
Caim explains the Purple Butterflies plan of attack and marks the locations the Butterflies are going to hit last.
“We’re only going to work together this one time and that’s it,” Nick says.
“What do you mean ‘and that’s it’?” Caim says.
“My wife is making me reconsider vigilantism. She didn’t figure out that I go out every other night to do this, but we did talk about my vigilante identity. She doesn’t approve of it to say the least.”
“Don’t listen to her,” Sirene says, “She doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Take it from a wife who knows best like you do.”
“Don’t say that. My wife is the most compassionate, and the smartest person I know.”
“Sirene, even if he takes a break, he won’t be able to stay away for too long. Amon craves justice for those who evade it.”
Caim brings up a thought that Nick has when he thinks about quitting vigilantism. He wants to go out and kill criminals and evil men and women. It’s like an unhealthy addiction for him. Allison’s opinion on his addiction is the only thing that’s making him think twice about killing.
“I’ll think about it. We should go now. I don’t want to let these people get away with making people into sex dolls.”
“You got that right. Let’s go Caim,” Sirene says.
“Good luck Nick.”
At the next hideout, Nick makes each of the guards freeze in place. They’re being held by their monsters, but since they can’t see them, all they feel is a cold chill and immobile. This allows Nick to savor each kill. He can beat them down to his enjoyment and tear them apart with the help of their own monsters. Several guards are frozen in ambush and sniper points in the building. They would’ve had the drop on Nick if he didn’t freeze them. It seems that they also know they’re under attack, but a couple don’t seem to care as they are frozen while using their own products. These people receive the worst deaths. Nick’s abilities have also affected the slaves as they see him as an angel of death. An avenger of the innocent and punisher of the guilty. Once they are freed, Nick leaves for the next hideout before the people can thank him. He calls the police to help these people as well.
On the way to the next location, Nick’s monsters begin to fight him. He wrestles control from them though it is more difficult to stay in control than before.
The other him appears and says, “Once this is done, you’ll eventually lose control. You know you will.”
“Then I’ll try to do as much damage as I can until then. I’m don’t think I’ll ever stop killing though.”
“That’s your choice to make, but what will Allison think if she finds out? You might lose her forever.”
“She won’t find out.”
“She won’t? That woman can be sneaky if she suspects something…You’re considering quitting now, aren’t you?”
“After this. Maybe I will.”
“It’ll be easier if you stop sooner than later.”
The other him fades away right before Nick gets to the next location. He’s on an island that used to be an amusement park. He must’ve teleported from the city to the island since he never got on a boat. The invisible forces at work here tend to do paranormal activities such as this to get people where they need to go. There isn’t any cover here so Nick is spotted immediately. He takes cover from the gunfire before unleashes the monsters of the guards. The monsters tear through the guards and give Nick cover to eliminate his fair share of them. After that, he frees the slaves and takes a boat back to the city with them. They thank him profusely, but he just nods in return. He calls the police to pick them up before heading back home.
The Purple Butterflies should be getting the rest of the hideouts and driving the Doll Factory out of the city. This should be the last killing spree of his. Nick slowly takes off his mask that feels like its stuck his face. The mask almost feels alive as it squirms and even screeches as it resists Nick. It releases sharp blades from the edges of the mask so it can stay firmly planted on Nick’s face. Nick stops trying to take it off when he senses someone watching him. It’s Caim and Sirene. They approach him when they know he’s noticed him.
Caim says, “Don’t stop now. It’s okay if we know who you really are.”
“Were you trying to take your mask off? Are you trying to quit?” Sirene asks.
Nick stays silent as the pain in his face subsides.
“You can’t quit,” Sirene adds, “The fact that your mask resists you proves it.”
“You don’t want to quit anyway. Not now.”
“Why not? I already took care of my portion of the Doll Factory.”
“It’s not that. The Doll Factory have been kidnapping people from this city while we were clearing their hideouts. We’ve dispersed people to find them.”
Nick’s heart stops for a second before he asks, “Do you know who they kidnapped?”
“Some random people and some high valued people.”
“Some of these people are our loved ones, so I hope none of yours are on the list.”
“Just tell me!”
Caim lists off the people he knows were kidnapped. Allison comes up as one of them. All feeling in Nick’s body goes away and his heart feels like it stops. Caim and Sirene notice Nick’s shock and try talking to him, but he can’t hear them. He can’t hear anything except the quickening pace of his heart as he runs back home. He loses the two along the way. Back at home, he doesn’t find anything. It looks like they kidnapped Allison while she was still sleeping. The rage within him builds. He tightens his grip on his monsters as he heads out to find her while filled with rage and panic.
Chapter 4 – Righteous Anger
His added panic and anger has changed his alternate appearance. His wings are now four sharped tendrils and the red center of his chest is missing. His skin is white from fear and his eyes red with blood red tears flow from his face. The power within him is overflowing and allows him to teleport to the various hideouts. His powers affect everyone he comes across, which puts their minds in a powerful haze. He massacres any Doll Factory guards he finds while scaring the slaves and any Purple Butterflies that happen to be there.
Nick goes through a few hideouts until his monsters start fighting against him. He can longer teleport, and he has to run to his next location. The city unleashes its monsters from every crack to attack Nick, but his power is greater. He eviscerates the smaller one is one punch and tears through the larger ones who are as big as buses. No matter how many different types of horrifying monsters are thrown at Nick, he tears them all in a bloody mess to get to the only thing he cares about in the world. The energy coming from Nick affects the people around him and they start seeing what he’s seeing in one big mass vision. The monsters don’t attack them, but they do feel the blood Nick spills around the city, even though it does disappear from them once they get far enough away.
Eventually, Nick makes it to the next hideout on the far end of the city. He eliminates the guards without any effort and frees the slaves. In one room, he finds Allison’s dead body. His rage subsides and gives way to sadness. Her throat is cut, her legs and arms are cut off, and her eyes are gone. He sits on her bed and holds her dead, bloody, and dirty body.
“I…I’m so sorry Allison,” he says with tears flowing from his eyes, “I’m sorry I couldn’t be the man you wanted me to be. You were always a better hero than I could ever be.”
In a daze of grief and tears, Nick doesn’t know what to do. He sings old songs they used to dance to together. Nick tells her of the good times they had together. He talks to her corpse as if it’ll bring her back. As if his tears will bring her soul back. After what feels like hours, Nick lifts his head and sees a clipboard with notes on it. He picks it up and reads what they wrote about Allison. They say she was a high-value target here in Hillside City. The Doll Factory was spying on them and the person Nick found in the forest was one of the spies. They planned on kidnapping both of them but were afraid to confront Nick after what he did, but once he left his house, they quickly moved in and settled for just Allison. It turns out that she fought against her captors to a stalemate. Since they had respect for her, they gave her a knife and gave her the choice to either; submit willingly to them or to kill herself to which Allison obviously chose to kill herself. They then chose to mutilate her body, so they can pack it and fix it in a way that they can use it later as another one of their dolls. Some of them actually tried testing her out before they heard they were under attack.
This temporarily replaces the sadness Nick feels with unending rage. His body transforms yet again to its final rage form.
His tendrils are now four fiery arms. The hole in his chest is now on fire along with his eyes, legs, and his soul. His hands are permanently made into fists with charred chains. Again, he gains an inordinate amount of power that allows him to teleport. He goes from criminal hideouts to abusive households to kill and let out his anger. The entire city is affected as his grief and rage infects everyone. Some people start fights and become impatient while others struggle to contain their feelings.
Nick kills over thirty people before reaching the final Doll Factory hideout on the other side of the city. In it, he rips apart everyone he can see besides the slaves who he sets free. The slaves flee in terror as Nick repeated tears apart the bodies of the Doll Factory guards. A young boy then walks out of a hidden room. Nick stops his slaughter as the boy looks among the bodies with tears in his eyes. A pair of bodies, a man and a woman, catch his attention. He runs to them, puts his hands on them, and cries. It appears that the two people he’s crying over are his parents. The boy gets up in a fit of rage and attacks Nick who defends himself.
“Stop it kid!” he says, “Your parents were human trash. You’re better off now than before!”
The boy doesn’t listen, which gets on Nick’s nerves.
Nick punches the body in the chest and makes him fall down in pain.
“Stay down! Don’t make me kill you! I’m telling you you’re going to have a better life without them!”
The boy tries to get up and Nick tries punching him in the chest again but ends up hitting the boy since he gets up. The boy’s neck is now completely broken and dies shortly after. Nick’s heart feels like it has completely stopped for the second time tonight as he has taken the life of an innocent. He yells out in pain and anger directed at himself as his monsters come out of his mouth and his power is taken away.
“Now do you see? You can’t handle this power,” the other him says.
“Ok…Ok. I give up. I give up the power I took. I give up killing.”
“That’s all we wanted to hear.”
His monsters start to fade from his vision.
“What? You aren’t going to haunt me or anything?”
“Your wife’s death will do that for us.”
His monsters then completely fade away and Nick can no longer see them or take their power. He sobs in the dark for a bit before hearing the disembodied voice of his wife in his head.
“Nick, you’re a hero to people. You’re my hero.”
He remembers what she said when he asked her about his charity events and speeches he made to inspire people.
“I love you and I always will,” the memory of her voice rings again.
“Yeah,” Nick says to himself, “That’s what I’ll do.”
Nick destroys his mask and leaves it behind. From the hideout, he walks back to the city. Not only does the pain of losing Allison and his guilt set in, but the pain he’s sustained kicks in as well. He’s been shot, stabbed, and hit multiple times. He tries to keep moving on but he eventually succumbs to the pain and collapses. After a few seconds of laying in his own blood, he opens his eyes to see Allison. An invisible barrier separates the two. Nick is on the side where souls are being purified in a fire while Allison is on the side where everything good is.
Allison places her hand on the barrier and says, “Do you mean it? Are you going to redeem yourself?”
Nick puts his hand where hers is then says, “I-I will. I promise you that.”
“I didn’t seriously ask that. It was rhetorical. I know what you did, but I also know the way you act.”
“Heh, don’t worry. I’ll see you again. Don’t be afraid to make yourself happy and find someone else.”
“I love you, Nick.”
“I love you! Don’t-”
Nick wakes up in a hospital bed and jolts up. He sees all of his cuts, bruises, and injuries patched up though he can still feel the stinging pain of them.
A doctor enters his room and says, “I thought you’d wake up soon. Thank God.”
The doctor is a woman who is a bit older than Nick. She has green eyes and black hair with one or two strands of gray hair. There’s something about her that Nick can’t help but find attractive.
She catches his gaze, blushes then continues saying, “We guess you got caught up in that big city-wide panic. No one can really figure out what caused it though that’s not to say it hasn’t happened before.”
“Did…did you save my life?”
“I am a doctor and it is my job, so…yes, yes I did.”
Nick laughs a bit, but it pains him to.
“What’s your name?”
“Morgan, I’ll make this up to you. I swear.”
“That’s sweet of you to say, but you don’t have to. Besides, aren’t you married?”
“My wife died last night. A friend told me the Doll Factory took her and she killed herself instead of letting herself be subjected to them.”
“That’s horrible! I’m so sorry.”
“You don’t have to be. Let me do something for you instead. I’m going to be doing more for people from now on.”
“That’s great, but-”
“No more buts. Let me help.”
From then on, Nick dedicates his time to helping others. He gives more to charities and spends his time helping others. He starts his own boxing school in Hillside City where he teaches people of all ages how to defend themselves. The painful memories of his wife’s death and the innocent life he took come back every now and then, but he fights through the regret so that can redeem himself. He talks to people in conferences and at his school about the lessons he’s learned and tries to inspire people to be better. Nick dedicates his life as he does this day in and day out without rest. He becomes a better man and an inspirational figure to most people he meets and to those who hear him speak. His redemption is just a practice of his that he does every day, but it’s the genuine effort and dedication that he puts into it that makes it count.
About a year later as he walks the streets of the city, he hears something in a nearby alleyway. He goes to the end of it to find Morgan with cut up clothes. She’s sobbing and holding herself over her recent loss.
Nick walks up to her with a welcoming smile on his face and says, “Do you need help, beautiful?”
A Catholic self-published author that writes to entertain and teach. Writes mostly horror, fantasy, and short story fiction.
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