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The Guardian

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  • The Guardian

    This is a short story I did for fun for a contest on a forum which is centred around the Superhero Genre. I have been trying to get myself back into writing. I stopped years ago when a house fire consumed my writing and art. Silly of me to let that be a deterence, but such is the nature of trauma. Oh well.

    Periodically, I get inspired to write something. This is quick and dirty, but I kind of liked where it went part way through writing it, as I only had half an idea of what I wanted. I doubt this will conflict with anyone else's EC stories, mainly because of the setting and the genre.

    Heritage is a city in the north of Alberta Canada that doesn't exist. Hopefully, my few (less that 1500 words) conveys a mood as to the setting I set up. I consider this a bit of a prelude, and may revise this and add more later.

    Its a short read, so enjoy.

    -------------------

    The Guardian

    Heritage lay in Canada's west. A growing city, called the Beacon of the North. This was a place of myth, a place of culture. It had a magical aura about it. Something about its location made it a nexus point for the bizarre. Unusual events happen here, whether it be strange lights in the sky, or mysterious mists that lay like a blanket by night. It is said that there are monsters here, and perhaps there are. It is also said that there are heros.

    The tallest building in the city was the Olletech tower, built half a century ago. Only thirty stories in height, the tower was still the only building high enough to rise from the evening fog. Atop the tower, gargoyles adorned the corners, and a cathedral like dome rose into the sky. For this vantage, all of Heritage could be seen. Except of course at night, when the fog rolled in.

    This particular night, the gargoyles were not alone. This night a man also stood there. His name was Eric Stokes. An average man, of average height and average build, he gazed towards the fog which was oddly lit by the city lights. The effect was unusual, and would seem disturbing. But it wasn't disturbing for Eric.

    Eric worked for Olletech, and he came out on the roof almost every night. He was not a well man. Though physically fit, with a good job and a nice apartment, Eric hated life. He was alone. He had no family. Every relationship he had failed. He tried getting a dog, but it ran away the first chance it got. He tried buying houseplants and they all died. Mosquitos didn't even bite him in the summer. He was that unwanted.

    The only thing that consoled him was coming out on the roof during his break. In order to keep from being reminded of his misery, he had taken to working the graveyard shift. Eric thought this an appropriate term, since Heritage in the fog might as well have been a graveyard. He chuckled to himself. For tonight he knew, that it would be his last.

    He stepped onto the ledge, and looked down at the pale glowing mist below. Today was a special day. His thirtieth birthday, his last day on earth. He prepared to take that last step, to offer himself to the mist. A certain elation washed over him, as he had finally found peace.

    That peace was broken by a voice. It was the voice of a man, an older man. "Fine night for a walk, lad. Mind that step, though. Its a doozy."

    Eric turned. Before him stood a figure he had thought only legend. A man, dressed in black. He had silver hair that grew to his shoulders, and an amulet rested on his chest. A blue gem set into the silver amulet glowed slightly. He was definitely older, but how old was uncertain. His face was weathered, but his body still seemed strong and vibrant. Eric had never seen this man before, but he knew who he was. This was the Guardian. He was dumbfounded.

    The Guardian spoke, "Its a nice view, isn't it? Most people are afraid of the fog, but not you eh? No, you don't even know what lurks in the stuff at night and it still doesn't scare you. You just come out every night, and gaze into it. Almost like you're looking for something."

    "You're the Guardian, right?" Eric managed to speak, "You sound like you know me."

    The Guardian walked closer and smiled. He pointed up at the spire that rose another thirty feet from the ledge, "There. I've sat up there and watched you every night for over a year, Eric. I know who you are, I know what you do. Hell, I would have brought you a cake, but the stores in Heritage always close early. I know you are planning on jumping as well, eh?"

    "How can you know so much?" the man asked.

    The Guardian walked past Eric and sat on the ledge. He motioned for Eric to join him. When the man did, Guardian explained, "Forty years ago, I worked for Olletech. Like yourself, I was a loser. Like yourself, I worked nights. And like yourself I came out here and looked into the fog. You ever hear the noises, Eric? Howls in the night, and you can't tell if its a wind or a wolf or something worse? Heh heh, you know? Its something worse. Many somethings. You know, like yourself, that didn't scare me. Like you, I would challenge them to come eat me, and they never did. You know why?"

    Eric shook his head.

    The Guardian continued, "Its because you're like me, Eric. You're a Guardian. Rather, you will be."

    "What!??" exclaimed the man.

    The Guardian began to laugh. He reached to his chest, and clasped the amulet. Pulling it off, his body became smaller, more frail. His black costume reverted to normal looking clothes, though dated. He held the amulet up for Eric to look at.

    "Look at me, boy." he continued to speak. "Forty years ago, I was Irwin Schultz. Look at this thing? Have any idea who made it? No? Well neither do I. Want to know why I didn't jump into the fog forty years ago? Huh? Its because of this thing. I found it hanging round the neck of that gargoyle there. Or was it that one? Eh, doesn't matter. Its yours now. Take it."

    Eric shook his head and tried to wave the amulet away, "I can't. I - I'm not worthy."

    And old hand darted out and swatted Eric in the head, "Bugger worthy, boy! I'm too old to keep this up. This damned amulet might make me as strong as ten men, but it can't keep my heart beating forever. You know why there's hardly any crime in Heritage? Cause the crooks eh? They go out at night? And you know what happens? The fog gets 'em, eh? You know what the fog likes even more than crooks? Its likes innocents, and kids. It probably ate your dog, too."

    Eric shook his head again and then lowered it into his hands, "This is unreal. How the hell am I supposed to be the Guardian?"

    A hand shot out and swatted him in the head again, "Its the Amulet boy. It makes you the Guardian. It'll whisper to you. It will tell you where those things are. It will make you strong, and it will let you see through the fog."

    Old Irwin Schultz chuckled some more, "Heh heh. You're not gonna like what you see, boy." He held out his hand with the amulet towards Eric. The young man's hand wrapped around it.

    He asked Irwin, "How do you know I can do this?"

    Swat! "Haven't you been listening, boy? That thing will make it all make sense. Take it and you get to forget what a sorry whiney little bugger you are for forty years! Take it, and make something of yourself! Don't be so damned selfish!"

    Anger Flashed in Eric's eyes. He snatched the amulet and put it around his neck. He felt the energies course into him, he felt his body grow stronger. His clothes changed and grew darker.

    He looked out into the night, and his vision changed. He could see through the fog. The odd form here and there of a cautious soul or car. The animals hiding in the shadows. And he saw other things too. Terrible things.

    "My God, I had no idea. Those things, what are they?" he asked.

    Old Irwin replied, "Damned if I know. All I know is the're nasty and hungry. And they're only scared of one thing."

    "And what's that?" Eric asked.

    SWAT!!! "You, ya stupid bastard!"

    Eric knew Irwin was right. He could not only see those... things. He could feel them too. He knew he had to protect Heritage from them. He was the Guardian. He looked down to Irwin and said, "I have to go."

    "I know. Heh heh. You're gonna scare the crap outta them. They think the Guardian is aging and feeble. Heh heh."

    Eric looked down and asked Irwin, "What about you?"

    "I got everything worked out just fine. I had forty years to make some plans you know."

    The new Guardian nodded. And with that, as planned, he jumped off the ledge and into the fog. But instead of jumping to his death, he jumped into something greater. He was right, Eric Stokes life ended tonight. A new Guardian was born.

    Irwin waited for a while, until he knew The Guardian had gone. He laughed to himself, "Sucker."

    At last, after forty long years, his service was over. He looked into the fog, his old friend. His old enemy. He couldn't see through it like he could before. But it didn't bother him. He knew it for what it was.

    It wasn't long before he heard the howls. Finally, Heritage had a new Guardian.

    Irwin smiled to himself, standing there on the ledge. He knew his time was done. And for once his mind was at peace. Clarity came to him.

    He stepped off the ledge and plummeted into the glowing mist.
    Yuki says, "Krimson used to be known as Kommando, but he rarely uses that name anymore. Sometimes he appears as Krimson Gray as well. Do not be confused, he still loves cats and bagels."
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