By Leonard Pigg
I call myself “Scarlet Ace.” At this point, my real name and occupation isn’t relevant any more. In my regular life, I am a man of little consequence. There is no love interest in my life to speak of. I’m not a handsome man, nor a charismatic one. I live in a single bedroom apartment in the heart of scenic Dalton City, Indiana. I sit in a cubicle, processing data and answering phones all day. I take orders from people that are well beneath me intellectually and spiritually. I am a drone. A worker bee in a hive where nobody knows me by name. All my hard work makes some entitled misanthrope richer, while I get the most pathetic of raises and barely any benefits to speak of. I am truly anonymous. I hate what our society has become. This is not America, but an alternate version in which the paradigm of morality is inverted. I want to sue my high school for indoctrinating me and my classmates with this sham of an American Dream. So many of my contemporaries are intellectuals and artists, working manual labor jobs. Everyday I wake up with a sigh of discontent, because I am still alive. However, if you keep waking up, that means you still have a purpose in this world. After doing some soul searching, I finally found mine.
As the Scarlet Ace, my intention is not world domination, but destabilization. I am an anarchist. I am a vigilante. I am an agent of change. My initial exploits were relatively low-key, as I would retaliate against the establishment for any injustices. A young Black teenager was unjustly shot by police, so I took it upon myself to avenge him. I waited for hours on a rooftop in downtown Dalton City with a silenced sniper rifle, shooting out the tires of any squad car I would see on the road. The officer in question that did the shooting was discovered to have child pornography on his computer at home and on his phone. The resulting planted evidence was sent to the media, which swayed public opinion and got him locked up for years. The family was also awarded a massive settlement. I hear the teen is walking again and going to college now. Sometimes, the wheels of justice need a little oil to get things moving.
The battle I am fighting must be done on multiple fronts. I’ve found that the establishment doesn’t value the lives of civilians, but they can’t stand financial loss. I used to run with a group of activists whose motto was, “Punch them in the wallet and watch them squirm.” Last year I made the national headlines. If you remember the news story about the credit card company whose data was purged, erasing the debt of over 60,000 Americans? Well kids, you’re welcome. I plan on doing so much more. Turns out, there are also other people in the activist community that have taken up the mantle of Scarlet Ace. There is a Scarlet Ace in Indianapolis that got into a shootout with a drug dealer. The video of the dealer’s demise ended up online. The Ace of Indianapolis is still at large and we are making a difference, one day at a time. The more people that seek justice under this guise only serves to feed into the movement. If something happens to me, I’ve got a program that will send out an electronic journal to various hacker groups and message boards. The world will eventually know about my exploits, sooner or later. Hopefully, this will inspire others to take up arms against this unjust society.
One of the local gangs in Dalton City have been meeting with a sleazy gun runner named “Rollo.” The gang is known as the “85ers.” Typical members are violent, have long hair and come equipped with a biker jacket. Ironically, I’ve never seen any of the members riding a motorcycle. Rollo has been selling these goons guns for the past month, making life hell for the locals. He dresses like a hipster, including a man-bun. The guy always had a smile on his face and whenever he was around, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. That’s never a good sign. However, his appearance hides just how dangerous he really is. I’ve been tracking Rollo for well over a week, shadowing him as he went from coffee shops to breweries, brothels and the occasional high end bistro. I’ve been running around dressed down and always a ball cap with sunglasses. There were many times where I could have shot him dead with a silenced pistol, but I needed to find where he keeps his weapons stashed. After what seems like an endless amount of time, he heads out to the docks at the edge of Dalton City. I park a safe distance away with the vehicle I stole and get into gear. I put on my black SWAT style gear and my signature red face mask. I recently added an “Ace” logo on the forehead and an anarchy symbol spray painted on the front of the bulletproof vest. Tonight, the Scarlet Ace is on the prowl and ready to change the world.
Rollo looks around cautiously and goes over to the edge of the docks. He sees a barge and boards it. A few minutes later, Rollo comes out with a stack of wooden crates on a dolly. He whistles as he heads toward his car, not noticing me. After he loads the crates into the trunk of his car, I sneak up behind him and point my gun at his back. “Nice night for a car ride, isn’t it? I don’t think you’ll mind driving, friend.” I try to sound as cordial as possible, as he stutters and stammers. In typical criminal fashion, he informs me that I don’t know what I’m doing and that I am making a mistake. Whenever he continued to speak, I would swat him with the silencer and he would get quiet. I rode in the backseat, with my gun at the ready in case he decides to make a move. The interior of the car has a strange odor, like copper and brimstone. It makes me slightly sick to my stomach. He drives calmly with that creepy smile, occasionally glaring at me in the rear view mirror. The drive is relatively quiet until he stops smiling and says, “You are an agent of chaos.” I agree and tell him to keep his eyes on the road. He laughs. I give him directions to a rough part of Dalton City. I find an area where there is a tent city styled location where the homeless have congregated. We exit the car and I make him unload the crates onto the sidewalk. I then tell him, “These folks need protection a damn sight more than the thugs you’ve been selling to, Rollo.” He launches into a stream of vulgarities, as the homeless begin to gather around. I knock him to the ground with a swat from my pistol and I tell the crowd, “Arm yourselves! The streets are no place to be without protection! Consider yourselves forearmed and forewarned, courtesy of the Scarlet Ace!” They rush towards the crates, opening them and going through the contents, passing around guns. I hop into Rollo’s car, leaving him with the homeless mob.
Once I get back to the docks, I decide to take a quick peek through the glove compartment, then check the other nooks and crannies in the vehicle. I find two pistols with hollow point ammo under the seat, a couple of knives and a grenade. The strangest thing I found was that when I opened the glove box, it was full of black slime that oozed onto the floor. It reeked of brimstone. I hopped out of the car and decided to check out the barge. It was easy enough to bust the lock, so I got in quickly. Once inside, I noticed that there was no furniture and there entire space was stacked against the walls with crates of weapons and ammo. The strangest thing was in the middle of the room, an ancient looking stone brazier that resembled a humanoid squid. I decide the best way to handle this was to leave quickly, only after tossing the grenade into the room on the way out. I ran down the docks as the barge exploded seconds later. The night was suddenly brightened by all the ordnance that was ignited. It was time to get away from the scene, as explosions like that tend to draw law enforcement. I got back in my stolen car, heading back home. I abandon the car a couple of blocks away from my house in an alley and set it ablaze. By the time I’m back in my apartment, I can hear the car exploding. I drift off to sleep a little while later, knowing I made a difference in the lives of countless people by taking these weapons out of play.
The next day, I’m at work and while on the computer, I check the news to see if there were any reports of my exploits. I find a strange story about thirteen people killed in the tent city, but not from gun violence. It seems that a number of homeless people there were dismembered. There is no mention of Rollo. The explosion at the docks is mentioned in a subsequent article, under investigation as a possible terrorist attack. The only other big headline is the Blue Bolt stopped a rampaging robot at the Science Expo last night. Never a dull moment in this city. I’ve got to be careful not to cross paths with him or the police. While I’m out for lunch at a cafe, I see Rollo sitting at a table with a goth girl. Not the kind of girl I’d expect him to be with, but I leave the cafe after getting my food, haunted by that eerie smile of his. When I finish work, I take the city bus and keep aware of my surroundings. As I watch the streets as the bus is heading south, I catch a brief glimpse of Rollo standing on a corner and he has his trademark grin. When I blinked, he was gone. This sets me on edge and I hop off the bus and head directly to a safe house I have weapons stashed at. I don my gear and get ready for war.
I head back out onto the streets once its dark and find an abandoned vehicle to hot wire. Driving around the city, I keep an eye out for some trouble. With windows down, I listen for the sounds of bedlam. A woman screams in the distance, so I head in the direction of the sounds down an alley. I see Rollo standing over the goth girl and he’s holding a knife. I hit Rollo with the car, knocking him into the side of a dumpster. He rolls around the ground, dazed. I hop out of the car and give him a zap with a taser. He convulses and black foam comes out of his mouth. I use the taser a few more times on him and he goes limp. I go to check on the girl, who is obviously in shock. She is bruised and I help her to her feet. I didn’t understand why she started screaming again until too late. An oily black tentacle wraps around my torso and throws me against the hood of the car. A sharp pain shoots through my side and the wind is knocked out of me. I roll off to the ground and see multiple tentacles coming out of Rollo’s mouth. He gives an unearthly roar while walking toward me and I spring to my feet with guns blazing. He staggers back, but the tentacles start throwing trash and debris from the alley at me. The goth screams, “Shoggoth!” and runs away.
The more I injure him, the more black tendrils and ooze come from him. I remember the same smell of brimstone from the docks. He latches onto me with a few more tentacles, so I drop the guns and start hacking at them with my knives. As I cut, black slime sprays everywhere. It’s like a nightmare and everything seems to be in slow motion. Once I’m free, I toss both knives into him as he charges at me. They sink into his chest, while he grabs me and slams me onto the ground. I kick both of the knives, driving them in deeper and he screams, staggering back. I make a mad dash to the car and try to hit him again, but he leaps into the air clinging to the roof of the car. The tentacles start crawling onto the windows, obscuring my side view. I grab another gun and fire a few rounds into the roof. I hear him groan, but then black slime starts oozing through the holes and flailing around. A tendril wraps round my neck, choking me. I’m in over my head and I’m running out of choices, so I continue to accelerate down the alley and slam on the brakes at the intersection to the street, sending him flying into traffic. When he hits the ground, he springs back to his feet a tendril-covered and bloodied mess. The tendrils start to stretch toward me and at that moment, a garbage truck plows into him, splattering slime onto the streets and covering cars. I wait around to see if he would reform, but he doesn’t.
I barely survived that encounter and I’m officially freaked out. I head home and have to bandage my ribs. My clothes have to be washed to get that foul slime out of them. I lost my knives, so I will have to replace those. I want to sleep but I can’t. I need time to recover from this fight. I have to find out what the hell a Shoggoth is and if there are any more of these things running around. I don’t know if this is an alien invasion or some kind of demonic thing. It was bad enough to know that I was fighting against corrupt men in positions of power, but monsters are another battle altogether. I find myself with more questions than answers. I suddenly see myself thrust into a much darker world than I ever imagined, but I refuse to give up the fight. The world needs a Scarlet Ace, for better or for worse.
5 thoughts on “The Scarlet Ace: A Dark Night in Dalton”
Although not identical. that first paragraph sounds quite like my own!
I’m not sure what you might be referencing, as I have not read your work. This is an original piece featuring a character that is in public domain. If there is a similarity to anything you’ve done, it would be purely coincidental.
Nice piece, Lenny. I like it.