Artwork and Story by Leonard Pigg
Nyctalope had been in America for a few years, fighting crime in one city and then moving on to another. He had been at it for nearly a century, starting in France. He had a bionic heart, eyes and other body parts over the years. For a time, he worked as an operative for the French government. They were more than happy to upgrade what started more like steampunk enhancements to the current bleeding edge technology of the day.
Enhanced strength, reflexes, healing and heightened senses made Nyctalope a formidable operative. After a few decades, he was replaced by newer agents. He worked around Europe as a free agent. His newest locale is Dalton City, Indiana.
Léo Saint-Clair was his real name and he owned a building in downtown Dalton. It placed him right in the middle of the action. He lived in the upper level of the building where he kept his costume and equipment at the ready. The lower floor was known at “The Saint-Clair Gallery,” which captured the attention of the local arts community.
He was inspired by the influx of superhumans in the region and the chaos that came with it. While heroes and villains in garish costumes fought in the street, Nyctalope saw another type of crime going on and decided to catch online predators.
He made an arrangement with police Detective Dana Watson, agreeing to provide her evidence against these predators and assisting in their capture. She would take the credit for the collar and occasionally ask Nyctalope to help her with situations that would go against standard police procedure.
“I’ll meat you later,” the man always said at the end of each of his lewd emails.
“Randy Ron,” as he went by online was in an anime chat forum that was local to the Dalton City area. He spent a good deal of time showing off the expensive figures on display at his gaming store and photos of voice actors he met at conventions. His profile picture was of him in cat ears winking and making a peace sign.
Ron thought he was corresponding with a teenage boy. Little did he know that he was a target of the Nyctalope. This had gone on for the better part of two weeks and the Nyctalope wanted to reel the fish in. Using his bionic vocal cords, he imitated the voice of a young boy when the older man called a burner phone.
“Um, hello?” the altered voice answered.
“Hi, there. You sound nervous. You don’t have to be. When we meet, it will be all about you,” Ron said after taking a long drag from a cigarette.
“Okey dokey.”Nyctalope says.
“I’m going to bring you some tasty wine coolers. Won’t that be fun?” he says gleefully.
“I’ve never drank before, I’m not old enough yet.” Nyctalope notes.
“That’s okay. Like I said, you’re in good hands. Where can I pick you up at?” Ron asks.
“Layton Park. The playground. I swing there alone at night sometimes.” Nyctalope says.
The man begins breathing heavy into the phone and says, “I’ll be there at ten. I can’t wait!”
“Okay, then. Meet you there at ten after my folks go to sleep.” Nyctalope replies.
“Mmm hmm.” Ron replies.
“Are you okay, Ron? What’s that slapping noise I keep hearing?” Nyctalope asks.
“Uh, I’m fine. It’s nothing, my boy. Bye.” the man says enthusiastically before hanging up.
The Nyctalope made copies of lewd conversations, and pictures the man sent to the boy. He emailed them to Detective Watson for evidence. He then got up from his computer chair and walked over to his closet. He found his costume, which looked like a gray ninja outfit. He added metal wrist bands and shin guards. Covered the exposed part of his face with a domino mask that covered the eyes and nose. To top it off, he added a cape to the gray ensemble.
“When in Rome, as they say.” Nyctalope thought to himself as he got dressed.
Once fully garbed, he sent a text to Dana letting her know the meeting was going to be at Layton Park around tenish. This provided him ample opportunity to show the old man what being a predator is really about. Nyctalope left his room and climbed onto the roof of the St. Clair Art Studio in downtown Dalton.
He crouched down, then leaped from the building and landed on the next. He continued to do so, getting across town quicker than navigating a vehicle through traffic. His bionic legs propelled him along, like a life-sized grasshopper in a field. After a few blocks, he saw the entrance to Layton Park. He leapt into a nearby tree and scanned the area with his night vision.
Nyctalope sees an overweight man going through the trunk of a car. The car was the only one in the parking lot. He could hear the man’s heart pounding, as he takes a bump of cocaine from a small vial and licks the excess from his knuckle. He pulls a sheathed field knife from the trunk and tucks it in the back pocket of his jeans. He pulls a three pack of condoms and puts them in his jacket.
The man sat out a six pack of wine coolers. He takes out a travel kit and brushes his teeth. He sprays cologne on his neck, chest and then a spritz down the front of his pants. Finally, he reaches into his pants to adjust himself, slicks his thinning hair back and walks down a darkened gravel walkway to the playground.
Nyctalope moves from tree to tree, along the path above Ron. When the man would hear the rustling of the leaves, he would look around and Nyctalope stopped moving. The sound of the six pack clanked in the night, as he walked. The man shrugged it off, then walked faster toward the playground.
“Benji! Where are you, buddy?” Ron says as he goes towards the jungle gym.
Nyctalope leaps down silently, then dashes behind a large statue of a duck. He takes a moment to adjust his vocal cords and speaks.
“You’ll have to find me, Ron!” Nyctalope says in the sing-songy voice of the young boy.
“I’ll find you, boy! I know I will,” Ron replies with anticipation.
He looks towards the slides, the jungle gym and then notices the duck statue at the far side of the playground. As Ron gets closer, Nyctalope can hear the rustle of his clothing and he waited in the shadows. Once Ron stepped around the statue, he was in shock as he saw the Nyctalope with his cape wafting in the breeze, like a living shadow.
“Park’s closed, pervert.” Nyctalope says in his natural voice.
“What the hell?!” Ron says, dropping the wine coolers and backing away.
Nyctalope tosses a pair of handcuffs to Ron, who instinctively catches them.
“Put them on and wait for the cops or I’m going to hurt you.” Nyctalope says.
“I ain’t going back to jail!” Ron screams, throwing the cuffs down.
Ron pulls his knife and lunges for an attack. Nyctalope sidesteps the knife, giving the man a kick to the side as he passes. Ron groans and staggers forward.
“That wasn’t full strength, old man.” Nyctalope says.
“I used to box when I was in the Navy, punk!” Ron replies.
Between the adrenaline and the cocaine, Ron goes into a frenzy and tries to stab at him again. Nyctalope leaps out of the way onto the top of the duck statue.
“Are you disappointed that I’m not easy prey like a young boy?” Nyctalope asks.
“Screw you! I wasn’t gonna do anything but talk to the kid! Be a mentor!” Ron says.
“Yet you brought a knife, condoms and alcohol!” Nyctalope says as he tackles Ron.
The two tumble through the grass and Ron loses the knife in the scuffle. Once atop the man, Nyctalope begins punching him repeatedly. When Ron begins coughing on his own blood and his eye is swollen shut, Nyctalope leaps back and take a battle stance.
“Ready for some more, sicko?” Nyctalope asks.
Ron staggers to his feet, spits blood and fumbles for the cocaine in his pocket. He snorts the rest and gives a yell. Once pumped up from the drugs, he charges at Nycytalope again. This time he lands a few punches, sending the vigilante staggering back.
Ron runs at Nyctalope again, who throws his cape over the man’s head. Once covered, he kicks Ron again and does a leg sweep, sending him to the ground. Nyctalope snatches his cape back, sending Ron rolling in the grass.
“I should kill you.” Nyctalope says.
Ron cringes at Nyctalope grabs him up by the throat and starts choking him. A moment later, he hears police sirens and stops, dropping Ron to the ground. The man starts crying as he sees the squad cars with lights, brighten up the darkened park.
“Saved by the bell,” Nyctalope says.
“My life is ruined.” Ron replies.
Nyctalope dashes off towards the woods, leaping into the trees out of view of the police. As Detective Watson approaches with two uniformed officers, she sees Ron on the ground. She puts on her glasses, pulls back her red hair into a bun and begins reading him his rights.
“Cuff this scumbag. I’ve got plenty of evidence to put him under the jail. I’m going to check the area for any other evidence, like this cocaine grinder and busted wine cooler bottles. Drugs and alcohol aren’t allowed in the parks.” Watson says as she shines her flashlight around the area.
“He’s just racking up all kinds of charges, eh?” one officer says.
They pick up Ron, who continues crying and begging for mercy. He is cuffed, then the police drag him to the squad car as he doesn’t fight back. Detective Watson puts on gloves and bags up the evidence on the grass.
Once the area has been searched, Ron’s vehicle gets towed and Detective Watson sits on a bench near the wooded area. She takes out a cigarette and lights it. After a couple of puffs, she sits back relaxed. A moment later, the Nyctalope steps out and sits on the opposite side.
“I timed it just right this time. He was still conscious when I arrived.” Watson says.
“Long enough for a proper beatiing. Nothing broken, though.” Nyctalope replies.
“I’m sure they’ll be breaking him soon enough in the slammer. I appreciate you gathering the info for me. I wish more people would get involved like this.” Watson remarks.
“This city could always use another vigilante. I’m glad to be of service. Stay in touch Dana, we seem to have our hands full in this city.” Nyctalope says before walking off into the night.
Hours later, Ron sits in a holding cell alongside twenty other men. The area is littered with worn benches and a toilet in the middle of the room. A biker vomits on the floor next to Ron, who moves his feet out of the way at the last moment.
“Jesus, man! The toilet is right over there!” Ron says.
The biker flips him off, then passes out. The crowd migrates away from where the vomit is, but Ron stays there feeling safer. After a few minutes, Detective Watson walks by the cell and stops. Some of the men whistle and give cat-calls, which she replies by cursing at them. She gestures to one of the men to step forward. A burly lumberjack goes over to her, leaning on the bars. She whispers to him and hands him two cigarettes and a note.
“Yeah? No problem.” he says.
She nods and walks away. The lumberjack goes over to Ron and stands over him.
“Can I help you?” Ron asks.
He says nothing and hands Ron a folded piece of paper. Ron looks puzzled, then unfolds the paper. He looks at the writing inside and he cringes. The lumberjack then punches Ron, knocking him unconscious. The lumberjack goes and sits down in the corner, lighting up the cigarette. Another man walks over and sits near him.
“Hey, buddy. What did that letter say?” the man asks.
The lumberjack replies, “Meat you later.”