Longest Nightmare

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Chapter 18


I sat on the ledge of one of the building's looking over the city. It had been a quiet night, which was rare and most people found it comforting. I found it tedious. It should've been something I looked forward to but I was younger around that time and excitement did play small role. I decided to calm myself down with a little meditation. Sitting on the floor of the roof I rested my back on the ledge. I tried to push everything out and center myself; Sifu had always said that going out with a mind full of conflicting thoughts was dangerous and had gotten many killed before.

After a few minutes I began to feel less and less bored. I began to focus on the matter at hand and kept telling myself patrol was to make sure nothing did happen. I began to let go when something roused my attention. Footsteps, whoever was up here was definitely trying to keep himself from being heard, the shoes however betrayed him, the footfalls were heavy and came out flat. I tried to listen, to hear where they were going but in a sudden instant. My eyes shot open and right in front of my eyes was the point of a blade. More specifically a kama; a hand held scythe that was originally used as a farmers tool, the application for combat no doubt apparent. I let out a light groan rolling my eyes and smacking the kama away. “I totally could've killed you right there.” A voice said,

I stood up and turned to the person who spoke. It was Steven and he wore his trademark tattered black cloak. The thing I didn't like most about when he wore his half-mask, is that it gave me the distinct misfortune to see that damn cocky smile of his. He was a cocky bastard, more than anyone I had known. “Uh-huh.” I said as I crossed my arms, “You're late.”

“Gee, sorry mom.” He said, “Didn't know I was on curfew.” He added. I rose my hand like I was about to smack him when he held up his hands, “Calm down,” He told me, “I got held up with work. I was trying to catch up on some hours so I could pay for the damage done to my truck.”

“Oh.” I nodded, Steve had been the victim of a hit-and-run with his truck. The damage wasn't great but it pissed him off. The truck was new and no one liked having their new toys getting damaged. “Okay that makes sense. Wait, where'd you get that?” I asked pointing to the side of his neck where there was a scratch healing.

“Huh?” he said, “What is it?”

“Looks like a scratch dude.” I told him, “You messin' around with cats man?”

“It's nothing man.” He said smacking my hand away, “Just ran into your mom and you know how it goes.” He smirked at his joke and I shook my head,

“She bitch slapped you for even remotely thinking you had a chance. My mom still has standards dude.” I said,

“Yet she kept you?” He asked, I looked at him with a quirked eyebrow that shifted my mask, “Guess everyone is allowed one mistake.”

“Which is why you're here.” I said with a smirk as I turned to the ledge. “You ready?”

“Hell yeah.” He said pulling on his dark skull mask with fangs instead of regular teeth, “Been waiting for this all day.”

“Let's go then.”

Stonehurst wasn't a giant place but it was definitely big enough to have buildings that we definitely had fun running across many a night. Which on nights like that was welcome. It thankfully distracted us from the quiet. “You're getting slow man.” Steven called as he took the lead in our run. I couldn't help but smirk,

“In your dreams ya boney bastard.” I said as I started running faster and brushed by him taking the lead, we neared a ledge and I prepared to jump when something caught my eye down below.

I stopped running and almost fell over seeing how fast I was running. I looked down to the street and focused on a convenience store when Steve stopped beside me. “What's up man?” He asked, I pointed down to the store and like that a guy came running out with a piece and a hand full of cash. “It still amazes me people still rob those places.” Steve said with a small laugh, “Ready to-.” I took off on the route that would put me behind the guy,

“Go around we can flank him and put him in the alley on 7th.” I ordered.

“On it.” he replied with a nod and a thumbs up, and like that we were on the job. The guy was slower than he looked, but his eyes were quick enough to catch me which added a bit of excitement to it if I was honest to myself at least. Once he caught a glimpse of me he started trying to find ways to get out of sight. Problem was though, I had a decent throwing arm. Whenever he tried to turn down an alley or a street I threw a little something at the guy, one of my knives or something that wouldn't hurt him too bad. I wasn't aiming to stick the guy; far from it, I just wanted this to go as planned. When we reached seventh and he turned the alley he probably thought I was slow to the draw, probably thought that I didn't want him to go that way.

I smirked as I crossed over and looked down to the alley. I was expecting something along the lines of Steve to have the guy on the ground unconscious or the like. What I saw however was something that I never honestly thought I'd see from the guy I called my partner. Steve had the guy on his knees and held his arm in a lock. The arm that was locked held a gun but the guy was in no condition to shoot Steve, not from that angle.

“You thought you could pull a gun on me and you'd walk away with nothing to show for it?!” Steve exclaimed to the guy. “You honestly thought that would end well?” I stood there watching Steve, I had given him the benefit of the doubt; He always loved the whole striking fear thing more than I did.

“Looks like someone needs to be taught a lesson.” There was a weird tone to his voice as he said that. It was almost like he was enjoying what was happening. He brandished his kama again and rose it up. “Don't worry, when we're done with this you'll get to learn how good being a lefty can be.” I didn't like the way that sounded at all. I was hurrying to make my way down when I felt a chill, without even looking I grabbed one of my throwing knives and tossed it for Steve's hand as he held it up, it was dulled and I had little worry about it sticking him and causing any kind of mark but it would have hit with enough force for him to yell out.

The knife hit his hand and the kama hit the ground with a klink. I dropped to the ground and quickly made my way over to Steve. “The hell was that about?!” He yelled letting the guy's arm go. The guy didn't try to run, I still debated whether that was stupid or smart of people like him to do at times.

“You were about to cut the guy's arm off.” I snapped as I reached him and the man.

“The guy pulled a gun on me, I reacted.” He tried to reason, “I was acting in self defense.”

“We don't have time for this.” I growled pushing by him and over to the guy. I pulled out some zip-ties and bound the guy leaving him with the gun and the stolen cash by the time I was finished I had turned back to Steve who had gotten his kama and still looked at me like I was the asshole. “Get moving, I'll call the cops along the way, no doubt there's someone at the shop this guy jacked from.” He said nothing but made his way up the side of the building thanks to the fire escape. I secured the perp and then followed where he was waiting.

“Mind telling me what the hell you were doing?” It wasn't a question. He let out a snide laugh,

“I told you the punk pulled a-.”

“You knew he was armed going in, you had him in a lock an you were prepared to hack the guy.” I said, “I know what I saw Steve.” I was angry to say the least. By that time Steven had been acting wild and it had started getting me worried.

“You think you know what you saw.” He said with a huff. “Listen, it's already a long night, let's just keep on with patrol and-.”

“No Steve.” I said flatly, “You're out for the night.” Even through the mask you could tell he didn't want to believe what I just said, “It's quiet enough that only one of us need to be out tonight, you obviously need some time to get your head right.”

The two of us said nothing while he glared at me. I met his glare with a calm gaze of my own. He could be angry all he wanted, this was my call and he knew that when it came down to it he couldn't do anything. “Fine.” He said finally, “You're probably right anyway. I've been spreading myself all over lately.” On the inside I breathed a sigh of relief. “I'll see ya at school or something yeah?”

I nodded and he took off. I had hoped back to his truck, where ever it was and then home for the night. I, on the other hand decided to take the opportunity to go for patrol a little while longer, until something came through on the police scanner I had on me at the time.

I had waited for god knows how long until Houston finally stepped outside. I knew this one he would want me to hear about. “She makes what?” I asked, “The fourth one this month?” Houston had gotten used to me appearing from no where at that point that he just turned around like he was expecting me.

“Fifth.” He said, “Same MO and everything.” I didn't move. The past few weeks that year several girls had been abducted and assaulted. The girls were either drugged or blindfolded and gagged so they wouldn't have been able to know where they were going or make any noise. Normally there didn't seem to be a pattern. None of the girls knew each other, each were from different schools, different grades, different races. There was nothing connecting the girls together except the fact that they were all high school girls. It was hardly much of anything but what really confused me was why none of them were from my high school at the time either.

“She doesn't know anything either I take it?” I asked, Houston shook his head and I inwardly growled. I didn't like what the guy did, and whatever he did to those girls he damaged them. From what the reports gathered the guy was definitely a sadist. Did stuff to them that made my shudder.

“Still nothing linking these girls either,” He said, “How can a guy do something like this without anyone seeing him?”

“I wish I could tell you officer Pochard.” I said as I turned away from him.

The night didn't last much longer after I had stopped and spoke with Houston. There wasn't much to do. It had been a quiet night and hearing about the girl they had found set me off on a weird mood. I had spoken with Houston for a little bit longer before I headed home and slept. It wasn't for long but it was enough to give me enough energy to last through the day. I was walking to school when I felt a hand clamp down on my shoulder as I reached the building. I turned and saw Steve smiling that toothy grin of his. “Hey buddy.” He said,

“Hey man.” I replied, “Hey about last night-.”

“Say no more.” He said with a wave of his hand, “You were right.”

“Wait...really?” I asked, Steve was as stubborn as he came and never admitted someone else was right. Even when put in a sleeper hold the guy would rather let himself be choked out than admit defeat.

“Yeah,” He said, “A good night's sleep to put it all in perspective.” he told me, “Thanks man.”

“Well good.” I said with a smile,

“In fact,” He stated, “I feel like a whole new guy today.”

“Oh?” I asked, “Is this because you finally started taking your meds again?”

“First off, screw you.” He said, “Second: I mean it man. I think today is gonna be different, and to start it off...” He trailed off in his words as he turned his gaze to a group of girls that sat at one of the tables in the quad. Cheerleaders, popular girls, all those good looking girls that always seemed grouped together and those of us unlucky enough to be unable to get with them or in our case, too busy, were left to just oogle them from time to time when we wanted to be regular teens.

“Steve, what are you doing?” I asked once Steve started to walk away from me towards the table. “Steve? Steve!” Steve ignored me and walked on he reached the table and tapped one of the girls on the shoulder. “Oh god, this isn't gonna end well.” I said aloud watching the scene play out.

The girl Steve had chosen to talk to was notorious in our school for being shallow. Not so much about looks but skills she deemed worthy. She had dated the quarterback, the starting pitcher and the starting forward. I had heard she was planning on going after the goalie of our soccer team at the time. Given Steve's skills and training, he would've had a shot. Problem was what we did wasn't really something we could go around boasting about at the school pep rally, as far as everyone knew we were either slackers or they had no idea who we were. Which was the whole point.

The scene played out like any would expect, Steve talked to the girl, she tried to be nice and have a small conversation. He asked her out, she didn't know if he was joking or serious and laughed. He got visibly upset, she apologized and tried to walk away and that's when he grabbed her arm; rather forcefully too. Other people had started to take notice and soon enough people started coming around. A wrestler came by and then I remembered she was dating the guy who won championship for heavyweight. “Damnit Steve.” I thought as I made my way over in hopes to stop what I knew was something that wouldn't end well, which was confirmed when Steve sent a kick to the guy's chest and knocked him down.

A circle had formed around them now and the people made it harder to get to Steve to save his ass. I broke through finally with the fight between him and the wrestler well underway. The two of them had already exchanged blows but while you could see pain on the other guy's face, Steve was for lack of a better word, seemed to be enjoying the fight. It was weird seeing the fight play out, Steve was basically playing with the guy and put him on his back a few times by the time security had begun trying to get through. I had already gotten through and that made it easier for me to try and hold Steve back from the guy while someone else tried to get the wrestler. “What the hell are you doing?!” Steve asked as he fought against my efforts to hold him back.

“Saving your ass.” I said when the security finally broke through.

The security broke up the fight and we all got dragged into the office for some action or some sort. The school had a zero tolerance policy for fighting, since I never threw a punch at someone I didn't get any kind of punishment. Steve wasn't so lucky. “Dude wait up!” I had to give a statement about the situation and so I waited for Steve to be let out. I caught up with him as he tried to slam the door to the office behind him. He looked at me and the scowl was still on his face.

“Damn school is putting me out but the dick was the one who threw the first punch.”

“How long you suspended man?” I asked,

“Four days pending a conference with mom and Stan.” He said turning around and heading for the exit to the school.

“Damn man,” I said, “Well at least you get a few extra days before break.” I smiled trying to make light of the situation. He let out a growl.

“You know what that bitch said man?” He said as he stopped before the exit. I shrugged, “She said she was already dating someone and didn't want to upset anyone.”

“Okay that sounds reasonable.” I said, he went bug-eyed,

“Really dude?” He asked, “She's been with a new guy every couple of months since sophomore year man.”

“Look dude, I tried to stop you man.” I told him trying to calm the guy. “You should've known that-.”

“That's bullshit!” He yelled punching the door. “What, I'm not good enough to get with her? I'm not some Letterman wearing douche and that makes me somehow inferior to them!?”

“Steve calm down dude.” I said tensing, I didn't want to have to put him down right now, “That's not even close to being the case and you know it dude.” Maybe to some extent for the girl it was but I needed to say something,

“Don't they know I'm the reason that all of them aren't-!?”

“Steve!” I yelled, “You're not the reason and right now is not the time man.” I glared at him, “Go home, get some rest.” He and I locked eyes and he shook his head,

“Y-yeah man,” He said calming down, “I'll see you tonight right?” I shook my head,

“I'll hit you up after school but...dude you need to sort your stuff out.”

“What are you talking about man?” He asked,

“Steve you've been acting a damn fool lately...” I said, “You need to take some time off. You're starting to worry me and to make sure you don't do anything crazy, you ain't going out for a bit until you get straight okay?” There was a silence between the two of us. I said nothing, Steve was the one who had to process the fact that he was benched I was the one who had to make sure he knew and accepted that.

Steve finally broke down, “Fine...you're right Chase...” He said pushing the door open. “I'll see you later man.”

“Take care man.” With that he left and I walked to what was left of my first class.

The day was long, with everyone who knew Steve and I were friends coming up to me to find out what happened with him. I said nothing and thankfully school finished without any kind of incident coming on to me and I walked over to Steve's house to do a check on the guy. I knocked but no one answered. I thought it was weird so I looked out to the street. I didn't usually look around on the street but I didn't see Steve's truck out on the street either. I took out my phone to call him, no answer.

I was worried, the guy was angry and out in a truck. I tried to brush it off, he was smart and I hoped that him doing stupid was out of the question. 'The guy is probably trying to calm down.' I thought to myself, I thought it was a good thing; he needed it.

I decided to walk home but as I did I saw a couple of girls walk by, I remembered them from earlier that day as a couple of the girls and heard them talking. “I can't believe she even listened to that guy.” One of them said,

“What was he thinking would happen with him just showing up like that?” The other asked, “She was just lucky we were there.”

I couldn't help myself, “Hey, excuse me.” I said moving to catch up with them. They stopped and turned to me with confused looks on their faces. “Sorry,” I said, “I couldn't help but overhear something about your friend?” They looked at one another. “Sorry, it's just my friend was kind of the reason the whole thing happened today and I just wanted to make sure he didn't do anything stupid.” My explanation didn't calm them down but they at least had the decency to tell me what was happening before making me feel like an ass for being friends with the guy.

“Your friend was waiting outside the school in his truck.” One finally said, “Who does that besides some freaky stalker?” I let out an exasperated sigh,

“He ran up to Stacy when we were walking, trying to make some excuse about how he felt sorry for what happened and wanted to apologize or some crap like that.”

“Oh?” I asked, “Well that's not so bad right I mean he wanted to apologize right?”

“Yeah, apologize.” The other said, “I bet you he followed her home just so he could abduct her like all those other girls. He looked like-.”

“Or maybe someone may actually have a shred of human decency and actually wanted to apologize?” I snapped, “Or are you-you know what?” I asked, “Doesn't even matter.” I turned and walked away. The snap was out of line and I needed to get out of there before I made it worse. I chose my friends carefully, I looked at them like family so when someone makes fun of them it kind of sent me off an edge or two.

I was sure the two started talking after I had left and I really didn't care. People like them didn't bother me and I doubted they'd remember me. I needed to clear my head so I decided to head own to the kwoon.

I walked through the door to the kwoon and thankfully to the sight of the kid's class. The kid's class belonged to Hernandez-Sifu; then laoshr, which in our school meant a senior student, and Man-Sifu. I walked to the seats and sat down. Sifu immediately caught sight of me and let Hernandez-Sifu take over. “Hao-bu-hao,” He said, “how goes it Chase me if you Can?” Sifu asked, I stood up and bowed to Sifu,

“Bu-hao Sifu.” I replied,

“Oh?” He looked at me quizzically as he took the seat next to me, “How so?”

“Well...” I told Sifu about what happened, along with knowing that I was Nightmare he and Hernandez-Sifu had become in a lot of ways my confidants. I could tell them things that I couldn't tell others; even some stuff I couldn't tell Steve, and given how Steve had been acting lately I definitely needed to talk to Sifu.

Hernandez and Man-Sifu didn't like the idea of Steven out with me, especially since they didn't think he could hack it. He wasn't trained like I was and Sifu didn't like the wild cards that Steve threw into the mix. “It was only a matter of time Chase.” Sifu always liked to be the one to say I told you so, only with the small things, he didn't like the way things sounded that day.

“I know Sifu.” I said looking down, “It's just...”

“He's your friend and I accept that Chase but this was crazy as it is adding him to the mix wasn't a good idea.”

“But Sifu I-.”

“You need to make a decision Chase, if you keep him around or don't is your choice but will it be the right one?” I didn't say anything and Sifu didn't continue the subject. He changed it to wondering if I would be staying for class that night. I thanked him, but ultimately told him no, I needed to clear my head and the kwoon was helpful but it was a cool night and I needed a different kind of distraction.

I had stopped a hold up on another convenience store, cops made it on time and I had the fortune of one of the first cops on the scene being Houston. “By yourself tonight?” He asked as he saw me standing in an alley as they took statements and put the guy in the back. “I would've thought your partner would be with you tonight.”

“Gave him the night off.” I said

“Probably a good idea.” Houston said with a smirk, “No reason for two people staying up all hours of the night just to stop some punks holding up mini-marts.”

“Good one officer.” I said as I had turned to leave. I was stopped when something came over the police-ban. Another girl had been found. I turned to Houston, it played on both of ours so he knew I had heard the report.

“I gotta go.” He said,

“I'll meet you there.” I said before I disappeared.

I waited outside and sure enough another girl had been found. Same MO and everything; it was our guy. What made this girl different was the fact that she actually give more about what happened on her assault. “Appears the guy wasn't as careful this time around.” Houston said when he finally came around. “Her bonds weren't loose enough to escape but she did see where they went and knew she was being held in a truck. She knew they were driving out of town to but what she doesn't know is where they were out of town. The other stuff was a blur to her but she did see a couple of other things,” I looked at him when he paused searching for the words to say what he had heard, “She saw stain glass windows and...a mask.”

“Well, that makes sense.” I said, “He would wear a mask when he didn't want to be seen right? Having them see your face is kind of-.”

“It was a skull.” He said, “A skull with fangs.”

“There are a lot of those out there officer.”

“I know there are Nightmare.” Houston said, “But-.”

“But what officer?” I snapped, “Just what are you trying to imply exactly?”

“Well, Nightmare look,” He said, “you know that your buddy Scythe has been going crazy and maybe he just-.”

“I'm gonna pretend I'm not hearing this officer.” I said holding back the urge to growl, “Out of town with stain glass?” I asked, “That means that it was a church.” I turned and began to walk off, “The number of churches out of town fitting that description are few, I'll take a look.”

“Nightmare, wait!” Houston tried to catch me but I had broken into a run. I wasn't about to stand there and let Houston talk to me about Steve being the guy doing this. To have even brought it up pissed me off. I was going to prove that my friend had nothing to do with this.

“Hello?” Steven's voice came in through my phone.

“Hey buddy.” I said, “Just checkin' on ya, seeing how ya doin' after today.”

“Oh that?” He asked with a chuckle, “I'm already over that man.”

“Really?”

“Yeah,” He said, “a couple of nights off are probably the best idea you've ever had.”

“Yeah...” I said, “Maybe you're right. Hey, what you up to?” I asked,

“Hmm,” He said, “Why?”

“Well just tryin' to see how you're spendin' your time off is all.”

“Just watchin' some TV, or at least tryin' to.” He stated, “There never seems to be anything on.”

“Yeah.” I replied, “Tell me about it.”

“Everything alright dude?” he asked,

“Of course.” I told him, “Just these quiet nights are boring as hell without someone to shoot the shit with you know?”

“You're the one who benched me dude.”

“Yeah...” I said, “Yeah I did.”

There was a moment of silence while I held the phone to my ear. “Hey listen bro,” I said, “I'm gonna go, I see something off and I'm gonna check it out.”

“Alright man.” He said, “I'll see you tomorrow.”

“Yeah...” After that I hung up and looked to my side as I sat on my bike, I looked to the side to a house; Steven's house, empty, lights off and his truck gone. “See you...”

There were only few roads out of town, but if you wanted to avoid suspicion you went through a back way that was on a similar way to Gabrielle’s Point. And if you went through that way there was a church on the outskirts of town that had been abandoned when the preacher turned out to be a fraud and had a child with one of the parishioners. I ditched my bike just in case if I got close enough I spooked him. Taking the quieter way on foot I found something I knew I already didn't like. There was a truck parked around back and one I recognized very well.

“There must be some mistake...” I thought aloud as I moved past the truck and into the building. I tried to justify it. I thought maybe he was actually working the case himself, found a lead and was working it. I wanted to believe that was the case as I made my way.

It was quiet in the church and I was reminded why I never liked the places. Too big and too much behind them. What made it worse was how quiet the place was. You could have lost yourself in the quiet if you weren't careful. I stopped to look around the church to see if anyone was in there. I saw nothing but I did hear something...silent sobbing sounded through the empty building. There were people in there. I tried to follow the sound, it was hard with the acoustics of the place but it wasn't hard for long as I only needed to look forward to the front of the church and saw someone laying on the ground in the fetal position. I made my way over slowly.

“Hello?” I asked softly, the person on the ground shuddered and shook violently. Even from there I saw her clothes were ripped. I took my jacket off and made my way to her slower and put my hoodie over her. “It's alright ma'am.” I said calmly, I didn't want her to be scared of me I wanted to help her. “I'm here to help.” I told her looking her over, even in the dark she seemed familiar.

“H-h-he broke into my house...” She said, “he had knives...stabbed my boyfriend.”

“It's okay,” I said softly, “It's okay we're gonna get you out of here.” I needed to stay calm for her, despite every bone in my body had ached to find the bastard who had done that to her and left her like she was.

“He said...” She stammered, “He said in my ear...”

“You're on my list.” My eyes shot open as I heard the voice in my ear and jumped over the girl to see behind me stood him in his costume. Steven was in the church and had just admitted that he was the attacker.

“St-Scythe.” I stopped myself, even faced with all this I didn't want to reveal who he was. “Please tell me this isn't what I think it is.” I looked at him pleadingly while even in the dark, because of the design of his mask I could tell he was smiling that sadistic smile of his.

“I could tell you that.” He said, “Tell you I just arrived a little before you did and was scoping the place out to find who did it.” He added, “I could tell you all of that with a straight face too, I really could but...you don't like to be lied to don't you?” I clenched my fist looking at him,

“You seriously did this...” I said, “You were the one who attacked every one of those girls weren't you?”

“Oh come on Nightmare.” He said, “They deserved it. Each one of them.” He gestured back to the girl, “Especially her, acting like she was better than me.” He then looked back at me and he was still smiling that damn sick smile of his, “Hey, here's an idea,” He said excitedly, “you, me, her? We'll have a damn good ol' time won't we?” My whole body tensed at his suggestion, “I mean, I just finished so why don't you get started and I'll join in to finish her off?”

“You sick son of a-.”

“Uh-uh-uh.” He said waving his finger with a hand that held one of his kama's; it still had blood on it, I was worried whose it was. “Even you know that it's not nice to swear in the house of god right?” He asked with a light laugh, “Though to be fair, what I did definitely isn't any better.” His laugh grew and looked away from me for a moment, “Wouldn't you say so Ni-?”

I didn't let him finish, I dashed at him. It was with all the anger I could muster. It was bad to let my anger control me like that. He was ready and he practically baited me into charging him. I grabbed my arms around him but he straightened his legs out back and braced himself for the charge. He then went into a cross-face hold and I felt it. It wasn't hard to deal with though, I shifted to the side and just rearranged my arms so they still went around him. I lifted him up and used that to drop him to the ground. That was enough to get him to let go of the cross-face, which at that point just became him holding on to my neck. We both got back up, I stood up and got into a stance while he readied himself with his kama's.

I hated those weapons and knew barging in headfirst against them would have had ended very badly for me. Steven was impatient though, he rushed me, swinging. His swings were anything but wild however, he was aiming for places that if I had been only a tiny bit slower would've hit and made this fight a lot less longer. “You can't say they didn't have it coming Chase!” He yelled as he swung, “They all did!”

“The hell are you talking about?!” I was honestly confused,

“All those women, they wanted guys who had something to offer that was only ever going to matter in high school.” He said as he threw one of his kama in my direction which I thankfully dodged by shifting to my side, “We have saved people!” He said, “I have saved people on a regular basis!” He was getting angry at that point, 'Good.' I thought to myself, 'Him angry will definitely help.'

“We deserved some thanks!” He yelled, “I deserved a little something didn't I?!” He swung in a downward arch which I side stepped and kicked him in his side sending him back a few steps,

“Then what about those people you've hurt Steven?” I asked, “What about those people you've put into the hospital with missing limbs?!”

“They were thugs!” He snarled, “Better I take away their trigger fingers than let them diein the gutters like the trash they are!” I stood there in my stance but the realization in my eyes were apparent.

“You...” I said looking at him,

“Make sense?” He asked, “Sound like the things we should have-YOU should have done from the beginning!?”

“You're insane.” I said flatly, “You're insane and I might have had a hand in that.” My stance softened and I lowered my hands, “For that...I'm sorry Steven.”

“Sorry?!” He yelled, I nodded, “Sorry...after all we've been through and all that we've done you want to say sorry?”

“I'm very sorry?” I asked. You could see his kamas shake in his hands with the anger that grew. He ran at me, his swings were crazy that time and made it easier to dodge. “Nothing I can say can change what happened Steven.” I said as I stood at his side holding tight on to the arm that held a kama. “But all the good you've done will be forgotten now and people will only remember the crazy fool who wore a costume and attacked innocent girls.” I said as I finally took him down with a chi-na lock and moved into a submission lock that would render him unconscious in a short matter of time.

“You were my best friend Steven...” I said as he thrashed wildly, “I can't let you do this anymore.” His thrashes weakened and his body began to go limp while his breathing began to become haggard.

The door's of the church burst open and the footfalls of over a dozen police officers stormed in. “Nightmare!” A voice called out, it was Houston. Steven was out in my arms but I hadn't let him go just yet. Houston came up to me and rested a hand on my shoulder. “Nightmare it's-.”

“I know officer Pochard.” I said as I released the hold and let his body limply fall to the side. I stood up. Houston tried to move me so they could have me check out for the cuts I had gotten during the fight. I refused. I just stood there and looked at the body of the one person who was my friend for the longest time. “I am sorry...” I said.

They moved the girl to an EMT and they tried to take my jacket. I took it away from them, they wanted to fight me for it but I think Houston kept them from stopping me. I threw the jacket back on and tried to walk out. “Nightmare!” Houston called after me, running after me. I said nothing, just kept moving. “Nightmare,” He said again, “I wanted to tell you how-.”

“Don't you dare say it Officer.” I growled, “You were right and I was stupid enough to not see it was him...these girls' fate are just as much my fault as his...” I looked back to the body of my friend who had been the cause of all this.

Houston followed my gaze as they removed the mask from Steven's face. I needed to get out of there while they did that. I don't think any of them would know who he was but I didn't want to risk it. I moved quickly but then I heard something that made my blood go cold. “It can't be.” Houston said. 'Please no...' “Nightmare!” He called after me. I bolted, so did he.

We both ran until we got to where I had stashed my bike. No other cops followed after us, I think it had to do with Houston telling them that I was checking up on something and he was to be the only one to follow me as he later told me. I never found out if it was true or not.

We got to my bike and I stood there in silence when I heard him, “I know that kid.” He said resolutely. “That kid was the friend of someone I know...” I dreaded this, “how did he get involved with you.”

“I knew him too...” I said turning to face Houston, “I knew who he was.” My voice changed back to my regular one and Houston recognized it immediately,

“Chase?” He asked,

“Houston.” I replied. There was nothing else said, only him as he rushed over to me and clocked me in the face. The punch caused me to fall back a few steps.

“I cannot believe this shit!” He yelled both hands clenched now. “You're the crazy person who's been running around and getting shot at.”

“I would believe the evidence you have is only what you think you know officer.” I said slipping back to my Nightmare voice,

“Oh no you don't.” Houston said moving to me again rearing for another strike. “You do not go back to that voice as if me knowing changes nothing!” He threw a punch again, which I redirected and put him in a lock,

“I let you have the first punch Officer.” I said, “Don't think the ones that you want to throw again are going to be easy to make.” I released the hold and walked back to my bike.

“How many people know?” Houston asked,

“Know what?”

“Don't give me that shit Chase. Who knows what you're doing?” His question was definitely more of a demand to know. I said nothing. “Does Sifu?” I remained silent, “Does Hernandez-Sifu?” Nothing was said. “You've got to be kidding me Chase.”

“You think you know Officer Pochard.” I said, “But I guess we'll have to wait and see what you're going to do with that supposed knowledge.” With that I hopped on my bike and left.

Life blurred for a time after that. Once word got out that Steven was the one dressed up as Scythe everyone began to wonder if I was Nightmare or not. It took a few school ass beatings to convince people otherwise. Sifu called it a necessary evil and a small penance for what happened. It definitely wasn't worth what happened to the victims, but it was a small relief than having everyone find out I was Nightmare, that was for damn sure. It didn't help that for a while I had to walk on eggshells and still maintain that I was no one else other than Chase Marquez. Stacy; the girl that Steven attacked, never once said anything. I had no doubt she heard Steve and I use our actual names but never once did she give us up.

I never got a chance to thank her. Being the friend of someone's assaulter doesn't help with social interactions. I regretted that for a long time.

I followed the case from start to finish. I thought at first that maybe Steven would own up, all the evidence proved that all of it was premeditated and he was in a state of mind that proved he knew what he was doing was wrong, he just didn't care. The problem with Steven though was that his parents came from money, and they used exactly that to get him a lawyer who argued that being Scythe and under the influence of Nightmare began to make him believe that the rules didn't apply to him just because he wore a mask and brought down criminals. It upset me how much the jury ate that up. I didn't know if Johnny Cochran would've been pleased or upset by the way the case turned.

One thing that bothered me was how not once at all during the court case did Steve ever throw me under the bus. He even fought for me when his attorney tried to paint me as the bad guy. I didn't understand it then. Why didn't he use his chance to drag me down to save himself? Steve was a ride or die guy but he'd rather ride as someone doing scum than die as a brother. It unnerved me to no end. Even when the court ruling was passed he said nothing and it worried me.

I wondered what his lawyer's goal was. Sure he got Steven off on reason of insanity but that only meant that he would be sent to a place even the criminals of the city hated. Grisham Asylum. Dad used to paint the place as hell on earth and for all the times I've fought with people who had been there I had begun to think the exact same thing. Steven had been locked in there for so long and it made me wonder what he wanted. Grisham didn't seem to mind him being there, they actually seemed to have wanted him. From what I've heard, since I've worn the mask they've been wanting to study the people who wore them. I was number one on their wish list, but they had to settle for Steven. I actually began to think that they were actually a match made in heaven for a while.

After Steven was taken in I hadn't heard anything about him. No attacking the inmates; they were too scared from what I could find out, nothing that you would've expected from a guy like Steven. I was scared what would happen but time went on and everyone just forgot about everything. Even I did to an extent.

It all came back during that ride and once the ride finished I found myself a few miles away from the building that I hated most in this city. The Asylum was just outside the city limits, made everyone else feel safe I thought at the time. It's Gothic structure and gray stone made it look like it would fade at any moment. I knew better though, it would stand there and would even outlive cockroaches. 'God give me strength...'


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