Portal – Chapter 56

“Unit 31 to base, we’ve got a male victim with serious internal injuries. Hello? Hello? Piece of junk, I can’t get a signal.”

Mark Russell felt every bump and slide as he was wheeled into the ambulance. He woke up when the paramedics arrived and inserted various probes and needles in him. His entire body hurt and he could no longer feel his legs. He wanted to look down to see if they were still there but his neck was restrained in a brace attached to the backboard.

“Call the JTF,” Mark managed to mumble to the paramedic treating him. The paramedic stopped working and leaned in closer. “An Enhanced attacked us. Call the JTF.”

The paramedic’s face turned white. No one wanted to report an Enhanced crime, even if it was required by law – many Enhanced criminals took it personally. When they arrived on scene, they found pieces of another male nearby. They had no idea what kind of power was used and they wanted to keep it that way.

The ambulance bounced softly up and down as the paramedic jumped from the back of the cab.

“Perry, I’m grabbing the sat phone and heading to the street. The victim says they were attacked by an Enhanced. I’ve got to call the JTF.” His partner just nodded as he continued to flag the location of the body parts for the HazMat team to pick up.

Mark felt the cab bounce again. He tried to look up to see if the paramedic had already returned. Instead, a dark shadow fell over him as a cloaked man, only his eyes exposed, peered down at him. Whoever he was, he did not appear friendly.

“Well, well, what happened to you?” the cloaked man asked mockingly.

“Enhanced attacked us,” Mark replied nervously. He did not know if the newcomer was another Enhanced or a crazy local.

“Is that so?” he asked inquiringly. The cloaked man turned around to see the other paramedic occupied with his gruesome task of finding human remains. “Or perhaps I was the one that attacked you and your friend.”

“No,” Mark said weakly. This guy was freaking him out but he was nothing like that vicious animal that killed his best friend and nearly killed him too. “Those eyes. I will never forget them. They were glowing. I have never seen anything like it since…” Mark was afraid to say his name. Could he actually be alive?

“Oh, I don’t know about that,” the cloaked man said. Mark knew he was smiling underneath his clothing. “In fact, why don’t you just forget about the glowing eyes completely. The JTF doesn’t need to know about that.”

“Fuck you,” Mark spat as blood trickled from his nose. “I want that son-of-a-bitch caught and executed.”

“Or maybe you want to hide what you and your friend were really doing here, hmm?”

Mark’s body froze.

“You see, if the JTF was to learn about an Enhanced running around with glowing eyes, perhaps they would also want to know that you and your friend were out here trying to rape that nice young lady from the Hookah restaurant up the street. The Enhanced was merely coming to that young lady’s aid against two vile mundanes.”

Tears started flowing from Mark’s eyes. His career and retirement were ruined.

“No, there were no glowing eyes out here tonight. Right?” The cloaked man hovered over Mark like a predator toying with it’s prey.

Mark tried to shake his head. It was very difficult in the neck brace.

“Good, I’m glad we have our facts straight. But you know, I do think you can do something for me, something that will get the JTF’s attention much more than some fanciful tale of glowing eyes.”

“What?” Mark asked fearfully. He was longer sure who was the scariest monster on the street tonight.

“You tell Lehrer something for me,” the cloaked man said as he retreated to the rear of the cab. “You tell him Maze has some unfinished business with him. You got that?”

Mark felt his bladder release when the cloaked man said his name. He knew this was the real deal – the cloak, the angry voice, everything. Criminals were scared to death of Maze. Many would turn themselves in at the nearest Police station once they learned Maze was hunting them. He had the most convictions and the highest body count of any Enhanced. He also had warrants out for his arrest in several states.

“Oh, by the way, you should count yourself lucky,” Maze said as he jumped out of the cab.

“How?” Mark mumbled, aching, and completely soaked in his own urine.

“You’re still breathing. If I caught you two racist assholes trying to rape that woman, I would have thrown you both off the roof.”

Mark gripped the sides of the stretcher, his knuckles turning white.

“If you go near that young lady or I hear about you hurting women again, you will wish you died with your friend.”

Mark closed his eyes and prayed Maze would leave. Suddenly, Perry opened the driver side door as the first paramedic climbed in the back of the cab.

“All set. The JTF will meet us at the hospital. Let’s go. Hey, buddy, you okay?”