The year was 1983. The location was downtown Detroit. This place also happened to be a rotting, festering, decaying cesspool at the time. More specifically, the place was the cluttered mess of an office of one Brody Aaron where this story began.
The time was two in the afternoon and Brody lay in a deep sleep. In his dream, Brody was with his wife and daughter and he was a normal looking man. As the three were having a picnic, black smoke covered the sky and his daughter decayed in front of him. His wife released a scream as blood escaped violently from a newly formed wound in her stomach. The blood covered the entirety of the grass turning it all red. Brody clutched the two dead bodies as a pale faced, pointy eared man wearing a glass dome over his head appeared and from his waist came a series of bladed tendrils.
Before the nightmare could torment him with the recurring transformation he experience over forty years ago, his phone rang violently with no shred of remorse for the unconscious. Brody cursed underneath a pile of dirty clothes, pizza boxes, and unopened letters as he fumbled around for the phone. He picked up the phone and answered the call by asking, “Do you have ANY idea what time it is?!”
There was a silence in the room as the person on the other end told him that it was two in the afternoon. Brody asked why he was called. The person answered.
“A murder at the docks?!” Brody repeated the man’s words with giddiness. “I’ll be there in two shakes of a chimpanzee’s tail!” Brody jumped out from under his pile of trash and opened his closet. He took out a clean shirt, tie, pair of pants, and socks. He changed into his fresh clothes and looked at the picture on his desk of his deceased wife and daughter and he would have cried if his tear ducts were still functional. His mind raced back to the two lifeless bodies in his daughter’s bedroom with the blood covered storybook he would read to her when she couldn’t sleep.
Two and a half hours later Brody arrived at the docks. It was rather windy outside and his brown trench coat flapped wildly in the wind in unison with his green necktie. He held onto his brown fedora in a successful attempt to prevent its escape from his head. He lifted a portion of his full-face mask with the pattern of a smiley-face, revealing his symmetrical scars on each side of his face and stuck a piece of nicotine gum inside his mouth.
Brody cracked his knuckles as he asked the two cops at the crime scene what was happening. The wider police officer, named Steve, told him that it was a murder and that he told him that over the phone. His irritation at the masked man was evident as he kept fussing with his brown mustache, but of course Brody ignored the obvious sign.
Brody crouched next to the cadaver. He poked the body and yelled, “Wake up, you lazy bastard!” and of course nothing happened. Brody came to the conclusion that the man was in fact dead and asked for his paycheck in a calm voice.
Steve’s face was glowing red with rage. All the pressure residing within his head was released in a rapidly flowing stream of curse words. The younger, timid officer tried his level best to remind his partner of his high blood pressure and urged him to relax away from Brody.
He started to dig deep into the jacket pocket of the corpse where he found a wallet and said, “Score! He’s got two twenties. Want one?” while waving the two bills in the air.
“Brody, you’re violating the crime scene!”
“How dare you call me a queer ‘necro-feely-up’?”
The officer stammered, trying to tell Brody that he didn’t mean that.
“I’m just joshing you,” he said as he slapped the boy on the back. “If your name was Josh, this would be just like a sit-com! Oh what the hell, your new name is Josh.”
“Josh” tried in vain to protest his new name but Brody cut him off by telling him to quit fooling around and asked if there were any witnesses. He told Brody of the dock worker who found the body.
Brody crouched once more to examine the body. The corpse was lying on his stomach and appeared to have been healthy before his demise. The man was bald and had an incision that resembled a headband, which appeared to continue onto the front of his head. Brody flipped the body onto his back and noticed to his dismay that not only did that cut continue onto his forehead, but that the man had other cuts on the sides of his mouth.
“This was not the scene of the murder,” Brody stated.
How do you know?” the rookie asked.
“Elementary, my dear Joshua,”
“My name isn’t-”
“Don’t argue with your superiors,” Brody interrupted. “I bet that you’ll also find more cuts all over his body.”
“Yeah, we know. It’s just like the other murders,” Steve said returning from his car.
“There were others like this one?” Brody asked, surprised at this news.
“Yeah Aaron, there were three others just like this. No connection between the four of them. Different races, different genders, different occupations, different everything,” Steve answered.
“You won’t find a connection,” Brody stated.
“Oh? And how on Earth do you know that?” Steve demanded.
“Because I know the guy who did this.”
“And who would that be?”
“The same guy who did this to me,” Brody answered as he revealed his symmetrically scarred face to the two officers. His face appeared to be nearly identical to the cadaver’s.
Before the two could respond, Brody said, “I’m off to find where he might be hiding,” and strode away from the docks.
Brody hopped into his green dune buggy. The engine made multiple rattling sounds that would have made any other person want it to be fixed, but not Brody. He preferred that sound to the music on the radio. Brody decided to go to Detroit’s resident vigilante, Crosshairs, for information on where Brody’s suspect would be held if he were alive. Finding a hero like Crosshairs would be tough for someone who wasn’t in danger, so Brody came up with the brilliant, by his standards, plan to activate the silent alarm of a bank and wait inside until Crosshairs arrived. Of course he didn’t want to incite a panic so he planned to do this as peacefully as possible.
He drove to the nearest bank and went inside. As he walked into the bank the people inside screamed in terror at the man in a mask. The security guard pulled out his pistol and fired three shots at the man, before he could try to explain himself. The bullets fell upon striking Brody, which frightened the people in the bank to the point of running out into the streets. Even though his plan didn’t work accordingly, he picked the most comfortable chair and sat there until the sound of a motorcycle engine was heard outside.
The man that entered the bank was clad in Kevlar body armor from the neck down and his helmet protected his head as well as his identity. He dashed into the bank finding cover behind a desk. He drew his pair of pistols and aimed at Brody and fired a shot from each gun as Brody attempted to greet him. The bullets impacted his chest, but Brody’s rubber-like skin stopped the bullets and pushed them out of the holes in his shirt and they fell to the ground. Though the bullets didn’t kill him, the force of the bullets was enough to make him fall backwards off of the chair. Brody pulled out his revolver and dropped it in front of the masked man. He took out a white handkerchief and waved it around while saying the French phrase for “I surrender”. The joke was lost on Crosshairs as he wasn’t even born around world war two and didn’t know a word of French, but he did recognize that Brody was surrendering.
“What’s your damage, Brody? You decide to rob a bank in the middle of the afternoon?”
“It was all a misunderstanding. I was just going to go in here and activate the silent alarm and wait for you, but these people act like they never saw a man in a mask before.”
“So, what did you come here for?”
“Well I needed to talk to you so I thought this was the best way to do it. Anyways, I need to know where Morwin is being held.”
“Morwin? Yeah I remember capturing that guy in Nam. He’s at Riker’s.”
“Alright, thanks bloke,” Brody said as he snuck out the back entrance of the bank and hopped into his buggy and set for a road trip to New York.
The trip to New York was uneventful for Brody, who made it there in eleven hours. Upon arriving at Riker’s Island, he called the Detroit Police Department for an update to which he received an earful from Steve who demanded him to stop fooling around. He hung up the phone and walked in a fluidic motion to the prison.
Brody requested an audience with Morwin to which the guard allowed, knowing that if a masked man was coming to Riker’s to interrogate a prisoner it must be serious. The guard asked Brody to place his weapons in his custody as he was a guest of the prison, to which he agreed and gave him his revolver and his knife.
Brody was guided to the lowest level of the prison where Morwin was held. The man behind the bars wore a pressurized suit to protect him from the far from pure air. His face was sickly pale and his ears were pointed. His face was riddled with wrinkles. He had no hair on his head. His visage reminded Brody of the process that covered his body in unsightly scars and rubbery skin.
The man exposed an evil grin at the sight of Brody and said, “Greetings, Mr. Aaron. It has been quite a while,”
“Quiet baldy locks,” Brody said, “I have some questions for you and I want you to answer them.”
“Very well, what do you want to know?”
“I want to know who has been killing people in Detroit and making it look like you did it.”
“I have not one iota about what you are talking.”
“So, are you telling me that I wasted my time coming here?”
“I designed your body to be immortal, thus you cannot waste time.”
Brody told the guard that he was done with him and was ready to leave. Morwin grinned once more as the masked man left.
Having reached a dead end, Brody called the Detroit police and told them to instill a curfew and hung up before Steve could say another word. Brody decided to see the sights of New York before returning to Detroit.
Brody’s trip back to Detroit was postponed in Cleveland when his buggy received a flat tire. He parked it on the curb to examine the tire. Brody hopped out of the buggy and found a knife in his back left tire. Before he realized what happened, he was rendered unconscious by an unseen assailant.
Brody awoke to the sound of molten metal ore being processed. The first thing he noticed as he tried to stretch his arms was that he was bound in rope. Secondly, he realized that he was upside down and his hat was on the ground. Thirdly, he noticed a large bald man who had symmetrical scars all over his body just like Brody. Though he was like Brody, this man was larger and had a strange device covering both of his ears and two cylinders on his biceps.
The man noticed Brody struggling to get free and smiled while he said, “It’s about time you woke up.”
“You look familiar. This is like looking into an upside-down mirror of a more muscular me,” Brody commented on the scarred visage that resembled his own.
“You don’t recognize me?”
“Can’t say that I have. Are you my long lost brother?”
“No, you dolt. My name is Emil and I, like yourself, was reborn as a creation of Morwin.”
“And you wanted to meet me for what exactly? Oh I got it. You wanted to make a support group for all the people whose lives Morwin ruined. Right?”
“No, I came to kill you, so that I will be the only immortal on Earth.”
“That’s a stupid plan and I know from experience.” Brody said as he thought of one of his favorite endeavors.
“Was it a stupid plan to kill all those people and make it look like Morwin experimented on them so that you would show me where Morwin was hidden so that I could free him?”
“No, but it was stupid for you to tell me that.”
“It’s not stupid if I’m going to kill you.”
“How are you going to kill me? I’m immortal.”
“No, we are designed to be immortal. I’m going to find a way to kill you.”
“So that’s why you brought me to this processing plant. You want to see if I can melt.”
“You are much smarter than you pretend to be Brody,” Emil said as he pushed a button that activated a device that moved Brody closer to the vat of molten metal.
Before the crane could reach the vat, Brody managed to escape. He thought that the Russian wasn’t as smart as he bragged because he neglected to take Brody’s weapons. The Russian charged towards him with a knife in each hand. Brody pulled out his revolver, but before he could fire it, he was attacked by Emil who thrust his knives at him. Brody took out his own knife and attempted to slash at his opponent. It was evident that Emil was the better fighter, but his attacks were still ineffective. Though the knives weren’t harming him, his coat was still tattered from them.
Brody jumped back and shot at Emil. The bullet sped towards him and indented his forearm and then bounced off nonchalantly. Brody took another shot, this time he hit the cylinder on his right arm. This made Emil move his arm towards his bicep to assure himself that everything was in working order, which gave Brody an idea. He shot again at the same cylinder. He kept shooting as he walked backwards. The bullets either missed or did nothing.
Brody noticed this and tossed his gun and grabbed for the crowbar that was nearby. He dodged Emil’s swing at him and jumped onto his back. He positioned the crowbar between the cylinder and the arm and pried away. Emil tried to swat Brody off of his shoulders, but was unable to hit such a spry and nimble man. Brody’s efforts paid off as the cylinder popped off and a strange concoction spewed from the opening in Emil’s arm. Brody jumped off to take a look at his handiwork. Emil’s arm began to decrease in size, which was such a surprise to Emil that he did not attack Brody. He looked in horror at what Morwin’s chemicals did to his musculature. Brody took advantage of this and grabbed Emil by the arm and threw him into the nearest vat. His body did not melt, which made Brody sad because he was planning on attempting it so that he could finally go to meet his wife and daughter in the afterlife. Though Emil’s body did not melt, liquid metal began to fill the opening in his body. It was a matter of scream-filled minutes before Emil finally died.
Brody left the ore processing plant depressed that once more he had failed to die so that he could lay his eyes upon his lovely wife and daughter.
“Well that’s that,” Brody stated with a lack of happiness or despair, as he pulled his full-face mask up to reveal his mouth and placed a piece of nicotine gum inside and chewed away. Brody replaced his flattened tire and hopped into his green buggy and drove away from the refinery and towards Detroit with thoughts of perhaps trying to change for the better and perhaps become an actual hero.
Matthew T McHenry is a recent BFA graduate from Bowling Green State University. His works include, but aren’t limited to Fiction, Anecdotes, and Poetry. He can be contacted at [email protected]