Inspired by that episode of Spongebob in which Mermaidman and Barnacle Boy first appeared.... reader beware, it's very long.
Here's my other tale from darkly lit times most of you probably didn't read. If no one's noticed, these tales will all be about Superheroes and the likes.
Tales From Darkly Lit Times
Masters of Mirewood City
Prologue – Rehearsal is Key
The very start of this specific tale begins from several years ago, over two hundred and thirty years ago, just about when the American Revolution occurred. Mirewood City has long been the center of innovation when it came to crime prevention and criminal justice. Hundreds of years ago, when this city was first established in New York State just along what is now the border between the USA and Canada, a problem was obvious. You see, a few other settlements were also filled with people. However, these were not ordinary colonists or explorers. They were criminals, banished from several other settlements as well as Europe. Strangely at first, these criminals did not care too much for raiding or stealing from the Mirewood settlers. Remarkably, soon the entire area that included the Mirewood settlement and other settlements joined together, setting the foundation for what would someday become Mirewood City. However, there was a reason for these ex-criminals’ docile behavior: they had a plan.
Just about ten years after the settlement of Mirewood, a city was born. At least, a city in all its rights could be population-wise as well as government-wise. Ex-criminals made up nearly a quarter of the population, a fact which did not take long to be taken lightly by citizens. But all of that changed when the plan was finally brought into fruition. The night was young, the moon in waxing gibbous, and all was silent as nearly all citizens entered their dream states. All citizens with no criminal past, that is. Before it began, the lead man said to them,
“Remember all o’ those sessions we ‘ad! Remember ‘ow long we’ve been waiting for this. It can’t go wrong. All that practice we ‘ad in the night. The rehearsal was key. It all comes down to this. Now let’s fuck up this shit‘ole!” The action was swift and in just two hours the governing heads were executed and criminals sat in the seats of the councilmen. In the morning, citizens were terrified and did not know what to do. However, one man, known by all as Patrick “Breakjaw” Johnson wasn’t afraid. Breakjaw was notorious for his strength and fairness. He’d on several occasions break the jaw of men who tried to cheat another person in any way, albeit he eventually cooled down enough to at most knock the men out. He was middle-aged, had hair like a grizzly, was as tall as a lamp post, and had fire in his eyes. Johnson rallied his faithful farming crew and launched a counter attack on the criminals. With the support of every brave man willing, they took back that city of theirs. Many of the criminals that took part in the insurrection were killed on the spot. Some were kept in prisons, and the rest were all sent down south to the buffer colony of Georgia.
And so this was the beginning of the city known as Mirewood. Its first hero was Patrick “Breakjaw” Johnson, and not only for his heroics against those criminals. This man set up the city’s first police force. What was once a bunch of sturdy men with rakes and muskets became an organized team of law-enforcing officers. Order was restored and the government reestablished. Breakjaw became the first sheriff of the city, and he pressed for tactical squads to be set up for crime prevention. More than just cops, more than just patrolmen, they created something on par with today’s S.W.A.T. teams. Crime was not welcome after that event. However, criminals and masterminds continued to target Mirewood City for that very reason. They wanted to see if all the rumors were true, or to see if they could break the city. To test the city or to test themselves, crooks flocked to the city and managed to raise a certain level of hell every once in a while. And so, just as Breakjaw did in the beginning of the city’s history, more had to do. Soon, a tradition of heroes began.
After Breakjaw Johnson passed on, his forces set up a system of training one man to his physical peak and equipping this man with the best weapons necessary for fighting and defending. Since so much money was needed, only one man could actually be trained and equipped like this. So the one man remained a secret weapon when the Breakjaw Forces could not handle certain situations. However, the man they trained never got much show time. So he abandoned the Breakjaw Forces, taking all of the special weapons and equipment, primitive in today’s standards, and became a vigilante. He fought crime at night when it was most active, and when the heavy duty occasions sprang up, he was the first on the scene. His name was Joseph Sheridan, and he was the city’s first superhero vigilante. He had no costume, but his equipment and training made him a super soldier compared to the petty criminals he fought. The Breakjaw Forces at first tried to stop him, but realized that he was doing exactly what they trained him for, so they let him go. They considered him their reinforcement in the field. However, Sheridan realized he could not keep this up forever. But he had no family except his son. And so, he trained his son all he knew, for as long as he could. When the day finally came that Joseph Sheridan could not continue his task, his son Malcolm threw on the uniform and took over. The entire specialist training was so secretive that no one outside the Breakjaw Forces even knew about Joseph Sheridan. Therefore, when he did his heroic thing, people were only left with wild rumors of the vigilante who never revealed his face to the public.
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The year was 1999, and Mirewood City is now at the same level as a city like Chicago. However, there is still one thing it retains since its birth: it’s a crime magnet. Fortunately, there is another thing it retains from so long ago: its tradition of a hero rising up to the challenge. The Breakjaw Forces no long exist. No, an official police force replaced it long ago. Trained at the Patrick Johnson Police Academy, no officers at this time know the truth about the man named Joseph Sheridan or that the Breakjaw Forces even existed. No officer knows that Sheridan’s son took over as the city’s night-time hero. No officer knows that if a family member could not take over the position of the city’s vigilante, an orphan or something like that was taken in by the current unknown man. No officer knows that in 1903, the first super-powered vigilante took over the saddle of the night sky’s protector. No officer knows that the hero of 1999 has been protecting the city for nearly twenty years and has no super powers. No officer knows that his name is Daniel Jong, the son of a Chinese immigrant who died holding him in his arms at the age of five. No officer knows that he was found and trained by Francis O’Connell, who also did not have super powers. Up until now, no officer knew the truth about highly trained and mysterious men hopping between rooftops and surveying the city. There were only wild rumors and crazy stories no one believed.
No, the date was November 29 of 1999, and Daniel Jong had found a young boy in the streets no more than twelve. He had been living off of food in the trash and made his home in a large box in the back alley of Lime Street. The unconscious body of a man holding a purse that does not belong to him lay silent in a heap of trash. The masked individual who knocked him out turned to the shaking boy in his box.
“What are you doing in that box?”
“I-i-i-it’s my home!”
“Hmm, doesn’t seem like a very nice home if you ask me.”
“It’s mine! This is my box! You ca-ca-can’t take it away!”
“Relax, no one’s taking anything. Well, except for this guy. Which reminds me, I need to bring this back to its proper owner.” Jong grabbed the purse and began to walk away. “Oh, I’ll be right back.” The young boy stayed frozen in his box for several minutes. He shivered, but he did not move. He began to draw a mental picture of the masked man he just saw.
This guy had short hair, dark goggles, a mask that covered his nose down to his neck, and some black suit… What a weird guy… and scary, too! He took out that other guy really quick!
Then, Jong returned.
“So! What’s your name, young one?”
“Gah!” the boy fell back in his box. “I-I-I don’t have one!”
“What? Everyone has a name.”
“Well, I don’t have one! I’ve been living like this all my life… er… or at least as long as I can remember.”
“Remember?” Jong lifted his goggles, “You know, you speak pretty properly for some street kid. Exactly how many years have you been living like this?”
“What’s a year?”
“Holy hell… Are you serious, kid? Alright, around here, a whole year usually passes every time a winter ends. You know what a winter is, right? Those really cold seasons that usually have a lot of snow?” Jong became a little anxious.
“Oh! That’s a year!? Then that makes it… umm… let’s see… two.”
“Two… two years is your whole life!?” Jong realized that this boy must have suffered amnesia after some sort of traumatic event two years ago that left him alone in the streets.
“Oh, and you asked me for my name. Well, I may not have one, but you can call me Breakjaw!”
Jong stepped back suddenly. What the hell?... How does he know that name?
Jong just stared at the boy for a few moments. He didn’t know what to say to him at all.
“Hey, kid, where did you hear that name?”
“I… don’t know. I just… sort of remembered it. But it sounds cool, so I decided to call myself that!”
“Oh, boy, what have I gotten myself into?” Jong paced around for a short while until he finally said, “At any rate, I just can’t leave you here. I’m taking you to the Child Services Agency in the city. Hmm, I should probably change my clothes first.”
“Wait! Why should I leave!? I’m perfectly fine here.”
“Oh, really? Well, if you’ve really been living on the streets in this box for two years, you should know how cold the winter nights get outside. I’m surprised you didn’t freeze to death your first year out here.”
“Well… yeah… it was really…really cold…” The young boy looked down for several moments before he finally jumped up, “Fine! I’ll go…” The very thought of a warm place to spend the winter was enough to get the boy out of his alley.
“So… we need to think of a name for you… a real one.”
“But I like Breakjaw! It sounds so cool.”
“Heh…” The two drifters walked together down the street into the night.
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“Ok, sir, everything checks out. We’ll have this child assigned to a foster home in a matter of days.” A red-haired lady blowing on her nails nonchalantly spoke to Jong.
“Wait. I was wondering if I could take him in. He has no memories and I wanted to help him find out more about his past. I am a psychiatrist after all. Oh, well of course with the agency keeping a close eye with regular contact.” Jong handed the lady his card.
“Oh, well in that case, doctor, you’ll just have to fill out a few more forms and get interviewed by an agent. If all goes well, everything will be ready in a day or so.”
“Fantastic! Thank you, ma’am, thank you very much.” Jong turned to the young boy. “Now then, we still haven’t figured out a proper name for you. How about… Patrick?”
“Well, it doesn’t sound as cool… but I’ll use it!” Patrick smiled happily.
“I suppose just until we find out your real name.”
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And so, Daniel Jong took in this young boy going by the name of Patrick. He revealed the secrets of the city’s heroes and its past. He included Patrick in his daily training routines. He told him everything about himself.
“So… how exactly do you find time to do all that if you have a job, too?”
“Haha, well, it’s just a day job. I keep the office closed on weekends and since it’s in my house, everything’s really convenient. Plus, I’m free to sleep in during the morning since it’s my own business.”
“What does a pyschy-trist do anyway?”
“It’s ‘psychiatrist,’ and I talk to people who have emotional or other kinds of problems and try to help them.” Jong looked keenly at Patrick. “That reminds me, you want to try and remember some of your past, right? I think I can help.”
“Well, there are several techniques. There are simple talking exercises and we could even delve into hypnosis if we needed to.”
“Awesome! Let’s get started!”
“What? Now? Er… OK.” Jong started but soon realized that this amnesia would not be lifted by any normal means.
“So, what do I do?”
“All you have to do is close your eyes and breathe in heavily ten times.” Patrick did and became very calm. “Good, good. Now I need you to think, think before the times in the streets, before that box, and before you met me.” This went on for a good hour before they finally got something.
“I… I see a bunch of men in suits sitting around a big table. I’m looking in from a door’s key hole. Now some of them are yelling at the one sitting at the end… He’s really sweaty now…”
“Now you listen here, Garrison! I’m not gonna just sit here and put up with this shit all day, ya hear? I need that money now!”
“Look, Ronnie, I’m sorry, but you have to tell your boss that we can’t hand over any money until we actually have the documents.”
“Holy fuck! You just don’t get it! Is yo’ fat-ass head really that thick?” Ron sprang up and smashed his fist on the table.
“Calm down now! There’s no need to get violent. We’re both… both civilized business men, right? I’m sure we can come to an agreement. Al, do me a favor and bring me the phone.”
“No problem, Johnny.” Al opened the door Patrick was looking through and Patrick fell back. “Hey, what are you doing? You shouldn’t be spying on them, it’s dangerous here. You’re father is in an important meeting and it’s not a good idea to be here.” Al walked into the next room.
“NO! THIS IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH! Look, you stupid fuck, you better deliver that money tonight or there’s gonna be some serious shit here!”
Ron pulled out a gun and aimed it right at Garrison’s forehead. Immediately Garrison’s men took out theirs and soon all of the men had guns aimed at each other.
“Whoa, Ronnie, what the hell are you thinking?”
“No, I’m not gonna put up with this bullshit no more. We need that money now!” Ron foolishly smashed his fist into the table again, but with the gun clenched inside it. As soon as his fist hit the table, a bullet rang out and hit Garrison in the stomach. Then, bullets went wild at both sides. Everyone went down except one of Ron’s men. Wounded, the man ran out of the room and out of the house. Garrison crawled out the door and saw Patrick and crawled to him.
“Son, please run. Don’t let yourself get involved in this.” Garrison’s head fell to the ground and stayed motionless. Patrick screamed and threw the man’s hand off his leg.
“Oh, my God! How could this happen!” Al ran in and started to panic. Then he saw Patrick. “Listen to me, you have to get out of this place right now! Trust me, you don’t want to see how this goes. Your father… oh God… you can’t let what just happened to your father get you involved with the police. You have to run away. Run far from here and don’t tell anyone what happened, OK!?” Patrick sat with his eyes wide opened and was shaking. Al ran to the garage, grabbed a canister of gasoline and poured it all over the kitchen. He then lit a match and threw it down where he poured the gasoline. “Dammit all, run! Now go, run!” And so Patrick ran out of the house. He kept running. He ran until his breath was extremely shallow and he collapsed on the hard pavement of an alley headfirst.
“Ahhh! Ahhh! Ahhh! No, no, no!”
“Patrick! Calm down! It’s OK, it’s OK!” Jong cradled Patrick’s head and eased him into the couch. “My God, I just can’t believe it…”
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“So… obviously that Johnny Garrison man must have been your father…”
“Yeah… I guess so.” Patrick sat solemnly on the couch looking down.
“We don’t have to mention this to anyone, OK? Er… yeah… At least we know what your last name is!” Jong smiled, but it soon faded. Patrick wrapped his arms around his folded legs and held them tightly. “Now listen, Pat… Hmm, that’s weird, that whole time and no one in your memory called you by your name… Hold on, I need to go do something.” Daniel Jong ran into another room and was gone for a good ten minutes.
Patrick looked up at the ceiling. He just couldn’t get the image of that bloody man out of his head. He lowered his eyelids and thought about what happened in his memory. A shoot out… That Ron guy shot my dad, but it looks like he died, too. One of them got away…
“I’m back! Here, Pat, read this out loud.” Daniel held out a piece of paper he wrote on.
“OK… ‘Hello, my name is Patrick Garrison. I’m twelve years old and I like ice cream. I hope to befriend you all’… what’s this?” Patrick looked confusedly at Daniel.
“Well, it’s a little something I want you to remember. You start going to school next week and I want you practice reciting that line. When I met you, you didn’t even remember what a year was. Anyway, practice reading that as much as you can so that you remember it, alright? Rehearsal is key, don’t forget that.”
And Patrick Garrison who is age twelve and likes ice cream went to school. He learned and relearned. Many days Daniel also trained him physically as well.
“You know, it’s really tough carrying on this tradition these days. Everyone has more powerful guns and since I don’t have any powers like some of my predecessors, it’s a lot more dangerous. Even with body armor, I can seriously get hurt. Not to mention that it’s hard enough getting contacts who can supply me with equipment. At least I have the bank account. It’s an account that’s been passed down to the vigilantes before me, all the way back before banks when hordes of money were sealed away. You realize why I do this right? I’m glad that you’ve accepted it. You see, we have to find people like us to pass down the position to. We have to fix this city as best as we can. This modern police force? It’s never going to be enough. They’re not like the old Breakjaw Forces, too restricted. Right now, it’s up to me. And someday soon enough, it’ll be up to you. So remember that, Patrick. We need to bring back some of the justice to this place. Fight for what you believe is a life worth fighting for, a life for everyone in this city. And maybe someday… someday you’ll learn the truth about what happened with your father. Maybe you’ll bring the people who did it into justice. Just try, and never surrender. Got it!?”
And so it went on…
Nine years later, July 28, 2008. Daniel Jong is a victim of armed robbery and is shot in the waist. He’s no longer capable of running or even long term walking. For two years, Mirewood City had no hero, even if he was unknown.