Curse Of The Reddeath
Al Bruno III
More than a dozen voices rose up, united in a single scream. The lights flickered plunging the small auditorium into momentary darkness and then rose up again. Lisa Brown blundered from the piano bench and stared out into the audience. From her place on the stage she had a perfect view.
Dead, they were all dead. Her parents, her brothers, her sister, her uncles and aunts, even her Nana, all dead slumped in their seats and lightly smoldering. They had all been here for her piano recital. She was nine years old and her entire family was gone, the thought took her breath away.
“Think of all the money you'll save on the holidays.” a voice said from beside her, it was bleak and cruel, the breath that carried it smelled like a grave.
And now Lisa did scream. She hadn't heard the stranger approach but she recognized him. He wore robes the color of blood and his mask was the color of bones; it was the Reddeath. Lisa had grown up in a world of costumed heroes and villains, she had seen the capture of Megaton Minotaur on live television, Mr. Nice Guy had visited her school to give a talk about good citizenship, and it seemed like every day you could see the Legion of Protectors zooming overhead heading for one adventure or another.
The Reddeath was not a costumed troublemaker, not a bank robber or jewel thief with a gift for the flamboyant, he was a monster pure and simple; and he was looming over her. Lisa felt her skin crawling, when she spoke her voice was so small, “Why?”
“Your Uncle Josh has something I need, the keys to the vault containing the black scrolls of Nepren-Ka, ” his smile was wide, too wide. Lisa thought for a crazy moment he was going to eat her up. “I couldn't just ask him for it could I?”
“You didn't have to kill them,” the tears were coming but she fought them back.
“Oh. I didn't kill them, ” the Reddeath gestured to the piano, “I put sensors under the keys. One sour note was all it took to send a fatal charge to their seats. You killed them.”
Lisa gasped, the gasp became a sob.
“You should have practiced more.”
Her tear-filled eyes filled with hate; her Daddy had sent her to Tai-Kwon-Do classes over the summer. She swung her fist with all her might hitting the Reddeath in the stomach. He stumbled back. Lisa turned to run but he lurched forward and grabbed hold of her. His nails had been filed down to points, they dug into the flesh of her shoulder. Then he shoved her into the piano, Lisa struck her head on the hard wood and fell down. Her temple ached and bled.
“I was going to let you live...” The Reddeath drew a pistol from beneath his robes, “I was going to leave you with such a story to tell. But you're a naughty girl. You don't respect your elders.”
Lisa stared down the barrel of the gun, blood stinging her left eye; she wasn't afraid to die- what did she have to live for? She was alone. Cursed.
A commotion erupted just offstage, Lisa turned to see the thugs had fallen; a caped figure in silver and black standing over them, his cowl made it seem like he had no face at all, “What have you done?” his voice was like thunder.
It was ShadoMask, the defender of River City. Moving with the grace of an acrobat and the speed of a gazelle he flipped and tumbled until he was at the edge of the stage. He pulled a weighted rope from his utility belt and began spinning it round and round until it hummed. The monster in red pulled Lisa to her feet and held her close, “No further hero. No further,” he dug the pistol into her cheek.
The hero stood his ground, “Enough people have died tonight, You let that girl go or you'll pay. By all that I hold sacred you'll pay.”
The Reddeath laughed, “Empty promises, Your honor is worth more to you than a thousand little girls.”
“Do you want to test me?”
The two men glared at each other. Lisa had had enough, the Reddeath's arm was around her throat, she lowered her head and bit down as hard as she could. The monster in red screamed. ShadMask threw his bolo and it caught the Reddeath's gun hand wrenching it away from her. A heartbeat later the defender of River City knocked the Reddeath out with a single punch.
After that everything became a confusion of uniformed officers and pitying glances. Lisa let them wrap her in a blanket and take her to the police station, but no matter how many people crowded around her she felt alone, utterly alone.
A handsome well dressed men walked into the room, he knelt beside her and explained that he was Robert Raymond an old friend of Uncle Josh. Lisa didn’t know him but the name was slightly familiar... wasn't he some local millionaire? Robert Raymond asked her if she wanted to come home to him, to meet his son Kevin and maybe stay a while while until her future was sorted out.
Lisa didn't want to think about the future and she didn't suspect know she would soon learn that the kind, sqare-jawed man taking her in was the defender of River City, she couldn't know that she would someday follow in his footsteps and adopt a secret identity of her own.
All she did know is that she would never play the piano again.