The Correspondent is a web serial by Dylan Reed. Buy the whole story now.

Origin, Episode 7

The Correspondent

People always talk about where they were when they first heard about The Correspondent. She came out of nowhere and tried to make a difference. Some saw her as a beacon of hope, others as a sign of how far down the slope we had come. I never paid attention to all of that. I was too busy. Too busy working to pay my bills, too busy trying to figure out life. I was seventeen when it started. I was The Correspondent. This is my story.


THE FOLLOWING MONDAY everything changed. I had been up late the night before patrolling and woke up exhausted. Juggling a job and being a hero was hard. I didn’t care that I was going to be late to work again. I had figured out the pattern of crimes in the area and if I was correct there was going to be another robbery early next week. There were a couple weeks between robberies, I assume that the criminals had to have time to spend all their ill-gotten gains.

I packed my bag for the day. I placed my boots, gloves, and mask in a messenger bag. Checking to make sure my costume was invisible beneath my clothes, I headed off to work. Traffic was annoying in a way that only traffic in a small town can be. By the time I got to work I was thirty minutes late. I made eye contact with my dad when I walked in and could tell he was pissed.

“Nice of you to show up,” he said.

“Sorry I’m late. I just overslept,” I said.

“It seems like you have been oversleeping a lot lately. What’s going on?”

“What do you mean?”

“Ever since the summer started you have been acting weird. I know you have been sneaking out. I went to check on you the other night and you weren’t in your room.”

“I was just sitting on the roof.”

“Sure you were.”

God what was his problem. So I was late, it wasn’t like the store was super busy.

“You made a commitment to work this summer, you either need to start showing up on time or stop coming in all together.”

“Fine.”

I stormed off into the stock room. Ever since I was a little kid I had been where I went when I was mad at my parents. The shelves in the back were perfect to hide in. There was an old vault that we kept the cash register drawers in, which doubled as mom’s office. She was out of the store, probably at the bank, so I was alone in the back.

I angrily started organizing the shelves. Manual labor gave me time to think about what my dad had said. Apparently I wasn’t as sneaky as I thought. How could I explain why I was sneaking out in a way he would understand. Telling him that his teenaged daughter was sneaking out to fight crime was a bad idea. The ding of the door alarm shook me from my thoughts. A customer had arrived. Making sure my apron was tied I headed towards the front of the store.

As I walked down the hall into the store I could see the front door. And the customer that was walking down the aisle was none other than the The Rat. Behind him was the bruiser with the shotgun. I hadn’t even considered that they might rob my families store. Turning around I headed to the break room to change.

This was my first time changing into my costume with a time constraint. Good thing I had been wearing my costume under my clothes everyday. I tossed my apron on the break room table and pulled my polo over my head. I kicked off my shoes and pulled off my pants. I fumbled with my bag and dumped everything out on the floor.

Groping around on the floor, while still trying to keep an eye on the front was hard. I found a boot and shoved it on the wrong foot. Shit. I put it on the correct foot and found the other boot. I put the mask on next, starting the boot up process while I found my gloves. Once I had the gloves on I was ready to go take care of these jokers. And I had home field advantage.

I ran into the back room where we cut pipe and grabbed two scrap pieces, each about as long as my forearms. They had a nice heft to them and I figured they would help me take down the bruiser, assuming that I didn’t get shot first. I knew that surprise was on my side and I needed to make it count.

I headed towards the front of the store, hoping that they weren’t looking for me. I took a chance diving into the back aisle, which would hide me from view. I was blind since dad had never installed security cameras.

I snuck down the aisle heading towards the front of the store, getting closer to the spray paint. Throwing a couple metal cans that would explode if shot would be a good distract the bruiser. I moved as quietly as I could, using the suits sound sensor to monitor my approach. I was almost to the front of the store when I wished I would have turned off the lights, but it was to late for that.

Grabbing a can of cornflower blue off the shelf I kept moving, ready to chuck it at the bruiser. As soon as I saw the back of his head I threw the can. My aim wasn’t great, but it did startle the two robbers. As the bruiser was spinning around I had already grabbed another can and thrown it, this one hit him in the head. I threw a third can and ducked as the shotgun roared.

I avoided the pellets but the spray paint did not. The can was shredded and bruiser was bathed in a nice shade of canary yellow. He let go of the shotgun with one hand as he tried to clear the paint from his eyes. Gripping my pipes, I ran straight at him.

I swung the two pipes at his head. One struck him square on the ear and the other was a little low catching him in the jaw. As I pulled back to swing again he swung the shotgun at me, hitting my right arm and forcing me to drop on of the pipes which clattered to the ground.

I dropped to the ground and did a back roll, landing on my feet. Transferring my remaining pipe to both hands I swung it like a bat. My swing hit the muzzle of the shot gun deflecting it down as it was discharged again.

I swung again, this time aiming for his hands. He screamed in pain as he dropped the shotgun. I moved in close to try and knock him out, but he was ready for that. He grabbed my around the neck with his good hand and hit me in the stomach with the other. I stood there gasping as I tried to catch my breath.

He started to lifting me by my neck. I pummeled his forearms with my hands, but he ignored it. As I struggled more he again punched me in the stomach. My toes barely touching the ground and I was starting to see spots when I heard a laugh. The bruiser turned us to face whoever was laughing and the laugh became higher pitched and more manic.

“Is it her?” the Rat asked, making himself laugh even harder.

“Yes,” bruiser said, his voice filled with anger.

“Well that is just wonderful,” he stepped closer, “Hello, little one. I still owe you for this bruise,” he gestured to a great purple bruise on the side of his face.

All I managed to do was stare at him, my eyes bulging out of my head.

“You have been a great mystery to me. Why would someone get in the way of what we are doing? We were very careful not to hurt anyone.” He was pacing in front of me as he spoke. “You thwarted me once, and, I’ll admit, I enjoyed having someone besides the stupid cops to contend with. But it ends now. I don’t even care who you are. I am going to shot you in the head, leave your body here and take the money from this store. And there is nothing you can do to stop me.”

With that he pulled a gun out from his trench coat, aimed it at my head and started to pull the trigger. I started to scream, or scream as much as I could with my windpipe being crushed. His finger squeezes the trigger and I close my eyes.

Click.

The Rat started laughing. I opened my eyes and see him dancing a little jig his head thrown back laughing. He stops dancing and turns to face me head on. He pulls a clip out of his pocket and slaps it into the gun.

“Well, girly-girl, the time has come to say goodbye,” he says, “Bruno, please hold her away from yourself so I don’t accidentally shoot you.”

Bruno complied, pushing me down to the floor and grabbing my arms. Sweet oxygen enters my lungs as I am able to catch a full breath for the first time. I take a gasping breath and prepare to do something really stupid.

I am saved from doing something stupid by my dad doing something stupid. My attempts to wiggle out of Bruno’s hands were interrupted by my dad sprinting at The Rat. Screaming my dad started pummeling The Rat’s back and arms.

Shocked by the The Rat started to turn towards my dad, which only made me struggle harder. Bruno was distracted by this turn of events, his grip on my arms loosened and I rolled away. I swung my legs out at The Rat’s feet tripping him in the process. As he started to go down his gun hand swung out and he fired.

The world slowed down. I saw the bullet leave the barrel of the gun and fly towards dad. I watched as the bullet tore threw his body, entering right at the center of his chest. I saw the blood spray out the back as he started to fall, a look of surprise on his face. I turned towards The Rat, rage bellowing up from inside me. Grabbing his coat, I yanked him towards me, slamming my fist into his face over and over again.

I felt hands on my shoulders as Bruno grabbed me and threw me bodily across the store. I slammed into an end cap full of sandpaper and crashed to the floor. As I got up I saw Bruno picking The Rat off the ground and heading towards the door. I started after them when I heard a wheezing coming from my dad. I ran over to where he was collapsed.

His eyes were glazed over as he stared at me. There was blood everywhere on the floor, pooling out from underneath his body. I tried my best to stop the bleeding but couldn’t put pressure on both places at once. As I knelt in his blood and watched him fade away I realized that this was all my fault. If I hadn’t started down this path, my dad would never have been shot.

“Ellie,” he said, his voice barely audible, “is that you?”

“Yes dad,” I said, trying to keep my voice stead, “I am so sorry.”

“It’s okay. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

After that his breathing started to slow. I sat next to him wondering what I was going to do next. How was I going to tell my mom that dad was dead and it was my fault? I realized that things would never be the same. I would never see my dad’s face again. There was one thing I could do. I could hunt The Rat down and make him pay for what he did.

I stood up, looking around the store. I grabbed the two lengths of pipe I had used earlier and headed to my scooter. I was going to find The Rat if it was the last thing I did

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The story of The Correspondent will continue weekly. The Correspondent: Origin is available now. If you enjoyed this story, please consider scrolling down and recommending it on Medium. Follow me on Medium or on Twitter for more posts like this. Want early access? Support me!

Dylan Reed has always been interested in a good story. Raised without a TV he spent a lot of time with books and loves reading. Dylan has been a professional entertainer, studied commercial diving, and loves random trivia. He brings all of this and more together in his stories.