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

Origin, Episode 12, Part 2

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.

I SLIPPED INTO THE DARKNESS and headed around towards the door of the shack. I got the bat ready, and prepared to hit the first thing out of the door. Crouching down so as to be less obvious target my plan was to hit whoever came first in the shins and to knock their gun away. As it happened the bruiser came through first. I hit him as hard as I could in the shins, causing him to bend over in pain. My second swing hit the barrel of his pistol as he started to fire.

I heard a crack as the gun was torn from his hands, breaking his trigger finger. The gun bounced away, colliding with the wall. I took a chance and hit the henchmen in the head, knocking him out cold. I backed away, trying to be both quiet and quick. In the shack I heard The Rat checking on the bruiser.

“Oh, shit, oh shit,” The Rat said over and over again. I felt elated. I had him just where I wanted him. I was approaching the back side of the shack when one of the boards I stepped on gave a loud squeak. Bullets immediately started to tear through the back wall of the shack as I threw myself down. One of the slugs caught me right in the stomach knocking the wind out of me. My suit notified me that I had been hit, but that the suit had held up.

I rolled away from the shack as I heard the gun click empty. I laid on the ground trying to catch my breath, trying to force air back into my lungs. I heard the scrap of footsteps as The Rat came out of the shack and towards where I was laying. I saw him fumbling in his jacket pocket for a new clip for his gun and watched as he reloaded. He cocked the gun and then reached into his pocket for something else. A flashlight. Shit.

My lungs decided to start working again and I tried to figure out what to do. His flashlight clicked on and he shined the light onto the area behind the shack. His back was to me. If I was quiet enough I would be able to take him out before he turned around.

Again I was betrayed by the creakiness of the wood. The Rat spun around and I started swinging my bat, he fired as my bat hit the side of his head. There was an echoing gun shot and the world exploded into stars and I collapsed to the floor. As I lost consciousness my suit warned me that I needed to send it in to be fixed.

I felt the tug of a rope wrapped under my arms and the rhythmic tugging as I was pulled out of the drain. I must have passed out again because I woke up in the back of a police car. I thought it was a good sign that I wasn’t handcuffed. There were only two squad cars and not a huge mob of cops. I could see two figures in the other car, The Rat and Bruno.

Sitting up I looked around. I could see the familiar shape of Detective Mendez talking to another officer. The two finished and Mendez headed towards the car I was in. Before he got back to the car I tried the doors and they were all locked. Hoping he hadn’t seen me moving around I laid back down and pretended to be knocked out. Plus, it felt good to close my eyes again.

I felt the car shift as he climbed in the car. The car started and he pulled away from the park. I felt the familiar bumps in the road as we passed my house. If I tried to guess, I would say that we were headed towards the hospital. Using the features of the suit I could access without moving, I pulled a map up in the heads up display. My assumption was correct; we were headed for the hospital. The suit also told me that no one had attempted to remove my mask and that the suit was worried that I was in medical trouble.

“Are you going to sit there and pretend you’re knocked out or do you want to talk?” Mendez said.

Well, crap.

“Alright, I’m up,” I said, sitting up.

“Good,” he said, looking at me in the rearview mirror, “I have a couple questions for you.”

Double crap.

“I noticed that you have been busy running around. Why are you doing this?”

“Because it is the right thing to do.”

“Do you think the police aren’t doing a good enough job?” his eyes bored into mine.

“Its not that, it is more that you guys are not always there, I am just another layer of crime prevention.”

“Ahh,” Mendez said, “Do you want to change before we get to the hospital?”

“Kind of, but I don’t want you to know who I am.”

He started to laugh, “I have known who you were since your dad was shot. How’s your head?”

I reached up and felt my temple, there was a sticky substance on my mask that turned out to be blood. I felt deeper, ignoring the pain, and found a gash in the mask where the bullet had broken through and grazed my skin.

“There is a duffle bag on the floor with a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt. They will be big on you but they will hide your identity.”

I found the duffle bag on the floor and removed the clothes from it.

“Are these your workout clothes?” I said, my nose crinkling.

“Hey, beggars can’t be choosers, Ellie.”

Well, he wasn’t lying about knowing who I was. I peeled off the mask, boots and gloves and put the shirt on. I pulled the top of the super suit off underneath the shirt, glancing up at the mirror. Mendez had his eyes well diverted from the scene in his back seat. I was able to wiggle out of the rest of the suit and I put on the sweatpants. I stuffed my suit in the duffle bag and set the bag on my lap.

“So what’s the story?” I asked.

“I found you at the scene of a shooting, you were grazed by a stray bullet.”

“Sounds fair.”

I sat back in the seat and started to shake. Unwanted tears came to my eyes as I thought about what had happened over the last week. I covered my face with my arms and sobbed. Detective Mendez stayed quiet as we drove the rest of the way to the hospital.

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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.