by Russell Paulette (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Chapter 1 - Underground
His muscles strained and groaned in protest as he
hung inbetween the rafters of New York's Subway system.
The Spider had taught him this technique, much to the
He turned his cowled, red-covered face down and
glanced at the destruction below him. All night New
York's Finest Investigators and Pathologists scoured and
surveyed the wreckage strewn about them, and it seemed, to
the Devil, to be a futile effort. They were not going to
find anything, and they were fooling themselves thinking
they could sort for clues. Any explosion of this
magnitude would be covered with enough wool to pass as
sheep's clothing for the genuine terrorist.
Stepping about the cluttered platform of broken
lives was District Attorney Kathy Malper, and her
entourage of yes-men. She tightened the Red Sox baseball
cap, and shrugged a package of cigarrettes and a lighter
out of her jacket, echoing the same baseball orientation
as the cap. Lighting the Marlboro, she inhaled deeply, and
barked, "Fields! Get your worthless self this way!"
Fields, a man who was green in his face, but not
from inexperience, loosened his tie, gulped, and said,
"Yes, Ms. Malper." Matt's olfactory caught his acrid
sweat staining the man's starched-cotton shirt, and the
nervousness in his voice echoed in his ears.
"Find me the head investigator on this bad boy, I
want to know who's responsible for all of this."
"Yes, ma'am." he mumbled, turning, and tripping over
a stiff, dead form, kicking loose bits of tile and subway.
"We got another body!" a paramedic said, as the
metallic sound of the hollow skeleton of a stretcher
contorted on itself.
"District Attorney Malper?" a large, gruff man in a
finely tailored suit grumbled.
"Lieutenant Joseph Marmalade. I'm in charge of this
investigation." he said, offering a calloused, ink-stained
"How many dead, how many injured?" she asked, her
head turning towards the crisp husk of a subway train,
broken and scattered about them.
"Hard to say. This subway train got caught in the
explosion, ripping the ass-end of it off and left it a
flaming hulk. We don't know where the explosion came
from, but the lab boys thought a bomb was probably in that
trash can there, right next to what used to be the
Malper walked over and glanced at the damaged area
around the trashcan and turned her head towards the
ceiling. "Hey, Red! Why don't you come on down here and
help us out?" she smiled with an air of reason. "Not that
I'm minding the view of you in your jammies."
"About time." DareDevil called from above as he
relaxed his leg and arm muscles and dropped fifteen feet
onto the husk of a token booth.
"What's he doing here?" Marmalade barked. "This is
a closed crime scene!"
"Well, Lieutenant Custard," the Devil said. "with
all your men scouring about, can you tell me why there are
about four nine-milimeter shells lying a little to the
left of the trashcan that have not been collected for
evidence?" Marmalade motioned for a detective to gather
the shells, his face a red splotch of embarrassment which
registered on Matt's radar.
"That's what he's doing here." Malper said, with a
"It's Marmalade." the Lieutenant said, simmering.
"Has the lab determined anything from the trashcan?"
Matt asked his face a portrait of earnest concearn as he
turned his attention towards Marmalade.
"I haven't heard anything as yet, although they said
they'd probably have something by mid-day."
"Will you let me know when they have something,
Kathy?" DareDevil turned to Malper.
"Sure. Just leave a message at Sharpe, Nelson &
Murdock; that how things run these days?"
"Sure thing." the Devil said.
"Will do." And with that, DareDevil patted Marmalade
on his head and left the scene so swiftly, none present
were positive of his departure.
"Who the hell does he think he is?" bellowed
"The Devil." Malper turned away from DareDevil's
exit and quickly added. "Tell me, Lieutenant...by lunch,
should I have enough evidence to begin building a case
against the sphincters who were responsible for this."
"You'll have something."
"I hope so." she said signaling to Fields that it
was time to leave. "I really hope so."
* * *
The windowsill smelled of pine and rain as a light
mist permeated throughout the better part of upper
Manhattan. DareDevil stood on the fire escape outside of
his apartment window and, slipping fingers underneath the
window cracked for ventillation, crawled inside the
apartment, slouching on the couch. He slipped his red
cowl off and yelled, "I'm back." down the hallway, hoping
Karen was awake.
"Yeah, John. Call me back later." he heard shortly
before she emerged from the bedroom. "Hey, lover, how are
"I'm okay. I've got to go to work today, but I'm
She sat at the end of the couch and set his auburn-
haired head in her lap. Running long, well defined
fingers through the rough tundra of his head, she asked
"So, how did it go last night."
"Fine. Tried to get some info on that subway
"Yeah. Nasty stuff."
"Yeah." he said, standing and slipping out of his
tunic, he headed towards the bedroom. "Someone out there
is responsible for it. I'm only afraid of who it might
be. Or what might transpire because of it." He walked
out, slipping into a black t-shirt, his boxer shorts
proudly displaying little red pitchforks.
"I wouldn't worry too much about it." she said,
leaning over the back of the couch and kissing him fully
on the lips.
"You were mad at me yesterday; why the change?"
"I don't know." she said, smiling. "I'm still mad
at you. Maybe seeing you without the horns or sunglasses
softens my heart."
"Why?" he asked, returning to his place on the
"This is the only time I can see your eyes. They
always make me forgive you."
"Well, Gawsh..." he said, with faux-embarrassment.
"Maybe you can be a little late to the office." she
said, extending her hand underneath his shirt. He leaned
up to kiss her, and withdrew suddenly from the embrace, as
his mind spewed the memory of her on the phone.
"I don't know, Karen. I'm not feeling right." He
stood and walked into the kitchen, pulling out a bowl from
an overhead cabinet with a groan of taught muscles. He
made a milk run to the refrigerator and grabbed a box of
Wheaties on the way back to the bowl.
"You sure you're okay?" she asked, sitting on a
stool on the other side of the open faced counter, from
which he was serving himself.
"You had breakfast?" he asked.
"Matt...What's wrong?" she asked, her fingers
stroking his chipmunk cheeks as they cruched the hearty
oat flakes between his abalone teeth.
"I don't know." he said, munching on the cereal.
"Maybe I'm just feeling uneasy about...us..." He didn't
want to say it. He didn't want to say what he was most
"What do you mean, us?" she asked, withdrawing her
hand as her face grew defensive.
"I get the feeling that you have been..." he paused,
searching for the right words. "...reluctant...to share
things with me."
"Like this 'Paige Angel' stuff."
"You were pretty crafty in your discovery of that,
"It was more coincedence than craft."
"So you say. But, counselor, isn't a girlfriend
allowed to keep secrets?" she asked, still with a
"Who were you talking to...when I came in?"
"What are you talking about?"
"I came in the apartment, and you were in the
bedroom talking on the phone."
"Jesus, Matt! Do you have to know everything in my
life?" She stood, her face red with anger.
"No, Karen, it's not like that." he pleaded as she
stormed to the bedroom. "I'm worried about you. I mean,
what you do and who you associate with-"
"I've been clean for HOW long now, Matt! I'm not
going to go and try and get a fix just because you 'died'
and came back all crazy. Hell, Matt, you know how I've
"I know Karen, it's just-"
"And FURTHERMORE, I can take care of myself, thank
you very much. I'm a big girl, and I dealt with myself,
by myself, while you were dead, and I can deal with myself
while you are alive. What I can't deal with are people
like yourself thinking that I'm back on a kick, just
because-" she was hysterical now. "-just because I want
to keep some things to myself BEFORE I let you know,
okay?" the tears were streaming a line of hurt down her
cheeks. "So don't tell me I can't take care of myself!"
"Karen, I just-" she cut him off by slamming the
bedroom door shut and saying something he wouldn't repeat
in front of his mother; especially considering his mother
is a nun. "I'd stay home, but you need time to cool
off...time away from me. I'm sorry."
"So, go to work, already!" she yelled.
"My suit's in there." he said, deadpan.
"Then prance around the city in red; I don't care!"
"That suit's in there, too." he calmly said.
The door swung open and as he said, in a calm
protest, "Karen, listen-" a black three-piece, white
collared shirt, and plain red tie were flung into his
face, nearly pushing him to the ground, as he was narrowly
saved by his hypersenses screaming a warning. As he
walked away, he felt the air being pushed ahead of his
Italian loafers and as he ducked, he felt the air above
his head disrupted by the presence of flying socks, as
Neatly placing the suit on the couch, as the bedroom
door slammed shut, he turned and sat on a stool by the
counter and slopped the soggy cereal into his mouth with
measured bites, brooding as he slurped the milk.
* * *
"So, Mr. Norombi," Foggy said, nervously shifting
files as his client sat. "What can we at Sharpe, Nelson
and Murdock do for you?"
"Nothing much, right now. I have a lawsuit I wish
to file involving copyright infringement."
"Easy enough, Mr. Norombi. I've handled so many
copyright cases, I could recite statutes in my sleep."
"Very well, Mr. Nelson."
"Please, call me Foggy." he said, with a nervous
smile. As Norombi shifted in his seat, the mood of the
two shifted as well.
"Now...Foggy...I was wondering if you could tell me
the...status...of a piece of real estate?"
"In the city?"
"Yes. I'm going to need a skyscraper for my
corporations' New York offices."
"What are you interested in?" Foggy said, picking up
the phone, already reviewing the number of a real estate
agent friend of his.
"Fisk Plaza." Norombi said with a frank coldness.
The blood drained from Foggy's face as he gulped
deeply, and could feel a cold sweat begin on his forehead.
"Fisk...um...Fisk...um, Plaza, that is?"
"Yes. It seems...adequate to my needs."
"Um...okay." Foggy dialed the number and tentitively
questioned his friend. After a brief period of laughter
followed by harrowing silence on Foggy's part, the agent
began listing prices which Foggy jotted down and showed to
Norombi after hanging up the phone.
"This will do; I'm sure you'll be able to make
arrangements, just keep me updated."
"Yes...(gulp)...sir." Foggy said.
"And, since this is all I need, for now, I shall be
on my way." Norombi stood and offered his hand.
Foggy shook it and gave a feeble bow, remembering
the tradition from the embarrassment of the last meeting.
Norombi bowed back and left Foggy standing, his entire
body feeling numb and depleted.
Why did he feel uneasy about this? It was a simple
buisness transaction; Fisk Plaza was certainly a viable
piece of real estate with a romance that would attract
most entrepeneurs. But, perhaps, the fact that Foggy had
a bad history with Fisk Enterpises in general, left a bad
taste in his mouth. A bad taste which Foggy was
determined to wash out with his accostomed mid-morning
Encountering Matt on his way to the machines, Foggy
gave a feeble wave and moved on. Strange, Matt thought,
as he followed Foggy with his hypersenses, hearing the
starched shirt soften in his partner's cold sweat. Matt
could smell that strange coppery tang of fear in between
layers of cheap colonge to which Foggy was partial. Matt
stood in the passageway, his hands on his cane resting on
the floor, his chin resting on his chest, as he sought
outside himself with his hypersenses.
He heard Foggy return, and Matt quickly transferred
himself back into reality from his reverie.
"You okay?" Matt asked as Foggy moved past, sipping
his coffee, barely registering his presence.
"Yeah." Foggy quickly shot back, and entered his
office, closing the door and locking it behind himself.
Matt scratched his head and flipped strands of hair
from his face. He couldn't tell if Foggy was ignoring him
due to the scorn his partner had shown him yesterday, or
if it was something else entirely. Matt suspected the
* * *
"You really don't have to baby me, Ben, I can do
this fine...by myself." Doris Urich slipped into the
bathroom and closed the door behind her. Several seconds
later, Ben heard the shower turn on and knew she was going
to be fine.
He sat down on the bed, slipped into a white
undershirt and pulled on his suitpants. He reached into
the nightstand and retrieved his cigarettes and began to
light one in the bedroom.
"Ben!" he heard Doris call from the bathroom, not in
emergency, but in attention grasping.
"Yes, dear." he said, walking up to the bathroom
door, the cigarette still burning in his left hand.
"Smoke on the fire...fire escape...will you?"
"Yes, dear." he said, a chuckle escaping his lips.
He pulled the bedroom window open and, propping it open
with a book, for this was the window that wouldn't stay
open, he slipped onto the fire escape and pulled on his
He stared across the city and watched the steam
drift up from the ground and streets around him. The
October winds whipped at his skinny frame, but he paid
them no mind. Doris...Doris was back. He wiped forming
tears in his eyes, and laughed. There was nothing he
could do about it now, but she was back. Just as good as
she was before the attack. Her stuttering would wane, the
doctors said, but, dammit, she was back.
In her absence, he poured himself into the paper,
sometimes sleeping all night at his desk to avoid the
empty bed and cold apartment. He didn't eat regularly
while she was gone, and when he did eat, it wasn't much
more than a sandwich from the deli next to the Bugle, and
then it was back to work. He ground out some of the best
stories of his career merely because he couldn't think
about her; it hurt too much. He managed to finish the
subway story, but by no means was it his best.
None of that mattered, though. Doris always knew he
was the best writer at the Bugle; she wouldn't care that
the story was forced and barely thrown together before the
deadline. She would love the story merely because his
name adorned the top of it, and that's what he missed the
most: her unconditional love.
She came back into the room, drying her hair while
tying her robe strings around her waist. He crawled in
through the window after dispensing the cigarette butt and
embraced her, kissing her tenderly on the lips.
"I've got to go to work." he said, a coy smile on
"Really?" she asked, and kissed him again. At that
point, the phone rang. "I'll get...get it." she said,
triumphantly. "My...my first call since...since last
night." She picked up the phone and stuttered out a
Ben smiled as he watched her intent on the
conversation across the phone line. Suddenly her face
grew long and her eyes widened. Tears welled as she
nodded, her face a portrait of numb shock and fear. She
hung up quickly and huddled herself in her towel.
"C-cold..." she mumbled. "So-so c-cold..." Before
Ben could even move, she tumbled over the bed, ran into
the bathroom and vomited in the toilet.
"Honey!" he yelled, vaulting the bed. "Doris!"
He ran into the bathroom and sushed her whimpering
form. "What is it? Honey, who was that?"
In between her sobs and stuttering, she said it was
Donald Witherspoon, a Wall Street friend of the two of the
Urich's. Witherspoon was calling to tell Ben but had told
Doris instead. Witherspoon's wife, Katherine, Doris
blubbered, had been brutally killed. Katherine had been
one of Doris' best friends; she had even visited Doris in
the hospital on a weekly basis.
"It will be okay," Ben whispered as she cried the
longest he heard her cry in a long time. "Kathy's in
heaven now, honey. She isn't hurting anymore."
Ben held her in his arms until she fell asleep. Ben
* * *
Marmalade stood in the alley as the mid-day shadows
bled across, adding a dark, spooky atmosphere to his
surroundings. It was the first time he'd ever been on the
take, and he didn't feel right about selling himself for
this particular case. It was a subway bombing, for God's
sake, just not right to cover it up.
Nonetheless, the large burly man standing before him
handed him a suitcase which Marmalade propped up on a
dumpster and opened, inspecting the lining of cash.
"So, Jacks," he said to the shadow man. "What is it
I have to do?"
"Get nothing conclusive." Jacks was a man of few
words. "Whatever happens, though, the only source of the
explosion was from that trashcan, dig?"
"Yeah. I get paid all this dough just to say there
was one bomb. Otherwise I ask no questions. Got it."
"Good. That Malper lady is going to think it was
some random attack, got it?"
As quickly Marmalade could look away from his King's
Ransom, Jacks was gone, dissappated into the shadows.
Marmalade closed the briefcase and left the alley,
walking across the street and down one block to the
Precinct. Finding his weathered Cavalier parked in it's
accostomed spot he unlocked the trunk and slipped the
money inside. He nervously glanced around and slipped
inside the building.
* * *
A flash of red cloth streaked past her window and
she laughed. Kathy Malper had been working all day on
this grusome subway bombing and, it seemed, had not
laughed at all during the day. It was a relief to let the
giggle escape her lips.
She stood from her desk and opened the window,
allowing the red-garbed Boy Scout into her office.
"How's it going, Red?"
"Okay." He said, leaning against the windowsill and
crossing his arms in front of his chest. "It's after
five, Kathy...you're late with results."
"Marmalade's late getting them to me. Last time I
talked with him, he said the lab hadn't sent anything back
to him except those shells you spotted." Kathy reached on
her desk and grabbed a pack of cigarrettes, lighting up as
"And...what did the lab say about those?"
"Those nine-millimeter shells matched the slugs we
pulled from the body of a cop. He was found dead from
bullet wounds; nobody was certain when it happened,
"Think it's related to the bombing?"
"Can't be too sure. It's an awfully convinient
coincedence if it is unrelated."
"So...what now?" he asked, hands in the air.
"I've seen you in action, Red. You're good. You
notice things that most cops and lab boys don't." she
smiled and exhaled a plume of smoke through her nose.
"So," he said with a smile and a nod. "you want me
to scour around the crime scene tonight; see what I come
"That's what I'm shooting for, yeah." Kathy said,
stubbing the cigarrette in her ashtray.
"That works for me." The Devil said with a smile.
"See ya around." He turned to the window and took a daring
leap into the abyss of New York. She watched him,
astounded by his acrobatics for her sake, until he turned
invisible in the canyons.
* * *
Karen angrily stepped out of the shower and toweled
herself off. Matt had left her; she couldn't blame him,
though. Both of them were playing on frayed nerves. It
would take a concious effort as well as a long talk to get
back in touch with each other.
She slipped into her clothing for the night and
turned on the hair dryer, letting the hot air spill into
her wet, matted gold locks as they expanded, dry and
While she was working on the crown of her head, she
heard the phone ring. Unfortunately she hadn't heard the
first three and by the time she was to the phone, the
machine picked up.
"Hi," Matt's voice barked from the tape. "Me and
Karen aren't here right now; or we just don't want to
answer. Just let this thing beep and go through the
The machine gave a mechanical beep and Karen walked
away, toweling her hair dry. After the beep, there was a
dark, brooding silence which prompted her to look
quizzicaly at the apparatus. A whisper, just barely
audible before the machine cut the message off, resonated
in her ears. "Beautiful."
Something about the voice, the meaning, the feeling
behind the phrase hit her a hard blow in the chest. It
didn't flow right. Who was that? She sat down and stared
absent mindedly at the ceiling, wishing whoever it was
* * *
He hung up the phone and laughed a deep and throaty
laugh at the weaknessess of his victims. He stood over
the limp, broken form of his newest victim. In the past
day and a half she left her door unlocked twice-once was
all he needed. None of them were worth it, though. None
of them were like his angel...like his beautiful,