Doorway of Darkness: A Superhero Novel [Axiom-man Saga Book 2]
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by A.P. Fuchs
Category: Fantasy/Science Fiction
Description: Gabriel Garrison's secret identity has been compromised. A mysterious anonymous letter promises to reveal he is Axiom-man unless he bows down to the sender's demands. And the timing cannot have been worse. Redsaw has become more powerful than when Axiom-man battled him on what has become known as Black Saturday, and he has determined to attain unstoppable power through the only means he knows how: murder. Chaos ensues and as the air is saturated with the stench of blood, Axiom-man must find the means to stop Redsaw before the whole world is swallowed in a web of death. Complicating matters, something strange is happening to Axiom-man's powers. The abilities he has put his faith in have changed. As time runs out and city streets are overrun with carnage and fear, Axiom-man is pushed to his breaking point as he tries to stop the madman's reign of terror, while also trying to discover what is happening to his powers and how they tie into a supernatural event that took place over five hundred years before.
eBook Publisher: Coscom Entertainment, 2007 2007
eBookwise Release Date: July 2007
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [533 KB]
Reading time: 340-477 min.
"Axiom-man is that unique breed of superhero that seems almost lost amid today's gaggle of the dark and tormented. He's nice, he cares, and his strength comes not from his fantastic powers, but from his soul. A.P. Fuchs has written a defining superhero novel."--Frank Dirscherl, author/creator of The Wraith on Axiom-man [Book One]
Axiom-man couldn't believe it.
He stood in the front landing of his apartment, holding the letter that had been waiting for him on the rug where, as Gabriel Garrison, he left his shoes. At first he thought it might have been a note from his caretaker, informing him he was late on rent again, but when he reminded himself that his payment wasn't due yet, he had no idea what he might find within the envelope.
He read the letter again, making sure he had read it correctly the first time. He couldn't have, could he? How could--
Shifting inside, he powered down, sending his abilities deep within himself. The crackle of blue power that was always present while he was Axiom-man left him and for the first time since ever donning the suit, he no longer felt strong beneath the blue tights. It was as if he was nine years old again and realized that pretending to be a superhero and wearing a towel around your neck was stupid.
Gabriel peeled down his mask, thinking that maybe the rims of the eyeholes were somehow obstructing his vision and he wasn't really seeing all that was on the page. But when he read the letter again, his stomach went hollow when he realized his eyes weren't fooling him.
The typed letter read:
Dear Mr. Garrison:
Please forgive me for writing you. For the longest time, four months now, I wasn't sure if I should. But now, it seems, I don't have a choice.
I know who you are, Gabriel. Who you really are. And, no, this isn't a prank. Let's just say that, like you, this knowledge has left me feeling ... blue.
Please don't fret, as for the time being, your secret is safe with me. But only if you help me. If you don't...
If you thought Redsaw's reputation was sullied due to what happened at the Forks, his murdering someone, then think again.
I'll be in touch.
The letter wasn't signed. It wasn't dated but was obviously written within the past day or two given the reference to Redsaw's revealing of his true self when he killed Gene Nemek by throwing a car into him.
Gabriel sank to his knees and, as another first, wanted to get out of his costume and tuck it away as if whoever wrote this letter was watching him right now.
* * * *
"You must build it," the voice said.
It was Sunday night; Oscar Owen was on his knees and he wasn't talking to God. Nor was it God talking back to him.
"It is the only way for you to know the truth." The voice's tone was low, careful and smooth.
Hands on his knees, Oscar flashed to a week ago when his life hadn't been like this. No power, no costume ... no murder.
It had been a Monday when the black cloud came to him. Lying in bed, unable to sleep, watching the shadows from the trees lining his window outside dance along his bedroom wall--he'd never forget the jolt that shot through him when the room suddenly went black and something blocked the moon. He'd never forget the rain of glass as a smoky cloud burst through his bedroom window, the black wisps of cotton-like fingers searching him out. The cloud had hovered above him that night, coating the room from wall to wall, floor to ceiling, allowing only enough room around him so he could see it in all its enormity, all its monstrousness. He lay there, stiff, wanting to move but unable to budge. He glanced to his right, where his open bedroom door should be. Nothing but billowy black cloud coated the entrance. There was no entrance. There wasn't anything. It was as if the cloud had snuffed out all that was tangible. Just pure ... blackness.
The cloud looked at him. At least, it seemed to. Though it was featureless, perhaps it was the way its puffy contours moved about in a wind that could not be felt, but for an instant, it seemed as if it had eyes. Then it gathered itself into a long, smoking funnel and drilled itself into his chest like a spike. The second it pierced his skin, his body locked as the cloud found its way through his body, filling out his torso, neck and head; arms, hands, fingers; hips, legs, feet. And even when his body was full, it still poured in to him, expanded within him till he felt he was going to burst. Yet even then, the cloud pressed itself into him. Unable to move, only able to receive, Oscar let the thing take him. What choice did he have? He didn't know what this thing was never mind what it was doing to him. The cloudy funnel spun counterclockwise to a wind that only it could sense. Gathering up speed, it drilled into him and filled him completely until he could no longer move beneath the weight this thing placed within him.
A door slammed, its sound thunderous and all-encompassing. Instinctively, Oscar glanced toward his bedroom door. It was still open.
He shuddered to think of what was locked inside him.
Now, nearly a week later, he knew what that thing was. What happened. The cloud gave him great power and for a short time, the city of Winnipeg loved him when he became its greatest champion.
Then the darkness took him, opened itself up. Revealed itself to him. It began to speak to him, first as a light buzzing in his ears and mind. Now, tonight, as a voice.
"You must build it," the voice said. "It is the only way for you to know the truth. It is the only way to receive the power you deserve. You must build it. It cannot be done from here. It must be done from there. You must build it."
"I understand," Oscar said.
"Good. Get it done."
"As you wish."
* * * *
"Let me just lock up, Trav," Mark Headley said. He slid his key into the backdoor at Citytv News and locked it. It was one in the morning. He and Travis Hagen had finally finished for the day after doing a follow up on what had been dubbed around the studio--and the city--as "Black Saturday," the day Axiom-man and Redsaw had gone head-to-head tearing up Portage and Main. They were the best camera team Citytv had. The reporter, Gavin James, had already gone home.
Mark jogged back to his car, a '03 Civic, where Travis sat in the passenger seat, hitching a ride home.
Climbing in behind the wheel, Mark started the car and said, "Got everything?"
Travis checked his thin and wiry self over. "Yeah. Well, left my hat in my camera bag but I can always pick that up tomorrow."
Setting the car in drive, Mark drove past the studio, turned right then left and headed toward Main Street.
Yawning, Travis said, "Thanks for the lift."
"Don't mention it. And stop thanking me. You've thanked me eight times since we left the mess downtown."
"Seven, but who's counting." He offered Mark a toothy grin.
The two rode in silence for a few minutes, both too tired after such a long day to really talk about anything.
Cra-lunk. Something hit the rear driver's side door. At first Mark thought it was a stone the back tire threw up, but when something knocked against the door again, he glanced over his shoulder to see what it was. Nothing. He checked the rearview mirror to see if he had gone over anything lying on the road that he hadn't noticed. The pavement was clear.
Fwamm! The car rocked to the right and a quick image of the car hopping up on its right side wheels then slamming back down again flashed before his eyes.
"What was that?" Travis asked, looking around.
"Don't know." He sped up then slowed down as he turned onto Main Street. Hardly any cars were out at this hour and the ones that were, were far away, mere headlights on vacant city streets. Mark supposed that after what happened Saturday between Axiom-man and Redsaw, not too many folks wanted to be outdoors if it could be helped. At least, not until things calmed down and the lingering tension in the air from that day subsided.
A dark ... something ... flickered in the rearview mirror. Before Mark could check what it was, it was gone.
Ka-fraam! The car went at an almost forty-five-degree angle, riding on its right front and back wheels. Travis swore as he hung on to the dashboard. Thinking it'd help bring the car back down, Mark turned the wheel to the left. The tires swiveled and the vehicle turned sharply ... and rolled. The world went upside down, then right side up again three times before the Civic skidded to a stop, sitting perpendicular on the road.
Dazed, Mark glanced out his window. Red and black streaked toward him and a battering ram made of pure steel slammed into the side of the car, sending it flipping over onto its roof. Travis shouted just as Mark's head slammed into his; a dull smack echoed throughout Mark's skull. The car spun on its roof; his stomach twisted in nausea.
Something dug into his leg. Checking, he saw that whatever had smashed into the car door had forced the inside handle into his thigh. Muscles aching, he tried to wriggle his leg so it wouldn't hurt so bad.
"Trav, you okay?" he asked.
Travis just groaned.
The pressure from the handle suddenly lifted as something tore the door off its hinges. The pavement ran parallel to the roof of the car, the street lights--from the angle he was at--casting a sallow glow on the rough cement. Black upside down boots with red saw-like blades running up the sides appeared before him, then red and black material whirled about the boots like a curtain in the wind before gloved hands reach in and grabbed him, ripping him from the seatbelt and throwing him out onto the street.
The pavement and clouded-over night sky changed places a couple of times before Mark stopped his rolling and skid across the ground.
"Mark!" Travis called after him.
Head throbbing, Mark lay on his back. He tried to look around but the dull banging against the back of his head kept him looking straight up. Footsteps. Someone was behind him. He didn't have to look to know who it was. The black cape that had whirled in his face before he was removed from the car told him everything.
"Pl-please don't..." he said, bringing his hands to his face, palms outward like a shield.
Black-gloved hands reached past his and grabbed him by the collar. Quickly, his body was in the air and was turned around as Redsaw adjusted his grip on him.
"I didn't do anything!" Mark said.
"What's going on out there? I'm stuck. Help me!" Travis said.
Beneath the mask, Redsaw's fiery eyes were tensed around the edges as if he harbored a secret hatred for him. Mark tried to examine Redsaw's face, see who was behind the black mask that covered the man's head, eyes and nose but not his mouth. He didn't recognize him.
Two powerful sets of knuckles plowed into Mark's collar bone and he flew backwards. He slammed into the overturned car, his back letting go a sharp crack when his spine hit the wheel well. Falling to his knees, he stopped his face from hitting the pavement with his hands.
"Mark, get out of here! Run!" Travis shouted from behind.
Mark glanced up to where Redsaw had been standing. The man in the black cape was gone.
Glass shattered behind him and Travis screamed.
Back aching, thinking something might be broken or at least out of place, Mark forced himself to his feet. Slowly, he turned around. Redsaw held Travis aloft by the neck with one hand, his other glowing red.
Legs shaking, adrenaline taking over, Mark rounded the front of the vehicle and came at Redsaw from behind. Before he connected, Redsaw let loose a blast of red energy into Travis's face, incinerating the man's head. Redsaw dropped Travis's limp form to the ground. Spinning around, the masked man stopped Mark's advance with an open palm to the forehead. Thwump! The blow sent him to the ground. Head swimming, Mark thought he might be on his knees again and tried getting to his feet. That's when he realized he was lying flat on his back.
The last thing he saw was the black sole of Redsaw's boot coming for his face.