The Night of a Dozen Faces -Charity Nocturna

Tommy and Terrance were plastered.  Neither was sure why they had wandered into the maze of alleys in the poor section of town.  They were glad of the choice as a defenseless young woman came limping towards them. She wore a loose fitting torn blouse and a loose pair of jeans with torn knees.

She stopped when she saw them, eyes wide in terror, hands coming over her body as if to block their eyes. As the pair turned to grin at each other the girl’s fearful look became calculating.  As they turned back the doe-eyed terror returned.

Tommy leered. “Hey girl, what’s under those nasty clothes?” he laughed.

“Yeah let us have a look!” followed Terrance.

“No, leave me alone!” she cried and backed away.  Her left hand slipped unnoticed behind her back.

“Why should I?  You’re a no good bum.  You’re better off being a whore.”  He pulled a butterfly knife from his belt and pointed it in her direction.  “Take it off” he ordered. The panicked girl backed against a crate. “Fine, I’ll cut it off you.” he ran up and swung the knife.

The girl smile became predatory and threw the hand from behind her back in front of the knife.  She wore a strange back glove with thick padding, cat claws, and shining metal knuckles. The knife tangled in the torn threads of the glove.  “You bastards always think with the wrong brain,” she said and slammed her knee into the boy’s crotch.

In the fog of his brain, he felt the studs of metal on the knee dig into him.  Fire burned up his body and he screamed in an octave reserved for calling dogs.  “Shut up, bastard,” she said. The girl backhanded him with her ungloved hand. His head snapped sideways, bloody spittle flying from his mouth. His knees ragdolled and he collapsed unconscious.

By this time the other drunk had registered what happened.  He grabbed a broken board from the ground and held it like a baseball bat.  The girl sighed, pulled the knife free from her glove and threw it into his knee. He screamed and dropped onto the other knee.  The girl walked up to him, grabbed his head and slammed a knee into his chin. The hit crushed his jaw closed, sending a tooth flying.  She let go of his head and he dropped. Pulling a pen from her pocket and wrote ‘rapist’ on their foreheads.

She jogged through the maze and found a couple of guys playing cards on a piece of cardboard.  “Hey En,” said one man as he waved.

“Hey Jase, a couple of sexist bastards found their way here.  I’ll give you my dancing money if drag them out in front of the bar.  They have concussions at the least.” she tossed a wad of money down and the two snatched it up.

“One day those idiots will figure out drunks aren’t safe in this alley,” one of them laughed, obviously drunk.  “You rob ‘em?”

She rolled her eyes “You know I didn’t. Anyway, the idiots have screwed up my timetable, I gotta run.”

“Kick some ass!” the pair yelled after her.

She ran full speed 2 blocks to a 7-11 and walked inside, panting. “Hey Jerry, using the can!” she yelled, grabbing a bag of chips as she passed.  She pulled a key from her pocket, unlocking the door and hurrying inside.

“Hey! You said no public restrooms, what the hell?” screamed an overweight man in a cheap suit.

Jerry smoothed his green uniform and said “What can I do? She has her own key.” she shrugged and laughed as the man stormed out of the store.  A few moments later the girl emerged. She was wearing a loose bright white blouse with some professional slacks. Her brown hair pulled into a bun, and she wore subdued makeup.

“What do I owe you for the chips Jer?” she asked

“You know I got you covered, why even ask?”  he laughed “So it’s a Charity night then?”

She grinned at him, her eyes hard “Of course.  But first I got a bus to catch.”

She charged out the door and ran at a dead run to the bus stop.  She arrived seconds before the bus. She ran up the stairs, tossed in her change and found a seat.  Her destination was about an hour away, so she settled in for a long ride.

The trip was uneventful, and she stepped off the bus in the business district.  Smoothing her shirt, she walked up to the entrance of the Segan-Wattfield building.  She ducked around the corner silent as a ghost and reached under her shirt. She pulled out a tablet, a screwdriver, and a keycard.

She glanced around to make sure no one was coming. Reassured, she grabbed the keycard box on the door and yanked it hard, breaking the machine off. She set her tablet and keycard down and set to work on the wires. She used the screwdriver to splice some wires and pulled a USB cord from her pants pocket.  She twisted several wires to connect with the cord and plugged the tablet in. She tapped an icon and a cartoon whale appeared, blowing water. In a small box beside it, strings of numbers ran faster than the eyes could follow. A few seconds later the whale blinked and a list of names appeared in the box.

She searched the list until she found the name Cergison, David.  She tapped it and slid the card into a port on the tablet. Seconds later a red light flashed.  She took out the card, slipped it into her pocket. She closed the app and some garbage spreadsheets appeared on the tablet screen.

She took a few deep breaths and forced some tears into her eyes.  She then shoved the door open and began sobbing. “I’m in so much trouble!  Mr. Cergison is going to fire me for sure!” She charged for the elevator for Cergison Electronics.   She found herself stopped by the security guard.

“Ma’am, the office is closed.  No one is allowed in til morning,” she knew it was going to easy.

“Please, sir.  I have to get up there!  The numbers for the morning meeting are wrong.  I have to fix them!” She began to cry into her hands.


She gave the man a lusty stare “Call me Em, please”

“Em” he stuttered “I can’t let you up there, it’s orders!”

“She stared in his eyes and licked her lips. “What if we can come to some understanding..”

The man stared at the young woman for a long moment, then glanced at the security camera “I’m.. sorry, but after my shi-”

Em slammed a fist into the man’s face and he dropped to the ground. “Always the hard way,” she muttered.  “Where do they keep finding these loyal goons?”  She rushed the door and slid in the keycard, and waited for the elevator. As she waited the tablet beeped. “Finally!” she muttered.

The elevator opened and she stepped inside but didn’t push the button.  Looking at the tablet she had a list of all the systems in the building. Accessing the cameras, she rewound to before she entered the building. A few clicks erased the remaining tape and shut down all the cameras in the building.  She then tore off the flimsy blouse and slid off the loose slacks.

Beneath she wore a purple catsuit with a thick black vest covered in pockets.  She had black pads studded with shining steel on her elbows and knees. She slipped on her gloves and pulled out a strange pair of sunglasses and a WW2 helmet from a pack on her back.  She donned the glasses and helmet and reached back in the bag, pulling out night vision goggles. She put these on her helmet, then hit the button to go upstairs.

As the elevator went up she slipped a round pellet from a pocket. She stared at the numbers until she reached the top floor. In a quick motion, she threw the pellet to the ground, filling the elevator with smoke.  She dropped to the floor as the elevator door opened.

Seconds later a hail of gunfire erupted above her.  She could see the well dressed feet of a pair of thugs.  She took a taser from the belt and fired it at one set of ankles.  The needles tore in and the man dropped to the ground, quivering. The other man began to speak “There’s an intru-”

She leapt up and slammed into his gut, knocking his hand from his earpiece.  Most men would collapse after that but he slammed her hard on the back, knocking the wind from her.  She leapt back and stood with arms at her sides, growling.

“You- you’re that Charity chick!  I’ll get a bonus for finishing you off,”  he grinned and pulled a pistol from his waist. His downed buddy began to groan.  Without looking she slammed a metal covered toe into the side of the dazed man’s head. Her hand moved behind her back in a swift motion.

As the pistol turned towards her she flipped her hand out, and a bolo spun outwards, wrapping around the man’s neck.  He dropped the gun as he began to choke, hands pulling on the thin rope garroting him. Without missing a beat she charged in and began to hammer on the stricken man.  

Charity’s fighting was not graceful or acrobatic.  She clawed his eyes with her gloves and slammed a studded knee into his, shattering it.  He fell screaming as she stomped the prone man in the groin, chest, and throat. His eyes went wide as he tried to gasp for air through his collapsed trachea.  Charity frowned. Killing always complicated things. Pulling her tablet out, she clicked a few icons and the hallway lights went dark. She slipped the night vision goggles on and began slipping through the halls. She avoided the groups of clumsy men with ease.

As she rounded a corner she spotted a mainframe terminal and plugged her tablet in.  She clicked a few icons and the whale appeared with the numbers scrolling at a rapid pace.  After a few long seconds, the whale blinked. She sorted through a list of files and selected several.

She was about to disconnect when she realized how much trouble this whole night had been.  She clicked a few icons and David Cergison’s social media accounts popped up.

She smiled and typed ‘Today I met a young girl working as an intern.  She was crying and being a gentleman I asked what was wrong. She said her student loans wouldn’t cover her senior year.  Someone as hardworking as her should be able to complete school. In response to this injustice, I am announcing a new women’s scholarship I will fund myself.   I will create a trust to guarantee a reward of $10,000 per year for the next 10 years. I am calling this the Nocturna fund after the girl’s last name.’ She posted this to all his social media, then disconnected from the mainframe.

She stalked through the halls towards a room at the back of the hall.  She slipped in close, took off the night vision and clicked a button on her glasses.  Inside two men were talking.

“Listen David, if the press finds out I smoothed over this contract, they’ll eat me alive.” one voice said.

“Relax senator,” responded the other.  “Everything about the plan is hidden away.  All the information is stored on a mainframe accessible only in this building. Besides, who will care about a bunch of low income housing anyway?  Everyone ignores the people when they get a shiny new factory?”

“Those people are voters, polls have me far too close to losing the election.  A story like this and the Democrats will have my seat.”

“How nice for the voters they’ll see your corruption,” Charity yelled.  The pair turned and saw her, eyes widening. She gave a one finger salute and disappeared into the darkness.  She heard Mr. Cergison call his men to the office. She smiled, that cleared the way to the elevator. She slipped past the clumsy guards and pushed the button for the lobby.  As the doors closed she grinned and set off the fire suppression system. All she had to do now was get this information into the right hands.

Ray set down his whiskey and rubbed his eyes.  The new articles were finally finished and on his site.  Even now people will be learning the truth about the corrupt businesses of Eda City.  He stood to head to bed when his doorbell rang. Doorbells at 3 in the morning meant one of two things.  He slipped a gun from his belt and walked to the door, careful to remain silent. Looking out the peephole he saw nothing, which meant nothing.

Taking a deep breath he opened his door, gun at the ready.  The first thing he saw was a man lying unconscious on the floor.  Blood gushed from his nose. Ray recognized him as his latest tail.  He had a lot of enemies now, and they kept a close eye on him. The broken man meant only one thing. He smiled and looked at his feet.  Sure enough, a box lay there with a note ‘Senator Termin and David Cergison had a little powwow tonight. Thought you might like a peek. -CN’

Charity Nocturna.  Anything she dug up was sure to be good.  He headed to his kitchen to start a pot of coffee.  Looks like his night was just starting.

Published by Robert C Hartwell

I live in Northeastern Vermont in the US. I am currently working towards becoming an author. I am the proud father of two great kids.

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