The bank robbers fled across the street, and I tried my best to follow.
This was starting to become a little familiar.
Three people rushed out onto the busy street, attempting to hide in the swarm of people walking about. They were pushing, shoving their way through, with some resistance, but they were getting away, using the crowd as cover.
I stood over the edge of an overlooking building, weighing my options. I wasn’t concerned with anyone seeing me up here, they were more preoccupied with getting drunk or high to look up.
The street below was the infamous Temple Street, a historic street and entertainment district, known for the multitude of venues and bars that line down the whole path. Bands were playing, and drinks were making people boisterous. In short, it was loud, and it was only Monday night.
Traffic was blocked on this street, cars weren’t allowed through. Meaning that it was a freely flowing, never-ending party, a popular spot for those legally allowed to drink. And a few not so legal.
But that meant that there were a lot of people down there, perhaps too many. Especially today. Jumping down right now could cause a scare. Yet, at the same time, they were getting farther with every second I spent contemplating my decision. I needed to make a move soon.
It started to hurt, trying to keep my eyes on them. Everything was starting to blur together.
Almost half the crowd down there was wearing some kind of blue hoodie and grey pants. Even the robbers.
Eye spy with my little eye… a whole lotta bullshit.
I tried looking for something else that would differentiate them from the rest. The dark bags on their backs, the pointed shape of the masks they wore, their body language as they cut through the crowd.
Something sounded off in my right ear. I twitched, forgetting that I had an earpiece on.
“I need constant updates, Blank Face, I don’t have eyes on the scene like you do. What’s the situation?”
“Ironic that I have to call you ‘Hleuco,’ then,” I spoke, still looking below me. “They ran into Temple Street, lots of people. A hell of a lot of Blank Faces. I think I’ve lost a few of them when you called in.”
“Ah, my apologies,” Hleuco said, but it didn’t sound like he meant it. “Just do what you can, then. For now, we’re just here to send a message. To scare them off. If it involves innocents getting hurt, then it’s not worth getting into.”
“I hear you loud and clear. Now shut it, I’m trying to find them.”
Hleuco said nothing.
I tilted my head, trying to focus on a particular shape, hoping that was one of the three robbers I was chasing after. I already lost the other two.
I looked in another direction, a few degrees to my right. Two people in blue were getting in a tiff. One of them looked more heavy-set than the other, but I recognized the bag the smaller man had on his back.
One is better than none, I thought.
I checked directly below me. The building I was on was a bar, and there was a line of people below me, waiting to get inside. Pirates, ghosts, sexy nurses, sexy Blank Faces. That was going way too far, in my opinion.
I glanced ahead once more to check if they were still there. They were. I could make this fast.
I moved to the side of the building, and dropped down into the alley.
No one was here to see me land, but even if there were, most were too drunk to notice or even care. I moved forward like it was nothing, getting off the sidewalk and going into the crowd myself. I had to maneuver past people and away from piles of trash and red cups.
I pushed through, getting to the two Blank Fakes. I ignored the yells and complaints spat at me for trying to cut.
“Bro!” the heavy-set one said, clearly having had one too many drinks. He wore a large blue hoodie and grey shorts, but he didn’t even have a mask. “You trying to start something, bumping into me?” He had a large hand on the robber’s shoulder, who was fighting to get out of his grip.
“Just let me through, you ass! I have to be somewhere!”
“You ain’t going anywhere unless you get on… on… your knees and beg!”
I didn’t give the robber a chance to get an answer. I grabbed his bag and pulled back, yanking him down.
With his hand on the robber, and his sobriety compromised, the heavy-set man fell forward, too, toppling on top of the robber himself.
That was one down.
I didn’t bother with taking off the robber’s mask. He was immobilized, under the weight of the fatter Blank Face, a true blue moon. It didn’t matter what he looked like, it only mattered that I stopped him.
Some people reacted, taking a step back to film the scene on their phones, but most just continued on, looking for another bar to drink in, another band to watch.
I searched around me, trying to find out what I should do next.
I knew there would be some cops in the area, but I had no way of getting their attention without attracting them to me, too. If I did, I could imagine that they would be more interested in me. No go, there.
This was the best I could, for now. Just trying to stop the robbers from making any more progress.
One down, two to go. Perhaps I needed to get back to a higher vantage point if I wanted to find the others. If they were even still on Temple Street.
Before I could make a move, the robber at my feet started hollering.
“That’s The Bluemoon! That’s him! He’s trying to trick me! Retreat!”
Didn’t take long for that to get people’s attention. Everyone turned.
Adrenaline kicked in even more. I was ready for anything.
A moment passed. Another.
No one reacted.
No one cared.
Everyone else here was in some sort of costume, and a lot of them were dressed like me. What was one tiny girl in a mask to them? Especially today. They paid me no mind, and many of them continued on, passing the scene, going elsewhere.
I followed, getting back on the sidewalk, and moved to stand in front of another bar. I stepped out of the way of a couple trying to get in.
“I got one of them, but I think it’s a bust,” I said into the earpiece. “It’s going to be impossible to find the other two by now, and I don’t think it’s worth it.”
“I agree. They’ll have escaped, but they’re leaving one of their own behind. Don’t beat yourself up over this, you got most of them back at the bank.”
“I’m not, and I won’t.”
“Good. Not every day out will constitute a win. Now’s a good time to-”
I stopped him. Something else caught my ears.
An echo of something I just heard.
“Bluemoon! Bluemoon! Bluemoon!”
I heard it from various spots in the mass of people crossing the main street. It took a few more looks to realize that the people saying it were others dressed like me. Like Blank Face.
Not all of them, but a sizable group.
They were spread out, but they quickly congregated together, pushing others aside and knocking away those who apparently didn’t get the program. In a breath, that particular gang swelled in numbers. A large gang of those that resembled Blank Face were joining together, yelling all the way.
Others around me were equally puzzled as to what was going on, murmuring amongst themselves or pulling out their phones again to record, waiting for whatever was next.
I, too, waited.
As soon as most of the Blank Fakes convened, they broke up, sprawling in every direction. They attacked.
The chaos was rapidly becoming a riot. They were pushing people, bashing car windows, breaking into storefronts, breaking into bars.
Okay, it already was a riot.
Others who weren’t trying to take part in those particular festivities were already fleeing, taking to the sidewalks while the more rowdy bunch took over the street, causing more destruction.
“Bluemoon! Bluemoon!” they continued to chant, at the top of their lungs.
I did not see this coming.
I wasted no time getting right into it. I pushed back onto the street.
I ended up in the midst of a smaller group of rioters in the middle of the road. Considering the present party’s appearance, and the general disorder of the situation, no one noticed that the real Blank Face was here, that the one they were screaming for was among them. I blended in too easily.
I moved amongst the crowd, trying to get to certain Blank Face impersonators who were wreaking the most havoc. I started with a guy standing on top of a police car, about to smash open the front windshield with a sledgehammer.
I stepped onto the car, sneaking up behind him.
Just before he could throw down the hammer and do some damage, I grabbed the head of the hammer. He pulled, but it wouldn’t work. It never would. All I did was hold it, but just that was too much for him.
He turned to face me. His mask was cheap enough that I could see his eyes bulge in fear.
Lightly, I pushed him.
He tumbled off the car, falling on top of two other rioters. They all collapsed into a heap.
Standing above everyone else, more people eventually noticed me. I was back in the spotlight again. The noise travelled in a wave away from me, with me being in the epicenter. Screaming, shouting.
A sea of blue, white faces staring back at me. The image was disorientating, discombobulating.
This is gonna be fun.
I was forced to continue on, jumping again when some rioters were brave enough to try and come at me, climbing on top of the car. I lost them when I went back into the blue sea of rioters. For once, my small stature helped me. I was hard to notice, and it was easy to hide in the confusion.
Another spot, another place to go. Somewhere else that needed my attention. Go.
While being pushed and bumped, I moved towards a store, several windows already shattered. No door was needed to enter.
Some innocents could be in here, in possible danger. I went in.
Not necessarily rioters, but looters. Troublemakers all the same. Several individuals were in the store, terrorizing those who tried to take refuge inside, threatening the workers to let open the cash registers.
I went to work.
Despite being in blue, I couldn’t apprehend anyone here, I wasn’t a cop. All I could do was stop them from what they were doing.
I worked my way around the store, starting at the counter with the cash registers, a man in a blue jacket had a worker by the throat. I called out to him.
“Need help, man?”
He looked my way. He let go of the worker to grab the register itself.
“Sure, you can start by-”
I threw out my hands.
He flew, his back hitting the wall behind him, chips and sodas falling down when he did. Out.
I glanced at the worker. She was already running, fleeing to the back of the store.
I went on to check out another aisle. Two more, dressed like me, emptying out the shelves into large white sacks. Sad that Blue Santa had to resort to this.
The store was small, so there wasn’t anyone else in here, but the party was still going on outside. Earlier, while I said that I wasn’t angry about the fact I didn’t get the other two bank robbers, I could still make up for it by taking out these guys, and getting back outside in a flash.
Quick and easy. They were pretty close together, and they hadn’t noticed me. I rushed the one closest to me, pressing into him with my shoulder. Even that was enough to knock him into his partner, taking them both down. No point in pulling punches, better off not throwing them at all.
The store was all clear, now. Though, I couldn’t say the same for the rest of Temple Street.
Broken glass crumpled under my feet when I went back outside.
A street vendor’s stand was on fire. Several were. Guitars, drums, sound equipment were being tossed out of venues, breaking even more windows. Even more burglaries, robberies, happening out in public. Dust and smoke were being kicked up into the air, a certain gloom curtaining this turn of events. Wailing, gnashing. Deafening, almost.
Those who were participating in these crimes were people in blue, in grey, in masks.
There was no order to anything. Just things. Things were happening, it was overwhelming, and I had no idea what to do.
I took the easiest and most available option. I tried talking about it.
“You said you wanted constant updates,” I said aloud. “I don’t think I need to tell you what’s going on right now.”
Hleuco response was calm. Was I supposed to take comfort in that? “No need. The reports are coming in. People are taking today more seriously than I’d like.”
Briefly, I closed my eyes, blocking out the world. Thinking.
I opened my eyes.
“How everything went to hell so fast, it doesn’t sit right with me. Maybe one of the gangs set this up?”
“Maybe, hard to tell when things are so hectic. Anyone can go and mimic your costume. It’s too easy. I’ve mentioned before you needed a better one, didn’t I?”
I neglected to respond. He had mentioned it before, and while I understood his sentiments, zipping up a windbreaker was way easier than whatever he had in mind. But this riot right here was forcing me to change my stance on the matter.
But I wouldn’t admit that out loud.
“I’ll take your silence as you agreeing with me, then. But that’s not our current issue. This will keep up, and your name and image will continue to be dragged in the dirt. With that being said, with things as they are, there’s not a lot you can do to stop everyone. Alright, no point in wasting your time there, we can figure something out later. Riot police are already mobilizing, if you don’t want to be caught in their crossfire, best pull out now, and don’t do any more.”
No need to tell me twice.
“Is the pick-up spot still viable?” I asked.
“Should be, I’m a few blocks away. Head over, without anyone following, and I’ll meet you there. Out.”
It didn’t sit right with me, having to leave this scene as it was. But I was outnumbered, ill-equipped, and completely incapable of handling a situation like this. I’d have to leave it to the trained professionals, to the people who were actually supposed to be doing this job. As if I had a choice in the matter.
This was a loss I had to take.
And so early in my superhero career, too. A shame.
I bolted for my exit, mowing down anyone in my way. I would have jumped to gain some distance and onto a rooftop, but as far as anyone knew, I was just another rioter, mixed in with the rest.
For a moment, I had to descend into the darkness.
I headed into an alley between two bars, the riot not getting any quieter as I got farther in. I checked, and double-checked for anyone else around. No one. With one jump, I crossed the street, into another alley, and bounded up a fire escape to get access a building’s roof. I ran and jumped to cross more rooftops.
I had it mapped out in my head. How many streets I needed to go, how many buildings I needed to cross. It wasn’t too far, but I was already getting tired. I’d been running myself ragged all night, and that wasn’t in the itinerary.
I was going to need blood, and soon.
Finally, I made it into another alley, dropping into it from a building above. A black van to my right was already parked in wait. I headed over with no delay.
The large side door slid open, revealing a man in a suit. Hleuco. His hair was slicked back, his face obscured by a mask resembling a bird. Large goggles covered the eyes, and the front extended out into a beak and covered the mouth. A plague doctor’s mask, he specified once before.
“Welcome back, Blank Face,” he said, his voice no longer in my ear. “At least, I’m sure it’s the real you.”
“It is,” I said, curt. I got into the van. He slammed it shut while I took a seat, crossing my arms. I made a noise in annoyance. The van sped off.
As we moved, Hleuco tapped a finger on the steering wheel. He was more composed than I was, but I knew he was just as frustrated.
“This was certainly more of a ‘trick’ than a ‘treat.’” he said.
I didn’t nod, or do anything otherwise. I could only provide a comment of my own, summarizing my fourth official night out as Blank Face.
“Worst Halloween ever.”