Rated T for mild violence...
With Moon Knight month in full swing (and inspired by @veshark's recent story), I thought it was about time that I finally put an idea I had for the MARVEL character to paper. This is part one of a three-part story, so I'll post the others as they are completed. I hope the Moon Knight fans out there enjoy it:
I woke to an assault on my senses: a blinding glare in my eyes, white noise in my ears, and the smell and taste of stale cigarettes in my nose and mouth. As the veil of unconsciousness lifted, I found myself in the driver’s seat of a car. A cab. My cab. Well, technically it was Jake Lockley’s cab, licensed under his name, with his credentials and I.D. . . . however fake they might be. A quick glance at my attire confirmed I was, indeed, playing the part. The olive flat cap and red flight jacket were a dead give-away, having become a uniform of sorts since I first created the guise.
Despite the rain pelting the cab from every angle, it was bright; the clock on the dash revealing the time to be just after midday. That ticked off the “what”, “who”, and “when”, and the “where” could easily be learned from the cab’s GPS, which left the more pressing questions: How did I get here and why didn’t I remember it?
It was not unusual in my line of work to lose consciousness. As a vigilante, “will regularly get hit in the head,” is just part of the job description. As is the post-traumatic amnesia that often accompanies it. The difference is, when you wake, it’s either on the ground, or tied up in some maniac’s hideout, and you always have the lump and headache to show for it. Druggings are also not unheard of, but they, too, are always followed-up with headaches, sickness, or at the least, a grogginess upon waking. With no symptoms presenting themselves, I had to have just fallen asleep. The problem with that was, it’s one thing to not remember falling asleep, but it’s another entirely to not even remember being in the place where you did.
Maybe Marlene will know how I got here? I thought.
Reaching into my jacket pocket, I took out my phone and brought up the contacts list. Skipping to “M”, I found a Matt, and two Mike’s, but no Marlene. I didn’t know how I could’ve deleted it, but my next recourse was calling Frenchie. “F” came up even emptier than “M”, without a single entry. It occurred to me—though unlikely—that I might have him as Jean-Paul, so checked “J” just to be sure. Nothing. Even a last-minute search for their surnames came up negative. To confirm even I had the right phone, I tried Gena. Sure enough, there she was. As was Ray.
Frustrated, and more than a little confused, I figured I’d just head home and talk to Marlene in person. Turning on the GPS, I discovered I was already in Southampton, only a few streets away from the mansion.
* * * * *
As I pulled up to the mansion gate, I reached for the opening transmitter that was normally clipped upon the visor. When I discovered it missing, I couldn’t help but clench my fists in frustration and let out a groan. I drove up to the intercom, and despite the persistent rain, wound down the window to press the buzzer. My left arm was drenched by the time Samuels answered. “Grant residence, can I help you?”
“It’s me, Samuels, can you open the gate,” I yelled over the downpour.
“I’m sorry, who is this?”
“It’s me, Steven.”
Though Samuels knew my real name, I made a habit of using Steven around the mansion. It made things easier for everyone any time we had guests.
“Steven who?” Samuels replied flatly.
“Grant. Your boss,” I yelled. “Can you just open the gate, it’s pouring out here?”
The intercom went silent. The gate stayed close.
Samuels was never one to joke, which set off even more alarm bells in my mind than there already were.
A moment later the speaker came back to life.
“Can I help you?” came a female voice.
“Marlene?” I called. “Can you open the gate, babe? My opener’s gone missing.”
“Who is this?” Marlene said.
“It’s me, Mar. I woke up in the cab and—“
“Look, whoever you are, you should leave before I call the cops,” Marlene said, cutting him off.
The intercom went silent again and I sat there, so dumbfounded that I forgot to even roll up the window.
“What the hell?” I moaned to myself.
Were they being coerced? Mind-controlled? Was that even Marlene and Samuels? Sadly, all were possibilities in the superhero business.
I felt that if I could just get to Marlene, I could figure it all out.
Leaving the car, I found the nearest tree and started to climb. It wouldn’t be the first time I’d had to scale my own fence. As I did, however, I felt myself quickly tiring. My stamina had never been this bad. The drugging scenario was now sounding more likely. I was barely halfway up the tree when I heard a car pull up behind the cab, followed by a single door opening and closing . . . and the squark and chatter of a police radio. Marlene had called the police, just as she’d threatened.
Climbing back down the tree turned out to be just as taxing as going up. Something was definitely wrong with me. By the time I reached the bottom, the officer was already heading in my direction.
“Sir, can I ask what you’re doing?,” the officer asked, surprisingly matter-of-fact.
“This is my house,” I said. “I can’t get the gate to work so I was trying to climb over.”
“Really? Can I see some I.D.?”
“Uhh…” It occurred to me that the only I.D. I would have on me would be for Jake.
“Unless you can show me some I.D. proving that you live here, you had better move along.”
I sighed, and resigned myself to the officer’s orders, reluctantly got back in the cab. Just as I closed the door, the officer tapped on the window. I wound it down.
“I’d better not get another call from this house,” the officer said with inferred meaning.
“You won’t,” I said, and watched as he returned to his car.
I had no idea what was going on, but getting arrested sure wasn’t going to help anything. As I drove off—escorted by the officer—I pondered my next course of action. Gena and Ray were the only contacts still in my phone, so they were worth a shot. With that thought, I made my way into the city.
* * * * *
Gena’s Diner had become a regular haunt for old Jake Lockley. Not that any other diner in town wouldn’t have served the same purpose, but habits can be hard to break. I walked in, leaving the cab in the alley as usual. The door chime caught the attention of Gena behind the counter.
“Hey, Jake,” she called with a smile.
Most of the diners were unperturbed by her boisterous greeting. All but one, down the very end of the counter, who went by the name Crawley. Looking up from his cup of tea, he waved me over. “Jake, my boy, come, join me.”
“The usual?” Gena asked as I made my way down the counter.
“Thanks, Gena, that’d be great,” I returned with a smile. It felt good to finally have something making sense.
I sat by Crawley, absently letting out a sigh as I did.
“I discern distress in your demeanour,” Crawley said. Despite his penchant for verbosity, I doubted the alliteration was intentional.
“You discern right, Crawley,” I said.
Before I could elaborate, Gena returned with a sandwich and coffee, placing them in front of me.
“Young Jake here is feeling vexed,” Jake informed Gena.
“What’s up?” Gena asked.
“It’s been a weird day,” I said with a mouthful of sandwich.
“Care to elaborate?” Gena quipped.
“Well, for a start, I woke up in my cab with no memory of how I got there,” I began. “Then Marlene and Frenchie’s numbers were missing from my phone.”
Gena and Crawley threw each other a look of confusion.
“So I went to the mansion and Marlene wouldn’t let me in,” I explained. “She even called the cops on me.”
As I finished, both Gena and Crawley looked baffled. For a moment, I assumed they were sharing in my confusion. That was . . . until Gena spoke.
“Are you feeling ok, Jake?” she asked with genuine concern.
“Yeah, why?” I questioned.
Gena paused briefly, as if carefully considering her words. “Do you honestly think you live in a mansion? With someone named . . . Marlene, was it?”
“What?” I snapped. “You know I do!”
“Jake, my friend,” Crawley quietly started, “I hesitate to proclaim, you reside solitarily in a domicile nearby.”
“It’s true, Jake. You’ve taken us there,” Gena added.
Involuntarily, I jumped back off my stool, knocking it the the ground in the process.
“No!” I shouted, capturing the attention of the entire diner. “You’re just thinking of my hideout. You’ve been to my mansion too!”
I felt like the world was spinning, while simultaneously closing in on me, my heart pounding. If I wasn’t mistaken, I was having an anxiety attack.
I stumbled for the door.
“Jake, stay here. We’ll get you some help,” Gena said.
“Everything’s wrong,” I yelled. “Why is everything wrong?”
Making it back to the alley, I jumped into the cab. Sitting there, I clutched at my head, trying to compose myself.
Why was nothing making sense?
A loud noise broke my catatonia. Something had hit the car!
I looked up and saw none other than Moon Knight standing upon the hood.
Who? How was this possible? I’m Moon Knight!
In anger, I threw open the door to confront this impostor. As I did, he jumped down from the hood.
“Got any leads for me, Lockley?”
“Who the hell are you?” I growled. “Are you behind all this madness?”
The impostor remained silent.
I finally snapped, lunging for his mask with as much speed as I could muster.
“Who are you?” I screamed again.
My hands never made contact with his head, or any other part of his being for that matter. Whoever the impostor was, he was spry. Every subsequent grab reached nothing but dank alley air.
“Don’t hurt him, Moon Knight,” Crawley pleaded from the alley entrance. “He’s not himself.”
I was unaware that Crawley had followed me out of the diner, but his cry had been enough to distract me from my fruitless assault. As I turned back to the impostor wearing my costume, the last thing I remembered seeing was the blur of a white-gloved fist coming at my face.