The girl standing in front of me is afraid—though she’s trying to hide it. She’s taken refuge under a less-than-efficient streetlight, her phone clutched tight as her fingers race across its screen. There’s a bus stop nearby, though its light is broken. I’d bet twenty quid she’s got off at the wrong stop. A dangerous mistake in this part of town.
Goodness has a sound too, a note lighter than fear, and that's another thing pouring from this girl. Unfortunately, too much of that can be a problem.
I’m not talking about random goodness—the fleeting sort that accompanies a moment of beauty, heroic endeavour or an epiphany… Nah, I’m talking about all-consuming goodness, the sort nothing can temper, that blinds a person to true evil; rendering them incapable of understanding or seeing it.
Take me, for example. To most people I’m an angel-faced kid, whose questionable taste in fashion acts as a visual warning—to stay well clear. It doesn’t matter that my hoodies are white, and they’ve never seen me doing anything illegal. People judge me by my clothes.
On occasion though, I come across a rarity. Someone like this girl—whose brain is wired in such a way, evil is nothing more than a legend, a product of superstition and misinformation; who believes there’s good in everyone. For people like this girl, goodness is more than a single, tremulous note… it’s a symphony.
Handy info: for the bad guys.
Approaching her, I study her some more: A natural blonde, with a beautiful smile, and eyes that are dark-green pools of innocence. She knows I’m here now, her body angled towards me. When she calls out a greeting, it’s obvious she doesn’t see the warning signs.
My gaze drops to her phone: The latest model, temptingly shiny and worthy of Eve.
By the time I reach her side, she’s confirmed all my suspicions and asked me for help. She’s lost… though clueless is nearer the mark. The vibrations of her fear are fading, and I wonder why—has she read too many urban ‘angel’ stories? Stranger things have happened, and all my hoodies do have wings printed on the back. Maybe she’s religious, and believes God will protect her? Or maybe she’s a few bricks short of a tower block.
Whatever the reason: it works in my favour.
The street-light flickers, its glow less than flattering. They’re the bane of this estate; off more than on. The shadows between them are a world of transient pleasures, both voluntary and forced.
Blondie’s noticed another night-walker, her gaze distracted—by the man drawn to her as surely as I. He’s someone I know well: a stooped and grizzled figure, leaning against a nearby tree.
“Oh, look…” she whispers, though her words get steadily louder. “Poor old thing… he really shouldn’t be out on such a cold night. I have money spare… maybe he’d like a hot drink? Is anywhere open at this time of night?”
Give me strength. My gaze sweeps over ‘poor old thing’: Dirty, mismatched clothes; a smile that would make a dentist rich; hair resembling an overgrown tonsure. He’d slit Blondie’s throat for the money she’s shouting about—and it wouldn’t be spent on a nice cup of tea.
I scowl at my companion. “You need to shut-up. Don’t you see what he is? Don't you see what I am?” I ask, allowing my mask to slip.
When she starts to shake, her fear vibrating the air once again, I know she’s got the message.
‘Poor old thing’ is making his move; a knife glinting in his hand. But my blade is bigger, flashing as I swing. As the killing blow lands, I throw back my hood, Blondie's screams strident.
At least she sees the evil around her now.
My fire-backed eyes meet hers, and the scent of ammonia overwhelms my senses.
Bless her… she’s pissed herself.
Surely I don’t look that bad? And even if I have morphed from a dubious looking teen into a seven-foot warrior, with a face that shifts from human, to cherub, lion, to eagle: is there any need for that?
As ‘poor old thing’ slumps to the floor, in a steadily increasing pool of crimson, Blondie’s screams finally stop. “Who... are you?” she whispers hoarsely.
I laugh at that. “Oh, I’m evil’s worst nightmare… but you can call me Mike."