So let me preface this by saying that lately I’ve been wanting to start writing again. I’ve always loved writing, but the past few years it’s mostly been journalistic in nature. But many years ago, I tried my hand at fiction… more specifically, FANFICTION — of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle variety. Mikey’s TMNT went offline a few days ago, and I’m working to bring it back. But while I was looking through my old files, I discovered this little fanfic gem from 2000 (OMG, 14 years ago!)
The setting: NYC 2000, eight years after the events in TMNT Vol. 1, #45 (Mirage Universe).
Story by Mike E. Perez
He slipped into the dark alleyway. He tried running, but every few steps brought on the pain searing into his side. He bumped his knee on a lead pipe jutting from the foundation of the towering buildings. Croaker fell to the wet, mildewed floor.
Panting and panting, running and running. He had been running as fast and hard as he could all night. Now Croaker just lay curled up, bleeding.
The sounds of the city were so distant. There were no other sounds. No sounds from the monster.
With all his remaining strength, Croaker managed to sit up and peel off his blood and sweat soaked tee-shirt — his pale abdomen a stark contrast to the bloodstained ribs. He felt the gash, fingered it a moment, until he touched bone. There, lodged in his own rib, was something sharp, something foreign. He knew what it was.
He pulled the tooth from his bone quickly to lessen the pain, but he knew he would be dead in a few hours anyway.
He told us that he’d come back for us. He’d come back for us all.
The others were dead already: Wen, Gei, Szefchek. Croaker hadn’t been able to keep up with them after eight years, but somehow, the Master did.
The only ones left were those wretched Turtles.
Croaker staggered deeper into the alley. There was a sewer access tunnel just ahead. Maybe he could die in peace.
It has been six years since I went straight. I have my job, I have my girl. I have nothing to do with the Foot. Why now? Everything is good.
Maybe that’s why… That’s why… now…
It was getting hard to see. Croaker didn’t know if it was the weariness or the pain, but things were getting fuzzy. He stumbled into the shadow strewn tunnel.
No one will find me here. With luck, I’ll be bones before anyone even comes this way.
The honest truth is that Croaker didn’t even know where he was. He had been running for so long that he just ended up in this abandoned neighborhood. All he knew was that he was cold and close to death. A fitting end for a bloody ninja that once donned a wicked skeleton dogi.
Why am I out here so early?
"Unit 412 to Base, checking in at Grid CE19. Over."
God, I wish I was in bed right now. I honestly don’t feel right today.
"Base to 412, move to Grid CE15. Check in at Tunnel Entrance. Over."
I shoulda called in sick.
"Roger that, Boss."
"See ya in an hour or so, Chet."
The static from the radio buzzed once, then cut short as the transmission was cut off. It was 4:56 in the morning and Chet had already cleared two cross sections of the area. Now, he was finishing up the final section and was thinking of breakfast at home. If he worked fast, he could be home by six. He hoped there wouldn’t be any other malfunctions in the units’ breakers.
Two blocks of the city go ghost town, and the electrical lines go to shit.
Lately, though, Conn Edison was finding more and more faulty breakers throughout the city. One thing CEPL shouldn’t have underestimated was that Y2K bug. Sure, Times Square didn’t go dark as the ball dropped. But here it was already March, and there were still faulty circuits throughout the older parts of the city.
Chet made his way into Grid 15, checked the breaker boxes and switches, and everything seemed in order. This neighborhood would be ready for electricity by noon. The rank smell of mold, however, would make living in this neighborhood difficult.
He saw the tunnel entrance and started for it. As he walked, he adjusted his gloves and looked at his glowing watch face to determine how much time he had to make it for breakfast.
Chet looked up again. He saw nothing but a beastly sillouhette, and a low throaty growl. The monstrous form lunged at him. Chet was too scared to think. As the figure lunged toward him, the lamp from his maintenance hat blazed into the eye of his attacker. There was only one. A ferocious snarl roared in Chet’s ears. The creature swiped the hat off of his head. A force blew past Chet, knocking him to the ground, and in an instant the beast was gone.
Chet’s hat swiveled on its round side illuminating a beam inside the tunnel. Chet sat up in the cold, wet ground.
"Fuck…. fuck…. fuck…." he said with every gasp.
"Why didn’t you let him take me?"
"Christ!" Chet panicked at the unknown voice. He looked into the beam of light that his hat cast, and could make out the figure of a man in a severely beaten state.
Chet pulled Croaker from the tunnel as delicately as he could. But after seeing that monster, he knew he had to get this poor guy out of the tunnel quickly. When he brought Croaker out into the pale light of the early spring overcast, Chet could see just how bad he was. Croaker’s skin was close to blue, his clothes that remained in tact were blood soaked, and the gash on his ribs was still leaking bright red.
"Jesus. I’ve gotta get you to a hospital, man. You’re gonna die like this."
"That’s the point…cough, cough…"
"Fuck that. I’m not gonna have another piece of guilt on my back."
Chet wrapped his jacket around Croaker’s bare skin and had him apply pressure to the cut. Knowing full well that no hospital would send a mobile unit to this desolate place, he radioed Base. He carried Croaker to the end of the alley, and waited for the maintenance van to arrive.
It was a struggle to keep Croaker conscious on the way to the hospital. Chet asked him questions like his name, what two plus two are, and about his girlfriend. He had to keep Croaker talking, and he had to move the image of that towering beast out of both their minds. Once they arrived at St. Claire’s, the staff took immediate attention of the young man near death.
"I missed breakfast you know."
"Where the fuck am I?"
"Twice. Your in your own personal suite at the Ritz Carlton," Chet opened his arms wide and gestured a little at the mediocre trappings of the hospital room. You’ve been out for over a day. You lost a lot of blood, needed a transfusion, and a few stitches. Now you just need to stay away from sewer alligators."
"I wish you had just let him kill me. He’ll be back you know. He vowed to have us all."
Chet headed over to the barred window. He looked at the cloudy sky.
"Fuckin’ weirdos. You know that? We are all just a bunch of fuckin’ weirdos."
Croaker laid back in the bed and shut his eyes, hoping to shut out the imminent words of stupidity from this jack ass that thinks he just did a good deed.
"I’m tellin’ ya, Croaker. Everything they say about us in the movies is true. People from New York are crazy. I’ve been just as delusional as you are now. Hell, that’s why I took the damn job down in the piss pipes. I thought they lived! I thought they lived down there.”
Croaker opened his eyes and stared at Chet at the window.
"What did you think lived in the sewer? Alligators?"
"No… Turtles. These pets I had as a kid. I dropped them down a manhole when I was a kid, and after that I thought they had become some monsters or turtle men or some shit like that."
"The fuckin’ turtles are dead, too, Chet."
"I saw them. I was right all along. Eight years ago last month, I was working the grids, like the ones yesterday… and I saw them.”
Croaker threw the sheets off the bed and attempted getting out. He didn’t have the strength to move his body, and Chet came back around to the other side of the bed.
"What the hell are you doin’, Croaker?"
"Listen to me, Chet. Your fucking turtles are dead. The Master got them too."
Chet looked at him puzzled.
"The Master has it in for all of us. He already killed the other three guys that worked with me at the time. I dunno if he’s gotten to the Turtles or not, but I know he wants them, too. And he wants me. It’s been eight years since we screwed with him. He wants revenge.”