It is nighttime in Philadelphia and the city is asleep. The streets are quiet except for the occasional car that drives down Market Street and a few people walking the street to enjoy a late dinner at their favorite restaurant. Septa buses and trains are nearing the end of a long day of transporting passengers to different locations. However, some like to take a nightly stroll through Center City. In Old City, between Spruce and Walnut Streets on 4th Street, a family is walking through the oldest section of the city while the children’s father told them the history of the buildings around them. “And this is the house where Thomas Jefferson lived and wrote the Declaration of Independence,” said the father.
“Really?” said the daughter.
“Yes, honey,” he answered.
“Hey dad, can we see Independence Hall?” the son asked.
“Yeah, and the Liberty Bell?” the daughter asked excitedly.
“Well I don’t know about the Liberty Bell but I think we can see Independence Hall,” the father said with a chuckle. Then he looked over at his wife, “It is ok if we make a quick stop at Independence hall before we go home, isn’t it?” His wife was a little hesitant in answering him, but she finally said, “Alright but only for a few minutes. I don’t want to be out here too late especially with the type of people who hang out down here at night.”
“Aw, come on honey. What’re you worried about? We’re heading to a well-lit area on Chestnut Street which will most likely have a night watchman or some type of security officer there just to make sure nothing happens,” said the father, “So don’t worry about it, ok. We’ll be fine.”
“Ok, but just a quick look then we’re going home,” his wife said seemingly agreeing.
“Alright,” said her husband, and then he kisses her on the cheek.
As they were walking down, two men walk out of an alley and start to follow them. The family turns the corner not realizing that they are being followed as they continue to make their way to Independence Hall. “Well, here we are; Independence Hall. This is where the signing of the Declaration of Independence took place,” the father began to explain, “This is where some of history’s most famous men came together to decide our country’s freedom.”
“Yeah, Ben Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock,” the man wearing a leather jacket interrupted. He pretended to be another tourist. “Did you know that John Hancock signed his name real big on the Declaration of Independence?”
“No, I didn’t know that,” said the father.
“Yeah, he signed his name real big. Bigger than everyone else,” the man said.
“Really?” said the father, “Hmm, interesting.”
“Oh, I’m sorry to bother you. Uh, I was just wondering if you can help us out,” the man said kindly changing the subject.
“Sure, what seems to be the problem?”
“Well, you see, I came to Philadelphia to visit my aunt and tour the city a little bit, you know. My aunt’s been kind of lonely lately since my uncle died and she really wanted some company. She’s just such a lovely lady. Really, just the nicest person you’d – anyway, between visiting my aunt and touring the city, I accidentally spent most of my money. And my friend over there, who was nice enough to come with me, doesn’t have a way back home. And I hardly have enough for myself. So I was just wondering if you could lend us a couple of bucks so we can get home. I mean we would really appreciate it,” he said.
“Well, I don’t see anything wrong with it, seeing as how you’re stuck,” the father said as he took his wallet from his back pocket, “Um, how much do you need?”
“Well, actually,” the man then pulls out a gun from his jacket pocket, “all of it would be nice.”
Dumbfounded the father looks at the man blankly. He starts to put the wallet back in his pocket when the man holding the gun stops him. “Uh uh, no heroics,” he said waving his gun. The father hears the cocking of a second gun from behind him. He turns around to see that the other man has a gun pointed at his wife and children, who were whimpering with fear. “Come on, fork over the wallet,” the first man demanded, “Purse, too.” The father pleaded with the men to not hurt his family as he handed the wallet to him with a shaky hand. “Ooh, is that a Rolex? Take it off,” said the first man eyeballing the father’s watch. The father takes off his watch and hands it to him without hesitation. “Now the purse,” the first man demanded, looking over at the mother.
“Ma’am,” the second man said with a sly smile. The mother removes her purse and hands it to the sly smiling man. “Ooh, leather. Must’ve been very expensive,” he said slyly.
“Alright, everybody on the ground,” the first man ordered. The family did as they were told and lay on the ground. “Uh uh, no peeking,” said the second man. Then the family turned their faces to the ground. The men start to run away when the first man turns around. “Oh, how rude of me. Thanks for all your help. We really appreciate it.” Then he turns back around and runs after his friend.
Unknowing to the men, they were being watched the whole time as they robbed the family. A shadowy figure was standing on the bell tower of Independence Hall peering down at them. The figure flies off after the two robbers.
The men make their way to a nearby park about two blocks away from Independence Hall. They enter the empty park that was poorly lit by the few lights that were inside. The men sit on a bench and begin rummaging through the stolen wallet and purse. The wallet contained various credit cards while the purse held make-up and a change purse with at least three hundred dollars inside of it. The second man with the red baseball cap and a brown jacket was looking around slightly nervous. “What’s with you?” the first man in the leather jacket asked as he lit a cigarette. “What if, you know…what if that ‘Guardian’ guy shows up,” the man in the red cap said.
The leather jacket man takes a puff of his cigarette and asks, “Who?”
“You know that ‘Guardian’ guy everyone’s been talkin’ about.”
“Oh please, don’t tell me you believe that crap,” the leather jacket man said.
“I’m just sayin’, you know. What if?” says the man in the red cap.
“What?! That the ‘Guardian’ is gonna come get us,” the leather jacket man smokes more of his cigarette, “Please.”
“Well, you know, Rocco said he saw him. He also said that lightning or something came out of his hands,” the red-capped man was growing even more uneasy. “Rocco said that he moved like a ghost. Twenty guys, good fighters. Not one of them could lay a hand on him.”
“Rocco? Since when did you start listenin’ to Rocco?” the leather jacket man said starting to get annoyed by his partner’s cowardice.
“Look, man, he said he saw him.”
The leather jacket man smokes more of his cigarette and exhales, “Yeah and he also said that he saw naked leprechauns dancin’ the Irish jig when he got himself drunk and kicked out of that bar that one night.” He takes another puff and continues, “Look, first of all, you’re listenin’ to a guy who’s got more stories than a library. Second, there ain’t no Guardian. It’s just some crazy nut whose mommy didn’t love him enough so he’s now runnin’ around playin’ hero, ok. So, knock it off with that Guardian crap.”
“I’m just sayin’ that everybody seems to believe that…” the red-capped man started to say.
“Would you shut up? I can personally give a damn what everyone else believes, all right. So, knock it off!” the leather jacket man said raising his voice.
“Shut up! I don’t want to hear any more garbage about this so-called Guardian. So just shut up,” said the leather jacket man firmly. Calming himself down, the leather jacket man tries to relax his worried friend. “Look, think about it, Joe. A guy shooting lightning out of his hands and moving so fast he’s like a ghost. C’mon, there’s nobody like that now is there. Huh?” He coaxed him like a playful brother.
“Yeah. Yeah, you’re right, Charlie. I don’t know what I was thinking, man,” said Joe, the red-capped man, sounding a little more relaxed.
“Don’t worry about it. It’s just me and you in this park, ok. So, relax, buddy, ok,” the leather jacket man Charlie reassured his friend. Joe nodded in agreement. “Alright, now let’s finish checking tonight’s earnings,” said Charlie.
Then the men resume rummaging through the wallet and purse. “Hey, check it out,” Joe said as he pulled out a diamond necklace from the purse, “Diamonds are forever.” They chuckle at his joke and continue picking through the stolen items.
Charlie pulls out a credit card. “What’s in your wallet?” he said mockingly. Again, they laugh at their snide remarks.
“I can’t believe that guy; he was so gullible,” said Joe.
“Yep, a grade-A sucker,” Charlie said eyeing the watch he stole from the father. “This was too easy.”
“You don’t say!” a voice said loudly breaking the silence of the city night.
The voice startled the men who quickly stopped what they were doing and begin to slowly look around. “Hey, it is just you and me in here, right?” said Joe.
“Right,” said Charlie sounding half frightened.
“And me!” the voice spoke again.
The muggers quickly jump up from the bench frightened by the unseen voice. They began to breathe heavily as fear entered their minds. A dead silence fell upon the park as the two scared men stand still while listening for some type of sound that would give away whoever else was in the park with them. They scan the park hoping to catch a glimpse of the person behind the voice. The only sights they got were the street lights in the distance. The only sounds that they heard were the occasional car driving down Market Street, a homeless man sifting through the garbage cans in search of tonight’s dinner, and two screeching alley cats fighting over territory in the alley across from the park. “It’s way too quiet in here, man,” Joe said with fear and concern in his voice.
“Yeah, let’s just grab the stuff and get the hell out of here,” Charlie said sounding a little frightened himself.
“Yeah, let…let’s just go,” Joe stammered softly.
“Aw, now you can’t leave yet. I didn’t get a chance to have any fun with you,” the voice said again, which now came directly from behind them.
The men slowly turn their heads and look behind them to see the shadowy figure standing at their backs. Their eyes widened as they stared at the man in black. Wearing a military-style hooded trench coat, biker boots, and a pair of fingerless gloves stands the former Brayden Pryce, who now calls himself Guardian. He stood behind the men with his head tilted down so that his hood is covering his eyes. “I saw you rob that family. Now that’s something that gets me electrified,” he said, slowly lifting his head revealing his eyes, which were glowing with an intense bright blue.
The men quickly turn around and run away from Guardian, practically stumbling over each other. They continue to run through the park fueled by fear; occasionally they look back to see if Guardian was following them. When they no longer see him, the men stop running to catch their breath. “Where is he?” Joe asked breathing heavily.
“I don’t know,” said Charlie.
“But I do,” said Guardian’s voice. The men turn around slowly and see that Guardian is once again standing behind them.
“Jeez!” Charlie said surprisingly as he and his friend quickly back away from Guardian and stop abruptly.
“Who the hell is this guy?” said Joe with fear and disbelief.
“I don’t care who he is but he’s dead,” Charlie said mustering up some courage as he pulled out his gun and begins shooting at Guardian. Guardian moves one hand rapidly in front of him as the leather coat man continues shooting. When his gun runs out of bullets, Charlie cocks the trigger two more times before stopping. “N…no way. There’s no way…” he stuttered with disbelief. Neither man could believe that not a single bullet touched him.
Guardian stares at the men coldly. “I believe these are yours,” he says. The men watched with their mouths agape as Guardian slowly poured the bullet slugs out of his hand.
Joe takes out his gun with a trembling hand as fear began to swell up inside him. “You don’t want to do that,” Guardian said staring at the men with piercing eyes. In an attempt to steady his gun, Joe grips the handle with both hands that were shaking nervously. He begins to sweat as fear fills him. “Go ahead. Shoot,” says Guardian coldly with a piercing gaze that seemed to cut Joe straight to his soul. Joe could feel Guardian’s intense glare slicing through him like cold steel razor blades as he struggles to steady his trembling hands. He hesitates for a moment, and then he fires his gun. Guardian instantly catches the bullet with his right hand, holding it between his first two fingers. The bullet is just mere centimeters from his face. Joe quickly loses his composure and drops the gun. Guardian crushes the bullet and drops it on the ground. Then the men turn around and run away fearfully in an attempt to escape from Guardian. Unfortunately, their escape is quickly halted when Guardian appears right in their path.
The men stare at him with open mouths and wide eyes from the growing sense of dread. Guardian then raises his right arm and fires a bolt of lightning at Charlie. Charlie doesn’t have a chance to scream as the lightning ripped through his body. He then collapses to the ground. Guardian lowers his arm and walks over to Joe slowly. The red-capped man is bound by fear as Guardian approached him. He grips Joe by his shirt and lifts him off the ground. “D…don’t kill me. Pl…please, don’t kill me, man,” he begged, fearing for his life.
“I’m not going to kill you. I want you to tell every mugger, pickpocket, and anyone else like you about me,” Guardian said firmly.
“Who are you, man? Just who are you?” Joe said nervously.
“I am the protector of this city. I am the savior of all who lives here,” Guardian pauses and then gazes at the man fiercely as his eyes began to glow, “I am Guardian.” He releases Joe’s shirt and lets him drop to the ground. Then he charges himself with lightning and vanishes in a bright flash of lightning. Joe is left alone in the park with his unconscious friend and the sounds of the city night. Fear and terror have driven him mad as he sat in the park muttering Guardian’s name to himself.
A few minutes later police officers arrive at the park after someone called 911 and reported gunfire. They enter the park and find Charlie still unconscious and Joe kneeling near a tree still uttering Guardian’s name as he rocks back and forth while staring blankly in front of him. One officer approaches Joe and snaps his fingers to get his attention. Then the officer waves his hand in front of his face, but the red-capped doesn’t give any response as he continues to stare into space. “He’s gone,” said the officer. “Man, this Guardian character must’ve really scared the bejeezus outta him,” his partner said observing Joe.
“How’s the other guy?” the officer asked.
“He’s alive. Just unconscious, that’s all,” his partner said, “Medic is on the way.”
“Alright, let’s put him with the others,” said the officer.
The officers help the man up to his feet and put him in the back of their cruiser and waited for the ambulance to arrive. “Think we’ll get anything out of him?” the officer’s partner asked. “Not a chance. I mean look at ‘im. He’s as white as a ghost,” said the officer, “Honestly, what could this Guardian have done to this guy that was so terrible that it turned him into a babbling idiot.”
Joe continued to stare blankly, muttering Guardian’s name.