The Fall Of Sanctuary City
2021 Little Black Book Challenge
John's father was a well-known man, making his funeral an unsettling occasion.
John impatiently waited for the graveside service to end. Hundreds of people he had never met were coming up to him, squeezing, shaking, and touching him. John was not comfortable, and his sister Holly knew it. Holly was a great big sister, and John had always looked up to her. She helped him navigate the wild daily life their father had built around them.
"Hey, why don't you come to the car with me, get out of this chaos? Dad knew too many damn people. I'm making a break for it."
Holly took John by the hand and led him to an empty car, the same one that had transported them to the gravesite from the church. Holly always knew when to rescue John. She undoubtedly got that from their dad.
John and Holly sat in the car and watched the swarm of people take over the graveyard in a disrespectful way. The people were stomping on other graves, sitting on headstones, and letting their unsupervised kids run around to play. Their dad's career brought several seemingly good people into their lives, yet this grouping did not seem sad. As if these people only liked the idea of their father, not the man himself.
As bad as the guests were, the paparazzi snapping pictures from behind trees, headstones, and strategically parked cars were worse. To make a quick buck off a famous man's funeral was disgusting but, unfortunately, standard practice in this day and age.
"Superheroes should be respected when they die, but these cameramen sure don't care," John somberly mentioned to Holly as he took in the scene.
In the world of superheroes, the villain is not supposed to win. But in this case, that is precisely what had happened, at the hands of the last person they ever thought would take on that role, John and Holly's own mother.
Their mother was not a supervillain like ones read about in comic books or seen in the movies. No, just a woman scorned by the behavior of her cheating husband.
A man's true weakness is through the heart, and their mother had full access.
Yes, their father could fly. He was super fast too. However, a few too many affairs did him in. John and Holly's father loved their mother. Still, the temptations that go along with being a superhero were hard for him to overcome.
His loving, devoted wife, who had been so proud to call him her husband, had been publicly shamed for the last time. The paparazzi made a great sidekick to their mother's villainous turn. She knew his every move and needed no tricks to lure him into a trap. Knowing his secret weakness, their mother poisoned their father then took her own life. Of course, the paparazzi had pictures of the death scene printed in the papers the next day. Their villainous work is never done.
"Look at em, taking all those pictures. If they had only left dad alone when he wasn't superhero-ing, they would have kept themselves a paying gig," Holly mused matter-of-factly.
The death of their father affected the entire city. The crime rates were climbing daily. The police force was accustomed to mostly desk work, filing reports, and waiting for the bad guys to be delivered to them by the great superhero that protected the city. The city had been deemed so safe when their father was alive that the mayor shifted the police budget to hire more workers to pick up trash and sweep the sidewalks.
Now, the city only had an army of broom sweepers and inexperienced cops. Criminals ran amuck.
John and Holly were to meet the mayor after the funeral. The mayor said she had to give them some vital information since they were the only living heirs to the city's great hero. John and Holly had no idea what information could be so essential to them. They were not superheroes. But as a courtesy to the mayor, they had agreed to the meeting.
John had enough of the funeral. "I am tired of being here. I think we should go to the mayor's office and get this over with. I just want to go home."
Holly agreed. "Driver, please take us to the mayor's office."
Without hesitation, the driver started the car and drove away.
The mayor inexplicably did not attend the funeral. John and Holly found it odd but chalked it up to the mayor not having time. She was probably busy handling the eruption of crime and chaos that had enveloped the city since their father's death.
The gravesite was only a few blocks away from the mayor's office, so it only took a few minutes to arrive at city hall. When they arrived, John and Holly exited the car and made their way inside. Knowing how important John and Holly's meeting was, the mayor's assistant, Darla, waited patiently in the lobby for them to arrive.
"There you are, oh, you poor things," Darla reached out and hugged John and Holly. They halfheartedly accepted. "Come on up with me. The mayor is waiting for you."
Darla led them to a secure elevator that went directly to the mayor's office. Swiping her electronic keycard, the doors opened, and they were all three in the elevator and up to the office in a matter of minutes.
Once the elevator arrived on the top floor, the doors opened, and John and Holly could see the mayor sitting at her desk. The mayor noticed their arrival, stood up and warmly welcomed them inside.
"Oh, come in, come in. Do sit down, you two. Darla, thank you for bringing them up. You can leave us."
"Yes, madam mayor," Darla replied and went back down in the elevator.
When Darla was clear from the area, the mayor sat back down at her desk, opened the middle drawer, and pulled out a little black book. The mayor held the book firmly in her hands then looked up at John and Holly. The mayor held the book up in front of them so they could see it.
"Have either of you seen this book before?"
John and Holly stared at the mayor skeptically. Holly spoke up.
"I've never seen that book before. What is its significance?" John nodded along in agreement with Holly. The mayor looked down and shook her head in response to their reaction. Her face was full of rage when she looked back up at them.
"I thought I told you both to cover your tracks, cover all angles, to make sure there was no evidence of what really happened that night with your father and mother. THIS BOOK would be your undoing if I weren't the mayor."
John sprung up out of his seat. "What is in that book?! Who does it belong to?!"
"It's not who it belongs to but who it BELONGED to that matters! Come here, both of you, and see what I am talking about." The mayor waved at both of them to come behind her desk. John and Holly moved cautiously behind the desk beside her.
"You see, kids, this little notebook is not an ordinary notebook. This is a Moleskine Smart Notebook."
"Ok," Holly replied, "who does it belong to? Why are you so upset about this book?"
"Great question Holly, now stop interrupting, and I will tell you. This notebook belonged to your father. Do you happen to know what this kind of notebook is capable of?"
John nervously spoke up, "Yes, mayor, I do. The Moleskine allows the notes inside to be uploaded online."
The mayor erupts. "Yes! Now, do you know why this could be a problem for us? Your father kept notes in this book, and they are uploaded to a private server."
Holly was not bothered. "So what mayor, our father and mother had no idea we were trying to kill them. When we prepared dinner for them that night, they were none the wiser. After they died, we set up the scene and tipped off the media. Our $20,000 trust payments even started earlier than expected! There shouldn't be anything in that book that would point suspicion at us. We are in the clear, madam mayor."
"Oh, it's that simple, huh, Holly? You are smarter than everyone? Think again! Before you dismiss this book, allow me to read the first page of your father's journal:
"Dedication To Sanctuary City
"I'm not a hero, I'm not a savior, forget what you know. I'm just a man whose circumstances went beyond his control."
"My favorite line from my favorite song, Mr. Roboto, clearly defines my thoughts of being the hero of the great Sanctuary City. This journal will contain my thoughts and feelings about my experiences of being a superhero. One day, when my family and the people of this great city read this, they will get a glimpse of my inner thoughts as I fought to keep this city safe.
"All data written inside this book will be uploaded to private servers located at Steiner & Associates' law offices. If you find this book, please return it to Steiner & Associates for a reward.
"If my journal is being used for archival purposes, please inquire Steiner & Associates for the private security tapes of my home. My home is being secretly recorded for historical purposes. The recordings are made so that my life can be studied to help better understand a superhero's life."
Shocked, Holly and John backed away from the mayor. They had no idea their father kept a journal and never suspected that their whole life was being secretly recorded.
The mayor knew John and Holly understood the ramifications of this new information.
"Now you see. There is a recording of you two killing your parents and staging the murder-suicide."
Holly gulped. "Yeah, but why haven't we been arrested? Do you think we can get the recordings, madam mayor?"
The mayor relaxed her face and smiled. "The reason you haven't been arrested is that Steiner & Associates not only worked for your father, but they also work for me. And no, WE can't obtain the videos. However, I can, and I have. The full archival footage from inside your home is in my possession."
John got excited. "Why are you so worried then, madam mayor? Why bring us here to have a meeting if you already have the videos?"
The mayor was amused. "Great question John. Starting now, you two will send me half of your trust fund money each month, $10,000. That will keep those videos locked up and both of you out of jail."
With arrogance and confidence, the mayor sat back into her chair and waited for John and Holly to respond.
Holly and John stood still, bewildered, staring at the mayor. After a few silent minutes, Holly turned to John.
"Reveal yourself. Make it quick and quiet."
John nodded. As quick as Holly had instructed, John's tongue slithered out of his mouth, stretched six-feet, and wrapped around the mayor's throat. Not expecting retaliation, especially from a super-ability, the mayor was defenseless. Slowly choking, the mayor tried to pry the coiled tongue away from her throat, but it was useless. The mayor turned blue then turned quiet in a matter of minutes.
As soon as the mayor slumped over dead in her chair, John recoiled his tongue off her neck. He then returned it to his mouth as if nothing had happened.
Holly stood over the mayor's lifeless body. "You see, madam mayor, we aren't superheroes. We are supervillains."
Holly and John looked at each other and smiled. Sanctuary City was now their's to control.