Leo’s feet flew beneath him. his lungs pounded against his ribcage in
protest, but he ran on through the dark alleyways and sidestreets. He suddenly
stopped still. He crouched low to the ground. Very faintly, in the dirt
and grime on the pavement, was the imprint of a two-toed foot. Leo set
He cursed himself for a lazy fool over and over. He prayed to whatever god might hear him that his brother was still alive, that he wouldn’t be too late, for whatever it was he was running toward. He heard Mikey’s faint “wait!” on the wind, but didn’t pay it any heed. There was no time.
After yelling a nearly incomprehensible warning to his family, he had dashed out the door, his fine-tuned tracking skills guiding his feet.
The trail suddenly stopped in a dead-ended alley. The corners were shrouded in shadow. There was a lumpy pile in one corner. His heart pounding, his breath screaming in his ears, Leo slowly walked toward it.
“Raph?” his voice was barely above a whisper. The shape didn’t move. “Raph?”
a groan came from the form. An old, homeless man with a bottle of whiskey clenched in his gnarled hand rolled over, muttered once and resumed snoring softly.
*where are you Raph?* Leo thought in desperation. He then looked up. winding from the top of one of the buildings was an old, rusty fire escape, the ladder already down. *he’s taken to the roofs. . .* like a jungle cat, Leo deftly climbed the pitted fire escape. When he reached the rooftop, he noticed more footprints in the dust that had settled there. On the top of a tall office building, Leo caught a glimpse of a moving shape.
The turtle thrust aside his thoughts and inhibitions, and took a running start, leaping from the edge of the building. He landed hard in a roll on the next rooftop. He made his way up, all the while willing his brother to wait for him. willing himself not to be too late.
He couldn’t recall how he managed to reach the top of the mini-skyscraper, but he could feel his adrenalin pumping through his system like fire. He stood silently at one end of the flat rooftop, looking at where his brother stood at the other end. He took a hesitant step forward.
“I thought you’d come after me. I was hoping you wouldn’t wake up.”
“Raph, what are you doing?” Leo asked, although he knew the answer.
“I’ve got to, Leo. There’s no other choice.” Raph turned to face his brother. The tears streaking his cheeks reflected silver in the moonlight. “she’s killing me, Leo. Slowly. I can’t do this anymore. I can’t live like this anymore.”
“But there’s someone who can help! April talked to-“
“I can’t wait that long!” he yelled, his voice cracking.
“please Raph, don’t do this. . . we. . . I. . . I don’t know what I would do if. . .”
Raph’s mouth twisted into an ironic, mirthless smile, “at least I won’t be here to burden you anymore.”
“no, Raph, you never-“
“I just want you to know that I love you. . .” Raph gave his brother a sad smile.
Raph disappeared over the edge, Leo suddenly found himself standing there, looking down at his brother sprawled on the pavement far below, every detail of his body etched in the moonlight, a sunburst of blood forming a hellish halo around his head. . .
“I just want you to know that I love you. . .” Raph gave his brother a sad smile.
Without thinking or hesitating, Leo darted forward as Raph placed one foot into space. He grabbed his brother’s arm and, bracing his feet on the lip of the edge, leaned all his weight backwards. They both tumbled backwards, Raph landing heavily on Leo. They lay like that for several moments, Leo with a deathgrip on Raph’s arm, Raph laying wordlessly beside him.
finally Raph yanked his arm from Leo’s grip, rolling over, his back to his brother.
Leo took deep breaths to slow the pounding of his heart, which raced from the combination of his rushing adrenalin and his disturbing premonition.
“why did you do it, Leo?”
“I can’t let you die, Raph. Not when there’s something I can do to stop it.”
“I’m sick of this, Leo. Every minute is like torture. I can’t sleep, I’m never truly awake. . . and I see her wherever I go. . . there’s no escaping her. There’s nothing else I can do.”
“there is. We havn’t exhausted our options.” Leo sat up. He took Raph in his arms, leaning his brother’s head on his shoulder.
“you had no right to make this decision for me.” Raph sobbed, although he held onto Leo as hard as Leo held onto him, both afraid that if they loosed their grips, the other would fade away forever into the night.
they held each other in silence, the night seeming less opressive as they sat thus.
“do you remember when we were kids,” Raph began, his voice hoarse from crying, “when we would sometimes hear noises echoing through the tunnels at night?”
“yeah,” Leo smiled, remembering, “it took ages for Splinter to convince us that it was city workers, construction and storm water flooding the pipes that made those noises, instead of monsters lurking in the tunnels.”
“whenever we heard noises, Mikey and I would always come running into your room.” Raph said quietly, “it was like instinct or something. We would always come to you. you were never afraid of anything.”
“I was just as scared as you two.” Replied Leo, “but I didn’t want you to know, so I would stay awake until you came in. I’d only be able to get to sleep unless you and Mikey were there.”
“I never knew that.”
“I never told anyone.”
Raph snorted, “Donnie would just sleep through the whole thing.”
Leo smiled, “yeah.”
“I wish we were kids again.”
“I’m not going to wait much longer. Not even you will be able to stop me then.”
Leo said nothing. He pressed his lips together. He dreaded that moment, when he knew Raph was right, and he would just have to stand aside and watch as his brother’s life faded away.
April entered her apartment as the phone started ringing. Kicking the
door closed and throwing her coat on a chair, she hurredly picked up the
“hello. Is this Ms. O’Neill’s residence?”
“yes, this she.”
“hey there. Liz here.”
“Liz?” April paused for a moment. “oh yeah, Liz, sorry, it’s been a busy day.”
“how are things at that end?”
“not good. We’re running out of time. My friend tried to kill himself last night. I hope your news is better than that. . .”
“I should say so. I ran the situation by Ghost. He’ll do it.”
relief flooded through April, as she let out the breath she hadn’t knew she’d been holding, “good. So, he’ll be able to get rid of this succubus thing?”
“it’s still pretty iffy at this point. It’s entirely possible that Ghost will be ineffective. But he’s going to try.”
“great. That’s. . . that’s great.”
“now, about price. . .”
“look, I don’t care how much it costs, I just want it done!”
“er. . . yeah, we’ll discuss price later.”
“alright. Is that it?” April rubbed a temple with her free hand. She had been getting migrains lately. Her boss attributed it to nerves and had requested that she take a paid vacation. The truth was, April feared that the headaches would only get worse the more time she had to think about the turtles’ situation, so she buried herself in work as much as possible, Ibuprofen her best friend.
“not quite. I did some research based on what you told me about your friend’s dreams. You told me he mentioned. . .” April heard a rustling of paper, “a gravestone with the name ‘Amy’ on it and a date? Umm. . . 1895?”
“okay, well, I visited the city cemetary and poked around. I found a grave that may be the one your pal saw in his dream. It had the name ‘Amy’ on it, along with that date. There was no last name, or date of birth. I’m assuming there was none on the gravestone in your friend’s dream?”
“not that he mentioned.”
“okay, well, I went to the library and looked through the microfilms of old newspapers. I think I may know who this spirit is. In 1889 an 18-year old girl was arrested for a frantic assult on a young man. Apparently this man had had an affair with her which he’d broken off when his wife became pregnant. He confessed to it when she was arrested. She spent a few years in a sanitarium and was released in either 1890 or -91. Anyway, according to her obituary, for those four or five years she tended to follow the guy around and occasionally harass his wife and kids. She kept claiming that he was in love with her. . .” there was a rustle of paper again, “she died in 1895 of some sort of fever, from an infected rat bite, probably obtained during her frequent hidings in the sewers.”
“so, she’s been haunting these sewers ever since?”
“well, that’s the thing, you never had any of these succubus occurences before a couple weeks ago, right?”
“okay, well, I found some wax residue on the gravestone, which reminded me of an article I read in the newspaper a couple weeks ago, but never made the connection. A few high-schoolers tried to conduct a seance for laughs in the graveyard, at Amy’s grave. The kids were arrested as they were leaving the graveyard, or rather running from it, screaming at the tops of their lungs. According to the article, the kids were pretty smashed at the time, but they all gave almost identical testimonies that partway through their ‘seance’ they heard the sound of a woman screaming and sobbing. Quoting one of the kids: ‘it sounded like she was really sad and angry. It was some scary shit, man.’”
“so, you’re saying that these kids awakened her spirit, which returned to the sewers where she had hidden in her lifetime, and fixated on ra- er. . . on my friend?”
“yeah. Which brings me to the question: is your friend a city worker?”
a lump formed in April’s throat as she reaLized she had just backed into a corner. “uuuh. . . why do you ask?”
“well, you said Amy must have returned to the sewers, so I’m assuming that that’s where she encountered your friend, who represents her big ‘lost love’ cliché.”
“uuh. . . I don’t see why that’s all that important. . .”
“look, in order for Ghost to be able to help you out, he has to know as much as possible about the situation. I know that you’ve been holding something back from me. you do reaLize that Ghost is going to have to do this with your friend in person. . .?”
“um, no I didn’t reaLize that.”
“look, whatever it is, you can tell me. like I said before, I’m a good secret-keeper.”
“well, the truth is. . .” April sighed, “I don’t suppose you’ve read about that incedent which happened a few years ago involving that ninja clan known as ‘The Foot’?”
“yeah. Pretty wacky stuff, I thought.”
“well, you remember how they sort of dissappeared and tended to turn up, unconscious on cops’ patrol routes?”
“well, these friends of mine were the ones that did all that.”
“. . .you’re shitting me, right?”
“no. there’s five of them, they live in the old part of the city sewer system, the parts that aren’t used anymore.”
“because if any authority figures ever found out about them, they would become science experiments. They’re. . . they’re mutants.”
“okay, now I know you’re shitting me.”
“look, is it so hard to believe? You believe in ghosts, right? well, this is another whole level of science with these guys. A level that most people don’t know about. Four of them are mutated turtles, the fifth is a mutated rat.”
Liz was silent on the other end.
“jesus. . .” Liz breathed.
“are you alright?”
“I KNEW IT!!” Liz suddenly screetched, “I felt those strange energy signatures from you! it was resedual energy from your friends! I knew something strange was happening under New York, I KNEW it! but I never thought. . . jesus christ, I never even considered. . . they can speak? Like, they can communicate and everything?”
“they live a lot like humans. Um. . . japanese-new-yorker ninja humans, with a thing for pizza, that is. . .”
“wow. . . wow. . .”
“you still with me?”
“oh. Uh, yeah. Still with ya. Um. . . what was I going to say?”
“oh yeah, when’s a good time for Ghost and I to stop by your friends’ place?”
“I’ll have to talk to them. I’ll meet you somewhere and lead you there. It’s easy to get lost.”
“I can imagine.”
“give me your phone number, I’ll call you after I talk to them.”
“I’ll give you my beeper number.”
“look, I don’t feel like being led around by the nose by someone who’s way too paranoid. Just give me your goddamn phone number, I promise not to share it.”
“alright.” She rattled off a series of numbers.
“okay. I’ll call you soon.”
“one more thing,”
“do they have. . . like. . . shells and everything?”
“um, yeah, they do.”
“wicked. . .”
“well, ta-ta for now.”
April gratefully hung up the phone. She paced over to her window. The afternoon shadows were lengthening, the sky just beginning to take a darker yellow tint. A shiver went up her spine, though her apartment was warm. Her instincts told her that this was the night. it was all or nothing at this point. Either Raphael would be released or. . . she felt her throat contract at the thought. . . or tonight was the night she, and his family, would say goodbye.