I, Osiris Flint

I’m tired, wanting nothing more than to recline in my overstuffed chair and enjoy these fingers of Scotch.  But that damned telegraph chatters again.  The White House, and duty, calls, and when the President of the United States has your ear, you have little choice but to listen. If there is no rest for the wicked, then there is certainly no rest for a Government Man of Action.

How many times have I tied this mask on? I wear the mask so often that there are times when I don’t recognize myself without it.  It’s almost an extension of myself, and it is growing old at the same rate that I am.  The silk is fraying and thin at the ends, napped where the fabric has been tied together time after time.  The edges are stained a dark blue from the sweat of my years of service.

My greatcoat stinks of sweat.  I’ve washed it countless times, yet the pungent wool refuses to come clean.  Blood stains the cuffs and sleeves, as well as the collar, lapels, and front of the coat.  Once red, the stains have become dull rust against the grey wool.  I wish I had a different trademark than this heavy and cumbersome coat, something like a gabardine suit, but the government tailors refuse to listen to my requests.

With my revolver tucked into its holster and my trusty manacles rattling in a coat pocket, I’m ready to go.  The alert is in response to Doctor Sphinx, a man I know better than my own father, who is careening over New York City in an airship.  He’s done this before, that time in an attempt to put the entire city to sleep (and once asleep, he had planned to take over City Hall and instate himself as the de facto ruler).  I stopped him, of course.  The alert did not say what his current plans were, but they are no doubt nefarious.

As the Otis “elevator” descends from my penthouse, I stretch my aging limbs.  It seems that no amount of calisthenics can ready my body for the toil of this profession.  My breath is shorter now, and, after any level of exertion, the lactic acid pools in my muscles much longer.  The Otis reaches the ground floor and my hidden garage.  My “motorcycle”, a gleaming mass of well-oiled gears and pistons, waits for me under a canvas tarp.  With a yank, the tarp flutters off in a cloud of dust.  The garage door opens with a groan of dry hinges.  The “motorcycle” starts easily—the government gives it better care and maintenance than they do its driver.  The motor purrs and the machine vibrates gently between my legs.  I flip on the carbon arc lamp, which fills the garage with a blinding, white light. With a roar, I am out of the garage and in pursuit of my foe.  I am not sure where or how I will intercept Doctor Sphinx, but I don’t have any other options.  Someone wiser than me said, “Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die…” And I, a one-man light brigade, am no exception.

If this is my last charge, so be it.  Sometimes I think that an aging hero is hardly better than no hero at all.

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