Airship 27’s newest New Pulp anthology, Black Bat Mystery Vol. 2, will soon be available from Indy Planet and the Airship 27 Hangar. Beneath the cut is an excerpt from my contribution, “The Black Bat at Bay!” as well as an illustration by Andres Labrada to prime the pump, so to speak. Enjoy!
There was a duet of snarls as the twin pistols sang out, splitting the calm of the night. A lean black shape raced across the rooftop, trailing spent bullet casings and a spatter of blood.
It was 1940, and the street corners and back alleys of Red Hook echoed with the news-the Black Bat had been brought to bay at last. Officers from six precincts had joined the hunt, and the sound of sirens split the night from the Hudson to the airfield.
Rifle fire plucked at the brick chimneys and pigeon coops that the Black Bat wove through in his headlong flight. Searchlights sprang from the street, trying to pin their quarry in place with blazing beams.
Tony Quinn, lawyer, scholar and vigilante, cursed as one such beam swept over him, briefly making him visible to his pursuers. A Thompson machine gun spat a flurry of lead hornets that chewed the brickwork beneath the Black Bat’s feet, prompting him to spread his arms and dive from his perch.
He smashed awkwardly into a fire-escape and clawed at the iron railing. The wound in his side stretched and a ripple of pain spread through him like fire. Cursing a blue-streak through gritted teeth, Quinn hauled himself up as gunfire struck the fire-escape, sending out a spray of sparks.
Voices blared through bullhorns, but he ignored them, concentrating instead on the window in front of him. He struck the glass with his shoulder and half-fell into a kitchen. He rolled across a table and dropped to the floor. Twin .45’s in hand, he rose to his feet and met the frightened eyes of the family whose evening dinner he’d ruined. They stared at him in open-mouthed shock, pasta dripping from their forks.
“Sorry. Bit pressed for time,” the Black Bat said, heading for the front door of the apartment. Without stopping, he kicked it off its hinges and barreled into the hall beyond. From there, he crossed the hall and hit the opposite door, barging into that apartment, pistols held low as he aimed himself like a human arrow at the window he knew would be ahead of him somewhere. A man came out of the bathroom, a toothbrush stuck in his mouth, as Quinn charged past.
The Black Bat ignored him as he raised his pistols and fired at the window before him, blowing the glass out of the frame in a shower of glittering shards. The way clear, he twisted his body into a swimmer’s dive and leapt through the window. The membranous cape that extended from his gloves to his armpits flared, catching an updraft, and his fall slowed, but not by much. Twisting, he angled himself and crashed onto the top of a police car as it skidded up to the sidewalk. Scrabbling at the roof as his muscles howled in protest, Quinn rolled off of the vehicle and hit the street. Hard.
Breathing heavily, he shoved himself to his feet, pistols swinging up even as a uniformed police officer staggered out of the car. His eyes widened as he saw the Bat, and his hand dipped for his service revolver.
“Don’t,” the Black Bat said harshly, aiming his Colts.
The officer’s hands sprang away from his belt and into the air. “Take it easy…” he said.
“Not tonight, unfortunately,” the Black Bat said, backing away, blood running down his black-clad leg from the wound in his side. “Stay safe, officer.” He turned and sprinted for the nearest alleyway.
A duo of police cars screeched around the corner, moving to intercept him. He skidded to a stop and spun, heading in the opposite direction. A pistol cracked and he felt a bullet pluck at his cape, but he didn’t stop.
The growl of a super-charged engine blistered the air suddenly, and a battered looking coup forced its way through the police cars, shoving them aside in a shower of sparks and the shriek of scraped metal.
The Black Bat slowed, and allowed the coupe to slide past him. A door popped open and he jumped, grabbing on and swinging himself into the back of the vehicle. The driver gunned the engine, and it sped off, out-racing the police cars and disappearing into the maze of streets that made up Red Hook…