By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
Pray for me."
That's what he said right before his first crime-fighting patrol. He was talking to a classmate at whose house he was spending the night. The classmate, a friend from his junior class, had agreed to help out with his crazy scheme. While the kid wasn't coming along for the outing, he had offered his parents' home as a base of operations, since it was located near the center of the Colorado mountain town where the would-be crime fighter and his family had moved from Texas the year before.
The Wall Creeper still shivers nervously thinking about that evening: how the two boys spent the hours leading up to the patrol, almost too anxious to talk. How glancing at the duffel bag of equipment he'd spent weeks preparing made him feel like he was about to get on a roller-coaster ride, one without a visible end. What would happen if he got caught? Would he be arrested? Would the embarrassment ruin his family? By 10 p.m., he'd done enough wondering. It was time to go.
He'd hatched the plan two months earlier, the day he claims he got a call from a police detective who was looking for a guy he knew, a friend of a friend who'd recently skipped town. The detective said the guy had been abusing a little girl. Afterward, he sat in his bedroom feeling trapped, all the old anger flooding back.
After moving to Colorado, things had briefly gotten better for the boy. His new school was small, intimate, populated with teachers and students who seemed to care. But then he started hearing about drugs at parties, stuff like heroin and ecstasy. Classmates he thought were respectable turned out to be dealers. And with each passing week, the local crime blotter filled with ever more reports of robberies, assaults and worse.
The detective's call was the final straw. It seemed to him the town was falling apart, with the police too understaffed to do anything about it. The ones who'd suffer the consequences were the children — kids like his own little sister.
"I realized I was all alone against what was happening," he says. "It was an innocent town, a loving town that turned to drugs. And my little sister was going to have to grow up in that, and I wouldn't allow that."
That night, surrounded by papier-mâché masks and fantasy posters he'd hung on his bedroom walls, he realized something incredible: Maybe he could make a difference. "I have been training. I can do something. It's not like I am just some common guy," he thought. "I've been training for this all my life and didn't realize it."
The creature struggling inside him was about to be let out. As an unassuming high school student, he had the perfect cover to learn about the drugs and dealers. He could handle himself in a fight, having continued his obsessive physical training. All he needed was a way to protect his identity in this insular mountain town.
In other words, he needed a battle suit. The outfit he built over the next two months was a mixture of practicality and drama, something he hoped would protect him but also strike fear into the hearts of evildoers. He bought a full-face balaclava from a ski shop, obtained a paintball ballistics vest from a military surplus store and salvaged the arm and leg pads he'd used in his street hockey days. Everything was black, to blend in with the night. He armed himself with swords, two short blades he named Twitch and Wind. And while the grappling hook he tried never worked, he was pleased with the black cape he'd designed with sewn-in umbrella ribs that he could raise like demon wings.
But he still needed a name, something terrifying. Since the Wall Creeper persona had yet to come to him, he instead thought back to the time as a toddler when he'd wandered into his family's backyard playhouse and found its walls writhing with the pulsing wings of hundreds of moths. The door had slammed behind him and the creatures had taken flight, pouring over his tiny body, consuming him. He couldn't remember what happened next — the memory breaks off — but the revulsion he still felt about it was enough to inspire the perfect name: the Mothman.
And now, as he stepped quietly out of his classmate's house, the Mothman was ready to take flight.
The masked young man had no particular destination in mind as he walked down the quiet street that warm summer night. He was essentially taking his suit for a test drive, to see what might happen. He didn't have to wait long to find out.
Just a few doors down, the Mothman froze as a motion-sensitive garage-door light flicked on, illuminating a deer on an evening stroll. He considered it for a moment, until he realized he wasn't the only one watching. A couple was observing the deer from their nearby porch — and then turned and looked right at him.
He did the only thing he could think of. He raised his horrible black wings like some fiendish beast rearing out of the darkness. If this was to be the Mothman's coming-out party, he'd be damned if he didn't leave an impression.