Goodbye Frank : GS.

 

Two wrongs don’t make a right.  The last hours of Detective Frank Malone.

Co-written with Nhal.
Razorbackwriter: Heading out to the street outside Elissa’s apartment, the two men would be saying good bye to each other. Little did they know the importance of what this would mean. Frank now had the goods on the Commander, thanks to Tommy’s connection in the darker underworld of New York. Reaching the curb, Frank puts his hand out to flag down a taxi, as Tommy is about to head to his car.

“You sure you want to use them?” The reporter asks, almost second guessing himself. The evidence in the brown envelope is damaging. So serious in fact that the Commander would never get a job in the city again, not even street sweeping. Frank gave a mere shrug of his shoulders. Everything the Detective had tried to do to clear his name and his own reputation had been hindered by the Commander at each and every turn. With the most recent death of Joey Patone, Frank was now a scapegoat more than ever for who was truly responsible for the mobster’s murder. The Commander had in his possession the photographs that had been taken from Joey’s apartment and featured images of the creature that had taken Rory that fateful night. Those alone could prove that Frank was not in the slightest bit crazy, and backed up the claims that he had made. It would vindicate him not only to those that he served with, but also to his ex wife. Isolde would also be in the clear, since her lab reports on the firing of Frank;s gun would show that he did not shoot Eliissa, or Joey Patone.

One career for another.

“This has to end, Tommy. My life has been a right mess since the night Rory died. I’ve had enough of people holding that over me. You saw the fluffy alien princess upstairs. They exist. That means this creature that attacked Rory also does. The Commander knows it and is trying to keep it under wraps. God knows why. If I have to blackmail the bastard with these pictures to get what’s left of my life back…then so be it.”

Frank had no remorse for the Commander. He was the most corrupt official in New York. This was an easy out for him. All he had to do was hand over the pictures from Joey’s apartment and let sleeping dogs lie.

The reporter let out a sigh as a cab pulled up alongside them.

“This is my ride. I’ll call you. See ya, Tommy.”

Frank smacked the side of Tommy’s arm and then got into the cab. He settled into the back seat as the detective gave him an address that he knew was a place few ventured. Dock nine, Warehouse 32. The cab sped off into the traffic, leaving Tommy standing there on the sidewalk. There was little he could do, but wait for Frank to call him that night, and let him know how it went down.

In the cab, Frank started to text the Commander’s phone.

~Commander, it’s Frank. You and I need to talk. Meet me at Dock nine, Warehouse 32 at 4pm today. Bring the evidence box from Joey’s apartment, and I’ll let you have the goat pictures and footage.~

Frank pressed send, then stared straight ahead as his fingers strummed the outside of the parcel that contained the photographs.

In the Commander’s office, the Commander was dictating a letter to his secretary, when his cell phone started to vibrate. Thinking it could be his new wife, he picked it up – only to turn pale when he read what was on the display. ~Goat pictures?~ The Commander nearly started to choke, and it was bad enough to have his secretary run around behind him to pat his back. “What is it? Are you alright?”

Of course, the Commander was far from okay, and started to scream at the girl to get out of his office. This had to be a set up. Frank didn’t have it in him to try and blackmail anyone. Or did he? The Commander couldn’t take any chances and quickly lept up, grabbing his coat. The evidence box from Joey’s apartment was still on his desk, and in a terrible rush, the Commander left his office to go and meet up with the Detective. His career and everything he had ever worked for was now on the line.

In a darkened room across town, an agent had his hand up to the left side of his head phones.

“Ma’am….the Commander is on the move. He’s going to go meet Malone at the docks. Should we respond?”

The red hue of a cigarette burning was coming from the corner of the room and a feminine voice responded. “I think its time to bring the curtain down on the Commander. He just reached his use by date.”

Pushing herself up out from her chair, she snapped her fingers at her assistant – a dark skinned man wearing a black suit. He slipped on a pair of dark glasses and fell in behind the woman in red. It was zero hour.

4.00pm

Pulling open the warehouse door, a faint light could be seen inside the empty space within the warehouse. Stepping in with his gun drawn, Frank looked about for signs of life. There was nothing but the faint drip of what he thought was water. Had the Commander even shown up? Going in a bit further, he could just make out the outline of what looked to be the Commander seated at a table in the middle of the building. He was just…staring into space. Frank re holstered his firearm and then headed closer towards the Commander.

“It’s a shame it had to come to this…..”

The Commander didn’t answer. He couldn’t. He had a bullet hole in his forehead – his nose drenced in blood and the slow dripping of crimson onto the table in front of him.

The Commander was dead.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Nhal: “A shame? No, I don’t really think it is. If anything I think it’s just one of many inevitible truths.” Bols stepped out of seemingly nowhere, almost as if he was spawned from the shadows themselves. He slowly paced his way through the open space, his shoes clicking against the ground loudly as he walked up behind the Detective. He crossed his arms and shook his head slightly as he paced up next to him. “And you know, I really am sorry, but there is one more truth im going to have to show you… A truth I dont think your going to enjoy.” Stepping around the body, Bols tucked his hand into his jacket and removed a small vial of dark blue liquid which he held up in front of his face, peering through the glass with one eye.

“Nobody enjoys the beginning, but the end?… Oh man that part is a whole lot worse…” With a gentle toss into the air he flipped the vial around in the air and caught it in his other hand, dropping it into his sleeve and then dropping his arms to his sides with a soft shrug. “So what will it be Detective? Are you going to take an offer of peace and prosperity? Or will you be put through a hell of running in circles for the rest of your life? You have five seconds to decide.”

Raising his hands out to his sides he gave a soft smirk towards the young detective. His own mischievous grin upon his face causeing him to look far less serious than his voice led him to believe. “Choose, now… Five…”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Razorbackwriter: Who was this strange man that appeared right as Frank was saying what he thought was a sad kind of greeting to the very dead Commander. It stopped the detective in his tracks and the package that had been kept tightly under his arm slipped and fell to the ground – scattering across the dirty warehouse floor. The sounds of his shoes, as he passed around the body of the Commander and his almost sarcastic tone was enough to make the Detective wonder if it was the man that had done the killing. Normally, an assassin doesn’t dance around his victim and taunt a police detective in the process.

“Who are you?” Obvious question is obvious. Not that the man would divulge such a thing. He was too busy speaking in riddles. He kept speaking about inevitable truths, something that had been lacking in Frank’s world up till now. The Detective was about to reach for his gun, when the man produced a blue vial and tossed it into the air, catching it with his other hand. It didn’t take all of Frank’s detective skills to work out that the vial spelt trouble. But why did he flaunt this, instead of a gun? Surely if he had killed the Commander, he would turn a gun on him. None of this was making any sense.

“I don’t understand what you are talking about? Did you kill the Commander?”

The man was set on a deal of sorts. One that the Detective only had two choices from and under five seconds to make it. HIs eyes showed conflict and confusion. Was his life on the line? He had spent years running in circles. Everything that had led up to this point was all smoke and mirrors. The truth….was on the table…on the floor. Now the Commander was dead, would he ever be free?

“Five…”

“Wait…I don’t understand..”

In a mad panic…Frank blurted the first thing that came natural. “I just want it to end!!!”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Nhal: Bols stopped with a small shake of his head yet again. “What a dull choice… But I guess you wont have an issue with my own, seeing as you wont remember it.” Raiseing one hand in Frank’s direction he held two fingers and a thumb open towards him, as if displaying a card to the man across from him. “Im going to have to ask you to sit like a good boy.” Snapping his wrist downwards his fingers now pointing towards the floor, the weight in Frank’s body suddenly began to grow exponentially as if he was burdened by heavy stones or steel.

“You see, there has been a unanimous descision to take you and your boss here, and replace you with more… Cooperative buisness partners…” Turning his hand slightly, the weight of Frank’s being continued to grow faster and faster until he could no longer support himself. “Although if it makes you feel any better, its all for a good cause… Trust me.” Bols let off a light smirk before he flicked his opposeing wrist, summoning the vial of liquid to his hand again.

“Hey Volkov, hold onto his head for me will you? we dont need him squirming around or else I might knick something important…” As he finished speaking, a very bulky looking man in a white suite made his way into the warehouse from outside, getting close to Frank he simply gave Bols a grunt and a nod, placing his large hands on either sides of the detective’s head.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Razorbackwriter: How was it that this man was able to wield the power over Frank, to have his entire body become heavy as lead. Frank had no choice, he had lost the ability to move freely. Hands and feet swelling and he was finding a rising pain in his chest as he struggled to breath. Frank tried to speak, to voice a protest – but it all came out like a pathetic sounding grunt. His eyes now bulging as though his head was caught in a vice. He wanted to reach out towards this man, who was acting like a showman more than anything. But he simply couldn’t. A look of horror now on his face, as the unknown man said that there had been a unanimous decision for both the Commander and the detective to be replaced. Frank knew that the Commander was on the mobs books, but he never had the chance to prove it. Did this man think the same thing of Frank? Did he even care?

Not by the way he was speaking. Again with a sinister smirk and the showing of the blue vial, the same one that he had spun around on their first meeting.

“Although if it makes you feel any better, its all for a good cause… Trust me.”

How could he trust a man that had his sights set on killing him? Every part of his life was now spinning before his eyes. This was the end. it was not how he envisioned it. He never got the chance to say goodbye to the one person he loved. His son.

A single tear ran down his face, as a large man in white appeared from the shadows and took hold of his head. The only saving grace for Frank now, was that his death would be swift. He closed his eyes….and inwardly prayed to his Lord.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Nhal: Flicking his opposing wrist, Bols brought a large syringe from his sleeve, stabbing the tip through the vial in his other hand and began to draw the blue liquid before he dropped the empty vial onto the ground. “Do enjoy your time here, because as short as it will be, it sure as hell wont feel like it.” Casually stepping over the corpse in front of him, Bols swiftly swung his arm and stabbed the needle into Franks neck, injecting the fluid within directly into his blood stream before tossing the apparatus aside. “Now then, the drug will start taking effect in about three minutes, so until then, we get to have a little fun… Volkov, make sure he doesn’t move an inch…”

The enormous man simply gave another grunt and a nod as Bols paced away from Frank’s position, approximately 20 feet in distance. Spinning on his heel he stopped and when he faced his target. “And so, we begin.” Slipping his hands into his opposing sleeves he pulled out two small knives, twisting his arms and his wrists forwards he loosed the blades, sending them spiraling towards Frank and burying them deep into the soft flesh at the joints of his shoulders. “Hit, Fourty points.” His head cocked to the side slightly. “But im sure I can do so very much better…”

Tucking his hands back behind his back he slid them under his vest before bringing them back in front of him and fanning a series of various sized and shaped blades. Tossing his ensemble into the air he began to juggle them in his hands before he suddenly hopped back and lifted his left leg, rapidly kicking at each individual blade and sending them flying towards the target. A blade in the arm, leg, shoulder, stomach, another leg and a shoulder, a hand, a deep graze against the neck, then both the final blades burying themselves in his waist. “Alright, thats much better… Ill call that Three-hundred Fifty points.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Razorbackwriter: This man was like some crazed circus performer with his insane wit and then the actions that were to bring horror and misery to his target of choice – the ill fated detective. It’s one thing to know that you are going to die. It’s another to be tortured beforehand. Without the ability to really scream as his body was now like a massive led weight, his jaw just fell open and the hollowed sound of his rasping breathe would bring a chill to anyone that felt a shred of humanity. The man with the knives clearly didn’t. He was enjoying this so much he was even shouting the scores as his blades made their mark on multiple parts of Frank’s body. A single bullet could have just ended it all, but this was dragging on and on. Blood spurting out of the wounds where the many blades were now buried. The man that held onto Frank’s head would surely have his pristine white suit splattered, but neither man seemed to care.

The drug that had been administered early on, was now starting to slowly take affect. Not that it really mattered. Frank’s mind had now completely snapped and reality was a nightmare that he could not be released from till a blade would puncture either his lungs or his heart. The man was clever enough to avoid striking major organs and arteries to prolong the suffering of the Detective. To fall prey to a sadist was the worst thing imaginable.

Pools of Frank’s blood was now forming on the floor under him and running towards the nearest drain hole. A gurgled sound came from Frank as he started to slip from consciousness due to the severe blood loss.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Nhal: “Come on Franky, stay awake… We just have a little longer to play, then we can wrap up here. Volkov, you can let him go… With all the nerves and tendons that Ive severed, theres no way he’s going to be moving anywhere…” The larger man gave his signature nod and grunt, releasing frank and stepping off to the side. Bols’ expression suddenly went serious, his arms moving out to his sides in a T. “Well Frankie, its been fun… But, my associates think its time we end this little dance… And besides, I have some important guests showing up soon, it would be a shame if I missed them…”

Turning his wrist sharply a thin fibre wire began to fly through the air, spiraling around Frank. “I think the term ‘Death by a thousand cuts’ is quite applicable here.” Giving his wrist another flick, a series of blades of varying sizes, styles and lengths began pouring out of his sleeve as if someone had knocked over a box at an old blacksmiths shop. they all stuck to the thread as more and more began to spew forth, surrounding the detective in a near solid wall of iron and steel.

“And this shall be the end… Any last words detective boy?…” Moving his arm to his front, Bols closed his hand, pointing a finger towards Frank as the dozens of different blades all faced in his direction, poised for the killing blow.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Razorbackwriter: Time had slowed right down, with everything in front of Frank to be nothing but a horrible blur of sound and sight. Though Bol had drugged the detective so that he would never remember this death, as he lived it – Frank was going through a torturous end. Mercy it seemed was not in Bol’s vocabulary, and so as the blood wept from each and ever blade strike, the detective looked nothing more than a sad mannequin that had taken it’s final bow. It was no longer about pain, it was more about regret. Missed chances, lost days, a pathetic existence. There seemed to be no justice or truth except to say that Frank’s death would end up being as much a mystery as Rory’s had been. And all for what? Would anyone care?

As more cuts were inflicted, the warehouse gave way to another setting entirely. Frank found himself on a jetty facing a boat that was boarding with many other people that had either been murdered or taken away….like Rory. In fact, it was Rory who was waiting for Frank. Still wearing the same suit as he had on the night of his murder, blood stains down his shirt, and gouges in his neck that appeared fresh, Rory extended his hand towards Frank to follow him. The detective looked down at himself, no longer bleeding profusely, but appearing as he had when he first entered the warehouse. His hands trembled as he reached for his friend. United in death?

“Come on, Frank.” Rory urged. The boat was ready to depart. All the others were now on board and staring at the setting sun. They would follow the sun till it reached the end of the earth and then be taken onto their new lives. “I’ve been waiting for you, mate” Rory was smiling now as Frank started to take those last steps…..

“And this shall be the end… Any last words detective boy?…”

The voice was coming from behind him. It was the monster that was delivering the final blow. Frank turned his head slowly in this dreamscape. Rory was now shouting at Frank. “Don’t listen to him…..Stay with me. Join me.” There was a desperation in his voice as though he knew what staying behind meant. A large horn blast from the boat meant it was leaving and Rory jumped on the loading ramp. “Frank!”

“Rory….”

It was to be his last word, as the blades all surrounded him…and delivered the crushing blow. Blood spewing from every point of entry. Frank was dead.

The boat sailed off….without him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

RIP Frank.

Darkness – The Hub : Part Two.

 

This is the second installment of lpstribling’s and my collaboration of “The Hub” – Darkness.

 

LP – “Lock it down!” The man standing over Rory belted out the words as he straightened up and twirled an index finger in the air, giving some signal to a larger group of people.

Everything stopped. Everything. The music, the lights, the clinking of the glasses, the dancing. The occupants of the Hub now followed some strange automatic call and moved from wherever they were to huddle around a still-frantic Jacinta and her not-so-conscious birthday boy. The only sound holding in Jacinta’s ears was the ringing from what sounded like Duster, the band she was hoping to see with Rory, yet under slightly more normal circumstances.

She watched them crowd around and a strange chill scurried down her spine, almost to the steady buzz of the fading ringing from the now non-existant music.

As she knelt over Rory they were looking down at her – all of them. She turned her head, looking at each of them in the eye, and then moving on to the next one.

“This is the girl?” The tall bearded man asked. Jacinta had seen him before in the Hub. He hadn’t been there all that long, but he wasn’t a newbie, either. He worked behind the bar and, from what she had heard from people, he was pretty good at what he did. She didn’t have any complaints. After all, she usually managed to leave the place drunk, so he must have been doing something right. But she didn’t know his name. Worst of all, she didn’t know why he was asking about her, especially now, here in the middle of the Hub with the doors locked and the sound off. What exactly was happening?

“I guess.”

Jacinta’s head snapped around to the girl who answered – a short redhead dressed in black. Her creamy white face looked all-business above two arms crossed at her front.

“I don’t really know. He said he was waiting for some girl named J. I don’ know; I’ve never seen her before.”

“You J?” The bartender’s finger dropped down to Jacinta with a stern lock.

Jacinta’s eyes fell from the bartender’s and drifted again around the room of all the Hub-goers. They were all there, all the regulars. The bartender’s staff (how many times had she seen these people there) the cocktail servers, the bussers and the band. And then there was everyone else. Everyone. The patrons, the guests, the daily drunks, and business men, the hookers and the first-timers. It was just a regular crowd. Just regular people.

Then a slow smile grew across Jacinta’s lips. “Oh ha, I get it. Right? Right? I get it. This is a joke, right?” She stood slowly as she looked around more. “Like this, all of this is a joke..Ha ha!” She clapped twice and walked around slapping a couple of shoulders and pinching cheeks. “Even you Rory, you sick fuck.” With her foot she nudged the quiet tip of one of her heels into his ribs, waiting for him to laugh. “Right? I can’t believe you fucked me like that.”

Rory’s eyes were glazed over, glaring in a vague wide loose grasp at whatever the view from the ceiling brought him. His lungs still rose and fell in a calm rhythmic repitition.

“C’mon birthday boy! it’s over. I’m done. I got it. Let’s go. No more.”

No one moved. Not an eye, not a smile, not a subtle reach for a cigarette.

The clear drinks on the bar still held their shape within the glasses they’d been given.  What happened to the Tongan bouncers?

It was frighteningly quiet.

 

“Lights,” the bartender said.

 

Everything went dark.

 

~

 

RB – Why wasn’t anyone speaking, other than the bartender and the ginger haired girl?  Surely this was some sort of stitch up.  People all playing along to make the prank seem so real.  Jacinta practically fell for it that was until Rory didn’t yell out “Surprise!”  He just lay there.  HIs eyes had this  glassy look about them.  Had he been drugged?  This wasn’t funny anymore.  “Heh..”  A nervous half hearted chuckle escaped Jacinta’s lips, but no one cracked a smile, let alone moved.  After the experience of being chased down, then having the homeless man tries to attack her; this was now the icing on the cake of what was a dreadful night out. Why wasn’t the band playing?  Why was everyone staring at her?  She had tried to get the stains out of her dress.  No, that can’t have been it.  Where was Trevor?  Why were the doors closed?

Jacinta swallowed hard as a wave of shock raced through her system.

“This isn’t funny anymore.” A light waiver in her voice as her courage all but left her.  Eyes turned to that of the bartender, but he stared at her coldly then simply said…”Lights.”  The club then fell into darkness, which made the whole situation all the more terrifying.

 

“Rory?  Please…get up.  Say…something.”  Jacinta could no longer see any of the faces of the patrons and staff.  All they were was shadows. Hovering.  Close.  Too close.  Jacinta backed up just a step and felt something or someone big in behind her.  She suspected it was a male, by the feeling of their body in behind her.  But what she hadn’t anticipated was how cold his flesh was.  There was the chilling touch of his breath on her shoulder, that made her jump in surprise.  Without warning, a large set of hands seized Jacinta by the arms, locking her in place.

“Let me go!” Jacinta screamed in protest, kicking and struggling from her captor’s grip – trying in vain to wrestle herself free.  But the harder that she struggled, the tighter the man’s fingers bore into her flesh.  All she could do was lash out and kick with her feet, one foot accidentally kicking Rory who was still on the ground.

 

“Ahaha, she is feisty.”  The Cinamon haired girl let out a twisted laugh at Jacinta’s expense, like she was actually enjoying the show that the frightened girl was putting on.  Jacinta’s hair was now partially covering her face, but she could just make the outline of the girl that spoke.  Jacinta heard her when she first found Rory on the floor.  Why was she laughing?  Jacinta had never seen her before in her life.

“You think this is funny, bitch?”  Some of Jacinta’s spark had returned as she fumed at the treatment she was receiving.  None of this made any sense.  It was supposed to be a night out to celebrate Rory’s birthday, but everyone was acting like extras from a horror movie.  Jacinta snapped her head towards the bartender and screamed “Turn on the lights!”  It was amazing what adrenalin could do. Her eyes darted towards all the shadows that were standing there, silently.

“Rory did say that I’d like you, J.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”  Jacinta hissed back.  She looked down to where Rory lay on the floor.  Had Rory been drinking and socializing with this bitch before she got there?  How did she even know who she was?

“You drugged him!?”  This was the first thing to come to mind.  It was the only reason as to why he would be on the floor like this.  Kim stepped over Rory and came to stand right in front of Jacinta, cocking her head to the right slightly.  “Maybe..” A cruel smile was forming upon her lips.  For some reason, she was easier to see in the darkness.  Why that was however was a mystery.  A slender hand, again cool to the touch graced the right side of Jacinta’s face causing her to inhale sharply.  She tried to draw her head back but it hit the man’s chest behind her.  That was enough for her to jerk forward again.

One of the bar staff handed Kim a champagne glass that was filled with a clear liquid.  She placed her finger in it and gave it a swirl before glancing up through her long eyelashes at the well restrained Jacinta.  “You can join him, you know J.”

Without warning, Kim gripped Jacinta’s jaw and tried to make her drink from the champagne glass.  Her nails cutting deep into Jacinta’s flesh. There was a burning hatred in her eyes.

“Rory!” A garbled cry coming from the poor girl who was being forced against her will.

 

~

LP-  As scattered as they were, Rory forgot his dreams as soon as his eyes blinked open. Things blurred for him. A deep heavy blur. There was consciousness and sound, and there was a mix of dreamy memories.

He remembered screaming, something with struggle. There were solid voices, stable, those which spoke of confidence and promise. They mixed with the fearful, the unsure, and the timid. Something was wrong with the second set of voices – they were unstable, although they were few. Or was it just one. He heard J’s voice. It sounded good. And he saw her too. She was running. She was running to him and it was outside. But she was running not because she wanted. She wore walking clothes, business clothes, clothes she wouldn’t use to run. And it was dark, and it was outside. Her eyes showed her to be afraid. Rory tried to look behind her in the blur of his dream, but there was a point at which his vision dropped off – low beams in the woods at midnight.

“…sure no one knows. Not one bit of what….”

 

That girl was there then. He smiled when he saw her. Something in his heart felt bad when the thought of J while he was still with her. But what she gave him was good – it felt so good. There was her color, her smile, her wit. There was the way she walked right in and moved his social borders to the side, as though they had no purpose whatsoever. It was as if she said, ‘We don’t need these here, do we?’

“…the two of them. I don’t need another Shastin brothers incident. As soon as he wakes up, I want you to…”

The cinnamon girl was there too. She smiled with her big bright teeth, clean teeth, and her laugh…her lips were just so natural and she knew it, didn’t she? She wore black, and Rory was helpless. In his warm slumber a gurgle escaped his mouth.

‘Simmen grrl.’

The sound and quick rumble of his own vocal chords brought him back into a state of fuller waking. He let the weight of his head drop to one side and saw another form there. J was sleeping in the quiet dull of a rusty yellow ceiling lamp, the wires of which were lost in the dark above it. Her body lay recumbent on a table, a white blanket covering her. ‘That’s good,’ Rory thought. ‘There’s a lot of scary things happening in this place. Sleeping’s best.’

“He’s awake.”

The incoming footsteps brought Rory closer to full consciousness.

 

“Mornin’, Sunshine.” The man’s voice was gruff; it matched his stature and color of his blurred form as Rory’s eyes made blinking struggle to give his body clarity. His stature loomed in the dim room, his head almost brushing the hanging light as he and a shorter girl crowded in on J’s resting form. The blur of Rory’s eyes eased into a slow clarity and the man’s dirty trench coat and worn boots gave him the away – a street man, someone who lived outside, survived on the concrete. And from his beard, unkempt and frayed, there was something worrisome about him, something that showed he wasn’t concerned with how others perceived him, moreso how others felt in general.

“Mmm?” J stirred as the two stopped over her.

“She’s still out for a bit. We can still get some work done, enough for starters anyway.” The large man’s form was blocking the body of the girl who spoke, but Rory recognized it without having to see her. “You sure this is the girl, though? The one you chased?”

“Yeah,” grunted the man. “‘At’s her. A real runner, too. I would have had to chase her more, but when I realized she was still headed here, I figured I’d save the energy.” He bent down to J’s face. “Probably got all your runnin’ for the week tonight, didn’ yeh?”

Rory listened and looked. The voices inside him were too scared to make a sound. He wanted to yell at J, tell her to look out and to find someway to get her out of there. Things were too scary. He wanted to get out of the scary parts of the night. They could talk about it later, but right now his dreams and things he was seeing weren’t very…where was this place? Things were wrong, but Rory didn’t quite know where.

 I hear you, he thought. I hear you when you tell me this is bad. Every one of the voices in his heard were pounding. They told him, screamed at him to do something. I know, he thought. I’m trying.

And he was trying – he was trying to move his body, but all he had to himself were his eyes, his mouth, this throat and the automatic breathing of his lungs. Yet his arms weren’t working, neither were his legs. Not his toes, his fingers or his torso. In several instances, he made a full body trial. ‘Where am I not working?’ was the thought. Nothing moved.

Frustrated, he began to sniffle. Tears formed in the ducts of his eyes, and one rolled over his cheek and dropped to the surface. He sniffled again and murmured through a pair of semi-functioning lips, “J-j-Jacin-ttaa.”

Another sniffle, and the tall man turned from J’s quiet form to face him. In the background, the girl behind was visible as well. It confirmed what he already knew.

Again, he tried to speak. “Simmen grrl.”

 

~

 

 

RB –  “Hello……Hello?”  A room without windows, without doors. The walls were like glass – black glass.  Shiny and smooth to touch.  Jacinta ran from wall to wall – pressing her hands up to the glass surface but she could only just make out her own reflection.  She was still dressed in the same clothes as the night of Rory’s birthday.  A strangled cry came from the very pit of her stomach as she continued to smack her palms to the glass walls.  There was nothing to grip onto.  No handles, no latches.  Just the cool smooth glass that formed the four walls, ceiling and floor of what was a prison.  Surely this was a dream  A dream from which Jacinta had no way of knowing how to wake.  This was one of Jacinta’s fears.  Being trapped in a  glass box with no way out.  Her heart started racing as the wave of panic started all over again.  “Why is this happening?”  The girl brought her curled fists up to the glass and beat at it repeatedly, till her hands were swollen and bruised.  The glass remained unaffected by her efforts however, and soon the girl turned and pressed her back to the glass – sliding down slowly into a crumpled heap.  Her head soon resting on her knees with her arms curling around her legs as she rocked back and forth.

The reality was far different from being trapped in a glass box.  Jacinta was laying still on an observation table beneath a rusting yellow ceiling lamp, much like the kind you would have seen in an old World war two movie,  like old war bunkers.  It was a far cry from the strobe lights of the Hub.  Whatever happened after Jacinta had been forced to drink from the champagne glass was all but a haze.  The last thing Jacinta remembered was the room spinning as she was consumed by a terrible darkness.

An assortment of coloured wires that were from several monitoring machines, were fed up and under the white blanket that covered most of her body up to her neck.  Her head was resting on a small u shaped support.  Jacinta’s face looked calm, serene almost.  How looks can be so deceiving.  Though the scruffy bearded man enjoyed seeing her like this.  Different from how she was when she was practically sprinting down the main street to get away.  Fast and in such serious footwear.  Jacinata made a sound, like she was rousing.  Perhaps it was due to the scent of his breath as he leered over her.

“Yeah, this is the one.”  A certainty in his voice when he looked over at Rory, who was now mumbling what sounded to be Jacinta’s name.  The trail of a single tear down his face indicated that he was starting to come around, and knew that his friend J was there.  It was the other name he said, that got Kim’s attention.

“Simmen grrl.”  That was what he called her.  Almost like a pet name, a nick name. It was almost cute.  His quiet sniffle brought Kim from her place at Jacinta’s side to walk over and caress the forehead of the incapacitated Rory.  “Shhhh.  You’ll only wear yourself out.   Don’t worry about J, she’s in good hands.”  A light head tilt and Kimmy assumed a more caring expression.  “You’ll thank me later.  I know you will.”  The corners of Kim’s mouth curled ever slightly as she continued to stroke the top of Rory’s head, before leaning in to plant a soft kiss on his lips.

 

“Miss Lloyd?  I thought I told you to bring me the Kenner file.”

The sheer glass walls warped and changed into that of her boss, Mister Hinkley’s office.  Jacinta had gone from being curled up near one of the glass walls, to standing in front of her boss’s desk.  She couldn’t remember why she was suddenly there, and why he was looking at her so oddly.

“Miss Lloyd?  Are you alright?”

“I…uhm.  I…”  Wide eyed, the young secretary looked at her reflection in the mirror, and she looked just as she had before she’d left the office the night of Rory’s birthday.  Why was this like experiencing a repeat of the same day?  Jacinta was completely lost.  Clueless as to what was happening.  Where were the glass walls?  Her breathing became shallow, as she fumbled with a folder that she was now clutching in her hand.  It was marked “Kenner Inc – Classified.”

“Jacinta…this is highly unprofessional.  I really did expect more from you.”  Her boss rose from his chair, and made his way slowly around his desk.  Raising his hand to button his jacket as though taking on a more formal appearance.  Jacinta was ready to hand over the file that was until the body outline of Mister Hinkley flickered.  Much like the way a television screen does with bad reception.

“Hand it over, Miss Lloyd and and then you can make a start on those presentations.”

“J-j-Jacin-ttaa.”  It was another voice and not just any voice.  It was Rory.

“Rory?”  She could not help but answer him.  Why did he sound like he was crying?  Better yet, where was he?  Jacinta clutched the file closer to her chest and took a step back from Mister Hinkley, who was now scowling at her angrily.

“Hand it over, Jacinta.” His voice had a gravel like consistency, which was nothing like how she knew him to be.  Her boss went to snatch the files, but it was at that moment his face changed to that of the man that had chased her through the streets.  That horrid man.

“Probably got all your runnin’ for the week tonight, didn’ yeh?”  The smell of his breath made her want to be sick.  The room started to swirl and break away, as a bright light shone from above.  Jacinta could feel the grip of a man’s hand upon her and though she tried to pull away, she was incapable of moving.

It was like she had no control over what was happening, but instead of going back into the glass walled room, she found herself lying flat on what must have been a table.  The steady hum of machines that blinked rapidly, along with an array of lights and stats started to come into focus.  Her eyes were opening, ever slowly.  Jacinta’s pupils changed to try and adjust to the light of the room that was directed down upon her.  There were tubes in her arms, IV’s and all across her chest and abdomen; small sensor pads that were stuck to her with a special tape.  Only when the face of the hooded man came into view did the true horror start to set in.  Had she been operated on?

“Simmen grrl.”

Jacinta turned her head towards the sound of what was Rory’s voice and what she saw made her physically sick.  It was the girl from the club and she was leaning over Rory, kissing his lips.  Was this another nightmare like in her boss’s office?  A surreal kind of dream?  Jacinta struggled within a body that simply would not obey her commands.  All she could do was turn her head.  Turn her head and watch the cruel display of Kim being affectionate to what she thought to be her man.

“J’s awake.  Just enough time for one last test.”  Again the bearded man spoke, and what he said made Jacinta’s blood run cold.  ~Test…what test?~  Kim glanced up from Rory, who was still unable to move or respond to what was happening to him. She took in the terrified look on the young girl’s face and smiled in triumph.  All she did to respond to the bearded man was nod…..and only once.

A quiet whimper was all that Jacinta could muster, as the bearded man was handed a needle from an unseen accomplice.  He forced the tip into the saline drip and started to press down to release the clear liquid that ran down the tubing and into Jacinta’s arm.  There was a sharp stinging sensation, before Jacinta’s eyes rolled into the back of her head.  If only she knew what they were doing.  Why she replayed her day before the party.  Who was this evil man and the cinnamon haired bitch?

As Jacinta once again lost consciousness, a door opened and a well dressed man in a grey suit entered the room. He looked like a banker, or lawyer.  Clean cut, perfect hair and chiseled chin.  Steel blue eyes coldly surveyed the room and then the two that were layed out on the tables.

“Good work.”  His words were curt as he closed the door behind him, only to face Kim who had stopped preening Rory’s hair.  This man in the suit.  He must have had some authority, since Kim backed away from the tables for him to inspect.

In the crook of his arm were some files, and on the one that faced outward was a snap shot, similar to a government photo.  The woman in the photo had much lighter hair, but the eyes were unmistakable.

It was Jacinta.

~

 

The Hub.

The Hub.

An exciting new collaborative work with lpstribling – wordpress.

RB – The crowd bustled as it stood in the long formation of a line up just outside the Hub night club.  Saturday nights were always best and the cold eyed looks from the Tongan bouncers gave those that lined up hopefully a sense of impatience.  Tapping his foot, Rory looked down at his watch.  Jacinta was late….again.  It was her idea to meet the gang at the club, and the young office clerk wondered if she had been kept back again by her power driven boss – Mister Hinkley.  Reaching into his jean pocket, Rory fished out his cell and checked the messages again.  Still – nothing from her.  ~Dammit, where could she be?~  he thought to himself.  There was still about ten people in front of him, and at least fifty in behind.  Cursing softly, he tapped in a message on his key pad and then hit send.  At this rate, he wouldn’t get in till well after midnight.

“Will that be all now, Mister Hinkley?”

Jacinta was standing in the door way of her boss’s office, chewing her bottom lip and hopeful that the presentations she had prepared were enough to suffice.  She had spent a good four hours on them, but she knew that there was no way that Hinkley would give her any credit.  The bespectacled manager scanned the series of documents from the brown folder, and finally gave a slow nod.  At least he wasn’t yelling.

“I think that should do it, Miss Lloyd.  You are free to go.”

If Jacinta could have she would have done a fist pump, but she knew that would be totally out of order.  Instead she offered a weak smile and turned on the ball of her right foot to scoot back down to her cubicle and grab her things.  ~I am so late.~  Her mind was racing, wondering if Rory was still down at the club waiting.  It was his birthday after all.  There was a brightly wrapped box on the desk that was in between two piles of papers and Jacinta haphazardly reached for it, stuffing it into her attaché case.  Rory was a sci-fi nut, and she had gotten him a special edition copy of some old Star Trek movie.  It was not her scene at all, but he went on endlessly about his love of Kirk.

The sound of the cleaners moving their floor sweepers through the building signaled just how late she was.  Cursing under her breath, Jacinta switched off her computer and snatched up her bag.  The sound of her heels, clacking quickly down the corridor to the lift would barely be heard over the steady hum of the carpet cleaners. The last anyone would have seen was the sight of Jacinta hurrying for the lift, as though her life depended on it.

Down on the street outside, there were few people about the foyer of Macquarie building.  Jacinta stepped out onto the pavement and looked up and down the street for a cab.  They didn’t often come down the business end of town this late at night.  ~Christ~  Jacinta was going to have to leg it.

~RB~

LP –     Rory’s head turned back, checking behind him with more of a frequency now that the line in front of him had diminished from the ten people who used to be in front of him to the two or three (two) that stood there now. The attendant doling out tickets had clocked out and someone new had stepped in for her about five customers ago. The replacement seemed to be a bit more experienced, on the ball, organzied, and overall better equipped to handle the job than the previous person. It was better for business, thought Rory, more economical. It was probably more efficient – again, better for business, he thought as he kept looking around (Where was Jacinta?). But, at this very moment, he wished that the other person was sitting behind the window – the more inept, less efficient, person. The dolt. The person who would give him just that much more time to wait for her.

“You too, huh?”

Rory’s head completed the half circle this time upon hearing the voice. The short girl behind him in line stared up at him for a reaction. At the quick glance at her he noticed only the smooth pale of her face’s white skin, several freckles, and the wry curve of her peach lips. From what his periphery gave him, she wore black. Had she been there the whole time?

“Sorry?” he said.

“I said, ‘you too,’ as in ‘did you also get stood up too?’ I figured the abbreviated version would be enough. Not that I want to pry or anything,” she said. Her voice, as he heard it, was somehow as smooth as her skin. She looked back at her toes as she finished.

Rory glanced down as well, hoping to bounce down to where she was looking and back in the time that her eyes came back up to his. Black. Boots, leggings, skirt – all black.

“And there’s no need to be sorry, either. We’re both here waiting for someone else, aren’t we? Someone who, let’s face it, probably isn’t going to show up.” She snorted in a chuckle. She looked back at him, a pearly smile widening. “Ironic isn’t it? At least it’s not your birthday.”

The comment itself was innocent enough. But how beautifully it matched her. Could the purity of her sarcasm have been better on anyone else at any other moment?

“Umm,” he began. She turned to him. Those eyes again. What was going on with those things? They had him. But his mind snapped back to Jacinta, and how she wasn’t there. He looked at the girl with complete focus. “Actually, it is my birthday.”

“Really?” She said, the hook of her wry smile snapping to its zenith. “Mine too.

RB – The sounds of police sirens filled the night air.  Jacinta was practically jogging, which in her heels wasn’t such a good idea.  Hell, if only she’d worn her pumps.  Her brunette hair bounced upon her shoulders, her eyes widening as a car sped past her and happened to drive right through a puddle.  The oncoming wave was unavoidable.  ~Kasplash~  Jacinta threw up her hands and let out a growl of indignation.  This just wasn’t her night.  The young secretary rolled her eyes, and gave her left foot a wiggle to shake off the excess water.  She’d been planning this night for weeks and had made arrangements for their friends to meet them inside. Her silk stockings now clung to her legs like a second skin, and the cold air nipped at her.  At this rate she was going to catch a cold.

Jacinta pursed her lips and then with a renewed sense of determination, she started off again.  The club must have been six blocks away, so if she picked up her pace, she should make it in twenty minutes.  Give or take.

As Jacinta crossed the next street when the walk sign turned green, a dark shadow came out from one of the adjoining streets.  The glow of a cigarette the only visible sign of light other than the street lamps.  Smoke wafted lazily about the man’s head; as unseen eyes followed the trail of the young woman.  It wasn’t safe to be out alone on a night like this.  High above the clouds parted to reveal a full moon.  Slowly, the man reached up for the cigarette that was clenched between his teeth and withdrew it slowly.  His fingers parted slightly, to allow the cigarette to fall to the ground where he simply left it.  Not even bothering to stamp it out.  Head bowed, the man pulled his hoody up over his head and started off after Jacinta – at a slower pace.

One says that we all have a sixth sense.  Intuition for when things aren’t quite right.  This would be the case with Jacinta.  Though the noises of the city streets were now a meld of cars, sirens and exhaust vents, she managed to hear the sound of foot falls coming in from behind her.  Ashen faced, Jacinta had to stop herself from looking back.  Surely it was just another late office worker, like her.  But curiosity got the better, and when she glanced back over her shoulder, she could just make out the outline of a tall man, wearing hoody and torn jeans.  She couldn’t see his face, but there was something in his left hand.  The flash of a silver blade.

~FUCK!~  Her mind screamed, yet no words escaped her lips.  Survival instincts kicked in, and Jacinta broke into a run.

~RB~

LP –    The bass from the inside of the club massaged both Rory and his new friend as they dipped past the ticket window and the statued muscles of the Tongan night guard and approached the main floor. He had put to the back of his mind the thought that he had bought her ticket and offered her the first drink of the night. It was a friendly gesture, the thought. Besides, his real date had stood him up, at least that’s what made the most sense. The more he talked to the girl who was in line with him, the more he wanted to feel like having a date for the night.  It was a chilly evening after all..

“And it is our birthday.” Perhaps it was the way she said it. The way her her cinnamon eyebrows hovered playfully over the green opals of her skin. There was something about her. Why not? He thought. It was just one drink. When Jacinta shows up, he would just tell her that he was making small talk with someone while he was waiting. Could she really be that upset?

Duster was the featured band of the night and it explained why the Hub was as packed as it was.

As they entered, a spot opened up at the small silver corner table right by the entrance. The girl stepped right in and pulled Rory’s arm over as if to show she was marking their territory.

“How’s this?”  she asked.

“Great” he said, feeling a comforting jolt of the sudden grasp of her hand on his. “Okay, I’ll head over to the bar. What’s it gonna – “

“What?” She yelled up at him, cupping her ears. The booming numbness of the band on stage, some no-name cover for the main event, scratched at the audible ambiance. It grated on the ears and it was natural that she couldn’t hear him.

Rory started over, decibels louder, with gestures. “I said, I’m going to the bar. What’s it going to be?” He made tilting wrist motion – the universal sign for alcohol, or ‘I need to drink.’

“Vodka,” she mouthed with a wide grin, mimicking his tilted wrist gesture.

Rory smiled back, comfortable, and turned to wedge his way through the crowd of dark-colored tops, tinted shades, gelled hair, and bling. He waited behind a couple of bodies for a few minutes before moving into ordering position.

“Vodka and a Long Island,” he told the bartender, a veteran with a tone build and clothing with tones low enough to match the club walls and the night beyond.

“You with her?” the bartender’s voice coughed as he readied two glasses with several crushes of ice.

Rory tapped a bit on the wood of the bar top and looked around. The bartender couldn’t have been talking with him. With all they have to keep track of, he was probably answering a question from –

“Hello??”

Rory looked back to an icy bold look from the bartender. The man’s strong peppered beard more prominent than Rory had noticed.

Rory leaned in, giving focus now to the man  behind the bar.

“I said, are you with her?” He made a quick point of his finger and then picked up a white rag and washed his work area.

Rory followed the quick gesture of the bar man back to the girl he came in with. Her head was cocked to the side, and her smile was locked on him. She brought a hand up and made a tilting motion.

‘How ‘bout that drink?’ she motioned.

RB – These heels were not meant for running in with the pavement doing untold damage.  But what was a pair of heels worth, when you were being chased?  Terror gripped Jacinta’s heart as she tried to weave her way down the pavement.  Arms pumping violently as she surged forward with her hair flying about her face.  Jacinta had never run this fast in her life, not even in middle school.  What would her gym teacher say?  It was amazing however the affect of adrenalin, when you thought your life was in danger.  The hooded man was closing in on her.  Why her?  Why tonight?  Where were the damn cops when you needed them?  Sure, she could hear the sirens, but they could have been a thousand miles from where she was running.  Without stopping, she bolted across a busy intersection.  A car horn blared while the screeching sounds of tyres breaking would give others in the vicinity cause to look.  One midnight blue sedan barely missed her – swerving just shy of her.  Jacinta turned her head back to see if the man was still on her tail, and this is when she got the shock of her life.  This man….this hooded assailant, leapt over the car bonnet.  Like something out of a movie.  Springing forward; with all the agility of a wolf.

A scream of terror tore from her lips as she snapped her head back around and continued on running.  She had to lose him, but how?  As the terrified young woman passed another street, she saw the entrance to an alley.  Darting down and across the street, she hurried in to a place where the street lights had little effect.  The darkness would be her camouflage.  A large industrial bin was to the right side and Jacinta ducked in behind it.  Her heart was beating so fast that she thought she might have a heart attack.  She placed her hand up on it, whilst gasping for air.  Her lungs felt like they were set to explode.

~Please, please go away~  Jacinta rocked back and forth, listening out for the sound of his oncoming footsteps.  Her lips parted with a single line of saliva hanging from her bottom lip.  This was not the way the night was supposed to have been.  Had it not been for her boss insisting she stay back to finish those damned presentations, she would be at the Hub – probably on her third drink.  Jacinta squinted her eyes tightly, bowing her head.  A single tear escaping from between her eyelashes and trickling down her cheek.

It was at this very moment that her cell phone buzzed.

Jacinta froze – her bag vibrating with the annoying tune of Gangnam style amplified on the small speaker.  Jacinta dug about in her bag to try and make it stop, with her fingers fumbling about inside it. Jacinta  carried so much junk about in her bag, things that she hardly ever used.  It was hard to find her phone through it all.

Out of the corner of her eye however, she could see the shadow….approaching her. A cold shiver ran down her back.  Was this it?  Her fingers curled around a small tin of deodorant, and she slowly withdrew her hand.

~RB~

LP – After the standard seven rings, Jacinta’s voicemail picked up. He sighed. “C’mon, c’mon. Where the fuck are you?” he muttered to himself while the robot recording played through. They had only been together for coming up on a month and he still hadn’t told her how much it pissed him off when people couldn’t take the easy three mintues to change their voicemail.

“Hey, J, it’s me,” Rory began, chuckling, “like you expected anyone else, right? Look, I’m already inside. I mean, I know you probably got held up by the Hink or whatever. Whatever. He’s a dick. Anyway, call me when you’re close, or…whatever, just come inside. We’re right by the…I’m inside by the door.” He clicked the phone off and dropped it back in his pocket. He almost let it out – his co-birthday, his order of Vodka, his cinnamon. The way it was looking, Jacinta wasn’t coming anyway. If she did, he would figure it out; ‘this is my friend’ he would say, someone who was there letting him share the table, ‘But moving on, where the hell were you?!’ 

Yeah, that would work.

He headed back toward the entrance way of the Hub, flashing the blur of blue ink on his wrist to the Tongans as he did. ‘Three fucking minutes,’ he thought.

There was a minor fear that she wouldn’t be there when he walked in. But that fear dissipated as soon as he popped his head around the corner. Her small form still sat there at the silver table, fingers interlaced around the clear and plain tumbler and her drink. Her eyes grabbed him in the dimness and the vibrant sounds from the stage. They were a hideous pounding, but he was too drunk to care, and not from the alcohol.

Kim was her name, or as she liked it, Kimmie. God, did that fit perfectly.

“Still cold outside?” she asked taking another sip of the vodka. She had made some progress since he had been away from the table.

“Not too bad,” Rory responded, taking his seat. Was his chair a bit closer to her?

She looked at him with a mild squint, almost trying to see behind his eyes. “Really?” she said.

“What?”

“‘Cold outside?’ You’ve never heard that one?” She scanned his face before shrugging it off and going back to her tumbler. “It means ‘did your date come?’ But I guess if I have time enough to explain it and you’re sitting here alone listening to me give you the explanation, then I guess it means that yeah, it’s still pretty cold outside.”

“Oh, right. Well, she probably got stuck at the office or something.”

She shook her head and mumbled something before knocking her head back and downing the last of her drink. “AAhhhh.” She let out a refreshing release from her drink and slammed the tumbler on the hard surface.

“Did you say something?

She smirked looking at her glass and then turned to him. “Yes, actually, I did. I said that I was probably going to be stuck here again on my birthday with another boring life sob story about whatever blah blah excuse why people can’t be happy or why the other person in their lives isn’t better in this way, that way, or the other.”

Rory’s glass was at his lips when he heard this. He lowered his glass to give him space to explain himself. “Whoa, wait, I wasn’t -”

“Just hang on a bit,” she started. “Happened on my birthday last year too; met some good-lookin’ guy, went to a bar, got drinks, and he bored the fuck out me and ended up talking with the bartender the whole night. I walked home,” she said. “Ha! The shit I get myself into.”

“No no, hang on a second,” Rory started. Where it would go, he didn’t know, but he had to figure something out. Jacinta wasn’t there, and if it wasn’t going to be her, he might as well enjoy his birthday. “I don’t even like the bartender,” he closed. It was the best he could do. He actually thought it was pretty good. He had only talked to the bartender once that night, and after the guy told Rory to watch out for this girl, he didn’t care if he talked to him again.

She snorted and looked over at him. She nodded in small bobs. “Good one,” she said. “Well, then how about another drink?”

“Haven’t even touched mine yet,” he said bringing his Long Island to his lips. “As soon as J gets here though, I think you might like her.”  It was more of a hope and he knew it. No, the truth was it was bullshit. He wasn’t sure how he would get out of it now. But with Cinnamon Kim at his side, he was starting to feel pretty good.

He took a long sip and set the drink down. “Let me just get this in me and we can go from there.”

“Alrighty,” she said, blurring in front of him. The vision of the inside of the Hub zoomed in and out. The walls changed faded and grew into new colors. He looked at her again. Her form was fully blurred and, with a crash, Rory’s eyes somehow found the ceiling.

From the floor, a tall form filled his blurred vision and stood above him. The figure crouched and Rory’s eyes closed.

“I thought I told you about her,” said the bartender.

RB – A slurred voice came out of the darkness, one that made absolutely no sense.  It was enough for Jacinta however to act.  She pointed the small aerosol can of deodorant towards the approaching man and pressed the nozzle down hard.  “Arrrrggh…what are you…doing?”  The man stumbled backwards awkwardly, his hands up to his face as the deodorant stung his eyes.  “Trying to blind me!?”  Seeing the man now, Jacinta realized it was not the same man that had been chasing her, but some homeless man wearing a torn coat and worn out shoes.  His hair was matted and sticking out like straw from beneath a fishing hat.  Feeling a surge of courage that came from God knows where, Jacinta launched herself at the stunned and blinded drunk – knocking him back so he would fall hard onto his ass.

“Bitch…I was trying to help!”  The gurgled reply came up from the man who was now down on the ground and reaching up for her.  The poor girl was so frightened that she refused to take his hand, but instead gave him a hefty kick in the side, enough to have him howl in protest.  The homeless drunk curled up in pain and groaned loudly, with Jacinta leaping over him and then taking off back to the main street.  By the time she reached the first lamp post, she was breathing raggedly, her eyes darting up and down the street.  The man she attacked was not the same one that had chased her down.  Surely he had to still be in the area. Not willing to chance another encounter, Jacinta took flight in the direction of the Hub.  It was only two blocks away and at the speed she was going, Jacinta would be there in a matter of minutes.

But what had happened to the hooded man?

The homeless man rolled over till he was on all fours, blooded drool dripping on to the pavement.  He coughed loudly, swearing and cursing at the girl’s antics.  His eyes were stinging from the deodorant and he blinked rapidly – causing his eyes to water.  With a gloved hand he wiped one of his eyes.  “Damn bitch…” he croaked, trying to get up to standing.  Suddenly, he felt the grip of a man’s hand upon his head.  Gasping the drunk floundered as a silver blade was brought to his throat.

~SLASH!~

He’d been pulled back up onto his knees by his assailant.  The drunk couldn’t see behind him to recognize what was to be his killer. Helpless eyes stared forward in horror while the blade was slashed across his throat.  Blood spewing out and down over his already stained shirt.  The drunk clawed out at the air in front of him, but already his lungs were filling with blood.  Drowning; on dry land.

The hooded man released his hold on his victim, who crashed forward into a puddle of his own blood.  The body twitched violently like a flailing fish on land before succumbing finally to death.  What a horrible way to die.  Alone…His body would of course be found later.  Probably by the city council refuse service, or perhaps some down and out prostitute.

The killer brought the blade up to his lips and licked at the blood as it dripped from the silver edge; a grin spreading across his face.  The drunk was not his target.  She had managed to get away…..this time.

Trevor the Tongan bouncer was standing with arms folded at the front entrance of the Hub, when a disheveled looking Jacinta raced up and reached for one of his arms.

“Trev…let me in.  Please.  I’ve been chased…six blocks and was almost mugged by a drunk.”

The bouncer sneered down at Jacinta, not recognizing her at first – mainly cause she looked terrible.  “What chu talkin’ about, J?  You late.  Your boy is inside.”  Trevor jerked his thumb towards the entrance of the Hub, then squinted at her, before wrinkling up his nose.  “What’s that smell?”  He sniffed.

Jacinta slapped both her hands to his chest and gripped his lapel.  “Garbage.” She huffed.  “Now let…me…in!”

Trevor shrugged and lifted the rope.  Jacinta didn’t even thank him, but instead hurrying inside and running straight to the rest room.  She almost knocked over a few of the girls in her rush.  On getting inside, she slammed her bag on the wash counter and stared at her reflection.  The girl staring back at her was barely recognizable.  It would take another ten minutes of preening and cleaning herself up before she was presentable enough to face Rory.  That was…if he was even still in the club.

Emerging from the girl’s room, Jacinta scanned the room for any sign of Rory.  The place was packed, but she did happen to notice the barman crouching over someone.  Curiosity got the better of her and she pushed her way through for a peek.  When she got alongside the barman and looked down, she was shocked to see who it was.

“Rory?!  What happened to you?”

~RB~

What killed Rory? – GS

Scene setting : Detective Frank Malone’s apartment.

co-written with VunG.

 

Razorbackwriter:  Frank had turned as white as a sheet, his hand gripping his desk chair to steady himself after the fright of seeing what was on the photograph. It wasn’t like anything Tommy had seen before, unless you counted the types of beasts that were on the World of Warcraft game. But that was fiction. How could a beast or creature like this be in New York city? While Frank was hyperventilating from shock, Elissa was signing so incredibly fast that it was hard for Tommy to keep up with her. From the frantic hand gestures and the look of horror on her face, it was pretty clear that the former SWAT officer was totally freaking out. With both his companions going bananas, someone had to be a man of reason and calm – though the picture completely defied all logic.

“Give me the envelope, Frank.” Tommy insisted, as he was trying to see if whoever sent the photos had left a return address. Turning the yellow envelope over he saw that there was no return address…but there was a postal stamp on the front that showed that the photos had been sent from the city post office. Frank was still shocked, and Tommy now asked the big question. “Frank…..is this the thing that killed Rory?”

All the blood had drained from Frank’s face as the memory of that night came flooding back.

~Flash back~

The detectives had been on a stake out for the case against Joey Patona, and had been parked in a dark alley not far from Joey’s apartment. He was under surveillance after he had been a witness to the east side Brankston murders and was still considered a suspect but there wasn’t enough evidence to incriminate him. Rory had been drinking way too many Red bulls to keep awake and said that he was going to go and take a piss, down past one of the dumpsters.

“Why don’t you just use the super slurpee cup, Rory?’ Frank said, shaking the near empty cup at his partner, who just took one look at it and scoffed. “Cause I piss more than that cup can hold, Frank. Be right back.” Getting out of the car, he shut the door and then headed back down the alley till he found a spot behind the large industrial dumpster where there was a bit of privacy. As he unzipped, there was a massive growl that came from the shadows near the ACME #36 Warehouse. A long loud rumbling sound as though something heavy was being dragged along the road. Rory raised his head in the direction of the sound, and squinted to try and see through the darkness. “Must be seeing things. I thought red bull gave you wings, not made you hallucinate.” Rory mumbled this outloud, before there was a massive roar in behind him.

~ROAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRR!~ The beast, or mammoth worm like slug reared up behind where Rory stood, and it was right as Rory was releaving himself. “ARRRRRRRRRRRGGGGH! Rory screamed in terror, loud enough for Frank to hear the cries. Frank dropped his coffee in his lap, scalding himself, before trying to get out of the cop car. It was only as he alighted, that he saw the massive shadow of the beast looming over Rory. Frank reached for his gun and pointed it at the beast, but it was too late, the worm like beast bit into Frank practically swallowing him up to his stomach. Frank fired two shots at the creature, which was like throwing pebbles at an elephant. Rory’s screams died away as the last part of him was eaten by the creature. Blinded by horror and rage, Frank ran at the beast, screaming and firing his gun but the beast slid off down the alley and then vanished into an abandoned warehouse. Like it had gone through some type of portal.

“RORY!”

~End flashback~

“Frank?…..Frank?” Tommy grabbed a hold of Frank’s shoulders and shook him. “Was that what took your partner?”Slowly, Frank uttered. “Y.yyyyesss.”

It was almost too incredulous to believe, but the fact that Frank had been sent the pictures meant one thing. Someone saw it too, and witnessed the murder of Rory Lismore. This was evidence, but they needed more than just some photographs. They needed to go back to the crime scene and retrace Frank’s steps. Tommy let go of his friend, and said.“In the morning we are going back to the alley where this happened, and see who lives near that spot. We need the witness.” Frank kept quiet. Was it possible the witness….was also a criminal? The one that Frank and Rory were staking out?

Tommy turned to Elissa and asked. “You want in on this? I can take you home and pick you up in the morning. No point searching that alley in the dark.”

 

~RB~

 

VunG:  Elissa wasn’t a coward, she’d bumrushed men with assault rifles and semi-automatic shotguns before. She’d personally taken down drug lords and mobsters. There were many things that she was more than capable of coping with… but what she couldn’t handle was what she couldn’t understand. And that creature that was in those pictures was something that defied everything she knew about the world. If it had just been something in the jungle was one thing, if it had just been a hideous monstrosity sure, but this was something that was hiding out in the heart of New York city! How in the world was this even possible?!

At about the time that Frank began going into his flashback she would slowly begin coming back to the land of the living, her breathing coming back under control as she rubbed her sore neck, approaching the boys as Tommy tried to pry an answer out of his friend. Leaning up against the desk as she tried to get some color into her cheeks, she watched Tommy drag the truth out of Frank, somewhat forcefully… she was almost hoping that it was just a hoax picture. But… her heart sank and she damn near fell to her knees as she heard the confirmation, only staying up thanks to her arm propping her in place.

Rubbing her temples with frustration as the others considered this, she tried to comprehend the fact that they were going to basically have to trace down an entirely new organism. This wasn’t good… and it seemed to be a snake in form… what the fuck were they going to find of this aberration, its droppings?! Sighing with frustration, she would listen to Tommy give his plan, beginning to pace back and forth with her damaged hand on her chin, debating whether or not she would just be a fifth wheel at this point. However, when he offered her directly, she’d turn and look him squarely in the eye, and she found herself strangely reassured by the fact that this reporter was so brave in the face of this job. Yeah, she wasn’t about to get showed up by a guy whose most dangerous weapon is a microphone. Immediately her expression turned to one of determination and she nodded her confirmation, cracking her neck briefly before adding with a grim smile, ~I wasn’t planning to live forever anyways.~

However, just as she was about to walk forward and join them in planning, her phone began vibrating angrily as several messages came flooding in simultaneously. Frowning with confusion, she pulled it out and checked one of them… and her eyes would widen with horror as she locked on what she was seeing. She had a fair number of associates in the private detective business, and as a part of the local business’ network of favors they’d all agreed to send each other tips of anything that might be a lucrative job… or a dangerous one. Placing a hand over her eyes with frustration, she offered the phone over to the others with her free one, letting them look. On it, were a flurry of images sent from her many acquaintances showing images of a particular school in the city… or rather what had once been a school. Yeah… they might have other problems on hand.

 

Razorbackwriter:  With Elissa agreeing to come along with Tommy, the reporter had his mind set on heading home after dropping her off and getting a few hours sleep. Well, that was the plan. With Elissa commenting that she didn’t plan on living forever, which seemed a touch morbid in the light of things, Tommy was about to turn when Elissa’s phone vibrated. Maybe her man was wondering where she was. But it was how Elissa responded to the messages on her screen that had both Tommy and Frank curious. She handed over the phone to Tommy, who stared at the images of what was a school. It looked like it had been hit by an earth quake, or something of a destructive nature. A bomb blast? There was too much damage for a single blast. “The hell?” Tommy blurted. Frank, on the other hand knew the school. “I had a step brother who went there. Looks like a war zone.” With Elissa being in the private detective business, this was clearly a lead to work, but with the current mystery of what the hell it was that took Rory, and now this, it was clear that something was going to have to wait. A school is a place for children and if there was something there, that was in anyway linked to Rory’s murder, it needed to be investigated. Frank, was now sobering up thanks to his rotten coffee. He pocketed the photographs in the envelope to bring along with him, but made up his mind that he was not going to be left behind.

“I know where this school is. Tommy, Elissa….we need to get there and check this out.” The detective said with a firm nod of his head. “I’ll get my partner to meet us there. By the looks of things, the authorities haven’t been informed. If we hurry we could be the first on the scene…..aside from your mates that took these pictures, Elissa.” Tommy looked at Frank with concern.

“But what about the alley and the warehouse?” He asked, since he was keen to check that out as well. Frank gave a light shrug. “So we pull an all niter. First things first. The school.”

If Elissa agreed to come along, the trio would leave Frank’s apartment and head for Tommy’s car.

~RB~

 

VunG:  Their words basically summed up Elissa’s thoughts on the matter, the whole place looked like something that had been hit by a bomb. Yet the damage looked so localized; there were other bits, sure, but the local buildings only were undamaged for the most part from the looks of things, even by debris. Truth be told, she didn’t know what was more valuable in the hunt for Rory, but she was pretty certain that the person that had sent the envelope wasn’t going anywhere and this location was as fresh as things got. She wasn’t too certain what would cause such destruction, but if it was anything like the creature that had taken Rory then this was going to need some sort of serious coverage by detectives to catch whoever or whatever did this. She still wasn’t convinced on the supernatural aspect, but she damn well believed that something REALLY out of the normal was going on.

When Frank volunteered them for this duty, she couldn’t help but agree with every word leaving his mouth; she knew damn well that if they could be the first on the scene then this whole mess could be theirs to put under control rather than the politicians running the NYPD. She shuddered at the thought of doing an all-nighter, but if that was the way it had to be, then so be it. Hopefully the NYPD would be okay with her being there, not that she doubted that, and hopefully none of her more unscrupulous colleagues would cause damage to the site. Grabbing what was left of her coffee, she gulped it all down in one go, wincing afterwards and letting out a breathed grunt before nodding for them to lead the way, adding as they went, ~Tommy drives.~