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This one in short!
Jimmy didn't recognize the men, but the fact that his apartment door was busted open and they were turning the place inside out put them fairly solidly in the To Be Avoided category.
Harrison's men, he assumed. Definitely to be avoided.
He walked as silently as possible back to the staircase, hurried down, and took the back exit. It was after 3am. The alley was poorly lit except for the halo of light around the caged bulb over the door. He began walking, not caring where as much as putting distance between himself and the thugs.
It was time to get out of town. No, yesterday was the time to get out.. Now it was time to speed.
He determined his location quickly and changed direction, heading for the bus station.
Nan had been driving in circles around the city for more than half an hour. Her mind in a frenzied state, operating on instinct not thought. Her eyes looked to the boy in quick glances, but she didn't register this. He was very still. His head lay at an unnatural angle. She wouldn't bring himself to touch him, certain on an unconscious level that he'd be stiff. And with that knowledge her life would have taken the dive off the edge, unable to recover or hope for a way out.
So she drove. In circles.
He wasn't even halfway to the station before he spotted the man tailing him in a reflection. If there was one of them, many wouldn't be far behind, providing they weren't already converging on him from different angles.
And now he was screwed. If a cop car had been within sight at that very moment, he would have ran screaming at it and thrown himself on the hood. He'd seen what eventually turned up of people that skipped out on a debt to Harrison. Sometimes they weren't dead. They were the unlucky ones.
He spotted a subway entrance ahead. That may be the only chance. If he could get around people, any amount, they might be afraid to pursue. Or at least limit their options to mundane capture. He'd noticed the goons would quit their more exotic talents around populated areas. Sam, the one magician he had ever known to not be a fraud, had told him there was some law or enforcement against it. If he was ever in trouble, he should travel around as many people as possible. That was her advice before she was found burned to a crisp in her bathtub, anyway. He hoped she hadn't been awake when they'd done it.
He should have never gotten involved with these people. There was a whole world full of normal criminals that would just shoot you if you skipped out owing them money. Rituals to rig dog races. What the hell was he thinking.
Down the stairs, past the stands, and he was into the subway. Where four men and one women in black jumpsuits and black gloves stood among the small crowd of normal people. Hands clasped in front of them. Waiting.
He felt hands grab him from behind, pin his arms and hold him. The people in the station were watching the scene unfold, but they did nothing to help.
He was about to start screaming, to cause as much of a scene as he could make and hope somehow the police got involved, when the woman made a gesture. And his awareness blew out like a candle.
The boy was dead. She knew it. She knew it. He was dead and shackled to her, and his weight would drag her down to drown. It wasn't her fault, it wasn't fair. But would they care? Would they believe a junkie? Telling stories about a man wanting to kidnap a little boy for no reason.
She wouldn't let this ruin her life. A dead body that wasn't her fault. No one knew she had it. No one would find out.
She still drove in circles, but not aimlessly anymore. Now she looked for an alley. One that had a dumpster.
When he wakes up, he's sorry he has. He's duct-taped to a chair. He doesn't know where he is, but everyone around him is wearing clear plastic ponchos. Similar clear tarps cover the ground and objects around the room, including a large table stacked with piles of cash. There's a towel laid out with 7 scalpels on it. A small oriental man stands next to them, wearing latex gloves.
He doesn't want to be awake for this. He doesn't want to know what they do.
Harrison is here. He looks pleased. "I was hoping you would have learned an example from your friend."
"I can get the money."
"I'll do anything. I'll get it. Within a day. Just give me a day."
"Your value is no longer in cash. Now you are a lesson for others that would run from me."
The small man picks up a scalpel.
Someone in the background is setting up a video camera.
The small man looks to Harrison, questioningly.
The oriental man bends over Jimmy and reaches for his right eye. He squeezes his eyes shut tight but those plastic-gloved fingers pull up his eyelid. And cuts it off in slow slices. Blood runs into his eye, burning and blurring his vision, unable to blink the pain away.
Someone is screaming. It's himself. He can't remember having started.
The squad car comes to a stop in front of the alley. Two officers step out. They walk slowly down the alley, their flashlights bobbing beams of light down the length. There's a dumpster on the right. One of the lids is open. A small object is caught at the corner. It's a child's red Nike sneaker.
One officer stops. The other goes to the dumpster, shines his light in, and looks. He pales a bit, looking to the other man.
The partner that waited behind returns to the car. He doesn't rush. When he gets there he plans to report that the call was genuine. And request the coroner.
Jimmy is still screaming. He's making no effort to, it's as natural and easily forgotten as breathing. He's waiting to pass out. Hoping it is soon.
Most of his face has been laid out on the formerly white towel. The man is going at his remaining lip now. He still has his eyes, for the moment.
Then something punches through the drone of his own screams, hollow now that he has lost his ears. Loud. Booming. He thinks for a moment it's the sound of his own heart going into a stroke, but then he sees the others hear it too.
A door opens, a man hurrying in. Three more booms, his body jerks as he moves. His blood sprays Harrison and the rest. His head explodes in another boom before he clears the doorway.
Guns are being drawn. Harrison is backing away. Boom boom, and white light from the darkness beyond the doorway. One of the goons inside the room shudders back and falls.
Those inside the room return fire, a deafening barrage of gunshots. When they finish, silence sets in.
That's when an angel steps into the door. Through his blurred vision, he can mainly tell only colors. Her hair is blonde, and it seems to shine under the bare bulb. She's wearing black. A large chrome gun hangs in one hand. The angel of death.
"Alexander Harrison, you've been very blatant, and your actions threaten to reveal the truth about magick to the world. Consider this your Execution Day."
The big gun comes up and she moving. Gunfire erupts in all directions, back and forth. Jimmy can feel some zip by, tiny and cold drafts of air. A body falls on top of him. The oriental man. A bullet through his forehead.
Jimmy turns his head just in time to see the angel grapple with the woman from the subway station. She holds her up as a shield, bullets slamming into her plastic poncho and painting the underneath red, returns fire, snaps the woman's neck without paying much attention to it, and tosses the body to the ground.
Harrison got around behind her somehow and aimed a shotgun. Jimmy saw this and tried to shout a warning. It came out as a long slur. She turned towards the sound anyway, and blew the shotgun out of Harrison's hand, taking most of the fingers along with it. Then a kneecap. He sunk to one leg. She advanced on him, still firing. The other knee went. He sprawled on the ground. He screamed for her to stop. Three bullets into the face.
Quiet now. She stands over Harrison's body. Then she slowly looked at Jimmy over her shoulder.
He startles at a sudden loud sound, but it's not a gunshot he realizes after a moment. It's a ringing. She reaches into her jacket, pulls out the phone, and flips it open.
She puts away the phone and stands there a moment longer, just breathing, silently. Every breath he makes seems too loud. Then she turns to the door and walks out.
He waits a minute. Another minute. The slow realization comes to him that he's not going to die.
He heaves the dead man off his chest. It takes a while, but he eventually works one arm free. Then tearing off the rest of his restraints is easy.
Jimmy picks up the towel and presses it to his mouth to staunch the blood and pain. He walks slowly out of the room of death, stepping over corpses, out the door, and into the fresh air of the night. He breathes deeply. Alive. Better than he could have hoped for, all things considered. He tries to laugh a little at that, but his face hurts too much to.
Which is when he remembers the money they had stacked in that room, hurries back in, stuffs as much as he can into the towel, and takes off.
Mattias | profile | Apr 27, 07 | 3:32 am
Tom Adams was the author of this short but tasty chapter.