By: Martin Linson
Rain sheeted down across the city, lightly soaking everything uncovered. Some hid from the falling water, while others reveled in the light rain, feeling the cleansing nature of the water. Despite the mixed feelings, there seemed to be a quiet, one not heard but felt. One could not pinpoint the eerie feeling looming overhead, nor could everyone sense it.
The night life started to awaken, as the streetwalkers began their early trolling of the streets; making sure to stay just dry enough to catch their prey’s eyes. Alleyways were beginning to churn with the awakening of the street denizens who called the public walkways home. People appearing out of holes, or abandoned receptacles that’ve now been converted into someone’s home. Fires were being lit in dry cans that’d been pulled under awnings, some gathered around while others inspected their homes for any repairs that might be needed to keep the damp out.
One particular alley, Ron, emerged from a dumpster that’d been turned on its front, causing the lids to hang down and act as doors. Glancing around as bodies began to gather around the usual spots, he stretched and smiled seeing the familiar faces of friends. His eyes stopped on a lean-to that had been covered with a tarp to keep the water out. Its occupant had yet to emerge and this bothered Ron, as he was gearing up for his nightly soapbox rant for the members of his self-proclaimed alley.
“Evening Ron,” Jake nodded in Ron’s direction while he warmed his hands over one of the can fires.
Ron nodded in response, “Jake… Have you seen Ric tonight?”
“I have not; I think he’s still in there. Heard some grunts again, perhaps another bad night…” Jake tapped his temple.
“Ahhh, man, I can’t image what that guys been though. Hell, Matt has PTSD and hasn’t had nearly as many issues as Ric. Wish he’d let us help…” Ron moved towards the middle of the alley as he took his place on the pallet stage he’d made some time ago. Glancing around, he saw more bodies gathering around the various burning barrels in the alley. Clearing his throat he began his evening’s sermon of whichever topic he felt like ranting about, “What a dreary night we have here… Reminds me of some doom and gloom from the past…”
“Shut the FUCK UP!!” A voice from the lean-to shouted.
“…” Ron stood dumbfounded on his pallet stage. Never had anyone blatantly interrupted his evening address. His eyes darted from fire spewing barrel to barrel as the visitors of the warming flames looked to him equally as confused and awe struck at the interruption.
“I swear to fucking Christ I will rip your damn head off Ron.” Again the voice from the lean-to shouted. There was a stirring and groaning coming from under it as the tarp covered board started to sway as if being pushed against from underneath.
“I… uh… Ric?” Ron stuttered out, still unsure as to what was happening, as Ric had never really lashed out in any sort of manner to any of the occupants of the alley. He always kept to himself and left everyone else alone.
Emerging from the lean-to was a broad shouldered and stoutly built man. Standing about six feet tall, he was wearing several layers of coats, with a hood sticking out the back of his neck from a hoody buried somewhere under his various layers. Below that he had rather dingy and tattered looking baggy jeans, and some large steel toed leather work boots that appeared to have been well past their prime. The only hair seen on his head besides his eyebrows was a goatee. Somehow regardless of how dirty Ric looked, he always seemed to be clean shaven; a secret he never gave up to the others. Ric stood completely stretching and tilting his head to each side as he popped the vertebrae in his neck. His eyes popped open, with a glint of irritation in them and focused directly on Ron.
“Uh… h…h…hey Ric… All ummm… yeah… ok?” Ron was uneasy, never having been contested in any form for his evening speeches nor his claim of the alley.
Ric’s eyes still locked on Ron, as he finally opened his mouth after emerging from his slapped together shelter. “Ron… no… not tonight,” as Ric paused Ron opened his mouth to respond however Ric cut him off before he could form his first word of response. “NO!” Ric took a few steps in Ron’s direction as Ron stayed silent however his mouth remained agape. “I said, shut the fuck up… didn’t I?”
“Well, this is…” Ron began to respond however before he could get his forth word out Ric had somehow closed the distance between them in almost an instant, standing him face to face, and Ron froze in fear having never been confronted like this before.
“Just… Shut it…” Ric whispered the words into Ron’s face. “No one cares about your speeches or whatever you call them. They all just listen and don’t say shit because no one wants to rock the boat. And ya know what? I don’t give a fucking shit. I just don’t want to hear your shit tonight. I’ve been in this alley longer than you. You can still be your king or whatever. Just… shut up… tonight.” Spinning on his heel he started back towards his lean-to.
“What the fuck, Ric?!” Jake said, taking a stand for Ron. Ric didn’t respond. He walked to his lean-to, leaned in and grabbed a small hemp sack, and stuck it up inside of his layers. “Dude, seriously! What the fuck?! Who died and made you king of everything man. Don’t be a fucking dick, shit…” Jake made sure to keep a burning barrel between him and Ric after seeing him move so quickly, which was still perplexing him as to how that was possible.
Ric stopped, turning his head over his shoulder, “Jake… don’t… don’t even start. I’m not in the mood tonight; I’ve had a migraine for some goddamn reason. WHICH means fucking bad shit usually…” He turned his head back and walked deeper into the darkness of the alley depths.
“Fuck man… whatever asshole…” Jake turned to Ron shaking his head and putting his hand on his shoulder, “Hey man, don’t let that fuckwad get to you. Seriously, he’s got issues. Now take a breath, center yourself, and get your ass back up there and have at it.” He nodded and removed his hand walking back over to the burning barrel. Smiling as he placed his hands over the flame and motioned his head to the pallet stage.
Ric stopped at the other end of the alley and sighed loudly as he glanced down both sides of the tenebrous back street. His fingers met the bridge of his nose, pinching as his eyes squeezed shut in an attempt to relieve his migraine that was only seeming to get worse. “FUCK!” Ric hollered up to the drizzling sky. “Why tonight?” He kept his gaze upwards, as if addressing someone directly. “What the fuck? Why? I’ve kept to myself for how long now? Just leave me the fuck alone alright? I made my choice, you all know that. Now fucking deal with it, and leave me out of it!”
His attention was quickly diverted towards the street to his left as a loud bang echoed. His focus stayed on the direction of the sound as he heightened his hearing while slowly making his way down the street; keeping the suspected area in his peripheral vision while remaining alert to his surroundings. The street became deathly silent as he closed the distance towards the origin of the sound.
“Stop there, and keep those hands where I can see them asshole!” A man stepped out of an alley pointing a handgun towards him.
Ric froze and just stared at the man standing a good thirty feet away from him, his gun trained on him. He could tell the man had experience with a gun, as well as using it for such reasons. His body showed he was comfortable and confident in the situation he presented Ric with. He shifted his gaze out of focus and glanced over the man’s shoulder, as he did the man’s aura presented itself to Ric. Giving the aura a quick glance, he could discern that the man had in fact killed before. Seeing the dark corruption weaving through the aura told Ric a story of anger, and hate, bred in his youth; which grew into emptiness and an unending darkness inside.
“Hey fucker! I’m talking to you! Slowly put your hands out so I can see them,” his grip on the gun tightened as he aimed true to Ric’s chest.
Ric’s right eyebrow arched as his vision refocused on the man. He could see the confidence behind the man’s aim, and smirked visibly at the threat. “And what will yo…” Ric was cut off as the man double tapped him in the chest and finished it off with a precision shot at the center of his forehead as his body dropped to the ground.
The man kept the gun pointed on Ric’s body, then glanced up and down the street, confirming the sudden explosion of violence didn’t attract any attention. Satisfied with what he saw he brought his full attention back to the body on the ground. Staring at the body, his eyes squinted as something didn’t seem right. Without hesitation he unloaded the rest of the clip into the body. Releasing the clip and having his gun reloaded with one in the chamber before the empty clip hit the ground. His gun once again pointed at the body as he started to look around more attentively this time.
Satisfied no one was coming to see, he turned to Ric’s body, but in an instant, Ric was face to face with the man, holding him by the throat against the wall of the alley. His breath was cut off as Ric was not hesitating to cut off his airflow. He could see the end of the bullet still sticking out of Ric’s forehead; below was an irritated expression.
“You do realize how much that stings?!” Ric said, holding the man by his neck. He took the gun by the nose and pinched it, sealing the barrel of the gun completely. Dropping the ruined gun, his hand grabbed the end of the bullet sticking out of his head and pulled it out. The bullet made a sickly meat suckling sound as it popped out of the hole in his skull. He examined the bullet for a few seconds before he flicked it off down the alley. Ric cleared his throat, “so… as I was saying. Your gun…” he chuckled to himself as his eyes drifted in the direction of the abandoned gun then back to the dangling man. “It’s useless as you can see now…”
All that was heard from the man was guttural gasps as he tried to suck air through his partially closed off windpipe as he attempted to respond, “H… h…” cough, cough! “H..o…w…”
Ric looked weary, “I’m tired… I just want to be left alone… Did someone send you?” The man’s mouth attempted to form words, which came out silent due to Ric’s grip. After a loud sigh he loosened so he could speak.
“N….nnnn….NO!” he finally was able to squeeze out.
“I don’t believe you…” His grip loosened enough for the man to respond.
“n…no…. Not… you…” catching his breath, “the first out of that alley. I was told someone leaves this alley who is hiding… as a homeless man… sitting on a family fortune… gave your jacket as the identifier…” He was still struggling slightly, trying to maintain the ability to breathe.
Nodding to his words, “I’m guessing you were paid?”
The man shaking his head emphatically “NO! The family fortune was my payment… He owes me… money… gave me this tip in exchange…”
Ric’s gaze narrowed, seeing his aura again, he searched through the fringes of the glow. Looking for something specific, something familiar, and…. “There! Muther fuckers…” Ric said with a spiteful flair to his words as the sound of the man’s neck snapping followed his words. The body fell lifelessly to the ground as Ric walked off, seeming to have an idea of who he was looking for.
Daemon’s was packed, motorcycles lined the sidewalk, the only advertisement the bar really needed. It was still early tonight, which was obvious as the police hadn’t had to make their routine nightly stop to kick half the bar out, and arrest the angry violent ones. The music was heard on the street, as the bikers were strewn about the sidewalk in all variations of inebriation, with a few already passed out, pushed aside and forgotten.
“FUCK OFF ASSHOLE!!” A woman screamed as her foot made an instant impact with the man’s dangling testicles.
“WHOR….” He was cut off as the connection was made; all the air left his body as he doubled over and fell motionless to the floor.
A few patrons glanced in the direction of the commotion. Any who even noticed shrugged it off once seeing it was isolated and over. The woman stomped her way out the back door, lighting her cigarette before even reaching the open door and just continuing out, as a few other women of various ages darted out behind her. A few large men leaned down and pulled the heap of a whimpering man up and onto a chair. Shoving beers into his hand and coaching him to drink the pain away.
Inside was chaos, as so many different little groups and conversations were all being had at once, smoke hazed all vision while the nose was assaulted with body odor and alcohol. It’s a wonder anyone could focus on their own words. Some were getting pushy and a bit rowdy, as bartenders and bouncers eyed the crowed in a futile attempt to avoid the nightly appearance of the authorities. The bar took up three quarters of one wall; the other quarter was used for Daemon’s thrown made from and old car bucket seat, which sat atop grimy rims. There was various biker additions to the thrown of sorts as well, with ladies and drunks strewn about. Most were women claiming to be with him or attempting to be, or guys in, or trying to be in the crew. There was a brick, circular, indoor fire pit, flames flicked up at the air from the center while a few of the aged and road worn bikers were lounging around drinking and reminiscing stories of old. The rest of the bar was booths and tables, filled with drunken bodies bouncing off one another as they cheered, and told stories all around.
Daemon sat upon his throne, eyes swimming in booze, he unlocked his lips from the wasted slut draped over his lap as she slid off his legs and to the floor limply. Glancing around the foggy room he smiled to himself, satisfied to be amongst those of his kind. The outlaws, the road warriors of the modern era, a dying breed he was attempting to hold onto as long as he could. A few of the veterans around the bar raised a glass in his direction, a sign of respect for the owner. A hooded figure weaved through the crowd, catching his eye as it was out of the norm. Eyes locked on as the hooded figure slipped through the crowd oddly unnoticed. Slipping through others line of sight yet not catching any attention.
With a raised eyebrow, Daemon rose to his feet and shouted over the crowd, “WHO THE FUCK IS THAT?!”
The bar went silent instantly, the jukebox’s glow faded as someone yanked the cord from the wall. As the music faded into silence the sound of metal sliding against leather was heard in mass as every gun in the bar was now pointed at the hooded figure’s head, who stood silent and still. The hood pulled over enough to keep the light from revealing his identity.
“I will not ask again… if you don’t answer…” Daemon smirked as he made eye contact with a few of those he knew were the best shot in the bar. “Well… I’m sure you can figure out how things will end…”
Raising his hands up, palms out in a slow and unarmed manner, Ric slipped the hood off of his smooth hairless head, revealing his annoyed expression fired in Daemon’s direction.
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me…” Daemon hopped down from the thrown to the floor and started towards Ric. “Now why the fuck would you come here, on my home turf dick head?” There was an audible chuckle shared throughout the bar at his comment of the man’s appearance.
“Well… Daisy…” Ric was interrupted by the sound of multiple guns’ hammers being locked back into firing position. Ric paused until silence returned, and refocused on Daemon, “you’re the only one that might know what I need to know.” Ric’s eyes were transfixed with Daemon’s.
With a cocked eyebrow, “And what the fuck do I know that you NEED to?”
Ric moved faster than anyone in the bar could track. As the words ended Ric had him by the throat, turned with his own back to the wall, and Daemon’s to his crew. “Now… You’ve all been given a taste of what I’m capable of. I fucking hear a trigger squeezed and his head is the first to be removed, and the one who first fired will be the last head to be removed…”
“FuUuUCc–…” Daemon’s throat only gurgled as his grip tightened over his neck.
Ric threw Daemon over the bar; successfully hitting all three bartenders in the line they were standing in, all four ending in a bruised heap on the floor. “Alright fuck faces…” He threw off his large overcoats in one flick of his arms as he turned back to the guns pointed in his direction, his eyes began to glow bright white, as well a white mist emanated out of the corner of his eyes evaporating into the air. “You all want to find out what I can do?” His eye flared bright white as all the guns melted in the hands of those holding them. Screams filled the bar as hands were coated in liquid hot metal, quickly hardening over their balled up burning fists of flesh.
Most of the bar was on the floor, nursing a metal covered ball of what used to be their hand. Sobs and whimpers could be heard, some pulled themselves up and darted out a nearby exit. Daemon made it back to his feet as he hurdled the bar facing off against him, “I haven’t let loose in a long time, this will be fun…”
Ric’s eyebrow cocked in response, stretching his neck cracking it back and forth. “You think your basic ass can take me?” Smirking he was at his throat once again, now at the fire pit. Bending him over backwards, his hair starting to smolder in the flames, some strands catching outright and leading trails of flame back to his scalp.
“YOU FUCKER!!!” Struggling against Ric’s strength was obviously no use to him as anyone left could see. He clearly had no ground to stand on against this man.
“Now, DAISY… That’s what they still call you there isn’t it? Basic demon… not even a fucking minor demon. You do realize that I know all you can do is light shows, maybe some minor telekinesis…”
“FUCK YOU RIC! You don’t know shit…” his head dunked back into the flames for a few seconds as he pulled his head back out. His hair was fringed all around, black burnt skin could be seen along his scalp as one eyebrow smoldered and the other smoked.
“You going to keep this shit up Daisy? Or will you shut up for me to get what I came for?”
Breathing heavily, “you fucking cock sucker! I WILL see that you get yours for this…” But before he could finish Ric buried his head into the red hot embers of the fire. His legs were sticking out of the pit as he held the screaming head down, legs flailing about to his side.
“I can do this all night… no… skin off my back” smirking he pulled him up, as his now charred face stared back, his eyes solid red, under the char a dark reddish skin tone could be seen, his true skin color beginning to show due to the beating he’d taken. “I can see you’re already slipping here Daisy…”
“STOP FUCKING CALLINullkkk…” cut off as his throat closed under Ric’s hand.
Shouting out “LAST CALL!” Pulling Daemon out of the fire and up to his face, “One more time cupcake… Or you’ll be having a personal meeting with your boss shortly…” His eyes flared bright again and simmered down as he started to cooperate.
“OKOKOKOKOKSTOOOOOOPPP” The grip on his neck loosened for the first time, as he choked down air in gulps. Panting, “What…” huffing deep “what do you need fuck face?”
Ric sighed, tired of the attitude but dealing with it for now, “What’s going on? What’s coming up, what the fuck do your people have planned, and what does it have to do with me?”
Daemon’s mind raced, he had no clue of anything happening and he had a very bad feeling Ric wouldn’t believe him. “Man… I don’t…. I don’t FUCKING KNOW!!! Ric, you know me… I’m telling the truth! I wouldn’t fucking lie man, you know I don’t want to go back there… just… just…. Let me find out! Yeah!! Let me go, I’ll dig in and see what I can find, yeah, yeah…” He remained silent in response, once again a single eyebrow the only visual response to his words. “Comeonman!!! I’m telling you the truth…. Fuck man…” His voice was a constant whine.
“Stop!” Shaking his head, “You’re so fucking pathetic…” He set Daemon to his feet “someone is sending people for me. The only ones aware of me are your boys. Who wants me out of the way? What’s coming?”
“I DON’T FUCKING KNOW MAN!! You have to believe me… I don’t… I only hear the gossip and nothing has been hear…” A moment of realization appeared on his face.
“What!?” Ric gripped his throat tighter, “what did you remember?”
“I… I… Well, it… fuck… really? It can’t be. Well… I did hear some shit that… Someone is lashing out, and trying to start something. It’s all rumor though man, no one knows. Some think it’s just some pissed off demon, but…” His eyes dart around as if seeing if anyone was listening, anyone not from this plane. “Demons have vanished…”
“Vanished? What do you mean by that?” Ric’s grip slightly loosened but remained intact.
“Exactly!!! Right?! No one knows! No one can find them; no one can even sense their presence. I’ve heard… rumors, rumors I thought to be false, rumors that someone… someone has gone rogue, and theories say an attempted coup…”
“A coup? That’s crazy, where’s Lucian?” Ric dropped him to a stool against the bar, keeping close.
“No one knows… He hasn’t been seen since the millennium” His eyes continued to dart around the bar, while keeping Ric in his peripheral vision.
Ric’s brow furrowed as he contemplated the information he had now. “Well, I’m guessing he’s either up to something, or baiting someone to attack. Although with this much time who knows? Who’s to say that he’s not gone and someone else is behind the scenes now… SHIT!” He started pacing back and forth in front of Daemon.
“So…” Daemon said with a quivering hesitant voice.
Spinning around to face him instantly Ric ordered “Don’t go anywhere; I may need you again later,” making his way to the door as he spoke and stopped at the doorway turning back to him. “See what you can find out, I know that’s what you’re good at. I will be back Daisy, and you know as well as I, if you’re not here when I need you…” his glare made sure to punctuate his meaning as he slipped out.
Finally releasing the air he was holding as Ric seemed to flesh out his plans. “Fuck me…” he once again scanned the room seeing the shambles it was left in. As a few were still whimpered on the floor, most quietly made their way out. Those who were alert when Ric left flew through the back door to avoid him. Daemon pulled a scantily clad, groggy woman to her feet by her arm. He grabbed her face to meet his using his free hand, “Clean this shit up, and get the boys in the back and the gals to help. We need to be up and running tomorrow again… I doubt he’ll be back tonight.” He stepped towards the office only to trip over a body. Regaining his ground he cursed to himself as he gingerly made his way to his office.
turned the corner into his alley, seeing Jake sitting on an overturned bucket
eating what appeared to be a left over sandwich. He nodded as he savored his
bite, keeping his eyes on Ric as he walked to his lean-to.
“Oh…” Jake choked down a bigger bite of sandwich than his throat was expecting, “ulllkk,” he coughed, gathering his voice again. “You have… a visitor…”
Ric looked up at Jake, making eye contact with a glare as he knelt by the tarp of his lean-to. He was about to respond but was cut off by the faint sob that emerged from the other side of the tarp. Pulling it away he revealed a little girl, appeared to be of Asian descent. There were shiny paths reflecting light down both of her cheeks, and her red tinted eyes moved to meet his as a soft sob stifled followed by a sniffle. She cowered back into the shelter as the tarp exposed her hiding spot.
Ric’s mouth fell agape as he looked into the girl’s shimmering brown eyes as he could see tears beading along her bottom eyelids. One escaped and traced down her cheek, as Ric was for once in his life, at a loss for words…
To be continued…