November 5th, 2010
“Why are we still out here? It’s midnight, shouldn’t the boss have gone to sleep a long time ago?” One guard asked another, the door to Antonio’s hideout to their backs.
“Beats me. All I know is that the boss’s celebrating, and that we’re getting paid more than usual. Quit bitchin’, would ya’? Like anyone would be dumb enough to try and break into this place.”
“That’s the thing! Who’s gonna come into this place? Nobody’s got that much of a death wish, right?”
“Just do your job, man.”
With a small scoff, the first guard leaned against the wall, looking up at the sky. How the smoke from his cigarette distorted the stars above, but he had no appreciation for their beauty. He was bored out of his mind, for the most part.
After a span of excruciatingly long ten minutes, he was desperate to fill the silence. “Hey, Phil, you got any idea as to why the boss’s so happy?”
There was no answer.
“I said something, are you listening to me?” Taking his eyes off the firmament and directing them towards Phil, he gave a start. Phil was lying on the ground.
“This ain’t the time to sleep, you asshole. You just told me that I should do my job…” He gave him a light kick to no response. Squatting, he began to shake him. “C’mon, get up!”
He froze. In the darkness he hadn’t seen the puddle of blood that was collecting under his body. Gripping his gun closer, he took a shaky step back. Only to back into someone else.
And then, darkness.
While the boss celebrated on his own up in his office, everyone else on his payroll spent the night in a bar room downstairs. They had no idea why the alcohol was flowing, but nobody seemed to mind. There were about ten men that night spread about the room.
And although it was just another room in Antonio’s rather ostentious hide out, it was big and well stocked enough to have been considered an establishment of its own, with pool and poker tables set up, to the bartender’s back all the fine wine dirty money could buy. It was on the ground level, and a few of the windows were opened, letting in cold wind and streaks of moonlight.
“How you doin’ tonight, Larry?” The bartender asked a man sitting on the barstool, pulling out glasses from under the counter. “The usual?”
“Can ya’ really call it the usual if we only use this room about twice a year? Yeah, I’ll be having that.” Larry nodded, leaning against the counter. “Something must have the boss in high moods for him to throw something like this, yeah?”
“I wouldn’t know. Maybe an important job went off without a hitch?” The bartended filled a glass and handed it over to Larry. “Really, I don’t see much more than this bar room. I don’t know anything.”
“Guess we shouldn’t worry too much. Cheers, Moe.” Without much preamble Larry downed the drink in one go, letting the soft buzz of the drink wash over him like a comforting blanket. He closed his eyes to enjoy the moment.
There was the sound of glass breaking overhead, three times and with hardly a pause between them, that jerked him back to reality. As he opened his eyes he noticed little difference between having them closed – the room was submerged in darkness, the moonlight poking pinpoint holes into the inky blanket.
And then there was the rustling of fabric. In quick succession, the curtains were drawn together and the room was completely obscured. Some of the drunker men had only now noticed the impregnable darkness and glanced around confused.
“Who put out the lights?” One inquired.
“Somebody playin’ a trick?”
“C’mon, cut it out. We’re all just tryin’ to have a good time here.”
Larry heard a grunt of pain to his side. He leaned over the counter, peering into the darkness. There was no sign of movement, but as he felt his fingers on the wooden surface, they were sticky with blood.
A flashlight had been issued to every guard and Larry pulled out his, pointing the thin beam of light to the floor behind the counter. Moe laid on the ground, his nose a mangled mess, unmoving but breathing.
“Hey, guys – flashlights out! This ain’t a joke!” Sobering up in an instant, Larry drew the gun from a shoulder holster, getting off the bar stool and glancing about. A few moments later, ten cones of light danced around the room, searching every inch.
“Here’s how I want this ta’ go down.” A voice that didn’t belong to any of the guards broke out. The flashlights rushed to the voice’s location, but all they caught was a glimpse of a shadow moving quickly out of the way. “One of ya’ is gonna tell me where Antonio is. If ya’ refuse, well, the bodies start pilin’ up. Ya’ gonna talk?”
The voice seemed to come from everywhere, above, below and to the sides, as if its owner was moving about the room unnoticed.
“Block the exits!” Two guards rushed towards the two hallways that led out of the room. Larry heard a scream from one direction and the sound of gurgling blood from the other. Light soon fell upon the two guards – one with his head dashed against the wall, one with a knife sticking out the side of his neck.
“That’s two down. Wanna see how high we can get?” The voice called out again. There was the sound of glass breaking and rushing air. Another man had been slammed against the window, impaled on a triangular shard.
Larry gulped, feeling his mouth dry. In the span of a minute they had lost three of their men. A scream broke out near the pool table and all the flashlights rushed to illuminate it. Only catching a glimpse of one of their comrades being dragged under it, his scream of surprise interrupted with a knife.
Shots rang out as the guards took aim at the pool table, squeezing the trigger until it likened swiss cheese. Silence hung heavy on the air, their gasps for breath the only sound that filled the room.
A poker table right next to Larry exploded in a storm of splinters – a dead body had been dropped onto it, crushing the table under his weight.
“While ya’ boys were busy with your peashooters, I took the liberty of cutting your number ta’ half. That’s five down. How’s about it? Feel like talkin’ now?”
The voice came from above. In an act of desperation one of the guards aimed in its general direction and started firing. Petrified, Larry watched as the gun lit up in the room in split-second flashes. Watched as he saw a dark figure jump down from one of the hanging lights above and landed on another guard. How the dark figure slit the man’s throat and sprung onto the next, grabbing him by the throat and driving his head onto the corner of a table with a sickening crack. It was like a slide show.
The flashes ended. By Larry’s count, there were about three of them left.
“To hell with this!” One of the guards broke into a sprint, running for one of the exists. Larry jumped as another shot rang out and the running man slumped to the ground. The muzzle flash had given away their tormentor and one of the guards rushed towards him.
In the darkness, Larry heard only the crunching of bones, and then, silence. He stood, frozen with his back to the counter, cold sweat running down his back. He couldn’t breathe – he was afraid the slightest movement would give him away.
“Nine.” The voice was directly in front of him. Larry swung the flashlight and saw his face for only half a second. This blonde haired man couldn’t possibly be older than twenty, was all he could process before the gun was forced out of his hands. Two firm hands gripped his shirt and pushed him against the counter.
“Is the boss man in?”
Antonio sat in his office, forced out of his cheerful mood by the sound of gunshots downstairs. When he heard knocking at his door, he almost jumped in surprise.
“What the hell’s going on down there?” He said. “Don’t get so drunk you’re shooting each other, Christ…” Antonio got up on his feet and froze. Whoever was behind the door was trying to force it open.
“Who…” Antonio felt a cold chill ravage his body as he reached inside the drawer of his desk, pulling out a golden gun.
Splinters flew as the door was forced open with a kick, knocking it off its hinges. Antonio could do nothing but stare, gun in his hands.
“Hello, Antonio. Ya’ look like you’ve seen a ghost.” Axel said.