An ordinary twenty first century man finds himself involved in an underground war when he is involuntarily dragged into working for a group who are secretly killing off people who they perceive as threats to innocent lives.
With no way of telling if he's even chose the right side, Drystan is forced to carry out dangerous assassination assignments under the supervision of a man who shows no emotion and no mercy. With only an assortment of shady characters to assist him, Drystan must find his pla
Saturday. November 25th. 12:43 AM.
7 years ago.
I stop scrubbing the soap into my already red raw hands only when the drops of crimson liquid pouring in the sink are no longer somebody else’s blood. Whatever’s left is from my own injuries, which aren’t anything near fatal, but which sting like a bitch regardless. I step back for a moment to regard my reflection in the cracked mirror with its filthy edges that are thick with grime and some sort of disgusting fungus that one only finds in caverns far beneath the sea. A steady, rhythmic dripping sounds to my left as some disgusting, viscous liquid dribbles pathetically down onto the stained tile floor and forms a reeking, stagnant pool a few feet away from where I’m standing.
I look a mess, quite honestly. I examine the cuts and bruises on my, let’s be honest, already ugly face, and sum up the extent of the damage done. Not too bad, as nights like these go. The deepest of the wounds is a long and fairly deep gash in my forehead, just above my right eyebrow. Probably could use a few stitches, but it can definitely wait. I pause and notice that it’s my eyes that make me look so goddamn old. They’re so ancient, despite the fact that regardless of what people usually think when they see me for the first time, I’m only nineteen.
No time to focus on my appearance. Hardly the height of my worries at the moment. The last of the diluted blood drains away, and the gurgle of the sink seems deafening in the silence of the night. There are more of them out there, waiting for me. I don’t see a way out of this, quite honestly. There’s one of me and what seems to be an endless supply of them. Aisling’s really outdone herself this time. She wants me dead. This I am well aware of by now. What I didn’t know until about half an hour ago was how badly she wanted it.
The gurgling has died away, and it’s quiet again. Quiet enough for me to hear every sound, every whisper, every murmur in the night. Most of these sounds are in my head. Some of them are real. I’m too stressed and too on edge to tell the difference at this stage. All I want is for something to fucking happen so that all this waiting can be over and done with. I’d rather be confronted and outnumbered than sit here in a pitch dark disused bathroom just waiting and worrying and coming up with a million intensely graphic scenarios, the majority of which end with me being tortured and killed slowly and painfully.
My heart skips a beat and jumps into my mouth as my phone suddenly buzzes in my pocket with a determined ferocity that I can’t seem to be able to find in myself. I fumble with it, slide it out with one sweaty hand, drop it, pick it up slowly, listen for the sounds of movement that may have been triggered by the sudden crash of the impact of the phone on the tiles, straighten, and look at the dimly lit screen. The number’s not one I’m familiar with, and it’s not in my contact list. The phone buzzes furiously in my palm and I begin to worry I’ll drop it again and this time, someone’ll hear me. I press the green button with my shaking thumb and hold it up to my ear.
Silence for a moment, then someone draws a steady, purposeful breath. There’s more than one of them. Perhaps a crowd of perverted psychopaths waiting to listen in raptured silence as their partners sneak up behind me and gut me slowly. Maybe they love hearing the screams. I remember one guy who used to get turned on by his victim’s hopeless screams for mercy.
‘Cyrus? You cock sucking bastard!’
I can tell she’s relieved. She tends to swear like that when she’s relieved. But there’s an edge to her tone that freaks me out a little, though I’m not willing to let that show in my voice. I’ve already made myself look like a pussy by answering the phone in that meek little stutter, so any further embarrassment would be pretty understandably unbearable. She mutters something to someone near her, and I hear footsteps, then nothing for a second before she starts again.
‘Listen, we’ve got some sweet ass plans of your location that Bobby managed to dig up, and we’re sending in the dogs, man. Can you sit tight there for a while longer? Jesus, I swear this bastard is pure gold. We’ve got fucking blueprints and everything! Once we get our guys in there, I swear you’ll know when to come out by the screams. Gotta go, call me if you die or whatever.’
A click and a long, ominous tone signals that she’s hung up on me before giving me a chance to say anything. That last sentence is really comforting. She knows how to keep a guy calm in his hour of need, I’ll give her that. And now, once again, it’s me and the silence. Together forever. It’s like a fairytale with a really sick twist thrown in for the mature readers. I move uneasily over to the mirror, find the switch for the only light in the room, and flick it so that I’m plunged into what must be the closest thing I’ve ever experienced to complete and utter darkness. It’s like jumping into a freezing lake or taking a step too far when you thought there was more solid ground than there really was.
It’s about then that I hear the first footsteps, and soon after that, the first whisper. There’re three of them, maybe four. I crouch tentatively under a fully rusted sink, just listening and nothing else. My sweaty, trembling hand slips instinctively to where the gun hangs at my waist, blissfully unaware of the damage it’s going to cause. Correction, it’s me who’s going to be causing the damage. The gun is just my instrument, my tool. But God does it make me feel powerful, that chunk of cold metal ready to blow the fuck out of someone at my command.
It’s the tension, the waiting, the suspense that’s killing me. It’s the uncertainty, and the knowledge that I have no idea if I’ll be alive five minutes from now. An unsettling thought, but it’s one I swallow despite the fact that it protests, forms a solid lump in my throat and refuses to go down quietly. My fingers survey every inch of the weapon as I draw it without a sound from where it waits, tucked into my belt, for its moment in the hypothetical limelight. Every detail is taken in by my greedy hands which grope and feel for more, because quite frankly the gun is the only friend I have, and the only hope I have of surviving.
I take one deep, shuddering breath as the door creaks and I feel someone peering into the darkness. It’s still almost jet black, save for the shaft of dim white light escaping from the open door which leads into a barely lit corridor. The vague shadows of figures are visible in the light cast by the bulb outside. I’m still not sure how many of them are there.
I don’t want to make any attempt at movement, I don’t even want to breathe, even though I know I’ll be found eventually. I stay as still as I’ve ever been, just waiting for them to make the first move. Probably one of my better ideas.
‘Bane… Baaaaane… I won’t hurt you Baaaaane.’
His tone is sickly sweet, and his words come out in this unsettling sing song voice that rattles me right to the core. There’s such malice behind every word. This is a prime example of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He steps forward, purposefully and suddenly. He means to startle me and force me into making a mistake. I stay statue-still, my eyes fixed on what I can make out in the darkness. I can’t let any of them go unnoticed. If one of them slips into the darkness, I’ll have lost them. They could sneak up and get me at any moment. I tense, but make no sound.
One of them mutters under her breath, but loud enough for me to hear. The third one snickers and the other two join in. They’re loving this. They weren’t told to scare me or torture me, but they’ll do it anyway, given the chance. They’re machines; tools of some higher power who is unquestionable in authority and respect.
‘I see you, you know. I smell you. I hear you. I can feeeeel youuu…’
He drags out the last part and smiles in the cold glow. A sensation of hands grasping at me and dragging at my clothes and hair grips me and for a second I almost believe they’re there. But within a split second the line between reality and fiction regains its clarity, and I manage to stay inanimate. The sound of his echoing footsteps ring out and I watch him advance right towards me. I know, now, that he is well aware of my location, and is merely humouring me at this stage. I shiver despite myself, partly due to the cold but mostly because of the fear. It’s an incredibly chilling feeling, knowing that you’re probably going to die.
Everything seems to go in slow motion in the moments before everything breaks out. He speaks, and although I’m not hearing it I observe with the coolness of some detached witness how his lips move a hundred times slower than they did before. How every syllable becomes clear and the movement of every insignificant muscle in his jaw becomes pronounced and meaningful.
And with the same cold attitude to what I’m seeing, I watch him take another step towards me. His foot hangs almost hesitantly in the air as time itself seems to be going out of its way to somehow pull it back and stop him from making this final advancement.
The last thing I see in this slow motion, drawn out version of reality is his hand brushing aside part of his jacket in order to reach into his inner pocket. Before he steps into the darkness where I lose sight of him, I see the cold glint of a .38, or something similar, as the light bounces with some heartless ecstasy off its barrel.
Weapons out. Showtime.
I catch the gun on the heavy pipe next to my head as I spring from my hiding place, teeth bared like some cornered, feral creature resorting to a suicidal leap at his enemy. The clang in what was silence becomes this twisted, ugly crescendo which drowns out the startled cry of the second attacker as my foot comes into contact with her knee, sending her down in an undignified stumble onto the freezing tiles. I take the opportunity to let lose a round into her arched back as she struggles to pick herself up in time. The succession of bullets sends her body crashing back down with a thud that makes me shudder and for one moment lose my conviction to fight for my life.
It’s enough time for the first man to smack me in the back of the head with the butt of his gun, which it seems he hasn’t bothered to ready before the fight for some strange reason. The coppery taste of blood fills my mouth as I crack my head off the tiles. I can’t tell if it’s my own blood or that of the young woman lying staring on the floor next to me. For another crucial second I falter, stunned by the impact, before I shake it off and kick out wildly behind me to try and get some sort of hit in before he has time to finish me off. It’s enough. I catch him right in the ankle, causing him to stumble slightly and swear explosively. It was quite a kick, after all.
My gun lies discarded on the ceramic floor right beside my head and I make a grab at it as the third attacker realises what’s happening and makes a lunge for my only chance at survival. The relief that washes over me when I feel my fist close around the gun and my finger touch the trigger is the strongest emotion I’ve ever felt. I jerk my hand upwards and fire blindly at the man who’s realized too late that I’ve regained control of the weapon. The first bullet misses and for a moment I feel certain that it’ll have given him the time to shoot his own round my way, but the second one catches the side of his neck, making him drop his gun in shock and agony, and the third finishes him off, cutting a path through his forehead and splattering his brains out on the wall behind him. I try not to look at what I’ve done.
The second, and now last assailant, the one who I temporarily stopped with a kick in the ankle, is back on his feet and angry as hell. He’s also scared, and fear is a very good motivator when you know it’s kill or be killed. Survival is our most basic instinct. I close my fingers around the trigger and twist my body around to get the shot I need. I’m still on my back from when the bastard cracked my head with his bloody gun which by now he has loaded, readied and aimed in my direction. I squeeze the trigger, but I’m a fraction of a second too late. His first bullet catches me right in the shoulder and I see the blood erupt from the wound seconds before the pain washes over me in waves, threatening to eat away at my focus and aim, and give him the chance to kill me. But survival, that beautiful instinct kicks in and I manage to ignore the blood, ignore the pain, and continue to squeeze that trigger until the bastard is riddled with bullet holes. He doesn’t have time to scream, thankfully. The last thing I need now is to be haunted by another scream. It’s over now, at least.
I roll over onto my back, clenching my teeth together and trying to fight back tears of pain, fear and relief. Blood seeps into the cracks in the tiles and the spaces between them, crawling sluggishly into holes in the walls and floor. The gun feels hot in my palm, and I manage to calm down enough to release my grip on it. Sweat drenches my body and I take several shuddering, laboured breaths in an attempt to tell my exhausted frame to relax; that it’s safe now. My eyes are tightly shut and I can’t force them open no matter what I try to tell myself.
After a few minutes of lying there with warm blood seeping slowly into my clothes and hair, the sounds of screeching and doors slamming reach my ears. It’s a sweet symphony to my ruined form. I laugh, then. The first sound that leaves my mouth following the struggle for my life is a short, uncontrollable snort of laughter that develops into a hysterical howl of demented cackling that echoes unnaturally in the deafening noiselessness; the thunderous roar of silence.