The Hunters return!
Heavy metal blasted from the car’s speakers as four men pulled into the driveway of a large house. The place sits amongst other ramshackle buildings of a slum within a large urban metropolis.
“We’re here,” said John as he turned off the music.
“Doesn’t look like much,” said Vlad in his thick Russian accent, scratching his greying beard. “Then again, neither does Cheng.”
“I heard that!” said Cheng, sitting up straight in the back seat.
“Any idea if we’ll find anything valuable inside?” asks Nico, sitting next to Cheng.
“Nope,” said John in his English accent. “All I know is, this guy went missing months ago, so don’t be surprised if his place has already been picked clean.”
“Sometimes I wonder why I went with this profession,” said Cheng. “How would I have done as a chef or a tap dancer?”
“Poorly,” Vlad said bluntly.
“And what exactly will you do when you retire, Vlad? Somehow I can’t picture you as a Wal-Mart greeter.”
“If I get to the point where my joints are always so stiff I can barely move or develop some horrible debilitating disease, I’ll put a bullet in my head, problem solved,” said Vlad as he pulled his flask out of his pocket.
“Whatever works for you,” said John as he opened his door. “Now let’s go.”
The four exited the car simultaneously and walked up a cracked concrete pathway to the house. Clouds had appeared overhead, and thunder could be heard in the distance.
“Ooh, looks like we’re in for a dark and stormy night,” said Cheng in an ominous yet sarcastic tone.
“How cliché,” said Vlad.
John gripped the handle on the front door and slowly opened it. The only light came in from outside, casting his shadow on the floor, amongst the darkness in every corner of the interior. The others followed single file into the building, retrieving flashlights from their pockets.
“All right then, we’ll split up,” said John as he used his flashlight to follow the staircase to the upper floor.
“Oh, great idea, Fred!” said Cheng. “I’ll take Scooby to check out the basement, you and Daphne can go upstairs and check out the bedrooms.”
“Heh, good one,” Nico said, chuckling, holding out his fist to bump with Cheng’s.
“Yeah yeah, hilarious,” said John. “Now, you two check the basement, Vlad and I will check the upstairs, whoever gets back first can do a sweep of the ground floor, and we’ll leave.” Vlad turned to the staircase and ascended, while Nico walked toward the basement door.
“I’ll do it for a Scooby Snack!” said Cheng.
“So you'd like me to feed you dog treats?” said John as he followed Vlad up the stairs. Cheng flipped him off and could be heard laughing with Nico as they descended into the basement.
Vlad walked into a bedroom and began searching through drawers, emptying their contents on the floor and shuffling them around. His eyes shifted for a moment as he noticed a red stain on the carpet below the closet door. He drew his Makarov PM from its holster, standing up fully. Slowly, he approached the closet door, holding his breath, a stern expression on his face.
He kicked the closet door open, quickly moving his flashlight about the inside, examining the walls and floor. Breathing a slight sigh of relief, he then holstered his pistol and gathered a few objects, placing them in a satchel. He soon joined John in the room across the hall.
“Find anything?” asked John.
“Couple of watches, rings, two cell phones,” said Vlad, looking inside his satchel. “Oh, and there’s a dead body in the closet.”
“What?!” John exclaimed, nearly jumping.
“Must be the owner,” said Vlad apathetically. John ignored him, exiting the room and searching the closet Vlad had kicked open.
“Oh, bloody hell!” said John, holding his nose.
“That blood is fresh though,” Vlad observed. “The suck heads must’ve dumped him here a few days ago.”
“Well, that’s one mystery solved,” said John.
“And they got away with it, despite you meddling kids,” said Vlad with a grin on his face.
“Oh, shut it,” John said as he put his hand to his ear. “Nico, you see anything down there?”
John and Vlad both heard his voice over the radio.
“Looks like it used to be a drug lab down here,” said Nico. “Man, they were brewin’ some nasty shit!”
“Well, find something we can sell, or I’ll put you on the first boat back to Somalia,” said John.
“Racist,” Nico responded.
“Nico, you’re from Somalia, I’m not-”
“Hey, keep it down, will you?” said Cheng’s voice.
“Ah, settle down,” said Nico. “There ain’t no suck heads here.”
“Oh, I don’t know,” said John. “Vlad just found the owner dead in a closet.”
“What?!” Cheng exclaimed. “Did they leave him here?”
“Maybe they did,” said John.
“Ah, they’re pussies!” said Nico. “They won’t face us! Come on out, bitches! I fuckin’ dare you!”
“Ah, shut the hell- oh shit!” said Cheng. “They’re here!” Hissing sounds emanate in the background of the radio channel. “Back off, motherfuckers!”
John and Vlad quickly looked at each other and then bolted out of the room. Vlad leapt over the railing to the ground floor, rushing for the basement.
Nico and Cheng stood back to back in the basement, each with a pistol and flashlight in their hands. Lighting flashed briefly outside, illuminating the floor through the small window.
“Come on out!” yelled Nico. “We’ll make you another notch in our belts!”
“We don’t do that,” said Cheng under his breath.
“You don’t?” says Nico, raising an eyebrow. “Shit, I do.”
“Good for you,” said Cheng. A shadow moved out from the side, and Cheng raised his pistol. The shadow rushed at him as he fired a shot, throwing him to the ground. He hears a thud a few feet away.
“Get off me!” yelled Nico.
Cheng struggled, feeling a weight crushing his chest and an arm pinning his head to the floor. Lightning flashed again, and he saw the pale face of his attacker for a fraction of a second. The assailant hissed as it bared its teeth, revealing sharp fangs within its jaws. Cheng continued to struggle with the creature, managing to free an arm and punch it in the face. The creature winced in pain, and then angrily looked back at him. It reared its head and opened its jaws wide, and Cheng braced for impact as the face descended towards him. However, instead of sinking its teeth into his neck, the face fell and hit him, rolling on to the floor. The rest of the creature’s body slackened, and after a few seconds, dissolved into embers and ashes.
Cheng sat upright, quickly looking around the room. John stood over him, machete in one hand, and holding out the other. Cheng took it and stood up. Vlad and Nico stood opposite, next to a second pile of ashes on the floor.
“Well, glad that’s over with,” said Vlad, pulling out his flask.
“You know, I think I’m completely desensitized to your drinking,” said Cheng. “I don’t even care anymore, you’ve devolved into just another drunk Russian.”
“I don’t get drunk,” said Vlad, putting away his flask.
“Right, right, because your liver is mutated or something,” said Cheng, rolling his eyes.
“No, it’s because –” Vlad began.
“Enough!” John interrupted. “Let’s just get the hell out of here, alright?”
“Fine by me,” said Nico, dusting off his arms. The four gathered their gear and walked back up the stairs. They quickly searched the ground floor, and a few minutes later, exited the house, running through the pouring rain. As they gathered into the car, the headlights illuminated, the engine revved, and the radio once again began blasting heavy metal as they drove away.