The Shadow Kings

The message had been brief, as though it had been sent in a great hurry. I could understand why.

Mayor meeting tomorrow night, 19:30 Oberon Abattoir, be there?

My reply had been even more concise, as all my communication with The Rebel Voice tend to be: Yes.

I only access that email address, used for photo submissions and receiving tip-offs, through random wireless hotspots around the city on my Sony VAIO CS laptop. And never for more than two minutes at a time, to avoid being traced. I don’t know for sure that anyone is trying to find me through that account, but I have no intention of finding out the hard way.

I’m crouching in the rafters, staring down at the two floor drop to the stainless steel floor and wishing I had a more comfortable and secure hiding spot. But without knowing where exactly the meeting will take place, or how many people will be attending, mobility is important. At least I’ve got a better deal than the cow carcasses lining the ceramic tiled walls, hanging upside down and drained of blood.

I arrived through the access door on the roof, which had given me more than a little trouble. I’m not an expert lock pick by any stretch of the imagination, but in my line of work you learn the basics of any skill that might prove useful. My uncle Dave, a retired locksmith, was actually the one to teach me when I was still in high school. I bet he’d be real proud.

The shadows make it impossible to check my watch but it must be nearly time now. There was no chance to purchase a new camera between work and getting here so I’ll be relying on my memory tonight. Thankfully it’s better than average and…

The door directly below me squeals open, like a pig being led to… well, here. Two gorillas stuffed into matching black suits squeeze through the door; one stays by the entrance, the other makes a slow circuit of the room, examining every shadow as though his life would be forfeit if he failed to find a mouse. It probably would be.

Satisfied, he joins his fellow primate at the doorway and seconds later the man of the hour makes his appearance, striding to the middle of the room with a navy blue suit clinging to his lanky frame. I catch a glimpse of a white business shirt and crimson tie when he turns his bald head to confirm the continued presence of his bodyguards. The whiskers of his thick, white beard appear to be more on edge than he is.

Mayor Wilkerson does not look pleased to be here and being kept waiting is not improving his mood. He begins to tap his right foot like an impatient, angry grandfather clock and the sound echoes uncomfortably off  the slaughterhouse walls. I take a deep, steadying breath and we wait together.

Ten minutes later, the staccato tapping nearing a crescendo, the door on the far side of the room groans open and a short, rotund man with a substantial head of greasy black hair ambles his way toward the mayor.

“Good evening Thomas,” Victor Grozny wheezes, the Russian accent still shrouding his words.

“You’re late Victor,” the mayor snaps back. “I do not have time to wait around meat lockers while you fill your belly with hundred dollar steaks.”

“Then you will make time, friend.” His tone is casual but the threat is clear. Oh, Emma B; you’ve thrown me in the deep end and my floatation device is broken. “Now, what do you need to discuss that is so important it could not wait until our next scheduled meeting?”

“The situation with The Rebel Voice and that stupid vandal is getting out of hand,” Wilkerson snarls and begins to pace. Stupid vandal? Surely he speaks of someone else. “We need to figure out who MacKenzie and Red Five really are and you need to take care of them before this goes any further.”

I suppose I should be more concerned by the threat to my continued existence, but being called a stupid vandal really stings. I’ll have to make a point of referring to him as a moronic shyster in my next piece.

“My men are already tracking them down Thomas, you are worrying yourself over nothing.”

Oh, well that’s not good news at all.

“How long, Victor? The more time they have to talk, the more attention they get, the messier this becomes.”

“A day or two at most, my friend. These men are amateurs and they will be dealt with most swiftly and… conclusively,” Victor says with a rumbling belly laugh.

Amateurs? Oh you arrogant fools, you have no idea. This is about to get a whole lot messier.

The End

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