An Original Short Thriller
A chair creaked back and forth malevolently, through the hum of a mumbled mantra. Repeating itself in series of threes equaling sixes.
The man behind the murmuring sat stock-still through the creaking office chair. No light illuminated, but his eyes caught up every bit of it. They seemed to smolder through the darkness. Never once did they stray from their vigil.
“Power, power, power I feel power power power.”
This went on for hours, the night began fading, the drapes of darkness lifted in the slowly rising sun.
In the growing glow, the man’s features took on life, his gaze never leaving the golden name plate.
Mr. Richards, CEO
There was nothing glorious in his stare. He was fighting the urge to lift his upper lip into a crooked show of disdain.
Mr. Richards had a problem, when problems occurred for Alistair Richards the world around him may as well stop trying to impress. Unless the gift happened to be the problematic item’s head on the silver top of a platter Alistair wouldn’t have a taste for it until the matter before him was extinguished.
The mantra had fallen silent at about 4:15 AM, had he bothered to check the clock, he’d have realized the silence had gone on for another two hours. At 6:15 AM to the second, Alistair took in a deep breath, smoothing over his brown locks swiftly, and with purpose. He’d spent enough time mulling, it was time to do something about the conclusions he’d formed.
Never leave anything to anyone else. He thought through his agitation and ended with clarity. Especially avoid leaving details one as fickle as chance.
“Too good to be true, I knew better.” He growled.
The vein in his temple began to pulsate, showing visibly through the mirror as he walked past.
When you are a man of Alistair’s social stature you don’t leave your image to the hands of anyone but yourself.
“Take me for a fool, you know nothing of what I am capable. I am capable.” The mantra echoed through the room around him, it followed him into the hallway, and disappeared with his shadow as he neared the kitchen.
“Power, Power, Power I feel Power Power Power.” He pronounced the words meticulously, bearing down on the rage and energy building beneath them.
“Power Power Power.”
From within a challenge rang out, cutting him short.
Do you really feel power Alistair? Smooth as milk chocolate fondue the sentiment seethed out of his mind and into the reflection he’d found himself staring into.
His hands slipped through his hair, his fingers slowly restricted into clumps. The scalp was strained so, you could see the white of his skin beneath it. He pulled harder threatening to pull the strands from their follicles.
“Power power power I feel…” he stopped repeating midway, and listened through the sleep deprived paranoia settling between his eyes… For just a moment, everything was quiet, the hall surrounding his reflection basked in warm hues of orange and blue. All Mr. Richards could see was red. He shook his head furiously, his tie rattled manically from around his neck, feeling more like a corporate noose by the second. He looked into the mirror once more. Nothing.
“WHERE ARE YOU, YOU SON OF A...” Alistair stumbled forward as he screamed into the morning light. He ended in a growl as he used the iron grip, still clenched around his soft curls, to toss his head around.
Something Smashed to the floor, further down the hallway snapping Alistair from his madness.
“I know you are here.” He choked in the suddenly abundant spittle flooding into his scotch dried mouth.
He wiped the corners of his mouth, and approached the dark mahogany banister leading around the corner. As soon as he touched it a shock of pain ran through him so deeply it felt as though lightning had struck him down to his toes. He yelled out in anguish, retracting his hand as though he’d placed it on a hot stove.
“I can’t do it… I can’t.” His defeated statement was met with silence. The most powerful man the city had ever known, reduced to a sniveling worm.
Alistair glanced into the glass covering of a framed picture on the wall in front of him, expecting to see someone other than his own refracted shadow poised in his direction. It was gone. Still reeling from the pain, his spirit was less ready for a fight than moments before. As if a shock-collar had gone off, reminding him who still held the remote.
His hands slowly moved toward his dark gray slacks, he wiped them vigorously on either side of his hips, like the paddle used by the doctor to bring him back only weeks before. He looked at his silhouette and watched his shoulders loosen. For now, it was over. The Vengeance was gone.
It had left him with a quivering face and anticipating another blow, as he always did in the face of his closeted content. Alistair listened, then he waited, almost touching the wooden banister before hesitating a moment longer. Residual fear from the shock it had dealt him held his quaking hand at bay, hovering just above the dark stain of the wood.
Whether it was bravery, or desperation, no one but Mr. Richards would ever know. The two looked quite similar from an outside perspective. He drove his hand downward clenching the wood until his knuckles went white.
The fear was dwindling, wisping away like the edges of a nightmare as Alistair brushed it under the bed once more. To be forgotten in the light of day. Leaving it to wander as a phantom until the dawning of the night.
Alistair shook his head clear.
There is no time to think of that right now…
Mr. Richards straightened his posture, then loosened his necktie the way a proper man of his social standing would. A sly smile began to play at the edges of his lips.
I beat him… I won this round.
A bird was chirping it’s good mornings just beyond his open kitchen window.
Noise, noise noise…
How is anyone to do anything with all this, noise… he raged behind his clenched jaw.
Mr. Richards walked into his kitchen without missing a beat, his pinpoint focus drew him toward the stand he left his Mercedes key FOB on every day. Routine is good… Good to stick with gold, if it works, it’s not broken, if it’s not broken leave it alone.
The smile on his face had turned wicked as he approached the stand, opened the drawer, Alistair pulled out his brand new, re-gifted, ‘for safety’ hand weapon. The sinister smile deepened… It had been, a parting gift, from another suit at the office. A suit who was now six feet under and the least of Mr. Richards worries.
The melodic song of the red breasted robin was simply noise, pointless squawking, just like everything else. Everyone else, just making noise, saying pointless things, full of pointless lies…
Noise, noise, noise!
He walked casually back toward the open window, eyeing the brightly colored bushes that contrasted sharply to the cold colors inside his modern kitchen.
It was easy to feel lost when you had more rooms than fingers, and no one to share it with. That’s all it was, restless nights with too much room to think.
He played with the trigger at the end of his slack arm feeling the weight of the intricately machined metal….
“Here tweety bird… tweet, tweet, tweety bird.” Alistair didn’t seem to realize he was talking out loud. His mind was thirty miles and fifty-six stories away. The big desk in the center of a large, grey room, facing the skyline view. Windows on all sides and a single leather armchair in front of an expensive mahogany desk, standing between he and his view..
“It is mine… I earned it.” He repeated the thought that had started it all, over once more in his head as his fingers crumbled into white knuckled coils of bottled rage. The lid was about to blow, something had to happen…
Alistair rotated the revolver from side to side, inspecting the laser engraved initials of his former partner on its grip.
“Tweeterdee Tweeterdee” The robin poked its head from between two larger branches extending from the bushes center. Almost as absently as he’d rotated the sleek extension, he lifted it level, holding it with a businessman’s grip, closed an eye and pretended to pull the trigger.
The gun kicked up, feathers exploded into the air, like confetti. Alistair’s eyebrows raised quickly in a moment of surprise before he burst into a fit of laughter. The night’s terrors seemed further behind him.
“To think, I almost just scratched my head with the damn thing.” He said it out loud, through an incredulous smile. Any normal human being may have been shaken, but it took more than a bird and a gun to get under Alistair Richards skin.
“Damn right I feel it.” He murmured.
His heart was racing slightly faster than normal as he took in a deep prideful breath and switch the safety on.
THE ELEVATOR door shot open, smoothly, efficiently, just the way he liked it.
Alistair cracked a smug smile and readjusted his impeccable tie.
“Good morning Mr. Richards,” The perfectly trimmed receptionist greeted him warmly, evenly, just the way he liked it.
“Your 10 O’clock is already in the waiting area sir.” He smiled pleasantly, throwing her a bone. At the bell her mouth may as well have begun watering, she sat straighter and busied herself with the details of his day.
Alistair walked tall through the main area, commanding attention with each precise, yet easy stride. He past the small offices at the mouth of Lanzcorp headquarters. He strode importantly through the cubicle farm, leaving the common break room in his wake, and made his way to the other side of the building, without so much as a glance at the eyes that followed him.
He had more important things to do than acknowledge the admiration of those whose checks he signed, that was notice enough in his mind. He pulled a key card from his slacks and grazed the lock pad to the right side of his door.
A green light appeared as he pulled the door latch open intuitively and disappeared from the main office to the sound of silent relief as the space returned to normal.
The view from his office was unimaginable, an empire built in the clouds. Alistair set his briefcase neatly beside his desk and took a seat momentarily, clearing his mind.
Power Power Power I feel…
He continued the mantra quietly, under his breath, a picture of the seat before him appeared on the white slate he’d cleared within. There was a problem, and Mr. Richards was going to fix it. He set the chair on fire and watched the blaze burn through the leather upholstery hungrily. He propped his elbows on the desk allowing them to come together at the arch of his fingertips as he disappeared into his mental picture. Problems are meant to be fixed.
Noise, silenced. Traitors, burnt. Spiders, Squashed… This cycle had become his favorite part.
At the top, you don’t have to worry about things like other people’s thumbs. When you are the most powerful man in an empire you’ve created from nothing, doesn’t that essentially make you a god of sorts? In any case he was, at the very least, the thumb others in his industry seemed to line up beneath.
He toyed with the idea, letting his eyes roll to the back of his head while breathing in deeply.
The receiver on his desk flashed, breaking his reverie. He tapped the button and waited for the assailant to state their purpose.
“Mr. Richards, do you want me to send Mr. Kaiser back?”
Alistair showed teeth through his pyramid of fingers, tapping the pointers together thoughtfully. “Please do, be sure to be especially kind to him, hint at a corner office would you?”
“I will personally deliver him sir.”
He tapped the button once more restoring silence to his domain. Like any shark true to it’s nature, a drop of blood in the water was enough to stir a craze. Alistair never missed an opportunity to remind those he employed of his omnipotence, no one was irreplaceable.
There was a light tap at the door. Mr. Richards adjusted his magnificent, dark stained, titanium name plate and pushed the concealed button beneath his desk. The oak door opened to the face of a well stroked ego. The pretty receptionist smiled at Alistair. The wink he offered back was almost indistinguishable, but she caught it like a bone and turned quickly away, tail wagging. She closed the door behind Alistair’s unsuspecting victim.
Drake Kaiser had worked for Lanzcorp since the beginning. As a senior executive adviser he knew more about the inner workings than most other employees combined. At one
point he may have been seen as an asset, but work space whispers had reached Alistair’s ears. Chatter of traded secrets and under the table deals had lost more than a few moments of quiet for Mr. Richards. It simply wouldn’t do to let the gossip go unpunished.
Alistair watched Drake, puffed chest and all, as he made his way to the stand, he sat hard into the leather armchair standing between Mr. Richards and his view. An obstacle to be dealt with.
Alistair smiled through his fingers.
“I like what you’ve done with the place Al!” Drake said comfortably, too comfortably. “Hasn’t changed much since the last time I was in here.” He looked around, pretending to notice differences, details. Alistair knew better. His eyes never strayed from the target.
“Sounds like you’ve got some big things on the agenda! The water-cooler crowd’s talking about an acquisition of some sort? That’s going to be a huge workload on your shoulders.”
Alistair’s smile widened. This was going more perfectly than he had planned.
“Is that what they are saying?” He offered.
“I figured that’s why you called me in here.” Drake said importantly, his voice full of expectation. “It’s already quite a load you carry, now that Harry is out of the picture.”
Kaiser’s hungry eyes pretended to offer sympathy. Mr. Richards watched his unconvincing display. He disliked the mangy dog more with every exchange, no better than the fleabag he’d called a partner for all of those years.
“It’s a shame what happened to him, at least you made it out alive, No one can believe how quickly you recovered.” He added quickly. “We are all really happy about that by the way.”
“Mmm.” Alistair nodded his head thoughtfully, looking past Mr. Kaiser. He allowed his eyes to play with the scenery, allowing the anticipation to build. He had to wonder, how he’d surrounded himself with such pitiful, helpless creatures.
Anyone willing to roll over on their back repulsed him. Exposing their vulnerability while offering their entire life toward someone else’s agenda. His upper lip twitched, threatening to betray his disgust.
“Betrayal… yes…” It twitched up into an amused smile instead, the moment was nigh.
“Mr. Kaiser, you’ve worked for me for a long time.” Alistair offered with mock contemplative interest.
“Almost fifteen years!” Drake ate every word eagerly, spitting out his response before chewing it over. He was suddenly sure he knew exactly where the conversation was heading.
“Fifteen years.” Alistair repeated softly, he tapped his lips with his pointer fingers, still joined at the tips. The danger in his tone went missed by the man in front of him. Drake had his sights set on a raise, his mind was nowhere near the loop Alistair was about to take him through.
“Your yearly review landed on my desk at the beginning of the week, Mr. Kaiser.” He leaned forward and leveling Drake with a stare. “But before I tell you what I think, I would like to hear your analysis.”
Alistair picked a custom gold pen from the thick mahogany desk, tapping it slowly, twice for emphasis.
“What I think?” Drake seemed puzzled.
“Yes, Mr. Kaiser, what you think”
“Well of course I think I’ve been nothing short of a rockstar. I guess, my numbers are up, I’m taking on more responsibility daily.” He looked away, adjusting his tie slightly and sitting up straighter.
“I mean I think I can handle a sh…” Drake stopped himself before continuing more professionally. “I can handle more responsibility though Alistair.”
“Mr. Richards is just fine.” Drake frowned slightly.
“Oh, Mr. Richards, right.” He chuckled nervously, suddenly unsure of his prior convictions.
The anticipation thickened, leaving raw nerves at its edges, just waiting to be severed and left in shock.
Patience, Alistair reminded himself. Soon you will blast the little rat, hang him up in a noose he will make for himself.
Alistair stood and pushed his chair from behind him in one fluid motion.
“Names are a funny thing, don’t you think, Mr. Kaiser.” Alistair walked to the glass window extending from ceiling to floor and looked out over his empire.
Drake hesitated. “I agree, they can be pretty entertaining.” The room seemed instantly colder, as Alistair stepped into the sun, absorbing the light and leaving Drake to the shadow he cast.
“Entertaining? That’s an unusual way to define it.”
Drake pulled at his tie, feeling claustrophobic in the realization that this meeting wasn’t going his way.
“Do you find yours entertaining Mr. Kaiser?” Alistair’s voice was void of emotion, cold, and distant like the clouds forming over the waterfront.
“It means Emperor. In German I think.” Drake stammered. The sweat beaded ironically, as he rubbed his icy cold hands against the leather armrests.
“Do you feel like an emperor, Mr. Kaiser?” Alistair closed his eyes breathing in deeply, resurfacing with a wicked smile.
“It’s just my last name, I dunno, I guess I never really thought about it much.” Drakes unease elevated to anxiety.
“See, that, is entertaining to me.” Alistair voice seemed far away. “The one thing, you are given at birth, and it’s one of the many you let to go to waste.”
“I’m sorry, Al…” Drake’s voice cracked slightly with nerves. “Mr. Richards, did I do something? Does this have to do with my yearly review?”
“My name holds Germanic roots as well Mr. Kaiser. It means Brave Power, I remind myself of it daily.” Alistair turned. “And look what it has done to return the favor.”
He smiled wickedly, moving slowly to the back of Drake’s chair, circling the waters.
“Do you think it is a fitting name for me, Mr. Kaiser?”
“Of course I do! You are the most powerful man in the city, that goes without saying.”
Drakes adulation only fed the hungry beast rearing its ugly head, threatening to consume them both. The open wounds of an insecure man, who’d spent his life under thumbs spoke to Mr. Richards blood lust, obsequious flattery was Drake’s kryptonite.
“Mmm.” Alistair made his way to the front of the chair and stood before his current victim. An unwitting game piece in his ultimate power play. If he could fire Mr. Kaiser… No one was safe. It didn’t matter to him whether or not Drake was guilty of his crimes, as far as Mr. Richards was concerned it was strictly business.
He leaned back against his desk.
“You didn’t mention the fact that you’ve been a very busy man, Mr. Kaiser.” Alistair began. “I’ve heard some interesting ‘water cooler conversations’ lately as well.”
Drake cocked his head slightly, relaying his confusion.
“Yes, it seems that you have been living quite the double life.” Alistair’s face was about as telling as a two-way mirror.
“Sycophantic banter isn’t your only specialization, apparently. I am surprised that your true skills went unnoticed for so long.” Alistair placed his hands on the desk, leveling Drake with a look of minor disgust.
“Mr. Richards, I have no idea what you are talking about. True skills?” Drake was shifting in his seat now, flushed with discomfort and humiliation. The truth was, he had always admired Mr. Richards ruthless abilities and laser focus, he’d never imagined they could be leveled at himself. After years of loyal service, how could Alistair think so little of him?
Alistair laughed cruelly.
“Kaiser, I have handled people like you my entire life, my empire is built on vision-less parasites, feeding their way to the top, or as close as they can get, desperate to have what I have.” Alistair spread his hands wide.
“Never satisfied but too weak and spineless to make what you want, so you try the back door, just in case it’s unlocked. You try to take it. But you don’t realize that lined up behind you are a hundred other little insects, ready to crawl into your spot, fill space.”
Drake listened, there was nothing else he could do, he felt powerless to the hand fate was about to deal him, the blow being dealt had knocked him off guard.The dread building in the pit of his stomach threatened to up-heave his breakfast.
“You know how the business works Drake, we’ve been together in this for fifteen good years. So let’s cut to the chase shall we?” He pushed himself from the edge of the desk and made his way to the seat behind it. “How much did they offer you for my secrets? A corner office with bigger windows?”
Suddenly Drake understood.
“Wait, you think I gave away company secrets?!” Drake heard the words, and still couldn’t believe his ears.
“It doesn’t matter what I think Mr. Kaiser, we are in the middle of a continental shift. One that Harry couldn’t see happening, and I need a united front.”
Alistair tapped his golden pen on a neat stack of papers. He offered an insincere shrug. It was out of character for him to be so calloused. He seemed completely absent. This wasn’t the same man who had hired him as a consultant nearly fifteen years before.
Something had changed, Drake felt the blood drain from his head, recirculating to his gut, where it churned angrily for a moment. He was convinced he would lose his two eggs and coffee. In the end, his conviction not to make things worse won. Drake bravely swallowed the bile rising into his throat.
“So, you know what happens now right?” Alistair leaned forward and placed his elbows on the desk, landing his hands together at the tips once more.
By the time Alistair pulled into his personal drive it was already twilight. He parked the car and stared at the dark modern windows of his massive property. Eventually, he opened the door and made his way to the front of the house, all the while watching the upper bedroom window with anticipation, half-expecting to see the long dark shadow that had plagued his dreams, stealing away the precious few hours Alistair had allotted to sleep. He’d lost his appetite for it since his final meeting with Harry, it hadn’t appealed to him, not much of anything had. His victory was tasteless, numbing even, left with too many loose ends.
He could see himself approaching the spiral staircase and shifted to the elevator.
Power Power Power I feel Power…
Each repetition drew him upward. Reminding himself of a time when he had felt nothing but potent vigor.
Alistair closed his eyes and allowed his feet to navigate the path he’d trod a thousand times, they carried him loyally.
“Power Power Power I feel Power Power Power.
He felt potential, this was true, but at its core power without control is empty. Brute rage expended on meaningless arguments. When dealing with loose ends, less easily within your grasps and fully dependent on other humans. Alistair knew he would need both.
He repeated his mantra over again for good measure and pulled his keys from their place in his sport coat, when his fingers did a funny thing. They fumbled, stumbling over each other while allowing their contents to fall to the ground.
Alistair bit down on his tongue, holding in the blazing commentary. He bent down to grab them and on his way back up his eyes found what they’d been looking for. Just beyond the main living room there was a shadow, darker than the others, so dark it almost seemed light, like a flashlight in the daytime, only the opposite side of the spectrum.
He stood frozen for a moment.
“Power Power Power I feel Power Power Power.”
The shadow disappeared, and with it the irrational fear it bred. Like a bad dream Alistair blinked through and forgot by necessity. He didn’t have time for it right now. He had loose ends to tie up.
He thrust a key into its matching hole and twisted to shift the lock. Suddenly convinced that Satan was just another name for fear. Show none and you will receive none. Mr. Richards burst in through the door and flipped on the entry light.
“Honey, I’m home!” He snarly, heading toward the kitchen for a rocks glass for the edge still slicing through his voice.
The house was deadly silent as Alistair Richards found his way through the expansive parlor, switching on lights as he went. He didn’t waste time looking for his unwelcome house guest, he simply pretended not to care one way or another. He should have known, anything with an ego half his size might find more offence in being ignored.
He found the kitchen exactly how he’d left it. Clean, efficient, and cold.
Just the way he liked it…
Alistair opened the glass cabinet doors, unleashing a rich glow of crystal against caramel. After a moment of consideration he reached for a bottle of 50 year aged Yamazaki Dekanta. He took it and a rocks glass to the deep gray granite island in the center of the kitchen. Just as he was circling back for an ice cube a gust of wind blew in through the open window, catching him off guard, the second event in a day’s time he hadn’t quite been ready for.
Mr. Richards frowned. He never left the window open…
Control. He walked quickly to the sink and reached for the open window latch. Normally he wouldn’t have hesitated to close the glass pane, get back to the combination of his own but for just a moment, Alistair paused, considering the coincidence of it all.
In a moment of clarity everything was adding up. Harry, the revolver, the bird reduced to feathers, Drake Kaiser, reduced to a grovelling rat, desperate, willing to do whatever it took to gain back a confidence that had never been there in the first place.
A breeze gently played with his locks, with it came a sound, noise, the sharp tone was rustling from the bushes. He turned on the light closest to the sink, illuminating the bush. There was a nest. Alistair squinted into the dwindling light.
“Well I’ll be damned.” He said incredulously. “Momma bird had hatchlings.”
The small piece of humanity Alistair had tucked away, tugged at his rotting conscience, inducing a pang of guilt.
You wouldn’t flinch over another man’s cold body, but for the loss of a few baby birds?
Alistair’s laughter carried throughout the kitchen. He was thinking of the confetti of feathers, the irony of a life for a life, and suddenly felt better. He’d been chosen.
“You are already DEAD.” The stentorian voice of darkness filled every inch of his mind, ending in a terrifying cackle. Alistair froze. The noxious quiet consumed the room once more.
Mr. Richards dropped his cube into the crystal rocks glass, opened the bottle unceremoniously and lifted it to his lips, wetting his suddenly dry mouth while taking in a third of the high end scotch. A gift, from Harry after their first year of partnership.
“Save it for a special occasion, partner.”
The words rang out instantaneous with a sharp jab between his lips, abruptly followed by the taste of betrayal. Betrayal and blood..
Alistair managed to spit the last swallow into his rocks glass, unable to stomach the unexpected metallic flavor.
He wiped his mouth with his hand, noticing a moment too late that the caramel colored liquid was now tinted deep red. The sleeve of his Burberry button down shirt was stained in red as well.
He brought a hand to his lip and pulled it away.
“What the hell?”
Alistair tore away a piece of paper towel, bunched it and shoved it aggressively over his lips, muttering under his breath all the way to the off-kitchen powder room. He inspected the damage through the dim lucency, not bothering with the light. There was a large slash of broken skin sliced over his upper lip.
“Where the f…” His voice trailed off as he caught the drop of blood threatening his already ruined shirt.
He had to gain control, his power was meaningless, unless he held them both.
Alistair looked closer at his reflection. The gash was deep, but not deep enough to worry over. A little baking soda to stop the bleeding and the scotch would disinfect it. That wasn’t what caught his attention, upon further inspection he found himself staring into an abyss of cold blue, his pupils seemed to be all but gone.
“What the hell.” Mr. Richards blinked rapidly a few times, moving in closer, his vision went out of focus briefly as his stomach swirled.
“You are already DEAD.” The phantom repeated itself.
“Drink up ol’ boy, it may be your last.” The refrain echoed off the walls, laced in a symphony of dark cackling, Alistair hurled himself to the floor, violently wrenching the contents of his gut onto the closed toilet seat. The mostly-liquid contents ricocheted, exploding in all directions.
“He is coming, heading your way,” The evil echos chorused over his mind.
“it will all be done soon, even the mighty crumble.”
“Dead dead dead you are dead dead dead.” The malevolent Mantra mocked him.
In a fit of delirium Alistair took up arms bravely.
“Who are you?” He screamed through lungs suddenly on fire.
A wicked laugh was the only return.
Alistair loosened his tie and stumbled to his feet.
“Who are you!”
He demanded once more.
He stumbled out of the powder room and into the light of his kitchen. Alistair couldn’t catch his breath, he sucked the air in through his blood covered mouth, old ailments forgotten in light of these new feelings. His vision came and went, blurred and heightened, flickering between him and reality.
“Speak! I DEMAND IT!”
“I am here.” The phrase repeated itself terrifically from all directions.
“Do you feel it Alistair Richards…. Do you feel your namesake?”
The dark laughter rang through his ears. A light flashed through his open kitchen window, accompanied by the sound of a closing car door.
Alistair stumbled through the parlor madly, he felt his way toward the table holding his keys and yanked the drawer open.
“Do you feel it Richards?”
The voice was a mere whisper, a weapon on rapid fire, repeating time and again.
“Who are you?…” Alistair had the grip of the revolver he’d extracted blindly, pressed into his stomach, he felt as though he were melting from the inside out. He gasped, building his strength.
“He is here…” The dark voice growled.
There was a desperate knock at the door. Alistair stumbled backward, straining his bleary eyes toward the burnt orange glass of his front door in an attempt to see who offered the assault. Through the soft luminescence of the porch light stood a shadow, extending to the top of the elegant entryway, and beyond. It shifted slightly, raising something up.
“WHO ARE YOU! ANSWER ME!”
Mr. Richards was reeling through ringing ears and muffled noises beyond.
The shadow pounded against the door again.
Alistair Lifted the revolver with all of his might and tried to pull the trigger, when nothing happened he fumbled desperately with the safe.
“Do you feel like a Richards?” The dark voice’s sneer cut clearly through the chaos.
“SHOW YOURSELF!” Mr. Richards dry heaved deeply, firing blood and saliva from his mouth.
“WHO ARE YOU?!” His finger clenched the trigger hard. Smoke and lead discharged with a loud blast and the sound of shattering glass.
Fresh air blew in through the brand new opening, offering Alistair a moment of clarity as his wheezing breath began to slow.
Beyond the jagged remnants, where the shadow had once stood, a body slowly crumpled to the ground, one hand clutching his chest, the other weakly catching his fall. The man raised his head to meet Alistair’s eyes. Drake’s eyes watered holding contact as Mr. Richards stumbled to him.
He was trying to say something Alistair couldn’t understand. Drake reached his hand toward his back pocket, laboriously pulling from it a single picture, and offered it feebly outward toward his former boss.
“What do you want me to do?” Alistair asked, through a heavy wheeze. Drake fell to the ground and lay still. The night went completely silent, broken only by a soft breeze.
Alistair crawled forward reaching out to the picture through the pins and needles of broken glass shards as they scraped into his skin.
He retrieved it from Drake’s still warm fingertips, revealing a side of the man he’d never seen. A beautiful woman looking adoringly upward, a child no more than two in her arms, eyes caught on the woman in the same fashion, finger pointing upward in an attempt to touch her mother’s nose. Between them held with strong loving hands was a boy, no more than six, laughing into the camera.
“Hatch-lings.” The darkness hissed sardonically, sounding pleased and amused all at once.
“Who are you?” Alistair’s whisper carried through the still night, a defeated and broken man.
“I AM POWER.” The dark voice rang out.
The next few weeks were full of speculation, a man with a gun bearing the initials of a deceased partner. Another with motive shot through the chest on the doorstep , an open bottle of Malathion laced scotch. With no one left to answer the questions for themselves the stories spun and the potential grew.
The obvious fingers of treachery were left to point in whatever direction the imagination of the masses might dream of. While in its wake, a grieving wife, the most tragic loss of them all, a phantom of the woman she had been, left to believe her husband might be capable of anything but the goodness she’d known. Left with a million love stories untold, and countless sleepless nights to think of them. Had she known his venture to reclaim his rightful place, would have led to an untimely demise, she would have chosen to live an impoverished life full of love, than the one she was now forced to lead alone, caring for the only pieces she had left of her late husband.
A litany of vulturous media crews plagued the doorsteps of everyone who may have details, inside stories, driving the trauma as deep as the pockets who fueled them.
“A loveless power is vengeful and cruel.”