"Rigor Mortis"-The life after death RP(Started/PM for participation)-Arc 4: Closing Loose Ends

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The weight of anxiety that had been pushing down on Marcus ever since this ordeal had started was beginning to lift as he took up his carefully planned position on a street corner opposite the building, and in it's place was a cold, steely determination. The position was perfect, close enough to still have a good view of the area and a short closing distance, but far enough away as to not draw too much attention. The time of year meant that it was already dark out, which further worked to Marcus' advantage. Finally, he was in his element again. Stalking through the shadows with a purpose and a plan, he was a ghost once more. He noticed an empty bottle of Scotch, wrapped in a brown paper bag, discarded in the gutter at his feet. Even better, it would make a great prop. If the target saw him he would be just another drunk; throwing his life away on that God forsaken street corner. He took one last chance to memorize the face in the photo before stowing it away, and making sure it and all the other things he was carrying were carefully concealed. He was ready, there could be no mistakes.

The feeling carried him back to one of the few pleasant memories from the orphanage. There had been this kid, Ryan, who ran the place like a tyrant behind the adults backs. While Marcus had done a good job of staying out of Ryan's way, many of the others weren't so lucky. Tim Rockwell (one of the very few people Marcus had considered a genuine friend) didn't sleep right for over a week after he and Ryan were involved in an 'accident', which followed the day after Tim had lost Ryan's soccer ball.

This was the last straw for Marcus. The problem was that Marcus was still only eight, whereas Ryan was fifteen, and Marcus knew he stood no chance in a fair fight (not that Ryan ever fought fair anyway). So he watched, waited, and plotted; and it wasn't long before he discovered Ryan's weakness.

Ryan still slept with a teddy, which was the only connection he had ever had to his parents (Marcus had broken into Ryan's room, at great personal risk, to find this fatal evidence). Knowing Ryan like he did, Marcus knew that he would be distraught if his tough guy reputation were to be shattered by such an embarrassing secret. However, he couldn't risk taking it in daylight. So he hid in the top compartment of Ryan's closet for what must have been four hours, until he heard his victim come up to bed, and eventually drift off into a series of comically loud snores.

When Ryan awoke the next morning, the teddy that had been clutched so tightly in his arms when he went to sleep was gone. After minutes of frantic searching around his room, the tree outside his bedroom window caught his eye.

Hanging from a branch by a crude rig of string and safety pins, was the teddy's disembodied head. Its button eyes were gouged so they hung around its cheeks; and for good measure, a cardboard sign had been pinned to what was left of its neck that bore the legend 'To Ryan, from Mommy and Daddy' in red paint.

It wasn't long before Ryan discovered who was responsible. That afternoon Ryan came for him by the swings (many just stood and watched in stunned silence, certain that Marcus was about to die). Unfortunately for Ryan, his rage had blinded him from spotting the fallen tree branch in his path, that he proceeded to trip over and fall into the dirt in front of a jeering crowd. His reign of tyranny ended with him sprawled at Marcus' feet. All that was left for Marcus to do was to smile dryly down at Ryan, before stamping on his face hard enough to break his nose. He hadn't just beaten Ryan, he had humiliated him. He was a hero to all the other kids there, and for the first time in his life Marcus felt truly powerful. He had since spent his entire adolescent years and a few of his adult ones trying to recapture that feeling, and now he had.

Back to the present, and Mr. Mark was exiting the building and crossing the well lit parking lot. It didn't take long before Marcus was certain it was him. He stayed hidden, and bided his time until his target exited the parking lot, and began to walk away down the much darker street. It was time to make his move.

As the car drove quietly through the streets of suburbia, Adrian couldn't help but sigh. His mind idly drifted back to memories of his family and the life he had left behind. Brendan made some sort of snide quip about the quaintness of the area but it flew in one ear and out the other. A faint pang of regret weighed upon the heart of the geologist for all that was left behind.

But there was no time to dwell on the past now.

"I'm thinking subterfuge, you know, knock on his door and ask for his services like a jolt to the car, something like that."

"Probably be the smartest way to handle it. Draw him out of his 'castle' and out to the wolves."

He paused for a moment, briefly pondering the logistics of the various scenarios available to the pair. There were a lot of factors to consider, a lot of things that would go wrong if handled with anything less than a delicate touch.

"It would probably be best if one of us stayed out of sight. Having an ace up our sleeves would probably be for the best."

"It would probably be best if one of us stayed out of sight. Having an ace up our sleeves would probably be for the best."

"You're probably right. I'm thinking you should probably ask however, he's an older man, he will have more trust in someone closer to his age, and you're a little bit closer than I am. I'll prep a couple syringes,in the case that he gets hostile."

Ben studied Adrian, it was probably best that Adrian did this, he needed to get out of his shell, and this seemed to be the best time to do so, better earlier on rather than later.

"I'll be nearby, when he gets to the car, pop the hood, it's a lever to the left side of the steering wheel. While either you or he are setting up the jacks, make conversation. Try to slip in the debt and the fact that Alice sent us into it. It'll catch him off-guard and will let me be ready, I'll have a syringe of Midazolam ready, as well as a syringe with a KCl solution."

Ben looked hard at the older man, chances are he had never lied before. He decided to ask.

"Have you lied before? If you haven't I can give you some tips. We need to be able to do this, it'll be quick, really quick if it goes right, if it goes wrong... well, it'll probably be even quicker"

Ben parked the car a block before their destination and popped the trunk.

"Be right back, you need to calm your mind right now, you probably have thoughts racing through your head."

Ben got out of the car and headed for the trunk, inside he grabbed a couple of 50 cc syringes with needles and the chemicals he needed. He filled one with Midazolam to the brim, and the other with a 0.2 Molar solution of KCl. As he looked over the back of his car Ben capped the syringes, grabbed a small cloth- might need it to stop the man from yelling- and closed the trunk.

When he got back to the car, the geologist seemed to be in deep contemplation. Ben started up the car again.

"Some tips for lying, first- add detail, but don't overdo it, just take what we were doing and twist it slightly- half truths are better than lies. Second, let some nervous tics through, no one ever has a straight face, it's an easy way to tell if someone is lying. Lastly, know your target, he's a property lawyer, a manipulator, if he feels like he has a little bit of control over you, he's more likely to trust you."

Ben didn't add that the man was more likely to detect lies, if he made the professor too nervous, it would make the mission more difficult. Ben turned off the lights and pulled into the street in front of the target's house. He turned to Adrian.

"Are you ready?"

Before the man could answer, Ben stepped out with the two syringes and looked around, the street was dead, even the nearby streetlight was burnt out. He shut the door quietly and, spotted a pick-up on the other side of the street. He calmly walked over to it and hid in it's shadows on the street. Waiting.

Marcus had timed his approach perfectly. They had both just turned down a dimly lit side street when he struck. He saw his target tense up at the last second, as a Zebra might do, having just spotted a lion in the long grass, but it was already too late. With his left arm Marcus grabbed him, putting his hand over the targets mouth to stop him from screaming, and pining his head back with a firm grip. Using his knee, Marcus dug into the pressure point at the base of the Hamstring, causing his target leg to buckle, throwing off his balance and making him unable to throw Marcus off him. Finally, with his free hand, Marcus drew out the knife and placed the tip at Mr. Mark's back, just under his ribs, pointing upward. One false move and Marcus could puncture his heart.

"Listen to me very carefully" Marcus whispered in his ear. "All I want is information. I don't want to hurt you, but I will unless you do exactly as I say."

The tension in Mr. Mark's body relaxed just a little. He had understood.

"I'm going to ask you some questions" Marcus told him "Remember, co-operate and you will be fine. But if you try and struggle, I kill you; If you try and call for help, I kill you; and if I think you're lying to me, you're gonna wish I'd just kill you. Understand?"

Pining his new prisoner against the cold, hard brick, he used the tape to tie Mr. Mark's wrists, so he couldn't resist during the interrogation.

"First things first. I was sent here to collect a debt, and I was told to say that 'Alice' sent me. You can start by telling me just what the hell that means."

Dan somehow felt a strange sense of relief once he had heard the stranger say the name 'Alice'. At that moment he realized that his life wasn't in real danger because she still needed his services. He turned his head to the right and caught a glimpse of Marcus's hand. He kept his eyes focused on a metallic garbage tin near the wall of the adjacent building, hoping he could use it the moment he loosens his grip.

"Wait", Dan tried to calm the stranger down, "Please don't kill me... You still need me alive". Marcus squirmed in his place. "Do you even know who you are working for?" Dan asked the stranger.

Marcus sheathed his knife, allowing Dan to take a deep breath.
"I owe Alice information" He began his tale.

Marcus had seen the man's eyes dart to the garbage can in desperation. Don't even think about it! Marcus though to himself. If this guy needed roughing up, Marcus was ready, willing, and able.

"I owe Alice information"

"Who is Alice?" Marcus cut in. "The only person involved in this I've met so far is a guy. He's the one who sent me out here. Who is she? What does she want? Why did she need a middle man to send me out here rather than do it herself?"

"She...It...", Dan mumbled. He stopped and tried to find the right words.

"She's the devil", Dan said confidently. "That thing. That woman. She offered me a contract and I accepted. But I didn't even read what I had to do. What I had to sacrifice. Who I had to kill", Dan continued retelling his story to Marcus. He moved his right hand to the side and down to the floor. "You're hurting me", he said.

Marcus felt winded. This couldn't be true, it just couldn't be. But something deep down told him Mr. Mark would not have been able to lie so readily and so convincingly. Just what the fuck had he got himself into here. The uneasy feeling he had been having that he was no longer in control, what if it was more than just a feeling? Could he really have sold his soul by accepting the offer of a second life. He remembered the candy that he's taken before. Had that been the modern equivalent of the fruit taken from the tree of knowledge? He wanted to wretch. The very possibility of it horrified him. He'd accepted it, and why? Because someone he's only known for a matter of minutes had told him to. Dammit! he cursed himself. Could he have really just condemned himself to an eternity as the Devil's own personal assassin? The thought of it made him sick.

He dragged Mr. Mark to his feet, keeping a firm grip on his shirt collar.

"Give me the information!" he ordered, doing his best to keep his composure. "Tell me, tell me everything, and I might just stop myself from seeing how many times I can cut you before you bleed out!"

Jeremy lowered the letter opener he held in his right hand. He was amazed at the things the young miss told him. "You died?", he asked her. "Alice. She came to me. You only see women like that in your imagination, but what she did was real". Jeremy turned around and walked towards his bed. he sat down and looked at the two that came into his home.

"I can't help her anymore. I'm retired." jeremy lowered his gaze. "Get out, there's nothing here for you to take", Jeremy waved his hand and pointed at the door.

Brendan talked quickly and confidently. As he spoke, Adrian became more and more unsettled by him.

"I'm thinking you should probably ask..."

Adrian had fully expected that he would be the one to go and talk to Larkin. However, having the reasoning set out so clearly by his younger companion was more than a little unnerving. Brendan had fully tipped off that he was an excellent manipulator and had a flagrant disregard for morality. The professor suddenly became concerned by what exactly he had gotten himself into.

"Have you lied before? If you haven't I can give you some tips."

His mind shot back over a decade ago to his sophomore year of college. It had been the first day of his Mineralogy and Crystallography course. He remembered Dr. Bowler reading off the class roster almost like it was yesterday. When the wizened old man reached Adrian's name on the list, an almost sinister smile spread across his face.

"Hardy, huh? No relation to the Alex Hardy I hope. I don't know if I could stomach to see another oil baron destroying our planet."

Adrian had been left speechless for a brief moment. There had been other students that had reacted that way when hearing his name but this had been the first time that a professor had openly showed disdain for his family name.

"No sir...I'm not related to the man."

He didn't want to start the semester off on the wrong foot. Bowler's smug smirk stayed planted firmly over his lips.

"You can't fool me."

"Are you ready?"

No...quite frankly, I'm not.

Brendan had gone over strategy and techniques for lying to someone's face. Adrian heard every word of it and taken it to heart. He knew that he was listening to a master of deception and that it would be in his best interest to at least take his advice into account. Still, the idea of convincing someone to give him aid and then to spring a trap on the good Samaritan left a bitter taste in his mouth.

He knew it was necessary. He knew he had to succeed.

He just didn't like it.

Before he could say anything at all, Brendan had already disappeared into the shadows. Adrian took a moment to fiddle idly with the car, getting familiarized with it. He found the mechanism for popping the hood right where Brendan had said it was. He stared blankly at the steering wheel for longer than he probably should have, knowingly stalling the inevitable.

Finally, he worked up his nerve and stepped from the vehicle. He walked quickly up the sidewalk and to the door of the target.

It felt like an eternity as he rose his hand. His palms were slick with sweat. Inside, some sort of dog could be heard barking, trying to alert the entire home to his presence.

It's now or never.

He rapped on the door sharply.

Dan noticed something was wrong with Marcus when he raised him on his feet and pinned him to the wall. "You don't know", he quietly murmured. Dan smiled as Marcus applied more pressure to his chest. "You don't know" he repeated himself louder. "She needs me", Dan continued smiling.

"If you want me to give you the package you will follow me back to the office. I have the documents. I can tell you about Alice, about everything. Just let me go" Dan said, trying to pull away from Marcus.
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Edger was sleeping on the couch when he heard his dog, Greg, barking, followed by someone knocking on the door. He sat up and rubbed his eyes. Something must be wrong Edger thought to himself as he stood up and wore his slippers. He slowly walked towards Greg and held his collar then attempting to calm him down.
Greg sat down at the hallway behind Edger, eagerly awaiting for the door to open. Edger looked through the lens in the door and saw a man he did not recognize standing on his doorstep. Without opening the door he said out loud, "Who are you and what do you need?".

"If you want me to give you the package you will follow me back to the office."

Marcus didn't like this. Right now, Marcus still had the upper hand; but if this guy was just trying to stall for time, he would be leading Marcus onto his home turf. At least he still had Mira.

"First, I'm getting back up," He told him " and then we'll do it your way. But remember, screw with us, and you're a dead man. I don't care who you think needs you alive, my instructions were pretty clear. They told me I could kill if I wanted, so just think about that if you were planning anything smart."

Spencer didn't want to harm the man anymore. He seemed distraught at the sole mention of Alice, and judging by what they've seen by now, he wasn't the sort of person who scares easily.

"Alright. We'll leave, but we'd be grateful if you could just help us understand the situation a bit better."

He wanted to leave and let the old man go on with his life, but his description of Alice was so unnerving he just had to ask. Besides, his life was hanging by a thread, and he only just got it back. Alice seemed like a common enemy, and he hoped Higgins would have some sympathy.

"Who exactly is Alice? And what do you owe her?"

Jeremy kept his gaze fixed at a burnt spot on the carpet lining the floor. "She was an angel", he said. He held his letter opener tighter. "She saved me" he continued, "Then she asked me to help her. I accepted. But now... Now I'm useless." his voice trembled as he tried ending his sentence. Jeremy felt he was alone in the world. Nobody cared for him, nobody but Alice.

Jeremy stayed silent. He looked up and stared at the young miss.
"But I can still do some good" he said, "I can still call her here". His right hand started shaking.

"Who are you and what do you need?"

Adrian noted the attorney's caution towards strangers. He understood...if someone he didn't know had been knocking on his door, he would have also been careful before opening the door. No need to take unnecessary risks.

"Hello?"

His voice cracked in his throat as he spoke. His nerves were showing through just a touch. Still, he could play it off to his advantage.

"I'm sorry to bother you sir but my car is on the fritz. Some sort of engine thing I think. I can't really tell, I'm terrible with cars."

That much was a fact at least. Adrian had never been very mechanically inclined. He had always been more interested in the wonders of nature than the achievements of man.

"I just need some sort of help. I'm already late to my daughter's recital and my wife is going to kill me."

I'm no good with cars , Edger thought to himself as he opened the door and turned to the living room. "I can lend you my phone", Edger said as he walked to the living room and turned on the lights. He gestured the stranger to follow him and then walked over to his phone.

"I can't help you with your car, but you can call help from here", he said. "Anything else? I'm tired and it's late" he said while rubbing his eyes. Greg was sitting in the hallway, studying the stranger.

Damn.

Ben thought furiously as he listened onto the conversation, it was barely audible unless someone was concentrating. It looked like the Adrian was being invited into the house. This was not good, Adrian was on his own here.

What to do, what to do

Ben snuck back over to his car, using darkness as cover. Suddenly, he had a flash of inspiration. Ben opened the back passenger door to his car, then closed it. He strolled up the walkway to the house palming the syringe with Midozolam into his left hand, keeping it out of sight of the men at the house.

"Uncle Dennis, is everything alright?" Ben asked.

Ben kept his left arm behind Adrian's back, sneaking the syringe into the back of Adrian's pants. He turned to the target at the living room.

"Hello sir, I'm Derek, sorry for bothering you tonight, it's just that we really need to get to my cousin's recital. She's an amazing pianist."

Edger felt uncomfortable having another person pop into his house. "You should hurry, I don't want to wake my kids", Edger said as he handed the first stranger the telephone tube. "Go on, do it quickly" he encouraged the stranger to leave as quickly as possible. Greg felt oddly uncomfortable as the second stranger walked in.

Everything suddenly began happening too fast. One moment the lawyer was inviting him into the house and the next Brendan had swung into action. Suddenly a cover story had been spun and a syringe had been delicately placed into Adrian's pocket. A lump formed in his throat as 'Derek' explained away his presence.

The phone was placed in his hand hastily by their host. He had seemed immediately put off by the sudden appearance of a second stranger in the shadows. Adrian didn't blame him. Brendan had demonstrated quite effectively that he was not someone to be trusted on the ride over.

His hands nimbly dialed a number into the phone and he placed the receiver to his ear. He had called the university; at this time of night, no one would pick up. The automated answering service would take over and give him plenty of time to fake a convincing conversation.

He looked up at Larkin and smiled as warmly as he could muster.

"Thank you so much. You have no idea how much we appreciate this."

Curiosity. That and a concern for people, nailed into by her career, made her open the car door and peer into the darkness that took hold of the Marcus and their target. She had lost sight of the two the second they went into a dark shadow of a building. Her footsteps rapped against the concrete. Her steps grew quieter as she heard them speaking. Mira looked to either side of her making sure that there was no on-lookers or law enforcement. She clutched a pair of scissors she had in her pocket in case Marcus was in trouble but once she got there he looked relatively fine and surprisingly, so was the target.

"Marcus, is everything okay? What are you doing?" She asked in a hushed voice as she slowly walked towards them, allowing the shadows to envelop her.

Ben shut the front door and stood in front of the target, drawing out the second syringe into his right hand and uncapped it. The line was busy, the lawyer couldn't make a call onto it. He was trapped. Ben looked at him coldly and made his voice deadly quiet.

"Mr. Larkin, I have something to tell you, keep your hands where I can can see them, and if you yell or move, you die. Now, we were sent by Alice to collect on a debt. I have express permission to kill you, and don't think that I wouldn't. I don't want to harm you or your family, but I will if I have to. It's time to pay up."

Ben signaled to Adrian.

"Dennis, unplug the landline and search the man down, we don't need him calling the police through his cellphone if he has it on him."

Ben waited, if the man didn't appreciate the threat on his own life, he would probably take the one on his family's life seriously. People tended to be attached to family for some reason.

"He says what we want is in there." Marcus responded, subtly inclining his head to gesture towards the office building. "I think we should both go this time. I've got a bad feeling about this and I want someone watching my back in there, and if something did go wrong and you were still out here I'd have no way of warning you."

He decided to neglect telling her about what else he had been told. That could wait until the mission was done and they were out of potential danger. They didn't need to both be distracted now. In fact, that was part of the reason he wanted her to accompany him now. Secretly he was scared, and for the first time in his life he felt he needed company.

He knew deep down that it was crazy. It was less than 24 hours since they first met and he still barely knew her. It was probably just the pure insanity of the last few hours messing with his head, but despite himself, Marcus was beginning to like Mira. It was something in her eyes that fascinated him. A sense of maturity and toughness that so many of the people he had associated himself with before (particularly the girls) had so severely lacked. She had the look of a person who knew great loss and suffering, yet had risen to the challenge and overcome it. Marcus remembered that back at Mira's apartment there had been several photo's of her with another man which appeared to have spanned several years, and yet there was no sign of anyone else things in there. He wondered just what this person had meant to Mira, and how she had lost him.

Marcus felt a mixture of admiration and jealousy. He knew it was stupid, but in a way he wished he could grieve for the people he had lost. The only memories Marcus had of his parents were so patchy and indistinct he wasn't entirely sure if they were actually real, or if his mind had just invented them to fill the gap. He couldn't feel sad about their loss, nor the childhood he had never had. It was all he knew, and in some ways those were the happiest years of his life. The orphanage could be a brutal place at times, but had it not been for his years there Marcus knew he would not have developed the skills that he most prided within himself today.

When he finally found himself a family Marcus remembered finding it extremely difficult to adjust. He didn't want to connect with his new parents, because he was certain that the process would fall though at some point, just like all the others had done. They loved him, he was certain of that, and he would be lying if he said he had never felt fond of them in return, but they didn't understand him. How could they possibly understand him? They gave him everything they thought he wanted, but it just made him feel mollycoddled and unchallenged. He saw it as them treating him like a stupid kid, when he knew he was far tougher, far smarter, and far better than the poor, ten year old orphan everyone saw when they looked at him. In those first few years of so called 'normal' life he felt, instead of gratitude and love, merely frustration, and an almost longing to be back where he felt he belonged.

But now was not the time to dwell on such things. He had a job to do and needed to stay focused.

"Lead the way." he said to Mr. Mark, careful to keep a firm grip on his shoulder with one hand, and firm grip on the knife in the other, which was still, for now, concealed in his pocket. "But remember what we talked about."

dger was stunned by the complete change of the situation. He finally came to his senses and realized the mistake he had just made. Greg growled at the two strangers and began barking at them. The Presa Canario began barking at the two strangers, ordering them to leave. Edger jumped back and shouted a command he never thought he would say. "Kill" he shouted, "Greg, Kill".

The massive canine launched himself at Ben and latched his front legs onto his shoulders. His teeth tasted the flesh of the poor stranger, tearing through his throat with frightening expertise. That is the nature of a war hound. Greg noticed the other man standing in shock, watching the horrific display of carnage next to him. "Nobody threatens me in my own home", Edger shouted and ran lunged at Adrian with his right fist.
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Dan felt a familiar blade pressed against his shirt. He unwillingly walked towards his office through the poorly lit street, now accompanied by another kidnapper.

"You have a companion", Dan said as he moved his head to the left and glanced at the young woman. "Fine company", he added. "How could you work for such a monster? She almost made me kill a man." Dan asked the young woman , pleading for her sympathy.

"How could you work for such a monster?"

"You think we had a choice?" Marcus growled in retort. "If we want to live, we need that information; and if you want to live, you'll shut up and do as your told!"

Marcus had almost had enough of this man's agonizing. He'd analyse the morality of the situation later, but right now, he had a job to do and it seemed to him like Mr. Mark was trying to impede him at every turn. He wasn't going to buy in to sob stories, not yet, and it was all he could do not to just slit the man's throat then and there.

"Marcus, calm down." Mira said. She didn't raise her voice but she shot Marcus a glance. A glance that meant that it was time to disconnect your feelings from the task at hand, to ignore everything else but action. Many times she had seen some of the more experienced Paramedics give that look to the rookies or the broken to let them know that it was time to keep their head level no matter the situation.

"Why did she want you to kill the man, Mr.Mark?" Mira asked with curiosity and not agitation. This question would clearly not appeal to Marcus but Mira thought it important as to why they were to commit these acts and perhaps see the reasoning behind them. Mira did not want to kill unless of course, there was a unique reason.

Something was off. Alice, an angel? Spencer wondered if it was the same Alice that had them out here, doing her dirty work. The same Alice that gave them the permission to kill this man if he didn't cooperate.

"I can still call her here."

Now we're getting somewhere.

Curiosity killed the cat. If there was anything Spencer knew for sure about Alice, it was the fact that she's bad news. But he couldn't bring himself to follow her orders with no explanation whatsoever. He was also curious as to why Higgins was so fond of her. He had to meet her.

"...could you?"

"I had to cook the books at first", Dan began telling his tale to Mira. "Set up false businesses. Launder dirty money. Requests came from all directions and I obliged. I had to." Dan saw his office further down the street. "Someone found out what was happening. He didn't catch me but he knew that someone changed the numbers. She told me to get rid of him, but I refused." Dan had stopped. "This is it. My key is in my pocket", Dan instructed Marcus to take his key and open the door to the company offices he worked in.
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Jeremy did not know why Alice chose him. He stood up and looked at the two strangers that came into his home. He could only remember that Alice saved him from certain death. After he had fallen down the stairs and suffered unbearable pain, Alice came to rescue him from the darkness. "She asked me for so little. Just to change a few numbers, sign a few papers. But now I'm useless. She came to me when I was dying. She saved me so she has to save me again!", Jeremy held up the letter opener in his right hand and pressed it against his throat.
"I have nothing left but you, Alice. You made me understand." Jeremy barely managed to keep himself from crying. Men don't cry, Alice. I have nothing left but you

Hell broke loose.

Brendan threatened, completely tipping the hand they had been given.

Larkin responded in kind, letting loose the dogs of war upon Brendan's unsuspecting body.

Adrian stood in a state of dumbfounded awe. Part of him hated Brendan for blowing their cover so quickly and for remorselessly threatening the target instead of appealing to any sort of reason. But being torn to shreds by this hellbeast...it was a fate that he wouldn't have wished on anyone.

"Nobody threatens me in my own home"

Edgar lunged, preparing to deck Adrian and end this invasion of his home as quickly as possible.

Adrian was never fully aware of what came over him. While watching the lawyer's fist flying at him, everything seemed to just slow down. Instinct and reflex replaced the paralyzed inaction that had grasped him moments before.

Punch to face averted by simple step backwards.

Target caught off balance by missed blow.

Take opportunity to twist arm behind back.

Use syringe from pocket to levy demands.

Suddenly Adrian was in control of the situation for the first time. He pressed the tip of the syringe into Edgar's neck; the skin was not pierced but he made certain that if Larkin tried any sudden moves he would receive a dose of whatever chemical cocktail Brendan had slipped in his pocket. His voice was lowered to a grim whisper as he spoke into the target's ear.

"Mr. Larkin...Edgar...I'm sorry for my associate's manners. No one here wants anyone involved to die. If you cooperate, I personally promise that no harm will come to you or your family."

He paused for just a moment to let the reality of the situation sink in to Larkin's mind before he continued.

"Call the dog off now."

Marcus took the key from Mr. Mark's pocket with his right hand, sheathing the knife once again, but making sure to not loosen the grip with his left just in case he tried to run. When he opened the door he was met by possibly one of the dullest sights he had ever seen in his life. The reception are was grey. That pretty much summed up the whole description. It was bland, lifeless, with everything there having nothing more or less than a functional purpose. Marcus hadn't been expecting an art gallery, yet the lack of personality this place had was almost unreal. He'd worked temp job's in offices before, but even by there standards this place was bad.

In the far corner of the room there was a set of double doors leading to a stairwell. A sign next to it indicated which departments were situated on which floor.

"Where to now?" he asked.

As Ben felt the jaws closing around his throat, he tried to scream, but couldn't- no air could escape.

He slowly felt the world draw distant to him, as if it were receding away. Time slowed down, Adrian's voice sounding like it was coming through water.

Then, nothing.

Ben felt flashes of terror and anger run through him as the emptiness consumed him. He would not let the emptiness win. Ben filled himself with anger and rage, battling the feeling of emptiness that surrounded him.

I. WILL. NOT. GIVE. IN.

The rage consumed him as he attempted to scream at the emptiness.

CHARON! BRING ME BACK!

It seemed like hours that he fought the emptiness like this, losing ground every second of it, if he won, it would be a Pyrrhic victory. The rage cooled in him, becoming no less filled with rage, but turned into a cold, dispassionate anger.

CHARON!

His last thought screamed across the darkness as he stepped onto a darkling plain.

The other one is already dead , Edger thought. He knew what Greg was capable of. That the reason why he looked for his breed in the first place. Protect and serve the household, that was his job he faithfully performed for years. He felt ashamed at his inaptness in a fight and struggled for air as the other stranger held him tight. "Down", Edger shouted at Greg, "Down, Sit Greg! Stop!" he continued sending commands at his dog. Greg dismounted the bleeding corpse of Ben and sat down looking at his owner, his face covered in blood.

"I'm already a dead man. I only used two years, but I can't keep on paying her." Edger said. He tried to break free from the stranger's grip but Adrian pushed him to the wall. "Are you going to end the deal? I can't pay my debt." Edger spouted. He tried to keep himself calm, but the knowledge that his family is sleeping upstairs couldn't let him.
"Just...just don't hurt my kids, or my wife", Edger pleaded for his life.
.
.
.
Dan looked at the lobby he left only minutes ago. "The second floor" he said, "Up there is my office. I can get you the documents you need there".

The situation changed in a heartbeat and Spencer felt as if his legs were cut off. The voices in his head were conflicting.

He wanted to try and stop Higgins. But the man had already died once. His time was over a long time ago, and by prolonging it, Alice gave him a delusion of invincibility. It was highly unlikely he would listen to a voice of reason.

On the other hand, he might as well let him do it. For all he knew, Alice might actually react to Higgins' death and show herself. If not, by letting him do it, he and Evey would be done with the job, assuming the "debt" they were supposed to collect was the borrowed time Higgins was living on.

Trying not to think of how much he'd disappoint his sister with this decision, he stood and watched as Higgins held the knife over his throat, calling out for his "angel".

Adrian couldn't believe it. The canine had ripped Brendan's throat to completely shreds. A pit grew in his stomach as he stared at the deep crimson liquid pouring from freshly opened wound. However, the worst part of it was the sudden realization that he did not mourn the violent death of his comrade. A deep sensation of relief had actually washed over him which actually made him feel quite guilty.

That boy wasn't right. Maybe we're better off this way.

Maybe...

Still, there was the matter at hand to deal with.

"I'm already a dead man. I only used two years, but I can't keep on paying her."

Larkin struggled, trying to slip free from Adrian's grasp. It was a futile exercise from the position Adrian had him in. The geologist pushed him firmly against the wall to steady his grasp.

"Are you going to end the deal? I can't pay my debt."

"Edgar, I don't want to kill you but you aren't leaving me with a lot of options. Both you and I are obviously in over our heads here. I don't want to deprive your children of a father...your wife of a husband. But there are certain stipulations as to the nature of my employment that I have to hold up."

Adrian could feel the syringe shaking slightly in his hand from the adrenaline pumping in his veins.

"Just...just don't hurt my kids, or my wife"

"I swear to you, I will not touch a hair on any of their heads. But are you sure that you just want to leave them like that? All you would have to do is find the way to pay up and you can continue living your quiet suburban existence. Our business would have concluded."

He swallowed hard.

"I'm just asking...isn't that how you would rather have it?"

"Wait, no!" Evey shouted, not wanting to see the old man commit suicide, but simultaneously rooted to the spot by the curiosity gained from a chance to actually see the "Alice" that she had been told to say had sent her. Was she really a angel? Or just another necromancer like the man who had resurrected her? Either way, she wanted to find out, and so against her conscious will she remained where she was, reaching out to Higgins rather than helping. Watching as he prepared to stab himself, not too dissimilarly to how she had. The only differences were that he was doing it deliberately, and instead of a well cared for, regularly sharpened high-carbon stainless steel laminate kitchen knife, it was a fairly cheap, blunt, tin or iron letter opener. It didn't cut the skin straight away, Higgins had to press hard before there was enough force to tear the skin, making a mildly jagged cut. When the blood began to trickle over the blade, Evey couldn't bear to watch any more, and turned her head away, shielding her face with an arm.

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