Princess hung from her arms against the wall, broken and bleeding. Thomas had stood triumphant over her for a few minutes after he was done, but eventually left her there, finally alone. Her throat her from screaming, but tears still quietly rolled down her face. She wasn’t crying simply because of what had just happened to her, but everything that had ever happened to her, which had all flooded into her mind. She was crying for her father, for having trusted Thomas and for allowing herself to sell her body, for Winter being drugged into it by her stupid uncle, for her stupid uncle and she cried because she knew Winter would be coming to save her and Michael was going to kill him. She stayed like that for hours, silently weeping while she hung against the wall, her feet just touching the floor enough to take her off balance if she tried to stand, until the pain and sorrow become too much and she fell into a deep black unconsciousness.
Winter drove the car to Charcoal, it was still far too early for a place like that to be open, but time wasn’t really on his side. On his way from ’s hospital bed to the car he decided it to hunt down Thomas rather than trying to find the house he’d escaped from, it was a clearer lead. Also seeing Victoria and the state she was in made him feel vulnerable which put his nerves on edge, although that could also be due to the withdrawals from his pills. Either way, he was in the mood to damage to someone. He parked the car around the corner from the front door where he knew there was a side entrance, that wasn’t often locked, as some of Charcoals patrons often had to leave early in the morning and didn’t always want to be seen doing so. The door opened and Winter quietly slipped inside, no need to alert everyone he was there, just find the right person and make them very aware of his presence. The dingy hall way from the girl’s rooms hadn’t changed at all since he last walked them, and once again visions of his beloved tried to play through his mind, but this time he managed to hold them at bay by focusing on the task at hand. He had to save Princess as quickly as possible. The hall way was filled with a mix between faked moans, snoring and narcissistic comments along the lines of,
“Yes tell me you like that.”
“I bet you’ve never had it like this before.”
All met with the same pandering groans of agreement. Quietly Winter continued until he was stopped by a voice that sounded vaguely familiar,
“I sweat the next time I see that arsehole I’m going to kill him, I mean just look what he did to my hand, how is a man supposed to take care of himself with his hand all bandaged up like this?”
“Well baby, maybe I can help with that.”
“Oh yes, I think you can.”
Winter crouched down and peered through the key whole at the pimp he’d pinned to a table however many nights before. A flash of him molesting a drugged up, barely conscious Princess appeared in Winter’s mind and any thoughts of not razing the alarms vanished. He kicked the door so hard it ripped off its hinges and flew into the room. Both the pimp and the whore screamed as Winter stone faced in the doorway. Rage washing over him in waves of pins and needles that seemed to pulse outwards from the top of his spine, but he managed to resist it. The pimp looked across the room to a gun lying on a velvet chair, then back at Winter who slowly shook his head,
“I, would not do that if I were you.”
“What the fuck do you want?!”
“I’ve got a few questions I think you can help me with.”
The pimp gritted his teeth, rolled forward on the bed where he lay and dove with all his strength at Winter. The pimp was just six foot tall but very well defined but not big. What he lacked in raw strength he made up for with a far amount of viciousness when fighting. He was, however, no match for Winter who took a side step towards the diving man, grabbed him bit the hem of his trousers and his hair and guided him with extra force in the edge of the door frame. His cheek bone broke, his skull cracked and his right split, sending so much pain shooting through his body that the pimp instantly went into shock and started convulsing and foaming at the mouth. Winter looked down at the bleeding mess on the floor and grunted. Then turned to the woman on the bed, she was blonde, in very little clothing maybe just nineteen and terrified.
“Where is Thomas?”
She opened her mouth but nothing but dry gasps came out. Winter fought back a growl,
“Don’t look at him, look at me.”
The girl obediently locked eyes on Winter, which didn’t calm her down one bit.
“Thomas, where can I find him? Or information that will lead me to him?”
The girl desperately searched her mind for some information that could help, but her mind turned up blank and tears started rolling down her cheeks. All at once a thin, well dressed but half asleep man appeared in the doorway panting.
“What the fuck happened here?”
Winter turned quickly to look at the man, and the moment eye contact was broken the young girl took off at a run out of the room, down the hall and out into the street. The thin man looked at Winter and recognised him from his previous visit and the stories he’d heard about him. He then looked down at the pimp who’d started vomiting unconsciously, and the blood drained from his face.
“You’re Mr. Winter aren’t you?”
Winter held himself for a moment as another wash of pins and needles erupted over his body.
“I need to find Thomas, do you know where he is?”
The thin man took a long breath in,
“I need to call that man an ambulance or he’s going to die.”
Winter gritted his teeth,
“You need to give me the information I want or someone is going to have to call you an ambulance.”
“I, I don’t know where he is, I’ve not seen him since the night you came in.”
“What’s his address?”
“I don’t know.”
“That answer needs to change.”
“Look, I don’t know what to tell you, he arrived a few weeks ago with a girl and offered to do some cash door work if we took in the girl. She then asked to work to raise some money. Everything was normal enough for this place until you came in and kick up the place. I don’t know where he lives.”
“He doesn’t normally work here?”
“No like most of our doormen he left to work for some security company.”
“Do you know which one?”
The thin man looked down again at the pimp who was getting worse fast, then back up to Winter.
“Uummm, shit, they’ve got a stupid name, ‘The Clowns’ or something like that, word is they’re more like mercenaries than body guards, but look you’re very scary but if I don’t call an ambulance now that man’s dead!”
Winter thought for a moment,
“That’s the one.”
“Thank you, I’m leaving now, do what every you have to do, but he’s probably not worth it.”
“Probably not, but death on the property is bad for business.”
He wanted to say something like ‘feel free to never come back’, or ‘by the way, you’re banned.’ But he simply didn’t have the courage. Winter walked passed him and back down the hall. The thin hurriedly pulled his cell phone from his pocket and called emergency serves. By the time the Ambulance arrived Winter was back in the car he’d kept promise to dump and driving across town.
These Jokers, was technically a small private security company. Michael himself had come up with the name, he liked the thought of people saying ‘I’ve hired These Jokers to guard you’, it satisfied his sense of humour. In reality though they never actually guarded anything, they specialised in procurement, with a very blind eye when it came to who actually owned the items they procured. Nor did it bother them what they were expected to find, or it what state, as long as they were paid accordingly. The higher the stakes the more enjoyment Mike got from the job, he liked finding new challenges to over come. Winter had only heard, but never liked anything he’d heard so didn’t feel the urge to associate with them. He was however at one point given details on them by a client, as a prospective backup in case Winter failed. This meant he knew were they were based, which fitted with the part of town he and Princess had found themselves in after escaping.
Key’s Jr. stood at the top of the stairs and looked down at the mess hanging against that was his niece and turned a furious look at Michael.
“What the fuck did you do to her?”
“Me? I did exactly as you asked, found her and brought her here.”
“I told you not to hurt her.”
Michael said cheerfully, Keys Jr. grabbed Michael pushed him against the wall,
“Don’t play games with me!”
Michael’s cheer faded and he gently placed the barrel of his gun against Keys’ head.
“Do not presume that I am any more loyal or willing to put up with you as you can afford. Winter killed two of my men, and injured a third. He has shown me that his reputation is well deserved. He has also shown a great deal of caring for that girl, which is equally interesting in a cold hearted assassin, all of which intrigues me. You wanted me to capture your niece, I have done so, you want me to kill them both, and I will do so. But I’m going to do some testing first. I have questions that need answering, and if you do not take your hands off me I will spread your brains against the door. I don’t like you, I don’t respect your actions or opinions. You pay me, and I do what I’m paid to do. Do not presume that means you own me.”
Keys flushed white and let Michael go, before taking a couple slow steps backwards, Michael regained his smile in a way that highlighted the deformation of his face thanks to his scar.
“Keys, go away, rest assured that your requests are being handled and as long as the money comes through into my accounts I will not be coming for you. But from now on I’m going to proceed with this plan slightly differently. The whole setting up Winter idea was always a little thin anyway. Very you, but that’s not a good thing.”
Slowly and pitifully like someone embarrassed Keys made his way out of the house and into his car, and then yelled harshly at his driver to take him to one of the more up market whore houses on the island. He wanted to get drunk and sleep with girls far to pretty for him to get without paying for it. Once Keys was gone Michael headed back down into the basement and sat down across from the still unconscious Princess. He looked her up and down a few times and frowned, he wasn’t a fan of Thomas’s work, but he understood its purpose. Michael stared for a few more minutes wondering if she was going to wake up on her own. Deciding that she wasn’t he clapped his hands together loudly so the sound echoed around the room and Princess woke with a yell. Then remembering where she was locked terrified eyes on Michael, who smiled,
“Oh good, you’re awake. How are you feeling?”
Princess considered simply screaming in response, but didn’t.
She eventually managed to force out, Michael nodded.
“I can imagine, I’ll get some food brought down to you, and some water. Is there anything else you need or would like?”
For a moment Princess looked at Michael and thought that maybe he wasn’t so evil, but then remembered everything she’d ever read about Stockholm syndrome and forced the thought out of her mind, shut her eyes and looked away. Michael stood up,
And headed back up the stairs, as he got to the door another thought occurred to Princess.
She called out after him. Michael turned,
“What did you say?”
“Drugs, do you have any drugs?”
His smiled grew more natural,
“Winter had some in his flat that I took, happy pills I think, I don’t suppose you have those?”
Michael thought for a moment,
“That’s curious, and a little disappointing, but I’ll see what I can do.”
And with that he turned and left her alone again.
As Winter sped down the road his memories of the past few minutes suddenly slipped away and it became incredibly hard to focus. In that same moment his vision began to blur and he shook his head from side to side to wake himself up, but as he flicked his head to the side his eyes closed and he slipped into unconsciousness. The car held its speed and direction for a few moments until his left hand slipped off the steering wheel and the car swerved to the right and slammed into a street light. About a minute later a limousine drove past and came to a sharp, screeching halt. The back door opened and Key Jr. Stepped out and walked over the crash site to confirm what he thought he’d seen. As he peered into the car a thin malicious smile spread across his face.