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Wrong Turn (IC) [Closed]

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The production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream had been a smashing success, and so the cast party afterward had been a wild one. Rose and David had both had about twice as many drinks as they'd originally intended. By the time they exited the studio, they weren't so much walking to the train station as staggering vaguely towards it.

At one point, Rose grabbed David and planted a kiss on his lips. He smiled as he recoiled in mock horror. "Rose, are you trying to take advantage of me in my in...ineb...inebriated state?!"

Rose grabbed David's arm and fell to her knees. "Demetrius, the more you beat me, the more I will fawn over you! Spurn me, strike me, neglect me, lose me! Only give me leave, unworthy as I am, to follow you! What worser place can I beg in your love? And yet a place of high respect with me? USE ME AS YOU WOULD YOUR DOG!"

David shrugged, and started undoing his belt. Rose playfully punched him, and they both started laughing uncontrollably as he tried to help her up off the ground. It took them a few attempts to reclaim their status as bipeds. After the laughter had subsided, Rose turned and scanned her surroundings. "I don't...recognize this alley. Did we make a wrong turn somewhere?"

A faint, gravelly chuckling echoed from the shadows. Two silhouettes faded into view. "Yeah, Girl, you did."

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Rose clutched David's arm as the duo closed in. They were both skinny, with sunken eyes surrounded by dark circles and several days of beard growth. One man pulled a snubnose revolver out from the back of his pants. The other already had a combat knife drawn. He kissed the blade as he stared at the couple.

David and Rose turned to flee, practically bumping into the third man who'd come up behind them. He was a good head taller than either of his companions, and easily had about fifty pounds on them in bulk, probably most of it in his mustache. "Whoa-oa, where do you think you're goin'?" He pulled a semiautomatic pistol out from his pants and shoved the muzzle down on Rose's collarbone. David pushed his way between them, knocking the gun away. It seemed as though he was about to yell something at the thug, but the thug quickly brought the pistol back around, smashing it into the bridge of David's nose. "Ain't nobody talkin' to you, Boy! Mark, Simon, get this dipsh*t's wallet."

Mark switched his revolver to his left hand, shoving his right hand down David's back pocket. David just stumbled back and forth on his feet, trying to stay upright as blood and tears cascaded down his face. Rose wrapped her arms around David and tried to pull him away. "Frank, he's got less than twenty bucks in here."

Frank, the mustache, grabbed Rose's pursestrap and used it as a level to yank her back toward him. He ripped her purse away so hard he almost yanked her shoulder out of its socket. "You better make this worth our while, Bitch." He upended her purse onto the pavement, then waved over the knife enthusiast. "Simon, sift through this crap."

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Simon scuttled over to the pile, but he didn't have a chance to bend down. Suddenly, his blade clattered against the ground as he screamed. He grabbed his hand and pulled it up to examine it. Blood flowed down his palm and wrist in steady streams. A black metal five-point star was jutting out of the space between his thumb and forefinger. He continued to scream and curse and whine.

Frank and Mark's eyes both widened into circles. "What the fu-" Their dialogue quickly faded into screams of their own as their hands, wrists, and forearms were peppered with more of the oddly-shaped throwing stars. They, too, lost their grip on their weapons.

Frank was the first one with enough presence of mind to look up. After a second or two, his fellows followed suit. On the edge of the building framing one side of the alley, they saw an amorphous black mass, rippling and flowing. As their eyes focused, they could see it was a massive cape. And within that cape knelt a humanoid figure, seemingly composed entirely of shadow, save for the large white circle upon his chest, containing the outline of an outstretched human hand. A black hand.

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Frank, the big guy with the mustache, was the first to come to his senses. "Goddamned ninja stars?!" He dropped to his knees, grabbed his 9mm pistol, and squeezed off several rounds at the figure crouched above him. He couldn't tell if any of his bullets had connected. The entity showed no indication of having been shot, but with that cape billowing around him, Frank couldn't quite tell where he was in the first place.

The sound of Frank's last shot hadn't finished echoing off the alley walls before the shadow sprang into action. He grabbed his cape and tugged upward, spreading it wide before him as his legs uncoiled, launching him upward. The cape seemed to fill with air behind him, almost like a parachute, as he plummetted down onto Frank. His feet smashed into Frank's chest as he landed, his body weight pounding Frank face-up down onto the ground. The others could hear Frank's ribs and sternum bend and crack. When he fell down, he didn't get up again.

Simon wasn't in arms reach of the mysterious figure when he landed, but unfortunately for Mark, he was. Mark was still staring at Frank's prone, broken form when the figure darted up alongside him at an angle, then spun around in the opposite direction, kicking out the side of Mark's knee. He grabbed Mark's shirt with both hands and savagely head-butted him between the eyes. When the masked man let go of his shirt, Mark slid down to the ground, groaning faintly.

Simon gazed open-mouthed at the brutal beating his friends endured at the hands of this masked man, looked down at this knife, then glanced at the piece of metal still lodged in his hand, then up at the masked figure again. "Screw this!" he muttered as he turned around and fled, as fast as his legs would carry him. His heart pounded against the inside of his head as rivers of sweat poured across his body.

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The mysterious figure shook his head as Simon ran blubbering down the alley. He reached into one of the many pouches on his belt and pulled out two metal spheres the size of tennis balls, held together with a several feet of fine chain. He grabbed the center of the chain, twirled the whole contraption in a circle above his head a few times, then hurled it down the alley. The chain swung through the air in a circle, end over end, until it hit Simon in the back. When the chain struck, it redirected the momentum of the spheres in an arc around Simon, pulling the chain around in two directions until it wound tightly around him. Knocked off-balance, Simon tripped and fell down to the ground, skidding for couple of feet.

The masked figure turned to Rose and David, who had both recovered physically, but stood huddled together in a corner between the alley wall and a dumpster. Now that they could see him clearly, he appeared to be clad in some kind of head-to-toe body armor. His eyes were covered by what appeared to be a pair of high-end goggles. They couldn't tell if they were strapped to his head or built into his mask. He reached up and turned a dial on the side of one eye, and the opaque lenses shifted color from red to green.

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The masked man turned to the couple. When he spoke, neither Rose nor David could help but think of Darth Vader from Star Wars.

[bg=#000000]"There is an all-night diner two blocks that way."[/bg] He lifted his arm to one side and pointed down the direction from which they came. [bg=#000000]"When you get there, call 9-1-1."[/bg] He turned back down toward the fallen thugs. [bg=#000000]"The police will find them right where you left them."[/bg] He reached into another pouch on his belt, and pulled out a bundle cash. He peeled off a $100 bill and tossed it on the ground between them. [bg=#000000]"And get something to eat."[/bg]

The couple nodded furiously as they pulled themselves up. David wiped more blood from his face onto his sleeve. Rose petted the back of his head affectionately as she addressed the masked man. "Thank you, so much. What's your name?" But he wasn't there anymore. It was as if he'd disappeared in the time it took Rose to blink her eyes.

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Once they'd been called, the Freedom City police descended upon the diner and the alley simultaneously.

At the diner, they took Rose and David's statements, asked them a few questions, then insisted that David accompany them to the hospital to make sure he wasn't seriously injured. Rose rode along with him, and they wound up getting their late dinner from the hospital cafeteria.

When the cops made it to the alley the victims had described, they found Frank and Mark, both still unconscious, laying on the ground next to each other, hog-tied with plasti-cuffs. Their guns lay at their feet, but they had been emptied and dismantled. They were both covered with bruises, and while their hands and forearms had injuries consistent with the missiles the victims mentioned, the actual weapons were nowhere to be found. Neither was the third man, "Simon," although his knife still lay on the ground.

There was one other detail that differed from both Rose and David's account. About six feet off the ground, on the brick wall against which Frank and Mark were now huddled, someone had spray-painted a giant human hand, with fingers outstretched. It was obvious they had used a stencil. The hand was about two feet in diameter, and it was jet black.

Once again, The Black Hand had left his calling-card.

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After leaving the scene, The Black Hand had kept an eye on it from several buildings away. The police arrived and secured the scene within five minutes. [bg=#000000]Good[/bg], he thought as he put away his binoculars. Satisfied, he turned back to his captive. Simon lay on the center of the roof, bound, gagged, and blind-folded. Sweat, snot, and urine stained his clothes in various places. His head jerked up and he started shaking when he heard The Black Hand's footsteps scratching on the ground toward him. Of course, he only heard The Black Hand because The Black Hand wanted him to hear.

He pulled Simon up to a sitting position, then pulled off his blindfold and gag. His face, completely obscured by his masks and goggles, was less than two inches from Simon's. His goggles were toggled to the infrared spectrum, which both allowed him to see fluctuations in Simon's body heat, and look that much more terrifying with his giant, opaque, glassy red eyes.

[bg=#000000]"Heroin."[/bg]

Simon's lip quivered. "I...I...no, never..."

He held a leather thong up along the side of Simon's face, caressing his jaw.

[bg=#000000]"From your pocket. For your arm. When you inject the heroin..."[/bg] He reached around with his other hand and grabbed Simon's elbow, shoving his thumb down into the inside. Simon yelped in pain. [bg=#000000]"...Here."[/bg] He shoved the gag back in Simon's mouth. [bg=#000000]"You have the signs. The eyes. The marks. The desperation. The signs of a junkie."[/bg]

Then he reached into a pouch on his belt, and pulled out a syringe. [bg=#000000]"Local. To numb the pain."[/bg] He reached down with his other hand and pulled off Simon's left shoe, then his sock. [bg=#000000]"I'll have to use a stronger dose than usual. With your bad habits, you've built up a tolerance."[/bg] He held Simon's ankle down so he couldn't slip away, and jammed the needle into Simon's foot and pressed down, emptying the contents into his veins.

"What the hell, man...what the hell..." Simon's protests were muffled by the gag, but still intelligible.

[bg=#000000]"You tell lies. I want the truth."[/bg] The Black Hand reached into his belt again, this time pulling out a small hammer and chisel. He used his body weight to hold Simon's legs down, and placed the chisel down on top of Simon's big toe. Then he twisted his body around, blocking Simon's view, and brought the hammer down on the chisel, hard.

Simon couldn't see or feel his foot, but he could hear the dull, wet thumping and cracking noise as the chisel was driven halfway through his toe. He screamed. "MMMMFFFFRRRGHGHH!!!"

The Black Hand turned back around. He showed Simon the chisel, now covered in blood. [bg=#000000]"Nothing in Life is free. You tell a lie, I take a toe. When I run out of toes, I'll start collecting fingers. After that, I'll get creative."[/bg] His arm shot out and ripped the gag from Simon's mouth.

"PLEASE PLEASE I'LL TELL YOU ANYTHING YOU WANT MAN WHAT DO YOU WANNA KNOW C'MON MAN PLEASE-" The Black Hand shoved his hand up against Simon's mouth, silencing him and immobilizing his face.

[bg=#000000]"Everything. I want to know everything. Start with your supplier. And don't. Spare. The details."[/bg]

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After the interrogation, when he was sure Simon had spilled his guts on everything of consequence he could possibly know, The Black Hand left Simon tied up on the roof. Then he notified the police of Simon's whereabouts (and his involvement in the attempted mugging) from a payphone and moved on with his patrol.

When the police found Simon, he was panicked, screaming and straining against his plasticuffs. "My TOE, man, he chopped off my goddamned TOE!!!" The police wasted no time in ripping off both of Simon's shoes and socks. They inspected his feet for a moment, then one of them leaned in close and stared into Simon's eyes. "What're you on, Kid?" The officer sighed, shook his head, and leaned back. "Get this junkie piece of sh*t out of my sight." Simon frantically glanced back and forth between the officers and his own feet. His toenails were yellow with fungus, but the toes themselves were all completely intact.

"But...but..." he whimpered as the police dragged him away.

From yet another rooftop, The Black Hand observed. With binoculars in one hand and parabolic microphone in the other, he was privy to everything. As the cops pulled Simon off the roof, he smiled beneath his mask. Then he casually through a rat carcass into a nearby trash can. A rat carcass with a distinctive post-mortem wound through it's chest, as though someone had hammered a chisel through it.

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