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The Dark Prince

01. Kill or be Killed

I was never good at letting things get to me, it was how I was raised. There's only so much you can stomach until it gets to you.

At least, for normal people that's how it happens.

After having guns pressed into the nape of your neck, and pressing your own into theirs, that feeling goes away. That was what was happening right now, I had my .40 Smith and Wesson's muzzle firmly placed into the back of some guy's neck.

I didn't know this guy. Hell, I didn't even know his name. For all I cared he could have a little girl and boy sitting at home waiting for dad to get back, a loving wife standing next to the door wondering why this John Doe was late. That type of shit didn't really matter to me anymore. The point of the matter was that it was my job to kill this guy.

Would I get caught? Nah. I was good at my job. There were no prints on the gun I was holding and a small, shakily written suicide note would be placed in the jacket pocket. Maybe I'd even put the gun in his hand before I left, pointed in the proper directions of course.

That was life on the streets. Kill or be killed. Some of us had the protection of the boss. Some of us … let's just say they weren't so lucky.

I'm a nice guy, I'll let you know my name. Harry Potter. Yeah, I'm a bad-arse.

I could feel him shaking in front of the muzzle of my gun. Mumbled words spew forward from his mouth - incoherent rambling to whatever God this guy followed. Christ, Allah, hell, maybe he was an Atheist searching for some past redemption.

Redemption. Some of these boys would never get it.

I called him a boy. The man's probably thirty-something and I'm only fifteen. See, I'm a nice guy, I told you my age.

I unclipped the safety on my gun and pulled back the hammer, I could hear his breath hitch. From where the moon lurked above us, I could see tears streaming down his face. In the movies, there's always rain when some guy gets shot. In real life, there's no pitter-pattering of water on the cement floor. There's only traffic moving past you, maybe some horns in the distance. Sometimes you can here the police sirens sounding in the distance -- that always puts a little speed in your step.

“Don't fuck with us again” I hissed, maneuvering the gun to his temple.

The gunshot echoed in the silence of the alleyway. The sharp noise scared some alley cat in the corner, it always did. I could see the faint wisps of smoke leaving the tip of the gun, floating into nothingness after a few feet. I slipped the gun from my leather-covered hand into his rapidly cooling, fleshy hand. I placed the note in his jacket pocket and took one last sweeping glance over his dead body, not yet set with rigor mortis. I could see the crimson spurts of blood and gray matter covering the cement sidewalk. Maybe a few years ago I would've felt sick. Not anymore.

I walked away.

- - -

A short ride in a local taxi later landed me outside Vanzetti's Club. Maybe there's something I should tell you while I'm feeling charitable.

I do strange shit.

No, really. From what I've gathered from some of the people that I've talked to, the closest it could be called is telekinesis. I don't do it with my mind though. It's more of a desire, a will, to throw someone away through my hands. That's how I killed my first man -- his spinal column snapped after I threw him against the wall, without using my hands. I don't like to come off as narcissistic, but it's damn impressive.

I've done some other stuff that you'd never believe. When I was seven I levitated a crate of shipments out of water. It was like something from Star Wars, I reached out with the proverbial 'force'. Many years ago, a galaxy far, far away my arse. This was now, the year 1995.

I was pretty good at that type of stuff, telekinesis as I liked to call it. I've lived a pretty hard life, and that's been one of the only things that I enjoy doing. I won't bore you with the details of my neglected childhood, but it hasn't been all lilies and roses. There was a time when I didn't always have the knife on the inside of my cashmere coat, or the smaller pistol in the back of my pants. I don't like to think about that life much.

Looking back on it, when I was about eleven I used to get stalked by owls. That was annoying. I think after I shot the first one, the rest were too afraid to come close. The letters seemed to die down shortly after that.

I walked forward in the night sky towards the club. It was a nice place on the outside; two bouncers by the door, fine limousines dropping off some of London's top dogs, the back door for those unsavory customers. Ritzy, not like one of the trash clubs that you find downtown.

I walked towards the door with an air of confidence gained from ten years of repeated practice. The bouncers looked at me, I knew one of them but the other must have been a new guy. How'd I know? The idiot stopped me.

“Look kid, eighteen and up” he said, pointing to a small sign at the front of the line.

The other bouncer, David, held a flash of fear in his eyes. “Bob, shut your hole and move aside. I'm sorry Master Harry, he's the new guy” said David in a low, bass voice. I nodded shortly at the tall, well built bouncer. David was one of those guys you wanted next to you if you were ever in a fire-fight. Big, pretty smart, and fast with the gun concealed in his dark suede jacket.

I pushed open the golden-colored door to the setting where I had gone after most jobs. It wasn't home, but it was a medium between work and pleasure. Tall, marble pillars adorned the room, probably Roman. The floor was similarly tiled in onyx marble. The first thing that hit me however, was the low thrumming of the bass that flooded the room. A few of the younger, more rebellious crowd of London were out on the floor. Bodies mashing against each other, hot passion exuding from every pore of their body. Lights flashed from above the local disk jockey,  green and neon colors dancing over the crowd.

I walked forward to the bar and caught the bartender by the eye. He caught my look of a thousand words and nodded shortly, preparing the usual. He placed the gin tonic on the table as I walked past -- I took it gladly. The smell of fresh lime emitted from the drink, fresh in a way. I took a healthy sip from the beverage and felt the smooth liquor go down my throat -- that was quality alcohol, not the crap you get at the local store.

I noted some of the local guys that my boss would associate with. Stevey Sparks, our local explosives and arson expert. He's about five and half feet tall, dark brown eyes, slightly raised cheekbones. He's not a guy you would look twice at when walking down the streets, very low-key. I recognized him from the bulge right next to his boot. That's where he kept the .357 Blackhawk.

I gave the two guards at the VIP lounge a meaningful look but neither budged. They weren't new guys, just damn suspicious of everything that came through. I didn't mind, they helped save my life more times than I could count .

With a sigh, I took out the .38 revolver in my right pocket and clicked the safety before presenting it, handle first, to one of the guards. He grunted and opened a small vault that lay behind a small table, entering a five-digit password that chimed in response. The door unlocked and he stowed my gun away. I went to move forward when he grunted again and held out a strong arm to stop me.

“Fine, fine” I muttered. I reached behind my back and took out the small pistol that was attached to my waistband. I similarly handed him the gun and he stowed it away. His eyes met mine for a long moment, as if scanning my soul to see if I had anything left.

“Stop being such a prick, Charlie” I said. A small, tight smile graced his stagnant features and he motioned for me to enter.

“You know how it is sir, I have to check everyone” said Charlie sternly. I reached up to place a hand on his shoulder and gave it a thankful squeeze.

“You do your job well, Charlie” I said. “Just remember next time to check my pockets.”

He twitched slightly, “I didn't see a bulge there or anything…” he mumbled, a bewildered expression set into his face. I smiled and walked by into the lounge, leaving one stumped door guard behind. Maybe I should've told him that knives and daggers don't leave as visible bulges.

The lounge was a nice place, nicer than the outside. The music was considerably lower, soft Italian leather chairs covered the room. Some loveseats existed, some single chairs, and candles flickered all over the room. I could smell the faint traces of smoke in the area, no doubt someone was using their pipe again. Some guards were at each corner, pretending to read newspapers while their eyes watched everyone in the room. I liked to call them the Hawks.

The crowd was much more diverse; not ethnically diverse, politically so. I could see the local top officers and lieutenants of the police leaned back into their chairs, drunk and pleased with the girls straddling their waists. Some of the top and easily corruptible people from Parliament lay against the armrests of couches, intoxicated and under the influence of more than one type of drug. Some of them were being taken care of by women; none of the men ever dared to go too far in public. Not only for their image, but Vanzetti was one of those guys that respected the people that worked for him.

Their image was already destroyed anyways. Some of these guys came in for a quick drink, only to be escorted to the VIP lounge, where more potent liquors lay and beautiful women would chat them up. Women that were hand selected from some God-forsaken place where males would die upon arrival. Women with long legs, lithe bodies, pretty faces, and completely vapid. Chances were that none of them could hold a conversation long, but they had enough experience in the game to know how to twist what hips where.

I walked past the preliminary rows of drunken men and shallow women to come to where the big boys played. The back row.

It was similar to the rest of the room but structured differently. A circle of leather seats existed around a small coffee table, upon which a magnum of liquor lay and a few crystal glasses were distributed. As I said before, ritzy -- quality stuff.

My eyes met the man at the topmost side of the circle, Nicholas Vanzetti. He met them equally and I suppressed a shudder. There were some men I could stare down, and some that you couldn't pay me enough to look at. Nicholas Vanzetti was a prime example. He was tall, around six feet, with dark black hair and equally dark eyes. His expression never held any emotion, only flickers of something that was barely discernable.

“Alright boys, that's enough for tonight” said Vanzetti. “Go home, spend time with your kids and wives.”

The men murmured their thanks and lifted themselves off the chairs. Some of the guys nodded their heads at me in something akin to respect and greeting. I returned their nods, eyes scanning each and every one of them. Some of these guys were pretty tough shit, the inner circle of the Vanzetti family.

I moved forward, standing just behind the chair that was opposite Vanzetti. It was always a show of respect within the family -- never introduce yourself to someone else's friends, never sit before Vanzetti does, bow when appropriate.

Vanzetti nodded shortly and motioned for me to take a seat. I did so, enjoying the feel of the soft leather chair against my back.

“Mr. Potter” he began, cold eyes traveling up and down every feature of my body.

“Mr. Vanzetti” I returned equally. I kept my gaze pinned on a spot just below his nose -- eye contact was a rude gesture, especially to your superiors.

“Son.”

“Father” I said. My boss was my father, the irony was thick. The term father meant a lot of things for me, but it didn't mean “daddy.” Vanzetti was my legal father, boss, superior, and employer all in one. He reached over and poured himself a drink from the magnum of amber liquid in front of him.

“I assume you did as instructed with the target?” he asked. I noticed some of the other guards in the room were moving quietly throughout the room, checking for any listeners.

“I did” I responded flatly, no emotion in my voice.

A moment of silence passed between us as Vanzetti analyzed me. He did this after every job, I think somewhere deep down he wanted to check that I was still psychologically intact.

“Are you feeling alright Harry? You look a bit tired” noted Vanzetti. Damn it.

“Just tired is all. I haven't had much sleep lately” I returned. I took another sip of my drink, letting some of the stress ebb away.

“Take a vacation, Harry. Go see Italy and relax, enjoy yourself. You've been doing a lot of work lately and it's going to start getting to you soon” advised Vanzetti, a flash of concern flickered in his eyes. That was one of those brief emotions, barely visible to anyone who didn't know him.

I smiled wryly, “You're getting soft, father. You know I don't need a vacation, just a good night's sleep -- maybe a bit of chicken soup?” His eyes narrowed at me. Had I been anyone else, I'm sure he would've shot me.

“It's more than just your weary state, Harry” said Vanzetti, his voice dropped much lower. “I think someone is targeting you.”

I scowled, “Unlikely. There hasn't been an attempt on my life for years, not since the last war.”

“And what do you call last month?” queried Vanzetti. The small forming wrinkles on his face hardened into a grave expression.

I reflexively reached out to cover a scar that was on my left arm, fingers tracing the faint line that was covered beneath clothing.

“A mistake.”

“You don't make mistakes Harry, you're better than that” said Vanzetti. From anyone else that might've been a compliment. “That man took all of our forces by surprised -- no one saw him enter and you were lucky to get away with just a slash at your arm.”

“Have you found anything on that guy yet?” I asked carefully. I watched Vanzetti's eyes meticulously -- the man was a great liar but sometimes little clues leaked through.

“No” said Vanzetti, his eyes held no lies. “It's as if the guy just disappeared off the face of the earth.”

I nodded slowly. That was strange, to say the least. No one entered or left London without the Vanzetti family knowing about it. Vanzetti himself had picked up most of London in a rough gang-war back when I was about seven. Seven was a big year for me; the gang war meant my life was constantly threatened and it was around seven that my powers manifested.

“Harry” began Vanzetti, an edge of concern in his tone. “Do you think there could be others like you out there? You know…with powers?”

I raised an eyebrow. I never really thought of that possibility before. Sure, I suspected it, but could there be a whole civilization of people just like me? Were their powers greater than mine?

“I assume there would be” I said slowly. “By pure logic, if someone like me exists than there has to be at least a few others. You think that guy might've had a bit of power in him?”

Vanzetti snorted. “That man looked like a damn rat, maybe that was his power. I only ask because he appeared out of thin air, no alarms were tripped or anything” he said.

I shrugged, but it made me feel a little unnerved. I never liked dark alleyways, never have and never will. This guy was a living, breathing alleyway. He could come out of nowhere, take a few slashes at me with a knife, and disappear with equal speed.

“Take a break Harry” advised Vanzetti with a tone of finality. “Take a week to yourself and relax. Find a girl on some beach and enjoy yourself. God knows a kid like you could use it.”

I scowled but realized the fruitlessness of my argument. If I kept insisting, he would just refuse to give me any tasks to do. I nodded my acceptance reluctantly.

Vanzetti's right hand slipped inside of his pocket and he took it out a roll of cash. Crisp notes that were marked by denominations, all rolled into a nice cylinder and tied in a loose rubber band. He lobbed it over to me.

“That's payment for this job, you did good” said Vanzetti. I flashed him a small grin and placed the roll of money in my left pocket.

“How's business?” I asked, eyes roaming over the variety of patrons. I doubted that these men even knew they were being video-recorded -- perfect blackmail to come out during re-election time.

Vanzetti snorted, “As good as can be expected. Some politicians have been disappearing, and none of my guys are behind it. They're calling it terrorist attacks” he said disparagingly.

I nodded slowly, that was different to say the least. There could've been a variety of reasons for that -- maybe other local gangs decided to creep in on some territory. Maybe someone was acting independently to try and rid corruption -- the modern day vigilante. Or maybe it was just as Vanzetti had said, maybe it was some terrorists going after it.

I leaned back in my chair and took a sip of my drink. It was peaceful again; calm and relaxed. I had some time to myself coming up, maybe I'd go play the roll of playboy in Rome. I thought life was great, danger was out of sight and out of mind. Maybe for the rest of the night I'd hop to the back room and play some cards with some of the boys from the local families -- kids that were just a few years older than me and getting into the family business.

I think the last thing I would've expected was a bunch of black robed figures appearing in the VIP lounge, small magic rods in their hands. I don't think I would've expected seeing Charlie pull out the sub-machine gun from somewhere inside of his coat and flick off his safety in one fluid motion, or the Hawks removing semi-automatics from their coat pockets. And I really didn't think one of them would point the little rods at Vanzetti and me.

Unfortunately, it's the things we don't expect that happen the most often.

 

"Cosa Nostra", posted on May 12, 2008 at 2:21 pm
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