Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Hellblazer: Fish in a Barrel (Prologue)

The rasping, grinding sound of the rusty hacksaw as it made it's way through the last of the padlock set Gavin's teeth on edge. With a hard nudge from his shoulder, he barged the door open with a jarring thud. The hinges, corroded with age, still held firm.
Gavin McCloud wasn't very big, had a very general kind of face, and wasn't particularly notable in any sort of sense save one: He was a real Bastard. As if the crowbar on his back and the thirty eight crammed in his Levi's couldn't tell you that already. He also had the virtue of being one of the best burglars left in the country. He'd never been snuck up on his whole life.
Gavin had heard the rumours like anyone else in the East End had. Donny Wilkins, newest hot young thing to try for the position of Crime-lord, had a dirty little secret. He'd made his way in the Lansbury estates the traditional way, scrapping with the other hoods for the biggest take, with a healthy amount of death and violence to consolidate his hold, but his recent moves over a dozen different territories had been meteoritic to say the least. Small-time gangs were being swept into line by him left right and centre, and some of the older families had put aside old grievances to end his reign. He had twice the cannon fodder on them though, but the bosses had heard rumours about his bizarre extra-cirrucular activities...
Which is what brought Gavin here. He had a camera in a bumbag, and he'd been told to snap up anything "interesting" that could maybe be put in the morning papers. They'd heard rumours of snuff films, kiddie porn, and there was a highly unbelievable rumour involving chickens and a wax figure, but Gavin was prepared for anything, including any kind of resistance that came his way.
As soon as he'd entered the threshold, he took out his gun. Felt the smooth action as he pointed it at the shadows, blasting away invisible phantoms, relishing the fear he imagined came from them as he mimed pulling his trigger. A grimy smile stretched across his face. He hoped, in the back of his mind, that he might meet some resistance so he could feel the recoil, smell the gunpowder and hear the bang of the thing in his hand.
He'd gone through an old staff entrance round the side, and honestly hadn't actually expected anyone to be around anyway. He could see the grot and the mildew from years of abandonment, and he knew he'd be safe here, off in the dead, decrepit portion of the warehouse. It was hard to concentrate though, he could hear the scrabble of rats and the pitter-patter of the evening rain falling, and kept twitching back to where he'd been. The silence of his approach being engulfed once again in a bevy of background noises.
His night-vision was excellent, and in between the feral blades of glass that raged trough the cracks in the floor, and the soft glint of distant street-lights that glowed through cavernous holes in the ceiling, he could make out an edge to the hulking filth of the building. Someone had taken the slightest of efforts to wipe it down, and make the space (at the very least) functional. The dust didn't seem so gagging here, and there was a faint but distinct trace of disinfectant in the air.
Through the half-lit corridors finally came a sliver of light just visible through the periphery corners that Gavin was creeping through. There was no movement, or sound, that indicated a living soul, but there was a definite warmth that seemed to stretch underneath the crack in the distant door, that implied, if not habitation, than at least some kind of application.
Gavin breathed tensely as he crept towards the flimsy, wooden door. It would be easy to break into, as far as he could tell, it didn't even have a handle. But Gavin steeled himself for bloody confrontation for what laid inside. At the foot of the door, he closed his eyes, inhaled, and exhaled sharply as he rushed through-
-To find the room empty. An ancient bulb hung from a fraying wire, the light that shone from it was dim and turgid. There were a couple of fold-out chairs that had been tipped on their sides, but the room was otherwise empty. Gavin was disappointed. A dead lead and a waste of time. He thought to himself sullenly. But at the same time, as sense of unease told him that something wasn't right.
He took a deep breath again, this time though, he tasted something different in the air. At first he thought it was nothing. The air was as foul as it was outside. But a second thought brought him back to a minute beforehand, where the hallways had been wiped down with detergent beforehand. This room was as clean as they were, but they still smelt like piss and rat-shit.
The Gavin took a closer look at the ground.
To say it was scorched was an understatement. What Gavin had mistaken for dirt and grime, was actually a deep soot, and burn-marks gouged through peeling Lino at odd intervals. Not all the burn seemed black either, some of them were mottled green, and other seemed a rusty brown.
Gavin stroked a finger across the floor, pulling away a thin streak of the brown stain onto his finger, it felt slightly greasy to the touch.
When he realised what he was looking at, Gavin took out his camera immediately.
The light was poor though. Gavin let out a muttered "fuck" as he strained to get a decent image. The best he could do was a faint, indeterminable series of scrawlings. He barely registered the soft clunk s a doorstopper slid on the other side of the door, and it took the soft smell of sulphur and burning hair to realise he wasn't alone.
Gavin turned to the door to find it blocked by a behemoth of a man. Seven feet tall, and bulging at every muscle. But that wasn't anywhere near as intimidating as his face, dark hair cropped to a widow's peak, pointed, sloping brows and a pair of eyes that seemed to contain nothing, just a blackness. He had a saucy grin though, which made a particularly disturbing contrast. A little like a shark. Gavin thought.
Gavin drew his gun again. "Oi, mate. I don't know what you're playing at, but if you don't shift your arse in two seconds, I'm gonna put another hole in it."
The big man kept on giving him a smile, "Ha, a second one. That' real clever that is." he said, walking towards Gavin slowly.
Gavin wouldn't give him a chance to get any closer, he raised his gum, aiming fro the head and squeezed.
The big man kept on coming.
"What the fuck-" Gavin looked down to his hands, and saw the camera in his hands, he took a moment to register it as impossible, before he was scooped up by the collar, and raised hight up from the ground.
As his face started turn a subtle shade of blue, he met the big man's lifeless gaze. "..H-how...?" he asked to himself as much as much to the man as to himself, how could he have gotten the drop on me?
as if to answer, the Big Man answered, "How? Well... Because I'm fucking magic, that's how."
As Gavin began to feel the life fade from himself, he could also see the light in the centre of the room fade, at first he thought it was because he was blacking out, but then as the darkness fell, an he saw what was in the shadows, he still felt enough breath left in him to scream...

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