Chronicles Of The Titans: The Abyss

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  1. Chapter one: City Of Opportunities.

    September 5th – Gotham City, New Jersey, New York State, United States Of America.
    10:28 P.M – The Highlander Pub​


    The light was dim as the pub was buzzing with people, from college kids trying to figure out which one of them could chug a pint the fastest to the lawyers of the biggest corporations taking shots to celebrate another day of surviving in the concrete jungle of cutthroat corporate takeovers. Middle aged women butchering old 80's hits and in one corner of the pub there were a few screens on showing the current rugby match from the UK. The Highlander Pub was one of the biggest ones in all of Gotham, and as with most things in Gotham it had a hidden agenda.

    It was the headquarters of the Sullivan mob, lead by one Robert O'Sullivan, the baddest Irish mobster in all of Gotham. The guy was infamous for his brutality and his weapon smuggling. O'Sullivan was former IRA and made sure his operation was as brutal and militant as the group he had been a part of back home in Ireland.

    One of his henchmen came up to him, as Robert flirting with a waitress half his age with whiskey in his hand. “Sir, I have an update.” Robert nodded for the waitress to be on her way, spanking her behind as she left his table. “So, how did we do, then?” Robert asked him, the man sat down next to the mob boss. “Hit was successful, sir. Estimated profit to be two and a half million, the Scalleta's aren't going to be trying to get in on our business again anytime soon.”

    Robert smiled widely “That's great news, lad.” He began, as he stood up. “Everyone, tonight, drinks are on the me! We celebrate this great city, the city of opportunities!” sitting down he patted the other, younger man on the shoulder. “Tonight, boy, you can have anything you want, any broad in this bar is yours, any car in the lot is yours, and any gun in this establishment is yours. I reward people who do me well, stick with the Sullivans and you will go far.”

    ***

    Archer was walking home after studying with his study group at the library, the chilly fall night was relaxing for the young man, his black leather jacket over the gray hoodie kept him from getting cold. He cursed the fact that he had forgotten his headphones at home this morning, as he now had to walk to the sound of the city, the sound of sirens in the distance was always present, car tires skidding and what Archer could only hope was the sound of fireworks being fired in the distance. Of course, the young man knew better. He only wanted to keep himself out of trouble.

    He picked up the pace, he was only four blocks away from his apartment right now. He had moved out of his parents house a few months back, to have closer to school so he wouldn't have to rely on the buses and public transportation to get to and from school, his father was making a lot of money, so money was never really an issue for Archer.

    As he walked another block, he felt a shiver in his spine. “No.. No no..” He though to himself. “Come on, calm down.” As he heard distant talking, that quickly turned into distant yelling, he could feel the all too familiar itch in his head again, and the light peeping sound in his ears. “It's none of your business, walk away.. Just.. Walk. Away.” He began sweating, shaking, feeling the adrenaline pumping in his veins.

    And as if his body stopped listening to him, Archer started moving towards the sounds he heard, soon he picked up the pace and was now running. The voices got clearer, one guy, a man, yelling for someone else to stop, sobbing, followed with yells of pain and heavy thuds, like metal hitting flesh, Archer figured the assailants were armed with crowbars.

    The young man sighed, took a deep breath and dug into his jacket, into his pocket and found the green domino mask. He put it in front of his eyes as he jumped onto the brick wall in the alley, heaving himself up onto it made him let out a slight grunt. There were two thugs, one guy hitting the one who was yelling in the legs on the ground, probably something debt related, these two guys were probably loan sharks.

    “Please, stop, I don't have your money, I'm so very so-Sorry!” The man pleaded, as the crowbar hit his legs again, making him cry out in pain. The guy whom wasn't hitting the man was the closest to Archer, a meter and a half away from the brick wall Archer was now crouching onto.

    Archer jumped from the brick wall, jumping onto the man's back, putting his arms around the man in a choke hold, his legs holding onto the other man's legs, trying to force the thug onto the ground where Archer could suffocate him. However, the man was stronger than Archer and was breaking his hold, when his partner attacked Archer, a swing of the crowbar came towards Archer, whom let go of his hold, and jumped onto the ground, shoving the thug he had been latched onto towards his friend, effectively making him take the crowbar swing to the face.

    The still standing thug charged at Archer, letting out a shout, Archer rolled to the side, rolling on the ground twice before climbing back to his feet, ducking under another swing, he delivered an uppercut to the thug's chin, making him stumble, Archer spun around and tried to kick the stunned man in the chest, but the man grabbed Archer's foot, and pushed the vigilante backwards, into the brick wall. He tossed the crowbar to the side. “I'mma kill you with my bare hands, boy!” He shouted as he pinned Archer against the wall, his right hand choking the boy and his left hand pummeling him with punches to the ribs, after the second hit Archer coughed up blood, but just as his vision was getting blurry, he reached into his pocket and got out his switchblade, and in the next moment he sliced the arm that was choking him making him release his grip and wince in pain, he then jammed the blade into the man's thigh, twisted the knife and pulled it out, the man held his leg in pain as Archer now spun around and kicked him in the chest, knocking him flat on his ass.


    His friend had regained consciousness, he threw up one from the concussion he had sustained from the crowbar, and turned towards Archer, whom was holding the dripping knife in his hand. “B-Better scrape up your mate and get' the fuck outta here before I gut you..” Archer said, pushing through the pain, the adrenaline helping with his rather injured ribs.

    “You fucking freak!” The thug shouted as he lifted his friend and carried him out of here “Come on now Matt, we'll get this fucker another time..” The man said, still dizzy from the hit he took.

    Archer walked over the the man who had been hit with the crowbar. “T-Thank you so much, you.. You saved my life. Who-Who are you?”

    “Call me Locksley...”

    Archer would make sure the man called an Ambulance for himself before Archer headed back home, holding his side as he walked the last few blocks, he got into his apartment, went into the medicine cabinet and got out a handful of pain pills swallowing them all. He took off his jacket and hoodie and pulled off his sweat drenched T-shirt, looking himself in the mirror, seeing the gigantic bruise on his side. “That's gonna leave a mark..” He concluded to himself. He should have bandaged the injury, but he did not have the energy to do that, instead, he opted to go to bed.

    It was now 1 A.M, and he had to be up in five hours.
     
    #1 Hillan, Oct 12, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2014
  2. He was about one mile into Gotham when the drugs began to take hold.

    God only knew how much he had taken, for even his adept mind had gone past the point of memory. A large blunt and plenty of peyote (or mescaline if you wanted to start getting into specifics). But even with all these wild little hallucinogens working his brain over like the finest masseuse in the land, Gotham still looked like a grimy shithole. Just staking neon lights onto a turd didn't make it look any better.

    But that was ideal, this was the kind of thing that Julius wanted when he left for America- he wanted the grime and the grit, the fucking raw nightmare of Americana that harkened back to the heinously vile and revolting worlds of the film noire. Where else would he find a proper adventure? Hackney? In his haze the idea of using some extra funding to head to China or somewhere like that came to mind- probably just as crime-ridden. But then he'd have to learn Chinese, and who had the time in this day and age?

    No no, Gotham would be fine.

    Well maybe 'fine' was an overstatement. This little hole in the ground, America's Sphincter as some of the well-to-do socialites in Metropolis and Keystone called it, had divebombed into the great depression and never climbed out. He rounded a corner and found it deserted, lined with shut-down stores with their shutters caked in graffiti of all sorts. No Gotham was far from fine. It was a dying and ugly mess.

    Colours danced and swam in the peripheries of his vision, a sea of neon light that swam about and guided his steps. The cold wind whipped at him and made his bomber jacket ruffle, but he felt warmer than the sun. This was a night for pulpy fun- he juuuust needed the right person to test his newest machine on.

    Another corner and Julius had what he wanted. A jewelers, closed up for the night of course, with the front shutter being accosted by two stately gentlemen. One was trying to fit his heavy bolt cutters around the chunky padlock. His companion was muttering something, each verb of hot air staining the air with a cloud of white wispy steam. Probably telling the guy to hurry up before the GCPD showed up. After all they probably wanted to rob the goods in there too, and it would be such an awkward mess to interfere with 'law enforcement.'

    "Sometime's the night is kind to me," Julius said, leaning drunkenly against the wall. He reached into his coat and pulled out a large gun, brass-coloured with a large barrel (As wide as a tennis ball) and an equally large hammer. Julius opened his weapon up, reached into his coat again and then pulled out a silver canister just the right size for the main barrel. It slipped in perfectly, he snapped the gun shut once more and tried to take aim.

    Ah shit... maybe the peyote was a bad move on his end- that shop had transmogrified into a circus tent coated in jingly jangly diamonds, and the two urban gentlemen of the night had transformed into a pair of Cybermen in Santa outfits. Fuck it they had it coming anyway.

    *BANG* *PTCHEW*

    The canister sailed through the ait with a trail of steam behind it, clashed into the shutter and then erupted into a thick cloud of blinding white smoke. Both figures shrieked from the shock, and after holstering his gun Julius rushed them. The first fellow, armed with the bolt cutters, went down quick enough. His boot met the fellows jaw and floored him, blood spurting up and coating the toe cap. The other drew a knife from his pocket and swung his way but Julius managed to catch his wrist and bang his arm into the wall. Down went the knife, knocked from his grasp. Didn't stop him, he swung a punch that smacked Julius across the jaw.

    Guy hit hard for a fat fuck, and he felt the familiar sensation of hot iron blood filling his cheek. Tasted good. Kept him awake. He spat it out, smearing the fellows face with juices and briefly stunning him until Julius surged forth and smashed his nose with one balled up fist. Down he went, now leaving both males piled unconscious in the doorway as the smoke cleared.

    Off he went on his way. Maybe it was time to head to his hotel again and get some work done.
     
  3. There was an uneasy rain pouring over Gotham as Tate awoke. He reluctantly crawled out of his bed, a standard double, and headed towards the window. Evidently it hadn’t been raining for long because there were still spots of concrete left untouched by the liquid. It was late, proven by the shutters of the shops across the street. Every so often a person would walk past, nervously looking over their shoulder as they went; there were very few parts of Gotham left unscathed by crime and pain.
    Tate’s room was standard for the run-down part of Gotham, but he wasn’t living here by choice. It had been advertised as a studio, which was being mightily generous. There was barely enough room to walk around, let alone find a home for each of his belongings. The toilet was situated next to his bed, the single stove opposite that and a small deck chair opened out in the centre that served as the only seating area for guests; not that Tate had many of those.
    The city was sick, hit hardest by the corrupt governments and crime lords. A time of peace and unity was unimaginable for somebody of only eighteen, since even his parents had mentioned the dangers of Gotham found in their childhoods. “Mum,” Tate muttered to himself, scratching his waist as the pain from his previous attempt at levitation made itself known, “what the hell am I supposed to do?” Tate stood in nothing but his boxer shorts, his silhouette invisible to those of the outside world.
    His stomach was lean, but not from exercise, merely a strenuous regime he’d adopted after deciding to hone his magical capabilities. ‘Homo Magi,’ that was the official term at least, not that Tate had ever seen himself as anything other than human. It had been that way since he’d learned of his abilities; his mother urged him to embrace them but his father didn’t know the first thing about giving advice to a young magician. That was the predominate reason behind Tate’s premature exit from his father’s apartment; he wanted to practice his magic freely but his father was concerned about exposure. If word got out that Tate had the means to grant wishes or sneak a group of criminals into a bank vault, he’d be p??ped out more than Gotham’s runaways.
    “Wrexler, open up, you sleeping again?” The harsh knocks at the door made Tate wince as he looked over at the laughable protection against burglars. With a swift kick the door would undoubtedly come falling off of his hinges, and it even threatened to do just that with Johnny’s fist rattling the wood. “Wrexler!”
    “Neop,” Tate muttered, motioning his hand towards the door. He didn’t have any lights on inside and was forced to squint as the light from the hallway filled the depressing space. “What do you want, Johnny?” Tate didn’t need to ask the question because Johnny only turned up for one of two reasons, but these little social interactions were the only thing that reminded him that he wasn’t entirely isolated from the human race.
    “I’ve got a job for you, now I know what you’re going to say, but this one is different.” Johnny was almost six foot and liked to remind people of that every chance he got. His hair was a mess, but the kind that passed for stylish these days; he wore a knock off suit no doubt acquired from the back of the truck and his nauseating cologne never seemed to falter. “I’ve got some guys who haven’t paid for the stash I give ‘em, some wealthy kids who think they’re above the criminal underworld. So, I was thinking you could y’know, help me get it back?”
    Tate turned back to the window and grit his teeth, vaguely aware of Johnny’s priorities. He only ever showed up when he wanted help on a job or had failed to find a broad dumb enough to accompany him home. He was a suave bas???d, that was for sure but Tate had heard his neighbours talk about him through the thin walls. Mr Redneck-Bigot in the room above had referred to him as the Nancy-boy w???e, and Mrs Old-But-Doesn’t-Want-To-Admit-It had unsubtly considered moving because she assumed she was living next door to an addict. To be fair, his concoction of ingredients that permitted him to see his deceased mother did give off the aroma of various drugs, but he couldn’t stop; in a way, Tate was an addict.
    “Fine, but you’ve got to stop coming here. You’re what? Twenty-six? My neighbours are starting to get suspicious.” Tate headed back towards his bed and rifled through the pile of clothing. He opted for a black t-shirt, a grey hooded sweatshirt, fitted jeans and combat boots. Though he didn’t have much choice in selection since these were the only clothes he had left that were clean.
    “Suspicious? Look, I don’t give a damn about your neighbours. We got a deal going, in return for me keeping your secret, you help me with jobs and I hang out here occasionally.” The snide grin on Johnny’s face was impossible to ignore. For him this was the perfect arrangement, but for Tate, it was just another way in which his father had been right. At first, Tate had enjoyed Johnny’s company, which led to him telling the criminal about his capabilities; but as soon as the dollar signs appeared in Johnny’s eyes, their dynamic had changed. Their down-low relationship had now become an arrangement, one that saw Tate desperately accepting any degrading time he could snatch with Johnny.
    “They’re starting to think you—” Tate faltered for a minute and then reminded himself that Johnny was in the wrong. “That you pay me.” He shoved the hood of his sweatshirt over his head and closed the distance between himself and the door. “Whatever. Let’s just get this over with.” Tate barged past the lanky man and stepped into the hallway before irritably heading towards the stairwell.
    + + +
    The rain was still hammering down as Johnny pulled the car over. They had stopped outside of a nightclub, but unlike the other bars on the street, this one was empty. This part of Gotham was known as the Street of Desires, primarily because of the services that it offered.
    Tate opened the car door and instinctively began heading towards the entrance but Johnny grabbed his arm. “Hey, what the hell you doing? We go round back,” he had his eyebrows raised and shook his head as though the fact should have been obvious, “these guys are just kids but they’re rich. And the rich always have some a??ho??s looking out for ‘em.” Tate nodded, suddenly realising that this wasn’t any different than the jobs Johnny usually brought to him.
    “So how much do they owe you exactly?” Tate whispered as he walked beside Johnny, they headed towards the alleyway beside the establishment and were immediately met with a blinding light. Tate raised his arm to protect his eyes but Johnny’s unfazed movement towards it was unmistakeable. “Hey, Johnny, what the hell is—” As Tate squinted and attempted to ignore the white light of the car headlights, he discovered that there were several other bodies standing beside the vehicle. “There’s no rich kids, are there?” He had been so involved in his own depressing life that he had forgotten to protect it. Johnny would have attempted to sweet talk him into continuing his visits after Tate had asked him to stop coming by, but he hadn’t, which clearly indicated the end of their arrangement.
    “Sorry kid, but there’s a larger market for somebody like you out there, imagine what we could accomplish?” Johnny was standing directly in front of the car so Tate was only privy to his silhouette. “And if you refuse, then, I can’t have some other schmuck using your talents,” Johnny winked and Tate clenched his jaw. “So, what do you say?”
    Tate muttered a string of obscenities under his breath and turned to walk away. A sarcastic retort was on the edge of his tongue but a single bullet into a nearby dumpster prevented his mouth from releasing it.
    “I was serious, Tate, I can’t let you walk free,” Johnny was now holding a gun and the evaporating smoke from the barrel indicated that he’d fired the shot. “So—” Immediately aware of Johnny’s intent to kill him if he didn’t comply sent vicious shockwaves through Tate. All of the built up rage and anger he’d developed over the past few months came bubbling to the surface.
    “Esiar erutarepmet,” Tate raised his hand and watched as the firearms Johnny and his men held began to glow a faint red. They were becoming increasingly hot, just as Tate had commanded and it was only a few seconds later that they were forced to drop their weapons.
    “I gave you a chance, kid.” Johnny said as wiped his hand along the front of his suit and retrieved a knife from his inner pocket. Evidently the man was faster than he looked because he was already slashing away at Tate, forcing the magician to move backwards in unpredictable and sloppy movements.
    The metal of the blade slashed as his sweatshirt and tore flesh as Tate released a myriad of screams; each one more pain-filled than the last. It wasn’t until Johnny forced the knife into his chest with a final blow that Tate became dizzy and felt the world turn on its axis. He hit the filthy, wet concrete painfully and Johnny stood over him.
    “I told you, Tate. If you ain’t with me, you’re against me.” Johnny wiped the sweat from his forehead and then turned without a second look. Tate felt parts of his body beginning to go numb and could feel that Johnny had pierced a lung; slowly blood was beginning to travel up his throat and come out of his mouth in spurts.
    Luckily Johnny decided to reverse the car in the alleyway opposed to running over Tate’s dying body. “La-“ he attempted to say through the blood, but it was proving harder than he expected, “Laeh em” he finally managed as he closed his eyes and waited for his magic to begin.
     
  4. Staring out the window of the apartment Shinji wanted to shake his head at whatever the Hell it was he was just dragged into. Gotham, he had heard about it from his native Japan, and he figured people were overreacting when they flipped their lids over him going there. Man, actually being here and seeing it first hand? It felt like what Tokyo would be like if it started drinking heavily, vomit uncontrollably, shit itself, then died. Presuming a city could do such a thing.

    <The next piece of me is somewhere here. I can sense it.> The soft, but almost lifeless sounding voice came into Shinji Okazaki's mind. He had become used to it by now, as it's been about a year and a half since he first came into possession this strange alien device, called NENAV, became lodged into his back. “Yeah but where do we even start man?” Shinji quietly asked aloud, as it was the only way he could seem to talk to his alien companion thing. “You just know its 'here', in this city. That doesn't really narrow things down any...” <With proper time in this city we shall find it. You just need patience Shinji.> NENAV reminded Shinji, the ideal of patience something its had to assure the young Japanese man numerous times. “Yeah you're not the one who has to smell the nasty smell this place produces...” Shinji said aloud, his nose getting assaulted by the smell of gunpowder, dead fish, and something else he didn't even want to think about.
    “Hey man did you say something?” Shinji quickly turned and saw the short haired white guy coming into the apartment. It was his new found roommate who's name was Kenny. Some guy who worked at a record store. Shinji didn't know much about him, only that the room he stayed in was cheap enough to deal with ol' 'smokey'.

    “Hmm? No I was just uh...” Shinji shook his head quickly trying to dispel any notion to Kenny that his newfound roommate had screws loose. “Oh cool man, hey listen man. Just like between you and me, I can tell you that if you're planning on needing anything forget it. City fucking sucks at night man.” Kenny told Shinji, something the young man already knew from his short time in Gotham. Shinji turned back out to the window where suddenly the sound of screaming, and a man chasing someone caught Shinji's attention. <That woman! She needs our help!> NENAV wasn't saying anything Shinji was already thinking himself. Quickly he turned as casual looking as possible to his roommate. “Say Kenny, would you mind getting me a soda from the fridge please?” Shinji asked. “Aw sure thing man.” Kenny left sight of Shinji, going over to the kitchen, and grabbing a pair of soda cans from the dingy looking fridge. “Hey by the way do you know any good animes? I mean you're from the country and all so I figure I'd ask...?” Kenny paused as he came back over. Seeing where Shinji was only now the man was gone, and the window was opened with a small breeze coming in. Kenny paused freaked out, was his roommate a fucking ninja?!

    “Yeah that's right bitch come here!” The man's putrid booze drenched breath bathed onto the woman's face as she was shoved against the brick wall. Her shirt and top getting violently ripped up revealing her bra underneath. The man's hands grasping, pulling, doing things to her that all together felt like a nightmare. Before though he could get far into her jeans though suddenly an almost booming voice rang out. “YOU! HANDS OFF THE LADY!” The moment almost completely stopped as the man, even the woman somewhat, slowly turned to see the helmeted figure. The man shook off the warning with ease. “Just who the fuck are you suppose to be?” He slurred out at the mysterious figure. “I am SUPER RANGER, and if you do not stop this instant I will use full force!”

    Shinji hated having to give these threats as Super Ranger, they never worked. The guy would always make some offhand insult, then immediately go after him like the bad ass they think they are. NENAV though always made sure Shinji did it. Something about showing respect or something.... “Fuck off ya fucking loser!” The guy still didn't even seem bothered enough to leave the woman's alone for a moment. “Fair enough. Don't say I didn't warn you.” The figure known as Super Ranger went from a standing, arms folded position, quickly transitioning gracefully into a marital arts pose. The guy watched on, smirking in his own internal joy of yet more easy pray. The switchblade from his pocket snapped up and out with a ping to it. Only when he charged at the Super Ranger figure though he felt the knife only catch air. As his arm was yanked out of the way, the knife flying out of his hand before it was used to hoist him up onto the shoulders of the hero. “Hey let me down!” The man suddenly changed tone to desperation. “Alright!” Super Ranger with a sudden high kick upwards knocked open the lid of a dumpster before shrugging the man off his shoulder and into it. As soon as the guy hit the soggy plastic bags and countless other random things. He didn't get a second to react before Super Ranger proceeded to reach his arm in, and with a right cross put the man's light's out.

    After assuring the woman would be fine, and helping her back to her place Super Ranger dashed along the city rooftops back to the apartment. Quickly enough Shinji morphed back to normal, was able to convince Kenny he just went into his room (Which wasn't hard). Finally after telling Kenny repeatedly he wasn't a ninja, finally could unwind with a soda and some chips to munch on. Gotham was sure going to be an interesting experience.
     
  5. Oskar sat on his own at The Highlander Pub, a half-full pint of beer beckoning on the table in front of him, the pale amber liquid teasing him with its effervescence and pleasantly bitter taste, and inviting him with the abject numbing sensation that came with the consumption of such a poison. It was his first pint of the night, and assuredly his last; though the pleasant warmth and despondent detachedness was tempting on a cold night such as this, with no wish for company, Oskar had to work next morning, and it would pay not to have a hangover, unless, that is, he wanted to piss off his boss.

    That was not the only reason he stopped himself. After a mere pint, Oskar would still be as functional and co-ordinated as usual, anymore and he would be pushing his luck. In a perverted and hopeless city, as Gotham was, one could not afford to wander about in the bleak hours of dark; it was then that the less savoury crowd emerged from the recesses and prowled about for a lonesome drunkard or anyone else foolish enough to be out whilst they were: easy pickings. In many respects, they were more trouble than the organised crime because the big families lived in a constant state of give and take with the law: bribes were given, and blind-eyes turned. Unless you had done something disrespectful to invoke their ire and become the subject of a vendetta, then you were as safe as you would be around any other businessperson; their quarrel was with each other, not the lowly citizens that shied away from trouble and violence, the ones that they supressed with fear, not blood. No, the hungry predators that were desperate in their attempts, those criminals who had the misfortune of being in neither clique nor family, starving wolves, unpredictable; they were the dangerous ones.

    Oskar knew this. Everyone with a shred of common sense knew this. That is why Oskar was sitting in The Highlander Pub. It was true the food was nothing to sing about, and the ignorant patrons were somewhat annoying with their shrilling and boisterous behaviour. Yet, Oskar felt safe their; it was home to the Sullivan mob, rumour had it, rumour Oskar was sure rested on solid fact. The GCPD had no doubt tried to pin them here multiple times previous, but the funny thing about evidence and testimonials was that they have the odd tendency to evaporate if money fell into the right hands and death threats unto certain ears. And so here he was, the Plover Bird in the mouth of the proverbial crocodile, cleaning its teeth. Whilst Oskar was not strictly willing to work for the mob, he saw the relationship as somewhat symbiotic; he had the safety of the mob’s vicinity that not even the most desperate scumbag would mess with, and in return, Oskar kept quiet about anything he saw. He did not see it as the obstruction of justice; he was just looking after himself, which is what anyone with a brain did in a vile pile of filth like Gotham. If another mob came knocking, Oskar would simply spread his wings and fly away before trouble erupted. You could tell a mobster when you saw one; they held themselves with pride and an elitist air seemed to surround them. In Gotham, they were the aristocrats and everyone else was the peasants.

    A laugh touched Oskar’s lips, one that he regretted loosing immediately, as a deep aching pain in the left side of his chest evolved and sent arcs of pain lancing through his body, coursing up his spine with a deathly chill. He winced and cursed himself, resisting the urge to cough, knowing it start a fit, and instead swallowed until the feeling passed.

    He had been in an accident just under four weeks ago, which had left him in a critical condition; a portion of his lung had collapsed and he was haemorrhaging majorly. He had been told afterwards that he had died on the table for twenty seconds, until they were able to revive him. This had changed Oskar a little, and he felt far more fragile now that he had been shown his own mortality, but mainly it just made him careful, as he did not want to damage anything else. Even though he had completed his stay in the hospital for three weeks whilst they monitored him and had him hooked up to all manner of machines, with drainage and IV tubes attached, he still felt caution would be wisest.

    He finished his pint and stood up to leave, putting on his coat. The white noise of the pub was soon fading behind him as he walked along, the drizzle of rain soaking slowly, making him shiver even under his coat. It was mid-September, and the autumn showers held a winter frost as the rain fell in heavier droplets, prompting Oskar to quicken his pace.

    “Hey, you.”

    Oskar stopped, looking around. The streets were empty. Not another living soul was in sight; they were all no doubt waiting for the rain to pass, or were completely oblivious to the rain altogether, to engrossed in their recreational activities inside to notice the weather outside. Regardless, he could spot nowhere for the voice, he was sure it was a voice, to come from.

    Was it possible that the rain and wind had caused such a sound? Highly unlikely. He had lived in Gotham long enough to know that it was dangerous to assume a rogue sound was just a fabrication from one’s imaginative tendencies. He quickened his step.

    A car passed by, the headlights bathing the sidewalk that they touched in light, but throwing shadows over everything else. Oskar was sure these shadows danced more than they should, physical forms hidden in the darkness. Your eyes tended to play tricks on you on dark streets lit only by the sporadic lamps and the occasional ambient light that escaped from windows that did not have their curtains shut or blinds pulled down.

    The rain beat down with an animal ferocity, lashing at Oskar’s unexposed skin like scores of tiny whips. It spat up a find watery mist from impact with the ground, and churned up a foul stench as sewers clogged. Oskar was almost home now.

    “YOU!”

    Louder this time. He did not try to look around. He did not wish to know who it was that wanted his attention; he just wanted to avoid any trouble that he might get into. He broke into a pull out sprint, accelerating away. His feet pounded the cement, splashing the pools of water as he paid them no heed, charging through, soaking his legs. Several times, he almost slipped on the slick ground, but momentum and sheer willpower kept him upright. Almost home now.

    A burning sensation began in his ribs, which then erupted like a flare, bringing him most abruptly to an almost dead stop. He winced, half from the pain, and half from the prospect he may have degenerated all the medical help he had been given that his insurance had covered before, but only just. He staggered forwards, trying to force himself to at the very least jog, but could not quite manage it. Reluctant to see if he was being followed, knowing that it would only waste time, he clutched his side and gritted his teeth through the pain. Adrenaline and survival instinct drove him onwards. He turned onto his street.

    Rain made the world around him a dirt smear.

    His legs burnt. His lung burnt. His body was exhausted, yet it powered on.

    He came to his door. He fumbled the keys out of his back pocket. Five keys, all roughly the same shape. Oskar cursed. He could barely make out the details on the keys, so he had no idea which one opened his front door, so he guessed.

    The key went in. He twisted. There was a relieving click of the locking mechanism opening, and Oskar let out a deep sigh as he slammed the door behind him, his back sliding down it as he slumped, the extrusion catching up with him.

    “Hello…”
     
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