Colin drained the bottle, wiped his mouth with his sleeve and looked around for a target. Not seeing one he threw the bottle against the opposite wall of the alley, turned his head and spit into a pile of rubbish. Paul cast a rheumy eye in his direction.
“What? You got something brilliant to say?”
Paul looked away as Reggie sniggered.
“What’s funny now Reggie?”
Reggie stifled himself. “Nuthin’ Colin.”
“Damn right nuthin’. C’mon, lets go find something.”
The three of them left the alley and wandered down the street in search of something or someone worthy of mayhem. They turned the corner and Paul pointed at a lone figure sitting on a bench under the only streetlight in the area.
“Look Colin, fresh meat.”
Colin flashed a shotgun smile and patted Paul on the head. “Good dog. You get half for that.”
They picked up the pace and sneaked up on their prey from behind. As they got to him he held up a gloved hand as if he knew they were behind him.
“That’s far enough.”
Colin wasn’t impressed. He stepped around to confront the stranger. The man was more imposing than he had seemed from behind. His face was partially hidden by a wide brimmed black hat pulled low. The rest of his clothing was black as well.
“Well now, what have we got here? Nice night for sitting under street lights is it?”
The man didn’t move but a smile seemed to dance at the corners of his mouth. “I have nothing you want. If you were wise you’d move on.”
Colin laughed and then leaned down for a closer look. “Now how would you know you don’t have anything we’d want? That’s for us to decide.”
None of them actually saw it happen but the man was now standing. They each took a step back. Colin pulled his knife and waved it in front of him.
“Well then, search me if you must.”
Colin nodded at Reggie and Paul and they approached the man with caution and began going through his pockets. Paul pulled a small metal box out of the inside pocket of the overcoat.
“This is all he’s got Colin. No wallet or nuthin’.”
Colin looked at the box in Paul’s hand. The light did not reflect off of it. It seemed to pulse with a light all its own.
“What the hell is that?”
The man smiled. “Oh, nothing you want. It’s trouble is what. I advise you to leave.”
Colin held out his hand and Paul tossed him the box. It felt cold and inert yet somehow alive. He looked it over. It was covered in writing but Colin couldn’t make it out.
“What the hell is in here?”
“I told you. Trouble. You’d be well advised to return it to me.”
A sneer formed on Colin’s face. “Listen asshole, you’re lucky I don’t cut you for not having any money for us.” He pocketed the box and motioned for his cohorts to come with him. They walked down the block and Reggie looked back.
“Colin, the guy’s gone. Where the hell could he have got to so fast?”
“Who cares? What a wasted of time he was. Let’s go look somewhere else.”
They continued down the block but the streets were deserted. It was late and the shops were closing up. They made it back to their alley and Colin took the box out his pocket. He found a small clasp on the front and undid it and lifted the lid. An eerie red light stabbed his eyes and he felt them burning. He dropped the box, put his hands over his eyes and doubled over. The burning sensation passed and he stood up and looked at his boys.
They both recoiled in horror and anger overtook him. He grabbed Reggie by the jacket and got a shock as Reggie screamed and burst into flames. In a matter of seconds he was no more. Paul’s face was a mask of horror and he tried to run past Colin but was grabbed by the arm and met a similar fate.
Colin stood there for many long minutes and then walked out of the alley. He went to a shop window and looked at his reflection. His eyes were blood red. The area around them was black as night and the skin on his face was a mass of etched lines. He turned as he heard someone approaching and watched the man run screaming into the night as he got a good look.
Colin turned back to his reflection and grinned. Things were going to be a lot different.