No Rest for the Wicked This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

November 12, 2009
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There is a bar tucked back in one of the far corners of New York City, on a street that barely anybody knows exists. It's dingy, and there is soot practically clinging to the windows. The bar is at the mouth of an alley that goes on for what seems like forever. It's made of dark red brick that's been blackened from all of the dirt and smog. Above the bar there's a small apartment in which the owner, fat and balding, lives. He, with nothing better to do, sits in the corner of the bar all night, every night, and watches the patrons of the bar come and go. It's a boring life, but someone's got to do it.

The bartender is a man of twenty with a chiseled jaw, dark hair, and golden skin. He's got mixing down to a science, and can make a mean Margarita. He went to bartending school after high school and can do all of those tricks that everyone sees on TV. But he never uses them, because the clientele here doesn't come to the bar to see fancy tricks. They come to forget.

On this particular Friday night, the bar is at its busiest; there are a total of six men in the bar. Two are the aforementioned people, required to be there. Three are hovered around the pool table in the back. Two have cue sticks and the third has a beer in hand. The pool top is tattered; rips and holes in the fabric provide for a rocky game, but somehow they're managing. There is a wad of bills clenched in the third man's hand.

The sixth man is sitting up at the bar with a whiskey glass clenched in his grip. He is staring morosely at the contents of the glass, eyes already glazed over with the haze of alcohol. His name is Nick Wilson, and he's been here for a while, long enough to get mildly drunk. He has sandy brown hair and blue eyes, and is around 29. He takes a swig of the amber-colored liquor and sets the glass down. He stands up and sways on his feet a little before stumbling over towards the pool game.

"Wha's the score like?" he asks the guy holding the cash.

The guy shrugs, and gestures a little with the hand holding his beer. "That guy's winnin'," he says gruffly, pointing to one of the players wearing a dark leather jacket.

Nick grunts, and reaches an arm out, fingers closing on a barstool. He slides it over, feet grating against the wood floor, and sits down on it. The two pool players pause their game for a moment and look up at Nick. They share a bemused glance between themselves, and then keep playing.

The guy holding the money sits down on a stool too, and looks over at Nick, appraising him. "Have you heard about the killin's?"

"The wha--?"

"The killin's. A bunch of people been goin' missing lately," the guy replies. "You headin' out?"

Nick nods.

"You better watch yourself," the guy tells him.

"Nah," Nick says, "nothin' excitin' ever happens around here. No need to worry 'bout me."

The guy narrows his eyes. "They've foun' bodies mutilated, layin' in alleys like that one out back. All of 'em guys like you."

Nick scoffs under his breath. "Yeah, not like I'm gonn' get attacked."

The guy shrugs, and looks away. "Yeah, sure. Don' say I didn' warn ya."

Nick gets up and wanders back over to the bar. He pulls a few crumpled bills out of his pocket and pays for another quick shot of whiskey. He downs the glass and sets it on the counter, then wanders towards the door. He pulls it open and stumbles drunkenly out into the darkness. He steps outside and looks around, eyes not used to the dark yet. A cool wind blows gently, chilling Nick, so he pulls his jacket around him tighter. He looks around for a moment, and then heads off in what he thinks is the direction of the street. In reality, he's heading deeper into the alley.

Nick gets a few hundred feet in before he realizes he's going the wrong way, and so he turns around and begins to walk, but he's stopped by something hard. He stumbles, and is steadied by a strong hand around his arm. He moves to shake it off, but the hand won't let go.

"G't off me," Nick mumbles, and peers up at the face belonging to the hand.

It belongs to the man from the bar with the money. He smiles eerily down at Nick. "I told you to watch out."

From inside the bar, the bartender hears a piercing scream, and then -- nothing.





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