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Blackmail

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It was a dark and stormy night. Well, actually, it wasn’t quite the twilight hours of the evening yet, and it was only drizzling, but for the sake of the setting and unneeded dramatics we shall continue to think of it in the original context. It was a dark and stormy night and the little, ratlike man shook his umbrella out as he entered the crummy apartment building. His target was on the eighth floor. The little man was carefully suppressing his glee; he expected a large reward for this job. Oh, the dirt he had found on this one. It was astounding, the amount of skeletons one harmless seeming young woman could be hiding in her closet. He had gone into the job thinking it would be an easy gig, but the dirt he found on the woman had scared him; he was gratified when she gave in to his threats without a fuss.
His umbrella tapping with every other step, the little man made his way across the crumbling lobby; the lights were flickering off the dirty yellow linoleum and faded, unrecognisable wallpaper. The lift was predictably out of order so the man made his way slowly up the smudged and littered, cement stairwell. There was no rail so if the man were to slip, he would probably tumble straight and painfully to the basement of the building. Despite his hard heart and years of sin, that thought unnerved him; he would never admit it, but he was afraid of heights.
Finally the heavy, dented metal door with the faded sign saying “8” on it loomed into view. The light on the landing was out. Wrinkling his nose in disgust, the little man removed his handkerchief from a coat pocket and wrapped it around his hand before tugging the door open. The hall beyond was equally dirty and dark, but instead of linoleum, the floor was covered by a thin carpet with holes worn in it, and it looked like it had never seen a vacuum in its existence. Sighing quietly, the man trudged across the hallway in his heavy, steel-toed black boots.
They were practical, like the loose coat he wore and the snug black cotton shirt and pants it covered. He had always liked his long, black coat; it was dramatic and mysterious and easy to get out of in a fight. He didn’t expect a fight this day. His target was a woman in her early thirties, and dispute her history, she seemed to have retired. He didn’t get a whole lot of fight from retired women, violent histories or no.
There, the cheap, wooden door with the brass number missing. It sagged between apartment numbers one-twenty-one and one-forty-four, for whatever reason. The man didn’t knock; he never knocked; knocking was like telling people “Here I am, come kill me now”, and he just didn’t do that. The door swung open with a slight groan and the man winced; he hated doors that made noise, they were as bad as knocking. The grimy, gritty apartment beyond was just as bad as the rest of the building. Silently the man bemoaned his fate; why did his job always require that he enter such disgusting places? He entered of course; he always did. The bathroom was to his left and he pointedly kept his eyes averted from it, not wanting to see its contents. The hallway opened into the main room, which was devoid of any sort of furniture or decor. Except there was a rickety chair right in the center of the room, under the dirty, flickering light and dusty ceiling fan. Where was she? She had promised, after some terror and reluctance, to bring the information here. The man had set up the meeting place, obviously; one never let the victim set the time or date. He hadn’t told her about it until an hour ago and it should have taken her only forty-five minutes to get there from her house. She should have gotten there around the same time as him. The man scowled a little. He hated tardy victims. He sat delicately in the chair, resigned to a short wait. Maybe she had decided not to come. If she had, the man would have to take more extreme measures to get payment; he had promised his employers that information, and he had no doubt he was going to get it. Blackmail usually worked, but occasionally he had to resort to armed intimidation. Once in a while he even had to make an example of beloved relatives.
He leaned back a little, tapping one foot silently; he hated waiting. The last time someone had made him wait, he had killed the man, but this woman was pretty; maybe he wouldn’t kill her. Besides, if he tried to kill her, she might kill him. He closed his eyes, and listened to the creaking sounds that came with old buildings. They normally didn’t mean anything, just the wind making the building sway a degree or so. He was beginning to doze, unafraid of missing his target because he was alight sleeper, when something rough brushed ht every tip of his nose. His eyes snapped open and he glanced down, just in time to see the noose tighten around his neck. His eyes widened and he grabbed it seconds before he was hoisted bodily into the air. As the rope contracted, he kicked, knocking the chair over in his panic. He had to get the... rope... of...f...
Above his limp, swaying body was a small hole where the rope had come through. A pair of slender but strong arms, a woman’s arms, reached down to tie the end of the rope to the ceiling fan. Her hands were wearing pink latex gloves. She gave the rope a little jerk and the fan started moving in a wobbly circle. The hole in the ceiling vanished as she replaced the square of ceiling and disappeared.








“Hey man! Just got back from a suicide; wanna get a beer?” The policeman set his gun down on his desk. From across the room, his boyfriend grinned at him.
“Sure. What kind of idiot hangs himself on a Friday night?”
“Dunno. Some bugger. It was in this real trashy place to. Y’know those old apartments? The ones scheduled for demolition on Monday?”
“That place? Bugger must’ve had a bad life if he wanted to die there. You’re paying for the beer, right?”
“Naw, it’s your turn, man!” Laughing, they left together.




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