In The Dark

rating: +30+x

Joe's head bounced off the metal table with a clang. The Man in the Suit behind him cracked his knuckles and walked around the table.

Joe shook his head, the initial hit was still ringing in his ears. "Look. I'm still entertaining buyers. I swear you'll get your cut soon."

"See, here's the thing." The Man in the Suit reached across the table and slapped Joe in the side of the head with his open palm. The force of the blow lifted Joe out of the chair and sent him flying into the floor. The Man in the Suit straightened his tie. "Carter and his associates handed you that truck on a silver platter. You left us holding our dicks for 3 weeks while you 'entertained buyers'."

Joe cradled his head as he felt a boot kick him in the stomach. He wretched slightly and curled into a fetal position. The Man in the Suit crouched in front of Joe and continued. "I vouched for you. You understand what that means right? You fuck up and it's my balls on the line."

Joe tried to answer through the pain. "I swear I'll get you your cut before the end of the week."

The Man in the Suit patted Joe on the side of the face. "I don't got that kind of time Joe. My boss is breathing down my neck about this. I had to tell him something. He's taking a personal interest."

The Man in the Suit stood up and walked over to the only door in the grey room, knocked three times before opening it and moved to the corner of the room opposite Joe. The door swung open on its own, and Joe could see a bright light in the warehouse outside before it was eclipsed by something massive.

Whatever it was had the rough shape of a man, but was far too tall. It ducked under the doorway and entered the room. Joe's eyes went wide as the lamp in the center of the room illuminated the creature.

The creature's fingers reached all the way to the floor, terminating in sharp nails. From Joe's perspective it was difficult to tell where the fingers ended and the nails began, but they scraped the ground as the thing crept with staccato steps, leaning forward on backwards facing knees.

The gray wrinkled skin covering the creature pulsed and throbbed under the light, with bulbous pustules rupturing and healing repeatedly. The thing's face was all smiles, with a grin that reached up and out of sight around the back of its head. As it stopped in front of Joe, it focused its single yellow eye on the man and opened an impossibly wide mouth.

"Where," it began with a shallow and breathless voice, "are the fucking artifacts?"

Joe shat his pants. It wasn't a subtle affair. The creature twisted its head to an impossible degree but continued to stare at Joe.

Joe, for his part, couldn't have formed words if he'd wanted to. He had lost all control of his faculties. All he could see or hear or think about was the creature's eye. The creature finally looked up from Joe's paralyzed form at the Man in the Suit across the room. It opened its mouth again. "He's got a warehouse in Fulton River." It stopped and wheezed. "I've got the address. We'll go there after I'm done."

For Joe the physical pain was gone. All he could focus on was the yellow eye. Probing.

The creature's neck twisted grotesquely as it returned to staring at Joe. Joe's eyes filled with tears, but he didn't move. Then the creature moved back slightly and Joe began to gasp. Joe hadn't even noticed but he'd stopped breathing, and suddenly his lungs were screaming for air.

"What," the creature gasped out as it looked up at the Man in the Suit, "do you think we should do with him?"

The Man in the Suit stepped out of the shadow of the corner and shrugged. "He's a good earner. But I'm not inside his head. Is he loyal?"

Joe saw the back of the creature's head as it smiled. The teeth did in fact go all the way around. "He is now."

The Man in the Suit smiled back. "Good. I'll call Darke and let him know we'll have the artifacts by the end of the day."

"Yes." The creature said, before standing up and moving towards the door.

The Man in the Suit nodded. "Thanks, boss. Sometimes these kids are more trouble than they're worth."

The creature didn't say anything else as both it and the Man in the Suit walked out of the room.

Joe shivered on the floor for several more minutes before finally getting the courage to stand and leave.

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