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By "Jimmie Bise, Jr."
It was supposed to be an easy hit. The mark's name was Brice Danforth, and he was this pissant who was on the city council of Paterson over in Jersey. My part was easy. I got a call from a guy I know over in the Bronx who hooks me up with jobs when they need to be done. Well, he told me that these two fellas want to meet with me, and that it looked like my kind of work. I tell him that if they want me, they'll find me at Garbo's Deli over on Fourth. I like Garbo's. It's nice and quiet and Garbo, the little Arab that runs the place, lets me use his office if I need a nice private meeting. Besides, Garbo makes a really fucking excellent corned beef on rye, and I was feeling hungry.
So I meet these guys there and they're two of them, all dressed up like they were going to a Men in Black costume party or something. You know the look - the FBI-guy-with-the-stick-up-the-ass" look. When I first saw them, I almost took a walk the other way. I've done small jail time before - nothing big - but I have enough heat on my head most days that I don't need their kind of hassles. But something told me to talk with these guys. It's a gut feeling, and it's saved my life before. This time, though, that gut feeling almost killed me.
Anyhow, these two guys slide an envelope over to me. I take a peek, and there's a picture of this Danforth guy and his two bodyguards, and another envelope that felt like it was just full of cash - a lot of cash in that envelope -a shitload of cash. More than I'd ever been paid for a hit before, but I kept it cool. I didn't want these guys to see me drooling. So I played it cool and we talked. yeah, they definitely wanted Danforth dead. They didn't say why and I didn't ask. Fact is, I didn't care. Wish I had asked, though. It'd sure as shit be good information to have today. I asked about the two boduguard goons and they said that they wanted me to knock Danforth off, and if I happened to get the bodyguards, well, that was extra. I looked at the picture for a while and figured that, just by the looks of these guys, my job wasn't going to be too tough. Not too easy either - the bodyguards were about 600 pounds of pure pissed off and lean dago - but nothing I hadn't seen before. I told the guys that I'd take a look at Danforth, and let them know whether I wanted it or not, and they told me that they needed to know right now. Well, eagerness like that's a sign of desperation, and I ended up getting another small stack of bills out of one of the guys suitcoat before I left that table, just for agreeing to take the job blind. I don't do that often, and I don't think I'll ever do it again.
A couple weeks later, I was ready to move on Danforth. He wasn't that big of a deal. He stayed home mostly, unless he was working - he owned a little book store - or doing something for the Council. I wondered a few times how a small-time-looking-little piece of shit like this guy rated the two gorilla-sized bookends he had, but I wasn't paid to solve the great mysteries of life. I was paid to kill Danforth. His two bodyguards kinda made me wonder, though. I never did get a good look at their faces. They were always wearing hats that covered their faces, or parkas - even though it wasn't all that cold in October in Jersey - or something that never let me get a really good look at them. I figured that they were just kinda shy or something, or maybe had some scars that they didn't want to bring any undue attention to. As far as I knew, these two guys were mooks, just like Danforth, and they'd die if they got in my way, just like Danforth. Boy was I wrong.
By nightfall, I was set up. Danforth was predictable, and predictable types are the easiest to kill. I got myself a nice cozy spot in an alley about two blocks from his office and waited. I made with the drunk wino look, which is never hard to pull off in a big city, and paterson was big enough. You splash some mad dog around you, make like you're drinking once in a while, and wear some seriously scruffy clothes that you can get from any old bum, and you're set. Sure enough, at 8 PM on the dot, here came Danforth and his two goons, pretty as you please, and suspecting nothing. As they came by the mouth of the alley, I stood up real quiet and got in behind them. I pulled out my silenced gun and *pop pop pop* down went Danforth and his goons. Or not. I poppd each of them right in the back of the head - textbook - but not one of them fell over or anything. they didn't even bleed. the two goons turned around and they weren't happy. I put another slug into one's forehead, and I watched his head rock back and some black stuff come out of the hole. Black stuff? Fuck that..I took off..ran backthrough the alley and all three of them on my heels. I didn't know what the fuck was happening, but I knew I needed to be gone. If you shoot a guy twice in the head with a .380 from two feet away, and they turn around and smile at you, you're in bad trouble. Very bad trouble. Stephen King kind of trouble.
I ran hard up the alley and stuck my gun in my pocket. No use sending a bullet back down the alley. If two in the head in close reage weren't going to put these guys down, then one from 50 yard wasn't going to do it either. I checked behind me once, and Danforth was there, with the two bookends in front. Danforth wasn't hurrying to come after me, which was a smart thing, 'cause if you have those two guys, why hurry? They were kind of lumbering down the alley - making good time, but not hurrying. I was breathing pretty hard, and had gotten a good way down the alley. I didn't think they could see me, 'cause it was kind of dark up at my end. I could hear pretty good, though. Sound goes up the alley pretty well. Down the alley, not so good. I only say that 'cause I could hear what sounded like *sniffing* from the two guys. Okay..that was weird too, and I wasn't hanging around to find out what other little surprises they had for me. I jumped the fence at the end of the alley, and then hopped up a fire escape ladder. I had been here a couple weeks and made a point of learning the buildings around here really well. Mostly they were warehouses and an abandoned office building. I hit one of the warehouse ladders and got in a window like the Devil himself was on my ass. Now that I look back, he may have been.
I no sooner got in the window and out of the warehouse office when I heard this smash-crashing from outside. Sounded like the goons had just gone through the fence instead of over it. This was not a good sign either. I was not liking how many of these not so good signs I was seeing. I got up into the warehouse pretty quick, and got myself up on some pallets stacked up against one wall. I figured that maybe these guys couldn't climb so good, since they were so big. I wasn't going to take any chances, though, and puuled one of the pallets up with me as I climbed up, to make it just a little marder, in case those goons were part mountain goat, too.
Okay, so I was perched up on some pallets like a cat. I could get around okay..I'm nimble enough to move around the tops of the stacks of pallets and crates and skids around the warehouse, but I didn't like the idea of haivng to stay up here for very long. For one, come morning, the warehouse would open, and I'd have to get out real quiet, or get caught, and that's just heat I can't handle. A small-time breaking and entering rap would get me put away for a while, once they started typing my aliases together with some warrants I know are out on me. So getting out soon was a pretty good option. Not getting caught by the Amazing Indestructable Goons was my first problem, and I was putting every brain cell in myhead on the job. I could hear the goons moving around in the office..their sniffling and snuffling making like they were bloodhounds and I was the rabbit. I didn't like that at all. I checked my gun real quick too make sure I had as many rounds as I thought I did. Yeah. I know what you're thinking, but I didn't get along as well as I have in this business without making sure of everything, as much as I could. I don't even trust my own memory, especially when it comes to my gun.
The goons made it into the warehouse now. I could get a decent look at them from the little bit of moonlight coming in through the skylight windows. I made sure they couldn't see me and took a quick peek. Both the goons were hunched over, almost bent clean in half. Their faces were close to the ground, hidden by hats that just weren't big fans of the law of gravity, 'cause they didn't fall off. I could hear the snuffling sounds now, real clear, and I didn't like it at all. It was kind of wet…like a bloodhound with a bad cold. Every once in a while one of the goons would turn his face to the other and kind of growl and mutter, like a bear that had learned to talk, but not too good. This wasn't a good thing either, if they were talking to each other. They were tracking me, all right, and they came right up to the spot where I made like a cat. I guess they kind of lost the track, then, 'cause they kind of looked at each other, then back at Danforth, who was right behind them, and wasn't he half a spooky son of a bitch, too. His head was oozing the same black thick stuff as the goons' and he was….well, doesn't seem so odd now, but then, well, it scared the piss out of me. See, that little fuck was actually smiling.
Danforth's smile. The little fuck just smiled, like he knew that everything was gonna be just fine and dandy. It was the kind of smile that maybe a little fish sees on the face of a shark. The last thing a little fish sees. His head was leaking goo down the back of his shirt like motor oil and he was smiling. That pissed me off. I guess I should have been more afraid or something, but right then, it was him and his goons or me. I like me a whole lot more.
His goons were still sniffing around the stack of pallets I was perched on. They may have been big and could smell like a bloodhound, but they were stupid. Real stupid. That was my edge. Danforth looked a whole lot smarter, but I was gonna have to deal with that later. Carefully, I holstered by gun, 'cause I was gonna need both hands to pull off the stunt I was planning. I knew the pallets weren't stacked all that well, 'cause I had been up on them a couple times the night before. In fact, I knew where the tricky places were in this warehouse, and I was gonna have to bet that someone hadn't decided to get all industrious on me. Last thing I needed was someone to go moving things around and straightening things up on me, so a stack of boxes I was counting on being where I needed it would be moved. I got into a crouch, real quiet, 'cause if those mooks heard me, I was fucked. I picked up a wood scrap from off one of the pallets, then I got ready. Quickly, I threw the wood as far into the warehouse as I could, then, just as the wood hit the ground, I jumped toward a metal rack that was not far from me. On my way over them, I could see the goons looking toward the noise. I could hear them growl, and it was so fucking spooky that I almost forgot what I was doing. I couldn't see Danforth, 'cause he was behind one of the goons, but I was hoping that he was looking where the wood hit, too. I hit the metal side of the rack with a bang. I made one hell of a good jump - Thank Christ for adrenaline - and ended standing straight up. I only needed one hand for balance, which was good. I did one of those half-spins, and drew my gun. I knew what I wanted to hit, and there it was. Two pieces of wood braced up a couple pallets, and I was hoping to God that the whole pile was just as rickety. I fired twice, and the wood splintered under the weight, then gave in. I heard two grunting squawks from the goons ad the whole pile crashed down on them. I didn't have time to get happy, though, 'cause the pile missed Danforth clean. He just stepped back, and I swear to Christ, even the dust from the ground parted around him. He didn't get so much as a speck on him. The goons probably weren't hurt - I didn't think they would be - but it takes time to get 20 pallets or so off of you, so I had a little time.
I danced across the metal pallet rack, moving in between skids full of shrink-wrapped crates like my ass was on fire. It probably was, come to think of it. Not literally, of course, just kind of figuratively. I could hear wood splintering and cracking and being thrown around. I heard one piece of wood make a hollow thud against a metal crowpiece not far from where I had just been, but I was moving fast, barely looking where I was going. I had a plan, but I needed to move damn fast.
I made it to the end of the skid rack, then bounced down off of a stack of boxes, then to the ground. I could hear Danforth talking to the goons in some kind of sing-song voice I never heard before. It was pretty, like opera, but there was a lot of hard in it. I didn't want to hear much more. My brain was telling me to get the fuck out of there, and that's where I was headed. I ran down the short aisle in the back of the warehouse, and into a small officer there. I guess it's where the maintenance guy kept his tools. I really didn't give a shit. All I knew was that there was a can of gasoline in there, and that's what I wanted. I barked my shin on some fucking kind of tool and almost yelled, before I knew what was happening. Lucky for me I didn't. I think my little airborns ballet threw the goons, and Danforth of my track for a little bit, but it wasn't gonna last long. this wasn't a big warehouse, and they had all night to search it. The only way I was gonna get out of there was to go past them, and I bet you real cash that they knew it. I found the gas can and shook it a bit. It was almost full, and I bet the smile I smiled right then would have put the Grinch out of busines. I felt around in my pockets and found the lighter I always carry. I don't smoke - bad for your heath, ya know - but I always carry it. You never know when it's gonna be a handy thing, and right now, it was the handiest thing in the world.
I stepped out of the office, and I could hear the goons making their way up the aisle, with their snuffling and growling. Danforth was still doing that sing-song shit, and my brain was about to crawl outta my fucking head just hearing that. I unscrewed the lid on the gas can and started shaking gas out on shit: the boxes, the pallets, the floor…I moved a bit back toward the office and put gas everywhere I could. I saved a little, 'cause that was my surprise for them. By the time I was done, and had gotten up a small crate of boxes, they were about 30 yards away from me.
Danforth saw me first and said something harsh and barking. The goons looked up and when I got a look at their faces, I almost shit myself and dropped the lighter and gas can. They had the faces of dead men. In fact, I knew for a fact one of them was fucking dead, 'cause I killed him myself. Their eyes and mouths were sewn shut with thick blue thread. They tried to growl, but it just made the thread pull tighter against their lips. I swear I could hear the meat tearing as they tried. It didn't matter, though, 'cause they could growl loud enough for me even with their mouths shut. They lunged toward me like zombies or something, but faster than I thought they could move. One of them nearly got me as I had to jump up a little higher, onto a crate next to me. I dumped the gas can, or what was left of it, on them, and got some on Danforth, too. Then I flocked open my lighter. I was worried that maybe the fumes in the air would light off or something, but this time, I was lucky. My hand caught fire a little, 'cause of the gas on it, but I didn't feel a thing.
I dropped the lighter right on one of the goons, and he cooked off like I had marinated him in kerosene. He started burning, and I heard the thread tear loose from his mouth as he let out a howl I'll hear until I die. The other goon howled too, though he wasn't burning, but then he was….fast. They were both going up like kindling, and stepping back toward Danforth. Danforth was moving back, too, staying out of their way. He had to know what I planned, but he stepped right into it until it was too late. I pulled out my gun and put three quick, shots into Danforth's knee. His head might have ben indestructable, but those bullets went right through his knee, and he caved in - fell right to the ground like I was praying he would. I didn't even think. I put three more shots into the knee of one of the goons, and he fell backwards, right onto Danforth. By now the flames were moving across the floor and onto the boxes I had soaked. I moved as fast as I could, though it didn't feel nearly fast enough. My hand and arm hurt, but I couldn't think of that now, 'cause Danforth was screaming in that God Damned language…screaming like he was expecting something or someone to come save him. I couldn't bother with finding out who he expected to come on the way. I had to get out and that's just what I was doing. I turned my ankle bad but kept on chugging. I didn't have time to hurt right then. Danforth's screams got more and more muffled by the sounds of the flames eating more and more paper and wood, but he was still calling and calling and I could make out what he said "Ia! Ia! Shub-Niggurath! Ia Cthulu! Cthulu Fthagn!". Fuck that. I was gone…into the front office and out the window.
I hit the ground hard, and felt my bad ankle finally give out underneath me. I crawled back down the alley, past the wreckage of the fence. I could see the flames taking the warehouse behind me. I didn't know anything could burn that fast, but I was glad to see it burn. I finally looked to my arm, and saw the smoke. I was burned, yeah, and my ankle was fucked - probably broken - but I was alive. I grinned and wrapped myself up in my wino coat and curled up at the end of the alley, next to a dumpster, inside a cardboard box I put there just for reality. I kept an eye on the warehouse, though, just to be sure it burned. Sirens came, the cops and the firemen, but just before they got there I saw something I'm still not sure I saw. In all the smoke and flames and noise of shit collapsing, I saw something that looked like a bat, but pretty, but lethal, come flying out of the flames..it just took any light that hit it and ate it up and spat out pure speed as it flew straight up into the sky. It was gone in, like, seconds, and I had to think real hard to be sure I saw it. But I saw it. I know I did.
Well, the cops came, and the firemen, just like I said, but by the time they got around to looking for witnesses, I was shuffling my way down the street; just another lone wino looking for his next bottle of Thunderbird. It took me three weeks to recover from the burn (The arm's good as new now) and the broken ankle took three weeks past that (but it's good as new, too). I tried to find the skells that put me onto Danforth, but they were gone…ghosts in a city of millions. My guy in the Bronx, too. They found him dead two days after the fire from a heart-attack. That's bullshit, though. He was healthy as a horse and worked out every day. The skells got him. I know it. The paper the next day said that an accidental fire killed three unidentified men, and in a story all to itself, said Danforth had decided to quietly resign from the Council for health reason. Yeah. I wonder who fixed that up.
All I know is that when those skells come for me, and I wonder every day why they haven't yet, they're gonna find that I've put their money to real good use. I'm ready for them and for whatever the fuck Danforth was trying to call down on me. Ain't nobody gonna fuck with Donald Fontaine, that doesn't find themself getting fucked double right back.