By: Andrew Thomas Prenger
“If you do not transfer ten million dollars into the account I’ve provided within 24 hours then I will kill your son,” Dr. Diablo said. He was on a giant screen in my current employer’s office. Dr. Diablo was a smallish man in a shabby black suit and square-framed sunglasses. He had dark red skin which, when you saw it in person, you realized it was scaly. His eyes were yellow, bright yellow, not jaundiced and there were two horns sticking out of his forehead. Really, he looked like a stereotypical devil which meant he had a pretty unimaginative, though descriptive, name.
Behind him there was a figure tied to a wooden chair. He had blond hair styled into a faux-hawk. He was wearing a light blue polo shirt and khakis. With his black eye and broken nose he looked like he had been abducted on his way to some college party. A strip of duct tape over his mouth kept him from producing anything but muffled grunts, which increased in volume and frequency when Dr. Diablo mentioned killing him.
In contrast my employer seemed like a very successful amalgam of both of them. Like his son he had bright blond hair. For a man his age he was in very good shape. In the battle of middle age when your body betrayed you he was winning. His son had a bit of a beer belly while his dad was in perfect shape. He was dressed in a suit that, unlike Dr. Diablo’s, was very fine. So fine it went beyond designer name and was only available to the richest people on the planet.
He walked to a wet bar and filled a tumbler full of brandy. There was something about his movements which struck me as theatrical. Whether it was for Dr. Diablo’s benefit or mine I didn’t know. In any case it kept me on edge. I was sure my employer was used to high risk, tense situations but the calm and cool he exuded unnerved me. This coming from a guy who lived with gunfire and death in his everyday routine.
“You see, Dr. Diablo, I didn’t get to my station by being extorted. Do really think that now, suddenly, I will change? That because you have my son I will cave to your petty demands?”
A look of confusion crossed Diablo’s face. A similar look was on mine, but no one saw because of my mask.
“Are you insane? I have your son! As you can see he is not being treated nicely and I promise you that I will kill him!”
“I am not the insane one here. I’m not a kidnapper, a mad scientist and I don’t wear devil make-up.”
“It’s not make-up…Whatever! I have your son! Death to your son! Death if I do not get my money in TWELVE hours.”
“Why wait?” My employer pulled out a device that looked like a cell phone. He tapped something in then pressed down a red button. On screen his son started thrashing against his bonds. After a few seconds he stopped momentarily before his head exploded. When Dr. Diablo turned back to face the screen there was a chunk of brain sliding down his forehead.
“I will not be threatened,” My employer said. He tapped another button which turned off the view screen. A painting slid down to cover the screen, making it look like it was never been there at all.
I’d seen a number of fucked up events in my life, but I was certain that what I just saw was at the top now. I started to get a bit nervous. I had never worked for this man before. He was a referral. Like the bulk of my clients he was rich. Rich enough to stay out of the public eye for being so wealthy. That also meant he was on the level of secret murder rich and that could be very dangerous.
My posture didn’t betray my nerves. Slouched a bit, most of my weight on my right leg. It was an affectation I couldn’t quite shake no matter how hard I tried. It reminded me of an old west gunfighter stance. I did find it to be pretty effective in dealing with people. It gave the appearance that I didn’t care or was unprepared. What they didn’t know was that the moment my gun left its holster they would die.
By his lonesome he didn’t worry me so much. He was unarmed. Not one part of his suit was out of line, no awkward bulges at his armpit or waist indicating a concealed gun. I had three pistols on my person, along with a few knives and two grenades for variety. Gunning him down would be no problem. Gunning down his security staff would also pose little to no problem. They had superior numbers and firepower, but I had a super suit and perfect aim.
No, he worried me because he was crazy rich. He had crazy rich friends. If things went south, if I had to kill my employer, then I figured his friends would have no problem paying another super-villain to kill me. They conceivably could get a superhero. A few of the higher-powered heroes were on the government payroll. No doubt they could be sent to take care of me. They could do it easily. I’d faced a few of them before and while my aim was perfect that didn’t matter if the bullets bounced harmlessly off their skin.
“I believe it’s clear what I want you to do, Mr. Blood Shadow.”
“Respectfully, sir, I just saw you kill your own child. I thought this would be simple hostage retrieval. I honestly have no clue what you want me to do.”
“It couldn’t be any simpler. I want you to find this Dr. Diablo and kill him. I’ve been told that you are one of the best. I’ve also been informed that you have a previous association with him so I figured that you would have the easiest time tracking him down. Once you find him, kill him. However you want, I won’t get satisfaction either way if you do it quick or slow, but do bring me proof of his death. After that you will get your fee.”
I nodded and left his office. Finding Dr. Diablo wouldn’t be hard. The guy was an idiot. He fancied himself a major player. He wasn’t. Most everyone I knew had worked for him at one time or another. Before we found how big of a fuck up he was. His plans always fell through. Always. Dr. Diablo couldn’t help but taunt the heroes. He didn’t seem to understand you weren’t supposed to antagonize them. That just angered them, giving them more of a reason to wreck your shit.
Hell, I could’ve stayed out of the villain game. Stayed under everybody’s radar, called myself a mercenary. The only reason I did bill myself as a super villain was to get a bigger paycheck. For the most part I avoided the heroes as much as possible.