Skies above New York City are blackened with storm clouds. Bolts of lightning careen from the heavens, followed by the roar of thunder. The sight acts as an ominous foretelling; the prelude of events that will transpire.
Towering buildings stand among the dancing blasts of electricity. One in particular is the headquarters to a new industry that has been quickly crushing the competition. The strange black skyscraper holds an enormous sign, Phoenix, with the imagery of the fabled bird beside. While most of the rooms remain dark due to disuse, one office remains aglow in the midnight oils.
Seated at the desk is a young man, surprisingly young for one in the position of a president, as the nameplate on his desk tells; Vance De Phial. He sits in a rigid chair, icy blue eyes gazing out onto the stormy city. The role of president has taken a toll on his youth, transforming his hair a ghastly white.
Vance De Phial glances back into the dimly lit room and knows he is not alone. Sitting across from the desk is another, but not one of his usual clientele. He is dressed in tattered robes that hide a slender form. Under the gray hood, the client’s face is colored with black and white makeup to create the persona of a skeleton. His exposed flesh is done the same way, appearing to be some sort of shaman. Along his belt are an assortment of shrunken skulls and ragged dolls; asserting the assumption of his profession.
“Who do you want me to kill?” the stranger asks with a snake-like hiss.
“Raphael Fantassa; he is the new CEO of a rival company,” the president says in a serious tone.
Vance De Phial hands his client a picture. It is a man close to the age of Vance himself, sporting raven black hair and a pair of sapphire blue eyes. The shaman places the picture into the breast of his robes; whether there is a pocket is a mystery. He then gives his employer a nod.
“And as for payment?” the shaman questions.
“It is waiting for you downstairs,” Vance says, folding his arms. “Do we have a deal, Grim?”
The shaman, called Grim, nods again. Rising to his feet, he appears to glide across the floor like a phantom as he exits the office. Alone again, De Phial leans back into his chair. Outside lightning hits so close that it rocks the building. Suddenly, the place goes dark. And in the blackness, someone has appeared beside Vance.
Another flash of lightning illuminates a man in a black suit standing next to the desk. His hair is as black as the night and skin as white as snow. As the light fades, his blood red eyes continue to glow cruelly with serpentine pupils.
“Mr. Red,” Vance acknowledges the specter that has appeared, “What do you want?”
“I just came out of curiosity,” he gives a deep chuckle, “Why are you relying on that man to kill Raphael? Surely I can handle him. After all, that is why we made our contract.”
“I have heard rumors,” is Vance’s answer.
“Rumors you say?” Mr. Red smiles, revealing a row of fangs.
“Raphael has been keeping company with a strange individual,” Vance rests his elbows on his desk. “I am certain he has also made a contract with a karayan. I would rather send Grim to see what we are dealing with.”
“Another karayan,” Mr. Red ponders, “How intriguing.”
“Do not forget the conditions of our agreement,” De Phial snaps, “Everything is going smoothly. I do not need any foul-ups.”
Mr. Red politely bows, and responds, “Of course, Mr. De Phial…”
Down in the lobby, a lone security guard sits precariously at his desk. Gazing lazily at the security monitors, he fails to realize that there is another presence standing before him. Looking up, the security guard is shocked to see the cloaked man, Grim.
Shocked, the fat guard tumbles off his chair, “W-What are you doing here?”
“I am here for payment,” Grim answers.
His skeletal hand grabs one of the dolls at his hip. Its body appears poorly crafted, nothing more than a rag doll with eyes made from ‘X’ stitching. As he holds out the doll, the guard shakily gets back on his feet, believing that the weird man wishes to give him the doll.
Grim starts to chant, “Leve non ak chak fèt Delivrans ti kras yon sèl…”
With every word spoken, the little doll seems to move. The doll wriggles to life by his spell. It thrashes out of its master’s grip, landing upright on the table. Looking down at it, the guard sees it smile up at him. And then, that smiling mouth opens up, revealing needle-like teeth. With an evil hiss, it leaps at the guard, biting into his throat. The guard screams as the creature sucks his blood.
Each gulp of blood that the little beast swallows causes its body to grow. And with every helping, the guard gets weaker. Though he wishes to pry the tiny demon off of him, he lacks the strength, while the doll tightens its grip on him. Eventually, the guard collapses behind the desk. Grim looks over with emerald eyes that blaze with enchantment.
Nothing is left of the man, save for his uniform. Standing next to the clothes is the doll, resembling a human with flesh and hair, but keeps its rag-stitching across its mouth and various parts of its face. The beastly doll is wrapped in strange black cloth that clings to its ragged skin. Soulless black eyes look up at its master, as it gives a small grin.
“Come, my beautiful creation,” Grim says to the doll. “There is work to be done, and you have much to devour.” What should his next objective be? Please return to the top of the page to vote!