My coat was covered in char and soot, the very things that made the furnace district what it was: fire and ashes.
The chimney stacks rose into the air like the canopy of a forest, their black payload spewing into the already dreary sky. I ducked my mouth behind my collar, trying to filter the putrid air out of my lungs.
Eventually, I arrived at my destination. It looked like a giant, black brick building like the rest of the charnel houses, but this one was the most important one. It held inside of it the conclusion of a long and grueling investigation.
Inside that house was my gods-be-damned ring.
Walking inside the front door is a decent option for most people, but that wasn’t going to fly: I’d be dead the instant I put my foot through the door, dead as a doornail. I had to get creative.
I searched around the building for any way in, be it a window or a basement door. To my considerable luck, I found myself an open window, leading to the basement. I squeaked my way through the window, and got hit by a wave of heat.
The room glowed with heat from all the furnaces, burning whatever the workers were tasked to dispose of. The smell of ashes and burning permeated everything, and the heat made the smell ten times worse. Not only that, but the smell of gunpowder now hung in the air, and the sound of bullets smashing into the bricks behind me was all that really mattered. Cover was my first priority.
I sprinted toward a nearby wall of metal, my mind racing and my legs racing faster. Bullets slammed to my left, behind me, right in front of me. Everywhere I went, death was waiting to catch me; but not today. That dame was all bad news, and I had no intention of meeting her again anytime soon.
I dove behind a huge metal… thing. Maybe it was a boiler, I had no idea. Bullets pinged off of the steel wall between me and them, making an almost musical sound.
“Stop fuckin’, ya know, shootin’ the fuckin’ boiler you braindead pricks!” Accent I couldn’t place. Arrogant. Bossy.
Fucking perfect. The man of the hour, the man who had my stuff.
I fired off a couple of blind shots around at the direction of the voice. Cursing followed.
“Whatsa fuckin’ matter ya fuck? Stop shootin’!”
I stopped. “Alright. Sounds good, I don’t need to see the dark lady yet; but I’ll make an appointment anytime I feel it’s necessary, hear?”
“Fine, fine. What the fuck ya here for you crazy asshole?”
I started reloading my gun, the old rounds clinking on the cement floor. “Are you Bruce “Pig” McGrey?”
“Yeah, whatsit to you, fuck face?”
My gun clicked into position as I thumbed the hammer on my gun. “You’ve got my ring, Pig, and I aim to get it back.”
A moment of silence. “Shootim! Shootim now!” A hail of bullets began to pound the boiler I was hiding behind.
“Sommun checkim.” One of Pig’s thugs carefully made his way over to the boiler, stopped for a second, and then whipped around, gun pointed at the floor.
No one bothered, while they were shooting the fuck out of a depressurized boiler, to look at the ladder behind the boiler. While they were shooting, I climbed that ladder onto the catwalks above the floor, and carefully made my way to the middle of the room.
Four thugs, easy pickings. I took aim at the three nearest Pig.
The first’s brains met pavement in a gory combination of gray cement and red blood. The second one turned to look at his pal’s unfortunate end, only to meet his own by a bullet through his heart. The third ran for the door, but didn’t make more than five meters before his neck bit a bullet. The fourth took a pot-shot at me, putting a hole in my coat. Luck still loved me, it seemed.
Bull’s eye brought the last one to the ground, and left only Pig himself, hands in the air, quivering.
“Don’t you dare move Pig. I’ll make you squeal if you do.” I made my way to the ladder on his side of the room, climbed down, and finally I stood before Pig McGrey with a gun in my hand.
“Whatchoo wan, prick? I havn’ got your godam ring. An if I ever catch you agin, bitch, I’ll toss you inna furnace over there.” He pointed towards the furnace about five meters behind him, his arrogant smirk trying to hide his fear. He lied terribly.
“Fat chance.” I punched him in the face, his feet flying out from under him. I grabbed his shirt collar, and brought him close to my face. “No one steals my ring without knowing what it is first… but you knew that.” I elbowed him in the stomach, doubling him over in a fit of pain.
I brought my foot down on his knee, snapping it backwards in an explosion of gore and bone, his screaming body falling backwards.
I searched his body, and found my ring in the breast pocket of his suit jacket. “Really? The breast pocket?” I took the ring, which was attached to a leather cord, and put it around my neck. “That’s the worst hiding spot ever.”
“I swear I’ll fuckin’ kill ya Black! Augh!” He yelled in pain, his leg spewing blood everywhere.
“No, you won’t. Neither will your boss, after he sees what I did to you and your boys.” I picked him up, and dragged him to the nearby open furnace.
He screamed. He begged. He outright started crying.
“Please, fo the loveagod, put me doun!”
I paused, and looked into the flames in front of me. “Sure thing. I’ll put you down the same way you put down so many people for crossing paths with you, bumping into you. Hell, your own brother met this same fate because he didn’t want to see people burn. Me? It depends on the person, and I’m going to enjoy hearing you cook.”
I walked out of the building, screams following me the whole way out. When I got out I turned around, and slammed the door shut on him, his screams cutting out completely in an instant which created a silence not entirely unlike the silence at the end of a battle, an image completed by the smell of people burning; and for what, really? A ring full of sentimentality?
Maybe Pig just wanted to get on my nerves.