zombiefist“Do I need to repeat myself?”

The faceless man tilts his head slightly in the direction of the ten foot mass of muscle that had just busted my face open. A behemoth of a man; I can imagine that a concoction of muscle enhancers and supplements have all but replaced the blood coursing through his veins. They’ve probably also significantly decreased both his capacity for independent reason along with his ability to get an erection. I think I’ll call him Darlene.

Darlene cracks his knuckles in a theatrical display straight out of a pre-Collapse gangster movie. He licks his lips and grins. He wants me to think that he’s going to enjoy working me over. I know the type though, chances are the thing he would enjoy the most would be getting dolled up like a girl and sodomized (possibly by his boss) while his mother spanks him. He performs an equally elaborate demonstration of cracking his neck.

I feel my mental faculties returning to me. I can’t let this man know what I know about Conroy. Even if he’s an ally there are some secrets that are best kept from as many as possible for as long as possible. Passage into the city was one thing, a necessity. This situation? Not so much. I’m banking on the fact that this man has severely underestimated my resistance to narcotics of all kinds. The fact that I’m even seeing straight in this moment is probably an advantage he isn’t even aware that I’m enjoying. I need to buy myself more time, let the toxins diminish. I turn to Darlene.

“Hey there muscles, if you’re planning on giving me the once over I don’t think you’ll need to warm up quite so much. After all, I’m bound to a chair; I don’t expect to be able to put up much of a fight. Your employer has left my mouth open though, so perhaps I could bite you? That might piss you off a little more though. So I would advise myself against it. I’m pretty fond of my face and I’d appreciate you maybe just sticking to body blows if you’d be so kind. That is, if you’re intending on hitting me at all. So far you’re just irritating me with your show of machismo.”

He moves menacingly towards me, fury in his eyes. Darlene clearly is not amongst my loyal fans. If he was I would like to think he would at least be slightly amused by my banter. The man at the desk doesn’t seem interested in me wasting his time though.

“Back off Sancho, he won’t be answering any questions if you’re beating his insides to a paste.”

Darlene is Sancho. I think he’s more of a Darlene.

“Now, answer the question St-Brigid, what do you have on Vincent?”

“This all seems a little excessive, don’t you think? I’ve put a few pieces of this little puzzle together. The way I figure it is that you’re the one who called me the other day to tell me that New Bunker was in Conroy’s hands.”

“Yes, it was supposed to scare you away from New Bunker.”

Here we go; dialogue. I’m the one doing the talking. He won’t be asking questions if he thinks I’ll volunteer the info. He thinks I’m high as a kite. He thinks I’ll run my mouth and tell him what he wants to know all on my own. I keep talking.

“Well, it had the opposite effect didn’t it? Instead it made me sure that I wanted to be in New Bunker. As you’re no doubt aware I have no small history with Conroy.”

“Something about you being responsible for nearly killing him, if I understand correctly.”

“Oh yes, something like that. However, men like Conroy need to be punished. My approach was a little ham fisted in the past. I thought that by raising an angry mob against him, justice would take its course and it would be the end of it. Of course, we both know that justice has gone the way of a civilized society. Men must make their own justice these days. Or at the very least fully orchestrate it. I left too much to chance. Did more harm than good I suspect. I won’t make that mistake again. This time when I blow my horn the walls of Jericho that Conroy has built around himself will come a’crumblin’ down.”

“How?”

“Well, you don’t need to know that do you?”

“I think I do.”

“I disagree.”

The man leans forward; Darlene makes a gruff little snarl that I suspect he thinks will intimidate me. The man smirks and I know for sure that he still thinks he has the upper hand. I continue.

“Unless my guess is very much off the mark you would to be a usurper to Conroy’s little empire here in New Bunker.”

“How do you figure?”

“Well, if you worked for Conroy then you would have already killed me. I sincerely doubt he would be taking even the slightest of chances with me considering the outcome of our last encounter. The only reason I’m not dead is that you see some sort of advantage to keeping me alive. At least until I tell you what I know. Then, once I tell you, you’ll likely kill me. That would be a mistake though.”

“Oh?”

“Well, if you knew what I knew that would be well and good. However, you wouldn’t have the means to prove it. I’m the only one who has the proof. Without the proof the knowledge is useless. It would just be heresy and speculation. A waste of everyone’s time. If you tried to use it against him it would also instantly show your hand and you’d end up on the losing end of that sick little game you run in your bar. If Conroy knew you were lusting for his throne you wouldn’t make it through the night.”

“That’s your one mistake St-Brigid, I don’t own that bar. In fact, I don’t publicly own anything in this city. Vincent has no idea who I am. Feel free to let the city know about me in your little articles. It’ll get back to Vincent in a heartbeat and when Conroy’s cage is rattled he stops thinking clearly.”

He’s interested and he just admitted that I would be getting out of here alive. I’ve got him.

“Here’s what I think. I think you’re going to help me. I think that with your resources I won’t have any trouble doing what I came here to do. If I succeed then the head of this damned snake you call a city will be chopped off and Conroy’s position will be nice and vacant for you to move into. I’ll have Conroy and you’ll have your city. If I fail you’re in the same spot you’re in now, which doesn’t seem so bad to me, all things considered. There’s no sense in telling you what I know since there’s no proof of it. You probably wouldn’t even believe me if I told you, so you’re just going to have to trust me.”

He pauses, considering his options. I already know what he’s about to say.

“You’ve got yourself a deal St-Brigid. What do you need from me?”

“For now, I would like to be untied and served a drink that is not laced with narcotics. After that, well, the first thing you can do is buy me some time.”

I am not keen on letting New Bunker fall into the hands of a man like this. The kind of man who would drug and beat a potential accomplice before attempting civil discourse. This is not the kind of man who should inherit the Earth but so often it is this kind of man who does so. However, I’m even less keen on being murdered in the back room of some shit hole little dive.

Revolution makes strange bedfellows.

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