BREACHSPACE: Fiendish Profiles, “The Iron Web of the Meat Locker Mafia” by E.J. Tett
A frozen pig carcass hung from the ceiling, swinging from a chain. Light glinted off the tip of the hook that emerged from its trotters. Aranax pushed the slab of meat so that it swung back and forth, chain creaking. His own chains, four of them protruding from his back, moved around him like snakes, silent and graceful.
He moved past more hanging carcasses – a lamb, half a cow and something he couldn’t identify – as he approached his captive. The man was tied to a chair, ankles bound, hands together behind his back.
Aranax enjoyed the way the man’s eyes widened ever so slightly at his approach, the way his nostril flared and his muscles tensed. He noticed the set of the man’s jaw, a determined grimace, trying, and failing, not to show his fear. A sheen of sweat glistened on the man’s brow, despite the cold of the chiller.
“What do you want?” the man asked.
“Nothing,” Aranax replied. One of his chains slunk towards the captive, the bladed edge brushed the man’s cheek.
The man jerked his head away. “Then let me go!”
“You must want something! What is it? Money? I have money.”
Aranax chuckled: a low, throaty sound full of menace. “I am already getting paid far more than you could ever hope to give me.”
“What do you want?” the man growled again. He tugged at his bonds, causing the chair to jump a little.
“I don’t want anything,” Aranax replied. “The man I work for wants you out of his way.”
Aranax heard footsteps so he drew back from the captive. He smiled. “Why don’t you ask him that yourself?”
Two pig carcasses swayed as Aranax’s employer moved them aside to step through. The man was tall, taller than Aranax, and lean, with dark, cropped hair and pale blue eyes. He wore a thick coat with a furred collar and leather gloves. When he laughed, his breath clouded in front of his lips.
“You!” the captive hissed.
“He recognises you, Mr Keller,” Aranax said.
“I expect he does,” Keller replied. “He’s sleeping with my wife, I imagine he’s seen my photo beside the bed.”
Aranax chuckled. “You would think that’d put him off.”
“You would, wouldn’t you?” Keller agreed.
The captive jerked his arms. “Let me go!” he demanded. “Does Maria know you’re doing this?”
“What do you think she would do if she did?” Keller asked. “Rescue you?”
“She’ll hate you when she finds out what you’re doing to me.”
Aranax doubted Keller’s wife would ever find out. He smirked and folded his arms across his chest.
Keller simply laughed. “She already hates me. Now then…” He turned to Aranax, slipped a hand inside his coat and pulled out a fat envelope. “Your fee. You’ll find it’s all there.”
“I know I will, Mr Keller,” Aranax replied, taking the envelope and stowing it away about his person. He knew that Keller was aware of what would happen if he dared to cross a kyton. He waited until his employer had walked away and he’d heard the chiller door close before he turned back to his victim. “Now where were we…”
In one swift movement, the man tilted his chair back, slammed his feet down, and freed his ankles before the chair legs crashed heavily to the floor again. He rose up, hands still attached behind him, and twisted, smashing the chair into Aranax and breaking it into pieces.
Aranax grunted in surprise, then watched as the man ran away, darting between slabs of meat as broken bits of chair skittered across the floor.
Aranax laughed and brushed splinters from his chest. “Why prolong the inevitable?” he called. “There is no escape.”
“Yeah?” the man called back. “I’m a chancer, can’t you tell?”
“I can tell,” Aranax replied, moving pig carcasses aside to clear his view. “Do you know what I am?”
He heard the scuff of the man’s feet on the floor, then his voice coming from a different direction. “A kyton.” The word was almost a whisper, almost a gasp, full of fear.
Aranax knew where the man hid and with one small gesture, instructed all the chains in the room to pull back, so that he could see his prey.
“There you are,” Aranax said, smiling.
The man had his back pressed against the wall. His eyes were wide and his jaw set. “St-stay away,” he stuttered.
Chains creaked and chinked as they moved. Those that had no meat attached snaked towards the man, wrapping around his arms and legs as he screamed and thrashed. Aranax himself stood back a moment, watching, before he raised himself up on his own chains, stabbing the pointed tips into the floor as he walked, spider-like, towards his victim. He stopped, grabbed the man around the throat and pulled him close.
“A pity,” he said, “I thought you’d put up more of a fight.”
The man choked, clawed at Aranax’s arms with his fingers, his eyes started to roll back in his head.
Aranax relaxed his grip and let the meat chains hold the man instead. With a smile, his face became that of Mr Keller’s wife.
Metal links crossed the man’s face; chains cocooned his head until only his eyes were showing. He looked at Aranax, a brief flicker of hope, then his muffled voice said, “Maria?”
Aranax only made the chains squeeze harder.
BREACHSPACE: Fiendish Profiles, “The Iron Web of the Meat Locker Mafia”, written by E.J. Tett, published by XEI is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.