As the bleary sunlight cast a pale glow across the factory walls, and the faint hint of blood corrupted the already musty stench, I began to search frantically for the disabled villain. Even without my trench coat, the mid-morning heat was bearing down on me, amplified by the stuffy atmosphere, and my grip on the bottle of vodka began to loosen as sweat permeated my palms and drops of perspiration ran down my forehead.
The endless stacks of boxes merged closer into each other with each corner I turned, and soon I was completely lost within the monotone-brown maze of cheap plywood and abandoned cardboard. With a forlorn sigh, I tried unscrewing the top of the bottle to take a swig, but in doing so I only succeeded in dropping the expensive beverage its contents crashing against the concrete floor with a thud that offended the silence of the warehouse and temporarily stole my breath away. It was then, looking down on the wasted alcohol, that I noticed the smeared trail of blood; unlike those I had previously seen, this looked more like someone had been dragged by the arms, their claret allowed to seep out with total disregard.
Immediately forgetting the loss of my vodka, I followed the trail with caution, not knowing what to expect or who I might find. As I ran, my heartbeat was amplified inside my head by the bitter hangover that still tore across me as a result of both the previous night's drinking, and the fact that I had set a beautiful woman on fire. Within seconds I met the end of the trail, and was greeted by the sight of Dr. Eclipse's drained and broken body, slumped against a wall his cigarette, still alight and clasped in his clammy hand. The patch of blood had spread from his ankle through out the entire length of his trousers, dying the expensive material a dark crimson and ensuring that no amount of dry cleaning would ever make them wearable again.
I sat down beside the carcass to catch my breath, taking the smoke from his hand, since it was pretty clear he was no longer capable of doing anything with it. With Eclipse's death, I had lost my final link to the Belgian Truffle literally, I was back at square one,It's very inconsiderate of you to go getting yourself killed. I took a puff of the cigarette and watched the elegant vapour disappear into the air while considering my next move. Possibly I'd jump up and down, or wave my arms about. I just wasn't sure yet.
It was then that I noticed a pair of tall shadows drawing slowly closer from beyond the towers of boxes, dampening the warm sunlight I had chosen to bask myself in. As the dark forms grew closer I realised them to be a pair of large men in suits, not unlike Tiddles and Oaksy. With a crooked smile I got to my feet to greet the men, who nodded in return,Morning.
"Morning, We'd only uttered two words to each other, but I liked the way the conversation was going. The pair of them were practically twins; both had shaved heads, a small moustache and frilly pink sunglasses. Their suits were bright yellow. If not for their sheer size, it would have been tempting to laugh at them, 'so, what can I do for you fella's on this bright? morning?"
The men looked at me carefully, then at each other, then back at me, then back at each other, then back at me, before nodding. Suddenly one pulled out a cane and set about dancing merrily, his face achingly serious as his shoes clattered skilfully across the floor. His partner watched for a few moments before backing away and bursting into song:
"We're here to take you to the Belgian Truffle,
And we've got a bag you call a duffle
To stuff you in so you don't muffle
And I hope we avoid a horrid scuffle.
With that both men stopped dead and stared at me, as if expecting something. I began to clap frantically, hoping to sate the budding entertainers. Show business is a dangerous game when the main act can tear you to bits. Both men began to curtsey in reply to my applause.
'thank you, thank you. We hope you enjoyed the act," They said in unison with the trained efficiency of practiced ballerinas,Unfortunately, you're now coming with us. Suddenly the pair lunged forward and grabbed me by the shirt collar, lifting me a good four feet of the floor. A hundred excuses ran through my mind as to why they should let me go sure I wanted to get to the Belgian Truffle, but not as a prisoner to a dancing duo of crooning crooks.
"Err? you can't take me! I'm, err, Dr. Eclipse!? I cried desperately. Instantly, I was dropped to the floor and the pair gave me a befuddled look, their brows furrowed deep with confusion.
"You are? Then who's that geezer there?" They pointed to the increasingly stinky corpse of the man I was now impersonating.
"That is the man you are looking for. Actually, who are you looking for?"
"dr. Eclipse,? They replied, picking me up again, laughing merrily.
"But wait - you can't take me. I'm not Dr. Eclipse at all. I was merely testing you!? I cried even more desperately. Again, I was dropped, hitting the floor with a nasty thud.
'Then who are you?" They shouted at me, a look of irritation set across their faces.
"I'm? I'm outta here," I said, getting to me feet and making a run for it before they could react. Both men watched me turn the first corner with bemusement before realising I'd escaped, at which point they roared at my so easily tricking them and proceeded to follow after me. Luckily, the few seconds their slow-wittedness had given me was enough of a head-start and soon I'd lost them within the maze of boxes. The only problem was that, as well as losing them, I'd gotten myself lost again.
The thugs, tearing the boxes apart from the sound of things, shouted out into the warehouse,There's no escape, you know. Might as well just give yourself up!? Frankly I'd heard the dialogue a hundred times before. However, at the moment there was no way I'd win in a fight - without my dragunov I was no match for the pair. I needed to find my way back to my booze and trench coat, where I'd left the weapon.
Quietly, I began to climb the nearest tower of boxes to try and get a wider view of the area, allowing me to both find my gun as well as locate the two thugs. The splintered wood buried itself painfully into my palms with every step, but soon I was high enough to see across the warehouse. The vandals were the first thing to cross my sight they were travelling together, simply throwing boxes about to clear a path as they went.
Unfortunately, their trajectory meant they'd find my rifle if I didn't act fast.
Looking above, I realised my best chance to beat the pair would be to swing from my location across the suspension cables, and then slide down the one nearest my target. With a swift leap, I grabbed a hold of the first, which promptly began to swing randomly. I felt my heart make a quick stop in my stomach as the gravity of the situation became clear. Using my legs to gain control and momentum, I was soon able to move the rope in the right direction and, at the opportune moment, made a try for the next one along. I missed.
"Woaaah?!? I screamed as I fell, anticipating an icky, messy and generally unpleasant death across the concrete. Luckily, I'd aimed myself right on top of one of the thugs, who neatly fell beneath my weight and cracked his head against the concrete instead,Way hay,? I laughed, before noticing the other goon staring at me in disbelief.
"If not for the fact that you just killed my partner, I'd be impressed by that.
Still standing on the dead goon, I looked up at the remaining partner and tried to look threatening; inside every fibre told me to haul ass out of there before he snapped my neck. The deceased dancer's blood was gurgling out of his skull noisily like some bad plumbing, and spurting across the concrete floor with ease. Every fresh splatter caused me to wince, as if the giant in front of me were a time bomb; one that didn't count seconds, but rather reacted to the litres of blood the dead man had lost for now, just savouring the moment before finally unleashing fiery fury across an unsuspecting innocent. Although, well, I was hardly innocent. Raising my courage, I spluttered out a half-hearted threat,If you mess with me, the same will happen to you too!"
The crook laughed and slapped me across the shoulder merrily, 'sure it will. Give me one good reason why I shouldn't tear off each of your limbs right here and now.
"Well? OH MY GOD LOOK BEHIND YOU!? I screamed, thrusting an arm out into the air. Like a rat to cheese, the yellow-suited nincompoop zipped his head back with a girlish shriek. I took the chance and, with all the strength I could muster, smashed my fists across the top of the guy's spine. He instantly fell to the ground, knocked out and probably still wondering just what it was that I'd been shouting about. I grinned triumphantly and gave him a few kicks about the ribs, just for the fun of it. Then, taking him by the wrists, I dragged the comatose crooner with me toward the small cluster of boxes where I'd left my trench coat and dragunov, only a few corners away thanks to the boy's redecoration skills.
I dropped my charge roughly against the floor as I moved toward the weapon, enjoying the hard thud of his head knocking against the floor. He'd sure have a headache when he woke up. All the dragging and falling from high places onto people had left me quite thirsty, so before I picked up the rifle I opened up another bottle of booze and guzzled it down greedily. The bottle finished, I donned by trench coat and slugged the rifle against my back as I'd done previously, like a baseball bat. The goon was now snoring lightly, drool spilling out and glazing the dull grey surface. Occasional air bubbles also popped out, followed by a soft mumble. The giant, only a few moments ago incredibly intimidating, was now incredibly pathetic. Of course, he also represented my best lead yet and I needed him awake to get the information I needed.
A quick search of the area revealed some spare rope, which I used to tie the arms and legs of the villain, tightly. The last thing I needed was him breaking free once he was awake. Then, taking the cheapest bottle of alcohol I had left, I screwed off the cap and proceeded to pour the entire contents across the dozing face of the sleeping beauty. He awoke with a piercing cry as the liquid splashed into his eyes, before trying to pull his arms toward his face to scrub it out only to realise they were tied, and he couldn't reach,IT BURNS," he called desperately before letting out another cry.
I smashed the empty bottle against a nearby box and held the jagged edges close to his face, 'shut the hell up would ya?, unless you want me to rub that stuff out of your eyes with very sharp and pointy glass?!? He quickly quietened down with a passive half-sigh. Sated, I backed off crunching broken glass against my shoes as I went, and rested against a box, watching him writhe slowly. The rope would soon be burning against his skin unless he stopped that too.Listen up you pansy. I've some questions and you're gonna give me answers, because I've spent too damned long wandering around with false leads to do any more searching for my bear. So question one, and you better know the answerlest I find my cigarette lighter and we have us a nice barbeque, is this: where the hell can I find The Belgian Truffle?"
"Right," I nodded, pacing across and poking the barrel of my rifle into his chest,It can't hurt that bad that stuff was only 10% volume so stop screwing around and TELL MEEEE!" I readied to fire, hoping to sweat the guy into submission.
'the Belgian Truffle?" he began, each laboured word sounded out as if it were the hardest thing he'd ever done,The Belgian Truffle?"
"Yes?!" I whispered under my breath in sweet anticipation.
'the Belgian Truffle? is a five minute? walk from here. There's a big sign pointing it out just outside the entrance to this? estate," he finally uttered.
"You've got to be fucking kidding.
Unfortunately, before he could reply to my jibe of disbelief, he again lapsed into unconsciousness presumably the stress and pain of the whole situation just too much for him. Wuss. I gave him another quick kick in the ribs before ambling away, unsure whether or not to believe his report of the club's location. Grabbing another bottle, I strode out of the bloody warehouse toward the fenced mouth of the warehouse district to investigate. The sun's light had given way to a thin veil of cloud in the time I'd been inside fighting, and the temperature had dropped just enough to make wearing the heavy coat bearable. I was back to my very coolest.
Each bland building I walked past added to the maze of storage, almost as a higher representation of the endless boxes I had been using. They were near identical small windows and thick, iron doors made entrance and escape practically impossible, although they were all kept locked up except the one I'd been in which, for some strange reason, was widely regarded as the definitive venue for shady business and underhanded murder. I felt a sudden pang of sympathy for the caretaker who had to clean up the mess left by the criminals and vigilantes who used it, but it was quickly swallowed by the determination to find the sign that had been spoken of.
The edge of the estate was lined with a thin mesh of wire fencing, which many used as a free way to advertise their businesses to those who used the warehouses. Generally, I ignored these signs, as they weren't much use to someone who made money out of capturing the criminals they were aimed at, and this was why I'd not seen the Belgian Truffle's. A quick search confirmed the knocked-out thug's story. The sign was there bright purple with neon yellow letters and a picture of a scrummy looking truffle, surprisingly enough. Mmmm. It also gave exact directions of how to get there from the warehouse; too lazy to memorise them, I ripped off the large sign and began to follow said instructions, downing the bottle I'd brought with me at the same time.
It felt strange to be back on the streets after the somehow comforting confines of the stale warehouse. The public nature of the area, laced with buildings on either side, made me open to view to anyone who cared to casually look out of their window. Actions of the kind I'd been involved in ever since the beginning of this case setting people on fire, shooting them with my rifle, and kicking them while they were unconscious was just not possible. Shame really. It was even surreal to simply pass people in the street again, knowing that they weren't out to kill me, and it was an effort to avoid eying each empty face with suspicion. The only looks I got came as a result of my lugging about a large painted sign.
A few busy streets into my walk, the directions on the sign ended. I tapped a passing stranger on the shoulder,Here," I said, offering him the plywood board.
"Err? thanks" He replied, taking the board and watching me with confusion as I walked on, looking for the club. The small street was packed with the sounds of the masses getting on with their daily business shops, cars, and sirens all merging into the soup of civilisation. Only a flashing neon sign of an arrow stood out of the mess, and following it I quickly saw it led down into a set of stairs. Drawing my rifle, I began to pace down with caution through the long flight - the end, for a simple lack of lighting, coated in shadow.
Eventually, I made it through to the bottom of the stairs only to be faced by a pale brown door. The wordsAbandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here? were painted across it, with a picture of a fluffy looking chocolate smeared down the side. Death by chocolate, indeed. At last I had found it, the domain of Ben Powerful, the Belgian evil genius dedicated to the sole cause of taking over the world. At last, I had found The Belgian Truffle.