Of a Violent Nature (excerpt from working story)
Cyrus made the long trek around the side of the hotel until a door presented itself like it wanted him to come through. The inside of the hotel was scaled and gutted at its core. it was quieter in its hollowed halls than the night air it kept out, save for the faint sound of grinding. The further he followed the sound, the more notes added to its melody. Hammering, cranking, sawing, and at its source, a voice. At the end of his journey stood a pair of grand double doors and a plaque above engraved with the word 'ballroom'. When he opened the door, it didn't lie to him.
The ballroom appeared, a study in champagne and honey that kept a feeling of excess it once had in spades. Balconies jutted out like floating islands only anchored by a staircase that vied for your attention. in the middle of the room stood a woman ready to dance along the cherry wood floor she walked. Her black knee length dress didn't exactly scream work but her clipboard and earpiece she touched did. "Okay," she spoke as if the mic wouldn't be enough to extend her voice. "Dim the lights. Play one."
He couldn't hear the workers move but suddenly a soft melody flowed as the room darkened around the woman. She glided along the floor as she kept writing on her clipboard. Every once in a while, she would scan the room with her lyncean eyes for anything out of place. This time, she found him.
"Moving up in the world, aren't you, Edie?" Cyrus spoke as he stepped more into the light. He gave her a grin to cut through the acidity of his question. He couldn't show any sign of aggression. he couldn't scare away his informant.
"I could say the same for you," she said as she looked back at her board. "Trading in that loner lifestyle of yours for a little desk job."
Investigating homicides wasn't exactly a desk job but she was saying that to be factual as she was to be serious. She was flirting, one of the walls every one of her clients had to break to get anything from her. For as long as he knew Edie, it was routine. She placed herself amongst the filth of the city and needed ways to keep herself clean. She was good at what she did and everyone wanted her skills for themselves.
"I see you haven't lost your talent for information."
"It helps when work is running low. But knowing what you're up to is more of a personal interest of mine."
"Flattering. Maybe sometime I can help you out with that. I know more about me than I can bare." Cyrus only got a stare back as a response. He could almost feel her fortifying her walls. It was time to cut to the chase before it got too thick. "I need information."
"Of course you do. You wouldn't be here if you weren't. But as you can see, I'm busy at the moment."
"That makes two of us. So if you tell me what I need to know, we can both get back to business."
She wasn't in tune to his words anymore. She was back to work, daring to force the rafters to straighten themselves.
"What's in it for me?" Edie finally spoke. "You of all people know my price."
"An eye for an eye, information for information."
"Exactly. But as much as I want to take you up on the offer you gave, I feel you can't give me anything new. So how about you pay me back with a favor." She smirked at Cyrus, and pointed her pen to outside her spotlight of influence. "You can start by grabbing that plywood and taking it to the stairs."
"You're kidding me."
But Cyrus already knew she wasn't. He wasn't much for taking orders or doing mundane work, but this was important and once he started, she would know how important it was too. He sighed, rolled up his trench coat sleeves, and picked at a handful of wood planks. By the moment the last piece reached the stairs, a bead of sweat had pierced through the inner layer of his hat.
"Good." she said. "Now I'll need all that cut. I'm sure you can handle that."
Cyrus wouldn't entertain that with a response. He just turned to Edie. Something about the look she gave told him there weren't any saws nearby. Nor did she want him to use one. She wanted to see him do what he did best. Cyrus looked back at the stack of wood, and extending his right hand, claws out, made a violent slash. The wood split into five pieces. He looked back at Edie for confirmation.
"Will that work?" He asked as he retracted his claws.
"Good. Now how about my information."
"Not yet. I still have one more job for you. Come here."
Cyrus was getting impatient with these tasks but he couldn't let it show. He approached her ready to deal with whatever else she had. Edie abandoned her clipboard and returned to her earpiece.
"Sergio? Center light. Herman? Cue music." She finally walked up to him. "And you, take off your coat. It's not proper to perform a dance with a trench coat on."
He played along, letting his coat fall off his shoulders and off to the side. She took his hands as the music started again and the lights dimmed around them.
"What is this?" Cyrus dared to ask.
"The final dance has to look right and the best way for them to adjust is to have an example."
She took one of his hands into hers and placed the other on her hip. Then they swayed, slowly and steadily, in the spotlight. The room echoed the music and the sounds of adjusting she told about, sounding less and less like mere stage equipment. But while he had his ears to the ceiling, Cyrus couldn't help but notice Edie dissecting him and could only wonder what she's searching for. What could be found from the rise and fall of his chest, his unkempt face and the intent behind his eyes? Maybe she could see the years that slowly turned him inhuman.
"Well. It seems that I was wrong about you, Cyrus?"
"Everyone that talks about you says you cant be tamed. Yet I have you here chopping wood and dancing with me. Maybe you're getting soft after all these years."
"Not soft. Just more aware. Time has taught me there's more than one way to be dangerous."
"Like how right now, while you're in my grip, I could crush your hand or stab you in the back and none would be the wiser. Or... how right now, an entire firing squad could be waiting to kill me on your command."
Edie figured he would find out by now though she didn't try hard to hide it from his senses. It was all matter of seeing what he would do once we did. She was surprised how now nonchalant Cyrus was about it. "There could be thirty," Cyrus continued as he sniffed the air. "No, forty men cocking their guns on those balconies. AK-45s, machineguns, rifles. The air reeking of gunpowder and sweat as soon as I walk in the room." Cyrus let go of Edie already proving his point. "But why would anyone do that?"
"I had to be sure you're still on your game, Cyrus." With a snap of her finger, the lights brightened to reveal an army of men, their gins pointing straight down ant Cyrus. "Information isn't always accurate. Sometimes you have to do you're own research. Of course I'm not the hands-on type, so I brought in some help. They're just as interested in you as I am."
Cyrus watched Edie slowly walk by admiring how his instincts took over in the face of danger, the minatory stance he took, how he seemed lost in a state of anger. Behind him, she picked up Cyrus's trench coat handling it with care.
"I think I'll keep this safe for you. A good coat like this shouldn't be covered in blood."
"You might as well keep this too." He flicked his hat to Edie and she just managed to catch it. "Don't want to get that dirty either."
She headed for the back exit leading out into the night air. then gave him one last look at his little subject. "I'll give you that information you were looking for. Just meet me outside... if you can."
Cyrus saw the joke teasing the word 'if' as if she thought he'd actually die here. He eyed the gunmen and figured they would time their attack with the closing of that metal door. As she left, all Cyrus could focus on was that metal door, all he could hear was it slowly creaking to a close, all he could feel was anger over everything he had to go through just to make a girl talk.
Edie walked down the three steps that elevated the metal door from the ground. The cold hit her like a snowball to her face but she ignored it and leaned against the brick wall beside the door. She watched, listening as the door creaked to a close ending with a click. Suddenly the muffled sounds of gunfire bombarded her ears. The heaviness f its artillery thumping the ballroom even shook the wall she leaned on. She wrapped Cyrus's coat around her arm and placed his hat on the same hand. Then she felt something hit her wrists just over the coat. She searched the pockets and found his cigarettes and lighter. She popped one out of its case and lit it, warming herself in the winter weather.
She final felt the rumbling wall stop and the sound of gunfire ceased in her ears. She waited through the silence. Each puff of smoke she blew like a ticking timer. Suddenly, a slight scream pierced the bricks, then another and another all followed by a strange growl. Then the metal door thumped. It didn't sound like someone trying to get out but someone being thrown against it. That was her cue to ready herself. She reached beneath the slip of her dress and pulled a derringer from the holster. It was loaded with one bullet made of special metal said to kill their kind. If she could shoot him in the head, she could see if this thing worked herself. Another metal thump scared her almost making her pull the trigger. All of a sudden, a gunman flew through the door and hit the opposing alley wall. Blood smeared the bricks as the man fell to the cold ground. Cyrus walked out the vacant doorway bruised, bloody, but from whose blood Edie didn't know. All she knew was that he was staring at her now, his unassuming eyes now as red as the blood that stained him.
Fear like she never felt before shook her body violently. She backed away as he stepped closer, a harbinger of death in her eyes. She held up her gun, not able to stop her shaking, and fired. She caught him in the shoulder. Cyrus didn't stop. He got to Edie grabbing her by the shoulders and pinning her against the wall. A silence fell between them only cut by the slow huffs and puffs Cyrus gave off.
"I'll take that back." Cyrus snatched his coat off her arm and the hat from her hand. He slipped on his hat, straightening it and himself out. "Hope you learned something today"