HM MAFIA EPILOGUE: An exchange of deeds
Danny kicked BobÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s corpse away with a look of disgust and pulled up the chair nearest the portrait, at the foot of the table. The DJ took the seat opposite, at the head.
They fixed on each other with equally malicious stares, the silence broken only by the unearthly laugh of the portrait.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“So. What now?Ã¢â‚¬Â
Danny met DustinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s eyes with a mischievous glint. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Where do you reckon olÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Kadaver here is from, anyway? I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t seem to place his accent.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Dustin shrugged his shoulders. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Hell, I dunno. Sounds the way all rich people sound to me.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Danny leaned forward on the table, grinning. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ah, yes. Money is pretty important to you, I guess. So thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s why you were so willing to kill these people off?Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Well, it started out that way. After a whileÃ¢â‚¬Â¦I guess it was more about the power, and the thrill. I mean, sure, the money is temptingÃ¢â‚¬Â¦but honestly I sort of forgot about it after a while.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Heh. I figured as much, actually, when you were so excited about killing off my Ã¢â‚¬Ëœcrew.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ I do appreciate the help with that, by the way. Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Hey, no problem. You scratch my back I scratch yours, eh? I gotta tell you though, I was pretty surprised when you told me your plan.Ã¢â‚¬Â Dustin reflected back on his first conversation with the reporter. Danny had approached him, white faced and tremblingÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I know whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s happening here. I know whoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s doing the killings.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Dustin had been nonchalant even as a wave of panic overtook him. He sighed a deep breath of relief at DannyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s next words. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢sÃ¢â‚¬Â¦itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the house. Spirits of the house have overtaken some of us, and they are using us as puppets to do their evil will. DustinÃ¢â‚¬Â¦youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got to help us. YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got to do something. IÃ¢â‚¬Â¦I can sense who they are, who is possessed. Dustin, we have to kill them. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the only way.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Dustin was skeptical, but decided to carry on with the conversation, feeling it safest to get as far away from his own part in the killings as possible. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Alright Danny. So tell me. Who among us is possessed?
Dustin hadnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t thought it possible for the reporterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s face to go any more pale, but the remaining color drained from DannyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s face as he spoke. Ã¢â‚¬Å“WeÃ¢â‚¬Â¦we managed to get one already. The Frenchman, Pascal. ButÃ¢â‚¬Â¦heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not the worst of them Dustin.Ã¢â‚¬Â In a low whisper, a name escaped DannyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lips. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Gilbert. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the one we have to get. Dustin. YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got to help me.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Alright Danny. I think I can help you.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Shaking his head out of his reverie, Dustin brought himself back to the present. Ã¢â‚¬Å“And then when you confessed that you yourself were possessedÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬Â Dustin chuckled lightly, Ã¢â‚¬Å“I gotta tell youÃ¢â‚¬Â¦I thought you were off your rocker.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Danny winced a little, but the look quickly passed. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know how you would react to that. Hell, it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t easy for me to tell youÃ¢â‚¬Â¦the spirit is constantly in my mind, trying so hard to force me to its biddingÃ¢â‚¬Â¦even nowÃ¢â‚¬Â¦IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m tired from fighting it, I really am. ButÃ¢â‚¬Â¦you stuck with me. When I asked you to take out Tatytana, you really came through for me. And best of all, no one caught on, not even my own people. I guess you made sure of that.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Well, I figured it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t in anyoneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s best interest to have a possessed woman running around. What can I say? And hey, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not like you stood by and watched me do all the work; you were covering my ass just as much as I was covering yours. And by the way, you did a beautiful job helping me clear out the extras, heh. Nice job taking out Marcus especially; I rather thought he would be more difficult.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Yeah, I was nervous about him, especially after he told me he had been in med school before he dropped out to study business instead. Figured he would know how to survive, butÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬Â Danny gave a little shrug and a half smile.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The beauty of it all, though, was that no one suspected us. We were right in their faces and they never suspected a thing.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Suddenly the portrait spoke up again, startling both ruthless killers out of their pleasant conversation. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Actually, I beg to differ. That drunken woman, Ophelia, could sense your evil all along. Had you pegged on day one, Danny.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Danny gave a little chuckle. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Did she now? Clever girl, clever indeed. A shame she died so early.Ã¢â‚¬Â Danny and Dustin shared a chuckle at this.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This is all quite fascinating, really, and while watching you two pat yourselves on the back for your devious schemes is most entertaining, I feel I must ask again; what happens now?Ã¢â‚¬Â
It was Dustin who replied, Ã¢â‚¬Å“WellÃ¢â‚¬Â¦I guess I take my new friend here to an exorcist to get rid of that pesky spirit, and we enjoy the good life sipping fancy drinks with little umbrellas on the beach of some distant island, far, far away from here?Ã¢â‚¬Â
The portrait let out a bark of genuine laughter, and Dustin was disturbed to see a change come over the face of his accomplice. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Oh, you silly boy. Did you really think we would let you go? Danny, of course, can never leave here again, isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t that right Danny? No one here gets out alive.Ã¢â‚¬Â Dustin only grew more concerned when Danny began to shake his head violently, going pale in the face.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not true Dustin, donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t listen to him!Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Oh, come now, Dustin. Surely you knew how this would play out? You didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t actually think you would make it out, did you? Aw, I think you did. That must be the sweetest thing I ever heard.Ã¢â‚¬Â The portrait spoke in a mockingly high pitched tone. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Did ickle Dustin think his new pal would help him out of the big bad housie?Ã¢â‚¬Â Changing smoothly back to his deep and sophisticated voice, DeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Lecti suddenly became serious and haunting. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Let me show you what your friend really is.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Dustin shuddered at the invasive, yet familiar, feel of the ghostly cold passing through him, then looked on in horror as DannyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s pudgy, sweating face began to transform before his eyes. Gone were the flabby red cheeks, replaced by high, sharp cheekbones cut with deep hollows below. Decaying grey flesh grew over DannyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s pale skin and his eyes changed from their normal pale blue to black as night.
Dustin shook his head violently in an attempt to clear the horrifying vision, and while he was successful at throwing the portraitÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s illusion from his eyes, nothing could erase the memory of that horrible face from his mind.
Danny realized in that split second that Dustin had seen everything, and did the only thing he could do, the only solution leftÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
Ã¢â‚¬Â¦but Dustin was quick, and lunged for Danny at the same time Danny attacked.
The two men collided, hard. Then something strange happened; perhaps Dustin's close and lethal contact with the spiritual world had affected a change in him. Maybe a bit of each soul he had destroyed had gathered inside him. Either way a mystic blast sent both men flying away from each other. Smashing into either wall, the two rose, Dustin coming to his feet a split second before the reporter.
Again the two men charged, moving with a supernatural swiftness that could only be attributed to something unearthly. As their battle raged on, seemingly increasing in intensity, the room became ever colder. The darkness crawled down the walls, winking out each torch lining the walls, each candle, until one by one all twenty had gone out. Finally the darkness enveloped even the fire, still burning in the fireplace.
As the two faced off again, Danny coming in with a hard right hook and Dustin with an uppercut, the fire burst into a demonic blue blaze. Had the two looked closely they would have noticed the faces of the other guests dancing and flickering in the flames. Again, though, just as the fighting reached the peak of intensity, a strange force seemed to push them away, sending Danny sliding across the room and shoving Dustin into a wall.
The painting, eager for more bloodshed, laughed gleefully. The two men were surprised to hear another voice join in the laughter; the lawyer, too, was present, appearing as he always did, unseen and on queue.
The men, becoming increasingly battered by the fight and the strange force that separated them, panted and prepared to begin their fight anew. But suddenly, they stopped, glaring hard at each other, looking deep into the otherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s souls. In that moment, a flash of understanding, an intuitive agreement passed between the two, and as one, they turned, facing their hosts. Dustin, closest to the Lawyer, wasted no time as he lunged for the manÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s throat. Tearing a significant portion of the unsuspecting man's neck free with a single swipe, his eyes glowed madly with that same blue flame. As the former DJ tore into the lawyer, taking out a long night of pain and frustration, a sudden and alarming pain ripped through him, bringing tears to his eyes and clouding his vision. He arched his back, his mouth opening in a silent scream, as unspeakable agony rippled through every part of his body as if he were melting, shifting, morphing into some terrible beast. Unthinking, Dustin lurched up suddenly and closed his jaw around his victimÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s neck, biting hard even as he felt weakness overpower him.
Meanwhile, Danny turned to face the portrait, pouring all of his focus on the image before him. He found himself locked helplessly in the paintingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s stare, lost in the blackness of his eyes. He felt drained, weaker by the moment, sinking down to one knee, then collapsing completely, overwhelmed by the paintingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mysterious powers. Summoning the last of his strength, he threw back his head and let out a primal roar of defiance. A smoky black mist drifted out from his mouth, seeming to flow from DannyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s very soul. Almost too quick to see, the otherworldly force sailed across the room straight towards the portrait. The visage shuddered violently and the gaunt man immortalized in the picture wailed.
Soon after, the darkness receded, and the room was as pristine as if the otherworldly battle that had just taken place were some nightmare. The two men were gone. But things were not completely unchanged.
The magnificent picture now held the trapped image of Danny Kincade. The man, though far from threatening when he first arrived at the Manor, somehow appeared that way in this rendition. His face had become more pale, with dark bags under his eyes. Gone was the disarray and sleazy excitement that had come with the reporter the evening before as he rushed into this very same dining room; that buoyant attitude was replaced now with something vile, dark, and evil.
Sitting at the head of the table, facing the portrait was a man, dressed in the fine attire of a lawyer. The change in attire and fashion made Dustin nearly unrecognizable, nearly.
The two men finally understood. It hadn't been the portrait and the lawyer corrupting those within. It really had been the house itself, as Dia had so gravely warned, even in her dying moments.
Danny-the-portrait chuckled in a queer imitation of DeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢LectiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s laugh; perhaps, indeed, in tribute to it. Ã¢â‚¬Å“So, LawyerÃ¢â‚¬Â¦when shall we begin sending out the invitations?Ã¢â‚¬Â
The Lawyer frowned for a moment. What was my name again? Surely not The LawyerÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Drend? No, that was someone elseÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Danny? Aw, hell..
Ã¢â‚¬Å“How about tonight?Ã¢â‚¬Â
The only thing you needed was Rod Serling to pop out of the bushes.
Great story line, and fan-tas-tic ending.
Three cheers for the mods!