The time: Midnight. The place: One of the more shadier of the establishments the city had to offer. The person: Myself, of course. For the better part of an hour I sat there, taking the occasional drink of the Sea Fizz that I purchased what seemed like an eternity ago. What seemed like an eternity sitting in the dark-lit room as the nightclub's deep bass throbbed in time with the collective hearts of the lower class citizens to grace the world with their presence. I glanced at the barmaid.
"No luck, sweetcheeks?"
"No sir, Mr. Mission!"
I shook my head, leaning forward on the bar stool. The shadowy forms of the club's denizens shifted and warped around me as the red dial above the bar clicked onwards. Nothing. I waited for the contact, and waited some more. They had seemingly gotten cold feet at the last second. Cold feet, or concrete shoes, as the saying goes around here. The mark I had been tracking was a real bastard in this case, and was infamous for taking out my contacts before I had a chance to locate them. Time passed, and I shook my head. Another one, gone, another doomed soul in this poor world of ours, one of a slowly diminishing number. But I was strong. Had to be. Soon, I told myself, soon I'd get to where I was going, find what I was looking for, and save another from the bleak fate we've been consigned to.
The rhythmic pounding of city feet on city streets. No stranger to the sound as I traveled through the crowded city, weaving my way through the massive crowds that filled the walks and streets like so much blood through veins. Making my way through dim streets under high walls, I lowered the fedora to cover my eyes. The chances of being recognized in such a crowd was low, but I was not one to take risks.
No, taking risks would find those long fingers around my neck.
The nightclub had ended fruitlessly. No contact to greet me and help me along my way, but I knew other ways to find the path towards that ultimate destination. I was making progress, even if it was slow, and I had to keep my eyes forward. The next clue was just down the street, a little French pastry store that was the fail-safe if the nightclub failed. The contact worked there, and if I didn't find him I would find where he used to be, goddammit.
The afternoon sun baking the street side cafés and marketplaces, with the throngs moving aimlessly about their lives, directionless and lost. But I, I knew the way. The way towards the destination wasn't clear, much less straightforward, but it was there. You just had to find it. You just had to know the way. Me? I knew the way. Or a way at least. I was dedicated. I was prepared.
I was on my Mission.
I leaned back in my chair, the plane finally breaking over the cloud cover into the bright light of the sun. First class, with plenty of leg room and plenty of room for thought. The other occupants were mostly rich businessman who had too much money to be caught fraternizing with the lower class. None of them gave me a second glance, and I was perfectly fine with it that way. Assholes with their noses in the air and silver spoons in their pockets, the lot of them.
The night club had fallen through, but I had picked up the trail again, finding which rat-hole my contact's killer had slinked under, and I was on the beat again, inching towards the murderous bastard.
On my way, another step closer towards salvation, towards my ultimate and likely final case. Closer and closer I got, one step closer and one step deeper.
Flipping through the magazine, some drivel about the economy that I grabbed in the airport, my thoughts wandered. Almost thoughtlessly, I grabbed the pocket watch and flipped it open. The ancient hands clicking around in an endless chase around the dial, almost as endless and pointless as mine seemed to be. Foreboding, to be sure, but none so much as the picture across from it.
The one woman I ever fell in love with.
Shutting the watch and clenching the old watch in a fist as the bittersweet memories flowed along with the anger, sorrow, joy, and regret that inevitably came with them as I once again re-avowed to complete this journey. Redd. Redd. Even thinking the name made my pulse rise and teeth gnash in anger. Redd, the one person who was more of a bastard than my mark.
I shook my head, setting the watch back in the pin-striped suit's breast pocket. I was on my way, after the mess in the city, well on my way towards the goal. Soon, I would get to my goal, and it would be over. One way or the other, I could finally lay Ms. Sweetie's memory to rest. One way or another, we would finally finish this long, pointless journey around our hopeless dial.
One way or the other, someone was going to pay.
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