Chapter 00 : Austere Overture
A gust of wind swept through the dimly lit bar as the door opened and two men walked in. From outside came the sound of the rain falling lightly, until the door closed and all you could hear were the slurred voices of the men and the clinking of glasses. Occasionally, there would be boisterous laughter, raw and scratchy from so much drinking. The smell of alcohol and tobacco lingered in the air, dank and heavy, but everyone in the room was used to it, used to places like these. No one was bothered.
The two who had entered were the usual sort, rough in both looks and attitude, with heavy coats wet from the rain and eyes dark with something more than the usual troubles. But that wasn't a strange sight. It was a harsh area, the one they were in, with crooks roaming around, waiting to rip off some unsuspecting idiot before the pick-pockets got to them and hookers lining the streets once it was late enough.
They ordered some drinks, strong ones, and the bartender didn't take long to slide the two glasses to the men, not paying them much mind. He was a young man, in his late twenties maybe, with a slim frame and a handsome face, or so people said. It hadn't been that long since he had started working at the bar, maybe two weeks, give or take a few days. The bartender knew he'd have to leave soon, which wasn't really that unusual, but he thought it was a shame to have to go already. The job had been good, it paid well enough and the people weren't too bad, just the occasional rowdy drunk, but they were easy to take care of.
He glanced up at the clock above the wall behind him. It was getting late, nearly time for his shift to end, which was good because he still had to pick up something to eat and he was pretty tired. Sleep seemed like a good idea, and he was glad the next day was his day off. Usually, he would have worked through it too, but he needed a break, and he had to get ready for whenever he decided it was time to move.
A door at the end of the bar, the one leading to the backroom, opened, and out walked Jack, the manager of the place. He was only a few years older than the new bartender, but he had been working there since he was a teenager, cleaning tables at first to support himself, but he was a nice enough guy, even with his rough past.
"You've got someone waiting for you outside," he told the younger man currently wiping the bar counter.
The bartender arched an eyebrow curiously, but the other man just shrugged and began cleaning some glasses, intending to watch over the bar while he was gone. Wondering who would be looking for him, the young man made his way to the back door at the other side of the building. It was located in the stock room, and led to a side street that was frequented by those looking to hide for a while and drunks that had been thrown out and were too far gone to stay conscious for too long.
For a moment, he wondered why Jack hadn't let whoever was out there in, but maybe that was a good thing. He didn't know many people who actually liked him. The wind felt colder still when he opened the door and the rain was heavier, but he didn't bother thinking about that, not when he saw the kid standing outside.
"Sam?" he queried, genuinely surprised.
Sam was a young boy, too small for his age and certainly too quiet. In general, he wasn't what you'd expect from a teenager, but then he wasn't a normal kid. He was standing outside, with a large backpack and a white shopping bag - the kind that you were supposed to use now because they were 'good for the environment' - held up against his chest, both hands gripping it tightly.
"What are you doing here?"
The boy only looked up at the bartender with those bright blue eyes of his, and the man had always thought it was the red hair that made them seem so intense.
"There were strange men outside the house," Sam said calmly, his voice soft and barely audible over the rain.
The bartender frowned, his brow furrowing as he ushered the boy inside. He cast a glance around, searching for anyone who might be lurking around, but closed the door once he knew no one was there. His attention turned to Sam, who was standing quietly, his clothes dripping wet. With a sigh, the man took the bag the boy was holding and set it down by some boxes of beer.
"Come on, you need to get out of that coat before you get sick," he instructed.
Without a word, Sam removed the large coat he had been wearing, and the older man was relieved to see the rest of the boy's clothes were dry. While Sam took off his hat and scarf, both soaked, he went off to get his own coat, and returned a moment late.
"Wear this while your coat dries a bit."
Sam nodded and put on the coat while the older man sat on some crates with a sigh.
"How did you get out of the apartment?" he asked the boy.
"Through the back, and I went over the fence. I came out on the other street," answered the boy.
"Did anyone see you?"
Sam shook his head. The man was relieved to hear that, and he knew Sam would have known if someone had followed him.
"Kyle," he heard the boy call.
"Are we leaving?"
He knew what Sam meant. Would they skip town?
"Yeah, but not tonight, we'll find somewhere else to stay tonight."
Sam didn't seem to mind either way, but Sam never complained much about anything.
"What did you bring?" Kyle asked.
The boy picked up the bag he had carried and opened it, digging around the clothes on top to bring out a handgun.
"Your clothes?" Kyle asked, not surprised to see the weapon.
"In the backpack."
The man nodded absentmindedly. There wasn't much else they needed. He was sure Sam had brought the few items that held any important information, and Kyle kept a few things in their car. Still, he would have to go back to get anything they left. Kyle picked up the boy's backpack -noting how heavy it was- and his damp coat.
"Come on, my shift's almost over. You can wait in Jack's office."
He knew Jack wouldn't mind. He had a soft spot for kids and he never used his office anyway. It was a rather small room, a cheap desk at the back with a worn chair and folders filled with bills and other paperwork strewn about. He turned on the light and motioned the boy inside.
"Stay here for a while. I should be back in around an hour."
He didn't need to tell the boy to not mess with anything in the office. Sam wasn't the type to go through people's things. He'd just sit there and stare at the wall if he had nothing to do. That was probably why Kyle stopped before leaving and gave the boy his phone, a battered black device that didn't even make calls anymore.
"Play some games on that or something while you're here."
He got a nod in return and then Sam was pressing buttons and shooting aliens and for a moment, he almost looked normal.
Jack was just sliding beers down the bar when Kyle got back. He stood next to the other man and began mixing up a drink some old man had just asked for.
"So, who was the kid?" Jack asked.
"My cousin, he's visiting," Kyle lied easily, he had done it enough times and Jack knew not to ask too many questions around those parts.
"You mind if he stays in your office for a while? I'm taking him home and my shift's almost done."
"It's not like I use it anyway," he said.
Kyle let out a short laugh as he handed the old man at the bar his drink.
Not much else happened after that. It was late and the weather was too horrible for everyone but the most determined alcoholics. Jack was yawning at one end of the bar, just about ready to leave, but he still had two hours to go before his shift ended and Kyle felt a bit sorry for the guy. Not sorry enough to stay for longer than he had to though. He got a week's pay from Jack and left to get Sam after that. He wasn't surprised to see him still playing the same game on his phone. The battery would probably die soon, but it wasn't like that mattered.
"Time to go, Sam," he said.
The boy stood and grabbed his things, changing into his own coat and handing Kyle his along with the phone. They walked to the back door and Kyle turned back to the boy.
"Stay here while I bring the car around."
He didn't want to risk anyone seeing Sam, not if someone was lurking outside. After a quick nod from the boy, Kyle sprinted through the rain and to the car parked across the street from the bar. There weren't many people out, just the usual bums, no one suspicious, but he was still mindful of his surroundings as he stopped at the back entrance of the bar. Sam stepped into the car as soon as it had stopped, and Kyle tossed his backpack in the back seat.
"Where are we going?" Sam asked after a while, still looking out the window and into the dark streets.
"There's a hotel we can stay in. Just until tomorrow, then we'll see."
Sam didn't respond, there was nothing else to say.
The hotel they would be staying at was a two floor building painted a boring beige color. There were patches of paint in different tones meant to cover the graffiti that marked every other building and a dim sign that hummed dully and flickered. Kyle led Sam inside, carrying the boy's heavy backpack.
An old man sat behind the counter at the lobby, a room with peeling paint and yellowish light. He was watching an old T.V. that couldn't be more than ten inches in size and the reception was terrible, but then so was the show. He didn't look at them when they walked in after the obligatory glance to make sure they weren't up to something and all Kyle got when he asked for a room was a grunt and an old notebook to sign in pushed towards him. He paid the man thirty dollars, rather cheap considering it was one of the more decent places around, and people around those parts tended to overcharge for just about anything, the lousy crooks. Kyle took the grimy key with the key chain numbered with a nine. It was on the second floor, the man had muttered.
Kyle steered Sam towards the stairs, and kept his hand on the boy's shoulder all the way to their room. He could hear muffled voices from some rooms and a few loud snores dulled by the too thin walls. Finally, they came to their room, marked with a peeling number nine painted black on the door.
The room was alright, Kyle thought, good enough to sleep in for the night. There was a bed that looked comfortable enough for Sam to rest on and a lumpy old couch he would be using. He had never been picky about where he slept, after all. An old television set rested against the wall propped up on a set of drawers. Kyle turned it on and set it on some random game show.
"Watch some shows for a while," he told Sam, at the same time checking out the small bathroom.
"I'm going out to get some food, anything in particular you want?"
Sam shook his head, just like he did every other time Kyle had asked him that same question.
"Alright, don't open the door. I won't be gone long."
And Kyle really hoped so. He never liked leaving Sam alone for too long, and it wasn't because he was a bad kid, but because he was a good kid, and bad people were after him. He locked the door and went back out, the rain hadn't let up, but he hadn't expected it to. Just like he hadn't expected it to be easy to get back to the apartment he had been staying at for the past couple of weeks. It was a four story building, red bricks and relatively well kept in a less seedy part of town. He parked right in front of the building, because there was no point pretending anymore and at least Sam wasn't around.
The streets were deserted, the weather had kept everyone in and Kyle was glad for that, because he didn't want anyone caught in the crossfire and his hand was already inside his jacket - gloved fingers brushing the gun in it's holster - even before he reached the apartment. He took out his keys just as he was about to round the corner and jammed them right into the face of the man that had been waiting for him, hidden, and he was out like a light. His breathing had been too heavy and Kyle thought he was probably new to the job. The door to the apartment swung open, and another two men came out, each holding a gun, but Kyle had already pointed his own and pressed the trigger before the two had taken aim, and it was a good thing he had invested in that silencer, because two gunshots would definitely call attention to him.
He stepped over the bodies and kept his gun ready for anyone else, but the place was empty and once again, Kyle was glad Sam had known to get out. He heard shuffling from the hallway and then faint footsteps, someone was approaching, and they were trying to be stealthy. They wouldn't take Kyle by surprise though, not that easily. He hid behind the door, his dark coat helping him blend into the shadows and as soon as the man was within reach, he grabbed his head and jerked it to the side. There was a snap and then a thump and the man hit the floor. Kyle's job was done.
Quickly, he began to pack away whatever had been left, including the weapons he had taken care to hide well. He felt a bit bad about having had cut through the floorboards to hide the duffel bag full of guns, but he supposed the owner of the building would be more concerned with the men laying out in the hallway. It took Kyle less than ten minutes to get everything and drive away, and now all he had to do was get some takeout for Sam and himself. He would figure out the rest in the morning. He always did.
Hello everyone, and thank you for stopping by to read this story. Although I am currently working on a lot of other stories, I couldn't resist posting this, and I always like to work on a few different genres at the same time. That way I write according to my mood. So, to any readers of my other stories, sorry for starting yet another story, especially when I started one last week, but I couldn't resist. Also, my Doc. Manager isn't working too well, so don't expect any line breaks.
About the story itself, I'm not saying much about it at the moment. I know it started out in a confusing way, but I wanted to introduce the situation, characters and setting before explaining the story behind them. I have a part of the end written and a couple of chapters after this one done. Chapters will be long, which is why I didn't call this a prologue, so you can look forward to that. I'm not going to rush this story though, I really want it to be good, because I love the idea of it and the characters. Sam and Kyle's relationship is a different one from the one's I've written before and I really want to properly show how it develops throughout the story.
Anyways, I hope you enjoy the story and please review if you get the chance. I'd love to hear(or read) what you think.