...BECAUSE SOMETIMES FATE FAVOURS THE WILDCARDS...
The streets of New Lilith were known for being unpleasant, but the Shallows took it to a whole new level. The Shallows were a neighborhood which was even more overshadowed by the rocky cliffs that surrounded the city than any other area. The houses here very rarely were built taller than a single storey due to the low income in the area. The property in the Shallows were marked down considerably lower due to the overwhelming amount of shadows and low sunlight. In addition to this, the Shallows were set on the outer edge of the city against an ancient oozing bog. This swamp was a favourite of the local crime families due to the thick peat moss which sucked anything that stepped into the bog down under it's surface never to be seen again. This made the swamp a particular preference for body dumping, thus leading to the name 'Dead Man's Bog.' If one of the gangs brought someone out to the bog, it was likely a one way trip.
Shaking his head free of his thoughts as he turned onto the familiar street, Anthony Cleaver slunk down in the seat of the old pickup truck. He was exhausted from yet another long day at another construction site. It was the same drill day in and day out, way too much work for way too little pay. Pulling up onto his gravel driveway off the cracked asphalt street, Anthony, or rather Tony as his friend's called him, looked up at the run down bungalow. At least he had a roof over his own head and his fiancé's, it was hard to get ahead in New Lilith. It was as though the city itself conspired against those within it, but Tony knew the truth. He knew how this backwards city ran and he wanted out of it. Tony had it easy when he ran with the Kings, but then he had met Charla and suddenly it made sense to have to work. What was that saying? Nothing worth having wasn't worth working for? Thus Tony had left the Kings, gave up the 'thug life' in an attempt to make an honest living.
Locking up his truck, Tony took the two steps from the poorly kept walkway up to the rickety wooden patio. Opening the door slowly, Tony took a deep whiff anticipating the aroma of another one of Charla's home cooked meals. Instead, his nostrils were met with the odour of burning burning oregano and tomato paste.
"Welcome home Anthony." A male voice came from around the corner, the voice was strong and cold but yet smug and charismatic. Tony could feel the hairs standing up on the back of his neck as he took a step into the living room. His eyes widened as he looked to see three men with Charla bound to a chair, her eyes widened as she saw Tony and a sob escaped from her throat. There was a man standing behind Carla who raised a nine millimeter pistol to the back of her head and rested it there as the Speaker took a step forward opening his hands as though greeting an old friend.
"Now now Anthony, I think that's far enough. We wouldn't want any sudden movements or anything getting broken. We prefer to keep some distance between us and your rather strong hands."
"Don't hurt her! Please!" Tony begged, "I love her!" His hands curled into fists, the sound of his knuckles popping echoing through the small house. One of the other men raised a shotgun and cocked it towards Tony only for the Speaker to push the barrel down all the while obnoxiously smacking a piece of gum, He blew a small bubble, loudly letting it burst before he turned and spoke to Tony again.
"Funny, I was about to ask if you love her! Talk about great minds Tony! So if you love her you'll do anything for her then right?" He turned to Charla, placing his hand on her face. "Charla do you need Tony to cooperate with us nice men right now?" The man suddenly knelt down beside Charla as he nodded her head for her, only to slid a large curved knife out from the back of his waist and place it gingerly against her throat. Looking up at Tony, he stuck out his bottom lip as he put forced his face into a mock pout. "Please Tony, won't you play ball with me?"
Tony gritted his teeth, cracking his knuckles allowing them to go tense enough to flush white. Lifting his foot, Tony made a move to take a step forward until he was reminded that there was a man holding a shotgun trained on him. The shotgun was aimed towards Tony's chest, and the pistol behind Charla's head was roughly pushed tighter to her skull.
"Careful Tony, hate to see blondie here become a redhead... Well that is of course saying there would be any of her head left." The Speaker replied all the while making a disapproving clicking noise with his tongue.
"Who are you? Did the Kings send you?" Tony roared as beads of sweat began to run down his shaved head. Charla's silent sobs only increased his own panic as he realized how helpless he truly was against these men.
The Speaker nearly doubled over laughing as he stepped away from Charla. As suddenly as he had started laughed, he stopped and his face went cold again.
"The Kings Tony? The Kings!?! Do we look like we play little league Tony!?! No way! We're the big leagues, we're major Tony! Got a job for you straight from the kingpin, the Godking of New Lilith."
Tony felt a lump in his throat as his next words came out in a stutter.
"Y-y-you don't m-m-mean L-L..."
"Don't you dare say that name!" The Speak yelled as he pulled a gun of his own out of his jacket and aimed it at Tony. "You're not even worth to spit on his boots let alone utter his name. You're a piece of driftwood Strong." With a smile, he holstered his gun back inside the leather sport jacket. "Now then Tony, how do you feel about earning your worth? You ready to step up to bat big man?"
Reluctantly Tony began to admit defeat as he slowly nodded to the man.
"What's the job?"
"Excellent!" The Speaker shouted as he tossed Tony a small cellphone. "Don't worry, I'll have my people call your people when we're all ready here." He turned his back to Tony for a second and winked at Charla. "In the meantime..." The Speaker paused before suddenly turning around as he snatched his associate's pistol and shot Tony in the head.
"I suggest you get some rest."
The irritating combination between a buzz, honk and beep coming from the clock radio alerted Caleb Michael's to the fact it was time to get ready for school. With a heavy sigh, he rubbed his eyes as he turned around and slapped the top of the device in order to eradicate the annoying noise. Closing down his laptop, Cal synchronized the files he had just downloaded to his tablet. With a yawn, he pulled open a nearby drawer, rolling it all the way off it's track and opening up a compartment hidden on the bottom. Reaching inside, Cal dropped the two small containers on the desk, popping of both their caps at the same time. Reaching into the first container, Cal pulled out two small white tablets which he tossed into his mouth and bit down hard grinding the pills into dust as he swallowed them dry. Looking at the label, he noted it was the 'Orexin-A' before reaching for the other capsule and repeating the process. The second set of pills were some organic compound that Jun had given him for the pain. Standing up, he stretched his body out after sitting at the desk since about three in the morning. Looking down, Cal wanted to give himself a slap as he realized he was still wearing the lower half of his armor. The sound of footsteps coming down the hallway outside almost Cal panic as he backflipped out of his chair and plummeted into his bed. Ripping his tank top off, Cal threw it into the corner and pulled the comforter up over his lower torso. Sprawling out in the bed, Cal assumed his 'usual sleeping position.'
"C'mon Cal! Up and at 'em!" Landon's voice rang out from the other side of the door.
"Ugh!" Cal groaned in response. "Five more minutes."
"First day of your Junior Year, it only happens once. Well for you, my cousin on the other hand, it happened for him five times." Landon replied with a slight chuckle.
Rolling his eyes, Cal sat up slowly now knowing that Landon wasn't going to come through the door. Sliding out of the armored pants, Cal quickly scrambled around his room and packed up his costume and put it in his backpack. Jun would have killed him for being so sloppy last night, but thankfully he had still gotten away with it. Running out his room in his boxers, Cal jumped in the shower while yelling 'YES' to Landon's question about bacon. Bacon almost brought a smile to Caleb's face, closer than most things anyways.
Half an hour later, Cal was running down the stairs outside Landon's condo as he slipped his leather jacket over top of a black and red hoodie.
"Have fun riding the bus!" Landon called out behind him as Cal yelled back.
"I hate the bus!"
"Your father would have made you ride it too!"
"I would have my own car by now!" Cal snarled as he disappeared out of sight. Walking out the glass doors onto the sidewalk, Cal looked around at the overcast skies as a slight drizzle rained down on everything. Shivering, he shook off some of the rain as he made his way to the bus stop. Caleb was exceptionally thankful that Landon actually lived in one of what could be called 'a nice area' in New Lilith. That at least meant there wasn't hookers at the bus stop and in New Lilith that was something to look forward to.
"Hey! Someone got out the new duds for school." A familiar female voice came from behind Caleb as he turned around and saw the familiar mismatched converse over top of tight covered legs. Looking up to a plaid skirt and bare midriff covered by a mesh shirt over top of a tanktop, the corner of Cal's mouth almost pointed up as he met Samantha's green eyes with his own.
"Digging the new hair colour." Cal replied as Sam touched her hair.
"Pssh, as if I wasn't going to do a new colour for school. Blue is in right now."
"Yes it is." Caleb replied stoically as the bus pulled up. "Well are you ready?"
"For what?" Sam said with a smile.
"The end of the world as we know it." Cal said as he widened his eyes and climbed on to the bus with Sam snickering behind him.