Authors: Duncan M. Hamilton
Copyright © Duncan M. Hamilton 2013
All Rights Reserved
The right of Duncan M. Hamilton to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted.
All of the characters in this book are fictitious and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
eBook ISBN: 978-1-62347-203-0
he heavy wooden door slammed shut and the booming sound reverberated in Soren’s ears. He was plunged into a darkness like none other he had ever experienced. He could hear the scratchy metallic sound of the lock being turned and then nothing. No sound, no light, nothing. It felt as though he had been blindfolded and his ears had been stuffed with cotton. He retreated further into the cell, vainly probing into the darkness in front of him with his hands. His foot stubbed against something on the ground and he fell flat on his face against the cold stone flags of the floor. It had been a long time since he had lain on cold stone, but the faint familiarity offered no comfort.
His wrists and ankles burned from the rubbing of the shackles that had only just been removed, but the cold floor seemed to suck the rest of the heat and energy from his body. Despite this discomfort there was nothing in him that could motivate him to stand, so he lay there, blinded by the dark, deafened by the quiet and utterly robbed of hope.
e waited until he was near the end of the alleyway before he slowed to a walk and then with a final backward glance, a halt. The bustle of the city seemed to disappear allowing him this brief moment of privacy. His hands trembled slightly as he tugged at the strings on the small purse that he had just stolen. It was a good, clean lift, he thought as he slowly teased the purse open. The excitement began to drain from his body to be replaced with the hollow ache of disappointment as he peered inside. He had known from the weight that it was a modest prize, but he had hoped that it would be enough to keep him in honestly purchased food for a few days. It wasn’t.
‘I thought I told you to stay off our turf, you little rat-shit!’
Soren knew the voice, which sent a shiver down his spine. Disappointment was replaced by fear. ‘It’s not your turf,’ he replied.
‘You had your chance the last time. We let you off light, but we won’t be so easy this time! Now hand over the purse and take your beating.’
Soren scanned the alley as he slowly turned around. There was nothing he could use to defend himself. Not even a rock to throw at them. Them, because he knew Hetha would not be here alone. He always talked tough in front of his cronies, but on his own he didn’t tend to sound quite so sure of himself. Faced with the inevitability of confrontation, the fear seemed to fade. He was sick of being pushed around by Hetha and his gang.
There were four of them. More than he expected. Hetha seemed to have managed to recruit another moron to his gang. This changed things. Two he might have managed. Three he might have managed to run from. Four meant he was trapped. Why did he have to have run down a dead end? This was not his usual hunting ground, but he ought to have known the streets better than to have made this mistake. His complacency had compounded it. When there was no shout after he took the purse, he did not worry about changing direction and had just continued on into the alleyway to count his spoils. Greed and stupidity. He was angry with himself for having made the mistake, and he was angry for having been frightened by Hetha’s voice. He weighed the purse in his hand. It was a shame, but such was life.
He flung the purse at Hetha with as much force as he could muster. The leather clad metal thumped into Hetha’s face with a satisfying crunch and Soren could not help but smile. Hetha let out a screech of pain as his cronies raced past him, blocking off any chance of escape as Soren had expected they would. One of them swung at him, but he ducked underneath and rolled forward as he dropped. He knocked into the legs of another boy, tripping him with the unexpected move. Hetha had regained his senses by now, and squinting the tears from his eyes he rewarded Soren’s little flourish with a hard kick in the stomach. Soren managed to squirm away from the blow just enough to reduce the impact, but it still knocked the air from his lungs.
Struggling to his feet, he stumbled on, trying to suck in some air and inch ever closer to the open end of the alley. A kick to the backside knocked him flat on his face, but he quickly rolled out of the way of another kick from the fourth attacker. Scrabbling in the rubbish in which he found himself, his hand closed on something solid. He rolled onto his back, pulling a lump of wood with him. A boot closed in on his face, but a hard crack across the shin with the piece of wood diverted the kick and gave Soren enough time to roll back to his feet. He was still a little dazed; he must have hit his head harder than he had thought when he fell.
Hetha came towards him, his face caked in blood. The purse must have broken his nose and the thought made Soren smile. Without thinking he lashed out at Hetha with the stick. Hetha’s cronies paused for thought, surprised by Soren’s sudden aggression and the vicious blow that their leader had received. Soren was surprised also. He had intended to give Hetha a stinging crack to the head with the stick, but not to hit him nearly as hard as it seemed that he had. Hetha let out a whimpering gasp as he fell to his knees. His eyes glazed over as he slumped the rest of the way to the ground, revealing a dent on the side of his head and a clump of hair matted with blood.
Had he killed him? Soren’s surprise was genuine, but it didn’t matter. He couldn’t care less whether Hetha lived or died; he had beaten Soren too many times for him to have any concerns for his safety, but if he hoped to escape unharmed himself, he would have to capitalise on the situation.
He turned his fearsome gaze on the others. He wanted to make it clear that same fate awaited them if they tried to avenge Hetha. ‘Come any closer and I’ll fucking kill you too!’
One of the Hetha’s gang shouted to run, and they all did, leaving Soren alone in the alleyway with his freshly stolen purse and Hetha’s even fresher corpse. He looked at the bloodied face but felt no remorse. Fate had discerned against Hetha that day and had favoured Soren, but perhaps tomorrow it would not.