Bad blood, p.1
Bad Blood, page 1part #2 of Uncanny Ink Series
An Uncanny Ink Story
Copyright © 2018 by Uncanny Kingdom.
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Be mindful, they say. Pay attention. Live in the moment.
Live in the moment? Blurgh. Forget that. The moment is that puddle of fresh sick I just had to step over. The moment is that bloke honking his horn and hurling racial insults from the window of his Ford Fiesta. The moment is the guy across the road shoving his girlfriend into a hedge. The moment can go fornicate with itself.
Me? I prefer booze.
Give me blacking out and forgetting the moment entirely. Give me waking up the next day with a club banger playing in my head and no recollection of the night before. Give me skipping over the moment and coming around in the future like some tipsy time traveller.
It was Friday night and I was on my way down Kingsway Road heading to my flat, weaving through the faceless mob of pissed-up Londoners that descend on Brighton every weekend. The wind howled and the rain lashed down, but I was seven pints deep and invulnerable to the weather.
I squinted through the downpour. There’s something not right about a seaside town in the wintertime. Something awful, like a clown in the rain with his makeup dribbling off his face. I looked out to sea and saw what was left of the West Pier, chromed by the light of a silver shilling moon. Its remains poked out of the water like the skeleton of some ancient sea monster, dead as a dinosaur. Dead as I felt inside.
A bit dramatic? I was drunk and brooding, cut me some slack will you?
I heard a screech and looked over my shoulder to see a long car pulling up next to me; a sinister-looking blacked-out limo that looked as though it ran on human blood. Which, in the world I punched and head-butted my way through, wasn’t entirely out of the question. I mean, I once worked with a guy whose mode of transport was a motorbike made from the flesh and bones of people he’d murdered, and powered by their tormented souls. Gross? Yeah. Also very cool. And shit, could that bike eat up the tarmac. Nought to sixty in the time it took to blink.
The driver’s window of the limo rolled down and a pair of eyes peered through the gap.
‘Get in,’ the driver barked.
‘Do I look like a hooker to you?’ I shot back, still walking, not upping my pace.
‘I’d prefer not to answer that,’ the driver replied, creeping along beside me and eying up my Friday night outfit, the top half of which was, to be fair, a bit on the skimpy side. ‘Now are you going to get in the car or do I have to make you get in?’
That got my attention.
I spun on my heel. ‘The fuck did you say to me?’
Four simultaneous pops as each of the car doors sprang open at once. Four heavies stepped out and joined me on the pavement, black suits, skin the colour of bacon rashers, two eyebrows between them. One was bigger than the rest, tall enough to eat off the top of my head. He wore the kind of muscles that suggested he spent his free time punching sides of beef and flipping tractor tyres. And the bloke was ugly. I’m talking Gary Busey’s stuntman ugly.
‘Why don’t you be a good girl and take a seat in the back there?’ he growled, pointing into the rear of the limo, his voice a tin can full of gravel.
‘Why don’t you suck my dick?’ I replied. Not the greatest comeback, but as I think I’ve already mentioned: seven pints deep.
Busey’s Stuntman grinned like a Halloween pumpkin. ‘They said you wouldn’t come easy.’
‘What would you know about making a girl come, ugly?’ Seven pints or not, that was a pretty sick burn, right? Right…? Suit yourself.
The grin slipped off his face, replaced by a scowl that ought to have come with a trigger warning. ‘You’re going to wish you hadn’t said that.’
He cracked his knuckles and took a step forward, the rest of his goons in tow.
I smiled. I always liked this bit. The bit before I felt the buckle of bones under my fists, saw the blur of blood before my eyes, heard the sound of begging and the pitter-patter of piss raining from trouser legs. Ah, booze, a boogie, and a fight; a classic Friday night.
The tattoos on my arms and shoulders pulsed, glowing as the Uncanny magic that washed around me—washed around everything—flowed into them. Flowed into me. They blazed hot, sending a tsunami of blood surging to my heart that sliced through my inebriated glaze.
Bring it the fuck on.
Busey’s Stuntman reached out to grab me and I leapt at him like a cat on a ball of yarn. I came down on him hard, driving an elbow into the centre of his face.
It was a real attitude adjuster.
One second he was ready to bundle a defenceless, scantily-dressed young lady into the back of a car, the next he was sat on his arse, sneezing blood and cartilage. I laughed, fists clenched, biceps bulging, tattoos still burning hot.
The other three goons jumped me, fists flailing. I spiked the first one in the face with my knee then ripped a punch into his spleen that sent him reeling backwards. He went to ground like he’d been involved in a low-speed collision.
‘Fucking hell,’ I heard the third goon shout, ‘it’s like fighting a bag of cats!’
I went at the bloke, blood sizzling, ready to kick seven shades out of him, ready to pimp-slap him into a lamp post and bounce his head off the floor. ‘Buckle up, buttercup,’ I hissed, ‘this is going to get nasty.’
My tattoos electrified my bones and fired up my synapses as magic rushed into me, making me strong, fast, lethal. Keep them coming and I’d knock them down, again, and again. I’d break their bones and tear their flesh. I’d rip out throats and stomp genitals to paste. Pretty big talk, huh? Unfortunately for me, my stupid brain was too booze-addled to notice the guy sneaking up on me from behind.
Basic stuff, Erin. Basic stuff.
Busey’s Stuntman launched a donkey punch into the back of my cranium that unhinged my legs and planted my face in the pavement.
‘That’s what you get, bitch,’ he spat.
I tried to get up but my legs weren’t taking requests.
Busey’s Stuntman drove a patent leather shoe into my ribs. ‘Stay down.’
I tried to grab a breath so I could tell him to get fucked, but my lungs refused to pull air. I did manage to lift a middle finger and wave it in his direction, though. That’s when the rest of the goon squad st
As the blows rained down, the floor slewed and became a slide, tipping me into unconsciousness. I felt rough hands hook under my knees, under the crooks of my elbows, then I became weightless. No one came to help me. No sirens, no siege of flashing lights, no nothing. No one lifted a finger.
This fucking town.
I woke up feeling smashed inside. My tongue was glued to the roof of my mouth, my brain was scrambled eggs. I tried to move and failed. At a guess, I’d say that’s because I was tied to a chair.
I tried to remember how I got there, but there were great big potholes where memories were meant to be, as though a car with snow chains had done laps of my brain, tearing up great clods of grey matter and pulverising the parts in charge of recall.
Oh right, yeah, the beating. The four units in the limo who jumped me. Seemed they’d taken me somewhere rather than murdering me, which was good, I supposed. Not a big fan of being murdered. Not one bit.
Don’t worry, this wasn’t my first time coming to in a strange place. Bit of an occupational hazard that, along with bruises, snapped ribs, and busted lips. All I had to do was get free of my bonds before the bad guys showed up, and lay a little ambush. First things first though…
I drew a little magic into my tattoos and felt my skin warm as I did. The sting in my lips disappeared as the gash sealed, and the jabbing sensation I’d been feeling with each intake of breath vanished as a couple of broken ribs fused back together, good as new.
I took a look around the space I was in, trying to establish where I’d ended up. The room was dark and lit by a dusty chandelier that kicked out about as much light as a dying glow worm. Was it nighttime still, or were the heavy velvet drapes drawn across the windows shielding the room from daylight? It was impossible to tell, so I concentrated on what I could see.
The room was airy, eerie, and large; large enough to have its own weather system. The decor was eccentric and macabre, finished with stuffed animals, Bosch paintings in gold-gilded frames, and lots and lots of animal skulls (including, notedly, several of the human variety). I had no idea who owned the place I was tied up in, but from the looks of things, they’d gone with the same interior designer as Skeletor.
On a small table by my side, lying on a silk scarf, were various antiquated surgical implements, chief of which was a wicked-looking bone saw, which I assumed I was about to be tortured with. Shit. Not a good way to go. Not on my bucket list at all. Items that are on the list include buying a nice pad on the seafront, retiring by the age of thirty, and riding Ryan Gosling with my boots on. But no, not being taken apart, piece-by-piece, by a loony with a bone saw.
My eyes roamed the room looking for escape options. The floor beneath my feet was polished oak, and the walls surrounding me were a skim of plaster over solid brick. There was only one door in or out. A door that was opening…
Two figures stepped inside, both dressed like they were on their way to a ball.
One—the man—wore a three-piece suit comprised of dark trousers, a white jacket, and a waistcoat decorated with bone buttons. He was in his late forties but still had a thick mane of raven-black hair. Perched above a pair of full, smiling lips was a raffish, waxed moustache that complemented his luminous eyes.
The other figure—a woman—wore a fine gown decorated with a sprinkling of glittering, green gemstones. She was a little younger than her partner, wasp-waisted, and blessed with the kind of looks that must have earned her double-takes everywhere she went. Her skin was porcelain white and set off by a tall black beehive and thick, spider-leg eyelashes.
Layton and Millie Galoffi to be precise, the heads of one of the Uncanny underworld’s biggest, most dangerous crime families. Layton and Millie were a married couple, but also brother and sister. So yeah, a bit on the nasty side. Think of them as a vicious, criminal Addams Family. Plus incest.
‘Hello, Ms Banks,’ said Layton, ‘so lovely to see you.’
He offered the kind of smile that you often see worn by people of immense power: self-assured, knowing, dangerous.
The Galoffis were a breed of Slavic Uncanny with a name I couldn’t hope to pronounce; a rare species that used to menace Ukraine before they wandered down from the Carpathian mountains and turned respectable. These days, the Galoffis owned an empire that covered the whole of the south coast; an empire that they ran pretty much unchallenged. One of the reasons for that, aside from their fearsome reputation, was their supposed invulnerability. Apparently Layton and Millie Galoffi couldn’t be killed by conventional means. It was said that they shared a single soul hidden somewhere separate from their bodies, buried back in the old country. Which is neat. Whether it was true or not I’d no idea, but I did know they were very bad news indeed.
‘Anything we can get you?’ asked Layton’s wife/sister. ‘A cup of tea? A biscuit or two?’
I spat some blood on the floor.
‘A spittoon?’ said Layton, eyeing the crimson glob on his carpet.
‘I’m all good, thanks.’
‘Suit yourself,’ Layton said with a shrug. ‘Then let us get straight to business...’
He was about to go on when a knock came from the door, swiftly followed by the entrance of the biggest of the heavies, Busey’s Stuntman, whose nose was the size of a beef tomato and just as red.
‘Hello, uggers,’ I remarked, looking him up and down. ‘I was hoping I might have rearranged your mug into something nicer to look at. Still hideous though, I see.’
His face was a mask of pure rage, albeit a mask with a big clown nose. He turned to the Galoffis. ‘Sir, Ma’am, you’re needed in the drawing room.’
‘Can’t this wait?’ asked Millie.
‘I’m afraid not,’ the goon replied, inspecting his shoe leather.
‘Come, darling,’ said Layton, twirling theatrically to his wife and sending the tails of his jacket swirling around him. ‘Ms Banks won’t mind lingering here a while. Will you, dear?’
‘Oh no, take your time,’ I replied, my eyes drifting once again to the bone saw.
‘Besides, she’ll be in good company, won’t she, Sophia?’
I saw a twitch in the corner of my eye and heard a scrape of hooks across a curtain rail. I watched as a small figure in a night dress stepped out from behind the drapes. She must have been hiding there the whole time. She stepped closer, gingerly shuffling into the dim pool of light provided by the chandelier above. She was young, a cusp-of-a-teenager, and immediately identifiable as the daughter of Layton and Millie. Unlike her mother though, who wore her hair up, Sophia had hers parted to the side and hung in a way that concealed half of her face. The one eye I could see was cast to the ground, and her shoulders were slumped forward defeatedly. She looked like a right bundle of fun.
‘What is it?’ she asked, timid as a mouse.
‘Why must you insist on hiding all the time, my darling?’ asked Layton, hooking a finger under the curtain of her hair and tucking it behind her ear. ‘There, that’s much better.’
‘May I go to my room?’ the girl muttered. ‘Please.’
‘Not so fast,’ replied Millie, placing a hand on her nervy daughter’s upper arm. ‘We need to attend to a matter next door. Please would you see to it that our guest here remains seated while we’re away?’
Sophia hesitated. ‘I don’t want to.’
Millie frowned and swatted at the timid girl’s shoulder with the back of her hand. Sophia whimpered in response, gripping her shoulder like she’d been shot.
‘Do as you’re told, little miss,’ said Millie.
Something told me Morticia wasn’t going to win any mother of the year awards.
‘Sorry,’ mumbled the girl, still rubbing her shoulder.
‘You’ll want this of course,’ said Layton, drawing a silv
‘Actually, I’m famous for my good manners,’ I said. ‘Ask your goon with the clown nose.’
Layton Galoffi handed the girl the pistol, which looked comically large in her slim white hand. The gun weighed heavy on her, tugging her arm to the ground as though it were anchored.
‘There’s a good girl,’ said Layton, squatting down on his haunches beside Sophia and helping her aim. ‘Keep it up and trained on the young lady’s head there. Right between the eyes. She’s a wily one, make no mistake.’ He gave me a wink that made the contents of my stomach curdle.
Sophia did her best to keep the oversized gun level.
‘Everything under control?’ asked Millie.
The girl bobbed her head despondently.
Layton gave her a peck on the forehead and stood up. ‘Very good, Sophia. Honestly, if you weren’t a girl I swear you’d be running this family one day.’
The heavy standing in the doorway coughed, reminding the Galoffis that they were needed elsewhere.
‘Yes, yes,’ said Millie. ‘Come on, brother, let us attend to this matter next door.’
Layton put an arm around her slim waist and the Galoffis accompanied the heavy from the room. Layton offered his daughter some parting encouragement through the crack of the door before it closed. ‘We won’t be long, darling. Do keep Ms Banks comfortable until we return.’
Just me and the girl now. The girl with the gun pointed at my head. A Belgian-made Lefaucheux revolver if I wasn’t mistaken, and I wasn’t. Thanks to my tattoos, I could recover from all manor of wounds, but a bullet to the brain wasn’t one of them.
by David Bussell have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes