Thin rows of sunlight outlined the inner walls of the warehouse through aging fractures, one of its least substantial structural flaws. The rickety door screamed from the pain of being forced open against its rusty disuse, shoved into the ceiling, stilled gears scraping against the defunct track.
Were a living person, with the good sense to know what they were seeing, watching from within as the door went up, that living person may well have ceased to be such instantly. True, people aren’t frequently startled to death, but it happens. And, in such a circumstance it would’ve been the more favorable of two options. If a person sees Rex Proper walking into the room flanked by three men in suits, it is most likely that person never sees another pleasant thing for the rest of their (short, horrible) life.
Terry Gordan was lucky enough to be watching from behind the quartet, the scene playing out faintly beyond the red screen of the bandanna around his eyes. The door yelped as its parts lodged irreparably from the brute force of one of Rex’s nameless hulks. As the four men stepped into the darkness of the building, the shadows swallowed the dim picture and left Terry to imagine the scene, his heart beating slow and hard like the stroke of a sledgehammer, his knees kneading nervously at the dirt, wrists wringing sorely against the cuffs.
There was a merciless silence following the eerie echo of the door’s last stand, as the dirt where a floor once had been muffled the men’s steps. Terry felt like he was drowning, the sound of his breath resounding like the wind and the waves, and pressing harder against him than either natural force was capable.
A rumbling groan akin to a low-speed blender hummed from within. And Terry’s shoulder muscles tightened until they cramped, and then some. They'd found her. The sound swelled until it broke, shooting furious roar after furious roar from wall to wall. Birds evacuated the storm, the sound of their shrieks and their furious launch from the tin roof underscored Rex’s raging screams aptly; the horn and percussion sections of his animalistic melody.
“Don’t fucking touch anything!” Rex hollered, his voice raspy over the sound of him punching one of his subordinates, a jab for every word.
“You want to just leave it here?” The question was simple, impulsive, and rational. And for the man who spoke it, the last.
“It?” Rex hissed. A gunshot. “It, motherfucker?” Two more gunshots. Rex coughed up another chain of beastly roars. Violent and braying enough to freeze the veins, his outbursts simultaneously bled a portion of pain that almost forgave such a hateful tirade.
“Hey, Rexy, come on, she’s…” A gunshot; and another employee was relieved of his duty.
“No, please, Rex, no.” Three more shots.
Terry hadn’t been so naïve as to expect a positive outcome, but he’d been honest, led them to the place, done everything he could to save his life. Somewhere deep down, he’d wondered if there was a chance he could survive another day. But this man had just killed his own, just to blow off some steam. The future was less clear than Terry was accustomed. Far less clear, and that was a terror unrivaled in his experience.
Terry’s feet shuffled in place like the running start of a Merry-Melodies character. Finally he found traction and began straining himself upright, shaky knees combating his effort. Rocking back on his heels he wobbled, wrestling to press his toes to the ground. As he very nearly accomplished the move, Rex entered Terry’s grainy, amber sight, open barrel leading the way in b-line for his skull. Terry’s senses overcame him and he fell to the ground like a burlap sack.
Rex stood with his feet on either side of Terry’s ribcage. He stooped forward with the pistol and tugged the bandanna up with the pistol, the barrel scratching the flesh between Terry’s nose and left eye. Terry’s tears readied for the flood, but they were damned by the onslaught of every emotion conceivable, as if the man’s soul was going for one last spin, courtesy of a life of memories taken for granted. Each in full feature, these moments played out in the stage of his mind, time nonexistent.
The final fleeting flashes of those he loved most, and the dam began to groan, tears surfacing around the edges. Then, as his grimaced brow awaited the swift burn to take him away, the heat and smell of the barrel seemed to fade. One eyelid surrendered fear in favor of curiosity, sliding open just as a drop splashed onto his hairline. The other eye opened and within the brightness of the summer sky, the shadow of a broken man quivered slightly above him, drops beginning to storm from his eyes as his trembling intensified.
Rex held the pistol undecidedly, almost as if forgotten. Finally, it fell to his side and hung by his pocket. Rex stepped over Terry and stumbled back to the warehouse, toward his fallen love. He stopped at the door and collapsed, the killer of killers fading into a sobbing contradiction.
Terry worked his forearms into position and propped himself, slightly, on his elbows. He watched Rex for several seconds, perhaps a minute or more. He battled conflicting sentiments, sympathy and fear. He had to do something, to react, and unfortunately those were the only two stimuli he could summon. Terry was no tough guy, but damned if he’d go out in fear.
Terry waited until Rex had finished weeping and crawled onto his knees, staring into the darkness of the warehouse. Then he said, softly, “I can help you find the person who did this.”
Rex turned his head gradually to his left, and then stopped, refusing his interest in the claim. His shoulders took three passes up and down as his chest heaved, his own inner turmoil bubbling. He sprung to his feet, stripped the water from his face, and stalked toward Terry, his pistol again in the lead.
“How?” He stabbed the pistol forward.
“Same way I found your... this place, man. Same way I find anyone.” Terry had to fight to stifle his enthusiasm, darkly tinted as it might have been; he’d bought some time, but this wasn’t over. Not by a far cry. He didn’t have to be psychic to see that. Unfortunately, he was a psychic. And a fairly inadequate one at that.