Dresden Files: Twin Cities

Chinese Take-Out

Haunting Grounds, Chapter 1

Featured Investigators

Chapter 1

Mr. Chen’s, Downtown Minneapolis, 12:45am:

Hazard Pay flinched at the loud voices as she crept down the alleyway with Jane, heading towards the back of her favorite Chinese place.

Downtown Minneapolis

“You missed a payment,” a rough voice growled, “You know the boss doesn’t like that.”

Hazard Pay could make out Mr. Chen’s reedy voice in the night air, “I owned this store all my life, Peter can’t take it away from me!”

Jane

She knew Mr. Chen, he was always willing to give her a bite to eat on the street. The laughter of the thugs bounded down the alleyway, heavy with violence. Hazard Pay looked towards Jane and grabbed her hand, “C’mon we gotta do somethin’!”

She darts down the alleyway and through the front of the small Chinese Take-Out restaurant, with “Mr. Chen’s” illuminating the doorway in a red light. Hazard sees a small service bell on the counter and begins to ring it frantically, “Ordering! Ordering!”

There is a moment, but Mr. Chen’s beaming face eventually appears from the kitchen. Before he can speak, the door to the restaurant opens and three, dark suited men step into the establishment. They left the fourth at the door smoking a cigarette. It doesn’t take long for Hazard Pay to realize two facts, one that Jane is no longer with her, and two all of these men are armed.

The heavyset thug with the broken nose, nods to the other two and glances at the street urchin, before dismissing her, “Mr. Chen’s is closed, you better be going.”

Thug

Hazard Pay flashes a smile, “I don’t know it looks pretty open to me, besides I’m hungry.”

Broken nose pauses and snorts with irritation, he looks down at Hazard, “Little girl, you should go, you could get hurt.”

“Please, Kate, just go,” Mr. Chen whispers, his voice barely audible to Hazard.

Hazard felt anger rising up in her, she survived the street and was not about to be bullied by these thugs. “Too Late, Mister, your stink is so bad it should be charged with assault.”

One of the thug’s guffaws, broken noses face turns red and veins begin to bulge in his neck. The other thug suddenly screams and his eyes turn white as everyone looks at him in horror. He draws his gun, places it to his forehead and pulls the trigger, splattering his brain across the store shop window in a red splatter.

Everyone reels back; the other armed thug suddenly lets out a second yell, his eyes rolling back. His arms struggle and strain against some unseen force as he goes to draw his gun.

Broken nose starts yelling at the other mobster, with Mr. Chen crouching behind the counter. Jane’s voice cuts through the noise, “Hazard! Over hear, an open window, let’s get outta here!”

Hazard Pay can see a small window open and makes a dive for it rolling into the alleyway to where Jane is crouching in the shadows. As she dives, she hears a second gunshot, then a third ring out in restaurant behind her.

Ghostly Young Woman

The street artist struggles to her feet, the night air suddenly going cold. She can make-out two other translucent women in the alleyway. Both female, with one’s face, what’s left of it, contorted with rage, her head a hollow shell as if something was blown out the back of her skull. The other women is younger with long pale hair, she’s desperately trying to hold the enraged woman back, her body straining before losing her grip.

Jane yells at Hazard Pay, “Let’s get out of here!” Hazard nods and scrambles out into the city following Jane, trying to ignore the echo of a fourth and final gunshot.

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