Chapter I: Rat I

Her Real Name Was Mary.

In the shadowy balcony of a fifth-floor apartment, a voice that is quiet, raspy, and high pitched speaks to the openness of a dark sky.

“October seventeenth, 2014. Two weeks ago I said I’d document verbally everything I do, and that starts with you. You’ll hear me one day, you’ll see my world,-that is our world- and the way it works. I will have plentiful evidence for you, for everything I see, you can see and maybe, we can fix it.”

The voice stopped and there was no sound but the timed clicking of a camera. Then there was a long quiet pull from a cigarette. The little flakes of tobacco lowly hissed as they burned to ash. The speaker looks carefully at a girl in a window across the street.

“The name she goes by is Alexis and because she helped me, there is no face, no real name for you, her confidentiality is mine.”

The Narrator memorizes the small details of her little face as he exhales smoke on the scene before him.

“She is seventeen years old, a high school dropout since the ninth grade, an ecstasy addict, a prostitute.”

The narrator trails off in thought and pulls the cigarette again, this time blowing smoke onto the scene before him and watching the milky wisps curl and then dissipate into nothingness. He doesn’t speak anymore.

In the ever watchful eye of the camera, it sees a man enter the hotel room where the Alexis is. Click. The girl opens the blinds further. Click. The man’s face appears possessed, angry, he goes towards her. Click. The girl looks at the boy across the street. Click…

The Camera couldn’t capture the moment the way The Narrator could. The Narrator had unnaturally good eye-sight and he captured the look in her eyes as if she was a castle of glass about to shatter.

The Narrator looks away and then back. He starts a new audio recording. His voice is hollow in an attempt to be void of feeling.

“Christian Lamont, forty-six, father of three. Retired police chief preceding current chief Quinn. He was an outspoken Hogan supporter financially. His occupation on paper? Real Estate agent. Crimes? Many to be frank, all indictable, but above all, he is suspected to be a major player in the drugs and guns in our city.  Lamont houses buildings for criminal enterprises for a cut and when a bunch of kids from the tunnels didn’t pay up, they got hit by the Russians, and that connected the dots. Russians bring and sell guns through the ports, Lamont rents Port space and takes a cut. Lamont backs Hogans Policy for gun control so they own the market. Lamont gets a bigger cut and Hogan gets put in Mayor’s office but they all have a weakness.”

The Narrator scratches his neck anxiously.

“He’s a fetishist of Raptophilia; which is rape or staged rape.”

The Narrator blinks. He can’t watch any longer, but the sound of the bug in the apartment rings in his ear. He hears her cries, her pleas, her skin.

The Narrator throws his cigarette over the balcony and violently snorts a small vial from his coat. He lit another cigarette which gave an orange brilliance in his hands. He went back to watching as if he was a robot. Blinking with the clicks of the camera, trying his best not to feel any certain way than awake, but he lied to himself if he said he didn’t feel anything. He may have been numb on the outside to what he saw, but he felt like they were all still children that didn’t deserve the punishment they received. That it wasn’t the victim’s fault, it was the offender and the bystander.

“I believe Christian Lamont has criminal affiliations that tie hand in hand with the mayor’s office. I don’t have evidence yet, but the suggestions of the inner workings of our city is concerning.”

The Narrator takes another pull from his cigarette as he hears Alexis softly sob through his earpiece.

“I will.”

A door behind the Narrator clicks open. Footsteps echo in the dark apartment behind him but he doesn’t move. A voice calls out.

“Three minutes, the car’s out back.”

The Narrator nods and listens for the door to shut, he packs his equipment methodically.

When the Narrator stepped into the well-lit hallway with all his gear it was apparent he looked like a lanky junkie. He wore extra large clothing, saggy pants, piercings and tattoos, finger-less dollar store gloves, a black skull cap all of which helped him blend into dark areas where no one could see him use. His skin reflected his addictions too. He had very defined nasolabial folds, and worry lines that were dry and deep. His lips were chapped, his eyes sunken and pink like he was suffering from a cold, and his pupils were always dilated.

Alexis was a junkie too, Ecstasy but more often than not in their city, it was cut with Fentanyl, A stronger drug being made in poor conditions responsible for more overdoses than any other drug by at least double. Alexis was still a good person from what Carson observed but she still overdosed two months ago. She lived, but she still uses and buys from the same people.

The Narrator could still hear through his earpiece. Christian Lamont had left. The Narrator quickly dialed her number from a burner phone. He rushed down the hallway to the stairs, lugging his equipment around messily.

“Alexis?” The Narrator said, his voice wheezy and raspy.

She reached under the bed and pulled out the Narrator’s bug without answering him.

“Did-did you get the bug?”

“Yeah, I’ve got it.”

They sat in silence on the phone letting the static speak for them. It was hard for each of them to say anything.

“Hey, Mr. Rat?” She finally asked him.

He let the static run for a bit, he hated that name but it was more subtle than his real one. He was mentally preparing for what she would say.

“Yes?”Rat opened a door onto the street and popped another cigarette in his mouth. He hesitated before he lit it.

“Do you really think I’ll be ok?”

Rat was looking at the man who had come into the apartment two minutes earlier. He was strong, 6’3, coated in tattoo’s, piercings, and he wore large circular glasses. He wore all black utility based clothing: a black sweater with a hood, jeans, boots, and his black duffel bag. He was motioning for Rat to get into the car.

Mr. Rat stood still and lit his cigarette. The man sighed and went into the car and turned it on.

“Yes, Alexis. I think the best people come from the worst experiences.” There was truth in what Rat said to himself.

“Thank you, Mr. Rat.” Her voice was still shaky and then her end went dead quiet.

“Can we come get you?” he asked finally as he put his gear in the trunk save his black messenger bag which he kept with him at all times.

She let out a little whimper, “Yes… please.” and then she balled into his ear.

Rat went into the man’s blacked out 2008 crown Victoria and he and the driver spoke no words to each other, each understanding the gravity of what had happened.

“Is she ok?” The man asked as he pulled out the parking brake and slowly rolled out onto the empty street.

“She’ll be ok” Rat said solemnly. He pulled out his computer and began to put little cards into the side. The car had been specially modified by the two men to have Wifi and hard drives built underneath the hood and into the walls of the car. Rat dumped all his files on his private server and backed them up. Then they picked up Alexis.

She was shaky. Hard not to be Rat thought. He reached into his sweater front pocket and removed a dime-bag. There were three pills in it. He opened the bag removed the first pill and handed it to the driver who kept it in his hand while it was on the wheel as he drove. The second he kept in his own hand and he sealed the bag.

“Alexis?” Rat called shyly as he lifted the bag in the air for her to see. He didn’t turn to face her.

“It’s pure, my own supply from a guy in the mountains. I don’t fuck with fentanyl.”

Rat watched Alexis eye the bag anxiously from the side-mirror. He held his own pill in his hand as he watched her.

“I’m ok,” Alexis said finally and Rat put both pills in his pocket.

Rat would take both those pills before he would sleep. He would sit in his room, alone and miserable until it kicked. Then he would stare coldly at his computer and he would begin to work.

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