Chapter one of a completed novel that my agent wasn’t so enthusiastic about. I think it has some appeal though, what about you?
There’s classical music playing. This is Richard Landry’s first thought as his senses come back to him. Everything is dark, but his ears key in on the sound, which at first seems far away but then drifts closer.
Piano, he thinks. Someone is playing piano, and they’re damn good. He sees it in his mind, a pair of hands dancing over the keys, producing the notes in perfect rhythm. Richard almost feels himself swaying to the tune.
Then his cognition reboots.
Where am I?
He was going home, wasn’t he? He had put his keys in the door and opened it, stepped inside then…
And now, classical music.
His head aches, and he feels the pain pulsating from the crown of his skull. He tries to move and finds he can’t; his arms, legs, and body strapped down. He’s tied to a chair, or something similar.
What the hell? he thinks. He’d been too incoherent to understand the gravity of the situation before, but now the possibilities race to him.
Richard opens his eyes.
The beauty of the room before him is the first thing to catch his attention, a regal sort of elegance infused into the foyer. The floors are shiny, perhaps marble, and are a decorative royal pattern. There are two large antique mirrors on either side of the far wall, followed by a series of paintings, classical portraits and baroque market scenes. A crimson red Berber carpet directs his eyes to the staircase to his right, where it ascends the stairs and guides visitors to the second floor.
The music stops playing.
Richard looks towards the grand piano, where a figure is seated, wearing a sleek charcoal gray suit. The man stands up and speaks in a voice that is silky smooth, but void of emotion.
“Your hands are dirty, Richard.”
Richard looks down. He’s strapped to a heavy chair by a series of belts. He gazes at his hands.
They aren’t there.
Richard stares down in disbelief. Each of his arms now ends in a stump, stitched closed where his hands are supposed to be.
“Oh my god!” Richard screams.
“That was Rachmaninoff’s Number 2 in C Minor, in case you were wondering,” the man says. “Pardon me taking liberties with my interpretation, I must admit I rarely play pieces exactly as they are written.”
“Holy shit!” Richard screams. “Where are my hands? You took my hands!” He thrashes in his restraints.
“Relax, Richard,” the man assures, his voice even. He reaches inside either side of his coat and pulls out two objects as he approaches. The man tosses the two items into Richard’s lap, and after a short bounce they settle into place.
Richard lets out a cry and bucks his hips upward, launching the hands from his body. They tumble to the floor with a thud. “Help! Someone help me!” he sobs, throwing his body as hard as he can in each direction.
“No, no, no,” the man says as he places a butterfly knife to Richard’s throat. “If you cannot behave yourself, we’ll have to make this encounter short.”
Richard stifles his cry, his body going rigid. The man looms over him and for the first time Richard looks at his face.
His eyes, Richard thinks. They are blue, icy blue, but so faded in color it is as if they don’t exist at all. They are pale, faraway, detached, yet in the moment, so intently focused on him.
“Wh-what do you want?” Richard croaks. “Please, let me go. I won’t tell anyone about this.”
The man laughs. It has the vocal quality of a laugh but lacks the human element. “Detective Landry, this was about you and your dirty hands,” the man explains. “Taking bribes to misplace evidence? Selling drugs that had been confiscated to make your own side profit? Rather audacious of someone who is supposed to protect and serve the public.”
“I’ll stop!” Richard gasps. “That’s all it is? I’ll stop. I’ll give you the profits. I’ll give you any amount of money you want!”
“Tsk, tsk, tsk,” the man says, shaking his head. The blade digs into Richard’s flesh just slightly. “This isn’t about money, Detective Landry, this is about principle! What gave you the right to act in such a manner, to be above the laws you enforce on others? Do you think your job gives you that sort of power?”
“What?” Richard asks. “No, I just…I just needed more money.”
“Needed?” the man asks, grinding the blade into Richard’s skin. A trickle of blood zig-zags its way down his neck.
“Wanted!” Richard gasps. “I wanted it. And now you can take it from me. All of it!”
The man is shaking his head again. “You acted as if there would be no repercussions. As if you had an inherent right to do as you did. I’m not here to make you change your ways, detective, and I’m not here for a cut of your money.”
“Wh-what are you here for?” Richard asks.
The man smiles and it’s the most horrifying thing Richard has ever seen. “Call me an agent of truth,” the man explains. “I’m here to show you that there’s really only one type of power in the world.”
“What do you…” Richard began before letting out a wet choke.
The man drags the blade across Richard’s throat, slitting it. Richard’s head falls forward and the world begins turning dark again. He spits up blood and shakes violently, and just before the world fades away, he processes one last thing.
The man has started playing the piano again.