Flash Friday 27/03/2015: Alleys and Enemies
Hannah had not made it a few steps out of the store before a grasping hand wrapped itself around her mouth, dragging her into an alley.
“Alright,” hissed a voice in her ear. A flash of silver passed her eyes, a knife tip pressed against her throat. “No screamin’, no yellin’, and no heroics, or they’ll be feeding you through your neck. Got it?”
Hannah gave a cautious nod.
“Good, good. Come on, back we go, that’s it. Bit more into the alley, love. Don’t trip, now. Alright, there we go. Now lie down on the ground.”
Hannah laid down on the cement of the alleyway, face down.
“Alright, good.” The knife pushed against the back of her neck. “I’m gonna remove my hand from your mouth, now. Remember; not a sound unless I say so. Got it? Alright.”
The hand slowly removed itself from Hannah’s mouth, the knife pressing harder in case she squealed. She didn’t dare.Hannah felt her shoulder purse being removed off of her arm.
“You have a peek in there. I’ll deal with the lady.”
“O-kay,” came a much deeper voice from further down the alleyway. There was a jingle of a zipper and a smack as the purse was thrown to an assailant.
“Alright.” The creeper adjusted himself, the knife pressing into the skin. “Alright, good. Get ready, ’cause I’m gonna ask her the questions now. Ready? Good. So, missus — what’s your name, eh?”
“Hannah,” she managed.
“Hannah, eh? Never had the pleasure of taking in a Hannah before. That’s one for the tally. How much does she have?”
“Only found a twenty,” came the deep voice.
“Travelling light, eh? I can respect that. Always gotta carry cash around in small quantities…you never know when someone’s gonna try to steal it.” The creeper cackled. “Alright, alright. Back to business. What’s your age, love?”
“Twenty-nine! Fancy that. You’ve always had an eye for the younger ones, haven’t you, Durge?”
The deep voice, presumably Durge, gave nothing more than what sounded like a hippo laughing.
“Thought so. I’m gonna start asking some questions, alright? And what I want from you, Hannah, are simple, to-the-point answers. No umming or ahhing. No messing about. Just the first thing that comes off the top of your head. Alright, love?”
“Yes,” Hannah said.
“It’s ‘Yes, Ratfink’. First warning.”
“Yes, Ratfink,” Hannah corrected.
“Alright. So, first question; how scared are you right now?”
“I’m scared.” Then, fearing her answer wasn’t good enough; “Very scared, Ratfink.”
“Good, good. You got that, Durge? She’s very scared.”
“Yeah, uhuhuh,” Durge said. “Good work, buddy.”
“Alright, next up. How confident are you, at this current moment in time, that I could slit your throat and leave you to spill out onto the pavement?”
“Good. Alright. Second warning, but you’re doing well so far. But here comes a real tricky one. You think you can figure this one out?”
Hannah nodded against the cement.
“Okay, ’cause here it comes; on a scale of one to ten, how likely are you to recommend our services to a friend, or member of immediate family?”
Hannah frowned. “Sorry?”
“You heard me.”
“…I’m sorry, Ratfink. I’m not sure what I understand by ‘services’.”
“S’what I’m doing now, isn’t it? The whole ‘you face first on the ground of an alley while I prepare to play your throat like a violin’ gig. Myself and Durge, we offer these services to high bidders, see?”
“High bidders? But…does that mean someone paid for me to die?”
A long silence. “Oy yoy.” The knife released itself a little off of Hannah’s neck. “What do you think this is, huh? You think we’re trying to kill you, or something?”
“Well we’re not, idiot. This is what you folks like to call a free trial. You don’t take a little sippy cup of some corporate jackass’ fruit juice samples thinking they’re gonna run your card for ten cartons of the stuff, do you?”
“…so you’re not going to kill me?”
“Hallelujah, she gets it! She finally understand the basic business principle of not murdering future customers or referrers. Lady, if I wanted you dead, someone would have had to cross my palms with a five-figure sum before I even considered it. Actually.” Hannah’s head was raised off of the ground, and turned to look into the narrow, jagged face of Ratfink’s own. “Make that four figures.”
Hannah glared. “Thanks.”
“Anyway,” Ratfink said, dropping Hannah’s head. “Let’s keep going with the questionnaire, shall we? Durge has got three more pages on his clipboard to get through. So, next question–”
“I’m convinced that you can perform your services, and I will recommend you to anyone I meet, and use your services if I want anyone dead.”
“Well!” Ratfink chirped. The knife came off of the back of Hannah’s neck. “Sod the rest of the questions, then. Up you get, come on. That’s it, there we go. See? Not so bad, was it?”
Hannah dusted herself down, still mildly shaken. “It was…convincing.”
“Good to hear. Give the lady her purse back, would you?”
A man with far too much stomach and far too little hair held out the purse in a huge hand. “Here you go, pretty missy,” he said, as if asking her to prom. “Didn’t go through nuffin but your wallet.”
“Thank you.” Hannah took the purse back. Durge looked pleased with himself.
“Well then,” Ratfink said, walking down the alley with Durge. “Pleasure doing business with you lady. And hey!” He said, turning back to face Hannah. “If you need anyone removed, just remember.” He viciously stabbed at the air with his knife, pointed to himself, and gave a thumbs up.
Hannah returned with an unsure thumps up herself. “I won’t forget any time soon.”
Placing the purse over her shoulder, Hannah left the alley. At least they didn’t sign her up for a monthly fee that’s near impossible to cancel.