The beginning of the end
He was supposed to finish early that Thursday but a late order had kept him rooted to his desk past 6pm. Having almost given up on the idea that he may still make it to ‘The Shed’ for 7, he prepared himself to make the call knowing that cancelling this late in the day would not go down at all well. He stepped outside into the icy cold air and checked his watch. It was 6.45.
“This is a wind up surely?” said the voice on the other end of the phone. “You are shitting me right? You’re on in 15 minutes and you call me now to cancel”.
“Listen Ray I’ve just finished work. I don’t need this right now” he replied.
“You do though son that’s half the problem. You do need it.”
“Just tell him that we’ll pencil in another date” he replied.
“Allan, you don’t just pencil in another date in this game, you know that. The pencil will end up through your neck if anything”.
“That almost sounded like a threat Ray” said Allan.
“It’s not a threat son, it’s a promise. I’ll call you back once I’ve spoken to him”. The phone cut off and Allan set off on his 2 mile walk home.
Allan Carter was your every day kind of guy. A hard working honest man with a wife and two kids. He had remained loyal to his wife Megan since they married nearly seven years ago and Charlie 4 and Harriet 6 were the apple of his eye. He worked long hours as a supervisor in a factory by the canal which in turn put food on the table. To Allan that’s all it did. It was just a job to him for his interests lay elsewhere in a life outside of his perfect world. A life that his family were blissfully unaware of and one that they could never find out about. A life full of danger, adrenalin and reward as well as the odd empty threat. Apart from his family it was what Allan lived for. This was his escape to a world that only he inhabited. When the bell sounded, Allan became his alter ego. Minutes later his phone rang.
“He wasn’t best pleased Allan let me tell you that but we are good to go again Saturday night. No excuses this time you hear me?” said Ray.
“Yeah yeah I hear you. Same time?” asked Allan.
“I’m serious son. You can’t let him down again. Yes 7pm”.
“Okay. Have a good…” Ray had gone.
Allan arrived home that evening to find Charlie and Harriet nestled in their favourite corner spot on the sofa.
“Hey troublemakers” he said.
“Daddy!!!!” screeched Charlie as he stood up and launched himself in Allan’s direction.
“Have you both had a good day?” he asked.
“Yeah” they replied in unison. Allan was used to one word responses when he had the telly to compete with.
“Where’s mummy?” he asked.
“Upstairs putting the washing away” replied Harriet. Allan walked upstairs to find Megan in the bedroom with her back to him. He crept up behind her, wrapping his arms around her tightly.
“Evening gorgeous! How’s my favourite wife?” he asked.
“Excuse me Mr Carter. Your only wife I hope” she replied leaning back into him with a smile. “I’m fine darling. How was your day?”
“Same old. Still busy. I might have to do some more overtime Saturday babe. We’re expecting another big order in tomorrow so I may have to go in and help unpack it Saturday evening. Is that okay? We need the money don’t we?” said Allan.
“That’s fine I guess. Another Saturday night on my own it is then” replied Megan.
“I’m sorry. I won’t be too late I promise”.
“That’s what you said last time before rolling in at midnight Allan” said Megan.
“I know I know. I promise I’ll get it done as quickly as I can”. He hated lying to her but it was the only way. As he lay in bed next to his wife later that evening, his mind was only on one thing. He could already feel his pulse racing but he knew come Saturday night that his pulse could quite easily come to a halt altogether.
Allan arrived at the factory Friday morning to find a letter on his desk. He knew full well who it was from for he was used to these letters now. He turned away from the window overlooking the packing room and began to open it. It read:
‘Allan. We were extremely disappointed that you had to cancel last nights appearance. We would hate to have to remind you of clause 26.3 in your contract with us so please do not let this happen again. Yours truly. The Shed. P.s. We’ve enclosed a small gift for you this time in case you ever think of cancelling again.’ Allan checked the envelope and pulled from it a photograph that made the hairs on his arms stand tall. Staring back at him were Megan, Charlie and Harriet pictured getting into the family car outside the Carter residence. He threw the photograph into his draw, stood up and ran to the bathroom instantly locking himself inside one of the cubicles. For the first time since his involvement with ‘The Shed’, Allan felt like a broken man. As he sat there sobbing he knew he was in deeper than he could handle. There was no way out of this mess. They owned him now.
Allan spent the majority of Saturday with Charlie as Megan had promised Harriet a shopping trip that was now long overdue. The two of them washed the family car in the afternoon with Charlie finding it highly amusing that daddy came of a lot worse in the water fight that followed. After what seemed like five minutes spent with his son, it was 5 o clock and time for Allan to get ready for work. At least that’s what Allan called it. He knew deep down that he needed to call it that to make himself feel better about having to hide it from Megan and the kids.
He began packing his bag for the night ahead. His tools stashed in their new home at the rear of Charlie’s bed. A place he knew they would never be found. The toys underneath it he had long grown out of and Allan was certain he had forgotten all about them. At least he hoped he had. He placed the box into his slightly bigger changing bag and made his way downstairs.
“Right I’m off darling. See yer kids. Be good for mummy. I won’t be too late I promise babe” said Allan as he placed a kiss on each of their heads.
Allan would ride his bike to work a few days a week and would especially take it with him when he was called upon at ‘The Shed’ to make sure that Megan did not suspect his whereabouts. He would also see it as a warm up. He rode past the factory alongside the canal being careful to make sure no one saw him. A few minutes later he took a sharp right through an abandoned warehouse. The warehouse looked like it had been battered, bruised, burnt down and more. There was no reason for anyone else to be there other than those involved in what was about to follow. He arrived at a door that hung from its hinges precariously. He picked up his bike, opened the door and started to descend the stairs in front of him. At the bottom of the stairs Allan mounted his bike and disappeared into the darkness along a corridor that was only lit by one dim wall mounted light every 20-30 metres or so. It didn’t matter to Allan as he knew his way by now. He dodged every pot hole and crevice like it was his own back yard. Eventually he came to the end of the corridor. He dismounted his bike and stood next a television monitor and another door which was indicated ‘locked’ by a red light adjacent to the handle. The monitor started to flicker, two men slowly coming into focus.
“Good evening Allan” one of them said. “We are glad you could make it this time”.
“Silas. Ray. Yeah sorry about Thursday. I’m here now anyway. Are you going to let me in or what?” asked Allan. The light turned to green and Allan walked through the door.
He approached the office ready to take his grilling on the chin for not showing on Thursday. Allan walked in to be greeted by a number of VIP’s alongside Ray and Silas.
“Here he is. The man of the moment” said Silas.
“Hi guys. You all okay?” asked Allan.
“Yes we are fine Allan. How about you?” he asked in return whilst delicately sipping from his champagne glass. Silas was a very sophisticated, middle aged man who dressed to impress and today sported a navy blue fitted suit accompanied by a white handkerchief protruding from his suit jacket pocket. He was the owner of ‘The Shed’ and had recently taken on another revenger to lighten the load. Allan knew that it was because he didn’t find him trustworthy.
“I’m fine thanks” replied Allan.
“Big crowd tonight son. We’ve even got live feeds coming out of Japan and Indonesia tonight. Can you believe that?” said Silas looking around at his guests for some kind of recognition.
“I better go and get changed then. You coming Ray?”
“Yeah give me 2 minutes Allan. I’ll follow you down” replied Ray. Ray had been Allan’s manager since he had become a revenger with ‘The Shed’. Allan approached the changing room with a feeling of foreboding hanging over him.
“Ladies and Gentlemen welcome to the shed. An especially warm welcome to our dear friends in Tokyo and Jakarta. I don’t need to remind you of the rules within the shed because there are none but remember… Outside the shed, let nothing be said. Hold on to your hats people, the first will be out in 5 minutes!!!!”.
Allan could hear the roar of the crowd above which always got his adrenalin pumping.
“Are you good to go then son?” asked Ray.
“Always” replied Allan who had now entered his state of concentration and focus. His mind was clearly on the job.
“Good luck Allan”. Ray left the dressing room as Allan had requested from the very beginning that he have the 5 minutes before the event to spare a thought for his family. As always he knew that Charlie and Harriet would both be fast asleep by now and Megan would more than likely be curled up in front of the telly.
His five minutes soon passed. It was time. A door to the right of Allan opened to which he responded by standing up and entering the small, dark room. He sat down in front of the TV monitor and placed the headphones in front of him over his ears. The door closed behind him leaving him in total darkness but then, a video began to play.
‘Thomas Senari, number 96. Thomas has been offered up to the shed by our colleagues in Oklahoma. He has slipped under the radar of local law enforcement officers until now. Thomas has been found guilty of killing his niece on all counts. His brother Brian has evidence to support this act of evil. Brian chose not to hand his brother over to the police but instead to hand him over to you Allan. As a revenger, do what you do best. We trust you’ll put on a good show. This man is evil Allan. Evil and guilty of his crime. Brian will be watching, the world will be watching. Allan, he’s all yours’.
Allan stood up and walked through the door that he had just entered through. He picked up his bag and left the changing room. He began climbing the long flight of stairs which he now called the ‘stairway to hell’. Chants of ‘revenge’ rang through his ears getting louder and louder as he neared the top. He could hear his heart beating like a drum. He was pumped.
“Here he is ladies and gentlemen, the man you’ve all been waiting for, your revenger, Allan Carter!!!”. The bright lights hit him in the face like he had just looked directly at the sun. The arena was full and hanging in its usual place above the crowds was the large four sided TV screen that produced live feeds from around the world. At the bottom of the long flight of stairs, standing alone in the oval shaped ring blindfolded, Thomas Senari.
As he descended the stairs, soaking up the applause, his eyes were fixated on Senari. Half way down, he stopped and crouched down on one knee. Reaching into his bag he pulled from it the first part to what was obviously a rifle. Piece by piece he assembled the weapon until it was fully formed. The arena fell silent. Allan was now staring down the barrel at Senari. He knew that his brother was watching, feeling the pain and needing revenge as they all did. He also knew that there would be many others in the crowd who had suffered similar heartache. They and Allan wanted these people wiped out. The shed believed that life in prison was no match for the pain, suffering, humiliation and bitter end that they could offer. Allan spared a thought for Senari’s niece, held his breath and took aim. Senari’s cry rang through the arena and was followed by loud cheers from the spectators. He began limping away and Allan stood to his feet. “Now see how far you get murderer”. Senari tried his best to find some kind of shelter. As he stumbled across the ring, Allan took the final few steps before joining him inside the perimeter. A voice on the overhead tannoy began to announce Senari’s crime.
“Thomas Rico Senari. A son, a brother and until recently, an uncle. Why you would take a young innocent girls life is beyond anyone’s comprehension, let alone a life within your own family. The revenger acts on behalf of all present and will condemn you to your end. God bless you my son”. Senari managed to somehow take refuge behind one of the many objects placed into the ring by the shed. The large black wheelie bin was the only thing now protecting him from his revenger. This time Allan dropped to the floor taking aim once more. “Now for the other one” he said quietly. Moments later Senari screamed out in pain yet again. Allan got to his feet and approached the bin. Chants of ‘bin him’ echoed around the arena and Allan was aware that the crowds had spoken. He looked down at Senari who had fainted with fear before pulling him to his feet with one hand. Allan opened the lid with his other, bent down and hoisted Senari over his shoulder. He turned and looked up to the VIP box where Silas was standing alone on his balcony. A slow nod of the head was all Allan needed to finish the job. He dropped Senari into the bin and closed the lid. As he walked away he could hear the faint drum like beating on the side of the bin. The lights in the arena went down and Allan disappeared from view. The number 10 appeared on the large screen above and a thick sheet of glass rose from the ground enclosing the ring. The countdown began. Nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one…… Allan was spot on as always. The explosion was deafening. Pieces of fragment along with unknown body parts crashed into the glass and the arena erupted with cheers. It was over.
Allan sat in the changing room with his head in his hands. He could hear the next revenger being announced over the tannoy.
“They loved that Allan!”, said Silas as he walked into the room. “One less idiot on the planet ey?”.
“Too right”, said Allan. How many have you got in tonight?”.
“Another three. Shame you can’t stick around and join us in the box”, said Silas.
“Yeah I know. I have to get home. Megan will be wondering where I am”.
“And we can’t have her wondering that can we Allan?”
“No Silas, we can’t”, replied Allan with a hint of sarcasm. He picked up his bag and left the room with Silas following behind him. So Ray will be in touch Allan. We’ll see you again soon my friend. Allan entered the long tunnel once more, mounted his bike and rode off into the darkness.
Moments later he could see the light at the end of the tunnel but he suddenly felt unnerved as he was sure he could see what looked like a black figure standing at the bottom of the stairs, almost like they were waiting for him. He blinked and the figure disappeared making his heart return to its normal pace. He jumped from his bike and picked it up ready to climb the stairs. He looked up and the figure appeared once more. A wave of fear came over him causing the hairs on his arms to stand on end.
He stood as still as he could trying his hardest to not blink this time. He looked down making sure not to miss the first step but once more when he raised his head, the figure had gone.
Allan rode home that evening with a feeling that he was being followed, constantly checking over his shoulder along the way. As he opened his garage, placing his bike inside, he had one last look. Nothing.