The lights were flickering, more so than normal. They usually flickered, dropping the factory floor into darkness. Rico's eyes darted around. He had never been a fan of the dark. The shipment had come later that night; people always expect illegal cargo to be shipped during the night, which is why it's far more profitable to do so during the day. No police would suspect; the factory would look less shady. People would be crossing the street out front, walking their dogs. Not so in the waning hours of the day. The sun had gone down three hours earlier, and still they waited. The ship had radioed in, warning of a delay. Rico didn't mind, but the call made him uneasy. Delays in his line of work usually meant something had gone wrong. He tightened his grip on his machine gun. Any rival operators would be chewed to pieces by his personal little death machine. And cops? Forget about them, they had most of the NYPD paid off with the very money they were making illegally. Despite the ethical constraints, crime was a lucrative business. It really did pay.
"Open the doors. We're coming in." Another call on the radio. The ship was arriving, along with it's precious cargo. The 20 men all breathed a sigh of relief simultaneously. They'd be paid after all. Then they realized that the captain hadn't used the code. Someone else was on the boat.
Rico raised his weapon at the door, ready to fire. The shadows obscured what was inside. As far as they could see, the doorway was empty. One of them moved in front, ready to investigate. What was going on? If someone had hijacked the boat, why had it still docked at the extraction point? Suddenly, a barbed line shot out of the doorway, spearing one of the smugglers through the leg. Retracting, it pulled him into the boat, out of sight, screaming as he went. One man's gun went off, the bullets ricocheting off the hull.The lights flickered again.
Nobody moved, but everyone was terrified. "Wh-what was that?" "Is he dead?" "What do we do?" Three men ventured into the boat. They didn't come out. The tension in the air was unreal. Tic tic tic. The lights flickered once more. The top window of the boat was broken.
Another line pulled Hank into the rafters. The lights sputtered and died, only for the red emergency lamps to reveal a limp body swinging from the wires, hung by the neck. Machine gun fire erupted, the muzzle flash casting dark shadows against the red walls. They had seen a figure-
"What's going on? Where's Roger?" "Wasn't my gun loaded?" "Jesus, guys, what happened to the boat?" None of them could remember anything. The boat had come in, then...then...
A masked man in a trench coat pulled one of them into the dark. They had seen him! He had taken...someone...somewhere...who was taken? Who took him? What was happening? The lights flickered back to life, the more reliable emergency ones shutting off.
Another man, struck by a thrown pipe, fell to the ground, his gun going off and shooting two others. A man in a coat had a crowbar-he hit Michael, then Nguyen-where had he gone? Who were they fighting...? My god, what happened to Mike and Nguyen? The fear was alive in the men now. Two ran for the exits, only to be taken down by this, this thing that had decimated their ranks. He moved back and forth, forgotten at every blinding flash of the gun, lost each time a light went out. As he watched his comrades go down to...to something, Rico jumped out the side window. Had it forgotten him? The masked man was still fresh in his mind. He had to remember. He could not forget, not while it was chasing him. He ran as quickly as he could, back to his apartment, back to safety. He was almost there when he began to slow down. What was he running from? Where were his friends? He skidded to a halt to catch his breath, leaning over, tired. What had scared him so much?
As he stood outside his apartment, he noticed a curious sight. A man in a trench coat was leaning on a nearby wall. The shadows covered his figure, though he could still be seen quite clearly. There was something funny about his face. Was he wearing a mask? There was no way to tell at this time of night. He seemed to have something under his coat, but Rico couldn't make out what it was. He walked over to to Rico, a raspy voice chilling his bones.
"Hey, friend. Best not to be out this time of night. Haven't you heard about The Rumor?"
"N-no. Who's that? What's he do?"
"Well, they say you forget The Rumor. But he never forgets you."
"What the Hell's that supposed to-"
A quick whack to the side of the head with the crowbar silenced the drug smuggler permanently. The Rumor dropped the crowbar, and pulled out his grappling hook. Wiping the blood from it with a handkerchief, he raised it above his head, firing it at a nearby rooftop. Lifted off his feet by the strong pull of the wire, he landed atop a tall building, just as the rain began to fall. A lightning bolt illuminated his figure as he strode from building to building, silent, watchful, judging.