The Business

Written by Sonora for the game Fire Starter, Writing Prompt #13

 

The bite in his tongue was deep and bloodied. He waited, expecting another blow to his head before slowly looking up when it didn’t come.

The masked men had circled him, cutting off any escape routes he could take in the narrow, cobbled alley. The tallest one was holding an iron bar shaped into a lion’s face at the end–the insignia of the Business. Every spike of its mane was a death sentence against a skull.

He spat at the ground in front of him and slowly pushed himself to his knees, trying to ignore the blood still dripping down his chin.

“I tried,” he forced out. “I did try.” And for once, he meant it, but not like they thought.

The pause before they answered was enough for him to hope that maybe they would just leave him alone.

“Trying gets you nowhere,” it was two of them, speaking together–one in each ear. “You succeed or you forfeit.”

Lorrie Hillton had forfeited a week ago. The look of power in her eyes–determined even to the end–had made him want to tear his heart out. “I forfeit life,” she’d said. So they killed her right there in front of him.

She was brave, ready to stand against the Business no matter what the cost. They’d all agreed to choose death, no matter what happened. But there’d been hope when the small band of rebels had started.

They’d had a chance.

And now what– three-thirds of them forfeited and five dead in the failed attempt to kill the president.

For once the politicians’ slogan was true: Business goes on.

He let out a shaky breath and bowed his head. As much as he’d tried he was never as brave as Lorrie. And now she was gone.

“I’ll speak,” he whispered. “I… I’ll give names.”

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