This is #17 of Endangered and is titled Trust is Weakness. It is part 5 of Volume 2.
In a special centric issue focused entirely on Daniel, the issue will highlight his inner demons, and the climax of the strike against him. Thrown into a battle-zone between his own men against the men who betrayed them, Daniel tries to deal with the situation and face his demons that been struggling with him. The issue will also debut Anahi and Lisette.
Trust is WeaknessEdit
“We should probably get off the streets.”
“Why? I mean, they seem empty.”
“And for how long?”
“Don’t know. Can’t see the future.”
“I’m just saying, it’s getting dark out and--”
“Good thing we got this.” The one woman holds up a flashback, however her one friend doesn’t look so happy still. So she looks back to her friend and gives a smile. “Relax, we’ll be fine. I promise.”
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep.” Her friend, Anahi Cruz, simply responds back, her one hand sitting in her pocket with the other holding a gun. Currently, Anahi and her friend have been walking down the streets for a few minutes now, and considering it was about nine p.m., Anahi knew the streets weren’t that safe. Her friend, on the other hand, promised that they’ll be okay.
Lisette Arroyo was her friend’s name. Lisette walks only a little bit in front of Anahi and moves in a almost similar way except she doesn’t hold a gun, instead preferring to hold a small pocket knife. A spanish pocket knife, to be more exact.
Both girls were good looking and pretty young. Anahi, who was twenty nine, had long blonde hair, latina skin, and wore almost designer like clothes. The only three year older Lisette had similar light brown hair, spanish ethnicity, however she worse less fancier clothes. If the world hasn’t gone to shit, Lisette could be mistaken for a woman with no home, but no one had any homes right now actually.
The two girls had been traveling together since day one of the apocalypse. Anahi was at the store simply buying fabric for her fashion business when it all went down. Luckily, and barely, she had managed to escape the store and during all the chaos came across Lisette, trapped in a corner by two infected. It was then that Anahi saved her and Lisette found herself in her debt, so the two girls decided to stick together. They’d tried to help more people but some weren’t--weren’t as friendly as they would have hoped.
The two women began to tread further down the streets, often passing a few dead bodies, broken down cars, or any other type of trash. Surprisingly, no infected or people however. It was a pretty good sign. The two woman don’t react to the sights, although Anahi lightly breaths fast now and again, like she didn’t want Lisette to see something. “So um--where we going?” Anahi soon asks. “I mean, we ain’t gonna make it to that mall place at this time of night.”
“I guess somewhere safe. Someone has to be letting people in.”
“Hopefully.” Anahi says before looking back around the city. She seemed confident about the whole situation actually, which was shocking for a young woman. After thinking about something she looks back to Lisette to say something, but stops upon Lisette grabbing her arm.
Before Anahi can even ask, Lisette has already dragged Anahi behind a wall corner. “What are you--” Anahi tries to ask but Lisette silently shushes her, before looking back around the corner. It is then that Anahi looks around the wall and sees the six infected that roam around up ahead. Lisette grips her knife closely while Anahi just keeps staring.
“We have to sneak around them.” Lisette says however Anahi doesn’t reply. Turning her head she sees Anahi just staring down at the ground, breathing and breathing and breathing. “You okay?”
After two seconds Anahi stops the constant breathing and her face instantly turns confident and serious, like nothing was wrong. “I’m fine. Let’s just focus on getting by them.” Anahi looks back at the infected, than behind them. “Should we just turn around?”
“No, we can easily sneak by them.” Lisette turns at Anahi and smirks. “Well, I can.” She light heartedly jokes before turning back to the streets. “Follow me.”
Lisette swiftly, silently, and quickly, exits the wall and slips behind the nearby car. Anahi soon did the same but it’s obvious that Lisette has more experience at sneaking around. Counting to three Lisette then makes a run for the next wall, and her footsteps are lighter than feathers as she blends into the shadows and darkness around her. Anahi only watches impressed before she goes for it too.
After a few more sneaking moments, to which Lisette does excellent, the two girls duck behind a broken car. While Anahi is slightly nervous, Lisette is the complete opposite with her calm exterior. “You’re like a ninja, damn.” Anahi mutters to Lisette. “Where’d you learn that?”
“Home.” She simply responds before peeking her head around the car, seeing as one more infected sit in their path. However it’s eyes stare in their direction, meaning even getting out wouldn’t be safe. “Do you have anything? Anything throwable, I mean.”
“Um..” Anahi digs into her pocket and pulls out the only thing in there; her apartment key. She hesitates before handing it to Lisette; not like she needs it now. She then watches her key be thrown across the street and smacking into the pole, attracting the attention of the infected. They quickly then make their escape as the infected rush toward the sound, and the girls run into the nearest store.
Once inside Lisette shuts the door behind them, allowing the darkness to cover the store and leaving the only light supply being their flashlight. Anahi breathes and wipes a piece of sweat from her head, while Lisette just looks around with the light. “Where the hell did you learn to do that stuff?” Anahi asks Lisette, clearly impressed. Anahi may have been a cop and learned how to sneak around and all, but Lisette was pretty impressive. Lisette just puts on a smile.
“As I said, home.” Her vagueness is intentional while looking around the room. Anahi doesn’t persist any further and just grips the pistol close in case they aren’t alone, which luckily they seem to be.
However Lisette soon shines her light onto something suspicious, causing her to nearly jump. In the corner of the store lays the body of a man around her age, with brown hair and rich clothing. However his face is bruised and bloody, as are his clothes which are ripped as well. “Son of a bitch.” She mutters while walking toward it, with Anahi right behind her.
“Is--is he alive?” She asks while kneeling next to the body with Lisette, with Lisette going to feel the heartbeat. It was there, but slightly and it was quickly fading. She nods in a ‘yes’ response to Anahi’s question.
Unknown to the girls, they are looking at the half dead body of Daniel Brown, who was only holding on by a thread.
3 Hours Earlier, 6 P.M.
“I want you to listen and listen good, because I got some shit to say to you.” The words from Desse’s mouth echoes around the room, and into his head. It was all just so unexpected and surprising to Daniel, who was currently on his knees and being held gunpoint by his own man. One of his most trusted man, to be more exact.
“Do you hear me?” Desse asks again to the unresponsive Daniel, who just looks at him with a look of pure anger. Daniel, while staring, notices the repeatedly shaking of Desse’s hand. He was nervous, as was Daniel. “I’m gonna ask again, did you hear me!?”
“Loud and fucking clear, Mr. Big D.” Daniel mocks with a smirk; even when being threatened at he was mocking. He figured if Desse was gonna kill him then he wasn’t gonna beg. Desse, however, didn’t reply to the mocking other than rolling his eyes. Desse however than remained silent. “You gonna speak or are you just gonna stare at me like a dumbass?”
“Shut up! Don’t you know who’s in charge here?!”
“Yeah, of course I fucking do.” Desse keeps his aim locked, while Daniel’s mischief smirk grows wider. “I am.”
“You’re in my house, you work for me, you’re with my gun, my money in your pocket, and my men outside. That’s a lot of mines.”
“Yeah, and your gun is pointed at you. What does that tell you?”
“That I need to hire better people because it’s obvious that some are dumb fucks.”
“Dumb fucks? Coming from the dude who has a gun pointed at him.”
“Coming from the dude who's not gonna pull that trigger.” The moment Daniel says this a flash comes from the pistol and a bullet travels at him, however it misses and instead hits the desk right next to Daniel. Desse did that on purpose.
“What was that again?”
“Well fuck dude I’m so scared. You fucking shot the desk next to me.” He once again mocks. “I think I’m pissing myself.” Desse only looks more angry. “Now what the hell were you gonna say to me?”
“I was gonna say--that you’re a fucking dick.”
“Ouch, that one hurt.”
“You wanna sit here and act like you’re some big hotshot? Be my guest, do so. But I’m--gonna tell you the truth. You. Are. A. Nobody. Hear that? Every mob boss in the city, hell probably the whole fucking state, hates you. They want you dead.”
“You act like I don’t know that. And a nobody? I’m--”
“The spoiled kid of a criminal, that’s what you are. Nothing more. Nothing less.” The smile from Daniel’s face disappears. “Tell me, what was one thing you’ve done, huh? You sit on your ass all day, torture us around, and do shit. Yet, for some odd reason, you act tough. It’s funny too because if you’re some tough guy, then you’re being taking down by your own bodyguard.”
“I don’t think it’s that funny, but I can see what you’re getting at.” Daniel returns with mocking, not showing the feelings he’s holding right now. Truth is, he’s hurt. He trusted Desse; looks like trusting him was a weakness. Desse however only scoffs him.
“You’re only proving my point, you know that right? Someone stands here, a gun pointed at you, and all you do is act like a smartass. You’re pathetic, and when I’m done, no one will mourn you.”
“Pathetic? What’s pathetic is that some my own guard decides to kill me, and for what? Lemme ask, is it just your or are there other morons with you?”
“I ain’t the only one who thinks this shit!”
“Alright, just wonderin’.” Daniel says while his hand slowly moves toward the back of his desk, yet Desse doesn’t notice as he is to focused on letting his feelings out. “Go on.”
“I got nothing else to say to you. I only have something to do to you.”
“Great, same here.” Daniel quickly grabs the pistol from behind his desk and fires at Desse, but misses. He then rolls behind his desk while Desse opens fire too. Truth was, Daniel wasn’t the best in fights so he knew he was screwed.
However the sound of Daniel’s unsilenced gun going off attracted one of Daniel’ guards, who he thought was a man named Lee. At first Daniel thought Lee would help Desse, but it looked like Lee was still loyal to Daniel, because he opened fire on Desse. However Lee was a horrible shot, and Desse didn’t want to hurt Lee, so they mostly just stayed behind cover, shouting at each other.
Daniel took this chance to make a bolt for it, and he scrambled toward his side exit while Desse was focused on Lee. Upon exiting the room Daniel thought he heard gunshots from back in his office, but he just kept running, wondering why Desse would think about killing him. Truth was, Daniel just hated betrayal.
21 Years Ago, 1992
“I can’t do it.”
“Yes you can.”
“I can’t do it! Please, just help me.”
“Only weak people get help. Now do it.” Robert Brown once again demands his ten year old son, Daniel Brown. Currently, the two were standing in the great woods of Georgia, with both of them holding rifles. While Robert was never much of a hunter, he had decided to take Daniel here for a “trip”, although Daniel knew his father was testing him. Testing his strength. He had already made Daniel climb trees, hills, make fires, and all of that. Now came the next test. To kill.
The two had stumbled across a bear, who had got his paw stuck under a fallen tree; Robert saw this as the best opportunity to teach Daniel a lesson on how to kill. Being a sort of wise man, he wants to teach Daniel not only how to kill, but the difference between cold blooded and mercy. He was already grooming his son to become the great mob leader he is gonna be. “Pull the goddamn trigger!”
After another moment of hesitation Daniel pulls the trigger, and watches as the bullet hits the bear in the face. It still kept going and let out a mighty roar of pain; he didn’t kill it. “Pull it again.”
“I said pull it again.” Robert gives Daniel a cold stare. “Don’t make me repeat myself.”
“Can’t you do it!”
“I’m not gonna help you.” Daniel was a very peaceful kid who loved life, and hated death. He was nice, peaceful, and selfless; with this attitude he wasn’t gonna be the boss of the mafia. So Robert decided to teach him more colder side of life. Recently he’s been showing Daniel drug deals, tortures, and all that other shit; he even made Daniel do some stuff.
After another moment of hesitation Daniel closes his eyes and takes aim, but Robert notices this. “Don’t close your eyes.” Daniel opens them but looks away. “I want you to look at it.”
Daniel sighs and looks back at the bear, aims, and fires another bullet. This time it strikes and kills the mighty beast, and it lets out one final roar of power before dying. Immediately he then throws the rifle to the ground, almost in tears, while Robert just smiles. “Good job, son.”
Running down the halls of his penthouse, Daniel can hear gunshots echo throughout the house. He has no idea what the fuck happened but something went down. From what he presumes, some of Desse’s friends went to check on him and must have gotten into a fight with the men loyal. Point was that shit was going down.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.” Is all Daniel can mutter while running down the halls of his penthouse, and that’s all he can even think. Hell, he didn’t even know what the fuck to think. He’s pretty sure all his workers are in some fight, and he’s in the center of it; one side wants him alive and the other wants him dead.
After reaching the living room Daniel instantly takes shelter behind his couch, and tries to control his fast breaths. Slowly the sweat drips down his face and onto the suit like clothing he was wearing, and although usually he would care, doesn’t care about that right now. He only focused on the most important thing: Getting his ass out of there alive.
After using his sleeve to wipe the sweat of his head and looking around the corner, he sees it’s empty. Getting onto his feet he then heads down there, deciding to make his way to the nearest elevator. After another few twists and turns, Daniel finds himself near the elevator; but he isn’t alone.
At the end of the hallway is one of Daniel’s men, pistol in hand and look of panic on his face. His name was...his name was….well, truth is Daniel has no idea what his name is. Not like it mattered. The guard noticed Daniel and instantly ran toward him. “Boss!” He shouted, but Daniel just stared. He remembered his father’s motto: whenever there was a battle, only trust yourself. For all Daniel knew this dude could be with Desse.
He wasn’t taking any chances.
Quickly throwing his gun up Daniel uncaps two loads, hitting the guard once in the neck and the face; He didn’t even see what was coming. Lowering his pistol Daniel proceeded to show no remorse before moving down the hall. After a few more twist and turns, and gunshots in the distance, Daniel thinks he’s near the elevator.
“What the fuck happened!?” Harold screams while sitting behind cover with Desse, who had fallen into a blank and only sat there. This whole scene of fighting and death was definitely Desse’s fault; if he hadn’t gotten lost in his ranting and shot Daniel then there wouldn’t be this fight. “Desse!” Desse is thrown out of his blank.
“I--I didn’t kill him. He got away and I guess the people loyal to him found out.”
“He got away?” The question didn’t sound like a question, instead Harold said it in pure anger and disbelief. Desse nods however, and Harold only glares. He should have done the deed himself. “Which way did he run?”
“I--I don’t know! Does it matter now?”
“Hell fucking yeah.” Harold says before bolting into his left, guessing that Daniel is gonna try for the elevators. Having been his guard for years Harold has gotten to know Daniel well, and he knew that Daniel was a coward who would run from battle. That’s just who Daniel was; and that’s why he deserved to die.
Jogging down the hall he began to narrowly miss the gunfire of those loyal to Daniel. With all this shit Harold just hoped that Ryker paid good.
Running into the elevator Daniel soon panicky began to push the down button over and over, knowing fully well that the faster he pushed wouldn’t affect the speed. While performing this act Daniel looks down the hallways to make sure no one is nearby; he might actually get out of here alive.
Suddenly Daniel heard rapid footsteps and cranks his head in the direction, quickly taking note of the man standing at the end of the hallway. Dark skin, grim gray suit, red shirt, white tie, and a built exterior, only to top it off with a pistol in his hand. It was Harold, one of Daniel’s toughest men; and judging from the anger in his eyes Daniel could tell he wasn’t friendly. He quickly turns around to see the elevator is nowhere near his floor. “Mr. Brown.” Harold calls from down the hall, to which Daniel sighs. Oh have the cards changed.
“Mr. Harold, how are you on this fine day?”
“Don’t play games with me.”
“Ah I can’t do that. Games are my shit.” Daniel takes a nervous glance toward the stairwell, which was his life savior right now, since Daniel wasn’t the best shot unlike Harold. “In Fact let’s play a quick game right now.” He says calmly before making a run for the stairwell, Harold just catching wind of this. Quickly running into the stairwell he grabbed a nearby broom, although he had no idea why it was there, and put it in between the door handles. That should buy him about ten seconds.
Booking his way down the stairs, faster than he ever ran, he listens as the door is being kicked in. Luckily by the time it’s kicked in Daniel is on the stairs three floors below. Picking up the pace he runs quick down the stairs, as does Harold.
Daniel reaches the bottom floor first, after running down twenty fucking four staircases, and quickly kicks the doors down into the lobby. The lobby of his penthouse complex appears to be untouched, although it was noticeably empty, except for a few. At the doors Daniel saw infected slamming against them, trying any means necessary to break it. They must be attracted to gunshots.
Snapping back into the reality of danger, Daniel shuts the door behind him and decides the back exit is probably safest, since the infected are nearly done breaking in. Making a run for it he soon makes it to the backroom and the locked back door comes into sight; he smiles lightly. Looks like once again Daniel won.
Ironically just as he thought that he heard the sounds of Harold nearby, and he quickly took cover behind a closet, pistol in hand. Soon enough Harold burst into the room in almost a blind fury state, he must really want Daniel dead; then again, lots of people want Daniel dead. Harold however was smart, being former military, and he gripped his pistol tightly, smirking. He then shuts the door behind him. “I know you’re here, Brown.” The fake respect of the word ‘mr.’ is gone.
Daniel however stays silent and stands behind the closet, panicked and pistol in hand. Daniel may put on that tough front, but in the real deal, he was useless as shit. “Come on out and I’ll make it quick.” Harold taunts more as he searches the room. Daniel didn’t have a lot of time to get out of there.
Slowly he tried to tiptoe out of the room, avoiding Harold’s line of sight, and made his way toward the still locked back door. If only he could find a way to unlock it quickly.
But in that moment Harold sees him and immediately shoots at him, but the table in front of Daniel protected him. Panicked Daniel tossed a lamp at his head, then in the heat of the moment, tackles Harold to the ground. Harold’s pistol slides away while Daniel hits Harold across the face with his, before pointing at him. “Go back to the fucking cotton fields.” Daniel mocks and threats at the same time while pointing the pistol at his face. He felt in absolute control.
Of course Daniel’s meek strength was nothing compared to Harold, who tossed Daniel off in a swift punch, forcing Daniel onto his knees. Harold than quickly takes back his pistol and shoots Daniel in the stomach, effectively causing him to scream and fall over. For the first time Daniel has felt absolute pain and was in the verge of crying. The bullet sat there in his stomach and Daniel can feel the blood in his body boil and fall out of his stomach. “Well, fuck, nigga.” Daniel coughs up to Harold, who scoffs. “So is this how it ends, huh? You’re just gonna shoot me?”
“Well boss, that’s exactly how it’s gonna end.” Daniel knew his time was running out; hell, he probably met his match here. After all the shit he endured it’s his own men that take him down, he thinks the word is mutiny.
“Y--you can’t kill me.” He’s practically pleading for his life now, desperate. Daniel fucking Brown was in complete desperation mood.
“Why? You’re power is useless now and you’re useless to the business. So yeah, I can kill you.” Harold puts the edge of the pistol on Daniel’s head and was about to pull the trigger, but in a strange twist of fate, infected began to pound in the door. Harold quickly turns toward the door and aims at the infected, knowing they’re more of a threat than Daniel, but he underestimated Daniel. Since he was in a state of fear, Daniel was quick to kick Harold in the knees, tripping him forward and losing his grip on the gun. It only took three seconds for the infected to grab Harold and bite into him, and his screams echoed around the small room.
Daniel stands to his feet, holds his bleeding stomach, and walks to the lock door. Swiftly he knocks the lock off the door and heads out, leaving a trail of blood behind that’s only increased with each step. Soon enough Daniel was on the streets of Philadelphia as the fighting at his penthouse seemed to die down.
15 Years Ago, 1998
A sixteen year old Daniel Brown sits solemnly at one of the finely prepared tables, including a white tablecloth and fancy silverware. Daniel himself was well dressed with a dark blue button up shirt (which was unbuttoned), black suit jacket, and dark jeans. His beard is also noticeably missing and he is more clean shaved, but instead has longer hair.
Daniel sat there silent and played with his fingers, as he had nothing to do. Truth was, this Daniel was antisocial and prefered to stay by himself. In fact he usually didn’t like to go out to events like this, which was a party set up by his father and his mob “friends”. Daniel didn’t want to go but he was forced, so he just opted to sit at this table and do nothing, while the others are out there socializing.
After another few minutes Daniel sees an image that makes him want to drop his jaw. There she stands near another table, she as in the angel he just saw. Her blue eyes were like an ocean of stars, her skin was near flawless, and her hair flowed down like a river. There she sat with a short red dress, and a black handbag. She was the most beautiful person he’s ever saw, and like him, she seemed anti-social. After a moment she looked over and glanced at Daniel, their eyes connected instantly.
After a few moments she stands up and approaches him, scaring Daniel. He was nervous, especially around the opposite gender. She sat down across from him and smiled. “Sorry to bother you, but I couldn’t help but notice you staring at me.”
“Well--well, you see, I just looked over and boom--you were right there. I didn’t mean to stare--I mean you’re hot and all, wait no not hot umm beautiful, and umm-” Daniel’s constant rambling only made the girl giggle, but in a friendly matter.
“The only thing I got out of that was you said I was hot.”
“Beautiful, not hot. Hot sounds--I don’t know. Whatever one you want.” He was freezing up visibly and she noticed it.
“Relax, I’m not gonna bite.”
“Sorry it’s just--well, no one has talked to me for this long.”
“We only spoke like four sentences.’
“I mean it’s great talking to you but do you mind if I ask why you’re here? I mean I’m pretty sure you got better friends out there--not in a rude way--but yeah, no one usually talks to me without a reason.”
“I just saw you were alone and figured ‘hey, why the hell not?’, so here I am. I mean I can go if you want.”
“No, no. It’s fine.” The girl smiles, as does Daniel, however he was still nervous. “So how are you?”
“Fine, I guess. Not really the kinda girl for this stuff.”
“Same here. I hate these things. I’d rather be home laying on the couch and watching TV.”
“Same here. I only come to this crap because my dad makes me.”
“Once again, same here.” Daniel smiles as this girl actually seemed kind of chill, for him anyway. “By the way, I never got your name?”
“Isabella Ryker. You?”
“Daniel Brown. Nice to meet you.’
“Same goes for me.” Isabella flashes Daniel a smile, which he soon returns. “So how old are you? I’m guessing sixteenish.”
“Sixteen, yeah. You, I’m guessing seventeenish.”
“Ding ding ding. You’re correct.”
“Me? Correct? Well that can’t be right, I’m usually always wrong as shit.” Daniel jokes as he begins to feel more comfortable.
“I know right. Crazy as fuck.” She returns the joke, giving Daniel a laugh. Shockingly, he may have just made himself a friend.
Sitting inside his top-noch mansion, that looks completely untouched despite the situation, Jake Ryker is taking it easy. Wearing casual clothes of dark jeans, a dark sweatshirt, and a red shirt, he just finds himself sitting on the couch and watching the TV. Once and awhile he would come onto the news but he mostly just stayed off of it, as the constant badgering of infected bugged him. However he also thought, that in his mind, these things can be used as an advantage.
These infected can be used to take down rivals, or scare them until submission. While they were hellish demons to most, to people like Ryker, they were a gift from heaven.
After another few minutes pass by Ryker soon looks to his right, to the tabletop. According to the clock it was 6:30 pm; however while he checked the clock, he appears to have a watch on his wrist, but it appears to be broken. A shame it was as it seemed like a good watch.
In that moment Ryker suddenly heard his telephone ring and he cranks his head toward the cell phone on the table. It appeared to be one of his closest guards, Gabriel, whom he has set on a special task. He picks it up, coughs, then speaks. “Hello, Gabriel."
“Good evening, sir.”
“What’s the occasion?”
“Well I’ve been watching Brown’s place--like you said--and I’ve got news.” He pauses and awaits Ryker’s answer, to which he simply just tells Gabriel to keep going. “Well I guess those people who you got to kill Brown attempted too.”
“Well I heard a single gunshot at first, then I heard like twenty of them. I’m guessing they got into some sort of fight.”
“Those infected people broke into the penthouse, and from what I could tell, had their fun. I’m saying that Brown is dead.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes.” Ryker smiles.
“Well thank you Gabriel. You can head home now, get some rest.” He hangs up the phone afterwards and puts it back on the table, when suddenly something bugs him. At the doorway stands a little boy, only around eight years would, with an appearance like Ryker. Brown hair and blue eyes, with light skin.
This was Kyle Ryker, Ryker’s son. From the look of it he seemed to be tired and cranky, and Ryker turned all his attention on him. “What is it?” He asked fatherly, neither annoyed or mad. Instead he asked like a real concerned father, even getting down on his knees.
“I can’t sleep again, daddy.” Ryker feels his heart sink, as his son has been having sleeping problems. So he just opens up his arms and soon enough Kyle arrives, hugging his dad solemnly. Even with Ryker’s job, family was number one to him.
“It’s alright, son. So why can’t you sleep?”
“I keep seeing mommy in my dreams.” It’s been five months since the death of Ryker’s wife and it hasn’t gotten any better, for Ryker or Kyle. While not working Ryker has been trying to make it better for Kyle. However while the smart man he was, not even he could cure a son’s broken heart.
“I’m sorry, I really am.” He holds his son close. “I see her too.”
“I miss mommy.”
“So do I, kiddo. So do I.” Ryker rubs his son’s hair before planting a loving kiss on his forehead. “Now go back and try to get some sleep, if you still can’t sleep, you can stay up with Daddy.”
Limping his way down the empty streets, even though it’s only about seven p.m., Daniel is still clearly injured. With bruises along his cheek, and his still bloody stomach which he holds his hand over, Daniel is in bad shape. In fact he could use lots of help right now, but due to his petty nature, he’s not gonna let anybody help him.
After moving down the streets more, the blood trail still behind him, he stops himself at a nearby corner. Looking down to his stomach he sees the blood sinking through his fingers, and he sighs. If he can just find some medical shit he might be able to help himself; although he had no idea how to work that stuff. Couldn’t be too hard though.
After patting down his stomach again he moves forward down the streets, grunting along the way. Despite his injury he still focuses on his anger toward his men. He just hopes they’re rotting in hell, especially Harold and Desse, whom he doesn’t know if the latter survived or not.
However he suddenly stops dead in his tracks after hearing the sound of a car nearby, and quickly, he ducks behind a broken car, and looks over to the sound of the noise.
“Disgusting.” Tate mutters while inspecting the scene. As the two were driving down the street Tate had hit a stray infected, and it’s currently stuck under the wheel. All they had to do was yank it out and kill it; seemed simple enough.
Next to him was Michael, who only stared blankly at it. His thoughts were to focused on Sarah to give a shit about this infected. Despite the time, Michael and Tate had began to head over to Sarah’s place, in hopes they’re still there. They probably should've headed out earlier but Destinee suggested they wait, as the city was packed in the afternoon. “Michael, wanna help me?”
“Moving that thing from under the wheel.” Tate nods toward the infected, just wanting to get the job done, to which Michael just nods and heads over to help him.
From behind the nearby car, Daniel watches the two men with a watchful eye. While these two nice men, well sort of nice, would help Daniel out with his wounds, Daniel wouldn’t even think of it. In his mind he can do everything himself, just like his father taught him so many years ago. So instead of asking for help he holds his wounds and walks away from the scene, making sure they don’t see him.
After walking away from Michael and Tate, Daniel continues his lonely descent down the lonely streets. Luckily no people or infected try to stop him, but he can’t find any medical shops. He knew that sooner or later he’d be screwed, that is if he didn’t get his cuts stitched up. He never felt so powerless, that’s for sure.
10 Years Ago, 2003
Isabella Ryker, twenty two now, sits inside of her room, laying on top of her bed to be exact. It’s around noon right now and she plans to spend the day being lazy, evident by the fact that she’s wearing pajamas, and has her tv in front of her bed. With food in her mini-fridge, and a built in bathroom, she didn’t plan to leave her room all day.
However just as she turned on her TV, she heard a knock at her door, and she moans in annoyance. Rising to her feet she makes her way to the door and opens it, expecting to see her dad, but instead finds the halls empty. Yet she once again heard a knock.
Instead she turns toward the window and finds the source of the knocking; the twenty one year old Daniel Brown, who was on her fire escape. He wore “poor” people clothes, and had a fresh bruise on his face. He shined her a fake smile although Isabella saw past it, as she was his best friend.
Quickly making her way to the window she opened it up, allowing herself to talk with him. “Hi there. I interrupting something?”
“Of course you are.” She smiles. “But I’ll let it slide.”
“So what’s on your mind.” Despite his wide smile Isabella knew something was up, it was like a power of hers. “Don’t gotta be afraid to tell me, Danny.”
“Alright, alright. Can I come in first?” Isabella backs away from the window and Daniel steps in, before stopping to lean on the wall. “Anything to drink?”
“You’re pretty demanding today, huh?”
“Please.” He practically begged and she instantly grabbed some water from her fridge, to which he gladly accepted it. It only took him a few seconds to down it before tossing it to the ground; all while Isabella watches. “Thanks.”
“Sure thing. So what’s up?”
“I just--had to get out of there. Y’know sometimes, he drives me insane.”
“Is that--that where you got the--bruise thing.” She refers to the bruise on his face, to which he hesitates before nodding.
“He tried teaching me again, with the whole mob shit, and I didn’t do good. He got a little angry.” Isabella could never help but feel bad for Daniel; he was such a nice kid. He couldn’t even hurt a fly.
“Well you can stay here as long as you want. You need anything?”
“Naw, I’m fine.”
“Yeah, perfectly sure.” Daniel says to which Isabella nods and takes her seat back on her bed, and Daniel joins her after a minute. Soon enough she puts her arm around him and he buries his face into her shoulder. “Sometimes I just feel like leaving.”
“Leaving the penthouse?”
“Sort of. I mean like running away kind of leaving.”
“Sometimes I think of it, not always.” He sighs. “I just can’t take it. All this mob shit.”
“I know it sucks, I gotta go through it to sometimes.” Truth was her dad, Jake, was a very nice dude who never bothered her. Daniel knew this too.
“Least your dad is nice.” Daniel scoffs her. “All this mob stuff just isn’t for me.”
“So what do you wanna do about it? Talk to him?”
“No. As I said, run away.” Isabella gave Daniel the ‘are you kidding me’ look, and saw how serious he was. “I wanna go live my life, not his.”
“No, I’m serious. I wanna as far as I can from here.” Even though Daniel was a legal adult, his father never let him leave. “I just can’t do it anymore.”
“You can’t just run away!”
“Because--I don’t know, you have friends here!”
“What friends? You’re the only person on this planet that gives a shit about me.”
“Than scratch friends. What about me?”
“You’re an adult, Isabella! You don’t gotta run, just come with me.”
“There’s a difference between can’t and won’t.”
“I know there is, and it’s I can’t.”
“Why can’t you? Imagine us just traveling the world, without a care in the world.”
“I belong here.”
“You belong where you wanna belong.”
“And I don’t belong on the road.”
“But you’ll be with me! C’mon, we always talked about this years ago. Just us two showing the world who's boss.” Daniel tries convincing Isabella, his only friend, to leave with him. Because if he was gonna be out there, he needed someone he can trust and count on.
Still making his way down the streets in hopes of help, Daniel is annoyed to find no medical places nearby. At this point he’s gonna have to start raiding places soon, something he can’t do in this state. Hell he’ll do anything that doesn’t involve dying, or getting help, although he was starting to reconsider the latter.
After limping down the street once more, this time using cars and poles to support himself, he heard a blood wrenching scream that makes his own bones shake. That could only mean one thing. Infected.
Now Daniel has no contact with infected minus the event with Harold. He knows that they’re fast and strong, already two advantages over him.
Turning his head he sees a few infected at the edge of the streets, coming his way. Cursing repeatedly he opens the nearest unlocked door and enters, before slamming it shut. Once inside he continues to walk away from the door, which the infected are pounding at. He continues backwards until stopping at the wall, where he hovers his other hand over the bullet wound. Soon enough more blood comes out and his head goes dizzy.
It only took a few more seconds to put Daniel unconscious.
10 Years Ago, 2003
Waiting in the heart of a cafe, his favorite to be exact, Daniel begins to tap his foot. He sits there in dark jeans and a dark hoodie, as if he’s trying to conceal himself. Looks like his plan to run away is coming into motion, as he makes sure to not make contact with any cameras, as his father could easily get them hacked.
After another few minutes of just tapping his foot Daniel sees Isabella walking toward him, also wearing dark clothing, a hat and sunglasses to conceal herself, and a bright pink bag around her shoulder. He flashes a smile at her before grabbing the bag that sits at his side. This was it. “You look nice.” He says to her while she sits down.
“Trust me, I know.”
“Damn okay then, Ms. Petty.”
“Alright so jokes aside now. Where we going?”
“Well I’m thinking west coast.”
“Exactly. Lots of places to stop at in-between.” Daniel defends, while also taking a map out of his bag and tossing it to Isabella, who catches it instantly. “Look at all those places.”
“This also means a lot of money.”
“We got that covered. I snuck money from daddy, and I think you did the same.” He nods toward the wallet sticking out of her purse. “We’ll be fine.”
“Alright then. Let’s do this.” Isabella smiles while standing to her feet and picking up her bag and purse. Daniel however just sits there or a second, smiling at hi idea finally coming into play. He appears to do this for some time as Isabella grows a little impatient. “C’mon, get up.”
Present Time. 9:30 pm
“C’mon, get up.”
He doesn’t, instead opting to stay in his dreams.
“C’mon get up.”
“No..” He moans under his breath.
Daniel suddenly jumps up from laying down and gasps, as he also instantly feels pain in his stomach. However this pain was unlike the gunshot wound and instead felt more..controlled, he doesn’t really know the word for it. Looking down he realizes his jacket is gone and he is resorted to his shirt, which he lifts up to expect the wound.
The gunshot that was their earlier is now all stitched up, and it’s no longer bleeding. Suspicious, Daniel looks around the dark room, which he believes is a store; although it’s pretty dark as the only light source are scattered candles around the store. Soon enough he sees he is not alone, like he expected, as a young girl sits across the room. Anahi Cruz.
Instantly he tries to stand but the pain in his stomach doesn’t allow him too, and he instead leans back across the room. He looks back at the girl, who notices Daniel is awake. “You here to kill me?” The girl smiles lightly, like it’s funny.
“If I was here to kill you than your stomach wouldn't be patched up, would it?”
“I guess not.” Daniel mutters under his breath while the girl continues to look at him, like she’s trying to make a conclusion about him. It’s not that she didn’t trust him, she just wanted to keep her guard up.
“In case you’re wondering my friend Lisette did the messy stuff, I just sewed it up.”
“Cool.” He replies back as he wasn’t a thank you person, hell it looks like he doesn’t even give a shit. “Where are we?” He demands next, and she notices the rudeness in his voice.
“A store, I think it’s called Jack’s Place, not sure.”
“How’d I get here?”
“No clue, we found you here half dead. You got lucky.” Daniel doesn’t ask any more questions and instead just leans back against the wall some more, just wanting to get out of there. “How did you get those, by the way? I mean if you don’t mind me asking.”
“Alright than, touchy subject.”
“Yeah, no shit.” Anahi appears to be glaring a little bit at Daniel, although he doesn’t notice, nor care. Anahi just goes back to reading the magazine, deciding there was no point in talking with Daniel. “How long was I out.”
“Not gonna answer when you ask like that.”
“I fucking mean it.”
“Don’t know, found you half-an-hour ago, douche.” She says the last word a little bit more hushed. Daniel just goes back to thinking, before someone else interrupts him, in this case the sound of a door opening. He turns toward the sound to see another girl walk in, Lisette Arroyo. She makes her way toward Anahi.
“I see you didn’t get yourself killed.” She jokes before noticing the candles. “Nice candles, where’d ya get them?”
“In one of the aisles. Funny, everyone ran to get water all the way down to damn pens, but no one even touched the candles.”
“Well that just means more for us.” Lisette smiles to which Anahi smirkers a little bit; all awhile Daniel just rolls his eyes.
“So what you find out there?”
“No one in the area, no one I could find anyways. Infected are around to so we should wait until morning.” While saying this, Lisette takes a look over to Daniel and notices he’s awake. She proceeds to make her way to him while Anahi watches, specifically gripping her weapon just in case Daniel tries anything. “I see you’re awake.”
“I see you like staring the obvious.”
“Then it looks like we both noticed stuff.” She kneels down to his level, and tries to check his stomach, but he grabs her hand mid-way.
“I just wanted to make sure.”
“I said, it’s fine.”
“Okay, okay.” Lisette stands back up, noticing the harshness in his tone. She was just trying to be nice, but of course she still isn’t trusting of this dude, as she is with every stranger she meets. She sends a glance back to Anahi and see’s she is suspicious of Daniel as well, before turning back to Daniel. “So what’s your name?”
“Does it matter?”
“I would think so.”
“Well I don’t.”
“Buddy,” Anahi cuts into their conversation, “we just saved your life so, in my eyes, you owe us. I think a name ain’t shit compared to what we could make you do.” Lisette gives her a glance, to which Anahi shrugs. “Hey, I’m just saying.”
“Daniel. Happy now?”
“Like a baby getting candy.” Lisette says while digging into her bag and pulling out a water bottle, which she rolls over to Daniel, letting her niceness coming before her annoyance with this dude. “Drink up.” She walks away from Daniel once saying that, deciding to let the bastard rest. Daniel smiles at that.
Sure they may have saved his life but no way was Daniel gonna trust people and let them close; he learned that the hard way.
10 Years Ago, 2003
Daniel and Isabella move down the streets, trying to make their way to the train station undetected. With their respective items covering their faces up, and bags around their backs, they seemed more like bank robbers than runaways.
“How much longer to the train station?” Isabella asks Daniel whilst walking, to which he shrugs.
“Shouldn’t be more than five blocks, least I hope it’s not.”
“Same here. These feet weren’t met for walking.”
“Well than shouldn’t you get a wheelchair?”
“It was a joke.”
“A bad one.” He smirks to which she playfully nudges him. This was their relationship pretty much. Just making fun of each other and being there for each other. They were great friends. “So you ready for this?”
“For this, this adventure we’re doing.”
“Shockingly, despite how stupid it may sound, I am.”
“It’s gonna be so fun.” Daniel couldn’t help but not show his smile. For the first time in his life he’ll no longer be involved in the mob business and be his own man, with his own life. For Isabella she always enjoyed her life, but agreed to come as she didn’t want her best friend to go alone. “I’m just--so glad to finally leave him.” Daniel then looks at her. “Thank you.”
“Coming. It just means so much to me.”
“Don’t mention it. I wasn’t just gonna let ya head out there alone.” Their eyes meet in that moment and Daniel smiles, not in a joking matter, but in a heartfelt, sincere matter. He was just so glad he had a friend like her.
However after looking back up he notices two men across the street in black suits that go along with black shades and a cell phone in their hands. They seemed suspicious, but Daniel got more suspicious after seeing a black car nearby. “Let’s pick it up.” He grabs Isabella by the arm and speeds up their pace, and ignores her questions.
Soon enough they turn a corner and Daniel notices more black suited men scattered around. Someone was onto them. “What are you doing?” She asks Daniel who just leads her down an alleyway, which he thought was a shortcut.
However suddenly down the alleyway a black car blocks the exit, stopping them dead in their tracks. Daniel turns around and sees another black car at the other end. They were trapped there.
Out of one of the cars steps a dude in his black suit, and Daniel instantly recognizes him. Robert fuckin’ Brown, his father. “Evening son. Going somewhere?” His father was always intimidating and Daniel found a nerve itching, but he holds Isabella close.
“Just going for a walk.”
“With your bags packed? Some walk.”
“Yeah, it is.”
“But wanna know what I think?”
“That you wanted to run away with this--this whore--and ditch everything I ever taught you.” Robert stares Daniel down. “Does that sound about right?”
“Well--” Daniel freezes up and scratches his head, while Robert still shows no emotion. After a few seconds it was Isabella who spoke up.
“Mr. Brown, your son just wants to see the world. He doesn’t like-” She tries to say but a loud, crackling slap from Robert’s hand smacks across her face, turning her cheek read. Daniel instantly jumps at his father but Robert shoves him back.
“You have no right to speak here.” Isabella nods silently and holds her cheek. “You’re Ryker’s kid, right?”
“Well then. My own son ditches me for my rival’s whore. Even worse.” Robert turns back to Daniel. “Now you’re gonna come back home, because my son is the only one who's gonna take over my job.”
“No. I’m leaving.” It was about time Daniel stood up to his father, but Robert only scoffs him.
“Alright then.” Robert draws out his gun, shakes it, then points it directly at Isabella’s face. Daniel instantly reacts.
“Woah, woah! Dad put the gun down!”
“Danny.” Isabella mutters scared.
“Dad put it down now!”
“Get in the car.” Robert says bluntly back.
“Dad just put the gun down first!”
“Alright, alright.” Daniel puts his hands up and backs toward the car, but Robert doesn’t stop there. With no hesitation Robert puts a bullet into Isabella’s face. It only took one second for Daniel’s best friend to fall over dead, in front of his own eyes. He didn’t even know how to react as he just stood there in shock, while Robert holsters his gun.
“Harold, you know what to do.” Harold nods and approaches the body. It was his job to make murders look like accidents. On the way back to the car Robert looked at the still shocked Daniel. “I’m sorry son, but it had to be done.”
A few weeks later Daniel sits silently on a bench, his depressed face buried into his face, and his tears silent. He was at Isabella’s funeral right now and just can’t even contain his tears. His best friend dead all because of his idea, and his father.
But it wasn’t just his best friend. It was the girl he loved, but never told her. Looks like he can’t now.
After her murder Daniel had went back to his father’s, as he now had nothing else to do. Robert said her death would show Daniel to not step out of line again and help him, but he called bull shit on that. Still, if it was a mob boss his dad wanted Daniel to be than he was gonna be the best mobster on this planet.
Back onto Isabella, her death was named a murder, but not by Robert. Harold had set it up so that it looked like Isabella was mugged by two random dudes. Her father of course had these “muggers” murdered brutally, yet he was in worse shape than Daniel.
After a few more seconds of crying Daniel feels someone sit next to him, and he glances over to see, ironically, Jake Ryker. The younger Ryker wore a all black suit with glasses, but even with those glasses Daniel could see his red eyes. He must have held family close. He put his hand on Daniel’s shoulder. “You okay, sir?” Daniel soon asks Ryker, who only stared at Daniel.
“No.” He says it bluntly and doesn’t attempt to expand on it. “And I know you’re not either.” Daniel nods.
“I’m--I’m sorry about Isabella, sir.”
“It’s fine, thank you though. I uh, knew you two were close.”
“We were.” Daniel just wants to take this time to grieve for his best friend, but Ryker had something else on mind. Even in his depression and tears for his daughter’s death, Ryker was full of rage. He wanted answers.
“So do you know how she died?”
“M-muggers. I hope they’re fuckin’ rotting in hell.”
“I mean how she really died.” Daniel gives Ryker a nervous glance. “I think you know how.”
“I think you have something to do with it, you know that?”
“Mr. Ryker I would never touch her.”
“Listen to me.” He grabs Daniel by his collar. “I’m not one to throw accusations out, but I’m gonna say this. I’m gonna get to the bottom of her death, and if you’re somehow involved, I will destroy you.” The simple little words managed to scare Daniel, while Ryker just continues to stare at him, before letting him go. “Just remember that.”
Just like that Ryker stands up and walks away from Daniel, leaving him to sit there. Now fear has been thrown into the list of things wrong with Daniel.
Something told him that Ryker was gonna get to the bottom of it, and if he found about him and Robert, then he wouldn’t stop until they were dead.