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Second Chance Slaughter

5

Chapter 5- Billy the Gentle

17

 

 

Should he call the police and report this?

 

“Am I insane?” Avery muttered, pacing the narrow confines of his apartment.

 

Reporting this could easily backfire. How would he explain his awareness of the Night Gallery without implicating himself? The evidence was damning—his profile was there, linked to the name “Enigma.” It screamed guilt, and any investigation would inevitably lead back to him.

 

Besides, the kind of people who paid to watch these horrific videos weren’t ordinary. They were likely wealthy and influential, the type who could bend the law to their will.

 

Going up against them could mean courting disaster. That would be stupid.

 

Anxiety gnawed at him as he walked back and forth. He thought about the Whisperer’s call and the ominous warning about a deadline. Missing it could mean punishment, though what kind he couldn’t fathom.

 

He had few options and even less time to decide on a course of action.

 

Killing for sport or pleasure was out of the question. Even in his days as Yeomra, the King of the Night, he had never killed without reason. His targets had always been the dregs of society, the worst of the worst in the Murim. He could never find joy in such acts as those people in the videos did.

 

Avery sighed deeply. He had missed the chance to follow up with the Cleaner, the figure who might have provided crucial information. Now, all he had was uncertainty and the remnants of a life he was trying to understand.

 

“Should have asked more questions when I had the chance,” he muttered.

 

He had to figure out his next move. Information was power, and he needed to understand more about the Night Gallery.

 

Avery paused. The original Avery had been diligent and meticulous. If he had been involved in the Night Gallery, surely he would have left some trace, some clue. There had to be something hidden away, a breadcrumb to follow.

 

The unsettling video he had seen played on a loop in his thoughts. Every detail replayed vividly in his memory. Avery pulled out his phone and watched it again, scrutinizing every frame for anything that might stand out—a clue to the location or a hint of familiarity.

 

The setting was stark and solid, not a green screen or digitally altered background. The walls and furniture looked real and tangible. But nothing about the place triggered any memories. It was as if the location was a void in his mind, perhaps obscured by the foggy remnants of his past life or hidden away in the recesses of Avery’s fragmented memories.

 

Frustrated, he watched the video again, his eyes scanning every detail. And then, something caught his attention—the butcher knife.

 

It was the same knife the man in the bunny costume had used, and there was something eerily familiar about it. Avery leaned in, pausing the video to study the blade closely. The spine of the knife had a distinctive chip, something he had seen before.

 

His heart skipped a beat as he realized it was strikingly similar to the butcher knife in his own kitchen.

 

Avery sprang to his feet and rushed to the kitchen. Grabbing the butcher knife, he stared at it, the familiar chip on the spine.

 

The chip on the spine was identical, but there was a difference. The handle of his knife was wrapped in a rubber band for better grip, a makeshift modification he had done himself. In the video, however, the knife had its original Fibrox handle, unaltered and sleek.

 

With a quick, deft motion, he unwrapped the rubber band from the handle. Something crumpled and synthetic fell into his palm—a tiny piece of paper, hidden within the folds.

 

His heart pounded as he carefully unfolded the paper, revealing embossed text:

 

Assignment #2

 

Billy Johnson

 

Third Street of the Riverside Area

 

The Third Street?

 

Avery’s mind raced. If his memory served him right, the Third Street was notorious. Known colloquially as Misfortune Alley, it was a place where society’s outcasts and the lowest of the low lived. It was a grim, desolate area where hope was scarce and despair abundant.

 

He turned the knife over in his hand, thoughts churning.

 

Billy Johnson—was he supposed to visit this person as part of some assignment? Or worse, was Billy Johnson his assignment, a target he was meant to eliminate?

 

With limited information, his next best move was clear: observe and gather intelligence. Surveillance was a skill he had perfected in his previous life, and it was time to put those skills to use again. He needed to find Billy Johnson and understand the context before making any decisions.

 

“Alright,” he muttered to himself. “I need to see who this guy is”

 

 

Third Street

 

The smell of decay and misfortune clung to the air like a miasma. This place, known as Third Street or Misfortune Alley, was the epitome of society’s neglect.

 

The streets were littered with debris and the shattered remnants of lives gone astray. Homeless people huddled in doorways, some lost in a haze of addiction, seeking solace in substances that numbed their harsh realities.

 

As Avery walked through the grimy streets, he was approached multiple times by men and women offering their bodies for meager sums.

 

The desperation was palpable, even among the underage, who were forced into this grim profession just to scrape by. It was a place where hope had long since been extinguished.

 

He had already gathered some information about his target, Billy Johnson, known locally as Billy the Gentle.

 

The nickname seemed ironic, almost laughable, given his current status as a beggar. Yet, in the ruthless environment of Third Street, Billy had somehow maintained a reputation for gentleness.

 

He was known for keeping to himself, avoiding conflict, and helping others when he could. It was a stark contrast to the harshness that surrounded him.

 

Avery had been staking out Third Street for several nights now. After his shifts at the convenience store, he would change into more unassuming clothes to blend in with the crowd.

 

This was the third night of his surveillance, and so far, Billy had done nothing to raise suspicion. He sat quietly in his usual spot, a corner by a crumbling brick wall, interacting with passersby.

 

From what Avery had observed, Billy the Gentle was just another casualty of the harsh life on Third Street. He was invisible, a shadow among the shadows, and could easily disappear without anyone noticing—especially in a place where survival was the only concern.

 

Tonight, Avery decided to get closer to his assignment. Billy the Gentle. He didn’t plan to reveal anything about his current predicament or the dark connection to the Night Gallery. His goal was simple: observe and gather more information.

 

Billy was in his usual spot, nestled near a makeshift shelter pieced together from scraps of wood and plastic. It was a pitiful sight, but Billy seemed to have made it his home.

 

“Mind if I sit here?” Avery asked, approaching with casual ease.

 

“Sure, why not?” Billy chuckled.

 

Avery took a seat beside him and lit a cigarette. He noticed Billy’s eyes light up with a flicker of yearning at the sight of the smoke curling into the night air. Wordlessly, Avery handed him a cigarette. Billy’s face lit up with gratitude, and he accepted it eagerly.

 

“You’re not from around here, are you?” Billy asked, taking a deep drag and exhaling with a sigh of contentment.

 

“What gave me away?” Avery replied, keeping his tone light and noncommittal.

 

Billy smiled, a knowing glint in his eyes. “People around here don’t ask permission to sit. They just take what they want. And nobody offers anything for free. A cigarette, especially. That’s like gold out here.”

 

Avery chuckled softly, realizing his mistake. His peaceful life had made him forget the brutal realities of places like Third Street. Or maybe he was still adjusting to the balance between his past and present selves. Either way, he had revealed more than he intended. But he wasn’t worried. There was no scent of blood or malice on Billy. He seemed genuine, if weary.

 

“I can give you this pack of cigarettes,” Avery said, holding up the nearly full pack. “But I want something in return.”

 

Billy’s eyes lit up with a spark of hope. “Anything. I’ll do anything.”

 

Avery raised an eyebrow. “Even killing?” he joked.

 

Billy’s face fell, a look of defeat shadowing his features.

 

“That might be a problem,” he muttered.

 

“I’m just messing with you,” Avery laughed, waving off the comment. “What about information?”

 

Billy’s eyes brightened again, his shoulders relaxing.

 

“Information, huh? That, I can do. I’m a beggar, I hear everything that goes on around here. Years of listening to people’s conversations as they pass by have taught me how to sift the truth from the lies. Ask away,” he said confidently, his gaze fixed on the pack of cigarettes like a predator zeroing in on its prey.

 

Avery handed Billy a cigarette, then pocketed the pack, dangling it as a promise of more to come. “I want to be amused. Tell me something unique that’s happened around here in the past few weeks.”

 

“Unique?” Billy echoed, his brow furrowing as he pondered the request. He scratched his chin, deep in thought, before a knowing smile spread across his face. “Alright, let’s see…”

 

Billy took a deep drag from his cigarette and began recounting the bizarre tales of Third Street, each one more outlandish than the last.

 

“See that woman over there? She claims to be a fortune teller. Says she found a fat cat that could predict earthquakes. Funny thing is, nobody’s seen that cat in weeks, but she’s been selling a lot of stewed meat recently.”

 

“And that guy? Tried to rob a warehouse last week. Came back raving about seeing a UFO. Said it scared him off. I think he just slipped and knocked himself out.”

 

“There’s a brothel down the street. They’ve started offering this mystery drink. Nobody knows what’s in it, but people keep coming back for more.”

 

“And then there’s the Manju gang. They’ve been in a frenzy lately, saying a cleaner is coming. But no one’s shown up, and their place is still as dingy as ever.”

 

Wait...

 

Cleaner?

 

Avery’s mind snapped into focus.

 

“Can you repeat that?”

 

Billy looked up, slightly confused. “What, about the place being dingy? Yeah, this place is a mess, but that place is pure chaos. If you want—”

 

“No, not that. You mentioned something about a cleaner,” Avery interrupted.

 

“Oh, right, the cleaner not coming,” Billy said, scratching his head as he recalled the details. “That’s all I heard. They were expecting someone, but it seems like the payment might have fallen through. Honestly, who would hire a cleaner in this dump? Even a saint would fear treading here.”

 

Avery nodded, already lost in thought. He walked away from Billy’s corner, the conversation replaying in his head. The mention of the Cleaner wasn’t just a random detail—it was a lead, something tangible he could pursue.

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