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Second Chance Slaughter

6

Chapter 6- Manju

13

 

 

Avery had a hunch about that cleaner. He has a sneaking suspicion there was a connection to this guy named Manju. Exactly what that connection was, he didn’t know yet, but he intended to find out.

 

Moving through the shadows like he belonged to them, Avery felt a thrill race through his veins.

 

Tracking down Manju and his gang wasn’t rocket science. All you had to do was tail one of the more infamous figures in this part of town, and they'd eventually lead you straight to Manju’s hideout.

 

Tonight, Avery was putting his assassin skills to the test. He was painfully aware that his body had limitations—muscles that weren’t as responsive as they should be, reflexes a bit dulled. A few weeks of rigorous training would be ideal, but in his current situation, he’d have to make do.

 

He glided to the back of the decrepit building, becoming one with the night.

 

Spotting a narrow crack in the window sill, he crouched low and peered inside, straining to catch sight of anything useful.

 

Inside, a man with burly sideburns merging seamlessly into his beard and mustache—definitely Manju—was pacing restlessly. His eyes, shadowed and weary, darted around like he was expecting trouble any moment.

 

“Stay sharp. We’re expecting a guest soon,” Manju barked.

 

One of his cronies, a wiry guy with a perpetual smirk, looked up.

 

“Why all the fuss over some cleaner?” he scoffed.

 

Manju’s reaction was swift. He grabbed the smirking lackey by the collar and pulled him close, his eyes scanning the room as if it had ears.

 

“Watch your mouth,” he hissed. “Remember our little slip-up last week? We don’t talk about that.”

 

The crony’s smirk vanished, replaced by wide-eyed fear. “Sorry, boss,” he stammered, raising his hands in surrender.

 

“Just remember,” Manju said, releasing his grip and straightening his jacket, “this cleaner is our guest. Treat him with respect, or we might lose our only source of funds.”

 

“Got it,” the crony replied, nodding rapidly. He rubbed his neck where Manju’s fingers had dug in, looking like he’d rather be anywhere but here.

 

Avery listened intently, straining to catch every word. Yet, the fragments he pieced together left him wanting. All he gleaned from their conversation was that Manju was receiving money from these people—but why?

 

After swiftly instructing his team, Manju slipped into a secluded, makeshift room that shielded him from prying eyes.

 

Avery scanned the surroundings for anything useful. Spotting an old, worn-out t-shirt, he fashioned it into a mask that wouldn't obstruct his view. With the agility of a serpent, he silently slid through the window and into the room.

 

Before Manju could react, Avery was upon him. With lightning reflexes, he subdued Manju, a pen pressed threateningly against his throat.

 

"Don't move, or you won't make a sound," Avery warned coolly.

 

Manju, a seasoned denizen of Third Street's underworld, recognized the icy determination in Avery's eyes.

 

He knew this wasn't a bluff—making a wrong move could cost him dearly. Nervously, he nodded in surrender, unable to meet Avery's gaze.

 

To Manju, Avery seemed less like a man and more like the embodiment of ruthless evil itself.

 

"How are you connected to the cleaner?" Avery began his interrogation.

 

"I don't know what you're talking about," Manju replied nervously.

 

Snap.

 

Manju's finger bent back sharply, pain shooting through him. He stifled a cry, fearing the pen at his throat.

 

"I overheard your conversation earlier. That's not what you said," Avery remarked calmly.

 

"Damn it," Manju muttered through clenched teeth. "Why ask if you already know?"

 

"I was testing your honesty. Seems like pain might teach you the value of telling the truth."

 

Manju looked at him. He felt as though he was staring into the eyes of death itself. Avery's gaze was like a bottomless pit, threatening to swallow him whole. He feared the cleaner, but he cherished his own life above all else. What good were those funds if he couldn't even enjoy them?

 

"You still have nine fingers. If that's not enough, we can move on to your toes. Then your hands, your arms, your legs. It's amazing how many bones a human body has," Avery's voice was cold and relentless.

 

"I understand. I'll tell you everything," Manju conceded, his voice trembling with fear.

 

"Good. Now, what's your connection to the cleaner, and why are they funding you?"

 

"For a list!" Manju blurted out.

 

"What list?" Avery pressed.

 

Manju pointed toward a folder neatly placed on the table. Avery picked it up carefully and opened it.

 

Inside were pages, each detailing profiles of individuals from Third Street. Flipping through, he found Billy's profile marked with an ominous "Assigned."

 

"What does 'assigned' mean?" Avery pressed.

 

"It means they're marked for the cleaner. We don't ask more than that. We just provide a list, and he picks someone. Once chosen, we mark them as assigned," Manju explained nervously.

 

"Is Billy the first person marked?" Avery inquired.

 

"No, he's the fifth," Manju admitted reluctantly.

 

"What happened to the other four?" Avery pressed further.

 

"We don't know. They're no longer in Third Street," Manju replied, his voice tinged with unease.

 

Avery's expression darkened as he pieced things together. "They're probably no longer on this earth. So that's how they harvest their victims?" he pondered aloud. "But only five? They must be doing this elsewhere too. Maybe that's why Theodore reacted that way. Is he a cleaner or another player in the Night Gallery?"

 

"When will the cleaner return?" Avery asked.

 

"We have no idea. He said after the cycle is over. We don't know the exact date," Manju replied.

 

"A cycle?" Avery probed further.

 

"Yes," Manju confirmed with a shiver.

 

Avery realized Manju was just a pawn, unlikely to yield more information.

 

Should I end him? he pondered.

 

Keeping him alive might jeopardize everything if word gets out. But killing him wouldn't solve anything either—Manju's shady dealings attracted plenty of enemies.

 

His grip on the pen tightened, poised to strike. Then, inexplicably, Avery relaxed and turned away with a sigh. The justification wasn't strong enough to justify taking a life. As he started to leave, however, Manju swiftly drew a blade from his ankle and lunged.

 

Reacting with instinctive skill, Avery dodged the attack, relying on the sound of footsteps and Manju's erratic breathing. In a blur of motion, the pen found its mark, piercing Manju's neck. His eyes widened in shock as life ebbed from him.

 

With Manju's breath fading, Avery spared a brief, solemn glance at the fallen man before slipping away into the shadows.

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