"With the snap of my fingers, I could set the whole neighbourhood ablaze. My clenched fist could put out even the most towering inferno. And what do I choose to do?
I choose to hunt.
You see, my father... I never met him. His brother -- my uncle -- used to tell me these stories, these magnificent stories, about my father's shows and the people he worked with. He was a great storyteller, my uncle... I guess people would usually just stop at the "your father was a magician" bit and leave it to a child's imagination, but he, he HAD the imagination of a child AND a way of expressing it. Imagine a cross between Hemingway and Dr Seuss and you wouldn't stray too far from him. You do know of Hemingway and Seuss, right?
In any case, yes, my father was a magician. The type that never revealed the secret behind a trick -- not that there are a lot of magicians that do. Even if he wanted to explain, say, how he made sparks appear just by rubbing his fingers together, I don't think he could. I don't think he knew
what was wrong with him but, like me, I'm sure he wanted to find out.
Now, I'm not as good of a storyteller my uncle was, but I'm more than capable of giving you the gist of it.
My father met this man, a certain Charlie Pritchard, while he was on the road. Pritchard was your average model citizen, the kind you'd expect to see in one of those early 20th century 'American dream' infomercials. Suit, tie, slick haircut, leather shoes... Basically, the whole package. My uncle described Pritchard as a good man, and even though by now I know that he's far from any idea or interpretation of the word, I'm willing to admit that the Pritchard my father met really was a good man
. Perhaps something clicked in him along the way that turned him into what he is today, but back then he saved my father's life... only to take it from him several years later.
Charlie Pritchard worked for his father's newspaper, the dreadful Weekly Herald, and was gunning for an executive position there but, as it turns out, Pritchard's relationship with his old man was far from idyllic. Somehow his father needed to be won over, or even, as some would put it, 'taken out of the picture', in order for Charlie to get his hands on the elder Pritchard's media empire. I don't know how exactly my father got involved in all of this nor do I know what his role in the whole Pritchard case was, but by now you already know that Charlie Pritchard took over the Weekly Herald after his father's... untimely demise. At least that's the official statement.
To cut the long story short, my father was pulled out of the gutter by Charlie Pritchard and rewarded for his 'service'. If it wasn't for Pritchard's generosity, I wouldn't be here. He paid for my education, my clothes, the food that was on our family's dinner table every night. I'm grateful for that, I really am, but I do not forgive lightly. Not after what he did to my father, the man who entrusted him with his life.
Pritchard turned over a new leaf once he sat down behind that big old desk at the Weekly Herald. He feared my father had noticed his increasing involvement in all kinds of shady business deals, and to tell you the truth, he feared for a good reason. My father did know. My father knew Pritchard's empire well. But instead of 'taking action' against the man, he chose to forget. I don't blame him, Pritchard was the man who saved his family from poverty, but he was naive to think Pritchard wouldn't look into tying up all the loose ends. Pritchard felt he had to secure his position, and he needed to do it fast.
So what that bastard did was break down the door to our house in the middle of the night, pull him out of his bed in front of his wife and child, beat the living daylights out of him and have him arrested, all bruised and battered.
The accusations were bogus. Everyone who knew my father also knew that he wasn't a criminal. Charlie Pritchard faked some money transfers and set him up as the 'criminal mastermind' behind the companies fradulent activities - namely those 'shady business deals'. This made him the embodiment of justice in the eyes of the people who read the Weekly Herald, which by now meant that the whole state licked his boots like a loyal mutt. Pritchard cut off the donations to my family, which caused us to briefly end up on the street.
My mother was a housewife. She couldn't carry the burdain of keeping the family afloat, so she... she committed suicide.
My uncle found me on the street not soon after her death. He was looking for us after we ended up homeless. Unfortunately, he didn't get here in time to save my mother too.
You might be wondering how I found out about all of this. It's actually pretty easy once you've got a way in. Pritchard was a fool not to keep tabs on me, a simple change of identity made me practically undetectable to him and his goons. Once I got into the Weekly Herald it became only a matter of time before I let out all of the forgotten skeletons from Pritchard's closet."He takes in a deep breath before he collects himself, clears his throat and continues...
"That's the kind of man you worked for. That's the kind of man you were hired to protect.
I know you had nothing to do with this, I know you never did nothing to me, my father or my family, but you were in the way. All of you were in the way. This could have ended differently if people weren't such docile sheep."Ashby puts down the charred skull of what was, only moments ago, a security guard at the Pritchard estate. He sifts through the dirt and ash with a curious index finger and picks out a relatively unharmed tooth, cleaning the dust off of it before placing it gently in his messenger bag.
"I'm sorry."The crackling fire that's slowly enveloping the cold courtyard breathes life into the bleak scorched surroundings. A warm gust of wind coincided with Ashby's slow rise over mounds and mounds of human remains. The stench of sulphur doesn't even bother him anymore. It has become negligible.
Ashby pulls the hood of his coat over his eyes and begins walking over to Pritchard's home. The lights in the house go out.
The shotguns are ready, guns and rifles too. As Ashby directs his glare at Pritchard's bedroom window, all of the candles in the house begin burning with a blinding intensity.
"The hunt will soon be over."EDIT:
Added a missing italic tag