It only took a year or so, but here it is. Shorter chapter because its about the dark man. Next chapter will be about Walt and his plight. Chapter Two “Destrado” The dark man fled into the welcome darkness. Adam Shapiro, that senile interloping prick, was dead and the young blood was lying dazed on the ground. The dense lawmen of the Glow would instinctively assume the worse. And they could be stubbornly suspicious of strangers. The young blood’s arrival was unexpected but it had turned out to be a pleasant turn of events. In the end, everything worked out for the dark man. Now, it was time for the dark man to make himself scarce. A single fired shot wouldn’t have aroused suspicion but the gunfight he had just been in was a beacon for lawmen, vigilantes, and scavengers. The young bastard had been waving around a six-shooter and each one of its shots was like an echo piercing through a mountain. An avalanche of suspicious lawmen would undoubtedly tumble down. But in his condition, the dark man could not trouble himself over such matters. It had been a long time since he had been wounded and the mortal sensation was less than thrilling. Pain was his constant companion but he had grown accustomed to it. But the dull, gnawing hurt that always clung to his bones had become more pronounced when the pointed slugs of metal had bored cruelly into chest. The dark man, having left the death scene, paused in the middle of the street. He pressed a paw against his broad chest. It came away covered in dark jelly. Blood, he thought to himself. How quaint. He looked back, saw the irregular trail of necrotized blood behind him, and shrugged. The falling rain would erase his steps and any errant deputy would be waylaid by the corpse and unconscious man left behind the dark man. Anyway, he would be long gone come daybreak. For now, the dark man had to get away. He began strolling, his inhuman paw still pressed to his gut. It aggrieved him to admit it, but the bullet wounds, which would have outright killed any normal man, actually hurt. But what pained him even more was the fact that the young blood had beaten him in their fight. And the boy had only fallen when the dark man had used grace. He should have killed the man, would have killed him in fact, if it hadn’t been for the inflicted wounds that demanded his urgency. Several men shouted, but not at the dark man. He melded into an alleyway anyway, glancing around the corner at where he had left his two victims. He saw two men looming over the young blood. They wore the corroded steel star on their breasts, the mark of lawmen. There was a brief argument, articulated with harsh gestures pointing at first the corpse of Adam Shapiro and then the unconscious Walter Zhentarsky. The dark man’s keen ears weren’t enough for him to actually hear what was being said but he understood enough of the argument’s course when one of the lawmen drew his pistol. He grinned savagely when the deputy drew a bead on the prone form of the young blood, urging him to pull the trigger. But the other lawman intervened, yanking his partner’s gun away from him. The two men quarreled again, this time ending with both carrying away their suspected the murderer. They pulled a tarp over the dead man, latter returning to the scene of the crime. The dark man’s enemy wouldn’t be killed. However, the lawmen of the Glow were notorious for their heavy-handed form of justice. Walter Zhentarsky would soon learn his lesson for not minding his own goddamned business. The dark men went back to his business. He peeled away from the shadows, somewhat reluctantly. The blood, which had dripped out of his body just as a formality, ceased. The pain from moving, with each step causing the slugs to cruelly dig in further into his deceased flesh, was still there. But he would live with it, as he had been living with his tormenting pain and demons these last twenty years. He walked purposefully deeper into the depths of the Glow’s old city where electricity and petroleum failed and, with it, society and civilization. It was the purported domain of dark creatures, twisted by the radiation which had scarred the face of the world and its denizens. There, no god-fearing man would be found. And it was there that the dark man retreated to. Strangely, the old city looked cleaner than the occupied blocks of the Glow. Pristine buildings stood forlornly amidst the empty streets. The wear and tear from the lack of maintenance could be seen, yet they were in much better condition than the Glow. There was no graffiti, nor any signs of vandalism. This was because no man had stepped onto its streets in nearly one hundred years. Now, the dark man strode confidently into his province where he belonged. As he walked, he began stripping off his clothes, removing the costume which had allowed a wolf to mingle among the sheep. He stripped off his great overcoat, removing the false beard upon his chin with some distaste. He removed the remaining threadbare clothes until he stood naked in the streets, a seeming corpse now covered in scars rather than clothes. He was living, yet the scars on his pale, waxy skin denied the fact. Years ago, the dark man had been mortal. Now, he was something more. And, in part, he had Adam Shapiro to thank for that. Adam Shapiro, who now lay dead in an alley, his own flesh torn and mutilated, was responsible for it all. Of course, the senile interloping fool had betrayed his own kin so there was little remorse in the dark man. And ultimately, when Shapiro had returned to the Glow after all these years, he had sealed his own fate. The dark man entered a winding street, flanked on either side by more lonely, pristine buildings. A manhole stood open in the center of the street, its cover pulled away. Below, were the sewers and the dark man and his kin’s dwelling, their place of exile for two decades. As he swung his legs over the lip of the manhole, a harsh growl challenged him from the darkness. Instinctively, the dark man bared his pointed incisors and turned partly around. Behind him was a creature that nature may have intended to be a wolf but which radiation had changed into something less. Its eyes were albino red and squinted. Clumps of its damp fur were missing from its hide. On its left side, the vestiges of a fifth leg, a boneless and pink hunk of flesh, hung limply. It was a pariah. It must be, to have taken such desperate risks in straying so close to mankind. The wolf-creature’s tongue hung limply between its crooked teeth and its dumb, weak eyes regarded the dark man hungrily. It tried to growl, but its vocal chords were so mutated that growl turned into a weak-sounding squall. The dark man responded with animalistic character, all glimmer of humanity vanishing from him. He thrust his hairless, scarred head forward and snapped his fangs together. From his throat, a powerful canine growl erupted. The wolf-creature backed uncertainly away. It pressed his stomach to the ground, its tail tucked between its two normal hind legs. It whined, much like a dog would, backing away slowly. The dark man lunged forward, dropping on all fours like an animal. His unnaturally tipped teeth snapped closed on the wolf-creature muzzle, causing it to yowl with pained surprise. The pariah pulled itself away and turned tail, its four functioning legs scampering quickly on the asphalt. Licking the blood from his chops, the dark man laughed at the retreating wolf-creature. He slipped into the darkness of the sewers to return to his own people, pulling the manhole cover behind him. All the way, he laughed cheerily. The dark man’s name was Destrado and he lived up to his name.