"Get down on the ground!" the gunman inside McDonalds ordered.
In seconds, the fast food restaurant became the inner workings of a madhouse. A woman screamed, clutching her child's head close to her heart as they scrambled to the floor. Loose change could be heard, falling from some unseen register, while workers behind the machines followed in suit. Instead of falling to the floor like the rest of the customers, one teenager in tight fitting jeans tried to scurry out the exit door. Upon seeing this, the gunman took a warning shot into the glass, clearing a bullet sized hole about a foot above the kid's head.
"I said, down on the ground! Or I'll blow your face off, you little punk!" Frozen with his back still on the floor, the teenager stared at his shooter in shock and terror.
Muffled whimpers filled the store. The gunman had grown accustomed to the scene, even looked forward to it more than the end reward. What's a few bucks when you can get entertainment at the same time? Yes, he truly enjoyed the thrill of the robbery. It was more than stealing. It was the look of terror on his hostages' faces. The surprise at his fearsome entrance – black trenchcoat and loaded shotgun that they could only recall their wildest nightmares. Ultimately, it was the power, the hunt that drove him.
As the gunman took a glance around to measure today's pathetic lot, he counted up the usual prey. A small girl crying beneath her mother's arms. A hefty middle aged white man breathing heavily underneath another table. Bet he wasn't expecting this when he ordered his three big macs, the gunman thought to himself proudly. As he was about to turn around to face the cash register, an oddity struck his line of vision. Something he had never seen before in the dozen robberies he had committed.
Somebody had remained in their seat…and he was continuing his meal like nothing had happened!
A calm fell on the fallen customers as they tried to figure out what could be bothering this crazed gunman. He squinted his eyes, scratched his head in confusion, and took three slow steps towards the young man.
"Excuse me, umm, sir. But in case you didn't hear me earlier, I said get on the goddamn ground or I'll blow your fuckin' brains in." Satisfied with the intensity of his order, the gunman slowly brought his shotgun to eye level with the man still seated in his chair. Ignoring him, the young man took three more French fries, a sip of coke, and licked the salt off of his fingertips.
"You've gotta be kidding me, boy," the gunman said, growing more confused and frustrated as the seconds wore on. He had never actually shot anybody before, but he never really had to. His hostages, being the pitiful pieces of dumb shit they were, usually just fell to the floor. No hesitations. They just did.
However, this man, if he could even be called that, continued to sit there. He couldn't have been more than twenty five with his loose fitting jeans and fancy button up shirt.
Pretty boy, the gunman thought. At that moment, even with the barrel of a gun pointed directly between his eyes, the young man then had the audacity to drink more of his soda. He seemed to intentionally cause the annoying slurpy empty sound when the liquid has been drained.
"Well, look at that," the gunman said. "Looks like you're out." And with a nod and a sneer, the old man said, "Let me just help you with that." Using the barrel of his gun, he swiped the paper cup out of his hands. "Now, I'm going to give you the luxury of getting your brainless ass on the ground before I knock you full of this here gun's amma'nition, you hear?"
The young man made no acknowledgment.
"You look at me when I'm talking to you, boy."
Still, he sat there, staring at some unseen entity in front of him. His calm unnerved the gunman.
"What, are you one of those retarded kids?" the gunman continued. He wasn't going to give up his power. He was power, walking and breathing power. He brought terror wherever he went, and it wasn't going to stop here. Not with this idiot.
"You hear me?" growing more agitated. "I said are you one of those special kids?"
At this, the young man's gaze broke and he stared directly into the gunman's eyes. The trenchcoat clothed man suddenly felt a pang of regret.
Maybe he shouldn't have said that.
Maintaining eye contact, the stranger grabbed the gunman's shotgun by the barrel and pointed it down and away from himself. Simultaneously, he began to rise out of his chair, his form growing taller, larger, and more intimidating than the gunman had previously surmised. His eyes, the now quivering gunman noticed, seemed shadowed by something darker than simply the hair that fell in front of them.
In terror, the gunman noticed that he could no longer move his weapon. No matter how hard he tried, he found himself struggling in vain to lift his shotgun. Even though his hands remained clench around it, he couldn't get it up. Goddammit, why couldn't he get it up?
"Your girlfriend was probably thinking the same thing last night," the stranger said. And in one swift motion, the stranger reached his arm back and swung into the gunman's face that remained dumbfounded as it hit the floor.
Immediately upon seeing their captor unarmed, several of the customers began to scatter and fly towards the exits. Chairs toppled and women began to cry in hysteria as they ran for their escape. The seven year old child, once cradled in her mother's arms on the floor, now commenced the same position, vertically, as mom raced to the door.
I will not lose my power, thought the gunman. Let me have this. And once spotting the escaping duo, he reached his hand out in a last ditch effort to stop his prey. Not seeing his outreached hand, the high-heeled clad woman fell to the floor, knocking herself unconscious. The child, on the other hand, remained awake, her eyes growing wide in terror at the crawling image of the boogeyman towards her.
"Mommy!" she cried as the dirty, teeth-gnashing man scooped her into his own arms, rising to his feet to face the man that was ruining it all. If he couldn't have glory, he could at least have vengeance.
The stranger stood still, staring at the unarmed man. Fists clenched, he was no longer as complacent as he was previously.
"Let the girl go," he demanded. His voice seemed to echo inside of the gunman's head. The gunman tried to shuffle away with the girl in his arms, at the same time he tried to shake out the voices inside of him.
"Let her go NOW!" the stranger's voice boomed. The gunman was suddenly filled with the intense desire to drop the girl and run away. However, his anger pushed him to hold onto his prize even tighter. His vision blurred and he could feel his knees becoming weak.
"I don't know what the hell you're doing to me," the older man shouted, "but I ain't leaving without getting something!"
He paused to wipe his blurred eyes with his left hand while his right tightened around the girl's midsection.
"And I'm getting something tonight!" He face exploded into a tight grin, attempting to provoke fear into his enemy's heart. The gunman pushed his terror down, crowding his mind with thoughts of how he could break this girl. How he could take her with him. How he could reach into her, in all her innocence, and break it into something that was entirely his to own. He licked his lips.
He could take her to hell and never bring her back.
"You sick fuck!" Sam roared. With that, the gunman's vision snapped into focus and he felt his gaze forced into the face of this stranger. Something vicious seemed to pry his eyes open, and stare into the stoic expression of his captor. He couldn't move or blink. In an instant, his grip on the girl loosened, and the child for a brief moment looked lost.
Sam broke his gaze with the man only to nod slightly at the young girl, giving her unseen direction. Her mouth widened in wonder, fearful of the big strong man with the glowing eyes. She nodded in return and scrambled to the doorway in search of her mother who was slowly waking. Upon seeing her daughter, mom grabbed her once again in her arms and shot through the door to safety.
With a deep breath, Sam's gaze returned to that of the gunman. The old man was quivering now. A pool of yellow liquid had formed around his tattered army boots. Only a tiny clicking could be heard - his teeth chattered as a result of more than his sheer terror. Without warning, the temperature in the food store had suddenly dropped about fifty degrees. Sam couldn't feel it.
"Wh-wh-what's going on?" the old man stuttered out. He could feel his skin growing colder by the minute. His tears and pants becoming frozen with each breath he took.
"You think you know hell?" Sam asked, cocking his head to the side and taking slow steps towards him until he was only inches from the gunman.
"You think you can know pain?" his breath felt warm against the gunman's face as the room's temperature continued to drop. Ice crystals formed around the restaurant windows' edges.
"P-p-p-please, m-m-man," the old man tried to say, "I d-d-didn't mean nothing b-by it." He felt frantic, wanted to run, wanted to curl into a ball for warmth, but still he remained under this freak's spell.
"Freak?" Sam's tone suddenly changed. Visions of Max and Jake charged his memories. He knew what he was becoming, but he had embraced it. It's like flicking a switch, they had said. Once it starts, there's no stopping what you can do.
But he wouldn't be like them. No, he was different. He was going to use this curse, the blood, to buy his brother's freedom. To stop the demon that held his contract and to kill whatever sorry sons of bitches fell into his lap along the way.
After all, evil's not just inside some supernatural demon.
With that, Sam retracted a Swiss army knife from his pocket. He then reached out and, ever so casually, grabbed the gunman's right hand. Curling the man's fingers around the small weapon, Sam gave the once all powerful gunman a final look, crossing his arms to evaluate the final picture.
"You know. This has been fun," Sam said, bending slightly over and giving his enemy's cheek a squeeze. "But I have to run. Have fun castrating yourself."
For just a split second, he watched the terror unfold on the old man's face. Smiling, Sam kicked his right leg behind him in a military turn and proceeded to walk calmly out of the restaurant, hands in pockets.
On that summer evening, a cool breeze in the air, a lone man walked the sidewalks whistling Jon Bon Jovi's "Wanted" as agonizing screams within McDonalds faded to nothingness.