It was late by the time we drove into Dunn. The streets abandoned for the night. I noticed a group of people standing near the statue in the small park in the centre of town. The group of four walked out onto the road the moment we had nowhere to turn. The man? In the lead stood ahead of the three others who stood across the street behind him.
Eli slowed the car to a stop ten foot from the group, keeping them illuminated with the headlights. “Let me deal with this, it’s a work thing.” He gave me a long look. “Don’t get out of the car for any reason. No matter what you see or hear. I can take care of it.”
“Should I call someone?”
“It will only make them angry.” He hopped out of the car, the locks retracting the moment he closed the door. I pulled on the passenger lock experimentally, and it wouldn’t move. My shaking, sweaty fingers slipped from it as I pulled harder. I gave up on the lock and turned to watch.
The group were wearing ski masks, the Leader in all white and the minions wearing red. They wore carefully tailored three-piece suits, a black symbol that reminded me of the Knights Templar over their left breast pockets, and a silver chain led from their shirt collars into the pocket. The most striking part of their outfits apart from the symbols were their heavy black boots which clearly dictated that they weren’t above physical activity to ensure their aim. They were obviously going for elegance, but the boots and ski masks made their outfits look borderline laughable, like a try-hard character out of one of Eli’s video games.
I assumed the Leader was a man due to his massive stature. As Eli walked in front of the car, five more people stepped behind the vehicle. I pulled on the door handle and cursed when the door wouldn’t budge. Hopefully, what was keeping me in would keep the group slowly circling the car out. The Leader; well over six foot, towered over Eli, who wasn’t a hair above five foot six. I felt an overwhelming urge to stand between them, but what could I do? This was clearly a magic thing; they didn’t care to hide from me now it wasn’t breaking the law. I took a few shaky breaths to calm myself, to focus on what they were saying through the closed windows.
“We know it was you.” The Leader said.
“Your illustrious organisation must be mistaken,” Eli said.
“We’re not.” He pulled a pair of blue rubber gloves over his black leather ones as he walked over to Eli. “Do you know how long it took to make that potion?”
I couldn’t see Eli’s face from the car, but still, I wondered what expression he wore. This villain was clearly after something he’d confiscated in the course of his job. I slipped my phone from my pocket into the sleeve of my cardigan. I unlocked it using my fingerprint and slid it from the end of the sleeve just enough to access the slider for the brightness. I cursed as the cabin lit up from the small slither of the screen revealed. I slid it down to zero and looked outside of the car. No one was paying me any attention; all eyes were on Eli. They clearly didn’t see me as a threat.
I gritted my teeth in anger.
I’d show them.
I slid the phone out of my sleeve so the camera could take photos and jammed down the two buttons that took pictures and sent an SOS message. Someone on the list would know who to call to get help. The phone slid from my fingers and cluttered to the floor when I remembered that Eli’s name was on that list, and his phone was in his pocket. I clenched my hand into a fist to still my shaking fingers and waited for them to notice. After about a minute I slowly bent down and scooped up the phone squinting at the screen. Even if it was only on vibrate the Leader and Eli would have noticed, they stood in the quiet street an arms-length from each other. No one said a word. The top right of my screen reflected the streetlight.
I had no reception.
The message wouldn’t have gone through. Even in the middle of Dunn, five bars were standard when outside, especially in the middle of the street. Did they have a signal jammer? Is that why no one was paying attention to me? My fingers drifted to the ruby in my eyebrow piercing. The stone Pop’s soul was bound to. No! I couldn’t use it. This wasn’t a real emergency… he hadn’t done anything yet. Maybe he just wanted to talk.
The Leader looked to the car and met my eyes, he pointed straight at me, then down towards the ground. I was sitting straight-backed in my seat before my mind caught up with my body, my eyes still on his. He gave me a short nod, then turned his attention back to Eli. One second he was standing calmly looking down at Eli, and the next he was punching Eli hard in the stomach. Eli screamed in pain and doubled over, I gasped.
The locks flicked open with a loud click that sounded deafening, even above the rabid pounding of my heart.
My legs refused to move when I shifted to open the door. Before Eli could recover, two of the figures had grabbed his arms and dragged him to his feet.
The Leader sighed loudly and looked down at Eli. “Everyone will know that you’ve crossed us. What will your precious family do then?”
The next punch was aimed directly at his nose. The cracking noise the fist made as it hit chilled my blood. I swallowed the bile and scream that rose in my throat and pulled the door handle. I pushed the door open, and it swung back against me. My legs wouldn’t move… nothing below my waist would move. I looked around the group; my heartbeat was rising. My breath quickened as I waited for one of them to wrench me from the car. I was the perfect thing to threaten Eli with. I had to get out of here, but I couldn’t save Eli alone, not against this many Mages. There was a payphone on Short Street. If they thought I was running away, I could get to it and call someone.
Eli spat blood at his attacker, staining the beautiful white suit. “Cunt.”
After hearing Eli speak, I didn’t need to see his face to know his nose was broken. I pushed the door and lent over as far as I could, and when it clicked open, I felt a flood of relief. One of the assailants was looking at me and the car door. Under the red mask, I imagined a raised eyebrow and quizzical look on her face. She looked at me than the park across the street as though daring me to run. Her posture was relaxed as though she was watching a small child reach for a cookie jar or door handle that was impossible for them to reach. I gave her a hard, angry look and threw my self out of the car onto the road. The sound of Eli being hit again covered the noise I made as I hit the ground.