A Meeting With Mr Black

This is an extract from the chapter which introduces one of my characters, Elric Knight, also know as Mr Black, in a discarded story about Assassins.  He was my favourite character in this particular story.

Elric Knight sat behind his mahogany desk and waited. He glanced at the clock on the mantelpiece, his brow furrowed in annoyance, left eye twitching with every tick and tock. The courier was late. He couldn’t abide lateness; it infuriated him.

Elric touched his hair absently, smoothing back any wayward strands. This was unacceptable and he planned to tell the courier as much when he finally arrived. There was a knock at the door and Elric’s hand jumped to the leather mask that hid his face. It was still there. He cleared his throat quietly and reached under his desk, his hand closing around the hilt of his hidden knife.

“Enter,” he called out in a soft voice.

Elric gripped the hilt of the knife tightly as the door creaked open. A face appeared in the doorway and Elric relaxed as he recognised the large Doorman.

“What is it Ged?” Elric asked.

“The courier is here, Mr Black,” said the Doorman.

About time, Elric thought. He glanced at the clock and scowled behind his mask. The man was three minutes late. It was simply improper to be so late.

“Send him in,” he said.

The Doorman vanished and moments later a thin individual with an oversized moustache entered the room. There was an air of arrogance about the man, something Elric cared little for. He rose from his desk and gestured to the wooden chair in the centre of the room.

“Please sit down,” he said politely.

The man grasped the chair back and made as if to move the chair. Elric had to stop himself from leaping over the desk to stop the man.

“Don’t…!”

The man froze and Elric took a deep breath and forced himself to relax.

“Please, don’t move the chair,” he said calmly.

The man released the chair and sat down gingerly. He looked down his large nose at Elric and stuck out his thin chest importantly. Elric remained standing and studied the man carefully. He was finely dressed in silks and he wore a red band around his left arm. That could only mean that Elric was in the presence of Mr Siegfried Dallan, Chairman of the Haverstone Gas Board.

“I trust you know who I am?” Mr Dallan said.

Elric smiled calmly, though Mr Dallan was none the wiser to any change in Elric’s expression.

“I’m sorry, sir,” he said politely. “But I believe an apology is in order.”

Mr Dallan smiled smugly and nodded.

“So I see you are willing to pay what is owed,” he said agreeably.

Elric took a deep breath and clenched his fist, trying desperately to keep from throttling the little man.

“I have nothing to apologise for, Mr Dallan,” Elric said, his voice strained. “I am referring to your insult of being late. It’s not difficult to be on time now, is it, Mr Dallan?”

Mr Dallan blanched and cowered on the chair. Elric took three slow, deep breaths and forced himself to relax.

“I’m sorry, Mr Black, sir,” Mr Dallan squeaked. “It won’t happen again.”

Elric let out a long breath and took his seat behind the desk. He leant his elbows on the desk, feeling comfort in the shallow grooves he had worn over the years.

“Now then, Mr Dallan,” Elric began. “I know that you are here to collect money from me; money that I do not owe you.”

Mr Dallan opened his mouth to speak but Elric ignored him and continued.

“We have an agreement if you recall,” Elric said firmly. “I pay ten pounds per month and in return you supply this building with gas. Do you remember why I only pay ten pounds?”

Mr Dallan nodded fearfully and shrank into the chair.

“Good,” Elric said softly. “Because our contact would pay us handsomely for you demise and at this moment in time I would like nothing better than to collect.”

Elric leaned forward and stared Mr Dallan in the eye. He could see rivulets of sweat forming on the man’s wrinkled brow.

“Remember, sir, I own you.”

Mr Dallan nodded furiously and Elric clapped his hands joyfully, causing the nervous man to jump about a foot in the air.

“Now then, was there anything else?” Elric asked.

“No Mr Black, that’s all,” Mr Dallan said.

“Then you may go.”

Mr Dallan rose quickly, knocking the chair over in his haste. Elric froze and stared at the toppled chair as Mr Dallan scrambled to open the door. His head snapped towards the terrified man and in a flash the hidden knife was buried in Mr Dallan’s left hand. The man screeched and collapsed against the door, sobbing noisily. Elric stepped from behind his desk and picked up the fallen chair, placing it exactly where it had been before.

“I told you not to move the chair,” he growled.

© Jessica Wiles, 2013

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