SIXTEEN: THE KING OF THE CRABS




EVERYTHING WAS GOING ACCORDING to plan. At least, it had been. But they had missed something. Missed someone. Though, he couldn’t quite understand how that could even be possible. The plan had been fool proof.

So then how did they miss the fool?

King Crab went through the plan in his head as he paced the floor in his office. Actually, it was the office of the Chief of Medicine, but as that poor sap was currently strapped to a bed across the hall suffering from a gunshot wound to the leg, a little something King Crab had put there himself, he figured the old man wouldn’t mind.

Not that the wrinkled old fool was actually suffering, not physically anyway. King Crab had been assured by his medical officer that the old prune was sleeping due to the pain medication.

The Chief would live, his team wasn’t here to kill thoughtlessly, though the cantankerous old snob might think twice the next time he shoved his uppity snoot in someone’s face again. King Crab pictured the man’s face, the way the man had questioned him in front of his own people. The old fool got off lucky. Just thinking about the confrontation opened his mind to the idea of a little thoughtless killing. Show these people who was boss.

Yet, once he thought about it, he had shown these people who was boss. Did they not scream? Did they not cower before his might?

Of course they did. He was King Crab. ‘Nuff said.

On to the business at hand. The one they had missed. The patient who had gotten away.

Albert Wei.

He had the man’s medical records on the desk. He’d gone through them over and over, yet had gleaned nothing from them other than the man’s reason for being in the hospital in the first place. Gunshot wound to the head. Grazed, actually.

Finding the man’s identity had been quite easy. The man had, after all, accosted two of his men in one of the patient rooms. A room with two beds. A room that, according to documentation, should have been occupied by two patients:

Joy Belvedere and Albert Wei.

The former, once again according to records, had been admitted due to multiple broken bones all throughout her body and was in a body cast. The latter was nowhere to be found.

There wasn’t much more to be found in the man’s medical records. He’d been admitted to the same hospital once before, just six months earlier. Multiple injuries and other such medical nonsense. None of it did anything to help King Crab find the man. All he knew for now was that the man was still in the building somewhere. How else could he explain the other two prawns being attacked?

Still, he went back to the desk to look at this Albert Wei’s medical records once more. There, in the margins, someone had scrawled a single word. A word that made no sense to King Crab, but a word that made his skin crawl.

Piñata.

Seeing it again caused the lump of ice in the pit of his stomach to roll over and he shuddered.

He didn’t know what it meant.

He knew what a piñata was, of course, but why it was scrawled in the margins of Albert Wei’s medical records, he had no idea. There were some hasty notes written by hand on one page, but they were mostly illegible. Something written by a doctor, of course. And though he thought could recognize the word ‘unstable’ among the jumble of incoherence, there was nothing more regarding the dreaded word.

Piñata.

His mind suddenly flashed back. A succession of images and sounds that flickered through his brain like the rapidly changing channels on a television:

A birthday cake. A long stick. Children screaming. A blindfold. A rainbow of colors. A siren. An ambulance. A steady beeping. Darkness.

A knock on the door brought him out of the memory blast and he found himself on the floor, shaking and covered in sweat.

The knocking repeated. Insistent.

“One moment,” he called out as he pulled himself to his feet.

He swiped an arm across his face and then cleared his throat.

“Enter,” he sang out with authority.

His second in command, the enigmatic woman known only to him as the Lobstress, entered alone.

“My Lord.” She bowed.

She was dressed all in leather, red like the color of blood. The cape, also red, had been fashioned to resemble the tail of a lobster. She even wore special prosthetics that gave the appearance that her hands we like lobster claws, though they could be retracted and worn on the forearm as they were not very practical when it came to doing pretty much anything that involved hands.

The claws, however, when locked into position, were formidable weapons. He has born witness, on many an occasion to see them at work.

“Greetings, dear Lobstress,” said King Crab. “You have good news for me, I hope?”

“Great news, My Lord,” she said.

The Lobstress was both beautiful and deadly. He admired her greatly.

“Well then,” he said. “Out with it. I could use some great news.”

“I have him, My Lord.” With that said, she smiled.

King Crab had often heard the Lobstress compared to a vampire, what with her pail skin and dark hair. While he chose not to dabble is such judgmental thinking, he did have to admit that whenever the woman smiled, he often expected to see fangs protruding from under her upper lip.

“Him, Lobstress?” Like he didn’t know. If he hadn’t had such perfect control over himself, King Crab would be dancing. “And who is he?”

“The fly in the ointment,” she said. “The goody two shoes who took out four of our prawn. Caught him down in the main reception area. All he had on him was this,” she held out one of their walkie talkies. “And this.” In her other hand was a baseball bat.

“Is he dead?” King Crab asked. He hoped not.

The Crustacean Consortium did not kill.

Except when they did.

“He is alive, My Lord. Shall I bring him in?”

“Please, dear Lobstress. Bring this interloper to me.”

King Crab took a seat behind the desk and waited. He didn’t have to wait long. He rose as the Lobstress entered, her prisoner in tow. But when he looked upon the man who had, for only a half an hour, caused him much concern, his brain nearly exploded. And, as the darkness closed in, and the floor rushed up to meet him, a succession of images and sounds sped through his brain.

A birthday cake. A long stick. Children screaming. A blindfold. A rainbow of colors. A siren. An ambulance. A steady beeping. Darkness.






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