The sewer was dark, almost pitch. The only signs of light shown dimly through vents in the occasional manhole cover above. There in the darkness Forest Durke stood stiff as a tree, paralyzed with fear. He felt every muscle in his body tighten with every dank drip that echoed around him. He held his breath, half afraid that he was so loud the whole world could hear it and half straining to hear.


“Forest Durke…”


The voice echoed off of every wall. Duke spun erratically, his eyes straining to see through the blackness. Almost knee deep in the watery filth, it splashed all around him. A squat revolver shook in his hand. “I’m sorry!” He pleaded with the voice in the darkness. “I didn’t know! I swear!”


“You’re a liar, Durke,” the voice said, nearly on top of him, “and a traitor.”


“I said I was sorry!” It took him two hands to hold the pistol steady. With both thumbs he pulled the hammer back. The darkness popped with the flashes of orange and yellow as the gun fired twice. It only gave him a quick glimpse of the rounded brick walls and left him seeing spots when left with the dark. “You have to believe me!”


“No.” Perhaps it was the ringing of the gunshots still in his ears, but this time the voice was almost faint. “The Claw is here for you…”


Durke squeezed the trigger again. In the momentary flash he saw his pursuer. The dark orange goggle lenses lit up over the grinding teeth. The hand reaching toward him, a strange almost glowing claw symbol etched into the palm… Back in the dark with the echoes of light in his eyes, Forest’s revolver twisted from his grip. He felt his wrist start to fracture as the gun was wrestled away. The large outline of a lobster’s claw came as the sewer burst again along with the crack of a single shot.


This time it wasn’t Forest’s stubby revolver. He felt the bullet hit his chest. He felt it tear through and lodge somewhere in his back. The impact took his already shaky balance, and he fell backward against the wall. The weight of his body rolled him down into the water. He felt his lungs filling and choked on it. Even with his head above water he struggled to breath. “I…” Forest Durke opened his eyes. “I see… a… light.”


“No.” Lobster Johnson leaned over him, blocking the rays from the manhole above. His silhouette brought darkness, except the outline of his chest the round lenses of his goggles. “There is no light. Not for you.” He reached down, gripping Durke by the head and pushing him underwater. The man struggled, flailing his legs, grabbing and pulling at Johnson’s wrist. The water steamed. Eventually, Forest Durke stopped struggling and The Claw let him go. His head bobbed to the surface, the claw outline burned into his forehead.


Lobster Johnson stood, holstering his gun. His goggles trained up to the light of of the city above them, filtered through the cover vents several feet up. Forest’s body floated in the sewage, tainted red by his own blood. His eyes stared up blankly. The man gave a sigh, one which could have been pained or satisfied. He reached into one of the pouches on his belt. It revealed a folded card, crumpled and damp. His thumb ran over the barely embossed circular symbol, leaving a trace of blood on the what stark still rather stark white card. You are invited to the circle- Burbank. That handwritten note and a phone number was all that the card read. Lobster Johnson put the card back in his pouch and slipped back into the darkness of the sewers, leaving Forest Durke’s body behind.

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