The man was sent tumbling directly into a brick wall. The unseen assailant driving his hand into the already bloodied man's torso, causing him to spit up blood as he dropped to his knees.
"Didn't I warn you what would happen if you ever laid a finger on my sister again?" Julian Crane asked the bloodied, piece of human filth in front of him.
"I... Don't know what you're talking about; I've never seen you before in my life!" Michael said through gritted teeth.
"The hell you don't!" Julian raised his voice, "I'm Julian Crane, Endora Crane's brother! You know, the same Endora that came to me covered in bruises not a week ago? Bruises that you gave to her?"
"Look, man... You've got it all wrong. She fell!"
"First of all, let's get one thing straight, Mr. Michael Charleton... You will not refer to me as 'man, homey, dude,' or any other term of endearment unless you want to die. Secondly, Endora didn't get those bruises from a fall or any other mishap. She got them from you beating her senseless!"
"I don't know what Endora told you, but that bitch is a liar!" Julian grabbed him and violently shoved him against the wall.
"Call her that once more and I'll slit your throat..." Julian warned.
"Look, Julian..." Julian tightened his grip on him.
"That's Mr. Crane to you, insect!" Julian insisted.
"Let's talk about this, huh?"
"I think you'll find that when the Cranes seek retribution, we can't be reasoned with, can't be bargained with."
"Is that so?" Michael asked.
"Yes, and unfortunately for you, what this means is you haven't got a prayer of leaving this place alive, because you are going to die a very slow, agonizing death," Julian explained.
"You can't do this!"
"I'm Julian Crane; I can do whatever I want to whomever I want!"
"Okay, I'll tell you what..."
"You are in no position to bargain with me, Mr. Charleton!"
"Let me finish, alright?! I'll stay away from Endora and, and I'll never touch her again, I swear to God!" Michael begged for his life.
"I know you won't touch Endora again because you'll be six-feet-under and dead!"
"Just hear me out!"
"I have heard you out, and so far, I'm not impressed by what I hear!" Julian violently slammed him to the ground.
"Now then, Mr. Charleton," Julian began as he pulled out a pistol from his coat pocket. "Prepare to meet your maker."
Breathe in, breath out; you keep me alive, you are my Passion for life
Michael groveled for his life at Julian's feet.
"Oh come now, come meet your death, head-on, like a man!" Julian yelled.
"Julian, that gun... They can match the bullet to that gun!"
"You honestly think I'm frightened by Sam Bennett and his miscreant band of do-gooders he calls officers? Don't make me laugh! If the likes of Luis Lopez-Fitzgerald came after me, I'd be out on bail, and Luis would be pushing a shopping cart in a week! I'm going to take the trash out..." Julian cocked the pistol.
"My family, the Charletons, when they find out Julian Crane blew their son away to kingdom come, they'll have your head on a silver platter, Crane!"
"No one will even notice you're gone, much less care." Julian shot back.
"Please don't kill that bad man, Julian." Timmy appeared.
"I'm tripping; I'm seeing little men!" Michael yelled.
"Oh, shut up, you fool." Julian shot back. "You're not imagining anything; it's merely my oldest and dearest friend, Timmy Lenox. Come on out Timmy and meet the acquaintance of this rotten street urchin."
"Ew... He doesn't look so good! Did you rough him up some, Julian?" Timmy asked.
Yes, I did Timmy."
"I'll say, last time I saw something that bloody was when Fluffy had to go to the vet!"
"I think our friend would be better off not knowing what happened with Fluffy, my friend," Julian replied.
"No! He'd be better off knowing!" Michael said.
"Now look what you've done, Timmy! You've upset our guest!" Julian said.
"He looked pretty upset already..." Timmy replied.
"Hey, I can just leave, and we can forget all about this!" Michael said.
"Stop where you are," Julian demanded as he pointed his gun at Michael. "And where exactly do you think you're going?" Julian asked.
"Hey! Your little friend told you not to kill me!" Michael shot back.
"Oh, trust me by the time I'm through, you're going to wish I had killed you before Timmy interrupted us. For you see, life as an eternal enemy to a Crane is a fate far worse than death."
"Julian? Julian?" Julian was pulled from his thoughts by his father.
"Um yes, father? You were saying?" Julian asked.
"I was asking how things at Crane Industries were going," Alistair said. "Anything I should know about?"
Julian flashed back to a chance meeting at Crane Industries.
"Oh, Mr. Crane! Thank God, you're here!" Charles, the Cranes' longtime accountant, said; a short, balding, rather rotund man.
"Charles, my good friend." Julian began as he hung up his coat. "Why so serious?"
"You would be too if you had just gotten off the phone with the Bertolli family! It seems the heads of the five crime families of Maine are getting very impatient and very uppity!"
"Is that so?" Julian asked as he poured himself a scotch.
"Yes, I just got through talking to Fredo Bertolli, and he says Julian Crane better deliver and soon, or else he'll sleep with the fishes!"
"Ha, sleep with the fishes; that's funny!" Julian replied.
"Sir, please don't joke at a time like this," Charles replied.
"I wasn't joking; you know, I once fell into a vat of boiling hot tuna?"
"Tuna, sir?" Charles asked
"Yes, tuna," Julian replied.
"Pardon my asking sir, but how did you ever get yourself in that predicament?"
"That is a story for another time; right now I'd like for you to tell me more about your little chat with that overgrown bastard Fredo."
"Well, our conversation started out civilly enough."
"I sense a but coming," Julian said as he took a seat behind his desk.
"Well, he went on and on about his prize-winning Ferrari, I thought he'd never shut up. Bragged about how his boy Fredo Jr. was gonna take over the family business one day."
"Fredo, Jr? Quite the statement on his level of egotism," Julian said. "What he fails to comprehend is the fact he is not yet in control of the vast Bertolli empire, his father Tony is. Yet that mere fact alone doesn't stop him from acting as though he rules that family with an iron fist. My, my, how wrong he is." Julian let out a wicked smile as he took a sip of his scotch.
"Sir, when you smile that way, I start getting very nervous," Charles replied.
"Really? Why is that?" Julian asked.
"Because someone usually ends up dead," he replied.
"Calm down, my friend, no one is going to die today," Julian replied.
"Famous last words," Charles said as he began to sweat.
"At least," he began "Not yet."
"You do love adding a caveat at the end, don't you sir?" Charles asked. "Alarm bells are going off in my head, wondering what terrible ideas are swimming around in that head of yours. What terrible things you have in store for the citizens of Harmony as well as for your enemies."
"Yes, God help the poor unfortunate soul that crosses Julian Crane, and lives."
"With all due respect, Mr. Crane, coming into conflict with you and living to tell the tale, is a fate far worse than death."
"Yes, that's what I told him," Julian said as he took another swig.
"Told who?" Charles asked.
"Michael Charleton, the bastard that has been abusing my little sister, Endora, both physically and emotionally."
"Oh, my God. Sir, I had no idea, I'm so sorry."
"Don't be. Besides he's already been taken care."
"When you say 'taken care of' in what context do you mean?" Charles asked, almost afraid to hear the answer to his question.
"I didn't kill him if that's what you're asking. Little Timmy appealed to my better angels and stopped me from putting a bullet in that wretched animal's skull."
"Charleton, Charleton... Why is that name so familiar?" Charles pondered.
"It should be, it's the family Lydia Bertolli married into..." Julian explained.
"The Lydia Bertolli? As in the same Lydia Bertolli that happens to be..." Charles let out a fearful gulp, "Tony's sister?!"
"The very same," Julian replied.
"Oh, my God! Sir, this is a very dangerous game you're playing!"
"Who's playing? Tony Bertolli's wretched little nephew Michael has been abusing my sister Endora for months on end, with her making excuse after excuse for him! She wouldn't listen to reason, so I had to take matters into my own hands."
"So where is Mr. Charleton now?"
"Locked safely away in the catacombs beneath the Crane mansion. I figured a couple of weeks of isolated darkness would give him plenty of time to ponder where exactly it is his life went wrong"
"And he's down there all alone?"
"Not all alone, Vincent is with him. Of course, our good friend Michael doesn't know that. You know, that twisted son of mine always had a talent for psychological torture," Julian let out an evil chuckle.
"I suppose I should be thanking my dear, sweet, demonic grandmother Angela for kidnapping him as an infant and turning him into a weapon. As you can see, it ultimately worked out for my benefit. Now I have my own little personal murder machine at my beck and call. It will make things a lot easier for when I execute my Alpha Omega plot and turn our fair city of Harmony on its head."
"That reminds me, I've been meaning to ask you... What exactly does this 'Alpha Omega' plot of yours entail?" Charles asked.
"Something that is going to drastically alter the landscape of our vast, criminal enterprise here at Crane Industries, and Kay Bennett is the key to it."
"Kay Bennett? What does she have to do with anything? She disappeared months ago, hasn't been seen since."
"My mother's former protégé is a vital part of my plan, for you see she is no ordinary witch... She is the most powerful sorceress in the universe. At least, she will be. With the proper persuasion...
"What does that mean? Do you know where Kay Bennett is?"
"All will be made clear, in due time," Julian replied.
"Witches, mafia intrigue, on top of Alistair sticking his nose in your business. If your father ever finds out you're laundering money from Crane Industries to the mob..."
"You just let me worry about my father, you just make sure those deliveries are made on schedule and kept safely hidden and out of our financial records."
"I'm on it," Charles went to leave.
"Charles? Perhaps it would be apropos of you to leave through the secret entrance?"
"Alright, if you insist." Charles approached a bookcase and pressed a secret button in the back, opening an entrance that was secret to everyone but a select few confidantes to Julian.
"And sir? I really hope you know what you're doing."
"Of course, I always know what I'm doing," Julian said as Charles disappeared.
"What an absolute pest," Julian said behind Charles' back. "It's a wonder anything ever gets done around here with such a spineless underling." he took a seat behind his desk and pressed a button on his intercom.
"Son, will you come in here for a moment?" he asked. The door to his office slowly opened to reveal Vincent in his Blackmailer disguise.
"Hello, daddy..." He spoke in a distorted voice. "Who do you want me to kill for you this time?" he asked.
"Not kill, Vincent, not yet. But I do want you to send a message to Fredo Bertolli, one that he won't soon forget," he said as he approached his twisted offspring.
"What did you have in mind?" Julian took an envelope from his desk drawer and pulled out some pictures.
"This," he began as he pulled out a portrait of a young woman "Is Sarah Bertolli, the apple of her father's eye. Still a virgin, untouched by a man. Unspoiled. All of that is about to change,"
"Oh, I see... You want me to take young Sarah for a ride and make her mine, whether she likes it or not." Vincent spoke.
"Indeed. Fredo Bertolli has the gall to threaten a Crane, now he has to live with the consequences. His daughter will be the one to suffer for his hubris." Julian let out a demonic laugh.
"One question, when exactly do I get to kill again?" Vincent asked.
"All in due time, Vincent. You will get to satisfy your murderous impulses once again, and you'll satisfy them soon." Julian said as he rubbed Vincent's shoulders.
"Killing one person at a time isn't enough for me, father dearest."
"Oh, but when you do get to kill that one person, it's such a rush, isn't it?" Julian asked. "Remember how much fun you had with your last victim?"
"Yes," Vincent began "It was quite entertaining listening to his screams for mercy,"
"And they'll all be screaming soon..." Julian replied.
"Nothing I can't handle," Julian told Alistair.
Visions continued to haunt every corner of Kay's mind, Maria dying in her arms. Miguel, with Charity...
"You were with Charity... While our daughter was dying?!" she yelled.
"Hello, beautiful," Miguel suddenly appeared behind her and whispered in her ear.
"Miguel, you... Startled me," she replied.
"Really?" he asked. "Honey, you're practically trembling..." he observed. "What's the matter?" he asked.
Elsewhere, Tabitha was seated at a table reading one of her many ancient tomes, when an odd feeling came over her.
"By the cauldron of Maleficent!" she said "I feel something that I haven't felt in centuries," just then, someone rang the doorbell.
"I'll get it!" Tabitha yelled out. She approached the door and opened it to find Sam's mother, Angelica.
"You!" Tabitha yelled, looking as if she had just seen a ghost. "After all these years?" Tabitha asked.
"We need to talk about our son, Samuel..."
"Our son? I beg your pardon?"
"Don't play dumb with me, Tabitha. We both know Sam is your flesh and blood, the son you gave up to be raised by me, a mortal woman."
Meanwhile, at the prison, Vincent was still firmly entrenched within its confines disguised as the janitor he murdered. Taking care not to be seen, he entered the surveillance room, which was totally deserted.
"Spike, this is Vincent. Do you read me?" He spoke into a headset.
"Yeah, I read ya, kid," Spike replied from the other line.
"I'm in the prison, no one suspects a thing so far," Vincent said.
"Don't get cocky, kid. You still have a long way to go in this little plot of yours. What I really want to know is when do we get to put the old man out of his misery?" Spike asked.
"Patience, when we kill grandfather it will be at a place and time of my choosing, you got that?" Vincent replied.
"Yeah well, it better be worth it," Spike said.
Vincent approached the surveillance system, placing a flash drive inside it.
"Now then," Vincent began "We should have access to every camera in this place, can you see anything on the monitors?" he asked.
"Yeah, everything is coming in loud and clear," Spike answered.
"Excellent," Vincent said. "Well, what do we have here?" Vincent said as something caught his eye on the monitor.
"What is it?" Spike asked.
"It's Julian with that Lopez-Fitzgerald woman, Pilar," Vincent replied.
"I've never known those two to hang around each other," Spike said.
"Yes, neither have I. I saw them together earlier, and they looked awfully chummy. Could there be trouble in paradise for my dearly despised parents?"
"Wouldn't be the first time Julian cheated on his significant other," Spike replied.
"Wait a minute, here comes Sam..." Vincent said as he watched the monitor.
"Julian, what are you doing?" Sam demanded as Julian attempted to brush past him. "How many times have I told you to go home? We have everything under control here,"
"I'm sorry, Sam but I'm not going to leave it up to your department to find my unhinged son,"
"And what exactly is that supposed to mean, my department? What you think we're not up to the task, is that it?" Sam asked.
"No offense, but your department isn't exactly known for solving crimes," Julian shot back.
"Well, it was your family committing half of them!" Sam yelled.
"I resent that!" Julian replied.
"How many times did you do your father's dirty work, huh?" Sam asked. "What about the time you tried to murder Sheridan, your own sister with a poisoned ring?"
"That was years ago, why would you mention such a thing?" Julian asked.
"Well, I seem to recall not that long ago it was you and your son feeding my daughter Kay lies that Fox was dying in order to force her to stay with him, not to mention the fact you tricked everyone into believing Miguel slept with Charity,"
"My son paid for his trespasses with his life! It should have been me lying in a pool of my own blood, is that what you want to hear?!" Julian lashed out.
"Julian, stop it!" Pilar said as she got between the two "Fighting among yourselves isn't gonna help us find Vincent," Pilar said.
"Yes, you're right Pilar... Julian minding his own damn business and letting my department do its job will!"
"I'm not going anywhere..." Julian replied.
"Then how about I throw you out of here on your ass?" Sam asked.
"Do it and I'll bring such a lawsuit against your department and sue you for assault, and last time I checked, your department really doesn't need the fuss, considering the last lawsuit father filed against you,"
"When you put it that way," Sam began "What exactly do you want here, Julian?" Sam asked.
"Let me go upstairs to Vincent's holding cell," Julian replied.
"Why?" Sam asked.
"To see if perhaps I can find some sort of clue your officers may have missed,"
"My officers were very thorough," Sam replied.
"That doesn't exactly give me comfort," Julian replied sarcastically.
"Sam, please let him do it?" Pilar asked.
"Fine, but I'm not doing it for Julian, I'm doing it for you, Pilar," Sam said.
Julian made his way to the elevator with Pilar right behind him, he promptly pressed the button. After several seconds of waiting, the doors opened.
"Ladies first," Julian said.
"Thank you," Pilar replied.
Inside the elevator, Julian pressed the button of the corresponding level. Suddenly, the elevator violently shuddered and the lights flickered.
"Are... Are you alright, Pilar?" Julian asked.
"Yes, I think so. Maybe a little shaken, though." Just then the emergency power kicked in.
"Well, it appears as though we're trapped," Julian
"Indeed," Pilar replied. Suddenly the two embraced each other and began to kiss passionately, of course, this was a fantasy Julian was having.
"Julian, are you alright?" Pilar asked as she pulled him back to reality
"Uh, yes. I'm fine, no worries." Julian reassured her
To be continued next chapter...