"Oh God...please! Don't kill me! I'm beggin' you...I don't know nothin'! For the love of God, I don't know-"


"Fuck you, you bitch! I'm not gonna beg you for mercy, so just do it...JUST DO-"


"Why? Why are you doing this? Who paid you? I have money...surely we can make-"


Sirens woke Natalia from her light sleep...she was glad of it. Looking over, she noticed her companion and driver looking back at her.

"All these sirens, eh? Must be because of these fucking accidents."

Natalia glanced around, "What accidents are you talking about...the road looks clear."

"Here...sure...but that's because there' this huge pile up a few miles back, blocking everyone from coming this way. I watched it happen in the rear view mirror...it was fuckin' nuts!" the young man then put his hand back to his earpiece. "Damn...two more wrecks between here and the city. What's with these assholes? Is everyone drunk? It's going to take all night to get home at this rate."

Two more patrol cars and an ambulance went screaming past on the other side of the highway, followed by a fire truck and another cruiser a minute later.

"By the way," the man continued "that was real nice...what you said back at the funeral. That nun was you aunt, right?"

She thought back to her Aunt Gracie...or perhaps more properly Sister Cecilia. Natalia barely knew her, to be honest. Her dad said she couldn't bare the family business, so she took one of the few respectable ways out...she joined the Church. It looked like those penguins were going to crap themselves when one of ol' Sister Celcilia's notorious family showed up to help put her in the ground. Her father insisted she go...she had a knack for that sort of thing. She glanced sideways at the driver again, brushing a wavy lock of dark brown hair from her eyes. One of her oldest brother's crew?

"Which Johnny are you again? Johnny G? Johnny D?"

"C...Johnny C...Cappellino," he replied with a grin. She noticed his eyes linger on her legs and roam up to her chest. Right after the funeral, Natalia had changed out of her black, sensible dress into a pair of torn jeans and grey, V-neck tank top.

"Well...let's keep our eyes on the road, 'Johnny C'. One funeral today is enough, don't you think."

"Pff...I'm not going to wreck the car," he chuckled.

"It might not be a car wreck that kills you," she replied flatly.

"Wow...you Santavella ladies are cold as ice," Johnny grumbled, but kept grinning.

The rode on in awkward silence for a few moments when Johnny glanced over again. "So, tell me something, Ms. Santavella. What can a guy like me do to..."

Suddenly, the windshield imploded, causing the car to go out of control. Natalia was dimly aware of a body hitting the front of the car...did it fall from above? She heard Johnny cursing as the car ran off the road and flipped over at least once before coming to a stop.

Did she black out for a moment? Adrenalin pumping through her, Natalia assessed the situation. Luckily her seatbelt protected her from any serious injury. Johnny hadn't been wearing his, unfortunately. A glance over at the man confirmed he hadn't survived the crash. She'd seen enough dead bodies to tell...his head lolled at a most unnatural angle on his neck.

Unbuckling herself, she crawled out of the wreck. She fished out her phone, and paused for a moment before deciding to call 911...it was still difficult for her to call 'the police' for help, even when she had done nothing wrong.

"Due to unusual call volume, your call could not be completed. Please try again..."

"The fuck? What the hell's going on?"

She tried several more times with the same results. Looking over the wreck, she saw the body that had hit the car. It must have fallen...jumped? Pushed?...from that last overpass they went under. It looked like an older woman, from what she could tell. More sirens screamed in the distance.

She tried her phone again, hoping to at least reach her family. They'd know what to do. Again, the lines seemed to be clogged. Then she heard a strange gurgling coming from the car. Fuck...was Johnny still alive?

Natalia crouched down and looked back in the car. Damn...he WAS alive, the poor bastard!

"Don't move! I'm trying to get an ambulance...you're seriously...hurt...?"

Johnny C. was alive...but he clearly shouldn't have been. His eyes were open and looking at her, tracking her as she moved around. His bloody mouth opened and closed and his left arm, which was clearly broken, reached out to her. She could have believed he was in some kind of shock...but his head was twisted nearly 180 degrees to look over his shoulder. He shouldn't be alive...

A noise to her left drew her attention. Coming down the side of the road were two figures. They lurched in a most peculiar, unnatural manner. They looked seriously sick. One had a large, bloody flap of skin hanging from his throat. In the distance, she could hear screaming. Everything was suddenly so surreal.

"Don't come any closer!" she warned. Reaching back into her bag, she pulled out her trusty Glock. "The police are on the way."

Across a short field there appeared to be empty industrial parks, though one building had garish lights and a few cars in the parking lot. A sign depicting a curvaceous woman wrapped in the coils of a neon snake repetitively swaying and pointing to the building. She realized it was, of all things, a strip club. Who ran this area, anyway? The Montesinis? The Dellavecchias? Maybe the Lagorios? Well, any port in a storm.

Johnny C. had clawed himself halfway out of the passenger window by now, and Natalia noticed at least three other bloody figures lurching her way from the other end of the field. Her instincts told her to run, and she had learned long ago to trust her instincts.

I wanted to thank everyone for their submissions and kind words. I got some really interesting characters, but I fear not all of them are necessarily good fits for the story. Still, I'm very appreciative and will try to fit in as many as possible, even if some have more minor rolls (hope that's okay). Our first OC, introduced this chapter, is courtesy of TheNightGirl...thanks, kid! :-) Hope I did her justice!