He made his way down and over to his bookie on Gaff street, went straight in, and put in his mark. The bookie, an oversized and under muscled man that went by Bernie, raised an eyebrow at the signature on the check, but he knew the money was good, so he didn’t refuse it. He looked for a moment like he wanted to say something, but he simply wrote Holden’s name like he was signing his death warrant. He’d had a long relationship with Holden, not always a good one, but he knew that Holden usually came out ahead. After all, he was still alive.

“Long shot, I know, but I’ve got a feeling,” Holden said. Bernie shrugged and gave him his ticket; one million marks if Hurricane lost. Bernie didn’t seem too worried about where he was going to come up with the money if he had to pay out. He had the resources. It would be a nightmare, but it would get done. Besides, there was very little chance it would even be an issue.

Bernie never was much for talking. He was a man of few words, but he had a multitude of subtle ticks and gestures that conveyed his feelings. Right now most of them were conveying the sentiment of “I’m not going to stop you, if this is what you really want to do, but it seems like a really bad idea” combined with a resigned “it’s been nice knowing you kid”. He was a man that could say a lot with a look and a shrug.

Holden stepped out of Bernie’s shop with a smile on his face and breathed deeply.. It was done. He felt fantastic, like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders. He would have to make sure he got good seats for the fight so he could really relish the moment he became rich.

He turned to look at the billboard posted outside the shop. People were always posting up opportunities to make some quick cash here, assuming with fair accuracy that the people frequenting the establishment would be in need. He’d taken a few of the jobs himself in the last few days, anything to supplement the gambling he had needed to do to earn his down payment. He spotted a new bill: “Monster Hunters required. Huge reward! Join today to save this city!” The details actually looked pretty good and the pay was amazing, but someone would have to be desperate or crazy to join that squad. He’d heard the rumors around town: the hills and forests outside the city had been teeming lately, and no one knew why. The twisted had actually been breaking the city limits. It was a good thing that he was getting out of town when he was. This place was going downhill fast. It was high time to be leaving.

He noticed something else on the board as well. Someone had pinned up a new Heroes of the Black comic strip. He’d been seeing these floating around town for the last few months. He wasn’t sure who was drawing them or duplicating them, but they had become quite popular. This week, the Heroes seemed to be saving an orphanage from a robbery. It was a nice sentiment for a city in trouble; he could understand why people would want to read about masked heroes coming in to save the day. It was a pity there weren’t any real heroes around, though. It might make the Black a nicer place to live. He thought that it was telling, both things being posted at the same time. Both were, in their own way, a cry for help.

He whistled as he made his way back to his apartment. Tomorrow was a new and glorious day. He may not be a hero, but at least he was going to be able to help himself.


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