Chapter One

“You know, I hate the scent of human rats, no matter the time of day or night.” Preacher ran his hand across the man’s head, feeling how sweaty and disgusting it was. “They don’t smell like actual vermin. No, actual vermin are easy to kill, and I don’t mind them. Not when they’re cleaning up the trash. You see, the thing about rats, their teeth are constantly growing. Needing to chew their way through things because the length of their teeth, it drives them crazy.” He chuckled.

“Preacher, please.”

“You know what I also love about actual rats? They can tell you when certain disasters are happening. They will literally run away from any sign of danger.” He didn’t know if this was accurate or not. He’d never taken the time to watch rats. If he saw them, he killed them, simple as that. Only rodents got an easier death than most human rats. He tutted. “You know what, Phillip? You are such a disappointment to me.”

Phillip whimpered as Preacher ran the blade across the front of his mouth.

“Stick out your tongue.”

“What? Why?”

“Stick out your fucking tongue.”

Preacher didn’t need to ask a third time. Phillip, sobbing, stuck out his tongue, and without care, Preacher slid the blade across it, slicing it off in one sharp swipe. Screams filled the room, and Preacher stepped back as the blood began to soak down Phillip’s body. He stared at the single piece of flesh.

“You should be thanking me for this. This right here, it got you in trouble, and I’ve dealt with it. You don’t ever have to worry about it again.”

The screams continued to fill the abandoned garage station, and Preacher stuck the severed tongue into a bag. It would help serve as a lesson to others. Not that Phillip would ever be walking out of the garage alive. Nope.

No rat had ever left Preacher’s company alive, unless he wanted to send a message, and then when their job was done, he took care of them in any of several different ways.

Phillip was of no use to him. He wasn’t worth making the effort to send him out into the world. He was a piece of shit as far as the club was concerned. The moment he decided to go and help the other club, it had cemented Phillip’s death sentence. It was a good job Preacher had some people on the police force who’d happened to see him going into enemy territory.

“You know, I hate to state the obvious, but this didn’t have to happen.”

Staring into Phillip’s soon-to-be-dead eyes, Preacher waited as Phillip started to scream, but without his tongue it sounded more like a gurgle.

He tutted. “Keep on screaming. Where you are right now, it’s abandoned. The place doesn’t even have a name. It’s nowhere. There was a time it was someplace. A small town, peaceful, idyllic. The kind of place people raise their kids. A small school. A library. There was even a garage and a gas station. A diner. You know, the usual things that help a town, but I believe this was home to, like, four hundred people, and when they built the highway to pass a few miles away from here, no one visited. The town dried up. People had no choice but to move away. No one cared about this world anymore. It sucked for way too many people.” He shrugged. “A good old ghost town. It’s what it is called now. Some people believe the old tales that it’s haunted by the dead residents.” Preacher burst out laughing. “If anything, it’s haunted by the people I’ve killed here. Believe me, there have been a few. It’s so easy to do. No one around to hear screams, and if anyone is lost and passing through, the rumors keep people running on their merry way out of the fucking town. Now, Phillip, you were a good little soldier for a while, but like many good little soldiers, you got way too greedy, and because of that, you’re heading into trouble. So much trouble. You do know you’re not leaving here alive. There’s no way I can let that happen.” Preacher sat back down on the chair, straddling it. “You went to the Slaves of the Beast MC, and I can’t have that. I don’t like the stories you told them. My plans. My club. Even the schedule of my boy. I’m not going to deny he’s a fucking idiot, and there are times I swear he is not my blood, but I got that fucker tested the moment the whore spat him out, and he is indeed mine. Now, I’m cleaning up your mess.”

Phillip started to cry.

Phillip’s wife and kid would be returning home to finding a nice large pile of cash, a note, and a chance at a life without being beaten black and blue every damn day.

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