Ice’d Out

I had no idea what was gonna happen the night that Dutch called.

“Hey kid, get your crew together. I got another job for ya. It may be my way back into the old man’s good graces.”

Dutch always talked about how he’d gotten pushed out of the family but nobody seemed to know why. He had always promised me and my crew that if he ever found a way back he’d make sure we were taken care of. If Dutch thought that this would impress those who had shipped him off, his words, the take on this score would be pretty good.

“So what is it?”

“A beautiful bit o’ ice me boy. Call me when you get those two ready and we’ll meet up and get this done.”

At this point he hung up. I hadn’t heard anyone call diamonds “ice” anywhere outside of movies. It was also weird that Dutch was coming along but I couldn’t blame him for wanting to oversee things.

So I called up my brother Tommy and told him to get Fletcher and meet me at the dumpy little diner that Dutch did his business out of. Tommy was always game for whatever I steered his way. I always took it as a benefit of being his big brother.

Fletch, Fletcher Reed, could be just as useful when I could get him to shut his mouth. When he wasn’t working with or for me Fletch was usually running some kind of con, but I never asked about them because I never really wanted to know.

And ninety minutes later we were having a sit down with Dutch to discuss the details.

We were to break into a mansion and make our way to the vault. Once there we would acquire a statue that according to Dutch was “a priceless piece of antiquity” that he already had a buyer lined up for. We were to take nothing else and to only go where Dutch instructed us to while inside. Something about his way around the security within the place.

The job had to be completed by sunrise while the owner was out dealing with … something.

Dutch was never really clear what that was. We would receive our shares at the end of the job, once Dutch had verified that the buyer was happy. And with that we set off to make a bit of mischief.

Dutch gave directions as we went and finally had me park about half a mile from the target’s mansion, though I don’t know why. Even from the road you couldn’t see the building and I’d never have even known it was there on that hill were it not for Dutch, which was odd for a place as big as this one appeared to be in the darkness.

As we slowly made our way up the hill circling the mansion I couldn’t help being a little taken aback by the overall scope in both size and splendor. In the back near the almost invisible door we would end up using for entry was a small fenced in garden with what appeared in the moonlight some kind of fruit bearing trees.

I call the door nearly invisible because without Dutch we would never have known it was there. The closer we maneuvered towards our final prize the more apparent it became that Dutch knew more than he had let on. It also seemed strange, in light of that, why the rest of us were even there. Up to the point of entry, the three of us had done nothing but just be present. But I pushed those thoughts back as we finally made our way inside and thought only of my coming payday.

Two things became clear as we entered the place. First was the almost complete lack of light inside except for the little bit sneaking in through the curtains of whatever room we happened to be in. The second was the smell. It didn’t smell bad so much as it just smelled… old.

It reminded me of my grandma’s house. Moth balls and quiet age. I asked Dutch if he was sure this was the right place cause it didn’t seem like this place was lived in.  I could tell, even in the dark from the look that he gave me to just shut up and go with it, so I did.

At this Dutch started to slowly and deliberately leading us through the unlit hallways and darkened stairways until we finally stood before what had to be the door to the vault. I was thankful because I had gotten so turned around as we moved through the darkness that I could not have found my way out at that point if my life had depended on it.

It looked like one of those old timey bank vaults that you see in old movies. Unlike what you see in the movies though, there was something carved or engraved into the metal of the door. None of us could read what it said but English was the only language amongst us so there was no big shock there.

As we moved closer, the “letters” started to glow brighter and brighter shades of blue.  This was also when it felt like we were being watched by… something, but in the growing light it was clear we were the only ones here and none among us could see any kind of camera.

Dutch pulled this thing from his jacket pocket. It looked kinda like one of those dream catcher things only it was connected to a calculator. I asked him what it was cause it looked like a bunch of junk but he just shot me the wickedest, weirdest grin.

“It’s a key, kiddo.”

“It looks like junk Dutch.”

“I assure you it’s not. This may just be the only thing in all of creation that can get through these wards and break the seal on this door.”

While this was going on I could hear Tommy and Fletch talking softly, voicing the same concerns I’d silently had since we got here, but I tried to play it as cool as I could.

“So are these ward things the glowing blue letters?”

“Yeah kid, it’s those ‘glowing blue letters’.” But it sounded like he was talking down to me.

Now I’d never been anything but loyal to Dutch, but enough was enough. I grabbed Dutch by the arm and spun him around. I pinned him to the wall with my forearm to his throat.

“What aren’t you telling us? How do you know so much about this place and how do you just happen to have the key to this door and a way around all the security?”

Dutch pushed me away like I weighed nothing and chuckled.

“Alright kiddo, you want some answers? Fine, I’ll oblige. I know this place like the back of my hand because once upon a time I called this place home. I have this key because… well I’ve always had this key. When I was cast out I was permitted to take only what was on my person, and this key was it. I’ve just been waiting for the right time to make my move and come back.”

Somehow his attempts at clearing things up only ended up muddling them all the more. I had more questions now than when we started. Before I could even come up with a response Fletch started in.

“So what, like your family lives here or something?”

“Yeah, boy-o, something like that.”

Dutch saying it the same way and obviously on purpose just came off as offensive. I decided to just ask what I had been avoiding all along.

“Since you already have this key thing, and you already know your way around, why do you need us? Hell Dutch, you even said you had a buyer lined up already.”

He looked like he was deeply thinking about an answer and just shrugged.

“I don’t, at least not in any real sense.”

But before I could even voice a response to that he continued.

“Do you remember all of those times I promised I’d take care of the three of you if and when the time came? Well, this is that time.”

At this Tommy grabbed my shoulder, “What’s e’ talking talkin’ bout?”

“Dutch had always told me that if he found a way back in for himself we’d be a part of that. I guess I just thought that was nothin’ but talk.”

Dutch cleared his throat, “How’s about I just make good on my word.”

With that he pressed a few more buttons on his “key” and the blue lights on the door winked out one by one. As the last one went dark, there was a rumble as if from within the earth itself that I took as the vault door unlocking.

As the door slowly opened, on it’s own I might add, we got another round of that weird blue light only this time it was accompanied by a bone chilling cold. It made me wonder if this was a vault or a freezer. Not that it mattered with the end now in sight, so we all made our way inside.

The first thing I noticed as we crossed the threshold was just how empty it was. This made it feel so much bigger than it really was. The walls were made of some kind of metal and covered in those things that Dutch had called wards. They were the only source of light in here but there were so many of them that there was no trouble seeing the statue we’d come for.

The statue sat on some kind of raised platform in the middle of the room. Surrounding that and kind of set into the stone floor were these three rings. One looked to be copper, one silver and one gold. The statue though was breathtaking and I moved in to get a closer look.

It looked to be about a foot and a half tall and was almost perfectly clear. At first I thought it was in the shape of a man, but the closer I got the more I saw how wrong I was. It had wings which were kind of wrapped around its body and blended a bit with the hooded cloak I’d guess you’d call it. The hood covered a majority of the head so that you could only really make out the slightly pointed chin and the little bit of beard covering it.

I did make out two small black gems, flecks almost, made of onyx or something for the eyes. It felt like those eyes were looking deep inside of me, like inside my soul inside of me.

I saw what looked like bumps of some kind near the front of the hood but couldn’t really tell what those might be.

The thing that struck me as odd though were the legs. The appeared to be covered in fur and ended in feet like that of a goats or something.

Now as I was studying all of this I was compelled to touch it and noticed that in my focus on the statue, both Tommy and Fletch were doing the same damn thing. We all reached out and touched it at the same time and then it hit me.

“Dutch, when you’d said ice I’d assumed you meant diamonds, but this is just ice. What are we really doing here?”

“Let me show you.” He said as he moved in and gently picked up the statue.

As he cradled it in his arms he began to speak, well not so much speak as chant, but it was not in any language I could understand.

As dutch was chanting, just above the floor, there began to be a sort of shimmer in the air. At first it looked the way the air above a desert highway does on a hot summer day. Of course those “heat lines” don’t grow to the height of a man.

They also don’t separate once they do until there is a hole big enough for a man to go through.

As this thing grew in front of me, through it I could hear voices crying out, almost like they were in pain. It was starting to make my head throb as the “hole” in the air got bigger and the cries grew louder. I also felt a cold wind blowing through the hole as it grew.

I tried to get a look through the hole as it grew but the harder I looked the less sense it made. It was as if my mind was refusing to comprehend what I was seeing.

The pressure from the almost rhythmic throbbing was becoming too much and I sank to my knees clutching at my forehead. I saw as I sank down that Tommy and Fletch had done the same.

Dutch however was standing tall and seemed to be unaffected by all of this. I tried to cry out but couldn’t seem to get my mouth to make the words. Dutch just looked at me and smiled.

“Come forth my master and accept this trinity of sacrifices that you might walk free once more.” At this the voices crying out grew frantic but I thought I heard one voice above all the others that sounded almost…eager. I wish I could remember what it said.

It was becoming impossible to move, let alone think clearly and this is when Dutch pulled a small pistol from somewhere on his person. He then walked over and calmly shot Fletch square in the chest. The gunshot boomed and the sound echoed off the walls like a cannon. Before the gunshot had even faded the voices on the other side of the shimmer grew all the more frenzied and from the look in Dutch’s eyes it became clear if someone didn’t stop him then he would kill us all. Not surprisingly that is an incredibly motivating prospect.

However, despite this I found it incredibly difficult to move. That is, until I saw Dutch moving towards Tommy. I found myself filled with a rage at this betrayal. I was screaming as I got shakily to my feet. Dutch turned and his eyes met mine.

“No more Dutch.” And I launched myself at him.

After the way he had thrown me off of him earlier I didn’t think I could take him in anything even close to a fair fight, but I thought I could at least get the gun away. As I was closing the distance between us I heard the gun go off again and something whistled by my ear, which in turn felt like it was now on fire. I had my hands on the gun in the same instant it registered that I had been shot in the ear.

As I attempted to wrestle the gun free Dutch started to try and shake me off. God was he strong. If this went on for too long I knew I stood no chance of winning, let alone surviving.

I decided to try something that had been a tried and true tactic in a fight and I kneed Dutch square in the balls. The gun went off again as he loosened his grip enough for me to get it away from him. I pointed it at Dutch and began to back away.

Tommy cried out. I looked and saw that he had been gut shot. God… there was so much blood. With every twitch and spasm more blood poured out onto the floor.

“Tommy, hold on. We’ll get you out of here.” But it didn’t matter. He coughed one more time and lay still on the floor.

The frenzied screams through the shimmer grew completely incensed at this point and that voice called out once more.

“Complete the trinity and free me.”

I moved slowly towards Dutch who had now moved until he was right in front of the shimmer.

“Why?” I asked in disbelief of all that had happened.

He just smiled that wide Dutch smile.

“Nothing personal kiddo. You three were just a means to an end.”

“Means to an end? MEANS TO AN END! I have been nothing but loyal to you Dutch.” I was all but screaming this.

He just smiled again and shrugged and before I even knew what I was doing I was pulling the trigger and I kept pulling until long after the gun clicked on an empty chamber. Dutch’s front was littered with growing spots of red from all the impacts.

I walked over as he took a knee. I couldn’t understand why he was still alive at this point but I didn’t care. I grabbed Dutch by his suit coat and he feebly tried to fight me off, but the blood loss seemed to be taking some of the fight out of him.

“Damn you, Dutch.”

As he was going limp in my arms he smiled feebly and said, “Sorry kiddo, it was the only way.”

Dutch went still then and I just shoved his body through that shimmer in the air. The already wildly screaming voices on the other side grew in both volume and fury until it was more than I could take. I collapsed to the floor as the world went dark.

I woke up in a hospital room some time later and was immediately greeted by a detective.

He told me that I was found slumped over the wheel of my car covered in blood that was not my own and he wanted some answers.

I told him my story, all of it, and he made a few notes in a little pad and he made some phone calls to have it all checked out.

After what felt like hours, the detective returned. Dutch, Fletch and Tommy were all missing. The house on the hill that I had described could not be located, although they did find a small basket of fruit on a hill near where I had described the house.

Since there were no bodies or any other evidence of a crime I was not being charged with anything at that time. I was however told not to leave town in case there were other questions they wanted me to answer.

Some time after the detective left a doctor came to let me know that I was being held overnight for observation but barring something unforeseen I would be released the following morning.

I was so tired and confused at this point that I didn’t care. I’d eventually get out and start my search for answers. Sleep came easily.

I awoke in the early hours and saw that it was still dark. Someone had left flowers on the table by the bed. As I grabbed the card I saw that someone was standing in the doorway to my room. They had on a heavy winter coat with the hood pulled up. It hid all of the face, save the chin. They just stood there watching me in silence. Finally they raised a hand and pointed at the card I was holding. So I read it.

Just wanted to say thank you. I’m sure I’ll see you around.”

As I raised my sleepy eyes back to the doorway the figure was gone. Receding down the hallway then I heard two things. The first was a soft, yet almost maniacal laughter. The second, was the sound of his footsteps. They sounded like hooves on the tile of the hospital hallway.

I found myself crying then as it began to hit me what I’d done. I’d completed the trinity, whatever that was, with the death of Dutch. What had I released upon the world?

I commit this tale to paper now solely so those who follow may understand why I left again. I had to find it. I had to try and make it right. And I needed to say I’m sorry. I had no idea what was going to happen that night when Dutch called.