The toughs stood guard outside the warehouse, hats pulled low and collars turned up to keep out the cold. One of them cupped their hands around a lighter, trying in vain to light a cigarette in the chill wind coming off the water. The light from the streetlamp nearby was fitful and sulky--it seemed like even the light didn’t want to be out in the raw weather.
“Hey. Boris.” One of the toughs looked at one of their compatriots.
“Name is Yanko,” the other replied.
“Name is dogmeat, you give me any more lip. Go check the back door. The boss said to keep an eye out, we keep an eye out, and since you’re the new kid on the block, you get to do the rounds. Now amscray.”
Muttering under their breath, the youngest of the gangsters stormed off around the building, leaving three outside the front door. Those remaining stood in silence, stomping their feet and rubbing their hands for warmth.
“How’re they working out, anyway?”
“Yanko, ya galoot. Who else?”
“Eh, not too bad, if I’m honest. They work hard, do what they’re told. Good in a fight, too, from what I hear from the mooks down on the docks. Put three in hospital when the stevedores tried to strike last month.”
“Always good to have another pair of hands ‘round the shop.”
“Ain’t that a fact. Speaking of which, where’d they get off to? Boris?” The one in charge looked around. “Hey Boris!”
For a moment all they heard was the quiet howling of the wind.
Then they heard the laughter.
Harsh and grating, vicious and full of contempt, the laughter came out of the darkness and sanky icy fingers of dread deep into their souls.
“I’m afraid your friend won’t be joining you. Ever.” The voice from the gloom matched the laughter, dripping with cold malice and colder certainty.
“What’s that?! Who’s there?!” The criminals demanded, drawing pistols from waistbands and coat pockets.
“Can’t you hear the weepers wailing? Can’t you hear the specters shrieking? You face your grim reckoning at the hands of--the Grey Ghost!”
A shadow moved by the corner of the building, and the criminals fired into the dark, panicked.
They were entirely surprised when a shape in grey bowled into them from behind, a flurry of punches and kicks raining down like the fury of heaven. Two of the thugs went down, but the third managed to get a bead on the shape.
“Freeze, or your brains meet the pavement.”
The figure in grey stood stock still.
“Alright, wiseacre. That’s good. You stay there. You just stay there while my friends pick themselves up, and then we’ll see about really turning you into a ghost.”
“Oh, I’m not the ghost. I’m Kid Specter.”
“Then who’s this Grey Ghost character?”
A gauntleted fist smashed down into the back of the crook’s skull, knocking them cold. The gauntlet’s owner stepped into the light--all mask and fedora and shimmering grey suit.
“I am.” He surveyed the carnage. “Good work, Agent 47, but never expect someone else to save you. Now let’s send these off to my House of Horrors and see if they know anything more than the last group did about this ‘boss’ of theirs.”
“Did you actually ice that friend of theirs, Ghost?”
“What? No, of course not. They might know something, and besides--I think there might be hope for them yet…”