Lucia Giletti was having a cigarette and a martini on the back patio, attempting to calm her mind as she waited for word of her daughter. She watched Tony finish hacking the last appendage off of the corpse of Ladez Hammalka, tossing it into the flaming incinerator before heaving the torso up and into the inferno. Taking a drag, she glanced up at the sound of the wireless doorbell chiming out over the background. Tony turned, making for the door as he wiped his hands on his suit but Lucia waved him off.
“Make sure that Gypsy burns to ash,” she said, draining her martini and setting it on the patio table. “I’ll see who’s at the door.”
Making her way through the mansion, she passed Giletti’s door, hearing the muffled yelling that was her husband’s phone voice coming from inside. Rolling her eyes, she took a drag of her cigarette as she reached the front door. Peering through the peephole, she saw nothing. Unlatching the lock, she opened the door.
A box, messily gift-wrapped, sat on the step. There was no card. Alarm bells tolled in the back of Lucia’s mind as she reached down to pick it up. The lid to the box was loose and she lifted it off. A nest of newspaper filled the box, but it was too heavy for that to be all it contained. Shutting the door behind her, she set the box on a table beside the door. Digging into the paper, her hand touched something smooth and round. Pushing the paper aside, she pulled a rewritable DVD from the box. On its gray surface, someone had scribbled PLAY ME in black marker. A frown creased her face as she set the disc down on the table and reached back into the box. Pushing through the paper, her hand touched something soft and wet. She upended the box on the table and amid the cascade of papers, something fell out and hit the table with a thump. As the wads of paper fell away, Lucia screamed.
Giletti finished a phone call with his accountant when he heard his wife’s screaming from the front hallway. Bolting from his desk as well as he could, he threw open the door to his study and saw her standing at the front entrance against the wall, her face white, her mouth open as an unholy scream emanated from it. As Giletti approached, he could see something on the table across the hallway from her in a litter of wadded paper. He drew nearer, and his breath caught as he saw the hand sitting on the table, the back emblazoned with a tattoo over which he and his daughter Bianca had fought endless battles when she came home with it. He could even hear his furious words to his daughter.
“You’re lucky I don’t cut that off, young lady!”
Lucia finally stopped screaming but her eyes were huge and her mouth hung open as though screaming silently. Giletti could not stop walking closer, hoping against hope that what he saw was not what was there. The closer he got, the more impossible it was to deny. Bianca’s hand lay on the table, mottled with blood vessels and turning gray.
“TONY!” Giletti’s roar cut through the mansion.
Tony appeared just as Lucia’s eyes rolled back in her head and her knees crumpled. With gargantuan steps, Tony reached her just in time to catch her before her head hit the floor, gently lowering her the rest of the way. His impassive eyes swept from her unconscious form to Giletti’s apoplectic face, to the source of their ire. Expressionless, he stepped forward and scooped the hand and DVD into the box. He glanced at Giletti, whose rage and horror seemed to have rendered him speechless. Silent as ever, Tony took the box and its contents to his quarters, leaving Giletti to deal with his comatose wife.
An hour later, Lucia had been revived and sedated. Now she reclined in a window seat overlooking the rear grounds, a cigarette forgotten in a shaking hand as she stared with vacant eyes at the immaculate lawn and garden. Giletti was back in his study, pretending to occupy himself with business affairs while his mind continued returning unbidden to his daughter’s decaying hand sitting on his entryway table.
A tentative knock at the study door made him jump. Cursing his frayed nerves and the Gypsies responsible.
“Enter!” Giletti barked.
Rocco and Brando opened the door and entered, looking grim.
“Yes, what now?” Giletti said, his voice rather higher-pitched than usual.
“Where is Lucia?” Brando asked, his own voice shaking.
“At the back window. Whaddaya want?” Giletti’s lighter chased the tip of a cigar around before the flame connected.
“Good,” Rocco said. He stepped forward, setting a laptop on Giletti’s desk. “She don’t need ta see this. Really, none of us do, but you’re her father, an’—”
“For Christ’s sweet sake, Rocco, what do you want?” Giletti sucked mightily at his cigar and the tremor in his hands died a little.
“Dis is da DVD dat was in da box,” Rocco said, pressing a key on the laptop and turning it around to face Giletti.
Giletti’s eyes lowered to the screen. There was a jumble of motion and blurry figures before the camera auto-focused, bringing into sharp detail a figure laying on a table, naked. The camera panned up the naked body to Bianca’s face, slack and vacant. Her face filled the frame, her blackened eye captured in crystal clear HD before panning down her body to the stump where her hand had once lived. The ragged flesh was dangling under the wire still wrapped around her wrist, swollen and angry as darkening necrotic tissue crept up her arm.
The screen went blank and silent for a few beats, before suddenly cutting to a jumpy shot of a blood-stained floor. The camera jiggled before panning across the bloody floor to what appeared to be a human but with a face so red and mangled that it only resembled a human face. Laughter filled the soundtrack as a hand holding a box cutter reached down and started slashing at the neck of the figure. Gurgling screams emanated from the faceless man.
Giletti’s face was white, his cigar forgotten as the camera jerked away, focusing on a woman with her back to the camera, arms spread out as though being crucified. As she revolved on the spot, Giletti could see her face, but it wasn’t her face. It was Matteo’s severed face she wore like a mask, sticking her tongue through the flayed lips to waggle at the camera cheekily. Pulling the face mask off, Zara leered at the camera, blowing it a kiss before it panned down to the floor and went dark.
Rocco and Brando looked at Giletti with apprehension, their own brutal retributions at his orders paling in the wake of the savagery of the Gypsies. Don Giletti was frozen, his eyes fixed on the now black screen as the blood filled them. Jerking to his feet, Giletti roared “If dis is what dey want, then dis is what dey shall have. Take Tony an’ exterminate every one of them! Do not let any of ‘em die widout suffering!”
As the Giletti car rolled to a stop at the darkened carnival, the smell of gasoline was strong, the fumes leaching through the trunk and into the cab. Even with all the windows open, Brando and Rocco were still feeling decidedly light-headed. Tony, behind the wheel, was as impassive as ever. Killing the engine, they sat there for a moment, letting their ears adjust to the sound.
It was nearly dead silence. The darkness of the night was broken only by a weak glow from the center of the carnival, the silence only split by the occasional human voice coming from the direction of the glow. Rocco and Brando looked at each other, their unease increased exponentially, having watched the video.
“Right, Tony,” Rocco said, his voice striving to sound tough. “Start spreading gas around th’ outskirts. We’ll take de other cans inside and spread it around as much as we can. Hopefully if we light it up from de perimeter, de whole fucking place will go up.”
Popping the trunk, Tony unfolded his long form from behind the wheel and grabbed one of the gas cans. He looked around a moment before nodding at Rocco and vanishing into the darkness.
Each grabbing another can, Rocco and Brando advanced on the entrance, nerves strung to the nth degree to where when Rocco stepped on a twig, they both jumped.
Creeping into the tents, they began sloshing the gas over the fabric at the base of the tents, conserving the liquid to ensure maximum saturation as they worked their way inward toward the glow. As they grew closer, they could see everything was dark and shut down except for the Pleasure Tent. Keeping out of sight of its entrance, they continued their work, unaware that eyes within the tent were tracking their every move.
Zara’s throat was sore, but her eyes were bright as she watched them from the shadows, seething with barely controlled rage. She watched them draw closer and an evil grin spread across her face. With a hoarse whisper, she beckoned to one of the Gypsies and whispered instructions. With a chuckle, they both faded back further into the tent, to await the arrival of the Giletti brothers.