The beast was old, and looked it. His skin was tight and mottled across his scalp, his eyes sunken. He walked slowly now, his voice was a tired, quiet wheeze. But when those sunken eyes fixed on you, when that tired voice addressed you, his power was evident. You got the feeling that Death had decided this one was too much work.
There is no violence, no depredation, no evil those eyes haven’t seen. The Beast was far beyond judging actions against any standard but personal gain. He had lived long enough and successfully enough, the rules by which he lived clearly worked.
But it was time for a change. He was tired, he was sick of living the kind of life where every moment was a possibility for everything to come down around him. And he was tired of hurting others, surprisingly. Inasmuch as he had ever thought of himself as the kind of person who has a soul, he felt that his was getting tired.
So now, having come down a convoluted path, he was a philanthropist It’s not a hard thing to be when you have far more money than you could ever use, far more money rolling in every day than you could ever spend. He suspected that giving some of it away would help him feel like a better person. At the very least people would think better of him when he died.
Ha. Like he was going to die anytime soon. But it was just about time to disappear.
Presently Davis Brown, the Beast’s CFO, arrived and knocked on the door of the Beast’s current office. He didn’t call his employer “The Beast”, of course. At least, not to his face. He called him Mr. Danwill. And it was Mr Danwill that he had come to visit, deep below the Luxor, where the Beast was currently renting space. The office doors were huge, wooden affairs, tasteful and sedate and incredibly thick. Davis Brown stood quietly outside those doors until they swung inwards silently.
The Beast’s desk stood in a pool of light, probably in the center of the space, but who could say? There was no other light outside the bright oblong around the huge desk that seemed to be built of the same wood as the doors. Behind it stood a tall leather chair of an old style, worn but cared for. There was a slight rustling sound in the dark beyond the desk, and the Beast approached, wearing a tan suit and a white shirt that was unbuttoned at the throat. He sat in his chair and waited for Davis to be seated.
“Yes, well?” The Beast said, his fingertips pressed together in front of him. Davis knew better than to waste his employer’s time.
“Your hospital is ready to be built. I got the budget from the contractors, and it’s well below the amount you told me. We have clearance from the city and the county. The groundbreaking ceremony will be scheduled in a few days, but will probably not happen until June. I’ll inform your secretary. I have a copy of the press release if you want to look it over.” He slid the paper across the desk.
The Beast glanced over it cursorily and pushed it away. “Yeah yeah it’s fine, sure.” He said, getting impatient already. The Beast was cunning, clever, and capable of almost endless focus when he was interested in something. When he was bored, however, he got petulant and fidgety like a small child.
“There’s another minor matter, sir,” Davis said. “The police disarmed a bomb planted in a nearby casino. Nothing to do with us, except they were made aware of it through a note, and apparently in the note the informant said it was planted by the “beast under the Luxor”. The police are treating this with the disdain it deserves, but…”
“Who was the informant?” Suddenly the Beast was all focus, intent and hard-eyed.
“I…I don’t know, some girl, I think? I can…”
There was a hollow crash behind Davis and the huge doors to the Beast’s office were thrown back. Between them stood a massive man, fully seven feet tall. His huge, curly black beard was covered in dirt and he wore what looked like a prison uniform, but torn and covered in dirt.
“Her name is Liz. Black girl, crazy colored hair. Thinks she’s an angel.” The intruder growled.
“Yeah, they always do,” the Beast said quietly. His face betrayed no surprise or shock at this monster’s entrance.
“Excuse me, who are you? How did you get in here?” the huge man ignored Davis and walked up to the desk and leaned on it.
“We’ve got problems, Youngster.” He said to the Beast. Then he turned his eyes to Davis.
“What is this?”
The Beast looked at him as well. “Ah, Davis, very good on the hospital, let me know, but you need to go. Now.”
“Yes, Mr. Danwill.” Davis stood and packed up his briefcase as fast as he could. The huge man sat in the other chair facing the Beast’s desk. His eyes were dark and he muttered to himself under his breath. Davis turned to leave and heard the Beast ask, in what he probably thought was a quiet voice, “Do you think she’s the real thing?”
“Who can tell these days?” the intruder asked. “But even if she’s not, she’s got some power…”
Davis closed the door and stood outside it for a moment, collecting his thoughts. And he could have sworn he heard a sound like rasping scales coming through the door.