A burning hot ball of fire was grabbing hold of a boy’s face, his peripheral vision blocked by the orange yellow ray that shined down at him. He needed to see, and he needed to look in all directions before crossing the street.
He was alone, at least, in the moment.
Today had been a Saturday where he and his best friend chased each other to the corner candy store to get some lollipops and chips, and his mother had given them both five dollars; which in a kid’s mind, is fifty bucks.
But for some reason, the boy’s mother had given him a photo of her, his father, and the baby version of him, which was weird in the boy’s mind. He figured however, that she just wanted him to finally have it for good luck.
The boy needed it to win at beating his best friend to the store.
He was ecstatic, and excited to finally get his hands on those Mango candy sticks he had been thinking about since last weekend.
Seeing the light change to red, the child made his way across the street and ran into the candy store, nodding at the kind old man who always sat behind the register practicing crosswords.
Filing through the aisles, he found his best friend, who was kneeled down grabbing a pack of mini Oreo’s, before the kid playfully hit his shoulder from the side, making the other boy smile.
‘’So you finally made it, do you know what you’re getting?’’
‘’Yeah,’’ the boy said, and left the aisle to find his candy and chips. ‘’My favorite lollipop and some hot Cheetos.’’
‘’Isn’t that too much spicyness?’’ the other boy asked, standing up from his kneeled position and joining the other boy in the aisle.
‘’Is ‘spicyness’ even a word?’’ the boy mocked, and the other one giggled.
The front door chimed, and two older teenage boys walked in, nodding at the old man up front before they made their way through the aisles, one of them stopping at front to pick up a comic book which he showed to the other man before laughing, the other one not amused.
The boy watched, glancing at their code of wear as he grabbed the mango lollipop from the shelf.
One wore a Days Red High School t-shirt, which was the local high school in town that the boy and his best friend were planning to go to after they graduated middle school.
He had rustled light chestnut brown hair, and was wearing a black motor jacket, with some cuffed blue jeans and black boots.
It was usual high school boy streetwear, next to the other boy, who was wearing a white t-shirt under a light denim jacket with brown cuffed jeans and red sneakers.
The boy made his way and turned to another aisle to get his bag of chips, the other one following.
He stopped to compliment the Hot Wheels toy that was on the shelf of ‘’random things,’’ widening his eyes at the bright yellow color.
‘’This one is rare!’’ he said, and the boy rolled his eyes as he went down the aisle to grab his favorite chips.
‘’Have you seen the newest one?’’ the boy asked, turning around to look up at his best friend, who had suddenly vanished out of sight.
Frowning slightly, the boy made his way back up the aisle back to the Hot Wheels car and looked around. The store was only so big; it was about as big as his family’s living room and kitchen combined back home, but he struggled to locate him.
At once, a hand grabbed the boy’s waist and pulled him back, another hand clamping a hot damp fabric over his mouth and nose, inhaling a scent undeniably strong, struggling hard to squirm out of the position until his eyes closed and he slumped, the candy and chips, falling from his hands and onto the floor.
The running sound of a motor engine woke the boy back up, his eyes half-lidded still as he glanced around the surroundings he was in.
In the backseat of a black truck, the boy popped open his eyes more when he realized the tape over his mouth and the hands that were bind, glancing at the window outside, his heart dropping in fear when he saw the nighttime sky and the street lights of the expressway.
Whatever had been done, had been done, and he looked to his right to see his best friend, still sound asleep, leaning on his shoulder with the same restraints.
He wanted to fight, he had wanted so badly to fight, but he was only able enough to do so much.
Staring up at the dashboard, he noticed the heads of the men up front, recognizable from the ones he had remembered last seeing at the candy store.
So this was them? They were the ones who had decided to kidnap him?
The boy’s heart began to suddenly race, tears flooding the back of his eyes.
Was this finally his time to die?
He had so many things he was excited and looking forward to; like the start of summer vacation, watching the baseball game on TV with his parents, running and chasing his best friend back home, winning the race.
That’s when the boy felt himself freeze, as he frantically glanced down at both sides of his pockets, remembering the picture his mother gave him.
He needed it, and he needed it so desperately, more out of a time than ever.
Tears began to fall down his face, and for the first time in ever, he felt himself feel completely lost, a heavy sense of dread and unhappiness washing over his entire being.
One of the men upfront glanced at the boy from the rear view mirror, and dug in the front pocket of his jeans before taking out a picture in his hands.
‘’Looking for this?’’ he asked, and the boy’s eyes perplexed at the sight of his mother, father, and the younger version of him, all in one sitting, bent and slightly scratched but still pristine.
The boy nodded, feeling his heart grasp onto the one light of joy he had, before it was suddenly crushed into pieces.
‘’Don’t.’’ the man said, and ripped the picture in half into dust, the once glossy picture as tiny as the fragments of pencil shavings.
The boy’s heart froze, and he stared back at the man in horror, feeling his mind completely lose itself in agony.
At that point, he wished whatever the men were planning to do to him, that they got it over with. Now was the right time for them to do whatever thing they were going to do to him. He didn’t wish to live a life without his parents.
The man upfront rolled his eyes as he turned away from the boy’s expression, putting one foot up on the dashboard as he stared out the window and into the pitch darkness.
‘’She was dumb for doing that,’’ he said, and the man besides him nodded.
‘’She knows that was only going to make him weaker, he needs to forget them as soon as possible. At least the other one’s was smarter and gave him nothing.’’
After what seemed like a day, the boy had fallen asleep at one point and was awaken when he felt the vehicle come to a stop, and it appeared to be in a dark tunnel, similar to one in a city or in a parking lot.
The passenger door opened, and the boy was immediately dragged out, quickly planting his feet on the ground as he turned to see his best friend, being handled the same way.
Suddenly, a blindfold was placed over his eyes, and he found himself following in the steps as the man behind him aggressively guided him, seeming what felt like had been ten minutes, until a door was opened and the sound of a large audience was before him.
Freezing and feeling a cold sweat, he went down a set of stairs and dragged a few more steps, until he was thrown to the ground on his knees, the man pushing his head down low.
The audience had suddenly went still quiet, and by the sounds of moving and shoving right next to the boy, his best friend was plopped down the same way.
A public execution, he thought. But even as his heart ran with fear, he felt content, that if he were to die here, at least his best friend was right next to him.
But as if on que, the boy’s blindfold was ripped off, and slowly, he looked up at the steps above him, to a golden throne that was standing by itself, a man who sat in it, dressed in all black with platinum grey hair, staring back down at the boy’s fearful face with a sly grin.
The two men from the candy store joined the man up top, as well as another face that was standing right next to him that the boy had never seen before.
The boy glanced to his left to his best friend far left who stared fearfully at the man up high, and right next to him, where another boy was placed in the same position, staring down. But he was unrecognizable, his face being the first time the boy had ever seen it.
In a second, the man up high had came down, walking slowly in his steps carrying looked like a matte black cane with a stone black flower sitting on top, until his feet came close to the boy’s eyes, and he stared up at him in empty fear.
‘’Here, before you, I have the new installment into the empire.’’
His voice gravelly moved through the building, as what the boy couldn’t see behind him, a sea of cheers erupted until they were silenced again by the lift of the man’s hand.
‘’Please welcome, with all your upmost honor,’’
The man walked and placed the cane on top of the boy’s best friend’s head, his heart racing at the sight.
A cold freeze of hot sweat poured over him, and he watched as the man went to the middle and pointed the cane on top of the other boy’s head.
Stiffening, the boy looked down and copied the behavior he saw seemed appropriate, but he caught a glimpse of the Cheshire smirk that was breaking the man above’s face, as he gently placed the cane on top of the boy’s head. ‘’And Prince, Jungkook.’’
The crowd ceased to erupt in a cheer, as the man went back to the center and looked back down at the audience in front of him, glancing over each boy that was kneeling over on the ground, a flicker of light passing through his eyes.
‘’Please welcome, the Murder Line, and the official Princes of the Black Rose Mafia.’’
A sea of high cheers and high applause erupted through the room, and the man exhaled and closed his eyes, opening them up to the scene before him again.
''And may they cause the most horrendous destruction the world has ever seen.''