HUDSON RIVER - DAWN
A blizzard, at the peak of its power. Visibility zero, Manhattan reduced to the hulking shapes of buildings on the banks.
Nikolai Petryovitch thrashes in the water, a long way from shore.
Somehow, somewhere, like a distant sound of a train approaching; he hears a familiar voice say,
''There's an army of bodies under this river. Criminals, people who ran out of time, out of friends ".
A rumble starts to build, low but growing louder and eventually becoming a howling wind. Chunks of ice float in the dirty water around him. Nikolai's body freezing, skin turning blue. Heavy winter clothes saturating, like an anchor dragging him down. The rain was coming down like all the angels in heaven decided to take a piss at the same time. When you're in a situation like mine, you can only think in metaphors.
''When you pray for the rain, you gotta deal with the mud. Everything is fair in this world, Nico, it's our choices that make 'em unfair ".
Unable to control the kaleidoscopic whirl of thoughts swirling in his brain, Nikolai's face sinks below the surface...
A woman sleeps on the bead, curled up around a bundled baby. In front of her stands a black shape. A sturdy, well built man with his hand raised, clutching a Beretta. A smirk dances on his lips that soon turns into an ear to ear smile as the gun coughs twice.
Is this the final, peaceful memory of a drowning man?
''Mistakes are easy to make''.
The figures disappear, like landscapes on a moving train.
Nikolai breaks the surface, gasping and struggling against the undertow. Not simply trying to breath...but trying to swim. His bones are numb with pain from the cold, icy water constantly piercing him; but he struggles.
Upon finally reaching the shore, he musters all his strength to crawl further away from the dreadfully cold river and then slumps down, unconscious.
EXT. STREET (MHTN) - NIGHT
Abruptly, the snow is gone. Just a bitter wind left in its place, whipping through desolate streets long after midnight. Drenched in that searing pain that felt like constant hammering in his head, Nikolai trudged on, leaving a trail of blood in his path. With one hand supporting the walls along which he walked and one hand covering the wounds in his chest from which the blood gushed out profusely, he looked for a place to spend the night.
It was getting unbearably cold and the constant hissing and sighing of the wind was further deranging him. He was losing lots of blood, and desperately needed some sleep. He stopped for a moment in a dark alley; trying to regain his consciousness and energy, that was draining by the second. Nikolai sighed explosively and slumped down against the wall, completely losing his will to move on.
Slowly, painstakingly, he reached for the Beretta in his waistcoat when suddenly he was jolted back to reality. As if the rusted cogs in his brain started moving, he was gripped with a thought.
Nikolai had been here before.
Echoes from a not too distant past came to him, like a bad replay. His pupils become dilated and wiping the beads of sweat accumulated on his forehead, he rose from the ground. As if oblivious to the searing pain in his body, he straightened himself and walked swiftly through the dark alley and into another neighborhood. He stepped into the street with a foot in two worlds : the buildings are old and crumbling, but the shops inside are sleek and expensive. A jarring combination.
Nikolai walks up the street, brushing past homeless people and fashionistas jostling for the same space on the sidewalk. He stops in front of an old apartment building and frowns at it, trying to recall the apartment, and then climbs the stairs. The hallway is ancient brick, but the doors are pristine steel. Pausing at one with a dozen locks, Nikolai knocks.
The door cracks. An eye appears. Squinting, evaluating.
"You can't come here anymore", says a squeaky voice, probably drunk.
"Eric Dalton is dead", mutters Nikolai in a hoarse voice.
The door cracks enough to reveal the speaker : Travis, a skinny-fat in a sharp suit and sunglasses, shirt open a little far.
"You can't come here, i said. I'm done helping you. I've already...
(lowering his voice)
paid my debt to society, ya know?
I've cooperated enough".
"We need to talk. Won't take long".
Nikolai follows Travis inside. Once they're inside, he slams the door behind him and with surprising alacrity, divulges a Beretta from his waistband and levels it at Travis. Pale faced and completely caught off- guard, Travis slowly stands up with his hands in the air and takes off his sunglasses, revealing a bruised left eye covered with a scar that ran from his brow to his nose and an eye patch covering the right eye.
"Remember me?" Shouts Travis, a smirk spreading on his face and letting the sunglasses fall to the ground.
He cocks the gun.
In that moment, Nikolai examines the room they are in.
Deafening silence reigned in the room. A ring of candles in the center of the room provided the only light. A hint of warmth and a sickly sweet smell, like burning incense, drifted from it.
Its not enough to really see the PEOPLE inside.
He hears them CHANTING, low voices MURMURING in unison..
Quick glimpses in the candle light, bare flesh writhing.
Cast on the walls, corresponding shadows twist and shift..
A black feather billows across the floor between the candles.
Spreading up the wall, a new shadow rises above the rest..
'Why had he not seen them first?' Nikolai rummages in his mind, squinting in the darkness.
Travis smiles, noticing the water droplets trickling down the muzzle.
He looks at Nikolai, his gaze penetrating the feeble, bloodshot eyes of the opponent; approaches him and lowering his gun, whispers in his ears,
"No need for a drama, Paul. Come back to us. You were our finest. 'Nikolai' was only created as a collateral for our deal with Vlad. Come now, join us."
'Paul? What the heck is going on!' He racked his brains to search for answers but none came.
The sickly sweet smell of burning incense, along with the diabolical whispering made him dizzy. Paul staggered and was about to fall when the big, strong hand of Travis gripped his throat and rammed him against the wall.
It all came back to him.
Paul was strong, and he resisted the grip by shoving his knee in Travis' groin that made him fall on one knee and then broke his neck with a snap.
"ENOUGH!" A soft but loud voice emanated from somewhere in the darkness.
Breathing heavily, Paul strains to see detail in the dark room, a face materializes in the haze : a finely chiseled face with silky hair covering the brow, pink cheeks laced with tattoos, green eyes twinkling flames sunk in deep shadow. NATASHA FILLIPOVNA.
The words came to him blindly, like an animal instinct.
"MURDERER!" Shouted Paul, as he took a few steps towards her in the darkness.
"Patience, Paul. You're interfering our communion.''
''Damn your communion! Tell me WHY!'' His eyes were bloodshot with hatred.
The silence was not broken by the other people sitting there. Such blind devotion!
She stood up and walked nimbly towards him. Under the light she looked completely different. She looked pure. She looked beautiful.
But menacing nonetheless.
She was clad in a big maroon robe that completely covered her except for her big, firm breasts that bounced as she walked.
His legs felt weak and his heart beat accelerated like a wild beast in a cage.
When she was within arms length of him, she smiled, undid her robe and let it fall to the floor; and with a swift motion of her hand, pressed a 9mm Desert Eagle deep into his stomach and said in a soft, musical but sly voice,
"Collateral damage, Paul. Our line of work is filthy. You knew that, right?"
The gun coughed four times, piercing the deafening silence.
His face was a mixture of emotions : joy, fear, ambiguity, sadness...
His head slumped on her bare shoulders, arms lying limply on her sides.
She shrugged in disgust, letting the body fall down ; and ordered the people to throw him out of the window.
She put her robes back on.
The sickly, sweet smell of death still hangs in the air, and sitting down cross-legged in front of the candles again, resumes her chanting.
The windows are opened, and the body is flung out into the blinding snow. The windows are closed again.
Nikolai Petryovitch thrashes in the water, a long way from the shore.
"I don't believe in heaven, but i have this idea about it. Something i heard in a song."