The refrain of a Mozart symphony began to soothe Vlad’s anger. He needed to calm his mind. Ivan’s stupidity would arouse more suspicion. There were two things Vlad despised; stupidity and disobedience. Anyone guilty of either crime had to be punished.

Opening a heavy wooden door, Vlad descended the stone stairs that led to his private dining room. The room an eclectic mix of antique furniture, ancient weapons and dark tapestries.

He was suitably attired for the occasion; charcoal Armani suit, black silk shirt, thin black leather belt and black patent leather shoes. His dark hair neatly combed to the left, revealing a small circular scar just below the temple.

Removing the silver cloche off a porcelain plate, he was pleased to see that Chef Renee had prepared an appropriate meal. Just perfect, he thought.

He sat down at his dining table and pressed a button on the wall next to him with a manicured hand. Heavy velvet drapes opened, revealing a thick glass wall. Beyond the glass was the room that housed Vlad’s most prized collection.

Ivan, lying spread-eagled on a specially designed stainless steel table, was bound with worn leather straps. He was confused to see what seemed to be a stage set appear next to him. As his brain slowly processed this surreal scene; his confusion turned to horror.
Raising a glass of 1997 Romanee-Conti, Vlad nodded a curt salute of farewell to Ivan. Chewing slowly on a piece tender rare fillet, he watched as Ivan’s muscular body was prepared for impalement.

J.J. Stevens