Steven was a graffiti artist.
He wasn't any means the best in the world, but he was an up-and-comer who was making a name for himself. The general world knew him by the name "Skribe", which adorned a great deal of blank canvasses the City of London provided.
He had scaled the heights of the cranes in the Docklands and daubed his tag in a ten foot high mural. He could see it from his bedroom window, as long as he used his Dad's binoculars.
He had personally seen to so many trains that it was impossible to ride for more than one stop without seeing his name.
And he was so far the only person to have broken into the local airport at night and create the first plane under the company name "Skribe Air".
Tonight was about something else. It was 3am and he was currently south of the river and heading into enemy territory. Parts of the city were considered to be off-limits, the stomping grounds of some of the most well-known artist. Unrespected tags were considered an insult and quickly defaced.
He had recently become aware that some of his tags were getting whitewashed and a new name painted in his place. The name didn't matter, only the offense. Weeks of questions and favours called in had finally given him the address of this wannabe-nemesis. He had no idea who he was and didn't even know what he looked like.
The target lived in one of the sprawling council estates that were growing across London, and reconnaissance of the area had provided Steven with the perfect wall that would be the first thing the offender would see when he left his building.
Setting to work, he started to outline his tag against the wall.
Working furiously, he soon became aware of someone stood behind him. He realised that he had been aware of them for a while, but he had felt no threat. He looked around.
It was a kid, not much younger than himself, scrutinizing his work. He wore the same clothes as most others; baggy jeans, hoodie, trainers.
"Are you Skribe?"
Steven smiled, turned to the boy and took a bow. Wordlessly he returned to his work.
"You are pretty good."
Steven turned again, and nodded and said:
"Thanks man. The nature of the art makes compliments tricky."
He returned to his work and eventually completed it. He had styled the letters in a cartoonish, Rob Zombie-esque style with a detached hand at the end flipping the bird.
He stepped back, inspecting for any forgotten details and finally assessing it ready.
"So you are finished?"
He turned to the kid and confirmed this with a thumbs-up.
The kid tilted his head to one side and suddenly looked quizzical.
"I do have one question. Why do you do it? I mean, making the effort to place your name in so many places?"
Steven considered this for a second.
"I guess you could say that everyone just wants to be remembered in some small way. Me? I just want people to know my name and what I can do."
The kid took this in. Steven started packing away his tins when the kid piped up again.
"You should be careful with your name. In the old days, they used to believe that if someone knew your name, they had power over you. Last thing you want to be doing is giving someone such an advantage."
Steven stood up hefting his backpack onto his shoulder. The kid continued:
"But you don't have to worry about anything like that anymore."
Steven stared at the kid confused, but the kid was no longer looking at him. His gaze focused on the wall behind him. Steven spun round and saw words starting to form, charring against the brickwork above where he had placed his tag. Within seconds he realised it was a contract, a contract of servitude. Symbols painful to the eye lashed around and refused to be identified. He realised that his name now filled the signature strip.
"Not all contracts are written on paper."
Steven looked back at the kid, but something was different. The eyes were blood red and some of the symbols that were present on the wall slid across his face. He backed away until he was pressed against the still wet paint. His mind boggled at what he was witnessing and he could not get a grasp on it.
"And someone should have read the fine print."
At this point, the entire wall bulged forward and split, pushing Steven to ground. As he turned over a multitude of arms reached out from the divided and grabbed his legs. He screamed as he was dragged into the void, his last sane image a laughing boy waving him goodbye.
Written by The Silicon Lemming