The teleportation room purred in readiness for its latest travellers.
Somewhere above the teleportation pads, the four heads sat peering down from their box seats like theatre enthusiasts ready for the big show.
Terry Duran stood at the entrance to the room, awaiting Steve Rocker and Nick The Lisp. The air was filled with an edgy anticipation, so much so that even Terry found it slightly uncomfortable.
Terry turned to see Steve Rocker and Nick stepping into the room, flanked by two of Terry's ECO warriors. Steve’s eyes were staring squarely at the floor while Nick’s darted around wild and uncomprehending.
Terry beckoned Steve and Nick to stand in front of the humming teleportation pads and in full view of the four heads, as he addressed them both, “You have both failed in your job. Steve the biggest failure lies with you. Nick, as a result of Steve’s unofficial and unapproved appointment of you as deputy, which you took on with nauseating keenness and ineptitude, you have also failed. Both of you wasted time on meaningless tasks and sought to gain stature without any input to back it up. Had you been allowed to continue, your detrimental effect to the department would have deepened and potentially caused irreversible damage. You are the face of the department and not one we wish to see any longer. You are both therefore terminated in your roles and released from your contracts as of this moment. Do you have anything to say before you return to the world?” Terry asked. He particularly liked his closing line, it was last rights stuff with the mention of returning to the world, creating an alternative reality that somehow made this situation all the more imposing to the soon to be departed.
Steve shook his head and said nothing. Destroyed, his tourist days done. He had nothing in the tank.
Nick on the other hand was aggressive in his fear and fittingly for such a snake like character, began to spit poison in every direction. “Thisss is not fair!” he hissed vehemently. “I was fine till Rocker got his claws into me. He made me behave like thisss. You all let him do thiss before you approached uss, there should have been a warning first, it’s not fair!! Pleasse, give me another chance? Pleasse?” he pleaded.
Terry smiled passively at Nick. In mock consideration, Terry gazed up to the four heads. The four heads, obscured mostly by shadow, shook their heads before giving a thumb’s down, one after the other.
Terry stifled a titter, but knew that in some jokes there are elements of truth, and he had no doubt that the four heads saw themselves as emperors of sorts, or much worse.
Nick’s eyes started to swell with tears, his face taut with anguish and petty rage. “I will ssell my story when I’m home just you ssee, just you fucking wait! You cannot get away with thisss, thithe…thisss treatment of me. I am, I am,” Terry interjected by wandering over to Nick, cupping Nicks jaw gently in one hand before raising his other, Nick flinched as Terry put his finger to his vanquished foe's, snarling lips, and shushed him. “You could try doing that my serpentine friend. Of course, you signed a contract with a specific clause about that sort of action, story-telling, media involvement, legal action and should you attempt to spill your guts to the press or even so much as whisper the idea again, you will wish you could swap that cursed lisp of yours for muteness. Look around you boy. You teleported in, to a city, of infinite power that isn't subject to any outside interference. Hmm? I don't see any outraged representatives here, I don't field calls from concerned outside government sources. It is all already decided. What goes on in here and what you say outside of here, is entirely in our power. So take it on the chin and just sshh now," cooed Terry.
Nick felt what fight he had drain out of him. He started to weep silently as Terry made his way to the master controls of the teleportation pads.
Terry wondered why Lahm wasn’t here.
He knew the heads had password access and had already punched this in before the soon to be disposed of guests had arrived, but he didn’t like the idea of pressing the button and powering such a machine without its creator present. Lahm always did it safely and precisely. Lahm could handle any unexpected malfunctions.
No matter, this was not his concern once Steve and Nick had gone, and he couldn’t deny he revelled in the bizarre dismissal process he was leading.
Terry motioned Steve and Nick onto the teleportation pads and then paused for added dramatic effect. “You are dismissed. Goodbye.”
Terry pressed the button and the teleportation pads buzzed into unusually loud life.
Terry watched as Steve and Nicks forms shimmered in front of him except this time they didn’t disappear instantly, they remained stationary, wavering in reluctance.
The buzzing pads exploded into a fierce thudding as the four heads stood up in unison in their box, THWAM THWAM THWAM it sounded, before Terry caught the last terrified expressions on Steve and Nick's faces, before they were gone from his sight forever.
While the teleportation was in full flight, the city lights briefly dimmed, the bars and clubs music leapt to a stop before kicking back in, virtually all power ceased then returned across the city in sweeping waves.
People glanced questioningly at each other before resuming to normality as quickly as the power had faded and returned. At home, Geoff’s games console blinked off then on again, which was a major inconvenience because Geoff had not saved any progress in his game as yet. Geoff cursed his ill fortune and decided to roll up a joint.
In his private quarters, Lahm leapt from his slumber and raced to the server which was all flashing lights and frantic data. Lahm caressed the smoothly shaped server like a lover and waited to see what the data would tell him. He felt he knew already in his increasingly heavy heart, but he had to know for sure.
Back in the teleportation room, Terry turned and looked to his chiefs above him in an almost accusatory manner. The four heads glared back, smiling smugly before shrugging their shoulders and leaving their royal box.
The show was over and Terry was left wondering what sort of show he had just been part of.
In a remote cove two young lovers gazed up at the stars on a warm clear summer’s night. There was no light pollution here and the night time show above, was a marvel to behold.
They cuddled into each other while the waves gently rolled against the shore.
Overhead they pointed excitedly at shooting stars, keeping count and agreeing when they reached the count of twenty, they would head back to their holiday retreat.
So far they had counted nineteen.
“Oh wow! David quick! Look at that one!” she yelped, pointing towards a stunning light that had burst through the veil of night.
David spun his head to see. There in the night sky, the light positively swelled in amidst the stars as it shimmered.
David thought it looked unusual and maybe wasn’t a star at all.
“Twenty!” Molly exclaimed. “But I want to stay here a little longer,” she purred before burying her head in her husband’s shoulder. “That star is a bit too low to be a star, don’t you think?” David mused as Molly re-positioned herself to look.
High above them the light changed before turning into a flickering crystal dust.
Engulfed in that dust, a rather congealed lump that was Steve and Nick.
They were hideously misshaped with their combined bodies twisting and forming, weaving and squeezing around itself as a snake around its prey. Their faces melded into the other as their newly combined lungs let out an agonising inhuman roar that echoed the night sky and wound its way down to a cove where the two young lovers gazed.
The thing above them began to hurtle towards the sea, falling thousands of feet while bellowing an excruciating roar.
The sound ceased as it's lungs burst. They were still capable of last thoughts as their fading independent minds screeched at each other, a furious tearing insufferable pain. They started to burn up as they continued their descent towards the rolling sea.
Below, the newly-weds watched on in horror. From their vantage point they could make out the white flakes of light and a vague suggestion of something in that light, but no more. The roar froze them momentarily in their own skins before instinctively grabbing for each other, as the perverse object cut through the night sky, burning and shrinking before eventually crashing into the ocean a mile out from where they were sat.
“What the fuck was that?” Molly gasped.
David sat in silence for a moment, recovering himself, “I don’t know but we can’t tell anyone, it would sound ridiculous. We’re still counting it as twenty, just for you, now let’s get the fuck away from here,” David replied. His proposed quick course of action didn’t quite hide his fear though and he was shaking with it.
“Wait. We can’t just, I mean, we just saw,” Molly thought it over. “Yeah ok, let’s go. That was scary baby, I don’t want to be here," she added as David hurriedly moved her out of the cove and back onto the trail home. As they raced back up the coastal path , the same route they earlier ambled down without a care in the world, David found himself thinking over and over about the unearthly scream and that in this case, ignorance is bliss.
With that the couple scarpered and while the cove lost its romance for this night at least, deep in the ocean, a misshaped charred corpse disintegrated and was no more.
Nobody wept for the deaths of Barney Rubble or Nick the Lisp that night.
Nobody knew. Except the four heads back at HQ who imagined what it must have looked like, what a sight to see, while in the basement of HQ the ever growing presence of the server confirmed Lahm’s worst fears.
They were murdering people with his invention, his ingenious and superior invention that should have been a gift to mankind. It had been cheapened and demoted to a play thing for four cruel insanely powerful men to toy with.
Lahm sank back against the server and wept a while.
Eventually he turned to the server and whispered, “It is time for you to live my sweet and change the world forever.”