Smoke plumed overhead from night fires and overturned vehicles. Shops, businesses, and walls were covered in a mixed graffiti of spray paints, blood and other fluids that made for a surreal sight and possibly sellable 'art.'
It was early morning and Geoff was making his way to HQ, gawping at the sprawling mess that littered the City streets.
She had kindly relieved him of the outside noise, cocooning and protecting him in his apartment from harm. He had a date with destiny, and She would make the path towards this day as clear as possible.
As Geoff wandered, his eyes couldn’t keep up with the array of destruction that lay around him. He even had to step over the occasional body. He decided against investigating whether the prone figures were alive or dead. He passed the odd dishevelled person still reeling from last night’s adventures with either glazed paralysed expressions or fixed terrified looks.
Both were equally uncomfortable for Geoff to behold.
As Geoff continued his journey and neared HQ, he felt eyes on him, but he couldn’t fix or locate them. He was being followed only this time he knew it wasn’t She, She who was with him at all times it seemed, was not the only one who tracked his movements.
He wondered if it was Terry Duran. He’d not seen him since being dragged to the café and the interrogation that followed. Geoff had no doubts Terry would have his own plans, but didn't think he would be actively sneaking around following Geoff. Terry would surely have underlings for such missions and this watching presence felt far more sinister.
He tried to distract himself and his thoughts turned to the clips on the USB he had watched last night. She wanted him to see, to decide for himself She had said.
As he watched, his mouth opened wider in a planet sized sigh, the sheer desolation of the outside world astonished him. He was faint with horror and sickened at the pestilence the film captured.
The world was dying.
When he saw Britain, London, and the roaming rural areas, standing on the brink of decay, looking so unrecognisable in such quick a time, it shook him to the core.
The City by comparison looked like a masquerade of stolen goods, dirtied and ruined, dragged in from the outside world depriving people of essentials. It was being dubbed as the Great World Depression and nobody it seemed was immune.
Geoff picked up the pace and decided that he needed to get to HQ quickly. He could not be jumped or stopped today of all days.
He nervously found himself at the entrance of HQ instinctively peering up at the top floors which stared back dispassionately. Geoff felt an involuntary shudder course through him. He took a deep breath and stepped over the threshold.
Geoff was greeted by several armed guards barking the order “Halt!” in almost perfect unison.
This is it Geoff thought, caught and killed before I even started. Leave the fate of the world to me and this is what will happen.
Geoff’s train of resigned thought was broken by a familiar and even louder bark than those of the armed guards. “Leave this one the fuck alone eh!”
Geoff didn’t know if he was happy to see Terry Duran or not, but for now he felt slight relief that he was in the hands of someone without a gun, visor helmet and other threatening looking paraphernalia about his person.
“This little fat fuck is with me eh! He’s got work to do that can’t wait. Now you get on playing commandoes with those who matter alright lads?” Terry didn’t wait for a response and grabbed Geoff by the arm, tugging him along.
As Geoff scrambled behind Terry, Terry turned to Geoff and nodded at a crumpled shape on the floor. Geoff realised as they neared and rounded the felled man that it was the security guard Geoff had encountered when carrying Lahm from his office. “See, it’s not all bad eh Geoff,” muttered Terry as he tipped a sly wink. “Some people do meet a timely end.”
Geoff was horrified. He didn’t wish death on this man despite how obstructive he may have been around discovering Geoff with a dishevelled Lahm in need of urgent help. “I would never wish death on anyone Mr Duran.”
“Please, call me Terry eh? Well that’s a pity Geoff because that sick bastard happened to go on a rampage last night. The sicko attacked a few girls on several floors here. He left a right fucking mess of them not to mention the carpets. If you had wished death on him before, then perhaps a few girls here could have gone on to make sweet love with the man of their dreams and whatever the fuck it is they want to do these days. I don't know, hence I'm single eh. Instead, it’s a life of solitude, a freak show, or the cover of Grotesque Magazine for the top ten most harrowing wounds of all time. Some people do deserve to die Geoff, and I’m happy to wish that on some fuckers.”
Geoff tried not to picture mutilation, “What the fuck is going on, it seems everybody went on a rampage last night, the City is a near ruin. I can’t take all this death and madness Terry, I just can’t, I need to get out of this place,” jutted Geoff.
“Aye you and me both pal. That is what I want to talk to you about, come on, my office. Times have changed little man, and this stretches way beyond what you or I may want,” replied Terry.
They made their way up to Terry’s office in the lift. Geoff pictured the last time he was heading to the higher echelons of HQ to see Marie. That was a fantastic day. This felt pre-apocalyptic.
They sat in Terry’s office, Terry taking his once imposing seat.
Geoff sat opposite, there was a whiskey waiting for him on the fine leather panelled desk. Without a second thought Geoff grabbed it (with a trembling hand he noted to himself) and gulped it back. Terry looked on and smiled, “Good man Geoff think I’ll follow your lead eh son,” Terry said as he sank the contents of the glass before pouring them both another.
“Ok Geoff, here is the score. We’re really fucked and by us, I mean this whole fucking city and everyone in it. I’d love to say we’re at the mercy of four megalomaniacs, well, maniacs, but it is much fucking worse than that.”
Terry sat back in his chair, sank in it almost, took another sip from his drink, rubbed his eyes, and stared at Geoff for a moment. It made Geoff uncomfortable for the briefest of seconds though not through feeling intimidated, but rather seeing into Terry and sensing the strain the man was under and doing his best to contain.
“Geoff I’m going to talk, and you are going to listen. I mean properly listen, no interruptions. Then you are going to talk, no interruptions from me in return and we’ll see where we go from there, okay my friend?”
Geoff’s mind had already turned to She. She would be waiting and likely watching. He needed to get to her and do whatever it is he would have to do. But what could he do?
Making a bolt for it or refusing to talk would only make matters worse and heighten the smell of suspicion that obviously steamed from his every pore. He nodded, took a long drink of his whiskey, and sat back ready to listen.
“Good man Geoff. I’ll get to my points quickly and try not to digress. What is important in all this is the here and now and what the fuck we, and I mean you and I and anyone else who wants to get the fuck out of dodge are going to do.”
“You see Geoff the four heads are like the four horsemen of the apocalypse in a sense. All powerful with the world at its knees, all by design and of course they enjoy it. They are sick greedy bastards who are angry at this exact point in time, so fucking furious, Lucifer himself would think twice about going near them. This City was their vision, the economy and the complete takeover and abuse of a one world economy, the accomplishment. Notice the key word Geoff, accomplishment. It’s done, they’ve achieved exactly what they set out to achieve, that and more and now they are bored. They no longer need the City or anyone in it so for entertainment purposes they’re going to watch it tear itself apart. I believe they always had that in mind. Your Mr Stealth character, remember him eh? He recruited you, the ginger nuts with a scratchy horrible fucking voice?”
“Well Geoff he is one of the four heads, you joked about it once with Marie, but you were right. He took an interest in the recruitment process right from the outset. I was his first in fact, but I suspected early on he had two agenda’s. He allowed the Stealth Recruiter’s to recruit the highest performers but he always took a special interest in the profiles of the more colourful working people, another words the fucking nut jobs, the lunatics, the depressed or on the brink jobs, the depraved, whatever fucking term you can think of for a range of sick bastards and messed up victims, he loved them and there are plenty in this business. He sought out his own targets and made sure they were in. Oh and before you ask, which by considering the silent fish like flapping of your mouth, you are about to ask, he didn’t go for you because you were sick or depraved or any other such fuckery. He went for you because you had already been identified by the recruiters as a genuine prolific data entry guy but he also found out about the passing of your parents, added with your solitary profile, and felt you had potential to crack and go loco. If you didn’t, he just got off on your grief anyway. That, and he fucking loves funerals.”
Geoff was staggered and debated briefly in his mind whether Terry was making this all up, but he knew he wasn’t, it felt right and clicked into place to the point he could almost hear the click.
Terry continued to talk.
“So, what I’m trying to say is top performers were indeed recruited, you are one of them, but so were a lot of nutters and ticking time bombs. The time bombs were always set to explode in this environment and the four heads delivered the perfect breeding place for them. They won’t want to leave Geoff. No fucking way. The lunatics want to run free in this asylum now. They started to last night, it was as if they fed off each other’s energy and a chain reaction was triggered. How it all stopped I don’t know, the lights went out and the madness stopped, for now, but whoever pulled that Houdini trick on behalf of our more normal occupants will be over run in the end. I’m hoping you can shed some light on that.”
The old Terry was very much alive observed Geoff, the way he pronounced the ‘you’ and glared at him, “The four heads of course will be gone, and they are likely planning for a departure once they’ve seen enough. I don’t fucking know where they plan to go and what they’ll fucking do but for now, that is not a priority. See, things heightened for the four heads when they took your friend Lahm away, post your discovery of him in his wretched state. They had a dream and Lahm, another sick foul fucking puppy by the way, but I really don’t want to go into detail, trust me, was just the man to help realise that dream. They wanted to literally become Gods, immortal and beyond the human form. As ridiculous as that may sound, Lahm could perhaps make it possible. I don’t think there were many limitations to his works, or sadly for him, his perversions."
Terry took another swig of his whiskey before continuing.
"They pampered him and fixed him, and it looked as though he was setting about his work. But he ended his own life Geoff or at least I think he did. He at last did the right thing and being the only capable person of realising their dream, their vision died with him. The destruction has taken on increased momentum ever since.”
Geoff was paralysed in thought, trying to soak up all the detail. Terry's account mingled with the scenes he watched last night so generously provided by ‘She,’ were hard to bear.
Geoff leant forward, hands cradling his own head. He screwed his eyes closed and held his breath. A panic attack was coming, and he needed to steady his mind quickly. He pictured himself stood on an edge overlooking a clear crystal lake, rippling invitingly as insects buzzed about him. His hands twitched for a moment before he leapt into it, free of anyone and anything, just him and the water. The vision was broken by that familiar authoritative tone, “Don’t fucking lose it on me now sunshine, time to talk eh?”
Geoff gathered himself again and looked up, straight into Terry’s eyes.
“Sorry. I won’t bother to ask too many questions if you don’t mind Terry. I believe and understand all that you have said. I’ve been somewhat aware of things to come and hearing your account only cements what I’ve known. I…I’m changing before it’s too late. Fate or just the fucked up coincidental courses of lives in this City have brought me to this point and I must act as a result. Terry, I think I trust you; in that it goes beyond you and me. But where are the four heads now?” Geoff asked.
“They have many locations across the globe, secret places like the City, though much smaller of course. They set up teleportation in each. They are currently leaping around tearing them down, destroying them for, well fun I guess and petty rage,” replied Terry.
“How do you know those details?” Geoff enquired.
“I make it my fucking job to, but as you asked so nicely; I visited many of those locations myself and paid off several of the security plebs and other staff who keep me in the no. I may have been their right hand man but I never ever for one fucking second trusted them, who in their right mind would? I had my snouts keep an eye out and inform me of anything of note. In return I may have just spared a lot of fucking lives. I’ve got the word out that the four heads are on a killing spree. Hopefully, they’ll clear out in time; I sadly couldn’t save the victims in time from earlier assaults due to not knowing where the fuck the four heads had gone.”
Geoff nodded satisfied.
“Here’s how it has to be Terry if you do trust me. Lahm left me with something incredible that can put an end to all of this. This something is not a force I can exactly control, nobody can. Not you, the four heads, Superman, or whoever else you can dream up. It’s hard to explain but this something is compatible with me somehow, designed that way or designed to use me in some way. This morning I’m due to work with it. It won’t fail and if it does, well, I’ll die trying to do the right thing. Its power is, well, I no its phenomenal, like nothing I’ve ever known and trust me, I’ve watched a lot of far-fetched piss poor fantasy films in my time and this thing shits all over them. Let me do what I’ve come in to do and I promise you I will more than return the favour. I won’t cut you out. I just have to do what I came in to do then all will be clear. You are letting me go now is the answer to this appalling mess. I need to act now. Right now. So, will you let me?” said Geoff, already on his feet and ready to go.
He hoped Terry would . Geoff imagined Terry never let anyone do anything of magnitude without his say so and more importantly his prior knowledge of every detail. Geoff wondered if he could fight this man and win should he not get the answer he was inwardly begging for. He knew that’s what it would come down to if Terry was not obliging and he suspected Terry would likely make mincemeat of him in a rather lethal manner.
Terry sighed, nodded, and pointed at the door. “Go on fucking go, and you best not fail with whatever the fuck it is your up to.”
Geoff nodded, smiled briefly, and raced to the door as quickly as he could.
“Oh, and Geoff!!” shouted Terry. Geoff turned in response.
“If you do double cross me son, I will cut your fucking heart out before the end eh? Now on your fucking way, hero.”
Geoff did as Terry barked and raced down the corridor towards the lifts.
Terry drained his whiskey and poured himself another, wondering if he had done the right thing.