Andy waited for Marie, crouched down behind the now rapidly rusting and dishevelled statue of a businessman. The statue was designed to catch an earnest worker in mid flow, phone grasped tightly as he negotiated some mega money deal.
The statue now wore a traffic cone and a bra while its rusting lips had been painted over with a crude red grin resembling that of a clown’s.
Andy had called Marie and told her to meet him here. She had predictably moaned and whined about it, initially citing the destruction of the night before as a reason to not venture out. Too dangerous she blabbed on, I could get hurt, what do you want anyway and what are you doing at HQ, come home.
He wished she was with him at that point just so he could belt her in the mouth, watch her lip swell and those timid little tears patter off her cheeks before yelling at her to do what he fucking well told her.
It took all his restraint to stop himself from screaming down the phone at her, ‘just get here or I’ll rip your bland little throat out!’ He sweated as she questioned him, but he managed to hold back on his urges before he set about his charm offensive.
“Listen baby, please, just for once trust me ok? I, I know it’s been crazy here in this place and it’s getting worse. I was scared too last night but I came out to see what was going on after I got a call from some staff in my building, they were trapped after being attacked. It was carnage Marie. God’s will or something must have ended the madness as quickly as it came but thank goodness it did stop. Baby, Marie, I can’t stand by anymore and do nothing. I’ve been working with the Eco Warriors here, or at least what is left of them and, well even your man Terry Duran, and we have a plan to try and get things right. If we can’t do it, well then, we’re going to find a way to leave this place safely, take Jeanie and start over somewhere else ok? It’s too dangerous my dear so we must do something, I, I must do something. For once, I’ll do the right thing. So, will you come, please? You, well you know Terry and some of the people that matter better than I and I want you and me to be together for this. It, it just seems right, like it’ll finally bridge the gap for you and me and Jeanie. It’ll save us and so many people. Does that make sense Marie?”
Andy listened none too attentively as Marie gushed down the phone with a mixture of both joy and fear. Fear at the impending doom here in the City but joy at the lie that her husband was going to be one of the heroes helping, that he had a plan and was a man in demand for good. He smiled to himself as he listened to her gentle little girl’s voice that she so often reserved for him, full of awe and wonderment, stupid bitch, always so gullible. But she is my stupid bitch and always will be.
“Get on over here honey. We don’t have much time. Things are going to happen again today they say, and we need to be ready. No…no, leave Jeanie at home. It’s safer we come back for her. Don’t tell her anything when you leave and shut the house down from the outside ok so she can’t leave, and nobody can get in. It’s a case of cruel to be kind here Marie. It’s too dangerous for a kid out here and she certainly can’t come with you. Not till we have a better idea of what is going on. I need you to get me in then we’ll get back to Jeanie. Terry and I and the rest of the rescue group will do the rest from there. Ok, I love you too. I really do. Get here as quickly and safely as possible. See you in ten minutes my love.”
After hanging up the phone Marie raced upstairs to find Jeanie and tell her to sit tight. Marie intended to tell Jeanie that she was not to leave the house under any circumstances, to not even try.
Marie resolved to lock the house down when she’d exited, as Andy had instructed and to ensure Jeannie was safe inside. Jeanie hadn’t been herself recently and had even displayed a level of defiance. Marie supposed it may be her teen years kicking in, but she had been thinking it was more than just that, it was this damned place. The way Jeanie barely spoke to her father hadn’t gone unnoticed and Marie briefly wondered if Jeanie had been scarred by her parent’s barely concealed marital problems over the years.
Marie entered her bedroom and found an empty bed. She looked around the room frantically but there was no Jeanie. Marie raced across the landing shouting Jeanie’s name, but she was not in the house and Marie knew it. Panic started to fill her, and she quickly dialled Andy to tell him of Jeanie’s disappearance. He soothed and calmed her, told her that Jeanie was smart and had probably gone to her friends already. “Just get here baby, get me in and then go back for Jeanie. I saw her friend’s father this morning and he was talking about picking the children up from our circle region and taking care of them while we do what we must. He probably assumed we weren’t home, and Jeanie has left with them already. We’ll find out baby, but we must do this first, please before it’s too late, we only have one chance here,” Andy pleaded.
Marie as always caved in and accepted his words as fact.
That call was about five minutes ago as Andy hopped anxiously from one foot to the other. He was slick with sweat and looked appalling. Andy’s self-perception told him something else altogether. He swivelled around behind the statue as he heard a rasping whisper from behind, calling for his attention. He saw about twenty equally insane looking individuals crouched down and shuffling across the Square towards him. He briefly recoiled before realising the crouching figure at the front of the others was warmly smiling at him mouthing the words ‘it’s me, from last night.’
Andy recalled this man’s face as images of last night’s activities flashed through his dismantled mind. Indeed, he did recall this character now. He and his group had joined Andy on his tyranny of the streets last night. They become brothers of violence, dishing out punishment and judgement on anyone and anything that crossed their paths.
They had agreed to help him overrun HQ and find the four heads that they would likely kill once they had all they needed from them. Andy had forgotten detail of those conversations until now, but they hadn’t it seemed. It made sense the more he thought about it. They were always off their faces that bunch, even before they got into the City, they had been roaring successes in the outside world despite being permanently inebriated. They had keenly disturbed but active minds and while Andy thought it drug, drink and adrenalin fuelled talk last night, they did not.
“It’s me Adam, Adam Flood. We are here Andy. You have a way into this place yet? We’re pumped for this man. We want to do it and there are more coming Andy. We got it planned. Trust me by the time you get in there and give us the signal you’ll have a small army behind you.”
Andy shook his head in amazement. He was a leader now and this only underlined it. He wanted Marie to see his followers, but he needed her to get him in first.
He wanted to get to Geoff before his new mini army inadvertently damaged the man he wanted to kill.
“Good man,” Andy said authoritatively. “I’m glad I can count on you Adam, I knew I could,” he added despite the fact he barely recognised the man or any of those crouched behind him. “There will be a woman coming to meet me here in a few minutes. She will get me in and past security. Once in and I do what I must do, I will signal to you from one of the front windows, watch for me ok?”
The man nodded and turned to instruct his fellow warriors away and out of sight. They crept off into the shadows like a deranged and badly organised SWAT team. “I’ll be back there with the crew and we’ll have a full view of the building. When you give the signal, we’ll fucking storm the place.”
Andy smiled, excited by the man’s determination to get involved in his cause. Andy nodded and they instinctively punched knuckles together in a tag team manoeuvre. The man exited to the back of the stage.
There was total silence. Andy let the morning chill stir through him and felt his heart thump rhythmically in his ears. Andy wished this precise moment could be captured and relived forever. He felt perfect.
The silence was broken by the hint of a scream from somewhere deep inside HQ. He didn’t have time to muse over the distant sounding noise as his ears picked up on light footfalls behind him. It was Marie, unconsciously doing the same as his newfound platoon. She was crouching as she gently treaded her way towards him. He smiled and offered her a shush mime. She nodded in response and made her way to his side behind the statue.
“Andy, my God, you look terrible. What happened to you?” she whispered hoarsely.
“Last night happened babe but no time to explain it all now ok. I look great, but look, in there in HQ, armed security in the foyer. I can’t get past them. They are on a tight leash and under instructions to let no-one pass. My bet is Terry Duran is giving the orders, he said he would secure HQ. I tried to get in earlier, but they nearly damned shot me and refused to get Terry. If you come in with me, they’ll let you in. They all know you in HQ Marie and I guess Terry will be happy to see you with me. He doesn’t quite trust me yet which I understand after the way I’ve behaved, but this is life or death and I want to help….and…. I want to save my family.” Andy had tears rolling down his filth stained face. It was Oscar winning stuff and Marie swallowed it without question. She hugged him close, pulled away, stared at him for a second before mouthing ‘I love you.’
With that Andy led Marie to the foyer of HQ and Marie ensured access past the security guards. Two of the armed guards knew Marie it transpired. They didn’t much like the look of her husband but, well, last night was messy and his appearance suggested he’d had a rough time. The guards let them both through.
As they got around the corner they headed to the lifts and Marie naturally assumed they would be heading up to see Terry and whoever else had formed part of the heroic rescue committee. She inwardly purred with pride at what Andy had said to her. Just when she needed him most, he had finally come through for her. Marie squeezed his hand as they wandered past the lifts and towards the basement stairs. It took a few seconds for the detour to register.
“Where are we going Andy?” she whispered.
“Oh, to see Geoff first, then it’s Terry and the four heads and then the city.”
Marie looked on confused and noted the increasingly manic look on Andy’s face.
“No, no why are we seeing Geoff? What can he do?”
“Nothing he can do darling, nothing at all. That is why we’re going to see him. Well, at least you are going to see him while I fucking murder the podgy little CYUNT!” Andy’s face was all furious circles as his mouth and eyes flamed like too many sun’s.
Marie recoiled and tried to shake free of his grip. He flung her against the wall and before she could move, he threw a snappy straight as she felt her lips split then instantly swell. Her eyes watered and she felt herself gag. He lifted her up by the armpits with his face inches from hers.
“It’s my time now Marie” he spat. “I’m the new fucking King in waiting, this City will be paradise and you can witness it, you can be mine and live my dream, here.” Andy’s voice then slowed and lightened, as if he were talking to a small child. “Just don’t question me sweetheart. Mmm? Good girl, you just witness my rising, my destiny, and you’ll enjoy the fruits. You don’t have to of course. I can kill you straight after I’ve killed Geoff if you would prefer baby, anything for you. So, what’s it to be sugar? Are you with me or are you against me?”
Marie felt every muscle weaken in her body, as if all the blood had been sucked out of her. She unconsciously nodded as her will, courage and strength deserted her.
Andy guided Marie down the stairs frantically whispering in her ear about what he was going to do to Geoff. They reached the bottom of the stairs and Andy slowed as they approached Geoff’s open office door. Andy gently pushed Marie in front of the open door and leered behind her. He saw Geoff on his knees wearing a pained smile with a veritable mess strewn around him of wires and cables.
Geoff turned to face them and looked horrified when he saw Marie’s bust mouth. Andy felt his ever-present anger find new waves to surf. The impudence of this man, to look straight at her, at my wife in my presence, the leader in waiting!
Andy growled and flung Marie to one side before removing a substantially sized blade from his inside pocket, lodged it in his teeth, and leapt at his unwitting foe.