You can find the first 4 parts of Auburn in the links below including the Alternate Universe versions. I would recommend you read those first if you haven’t, to catch up on the events leading up to Part 5.
I stared at the computer screen for a while longer, wondering what the password could be. Frustration poked at my chest in random emotive stabs that ranged from anger and bewilderment to relief and joy. However, the severity of the situation and all the events that had transpired since the auburn haired lady handed me this dreaded laptop, had frustration boiling to the surface. The urge to throw the glass of water on my desk against the far end of the room, bubbled up to the surface and only the sudden itch in my leg diverted my attention away from the glass. As I reached down to scratch the now swelling ankle, my eyes fell upon the laptop bag by my feet and immediately hope surged through me. I delved into the bag, my hands rummaging through the compartments in search of something, anything that could elude to a password but my hands found nothing. Despondent, I dropped the bag back on to the floor with a frustrated sigh. I turned back to the laptop and stared at the screen. Password. What could it be? I sighed, reached for the glass and took another sip of the cold liquid within, my mind already sifting through possible password combinations but I knew that the chances of getting it right were low if not improbable. I placed the glass back on the table, somewhat precariously which caused the glass to tip off the table. I instinctively caught the glass before it could topple over, though droplets of liquid splashed onto my pants and floor. I sighed out loud again, standing up to go find a cloth, only to notice a torn off piece of paper peeking from within the laptop bag. Hope once again thrummed through me and as I picked the piece of paper up, the writing on it confirmed my elated disposition.
I typed the password in and was greeted by the remarkably contrasting image of an individual looking up a beautiful green hill however, behind the picturesque hill, a dark grungy wasteland stretched off into the distance; the words “nothing is ever as it seems” emblazoned against the image. How true that was…on the surface I probably looked like any other person on this broken world we live in but below the facade, a desolate wasteland spoke of my approaching death. Death. To get my mind off the thoughts about death, I scanned the laptop desktop for anything that would pertain to the ankle bracket, the auburn haired lady, the poison in my system and the sinister individual that put me in this situation in the first place. A series of folders lined the one side of her desktop: Referral articles, Sources, Newstories etc. I began to wonder if she was a journalist of some sort…could this have been a lead she was following; suddenly things were starting to make sense. She probably gave me the laptop hoping I’d expose the secret to the world before she died and I was probably chosen randomly because I wouldn’t be associated to her and I could expose whoever it was she was trying to expose. Whoever this guy is…he means business. But why the whole “choice” thing, why the ultimatum – live the miserable life I’ve been living or be a good person for God. Why go through all that trouble when he could have simply killed me and moved on. With these thoughts reeling through my mind, I noticed that on the other side of the screen, well “hidden” in the background were two more folders: Feature-Sinister Suitcase and Journal Entry. I hovered over the folder that referred to her journal but my conscience wouldn’t allow me to pry into someone’s personal life like that – especially when she was dead. There could have been clues in there but I suspected that I’d get far more info from the “Feature” folder rather than a diary entry. True enough when I’d opened the folder, a series of files and large picture thumbnails began to populate the screen, one in particular catching my attention. It was simply a picture of a hand holding a black briefcase against grey chino-pants. From what I could see in the other thumbnails, this was as good a picture of the individual I would get. The others seemed blurry, out of focus and some too far away to make out the person’s features but it was clearly a man – “Mr Sinister” she had chosen to call him. I chuckled at the idea, though my smile faded as I nonchalantly clicked on a document that revealed more about Mr Sinister…and his ankle bracket of death. The first thing that I read, written in bold red font at the top of the document were the words “There is no cure”. The words hit like a sledgehammer. My stomach clenched, my chest seemed to hollow out into a deep black hole that shook the very core of my being. There is no cure. No hope. Nothing – but death. The anguish and despair I felt at that moment…it was indescribable. I read on nonetheless, my vision blurred but my hands wiped away the formed liquid. The words “fiend” and “monster” appeared quite a few times in the document as well as information pertaining to “Mr Sinster’s” apparent plot to sell devices similar to the ankle-bracket that would hold people hostage – and he could, from anywhere, get them to do what he wanted…or face a slow painful death. Anger and despair fought for precedence as I read through the article a second time – this man, whoever he was, had to be stopped. How many lives could be ruined by his selfishness!? How many lives had been ruined and for what? Financial gain? Power!? What!? But wait…I had sufficient evidence right here to at least get him incarcerated and maybe the suitcase would reveal the plan to be true and he would be held accountable for the auburn lady’s death. Surely that would be something!? And if I died? Another sentence for murder, surely! A sense of justice permeated my thoughts, fueled by my desire to exact some kind of revenge for what Mr Sinister had done to me…to us…and who knows how many others. I rose to my feet, thinking that a shower would help clear my thoughts.
I returned to the room feeling fresh but nauseous – I hoped it wasn’t the poison in my system. I dressed in the clothes I’d taken with me from home, the reality of that situation reminding me of the depth of my predicament. I quickly rummaged through the pants I’d been wearing before, my fingers feeling a thin smooth object within the pocket of the pants. I pulled the object out and almost cried out in a victorious exclamation of joy – it was the auburn lady’s sim card. Now I could get all her contacts, including someone who could use the information she’d compiled to expose Mr Sinister. Yes, things were finally taking a turn for the better – one heroic act of vengeance before I died, then I would escape into a heavenly domain while he rotted in jail before eventually rotting away in hell. Ha! Justice. I quickly shoved the sim card into my pocket, shutting the Laptop down while I thought about where I could get a cheap cellphone to put the sim card in. The shops were my best bet and so with a slight skip in my step, check to see that everything was fine, grabbed the keycard and headed out the room.
I arrived at the lobby somewhat apprehensively, wondering if someone would recognize me if I appeared. Thankfully no-one even took notice of me as I headed out the revolving doors and out into the warm day. I tried to think of where I could find a cellphone shop as I descended the stairs, walking to stand below the giant Y to gather my thoughts. I looked down the street, remembering that I’d come from that direction previously and I did not remember seeing any shops that sold cellphones, so I walked the other way, already plotting in my mind the conversation I would have with whoever it was that I would give the information too – she probably had her editor as a contact, that would be fantastic! I wondered if people on the street were wondering why I was smiling to so much, that was why they were eyeing me so curiously. It was only when a lady screamed “look out!” that I found out why. I was knocked forward from the back, sending me sprawling onto the concrete floor scraping my arms and knee. A heavy weight rested on my back and a familiar voice spat into my ear,
“Yaaaa its you, filthy creep! Yeah, now that I have you, its over! If it wasn’t for you, I’d be living it up elsewhere! Oh but now, I’m going to take it out on you!” Although the voice was familiar, I couldn’t put a face to it, until the man rose up and allowed me to turn around. The grey hair and bushy eyebrows were tinged with red, his left cheek and the left side of his lip was swollen while a red line ran around his neck. I’d barely taken in all these features before I cried out loud from a boot to my side. I tried to roll away from his second attack only to roll against a wall. I managed to block his next kick, my hand gripping his foot and pulling on his swinging foot. The action caused him to flail backwards before toppling back onto the floor. More screams arose from the surrounding people who were shying away from us, but my attention was not on them, or on the security guard – my attention was focused on the black plastic bracket that had been attached to his ankle. He was sobbing too, lying sprawled out on the floor on his back, mumbling something about money and family and work. I rose to my feet, moved towards him and offered him my hand. He looked up at me from the floor, eyed my hand but didn’t take it.
“Look” I said to him, “We are in the same boat now…and I am fighting every urge I have right now to fight you – but I know what you are going through. Instead of fighting one another…why don’t we join forces.” he squinted at me through his one decent eye, rolling onto his knees to pick himself up,
“No. We are as good as dead.
“But if we can work together top stop him we can…”
“There’s no way we can beat that guy, let alone find him.” he moaned. He rose to his feet, arching his back with a painful sigh and a sniffle, “That toxin is in us…there is no cure, sonny-boy, no cure.”
“Yeah I know…but I have information that could help catch that guy, enough to get him into jail at least. He’s got one person dead, that’s murder. With the two of us, that’s another strike against him if…”
“That man is well connected and he knows what he is doing. That’s why he moves around so much and all he needs is that briefcase of his…no. We can’t.”
“Are you not listening! I have evidence! We are evidence!”
“No you are not listening! That man is a ghost! I don’t even know how he found me after…” he looked me straight in the eye, the disgust and loathing visible in how he looked at me, “…after I lost the laptop to you.”
“Exactly! That laptop has the evidence we need, that’s why he wanted it back so badly! We can use it to our advantage! Come on! How many people will die because of him, and yet here we are with enough evidence to stop him!” I knew he was thinking about it, something I said must have changed his mind, given him some hope.
“Uhhh I don’t know…”
“Come on man…one heroic act before we fall.” The older man gave me an unsure look. I wondered if he would join me. Its was either this or a meaningless, painful death and I was choosing to make use of what little time I had in my life to do something meaningful, even if it meant bringing justice to a murderer through my death.
“I know some of his hang out spots…maybe we can pass that on with your info…and maybe…just maybe we could get this guy.”
“Yeah!” I exclaimed with more vigor than I’d anticipated. He suddenly shoved me against the wall hard, enough to knock air our of my lungs for a few seconds,
“But that doesn’t make us partners, ya hear!?”
“Yes sir” I managed to breathe out, but the smile on my face didn’t fade and after a while, a grin broke out on his face.
Links to previous parts.
Part 1 – https://ascribetodescribe.wordpress.com/2013/06/25/auburn/
Part 2 – https://ascribetodescribe.wordpress.com/2013/07/17/auburn-part-2/
Part 3 – https://ascribetodescribe.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/auburn-part-3-unhinging-light/
Part 4 – https://ascribetodescribe.wordpress.com/2013/08/24/auburn-part-4-the-dark-universe/