I look towards the familiar intruder to this private meeting, feeling a budding anger at the man who had so easily turned against me.
“I’ll be there soon” Sinister says without turning his head. He raises his hands in question at me. His offer played over in my mind once again, that and the option of receiving the cure for the sake of survival. Also, the very idea of using evil to create change as a necessary evil…well that was so sinister I couldn’t imagine a better way to display the injustice others suffered, by letting them suffer the same injustice themselves. At the same time, now that Sinister was being called outside, escape swam to the surface of my mind before sinking into my skull like a cement brick in water. Mr Sinister stared down at me from behind his mask as though he could see my dilemma and as a challenge to this I attempted to project my thought at him louder, ‘Escape to death or life at your hands, I will come out on top’ but it was stupid to think he could read minds. Nonetheless I felt better knowing that he was not invincible, at least not in this sense.
“If you will excuse me,” he says finally, to me “apparently I have some business to attend to. I shall not be long.”
He twirled away from me and briskly exited the room. I sighed as I leaned back in my chair, hearing the two speak in hushed tones outside the door. In my leaning back on the chair, my eyes rose to look at the ceiling only for the sight to propel me to my feet. In my haste I did not consider the noise my chair would make scraping across the floor, and for a moment I forgot about everything, as my legs buckled under me with each electrifying jolt of pain trickling from my ankles up. The poison had seeped further than I’d thought. I stared at the door in anticipation of the guard and Sinister to come hurtling through at any moment to prevent my escape but so far nothing was happening. I began to count, resolving to stop once I reached ten to move into action, escaping out the loose ceiling panel. At ten I slowly stood up, aches throbbing along my leg as I stood fully. Clutching the chair I slowly hoisted it up on to the table, moving as quickly as the pain in my arms and legs would let me, wondering how long I had before Sinister arrived but more than that, how long before my blood vessels exploded. What then? I’d die in the dusty ventilation system of some absconded hospital, just another body on another day – Meaningless? What about revenge and giving Sinister what he deserves. What about others who will also suffer this injustice? I can’t escape, not now. I need time and Sinister can give me time if I’m worth his while. I’ll be worth his while indeed. With the last fading energy I set the chair back down and fell into it with a sigh.
Sinister and the guard returned just as I gulped the last of my coffee. The guard was first to enter, hurriedly pushing in with eyes wide with worry, only to turn towards me surprised as though he was not expecting me there. Sinister walked in with his briefcase in tow, sitting back down in his chair and pulling a cloth from within his jacket pocket to wipe the table.
“Desperation… is the raw material of drastic change.” Sinister said as he finished wiping the table. He left the dusty cloth in the middle while he leaned back in his chair once again, rocking on the last two legs at the back,
“Only those who can leave behind everything they have ever believed in can hope to… escape.” I felt a smile stretch across my face in understanding; the legs of the chair had left dust prints on the table, making him aware that I’d tried to escape.
“Well in all honesty, I figured that the only way out is in. I can’t survive without you and therefore want to be of use to you. As you said, only if I can leave everything behind can I hope to escape, so… How can I be of assistance to you?” Sinister settled his chair back down to the floor with what I hoped was both worry and surprise, barely visible in what I could see of his eyes. He folded his arms across the table and watched me for a while. I hardened my face to show I was serious.
“Ok then.” he said after a while, reaching for his briefcase at his feet and gently laying it on the table. He pulled a key hanging on the edge of a chain around his neck, unlocked the leather case and placed two vials on the table, one filled with green liquid, the other clear.
“As I am sure you can understand I am a busy man and I need to have a meeting to insure a…contingency is put in the right place.” He waved his hand towards the briefcase and the vials “Therefore the time has now come for you to really decide if will you be joining me in my endeavor to better the city. I know you agreed but your face tells me otherwise. This really is a do or die situation.”
“You just don’t let up, all that pressure.” I said to him taking a deep breath, really considering all the things I would get should I join him and yet at the same time struggling against yet another seriously bad decision. Wasn’t all of this in an effort to attain justice by my own hands, now I was being roped in to the very organisation I’d been planning to destroy. I had to avenge the auburn haired lady and all those who, like me, had suffered this injustice. But to prolong my life in order to do all of that, I needed him.
“What would I need to do…?”
“First…we would need to establish how far you would be willing to go, morally of course; in short, where does your moral compass point. And then we give you the antidote.” Sinister said. I looked at the vials and wondered which one was the antidote.
“Well thanks to the situations you’ve put me in,” I sighed heavily “I have no idea what my moral compass looks like or where its pointing.”
“That’s a good place to be in, considering my position in this matter compared to yours, and of course the poison in your system… and how much you need me if you truly wish to live.” He shifted back in his chair and folded his hands across his chest. “Therefore to ensure all future operations run smoothly, let me be your moral compass until you are broken enough to live by mine. Do not question the order or authority, you merely obey. At the end of the day your life is in my hands, and its up to you on how well you want me to take care of it. ” I let it all sink in. He let me mull over the implications of what he’d told me while pulling out the accursed bracket from his briefcase
“To think…” He rotated the bracket in his hand “That a small dosage of this stuff is enough to help me rectify the wrongs of society one person at a time.” I looked at the bracket and could not hide the dread and loathing of the thing.
“Well I’ll help forward your plan, who knows how I could be of assistance to you.” I said the words but held no conviction towards them; I wondered if he could read that in my speech
“Oh I’m sure you will…not much of a choice considering those veins are bubbling.”
“So how does it work?” Sinister looked up at me and I could, in a sense, feel the smile behind his mask
“A simple mechanism really. Adjustable clamp for the more…meatier individuals, pin injection system ensuring poison is infused into the blood stream with utmost efficiency.” He rotated the device to show each feature to me, “Last but not least, is the defense mechanism which activates the pins should any sort of force be imposed on the device, which is also linked to a specific signal I can activate from my cellphone when I please. The number below the device is a safety measure, however it only works once the poison has been injected or from the reverse signal I control, to ensure only I have a say as to who lives or dies. There is no escape apart from my say once this device is shut.”
I was upset. Well maybe livid is the correct feeling coursing through me but I had to contain the anger in case Sinister saw it and decided death was his best bet. I nodded at him
“Intricate. You must have really done your research.”
“I am resourceful.” He tipped his head at me “What’s your answer?”
“I’ll join” There was a slight pause from him, hesitation. His eyes scanned my own.
“So what would I need for my first…assignment?” Sinister seemed to think for a while, assessing me behind his mask. His shoulders slumped in resolve, snapping his fingers for the guard to come forward; the man was limping somewhat. Sinister turned to him,
“Your final assignment, is to fetch one of the phones from the storage room. In fact, while you are there, get one of those antidotes for yourself. You have done well.” The guard shuffled out the door with a triumphant smirk towards me, leaving Sinister and I alone.
I wanted to put a stop to Sinister and his plans but could not think of how. My druggie friend had betrayed me – then again I wasn’t much of a friend to him was I – and all the evidence was back in Sinister’s hands which meant I had nothing solid to present. Maybe I could attack Sinister…and with the guard gone, this was my chance. My eyes fell on the bracket still spinning in his hand and an idea swept across my mind.
“What’s my assignment?”
“A contingency. Your friend thinks he has an edge over me and you will be the means by which I rectify his thinking.”
“So you’ll give me an antidote? To go get him of course”
“I’ll prepare a temporary solution to alleviate your condition. It won’t last long, it will be enough to do the assignment and should you succeed, I’ll offer a dosage lasting longer.”
“But never cure me?”
“Never.” He placed the bracket down and it took every effort not to draw my eyes to it. I watched him, instead, as he took two vials out from his briefcase and brought out an empty syringe.
“I’ll always be your pawn?”
“Well…” He squirted from each of the vials, a small quantity into the syringe container, closing the syringe with its own needle.
“For now. If you prove to be as much of a resilient asset as you have been, I’ll consider a more potent solution to give you, lasting months rather than…at least an hour or more as this one will give you.” He flicked the syringe and placed it down, moving to create another solution, probably for my next mission.
In that moment, between his forming of a solution and my eyes drawing towards the bracket, before I could even reconsider my actions, I swept the bracket across the table and onto his wrists in one swift movement; the syringe scuttled across the floor as the vials slipped from his hands. I can only attribute what happened next to pure luck ,as he attempted to pull away from me, which gave enough leverage to both lock the bracket and push hard enough against my hand to activate it. He yelped in surprise and pain, his chair toppling backwards as he pushed back. While he tumbled to the floor, I reached for the vials, understanding I needed both and hoping they were strong enough to give me at least a day. I jammed both into my arm, injecting the liquids into me.
The world exploded with pain and heat for a few seconds. My heart rate almost tripled, my body temperature rose while my pulsing veins thrummed with the liquids; the effect was now a soothing sensation of what I could only hope was my body healing. The burst of energy had me up on my feet before sinister could recover, moving around the table to collect his briefcase, shutting it and its contents only to turn around and find him rising to his feet. I swung the case at him but he was faster, dodging below the swing and rushing towards me. He struck me in the gut and we struck the table, knocking it down and sending the contents of the briefcase flying. He was up before me but I managed to grab his foot and pull with a strength I could not ascribe to myself. I pounced on him then, striking him in the face once, twice, three times. His mask split along the chin up towards the cheek but only pale skin greeted my frantic eyes. His own eyes had rolled back; he’d passed out. I lunged off him, grabbing the case and its contents again and rushing for the door. I saw the guard before he saw me as he haggardly pushed through the door, while holding two vials I knew were the antidote as well as the cellphone he’d be giving to me. I swung the case towards his head. He was too slow. He dropped to the floor and I picked up the phone and the vials, thinking about the keys he’d had and rummaging through his pockets I found them, using them to lock the men inside. I rushed out through the twisting corridors and into the rain.
Where does one go when seeking answers? I did not know. Where would I go with all the info I had? The police? The newspapers? If his face was revealed would that change anything? Hopefully he would die in that abandoned hospital, killed by his own device. Karma? Justice? Who knew. His mask was a reminder of evil, how regardless of who wore the mask, the will to do evil would continually consume man as it did me. And to think I’d seriously considered joining Sinister, having the ability to get what I wanted, whenever I wanted but…that first encounter with the auburn haired woman and her death was something I could not see myself involved in again. How many others would suffer and die like she did because of me and Sinister? How many others would become like me, their moral compass skewed? That would not change society at all but bring corruption, fear and loathing, the very thing Sinister proposed he would change. Fighting fire with fire is pointless. I draped my hoodie over my head, sticking a hand into my jacket pocket while the weight of the briefcase pulled the other hand down. I was thinking how all of this started very much like this, in the rain – except back then this briefcase had been thrust into my hands. What would have happened had I dropped the case right there and then…or if’d made the “right” choices afterwards…whatever right is.
Where do I go when seeking answers? I did not know. The streets were somewhat empty as I approached the traffic light and an illuminated sign caught my attention. Church.Well that was at least a form of an answer. I walked on towards the direction of the church, hoping to find shelter within the confines of the building.
The Alternative Universe version, can be found here. Enjoy and please let us know what you think.