It’s quite an interesting feeling when it hits you, that sense of deja vu; it’s like reliving a dream and all the pieces of the puzzle fit together seamlessly as you would expect them to – except this time I am not woken up by screaming, nor am I rendered panic stricken by the darkness that covers my eyes. There is fear, yes, but everything seems too surreal to be…real. There is a distinct smell of coffee rising from in front of me and a somewhat sanitary smell permeates the air. I test my hands to find that they are not bound and proceed to untie the cloth wrapped around my eyes, stopping from removing it in anticipation of some sort of protest but when none comes, I remove the cloth and blink. The table is grey – metallic – and sitting atop it with a tendril of steam rising from the dark liquid is a mug; the smell has already told me that the dark liquid is coffee. I look up, past the second cup of coffee and almost fall backwards in shock, as I come face to face with a bright pallid face, high cheek bones lifted by the extended smile and framed with a handle-bar moustache; an unnatural sheen glimmers across its surface. Dark piercing eyes stare silently at me as the smiling face continues to watch me.
“Now that’s not the look of a hero…” a voice speaks from what I now perceive to be a mask; the voice is decidedly that of Mr Sinister. I sit up on the hard chair, attempting to stretch but an uncomfortable tingle courses through my body stopping me in mid-stretch. Sinister sits there watching me with his arms folded casually on the table, an uneasy feeling rising in my gut, followed by a sudden sharp pain in my ankle. I gasp and reach towards my ankle, pulling the cuff of my pants up to see that my ankle was severely swollen, dark purple veins crawling up my shin and calf like vines. I shoot an uninhibited look of anger and disgust at the man across from me, but the disconcerting mask hides any emotion he might be showing and that leaves me unsure,
“Your coffee is getting cold” Sinister speaks, a little too chirpy for my liking.
“The laptop is already on its way to the police.” I lie – it’s the first thing that comes to my mind, something to unnerve him. I can’t even see if he reacts to this or not but I sense that he is smiling behind the fake smile of the mask.
“Oh no” he says with what I know is sarcasm “Not the police, gosh darn it and my plans were moving along so well too. I guess I’ll just give up or something.” He stands up, and I notice his white shirt collar has the top two buttons undone where a metallic glint catches my eye. He spins slowly away from me and I watch apprehensively, until movement catches my eye from behind him. A shadowy figure is standing behind the screen of the door and I recognize it to be the security guard. A sudden flare of anger rises and to curb it, I look around the room. The place is definitely unused, probably abandoned too if the thin wooden boards across the windows is anything to go by. What light filters in through the cracks in the boarded up windows, display a linoleum floor etched with scuff marks. The room is clean but shabby and I’m brought back to reality by a voice
“Your coffee…, please, drink. Its not poisoned or anything, there would be no need to because, well because you are already poisoned. So drink up, please, we have much to discuss and I wouldn’t want your parched throat to prevent us from bantering a bit. I even made us cookies but I guess I’ll leave them for my next…contingency” There is no mistaking the intelligence that the man exudes even with his voice muffled behind his mask. I reach for the mug and take a sip; its perfect. He claps once and laughs heartily,
“Surprised? Well I don’t blame you. Though, honestly, you shouldn’t be by now. I know everything about you even the way you like your coffee…then again, anyone can know anything about you, what with all the amount of rubbish you so carelessly share on all those social media platforms, I mean come on young man, wake up!” He lunges for the table suddenly, striking it hard with both hands that it clangs loud. I flinch back as his masked face leans in towards me to peer at me between those thin eye slits; the table still reverberates from the strike. He laughs and slowly lifts himself up from the table, and proceeds to pace around the room.
“Good seeing that you are now genuinely awake, lets cut to the quick yes? I bet you’ve got some questions that have been plaguing you during this entire fiasco? Why this, why that how this how that etc etc”. he twirls his hand in the air to emphasize his point, “But rather than me assuming I know what you want to ask…I’ll let you ask the questions, whatever you want I’ll answer.” I wait a while, still recovering from his random outburst but more so thinking about the predicament I was in. I mean, who would have thought that one minute my life would be moving along normally and the only care I had was what I was going to eat when I got home and the next thing I know I’m thrust into this crazy escapade that has me sitting in this dodgy room with the windows boarded up, with the smell of disinfectant and mould rising to my nostrils while the man who has orchestrated all of this, including my poison riddled body, stares at me from behind an Anon mask. Oh I have a vendetta against him for sure.
“What’s up with the mask?” I finally ask. He walks to the other side of the table and sits on the chair there. He pulls a straw out of his shirt pocket and sticks it into the coffee which is rather comical.
“Well” he begins “To friend or foe, some things must always remain hidden, it is safer this way. In fact, many of those who know this face do not know the other…I ensure that it remains a secret for…well, obvious reasons.”
“Fair enough…especially for some demented psycho like you huh?” I replied, unable to keep the anger from rising, “and whats the deal with you kidnapping me and sticking poison in me. Who does that anyway? Oh yeah I forgot, psychos.”
He sighs heavily,
“I guess kindness to strangers has never been your forte…then again I wouldn’t be kind to anyone who has done to you what I have. That is the joy of the power that I hold.” He chuckles softly to himself, taking another sip of his coffee and breathing out satisfactorily,
“As for your initial kidnapping, I guess it was a misunderstanding riddled with so many uncertainties outside of my knowledge that I was forced into action.” he leans forward on the table clutching his hands together. “I was completely unaware of you nor of your involvement with the auburn haired woman. There she was, sticking her nose into my business with her in depth journalistic ways and horrendous photography skills which pushed me to, well, motivate her to bring what she’d dug up on me. En route to our meeting, who should show up but you my hooded friend clutching the very bag I sought in your arms. So you can imagine my concern. Who were you? How much did you know? How connected were you to her? So I made a plan. Turns out you were a random stranger she chose, providentially in the end.”
“That explains why I’m still alive.” I said, thinking out loud.
“Indeed…temporarily of course. Time is a’tickin young man, drink your coffee, probably the last luxury you will enjoy before you succumb.”
“Unless you get me the antidote.”
“In exchange for the laptop – of course.”
“Which is how you motivated the auburn haired lady when she was most probably in this very situation.”
“Ah that is indeed a sharp mind you have there sir! I couldn’t have some journalist coming in and ruining all my hard work for some story she wanted to publish, about justice and what not.” We sit facing each other, not moving but his masked face unsettled me and so to calm my bubbling nerves and anger, I take a sip of my coffee, still genuinely surprised at how good it tasted. The fact of it gets me thinking about how much this man knows about me. There is no doubt that he is powerful and well connected which plays out well with his intelligence but all he’s used those for is evil. Then again what evil was it?
“So what’s your plan?” I ask him. I hope he can divulge enough information for me to take to the police when I go get the laptop. I too will get my chance as she did and instead of getting some random person involved, I’ll go straight to the authorities. That would have been the right thing to do rather than get innocent people involved, playing with their lives like they were clay pots. And he shows no remorse for his killings, what kind of monster is he?
“My plan is simple really. I surmise you are aware of the broken system we live in, infested with people unwilling to think and falling into old wives tales and second hand garbage spewed out by the media and those in power above them.” He leans back on the chair, placing his hands behind the back of his head while he tilts the chair back and balances the rocking chair by its two back legs.
“This is a quote from a man who has inspired much of what I believe, he says
The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is very apt to spread discontent among those who are.
and I, if you haven’t figured it out yet, am the type of man who thinks things out. The very people who are in power in this city do nothing while evil continues to strangle life out of the people and the city and do they even seem to care? Of course not!” He rocks back down with his fists raised to slam them hard against the metallic structure sending a ripple through it and the coffee. I flinch back involuntarily. He clutches the edge of the table and I see his knuckles turn white, “Oh they have failed this city, this whole system is failed. Corruption, apathy and lethargy at every level and you know what, its time for a change and not just of upper management but of the whole system and it will be I who will usher this new system in.” His hands relax on the table but the fire burns in what little I see of his eyes. He finally slumps back in his chair, his hands trace along the top edge of his coffee mug.
“You, like many others, are stubborn and stuck in your ways, and I know this change won’t be easy to accept but with my devices, I will see to it that my plan comes to fruition.”
“And where do I fit, in this grand scheme of yours?”
“That’s an interesting question isn’t it. As with every other person who has ever found themselves in this situation, I offer a choice of join or die. And as with them too, time was hardly ever on their side.” He rose from his seat and walked around the table, causing me to tighten up in anticipation of an attack. He grabbed my arm and put it on the table, rolling the sleeve up to reveal the already thickening purple veins on my arm. “The difference, however, between you and them is the fact that you have proven yourself worthy to me. Worthy enough, in fact, that I’m willing to let you join my cause. You have been quite resourceful I must say, so what say you?
The mere thought of joining his cause sickened me. The thought that others would suffer the injustice I did and that I would be behind it all, I could never be part of that. But death? Was I willing to die? If I joined I’d live longer and get this poison out of me. Seeing my dilemma, he spoke up again, a sense of joy oozing out of his voice as he did,
“The beauty of this poison is that it doesn’t cause lasting effects once the antidote takes its course but until then…”
“Yes, death indeed.”
I considered the prospect of death, my death. I also considered joining him even with his proposition, my fear was the poison and of course, death. Would I let this man win, or would I have enough time on my watch to expose him, have one last heroic act before curtain call. Ha! I would die a better man, unlike him the fiend. The choices I’d made in life surely have put me on the good side, on the right side; the side of justice. I opened my mouth to answer but a loud knocking stopped me and the door to the room opened revealing the traitorous security guard. He peeked his greying head into the room and spoke rather anxiously,
“Sir, I know you are busy but there is something out here that needs your urgent attention.”
The Alternative Universe (The Dark Universe), can be found here. Enjoy and please let us know what you think.
All the previous posts of this story can be found on on my blog if you click here and you can find all of my fellow writer, Tyron’s, posts for this story here.