(I tried it again…getting lines from my Facebook friends. It’s fun and a lot challenging. I highlighted their lines in red. Thank you, Chris, LaDonna, Kristy, Lori, Michael, and Candy! Let me know when you have a whole story for the blog!)
“Move it,” he growled and gave me a shove.
I hate walking with my hands cuffed behind my back. It’s not natural, and it makes entering darkened rooms even less appealing. I kept my eyes on the carafe sitting on the table. A cup of joe would be good right about now.
Unlatching the cuffs, the larger of the two guards eyed me like I was the one from outer space. I didn’t say anything. These guys weren’t the ones to spill by guts to. And even though this facility was more polished, I’d been through this before. Going on these adventure challenges has its downside and getting caught is part of that.
The smell of hot coffee made my mouth water. I hadn’t eaten since lunch. I was gonna get something after I made it through the warehouse, but then these guys showed up and decided to take me to their leader. Stupid security details. Everybody thinks they’re their own police force these days. It used to be if I got caught they’d actually take me to the police station. Now, it’s all “head of security” or somebody’s bodyguard.
“Wyatt,” a familiar voice drowned out the sound of the door.
“I thought I’d probably see you sooner or later.” Lincoln took the chair across from me. He still had remnants of the black eye I’d given him. “You’re little band of misfits has been hitting places all around our operation. It was only a matter of time before someone sent you here.”
“No one sent me here. I picked this one.”
“Sure, Wyatt. Sure you did.”
I didn’t bother arguing. He hadn’t been part of the group long enough to grasp how things worked. “How’s your eye?” The punch was more of an accident than anything else.
“I’m fine,” he grumbled. “How’s Tennison?”
“You tell me. He disappeared after I broke up your fight. We all figured you had something to do with that.”
He didn’t answer me which, to me, was kind of an answer.
His eyes confirmed my suspicion. But he moved on, “Why were you in the warehouse? What were you after? What did they send you there for?”
Shaking my head, I poured some coffee. This was going to be a long night. He repeated his questions a few more times, in the same order, but with varying degrees of volume. Before I knew it my eyelids got heavy and I was out cold. He was in my head though. Asking me the same thing over and over in my dreams, and I was telling him everything I knew which was nothing really. When I finally woke up, I realized I hadn’t even answered the first question, even though it felt like I’d just given him my life’s story.
My body was stiff from sleeping sitting up. Lincoln had his back to me and was facing a black, glass wall. I didn’t get the point of all of this. It’s trespassing, not espionage.
“I have a story to tell you Wyatt, and how you respond at the end of it, will determine where you go from here.” He turned and faced me, his voice splintered the hum of the dark room with the same kind of dark seriousness you get from the psycho in the horror film right before he pulls out a saw and lets her rip.
I responded with a nod.
“You’re going to have to be open minded to hear this story. Can you do that?”
I nodded again feeling slightly like a third grader.
“Don’t think in terms of time for this story because where it goes, time does not exist, and that’s how you squeeze a lifetime into twenty-four hours, or the world in which you think you live into a single pawn on a great big board.”
Now he really was starting to sound like some psycho.
“Imagine a world where there was this one controlling monster, pushing and pulling and always demanding his way. He can do that because no one can fight against him. And he decides who’s precious and who’s not. He creates and destroys at his own whim. And one day he cherishes you. His creation, his blessed companion, until he finds another. And suddenly you are but a commodity, a piece in his puzzle, something to be discarded.
He’s got this new thing he loves and looks to as if it were his own pride and joy, and you are but its servant now. Its slave. What would you do?
You can’t fight back. He’s too strong. You can’t go anywhere. There’s nowhere else to go.
What do you do?” He waited, but I didn’t really think he wanted me interjecting an answer into his little fable. Making his way to the table, he took his place across from me again. “I tell you what you do. You do the only thing you can do.” He leaned toward me. “You destroy his pride and joy.” His finger tapped the table and lights appeared under the shiny surface. “I’m going to show you something. Try to keep an open mind.”
As his finger plunked a blue light on the table, the side wall lit up. On the other side of the glass sat Tennison. He was crying, his hands bound behind him. Lincoln waited for me to take in the scene, and then he continued.
“Tennison’s weak. I suspected as much when you had to step in and defend him, but orders are orders and he was farther up the line than you, so he’s here, and he’s useless.” Lincoln plunked his pinky onto a red light and two doors behind Tennison opened up. Two insect like creatures with red eyes, spiny tentacles, and foaming snouts clomped into the tiny cell. Evidently Tennison had seen them before because he immediately began to plead with them. The bugs looked through the window at Lincoln.
“Let me continue my story. Let’s say Tennison here is a model of that pride and joy. Somehow he’s special, more special than you. All you ever wanted was to be valued, to be the honest heir of your mighty father, but instead you’re cast aside for that.” He waved his hand toward the window and Tennison’s terrified whimpering. “Wouldn’t you feel the need to strike back? Wouldn’t you long for justice and your rightful place? Of course you would. And that is where we are right now.”
This was crazy. “Let him go man. We’re not doing anything here. It’s a club. We’re just a bunch of guys going on these adventure hikes. It’s not a big deal. What are you doing?”
“No, it’s not a club, Wyatt. You’re little group serves a bigger purpose. You don’t know that because you’re just one of their lackeys. They don’t care about you. They don’t care about Tennison. They send you out on these little missions in the name of Andowon, because they are trying to uncover our strongholds, weaken our forces. But it’s not going to happen. We’re closer now than we’ve ever been. And we may not be able to defeat Andowon, but we can cause him pain. We can make him feel the loss that we have felt. We can destroy all that he holds as dear.”
Lincoln nodded and the creatures started slashing Tennison with their claws.
“Stop! Are you crazy? Stop”
He tapped the table and the beasts left Tennison sitting limp and lifeless in his chair.
“Join us.” His eyes caught the reflection of the lights from the table. “Join us. We need someone on the inside. Someone they trust. Someone who can get close to their heart, so we can strike them down. Tennison can’t do it. But you can.”
I pushed away from the table.
He grunted with annoyed amusement. “You can refuse. That’s your choice. We need you to come on board freely, not by force. But you should know that we already have control of much of the world.” He tapped a green light this time, and the wall behind him lit up with a map of the world. Thousands and thousands of red lights dotted every piece of land. There were only a handful of yellow lights shining in clusters, here and there. “There are only a few left. It’s only a matter of time. We will take over the world, and this little gem, he thinks is so special will belong to our kind. We will reign here. So you think about it.” His hand slid across the table and the map changed, red extinguishing all the yellow. “This will be the end.”
“Or is it?” I muttered reflexively. My need to stick it to whoever’s in control always the first place I go. “If this Andowan is the end all of everything, don’t you think he’ll stop you.”
“Not as long as he thinks there’s still one of you out there.”
I didn’t know what he meant by that, but I could see an ultimatum coming. I tapped on the coffee carafe and motioned toward the other cup. Time to come to some sort of agreement.
He glanced up with that familiar furrowed brow, and replied with some relief, “Sure Wyatt, I’d love some coffee.”
From there the lights went out in Tennison’s room and Lincoln outlined what they wanted me to do. It was simple, really. Keep doing what I’m doing, gain the trust of the group, and plant some questions in their minds about who they were following.
I agreed. I agreed cause there were four scary looking creatures waiting to encourage me. I agreed cause they said they’d let Tennison go. I agreed cause I’ve got no alliances anyway. The adventure group was just something to do. So I agreed. And they agreed to let me keep my brain intact.
* * * * *
Officer paced the room. I’d never seen him so nervous. But now I was seeing a lot of things I’d never seen before. There was more to this little adventure group than I had thought.
Six foot four with tattoos covering his arms, Officer used to be on the force. That’s why we call him Officer. Now he runs this little branch of the Adventure Con Group. A bright yellow “A” was stitched on the arm band he wore over the dragon tattoo. Maybe the “A” wasn’t for “Adventure”.
“Are you sure all they did was question you?” He looked at me this time. Tennison had already given him a whopper of a story which I’m pretty sure the poor guy actually thought was completely true. He wasn’t the same when he came out of that room.
I’m a terrible liar. I tell the truth, not cause it’s hard to lie or because I value the truth. I tell the truth because I don’t really care what people think or if they’re gonna like what I have to say. But I wasn’t interested in putting all my cards on the table yet.
I nodded and then tossed a question back at him, “Why’re you so uptight about all of this? It’s not like we’ve never been caught sneaking around on one of these ‘missions’ before.”
“It’s just,” he muttered. “It’s just….” His words hung in the air.
Tennison slumped in his chair. I’d made my choice over a cup of bad coffee, but I wasn’t done yet. Lincoln painted one version. But everybody’s got their own story to tell. And I think Officer’s about ready to tell me his.
“Is that it then? Is that the truth?” His bicep flexed and his voice carried hope in it like a flickering candle battling a constant cold breeze. There was more to him, more to all of this then I could see right now. So I kept my mouth shut, decided to stay in play, and let Tennison ramble out our reply.
“That, Officer, is the absolute truth, I promise.”