The year is 2032. This is the City, centre of world politics.
She hadn’t slept in four days. The floor of the room was littered with cans of energy drink, all empty; she held the last in her hands and they were shaking too much for her to open it. She would have to move on, whoever owned this place might come looking, whoever was after her might come looking.
Whoever was after her... She should know that, but everything was confusing, conflicting. Her head hurt, inside and out.
Sleep was the enemy. Sleep was full of horrible things, nightmares like memories, impossible imagery. There were other enemies, but sleep was the hardest to keep at bay. The longer she evaded it, the closer it got, until it crept into her vision unbidden, with dirty hallucinations and blood-slick visions.
Her eyelids fluttered as she slid sideways a little and jerked back. The room twitched, the green-grey carpet became a muddy field strewn with corpses, their lifeless eyes gaping upwards, bile and blood and mud mixed across their faces like some demonic child’s colouring book, with no regard for the lines.
She slapped herself, hard, twice.
“Stay awake, stay awake, stay a-fucking-wake.”
She had to figure it out. That was what she did, right?
The room swam, darkness coiled about the sides of her vision. Why would the dead not leave her alone? Why had she killed so many? Didn’t she stop that kind of thing? Wasn’t that her job? Was it? She couldn’t even remember her name.
She felt paralysed, unable to move more than a shudder as dead things snuggled up to her. A skeletal arm curled across her waist, tattered edges of greening meat hanging from it like ragged clothes. A rib cage pressed against her for comfort and warmth. A skull settled beside her head, facing her, chattering cold nothings into her ear.
The General stared blankly at his cell wall. He was a model prisoner, he never made a fuss, he never did much of anything, just smiled his infuriating, oblivious smile.
Beneath a bright strip light in the warehouse district four heavyset men waited while a fifth, bigger man buzzed the intercom. The problem with modern technology, they often agreed, was that it made the night too bright. They liked the old movies, where this same scene would have taken place beneath a blinking, yellow lamp, the flickering glow caught on wreaths of cigarette smoke.
None of these men were smoking, not here, on a public street where they might draw the unwanted attention of the law.
They were thugs, men of violence, and they would have revelled in fitting the old stereotype; they would happily have worn it like a badge of office, but for the fact it might impede their job in unnecessary ways. They liked efficiency. For example, why carry a weapon when your fists can do the job; there’s never been a law against fists.
“Who’s this keeping us waiting, Munch?”
Munch, short for Munchkin, was the absurdly large man at the buzzer. He knew better than to buzz twice and it was insight, not his size, that put him in charge. He had heard of the man they were meeting, and he knew impatience on their part would do nothing to ingratiate them.
“They call him the Siberian.”
“I hate Russians.”
“I don’t think he’s actually from Siberia, Fingers.”
Fingers’ main topic of conversation was usually what to do were someone to find themselves in an interrogating situation, and where might be the best place to start.
“So why call him that?”
“Why call me Munchkin? It’s supposed to be ironic, ain’t it. On account of the Siberian landscape being so icy, snowy, and generally white and him being so–”
The door opened, a man’s eyes glinted dangerously from the shadows within.
“Warm.” Said a voice that wasn’t. “You were going to say ‘warm’, weren’t you?”
> goto 2
> goto 2