Saturday, 26 October 2013

Wolf Girl - Magic, Monsters and Men

                He pulled the hood of his green cloak over his head as he sat silently in the tall grass. The wind was cool and caused the sea of blades to sway gently. He breathed deeply as the still night took hold of his senses. This was freedom, he thought to himself as his hands ran through the grass. He closed his eyes and breathed in deeply.  He had been waiting for over an hour with no sign of anyone, and was about to give up hope when a sudden rush of air brushed past him.
“What are you just sitting around for?” an overly happy voice asked.
He opened his eyes and sighed.
“Sam, do you have any idea how long I have been waiting for you?” he replied as he stood and turned to face the man who had appeared.
“If I had to guess from your tone I would say it has been a while?” Sam replied with a smirk. “Honestly, Trent you need to lighten up!”
Trent did not return Sam’s smile but instead began walking down the hill he had been perched upon. He quietly made his way through the tall grass into the wooded area below. Sam followed behind in an almost skip run. Trent had always found it surprising how gracefully Sam could move given his plump frame. He attributed it to the magic coursing through Sam’s blood.
Sam caught up to Trent and slapped him on the back.
“I have met a number of woodland soldiers before and I have to say you are by far the surliest!”
“We have a task to see to Sam, let’s just get it over with, shall we?”
“Ah but of course! Murdering a child in the night is very serious business and I must not make light of it what so ever. It is not as though I feel sick to my stomach thinking about it and would rather just disappear!” Sam’s words were drenched in sarcasm as the true weight of their job sunk in.
“It must be done. How would we explain a girl born a werewolf come the first full moon? Her fate was written and sealed the moment she was conceived.”  
“It doesn’t make sense though, does it?” Sam questioned. “A girl is born to human parents neither of whom are carriers of the virus? It has never happened before. What if she isn’t a blood thirsty monster? How can we know unless she is given a chance?”
Trent did not question his orders. He acted upon them. As a soldier he knew that the more you thought about what it was that was asked of you the more difficult it becomes. It needed to be black and white without any emotions.
“You need to stop talking Sam.” He said sternly. “I can see the human homes.”
Sam bit his tongue as questions continued to run wild through his mind. When the council of elders had requested he help Trent he had agreed. Yet now after thinking more and more about the situation he was having second thoughts.
They made their way to the end of the tree line which bordered the back yard of a small home in a dated sub division. There was a rusted swing set in the overgrown yard. Trent crouched slightly and began climbing the nearest tree to the home. Sam watched as Trent jumped from the tree to the roof of the house.  Once there, Trent looked back to see Sam who promptly disappeared from the forest’s edge in a puff of smoke.
“Where did he go?” Trent whispered to himself.
He expected Sam must have gotten cold feet and run away.
“Coward” Trent growled.
He slowly crept along the roof to the farthest window of the home and lowered himself down.  With one hand holding onto the lip of the roof he used his other to slowly open the window out towards him. Once it was wide enough he swung himself into the room and landed silently on the carpeted floor. Still crouching he scanned the room. In the center there was a wooden crib. His heart began to race as he saw the outline of someone standing over the crib.
“I don’t think I can do this” a familiar voice whispered.
Trent sighed as he stood and walked towards the fat fairy.
“Thought you ran away” Trent stated as he walked over the crib and slowly drew a silver dagger from his belt. “This should go smoothly, just give me a heads up if you sense movement within the house.”
Sam hesitated as he watched Trent approach the crib.
“Wait, can’t we…” he began but was silenced by a glare from Trent.
Trent raised the dagger above the sleeping infant and took a deep breath in. He had to remain focused on what needed to be done. This was not easy, but he could not be distracted by his mind. Just as he prepared to plunge the dagger into the chest of the wolf, she awoke.  Trent was frozen by the child’s soft blue eyes as she stared silently up at him. His hand slowly fell to his side. She continued to stare up at him as a smile crept across her face. Everything he had done to mentally prepare himself for this moment, all the emotional walls he had built up were crumbling around him.
“I can’t believe I am doing this.” Trent whispered as he sheathed his dagger.
Sam looked from the child to Trent in astonishment. The soldier bent down into the crib and took her into his arms. Holding her in one arm he made his way over to the window.
“What are you doing?” Sam questioned in a panicked whisper.
“I don’t really know.” Trent replied. “What I do know though is if we leave her here the elders will just send another assassin to kill her.”
“So you are taking her? Where?”
“No idea.” Trent replied as he began climbing out the window.
“Wait. Here.” Sam stated as he stopped Trent and took the child. “I know where we can take her. Meet me on the hill tomorrow evening and we can decide what to do from there.”
Trent hesitated. He did not necessarily distrust Sam, but rather had not always had the best experiences with fairies as a whole. He begrudgingly agreed and began making his way out of the window. As his eyes adjusted to the bright moonlight he leaned back into the room.
“We are going to have to figure something out quickly.” He stated to Sam who was whispering softly to the baby who was laughing. “The full moon comes in two days. We still have no idea what will happen with her then.”
Sam looked up at Trent with a worried expression. A forced smile broke the uncertainty.
“It will be alright.” He said unconvincingly as they disappeared.
Trent pulled himself up onto the roof and began running silently across it. He jumped into the forest and disappeared as a wolf howled in the distance.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Secrets of the Dead

Secrets of the Dead

                There was silence, but no peace could be found within the blood stained walls of the home.  Sloan stood staring at the body hanging from the ceiling. He could feel a sensation of cold engulfing him as a drop of blood fell from the woman’s face and landed on the living room floor. The cold penetrated his skin and shot through his body. It filled his veins as he clenched his fists nervously.
“What do you think Sloan?” Markus asked as he turned to his partner.  
Sloan continued to stare at the woman, her hands and feet nailed to the ceiling causing her body to hang awkwardly at the waist. Her clothes were ripped and bloodied, revealing large knife wounds across her body.
“Stabbed,” Sloan stated slowly. “Multiple times.”
Markus began walking towards Sloan. “You are not a homicide detective anymore Sloan, think past the obvious evidence.”
Sloan ran his hand through his hair as he racked his brain to figure out what Markus was leading him towards. He had been to too many murders to keep track of, but this crime scene was in no way ordinary. There was a reason he and Markus had been called to this particular home, because they were no ordinary detectives.
The hair on Sloan’s neck stood up as his body fought against the cold that continued to eat away at him.
“So?” Markus asked impatiently. “What do you think?”
Sloan hesitated as he breathed in and something about the air around him made his senses go into over drive. “I think, we are not alone.”
Markus smirked. “That’s better.”
The sound of splintering wood echoed down the stair case.
“Upstairs!” Markus commanded.
The detectives raced for the stairs as they ran to the upper landing, their trench coats whirling behind them. Markus nodded to Sloan to take the left hallway as he started down the right.
Sloan slowly pulled his right sleeve up, exposing the silver gauntlet wrapped around his forearm. As he clenched his hand into a fist he could feel energy from the armor pulsing through his fingers. The words “Pax” that were engraved on the gauntlet began to glow blue, he could feel the power held within it yearning to be let loose.  As the blue light reflected off of the glass picture frames that lined the hallway, Sloan could sense the cold within the air growing stronger.  His footsteps barely made a sound as he slowly approached the end of the hallway where a door hung from its hinges, the moulding laying in pieces on the wood floor.
His lungs burned as he took a deep breath in, the air around him made it feel as though he had just stepped out onto an arctic tundra. As he breathed out a cloud of vapor rose toward the ceiling. Reaching out with his left hand to push past the damaged door, he held his right hand at the ready. Focusing his thoughts on what may lay behind the door and what he needed to do he burst into the room, sending the door crashing to the ground.  Sloan lifted his clenched right hand in front of him as his mind processed the room around him.
“Window across from the door, closet to the left, dresser to the right, bed against the far wall.” Sloan thought to himself as he catalogued each item, then ignoring everything that did not pose an immediate threat. All of his attention had narrowed in on the center of the room as the image of a male came in and out of view.
The man’s fists were clenched, his shoulders heaving as he panted. His body was translucent although it seemed to be glowing red. The man’s face contorted in rage.
“Get out of here!” he growled. “I am never leaving this place!”
“Your freedom is hereby revoked by the Order of the Mortis,” Sloan stated with authority. His voice was strong but his heart raced with anticipation. “You have broken the sacred pact of the dead by making yourself known to living.”
A smile spread across the man’s face as he began to laugh.
“Oh, I didn’t just expose myself to the living.”
“Obviously,” Sloan replied with clenched teeth, the image of the woman hanging from the ceiling still fresh in his mind.
“Did you like my handy work?” the man asked with a smirk. “I could almost feel that woman’s husband’s heart breaking as I made him stab her over and over again. It was so invigorating!”
“Enough!” Sloan barked. “Your time among the living is over!”
The smile on the man’s face slowly disappeared.
“I don’t think so.”
Before Sloan had a chance to react, there was a flash of red and the man was gone. Sloan felt a shot of cold to his chest as he was flung across the room into the dresser. The wood drawers cracked under the force as he fell forward onto the floor. He gasped as his lungs filled with cold air. His head began to ache as he sensed an energy getting closer. He lifted his right hand and opened his closed fist. Chains surrounded in blue light shot from his palm and began wrapping around the air in front of him. He continued to focus on the chains as they tightened and the blue light grew brighter. The man slowly began to appear before him, crying out in anger as he fought against the chains.
“I will not go!” he screamed.
Sloan slowly stood as pain shot through his body from the impact with the dresser. He kept his right hand raised as he closed his hand around the chains.
“You hypocrite,” the man growled. “How dare you condemn others for doing what you do every day!”
Sloan glared at the man as he circled around to the door.
“What are you talking about?” Sloan questioned.
Blue light erupted from the chains as the man cried out and was engulfed in the energy. Sloan could feel the cold dissipating as the light died down and he was left standing alone in the room.
Markus entered the room behind him with his own gauntleted hand raised. He slowly lowered his hand as he surveyed the room.
“Well done rookie!” Markus laughed. “Incredible.”
Sloan lowered his hand as he turned his palm over and looked at where the chains had just been. He could still feel trickles of energy receding into the gauntlet.
“Amazing, isn’t it?” Markus asked as he patted Sloan on the back.
“Yeah,” Sloan replied. “It was a man, he said he made the husband kill his wife.”
“He probably used to live here,” Markus said as he turned to leave the room. “Just didn’t want to leave when he stopped living.”
Sloan followed behind Markus as they made their way down the hallway to the stairs and through the destroyed living room.
“Shouldn’t we try and get her down?” Sloan asked as he walked past the woman’s body still dripping blood into the growing pool of red on the floor.
“Not our job.” Markus replied. “We have done what we came here to do.”
They walked out the front door onto the city street as a heavy rain fell around them. Uniformed police officers stood anxiously by their police cars, waiting for the detectives.
“So, you think the husband did it?” one of the police officers asked.
Markus looked into the back of the police car, the husband’s gaze was locked straight ahead, his eyes filled with tears.
“Yeah, looks that way.”
The police officer nodded.
Markus walked away from the car as Sloan looked at the innocent man in the back of the police car, pain strewn across his face.
“You coming?” Markus asked as he held the police tape up at the edge of the crime scene, waiting for Sloan.
Sloan sighed and walked over to Markus as they both got into a black sport utility vehicle parked down the street. As both doors closed and Markus started the engine Sloan looked over at him.
“How can we do this?” he asked in frustration.
“Do what?” Markus replied as he pulled the vehicle out onto the street.
“He watched his wife being slaughtered by his own hand, with no way of stopping himself and now he will have to live with everyone thinking he actually did it?”
Markus was silent as the windshield wipers squeaked across the windshield.
“He will know he didn’t do it.” Markus replied as he stared through the windshield at the falling rain.
“Will he?” Sloan asked angrily. “How long will it take with everyone blaming him until he starts to question that?”
“You are losing sight of what our job is.” Markus replied. “You need to separate yourself from thinking about that kind of stuff. That’s the only way you can survive this job.”
Sloan sighed as he turned to look out the passenger window. Markus seemed somewhat disconnected from anything, and he was slowly starting to realize why. Markus was right, he wouldn’t survive if he had to live with the knowledge of what they had to do in order to keep the world functioning.
Six months ago, Sloan had not even known what the Order of the Mortis was, and he would never have believed in such a thing let alone agreed to work for them if it hadn’t been his last option. After being shot by a suspect a year ago when he went to interview them for a homicide case, his career in policing seemed like it was at an end. That is until Markus showed up and offered him a job for the Order. When Markus started talking about a secret Order dedicated to keeping the dangers of the Underworld at bay he thought he was going crazy. That was until Markus handed him his gauntlet. As soon as he placed it on his arm, the dead all around him were revealed.
It had taken some getting used to as he familiarized himself with the subtle differences between the living and the dead. There were still times when he couldn’t tell the difference and had to check with Markus, but he was getting more and more use to it.
Those who were deemed fit following their death to remain among the living were granted the right to do so, as long as they did not reveal themselves. Each spirit seemed to have their reasons for wanting to remain, although generally it was rooted in an inability to move on out of fear. The Order of the Mortis was in charge of making sure the laws set out for those spirits were adhered to, if they weren’t, then Guardians like Markus and Sloan were sent to deal with them.
“The spirit at that house said something I didn’t quite understand,” Sloan began as Markus grunted acknowledging that he was listening. “He said that we were hypocrites.”
Markus was silent as he gripped the steering wheel tighter.
“Well, we kind of are,” he began. “You would be a lot more like him if you hadn’t agreed to serve the Order.”
Sloan’s heart began to race as he thought back to when Markus had approached him. It had been in the hospital, but he didn’t remember anything between that and getting shot.
“The Order gave you a second chance,” Markus explained. “You are alive, but you shouldn’t have been. So that spirit was half right.”
Sloan touched his chest where the bullet wound scars were. He turned back to look out his window, as a new sense of understanding dawned on him. As he watched the rain through the tinted window he felt his arm begin to tingle. He looked down at his gauntlet as the letters “Pax” began to glow blue. A deep voice began speaking in his head.
“Unauthorized spirits entering the world of the living, Palnor Harbour.”
As the voice trailed off and the light around Sloan’s gauntlet disappeared he looked over at Markus.
“Palnor Harbour?” he knew Markus would have heard the same message from the order.
“Looks like we have a long drive ahead of us,” Markus stated as he turned onto the freeway. “You better get some sleep.”
Sloan leaned back against his seat. His mind was filled with the images of the spirit he had just returned to the Underworld, the woman hanging from the ceiling and the pain in her husband’s eyes.

“Wake up.”
Sloan opened his eyes, daylight blinding him as he sat up in his seat. He blinked as his eyes adjusted to the light around him. They were driving down a hill side into a small city surrounded in fog. The sun was just breaking through the grey of the fog.  The street lights still glowing eerily.
“Welcome to Palnor Harbour.” Markus stated as he took a sip of coffee from a take away cup.
Sloan breathed in the invigorating aroma of the caffeinated drink as Markus swallowed and sighed out in satisfaction.
“Nice of you to wake me up after you stopped for coffee.” Sloan stated as he shot Markus an irritated look.
Markus smirked. “Look down.”
Sloan raised an eyebrow in confusion then looked down to see a second cup of coffee in the cup holder, steam rising from the opening in the plastic lid.
“Right, thanks.” Sloan replied sheepishly as he picked up the cup. “The order gave us a pretty vague description of what was going on here.”
“Yeah, they don’t usually like to go into a lot of detail.” Markus stated as he took another sip from his cup.
Markus continued driving through the fog into the heart of the small city whose streets seemed to be empty. Sloan started to notice a sense of emptiness that could not simply be attributed to the lack of people.  Markus slammed on the brakes.
“Haven’t seen this for a while.” Markus stated as he put the vehicle in park.
Sloan stared out at a young boy that was standing in the very center of the road. He didn’t move, his eyes were locked on the vehicle. Sloan squinted as he tried to make out the red glow coming from the child’s eyes.  Sloan looked over at Markus, waiting for an explanation. Instead, Markus opened his door and walked out onto the street. Sloan followed him as he walked towards the boy. Sloan started to feel nervous as Markus knelt down in front of the boy who turned his head slowly to look at Markus.  Sloan started to raise his right hand to cover Markus, his gauntlet starting to glow. Markus raised his hand towards Sloan and indicated for him to lower his arm. Sloan hesitated until Markus shot him a commanding look.
Markus turned back to look at the boy. “Why are you here?”
The boy blinked and continued to stare at Markus. Sloan strained to hear as the boy spoke in a quiet voice that was almost a whisper.
“It is almost time.”
The boy smiled and turned away as he started walking slowly down the street. Markus watched him for a moment and then stood up. He was staring at the ground as he walked back towards their vehicle. Sloan looked from the boy and then to Markus.
“Shouldn’t we, you know, do something?” Sloan questioned. “Isn’t that what the Order sent us here for?” he continued as he pointed at the boy disappearing into the fog.
“Get in.” Markus replied as he sat in the driver’s seat and closed the door.
Sloan approached the vehicle and sat in the passenger’s seat. Even though he didn’t know Markus that well, he could tell he was not acting like himself.
“What is it?”
Markus narrowed his eyes as he started driving down the street.
“I saw something in that boy’s eyes,” he replied. “There is more to this, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.”
“More to what?” Sloan still didn’t know who or what that boy was. He knew that spirits had a sort of red glow to them but this boy was different. It was only his eyes that had the glow.
“It doesn’t seem like a normal possession.” Markus replied as he continued to stare into the fog.
Sloan peered through the dense grey expecting to see the boy again, although he was gone.
“That is what a possessed kid looks like?” Sloan asked.
“Yes, but I have only ever seen someone be possessed by a spirit that means to do harm.” Markus stated. “I didn’t get that impression from him. Whoever has decided to take over that boy, they don’t seem malicious.”
“Then why has the Order sent us here?”
“Strictly speaking, any possession is prohibited as the spirit consumes the personality of the living person they have entered. Thus, they are exposed.”
“So, shouldn’t we have dealt with that spirit?” Sloan asked, still confused.
“Not yet.” Markus replied. “We need to figure out why this is happening first. We can start there.”
Sloan followed Markus’ gaze as a building began to take shape out of the fog. He read the sign on the front lawn as they pulled into the parking lot.
“City Hall?” Sloan asked.
“That is where the boy was going,” Markus replied as he shut the engine off. “Good enough sign for me.”
The men exited the car as they walked up the front steps of the building into the main lobby. A woman was sitting at the front desk, her hair hung in messy strands across her shoulders and her eyes were surrounded in dark circles. The woman jumped as Sloan and Markus walked through the front door. Sloan looked at her cautiously.
“You startled me!” the woman gasped as she held her hand to her chest.
“Sorry,” Sloan replied. “Is everything alright?”
“Oh yes,” she replied as she straightened her skirt out. “I just haven’t had much sleep.”
“Why is that?” Markus questioned.
The woman narrowed her eyes, becoming suspicious of the strange men in trench coats who stood before her. “My daughter has been having…difficulties, the last few nights.”
Sloan lent over to Markus. “Is every kid in this town possessed?”
Markus ignored Sloan.
“Is the mayor in?” he asked the woman. “We would like to speak to him.”
“And who might you be?” the woman questioned.
“I am detective Stone, and this is detective Bane. We have been sent here to help with the problem your town has been having.” Markus stated.
The woman hesitated as she looked at Markus and then at Sloan. She seemed to be battling with what Markus had said. When it came to the paranormal, people usually didn’t want to accept that something strange was happening around them, but when the issue was brought to the forefront and not tiptoed around, there was no choice. This was especially true when someone offered them a solution to their problem. Markus was well aware of this.
“Follow me.” She replied politely.
Sloan and Markus followed the woman up a flight of stairs to the mayor’s office. She knocked and then opened the door as they walked in behind her. A heavier set balding man sat behind a large oak desk at the back of the office. He had been intently reading through paperwork on his desk before the woman entered. He stopped and looked up with an expression of annoyance on his face.
“Sir, detectives Stone and Bane, here to speak to you about our…problem.” The woman stated with an emphasis on the last word.
The mayor’s face softened slightly as a grin spread across his pudgy cheeks.
“Gentleman, please come in, have a seat.” He stated warmly as he opened his hands to two chairs in front of his desk. “Thank you Mildred.” The mayor continued as he glared at his receptionist.
Mildred dropped her head and left the office, closing the door behind her. Sloan and Markus sat at the chairs in front of the Mayor’s desk.
“So, I am sure that you are aware that the children of our city have been acting very, strange.” The Mayor began. “They are being very peculiar and their behaviour is becoming more and more disturbing.”
“How do you mean?” Markus questioned.
“Well, for example, Mildred’s 4 year old daughter lit her bed on fire the other evening.” The Mayor stated as he stood up from his seat and walked over to a nearby window.  “Mildred went to the bedroom after smelling the smoke.  Her daughter was just standing in the room, singing to herself. Mildred began screaming and when her daughter noticed her the flames inexplicably extinguished. Her daughter just turned around and smiled at her.”
“That is odd,” Sloan replied as he turned to Markus. “I thought you said they weren’t malicious?”
“Odd?” the Mayor questioned as he turned away from the window to look at Sloan. “That seems a little more than odd to me.”
Markus shot Sloan a look. “What Detective Bane was referring to is that wasn’t quite what we were expecting.”
The Mayor stared at the two men. “What exactly was it you were expecting?”
Markus hesitated. “Can you tell us anything that has happened in the last while that might explain what prompted this change?”
The Mayor paced in front of the window for a few moments then made his way back to his seat. “Nothing that I can think of.” He stated with a look of innocence in his eyes.
Sloan suddenly felt another presence in the room.
“He’s lying” a young boy’s voice whispered in Sloan’s ear. “He let it happen.”
Sloan blinked as he looked around the office. He couldn’t see any spirits although he felt it close, far too close. The spirit was in the room with them, but it was more than that, it was inside of him. He could hear himself talking although he was not controlling what was said. Everything became blurred in a red haze as he lost total control.
“What about Thomas?” Sloan heard himself say.
The Mayors face started to turn pale. He looked from Sloan and then to Markus.
“I don’t know what you mean.” He replied as he licked his lips nervously.
Markus looked at Sloan and saw the red glow around his eyes that the Mayor wouldn’t be able to see. He hesitated, he didn’t sense that his partner was in danger and the question had rattled the Mayor.
“Steven Thomas, he owns half of the town, what about what happened with him?” Sloan continued.
“I, I don’t…” the Mayor stammered.
“Answer me!” Sloan hissed.
The Mayor sat back in his chair panic in his eyes.
“Money is a very powerful motivator, isn’t it Mayor!” Sloan growled.
Sloan listened as the words escaped his lips, he didn’t know where they were coming from.  The red haze suddenly erupted in a flash and was replaced by images of a man driving up to a young girl. The man told the girl to come with him although she tried to run. The man grabbed the girl and put her into the vehicle. He drove her into the woods where he raped and killed her. The man took the girl’s body to a house and burned it in a large wood furnace in the basement. The furnace was filled with charred bones and skulls. Sloan saw a flash of red and then the man was outside of a school trying to lead one of the students away. The man was arrested by a police officer for trying to lure the child away. There was a flash of red light and Sloan saw the Mayor in his office with the man. The man handed the Mayor a duffle bag which he opened, greed in his eyes. The bag was filled with stacks of money. The Mayor and the man shook hands.  The charges against the man were dropped and he was allowed to go free. The man killed ten more children before he was finally caught. There was a flash and warmth suddenly spread over Sloan as the cold of the spirit disappeared.
“You son of a bitch,” Sloan gasped as he held back tears. “All those children, they died because of you!”
The Mayor looked at Sloan in shock. “How could you have known?”
“Sloan, what is it?” Markus questioned.
“A man named Thomas, he was raping and murdering children and he paid the Mayor off so he could keep doing it.”
“I didn’t know he had ever actually harmed anyone!” The Mayor exclaimed. “I thought he had just made a mistake, how was I to know what he was really doing?”
Markus looked at the Mayor as he stood from his chair. He clenched the hand of his gauntlet arm as it glowed blued. Sloan watched his partner cautiously, it was forbidden for Guardians to attack the living, but Markus’ eyes were filled with rage. Just as Sloan thought Markus was about to strike there was a scream from the lobby. Markus turned to look towards the office door. It suddenly burst into flames. Sloan jumped to his feet as the Mayor leapt from his chair and backed up against the back wall. The door burned at an unnatural rate, within seconds there were only ashes. As the smoke cleared the glowing red eyes of hundreds of children outside of the door appeared.
“My god!” the Mayor cried out. “Do something!”
Markus looked at the children as they stood in the hallway, silent. He turned to look at Sloan.  Sloan watched him as he lifted his gauntlet arm. Markus slowly turned his arm so that the “Pax” engraving was facing him. He sighed as he looked at it and then looked at Sloan.
“Latin for peace,” he stated quietly. “We have the duty of maintaining peace.”
“You know this isn’t right!” Sloan pleaded. “They may have broken the law by possessing these children, but they are the victims.”
Markus stared at his gauntlet.
“We must do our duty,” he stated as he clenched his fist.
As Sloan’s heart sank and he heard the Mayor sigh in relief Markus dropped his arm.
“We ensure there can be peace, and these children will not be at peace until there is justice.”
Sloan looked at his partner in surprise.
“What?” the Mayor questioned, panic in is voice.
“Will you leave these children once you have finished what you have come to do?” Markus asked as he looked up at the children.
“He who took our souls has been sent to the flames of the Underworld. He is all that is left,” one of the children stated quietly as they pointed at the Mayor.
Markus dropped the sleeve of his trench coat over his gauntlet as he began walking out of the office through the mass of children that wound their way up the staircase from the lobby. Sloan ran after Markus as the Mayor’s pitiful screams echoed throughout the building. The men walked past the receptionist who was cowering under her desk.
As they drove away from Palnor Harbour, the fog that had surrounded the city slowly lifted.
“How do you think the Order will take that?” Sloan asked as he looked at his partner with a new found respect.
“We shall see,” Markus replied, his gaze fixed on the road.
Sloan suddenly felt his arm tingle as his gauntlet began to glow. The voice of the Order filled his mind.
“You are to return to the City of Helven immediately…”
Sloan and Markus looked at one another.
“A pack of Werewolves has gotten out of hand”
“Looks like they took it alright,” Markus stated with a grin.

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Project CYCLO

Project CYCLO

                Privacy is an interesting concept in a world where so many have freely given up on the idea. The thought of living in a world where your entire life is not put on display seems almost alien now.  We know what is happening in one another’s lives on a day to day basis, minute to minute. I can open up a social networking site and find out not only where my niece is but what she is eating and how long she has been there for. The trails that are left by each and every one of us are growing and no one seems to care about the ramifications.
A morning fog slowly wound its way through the trees gathered just outside of my kitchen window as I pondered this, my palms tingling from the warmth of my cup of tea.  There was a silence in the fog as it surrounded my home which had become my sanctuary from a world that was changing too fast for me. I live alone and that is the way I prefer it. I have always kept to myself and for good reason.
When I first started out as a young man in the world of law enforcement I worked on the beat. During those days everything was hands on and it felt like I had a purpose.  If something bad happened I would get a call and off I would go to do what I could to solve the case. There was gratification in what I did. Sifting through piles of evidence to come to any sort of conclusion was what it was all about. It was all great when we would catch the bad guys but as I look back on it now I think it was the process more than anything that really held me. 
As I stood reminiscing about the cliché “good ol’ days” my heart sank as I fell painfully back into reality. I could feel my hand starting to shake as it grasped my warm mug filled with the steaming discolored water. My lungs ached as I took a deep, long breath in to calm myself.
I chose to live in the woods to escape from a world that was much too revealing for my tastes. Unlike so many others, I didn’t want everyone to know what I was doing, no matter how close they were to me. I just thanked god that I had not been born into the CYCLO generation. Those poor bastards truly had their privacy stripped from them and it was utterly out of their control.
The CYCLO project was introduced almost 35 years ago now and was actually for all intents and purposes developed with the best of intentions. I really didn’t disagree with the program, as it sure made the world of policing a lot easier, almost too easy.
Prior to the launch of CYCLO the economists of the world had been predicting the downfall of our society but no one had expected it to happen so quickly or in such a devastating manner. While the world fell apart the human population did what everyone expected and panicked. Unfortunately, although the response was anticipated no one was prepared.  The world fell into anarchy as food shortages reached an all-time high and even those who had been weathering out the storm previously, also began to starve. Just as cities began burning across the world and hordes of people marched on their respective government facilities the world leaders joined together and signed an agreement.  In a split second the world went from divided countries to an organized Global Government.  Once the Global Government had been formed the previous leaders became members of the High Council. The armed forces were launched on the people of the world to quell all riots and rebellions. Millions were slaughtered through a show of force by the Council.
I had my part to play in the blood shed, as we were ordered to fight alongside the Council armies. It was a disgusting, terrible time. I have not slept an entire night since. A person can only kill so many innocent people without seeing their mangled bodies in the dark silence of the night. 
Once the blood shed had ended and the people of the world were so beaten down that their only choice was to comply, the High Council began to rebuild society. At least that is what they called it. The world did return, for the most part, back to normal with the exception of the High Council. It may not have even been a bad thing that the world was united under a common banner, but the manner in which it was done will leave me wondering for the rest of my life if it was worth it.
It was frightening to watch how quickly the world was stabilized. As people returned to their lives and began working on rebuilding projects and new world connection initiatives that were meant to bring the new global community together, a wide spread wealth began to circulate. It was not long after that that people once again were happily distracted with technology, entertainment and consumption. As far as many were concerned everything was good once again.
I have come to realize that there will never be a balance on this earth when it comes to humans. No matter how much wealth there was to spread around there were still those who suffered.  There still remained those throughout the world who lived in poverty which caused them to resort to crime as their means of survival. This posed a significant problem to the High Council as in their utopian society there was no room for criminal activity.
Thus, the CYCLO project was born, literally. As the High Council saw it, crime could not be committed when there was absolutely zero chance that the perpetrator could get away with such disgraceful conduct. The Council enacted the Law of CYCLO which took effect immediately with ocular implants being placed in every single child that was born or would be born for the foreseeable future. The CYCLO implants enabled the Council to order authorization for law enforcement to access the databases of stored visual and audio memories of every living person in the world who had been born after CYCLO’s inception. After the memories were obtained they were used to convict the criminal, as there was no way for them to deny their actions. It was not an immediate fix to the problem although as time progressed and the people without the implants died, those left would be unable to hide anything they ever did.
It certainly was a fresh breath of air for us police, as no longer could the guilty deny their involvement or get some high end lawyer to get them off on a technicality. It makes for a very hard defence when your client’s memories are displayed on a screen for the whole court to see. More than one defence counselor quit on the spot while their client was depicted laughing while beating their wife or committing some other despicable crime. The only down side to the project for me was that the real hands on work that I loved so much virtually came to an end. There were still those in the world without CYCLO who would commit crimes but then all you needed to do was get the visual memories of a witness, even if they didn’t realize they were a witness. Gathering evidence and following trails was a thing of the past.
Now my job consisted of sitting at a computer and accessing and reviewing visual memories whenever an authorization was granted by the High Council. After the memories were reviewed and the guilty identified the arrest team was dispatched and the suspect was brought in and convicted on the spot. I was lucky to have survived the policing cuts, as the need for police officers dropped immensely.
My lips touched the edge of my mug as I slowly lifted it upwards and cold tea ran past my tongue and down my throat. I glanced back towards my kitchen wall clock and realized how long I had been standing at the window. I was going to be late for work.
The remainder of my tea was dumped down the sink as I dropped the mug carelessly onto the counter, causing it to rotate precariously back and forth. In as swift of a motion as I could muster for my age I lifted my jacket off the coat rack while opening the front door with a fingerprint reading terminal on the door frame.
My one arm was barely through the jacket sleeve as I pulled on it with my exposed arm and kicked my cars electrical plug out of its charging station. The cord automatically wound itself back into the cars battery compartment where the engine would have been on a gasoline vehicle. The gentle humming of the electric engine broke the silence as I backed out of the gravel drive way.
The forest of trees that surrounded the edge of the road way began to recede into sparse groupings as the city scape came into view over the horizon. Every day it was as though I was entering a different world, the buildings growing out of the ground and replacing the natural forest for one of metal and glass. As I entered the urban jungle shadows spread across the windshield of my car from the towering sky rails which connected the cities across the world. Living outside of the city was the only way to be disconnected from the main system. It cost me more with living expenses and owning my own vehicle, but to me it was all worth it.
The throngs of people on the sidewalks seemed to blend into the surrounding canvas of the city as I sped past them. My body lurched forward slightly as my cars on board computer automatically decelerated to match the city speed limit. I sighed in frustration as my foot pointlessly pushed the accelerator pedal toward the floor. The buildings and people around me had slowed down enough for me to take a moment to look at them. One person in particular caught my eye as they stood in the middle of the sidewalk staring straight ahead. The person’s body was rigid and their face was a mash of pain and confusion. Groups of people brushed passed this individual without a second look as they continued throughout their busy morning. As I craned my neck back to look at the person I could just see their face relax as they blinked and continued walking.
A loud high pitched alarm went off as my cars collision proximity indicator sounded. My head spun forward as the car came to an abrupt stop. Standing at the front of the car was a man in a suit. I began rolling down my window to apologize. The man looked at me through the windshield, his face blank. Without a word or any indication of any emotion, the man continued walking across the street. My hand went limp as I stopped pushing the window control, watching as the man walked away and disappeared into the sea of people on the sidewalk. Fumbling with the controls, the window began to roll back up as I tried to make sense of the expression, or lack of, on the man’s face.
Absentmindedly, I continued through the streets and came to the large reinforced steel doors of the police station of Sector 8. The doors opened automatically as I approached, the sensors detecting the security chip implanted in my right arm. My hands released the steering wheel as the automatic parking computer of the building took control of my cars computer and directed it to the closest available spot.
A noise like the sound of an elevator ding filled the car through its speakers, indicating a message from the building. 
“Sgt. Carn, you are 10 minutes late for your scheduled shift. Sufficient funds to cover the missed time have been automatically withdrawn from your pay check and a formal reprimand has been added to your personal file. Have a nice day.” the far too chipper computer voice stated.
“Fuck.” I snapped as I punched my steering wheel.
I would never be able to figure out how a soul less computer could get under my skin so much, but every time I heard that voice it made my muscles tense up.  Stepping out of my car I could feel dirt and gravel crunching beneath my feet. The sound of my car door being slammed echoed throughout the underground parking lot. The elevator to my floor was already waiting with its doors open. As I stepped inside the elevator closed and without saying a word or touching a single button I was taken where I was supposed to go. The high speed elevator came to a stop without a sound as the doors opened up revealing my floor which was at the top of the 26 story building.
“You’re late.”
Clenching my teeth I turned to see a member of the uniformed arrest team sitting arrogantly on the corner of my desk.
“So I have been told,” I replied. “What do you want officer Mcneil?”
Mcneil lifted an electronic pad which displayed a document that I recognized immediately.
“Just approved this morning,” Mcneil replied with a grin.
I could have smacked that arrogant grin off his face, it didn’t take all that much to get an authorization for CYCLO memories and he was acting like he had been working on approval for months.  There really weren’t many officers left who had any idea what real police work was. As Mcneil continued to smirk I sat in my desk chair. The computer recognizing my security implant automatically started up and I began syncing Mcneil’s authorization with my computer.  As I continued to work, another uniformed member came up to my desk as Mcneil bragged about his latest authorization. 
“So what did this asshole do?”
“I think he robbed a grocery store or something.” Mcneil replied while shrugging.
“Whatever happened with that assault complaint you got?” the other officer asked with a smirk.
“Soon as they showed my CYCLO recordings and it was obvious the guy had it coming, the review board dismissed the whole thing.” Mcneil stated as both chuckled.
“You remember that guy that tried to car jack that lady but kept his eyes closed to avoid recording what he was doing?”
Mcneil laughed as he slapped his knee.
“Yeah the moron got hit by oncoming traffic!” Mcneil replied as the other officer howled.
Half-heartedly listening to the conversation between the uniformed officers the screen in front of me started playing images recorded from Mcneil’s suspect’s ocular implants. Everything seemed to be a normal day for the guy as he walked off of the sky train and onto a platform overlooking the city below. The suspect proceeded to walk towards an elevator which took him down to the streets. As he stepped out onto the sidewalk he stopped. The screen went dark and then the images reappeared a few times as the suspect blinked. Mcneil and the other officer had gathered behind me to watch the show.
“Why is he just standing there?” Mcneild asked.
“No idea.” I replied as I continued to watch, somewhat confused.
It had been a good minute or two since the suspect had done anything but blink. The sound of the busy streets coming out of the computer speakers was suddenly replaced by a deafening screeching sound. I cringed as I lowered the volume.
“What the hell was that?” the other officer asked as he took his hands away from his ears.
Just as the officer had finished speaking the computer screen went black.
“Dammit.” I yelled as I tried to turn the screen back on.
 As my hand hovered over the “on” switch I could see blue light shining through my fingers. I touched the main screen and the black screen minimized.
“That’s impossible.” I stated.
“What happened?” Mcneil asked angrily. “Did you screw up the recording?”
“Watch yourself,” I snapped back, “and no I didn’t screw it up, I couldn’t have corrupted a recording, no one can.”
I could tell Mcneil was losing patience.
“Start it from the beginning.” He said in frustration.
Keeping the volume down on the speakers, I started the recording from when the suspect entered the streets. At the exact same moment as before the screen went black.
“I don’t get it.” I said rubbing my chin.
“Fuck!” Mcneil yelled as he threw his authorization across the office. “That is all I have to convict this guy!”
I could feel my temperature rising as Mcneil got on my last nerve.
“This just shows why you shouldn’t be relying on this sort of technology so heavily, if you knew how to do a shred of actual police work you might still have something to go with.” I yelled back.
Mcneil turned towards me, rage in his eyes. He lifted his hand and pointed a finger at me as his mouth began to open. Just as I was expecting the verbal assault to commence there was nothing but silence. Mcneil’s once wild eyes went blank as his hand lowered to his side. Mcneil continued to stand still, his eyes looking through me.
“Mcneil?” the other officer asked hesitantly.
I stood up from my chair and walked around to the side of Mcneil who continued to stare at where I had just been. His face was devoid of any emotion, his eyes glossed over. His lip slowly started to quiver as his face began to twist in pain.
“Mcneil?” I yelled, concern starting to set in.
Although I didn’t like the guy, there was something really wrong with him. I went to grab his arm and attempt to get some kind of response from him when I recognized his behaviour. He was acting just like the person on the sidewalk.  He suddenly gasped and blinked as he looked around at the other officer and me.
“What was that?” I asked him cautiously.
He continued to stare at me with the same blank expression as the man I had almost hit crossing the street. His hand flinched as he grasped the handle of his pistol on his hip.
“What the fuck are you doing?” I shouted as he drew the pistol.
“Mcneil!” the other officer cried out as he drew his own pistol.
There was no warning as Mcneil fired a single shot at the other officer who slumped to his knees and fell forward, a pool of blood growing around his head. Instincts took over as I punched Mcneil in the side of the head just as he turned towards me. The strike distracted him giving me a chance to grab the fallen officer’s pistol. As I turned to take aim at Mcneil he had already recovered and was squeezing back on the trigger of his firearm. The glass behind Mcneil shattered as I slowly released the trigger of the pistol I was holding. Mcneil staggered and then fell over backwards.
 My head was light as I stood up, my shoes soaked in blood from the officer Mcneil had killed. I looked around the office expecting other officers to come rushing in at the sound of gun shots. There was no sound of anyone coming down the hall, or any sound for that matter.
Slowly walking towards Mcneil, still trying to make sense of what had happened the screams of a woman broke the silence. I ran to the edge of the broken window and looked out to see a woman being thrown from a moving sky train. Helplessly watching her fall to the streets below, she disappeared in a horde of people walking down the center of the road. There was a group running ahead of them. As the group continued to run shots rang out from the streets below they fell to the ground, dead. Uniformed officers surrounded the dead bodies as the horde of people reached them and they joined together.
I stepped back from the open window as my head raced, my mind trying to comprehend what I was seeing. Confused thoughts circulated through my brain as they mixed with images of the riot suppressions, years ago. This was all too familiar and yet so foreign.
Stumbling as I turned around toward the elevator I entered it and clung to the side railing.
“Inspector’s office.” I gasped, feeling as though I was about to vomit.
Even though the elevator was traveling at an extremely high rate of speed, the time between floors felt like hours passing. As the doors opened the smell of gunpowder and urine filled the air. I stepped out into a pool of blood. The hallway was filled with officers and CYCLO analyst’s bodies. I fell against the hallway wall as I began staggering towards the Inspector’s closed office doors.
As I approached the office I heard someone coming around the corner at the end of the hall, their feet sloshing through puddles of blood. I spun around to see a uniformed officer breaking into a run as he lifted a shotgun and took aim at me. Before I even had a chance to aim my own weapon the officer rotated and fell to the ground violently. My ears rang as I felt a hand grab the back of my jacket and drag me backwards.
The hand let me go as I fell onto my back, my eyes locked on the ceiling as the Inspector’s face appeared over top of me. His lips were moving but I could not hear what he was saying.  My eyes widened as the black barrel of his shotgun was pointed at my forehead. I lifted my hands non-threateningly. Slowly, the sound of the Inspector yelling began to become clearer.
“Carn, is that you?” the Inspector bellowed. “I swear to god if you don’t answer me I will blow your brains out!”
The Inspector racked the shot gun as I panicked to make any sort of noise escape my lips.
“It…it’s…me!” I blurted out.
My eyes were locked on the shotgun barrel as it lowered away from my head and the Inspector’s tense shoulders relaxed. He sighed and helped me to my feet.
“Of course it is, you are too old.” The Inspector stated.
Still clutching the shot gun the Inspector walked around his desk and sat in his chair, his head in his hands.
There was silence as his fingers gripped his grey hair.
“Inspector Martin…” I began.
“Everything, they control it all.” The Inspector began.
I wasn’t entirely following him, although he seemed to be lost in a train of thought that I was not about to interrupt while his shotgun sat so close by.
“What were we thinking?”
The Inspector’s hands curled into fists as he slammed them down onto his desk.
“Well?” he demanded, his eyes narrowing. “What the hell were we thinking?”
“I don’t even know what is happening here.” I replied hesitantly.
His face scrunched up in frustration.
“Come on Carn, you are smarter than that, look at us. We are some of the only ones not going bat shit crazy, you tell me what is going on here!” he stated expectantly.
The pieces slowly started to fall into place as I looked into the eyes of the Inspector. His face creased with the lines of age and his skin weathered by time. The gleam in his eyes, was from emotion.
The Inspector sighed.
“But what is happening?” I asked.
He hesitated as he looked at his desk and then looked back at me. His eyes searched me as though looking for approval. He closed his eyes as he began to speak.
“Since day one, CYCLO has been flawed,” he stated quietly. “Or rather some saw it as flawed while others saw it as a miscalculated opportunity. The ocular implants began fusing with the nervous systems of the test patients back when the project was first in development. The developers didn’t think it was going to cause any problems. In fact, they thought it would create the potential for not only monitoring society but also in necessary circumstances, controlling society.”
“You have got to be kidding me!” I stated in disgust.
The Inspector looked at me, panic in his eyes.
“You don’t understand there had not been any issues with it after such a long period of time that no one thought it would ever pose a problem!”
“Obviously there is a problem!” I snapped back. “Are you telling me that the control aspect of CYCLO worked?”
The Inspector swallowed hard.
“Yes,” he replied slowly. “It has worked and has been utilized.”
The bastards had done it. Not only had they been able to monitor everything happening in the world, they could control what was happening.
“How could anyone ever choose when it was alright to use that kind of control?” I asked angrily.
“It was only in the most extreme cases, certain individuals had the necessary authorizations in order to avoid catastrophic incidents.” The Inspector replied.
“Certain individuals like you?”
“Only when necessary,” the Inspector replied, his facial expression hardening.
“Wouldn’t this be one of those instances, if ever, that you initiated some sort of control?”
The Inspector spun his computer screen around to face me. I slowly approached the desk as the writing across the screen became clear.
My eyes darted from the screen to the Inspector’s face which had gone pale.
“There is no control anymore,” he stated quietly. “We have lost it all. Not only did CYCLO fuse with the brains of those it was installed in, it has completely taken over them. Those people out there on the streets, that officer I just shot, none of them are themselves anymore. It started less than 24 hours ago and now it has spread across the globe.”
“If they are not themselves, what are they?”
The Inspector looked up from his hands which he had been staring at intently. His gaze met mine.
“They are the system, they are everything they can control everything. The world has been connected by a main system that was thought to be impenetrable. There was no way for it to be accessed by anyone without the strictest of authorizations. But the CYCLO project was built into the system, it is a part of it. Those now controlled by the CYCLO have complete unhindered access to absolutely everything in the world. Not only that, but they have locked the rest of us out.”
“For what purpose?” I asked panicked.
“The only people the CYCLO’s are killing are those without implants,” the Inspector explained. “It’s an extermination.”
My heart was pounding in my chest as I looked out through the window behind the Inspector’s desk smoke was rising into the air. Screams were beginning to break the silence.  There was a flash that I caught out of the corner of my eye. I turned to the Inspector’s screen to see that the words had changed. There was a beep and before I could read the words the Inspector had turned the monitor back towards himself. His eyes began to fill with tears as he clenched his jaw.
“What?” I questioned as I walked around his desk.
I fell to my knees as I read the words.
My eyes closed as the sound of the Inspector weeping was drowned out by the shattering of glass all around us.