Something a little different today folks My brother, Alex Healy, and I have been working on an action adventure science fiction novel! Neither one of us has attempted a novel before but being ambitious types we’ve decided to write (at least) a trilogy. The first in the series is OUT NOW and can be sampled or purchased on Amazon, with the other two books to release before the end 2013.
And so I present to you the prologue and first chapter of book one in the Gyaros series of books, “The Mice Eat Iron”. Please enjoy the prologue and first chapter.
WARNING: This book is adult fiction and contains violence, course language, adult themes and horror elements. If you find any of those offensive or disturbing you might want to avoid reading this post. Gyaros is meant to be thrilling and fun escapism, but don’t say I didn’t warn you about the adult content
And with that I present to you Gyaros: The Mice Eat Iron!
On Gyaros, The Mice Eat Iron:
An article by Gerrit Webster of The Carthage News & Education Network
For the last three years in a row, Delta Network’s hit series Wasteland Dan has topped the world wide entertainment charts. If you’ve been living under a rock recently, Wasteland Dan follows the fictional character Dan Steele, bounty hunter operating on the great red moon, Gyaros. The show (an adaptation of Cliff Nicandro’s comic book series, STEELE) is packed full of over the top action and violence as the protagonist blasts his way through hordes of murderers, drug lords and other criminal scum, acting as a beacon of hope and justice on the harsh desert moon. But is this an accurate portrayal of life on Gyaros? That’s a question I set out to answer. For twenty nine days, my crew and I experienced a taste of Gyaros living as we travelled to the moon accompanied by a team of highly trained Carthage combat operatives to film a ground breaking documentary which is to be released later in the year. The contents of this article may be shocking to some readers.
Let’s start with a brief history of Gyaros:
In -114 global population was at an all-time high and natural planetary resources were running low, this prompted several corporate nations to explore methods of population control and alternative energy sources. The unscrupulous Talos Corporation – the greatest corporate power at the time – put into action steps toward terraforming and colonizing our planet’s second largest moon, Gyaros. This was at the expense of those suffering on Medea (as our planet was known back then). Millions perished as resources were shifted from the social schemes to the colonial expansion programs. Through the hard work of The Talos Corp engineers and scientists, and thanks to advanced Chimerium based atmosphere and weather control towers (known as Wilhelm Station after Artur Wilhelm, inventor of the technology) 38% of the moon’s surface was liveable by -97. Over the next forty two years, Gyaros grew as a successfully maintained off-world colony, funded and operated by Talos Corp. However, when the people of Medea had had enough, and the war of unification broke out in -55, Talos began spending more resources on military campaigns and less on maintaining Gyaros. In year 1 Carthage Corporation successfully defeated Talos Corporation, uniting all nations under one government, abolishing the mining and use of Chimerium and cutting off all funding to Gyaros in order to focus efforts on supporting our ailing home planet. Without the stabilising force of Talos Corp, life on the surface of Gyaros soon descended into a chaotic mess as criminal gangs rose up to fight over the remaining resources.
Today, 61 years on, Gyaros is rightly used as a place of exile for criminals and non-earners. With no law and no official government, Gyaros is said to be as close to hell as one can get in this life, and is often referred to as The Devil’s Moon. However, very little is known about real everyday life on the moon as there have been no successful attempts made to document the living standards of Gyaros from the ground, until now.
Carthage to Gyaros is usually a one way trip for anyone unlucky enough to be shuttled there, but my crew and I were taken to the moon via a modified Carthage Transit Craft (the kind normally used to travel between our planet and various orbital space stations) which would return a month later to take us back home. We were accompanied by a team of highly trained Special Enforcer Combat Operatives (SECOs) to ensure our relative safety throughout the journey. Most of our time on Gyaros was spent in New Fortune, the moon’s largest city and capital. This article will focus on some of the experiences I had and people I met during my time there.
One of the first things that most citizens of modern day Carthage would notice about Gyaros is the abundance of personal vehicles and yet the complete lack of any road laws or regulations governing their use, making automobiles a serious danger for any pedestrians, especially in a crowded city such as New Fortune. The death toll and environmental destruction caused by these metal monsters simply galvanizes the Areopagus’ decision to eliminate them completely here on Carthage. But cars are far from the greatest danger on Gyaros. The streets of New Fortune were littered with corpses, most of which seemed to be the victims of gang related violence; a very prominent issue within the city. I was lucky enough to speak with a high ranking “Lieutenant” of New Fortune’s most powerful criminal organization, The Force. Lieutenant Ozias explained to me how in the absence of any political structure, all businesses and services in New Fortune, from burger joints and strip clubs to banks and hospitals, are operated or funded by the various criminal gangs, or syndicates as they prefer to be known. The Force represent the unofficial police of Gyaros, protecting and serving those who can afford it, and punishing those who cannot.
With no official universities or medical schools, healthcare is an interesting subject on Gyaros. It isn’t difficult to find a doctor in New Fortune, just walk down any street and you’ll most likely find someone offering to cut you open for a relatively low fee, however finding someone even remotely qualified to perform any serious operation is an entirely different – and much more expensive – matter. Every now and then, trained surgeons end up on shuttles to Gyaros and are desperately sought after by criminal organizations all over the moon who offer protection and a generous pay cheque in exchange for their talents. If you arrive on Gyaros with medical experience, you’ve got it made.
I interviewed a female Elissa University medical student who has been in the employment on another of New Fortune’s criminal syndicates, The Machine, for three years. She was sent to Gyaros in 58 for criminal negligence and manslaughter when a medical mix up caused the deaths of twelve patients. She told me that almost immediately after her arrival on Gyaros, she was approached by a Machine scout who offered her a job in New Fortune. According to her, she performs an average of three to five operations per week, her usual rates ranging from 28,000 to 40,000 Talons (the archaic physical currency of Gyaros) depending on the complexity of the procedure.
However, not everyone is a qualified surgeon and not everyone has what it takes to survive more than a few hours on Gyaros. If you are of no use to an established criminal syndicate then a sentence of exile is as good as a sentence of death. During my time on the unforgiving moon, I met countless individuals struggling to survive day to day in a kill or be killed environment, stealing and murdering for scraps of food. Many of the people I met did not even survive my twenty nine day visit. My team was violently attacked on a daily basis and without the protection of three of Carthage’s elite SECOs, there was no way we could have made it past the first day in once piece. To give an example of these terrifying and regular attacks, I’ll leave you with the story of one of our many violent and shocking experiences and one that I am saddened to say resulted in the death of my good friend and camera man, Jay Morgan.
It was only five days since we had arrived in New Fortune and on the way to an interview my team and I found ourselves in the middle of a raging gang war. As we walked cautiously through the streets I heard a single gunshot (which is by no means an uncommon occurrence on Gyaros). I turned to my right to see a member of The Force collapse onto the ground outside of a fast food restaurant and before I could figure out what had happened, one of our guards grabbed me forcefully and pulled me behind a parked car along with the rest of my three man crew. Then everything seemed to explode in an instant, several more Force members came rushing out of the restaurant to face the attackers; five masked men armed with handguns and assault rifles who had pulled up in a van which they were now taking cover behind. The ambushed members of The Force took cover behind whatever they could find and returned fire. The battle raged on with both sides spraying bullets in the general direction of the other, shooting and killing several civilians in the process. It was absolute pandemonium, unlike anything I’d ever seen. Jay, complaining that he was unable to get a decent shot of the action, asked our guards to escort him closer to the battle. When they refused, Jay rushed out on his own, sprinting across to the other side of the road. Before he could reach cover however, he was shot several times, falling to the ground, alive but gravely wounded. Our escort, previously avoiding the conflict, quickly opened fire at both sides in an attempt to end the fire fight as soon as possible and save Jay if they could. The SECOs efficiently dispatched the shooters with clinical speed and accuracy. Once the shooting had stopped and the last of the gang members were killed, we all rushed out to Jay who had already lost a lot of blood and was unable to speak due to a bullet hole through his neck. By the time our field medic had stopped the bleeding Jay had sadly passed away. He was an incredibly brave man and a credit to the journalism profession.
My time on the savage red moon has given me a new perspective of life on Carthage. Each breath of clean air on our beautiful blue and green planet is a precious gift, each day of productivity is a privilege, each contribution to the betterment of our society an honour, and each moment with our families should be cherished. Do not let it go to waste. Gyaros is not a place you want to find yourself.
A more complete journal of my travels, including extended interviews with many Gyaros inhabitants can be seen in the upcoming full length documentary, The Devil’s Moon: A Journey to Gyaros.
Ding-dong, “now arriving at Apollo Parade,” spoke a soft female voice over the monorail’s public address system.
Having finished the article Miles looked up from the flex screen before folding it twice and placing it into the top left pocket of his suit jacket. He looked around at the other passengers, some reading the news on their flex screen readers, others chatting animatedly to their colleagues about the sporting events of the weekend. Others still sat silently, staring into space, ‘trouble at home probably’, thought Miles to himself, something he had plenty of experience with. The next stop was Miles’ and it was coming up to his favourite part of the daily monorail commute. Between the stops of Apollo Parade and The Hesperides’ Garden was the most magnificent view in all of Elissa, an incredible aerial vista of The Hesperides’ Garden itself. Miles sat in excited anticipation, as he did every day, while patiently enduring the long and featureless tunnel section that precedes the spectacular view.
Suddenly the morning sunlight filled the carriage, Miles stood and steadied himself with one of the many handles that hung from the carriage ceiling, and stared in wonder at the beauty below. Lush greenery and foliage spread across a massive ten square kilometres of the city’s ground level, a monument to Carthage’s commitment to protect its natural environments. Flocks of exotic birds flew majestically over the expansive lakes and parklands. A massive green scar down the middle of the otherwise pale white monoliths that made up the skyline of Elissa. The trees and natural splendour of the gardens reflected and painted themselves onto the surrounding buildings, creating a ring of shimmering emerald towers.
Usually Miles would look down for the full 8 minutes that the gardens are visible, but today, having just read the article on Gyaros, he took a moment to look up. Miles raised his gaze to the large red moon in the sky, Gyaros the land of exile, where the worst criminals, deviants, miscreants, and those deemed unfit to populate the verdant and prosperous home world of Carthage were sent to rot. Those banished to Gyaros had no hope of ever returning to Carthage’s capital, nor any other part of Carthage for that matter as the means to do so simply did not exist. Due to technical limitations and the rationing of unrenewable fuel sources, a trip to Gyaros was a one way ticket. And thanks to no new technology or resources having reached the surface of Gyaros in over sixty years, those on Gyaros lacked the means to build or fuel any kind of craft capable of returning to Carthage. Miles stared at the red moon with a sense of foreboding, there it sat up in the sky menacingly, a constant reminder to the citizens of Elissa what awaits any who should go against the will of the Areopagus, Carthage’s single unifying government and judicial body.
And then Gyaros was gone in an instant as the monorail entered another tunnel. Miles collected himself and prepared to disembark at the next stop. Picking up his brief case, he made his way to the sliding doors, pre-empting the morning rush that ensued every day when the doors opened. Ding-dong, “now arriving at The Hesperides’ Garden” said the same soft female voice. The automated doors slid open and Miles’ was hit with the awesome sound of over one thousand busy commuters making their way through Hesperides’ Plaza on their way to their specific departments.
Miles worked in The Energy Department on floor 103, and at the age of twenty nine had so far given five years of loyal service to the Elissa Energy Department since leaving college at twenty four. It was a good job, secure with benefits and a salary that rose with each yearly cycle. Miles’ wife Hellen worked for the research division of The Biochemistry Department, and between them they were able to afford to care for themselves and their 4 year old son Chet. The Stanton’s, your regular modern Elissan family, except that not all was well at home. For the past year Miles and Hellen’s relationship had been strained, awkward and moody. Miles could never put his finger on it, but there was something very off. Perhaps it was simply a normal part of marriage and raising a child, perhaps it would pass given time. Until such time as peace returned to their marriage Miles viewed his job as somewhat of a sanctuary, a place of certainty, regularity and predictability. A place where he could forget about the family for a while and simply enjoy some Miles time.
Miles made his way across Hesperides’ Plaza to the central column, passing by the cafés where those with later shifts enjoyed a morning coffee, the smell of which filled Miles nostrils. He took a deep breath of the rich brew and thought ahead to his lunch hour when he would enjoy a coffee himself. At the central column of the bright white super structure stood a row of identical elevators numbered one, through fifteen. Miles crammed himself into one of the lifts with around thirty of his colleagues. A robotic melody played before the doors shut tight and the large glass elevator began its high speed ascent. Miles once again enjoyed a fleeting glimpse of the beautiful Hesperides’ Garden before the elevator reached floor 103 and he and his work mates hurriedly disembarked.
Stepping across the threshold into The Department of Energy, Miles turned right and began the familiar walk to his cubicle as he did every day of the week, excluding weekends of course, which he spent at home with Hellen and Chet. A genuine and soft smile drew across Miles’ face as he made his way to his desk, his dark eyes shone and the entirety of his thin, and usually serious face, glowed with relief as he looked forward to another simple day doing what he knew best, away from the turmoil of home life. It’s a sad state of affairs when a man must find happiness in the avoidance of pain, rather than the enjoyment of pleasure, but this would not dissuade Miles from eagerly lapping up every peaceful second of his working day. When one becomes accustomed to pain, the absence of it feels as much like pleasure as any sensory delight one could imagine.
Miles breathed deeply in through his nose and sucked up the familiar smell of his office. The scent of plastic and warm computers, carpet cleaning products, and the perfumes and deodorants of a hundred different people. The décor of the Energy Department was much like the décor of the other administrative departments of Elissa, which was much the same as Elissa itself. That is to say sleek and white with a smattering of vegetation to break up the uniformity of the pale white design. Miles smiled again as he overheard his co-workers in conversation, picking up snippets of news, sporting events, or what happened on last night’s episode of Wasteland Dan, still the most popular visor vision series on The Carthage Vision Network.
Miles was not the social type, preferring to keep to himself. He did however enjoy listening in to the chit chat of others, silently joining in the conversation with his own ideas and opinions, of which he kept to himself. Miles was not entirely without friends though, thanks to Clark Tenor who worked in the booth directly opposite his. Clark was chubby and jovial, happy to reinforce the stereotypical association between portliness and the carrying of an air of cheerfulness. Clark was a genuinely spritely guy, polite and decent with a beaming round face that disarmed those in even the foulest of moods. Clark warmed to Miles early on as they began working the same year and had been close ever since, often enjoying time together outside of work hours.
Finally Miles reached his cubicle, slid his briefcase under his desk and upon taking a seat placed his hands, palms down onto the clean white surface in front of him.
“Verifying, please wait,” spoke a robotic male voice. “Verification complete. Welcome Back Miles Stanton. Please have a productive day.”
And with that a screen, no more than a centimetre thick rose directly out of the top of the desk between Miles’ two hands. The screen flipped up to reveal a keyboard and navigation pad below. The keyboard then tilted down toward Miles and he began typing away. As he did every morning, Miles navigated straight to his emails and as usual there were around thirty unread messages. His eyes scanned the subject lines in order to determine which of the emails required his attention most urgently.
14/06/61 07:32 – “Mr Stanton, The Accounting Department requires the latest power consumption reports for Elissa’s South West Green Districts.”
14/06/61 07:58 – “Mr Stanton, The Legal Department requires your report on the latest power surge in Elissa’s Eastern Yellow Districts which resulted in the expiration of the Stevenage family.”
14/06/61 08:13 – “Miles, don’t forget about the half year office party this Friday, bring your wife and remember it’s fancy dress.”
14/06/61 08:26 – “Miles honey, we need to talk. Hellen”
Miles froze, he read it again.
“Miles honey, we need to talk. Hellen”
He hovered his cursor over the link to open the message but could not bring himself to click it. First of all Hellen had not called Miles ‘honey’ in over a year, so his suspicions were immediately raised. ‘What on Carthage could she want?’ Miles thought to himself. Secondly there was no way the content of the email was good, no one has ever said ‘we need to talk’ when they had some good news to share! Thirdly Hellen had not emailed Miles at work since their first two years of marriage, which happened to be over 2 years ago. There was once a time when Hellen would send virtual hugs and kisses, messages of support and even the odd ‘Not Safe For Work’ email describing in graphic detail exactly what she was going to do to him when they got home. But that was a long, long time ago. And finally Hellen was not one to hold back, usually if she had something to say she would scream it across the kitchen for the neighbours to hear. An email was highly uncharacteristic of her. ‘This is big, this must be some very serious shit,’ Miles repeated to himself shaking slightly now, beads of sweat forming on his brow. ‘Is she leaving me? Or could this be about Chet, oh shit has something happened to Chet?!’
As soon as he realised that Chet might be hurt Miles quickly snapped out of his stupor, took a deep breath and brought his finger down to open the message. But before he could do so, a familiar face poked out from the cubicle wall in front of him.
“Hey Miles!” beamed Clark, his big round face grinning infectiously over the partition between their respective work stations. “How you doing? You don’t look well, are you sick? Those damn mosquitos have been giving everyone Aegean Malaria, you didn’t catch it too did you? It’s no biggie, you just take a shot and it goes, but the symptoms tend to last a week or so. That’s one nasty week you’ve got ahead of you if it’s Aegean Malaria!”
Miles, still frozen could barely muster a response.
“Ugh, ha, n-no, I’m fine, I shouldn’t have skipped breakfast, that’s all,” he managed to stammer weakly. Clark frowned, doubting the honesty of what he’d just heard, but his face quickly returned to a wide smile.
“Ha! Slept in this morning did we? You should get to bed early on a Sunday night, I didn’t pick you for the partying type.”
Miles attempted a shaky smile and spoke, “No it’s not that, I just had a lot of reports to get through before today, did you hear about what happened to that Stevenage family who died during the power surge?”
Clark’s smile quickly fell from his face. “Yes that was horrible, all three of them burnt to a crisp. Investigators found them huddled in a corner. I heard they had to cremate them all together ‘cause their remains couldn’t be separated.” Clark swallowed dryly, as though trying to get rid of an unpleasant taste.
“Yeah, going through the grisly details of that case was not my idea of a nice Sunday evening,” Miles said still attempting to remain calm, all the while his thoughts racing about the contents of the mysterious email.
“So look I’ve got a lot to catch up on this morning Clark, why don’t we continue this conversation over lunch,” Miles smiled convincingly in an attempt to shake Clark off and get back to reading the message.
“Actually Miles, there’s something I need to talk to you about.” Clark’s face was uncharacteristically stern, and he spoke with a tone in his voice completely unfamiliar to Miles, one of absolute seriousness. First Hellen now Clark, what was going on?
“Look Clark I really am busy could you…” Before he could finish his sentence Clark cut him off.
“This can’t wait buddy, I’ve really gotta tell you something, it’s important that you hear it from me first.”
Miles’ heart sunk, ‘Oh crap, this can’t be good,’ he thought to himself. ‘Is it my job? I can’t lose my job! No way could they fire me, I don’t have a single mark against my name, I’ve always been an exemplary member of the staff here!’ Clark had by this time made his way around the partition and was crouching down beside Miles in his cubicle.
“Listen Miles,” said Clark in a low voice. “You have to promise me that you won’t do anything crazy when I tell you what I’m about to tell you. No matter how you feel, you’ve gotta take a breath, breathe it in deep, and don’t do anything rash.”
“Ok I promise, now please tell me what is going on,” Miles took a deep breath and tried to remain calm. Remaining calm was what he did all his life, if remaining calm were a talent he could win The Entertainment Department’s Visor Vision Talent Extravaganza of Elissa! He’d remained passive and calm for over a year of marital turmoil, he’d accepted every request to work over time without protestation, and being the shy type he’d suffered the jeers and jokes of co-workers for five long years. Suffice it to say that Miles could make this promise with a degree of certainly that few others could.
Clark continued, “Now I’m serious Miles, you really don’t want to do anything crazy, you’ve got a good life going here, you’ve got a young son, a stable job and you’ve got…” But before Clark could finish, Miles, losing his patience, and already stressed from life at home, violently grasped him by the collar, and bringing his face within an inch of Clark’s, Miles began to whisper ferociously.
“Just tell me what the fuck is going on Clark,” he growled through clenched teeth, Clark blinked as specs of saliva reinforced the message.
“Okay, okay, fine,” Clark said quietly now shaking, “it’s Tyler.”
“What about Tyler?” Miles said quietly and calmer than before. Tyler Riggs also worked in The Energy Department, and was a popular guy, good looking, funny, but with a cruel sense of humour. Miles could not count the number of times he had been the butt of a Tyler Riggs prank. Everything from sending Miles’ private messages around the office for all to see, to physically tripping Miles as if they were still in high school. Of course after the laughter had subsided Tyler would always say, “hey it’s just a joke man, take it easy. What’s wrong, can’t you laugh at yourself once in a while? Quit being so defensive, damn!” Tyler being the sector manager made things even worse. The diligent worker that he was, Miles would often be tasked with picking up the slack for the laziness or inability of his co-workers, not least Mr Riggs himself who had made a habit of palming off his undesirable work, and that of other workers onto Miles. This resulted in very late nights and extremely busy weekends for the overworked Miles Stanton.
“What did Tyler do this time?” Miles anxious now to hear what nefarious plot had been perpetrated against him on this occasion.
“It’s your wife Miles, it’s Hellen…” Clark stopped and brought his gaze to the floor, no longer able to maintain eye contact with Miles.
“Spit it out for God’s sake Clark, don’t do this to me!” Miles pleaded now shaking Clark by the collar, his hands balled into fists around Clark’s cotton work shirt, his knuckles as white as the office furniture.
Finally Clark began to speak again, his voice cracking, “it’s Tyler and Hellen, Miles, it’s not good.” Clark looked up to regain eye contact. “On my way out of work on Friday I overheard Tyler and his buddies, he’s been sleeping with her for the past three months. He said she’s getting ready to leave you and start a serious relationship with him.”
Miles’ grip loosened and all the colour, what was left of it, drained from his face completely. Waves of nausea pulsated from Miles’ stomach, up through his chest, and into his throat. He felt like he was going to be sick, his gut twisting and knotting upon hearing this news.
“B-but, when, how, i-it can’t be true,” Miles stammered, his eyes darting about frantically as he attempted to register what he’d just been told. “She works all day in The Biochemistry Research Facility, and I’m home on the weekends! It’s just not possible.”
“Yeah you’re at home on the weekend, catching up on work, but she sure isn’t. And you spend all your evenings here, shit you’re the last out of the office every damn night of the week! Don’t tell me it’s impossible, there’s plenty of occasion for it, and I heard it from Tyler himself,” Clark whispered back, relieved that he had gotten the information out into the open, no longer was the terrible secret eating him up inside.
“S-so wait, that bastard Tyler has had me working overtime so that he could fuck my wife?! I, I just, I can’t even…” Miles placed his hands to his face and slumped in his chair.
Clark leaned over and put an arm around Miles, “hey now, c’mon it’s going to be alright, you’re a tough guy, I’m here and I’ll help you get through it, we’re gonna work this out, everything is gonna be ok, you just stay calm and let it all out.”
A thousand thoughts raced through Miles’ head, not one of them coherent, until suddenly he remembered! The email, the mysterious message. There was no longer any doubt about what it was regarding. Miles sat up straight, much to Clark’s surprise, and brought his hands to his keyboard and navigation pad. Miles moved his cursor to the subject line, took a short, sharp breath and clicked…
I don’t know how to put this so I’m just going to come out and say it. We’re through, our marriage is over and I want you out of the house immediately, that means today. I’ve packed your belongings into one of the big cases, it contains everything you will need to spend the next few nights in a hotel. You can pick up the luggage after work and you can use your home computer to make accommodation arrangements and then you have to leave. Chet and I will not be there. If you refuse to leave, or make a scene I will alert The Enforcers.
I’ve already talked to my lawyer and we can begin the divorce proceedings when you are settled. We will be able to negotiate the splitting of our assets and custody of Chet over the next few weeks and months.
Don’t hate me Miles, I tried, I really tried to love you, to make our marriage work, but you’re never home, and when you are home you spend all your time working in your study. I once loved you deeply Miles but I can no longer pretend that I still do. I’m sorry that you had to find out this way, forgive me for I didn’t have the strength to say it to your face.
I hope that in time the pain will pass and we can remember the good times with fond memories.
I’m sorry, Miles.
Miles sat there stunned, his mouth agape, his mind blank. It was as though time had stopped, his surroundings seemed to disappear into black nothingness as the full magnitude of what he had just read began to dawn on him. His marriage was over, his five year marriage to his beloved college sweetheart was no more. The mother of his four year old son had ended, suddenly and without warning, their once perfect marriage. Despite the troubles of the past year it never once crossed Miles’ mind that it could be leading to something like this. Something so sudden, so fatal, so final. Divorce!
“Holy shit…” whispered Clark who, after witnessing Miles’ reaction, could not help but read the email from over Miles’ shoulder. He continued to speak, “whoa buddy, just…whoa. I am so sorry man, if I can do anything just ask. You know you can stay with me until things settle down. And listen I’m sure if you talk to Hellen you guys can work this whole messy business out. You just stay calm, and let’s get you out into the plaza for some fresh air and coffee, huh? What do you say?”
Miles had not moved an inch or said a word, nor had he registered a word of what Clark had just said. Miles felt his heart sink and all his energy begin to drain, he started to shake and could feel the urge to burst into tears coming on, waves of emotion swept over him as he began to take short, sharp breaths. He began hyperventilating.
“I can’t breathe,” said Miles panicking now, with real fear in his eyes. He reached out and steadied himself on Clark’s formidable shoulders. And then like a child Miles buried his face in Clark’s soft chest and began to sob uncontrollably.
By this time the other workers had started to notice that something was up and a small crowd was gathering around Miles’ cubicle.
The hushed mumblings of the onlookers could be heard.
“What’s wrong with him?”
“That’s Miles Stanton!”
“Was he fired?”
“My God, what a baby.”
Clark looked up angrily at the mob and spoke.
“Hey c’mon, give the guy some space. Let’s be decent human beings here, he’s going through a hard time for goodness sake!”
Miles was still bawling uncontrollably, turning a large part of Clarks light blue shirt several shades darker with his tears. It was a pathetic sight, a grown man crying in the arms of his friend, and one that only the cruellest of the cruel could make fun of. And then, as if on cue, who should appear but the one person that Miles did not want to see at this very moment.
“Ha! What are you crying about Miles?” asked Tyler Riggs, flanked on both sides by his cronies and smiling arrogantly. Tyler could not disguise his perverse enjoyment of the scene before him, he positively basked in the warm sense of schadenfreude he was extracting from witnessing Miles’ plight, as psychopaths tend to do in such situations.
“Hey, I don’t give you that much overtime do I? Haha!” Tyler continued to laugh and taunt, and his goons mimicked his laughter like parrots.
“Tyler, stop it,” Clark appealed in vain, “leave the guy alone, and get out of the way so I can take him to the plaza to get some air.”
“Hmmm, I could do that, but as your sector manager you require my permission to take an unscheduled break. And well, I just don’t feel like giving you one. Tell you what boys,” Tyler continued, glancing up to the large digital clock at the front of the office, “it’s only three more hours until lunch, why don’t you two get back to work before I decide to make you work through your lunch hour to make up for all this crying, huh?”
Tyler leaned over, hands in pockets and beamed a sadistic smile in Clark’s face. Clark’s eyes narrowed and his lips pursed knowing that Tyler was completely within his rights to do such a thing. Meanwhile Miles’s weeping, which had remained basically the same the entire time, began to subside, his sobs becoming less frequent as he regained control over his breath.
“Ok Tyler, we’ll get back to work, just give us a second to get organised,” Clark conceded, noticing that Miles’ condition had improved.
“NOW people, chop chop,” Tyler clapped his hands together repeatedly, hurrying his subordinates along. And as he turned to walk away, under his breath he muttered, “No wonder that bitch is done with your ass, fuckin’ pussy.”
Upon hearing those words Miles’ eyes opened suddenly and he felt intense, burning rage building up from deep within himself. His belly was filled with fire and his muscles were all at once incredibly strong and energised. This was usually the point at which Miles’ would clench his fists, bite his lip and use every ounce of his willpower to hold down his anger. Usually after a moment or two, thanks to deep breathing and reminding himself of the consequences of any kind of outburst, the feelings would subside and all would be back to normal. This worked for five long years, it worked for practical jokes, it worked for unfair workloads, it even worked for those times when Hellen would incessantly nit-pick and nag. This time however it was not going to do the trick. Miles simply did not possess the required amount of willpower needed to keep down this much anger. This was not just the anger from losing his wife, or finding out that his boss has been engaging in an affair with her. No, this was anger from childhood, from high school, from teachers who enjoyed chastising Miles for his shyness, bullies who laughed and teased when he wore his uniform to school on the casual clothes day, girls who laughed in his face when he asked them out, and every other slight, jibe, nag, taunt, tease and insult he had to put up with through college, at work and at home. There was not enough willpower in the universe, let alone in this poor man, that could have stopped what was about to happen next.
Miles looked up at Tyler, who had turned his back and begun to walk away, his face twisted and contorted with rage, his eyes burning like cinders and his skin now coloured a bright pink hue.
“Don’t do anything crazy Miles,” Clark begged and he reached out to place his arms on Miles in order to restrain him, but it was already too late. Miles leapt to his feet and began walking furiously toward Tyler as the rest of the sector looked on in anticipation. To his left Miles spotted a glass vase sitting atop a colleague’s desk with a single big red flower sitting inside. The vase was shaped like a three dimensional rectangle and was very thick indeed. Without breaking his stride Miles swiped it with his left hand, much to the bemusement of the owner of the cubicle. He then transferred it to his dominant right hand and tipped it upside down. The flower and the water fell to the ground soaking the carpet and making a distinctive sploshing sound that attracted the attention of Tyler who turned to see what was going on. Miles was only four steps away by now from Tyler who had stopped to turn around. Tyler spotted Miles and began to speak, but before Tyler could utter the words “What the F…” Miles raised the heavy vase in his right hand and brought it crashing down onto the bridge of Tyler’s, no longer, straight nose.
Tyler fell to the floor and slumped against a white cubicle partition as blood began to spurt profusely from the wound and out of his nostrils onto the bright white carpet. There was total silence for a moment, then it was suddenly broken by a woman’s scream and then another, and yet another until the entire office erupted into a cacophony of frantic shouting and hollering. Tyler’s friends, so brave only moments ago while laughing at a crying man, now stood frozen in place, a look of total shock on their pale faces. Miles stood there seething, growling like an animal, the bloodied vase still held tight in his right hand, no longer in control of himself. Clark had by this time made his way over to the scene and placed a gentle hand on Miles’ shoulder in order to calm him down. Miles turned and barked incoherently at Clark, who recoiled in fear. Hundreds of workers hurried to and fro, still screaming and panicking in the large, densely populated open plan office. In the distance Miles spotted a group of four Enforcers, their human bodies clad in black robotic armour, slowly pushing past panicked people and making their way toward him, their faces protected by heavy black masks and their electrified pacification rods fully extended. Even in his out of control state Miles knew that this wasn’t good, that he was in a whole lot of trouble. His reasoning abilities started to come back slowly and he began to consider exactly what he should do next, but before he could snap out of his rage completely the image of his wife Hellen appeared in his mind’s eye.
“We’re through, our marriage is over. We’re through, our marriage is over. We’re through, our marriage is over. We’re through, our marriage is over. We’re through, our marriage is over”
She repeated these words over and over, her face becoming more sinister and monstrous with every repetition. And then she was joined in this imagining by Tyler who placed his arm around her, looked directly at Miles, smirked and said “You lose again Miles, haha!”
And with this Miles let out a blood curdling shriek that silenced the room and stopped even The Enforcers in their tracks monetarily. Miles lifted the vase once more and began repeatedly striking the unconscious Tyler on the face, head and body. The once handsome Tyler no longer existed, he was replaced instead by a mess of pulpy red matter that was completely unrecognisable. Clark, Tyler’s cohorts and the other nearby co-workers recoiled in horror at the scene unfolding before them, some of them becoming physically sick at the sight. Those who’d lived their lives exclusively in Elissa’s affluent Green Districts had very little exposure to physical violence and so were much more horrified by the sight of blood and beatings than those who inhabit The Yellow or Red Districts. As Miles continued to pound unrelentingly on the limp body of Tyler Riggs, The Enforcers picked up the pace, breaking into a sprint across the office. Their crackling voices could be heard through their masks.
“*beep*, Prepare to pacify target *beep*,” said the largest of the four, who appeared to be the squad leader “*beep*, Do not use lethal force, pacify only, charge for stun shock *beep*,”
“*beep*, YES SIR *beep*,” the others shouted in unison.
By this time Miles, exhausted from lifting the heavy vase was barely striking Tyler’s bloodied body with any real force. Kneeling beside Tyler and covered in blood Miles wept and moaned as realisations, not only of the fact that his wife had left, but of the terrible act he had committed while in an uncontrollable rage began to dawn on him.
“I’m sorry,” he sobbed. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry…”
Miles slumped down onto the unmoving body of Tyler Riggs and wept furiously, blubbering like a baby. The Enforcers finally reached the gory scenario, and without any hint of emotion they surveyed the scene before them.
“*beep*, Unit 3, take the target down *beep*,” growled the large Enforcer.
“*beep*, YES SIR *beep*,” replied another Enforcer with a large number 3 on his black armoured chest plate. And with that The Enforcer raised his rod, sparks arching and jumping frenetically along the thin, but strong steel pole. The rod came crashing down upon Miles’ back and his body convulsed violently as it made contact, his screams of pain startling the pigeons perched outside, into panicked flight across the Elissan skyline.
And then everything went dark.
Take care, all the best!