His nightmare was a disturbing memory from the past. Beneath the ruble he choked on poisonous fumes, the high pitched scream of fire alarms assaulting his ears. For a split second he could still feel the excruciating pain of the burns on his chest. The experience woke him. Writhing in shock he gasped, eyes wide open as he shot up in bed. Exhilarated he reached for his inhaler on the bedside table and administered a shot. For some reason he found himself repeatedly plagued by a past affliction. Several nights now he lost vital down time to a series of night terrors. It was disturbing to think that he of all people could succumb to such things. Though many years had passed since his experience, he still reflected on the past with a heavy heart. Psychological trauma as he’d come to learn, was a mystery. Exhaling in frustration he tossed his sheets aside and stepped out onto a cold wood floor. From an open window to his left the sounds of morning traffic were building. Tip toeing across the room he stopped before his dresser to look at himself. His alarm clock blared loudly. Sighing tiredly, he turned it off.
He was still tired from a nights worth of filing. But knew if he didn’t get up he’d have to deal with traffic. The island was a very busy place at noon. And he didn’t exactly fancy the idea of being late for work. He took a moment to stare at himself in a mirror propped against the wall on the surface of his dresser. His short but sleek brown hair was swept back. Blue eyes centered on the middle of his chest where a scar spread across the width of his body. It wasn’t one of his fondest memories. He remembered being on the receiving end of an explosion in Dublin when it all happened. Since then he’d moved to the upper east side of Manhattan; into a shared condo with a woman he’d met over the internet. He agreed it was a risk but after meeting her was reassured everything would be fine. Buttoning up his white dress shirt he turned to see a woman with long blonde hair step out of her adjacent bedroom in the hall.
“Good morning.” She greeted in a French accent.
“Hi.” he replied with a small grin.
She glanced at him in an oddly longing fashion before walking away. He sighed. It wasn’t that he hadn’t considered asking her on a date. But rather that he knew the likelihood of it actually happening was slim. Her name was Casey Quinn and she was a realtor. Realtors were always busy. In the four years that they’d known each other they’d never really bonded, so to speak. A few minutes later Phillip stood in his kitchen preparing an instant tea while he watched the morning news. New York wasn’t quite the same as Dublin. You didn’t hear about terrorists as frequently. He imagined it was because there were more laws in place for that sort of thing. Partly the reason he’d moved in the first place. He thought that if he could familiarize himself with the Americans demanding lifestyle, he could oppose his previous life which had caused so much pain. For a therapist, work was easy to find in such a big city. He already had a job at a small business called Empath. Every day he would see clients at a local newspaper manufacturer. It wasn’t his first choice of course. In fact he’d been approached by all sorts because of his ‘education.’ Apparently there was a screaming need for therapists in the ‘big city.’ While living in Dublin he was a working student. Only days after acquiring his doctorate, he’d nearly been killed when his workplace exploded. Waking from a coma weeks later, he told himself that the achievement wasn’t worth having to put up with the local activists. Dublin was after-all at the center of a war between rebels and multi-billionaire corporates. It was nothing new. After being discharged, he resigned from his upturned workplace and left the country. The whole point of moving to America was to find somewhere that he could live out the rest of his life in peace. And peace, was all he wanted. Leaving the condo Phillip locked up and waved his hand over the outdoor mailbox. It scanned a small silver ring on his middle finger. With a beep the mailbox opened ejecting several envelopes into his hand. He flipped through them. They were mostly bills, but every now and then he’d get a statement in a blue envelope. In America, people used what they called ‘G.F.S.’ in other words, ‘Global, Financing, Systems.’ It was currently the leading technology of western culture. Most used rings but those with a preference could find anything from a necklace to a body chip. The purpose of G.F.S was to protect the wealth of the American citizen. The jewelry or implant of whatever kind served a multifunctional purpose. You used it to pay your expenses and access doors. Quite literally. Each piece was unique to its owner. And if you didn’t have one not only would you be denied access pretty much everywhere. But if caught without one you did not qualify as an American citizen. Or so he was rigorously reminded by the government during immigration. Tossing the envelopes into his bag Phillip descended a set of stairs onto the sidewalk, jogging towards a silver Lincoln town car. Waving his hand over the window he stepped back as a blue holographic screen appeared. ‘Enter your code.’ it read in blue print. Phillip looked from right to left before typing it in. Though he lived in an upper-class neighborhood he still didn’t take any risks. There were of course the especially dangerous criminals out there who were just waiting for you to make a mistake. Directly after he entered his code the door clicked and the engine started. Shuffling inside he drew on his seatbelt.
“O-kay.” he breathed, grasping the steering wheel.
After a few minutes of travel he arrived at the parking lot of a building labeled ‘Island Paper.’ The director Manfred Couvier was a long-time client of his. As a printing company the offices were chaos. If not for the daily pranks, thefts, and squabbles. The paper would make a fantastic place for employment. Two years earlier, an overwhelmed Mr. Couvier had approached Empath with an application for an on staff therapist. For personal reasons Phillip had declined to contract with the company but agreed to stop in everyday for three hours. Immediately upon entering the building he was waved in by the secretary. She looked frantic this morning pointing at Mr. Couvier’s office. He stopped to listen, beyond the sound of people rushing about he could hear the man hollering like a maniac.
“No! I don’t want last week’s anything in this week’s paper!” he roared.
Hearing the argument Phillip prepared himself for the worst. Suddenly, a woman burst from the director’s office with a flustered expression.
“I quit!” she cried.
Phillip stepped aside as she stormed through. He watched her go. She seemed like a proper young woman. Why Manfred had to scream at her he didn’t know. Cautiously approaching the office he knocked on the door. Manfred’s eyes zoned in on him like a target.
“You see that Phillip!?” he asked, clearly short of breath, “This place has gone to hell! Absolute hell!” he yelled.
Phillip tried not to smile. Mr. Couvier was a funny old man when he was angry.
“She looks like she’s in a hurry.” he replied.
Manfred sighed, “Yeah well, they all are these days.” he said with a quiet growl.
Phillip’s presence in the room seemed to calm him to a degree.
“Come in.” he said.
Phillip entered placing his bag down by the man’s desk and taking a seat. Manfred Couvier was a short plump fellow with brushed grey hair and dark beady brown eyes. He wore a tailored brown suit and carried himself in a robust manner. He was a very intimidating boss. But what people didn’t know about Manfred was that he was also a family man. He had generic problems just like anyone else, and though his temper was short; it told stories of his home life. When the man wasn’t working he was the single father of two identical sons. Sons who didn’t respect the law nor their father. It was a difficult situation and Manfred had to deal with it every day. Between his home life and the chaos of the office he was a ticking time bomb.
“I’m glad you’re here. I’m about ready to quit myself.” he said, wiping the sweat from his brow with a handkerchief then sitting.
“Things are not going well.” he said, “I got a call from the head office.” “They want me to drop 30 percent of our employees because our sales are so low.” he said, lowering his voice.
“That sounds like a lot.” Phillip replied with emphasis.
“Yes, 30!” Manfred cried, “It’s an absolute shit hemorrhage out there!” he cursed.
Phillip looked over his shoulder, “Was that why she ran out?” he asked.
Manfred looked at the door once more. “Amanda?” he asked, “Poor girl.” He said. “She’s been my secretary for 8 months.” he replied, “What a mess.” He added with a shudder.
Phillip watched as he reached into his breast pocket and retrieved a container of pills. They were high blood pressure pills that he had prescribed the man after he’d experienced a mental breakdown a week earlier. Wheezing for air Manfred ingested three.
“How long have you been upping the dose without my consultation?” Phillip asked, immediately alarmed.
“I don’t know what I’d do without you.” Manfred replied ignoring the question.
Phillip looked at him.
“If you hadn’t started when you did I’d be a dead man. I’m sure of it!” he exaggerated.
Phillip quickly reached for his bag, grabbing his clipboard and pen.
“Well, I hope you’ll be around much longer otherwise I’d be out of a job.” he replied with emphasis.
“Yes I should think so.” Manfred said.
Three hours later Phillip sat in the man’s office listening as he described the function of newspaper. According to him it was a dying application. Nobody really read the newspaper anymore. They all watched television. Although in agreeance with this sad fact. Phillip was one of the many who enjoyed watching the news rather than reading it. Of course he’d never say so. By the time the meeting was over he was sincerely exhausted. The man could really talk.
“Have an excellent day.” he said facing the director as he tossed a small novels worth of papers into his bag.
“Thank-you.” Manfred replied with emphasis.
Leaving the office, Phillip closed the door and briskly walked for the exit.
The secretary mouthed the words, “Thank-you.” at him as he left.
He gave her an appreciative nod just as his cell phone rang. Pulling it from his pocket he checked the caller I.D and answered it.
“Sandra?” he asked, walking through the exit doors.
Sandra Becket smiled, narrowing her blue eyes at her computer screen on the other line.
“You’re in trouble Mr. Clayton.” she said in an oddly comic fashion, looking up over the ledge of her booth.
Two very intimidating men in tailored blue suits stood silently, watching her.
“Why?” he asked.
She sighed, eyes fixed on the men.
“Two agents from HATHYR are here to see you.” she said, adjusting her speakerphone.
He stopped in his tracks.
“H-HATHYR?” he stuttered, “What do they want?” he asked and continued walking.
She pursed her lips and looked at each of them. One of the agents sighed impatiently and raised his brow.
“How should I know? Did you forget to pay a parking ticket or something?” she asked, turning in her chair to face the opposite direction.
“No, don’t be silly.” he replied.
She sighed in frustration, “Okay well, get over here before one of them starts reading me my rights.” She whispered, sounding a little frantic.
“Alright.” he replied, closing his cellphone.
Sandra turned to face the two men with a relieved sigh, “Mr. Clayton will be here shortly.” she said with a coy smile.
The agents looked at each other and nodded, walking for the exit.
Phillip pulled his collar nervously. Agents from HATHYR wanted to see him. But why? Wasn’t HATHYR in league with big wig organizations like the F.B.I and the C.I.A? All the way to the office he stressed. Pulling into the parking lot, he then realized the severity of his situation. A black shuttle was parked out front. On the back of the vehicle there was a symbolic red circle with a holographic ‘H’ printed in the center. There was clear indication that the vehicle was HATHYR owned. He stared at the shuttle in his rearview mirror as he parked. After shutting the engine off, he removed his seatbelt and got out of the car. Before he could take even one step, two agents stepped out of the shuttle and sped towards him. He immediately froze.
“Phillip Clayton?” one of them asked.
He stepped back, watching as Sandra came to the lobby doors to peer through. Averting his stare to the agents he nodded.
“Y-yes.” he stuttered nervously.
Immediately the men invaded upon him.
“Come with us.” one said, grabbing him by the arm.
“What!?” he exclaimed in shock.
The second man took his bag.
He began to panic, “I don’t understand.” he said, as he was pulled towards the shuttle.
“Please don’t resist.” the agent holding him warned and partly dragged him.
The other agent had gone ahead to open the shuttle doors.
Phillip felt short of breath, “Could you tell me what’s going on please?” he asked.
“We have orders to bring you in.” the agent at his side replied.
He felt a lump form in his throat. Cautiously, he climbed in through the back of the shuttle and took a seat. The doors shut and the engine started. His initial thought was that he was being deported. Sitting across from him the agent pulled a tablet like device from out of his inside pocket.
“Please confirm what I read aloud.” He said, briefly looking at Phillip who nodded worriedly.
“Are you: Phillip Clayton, 28 years old, Personal Identification Number: 948-430-223, Address: 32-14 Market Avenue?” he asked.
“Th-That’s correct.” Phillip replied, stuttering.
“Okay.” the man said, “Phillip, I’ll have you accompany me for now.” he added in a stern tone, taking one moment to look at the bewildered therapist.
Phillip squinted, “Okay, I get that part. But where?” he asked.
“Everything will be explained shortly.” the agent replied, appearing to have a disinterested expression.
Shifting uncomfortably in his seat Phillip sighed. He knew immediately that answering questions was not part of the man’s job description.
Nearly half an hour later he started to wonder if they’d left the city. There were no windows to look out from. Which made knowing anything impossible. Eventually, the shuttle stopped and he could hear the driver getting out. The back doors opened and he flinched, shielding his eyes from a blinding white light. Two men in tactical gear stood at the doors heavily armed and looking directly at him.
“Please step out of the vehicle sir.” one of them said.
Phillip rose shakily from his seat, squinting as he crawled out of the back of the shuttle. They appeared to be in some sort of underground parking garage. It was massive, and there was the pungent aroma of floor cleaner fresh in the air.
“Where am I?” he asked.
“South HATHYR Headquarters.” a female voice replied.
Phillip turned to see a tall slender woman in a black suit approach him from the right.
“Hello Mr. Clayton.” she greeted.
He couldn’t help but stare, she was remarkably attractive. Her hair was short, black and sleeked back, eyes centered on him. They were the greenest eyes he’d ever seen. He actually wondered if they were contacts.
Shaking the thought he cleared his throat, “Can you tell me what’s happening?” he asked.
She grinned, “Yes.” she replied, “But not here.” she added. “This way.” she said, taking him by the arm.
They left the shuttle behind, approaching some doors that led out of the parking garage and into a narrow white hallway.
“I’ll take it from here.” She said, referring to the two agents and heavily armed men at their backs.
“Yes Ma’am.” the men replied, saluting her and walking in the opposite direction.
Phillip swallowed nervously, he didn’t like guns; or violence in general.
“Where are you taking me?” he asked, breath shortening when he noticed the bulge of a holster beneath her blazer.
“My name is Lilian.” she replied with emphasis.
It took him a moment to register the fact that she was carrying a gun.
“S-Sorry, Lilian.” He stuttered, “Would you mind telling me why I’m here?” he asked, rephrasing the question.
“A job.” she replied, guiding him towards an elevator on the left side of the hallway.
She reached out, pressing the elevator button.
“Sorry, a job?” he asked, as the doors opened and she pulled him inside.
It was a long and quiet ride, he decided not to ask any further questions. Like the agent from before, the woman Lilian seemed to be totally uninterested in making conversation. As soon as they arrived on the twentieth floor, the doors opened and two more agents stepped inside.
“This way please.” one said, grasping him by the arm.
“Keep him right there for a moment.” Lilian instructed, pointing at a fancy bench outside of the elevator that was attached to the wall.
Phillip’s eyes darted around the room, the space was rather large and the interior was modelled like a bank. Marble walls with golden corner molding, fake plants and leather benches. It was all very professional looking. Facing the elevators there was a wall with a set of double doors in it. The doors looked like something you might find in a government laboratory, access only. Approaching the doors, Lilian swiped a black card through an access panel and leaned in to a small microphone mounted to the doorframe.
“He’s here.” she said with a coy grin.
Elsewhere in a darkened office, a man in a tailored grey suit sat by himself, smoking a cigar. Atop the right hand side of his desk there was an intercom receiver. He reached for it, pressing a rectangular red button on its surface.
“Bring him in.” he replied.
Lilian turned to face Phillip, gesturing to the agents. Swiping her card again she stepped aside and gestured for them to bring him through. The agents pulled him towards the door.
“Is this really necessary?” he asked with emphasis, making a point of looking directly at her. It was a little uncomfortable being dragged around.
“Sorry Phillip, this is a military facility.” she replied, glancing at him with a suspicious look in her eye.
He was speechless, and confused. He was also wondering when they’d gotten on first name basis? On the other side of the doors there was a large office, people wearing uniforms and suits rushed across the floor. While many of them were armed, there were a few who appeared to be just office workers. Phillip scoffed quietly, it was more civilized but reminded him somehow of the Island Paper. A few people paid mind to the fact that he was being escorted through their midst, but other than that no one seemed to care. It must have been a normal thing. At the end of the office, the agents pulled Phillip through a door that was labeled ‘Regional Manager’ in gold print.
“Mr. Clayton.” a man immediately greeted as he entered.
Phillip raised his head, there was an all telling tone the man’s voice. This was the guy. The head honcho, commander of the fleet. At about six feet tall with silvery brown hair and dark brown eyes, he stood towering over Phillip.
“Have we met?” Phillip asked, analyzing the man and his surroundings.
“No.” the man replied, approaching him with an extended hand. “But you may have heard of me.” he added. “You two can leave.” he said, glancing sharply at the agents over Phillip’s shoulder.
The agents obliged, releasing him. Lilian opened the door and closed it behind them on their way out, leaning against the frame with her arms crossed and a cunning smile on her lips.
Phillip grasped the man’s hand with a brief but firm shake.
“And you are?” he asked, focusing on the man’s face.
“I am Eugene Chraz, Regional Director of North Eastern HATHYR.” The man replied.
Phillip was hesitant to speak. What would the Regional Director of anything want with a civilian like him? The woman Lilian said it was for a job. But the military didn’t profile therapists like himself. There was probably an occupations office for something like that anyway. Eugene studied the look on his face and seemed to shrug it off.
“Please have a seat.” he said sternly, extending his right arm towards a large wooden desk and some chairs to their right.
Phillip cautiously walked towards them. Eugene followed, making his way around the desk and taking a seat.
“Mr. Clayton, I’m sure you have a lot of questions for me so I’ll be brief.” He started, “The reason I had you brought here today was so that we could talk.” he said.
“Talk about what?” Phillip immediately asked, noting the man’s overt use of body language.
“Your placement.” Eugene replied.
Phillip cleared his throat nervously. His placement? What in god’s name was this man implying? This had to be the worst interview he’d ever experienced, hands down.
“Placement?” he asked, staggering. “But…” he hesitated, “Couldn’t you have just written me an application?” he asked.
Eugene grinned, clasping his hands together with a uniquely fixed expression.
“I pulled your records.” He said, “They’re quite impressive.” he added.
Phillip cocked his head to the side slightly. His guess was that he’d no sooner get an answer than he would be going home. He narrowed his eyes at Eugene quizzically.
“It says here that you achieved a doctoral degree in therapy.” Eugene said. “That is the highest qualification for a therapist.” he added.
“It also says that you achieved your American citizenship four years ago.” Eugene said.
Phillip felt his heart skip a beat. How likely was it that an organization like HATHYR had access to his sealed immigration records? He remained silent. Eugene looked at him, unclasping his hands. He’d made his point.
“Before you decline what I am about to offer you, I would suggest you consider the details of your placement.” He said, eyes narrowed. “It is not the norm for HATHYR to screen applicants for this kind of thing.” He stated wolfishly. “At least it hasn’t been until a recent development.” He added, then appearing to express a keen distaste for which direction the conversation was heading.
Phillip could hear an underlying tone of grief in his voice. There was a look in his eyes that suggested he was imagining something unpleasant. Very unpleasant. He then heard Lilian sigh from a distance. Eugene expressed his dissatisfaction openly.
“As Regional Director, it’s my job to make sure that all HATHYR facilities in the North East are functioning properly.” He emphasized. “And properly they would be if the superintendent of one of them were not experiencing psychological malfunctions.” He said.
Phillip analyzed the look on his face. This was a personal matter. He could also tell that it was a matter of great importance to the man.
“Each HATHYR facility in this city functions as a precinct and has a superintendent.” Eugene said, “As I’m sure you can imagine this person serves as a key component to the healthy functionality of the facility.” he added. “However, one of our superintendents is having a difficult time maintaining a respectable image and needs therapy.” he said.
Phillip thought he could hear Lilian chuckling.
“H-He needs therapy?” he asked, stuttering.
The look on Eugene’s face was genuine. Phillip knew he should say something but he wasn’t sure what. He expressed a degree of shock. It wasn’t every day you were asked to cater to a professional; in a professional environment. Eugene’s expression changed from stern to glazed. He eyed Lilian over the therapists shoulder and sighed with an air of impatience. Phillip noticed this and clasped his hands together, formulating a staggering sentence.
“W-Why me…exactly?” he asked, stuttering hesitantly and appearing apprehensive.
“Because we think you’re the only one who can.” Lilian suddenly interrupted, approaching him from behind.
Phillip looked up at her as she patted him on the shoulder.
“And what makes me so special?” He asked, clearly sweating under her nerve wracking gaze.
“You have a unique background Mr. Clayton.” she said, crossing her arms. “Not everyone survives what you did.” she added.
Phillip felt a strong chill ride up his spine. “You really must know everything.” he replied with emphasis, a look of utter hopelessness on his face.
Eugene sighed, looking at her.
“Try not to feel threatened Mr. Clayton.” he said, “My associate did not mean to startle you.” he added, indicating his dissatisfaction to her with a shrewd glare.
Phillip looked at him.
“I’m not afraid.” he immediately said, “Just overwhelmed.” he stated, appearing very serious.
Eugene eyed him with a nod.
“That is understandable.” he said, “However, if you should decide to work for HATHYR I can guarantee that you will be provided insurance, a daily per diem of 500 points and a bi-weekly payment of 5,000 points.” he added.
Phillip stared at him. He’d have dropped his jaw if he didn’t think it would make him look even more amateur than he already felt.
“Five thou-that’s kind of a lot for a bi-weekly isn’t it?” he asked, staggering.
“Yes, but I’m sure a man of your expertise can justify it.” Eugene replied with emphasis.
Phillip was starting to feel claustrophobic. That was an estimated twenty five thousand points a month. Way too good to be true. He was clearly missing something. Eugene analyzed his expression and cleared his throat.
“I won’t ask you to sign anything today.” He said, “I think it’s only fair that you be given a little time to consider my offer.” He added.
With that he gestured for Phillip to exit the room. Phillip cocked his head to the side in confusion. Just like that? First they practically kidnap him then offer him a job and wave him out like some kind of page boy? He wasn’t sure how to feel about it.
“O-Okay...” he stuttered in bewilderment, standing.
He felt light headed. It was becoming harder to tell if he wasn’t just hallucinating.
“It was…interesting…to meet you.” he said hesitantly, reaching forward to shake the man’s hand once again.
Eugene grinned at him as they connected.
“Please take my card.” He said, “You can call me when you decide.” He added, reaching into his breast pocket for a fancy red business card.
The name ‘Eugene Chraz’ was lightly engraved across the cards surface in silver font. Over which was etched a holographic kaleidoscopic design. Phillip took the card with a brief analyzation before facing Lilian.
“I’ll take you home.” she said with a smile, gesturing for him to follow her as she turned and walked towards the exit.
With a relieved sigh, Phillip followed her. Home sounded nice. And a cup of tea. Or just bed. He was exhausted. On the way out he expected that he might be strong armed again. He was right. The moment the door opened, Lilian slipped out and the same two agents from before walked in. Phillip sighed in frustration, voluntarily extending his arms. The agents escorted him after a coyly smiling Lilian. As they walked he analyzed his surroundings once more. He then began to wonder where HATHYR drew the line when it came to company policy? Surely if they were allowed abduct people at random, then something like escorting a civilian through their midst held little to no meaning. It made him suspicious. But then again, the entirety of the situation was a suspicion. After a few minutes they arrived once again in the basement. This time instead of a shuttle, a sleek black town car awaited them.
“Please get in.” Lilian said, tapping on the hood of the vehicle as she walked around it.
The agents left Phillip and turned in the opposite direction, making their leave. Phillip nodded, quickly walking up to the vehicle and climbing into the front seat.
“No shuttle?” he asked as he entered in sync with her.
“No shuttle.” She replied and immediately started driving.
He had to brace at the sudden movement. Reaching for his seatbelt he drew it fast over himself and exhaled sharply.
“I have to apologize, bit of a hectic schedule.” she said, smiling as she raced down a wide path between hundreds of shuttles and black interceptors that were parked on either side of them.
“N-Not a problem…” Phillip replied hesitantly, in truth very nervous.
An hour later they arrived outside of his condo. Lilian pulled up to the curb.
“Thanks.” Phillip muttered, glancing briefly at her as he climbed out of the car.
“Phillip.” She called casually, eyeing him.
He stopped and turned to face her.
“Yes?” he asked.
“See you very soon.” She said.
He nodded with a disconcerted expression. Her words gave him extra reason to beware men in tailored suits and every other black car he would probably see in the coming week.
“Oh-and here.” she said suddenly, reaching into the backseat for his bag.
He scoffed nervously, reaching for it. She wouldn’t let go at first. He then looked at her.
“Get some rest.” she said, looking directly at him.
He nodded, looking at the bag.
“I almost forgot...thanks.” he replied hesitantly, slinging it over his shoulder.
Turning to face his condo he walked away. Within moments Lilian drove off. He stopped and curiously looked over his shoulder. Remaining where he was for only a few seconds he then turned to look at his home. At that moment it hit him. He turned to look at an empty space where his Lincoln was supposed to be.
“Ugh!” He seethed, dropping his shoulders in frustration.
It was one thing to forget his bag, but his car? How could he have missed it? He growled quietly, turning to face his condo. From the looks of it Casey was home. He could see her silhouette from the foyer window. With a sigh, he began his slow march towards the steps. Once there he took a moment to stare at them. He had no motivation whatsoever to climb them. Instead, letting out a sultry sigh he turned around and sat down. His thought at that moment was that he might be experiencing some form of latent shock. Hardly surprising. Although he’d been allowed to keep his license as a therapist, he had the sneaking suspicion that his traumas from four years previous might just impose on him keeping it. Any form of violence or shock seemed to put him completely out of commission. He leaned towards some metal railing on his right, pressing his forehead to the cool metal. He could feel a headache coming on and the coolness of the bars was soothing. Just as he was about to close his eyes, the sound of crashing metal in the distance caused him to jump. He turned his head and stared between the rails. Down the sidewalk about twenty meters away he could see a man in a black hoodie standing at the entrance to an alley. The man was facing his direction and seemed to be staring directly at him for some reason. He squinted, trying to get a better look. As if the man knew he’d been spotted, he immediately turned and walked away. Phillip frowned.
“What’s the rush?” he whispered.
Suddenly, the door to his condo flew open.
“P-Phillip?” Casey asked, stuttering with a surprised blinking expression.
He looked over his shoulder at her and stood to face her.
“H-Hello.” He stuttered nervously, rubbing the back of his neck.
She looked out of breath for some reason. He noted it as she crossed her arms with a wide eyed disposition.
“What are you doing out here?” she asked, opening the door a little further.
“Just getting some air.” He replied, climbing the steps.
She stepped aside as he walked into the foyer.
“You look tired, do you want some tea?” she asked, closing the door and following him in.
He briefly turned to face her, “Yes please.” He muttered.
She slipped past him, moving into the kitchen rather quickly.
“I sold a house today.” She said, her voice echoing into the foyer.
He turned his head to the side to listen as he untied his shoes.
“Whereabouts?” he asked.
“Way over on the North side of the city.” She said as she poured him some tea.
He walked around the corner, removing his jacket.
“How do people even live in the North end?” he said, “It’s far too dangerous for my liking.” he added.
She shuddered at the comment.
“I hear you, I was actually thinking the same thing.” she said, “But the people I sold it to didn’t seem to mind.” she added. “They were very…quiet.” she said, hesitating.
“Do you think they were illegals?” He asked.
“Paperwork checked out.” She said, handing him the mug. “They seemed rich.” She added, walking out of the kitchen and towards the living room.
Phillip watched her go, sipping his tea.
“Well--.” he sighed, “I’m going to bed.” he said.
She turned to look at him from the couch.
“That tired huh?” she said.
“Definitely.” he replied.
She chuckled, turning to face the television.
He watched over her shoulder briefly as she turned on the news. There appeared to be some kind of live HATHYR related statement being made. He jumped into action, rushing into the living room and taking a seat at her side.
“C-Can you turn this up please?” he asked, stuttering with an absent look.
She looked directly at him and upped the volume.
“Why what is it?” she asked with concern.
On the television a live broadcast was being made from what appeared to be an assembly room filled with personnel of both the military and media fashion. Eugene Chraz was positioned at the center of a wide table of men and women. Each appeared to be someone of greatly professional influence. The HATHYR symbol was everywhere, including on armbands which were neatly fixed around each and every one of their right arms. This clearly symbolized their involvement with the organization. Multiple microphones and cameras were set up facing them, where the audience appeared to be breathlessly listening.
“It is with an undefined sense of disappointment that I address the blatant act of terrorism that occurred this evening at the intersection before Humboldt bridge.” he said, “The officer in question who was attacked earlier this evening was pronounced dead at the scene, HATHYR officials would like to express condolences to the members of the departed officers family.” he added. “We will be investigating this incident with priority, if you are a member of the public and can provide any information about what happened this evening, HATHYR guarantees total anonymity.” he said, “Thank you, that will be all.” he finished.
Within seconds the room was buzzing with noise and action. All the while Phillip watched, Casey kept a wary eye on him. Together they sat on the couch watching the broadcast. Phillip swallowed nervously. Could this have been why the woman Lilian was in such a rush? If that was the case then were his perceptions about America all wrong? Was it not the terror-less and wholly safe country he thought it was? America. Could it be that it was just as dangerous as Dublin? And if that was the case. Was anywhere really safe?
The next morning came with an unmerited shower of ice cold rain. Phillip eyed the skies from beneath an umbrella. He stood on the sidewalk outside his condo where he shivered unhappily, turning his gaze towards his wristwatch. Much had happened the day before and it was heavy on his mind. It didn’t help that he had to bus to work either. He crossed the street, entering a bus stop shelter on the other side. Closing his umbrella he took a seat on an empty bench. With a cold shudder he eyed his watch again. As the bus arrived a few minutes later he left the shelter and climbed aboard. He took a seat, spotting a lone newspaper lying on the bench beside him. Picking it up he decided to give it a read. It immediately occurred to him that he was reading an edition of the ‘Island’ paper. He blinkingly analyzed the cover.
“Oh no...” he breathed hesitantly.
The man had done it. He’d actually released a paper about the employee crisis. He sighed in frustration. Just what he needed, Manfred bleeding tears over the rebound of firing 30 percent of his employees. He sighed, placing the paper down on his lap as the bus began to move.
As he made his way out of the rural neighborhoods of the Upper East Side, he entered a more scenic part of the island. Midtown was well known for its extensiveness and building icons like the Empire State. Many buildings had been rebuilt after the third world war. Quite tragically, they served better now as sites for major tourism than for what they were actually intended. And it wasn’t just the island that underwent a massive renovation. New, New York as the world comically called it, was a very different place. Many of its most historical features had gone away, replaced by vast districts within which you might find all sorts of inhabitants. It’s lower culture neighborhoods gave way to massive freeways, sky scrapers, air trains, including the occasional hover craft. Not unlike the futuristic predictions of people long past. Though not quite as imaginatively vivid. Whereas you might find that everyone had access to hover cars, the city folk were actually quite grounded. Hover crafts in general were only the sort of thing you’d find in the possession of the military, or media. Manhattan Island was considered part of its own mini district within the city. It was also considered the safest by grand comparison. The most dangerous district was considered to be the North end, outside of the island, an area still heavily populated by pre-war era structures, often torn down due to latent-radioactive particle contamination. It was a major problem at some point in the past when American refugees contracted some sort of incurable disease called ‘Partia syndrome.’ Some grew extra limbs and developed certain psychiatric issues, while others entered irreparable states of coma. The government created a special program for those affected by it and called it LANX. Luckily, Manhattan was one of the few places unaffected by the disease. He considered himself lucky, but luck with the way things were going was no more than a fantasy. The whole reason he’d moved to America was to avoid the warfare. Yet now he was somehow involved with the same people tasked with managing it. To think only hours ago, New York was in the grips of a terror strike. Maybe he just didn’t get out enough. But in the four years he’d lived there, no such thing had ever happened. In less than a day his comfortable little life had changed. Reminding him just how little he knew about the place he was living.
When the bus stopped he speedily exited with his umbrella drawn. Empath was only a block away at this point. It dawned on him that he never really got to eat any breakfast. Perhaps it couldn’t hurt to find a restaurant. After all, city travel besides to see his clients was not the norm. He trailed down a sidewalk on Main St, crossing shop after shop. Everyone looked so busy, all with their own paths to take. He never realized just how many people there were. Perhaps it was because he wasn’t accustomed to people watching. He felt like an Ostrich digging its head out of the sand. Where was his mind? But ignorance is bliss they say. And today could have been a totally normal day had he not suddenly felt like he were being watched. Leaving the sidewalk, he entered a sandwich shop and found a seat by the window. He half expected to see a pair of HATHYR agents slip by, but there was no one. No black shuttles or sharply dressed agents. He sighed in relief, smiling nervously at a waitress as she walked by and placed a menu down at his table.
Several minutes later he stood outside of Empath next to his Lincoln, which was parked exactly where he’d left it. Luckily for him nothing had been touched. What a headache that would have been.
“Phillip!” Sandra called, surprising him.
He turned to see her waving from the front doors of the building. As he approached she tossed him a confused glare.
“What happened to you yesterday?” she asked, swinging the door open.
“Job offer.” he replied, following her inside.
“What?” she asked.
After explaining his unusual situation to her, he spent the next few hours on the phone with a call in client. Usually his days consisted of transportation runs, but the odd time he was allowed to work from his office. After he finished, he found himself completely devoid of things to do. All of his other clients were busy, leaving him with several hours to himself. As his mind began to dawdle on the unimportant, he spun around in his chair and even threw a paper airplane. Finally with a frustrated sigh he laid his head down. That’s when it happened. Suddenly, his monitor flickered on. It had been left on his favorite search engine. Past inquiries mainly on Dublin. He did not know why, but Eugene Chraz’s face came to mind at that exact moment.
“HATHYR...” he mumbled, reaching for the keyboard.
He typed it in and expected only to find a few things. Much to his surprise however and underlying disappointment, millions of results came up.
“HATHYR, the Anti-Terrorist Government Military Agency.”
“American HATHYR Representatives: Eugene Chraz, Lucy Praiseworth, Carl Abbot.”
The engine listed past and most recent activities involving HATHYR. Mostly anti-terrorism projects, fallen members, political banquets, but nothing about the creators of HATHYR. He searched, going through about eighteen pages before he came across something particularly interesting.
“Roman Glass, West New York HATHYR’s newest superintendent.”
He read on.
2142, Tuesday March 7th 11:00AM.
After the death of superintendent Marcus Newman, HATHYR has elected a new superintendent for the West New York precinct., Superintendent Newman and the West New York district council were making a public appearance at New York’s annual Remembrance week banquet, held at the Dischona hotel in West end when a bomb went off killing all 12 members, including Newman. City officials have ruled the event out as the terrorist group N1′s doing. HATHYR has increased surveillance within the district and raised the terror alert warning to level 4.
A picture of Roman in a white uniform was posted at the top of the article, which had been written by the N.Y.C Daily. Phillip cocked his head to the side, analyzing the man’s face. He didn’t look like sort of person that needed therapy. In fact he gave the impression of a well brought up model citizen. But he knew better than anyone that looks could be deceiving. As he continued his investigation of HATHYR, he came across an article about a popular telecommunications company that was just capsized for conspiracy.
“West New York HATHYR Thwarts Corporate Conspiracy of WillCom’s C.E.O James S. Fairman.”
“Fairman...” he muttered.
For a company that employed thousands of illegal immigrants and condoned under the table pay, Mr. Fairman was really living up to his name. He prepared to read on when suddenly the door to his office swung open.
“Phillip?” Sandra asked, one finger touching her earpiece.
“Y-Yes?” he replied, stuttering.
She covered the microphone of her earpiece.
“Mr. Couvier’s on line one.” she whispered, pointing to his in-office phone.
He immediately reached for it, pressing the receiver to his ear.
“Phillip here.” he said, closing the search engine and turning off the monitor.
“Phillip...” Manfred said in a surprisingly dark tone.
Phillip cleared his throat nervously.
“Y-Yes?” he asked, stuttering.
Manfred sat in a darkened hospital room, bedside to a sleeping woman. She looked to be in about her late forties, with thinned blonde hair and tired greyed features.
“It’s Janice.” he said, “She’s got it.” he shuddered, “Partia.” he said.
Phillip felt his heart sink, he took a deep breath.
“Where are you?” he asked, grabbing a pen and paper.
Manfred had apparently gone to visit her when he found her at the bottom of the stairs. Only after three months of battling migraines had the doctors finally figured it out. All this time she’d been taking the wrong medication. Entering his vehicle Phillip took a moment to breathe. Manfred could only handle so much before he lost it. He knew this. So how much more was life going to throw at the poor man before it was too much? He couldn’t help feeling terrible. Janice was such a kind woman. She worked for the same relief program funded by the government for victims of latent radioactive particle poisoning. He remembered Manfred warning her time and time again not to go to the North end, but she wouldn’t have it. Now she was one of the very same statistics she fought so hard to prevent.
As he parked in the visiting section of the South New York General Hospital, he stared from his car window at the fourth floor. Over the years he’d visited the same hospital a number of times to see a client named Rachel Hargrove. Rachel was a lawyer that represented Empath on a number of occasions whenever a client sought legal aid. In her later years she suffered from a chronic lung disease that prevented her from living on her own. Before the end she spent many hours with him talking about her life and how she planned to get her things in order. He hated going to hospitals after she died. It reminded him of all the time he spent working at the mental institute in Dublin. Seeing all of the sick people and thinking of her. Making his way indoors he checked in with the front desk and headed directly for the second floor. When he made it to the room he entered to see Manfred sitting bedside to an unconscious Janice. He held her hand gently in his as he stared at her lifeless seeming features.
“Manfred?” he asked, entering with a light knock.
Manfred immediately turned to look over his shoulder.
“Hello Phillip.” he said.
“You called?” Phillip asked, placing his hands in his pockets.
Manfred was silent for about a half a minute before taking a deep breath. He was clearly feeling very low in the emotional department. Phillip quickly found a seat.
“Where was she? When you found her.” he asked.
Manfred looked at her.
“Face down in the landing. Doctor says she’s got a concussion. Must have had a dizzy spell when it happened.” he said. “Seems a lot of strange things have been going on in my life lately...” he said, hesitating.
Phillip analyzed him. He wasn’t himself at all. Not one bit. There’s was something going on in his head that he couldn’t quite place. Which was strange considering that he was supposed to be a therapist.
“Phillip...” Manfred said, “If you had to do something, or... You were told to do something or you would lose everything... Would you do it?” he asked, staring at Janice.
Phillip squinted with a confused stare.
“M-Manfred... What are you talking about?” he asked, stuttering.
Manfred quickly turned around in his seat, reaching into his inside pocket and retrieving a white envelope. He reached out, grabbing Phillip by the hand and stuffing the envelope towards him.
“Take it home, take it and read it only when you’re at home tonight. Promise me you will!” he said in a panicky voice.
“Please, calm down. Would you just tell me what’s going on?” Phillip asked.
“Just do it! Please.” Manfred said, looking him dead in the eyes.
There was an air of desperation to the man that made him even more nervous about it. What was in the envelope that could make him so worried? The situation wreaked of something illegal. He found himself wishing Rachel were still alive. She would have a thing or two to say about this.
“Okay-Okay...” he replied, attempting to use a calm tone.
“Go.” Manfred said, grasping his shoulder tightly.
Phillip nodded, stuffing the envelope into his inside pocket. He quickly rose from his seat and exited the room, heading directly for the elevators.
Back in the room, Manfred reached into his pant pocket for something. With a shaking hand he retrieved a syringe filled with an unknown substance.
“With this my love, you’ll at least have a chance now.” he whispered, pulling in close to her as he pressed the needle point to her feed.
He then reached for her hand, clasping it tightly. Janice groaned, her heart rate increasing substantially.
Phillip entered the elevator, taking a deep breath. His mind was racing. All he could think about was the envelope. What in the world was going on? He was so consumed in thought that he hadn’t even noticed Roman Glass himself walk in. About a half a minute later he realized it.
“H-Hey, it’s you.” he said, stuttering.
Roman slowly turned and stared at him from behind black shades.
“Humph...” he mumbled with a smirk.
The elevator doors shut and they began to move. Another silent ride. Phillip caught himself glimpsing repeatedly to the left. Roman was quite tall, with broad shoulders and a lean muscular form, long hair resting against his back untied and a navy blue suit covering him. He looked just like a HATHYR agent. About half way down the silence was becoming too much. Phillip cleared his throat nervously.
“Visiting?” he asked.
“Duck.” he replied.
Phillip looked at him.
“What?” he asked.
The doors to the elevator opened revealing two men in black hoodies. Immediately Roman reached for the inner fold of his jacket, retrieving a nine millimeter hand gun. Phillip barely had time to register what was happening before he fired two shots in their direction and hoofed one of them in the chest with his right foot. The men crashed together against a wall like dominos, doubling up on the floor. Roman then turned and grabbed him by the back of the neck, yanking him out of the elevator. As he dragged him down the hallway he shot out every camera he laid eyes on. Hospital personnel and civilians screamed in terror as the situation intensified. Time slowed for Phillip and he could feel his heart pounding in his chest. He raised his arms in attempt to shield himself as Roman threw him up against a wall.
“Do you think I know a lot of people here?” he asked, somehow managing to remain completely calm.
“Please! Just let me go!” Phillip begged, hands shaking uncontrollably.
“Are you serious?” Roman asked, as though it were a joke. “Come on!” he yelled, dragging Phillip by the arm.
They left the front lobby, heading for a door labelled ‘underground parkade’. In a matter of minutes, Phillip found himself rushing down a flight of steps with his hands raised. Roman eyed the top of the stairs with his weapon aimed, when he was satisfied that they weren’t being followed he trailed after Phillip.
“Are you gonna kill me?” Phillip asked with a hoarse voice.
Roman looked directly at him.
“No but if you don’t hurry I’m one hundred percent sure they’ll kill us both.” he replied, opening a door that lead into the parking sector.
He rushed inside, gesturing for Phillip to follow with the same hand he held a gun in. Phillip obliged, trying desperately to catch his breath. Roman reached into his breast pocket for an earpiece, pressing it into place.
“DIRECTOR, I’ve secured the package, send the transport now.” he said.
“Sending transport ORANGE01.” a mechanized male voice replied.
The sound of an engine revving caught their attention. A flashy orange Lamborghini raced towards them from between a row of cars up ahead. It screeched to a stop, both doors immediately opening outward.
“Get in.” Roman said, nudging his gun at Phillip who had an apprehensive expression on his face as he shakily entered the vehicle.
“What the hell is happening?” he asked, reaching for his seat belt.
Roman entered the vehicle and the doors closed. The interior lit up neon red.
“Don’tcha know?” he asked, “You’re famous.” he said.
Right then he hammered his foot on the accelerator and sent the vehicle flying forward at an incredible speed. Phillip braced against the inside as Roman drifted around a sharp right bend and straight out of the parkade into a four way lane.
An angry pedestrian hollered as he was nearly mowed down on an adjoining sidewalk.
“Look out!” Phillip yelled, looking over his shoulder.
“Ah he’ll be fine!” Roman said without the slightest care.
He swerved the vehicle, bobbing in and out of traffic and narrowly missing a moped driver.
“Woops!” he said.
“Are you crazy!?” Phillip yelled.
“I dunno you’re the therapist!” he replied.
An interior alarm went off as the dash screen lit up with a HATHYR symbol. A vocal graph appeared with the name Lilian Price featured beneath it.
“Where are you?” she asked, standing in a darkened control room.
“E.T.A Southern HQ in about... seven minutes.” Roman replied, dangerously checking his watch as he steered like a mad man.
“Is anyone following you?” she asked, eyeing Eugene Chraz who stood a few feet away.
He monitored a wide screen featuring a live satellite image of the city. Romans car could be seen with an identification tag hovering over it.
“Don’t think so.” Roman replied, eyes now peeled on the road.
You could tell Eugene wasn’t entirely pleased with his response as he shifted his weight uncomfortably and crossed his arms.
“This is no time for games Roman.” Lilian replied, holding her earpiece.
“Who said I’m playing?” he asked with a grin.
Just then his car violently skid as the back window was hit by a bullet, cracking the outside layer.
“Oh my god!” Phillip yelled.
“What are you a Preacher!?” Roman asked, glaring into his rearview mirror.
A grey van was speeding after them, a man in the passenger side seat was hanging out the window taking aim.
“Phillip, you can trust Roman he won’t let anyone hurt you.” Lilian said.
Phillip gripped the walls with his head back.
“Yeah-I’ll have to think about that one!” he replied in a panic.
“We gotta lose these guys.” Roman said, drifting around a sharp right turn into the wrong traffic lane.
“Are you insane!?” Phillip yelled.
“Didn’t I just answer that question?” Roman replied.
“Okay-well great to hear you two are hitting it off so well, now turn into that alley on the left!” Lilian yelled.
Roman dove between an oncoming dump truck and some cyclers, entering a narrow alley way between two shops. He drove a quarter of the way in and stopped, waiting with his eyes on his rearview mirror.
“What are we doing?” Phillip asked shakily.
“Wait.” Roman replied, still watching.
“They wouldn’t follow us through all that would they?” Phillip asked.
Roman narrowed his eyes at the mirror with a cautious glare.
“Looks like we’ve lost them.” he muttered.
Eugene’s assistant approached with a chair, placing it directly behind him as she ushered him to sit on it. He looked like he might be having a panic attack.
“I gotta go, when can you be here?” Lilian asked, eyeing him carefully.
“We’re in the area, that’s probably what really scared em off...” Roman replied, checking all angles of his view.
“Alright, see you soon...” she said with a sigh, cutting the connection.
“Old man must have had a heart attack.” he muttered.
Within minutes they arrived at the lower parkades of South Central HATHYR Headquarters. Phillip stared from his window eagerly, he wanted to get out and kiss the ground. Today was officially the worst day of his life. As soon as the vehicle stopped, a number of agents surrounded them. Lilian was among them, she immediately approached his side of the vehicle as the door opened.
“Phillip!” she yelled worriedly.
He came out with his hands up, eyes narrowed. He’d never felt more exhausted.
“Don’t worry Phillip you’re not the enemy here...” she breathed, checking every inch of him for injuries.
His limbs felt like jelly. He took one look at Roman who was being swarmed by a group of curious colleagues, before keeling forward onto his knees.
“Shit!” he heard Lilian curse as he collapsed, his vision going dark.
His head felt like there was an elastic band wrapped around it, cutting off all circulation.
“Step back, give him some air and call EMS.” Roman said, his words seeming to blur.
Phillip rolled onto his side, he could see that Roman was making an effort to stand over him with his arms out in an attempt to keep everyone back. Lilian stood at his side with a worried expression.
Before long Phillip found himself bobbing in and out of consciousness on a hospital cot. He attempted to focus. The room was dark but he could make out that its appearance was not that of a hospital, rather a mental institute. He was immediately on edge. His right arm had been hooked up to an I.V with a clear solution, an oxygen respirator covering his mouth. What happened? Was he in an accident? He didn’t feel hurt. So what then? It then dawned on him that he was a long way from home. He looked around, spotting a calendar on the wall to his right. It was Thursday. Fragments of the day before were slowly resurfacing and causing him to panic. He immediately ripped the I.V from his arm, pulling the mask off his face and lowering the cot rail to his right. He shivered uncontrollably as he dropped down off the cot onto the cold floor and shuddered. He was still wearing his clothes from what he could only discern was yesterday, His jacket had been draped over a nearby chair but his shoes were nowhere to be found. He reached for it, wrapping it around himself. Wherever he was it was freezing. Was this a HATHYR building? Since when did they run a mental ward? He searched for an exit, eyes falling on an ACCESS only door at the end of the room. Was he locked in? He certainly hoped not. How many human rights were these people breaking just by keeping him here? His mind was racing as he approached the door. Surprisingly it slid open, revealing a wide fluorescent corridor completely void of objects and people. It extended on both the right and left for hundreds of meters. He looked both ways, not a soul in sight. Where was everyone? After standing silently for half a minute he decided to go right. Repeatedly staring over his shoulder he trailed down the corridor until he came to an intersection where another hallway protruded. The interior design made knowing directions impossible. Was he going West, East, North or South? After what felt like far too long for his comfort, he stopped to release a frustrated sigh and backed into the wall. How many other intersections had he passed in his aimless exploration of the facility? Too many as he was certain that he’d forgotten the way back. Where in God’s name was he? He was just starting to think he might be dreaming when a peculiar sound caught his attention. He looked left to see a man in full hazmat gear exit from a section of hallway on the left up ahead. Had the individuals attire not mildly frightened him he would have yelled. The man left, carrying a clipboard in his right hand. Phillip slowly made his way over, analyzing the walls which turned from white to grey. Coming to another intersection he stopped and looked left to see a huge door labelled, “DIRECTOR” in bold print. A number of caution signs riddled the face of the door. One side appeared to be open while the other remained shut. Various high tech laser scanning features on the door were clearly non-functional. This must have been the door the man came from. Was it down for maintenance? He approached. Beyond the door the interior was lit up in a neon purple light. A powerful whir like ventilation could be heard in addition to a floor rattling hum. Was there some kind of machine inside? Curiosity took hold of him as he entered the room and found a long row of stairs immediately to his right. The stairs were made of prickly steel that hurt his feet as he climbed. At the top he found a huge mezzanine with many rail walks that protruded outward. They appeared to be overlooking something below. This unknown thing provided its own purplish glow that consumed the entire room. He was eager to see where the humming was coming from. Beneath his feet he could feel a strange vibration. There was a euphoria about the room that was affecting him. Curiously, he approached the edge of the mezzanine. When he saw it he had to step back in surprise. Peeking over the edge once more he saw rows upon rows of super computers lining the ground. There were thousands. He took a nervous breath, backing away. The sound of a pen hitting the floor caused him to jump. He spun around to see a tall colored man in an agent’s uniform approaching fast.
“W-Wait!” he panicked, holding his hands up.
The man extended his right hand and seemed to grab him by the throat from meters away. He quickly succumbed to shock as an invisible hand grasped his neck. Reaching up, he tried to grab it. As the man slowed in his approach Phillip could clearly see that his eyes were glazed over black. He felt his body go completely limp.
“NO!!!!!!” a familiar voice suddenly hollered.
It was Lilian. Phillip looked over the man’s shoulder with a weary expression to see her fast approaching.
“Put him down Esteele!” she ordered.
The man Esteele turned to look at her, his supernatural grip still strong around Phillip’s neck.
“What is he doing here?” he asked in a slithering tone, staring at her.
“Put him down... right now.” she said, her voice changing as her eyes transformed from elegant green to obsidian black.
Phillip’s eyes rolled to the back of his head. The next period of time went unaccounted for. He was beside himself with night terrors. Manfred crossed his mind several times. Casey as well. He wanted desperately to awaken in his home. To find that it was all just a dream. But that wasn’t about to happen.
“Phillip...” someone called.
He could feel himself coming to. He wearily opened his eyes, taking a sharp breath. Lilian was sitting bedside to him. Within seconds he threw himself back, grabbing onto the rails and pushing himself away from her.
“Get away from me!” he yelled in a hoarse voice.
“Phillip!” Eugene yelled, gaining his attention.
He hadn’t even noticed but the man was standing at the foot of his bed.
“Calm yourself.” he said simply.
Phillip scoffed in shock.
“Calm. Calm myself?” he asked in disbelief, looking at Lilian.
“What are you? A-Are you the same as her?” he asked, first looking at her then diverting his gaze to Eugene.
“No. I’m not.” Eugene replied, pacing with his hands on his hips.
“What you saw Phillip, it’s not something that many are privy to...” he said.
Phillip took a moment to analyze his situation. Not something many were privy to? HATHYR was just an anti-terrorist organization. Weren’t they? Or was he missing the bigger picture?
“I need you to know that you are perfectly safe... And that everything will be explained to you as soon as humanly possible.” Eugene said, seeming to think on his feet.
It was clear that he had prepared for this in some way but was now falling short. What possible explanation could he give now to make this make sense? Phillip shuddered.
“The point...” he muttered.
Lilian looked directly at him, cocking her head to the side and then looking at Eugene. He was still pacing, going on about how he was going to explain.
“The point! For god sakes...” Phillip yelled, covering one half of his face with his right fist.
He had a terrible headache. Lilian and Eugene both stared at him.
“I’ve had about enough of this dodgy bullshit from your people Mr. Chraz, I don’t like to be kept in the dark, especially when it’s got something to do with me... now, the point....please.” he said, avoiding eye contact.
His heart was still beating hard but his mind was starting to clear.
“Alright.” he said, looking at Lilian.
She looked directly at him.
“Since 2082, HATHYR has been protecting humans from a class of sub-humans known as Particans, some of which want to take over the world and kill every human being on the planet.” she said as if it were a simple thing.
There was a long pause of silence. Phillip eyed her warily. She had no reason to lie to him. Not now. Still, every fiber of his being wanted to believe otherwise.
“S-Sub...Humans?” he asked, stuttering as he looked at her.
She stood out of her chair and walked over to Eugene’s side.
“Phillip...” she said, crossing her arms and looking at Eugene who nodded.
“We want you to join us.” she said.He analyzed the both of them cautiously. One side represented politics, while the other, elegant force
To Be Continued
Book Two, “The Briefcase”
Stained Glass Copyright 2016 Raven Strongquill