Time rots everything,
turning despair into an unfathomable pit from which one cannot flee, wrinkling
away any glimmer of hope that was once perceivable. That’s what hell is in
essence, a wasteland that holds a flicker of light in the sky signifying a
better life. For the newcomers, it’s a beacon of hope, a way out of this
abominable place. Human beings tenacity to hold on to such things proves to be
its downfall. Our entire existence weighs on our ability to discover the route
away from the dark but little do they know that no such route exists. It is a
mere mental construct that is meant to eat away our inner being and turn us
into mute lifeless creatures of the night. A mere ounce of what we once were.
Time rots everything, even hope.
Jimmy Thompson clanged on to the hope of seeing his comrades again, only to be brought down by the relentless weight of their death. Now he lies in a vent soaked and sullied in his own blood, never to be remembered for his service or courage, just another speck in a hurricane.
Garvey Rockefeller holds the belief that his wife is still waiting for him and ready to let him come home, so that he can be the loving family man he once was. Fortunately for him, he has this rare ability to see past the romanticism and look into the scope of reality. No one will be waiting for him, and he knows this. But the humanity within him is belligerent of that reason and henceforth, he keeps fighting.
So what makes me so different? What separates my quest for light from the countless others seeking it? I have the foresight to see past the delusions and misapprehensions, yet here I am looking to repent for my sins and enter the light. I suppose my general humanity prevents me from being able to turn away. Logic is tossed out a window in order to receive a sliver of happiness. I am just like anyone else; my selfish desire to acquire some form of joy makes me a pawn to my own disillusionment. But so be it, I press on with the mindset that somewhere out here, my daughter is waiting for me to get her out of this place. And it will continue like this unless proven otherwise.
“Hold on I’m getting something,” said Garvey who was hearing static coming out of his radio. He pulled it out and said “Dennis, is that you?”
“Oh thank God,” said a voice coming out of the speaker, it was Dennis, and somehow he managed to stay alive after all that time. “There are armed men all over. I can’t get out, shit, what the fuck do I do?”
“Where are you right now? Give us a location and we’ll be there as soon as possible.”
“Okay,” Dennis said panicked, panting for air. “I’m at some sort of loading bay; there are crates all over the place, that’s all I know.”
I ask Garvey to give me the radio and in which he complied. “Dennis, stay calm and don’t move from where you’re at. Helps on the way.”
“You . . . you son of a bitch, this is all your fault.” He said with a high degree of hatred.
“Now’s not the time to be assigning blame, just stay put and I’ll make up for that last misstep.”
I turned off the radio and handed it to Garvey. We left the mall we were entrapped in for so long and entered another endless corridor that was littered with vents. Fortunately I had Jimmy Thompson’s map, which meant that navigating through the building would be a painless ordeal. There was an elevator a few meters ahead and in the lower decks was a loading bay. That was where we were heading. Garvey and I walked in a very silent matter, wary of the marauders hunting us.
“Garvey, you realize that once we enter the docking bay, blood is going to let loose.”
“What?” Garvey said stunned and fearfully “You can’t get past them?”
“From what Dennis said, there’s at least half a dozen of them down there, we’re not going in guns blazing if that’s what you’re worried about, rather we take them out one by one and not drawing any attention to ourselves. Dennis will get the memo and join in once he’s figured out what’s going on.”
“My specialty is splicers, you know the crazy bastards who have no formations and that a group of three like me and my men can easily take out. Not only are the guys here organized, they got us outgunned and outnumbered.”
“If these were normal circumstances then I would agree, only these aren’t normal circumstances” I said, looking at the one thing that can get us out of this mess, but would most certainly make me lose more and more of my sanity with each syringe I used. “Hand me some of that teleportation plasmid, it’s time I stop fighting this war handicapped.”
Garvey gave me a look of bewilderment and shock. He knows of my apprehensions when it comes to plasmids. But given the dire situation we were in, he could not help but smile. In here the usage of plasmids was a matter of life and death; without it you would most certainly meet your demise. But with plasmids, everything changes; you become a lion in a hyena’s den. Seeing the smile on Garvey’s face tells me that the odds will shift to our favor. Here it goes.
Garvey handed me the bottle, it felt cold and barren, and inside was the red glowing liquid conceived by the brutalization of little girls. How sickening, the very thing I was trying to stop becomes the mean to my salvation. Out of bitter circumstance I become a true citizen of Rapture, a capitalist monkey who cannot discern between right and wrong. I will continue fighting this evolving transformation that is seeping through my being. For as long as Elena is still alive, I have something to fight for.
“Ready?” Garvey says to me
“Let’s get this over with.”
“Alright, whenever you’re read-“
“Wait,” I said to him, putting my hand up. “There’s no pain right?”
“Your genetic makeover is done; this will just give you a good old adrenaline rush.”
“Perfect,” I said, and with that I injected plasmids into my bloodstream.
In less than a second it all came back, the gratifying, congenial torrent that surged through my body, heightening my senses, strength, and so on. Everything was elevated; I reached the apex of my potency. Sensations of buoyancy came through, and everything seemed like a fantastical playground where all my wishes were realized. Billows of Epinephrine rose to overbearing heights and the urge came to release it all, and what better way to do this than to unleash hell on the marauders a few floors below us.
*The crusading vanguard that entered these halls pivots and falls to become nothing more but a useless brute. We don’t have any use for those types; the splicers, the rebels, the objectivist scumbags that pillage and scavenge the insides of little girls. You were so different from the rest of the lot, don’t fall now.*
“Shut up!” I said annoyed, Buchanan questioning every action that I take.
“What was that?” said Garvey
“Nothing, just get these spells sometimes.”
*A subtle way for saying “Oh look I’m going insane, don’t mind me just going to bash open a few skulls here and there, nothing wrong, so carry on pal while I raise a little girl afterwards. This is all very cogent.”*
I ignore him and press on to my objective. Time sped up; everything was moving in waves, the colors of the corridor were moving in a distorted fashion. I feel the need to lash forward with as much speed as I can manifest. In a matter of seconds I saw the elevator and rushed towards it, Garvey followed in a pace that was less than satisfactory. My god everything was changing, reality felt so dull and colorless, the people around it so slow, moving in a dawdling pace.
Arrogance took hold, a dangerous emotion to be held under. It has not seeped through me for eons, not since my marriage in 1951. Giddiness took the place of logic and I found myself carrying the mindset of a five year old child. But how could I resist, with this feeling of invulnerability it felt as if nothing could go past me. I was the impenetrable man of steel, or so I thought in my first waking moments.
We entered the elevator and went down towards the lower deck. My anticipation reached resounding heights. I was ready to take on whatever was beyond this door. But then, for a split second, something hit me. Past the arrogance and pompous demeanor came this sudden cautionary thought that just might determine between life and death.
“Garvey, can you do me a favor?”
“What is it?”
“The instant we touch the ground, grab my hand.”
He looked at me with oddball eyes, wondering if in the midst of all this chaos I just confessed my sexual preferences to him, in an elevator to say the least. Of course that misunderstanding was quickly resolved and he understood exactly what I needed of him. “You don’t think that . . .”
“Maybe, maybe not, either way I don’t want to take the chance.” I said to Garvey. He understood and immediately pulled out his knife.
I look inside Thompson’s bag and find an unused shiv, just what I would need in the next coming seconds. Soon we reached the lowest deck and the elevator came to a halt. I take a deep breath while Garvey grabbed my shoulder. I looked straight at the front door and immediately determined my trajectory. Red gas began to spiral around me and Garvey, it increased in speed by the second. I jolted forward and suddenly the universe was in the palm of my hand. I went straight through the door and sped into the docking bay. Everything was faded and distorted; I could hear the most diminutive of sounds ringing in my ears. Time stopped and I sped through a group of armed men waiting at the elevator door. My prediction was correct, they were waiting for us, and we would have died instantaneously. But something was off; I could not feel my legs or any other portion of my body for that matter. Dizziness started to seep in, it was too much, I halted myself and the red gas that engulfed my sight vanished. I fell on the floor with a booming thud and found myself lying on the ground. My insides felt twisted and turned, I pick my head up and in front of me I see a pair of boots. I look further up and gave out a gasp, it was not Garvey or Dennis, it was one of the troopers that were hunting us. His eyes widen in shock and he takes a step back, I try to pick myself up but it was over. Before I could manage to do anything he would call upon the rest of his crew. He opens his mouth ready to announce my presence, but suddenly a hand is placed on his mouth and then a knife punctures and goes right through his forehead. Blood pours down his face, his eyes wide open and sporadically twitching. The knife is taken out of his forehead and the hand lets go of the trooper. He falls to the ground, not a whisper to be made. I look up only to find that Garvey has once again saved my life. He reaches down, grabs my hand and pulls me up. I was still slightly disoriented from my passage but managed to keep myself together. We were in the docking bay and surrounded by hundreds of broken down wooden crates. The lights were not functioning, making the ocean the only source of light. It was completely still and silent, where were the rest of them?
“No one’s in the elevator,” echoed a voice from a far off distance. “Let’s check if they went through the vent.”
“You idiot, they’re using that teleportation plasmid. Spread out and find them, let’s cage these cocksuckers.” Screamed someone else
From that point I hear the thumping of boots all over the bay. They rushed away from the elevator and slowed their approach the instant they split up. Garvey and I quickly hid behind the containers with pistols and knives at the ready. Aside from the sound of boots beating the floor, all I could hear was a swinging lamp and the heavy breathing from Garvey. The tension was excruciating, hiding behind a heap of destroyed crates with a limited field of sight. One of them was nearing our position; their footsteps were getting louder and louder by the second. I point my knife directly at that narrow open space I was looking out of, waiting for him to show himself. The lamps light was reflecting directly where I was looking from, the instance I see his shadow, all hell breaks loose. Sweat was dripping from my forehead, but I kept my calm and took a deep breath. The shadow emerged and I threw the knife. Within a millisecond, the marauder walked into my field of view and came into direct contact with the knife. It entered his forehead, and his entire head flew back. He fell to the floor hitting a stack of wooden crates that fell on the floor, creating a flood of sound stretching across the entire bay. I look at Garvey with great urgency and tell him “NOW!”
Red smoke brushed in and once again I entered the confines of another universe where time and space had no meaning. I went past my hiding place and saw two heavily armed men looking in the direction their comrade fell. I swooped in and landed right behind them. The smoke faded and I point my pistol directly at the closest soldier. He turns around and looks at me, terrified. He reaches for his Tommy gun but it was too late, I unloaded four shots into his chest and he falls to the ground. His comrade immediately picks up his gun and points it directly at me, but then three shots went right through his body and he also collapsed, brought down by Garvey. I nod at him in approval and began to run in his direction.
Bullets began flying all over our direction and we desperately ducked in cover. Wooden chips were falling from all corners and our cover was getting obliterated. I immediately tried to teleport again, but nothing happened. I had no time to discover why this was happening and took out my Tommy gun. There were still three more of them on the other side; all armed with Tommy guns and god knows what else. I begin blind firing in every direction hoping to dissipate the gunfire so we have a chance to run, but it only increased in frequency. Garvey fired from a corner and I followed his example. But our situation became direr as fireballs came from every direction, burning our fragile cover. They were using plasmids, and here I thought they were fighting this battle handicapped. Smoke spread all over our side and we were gasping for air.
“Alright boys, collect their scalps and let’s get rich. End this little get-together.” Said one of the men. More fireballs were hurled towards us and our entire parameter was engulfed in flame. We would not be able to take much more of this; we had to run before we completely suffocated. I look at Garvey and give him a signal to run; he nods and waits for the most opportune moment. Though that moment never came, bullets continued to fly past us by the hundreds. I take a deep breath and prepare myself for the great lunge.
“What the . . . holy shit TURN ARO-“
Suddenly I heard another gun start firing and the bullets hurling toward us were brought to a halt. The deafening roar of automatic Tommy guns stopped. I immediately went out of cover to take a look and in front of me, to my surprise, was Dennis.
“Come on! This whole place is about to catch on fire.” Screamed Dennis
Both Garvey and I jolted from our positions and ran for our lives. A quarter of the station was on fire and all the oxygen in the room was gone. I covered my mouth to avoid swallowing ash and ran to the nearest elevator. By the time we nearly reached it, the door closed and the elevator was heading upward.
“Shit they’re coming!” I said coughing excessively as I swallowed an influx of ash. We run to the other direction as fast as our body could take us and head towards the other elevator. The doors were open and we dash to take advantage of this opportunity. The fire now consumed half of the station and burning cargo crates were falling at a staggering rate. We dodged and went through all the burning wood and through incredible luck, made it to the elevator. We all entered and clicked on any floor besides this one. The door shut and miraculously, we made it out. I took a deep breath and sucked in as much oxygen as I could. My lungs felt heavy and I was gasping for air along with the rest of my comrades. The elevator doors open and we immediately point our guns forward. We entered some sort of hallway and on the sides were a multitude of doors. Must have been some sort of living complex. The hallway was clear and we immediately sit down next to the wall to take a breather. I first press the emergency stop button on the elevator to avoid any unwelcome guests and join the rest of my worn out crew. We were all covered in ash and sweat. We would not last another second in here, there had to be some way out of here. As I was contemplating this, somebody grabbed me by the shoulders and slammed my back into the wall. I tried to retaliate until I suddenly felt the barrel of a .44 magnum was being pointed directly at my head.
“You son of a bitch,” said Dennis, he looked at me with glaring red eyes and a raging hatred that could be felt from a mile away. I did not make any sudden movements and just stayed still.
“Dennis what do you think you’re doing?” I said calmly, trying not to provoke him.
“This is all your fault!” he screamed, cocking the hammer of his revolver. “If you didn’t have your fucking mental breakdown, this would’ve never happened.”
“Dennis goddamnit, put the gun away!” yelled Garvey trying to alleviate the situation.
“Bobby is dead Garvey!”
“. . . What?” Garvey said in shock
“Saw them drag his body down a corridor like he was some fucking animal. We would all still be here if it weren’t for this weak piece of shit Atlas had us drag along.”
He was looking away, this was my chance. I jab Dennis’s arm upward and he fires a shot into the ceiling. He looks at me in shock as I disarmed him and then threw him to the floor. He angrily tried to get back up until he saw me pointing his pistol at him.
“I’m sorry about Hendricks! But don’t be a damn moron, we need each other right now more than ever to get through this. We start turning against each other, and we’ll all be dead in less than an hour. So suck it up and let’s figure out a way out of here.”
“What makes you think we need you?” Dennis said spitefully
“One, strength in numbers. Second, I’m the one with the fucking gun; so you’re in no position to ask that question.”
He looked at me in bitter anger, but soon sighed in defeat. I put out my hand to pick him up and he accepts it. I held on to his guns to avoid future confrontations like this one. He walked away silently. I look at Garvey who was still stunned by the news he just heard, one of his comrades just died. But this was not the place to mourn, so I grab his attention and tell him we need to head out. We walk along the narrow hallway, the doors to most of the living quarters were open and ransacked. We passed by rooms with destroyed furniture, scattered light bulbs, and empty cribs. This was the work of splicers, probably ravaging every home in order to find plasmids. It was truly a morbid and haunting setting with little comfort to be found, there were cracks all over the ceiling and droplets of sea water were rushing down and staining a once beautiful Persian carpet.
“Hey Dennis,” I said sincerely “Thanks for the help down there, you really ended up saving our skin and . . . um . . . we wouldn’t have made it without you.”
He gave me that same dismal face and looked away. I then turn to Garvey who was also in a state of grief. “How’re you holding up?”
“I’m just thinking, what’s a shit day? Few years ago it was either long work days or arguments with my wife and mother in law. Now it’s losing a friend or meeting up with some crazed up splicer and hoping to god it doesn’t rip your throat out. Things escalated pretty fast, too fast for my taste. I just want this nightmare to end, one way or another.”
I was about to answer him, but then I heard a faint noise, a static like sound. Garvey also noticed it and immediately recognized it was coming out of his radio.
“Hello? Anyone there?” said a familiar Irish accent coming out of the radio, it was Atlas. With great vehemence Garvey quickly grabs the radio and responds.
“Atlas! What the hell is this? Where are we?” he screamed
“Garvey, I don’t know what you’re blabberin’ on about. What’s going on? Been tryin’ to contact you for an hour.”
“Don’t play the innocent bystander; you knew what this place was. Get us a bathysphere out of here or we’re done!”
“Settle down, now I’m assumin’ you’ve had contact with William Rustamov and his pack of hardmen, de young sleeveen is trying to stir a ruckus in our crusade. While he is a vehement opponent of Ryan, he hates me more for sum juvenile reason. I’ve tried negotiating with him in the past but results were less than effective. He’s forced my hand and needs to be put out of the picture, if you get my meanin’.”
“He. . . he needs to be put down?” Garvey said in disbelief. “You do realize the man’s got a small army here. We’re only three men, unless you got some brilliant plan you haven’t shared with us, we’re leaving this place with or without your help.”
“Watch your tone; this ain’t the place you want to make enemies, ‘specially with me.”
“This is suicide and you know it.”
“No it ain’t and I’ll tell you why: Will Feckin Sullivan. Our knight in shining armor, an ex-CIA agent who has more combat experience than anyone else in this manky hole. If he wants, he can singlehandedly take on a small army with the proper chemicals and encouragement. Give him the radio, we need to talk.”
Garvey paused in anger by Atlas’s response, feeling betrayed by how callously Atlas would sacrifice him. Shortly after he gave me the radio. “Yes?”
“Listen boyo, there is a central control room in the 9th floor that controls life support in the building. In your left pocket is a key card that will allow you to access it. Turn the damn thing off and wipe this scourge off the face of the Earth. There’ll be a bathysphere waiting for you in the room across from central control. You do this for me and I’ll tell you everything you need to know about Elizabeth and do everything I can to find your baby girl.”
“After what just transpired, I’m not sure I can take your word on that.” I said, wary of what sort of person Atlas was.
“I wouldn’t send my men out on a wild goose chase unless I knew that they had something or someone that can help them pull through. If that still doesn’t convince you then let me remind you that at this point, I’m your only means to salvation. Any information on Elizabeth you will only get through me, any hope of you leaving that place comes through me. Finish this little chore, and you’ll be well on your way.”
A sudden tingle came running down my spine. Feelings of hysteria clogged my reasoning. This was the only way to find them, anything else would be futile. It was either take on a small army for innumerable resources and essential information or I could test my luck and spend days searching all three buildings with fruitless results. But this Atlas figure, he couldn’t be trusted. For all his talk of liberation, there was something else dwelling in that perplexing mind.
“Okay Atlas . . . we’ll do it.”
“What?!” Garvey said in disbelief.
“Outstanding! If it lessens the tension Sullivan, you’re too valuable of a player to squander on one mission. I’m going to need you for the months to come.”
“Whatever you say Atlas, I’ll contact you once it’s done. Make sure you live up to your end of the bargain.” I said to Atlas. With that, I end the transmission and found myself in a deep confounding pattern of contemplation.
“You just passed the death sentence Sullivan, we’re all dead now!” Dennis screamed
“You really think Atlas will help us if we don’t do this for him? We’re expendable in his eyes, this is the only thing we can do.” I said
“And what’s this thing we’re doing, hmm?” Garvey said in a fearful frenzy. “What the hell can we do against an army?”“The only thing we can do . . . kill them all