New World Order
Edward Whitley had never been exceptional. He had never rocked the boat or made a difference. He had existed quietly in his own world his whole life. He had friends, but rarely saw them, had dated but remained single. His days and nights of parties had long since given way to nights in with a nice cup of tea. He had long been content to simply exist on the sidelines, allowing life to saunter by the windows where other, more interested people lived it. Today was different. Today he was taking a stand and by the end of the day, the whole world would know who he was. He had found something; a file on a laptop, innocent on its own, but what it contained was earth shattering. Today, little, unassuming Ed Whitley would reveal the largest and most despicable conspiracy ever to be foolishly committed to digital format.
Ed walked through town, the sounds of the busy morning world not managing to break through Ed's well developed blinkers. He normally didn't notice the world, but today, he was noticing it even less. As well as his usual nervous habit of clicking and unclicking his pen in his pocket, today he also nervously fingered a small pen drive in his other; a constant reassurance that it was still there. This was the drive that contained all the information needed to reveal the terrible conspiracy. He planned to upload it from a local internet café to the whistleblower site, leakipedia, then head to work and wait for the news to break. Then, when everyone was desperate to know the name of the hero that saved them all, he would stand up and everyone would love him.
Sadly for Ed, the world he had long avoided and ignored was to come suddenly crashing down on him, in the form of a fast moving city bus with a momentarily distracted driver. As the little green man popped up on the crossing, Ed stepped out, far too engrossed in thoughts of his own importance to notice the tons of metal and passengers that was bearing down on him with no sign of stopping. A brief screech of brakes was the only clue Ed got to his oncoming fate, then nothing but blackness. Poor Ed Whitley was dead.
Ed awoke just seconds before he collided with a hard, smooth black surface. He lay there for a moment, confusion paralysing him. He could have sworn that moments ago he was walking through town, now his face was pressed against a hard, marble like floor and he was in almost complete darkness.
As he raised his face from the floor, a bright spotlight suddenly hit him. He stood up and straightened his crumpled shirt. He looked around, but could not see beyond the light that was cast around him.
‘Hello. . . . ‘ Ed called out into the darkness.
'EDWARD WHITLEY?' The powerful booming voice echoed out of the wall of blackness that surrounded Ed, seeming to come from everywhere at once.
'Ye . . . yes. . . ' Ed nervously replied. 'Who's there?'
'I AM DEATH.' Bellowed the voice from the darkness.
'Oh, sorry. WHO'S THERE?' Ed shouted louder.
From within the impenetrable darkness, some movement began. The light that illuminated Ed and a small circle of the obsidian-like floor that lay beneath him started to spread, and as the light's circumference incresed, Ed could now make out the figure that addressed him, but he didn't believe what he saw. The figure stood around eight feet tall, dressed in a long flowing black robe, from beneath which, tendrils of black smoke leaked out. Beneath the hood of the robe, the bony smile of a skull could just be seen.
'I AM DEATH, NOT DEAF.' The figure boomed out.
'Oh. Well I can see that now. Nice costume. I really didn't think the secret service would be so theatrical in their kidnappings. I'm pleasantly surprised.' Ed said with the lack of interest he approached most of life with. 'Look, I know why I'm here. Its because of the file. Just take it and let me go. Its my only cop. . . .'
'PLEASE STOP TALKING.' Death said in as exasperated a tone as his echoey, otherworldly voice could achieve. 'YOU ARE HERE BECAUSE YOU HAVE DIED. I AM HERE TO ESCORT YOU TO YOUR NEXT LI. . . '
Suddenly Death's voice was cut off by a squeal of feedback and a hiss of static. From beneath the flowing black robes Ed could hear a fizzing electrical sound, followed by a bang. The robes parted and a man backed out of them spraying a fire extinguisher furiously into the compartment he just left. Ignoring Ed completely, he looked up to the ceiling of the dark chamber and shouted up, in a very normal voice 'I thought they had fixed this. Didn't we order a replacement?'
'Sorry Kev.' Came the reply through some kind of intercom. 'They did fix it and we did order a replacement, but the budget has been cut. Ill get it up and running again.'
'Don't bother. Put the lights up; its ruined now.' The slightly less death-like Death replied.
Long strips of fluorescent lights fired up along the ceiling. The room was little more than a warehouse, the walls covered with what looked like black felt, and the floor made of the shiny black stone that Ed's face had met so abruptly. The man who introduced himself as Death, but who had just been referred to as “Kev”, stood beside his much larger, skeletal counterpart, dusting himself off and muttering about the bloody thing breaking again. He looked about forty five, with light brown receding hair. He wore a shirt and pants and looked very much like every worker in Ed's office. Up towards the ceiling, Ed could see an observation window, presumably where 'Death's' conversational partner was located.
'Ahem.' Ed cleared his throat to remind the man he was still there.
'Sorry about all this.' said Death. 'So, yeah, I'm Death, but feel free to call me Kevin, and your dead, so lets go.'
'Don't be ridiculous. How can I be dead. I was just walking to work.' Ed said dismissively.
'I know its hard to understand, everyone struggles with it at first, but you're dead, and we need to get you processed. Hit by a bus eh, owch.' Said Kevin.
Kevin set off towards a large door at one end of the warehouse-like room. Looking behind him and calling out 'Come on.'
Ed followed reluctantly, complaining in a low voice 'I cant be dead, I've taken some chicken out of the freezer, its going to go off.'
Kevin just looked back at him and shook his head.
They passed through the large door and into a long corridor, the walls and ceiling all white, with artworks along the walls. As Ed walked behind Kevin, he looked into windows that separated the artworks. In each room, people worked at computers, drank from coffee cups and carried files back and forth. It looked like every office he had ever seen.
'Is this some kind of joke?' Ed said.
'No, It's not a joke; you're not on reality TV and you're not dreaming. You're dead. You are pushing up daisies, you are an ex-human.' Kevin replied with a tone that implied he had experienced this conversation many times.
'Did you just paraphrase Monty Python?' Ed asked. 'You watch Monty Python in the afterlife?'
'Yeh, when we aren't watching you lot. You people are hilarious.' Kevin replied.
They reached a frosted glass door with an inscription that read:
Consciousness Collection Operative
'Ha! Kevin Smith.' Ed said smiling.
'Don't start,' said Kevin. 'Thanks to that guy, some of these bastards still call me Silent Bob. Come on.'
Kevin led Ed into his office and sat down behind a large metal desk that contained a computer, a diary and a small statue of the grim reaper.
'Take a seat Edward. Do you prefer Edward or Ed?
'Ed is fine; that's what everyone calls me.'
'Called you.' Kevin corrected.
'I need a cup of tea.' Ed sighed.
Kevin opened a drawer in the desk, pulled out a cup and a bottle of clear liquid. He poured the water-like substance into the cup and passed it to Ed. Ed looked into the cup with disappointment. Water was fine, but he really wanted some tea. He moved the cup to his lips, took a sip then winced from the heat.
'It's tea!' Ed exclaimed. 'It's perfect and hot too.'
'Well, kind of.' Kevin said looking through his diary. 'It's actually psychic water. Its whatever you want it to be.'
'That's amazing.' Ed replied, taking another, more cautious sip. Then the new found elation started to leave his face.
'What's wrong?' Kevin asked.
'This is real isn't it. I'm really dead.' Ed stared into his perfectly clear tea as he spoke.
'Yes, of course you are; what, have I been talking Chinese?' Kevin said.
Ed looked at Kevin with an 'I don't appreciate your sarcasm' glare.
'I'm honestly asking, that does happen sometimes. There's a glitch in the bloody translator.' Kevin said, pointing upwards to nowhere in particular.
'You are nothing like I expected Death to be.' Ed said.
'It wasn't always like this.' Said Kevin, looking longingly at the statue on his desk. 'The Netherworld was once a place of magic, wonder and power. Nothing like this cold coffin of organisation we are forced to exist in now. These office rooms are killing me. If I was alive that is.'
'Well that's lovely, but I'm still dead. What happens now?' Ed asked slightly annoyed.
'Oh, I'm sorry, are you in a rush to get somewhere?' Said Kevin, slightly annoyed at Ed's interruption of his nostalgic moment.
'I don’t know, I'm still waiting to find out.' Ed replied.
'Jackass.' Kevin muttered under his breath. 'Well, there are a number of options available to you in the afterlife: Recycling; your consciousness is put into a new human body, deluxe recycling; you are sent back to be reborn at the start of your own life again, haunting: passive and active, possession; although this one is somewhat frowned upon these days, or you can work for us. Many of our staff joined us this way.’
Ed just stared at him quizzically.
‘I’ve overwhelmed you haven’t I. I would normally take a little more time over this, but thanks to the wars you lot are currently fighting and his love of bureaucracy, I’m swamped with paperwork. So what do you fancy?’ Kevin smiled at Ed.
‘You know what, this is stupid, and I’m leaving. This is clearly some clever, government trick to stop me and I’m not falling for it. I’m leaving.’
‘SIT DOWN EDWARD WHITLEY!’ Kevin boomed out with an echoey resonance that matched the volume of the voice that Ed had heard on his initial arrival.
As Kevin spoke, a flowing blackness surrounded him, encasing him in a smoking black robe, the flesh peeling from his face as his body grew and skeletonised, and in his right hand a huge scythe grew.
‘DO NOT QUESTION ME, MORTAL. DO YOU STILL THINK THIS IS A TRICK?’ The now very Death-like figure boomed.
‘No, no, its fine, ill sit.’ Ed said weakly.
By the time he had sat down, the rather plain looking office worker had returned, but was now holding his forehead in his hands, looking annoyed.
‘Are you alright?’ Ed asked, with more concern than he usually showed another person.
‘Yes, I just . . . . . Nevermind.’ Said the now normal looking Kevin.
'Now, where were . . . . ’
‘Why do you need the mechanical suit and the speakers if you can do that?’ Ed interrupted, his curiosity peaking.
Kevin sighed ‘We aren’t allowed to use our powers anymore. I’m probably going to get dragged into a disciplinary meeting now, thanks to you.’
Before Kevin had quite finished his sentence, the door to his office swung open, and a blonde man in an expensive looking suit leaned into the room. He had a stern look on his face and carried what looked like an iPad under his arm. He glanced over at Ed, then back to Kevin and said ‘My office, now please.’
‘Oh wonderful.’ Said Kevin, giving the finger to the door as it closed behind the mystery man.
‘Who’s that?’ said Ed.
‘That’s the Global Operations Director, and he’s pissed. Thanks a bunch. Come on. We can go straight from his office to your reassignment.’
Ed followed the frustrated looking Kevin out into the hallway again, he looked at the walls, they were painted; Does that mean there are decorators in the afterlife? He wondered.
'Wait!' Said Ed as something suddenly dawned on him. 'Global Operations Director? God? That was God?'
'Its just a title, its not the way you think it is. He worked as a watcher, then got the job when the last guy retired. I personally think he blackmailed his way into the job. He's kind of a dick.' Kevin said, trying not to look like he was being cautious about how loudly he said it.
Ed smiled a little, through the myriad of conflicting emotions he was feeling, even he couldn’t fail to find humour in the fact that he was listening to Death call God a dick.
They eventually came to another Engraved glass door, this one reading:
Global Operations Director
As they walked through the door, Ed found himself in a small foyer type office containing a secretary. She sat behind a desk, behind which another frosted glass door clearly led into 'God's' office. As Ed explored the room with his eyes, the inner door swung open and the blonde man from earlier appeared.
'Come in, Kevin.' Said Gideon, who then looked over at Ed and asked with disdain. 'What's he still doing here?'
'Near Death experience.' Said Kevin dryly. Then he looked at Ed and said 'Wait here.'
Ed sat in one of the leather-like couches in this antechamber. This was the first time that he had a moment to think. He couldn’t believe this was happening. How could he be dead, and how could he get back to stop the things that were coming.
Shortly after, Kevin emerged from the room looking annoyed, Ed stood and followed him as he stormed back into the corridor. Kevin was walking quickly when he suddenly stopped, turned to Ed and asked 'Do you fancy a drink? I want a drink.'
Ed just nodded his agreement. Even though he didn’t often drink, he thought his own death was as good a time as any to indulge.
They walked through a plain frosted glass door and found themselves in a fairly normal looking bar. Neon lights shone through lines of bottles behind the bar. All the bottles looked the same as the one in Kevin's office, so he assumed it was the same psychic water. They approached the barman and Kevin ordered two beers.
The barman poured two pints of the clear, water-like liquid and passed them over to Kevin and Ed.
Ed drank and it was beautiful. The perfect pint. If he did find a way back, he was definitely going to try and take a few bottles of this stuff back with him.
They found a table and sat down. Ed saw the opportunity to get some answers.
'So how did all this come about then?' He asked.
'By accident, really.' Replied Kevin, staring into his glass.
Kevin proceeded to tell him the story of the universe's origin. He explained that originally, there had been nothing. No planets, no stars, absolute nothingness except for a few floating pockets of consciousness. He had been one of those consciousnesses. They had simply floated through the void, interacting with each other and sharing thoughts and ideas. Then had come the noise. A signal of unknown origin that had echoed throughout the void. They had discussed what to do, eventually the majority won, and the decision was made to investigate. A call was put out that all energies in the void should converge on the signal. As all ten consciousnesses arrived at the signal, a spark shot between all of them. Then a crackle, then a bang. From the centre of this explosion, all manner of matter and energy spilled forth, this formed the universe. He spoke of how they watched with fascination as the planets changed and grew. Then even more so as life began. It wasn't until humans evolved that they started to take a real interest in the life on Earth. We were the first things that came along with the ability to be self aware, to think in the same way as they did, albeit a somewhat more primitive version of it. He explained how they had begun to get involved in the lives of humans. How, since they had created this universe, they now felt vaguely responsible for the life within it. Taking physical form and visiting and advising many of the early civilisations was common place. He explained that in all the archaic carvings of gods or angels, that had been them. Eventually they had chosen to take a less active role, partly to allow the humans to progress by themselves, and partly because every time they visited, some of the humans would decide that killing everyone is what the 'gods' wanted. Many didn't like this idea, and broke the rules by visiting and interfering in the lives of man.
'That's when the previous God resigned and Gideon took over. He created the corporate hellhole we now exist in. He banned travel to the world except in very strictly defined circumstances, banned the use of our powers, as this couldn't be monitored as easily as machines can, he banned anyone from viewing more than 20% of any one humans life to stop any emotional connection to you people emerging in us or the workers. He also brought in the forty page form I have to fill in every time one of you lot snuffs it, and now he's trying to get me fired for use of magic.' Kevin ended his tale with this line and stared down into his semi-drank psychic water. He then looked up at Ed and said 'Wait, I knew I wanted to ask you something; what was that file you were on about earlier?'
Ed had almost forgotten about it amidst the cataclysmic direction his life had recently taken.
'I work for an IT company.' Ed began to explain. 'We got a contract to handle the government's IT needs. I was working on a laptop and saw a strange file labelled “NWO”. I shouldn't have looked, but I had to. Something just felt off. Within it was a very detailed, very damning description of a mass conspiracy across the globe. A selection of very high ranking officials had agreed years ago to carry out a plan to create a one world, totalitarian government that would give them power over every country in the world and control over every person's life. They called it the New World Order. There were three distinct stages to the plan. The first was to cripple the worlds economy; currently on Earth, whole countries are going bankrupt, people are starving or freezing to death in supposedly wealthy countries but the rich are still getting richer. This part of the file had been marked as completed. The second part was to engage in constant warfare; this was the most shocking part. Here it was detailed how they had injected American black ops soldiers into undercover positions in the middle east, not to fight terrorism, but to organise it. These soldiers became the leaders and recruiters of the terrorist group 'Religious Unity'; the group we are currently fighting against. The reason for creating a religious army was detailed too. A country fighting under a political ideology can easily recruit other, similar countries and people to their political ideology. Just look at Germany in the second world war, and Russia in the cold war. Its much harder for a group fighting under a religious flag to create more allies from outside of that religion. This way, they had created an army with no official organisation, that they could control directly and that could never grow out of control. Using this ever-present, but ultimately false threat of terrorism, they could take away many freedoms from the people. This part of the file was marked as completed and ongoing. The final part of the plan, the part I was hoping to stop by disclosing this file, was a plan to unleash a virus on the world; a virus that around a third of the worlds population would be immune to, but that would wipe out the other two thirds of Earth. I suppose it will go ahead as planned now.'
Ed looked sad. Partly because of the thought of the millions of people that would perish in the plague, and partly because of his lost opportunity to be seen as someone of importance. A hero.
Kevin looked at Ed and tried to console him. 'It's not going to happen you know.'
'What do you mean?' Ed asked.
'I'm Death,' Said Kevin. 'If a worldwide plague was going to wipe out millions of people, I'd know. If it will make you feel better, we can go and check the arrivals for the next few months. You will see there's nothing to worry about.'
'That would be nice.' Ed said, managing a small smile.
Back in Kevin's office, he pulled the other chair behind the desk and clicked onto a scheduler app on the computer. There were lists and lists of names every day, but Kevin's demeanour didn't change.
'Is that normal?' Asked Ed.
'Yeh, pretty standard.' Replied Kevin without looking away from the screen. 'Wait,' He exclaimed 'Something is wrong here.'
The scheduler's blank pages flipped across the screen.
'There are no deaths booked in after three days from now; that's impossible.'
'Not if everyone is dead' Ed replied worriedly.
'Even if that were true,' Said Kevin, 'There would be immense lists for the days before that; all I see are normal daily death rates. Something is going on here, I think I need to see those files.'
Ed reached into his pocket, but it was empty. He began a panicked search of all his pockets in the hope of finding the flash drive.
'What's wrong?' Asked Kevin.
'I cant find it, the drive, the files, I cant find them . . . . or my pen.'
'Of course not. You know the saying “you cant take it with you”? Well, yeah, you cant take it with you. Anything. We adjusted the matter manipulator to allow clothes through, but everything else goes. We had to let people keep their clothes, it's hard enough trying to explain to someone that they're dead, without them being naked too. You try to be understanding and comforting to a naked, 23 stone, alcoholic truck driver with a tattoo of Tweety Pie giving you the finger from between his man breasts. That is not, a fun day at the office.' Kevin continued. 'We will have to get you back to your body somehow, get the files then get them up here for me to look at.'
'How, if I cant bring anything through?' Ed asked, confused.
'There are ways.' Said Kevin with a grin. 'But first, lets find you a new body.'
'Wont my old body be gone by now? I've been up here for hours, wont the drive have been found and passed on to someone?' Ed spoke hastily as they walked back along the corridor to Kevin's office.
'You still don't get it do you?' Said Kevin as he poured a shot of psychic water into a cup, drank it and winced at the strong alcoholic taste. 'Time works differently here. We exist on a different time scale to humans. That's why you could fly spaceships across the universe and never see this place surrounding it. In the same way that a pigeon would view a movie as a series of still images, we are invisible to the human eye. You cant see fast enough to see us. This dilation effect means that, although you have been here for hours,' Kevin looked at his watch, 'Your body on earth still hasn't hit the concrete after the bus hit. You should be able to get down there, grab the drive and get back up here before anyone knows anything.'
Kevin tapped away on his computer for a few seconds, then exclaimed 'Perfect! A tramp is just about to die down an alley nearby where you were hit, if we can get you in there, we can bring you both up together. He's coming anyway, and according to this, he's already unconscious so he shouldn't even realise you're borrowing his body for a few minutes. We will send you back through the matter manipulator, however, we need a reason to tell the guard.'
'Isn't 'stopping the apocalypse' a good enough reason?' Ed said sarcastically.
'Not up here, and not while Gideon is running things. There is a spare terminal in the next room, go in and use it, go to the part marked departures and print off a E111 form. That allows for short hauntings and minor possessions. That shouldn't attract too much attention.' Kevin looked at Ed, wondering why he wasn't going.
'Why cant you do it? You know your way around this place.' Ed asked, a nervous shake to his voice 'What do I do if someone asks me what im doing?'
'I'm sure you will think of something. Even if they do catch you, what are they going to do, kill you?' Kevin grinned as he spoke, but Ed wasn't feeling his humour.
'Ed walked to the next room, opened the frosted glass door and looked quickly around the room. The empty computer was in the far corner. Ed did his best to blend in, trying to look nonchalant as he weaved his way between the cubicles. He sat at the computer and started it up. Soon he had found what Kevin had asked him to find, he hit print and peered over the cubicle wall. A rather self important looking man was walking around the perimeter of the room, looking in on people's work and offering advice whether it was asked for or not. He would soon be at his cubicle. Ed looked at the printer and began to plead with the inanimate object.
'I cant believe that even in the afterlife, crappy printers are mugging me off.' Said Ed under his breath. 'Print, come onnnnnn, print!!!'
The paper started flowing out of the clunky machine just as the supervising man arrived at the cubicle.
'Errr, what are you doing here?' He asked Ed.
Ed froze; he could think of nothing, then the answer that had served him a thousand times in life, came flowing from his lips.
'I'm . . . from I.T' he said, trying to act as naturally as he could. The man seemed to relax a little with this answer, but he still eyed him with suspicion. 'Got a report the printer wasn't working; seems to be fine now.' He said, picking up the form he had printing and leaving the cubicle as quickly as he could without drawing too much attention.
Back in Kevins office, a mug of psychic water waited for him on the desk, Ed picked it up and cautiously drank the imaginary tea that it contained.
'Got it.' He said triumphantly.
'Good, lets go.' Kevin said, already leaving his chair.
They walked down the corridor, past the bar, past Gideon's office and round a bend. There at the end of the corridor stood a guard beside a metal door. He was wearing clothing similar to that of riot police on earth, but all white. He looked, to Ed, remarkably like something from Star Wars. Kevin approached him and held up the form. The guard pressed the button on the wall and moved aside.
'Thank you, Guard.' Kevin said as he passed him.
'Stormtrooper.' Said Ed with a smile and a nod as he passed by.
Inside the room there were three tubular machines, glass surrounded them except for an opening in the front of each one.
'Get in.' Said Kevin. 'The middle one is the least glitchy.'
Ed nervously stepped into the machine. It was a snug fit, and he was already beginning to feel a little claustrophobic.
'When you arrive, get right to your body, grab the drive, then put it in this.' Kevin said handing Ed a strange pinkish bag.
As Ed took it, he almost dropped it again. It was warm to the touch and he could feel a pulse in it. The bag was made of living human tissue; he could swear he could feel it taking breaths.
'This is disgusting.' Said Ed
'Yes, but anything inside that will be read as being part of you and will pass through the matter manipulator.' Replied Kevin.
Kevin had more questions, but they were interrupted by his whole being getting torn apart on a molecular level. Not an altogether unpleasant sensation, but still, rather disconcerting.
Ed awoke in an alleyway. The stench of urine almost made him vomit there and then. Hygiene had always been very important to him, and he wondered if there was time to sneak back home for a shower. He thought probably not and set out towards the road.
A series of screams helped to direct him. He emerged from the alley, still with enough time to see his own, lifeless body thrown across the tarmac by the force of the impact. People stood around phoning emergency services, the driver of the bus was leaving his vehicle with tears in his eyes. He took advantage of the chaos and ran over to where his body had come to rest. In his head, an awards ceremony was in full flow, with the glamorous presenter saying:
'And the award for worst day, goes to Ed Whitley, for 'robbing his own corpse while in the body of a piss soaked tramp.' Followed by thunderous applause.
As he began to rifle through his own pockets, he could hear onlookers shouting things like 'Stop him, he's robbing him!' So he decided to make a hasty exit. He popped his flash drive and his pen into the pulsating bag, and ran. He could hear someone following him, but this tramp had clearly not been in the best of health in life, and it was not improving any by being almost dead.
'Hey, stop!' Came a voice from behind him.
As he turned the corner, he saw a dead end. He had nowhere to go. He turned to see two savage looking men slowly approaching. He had no idea what he was going to do. Luckily, just at that moment, the last remnant of life that was keeping the tramp's heart beating, gave in, and for the second time that day, Ed died.
He could hear a crackle and suddenly found himself back in the machine, with Kevin looking at him from behind a control panel.
'So?' Kevin asked.
'Got it.' Said Ed, holding the vile bag up. He stepped out and reached inside the bag, pulling out the drive and his pen. He passed the drive to Kevin and put the pen into his pocket.
'What was that?' Kevin asked. 'You were just supposed to get the drive.'
'Its my lucky pen' Ed said.
'The lucky pen you had on you when you got wiped out by a bus you mean.' Said Kevin with open sarcasm.
'Well, it had been lucky up until today.'
'Whatever.' Said Kevin. 'Come on, lets fire this up and see what's going on.'
Back in Kevin's office, they plugged in the pen drive and began looking through the pages and pages of information.
'This is very convincing.' Said Kevin after a while, his tone becoming concerned. 'Who are the members in this group?'
'They use fake names, but from what I can tell, these three,' Ed pointed at the screen. 'Are the Prime Minister of the UK, the President of America, and the President of Russia. I imagine the others are high ups in other countries governments, but I haven't been able to figure out who they are, or who this 'G' is. Whoever it is, he's been involved from the start.'
Kevin closed the screen and switched on to a list of employees. Here there was a small green or red mark beside everyone's name. He scrolled through till he came to Gideon's name. There was a small red light next to his name.
'He's out.' Said Kevin. 'We need to pay a visit to Gideon's office.'
They headed back down the corridor and entered the reception area to his office.
'I left my I.D badge in there when I was here earlier, mind if I just pop in to get it?' Kevin, said to the receptionist.
'Well, I shouldnt really . . .' She replied.
'Please.' Said kevin, walking over to her.
Ed could see her blush a little as he approached.
'I wont tell anyone.' Kevin said to her, perching himself on the edge of her desk. 'I wouldn't go getting the most beautiful woman here in trouble, would I.'
She, blushed even further and pressed a button on her desk to release the door. 'Go on then, but be quick.'
Her eyes followed Kevin as they entered the room.
'I think you're in there.' Said Ed, being a little more laddish than he would normally.
'Shut up and help me.' Kevin said, tossing his badge from his pocket under the desk.
They plugged the flash drive in and Kevin began downloading files. Once it was complete, they stood up just as the door opened. It was the receptionist. They quickly made themselves look busy searching for the badge.
'Are you done? He's going to be back soon.' She spoke in a hushed tone.
Kevin bobbed beneath the desk and emerged with a faux look of triumph, holding the card aloft.
'Thank you, lovely.' Kevin whispered to her as they passed by.
Back in the office, they poured through the files. Ed not having a clue what he was looking at, but Kevin clearly knew, as he compared Ed's files to those of Gideon's.
'Its all here.' Kevin said eventually, looking over at Ed who was now sitting and playing with Kevin's death statue in an extremely childlike way.
'Sorry.' Said Ed, placing the statue down on the desk in the brutality of Kevin's stare. 'What's all there?'
'Every time 'G' is mentioned in your file, there is an off world travel note in Gideon's diary.'
'So he's 'G'?' Said Ed, somewhat unnecessarily.
'Look at the last note.' Said Kevin, ignoring Ed's attempt at stating the obvious. 'He was down there when we were in his office.'
Kevin quickly switched his screen to his planner, ' The blanks in the planner aren't three days away anymore, they start tonight. He must have realised we were on to him and he has gone to speed things up. We need to get you down there to stop it. Your travel pass is good till the end of the day, we will put you in someone, close enough to get to one of the main players. Hopefully, close enough to stop this.
There was another note in Gideon's diary. The virus isn't going to spare a third of people, its going to kill everyone.'
'Well, I suppose I wont have to worry about the library books I still have out then.' Ed said dryly.
'Take the flash drive with you, if we can stop the virus, hopefully we can upload the file too.'
'Can I take my pen too?' Ed asked sheepishly.
'If you must.' Said Kevin.
'So you're coming with me?' He asked Ed.
'Kind of.' Said Kevin. 'I can send part of my conciousness; I'll be able to advise, but not physically help you much. I've found a secret service agent who is close enough to get you to the Prime Minister, you need to find out as much as you can.'
Ed loaded up the skin sack with his pen and flash drive and headed off to the matter manipulator once again. After being torn apart once more, he found himself in a much cleaner body than he had the last time. Agents meandered around a security control room. Ed was trying to blend in and get his bearings. He reached into the bag in his pocket and began nervously clicking his pen while trying to formulate a plan. Suddenly he noticed a strange blurring of the light over by the door. It looked like a vaguely human shaped mirage, like predator when he's cloaked.
'Through here, Moron.' Said the blurred shape as Ed realised that was Kevin.
Ed walked across the room and left through the door. The blurry shape was already waiting for him having passed through the closed door moments before. From outside could be heard chants and protests. They had been going on for months now, growing in magnitude with every new corruption of freedom, every new law and act passed that brought the country further from democracy and closer to dictatorship. Of course Ed had always ignored it. As long as it didn't impact him, Ed had rarely cared about anything in politics. Until now. Now he felt the anger and betrayal that all those chanting masses had felt all along.
Ed's mind had wandered, but he was pulled back to awareness by the blurry figure of Kevin emerging from a wall.
'He's in here.' Said Kevin.
Ed walked to the door and opened it. Inside he saw the Prime Minister, sitting at a desk with a laptop open in front of him.
'What are you doing in here?' Said the Prime minister, closing his laptop.
Ed hadn't planned this meeting, and had no idea what to say.
'What should I say?' He said, looking over at kevin, who only Ed could see.
'Who are you talking to? Whats going on here?' Said the irate leader.
'Just tell him the truth.' Said Kevin.
Ed took a deep breath. 'Mr Prime Minister, I am a dead I.T worker in the body of a secret service agent, I'm here with Death, we know the terrible things you've done, and the terrible things you have planned, and I'm here to stop you.'
'I didn't quite mean that much truth.' Kevin said holding his none existent head with a hand that wasn't there.
'You're insane.' Said the Prime Minister as he hit a button on his desk with a smile which began to fade as he realised no alarm was sounding.
'I said I couldn't help you much physically.' Said the ghostly Kevin. ' I do have some tricks though. I thought knocking out the alarms and intercoms might be useful.'
'It's just the three of us then.' Said Ed, failing to acknowledge that Kevin could not be seen by anyone but him.
The panicked Prime Minister glanced over at the door.
'Gun.' Said Kevin
Ed suddenly realised he had a gun beneath his jacket and quickly drew it, pointing it at the worried looking man.
'Sit down.' Said Ed. 'How do we stop the virus?'
'You can't. Its already launching as we speak. Its diffusing into the air from the next room as we speak. In two days a similar diffuser will fire in the USA, then two days from then, one in Russia, and on until the whole world is infected. Then we will have it all.' The Prime Minister sat looking at Ed with a sneer of victory. 'The only person who can open that door is me, and I certainly don't intend to open it.'
'The cure is in here.' Kevin said, popping his head out of the vault like door at the far end of the room. 'We just need to get you in. Its hand print activated.'
'Did you actually just tell me your whole plan, and its one weakness like some cheap Bond villain? I cant believe I voted for you.' Ed said, raising the gun up toward the seated man. The lifetime of passiveness now erupting in a desire for justice, a desire to see the bad guys lose, to see the world's people protected and not persecuted.
'Does he have to be alive?' Ed called in Kevin's direction.
'Nope.' Said Kevin.
'Good.' Said Ed, moments before firing a shot into the head of the Prime Minister.
The body slumped down in the chair, and Ed vomited. He had got so caught up in his avenging angel role, he had quite forgotten that he had never so much as thrown a punch against another person since he was school age, and now he had shot someone in the head. He vomited again.
'If you're done throwing up, could we drag that meat sack over here and get in this room. No rush, just the fate of the world.' Said Kevin.
Ed dragged the lifeless body over to the door, and slapped his hand on the panel. There was a loud beep and a microphone extended from the wall. The display read:
Secondary security protocol
'Uh oh.' Said Ed.
Kevin looked at the display and smiled 'I've always wanted to do this.' He plunged his ethereal hand in the back of the Prime Ministers head, and lifted it up to the microphone, then, controlling his mouth like something from the muppets, he made the dead head speak its name in its own voice, before turning it towards Ed and adding a Kermit the Frog type 'Yaaaaaaaaaaaay.'
'That is so disturbing.' Said Ed looking at the man puppet.
The door slid open, and inside was a large machine with a canister loaded into it marked '791x2'. 'Catchy name.' said Ed as he dislodged it from its dock.
He grabbed the cure cannister from the cabinet beside the machine and began loading it into the docking valve.
'Something is wrong.' said Kevin, his voice concerned. 'Someone is in the room with my body; I can feel them there. I have to go. Release the cure, then upload the file. Hopefully the authorities will stop the other viral agents before they get to release it.'
'How do I get back?' Called Ed toward a quickly fading Kevin.
'Die.' Was Kevin's brief reply.
'Marvellous.' Said Ed to himself. 'You don't die for thirty six years, then you die three times in one day. Who thought deaths would be comparable to buses.'
The cannister hissed as he locked it into place, he hit the button and the cure began to be diffused into the air outside. The infection should be destroyed even before anyone knows they're sick, Ed thought to himself. He hurried over to the computer and set about uploading the file. He sent it to every whistleblower website, every news agency, and every social media. They could never destroy every copy before enough people saw it that it couldn't be denied. In a moment of quick thinking, he took a photo with the computer's webcam, of the machine and the cannisters, uploading it with the file as further proof.
The gunshot had clearly attracted attention, as he could hear banging on the door.
'Oh god.' Ed said as he raised the gun to his temple.
The door gave way, just as Ed fired, the bullet passing through his skull sent him racing back to the matter manipulation room. As he regained awareness, he could see Kevin battling with Gideon. Jumping out of the machine he grabbed at Gideon, pulling him off Kevin and against the wall.
'Do you think you have changed anything?' Snarled Gideon. 'That little virus was just my way of having some fun; you have done nothing to change my ultimate plan.'
'What plan is that?' Ed asked, hoping Gideon's flair for the dramatic was comparable to that of his fallen earthbound conspirator. He was not disappointed.
Gideon pulled a remote from his pocket. 'I'm going back, back to where all this began, back to that damn signal that started all this. I'm going to stop this universe form ever being created. Do you remember Kevin, what it was like before those overgrown monkeys and their stars came along? When we had the freedom and ownership of the universe? I'm going to bring those days back. I'm going to stop it all before it ever began.'
'You're insane, Gideon. Give me the remote.' Kevin said.
Gideon just glared and hit a button. One of the manipulators crackled into life. A pulsating blue beam focused through it's centre. He started running towards it. At that moment, Ed burst into action. The man who cared about nothing, wasn't going to let this power mad lunatic get away with this. He quickly threw himself at Gideon, knocking him off course and against the wall. What he hadn't accounted for, was that he would rebound and fall into the manipulator himself.
The feeling of being torn apart coursed through his body. Every cell exploding or imploding, he wasn't sure which, but soon he found himself in complete nothingness. He looked down at himself, but couldn't see himself. He had never been so terrified in his whole life. He reached a hand he didn't have, into a pocket that wasn't there and began nervously clicking his pen that didn't exist, inside the bag of skin that had no substance.
What did he do now? He had no idea. Should he move? What if they couldn't get him back if he moved? What if they didn't try to get him back. What if Gideon had overpowered Kevin and was going to leave him here in this void forever. He decided to stay where he was and just continued clicking his non-existent pen.
Suddenly, he felt himself being reconstituted, and was once more emerging from the manipulator. Kevin stood at the controls and Gideon stood by the door, tethered to two of the stormtrooper like guards, by a glowing cord.
Ed emerged from the machine, just as Kevin metamorphosed into his Death persona.
'YOU ARE GOING AWAY FOR A LONG TIME, GIDEON.' Death said, booming with magical power. 'YOUR REIGN OF TERROR IS OVER.'
Death banged his scythe on the ground and a vortex opened up beneath Gideon. The cord that tethered him dissolved, and he was sucked into the swirling maw, screaming his vows of revenge.
Kevin returned to his form of normality, as Ed just looked on in amazement.
'Damn, that felt good.' shouted Kevin. 'I haven't opened a damnation portal in sooooooooooo long.'
Ed was clicking his now reformed pen still. The last few minutes had done nothing to help his nervousness. Kevin looked over at him.
'What's that noise?'
'What noise?' Said Ed.
'That clicking sound. Is that you.' Kevin asked with a strange look on his face.
'Sorry, its my lucky pen.' Ed replied.
'Were you doing that in the void?' Kevin asked.
'Errrr, yeh.' Said Ed nervously, hoping his new friend wasn't about to go on some kind of damnation portal frenzy.
Kevin started to laugh. 'Little, unassuming Edward Whitley; who'd have thought it.'
'What?' Said Ed, confused, but slightly relaxed by the laughter.
'That sound, that rhythmic clicking; that's the sound we heard in the void. The noise that drew us all together. The sound responsible for the creation of the universe. You, Edward Whitley, and your lucky pen, are the reason the whole universe exists.' Kevin smiled at his new friend. 'So, given any thought to what you want to do next?'
'I want a cup of tea before anything else. After that, I might stay here, I quite like it up here.' Said Ed, looking around himself.
'I was hoping you would say that, since we are now without a Global Operations Director, I've been offered the job. That means, we are going to need a new Death. Interested?'
'Do I get the cool cloak powers and the hefty weapon?' Ed asked smiling.
'Of course, comes as standard.' Kevin said.
'You have yourself a Death then, I guess; first however, tea.'
'You humans and your tea.' Said Kevin, as they left the room.
Ed and Kevin sat drinking psychic tea, watching news broadcasts from earth. The file had taken the internet by storm, all the leaders that had been part of the conspiracy were arrested, the viral agents were found and deactivated before they could be released and the afterlife's new G.O.D, abolished all the crushing paperwork brought in by his predecessor. Not that it mattered, as that day, not a single human died. After all, even Death needs a cup of tea and a day off sometimes.
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