Sunday, March 18th, 2029
I see John, he’s standing in an open field. He’s holding out his hand to me, his face distraught. He’s asking me to save him, but I can’t quite reach him. I’m running on and on but I’m not getting any closer to him. He’s moving farther and farther away, above him I see the bodies of his parents floating in the air. I see the body of Mr. Underwood hanging next to them. I see a figure behind John, it is Micah. He places his hand on John’s shoulder as he grabs him. I scream out as I try to catch up, but I cannot so much as even get close.
John’s voice echoes through my ears as he is being pulled away, “Please…Sarah, help…”
I sit up in the hotel bed, sweating and breathing heavy. One second I’m in the field and the next I’m in the Calgary room, absolutely no transition at all. I wipe my hands across my eyes and run them through my hair, getting control of myself. Just then, Andy walks through the door, “Hey, I was just about to wake you,” he says.
“What time is it?”
“It’s about two in the morning.”
“Are we heading out now?”
“Yeah, I just had to take a phone call, We just have to return the key.”
“What about those?” I ask, pointing to the scattered cans now empty that once held baked beans and corn.
“We don’t have the kind of time for it, I we’re there too late because we’re taking care of some cans…”
“I get it, but honestly you could’ve just thrown ’em out while I was asleep.”
“Yeah, I could’ve. I guess it just didn’t cross my mind, let’s go,” he says.
“I’ll take care of them, go return the key and I’ll be down in a few,” I say, shaking my head.
He walks out of the door. I turn to the table and gather up the cans in my arms. I count fifteen cans in total we went through, I probably could have had one more, but I wanted to save some for another time if we needed it. It felt so good putting something, anything into my stomach. Something to keep my mind sharp and my body going. I toss the cans into the trash can on the other side of the room, stuffing it in with the heel of my shoe to make it all fit in nice. Once done I grab the two suitcases filled with the remaining cans and food on the floor beside the bed.
“He could’ve at least grabbed one,” I say to myself, shaking my head.
I head out of the room, remnant thoughts of John still on my mind. I press the button on the elevator and wait for its arrival. Luckily, it’s so early that there isn’t anyone else in there to question my whereabouts or why I’m carrying suitcases full of canned food. The elevator brings me down to the first floor, the doors open and I see Andy handing off the key to the concierge. I run up to him with both suitcases in hand. Andy seems to realize he forgot, so he takes the one from my right hand, allowing me to hold the other with both of my hands.
“Are you sure you have to leave immediately, sir?” Terry asks.
“Yeah, something urgent came up that we have to take care of, our apologies,” Andy says.
“Alright then, please do stop by again,” He says nodding his head.
We begin walking to the exit when a familiar voice sounds, “Why, if it isn’t the young and beauteous Miss Agnes!”
“Oh no,” I say quietly to Andy.
I turn to see Inigo running towards us. “I overheard that you are leaving, and I was wondering why. I must know,” he asks.
“It’s none of your business,” I say, beginning to walk away.
“Oh certainly it must be something I can remedy! I’ve been told I’ve been told by the occasional lady that I’m a very good listener!”
“Not interested.” I say.
I turn once more and then I feel my arm being pulled back. “Listen, I don’t quite think you’re hearing me-” That’s it, my last straw. Not even when I’m facing the end of the world am I going to let him off with this shit. I’ve seen too much with this happening to Lindsey. I turn around to see his face eagerly expecting a response.
“Listen here, beefcake. I’m not interested in anything you have to say to me. My friend and I here are leaving and that is that.” I say, pointing to Andy. “Just because you’re foreign that might be a vicious turn on for some people, but not me. If these ‘ladies’ all say you’re a good listener, then listen to this, I. Am. Not. Interested.’”.
I see his eyes widen as I yank my arm free from him and walk away, Andy following behind. I don’t even have to turn around to know he’s going to be like that for the rest of the day. We open the door and are greeted by a chilly breeze.
“Just where the hell did that come from?”Andy asks, letting the door slam shut behind us.
“It’s…it’s just been building up, I guess. It’s been building up from all of this. I mean, it isn’t fair that John has to go through all of this, none of this is his fault.”
Andy nods silently. We’re walking across the front lawn in the direction of the parking lot.
“It isn’t fair that Lindsey had to get involved in this, it isn’t fair that Jay had to get involved in this, that Karen had to get involved, that you or I had to get involved. This isn’t fair, we aren’t terrible people, but we have all of these terrible things just happening over and over.”
“I understand you, but also, it gave us people to relate to. I don’t know what I would’ve done if I’d never met Lindsey inside of Elysium. Hell, I’d be dead if Jay didn’t interfere with my fight with Jack. Meeting all of you was my greatest strength throughout all of this.”
“Thank you, Andy. It helps, it really does.”
We make it to the parking lot, I can spot the ZX Hybrid from a mile away, the moonlight shines off of the bright red paint job. It’s a wonder it has managed to stay absolutely near pristine in the time we’ve been driving it. Andy walks for the drivers seat.
“Are you sure you’re ready enough to be driving?” I ask.
He stops for a second, I stop behind him. “Of course, plus, you already had your turn, it’s my turn to have some fun now,” he says cracking a big smile at me.
“Alright, fair enough,” I say, walking to the other side of the car.
We’re pulling out in style, Andy knows the limits of the Hybrid, and he drives it better than I was, but to be fair, it was my first time driving the thing.
We’re pretty much just sliding cross the road at breakneck speeds, by this rate I’m sure we’ll reach California at a much faster rate than before. I, curious of what else Jay had stuffed in the glove compartment, open it up. I see the stack of bills that we’re using to survive, and under them I see something that catches my notice. I shift the money around and take out what was underneath it. It’s a gun.
Granted, it’s not the anti-radiation gun Jay had in mind.
Andy turns his head for a second, “I think that was the old .44 caliber gun Jay kept around, he always told me he’d reserved a bullet there right for Jack’s brain.”
He nods his head. “I think that might be our only chance.”
“You think so?”
“Yeah, we might as well try. We can’t let him get away with what he plans to. You might want to keep it with you, you never know if you’ll need it.”
“I’ve never even fired a gun before.”
“Then pray you don’t need it.”
I look at the gun in my hands, the shiny silvery metal in my hands has the power to kill just at the pull of a trigger. It’s easy enough to say that we’re going to stop Jack, that we’re going to kill him in revenge…but actually holding this in my hands feels…wrong. It is a whole different ball game than just saying, this is doing. I look back in the glove compartment, I see the ammo clip is out of the gun and resting beside the stacks of money.
“Even if you’ve never used one, I’d still suggest bringing it with you. You could surprise yourself, and it could end up saving your life,” Andy says.
“Okay…” I say, still staring at the gun.
“Hey, are we going the right way?” Andy asks.
I pull out the transmitter from my back pocket and check the display. The last time I checked we were 998 miles from John’s location. Now it shows 542 on its face.
“Yeah, I’d say so, we’re only about five hundred and forty miles from our destination.”
I nod, placing the gun down beside my feet, I reach in and grab the ammo clip and place it in my pocket. I close the glove compartment and look out of the window, watching the landscape pass us by. My eyes feel heavy and I can hear the beckoning call of sleep call. My head droops and then all at once I’m out like a light.
All at once I’m seated in darkness. It surrounds me entirely. I look all around me, the only thing that isn’t completely black is behind me, there seems to be a wall of some sort, on that wall is a large portrait of a very beautiful woman. The woman pictured has bright blue eyes and deep dark hair. She’s wearing a really pretty turquoise dress. Below, looking at the portrait stands Jay.
I walk over to him slowly, he doesn’t seem to notice me.
“Jay?” I ask, approaching closer.
“Oh, Sarah, hello,” he says, tearing his eyes away from the portrait.
“Are you…” I begin.
“Real? A ghost? A mixture of the two?”
“Yeah, something like that,” I say. I look back up to the portrait, “So, who’s this of?”
“It’s Karen,” He says.
“Karen as in your wife, Karen?”
“Why not just like, go be with her? It sure beats staring at a picture.”
“I’ve…been a part of a lot of bad in my life.”
“You mean Radical-9?”
“Yeah, the creation of Radical-9 mainly. The number of lives Radical-9 has ruined is insurmountable. Now I have to repent for my mistakes before I can cross over, and part of that is why I’m here right now,” he says.
“Part of it?”
“The other part…is only a hypothesis. It is my guess that those infected like you and I, the Dreamers, we’re connected, even after death there’s this untouchable and unbreakable connection. I guess that even after I cross over I’ll be able to visit in your dreams as I am now,” he says.
“And your purpose for coming here, what is that?”
“You see, it first takes you to understand something.”
“Death isn’t the end, not even close. It’s more like…like having your piece being taken out of the game, but once you’re out you still get to watch and observe. Also, you can go back and look at all of the previous moves that were made, kind of like if it were chess.”
“Okay, I think I have that down.”
“I tell you this, because there’s something you need to know about Jack. He’s taken over John’s body.”
“The possibility is extremely high that if we want to kill Jack…then John may die as well.”
I take a step back. “How…how could you as a father even suggest…” I begin.
“I don’t want him to die. Of course I don’t! But the question is do I want to continue on for the rest of my time here seeing him a slave who could possibly do monumental damage to the world?”
“There has to be a way for us to get him back in his own body, I mean, he got himself in.”
“His body is worn away and unusable now. When he was exposed to Radical-9 he got the largest amount of exposure, so it started eating away at him much faster than anybody else. His body began decaying and growing older at a much faster rate. At the tradeoff, his entire DNA structure began to change and mutate, like what happened with us but on a grander scale.”
“And is that how he was able to take control of John?”
“Precisely. Like how Gavin can throw his mind…and now as I’m seeing it, anything connected to him, through time, Jack is able to in a sense throw his mind into an individual who is compatible.”
“It’s the changed DNA that allowed Jack to be able to do his work, so he can only throw it into someone with equally changed DNA.”
“But…John wasn’t exposed as Jack was,” I say.
“You are correct, but that’s one of the things I got to see. When John was captured they exposed him to Radical-9 in extreme quantities. It allowed Jack to work his way into his mind.”
“But…doesn’t that mean that John’s body will begin decaying like Jack’s?”
Jay’s face turns sullen, even moreso than it had already been. “Yes…it will, and already has begun. This is what I was talking about. Even if by some stroke of luck you managed to force Jack out of John’s body, he wouldn’t have long to live anyway, and it’d give Jack a chance to find another host for his mind.”
“And that’s what he’ll plan to do when he’s in John’s body, find a new host?”
“He knows that his residence in John isn’t permanent. He’s already wasted one body to know that. What way would you think he’d find more potential hosts to reside in after he burns up John’s body?”
I look at him with my eyes widening large.
“What’s going to happen on the 18th…the apocalypse.”
“Radical-9 will be nuked, for lack of a better word, onto the general public. Jack will no longer have to specifically hand pick a host when he can create millions.”
“Oh my god…” I say.
Jay looks up towards the blackness above, sighs, and then does the same for below.
“What should I do next?” I ask.
“You…you need to kill Jack. You need to free my boy from this curse he’s been given.”
I had assumed he’d say it, but it doesn’t make it any easier hearing it, and I’m sure it isn’t easy at all for him to ask me to basically kill his kid.
“Okay, I have to go, the battle is about to begin.”
“You’ll see, the best of luck to you Sarah. I know you can do it.”
I swallow hard and then close my eyes. When I open them again I’m sitting in the ZX Hybrid beside Andy. He doesn’t seem to notice I’ve woken up, his gaze is dead set on the road ahead of us. I catch glimpse of a sign as we pass.
“AMERICA’S FINEST CITY”
I see the transmitter sitting on the divider between our two seats. I sit up straight, as to where Andy notices I’m up and regards me with a silent nod. I cock my head a little to see the number displayed on the face of the transmitter.
We’re fifty miles from John’s location, that is, if he’s still wearing his father’s watch. I see Andy’s face turn to one of confusion as we travel along.
“What is it?” I ask.
He raises his right arm and points off in the distance, “There…what’s going on over there?”
Where he’s pointing to I see a bunch of people…no, not a bunch, more like a giant crowd of people. There’s probably a few hundred if not more all packed together, facing away from us.
Andy slows to a near halting stop as he rolls down the window on my side of the car.
“Hey, buddy, what’s going on here?!” Andy calls out, but there aren’t any answers.
“Andy! Look at what they’re holding!” I say.
The people in the back of the crowd are all holding blunt weapons of some sort it seems. Some people are holding onto tire irons, some crowbar, and one even a 2×4. The 2×4 has nails stuck through the end of it, but the guy is holding it by the end with the nails on it, I can see one of them has punctured his hand, he doesn’t seem to notice as the white liquid flows down his hand onto the wood.
“No way…” Andy says.
“What is it?” Sarah asks.
“That one with the wood, he’s an automaton.”
“A what?” I ask.
“Long story short it’s a robot built to look like a human. Jack apparently has an army of them, and I think this is that army.”
“Now! Rip them apart!” A deep and commanding voice yells out, his voice carries throughout the city as if it were being artificially amplified.
I turn to Andy, he turns to me with the same confused look I’m wearing on my face.
“You didn’t say that?” I ask.
“No…I thought you did…?” Andy says.
“It sounded kind of like a guy…kind of like…” I trail off, out of the corner of my eye through the crowd I see two people standing hand in hand in the center, they’re roughed up bad but I recognize them. It’s Gavin and Iris.
“…Gavin, it was Gavin,” I say.
“Yeah, I think so,” Andy says.
“Look!” I say, pointing. Standing a few feet away from Gavin and Iris is Micah.
“What’re we going to do? We need to help!” I scream.
“I’ve an idea,” Andy says.
He throws the steering wheel around and slams his foot down on the gas. The ZX Hybrid burns rubber as we begin moving. Andy turns the wheel and aims the car right into the crowd.
“Automatons, remember? They’re not real people.”
I still can’t help but shield my eyes as the car slams into the back row of bodies, the car begins shaking every which way as the cold hard metal slams into them, sending them off like absolutely nothing. I peek my eyes open just in time to see one of the Automaton being flung up the hood and slamming against the windshield, cracking the exterior. He flies off of the back, my heart is racing.
Out of the windshield I see Micah, Gavin and Iris all turn to look at us as we come barreling down on the crowd. Andy turns ever so slightly to angle the car straight at Micah, who is standing with his jawline reaching the floor. Just as the hood of the car is about to slam into him he vanishes out of thin air, taking both Andy and myself by surprise. He fights with the wheel to regain control of the car and begins swerving around. He comes to a stop with the rear end of the car just before Gavin and Iris.
I worm my way to the back and throw open the door, in my peripheral vision I see that the Automatons had begun charging and are closing in.
“Come on! We need to move, NOW!” I yell.
They’re shocked, but they seem to slap themselves out of it as they nod and run over. Andy puts a little gas on a rolling start, Iris climbs in first, I’m sliding my way back up to shotgun to give them room. Gavin hops in behind her, closing the door on the hand of an automaton trying to feel its way in. Andy takes off, putting the pedal to the metal. Gavin opens the back door and re-closes it, letting the trapped automaton tumble away as we pick up speed. Andy drives the car straight through four automatons, knocking one onto the roof of the car.
I hear the thud of its arms as it bangs on the roof looking for an entry point.
“Holy hell you guys picked quite a time to show up,” Gavin says, breathing heavy.
“Are you two alright?” Andy asks, staying his course.
“I’m a little roughed up, but I’ll live,” Iris says.
“I hit my head kind of hard, I couldn’t concentrate on jumping back there.”
“Can I see the wound?” I ask, looking back to Gavin.
He nods bends over, I can see a gash pouring blood from the back of his head.
“Okay, okay, uh, it’s kind of big, but that’s no problem,” I say.
I take my coat off and hand it backward. Iris takes it and nods.
“Just keep pressure on it, okay?” She asks.
“Hey, uh, where are Jay and Lindsey? They somewhere safe?” Iris asks.
I look over at Andy, I only see him gripping the steering wheel even harder and takes a deep breath.
“No, they’re both…the both of them are dead.”