Not one person stopped Tobias. Even as the General let out his last gasp for life nobody helped. Is this his plan? To see if we are all uncaring enough to do anything about it? I wondered.
Tobias asked for anyone in the audience who was a doctor and a man sheepishly walked onto the stage. He was dressed in casual clothes and his nervousness made me assume he wasn’t an actor. He took the General’s pulse and confirmed there was none. Another doctor came up to do the same and it was the same story. A man had died here today, that much was true.
“It’s a trick, it can’t be real,” said one of the crowd.
“He wouldn’t kill someone,” said another.
“My friends, I can assure you he is dead. But he is not gone. Imagine if this was your son or daughter at war and the enemy had killed them. Before today that would be the end but for soldiers fitted with TethTech it is only the beginning. Colonel Kull. How are you feeling?”
The crowd had forgotten about the General’s twin. They focussed their attention on the monitor. They had assumed he would die too but he seemed fine. “Never better,” he replied to gasps from the audience. He seemed unworried by his brother’s death. Clearly he knew something we did not.
“Ok, let’s make things interesting,” The camera moved in closer to the Colonel and that’s when I saw it.
He had orange eyes.
This was a different man to the one who attacked my brother but his eyes had the same unearthly glow. The crowd noticed the eyes too, with one of them screaming “What has happened to his eyes?”
One woman rather hysterically shouted “Demon!”
“The orange eyes are a bug we are working to fix,” explained Tobias. “They are caused by the psychic link we are tapping in to. They even come in pairs,” he swooped his arm around and removed the orange handkerchief from the dead General’s face. A cameraman moved in close to show his face on the monitor and he revealed another set of orange eyes but that wasn’t the most alarming thing. The man’s face seemed as fresh as before he had died. The heart rate monitor continued to show a reading of zero.
“As you can see the General has yet to show any visible signs of death,” said Tobias. “A Tether has been made between him and his twin, which is keeping him alive. That means we can do this…”
The Colonel in the dark room started to move his arms like a puppeteer. He wore gloves that had the same double helix of orange that Tobias wore on his suit. As he moved his arms his brother began to move.
Moments ago we had seen a man die and this was his reincarnation. The General rose to his feet and started to move across the stage. He looked at the crowd, who looked like they didn’t know whether to be happy or scared.
Tobias grabbed the juggling balls again and tossed them to the General. He caught all three of them perfectly. He then tossed the balls into the air and started to juggle them from one hand to the other. This seemed remarkably easy for him, given the difficulty he had minutes ago and that he had died.
In the background the General’s twin moved his arms in a juggling motion that was a perfect mirror image. “Let’s make this interesting,” said Tobias, who emerged on the stage with two long white poles that had pieces of fabric wrapped around them. From the fabric a thick translucent liquid dripped across the stage. The General placed the juggling balls down and took the poles; he held them out in front of him. Tobias then took out a lighter and set the poles on fire.
A burst of flame shot upwards from the poles as they ignited. Despite the intense heat no sweat formed on the General’s head and yet in the background you could see his twin staring to sweat, it seemed like he was feeling the heat instead.
Or perhaps he was simply sweating over the next performance. He threw his arms into the air, as his twin did the same, sending both flaming poles skyward. The Colonel turned his head sideways quickly, which led to his twin spinning around on the spot as the poles started their descent. He stopped spinning his head and held both arms aloft. With perfect timing he clenched his fists and his brother did the same, catching the poles from the air before they hit the floor or himself.
An assistant put out the fire and the General sat down on his bed. His brother breathed a sigh of relief.
“You seem to be quite the juggler Colonel Kull,” taunted Tobias.
“Yes sir. I was Junior Juggler of the Year in Secondary School,” replied the Colonel.
“And how about your brother. Could he juggle?”
“No sir,” the Colonel laughed. “He was awful. Still is.”
“What you have just seen ladies and gentleman is a Tether moment between two brothers,” said Tobias. “One of whom can’t juggle and the other was a UK champion. The Tether stayed intact through death, allowing one brother to control the other. Instead of being powerless, one brother was able to make the other even better.”
He was starting to win back the crowd, although there were still grumbles from a few people that this could just be an elaborate hoax.
As if he had read their thoughts Tobias set himself a new challenge. “So we could have faked this right? The General could simply have been pretending to be bad at juggling earlier. It’s a fair point and I’m sure that some of you are thinking it. So let’s try something extreme that can’t be faked.”
Tobias took the orange cloth from earlier and tied it around the General’s eyes. He then placed a pair of dark goggles over the blindfold so the General could no longer see. Tobias then removed a gun from inside his jacket and placed it in the hands of the General. The heart rate monitor continued to show a complete lack of vital signs.
The General stood up and pointed the gun at the crowd. I instinctively ducked and dragged Grace down with me. I’d told her all about the orange eyed men so she stayed down there with me. We watched through a gap in the crowd.
“Colonel, it’s your move now,” said Tobias.
The screen showing the Colonel was split in two. One half showed him and the other showed the view from the weapon held by his twin.
“As you can see, the Colonel can now see the gun on a monitor. If he truly is controlling his brother then he will be able to move his arms and shoot the weapon. If this is all a hoax then the General will be the only one who can fire it and as he can’t see, then that could end badly,” Tobias felt proud that he had discovered a way to prove his technology worked.
“I’m so confident this will work, that I’m prepared to be the target,” he placed an apple on his head and stood several feet away from the General. He deliberately moved his body so it wasn’t in line with the gun. “Aaaand, go.”
Watching the split screen we could see the Colonel raise his arm and as he did so the gun on the screen began to move in the same direction. There were some wobbles, as he became familiar with the weight of his brother’s arm but eventually we saw as the apple appeared on the gun’s camera.
“It was nice knowing you everyone,” said Tobias, teasing the crowd. He closed his eyes. There was no sound and then…
Bang. The apple exploded instantly and burst across the stage.
The crowd cheered. They had seemingly forgotten about the live killing show and then their minds returned to that thought as they started to feel guilt at applauding what they had seen.
“I see you are still wondering about why I killed the General,” said Tobias. “Here’s the great part. When I killed the General, he had already been taken over by his brother. This means his brain has yet to realise he has been hurt in any way.”
The nurses returned. One of them put the General back into the heart rate monitor which remained at zero. The other held a fresh needle, this time with a red liquid.
“This is the antidote. What? You didn’t really think I’d let a man die did you? Really?” his surprise was fake; he’d planned every aspect of this demonstration to the finest detail. “It’s only effective if applied within 60 seconds of the original virus being injected. Right now we’re at, oooh ten minutes so the chances of it working are, well, zero. Let’s give it a go anyway.”
Like a masterful magician Tobias knew how to work a crowd. He once again presented the needle and injected it.
“The results aren’t quite as quick this time so let’s move on for a second,” said Tobias. “The other big announcement is that TethTech has now floated on the stock exchange meaning you can buy shares in our company and help invest in the future of our children. Let’s take a look at the share price so far.”
A green chart appeared on the screen, replacing the other soldier, showing TethTech’s share price. It was like seeing a sheer cliff face. Shares had started at £75 a share an hour ago and within minutes of Tobias’ live death demonstration; they plummeted and stood at £10 a share. It seemed shareholders didn’t like seeing a man die on live TV.
“Ouch,” said Tobias. “Looks like some of us need a little faith.”
As he said the worth ‘faith’ he raised his arms into the air and the General sat upright and took a large gulp of air.
“I give you one soldier, alive from battle and free to protect the country another day. If a soldier is hurt at war, we can use their twin to bring them back safely from behind enemy lines. We can then keep them linked to their twin whilst we heal them. No man left to die. Ever.”
The crowd went insane with applause. Their doubt was removed and suddenly their hero was back. Those £10 share prices would soon be a distant memory as people across the world started to heavily invest in TethTech. By the end of the day shares would reach £300 each, a 400% increase from their £75 starting price. Practically unheard of in this economy. Tobias’ little show would quadruple the value of his company in a single day.
The doctors who had checked the General earlier returned to the stage and confirmed he was fit and healthy. In fact his body didn’t seem to have any negative effects from the original toxin or anything that occurred once he was Tethered. It was as if the act of being Tethered had made him immune to harm.
“I have one more surprise. Earlier today we held a competition on TethTech.com for five lucky people to get a free DualCam before anyone else,” said Tobias.
Except me, I thought.
“The winners are…. Glenn Poe, Tina Hall, Finn Yung, Jessica Young and Tom Snauser.”
I looked at Grace, Did she do this? I wondered.
As she looked back at me the answer was clear. This was nothing to do with Grace “Emmie, I don’t want you to go inside but you have to go.”
“I can’t do it. What would I say? They’ll know it’s me,” I said.
“Listen to me. As long as you are in disguise you are safe. I can’t even recognise you, this is the best chance you have for answers,” she replied.
I looked at Grace and knew she was right. No matter how scared I felt, if I didn’t go inside the building I’d never know what happened to Will.
“You will be safe Emmie; you have your disguise and your phone. I’ll track your location with my phone and if you need help just tap the face button four times. I’ll shoot my way in if I have to,” said Grace.
Whilst Grace’s words filled me with comfort, I still really hoped she didn’t have a gun. I stared at the building for a few seconds to brace myself and then walked towards the other winners as Grace mouthed the words “I’ll protect you.”