Power & Duty

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Six: Marcus

I know this place, Marcus thought walking down a crowded hallway, the sounds of chatter and laughter echoing as blurry figures whirled around her like an angry storm. He recognized the educational posters, the slim metal lockers, and the gallery of wooden doors. This was Lake Hill High. He had never been in the building but knew it well. It also meant the figures were students, teachers, and other faculty workers.

“So what are you guys doing after school?” The voice sounded young and female.

He turned to the direction it came from. His eyes set on a small group of girls standing by some lockers. Marcus scanned their faces. It was Peyton and her friends although they looked a little younger. Peyton had shorter hair and was dressed in thick winter clothing. Ashley wore a different pair of glasses Cassidy had a long ponytail and wore a cheerleader uniform. Marcus couldn’t see the last person as their back was to him. But they wore a strange pink bunny suit.

That’s not quite right, Marcus declared approaching them. He reached out to touch the bunny person’s shoulder when a white bright flash hit him. Suddenly everyone was gone. The hallway was deadly silent. He scanned around, trying to see what else had changed. His sight fell upon a strange shadowy figure who was staring back at him. Their faces were hidden behind a black hood. Before Marcus could say anything, the figure turned around and started walking away. Marcus had a strange feeling that the figure wanted him to follow them. So he did.

Marcus continued down the hallway, his senses sharpened. He turned the corner. The dark figure stood in front of the school supply closet. Once again, it felt like the figure was waiting for him. As Marcus moved closer, the figure entered the closet. Marcus followed. He reached for the doorknob when he heard something on the other side. The figure was talking to someone, but he couldn’t quite make out what they were saying. He opened the door.

The hooded figure stood alone. They pulled their hood, revealing their face. Marcus’s jaw dropped as he looked upon his face. The hooded figure was him. The other Marcus grinned viciously before grabbing Marcus by his throat. Marcus tried fighting back, punching the other Marcus in the face. It had no effect. The other Marcus lifted him with one hand. Then he threw Marcus across the room. Marcus slammed into something hard. He looked around and found himself in the sleeping pod.

He tried to get out when wires and tubes wrapped themselves around his limbs. It held him in place as the helmet fell on his head and a mask covered his face. He tried to scream but no sound escaped his mouth.

The other Marcus appeared, grabbing the lid. “Welcome home.” Then he closed it.

Marcus woke, shivering. His heart pounded against his chest. His head hurt. He took a deep breath, calming himself down. For a moment, Marcus had forgotten where he was. He looked around, finding himself in his room at the hospital. He took another deep breath and got out of bed. He walked toward the bathroom across the room.

The light-activated as he stepped into the room. He turned to the mirror, looking at his reflection. It had been two weeks since he woke up in the hospital recovery room. He still wasn’t used to this face. Marcus knew it was his. But it still felt somewhat new or different. He shook his head and turned on the sink. Cool, refreshing water escaped the faucet. Marcus put his hands into the water, getting a good handful, and splashed it onto his face.

He sighed and collected his thoughts. Was he having a dream or a memory? Everything felt so real. He could remember the high school. He knew every detail of it almost until he had been there his entire life. Yet he also knew that wasn’t true. That he had never been there before. He had been inside of the pod. He growled. His mind was so messed up. He slammed his fist onto the countertop. It caused a small crack. He sighed. That’s just what I need.

WAAAAHHHHH! The sound of the hospital emergency alarm echoed as the flashes of blood-red light swirled on the ceiling. Marcus covered his ears. It was moments like these where he wished his hearing was so damn good.

Miranda informed him. “This is the hospital emergency alarm. Please evacuate the building at this time. If you need assistance, please stay in your room or location and one of the medical staff or drone will reach you shortly. I repeat!”

She repeated the message several times. He exited the bathroom, grabbed his shoes, and then exited the room. The medical staff whirled around him checking each room and guiding the other patient down the hallway. One of the nurses approached.

“Marcus, you need to follow the path leading to the emergency exit. Do not take the elevator! Do you hear me?”

Marcus nodded. He watched the nurse rush off to tell the other patients. He turned around and followed the busy crowd as they flowed down the hallway like a rushing river. Marcus turned the corner when he heard something.

“Can someone please help me?” It was a woman’s voice. She sounded very scared.

Marcus followed it down the hallway and turned the corner away from the crowd. He entered one of the rooms, finding two people. One was a female nurse dressed in light green medical scrubs. The woman was short with shoulder-length red hair and crystal blue eyes filled with fear. The other person was a patient. A big man with short dark brown hair. His eyes closed.

“What’s going on here?” He asked.

The nurse explained. “I cannot wake him up and we need to get him out of here.”

Marcus nodded. There was no point in trying to wake up. The bed cannot be moved. So his only option was to carry him. The man was twice his size but Marcus knew he could do it. He grabbed the man’s arms and legs, and then lifted him. The nurse moved behind slowly. He heard her footsteps and realized it was too heavy for a woman her size. Unless she was augmented.

The air current changed. His instincts kicked in. He dropped the patient, turned around, and caught the nurse trying to stab him with a needle. He grabbed her hand, stopping the needle. “What is this? Who are you?”

The nurse remained silent as the two struggled. Then she tried to knee him, but Marcus caught her legs with his knees. He grabbed her throat and squeezed her a little. He was trying to kill her, but if he could knock her out. Then the security could take it from there. This could be his chance to get some answers. He squeezed a little more. Come on, give up!

Stomp! Heavy footsteps echoed from behind him. From the corner of his eye, Marcus saw the patient was getting up. His heart skipped a beat. It was a more complex trap than he thought. Reacting quickly. Marcus pushed her away and made a mad dash for the door. He heard something falling onto the floor and then a loud piercing sound. It killed his focus. Marcus fell helpless onto the floor. He tried covering his ears but it didn’t help. He looked up to find the nurse and the patient standing over him.

He tried to fight but the noise drained him of his strength. The patient held him down while the nurse stabbed him with the needle. He felt a strange sensation flowing throughout his body. Then he couldn’t feel anything. His body went completely numb. The patient tapped his wrist and the noise stopped. It didn’t matter anymore. He couldn’t move. He couldn’t talk. He was caught.

The nurse put a hooded robe on him while the patient changed out of his clothes and into a nurse scrubs. Then they put him into a wheelchair. Altogether, they exited and rolled down the hallway. Marcus was helpless. All he could do was watch and think. How can I get out of this? Come on, body move! He couldn’t. No one noticed him. To the outside world, he was just another patient being helped by a couple of nurses. Everyone else was too busy evacuating.

These guys are pros. They planned everything including the evacuation. All to get at me. Why? Marcus wondered. They must know who I am. I have to stop this.

Marcus sat quietly as the kidnappers wheeled into the elevator. Just as he expected, no one thought twice even as they wheeled him out of the front door and into a parked ambulance. He figured they must have stolen it. They tossed into one of the beds and closed the door. The male nurse banged on the wall, signaling the driver to go. The ambulance began moving with its engine eagerly purring.

The female nurse announced. “Alright radio silence until we get to the hideout.” She looked down at him. “I hope this kid is worth it.

“I heard the kid is worth two hundred million credits easily.” The male kidnapper snickered, “I can’t see why. He was easier to take down than others-“

“Shut up!” The female nurse said, looking down at Marcus. “Get us the hell out of this town.”

Marcus’s mind raced. There had been something he could do. Then he felt a small sensation in his hand or more specifically his finger. He could move his finger. The drugs must be wearing off sooner than they thought. He could use this. All he needed was to wait for the drug effect to fade and then make his move at the right moment. He needed to wait. To be patient.

Marcus remained still even as the drug effects lessened on his body. He studied his kidnappers, trying to find any advantages. They were all augmented. The woman had cybernetic legs while the man had cybernetic arms and possibly an armored horse. He didn’t know what the driver had but they had to have something. The cabin was eerily quiet. Everyone was on alert. It was almost like they assumed that an attack would come. It’s not from him. The police possibly, Sheriff Bishop, and Dr. Young, would be looking for him.

BAM! The ambulance flipped over three times. Marcus found himself lying on the ceiling. The sounds of grunts and painful wailing echoed around him. Did they hit something? Marcus realized, no something hit them. I have to wait, this is not a moment.

The male said, “What the fuck? Is it them?”

“We’re under attack! George, do you see anything?”

Marcus couldn’t see anything but heard the sound of metal being ripped apart and George screaming. Marcus didn’t know what it was but had a feeling it was not the police. The two kidnappers rushed toward one of the cabinets and retrieved their weapons; two machine pistols. They rushed out of the van and began the open fire. The sound of battle erupted outside.

This was his moment. Marcus threw the wheelchair off of him and picked himself up. The drug effect had lessened but he still felt weak. Too weak, he had to sneak out of here. He moved the door with his heavy legs. He peeked his head, looking around. It looked like all the fight had moved to the front of the van. He exited the van and made a mad dash. He was on a bridge, the Franklin Bridge just on the outskirts of Lake Hill. He was at least twenty miles from the hospital. It would take him an hour or two to get back on foot. Maybe a little longer with his heavy legs.

“Hey! Stop!” He heard someone yell but Marcus didn’t stop.

Instead, he picked up the pace, moving faster. Whoever didn’t stop him as the battle continued behind him. Gunfight erupted. The blades clashed. Marcus kept moving. He took a deep breath, trying to give his muscles as much energy as he could. Then everything grew silent. Crap! Crap! Crap! He heard rushing footsteps coming from behind. He didn’t have time to look when something collided with him. Marcus fell onto the ground with a small thump.

He looked up. There was a short figure standing over him, wearing a dark hoodie and pants. There were bullet holes all over their body with the stink of blood. Their face was hidden behind a dark red glowing mask. They had a small black sword in their hand.

Marcus pleaded. “Listen, I don’t know who you are. I need some help.”

The hooded figure grabbed him. With surprise strength, they picked him up and then pinned him against the concrete railing with one hand. Whoever they were, they were just as strong as him, maybe stronger. They weren’t augmented. He couldn’t smell any metal in them.

Were they like me? Marcus looked down at the sword arm and noticed the sword had vanished. It’s time for me to get the hell out of here. He tried to struggle but the hooded figure put up a fight. They tried to grab him with their other hand. Instinctively, Marcus caught it. He touched their chest to push them away when he realized something. An eerie silence fell between them. They both looked down at his hand and back at each other.

“I’m so sorry,” Marcus pleaded. “I didn’t know.”

It didn’t matter. The hooded figure stepped back and launched a kick. Their sneakers slammed into his chin, causing him to flip over the railing. Marcus crashed down into the river with a splash. Cool water filled his lungs and his world became dark.

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