Max Arena

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Revelation

Noon, 29th July (7 days later). Revelation

Kris walked into the living room and plonked down onto the couch. Reaching forward to the coffee table, she picked up the remote control for the television and idly switched it on. The news appeared and she rolled her eyes, immediately changing the channel before it became depressing.

The screen flickered and shifted and then she baulked. For a few seconds, Kris sat unblinking and looking at the screen, not sure of exactly what she was seeing and then it dawned on her.

‘Elsa!’ she called out. ‘Get in here and look at this!’

‘Why?’ Elsa’s voice rang out from the kitchen. ‘What is it?’

‘There’s an alien on TV!’

Two seconds later, Elsa charged into the living room, stopping behind the couch where Kris sat as she too stared at the screen, her bottom jaw dangling.

‘Is that...?’ Elsa started.

‘...an alien. Yes,’ Kris finished for her.

The television screen held a single image. A close-up of what could only be a Nar’gellan, its rugged, purplish-black features housing two baleful eyes, glaring out from the Neanderthal type brow.

’Check the other channels,’ Elsa asked.

Kris pressed the button once, twice, three times and the vision remained the same.

‘They’ve hijacked all the channels,’ Kris replied. ‘What’s going on?’

‘I don’t know.’

And then it spoke.

’I am Macktidas,’ the alien spoke, its voice guttural and cruel. ‘Soon, I and my race will conquer your world, but for now, I have given you a reprieve, a stay of execution to prepare your champion for his defeat in the arena.’

‘Cocky bugger,’ Kris said through gritted teeth.

Elsa ignored the comment, her mind analysing every inch of the creature that sought to kill her husband and destroy the world. Macktidas continued.

’Use your remaining days well, for in five months time, doom comes at my hand. I have nothing more to say other than the only thought I savour more than your race’s destruction, is the death of Max Dyson. Ensure he lives through to the allotted time, so I can kill him. That is my only demand.’

The screen flickered and a re-run of MASH came on, all vestiges of the alien commander gone. Both women sat and stood in silence, the words of their foe recycling through their minds.

Elsa suddenly jolted. ‘Max!’

Then Kris shot to her feet and turned. ‘Where is he?’ she barked.

‘I’m here,’ sounded a voice from behind them.

Both Elsa and Kris flashed around to find Max walking casually out from the hallway and into the kitchen.

’Did you see that?’ Elsa asked quickly.

’Yeah,’ he replied, walking across to open the fridge. ‘Caught it on the TV in the bedroom.’

The phone suddenly rang in its cradle on the kitchen bench. Elsa dashed across and answered it.

‘Hello?’ she said. Then said, ‘Ok, hold on.’

Elsa then pressed the speaker button and put the hand set down on the bench. Joe’s voice sounded.

’Thanks, Elsa,’ he said. ‘I’m here with Abdullah in Canberra. Can I ask who is there with you?’

‘Kris and Max,’ Elsa replied.

‘Good. I assume you all saw the broadcast just then?’

’Yes, we did.’

‘Right. I just wanted to see firstly if everyone is ok?’

‘We’re fine,’ Elsa replied for everyone. ‘Just a bit shocked.’

’Understandable, but at least this was only a broadcast with no physical action. Max, do you have any thoughts?’

‘Nope,’ Max replied through a mouthful of the sandwich he had taken out of the fridge. ‘He didn’t tell us anything we don’t already know.’

’True,’ Joe said from the phone. ‘It did appear to just be a reinforcement of the existing threat. A fear inducing ploy if you will?’

’However, if I may?’ Abdullah chimed in. ‘I think Macktidas has inadvertently aided our plight, albeit in a somewhat painful way.’

‘What do you mean?’ Kris asked.

’He has just removed any uncertainty and denial around his threat. Since disappearing after the original broadcast one month ago, a large portion of the population has wondered if this alien scourge was real, but now it will be beyond doubt. The advantage for us is now our plan to take Max to the world has a firm base upon which to build. The disadvantage, the painfulness of this latest broadcast however, is that Macktidas’ renewed vengeance has likely notched up the general fear levels and the downward spiral of law and order is likely to also quickly accelerate. We have to commence our plan without delay, so I am proposing we contact media organisations tonight and begin the marketing campaign immediately. Does this have everyone’s blessing?’

Elsa looked at Kris’ nodding features and then turned to see Max shrug and nod as well.

‘We’re all in agreement here,’ she called out. ‘What do you need from us?’

’Nothing,’ Abdullah replied. ‘Just try to get a good night’s sleep if you can? The media will begin to arrive tomorrow, so prepare for a change in lifestyle on the estate. Joseph and I will handle the logistics and be back in the morning to assist.’

‘Okay. See you then,’ Elsa replied.

The line went dead and Elsa returned the handset to the cradle.

‘Can’t wait for the media circus to come to town,’ Kris drawled.

‘Yes. It’s going to get pretty interesting around here,’ Elsa replied.

Elsa felt a hand on her shoulder and turned to see Max next to her.

‘You got a sec?’ he asked.

’Yeah, sure.’

Max flicked his head sideways and started to walk out of the kitchen and down the hallway to the formal dining room next door, away from Kris. Elsa followed. Once alone, Max stopped and crossed his arms, a stony look firming his features.

’That’s not a happy look,’ Elsa said. ‘What’s up?’

‘Just before the broadcast,’ Max started, ‘Macktidas came directly to me.’

Directly to you?’ Elsa asked, her brow creasing. ‘What do you mean directly?’

‘He got into my head. Like telepathy or something. I could hear him and even though I couldn’t see him, I knew it was him.’

‘What did he say?’

’Well, for starters he outlined the rules for the duels, so now I know what sort of extra training I need to do and what weapons I can use, but other than that, nothing really different to what he said on the TV. Just a little more bullish. Bragging about how he’s going to kill me just like he did my mother. That sort of stuff.’

‘Are you okay?’ Elsa asked, stepping forward and placing her hands on her husband’s chest.

’I’m fine,’ Max said, clasping his wife’s hands in his. ‘Takes more than a bit of bragging to get to me, but there was something else. Something he showed me, inside my head.’

‘Like what?’

‘Images, like I was looking through his eyes.’

‘Images of what?’

‘Him torturing my mother.’

‘No!’ Elsa gasped. ‘He didn’t?’

‘Yeah, he did, but that’s okay. It wasn’t nice, but I can handle it. I guess he thought it would rattle me, but if anything, it’s worked me up even more because right after he got out of my head, something else happened.’

‘What?’

’I can feel her, Elsa, my mother I mean. I can feel her presence in my head.’

’What, as some sort of memory from when you were a kid with her?’ Elsa asked.

‘No, not like that. One of the things Nar’gellans are capable of is some sort of telepathy, like what Macktidas just did with me, but I’ve never been able to do it. I always figured my human genetics couldn’t support it or something, but I think Macktidas may have woken it up inside me and now I have the ability to link my mind to others and in this case, my mother’s mind.’

’But she’s dead, Max. You said it yourself. Macktidas killed her and the images he just showed you of him torturing her are proof.’

’Yeah, it looks like he tortured her alright and that’s how he probably found out about me and where I am, but this feeling I have inside my head, it feels real. It feels like she’s actually in there, not talking to me, but just letting me know that she’s there for me.’

‘But if she’s dead…’

’That’s just it, Elsa,’ Max cut-in, his eyes perhaps the brightest and most fervent she had ever seen them as they radiated right into hers’, ’I think she’s alive. I think Macktidas has her holed up somewhere out there, alive.’

Elsa’s mouth gaped, speech failing to cross her lips. Max continued.

’No one needs to know this,’ Max added. ‘It stays between us and I don’t really know why I’m telling you because it doesn’t change anything we’re doing or how we’re doing it. I just had to tell you because, well, because it’s kind of important. That’s all.’

Elsa smiled and gripped Max’s hands even tighter as she leaned in close to his face.

’Of course it’s important,’ she said. ’She’s your mother and now you know she’s still with you, all the way through whatever comes next and that makes you a little bit stronger. Max, you’ve now got another reason to get through this thing and keep living, so maybe one day you can save her too?’

Max looked deep into his wife’s eyes and found yet again, the love, the joy and the inspiration she constantly gave him and now that he knew his mother was in fact still alive, Elsa was right. He did feel stronger and not just a little bit, but mountains full.

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