A Game Of Red

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21-25

21

Tommy couldn’t believe what had happened. It kept playing over and over in his mind. The thoughts of the pure terror Gebriel must have experienced, beat hard on him.

How had it happened? Who the hell is it? Why? The thought pounded in his head making him feel sick. He shook it. Get out and focus on moving forward, this person is still out there, probably planning. Tommy feared for himself. He feared for others. He feared for Dahria and Jones. That thought angered him the most. Blood rage welled in him. If that guy… He shook his head again, that was a dangerous road to travel. Keeping his mind clear and focused was essential for his sanity. Tommy glanced at the others one at a time in his small group wondering. They were working on their assignments. Nothing unusual. First, a guy named Nick, who Tommy didn’t know much about. He was about five foot nine and had dark blonde hair. Nick had a decent build and was more thick than tall. In his mid-thirties he seemed capable, but a little feisty, while Tim, the older man, was bigger and stockier and seemed more calm and level-headed. He had darker color hair and a couple scars on his face like he was in some kind of fight in his younger years. He had darkness about him that ran on his face, like a permanent scowl caused by the scars. At about forty five, he seemed to be okay with the assignment, and did his work too, but wasn’t pleased with Tommy relaying the message. Tommy thought it might be his age, like he should be in charge because of it, but he still followed orders.

Tommy thought about one of these guys being the killer and he wanted to be prepared. What would he do if one of them sprang? Don’t let them out of my sight, he thought, and if something goes down, be hard and fast, be ready.

“So this line is almost done,” Tim said interrupting Tommy’s thoughts. “We can hook up the power to the breaker pretty soon.”

“The breaker’s almost installed,” Nick added without a care one way or the other. He just wanted to complete his task and move on.

While Tommy’s gut told him the killer wasn’t either of these two, he still prepared himself for trouble.

A noise claimed Tommy’s attention, and he looked over in that direction. Nick and Tim noticed as well and looked toward the sound. Another group was coming down the passageway. Footsteps. They came closer and one of them looked at Tommy. It was John, a man that Tommy has seen work with Jones before, he led the team of the technical stuff in the complex. Another man and woman looked somewhat scared. They had their heads down. Another guy in their group looked familiar. Tommy met the eyes of Kevin, he didn’t look like his usual self. He wasn’t smiling and his eyes were hard.

“Come on, all of you,” Kevin said.

Tommy’s eyes flicked to the others in his group. No one said anything, but he could tell they were as confused as he was.

“Everything might be about to change.” Everyone followed Kevin’s group to the conference hall.

22

Insert Tommy filed into the conference hall with his group. The hall was large, with a capacity for over a hundred people, yet only thirty were ever here minus the victims, plenty of extra space. Tommy always thought that was peculiar.

The low grumbles of people talking bounced around the conference center walls filling the room with noise. The conference center, like some other main areas in the complex, had walls and other features to simulate the upside world. Ceiling tiles, rafters, lights, and other items were in these main rooms. Papers, posters, and pegboard littered the walls, most looked old, worn, and unused. Tables and chairs scattered around with a long table at the front which seats the division leaders of the compound. LED white lights made it brighter than most places in the complex. Outer tunnels, storage centers, living cells, and some halls were lit with sporadic yellow LED’s. Townsend was in the far corner talking to some other department heads of the compound.

Tommy spotted Alice, an older lady of fifty-five, and joined her as he noticed a worried face. “Hey Alice, what’s wrong?” he asked.

“There’s been another accident...murder,” she whispered and had some trouble getting it out. “Two men named Bill and Jeff. They’re gone.”

“You mean…?” Tommy wondered if that meant dead. He saw the confirmation in her eyes. Yes. “What? How?” He had the idea that everyone would be safer in larger groups, but it was clear that it gave the killer an opportunity to take out more people even faster. Damn, he shook his head, I messed up big time. He thought about Bill, he had seen him around, but didn’t have more than a few words of conversation with him. He was a big guy, muscular, an intimidating sight. Geez, thinking of how formidable Bill should have been, this guy’s a pro, Tommy concluded. A rush of adrenaline flushed his system and made him nervous.

“Thanks, Alice.”

Tommy walked to the table where his group was seated. He grabbed Dahria’s hand and held it. Jones looked worried. Nick looked confused and Tim looked apathetic. Had Tim overheard? Tommy wondered.

“Thank you all for dropping what you were doing and coming right away,” Townsend commanded in a strong voice. The room simmered down and everyone sat and listened. “We have a situation on our hands,” he exclaimed. Everyone’s eyes were on him. No one said a thing.

Tommy glanced at Dahria and the rest of his group members. They were in this together. No place to hide, nowhere to go. Trapped...with a killer. He listened.

“Fellow survivors,” Townsend began, “for the immediate future I want you all to please remain calm. We have a situation. I know we’ve only been here for a few weeks. We’ve struggled in adapting to our new lives and learned to depend on each other. Unfortunately, we must remain here until we can surface, but eventually regain the outside world. In order to do that, we must survive. As the world we once knew is gone, we must continue to strive for a better life, for our future generations. Our very existence hangs in the balance.” He looked around at as many faces as he could. “We are the most important people on earth. Finding strength in each other is how we survive. Without everyone this place would fail, and that means we fail, we die.” His tone and demeanor boomed. He continued, “We are now facing another serious situation that I felt you all should know about.” Silence. “We have had some accidents leaving four people dead.”

The eruption was expected. Some stood up yelling back questions, some chattered amongst their own tables.

“What happened?!” someone shouted. The question was almost inaudible with the commotion and loud demands.

“Who’s dead!” someone else screamed.

“People!” Townsend shouted. Even with his booming voice, it took a few moments to get their attention again.

Tommy was frustrated. He wanted to hear what Townsend was going to say, but the people took longer than he expected to become quiet.

“Quiet down people!” Townsend commanded again, “I can’t answer anything if you ask a hundred questions at once!”

The room rumbled down. The gumbling and conversations ceased.

“Thank you.”

“What accidents?” the impatience of someone quipped, but no one yelled at him. They were all curious of the answer too.

Townsend looked at him without a flicker. “They were all suspected of being murdered.”

No one spoke for many moments.

23

Control and order were difficult. Issues were hashed out and argued about the proper course of action. There were several facts the people were aware of; The compound needs consistent work to run, currently no one knew who the killer was, and groups of four or five didn’t work. It was decided that the first task was to obtain the original digital manifest. That would indicate who physically entered this complex from the scanners. The list could be compared to the physical population count, the thought being that it may unveil discrepancies in the process of relocation. Kevin elected the idea and a vote confirmed it.

Nick volunteered for the job which meant his team would go, consisting of Tommy, Jones, Dahria, Tim, and the doctor, Damon.

Meanwhile, everyone in the compound would stay here. Townsend recommended that restroom breaks were with people you trust. When one group came out, a new group entered.

Tommy looked at Dahria, then Jones. His eyes were serious and he wondered how they felt. Tommy questioned Nicks motive for volunteering and wondered how they felt. As Nick went to talk with Townsend, Sue, and older lady, came up to Tim and drew his attention away. Tommy motioned to Jones and Dahria. The three huddled close and Tommy glanced around the room to see if anyone was listening. People were talking in their own groups not paying much attention to them. As Tommy gazed around, he caught one guy at a far table looking at him with a worried face. Or was he looking at Dahria, Tommy couldn’t tell, but he understood this guys torment. He felt sympathy, they were all in this together with a killer. Still looking into the crowd, he whispered to his friends keeping a low profile, “No matter what...we stay together, we watch every move, of everyone.” He rolled his eyes to his friends. “I hate to say it, but even people in our own group could be someone we can’t trust.”

“How can we defend ourselves?” Dahria whispered.

“Well, for one thing we have a minimum of us three against one,” Tommy suggested. “As long as we are alert and careful, we should be able to stay alive. Maybe we can find something to use as weapons.”

Each one of them dreaded the idea of losing someone. Even though they had a couple extra numbers, it might not ensure that everyone would survive an attack.

They broke up their huddle as Nick strolled back and Tim finished conversing with Sue.

“This killer is trained, and he apparently has weapons,” Jones usual playful demeanor was gone. He eyed the others at the table.

“So let’s go get some weapons of our own,” Nick suggested. His manor was aggressive. “While we get the other stuff. Uh...the manifest.”

They looked at each other in silence, suggesting they all agreed. The small group left on their assignment to the equipment hall.

24

An acted look of concern on his face displayed as he watched the conference take place. People talked, argued, and shouted from the speech by the person in charge, Townsend.

In his mind, he smiled. He knew something others didn’t. I’m the killer. The stakes of the game went up. That meant his focus and concentration followed. He liked it. The prey, the taunting, artwork, fear, sex, and killing. A few thoughts swam around his mind of what his next set-up would be. He can handle multiple victims simultaneously with great odds and he enjoyed the challenge. However, his soul loved to play, to toy, to love, to violate, and to conquer. He was fascinated by human behavior; the confusion on their faces when the realization took place, the blood, lust, and even the gloss when it was all over. He took a deep breath and soaked in the pleasure of his previous kills and the two he had just finished.

While the man in shadow had a secret room, sometimes it was exhilarating checking things out in the mix. He scanned the room observing and thinking. He saw Townsend with a group. Next to that table, people were having their own conversations. Playing the part, his worried face was scared, alone.

The man in shadow noticed the girl, the pretty one. She was talking with a group of friends. Dahria, he remembered her name. Her boyfriend glanced around and spotted him. The man in shadow never flinched, but he moved his eyes from her to him, his face still looking worried. Without a care, the kid huddled with his friends and whispered to them. Did he notice? Nah. She was silky sweet. Her golden hair hung down caressing her shoulders. Her soft lips would bleed when he would bite her. Her breasts full and round, white smooth skin. He imagined cutting small cuts that would leak a brilliant red against such creamy perfect skin. He shook his head to get himself out of his daydream. Soon, he thought and smiled to himself. He felt an erection coming on.

25

Sitting among the people gathered, another man who blended in absorbed the scene. A master at being transparent, people overlooked him, probably because he appeared ordinary. The man never drew unwanted attention to himself, he was efficient and effective, constantly aware of his surroundings.

The ordinary man slipped away unnoticed as the formal meeting conveyed. Even if someone put it together for the short time he was gone, it didn’t matter.

He wrapped the wire around the device with precise hands. The crude box was constructed with limited supplies gathered from this place, but was enough for what he needed it for. It was made with care. He lifted it to survey his work. Yes, this looks good, he thought. Now to pass some judgement. His heart swelled and grew anxious. He could feel the pulse in his neck as the adrenaline kicked in. A storm was about to hit the complex and the people were the confetti. Come and meet your maker.

As his excitement swelled, he thought of his job. Life was good. It was an honor being selected for such a prolific form of justice, or judgement kill as he thought of it, and the money was invariably a bonus. He loved it... most of it. Stalking, planning, justice, execution, it all played well in his mind. Beyond that, he understood he was useful in bettering society. Getting rid of the insane trash that inhabited this world was becoming immense. He was the avenger, accelerating the disposal of trash. The ordinary man was extraordinary in cleansing the world, one piece of shit at a time. From what he had overheard from Townsend, there was some particular trash that needed extra attention. Someone was killing his people, doing his job, stealing from him. Although, a killer killing criminals didn’t make him feel much sympathy, he was angry for the intrusion. I’ll get him.

As he got closer to the conference center, he slowed. The ordinary man listened to the people from around the corner in the tunnel. His escape route and attack plan ready. He would scatter the population who would flee out different passages while he would pass judgement on all who chose his path. He held his device in his hand, heart pumping, ready for multiple and quick kills. Sneaking up as close as he could without being seen, he handled his device and swung his arm back like a bowling ball. With a step forward he aimed at the angled wall and threw the device hard. It rolled fast towards the wall and struck it. The device bounced off the hard surface and soared into the crowded hall. Classic geometry and billiard physics. He counted five, four, three, two, one.

The sound was strong and loud. BOOM! There were screams and a sudden rush of movement vibrated around the walls.

He heard the hissing of smoke. Half crouching in a predator type stance, knife held controlled but relaxed, he was ready. The first one appeared running toward him. Timing was everything. His element of surprise was a true advantage. The person wasn’t considering where they were going, only concentrating on getting out.

Running, he didn’t even notice the man with the knife in the darkness. The glint of steel, shining like a star, stole his attention for a split second. The knife plunged into his chest and out again before he even flinched. A second blow to the neck made him slow. The knife pulled out again. His momentum carried him forward as he stumbled and grabbed his neck. Legs giving out, he dropped.

The man with the knife suffered no thought on the fallen man. He was already poised for the next criminal. She came, he killed. Another two came out right after. One after another. The first man was downed, but the second man had a quick instant to react and peered at the man in darkness, stunned. The victim was able to throw up his arms in an attempt to block, but only christened the knife, which plunged into his forearm. The training of the professional killer was superb as his other hand whipped like a bat to the other man’s throat, just as he tried to scream. No sound flared but a small choke, cutoff by the blow. Keeping his movement clean, the killer found another target, ending whatever life the guy had. By the time the smoke was entering the corridor hallway, the killer used it for cover.

He noticed another man stop well before arriving in range of him. His terrified look revealed he observed the stabbing. The scared man turned and ran the other way. The man in darkness held steadfast for anyone else who might come his way. He knew the smoke would force everyone out of that room, he just didn’t know which direction everyone would run. He waited.

A few moments later one more came through...it was Townsend.

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