“look, i told you this story was dead before you sent me here” Brian kicked the sodden wall again, cursing aloud into his phone, ” no, you listen, i’m through with this red hand shit- find another muppet to do your donkey work, i’ve had a gutfull of these school runs Frank” he hung up and tossed the phone into the rusty orange stained sink, and punched the stall door. “fuckwit!” he shouted, his anger already at boiling point. Brian had been sent on yet another one of those jobs that demanded exactly zero investigation, because everybody in the office knew there was nothing to investigate. He had been sent out simply to get him out the office once more, away from the birthday celebrations, and the afternoon cake. “fuck ’em” he cursed, adjusting his hair in the tarnished mirror of another school closure site. The sign outside had said the same thing as the previous three sites, “Asbestos Danger keep out” and like before, his contact had failed to show. Every site was the same, smashed mirrors, broken ceramic tiles lying on the floor, graffiti tagging around the entire wall space, not to mention the discarde needles everywhere. Brian was wasting no more time searching for the elusive red hand of anarchy cell, who were reported to be holed up in one of the abandoned council buildings around Londons newly formed ghettos. If there was a story to be had here, he wasn’t looking for it anymore. The tip off he had been given from Frank was as useful to him as the dodgy back bencher who liked to wander kensington park looking for rent boys. He turned and made for the toilet door exit when the cubicle door he had just kicked in, creaked on its hinges and slowly swung open to revealed the large painted sigul of the red hand of anarchy
above the victorian porcelain cistern that hung on the graffiti covered wall . Brian stopped wide eyed, and held the door open, his heart beating so fast in his chest that his ears drummed. The broken tiles crunched under his feet as he inched forward, peering around the door to see the dangling toilet flush swinging in the breeze. At that moment, the discarded work phone he had thrown into the filthy sink bleeped it’s incoming message announcement, Brian flinched. The phone lit up with a new message displayed on the screen:
pull the chain
Brian turned to the cubicle and reached out for the chain, and hesitated…
he had seen movies of old, and knew what happens if chains like this were pulled, floors were likely to open and send victims sliding down shoots into perspex boxes to be tortuted. Or sometimes, when they pulled chains , secret doors were revealed and walls rotated to show hidden chambers with nazi soldiers listening in on radio broadcasts. A few even depicted buckets of blood being yanked over the unsuspecting chain puller below the trap. yeh he knew all about chains and traps. Brian checked above, then stamped on the floor, before inching his way forward to the toilet chain dangling by the wall and took the ornate knob in his hand. He remembered his grandmother had a similar system in her house as he followed the metal links up to the water tank, and gently tugged on the chain. He was still pressed against the cubicle wall, half expecting the floor to open up and for him to be left dangling on the chain above a swivelling vortex of fiery hell. A second tug was needed, and Brian pulled harder, until the mechanism slow gave. He closed his eyes, hoping this would give him the break he so desperately saught, and pulled until the chain gave, and the toilet flushed.
The phone bleeped again as Brain watched the tainted water with the butt ends and roaches, swirl into the sewage u bend, and sighed.
pull the chain
the text reminded him, as he walked over to the sink and picked up the device. He slowly looked around the girls powder room, his eyes following the destruction and wanton vandalism around the toilet block. Not one surface was left untouched by the hooligans who had reduced his once fine grammar school to nothing but a cess pit for junkies and… he stopped. Over in the far corner of the room was a wooden door, most probably the cleaners cupboard. But it was marked with the same logo that was daubed in the cubicle, a large bloody red hand. And it was chained closed. Brian edged over slowly, the crunching rubble echoing in the silence of the darkening room. The sunlight through the smashed windows was fading now, in an hour or so it would be dark. The chain was heavy, and hung between to large ringlets on either side of the door frame, and slung in the middle was a lock with a four barrel finger combination, the same lock he had chained on his bike outside. He gave the chain a tug, but each link just rattled against the wooden panel without budging, secured tight. The barrels turned under his thumb as he tried a few combinations, 1111,2222,3333,4444 but soon became bored. He thought for a moment, when another text popped up on the screen.
the combination lock separated and Brian let the two ends of the chain fall limp, and opened the door. He was expecting a broom cupboard, but instead he found a stairwell leading down into the darkness below. He switched the light on his phone on, and cast the LED light onto the concrete steps, but only the first half dozen or so were illuminated. He checked the phone to see the battery had %26 power left, with the torch he’d have ten maybe fifteen minutes of light to use down there if he could find no light switch. The smell was foul, a mixture of stagnant water and something gamey, something ripe, and he wondered if that something had died down here clutching his mobile phone as the power drained away. Brian laughed nervously, and inched down the first step, before back tracking, and returning to the toilet area. He had no wish to be locked in down there when somebody decided to close the door and chain the thing shut again- he was wise to those movies. He pulled the chain with the lock attached and wound it around his fist in a made shift modern day mace. the chain was heavy, and the padlock dangling at the end made for a good weighty pummelling weapon, should anybody jump out of the shadows. For good measures, he kicked a broken wall tile under the door, wedging the thing open. ‘anything else?’ his inner voice pondered for a second, before he opened the text and began typing –
I AM AT THE OLD SCHOOL ON BROAD STREET MAX- FOUND A DOOR IN GIRLS BOG – CALL U IN 15 – COULD BE A BREAK.
he was set ‘Another ambush avenue ticked off’ he thought, and made his way down into the darkness.
The first couple of steps were wet, and Brian’s polished office brogues slid on the spongy moss that covered the concrete, causing him to slip and grab out at the wall to steady himself a couple of times as he continued the decent into the diminishing light of the stairwell. His torchlight cast a wide arc of light on wall, and Brian began to breath faster as he realised the beam barely penetrated the warm shroud of darkness below him, and suddenly became aware of the rumbling now echoing up from the depths. He hesitated turning to take a glance back up to the light above. The top of the stair seemed to fade further away as he watched, like a shrinking light at the end of a long tunnel that stretched far off into the horizon, or perhaps a scene from an old Hitchcock movie that he just couldn’t quite recall, where the camera zoomed in as the focus zoomed out. ‘dolly zoom’ he mumbled, rubbing his eyes, then continued on down into the low droning rumbling that now festered below him.
Brian reached the bottom of the steps wide eyed in the limited light, his arm outstretched in front of him, chain dangling as he groped the wet wall for a light switch, or a doorway…or a fucking zombie! ‘where the fuck did that come from?’ he cursed his imagination, as his feet splashed in the water, and he tried to imagine something else. He shone the torch down to see the corridor was flooded in a couple of inches of murky water and immediately the image of a plague of rats fleeing an incident further up the corridor popped into his thoughts, and he cursed with more vigour in the darkness, ‘fuckin quit it!’ he spat, inching forward through the unseen puddle in a battle ready pose, springing on his back leg ready to pounce on the first supernatural attacker to come his way. The light from his phone shone across a wooden door on the left side of the corridor, and he stopped to make out the sigul of the Red hand of Anarchy which was splattered over the panelling in dribbling red paint. The rumbling was louder down here, and seemed to be coming from behind the door, so he inched forward and reached for the handle.
The door was unlocked, and Brian turned the handle and opened the heavy obstruction with a sudden gush of hot acrid air that unsteadied him on his feet, and sent him backwards against the wall, as a heavy thumping of erratic drum beats filled the darkness. He heard his phone splash into the filthy water below as he stumbled to stay upright
The tainted smell was choking him, exhaust fumes began filling the corridor as the sound of something mechanical, like a generator, idled, then sputtered back to life. Brian fumbled in the dark for his upturned phone, his fingers sliding in the foul mush below, “to hell with this” he cursed, realising that his idea of a great story did not involve groping in shitty water for his $700 company waterproof phone, while his brogues took in water like the Titanic. The pipes above him groaned with water pressure, as he pulled the Samsung from the sludge, and turned to light up the generator room. Several dozen blue computer cables dangled from the piping above, zip tied at irregular intervals like a bunting line missing all of its brightly couriers flags. His eyes followed the cables behind him, but lost them as they disappeared back up towards the way he had waded to the stairwell. The multitude of cables ran back into the generator room from a tray above the door, and he could make out blinking monitor lights, flashing like erratic christmas baubles, twinkling in the blackness. To Brian, it felt like he was scanning some foreign ocean floor, casting his light only 5 or 6 feet in front of his viewing dome, never really seeing far enough into the darkness. He prepared himself for something to jump out of the shadows, like one of those urban myth alligators roaming the sewers , ready to drag him into the tunnels to be dined upon by the abandoned pets new family. Slowly, he shuffled through the doorway, and into the new room. The air was thick with exhaust fumes and he had to lift his jumper to cover his mouth. He saw that the noise was indeed coming from a generator in the far corner of the room, and snaking from its exhaust was a silvery ventilation tube that had seperate from its clasp on the side of the frame. Brian realised quickly that this was a problem and waded through the water to reattach the tubing, that snaked along the wall, and out through a vent on the far wall. The device was obviously being used to pump the water from the room, and when left unattended, had rattled the hosing free . Brian quickly made his way back to the doorway and began wafting the door daubed with the red hand graffiti for ventilation, using it like a large fan, back and forward, back and forward, until he was able to breathe comfortably once more.
Then he saw the motionless body, laying face down in the corner of the room.
Brian ran over to the large generator, the torchlight in his hand spinning wild shadows on the walls, then fell to his knees in the water by the body and turned the lifeless mass over. He saw with horror the precinct badge of officer 6543 on the lapel of the bloody uniform, and the bullet hole in her chest, and gasped in shock,”holly fucking christ!” he blasphemed, withdrawing his hands immediately.
Brian grabbed the officer by the lapels, stuck his phone in his mouth, and began dragging her away from the generator. The fumes still caught in his chest, and he was becoming light headed with the exertion. The surrounding drab concrete walls showed the blood splatter of the gun shot wound, making the room look like some medieval torture tomb as Brian lifted the officer to a raised section of the floor where the computer cables above coiled by some rack work housing several cisco routers and four archaic monitors . As he pulled 6534 up over the edge blindly, he backed into the rack, sending one of the keyboards in the rack clattering to the floor, which activated one of the monitor screens. the brightness from the monitors shone down, giving Brian some well rewarded light to see where he was dragging the officer. The noise of the generator was constant, echoing from each wall and worming it’s way into Brian’s brain, like a bad radio jingle, as he tried desperately to think, but all that was looping in his head was the “fuck, fuck fuck fuck fuck!” chugging along to the engines melodic humming. He tore open officer 6543s bloody tunic without thinking, and the monitor light revealed the thick seeping wound to the officers abdomen, “gut shot!” he murmured to himself, like Detective Columbo, before glancing at her white laced bra, “fuck, really!” he thought “now?” he blocked the thought, as he took the phone and dialled 911, placing the device on his shoulder, and held the wet handset against his head. While he waited , his erratic panicked thoughts jumped back to the naked body, and he stared down at her pale alabaster skin, and the bullet hole oozing the crimson life source from the sucking wound in her chest before he snapped out of the the thought and began pumping down hard on officer 6534s chest, trying frantically to remember any of his first aid training, or any scene from any cop show he had watched”hello, hello? christs sake!” he cursed, the noise was sending him crazy, and he couldn’t hear a thing inside the chamber. “SEND BACK UP OFFICER DOWN!” he shouted, recalling the line and repeating it just like his favourite characters would in the movies. He leant forward to the bluing lips of the downed woman and hesitated. he couldn’t think of any of the millions of one liners he had seen on the big screen. he was just too damn scared to think, so instead of a bruce willis one liner about first dates, he blew a lungful of his air inside the officers mouth, then began pumping her wounded chest again, “IM AT…BROAD STREET ACADEMY…the old school” he puffed, before dropping the phone, and bending down again to render more oxygen to the officers poisoned lungs.
his phone rang constantly during the CPR, but he didn’t stop pumping or air blowing once to check. Brian’s arms ached as he fought with fatigue, his focus solely on on one thing, saving her life- well that and her breasts as they jiggled under his sweaty palms. It must have been a good ten minutes before he heard the officer inhale her own breathe, which came with relief. he hung his head exhausted as she spluttered before him, and he place his shaking hand on her seeping sucking wound. He had to stem the flow, and began looking around the dimly lit crime scene for something, anything. above him the cables were tied on the traywork and duct taped onto one of the racks where the computers were housed. he smiled, then sat up and searched his wallet for one of his pieces of plastic, avoiding the credit cards and settling for the starbucks membership one, then hesitated, he only had four more stamps to collect for the free latte. His fingers reached behind that plastic for his license, and he quickly pulled it and place it over her sucking wound. This was a macgyver trick he had saw one lonely saturday night watching tv. He unwound the silver duct tape and tore it from the rack quickly, squatting back down by the officers legs and turned her onto her side. She groaned in pain as he wound the tape around her bloody torso tight, then covered her up. she looked like something out of a slasher bondage porn movie now, and he quickly covered her bare flesh up, feeling rather creeped out. His phone bleeped once more as he wiped his brow, contemplating his next move. His thoughts already on the scoop of the month- “Rookie journalist saves rookie cop from sewer attack” he liked that, and smiled, picking up the phone. His smile was quickly replaced however by that of a frown, and as he read the text and stood up, Brian read the text and turned to face the monitor behind him as asked, and the ancient green screen blinked and then sent a message.
HAVING FUN YET?
monitor two scrolled to life slowly, reavealing a blurry security camera streaming image on the screen As he watched it focus, Brian realised it was himself standing in the room, being recorded from up above.
Then monitor two scrolled to life…
Brian waved his bloody hand up and down, watching as the snowy picture on the monitor imitated his movement. He turned, as the torch switched off in his hand, realising he was still panting slightly after the CPR. Brian cursed slightly as he saw the 2% bar on his phone and switched his torch back on, but this time the battery refused any more assistance and died on him,”shit, not now!” All that was left was the dim light from the monitors dull screen. Outside, the chain he had dropped in the shitty water, rattled as somebody picked the heavy links up and slid them against the open door in the corridor. Brian turned quickly to see the door close ahead. “Hey! Hey…wait. what the hell are you playing at?” he shouted, splashing through the flooded floor as the generator chugged away in the corner. “Hey, wait, i’ve got an injured officer here” he shouted as the door slammed shut, and the chain links rattled through the handle behind the heavy metal panel ,”No, wait,” he screamed in panic as he heard the clink clink clink of the chain, “fuck you!” he screamed, banging his fists against the door repeatedly. “Open the door dick head!” But the door was locked tight.
Brian stood with his back against the door, his eyes wide in panic scanning the room the monitor was now solely responsible for illuminating. His young sick imagination was only a few steps from breaking free, and he could hear the hellish footsteps ascending. He was starting to panic now, images of Jigsaw, freddie and Jason crept up the stairs into his fragile mind. And behind them followed a multitude of walking dead followers to haunt him in the darkness. Monitor two was now rolling an image, but his twitching eyes couldn’t make anything from the blurry pixels, perhaps a shape, a person, standing behind the door. He splashed his way back over to the raised part of the floor, back to where Officer 6534 lay coughing up blood and was now trying to roll over onto her side. Brian saw the figure on the screen now, he was typing into the phone in his hand. ” you’re wasting your time shit head, my phone is dead!” he cursed as he watched his jailer continue, then look straight into the camera and waved.
Brian gave him the finger, or at least the screen as another message appeared,
CHARLIE HAS A JOB FOR HIS ANGELS…
DO YOU WANT TO DIE?
Brian had had enough, he turned from the monitor and tended to the injured officer.She was propped up on her elbow now, spluttering and coughing as she pointed over to the generator, waving a pointed finger frantically. “i got it ma’am, the hose was pulled out, but i got it” she shook her head, and pointed more vigorously over to where the noise was echoing from, “I fixed it, it’s okay, you’re not choking anymore, relax” Brian placed a bloodied hand on the officers shoulder, but she flinched, and again pointed to the silvery hose that was clipped to the exhaust. Brian, frowned, then left her for a moment, wading over to the large piece of industrial equipment, as the echoing chugging caused him a moments disorientation, and he had to lean on the wall for support. His bloody hands left smudged prints along the wall as he neared the far end of the room, and inspected the hose. The exhaust pipe seemed fine, he didn’t understand what the officer was on about. He followed the silvery snake up over the piping, where it was duct taped, then over to the large metal grating of the air vent above, where it had been forced through, and the surrounding space filled with expanding foam. Brian turned to the officer and shrugged in the dim light of the monitor. She pointed and coughed, unable to get her words out, her animated actions more frantic now.
He splashed his way back over as the monitor blinked again, this time changing through several camera views on the screen. screen one blinked the same message patiently.
DO YOU WANT TO DIE?
screen two showed stopped flicking and settled on a new room being filmed from a similar angle to the one filming him in his dingy darkened room. In this new room he saw what looked like a long wooden table top with glass shelving behind the bar, stocked with spirit bottles and optic measures, glasses and bar snacks. Brian realised that he was watching a feed from the bar next door, an illegal drinking den for the local community to drown their sorrows or drop off their kids while they earned a few coins to pay for the rent, or for the days meals. He had done a story on the people who used these facilities last month. Most of them were desperate people, one step away from living on the streets. But they were good people, good people who were fighting back the system. They were banding together now, with places like these, small community bars, taking over abandoned buildings, places that doubled up as illegal crèches and help centres. Rainbow flags and smiley polaroids hung from the corner of the wooden framing of the shelving, and on the far end of the bar, what seemed like a couple of the patrons had passed out on the wooden polished top. A couple of prams sat neglected by the edge of the bar, one contained a sleeping child, the other a child wailing for his mother. Brian watched as the camera panned the room, noticing most of the patrons were slumped drunk on the sofas, or laid back unconscious on the second hand chairs provided by the barkeep.
Then it dawned on him and he quickly turned to the exhaust pipe sticking into the air vent. The screen message blinked and changed, and Brian done a double take as the penny dropped and spun on the floor of his disbelieving mind.
TURN THE GENERATOR OFF AND YOU DIE BRIAN!
It was the fumes from the generator, slowly asphyxiating the customers in the bar next door, and Brian gasped in horror, as he watched the bar feed showing one patron stumbling towards the bar exit and falling. The officer was now dragging herself into the water, trying to muster up the strength to crawl over to the generator and switch it off. Brian read the monitor again, and then turned to the crawling officer, who had crawled through the pool of her own blood on her hands and knees, smearing it on the concrete step, and was now half way over the room.
LAST WARNING BRIAN DO NOT TOUCH
he turned to the officer again as she cried out in pain, “turn.. the damn.. thing off!” she spluttered, coughing up blood as the shrapnel inside her belly tore up more of her guts. “wait…WAIT!” he replied, waving his hands and splashing behind her as the warning on the screen flashed in the darkness. ” what does he mean, we die if we switch the generator off?” he looked on with a conflict of interest now. ” It means…the sick fuck who …is playing this game,” she grunted as she crawled, “is killing those… kids next door,” she turned, exhausted, “so turn…the god …damn generator off!” Brian stared at the panting officer in disbelief. if he turned the generator off, what would happen to them? would they be left to rot down here, in the darkness?
“But, we don’t even know it’s the fumes killing them?How do we know?” he asked. She yelled in frustration, ” TURN IT OFF!” she screamed out in pain. Brian panicked as the officer neared the generator, and grabbed her by the ankle, ” Stop, just stop!” his head was finding it hard to comprehend the situation he found himself in. ” what if we just pull the exhaust pipe out and push it down somewhere else?” The officer kicked out in the water as she fell into the muck ,” there is no…nowhere else, turn it off or they die!” ” But if we turn it off …we die!” The officer let out a pitiful laugh, and fell into the sludge on her back, Brian still clutching her ankle, ” we are …already…dead!” she spat. “No…no we are not, Brian shook his head as panic set in, ” i’ve called max, he’ll be here soon. He’ll call the police, they’ll come and find us. tell me what happened, i’ll get help.” he began pulling the officer by her ankle against her will, back over to the ledge, where the monitors were. “Look, there is somebody outside the bar,” he said pointing at the monitor, “see i told you max would be here!” “he’ll smell the fumes and ventilate the place!” he lifted her exhausted body from the murky water, and placed her back on the dry concrete, then turned to the monitor, where the hooded figure stood by the bar door. the patron inside the bar was on the carpet, his arm outstretched trying to reach the door.
Brian read the text on the screen as the figure outside the bar looked down on the pitiful gasping patron, then slowly began wrapping the bike chain around the door handles.
“what the fuck is he doing?”
the camera perched on the ceiling panned around and zoomed in on Brian, who was now stood staring at the monitor, still pinning down the wriggling officer with his knee. ” do something before it’s too late… ” she groans, grabbing the fallen monitor keyboard laying by her side, and swipes Brian across the back of his head.
Plastic keys fly everywhere as the keyboard shatters against Brian’s temple, and he pitches forward against the racking containing the monitors. He reaches out to steady himself, but his arms flail amongst the monitors, that wobble and fall from the shelf, the first crunching down on the floor next to the officer, its screen shattering into a million fragments, the other monitor, which was currently lighting the room and containing the informative text, swan dived from the shelf-straight down into officer 6534s face. her skull splits with the hollow crack of a coconut, and her brain splatters on the concrete floor like a scoop of ice cream falling from a child’s waffle cone. She has no time to scream, but Brian does. Oh he screams like a child screams for his mothers, hysterically , before the room is once again pitched into darkness. “holly christ!” he gasps, steadying himself on his knees in the total void, as his heart beats the mambo. His shaking hands reach out blindly “holly fucking christ!” he repeats, stumbling over the twitching corpse by his side, as his hand squelches in the hotness that was only moments ago, cocooned inside officer 6543s cranium. “oh…fuckin’ hell..sweet jesus no!” he whimpered, pulling his hand away as if it had touched, well, as if it had touched the oozing brains of a dead woman spilling from a hole in her head “no…no…no… christ no!” he backed away, his knees scuffing through the puddling blood as he reached the platform edge. the generator continued to hum as he backed away, whatever thoughts that were forming in Brian’s head where now being stampeded by every single locked away fear that was now breaking free and spilling into the hysterical jibbering world of Brain Turner.
“oh christ what the fuck is happening in here?”
Brian slapped a wet hand over his mouth as the bile rose in his throat, hoping it couldn’t prevent the inevitable happening. But it didn’t, the vomit cascaded through Brian’s bloody fingers and he doubled over, and retched,
‘this never happened to officer McClane on Die Hard’ he thought as he retched again, and then the voice in his head spoke through the chaos.
“what would John do?”
Well then? what the hell would he do? Brian wiped his mouth on the back of his jacket sleeve, and reached out for a wall, any wall. The generator seemed to be echoing from all sides now as he flapped his arms around hoping to slap concrete. ‘well he wouldn’t be stuck down here for a start!’ Brian gasped, his eyes wide with fear, in the enveloping darkness, ‘and he’d have a big fuck- off machine gun for sure’. talking to himself seemed to calm the panic, and subdue the thoughts clawing out from every corner of his brain. Then the thought hit him over the head like a barb wired baseball bat, and he turned blindly towards the generator splashing through the water quickly knowing he would hit a boundary wall soon enough. He had a rough idea where he was heading, and the vibrations of the generator indicated he was almost there. His hand brushed against the hot metal shroud and he let out a victory sigh ‘ yippee kaye …’ as he fumbled to the far side, following the exhaust piping to the wall. The air was warm and the fumes made him dizzy as he tracked the foil hose up from the water to the air vent above, and felt for the connection. From what he remembered the large hose pipe was inserted into the air vent and secured with foam sealant, and when he reached up, he found he was correct. Brian realised he could spend hours searching for the off switch to the generator, so the best bet was just to yank the hose form the vent and and stuff something down it to choke off the fumes. He pulled off his soaking jacket, and done just that, dropping his phone from his coat pocket into the water once more, as he tossed the hose into the water. The phone had died on him earlier, but usually you could still switch the thing back on and perhaps get a minute or so of screen time, if you were lucky. He decided to save what charge, if any was left, and use the light to check the vent once it was clear, and not try to make a call. it would be just his luck to call a friend only to find they had no correct answer for his dilemma. He steadied himself on the foot weld of the generator then reached up and began pulling chunks of foam from the vent. The space was wide enough to crawl into, and he knew it led to the bar, he just hoped he could hold his breathe long enough to wriggle through the air vent and make it through. The fumes escaping from the pipe caught in his throat causing him to gag as he cracked off the last of the crusty foam, and he blindly felt around the edge making sure the vent was accessible, before he scrambled for a foothold and pulled himself up. once he was stable he pulled out the phone again and switched the on button. The screen lit up and he sighed with satisfaction as he shone the screen light into the vent
‘come out to the coast, we’ll get together , have a few laughs’
he mimicked McClane as he kicked his legs up and wriggled into the long narrow space before him, and left officer 6534 behind.
The air duct wasn’t like the movies, not one little bit. The flat aluminium surface that you see being traversed through by the hero, well
forget it folks.Brian coughed cursing inside the echoing chamber as his phone died for the second and final time and his knee hooked up on the first set of rivets poking through the metal skin adjoins the first piece of vent. The little studded buggers tore through his jeans as he slid along, banging his shoes against the sides, taking a bloody strip of skin from his knee, and he cried out in frustration.
Behind him, the generator was being slowly strangled by the blocked vent, and it choked and spluttered, then finally gave up the ghost. He stopped for a moment, feeling dizzy in the silence, his ears ringing with tinnitus, and in place of the pounding generators chugging was the wafting rhythmic drum beat of a jukebox rock track, drifting down through the vent from the bar ahead.
Brian grinned through his drowsy spaced out gaze as the Metallica track echoed down through his metal coffin, and all he wanted to do was put his head down in his outstretched arms, and let his own sandman enter. But he slid on through the darkness, his arms being scratched raw by the poking rivers and the back of his head being brushed through by the most sadistic medieval device he could think up in his tortured poisoned brain. He had tried. He had tried with every bit of fight he could muster, and that was just about good enough for Brian, he thought as the blood trickled into his eyes, just about. He kicked on
through, his head spinning, and his stomach churning.
Ahead, strips of grated light reflected from the shiny metal surface, and his droopy eyes opened wide.
Half a dozen kicks later, and Brian was there, overlooking the bar through the slats on the air vent, and he let out a gasp of relief as he pressed his face up against the grating…’no!’
Staring up at him from the bar, was the hooded figure Brian had seen in the monitor, patiently rolling a glass of Fireball whisky around in his gloved palm amongst the unconscious patrons. The figure stood up, lifted a finger and thumb at Brian, then slowly aimed at him. As Brian watched slumped against the vent defeated, the hooded figure dropped the thumb, and recoiled his arm, firing off three imaginary shots, then left through the front door.
Fire erupted in Brian’s belly, and he let out a scream, his hands clawing at the secure vent cover, shaking it like a monkey in a cage,”fuck you!” he howled.
On the bar where the hooded figure had sat, was an open duffle bag, daubed with the red hand, and Brian strained his blurry eyes trying to peer inside. The bulky contents were wrapped in tape, but he couldn’t make out anything more, perhaps a phone?
He realised couldn’t go forward now, nor could he go backward. His face pressed hopelessly to the vent grate as he gasped for the fresh air that didn’t come. His fingers wriggled through the vent holes as he fought in vain one more time with the barrier that just wouldn’t budge. The vent suddenly closed as he fought with it, now he could only peer through the cracks of the metal blades. Outside, sirens blared, he saw the flashing lights, illuminating the bar windows in a red and blue kaleidoscopic strobe light show, a psychedelic brain poisoning trip that fascinated Brian as he drifted from consciousness and began to fall down the rabbit hole. Behind him the generator started up again and he felt the warm waft of the tainted exhaust fumes rush over his aching body, and then he began choking again. Hooded figures hunched by the shadows of parked cars outside, as the disco lights flashed around them, and Brian grinned, watching on like a dribbling moron, “any time you’re ready guys” he mumbled.
But they never came, they waited with their guns. They waited as men in white suits appeared and stood by the door, all the while the generator idled behind him. They waited as the generator spewed out its poison, and Brian helpless to avoid, sucked it in. They waited as the child in the pram stopped its feeble crying and fell asleep, and the twitching man on the floor lay silent. They waited, and Brian closed his heavy eyelids, the wheeled robotic device trundled towards the door, and his eyes drooped, it trundled on to the chained door and he opened them again briefly, and the robotic device trundled to the chain, then Brian let his eyes close again….
…he thought he heard noise, the smashing of glass, the blare of the bullhorn and the crunch of engineer boots, or was it the sound of the pigs as they were herded towards the slaughterhouse. Then the phone in the duffle bag rang…
The blast. The heat. The darkness. The Red Hand of Anarchy.
The monitoring machine blipped quietly in the corner, as the curtains ruffled gently in the morning breeze that wafted in through the open window. get well soon cards, and vases filled with vibrant blooming flowers, covered every and all available space inside the private hospital room.
On the bed, sat upright, and bandaged in white crepe from head to toe, lay Brian. His eyes were open and staring at the talking heads on the television fully aware of his surroundings. Slumped dozing in a chair by his side, was Max, the hero of the hour. He was in hiding from the press who had been hounding him for days now after the explosion that killed 23 vagrants and one police officer, and the hospital was the only place where he could get some sleep apart from his office. The phone call Brian had made to Max, had set off alarm bells in the young lawyers head, and coupled with the emergency call Brian had made, authorities were quick to react. An anonymous tip off reported by a supposed member of the terrorist group ‘Red Hand of Anarchy’ announced a bomb threat in a bar around the same time, had set the scene up rather well.
Brian flicked the channel remote from a hand that was handcuffed to the bed rest rail, idly skipping over channels as the news anchors still reported facts two days after the incident, that the officer who died in the terrorist explosion was Officer Donna Stevens, first on the scene to report suspicious activities . Her deceased burnt body was found in the rubble, along with several other bodies. He felt the sickening guilt rise in his belly.
Brian had been interviewed by a steady stream of police investigators since yesterday, all wanting to know why he was where he was, and if he had seen anything suspicious himself He had refused to answer their questions, pleading memory loss, hence the guards posted outside his room.
“i’m going for a bite, i need to make a few calls, you want anything” Max said stretching , but Brian shook his head.
“i’ll be back in ten- don’t say anything okay” he said walking from the room with his briefcase . Max had taken it upon himself to be his appointed lawyer, and told him to feign loss of memory as long as he could The two officers nodded as he passed them, and the door swung shut behind him.
A few moments later, the door swung open again and another immaculately dressed officer walked in, carrying more paperwork for Brian to sign. He threw the daily paper on the bed, beside Brain and began fumbling with the buttons on the television. “Hey, i was watching that!” Brian said to the officer with his back turned and picked up the mock up tabloid thrown in his bed. The officer said nothing, removed his hat and flattened his hair to the side. He took the television control from Brian’s bandaged hand, and flicked up the usb he had inserted.
The headline on the mock paper in Brian’s hand read,
“Rookie officer murdered by Rookie Journo for story”
Brian stared down at the headline wide eyed in terror, his stomach lurching in a cartwheel of guilt.
on the screen was the grainy security footage filmed at the scene, only as Brian watched he realised it had been edited to make him look like some dodgy fuck plotting the gunpowder and treason plot. He skunked around corners in the darkness, pulled his bleeding victim through shitty water, dropped a tv monitor on her defenceless pleading head, fitted hose pipes to air vents- made dodgy calls, then escaped through air vents.
he was fucked.
“it …i … that’s not…” he stuttered in disbelief. “that’s not what happened..” The officer smiled as he stared down at Brian, and moved in closer. “who says?” he sneered pointing a finger like a gun, and pulled the thumb trigger.
Brian gasped, “you!” He looked down at the officers badge and read the number on the police badge, 6534. with another gasp “oh shit!”
“okay Recruit, the Red Hand of Anarchy has a few jobs for you…are you ready to pledge?” he pulled a knife from his belt pouch and slowly ran the blade across his bandaged face.
Brian stared at the officer, then nodded, “sure , sure whatever you say!”
“good, then raise your right hand”
When Max returned to the ward with two coffees, there was chaos everywhere. the two guarding officers lay in pools of their own blood, with their throats slashed wide. inside the empty room, above the empty bed where Brian had been resting, was a single bloody hand print, and the single word –
“look these guys are fuckin retards Max, I need some cash, and I need it fast before they get me killed!” Brian whispered from the payphone booth as he studied the alleyway behind the office, his eyes darting from shadow to shadow. “No I don’t know what the fuck is going on, all I know is they told me to watch the van while they collected something is all…” he heard a commotion and stopped, ” look, i gotta go!” Brian quickly hung up the phone, and wiped the handset clean, before pulling down the black knitted balaclava over his face and ran back to the van.
Two gunshots rang out from the office block as he pulled the Fords sliding door open, and watched two figures dragging a third between them down the concrete steps, “Start the feckin’ car Bri,” one of the men shouted in a heavy Irish accent, “don’t stand there like a feckin’ edjit!” Brian done as he was told, jumping into the front seat as two burly security guards ran after them from the building, firing off their browning hand guns. The first shot ricochet on the sliding door as the two kidnappers bundled the sobbing figure into the interior of the van. Brian watched as the first security guard stopped and took aim again, this time striking the windshield and shattering it into a million shimmering diamonds, “holy fuck!” Brian shouted out as the glass imploded, hitting the gas pedal as he flinched for cover. The van lurched forward as the passengers in the back tumbled to the floor, and Brian shielded his face in panic. three more rapid shots echoed outside, as the van accelerated under the blind control of Brian, whose balaclava had now slid askew, the eye holes now slid down upon his cheeks. he heard a scream from behind him as somebody lost an ear, “Get the feck outta here before d’ey kill one of us” somebody in the back screamed out as Brian mounted the pavement slapping all the console controls with his flapping hands and proceeded to run over the security guard. He heard the crunch as the guards head bounced off the bonnet, and felt the warm splash of blood over his hands as they grappled to regain control. “oh Shit!” he cried out, tugging the balaclava from his face just in time to see the raised garden wall by the side of the road. He swerved the van viciously, and somebody inside the van fired a clumsy shot through the chair next to him, sending stuffing everywhere, “christ sake stop fuckin shooting” he cursed, as the second security guard opened fire, but Brian was already out of range. “Great work d’er kid, now you know where to go now!” Brian cursed his dopey freedom fighting team mate, his heart beating so hard in his chest, he thought it would erupt from his rib cage and scurry off onto the floor squealing into the night. The windshield wipers were quickly jigging from left to right on the shattered blood splattered space in front of him, and he had to use his hand to punch through a gap to see. The van swerved into the night as sirens blared in the distance, and Brian cursed his luck, easing off the gas pedal and taking a breathe, ‘Another successful abduction from the keystone cops detachment of the Red hand of Anarchy!’ he thought, realising the cell he had been placed with, had to be the shittiest one in the whole Red Hand movement of London.
Brian finally found the country lane and turned off, driving the van deep into the forest. He peered through the smashed windshield out into the bitterly cold foggy trail, rocking the passengers from side to side avoiding as many pot holes on the track as he could. The van pulled up by the abandoned power station, and edged its way through the broken gate, hung on one rusted hinge, and inched forward in first gear. The old gothic building towered above him, mouldy green foliage hanging from rusting drain pipes, its once whitewashed paint now filthy and peeling. Once inside the compound Brian dismounted the van, opened the sliding door and held out a hand. The night was bitterly cold, and his breath drifted from his mouth in erratic puffs. The first goon jumped out unaided, pushing Brian aside as he began tugging at the kidnapped victim, “outta the way ya feckin edjit, go get the door!” the first goon pulled the victim from the van and propped her over his shoulders in a fireman’s lift. Her hands were duct taped together, and her short black skirt hitched high, but she was putting up quite a struggle. Brian saw her exposed stocking tops on her fine legs “who is she?” He asked as the goon turned, “none of your feckin business rookie, now go get the door Freddie Kruger, then burn the van”. She turned her head and stared at Brian wide eyed, pleading for help, her long dark hair was matted with blood, stuck under the duct tape wound across her mouth, which was wrapped completely around her head, as if applied in a hurry. She stared at Brian, her eyes pleading with him to help her. Brian stared back at the beautiful young girl wondering if she was staring at the vicious scars burnt onto the side of his face. He felt like a beast, and turned away embarrassed. The second goon hopped down onto the discarded autumn leaves, and they crunched under his foot, his bald head covered in splatters of blood where his ear should have been. “if yeh find me ear Bri, can you bag it up before you burn the van” he said clutching the side of his face. “sure ‘Gus,” Brian’s gaze faltered, “no problem” He scurried ahead of the first goon and climbed the stairs to the front door. The padlock rattled in his hand as he turned the combination in his bitterly numb fingers, 1134 and the chain fell limp. He held the door open for Terry, the first goon, and watched him pass with the woman balanced on his shoulders, like something out of dick dastardly where Penelope Pitstop, the damsel in distress, kicked and screamed yelling “heyulp heyulp” only the woman on Terry’s shoulders was calm and subdued, saying nothing as she lifted her head and managed another quick helpless stare. He watched her, lingering a little longer at her fine slender legs, noticing one of her black heeled shoes was missing. “Brian, get the bag from the van, then lose the wheels” ‘Gus said, slapping him on his shoulder, “we’re gonna have a bit of fun!” “oh and Freddie,” Terry turned and winked, slapping the girls backside, “don’t hurry back!” Brian nodded as Gus and Terry took the bound women to the stairwell that led to the basement. Now was his chance to run.
The echoing laughter started almost immediately, followed by the shouting and then the screaming, and Brian turned away in disgust. He couldn’t intervene, if he did they would beat him then discard him like the celebrities they had kidnapped and tortured. On top of that their was the USB with the edited footage supposedly of him killing the police officer almost a year ago. since then his life has been hell, and the UK had done to shit. This unfortunate event was just another cult recruiting video in the making, she would be humiliated like him, and forced into the program by way of blackmail like the rest of them. ‘fuckers’ he mumbled, turning back to look at the stairs, then opened the door, and walked out into the cold night. Brian stopped by the van as the screaming in the basement continued, and he blocked his ears trying desperately to silence out the brutality, then something happened as he lent back against the van and lit a cigarette. His conscience was screaming louder than the poor girl inside- It was like something was twisting in Brian’s belly, something evil and vengeful. something that had been festering inside him the whole time he had been made to sit back and watch the chaos unfold. The tortured celebrities, the bombings, the assassinations, the anarchy. It was like Ron hubbard decided to put his full recruitment skills out there, and take on the world. The cult of the Red Hand of Anarchy was spreading like mould on a four day old loaf of bread. The something inside Brian twisted harder, like his guts were knotting and tightening, twisting like snakes or alligators in mighty death rolls…and then they snapped. It was time to put a stop to this madness. He stamped on the butt end and looked in the vans side mirror. The bastards would pay for the mess he was looking at. He grabbed his torch from the back of the drivers seat, the one he was going to use to make his getaway after ditching then burning the van, then opened the glove box. amongst the fold out maps and skin magazines was the burner phone and the hand gun, and he pulled them both out. The magazines he left, after debating for a second. There were only three numbers in the contacts list, terry’s , ‘Gus’s and his handlers. He had instructions from his handler not to use any unless in an emergency occurred, cell phone silence was always preferred in this age of tech warfare. ‘yeh well i kinda think this is an emergency dick head- don’t you?’ he whispered in the night air under his visible breath and began typing:
WANNA PLAY A GAME?
He sneered, pressing send to all three numbers then ran back inside. He found the doorway to the stairwell open and stepped inside. The laughter had stopped now, as to the shouting, and dread filled his thoughts, dread and snuff movies. Shit, it was like Die Hard all over again. Only this time it was christmas day at the airport. Brian descended cautiously, the single light bulb swinging slightly as the shadows danced on the walls. How did he keep finding himself in dark and dingy cellars? The cellar door was open, bloody hand prints were slapped on the walls and he had a feeling of déjà vu. on the floor was a twitching body, a body with a black stiletto sticking from its eye socket – it was Gus.
The room was set up for torture and humiliation, their was no doubt about that. Brian edged inside the dank smelling hovel, crunching his boot down on broken mirror glass, and saw a toppled camera sat on the tripod by a grotty stained mattress, and empty shackles on the bed post frames. The mirrored ceiling above was smashed over the bed, and bits lay strewn over the floor. This angered Brian to the point that he kicked out at Gus on the floor, kicking him square between the legs, and he gave a pitiful groan. “Call it your severance pay packet you sick fuck!” The set up was similar to the one he had found himself in back at the school, only this chamber of horror was set up for the sick bastards to play in as well. Not taking any chances, Brian searched the room, noticing the door at the far side was open, then grabbed Gus by the arm and pulled his large frame through the shards of glass, over to the bed, snapping one of the shackles around his limp wrist. Gus’s unbuckled jeans slid down to his knees and Brian thought about putting a bullet between the sick twats legs, but decided against firing off his gun, and settled for another kick in his bollocks. “One for the road Gus!” The young woman was nowhere to be found, neither was Terry for that matter.
Brian had never set foot down here, he had just been the drop off driver, which didn’t exclude him from the blame, he just didn’t know what went on down there in that chamber of utter horrors. Brian was reluctant to go any further, the safest bet now was to phone the police, tell them about the room, and hand himself in. He was sick of running. His head scanned the room and he noticed the same blue network of cables hanging from the ceiling, and saw that he was now stood in the main view of the small security camera taped onto the ceiling. He lifted his hand and gave it the finger, then grabbed a handful of the data cables and ripped the plug from the sensor. He wasn’t going to be edited into this movie that’s for sure. Brian walked over to the toppled video recorder sat on the tripod, and righted it, rewinding the video, then hesitated before he pressed play. God knows what he would find, and he shuddered. The young woman appeared sobbing in the centre of the viewfinder, her dress torn at the shoulder, and her mascara running down her face, which gave her an uncanny resemblance to the Crow, or perhaps johnny Depp in some film Brian couldn’t remember. Standing over her, was Gus, undoing his cowboy belt, and grinning from ear to ear… A faint scream echoed down through the open door to the far side of the room, causing Brian to jump in his skin, and he stopped what he was doing. He pulled the SDcard from the camera, and stuck it into his pocket then inched closer to the door. As he peered down the corridor, the burner phone in his pocket pinged.
SO THE MOUSE WANTS TO HUNT THE CAT?
‘shit’ he cursed, not really thinking out his strategy at all, and typed his reply before turning off the phone.
FUCK YOU AND YOUR RED HAND
He switched on the torch and fumbled in the corridor for a moment, trying to remember how Mulder and Scully held both a gun and a torch at the same time, and still managed to look cool. He wasn’t sure he had the look right, but the torch beam was steady, and the gun pointing the right way, so that was good enough. Terry was an ape of a man, so he wanted to be ready with the gun, should he jump out from the shadows. Petit bloody foot prints splashed the floor, and Brian saw the trail lead off down into the darkness. He’s got her. he’s got her and cut her up. Brian began having his panicked thoughts again, but held them back enough to regain his composure and carry on down the corridor. The blood trail became a slip sliding mess of flailing limbs, slapped hands and bloody swirls, as if somebody had been dragged along the corridor against their will. Arching splatters of splashed blood sprayed high up the walls and over the ceiling, dripping to the floor in large puddles of crimson. The torch light beam fell upon the outstretched hand of Terry, and Brian squeezed the trigger slightly, “oh fuck!” he cried out before he saw Terry’s other hand was clasping at his own throat as it pumped out dark red crude oil down the front of his jacket. Terry’s eyes were open as wide as the gaping slice in his neck and he was trying to call for help, but his larynx had been torn apart by something that had opened his neck up from ear to ear. The only sound Brian could hear as Terry shuffled forward was the wheezy gasping of air as he slid back along the wall towards the torture room. He could still pose a danger Brian thought, and raised the gun and the torch light to Terry’s face, “that’s far enough Terry, don’ t come any closer for fuck sake!” But Terry ignored Brian’s wishes , and continued forward. So Brian lowered the gun and put two slugs into his knee caps.
Terry’s large frame slumped forward, then toppled, his jaw cracking to the floor with a hollow mushy thud as Brian cast his spotlight on him. He was reminded of a chimney stack being demolished, slowly leaning, then tipping, spewing bricks as it hit the ground, only instead of bricks spilling from Terry’s mouth, a spray of bloody teeth showered Brian. “jesus h christ!” Brian gasped, backing off as the blood began oozing from Terry’s broken mouth. The torch beam in his hand flicked from the body to what lay behind them, then back to the body, and up again. Something large darted from the shadows, and ran off down the narrow darkness, “wait…stop!” he shouted, stepping carefully over Terry, who was now twitching and convulsing. The shadowy figure kept running on, ducking under low hung water pipes, and Brian found it hard to keep up with her as she sprinted on down the narrowing service tunnel. ” i’m not going to hurt you, christ…i’m trying to save you woman ,” he panted in the subterranean heat of the basement passageway, as he crouched lower and lower, “shit…if you’ll just stop and talk…” But the figure was off. He cursed, turning back the way he came, and saw only the pinprick of light from the torture room behind him, and this concerned Brian. There was no way in hell he would catch her down here, he would have to leave her. “shit!” he doubled over panting, resting a hand on his thigh as he caught his breathe. It was no good, he wasn’t up for the chase. A scream suddenly echoed from ahead, bouncing down the walls in shrill ear piercing clarity, then it was cut off suddenly, and Brian stood up. “hello, who’s there?” he said, listening to himself dumbfounded that that phrase could even find its way out of his mouth. “stupid twat” he mumbled to himself, inching on as the screams dissipated in the tunnel. The corridor opened up into another larger chamber, and Brian found he could stand up without worrying about banging his head on the sewage pipes above his head. The room stank of shit, and mouldy wet garbage, and as he passed the torch beam over the piles of filth and decay on the floor, he saw her. She was being dragged by the hair, across the spilled contents of torn trash bags, her arms loose by her side as the figure waded through the rubbish. Brian lifted the gun and the torch to the shadow, ” back off dude,” he warned the hobo. But Brian quickly realised that this was no hobo. It was nearly seven foot tall for starters, and its arms long and gangly. Brian saw the matted fur covering its naked torso and shivered. “Put her down fuckwit!” he shouted, and the thing turned its large drooping, bearded head. Large Neanderthal teeth poked from its beard, snarling at Brian. huge leg muscles twitched as the gangly figure strode on towards the far wall, with its victim dragging behind him through the pile of filth. Then the thing bared its teeth, opening his mouth at Brian. Brian thought it looked more like an ape…no not an ape…a fucking cave man! The young woman came too and immediately began beating and thrashing her captors arms frantically, but she was dragged on nonetheless, and Brian fired his gun again, “hey chewbacca you dumb fuck!” The blast was deafening, ringing in his ears, as he squeezed the trigger again. The second shot tore through the apes chest with a roar of disapproval from the ape, but it just kept on heading towards the top of the pile of discarded shit. Brian’s torch flickered as the beam crossed something on the top of the mound of trash, a solid object that darkled in the murky gloom, like a perfect upright slab. The light from his torch was unable to penetrate the slab of darkness, the blackness seemed like a solid doorway that shimmered and swirled in front of him, as the ape dragged the woman towards it. ‘my god, its full of stars!’ popped into Brian’s head, as he fired another two shots at the ape, and ran after it. The young woman was now twisting onto her knees,” get off me!” she shrieked, but she was still being dragged towards the slab as she frantically dug her bare heels in a beat off the roaring ape, but it just yanked on her hair harder, and she stumbled behind him.”heyulp me!” Brian kept hearing the same cartoon yelp in his head as he stumbled forward to rescue Penelope pitstop, and was now only a few feet away from the creature when he fired off another shot at its cumbersome head, and this time the ape faltered, staggering against the smooth blackness of the slab. But instead of falling against the slab…the ape fell through it! The ape fell through the shimmering darkness, and pulled the young screaming penelope pitstop woman with him. Brian instinctively dove for the girl, grabbing her ankle as she was dragged into the void by the dying ape, and he followed… The doorway shimmered in the darkness, like a million billion swirling galaxies, then they all disappeared.
Brian lifted his head in the darkness, and wrinkled his nose at the stench of sulphur that hung in the cold air. The gun was gone, but he still clutched the torch tight in his right hand. In the other hand , he found the smooth shaved leg of the woman that the ape man had pulled through the mysterious doorway. His fingers eased, uncurling from her bare flesh, slightly uncomfortable at the action. Now, he found they all lay in a heap beneath the cold slab, including the slain cave man thing, dumped unceremoniously on the other side of that shimmering crackling doorway, in some rotten egg smelling filth hole. He clicked the switch on the torch and cast the beam slowly around the large ornate room, a room that reminded him of Grand Central station, slowly shuffling to his knees in wonder at the sight before his eyes. He counted at least fifty large rectangular doorways similar to the one they had just been pulled through, and that was just on the one side of the station. One long straight line of tall silent doorways, a rank of dark monoliths lined up in a single file along the far wall, like soldiers on parade. The same ranking file was on the other side of the station also. Scattered on the marble flooring, amongst the huge supporting marble pillars, Brian’s torch beam found several clusters of bodies lying motionless , with their dismembered limbs torn and abandoned at there sides. Brian flashed the beam behind him and reached out to the doorway that they had just came through, but found the slab was no longer shimmering and open, instead he found it solid and cold. “what the fuck…” at his feet he found the woman still out cold, and he reached down and sat her upright against the dead ape creatures bloody torso. Confused, he slowly walked over to investigate the bodies lying on the floor. Brian counted five dead dwarfs dressed in an assortment of cultural steam punked clothing, each wearing military uniforms from different eras in time, and laughed disbelieving, “no way… no fecking way!” He spun around slowly, casting his torch beam high and laughed uncontrollably , “no fecking way!” he shouted again , spinning around as his voice echoed in the great hall, loud enough to wake the Supreme Being. Brian feared he had finally lost the plot as his eyes widened with each of the dead characters the torch illuminated. Fidget, Wally, Strutter, Og and Vermin all lay dead and dismembered by his feet, torn limb from bloody limb.
Was he to believe that these fictional story characters were real, and somehow they had perhaps opened a space-time doorway to his time, a broken alternate time hole that they were supposed to fix, where the fabric was perhaps torn. Or that they opened a doorway to whatever time that caveman lived, and pulled the caveman through one of those rectangular shimmering obelisk doors by mistake, and were hunted down and turned into kebab meat for the misdemeanour. If that was so, and his madness was correct, then surely they would have a map. Brian shook his head in disbelief, was he going to even entertain the thoughts running through his brain. Brian’s Brain was in danger of illuminating the ‘Tilt’ warning switch, and he found himself laughing uncontrollably . Was he being punked? where there cameras from some elaborate game show filming him now. No, this was real, and he could prove it. He just had to find Randall, the chief dwarf, and his map. Brian found Randall, he lay slumped against one of the marble pillars, the map still clutched in his curled cold dead fingers.His eyes still bulged in a wild ‘what the fuck’ stare, as if he realised that he had opened the wrong door, and should have in fact opened door number 3 for the set of silver kitchen knifes. Brian slid the map from Randall’s death grasp, and unrolled the scroll, staring in silent wonder as the ancient parchment revealed its dark secrets.
The map was covered with one large fuck off bloody handprint, obscuring everything underneath it with its smear, and Brian cursed, believing the map to be that very same one of the Time Bandits movie. He cursed, kicking out at the body on the concrete beneath him, and Randall rolled from the pillar and pitched onto the floor. The body lay beneath one of the slabs, where Brian saw more smeared bloody hand prints splattered upon the onyx surface. The red hand of Anarchy! Brian looked at the stone surface, raising his own hand up to the crusting imprint of the dead dwarfs hand, then looked down to the obscured map in his hand, as he unrolled the parchment carefully. Something stirred in the darkness before him, startling him as he heard the shifting weight on shifting sand, something slowly uncoiling in the shadows beyond Brian. quickly, he flicked the torch beam over the surface of the slab, but saw only the sparkling tinct glaring from the stone, glimmering through the heavy blackness. He reached out a trembling hand and raised his fingers slowly to touch the surface of the monolith, and gasped when his fingers slid through the surface as if the solid object was now no more than an upright shadow. Brian heard the nervous panicked laugh escape from his mouth and he backed off, retracing his steps to where he had entered the vast chamber, remembering he had left the unconscious woman there. Only, when he returned to the spot, he found she was gone. shit! he spun the torch beam around, but saw only the dead ape slumped in the darkness, and more of the upright slabs. the uncoiling sound continued, stone on stone, grinding together as if something was pulling two heavy blocks apart, and Brian’s perverted imagination went into overtime. Zombie dwarfs! he was sure of it. They were rising now, all of the little fuckers, scuttling there way over to retrieve the map fro him, with their clawing hands ready to take out his eyes, and rip off his ball sack. More movement, this time a quick darting figure behind him, but before he could turn, the fleeing woman swiped something short and hard across the back of his head. He went down as she batted him again, and again, lashing out with the weapon in her hand as he fell to the floor as if he had been kicked in the face with a boot. “fucks’ake woman stop it!” he screamed, covering his face with his hands as he ducked for cover. The torch beam lit her up, and he saw she was swinging the now decomposing leg of Fidget, the happy dwarf, like she was babe ruth. scurrying bugs fell from the leg as she raised it high for a third swing. And when she saw what she was swinging she let out a higher scream than him, dropping the mouldy appendage to the floor as if it was on fire. “get me the hell out of here!” she screamed, holding her big infested hands up to her shaking face as if it was about to explode. she was having a meltdown in front of Brian, and he was only two steps behind her. He was sure he was watching the very same reaction he had seen willie scott make in the temple of doom cave scene. The one we’re she was fighting of the bugs and trying to save Indie. This didn’t make any fucking sense! His brain could not, would not, comprehend the utter fucked up madness of the situation he now found himself in. Another basement, and another crazy woman attacking him, when all he was trying to do was save the day! “note to self- leave the fucking helpless women alone next time Brian”. he cowered on the floor, waiting for another blow from the mad banshee, but none came, and he rolled over to see the sobbing panting woman, still dressed in her black cocktail dress, her hands covering her gaping mouth. His torch had fallen to the floor and was now illuminating the vast chamber with its single beam of light. And then he saw why she was frozen to the spot. The large monoliths had began shimmering, twinkling in the darkness as each of the ancient structures awoke. Each slab darkened then pulsed as the stone shifted and activated, and from somewhere else, some other time or place perhaps, gangly shadows began to cross over into Brian’s wonderful world of fucked up mayhem. The low humming increased, like a room full of ghostly chanting monks filling a monastery, a single monotone note, echoing off the chamber walls. “holy fuck!” Brian mumbled as these apparitions stepped through the darkness into the chamber, and now it was his jaws turn to gape open wide. Without thinking he scrambled to his feet, grabbing the woman by the wrist and yanked her hard. “move it!” he shouted, pulling her as he ran for the slab were Randall the dead dwarf lay. It was a spur of the moment decision, he had no time to think, the sulphate reeking shadows were manifesting grabbing hands, with menacing claws as they staggered through the void. The woman refused to be pulled, resisting Brian’s rescue efforts and yanked her hand free, then she kicked out at Brian, “get off me you jerk!” she shouted, grabbing the torch and fleeing the other way. Brian panicked, the smell in the catacombs was foul, he had no gun, no knife stuffed down his pants to fend of these chanting ghouls as they stepped through the slabs, his only weapon was the parchment in his hand, and he began swatting away the clawing hands futilely. The torch light flickered and then faded behind him as the woman ran in the opposite direction, screaming. But then he realised the screaming was coming from his mouth, and not the woman’s, big girly shrieks escaping as he swatted with his map and fumbled his way clear. The menacing shadows soon surrounded him as the torch beam flickered and flashed quick images of the horrors, but he was just unable to process the madness, “oh fuck…not like this!” he sighed, losing the plot completely. Nightmarish thoughts of being torn up and eaten alive by death eaters like the gobby soldier in Day of the Dead, filled his imagination. Fountains of blood cascading from his torn neck as the chanting phantom monks played catch with his screaming head, flashed before him as he dropped to his knees and cowered. Then It was his turn to be grabbed in the dark. the woman clutched him by the scruff of his neck as she pulled him free of the tormenting shadows and the map clutched in his sweating hand, tore in two as he held on for dear life, suddenly finding himself being dragged away as the clawing hands swiped out, “which way?” she shouted in his ear as he screamed, “how do we get out of here?” She slapped him hard, and he yelled out, ” over there, go over there!” he waved at the slab with the bloody Red hand of Anarchy handprint smeared across it. Now it was her who was pulling him as the chanting shadows followed, staggering after our duo as the humming reached a deafening level. And without a second glance, she staggered through the shimmering slab, like an amazon warrior with her prize dragging along behind her, and once again pulled Brian through into the darkness with her.
They stumbled on through the dark vortex as the clawing shadows followed closely behind. Brian watched the shimmering doorway as he fell out backwards cursing, falling out into the dazzling sunshine and landing heavily on his back onto the scorched baking hot clay . Clawing dead hands grabbed the edge of the slab as something pulled itself through from the other side behind them, the monotone monk-like chanting only an echo now. “holy fucking christ! Brain shouted as the cloaked figure poked the upper half of its torso through the monolith , lashing out blindly .The Spectres face was hidden under the thread bare monks hood it wore, but Brian felt the putrid breathe on his face as the phantom tried to grab for what remained of the map clutched in his hand. “stay awaaay!” it hissed, “do not retuuurn” They watched on in horror, as the upright monolith suddenly closed down on the ghoul like a speeding guillotine, cutting the spectre in half and then disappeared completely from existence in a cloud of darkness in front of them. They sat spread eagled and slack jawed on the parched ground next to each other and watched as the hissing cloaked figure evaporated in the heat of the midday sun, and drifted away along with the chants, until the even the swirling spooky tendrils disappeared. Silence. Brian turned to face the stoney faced woman who had pulled him through the doorway, and stared at her intently…then burst out laughing. She frowned, unable to fathom what was so funny, and put his laughing down to hysteria. That’s what she had been taught to look out for during her training, and he was the classic case of a typical hysterical civilian. She stood with her hands on her hips, scanning the rocky area, and seeing only sand, high sandy dunes on long sandy plains. Above them, clear blue sky, and a hot sun beating down on them. She had to find shelter quick. “holy shit, did you see that?” he laughed, clutching the map to his chest. She ignored him and stood up, brushing down her short cocktail dress, and began peeling off her laddered stockings. Brian rolled over and stared at her fine toned legs before realising his hand was plunged deep into something rotten beneath him. “what the fu…” he pulled it away and quickly backed off as she smiled, “Don’t worry, he looks like he has been dead a while now- you’ll get on great with him ” she threw her discarded rolled stockings at him, “here, something to remember me by” she began walking barefoot across the baking dry river bed. ” Hey wait, where are you going?” Brian shouted, as she made her way quickly over the barren ground, she replied without turning back, ” away from whatever the hell that was, and as far away as i can …from you!” He watched her backside eagerly as it swayed left then right, left then right under her tight skirt the hem beginning to hitch up her thighs, until she quickly left him behind. He looked up at the sky squinting, then down to the sandy remains of the carcass he was next to, and swept the drifting sand away from the skeleton. It was the dried husk of a young boy of about ten or eleven, still dressed in his dressing gown, with a satchel around his shoulder. He pulled the body free and several yellowing polaroids spilled from the bag around his shoulder, along with an ancient polaroid camera, “…no way…kevin?” the boy from the movie! He looked up dumbfounded , the girl was halfway over the dune by now, and he quickly tugged at the satchel. “hey wait up” he shouted, getting to his feet as the sand burnt his palms. Brian had a bad feeling about this, as he looked down at the boy.
She was sat under the shade of an old dilapidated shed, when Brian caught up with her. The bevelled wooden shed, with its sun bleached planks, was half buried in the drifting sand, and she was cursing, wiping the scorching hot sand from her burnt feet. “got you these…if you want them?” he said, his throat as dry as the boots in his hand, and threw down the dead boys rubber soled engineer boots onto the sand next to her, then made his way over to the shadow of the shed. The sun was high, and the shadow narrow. He peered inside, “you might have to shake out the crusty skin flakes first before you put them on though!” The shed was filled with more drifting sand, only the top shelfs remained visible, and they contained a few empty fishing bait boxes, and a couple of reels. A couple of upright fibre glass rods poked through the sand, and Brian began pulling a plank from the frame. “i climbed over the dune,” she began, shaking the sand from the doctor martin ankle boot, ” but the sand just goes on for ever over to the hills on the horizon !” Brian nodded, “we should stay here until the sun goes down, you know, do the place up- it’s got a great view of the lake!” she turned and watched him battle with the bevelled plank, “what happened to your face?” she asked, noticing the heavy scarring down the one side of Brian’s head. Brian turned, “somebody hit it with a fictional movie characters leg! what happened to yours?” she smiled,” somebody tried to take it off with a hunting knife while they tried to blackmail me joining their shitty gang, so i stuck my 4 inch stiletto in his eye socket!” Brian nodded, ” yeh, I saw that, the guy was a dick and had that coming. Good job, I’ve been thinking about doing the same for some time now !” She stared at Brian for a moment, “you wear heels?” she smiled, “did they do that to you, the scarring I mean?” Brian looked away, reaching up to the skin graft on his cheek, “one of them, yeh, same recruiting team that tried to hire you” He pulled the plank free, and threw it aside. “did they have something on you, the Anarchy gang? They usually do, i mean you don’t come across as the rapey type” Brian grinned as he crawled inside, “thanks, and yes they did as a matter of fact” he wiggled through the hole, ” they had a nice video of me killing a cop and setting off a bomb that killed ten innocent people if you must know” he began clearing the sand from something stood in the corner of the fishing shack, and revealed the top of a red drink dispenser fridge . “and did you?” she asked, slipping on the boots and began tying them with the frayed laces. Brian ignored her, instead he dug down with the promise of finding a can of the sugary drink under the sand, to quell his burning thirst.
“what the hell do you think happened here,” she wondered aloud, gazing over her hitched knees at the never-ending dry cracked surface of the lake bed, “and where in the hell are we?” Brian tossed her the calendar, the one that was pinned to the drink despensing machine, “looks like Vegas baby to me- Vegas sometime after 2025- resident evil style! only without the zombies…I hope!” She picked up the dog eared calendar, and flicked the image of a smiling couple fishing on Lake Mead. “Lake Meads gone dry?” she gasped, completely missing the date. She turned at the dull sound of something smashing inside the shed, and moments later, Brian emerged with two cans of coke in his hands.
“look at the date” he said nonchalantly, passing her a can, and cracking the other open, “ever watch doctor who?” he said taking a long gulp of the warm nectar while the year sank in. “2025!” “you’re not up on your sci fi are you? Know what this is?” he said, passing her several of the polaroids from the satchel, and she shook her head. “Normally i would say they were neat movie props from the eighties,” he continued, ” but i’m not too sure now after what we have just been through. Ever see Time Bandits?” she shook her head, studying the picture of Sean Connery hugging a laughing boy in his pyjamas. Brian nodded, working out how to explain his thoughts. “how about stephen king, read his stuff, the gunslinger?” “not really, i hate cowboy stories, i prefer Koontz” she said, opening the ring pull and drinking from the can. “well, in each story there are these fucked up doorways, doorways that lead to other dates and times in history. they use these doorways to sightsee, go visit fucked up places of interest- like 9/11 or Titanic. And i think we just stumbled through one of those sightseeing doors into the future” she looked at him for a moment, then snorted frothy coke from her nostrils as she began laughing, “boy i really hit you hard about the head back there, didn’t i!” Brian frowned, “fuck you lady” “no i mean it, you seriously think we have just time travelled to Las Vegas through a time tunnel doorway , into the year 2025 what the hell dude, are you for real?” she began laughing at him, and he lowered his can, “okay then smart arse, how the hell do you explain the doorway, and…and the fuckin’ monks guarding the doors. eh! answer me that genius!” “drugs, they made me snort something back in that room, and i’m having a bad trip is all. Your just part of the hysteria. what we call a PTSD sufferer.” “Stress! you think i’m stressed? well explain this…” he pulled out what was left of the map, and tapped on the doorway marked Las Vegas 2030 **The Big One** “this is the door we just came through- look, it says so right here!”. she burst out laughing again, agitating Brian further. “Fine, don’t believe me. But when the mutant cave dwellers come running from the hills, when California shakes apart- don’t look to me for help” this had her in fits of giggles now, “you’re the kinda guy my dad warned me about lurking in the alleyways” “Sarah,” he’d say, “Sarah, watch out for the guys who buy comics and the conspiracy rags instead of the Washington post” She laughed again, “because they’ll be running the country to ruin in a few years” Brian’s brow furrowed for a moment as he tried to work out what she was getting at, then turned, “nice to meet you to Sarah. And you’re just like girl my mother told me to avoid”
“yeh, she’d say Brian, pointing at the bargirls, Brian look out for those types of girl- all ass no class!” they looked at each other for a moment, “you go to topless bars with your mother?” she added. Brian laughed, then they chinked cans and nodded, “Well you and your mother are very welcome, Brian” she smiled. They sat together, Brian the conspiracist, and Sarah with the classy topless bargirls ass, in the shade of the shed, laughing under the apocalyptic sun, and quietly sipping on warm flat cola and contemplating their next move.