He sat alone in his dark and dreary office, just like the man sitting
in the chair. He sat in an ancient leather chair, maybe from the late 80s.
Paperwork, boxes of evidence, and empty bottles of scotch lay in heaps
around him. The entire office was a picture of uncontrolled chaos, caught
at a single moment of extreme turmoil. The room was almost as disorganized
as the man sitting in the dusty chair.
His face had gone unshaved for at least two days; his clothes were squalid,
as if they hadn't been washed in weeks. His breath reeked of alcohol. His
eyes were glazed over, and red streaks ran across them.He had a beat up
look about him and he seemed isolated. Yet, the room seemed to engulf him
and fill him with a shadowy upheaval.
Ancient tattered newspapers lay about him, blending dully into the curling
charcoal linoleum. In a corner near the only door, blank colorless wallpaper,
the only wallpaper in the room, half covered they'll revealing a drab ashen
sheet metal. Chipped broken bolts lined the patchwork metal walls, and
from one of these a black frame holding a half ripped black and white photo
of two young men sitting, drinking in a bar. Across from the photograph
was a small window, bars across the thick smoke tinged shattered glass,
black blinds crookedly blocking the meager sun penetrating the layers darkness.
His brow was furrowed, and his lips curled towards the floor in distaste.
One hand clutched a bottle of contraband scotch, the other looked loosely
grasped the data pad in his lap. His fingers explored the rim of the screen,
but froze as his entire body tensed in shock.
The hum of the special circuitry, which he personally installed into
the walls, reassured him of his safety. He was barely aware of the chief's
briefing that was rambling on the screen before him. He hardly noticed
as a lieutenant volunteered another meaningless tidbit. He was too worried
about the strange transmission he had just received off the net.
John Berrets sat at his usual seat, three rows back and two in. Mr.
Simeon was off on another irrelevant tangent. Someone, Audrey, raised their
hand to ask a question. John didn't care; he was too busy staring at the
wrinkled sheet of paper in his hands. The handwriting was barely legible,
but its intent was clear. He wondered curiously as to whom had scribbled
this message, with clearly intimidating pictures.
His eyes wandered around the room. He looked at the green blackboard,the
white chalk covering it, but could not see the writing on the wall.His
eyes darted to the cramped rows of filled desks, then to the enormous desk
at the front of the room, it's breadth spreading from wall to wall. Three-foot
stacks of papers and notebooks created a stark contrast against the green
behind them, which coupled with the decrepit wooden podium, formed a sort
of skyline in front of the columns of bored, apathetic children.
John's head dropped and he sighed. Without lifting his head he crumpled
the note and stuffed it into his backpack, next a hundred other crumpled,
wrinkled pieces of gray. He opened his eyes and looked at the speckled
tile next to his feet.
The tile was green and hundreds of speckles, dots, and marks covering
each tile. Blue dots, red dashes, yellow specks, turquoise bits, brown
flecks. As John scanned the floor he saw hundreds of tiles, a myriad of
speckles; he looked at a single yellow dot by his toe and realized it was
just one among millions.
Suddenly the entire classroom was filled with the shuffling of papers
and zipping of backpacks. There were only three minutes left in the period.
Damn. No time to copy the notes he'd missed. The bell rang and everyone
began scrambling out the door.
John crumpled the paper and ran out the door. "Jesus, what period is
it?" John thought aloud. Checking his watch he began down the hall to his
next class. Noticing someone peering suspiciously at him, he started running.
Christ, this was no time to be frolicking in the hall.
Will loaded his gun, turned, and fired at his pursuer. He was going
to be late for the doctor if he didn't motor. Noticing an ascending hoverbus
he jumped on, hoping it would head to South-Ridge. For the moment he didn't
care, as long as he got away. As he landed he fired a couple of parting
shot at the trench coat fleeing into the shadows.
"Lord that was close!" he puffed.
Gathering his composure he looked around and discovered he was headed
in completely the wrong direction. His jaw clenched as he waited for the
bus to descend again.
"God damn!" He launched into a whirlwind of foul language then sighed
to no one, "Why me? Huh? I never do anything! Jesus! Does it ever end?
He hopped off the bus at the next stop and headed southeast, all the
while cursing his luck. He stopped cursing and began to go over the recent
events. He made a mental list.
"First I get assigned to this bizarre MR/S up in Brookston, then I receive
a death threat telling me to skip town or die. Now someone tries to kill
me. Sloppily, but tries to kill me. It's a wonder I'm not a nut-job by
now." He checked his watch then picked up the pace.His gun jiggled in the
holster around his shoulder.
"Wonder if this 'mentality specialist' crap was for real or just another
two bit scam. Either way it could help."
"Uh, Mz. Tiggard?" John Berrets ducked his head into the guidance office
soiled with paperwork and photos of students. An overly eyelined secretary
sat at a desk typing and conversing over the phone.
"Is Mz. Tiggard in?"
"Do you have an appointment?" commented the secretary through her smeared
lipstick. John waved his pass in the air. "Well, she'll be with you in
a moment." John promptly took a seat on one of the plush yellow chairs.
He felt awkwardly nervous about being in the guidance office, even though
he had arranged the appointment.
A door opened and in stepped a blue-eyed, brown-haired, slightly portly
woman appearing to be in her late forties. She looked at him and grinned.
John felt a queer feeling run through him. One of admiration and betrayal
at the same time, and also he felt suddenly aged. He shook the thoughts
from his mind.
"Mr. Berrets I presume?" she giggled, her entire body trembled from
the laughter. Funny. Really god damn funny. "I hear you've been having
problems with, err..." she checked the clipboard she was holding,"daydreams."
"Yeah doc, I just can't handle it." Will was lying on a relax-gel couch.
"I mean it's not easy to concentrate when someone wants you dead. It's
very hard ya' know."
"Hmm, I see," replied the monotonous voice of the balding,silver-haired
'mentality specialist'. What a load of crap. Why am I even here? Let's
see, so far I've told him all my crap and all he's said is "I see". Damnit.
"Excuse me, but when exactly were you gonna' get off your fat ass and
The aging man was startled. Obviously not a regular question.
"Err... well, uhh"
"Well what? You're a goddamn 'mentality specialist' its your fucking
job to handle this! Isn't it? Or is it just a scam? Huh?"
Shocked 'em. Definitely a scam. Fuck it I'm gone.
"I'm outta' here asshole." Will Robbs headed for the door. The 'specialist'
went pale. "And don't expect any 'financial benefaction' for the 'cerebral
prosperity correction,' Mr. 'Mentality Specialist'.What a crock." He made
a move for the door.
"What now, dipshit?"
"I see your problem." The "doctor" was calmer now, more relaxed. The
red returned to his cheeks, and then some.
"Well, are you having any problems at home?" Mz. Tiggard suggested.Problems,
I've got more problems than bricks in the Great Wall of China,lady. My
family life's gone to hell. My mom's depressed, my dad's a deadbeat, I'm
the definition of fucked up.
"No, everything's fine."
"Are you a doodler?" Another birdbrain question.
"No, I don't think so."
"Well then, it seems that you just have hard time concentrating. Could
it be you suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder?" Aren't the chances of
that very slim? Oh, well.
"Isn't that really your department?"
"Why yes it is." She giggled again, and again the plump body trembled.
I hate that. I hate her. This woman's an idiot. And I'm a bigger idiot
for seeing her. Damn.
"You can go back to class now, Billy." She went back to her paperwork.
What an idiot! Is she a graduate of Midvale School for the Gifted or
something? Jesus. What a loser. "It's John, and you need to sign my pass."
"Oh silly me!" She giggled again. God I hate that. She signed the pass
and John was on his way out the door. On his trip out the door the sickeningly
sweet smelling perfume of the secretary caught his attention, she noticed
him and stopped typing and grinned at John.Another putz.
John turned left at the door and began his journey through the desolate
hallways to his class. Physical Education, a.k.a. Gym Class, a.k.a.Hell
Field Training, great. Exactly what I need so that an assassin can kill
me while I'm in VR stasis. Why me, huh?
"Attention class! Field training will begin in 3.098 minutes. Find your
VR partner and suit up!" The cold, monotone of the computer echoed through
the large metallic room.
Robbs checked his data pad and began searching for Alsimer, Juno A.While
he was pushing through the crowd, he uplinked the remaining info:
"An Anom grad 'huh?" Robbs was now standing beside Alsimer in line for
a VR pod. He scanned her with his peripheral vision.
Alsimer, Juno A.
Exp: 7yrs SAPD
Gen: F 4yrs HPD
Ht: 5'6" Grad- PCS
Wt: 147lbs Grad- Anom
"Yep." Alsimer was chewing gum. Robbs was staring at the viewport attached
to the bulkhead above him. The gum was irritating at best and Robbs was
nervous and chatty.
"I went there myself, class 465.907, class list of MCL 105."
"Not bad I got MCL 27." Damn. She was good, very good. It was almost
impossible to achieve a MCL 105 average, let alone MCL 27. She was either
a bookworm, a prodigy, or a suckup with connections. From the looks of
her she was no bookworm, her compact, muscular body told him that. She
was too old to be a prodigy. Definitely a suck up. Must have the greatest
connections of all time with that score.
"How did you fix your grades?"
"I didn't." Her face was stern and unchanging. Shut up now before you
get yourself in trouble, shithead.
"Really, then how the hell did you get MCL 27, you don't look like a
bookworm and your too old to be a child prodigy." There was a sudden,intense
downward pressure on his right foot, resulting in pain. "I'll shut up now."
"I hate dodge ball." Another ball whizzed past John's head, which was
supposed to be off limits. He regarded it as a minor attempt to embarrass
"Stay below the shoulders!" shouted Mr. Lynn from his corner of the
wood gym. At least he was paying attention. John saw two more balls soaring
in his general direction. He quickly adjusted his course to avoid them.
He noticed several Tetches hoarding balls in the far corner.
"Shit!" muttered the terrified Berrets. He let his primitive instincts
go into overdrive. He stopped thinking and started to simply react. He
no longer saw. He no longer heard. He no longer felt. His body spun and
twisted in a bizarre manner. All to avoid, to win. Pain left him there
was only the sensation of being prey, and winning the primitive game of
He cared not of fun or sportsmanship. His only thought was victory.He
could smell the sweet perfume of success. He could taste the delicious
pulp from the fruits of his labor. He was running along the edge between
life and death. Yet, he didn't care. Only victory.
Huge boulders flew past his head. The frequency of their arrival was
increasing and their accuracy was amazing. John felt his energy slipping
away. He noticed that he was almost alone on the basketball court save
some Teaches. Their numbers were dwindling.
The bell rang. Mr. Lynn jumped up. "That's it head to the locker room."
The boys began to pass through the door to their right, the girls their
left. John cursed all the while to his gym locker.
"Freak me!" Juno eyed him curiously. Will shut up before he said too
much. At least he didn't curse. Will concentrated way too much on competition,
even VR simulators got him worked up. It drove him crazy.Whenever he started
competing he lost all sense of reality. Worse still is when he daydreams
into other worlds where he's an animal running through say a jungle. He
muttered under his breath something approximate to "... mother-fucking
"Eh?" Juno's head turned in his direction, eyebrows raised and an inquisitive
expression upon her face.
"Said I hate field training. That's all." Will's voice was unusually
high pitched and his stomach was rolling over in knots.
"Oh, okay." She returned to fastening the strap on her boots. The boots
caught Will's eye they were... different. They looked like standard issue
Julie began shifting uncomfortably. "What the hell do you want?"
"Nothin." John pulled his head away from the water fountain and ran
towards his locker. Crap! Gotta learn to stop that. He reached his locker
and entered his combo. He sustained a chuckle as he opened the lock. He
still pictured the combo 6-15-18-13-5.F-O-R-M-E. For me, wasn't that what
it's all about? He emptied his backpack, only to refill it with books necessary
to complete tonight's homework.
Walking down the hall he went over the day's events in a list in his
Fight with mom
Lost lunch money
Owe Jesse Sowet $1.50
Missed history notes
Saw guidance counselor Played dodge ball
Freaked out Julie Nuemen
Failed science test
Not bad for one day. John was often sarcastic with himself. He rushed
down the stairs and out the back door.
John felt suddenly compelled to turn around. He did so just in time
to see three pissed off Tetches jump him. Fun. No better way to end a day
then with a random beating.
The three boys tackled him, sending his backpack flying across the schoolyard.
The four youths rolled across the grass in mass of flailing limbs. John
was pinned by one Tetche and was kicked and beaten by the other two.John
managed to wrestle himself free enough to grab a fallen branch.Still pinned
he beat one of them over the head with it. The kid kept kicking for about
three whacks before grabbing his bleeding head.
"Jesus Christ! My fuckin' head!"He then turned his attention to another
punk. He now clutched the stick with two hands and attempted to beat this
one's head in as well. After seeing the blood gushing from his companion,
John's antagonist wisely blocked his head. However he exposed the abs,
a prime target for John,one that he connected with, sending the boy sprawling
across the lawn.
Realizing it was one on one his third assailant fled, leaving the others
doubled-over in pain.
Will rose from the pavement and brushed the dust off his jacket. He
looked around for potential witnesses, finding none he advanced towards
his car. He paused briefly before entering, he could feel something...something
Robbs looked up not knowing what to be looking for and immediately noticed
a half-dozen suspicious characters lounging about the streets.Cautiously,
he opened the door, stepped in, and punched in his access code: 6-15-18-13-5.
Shaking off the thoughts he pressed the hover button, and set the accelerator
lever at 1/4. Relaxing he set the air car to auto-drive.Will checked the
N.E.T. for messages and dozed off, only to be awakenless than a minute
later by an incoming video relay.
"Robbs! You lazy son of a bitch!" It was the chief. He seemed to be
in a good mood.
"Yeh? Whasup?" Will still wasn't completely awake yet.
"You haven't done shit on the fucking Timms case!"
"Yeah, well I've been busy." Shit! Should not 'ave let that slip.
"Doing fucking what!"
"Stuff. Anyway it's too late start today."
"Listen you fucking-"
"Bye chief." And with that he shut down the video screen. "Now where
"Home." The car had reached its destination. Will activated the landing
sequence, and then stepped out and headed up the steps.
"I'm home," called out the sunken-hearted, slightly bruised, straight
"How was your day dear?" his mother replied halfheartedly. She was sitting,
watching TV and doing her nails. She looked at him through depressing,
"Just fine Mom." he returned in a dismal tone, scampering up the stairs
into his room. He opened the door as if he was using the last of his strength,
and lurched inside. He searched through the pile of cluttered paper and
crud that was his desk for his walkman. When he found it he grabbed a magazine,
flopped down on his bed and listened to the music emitted from within.
The song like all others on the tape was frighteningly depressing, the
melody seemed to call out "pull-up-a-chair, slit-open-a-wrist-music."
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