Maybe I should start at the beginning of my life; I could tell you about my birth and the circumstances surrounding it, about my mother and father – we could go back further and I could tell you how they met. But, as far as I can see, that would be pointless. It would be too much information to take in, so perhaps I should start just before it happened, just before everything kicked off and fucked up.
It started, like most days do, like any other day. Normal, mundane, boring as fuck. I woke up, had breakfast, and headed off to work. The train rattled, as it always did, along the line connecting my hometown to the city. At twenty-two, I was fresh out of University and two months into a job that I saw as a stepping stone, something to tide me over and let me pay the rent on my flat before I could find something that would let me put my degree to good use.
I'd spent three years living away from Cardiff, three years in Manchester and had decided that for the time being I'd live in a tiny, crappy one bedroom flat near my parents, work, save up some money and then either get a new, better job or go travelling. Either way, I didn't plan on staying in the Welsh capital for much longer.
There were, of course, a lot of things to sort out before I did move on; for starters, there was Clara. She was a nice enough girl at work who I had grown close to, fucked, and in return, potentially fucked up. I knew I had to tread carefully around her and make sure that when I did move on, when I did leave her and this shitty little city behind, she could move on too.
Still, I'd been in worse situations at University, especially regarding girls, and I had enough confidence to know that I'd get out of this one easily enough.
The train screeched to a halt and I found myself glancing out of the window, staring at the home of Cardiff's football team as it loomed up in the distance. If we were a few feet down the line, I'd be able to see the Millennium Stadium instead.
The people around me started to grumble, annoyed at the sudden stop. All of them had places to be, things to do – most, like me, were commuters, on their way to another day of mindless drone work.
I, frankly, did not care about the sudden stop. I took out my music player and flicked through the lists, looking for something different to listen to. I loved my IPod 2020. It was a few years old, but it had an insane amount of storage and I had all my favourites on there. Looking at it always reminded me of my parents' reaction when I opened it at Christmas one year. Both of them had remarked about the original IPods, about them coming out, followed by the IPhone and other Apple products.
My 2020 had some classics on it – Bowie and Queen from before even my parents were alive, Alkaline Trio and Blink-182, ripped from CDs my mother had had since she was a teenager, as well as a decent amount of new stuff. Smiling to myself, I put on my current favourite band – Victim by Skate started to play, and unable to resist the skills of their all too awesome drummer, I started to tap on my knees, following the rhythm quite skilfully, if I do say so myself.
The train lurched, before moving onwards.
It wasn't long before we reached the station, and one with the crowd, we moved off, navigating our way towards the stairs, ducking and weaving around people waiting to get on the train heading up into the valleys or making their own way up the stairs.
I hated the general public.
People in front of you moved too slowly, people behind were always in a rush, and idiots seemed to always stand right in front of you, stopping for some unknown reason or crashing into you and glaring like it was your fault.
Pretty soon I was sliding my ticket into the machine and then, suddenly, I was out in the fresh air, feet carrying me on my all too familiar route to work.
As usual, Clara bounded out of the coffee shop, halfway between the station and work. She fell into step beside me.
"Morning baby," she crooned, a bright smile lighting up her pretty face. "Good night?"
I shrugged, keeping my hands firmly planted in my pockets, not wanting her to get the wrong idea, although I knew it had gone too far to remedy the situation, to make her get the right idea. My fingers wrapped around the packet of cigarettes I had, my other hand gripping onto my lighter. "Same as usual, was alright. You?"
Same as usual equals Jake sitting in his flat, rolling a few joints and watching some random film that requires no level of intellectual thinking.
I still lived like I was at University, if I was honest.
"Yeah, was good."
She carried on talking, telling me all about her girls' night in, going into details about the films they had watched and everything that made them great. I tuned out as I lit up a cigarette, studying her out of the corner of my eyes. She was pretty, but she was also naive. The girl had turned eighteen just before starting at the office, and was one of the youngest there. Just over a month ago, we'd gone for a drink. Just us two. Somehow, we both ended up having more than just the one and had ended up back at my place. For the next week and a half we had repeated the night, something I now wish I hadn't done. Along the way, she'd got it into her head that we were in a relationship.
At least, I think she had.
I needed to cut this out.
"Great," I mumbled, when I thought it was appropriate. I was more than relieved when we finally arrived at work.
Immediately we made our way to the break room, the place we usually hung out before starting out shift. As we walked through the office space, I was surprised at how quiet it was. Normally, the taping of fingers on computer keyboards filled the space, or the chatter of workers with headsets jammed on, chatting shit to whoever was on the other end as they did their market research surveys. Right now though there were only a handful of people sitting at their desks and a couple of people milling around the water container.
I glanced at Clara.
The girl was frowning as she took in the same scene I was seeing. Studying her, I realised that she was struggling to keep the cheery grin on her face. A strange feeling had settled into my stomach. Something was wrong.
We slipped into the break room, greeting a few people on the same shift as us. The room was more packed than usual, people who should have been working already were gathered in here, staring at the television screen as the news played.
"Hey, Jake." Chuck glanced up at me from his seat on the table at the back of the room. I moved quickly towards him, lifting myself up onto the table as Clara slipped off to the adjacent kitchen.
"What's going on?" I gestured towards the television, noticing now how tired he looked, how worried. Chuck ran a hand through his hair.
"Don't you ever pay attention to the news?"
"Nah," I shrugged. "No time. Too depressing. Anyway, I've got you – why would I need to watch it when you tell me everything anyway?"
He rolled his eyes, before gesturing to the television. "Just watch it, Jake."
I turned, looking at the news reporter. Was it wrong that my first thought wasn't about the serious look on her face, but how much cleavage she was showing off?
"Once more, we return to the situation between Russia and the USA. The president of the United States of America has released a statement claiming that he was not bow to the demands of Russia in the release of the prisoners, three men who, America claim, were sent into the country as spies for the Russian government."
Over the last few weeks, Chuck had kept me updated on the situation as it had unfolded. Two guys had been bragging in a bar about being Russian spies. Idiotic, if you ask me. According to Chuck, who read a lot online, they were trying to impress a couple of women. They hadn't realised that they'd been overheard by a couple of American patriots, who had also managed to get the name of the third spy. Days later, and Chuck had told me that the three of them had been taken in custody.
I didn't understand why Russia wanted them back to badly; clearly, they were not great spies.
"This follows the statement released by Russia, containing hints that they may use force for the release of the three me. The fear is that the Russian government may resort to the use of nuclear weaponry..."
"Shit," Chuck muttered, hanging his head. He took a deep, shuddering breath. "This is not good."
"They won't actually use them, will I?" I asked, glancing towards him. Truth was, inside, I was terrified. Chuck was the bravest guy I'd ever known, and so street-smart it was unreal. Sometimes, I couldn't believe the amount of small detail he picked up on.
"You have no idea, Jake."
At twenty-six, Chuck stood about a foot taller than myself, a well-built guy who had come out of the Army the year before. Chuck had told me a few stories about his seven year stint serving the country but I was aware there was a lot he wasn't telling me. A few times he'd start talking about something and stop, suddenly. I didn't know if it was because of the short length of our friendship or because what he had seen was too bad to confront, but I couldn't imagine the kind of shit he may have gone through.
It wasn't just that Chuck was brave or strong, but he was clever too. Really intelligent, way above me or anyone else I knew, including the people I'd gone to University with. It always surprised me that Chuck never went to Uni, but he'd told me that he wasn't interested in it. The Army had been his first calling and, so far, his last.
I remembered studying the last century's Cold War in History, both at school and University. I'd heard stories from my grandparents about growing up with the constant threat of a nuclear war hanging over their heads.
Chuck had every right to be scared.
"Nothing came of the last Cold War," I informed Chuck, watching as he slowly lifted his head, gaze landing on Clara as she came from the kitchen, eyes drifting to the screen. "Anyway, they're threatening the US, not us. Dude, we're an ocean away."
"Yeah, but we're the closest allies to the US," Chuck muttered, running a hand through his hair. "You didn't hear the statement, Jake. It's scary, man. These three guys must be important for Russia to want them back so badly. And what better country to use as a threat than the good ol' UK, a sitting duck in the middle of the ocean?"
I frowned, watching as Clara sipped at her coffee. Black, two sugars. I'd made it for her enough times.
"They were bragging about it, right in the middle of a bar," I scoffed. "Must be dumb spies."
"There's something dodgy about that," he replied, biting his bottom lip as Clara turned away from the screen and approached us. "You alright, Clara?"
Slowly, too slowly, Clara nodded. "Yeah."
"You sure?" Chuck pushed off the table, stepping towards her. She gave him a small smile, and I found myself wondering why he was so concerned about my little fuck buddy.
"Look, don't worry about it, alright? I'm sure your mum will be fine."
"Yeah, 'course!" she chirped. "I'll see you guys at lunch." With that, she raised her hand in a goodbye wave and disappeared out the door. I frowned at Chuck, as he shook his head.
"What's up with her mum?" I swung my legs, the heel of my feet bouncing off the legs of the table.
"Bloody hell, Jake, how much do you know about her?" He stared at me with a look of disbelief, and I felt heat rise to my face, ashamed. I swear, Chuck was one of the few people who could make me feel really guilty about anything. "Her mum works in Russia, as a translator. If this all kicks off, she could come into deep shit."
"She's not involved though, is she?"
Chuck rolled his eyes.
"No, but she's British. If things get out of hand, especially if our wonderful government get involved, then they'll pick up on her nationality."
I grinned, wryly, at the sarcastic tone on wonderful. So much crap had kicked off since the early teens that barely anyone had faith in Westminster anymore. We were lucky – the Welsh Assembly looked after their own. It was the English I felt most sorry for.
"So you think Clara's worried, then?"
"Maybe. I don't know. Seriously, you should know more than me about this, Jake!"
I shrugged, before pushing myself off the table and slipping my jacket off. I hung it up on one of the pegs provided, and followed Chuck out of the door.
"Well, you should care more, anyway."
I had no reply to that, so silently I followed him into the large room that served as a kind of 'briefing' base. We went here, were given tasks to do and then carried them out. Usually for me this meant little more than filing and sorting out papers, adding the company stamp to orders. Boring, mundane jobs. Sometimes I got lucky and got to actually make phone calls!
All of this for a guy with a God damn degree.
After we were given our orders for the day, we were sent to do our thing. Me and Chuck sat at our desk, flicking through documents and checking them for spelling mistakes and clerical errors. It was stupid, in the age of technology, how many people forget to check Spell-check. Or just didn't check through their work. Lazy bastards kept us in a job, at least.
I let out a yawn, drawing Chuck's eyes to my face.
"You ok, mate?"
Good ol' Chuck, always worried about his mates.
"You seem tired lately. You getting enough sleep."
"Sure," I shrugged, eyes falling back to the papers. Truth was, I wasn't. I'd suffered bouts of insomnia since I was a kid, ever since my oldest brother had died. It came and went, and had struck me again a few weeks prior. A joint usually helped, or a couple of drinks. The insomnia also stopped me from pushing Clara away – if she was at my place, I didn't have to spent sleepless nights alone.
"Just checking," Chuck muttered, continuing with his work, sending worried, curious glances towards me every now and then.
A/N: So, here's the revised version of Into the Night - if you want to read the old, completed version, I'm leaving it up here. Anyway, I finally decided on a timeline for this - Jake's parents were 20 when he was born, and he was born in 2010, making the year for the events of Into the Night 2032. As always, comments, critique etc are always welcome and I repay all decent reviews. I'll try to get chapter two up in the next week or so, if I can.