Hello readers! Well there's the next chapter, and I've got to give you a little warning about this one. It gets a bit graphic and may be pushing the T rating to its limits, but I couldn't seem to really get the point across without it all. I promise the next chapter won't be nearly as dark and depressing, in fact, it's probably going to be pretty action-packed. And for those of you who do read this, please don't forget to review! I really want feedback on how this story's going and what I could improve. Any feedback is good feedback!
Almost out of the introduction at this point!
And here we go!
Marshall tried his hardest not to wake up at all the next day. Besides being genuinely exhausted and hoping the excess sleep might do him good, he was not looking forward to the doctor's next visit. In fact, the majority of what he could remember of his dream involved himself escaping the white walls of his confinement, tracking down the elderly man, and making him regret what he said.
He never did kill him though, he saved that for a different kind of person.
When he finally did wake, it was because his stomach had started making audible noises. He ignored it for a period of time with his eyes remaining closed, hoping that as long as they thought he was sleeping, he wouldn't be bothered, but then felt something was wrong.
If he was this hungry, he would have had to miss a couple meals, but they never let him do that before. Was it because of what he said yesterday? Had they decided he was incurable? Were they going to just let him starve to death? He really doubted it, they didn't seem like the people to be deterred by nothing more than a criminal's outburst.
No, something was about to happen, he just had to wait for it.
As it turned out, he didn't have to wait long.
It seemed like only minutes later he heard the door open with an loud click. His eyes flickered to the doorway and he saw Officer Swanson, in person, carrying a food tray.
"I believe we have things to discuss, Mr. Meyers," she said, setting the tray on the white surface of the desk. "Please have a seat."
"I think I like it better over here," he replied, not taking his eyes off the woman. Wary of the reasons behind her personal visit, he was reluctant to obey anything she said.
"Very well," she said. She pulled a folder out of her gray pantsuit, looked at if for a moment, and then glanced up at Marshall. "Look familiar?"
His name was printed boldly on top. It was that same folder he'd been given on his first night in the institution, his personal files. He nodded curtly.
"It wasn't hard to get our hands on this, only took a few years of watching and listening. You're not a very careful person, you really made it too easy." She was watching him carefully, as if waiting for him to react. He wouldn't do it, not this time, not after yesterday. He wasn't going to let them win anymore.
"It's almost never a challenge," she went on, "And we keep records for everyone, every single person that catches our interest. Can you imagine what that's like? Thousands and thousands of files, all on people who have never even been filtered through the normal system."
"Why are you telling me all of this?" Something in the way the officer was bragging didn't feel right, like she was giving him too much information.
"You were right before, you are a slow learner." She smiled, or what she passed for a smile, and set the folder on the desk next to his food tray. "Like I said, we keep records of everyone who we feel are interesting. And we find that a few your kind of people, Mr. Meyers, are some of the most interesting of them all."
"My kind of people?"
"Those friends of yours that you meet in dark alleyways."
"They weren't my kind of people," he replied darkly, trying to focus on cracking his knuckles instead of how much the woman's words bothered him.
"Maybe, but they are the kind of people that interest you, even more so than they interest us."
"And why do they interest you?"
"Because some of them, ones that you might meet if we left you to the streets, are just like you."
Marshall clenched his teeth. "They're nothing like me."
Officer Swanson raised an eyebrow in contempt. "Oh really? You think you have nothing in common?"
"Sure, I'm an asshole, but you've got to be some lowlife to do what they've done."
"You mean sell drugs?" She asked, but received no answer. "You believe that drug dealers are worse than murderers?"
"You did the homework, you know they weren't just street corner druggies."
"I find it hard to believe after yesterday that the drugs have nothing to do with it."
He knew that she wanted to drag him back to where the doctor had left him yesterday, to get a rise out of him, and it was hard not to give it to her. Of course the drugs – and his mother's murder – had to do with why the killings started. They'd been the trigger that set everything in motion. But it wasn't because they were dealers that he hated them, just very often the selling of drugs were linked to what he hated most.
What he hated, was a certain kind of person, a kind of person he considered to be the scum of the earth. The first time he'd met someone like that was when he was ten years old. The man's name, as he later came to know, was Adam Irvine. He had been his mother's dealer, and when she failed to pay for one of her hook-ups, he became her killer.
Marshall remembered the night very clearly, almost as clearly as he could still picture the man's face. The dealer had been pounding on the door in the middle of the night, screaming his mother's name. She was crying, yelling at him through the door to go away, that the money would come soon. But he wanted the money now, and wasn't leaving. Eventually his mother scratched together any and all cash she could find, hoping that it would at least silence him for the night.
She opened the door just a crack and stuck out her hand with the small amount of cash, and was met with the barrel of a gun pointed at her forehead. She didn't even have time to scream before the trigger was pulled. Marshall remembered seeing the man's cold, dead eyes stare at the body at his feet, not having noticed Marshall, and the slur of ugly language he used as he pried the cash from her fingers and raced back down the stairs. Marshall remembering seeing a man who had lost his humanity, someone with no pity or sympathy for people. He seemed inhuman.
And though Adam Irvine had been the first man Marshall met like this, and his first kill, he was not the last. As he lived on the streets he heard more and more names with worse and worse reputations. Serial killers, psychotic rapists, and so many just like the first one: dealers with highly addictive drugs at unaffordable rates. He would watch them for a time, making sure that they were as bad as described; that they lacked any kind of sympathy or understanding for humanity; that they deserved more than death. He would usually find that they had more blood on their hands than he did.
It was that kind of person he killed. He was a killer of killers.
"The drugs don't matter anymore," Marshall told her.
She smiled, and pulled out a second folder from her suit, this one wasn't labeled. "Tell me, Mr. Meyers, what would you do if you knew what we knew?" she asked.
"About whom," she corrected. "About all those 'lowlifes,' as you called them."
He eyed her suspiciously, just what was she playing at? Handing him that kind of information would be like supplying him with a hit-list, and an extensive one at that. "You know what I would do with that information."
"I believe I do," she replied. "What if I told you then, Mr. Meyers, that'd we'd be willing to give you that information."
Marshall pushed himself into a sitting position on the cot and glared at the officer. "Why the hell would you do that?"
"Don't you want it?"
He had to admit to himself that it wasn't so much that he wanted it, but that he needed it, just like he needed to force those lowlifes off the street.
"Depends what I have to do to get it," he replied.
"Nothing you haven't already done."
"I've done a lot of things, be more specific."
"You'll have your list of names once you've cleared off ours." So they had a hit list of their own? What kind of government facility was this?
"You want to make me into a mercenary?"
She made a strange intake of breath, as if it was supposed to be a laugh. "I consider mercenary a step up from murderer." Marshall raised his eyebrows at the woman. She couldn't be serious, they were keeping him here not because he was 'sick' but because they needed someone to clean up for them? Why were the others here, then? They couldn't honestly be trying to turn a kid like Allie into a contracted killer, could they?
"You seem surprised," said Officer Swanson.
"We're not asking you to kill off the innocent, just those who are posing serious threats to our country and its people. That's no different than what you were doing before, is it not? But this time you'll have financial aid, protection, and anything else you need to be effective and efficient." Marshall had to admit, she made it sound like a good deal, but he couldn't put his trust in anything she said, it just didn't feel right.
"What if I refuse?"
"Then you're no longer interesting to us, though, I do believe the federal courts would love to get their hands on you. How would you like to be in a room worse than this for life?"
But something told him he wouldn't make it to the courts, not with the information they'd given him. Something about this institution felt highly illegal. Either way, he felt neither option left him with a very promising future.
"Guess I have no choice but to say 'yes,'" he said. God, he felt like he was making a deal with the devil.
The officer looked down at him without interest, as if she'd known all along exactly how this conversation was going to go. "Good," she said, "Then consider this an early payment." She set the blank folder on the desk and quickly left the room.
Sure that she was a good distance from his room, Marshall finally got up from his bed and walked over to the desk where his food and folders sat. Responding first to the pain in his stomach, he tore open the package, pulled out a stuffed sandwich, and took a gigantic bite.
Satisfied with having food crammed into his mouth, he turned to the blank folder, which sat ominously on the white surface. He pushed the front cover open with his index finger and began to read the print on the first page. From a first glance, it looked exactly like his own files, with receipt records, surveillance shots, and more, but only a second later he realized that it wasn't himself this time that he was reading about, but a stranger. The label on the top of the page read "Resident Information: Memphis Murderer" which left Marshall questioning why he was given this stranger's file – until he reached the section titled, "Reasons for Interest," which read out as:
Sources gathered intelligence of a serial killer and robber who sparked panic late July, 1990, in Memphis, Tennessee. Responsible for the murders of eight people, one of which was only two years old, who was reportedly killed by the subject for no reason. Notorious for his one-man heist on a local bank which left three dead and thirty thousand dollars stolen. Experts speculate that he may be suffering from a psychotic disorder.
Was this the information to one of "his people" Officer Swanson had been talking about? He began looking through the pictures, most of which were taken from surveillance cameras, and quickly realized that this man was exactly the kind of person he went after.
Pictures chronicled him disappearing into homes, most of which where later shown covered in police tape. The worst pictures were those of police documents that displayed the bodies of victims who had happened to come across the man during his crime sprees, including that of the reported two year old victim and his murdered mother. Growing enraged with the stranger, just as he had when he learned of all those other awful scum bags, he read on to the "Current Status." It read:
Name: Andrew Evan Carter
Weight: 162 lbs.
Classification: Invalid, Class 1
Status: Deserted October 20th, 1996. Now believed to be living alone in Salinas, California.
Marshall stared at the paper. They'd given him a location, name, and picture. Were they actually giving him permission to kill this man, is that what she meant by "an early payment?" He rubbed the back of his neck, and leaned back in his chair. Something just wasn't sitting right with him. Something was off.
His thoughts drifted to Allie and how she came to be in this place. What purpose could these people have for her? If what he'd just been told was any indication, it was nothing good. She didn't deserve this, she was only a kid.
He had to warn her somehow on what was going on.
Kid, he thought. Kid, please answer me. It's important. But he got no answer.
Come on, Kid, answer me! Only silence.
'Bout time you learned my name, she thought, if maybe a little hesitantly. What do you want, killer?
Look, you need to know something about this place.
She didn't answer right away, as if she was searching his head for something. I'm listening.
He relayed everything that Officer Swanson had told him to her, no longer feeling the need to edit out information – she already knew the worst. I think they brought us here as mercenaries, he added at the end.
It took you this long to figure that out?
He was surprised by how quickly her bossy nature came back to her. What?
Of course we're here as tools for the higher ups. Why else do you think they'd pick us? 'Talented' people with virtually no family or ties to keep them safe. We're perfect.
You never said any of this before.
I didn't trust you before.
What the hell did she mean by that? Was she suggesting that she trusted him now? That made no sense, she knew he was dangerous now.
You're not dangerous to me, you may think you are, but I know you aren't.
You don't know what the hell you're talking about.
I'm a smart kid.
Marshall thought about this for moment. She was right, she was smart, but she was also just a kid. A kid in a mercenary camp. Why are you here?
I don't know exactly yet, she thought, sounding pretty pissed of on her lack of information. It didn't suit a know-it-all to not know what was going on. It seems like class twos are here for a different reason than you people. From what I've heard we're here more as test subjects than anything. There's some of us that have been here for years and still don't know why.
Something in the pit of Marshall's stomach relaxed. So the kid might not be forced into the violence after all.
See? You're not a bad guy after all, she thought, sensing his last thoughts.
He shook his head, as if she could see it. I wish you were right, kid.
Trust me. I wasn't sure at first, most of you mercenaries are the worst kind of people, but you're different than them.
God, he wished he was different from those lowlifes, but he had to face it – he wasn't. A killer's a killer.
No, listen, you're a special kind of class one that these people look for. They call it a Cleaner.
They use cleaners to get rid of the real mercenaries once they're through with them. Cleaners are picked because they aren't motivated by any of the usual stuff – money, drugs, power, etc. They do it for justice. Most of them do what the law can't. They're vigilantes.
You make it sound like I'm some kind of superhero.
Maybe you are.
I'm no superhero. A villain, maybe, but no hero.
Only superheroes deny being superheroes.
He had to hand it to her, she held up her own in an argument. She'd make a damn good lawyer.
I want to be a therapist, she thought, answering his thoughts. He had to learn that he couldn't think freely as long as she was around.
And what, boss your patients into feeling better? He laughed to himself as he pictured her, all grown up and sassy as ever. And then another thing occurred to him, something he tried to push out of his mind as soon as it entered in fear of her seeing it. Would she ever get the chance to do any of that? But as it turned out, she did hear.
Marshall, I'm not going to be staying here for much longer.
We're escaping. Since the first day I woke up here I've been working on a way out, and it won't be much longer.
How? Who's we?
A lot of class two's and a few other class ones – it's hard to pick the good ones from the bad ones so it's taken me a while to sort out who to take with us. It turns out that the institution doesn't actually know all, and don't know about a few of our secret talents.
Like a little girl who can orchestrate a mass breakout?
Exactly. She sounded so smug in his head. Anyways, it's all set and ready to go. We're leaving tomorrow.
Isn't it a little dangerous tell me this? What if I told them about your plan?
You shouldn't trust me.
Well I do. Besides, you wouldn't tell anyone. We're breaking you out with us.
I thought you said you sorted the good ones from the bad ones.
I did, and you can deny it all you want, but you're coming with us.
Marshall didn't argue anymore about the topic. Allie seemed to take it as him giving up. She smiled internally.
I'll see you tomorrow then, she thought, Don't go to bed to early, old man, or you might miss it.