A Nissan Almera is called a B-10 in America.
A formerly silver, now grey, 2003 Nissan B-10 rattled down a completely uninhabited road in the very definition of the middle of nowhere.
The car was occupied by a mid sixty-ish couple one of whom, the woman to be specific, was fastidiously studying a torn map that had obviously been balled up in petulant frustration many times before.
"Im telling ya Merle" she said in a bored drawl "There aint no fuckin gas station round these parts"
"And Im tellin you ya shit for brains cunt" Shot back the one called Merle "That I saw a god damed sign for gas. So keep fuckin lookin!"
"Were lost Merle. Soon as you get that through your thick fuckin skull the sooner we can turn around and go the right fuckin way. The way I told you to!"
Merle reflexively punched the dashboard of his car, sending up a cloud of ancient dust.
"If you say that one more fuckin time!"
"Were lost! were lost! were lost!"
"Shut your god damn mouth you dried up old bitch before I put my fuckin fist through it!"
The threat worked and Merle continued driving his car, for it was his car, as he liked to remind everyone who rode in it, not that being the sole owner of a 2003 Nissan B-10 with no working air conditioner, no rear view mirror, bald tires and broken tail lights was anything to be proud of.
Merle and his wife, who's name was Shelly, though having almost been exclusively called either 'Cunt' or 'Bitch' for the past twenty years one could be forgiven for not thinking the knowledge of her name important, continued to drive on in dust filled silence.
The radio did not play, Merle hated music.
The windows were not rolled down, despite the heatwave outside.
It was a boiling, dusty, airless ride for miles and miles through nothingness with only occasional roadkill to denote the fact that civilization had not abandoned this place completely.
You may wonder why anyone would subject themselves to this torture. The reason was because Merle, and therefore his wife, was making his annual visit to his sister in Georgia. His sister had married into money and so the only reason Merle bothered to trek cross country was to ensure he hadn't been written out of the will yet.
Merle was the middle class equivalent of new money, as pathetic as that sounds, he attained this dubious distinction purely because he detested the very idea of spending his own money.
In the shimmering horizon there came a break in the monotony of the road that grew larger and larger as the trembling car approached.
It was a sign.
Merle, who frankly had given up hope for a gas station miles ago and was now driving this road purely out of his refusal to give his wife the satisfaction, held his breath and offered a silent prayer to God that it was what he thought it was.
And on this occasion God smiled, albeit begrudgingly, upon his creation. The sign read 'Amadeus Garage : Gas and Mechanic'
"Ya see ya god dammed whore brained bitch!? I fuckin told ya there was a gas station round here didn't I?"
"Yeah and it only took yeh two fuckin hours to find!" snapped his wife waspishly.
Merle told her to shut her fucking mouth before he knocked every fucking tooth out of it as he pulled over onto the dusty shoulder of the road and into the court yard of the most depressing gas station in the world.
It consisted of a single desolate pump that dispensed both gasoline and diesel, a single brick building that had probably been whitewashed sometime during the last century which contained a store and finally a closed garage with the rusting hulk of a once beautiful 1969 Boss Mustang on cinder blocks.
Through the long window of the shop Merle could see a man sitting inside behind the counter reading a thick leather bound book.
"Stay here. Don't touch my fuckin stuff" he ordered his wife.
Merle got out of the car and removed the cap from his fuel tank and began filling the car up.
He watched the dollars rise and began to slow down as he came up to ten dollars.
"Fuck! God damn it!" He exclaimed as he accidentally passed the ten dollar value by one cent.
He put the nozzle back into the pump and walked towards the shop, vaguely aware that his wife had turned the radio on, something which came under 'touching my stuff', he'd deal with her later.
The interior of the store was abandoned, save for the man at the counter, and just as depressing as the outside. The shelves were almost barren and contained mostly foodstuffs out of date by several months and a strangely plentiful supply of cleaning products.
A speaker system spat static while it played 'No rest for the wicked' on a low volume, to enhance the shopping experience.
There was a rack of sunglasses with a mirror. Merle looked in it to admire himself. He was vain, not that there was much to be vain about. The top of his head was bald but the sides grew bristly thick white hairs. His face was gaunt and heavily lined and he sported a wiry white hitler mustache, permanently stained vomit yellow in the middle from decades of smoking.
Along the far wall were two refrigerators, one empty with an out of order sign hanging on its handle the other humming away nicely and containing a selection of sodas. Merle opened the glass door and rummaged around for the cheapest drink he could find, an ancient 7up for one dollar.
He pulled it out and made his way to the other end of the store where the shopkeeper sat on a bar stool engrossed in reading.
The man looked like he was rapidly approaching middle age, with dark hair and a forgettable face.
As Merle got closer he saw the man was reading The Count of Monte Cristo. He wore a black polo shirt with 'Amadeus Garage' stitched beneath the crest and a name tag pinned over his heart that read 'Hello my name i Y, How can I help you?'
Merle brought the bottle of 7up down on the counter.
"Got ten dollars of gas too"
Jerrys eyes flashed above the rim of the book at the 7up and then at the meter under the counter that told how much gasoline had been pumped.
"Eleven dollars and one cent please" came the reply as he cast his eyes back down to the book.
Merle dug his seldom used wallet out and peeled two bank notes from it and slapped it down on the counter.
Jerry looked down at it.
"And one cent"
"What!?" demanded Merle.
"And one cent, I said" came the laconic reply.
"What the hell are you talkin about boy!?"
"You bought eleven dollars and one cent worth of goods. You owe me a cent" came the dispassionate reply.
"I aint paying you shit. One fuckin cent are you fuckin serious boy!?"
"Im afraid I cant let you leave without paying for what you bought"
"One fuckin cent are you shittin me!?"
"Afraid so" replied jerry, turning a page.
"You're a son of a bitch ya'know that? I want to speak to your fuckin manager!"
"I am the manager"
Merle floundered for words, he was essentially a coward, a loudmouth coward, but a coward nonetheless and so he instantly buckled under the aura of the younger man.
"Fine. You want one fuckin cent !? Here boy ! Have it and fuck off!"
Merle stuffed his pudgy; tobacco stained fingers into his wallet and pulled out a single one cent coin. He raised it above his head and threw it with as much force as he could at the coin bounced off the hard wood and struck Jerry square in the forehead.
Jerry blinked and folded over a corner of the page he was reading and shut the book.
Then with a finesse and speed usually reserved for the ballet Jerry dived beneath the counter and grabbed a shotgun, pivoted on his feet while he rose and cocked the gun. He brought the barrel around in one fluid movement and pulled the trigger between the old mans eyes.
The realization of what was happening entered Merles brain just as the shell did.
The old mans head was blasted clean off his shoulders and his body crumpled to a bloody heap on the floor.
Jerry turned to look out the window. He saw an old lady in the car bobbing her head in tune to the radio, oblivious of what was about to happen to her.
Jerry made his way around the counter, stepped over the corpse of the man, and went outside, humming along to 'No rest for the wicked' as he aimed the shotgun and fired it at the woman. She died instantly and unknowingly in a burst of blood, bone and gore.
Jerry sighed and lowered the gun. He was already sweating in the heat and it was only the late morning. He knew he didn't have much time to move the bodies and clean up before putrefaction set in.
"No rest indeed" he murmured.
Suddenly the door of the shop burst open and another man, older than Jerry, with a shaved head and thick rimmed glasses and another shot gun, also wearing an Amadeus Garage shirt with a name tag that read 'Sander', raced out aiming wildly.
"You can calm down" said Jerry nonchalantly, moving towards the car. "Ive dealt with the problem"
Sander lowered his gun and let out a sigh of frustration.
"Light of Christ man what the fuck happened this time!?"
"Nothin!? What the fuck do you call this!?"
"I told you. Nothin. Old man tried some shit on me and I blew him away. Had to get this one too."
Sander sighed again, this time with exasperation.
"Are you going to help me with this or are you just going to bitch for the rest of the day?" asked Jerry who was reaching into the car to release the handbrake.
"Ok I'll help you move that body out of the heat but I am absolutely not helping you clean this time"
"Fair enough" replied Jerry, who knew perfectly well that a neat freak like Sander would eventually have to help with the clean up because he could never find peace until every speck of blood was vaporized.
The pair worked quickly to open the door to the small garage and push the death filled car inside.
"I'll take this below, you clean up that mess you left inside" ordered Sander and he closed up the squealing garage shutter, leaving his colleague standing in the windless summer morning.
Jerry had disposed of the remains of the old man by cutting his limbs off and putting them into separate plastic bags and incinerating them and the torso together in the electric furnace behind the garage.
While the body was being reduced to ash Jerry began the far more arduous task of mopping the floor.
He was half way through when the refrigerator with the 'out of order sign' hanging on it swung forward on a set of hidden hinges revealing a narrow concrete corridor terminating in a flight of stairs. Sander stepped out of the new opening, mop in hand, and fussily shooed Jerry away.
"Light of Christ you just made it worse. Ah for Gods sake look at this shit you only spread it around. Some day some fucking day..." Sander's frustrated mumbling became incoherent and so Jerry took it as a sign to return to his original post.
"I got a message from Central a few hours ago" He said to Sander "You weren't in though"
"What did it say" asked Sander through gritted teeth as he aggressively mopped a particularly stubborn piece of brain matter.
"Incoming in a couple of hours. Export at half past seven to the city"
"Sensible of them for once" replied Sander.
Jerry picked up The Count of Monte Cristo and commenced reading once more.
"Did you read the report from last night yet?" asked Sander suddenly.
"Sure I did. I wrote it." replied Jerry.
"And? You aren't concerned?"
"It wasn't anything we haven't seen before"
"It grew fifty percent!"
"You worry too much. It grows and it shrinks. Thats what it does"
"Sometimes I think you want to see us all killed" sighed Sander, returning to his mopping.
Two hours later Jerry was alone once more. The floor was pristine. In fact it was too pristine and so it stood out against the unwashed parts of the old laminated tiles.
This might pose a problem in some places. But, as is already clear, the Amadeus Garage was not an ordinary gas station.
Engrossed in his book once more Jerry heard the sound of an approaching car. It grew louder and louder until eventually a yellow family sedan pulled up in the court yard. To anyone else this car would look like a completely normal car. However Jerry was not like anyone else and he could see what most could not. The car's suspension was low down clearly indicating that it was carrying a lot of weight, Jerry happened to know that this car was heavily armored and held a body in the trunk.
It was a familiar sight, one he looked forward to in his mostly uneventful shifts at the counter.
Jerry put the book down and watched as the door opened and out stepped a person that Jerry did not recognize.
A man in a cheap business suit who was clearly of South American descent got out and looked straight at Jerry and nodded.
Jerry raised a quizzical eyebrow, he had not been told that the previous owner of the yellow armored car had been replaced.
The new face entered the store and walked right up to the counter. He had a surgically styled shaved head and wore a pair of aviator sunglasses.
"Please sir" he asked in a thick Texan accent "could you sell me some Marlboro menthol cigarettes and the foot of a Belgian crow?"
"I can sell you the crow" replied Jerry "But you will have to walk for the cigarettes"
The new comer smiled and extended his hand.
"I was shitting myself the whole way thinking I was going to fuck that line up."
Jerry offered his hand cautiously and they shook.
"Agent Jericho" replied Jerry, who will be referred to as Jericho from now on "and you are?"
Jericho suddenly screamed loudly and slapped his hands over his ears.
"LA LA LA LA Dont say another fucking word!" he ordered.
The new comer gaped at Jericho "I-Im sorry?"
"Listen!" began Jericho "This looks like your first day so I'll give you rule number one for free. Everyone who works here doesn't want to know anything about you. We don't want to know your name, your Mothers maiden name. Fuck we don't even want to know what your farts smell like do I make myself clear? When I asked who you were I meant your call sign"
A worried look crossed the new comers face "I uh didn't get one"
Jericho rolled his eyes and mumbled "Typical" under his breath.
"Are you with Central at least?" he asked to the new comer.
"Central?" came the apologetic reply.
"Wait a minute. Who sent you here?"
"Ehh a guy who called himself Mercury."
"Oh I don't believe it" groaned Jericho
"Im sorry. Have I done something wrong?"
Jericho sighed and made the decision that taking his innate contempt for incompetence out on the new guy would not benefit proceedings.
"No you haven't done anything wrong exactly. Just the guy who hired you did. You are a freelancer right?"
"Ok we'd better give you a temporary call sign until we can get Central to sort this mess out"
Jericho cast his gaze about the room until his eyes fell upon a bottle of floor cleaner that Sander had been using earlier.
"We will call you Mr Sheen for now ok? Or maybe just Sheen for short." said Jerry.
"Thats ok. Do you want to take a look at whats in the trunk?"
"No not here. I'll get Agent Sand Castle to take it down in a few minutes, leave the keys on the counter for him. Come with me and we'll get the paperwork sorted out"
Jericho got off the barstool and walked around the counter and towards the broken refrigerator and opened it.
He indicated for Sheen to follow him into the corridor and down the stairs.
They descended three flights before they reached a bank of elevators and a small crammed office with an armory, a small portrait of President Trump hung on the wall below a larger portrait of Pope Francis.
Sander was sitting at a desk in the office typing on a late nineties electric typewriter that just screamed either severe budget cuts or hipster pretensions, Sheen couldn't decide which.
"Agent Sand Castle. Meet Agent Mercury's replacement, Mr Sheen."
Sand Castle looked up and shook Sheen's hand before throwing a searching look at Jericho.
"Another freelance it seems" came the reply to the unasked question.
Sand Castle grimaced but managed to turn it into a tight smile.
"Keys on the counter?" he asked.
Sheen and Jericho nodded in unison and without a word Sand Castle got up and climbed up the flight of stairs.
"Take a seat" offered Jericho, who had begun rummaging around in an antique wooden cabinet stuffed with files.
Sheen sat down on the only available chair in the office.
"Don't mind Sand Castle. He's always been a prick" said Jericho over his shoulder, attempting to defuse the tension he had built
"What do you guys do here?" asked Sheen.
The sound of Jericho's rummaging suddenly stopped and a small groan of frustration could be picked out.
"Mercury didn't tell you?" came the eventual response.
"He told me about the drugs and shit. But he didn't tell me about the whole kidnapping thing"
There was a pregnant pause as realization dawned upon Jericho.
"Do... Do you know who you are working for?" he asked slowly, dreading the answer.
"I guessed you guys were a cartel?"
Jericho closed his eyes and fought back the black rage that was boiling in his stomach.
"Mr Sheen at this point I have no option but to brief you on the activities of containment station Amadeus. What you are about to hear is a level four state secret and is for your ears only. Revealing this secret to anyone is punishable by death and the death of your family and friends and the death of the person you told, their family and their friends. If you do not wish to know this secret, for whatever reason, federal law mandates that I give you three seconds to make your intention known."
Three seconds passed in dead silence.
"Very well" continued Jericho "Under presidential secret decree 576-X this containment station was set up during the Kennedy administration in order to produce and distribute illegal narcotics for the purposes of generating a source of income to further operations of the CIA that the federal government is unable to allocate funds to. In this station we produce Cocaine, Heroin and Methamphetamine, in all their derivative forms too. However we also perform other activities here that may involve you in some way. We are forbidden from telling you what those activities are beyond what is necessary for you to perform your job to a satisfactory extent. Therefore I will tell you that from time to time you will be required to trawl the hospitals, rehab clinics and various places where drug addicts can be found in this sector to corral a certain type of individual and bring them here, I will show you a map of the extent of this sector later. These individuals are given the designation of 'psyker'. They may or may not be dangerous or evasive to your efforts at bringing them here, but no matter what happens it is your duty to bring them to this station alive, we will not tolerate a single death of a psyker. As well as this it will also be your duty to witness the registration of all psykers you bring to this station."
Jericho trailed off and gazed at Sheen impassively, silently weighing the mans response.
Finally Sheen smiled and said "Thats some Scientology level horseshit right there."
Jericho gave him a wry smile "It doesn't matter what you think of it. Just as long as you do your job properly."
"Should I ask for a pay raise then?"
Jericho rolled his eyes and shoved a white card and an ink pad at him.
"Don't worry. We just need your finger prints."
They spent the next hour filling out tedious bits and pieces of paper, answering questions of all sorts of topics from horticulture to sci-fi tropes.
Sheen had no idea what any of these questions had to do with anything but he supposed that each answer he gave had a special meaning to someone somewhere in this operation and so he felt it best to answer as honestly as he could.
Jericho finally threw down his pen and clipboard and clapped Sheen on the back.
"Thats all for now. Don't worry about all that, it doesn't bear thinking about. Used to be we had a psychologist who would analyze your results immediately to make sure you weren't a psycho but we don't bother with that anymore, budget cuts. We'd better go down to general, Sand Castle must be ready by now."
Sheen Followed Jericho out of the office and into one of the elevators outside.
A long list of illuminated buttons lined the wall and beside them they had name plates.
1st : Watch station/Admissions
2nd: General Operations
7th: Generator/Defense Station
Jericho thumbed the button for General Operations and they descended.
When the doors slid open they found themselves in a vast concrete bunker Before them were two cars. One of which had been riddled with bullet holes and the other was the yellow sedan Sheen had been driving earlier.
Sheen looked up above the cars and saw that there was a hole in the ceiling that lead up to the garage, this was clearly some kind of lift for heavy machinery.
The trunk of the yellow sedan was open and as Jericho strode past it he slammed the lid shut. They made their way towards a door on the far end where a small crack of light emanated.
Within were two people, Sand Castle and an obvious meth head. The room was a blue and white tiled clinic lined with filing cabinets and metal tables holding lethal looking medical instruments.
The meth head was strapped to a dentists chair and had a macabre lattice of small metal bars braced around her head. It reminded Sheen of A Clockwork Orange but the sterile clinical nature of this apparatus made it somewhat more unsettling.
The meth heads mouth was forced open with a medical speculum and her eyes rolled manically in their sockets.
"I thought you'd never come" said Sand Castle wryly "Are we ready to get this shit show on the road?"
Jericho nudged Sheen "Don't worry. You don't have to do anything, just watch and make sure nothing weird happens."
Jericho didn't seem to grasp of the irony of his statement.
The two men sat beside Sand Castle and watched as the agent removed the speculum from the drug addicts mouth. She immediately began shouting at the top of her lungs, spouting paranoid garbage about encroaching doom, blood moons, fallen towers and the birth of a god of death.
"A-a-a-a- woman will have a child but it will rot in her womb and she will give birth to a hive of wasps. This is a sign! A sign of the end! A sign A sign! A sign! The end approaches"
Sheen glanced wide eyed at Jericho who had produced a notebook and was feverishly writing down the rapid ravings in short hand.
"I think that will be enough to go on for now" said Sand Castle, stuffing the speculum into the Meth heads mouth.
"Key words. Blood moon, death god, wasps, fallen tower" said Jericho, tearing several pages out of his notebook.
Sand Castle then produced a thick ring binder from one of the cabinets and began flicking through laminated pages.
"Lets see lets see. Death god... Death god. Ah here we are. Classic Gestalt interpretation of the end of days prophecy. That makes our friend here at least a class five psyker. Meth section will be pleased"
"Wait a fucking minute!" interjected Sheen "Are you telling me this bitch just predicted the end of the world?"
"She predicted one of several known scenarios that could play out in the future that involve the end of the world." corrected Sand Castle.
"What are you saying you believe this horseshit?" demanded Sheen.
"Our opinions on the matter are irrelevant to the job at hand" responded Sand Castle who was now busy filling a syringe from a bottle marked 'Morphine'.
Sheen was about to respond until Jericho slapped a hand on his shoulder.
"Thats the registration done. Lets leave Agent Sand Castle to his work. Come on I'll show you around the labs, you'll need to get familiar with them."
Jericho guided, half dragged, Sheen out of the small clinic and back across the cavernous bunker that comprised General Operations and into the elevator.
"Once the doors slid closed Sheen rounded on Jericho.
"Listen guy. What the fuck is going on here ?"
"Didn't you see? We collect psykers" replied Jericho matter of factly.
"What the fuck is a psyker?"
"I would have assumed that was obvious. A psyker is a person who has certain telekinetic or predictive abilities, or both. They vary in strength quite a bit. Its rare to come across a really strong one though, they usually destroy themselves with their powers when they are activated"
"And what about the drugs?"
"We use the drugs to make psykers"
"What the fuck do you mean 'make psykers' ?"
Jericho gave Sheen an appraising look.
"Haven't you ever wondered why drugs are illegal in almost every country in the world?"
Sheens expression told him that not only had he never once considered this fact but he also didn't know what the fuck it had to do with anything.
"Well I suppose I can tell you, though you wont believe me. There exists an organization that produces the majority of heavy drugs in the world. We control the worlds source of certain drugs because they produce certain effects within certain sub sets of the drug taking populace. That is they activate latent psychic powers within these people, only some drugs cause people to activate though, not all of them. We keep drugs illegal because if they were to become widely used then we would witness an uncontrollable explosion in the population of psykers. In any case we use the stigma attached to drug addicts to collect the ones who display psychic abilities. Haven't been getting so many in recent years though. All this new age clean living horseshit is really killing us." Jericho finished and once again gave Sheen an appraising once over.
The man gave Jericho a horrified look, as if he didn't know wether he was looking at an inhuman monster or a mad man.
"W-what do you do with them once you've brought them here?" he asked.
"Classified" replied Jericho.
Sheen gaped at Jericho. He had never heard such bullshit in his life outside of infowars. He remembered the long road trips he took with his older brother as a teenager where they listened only to Alex Jones because he was the only palatable voice on talk radio. But even Alex Jones had never said anything about this. The Queen of England may be a lizard in a human skin suit. The jews might well be behind 9/11. The UN may well be controlled by a clan of Vampires and Monsanto might even be turning the frogs gay. But he had never heard anything about the CIA making people into drug addicts just so it could harvest some of them for its own vague nefarious purposes. It made no sense.
There was silence until the doors slid open once more and Sheen was greeted by something he never thought he would see.
A pyramid of liter plastic bags, each filled with a distinctive white powder, that reached about ten meters high into the air.
The chamber they found themselves in was even bigger than General Operations. The room was really a long cavernous tunnel that stretched off into the darkness on either end and was alive with activity as men and women in white hazmat suits loaded the bags into boxes and loaded the boxes into waiting trucks.
"Most of this Cocaine will be sent to the next sector over tomorrow, they've had some trouble with their production lately, You will be in the convoy going to the city tonight though." explained Jericho.
"Sure you will. You just have to escort the truck to the drop off points. Make sure there is no funny business and more importantly make sure there is no interception from the local drug lords"
Sheen gulped heavily.
"Drug lords?" he asked.
"Sure. Agent Mercury had a hell of a time keeping the bastards off his back."
Sheen pretended to take an interest in the ventilation system on the roof but Jericho saw something in his eyes.
It was something small, possibly a trick of the light, but he was sure he saw it. Whatever it was the moment passed and the tour went on.
Several hours passed and Sheen and Jericho sat in the shade of a solitary tree outside the gas station.
Sheen had seen almost everything there was to see in the labyrinth complex below him. He saw the vast laboratories that produced more drugs in a day than most addicts would see in their lives.
He had not, however, been allowed to see what lay below the labs. The generator and the Choir, whatever that was, fascinated him completely. His doubts about the existence of psychic abilities, though they hadn't been directly confronted, had been washed away by the sheer scale of the operation below his feet, it seemed like a lot of effort to go to just to round up some nobody burn outs if there wasn't some kind of benefit to it in the end.
And now he sat with Jericho in a deck chair fanning himself. The sun had reached its apex and begun its laborious descent to the other side of the horizon.
Jericho had talked mainly about his work. He had done the same job as Sheen for a year before he was promoted to vice manager of the Amadeus station five years ago and had spent the majority of those five years fending off journalists, cops and cartel members. He gave tips about the best places to go to find psykers and told stories about narrow escapes from drug lords and shootouts with vigilant police officers. Jericho spoke about such things in a rather matter of fact tone, as if he were explaining a rather trivial news item he had read in the paper the other day. Jericho's nonchalance about his life and his work bordered on the nihilistic. He really only seemed to get aggravated when he spoke of budget cuts to the station or unexpected staff changes.
"There used to be five managers here in Amadeus when I joined you know?" he said "But they were all shipped off to somewhere else. Thats what they do. They bleed talent from vital areas and leave behind just enough to stop the place from totally falling to shit, probably what happened to Mercury now that I think of it. Thats Central for ya"
He also told Sheen what he could about Sand Castle, which wasn't very much. Sheen found it odd that two men could live and work in such close proximity for five years and yet not know the first thing about one another. The only things Jericho knew about his colleague for sure was that he was left handed and took his coffee with two sugars.
Jericho also talked about Agent Mercury and judging by the tone of his voice it was obvious that he much preferred Mercury's company above Sand Castle's.
Sheen had asked further probing questions but he was shushed repeatedly by Jericho, who had never once ventured to ask a question of Sheen.
Finally seven o'clock rolled around and the sound of an approaching vehicle could be heard.
It grew louder and louder until a moving van, called Amadeus Movers, pulled up in the courtyard of the gas station.
A small portly man with a receding hairline and a jolly red face jumped out of the van and waved at Jericho.
"Please sir could you sell me some Marlboro menthol cigarettes and the foot of a Belgian crow?" He boomed jovially.
Jericho got up and slapped the man on the back like an old friend.
"I can sell you the crow but you will have to walk for the cigarettes ya old fuck!" they both laughed heartily as if an incredibly funny joke had been told.
The joy of the two men was contagious and Sheen couldn't help but crack a smile of his own.
"I'd like to introduce you to your new convoy guardian" said Jericho "This is Mr Sheen. Mr Sheen this is Agent Star Strike"
"We'll I'll be a god dammed son of a bitch" gasped Star Strike, feigning shock "The bastards up in Central have gone and outsourced to fuckin Mexica" he and Jericho laughed again and Sheen smiled awkwardly, he wanted to explain that he wasn't from Mexico but he knew Jericho would probably stuff his fist in his mouth if he did.
"Ah I'm just fuckin with ya kid." said Star Strike, taking hold of Sheen's hand and shaking it powerfully.
"Hopefully we will get to know each other real well. But say what happened to Mercury why'd they take him off the job?"
"They uh never told me" replied Sheen quickly.
"They? You mean the boys in Central?"
Sheen floundered, cursing himself for tripping up in his own lies.
"Don't interrogate the man" interjected Jericho "Clearly Central doesn't want us to know"
Star Strike shrugged and smiled.
The three men then opened the garage door and Star Strike drove the van inside. The doors of the garage were closed and the floor automatically began to descend.
They went down through General operations and descended into Storage where Sand Castle was waiting for them, the pyramid of cocaine was gone and in its place was a much smaller pile of boxes.
"Come on for fuck sake we only have two hours to get all this shit into the city" he shouted.
The four men worked avidly to stack the boxes into the back of the van, spurred on by Sand Castle's clipped commands.
Finally they loaded it up and the doors to the van were slammed shut.
"Jericho" said Sand Castle as the lift began to rise into the ceiling "Your shift is over I'll take over for tonight."
They didn't get to hear Jericho's response as they ascended through the concrete hole and into General Operations.
"get the car" ordered Sand Castle to Sheen and he wordlessly complied, the keys were in the ignition.
Sheen inhaled deeply and closed his eyes as he started the car.
He drove around the the back of the van and the elevator rose once more.
They were now back in the small garage.
Star Strike and Sand Castle got out of the van and opened the garage doors.
Blinding light of the early evening sun flooded in followed by the repeated ringing crack of gun fire.
Sheen, though he could not see it, knew exactly what had happened.
He got out of the car for confirmation. Star Strike and Sand Castle both lay dead on the floor, blood pooling around their rapidly cooling bodies.
Sheen looked up from the quarry and squinted into the glare of the red sun.
Multiple shadows cut across his vision and approached.
Sheen knew who these men were, he even resembled one of them right down to the cheap suit and hair style.
This was Sheen's older brother, his business partner.
A month before the catastrophic events that would transpire at Containment Station Amadeus a man known only as Mercury got out of a yellow car parked in a run down part of the city.
The agent had been trawling the usual hotspots for psyker activity. He had heard rumors of a high level one running rampage through the docklands and had gone to investigate. Such a person should not be difficult to find, psykers rarely had the presence of mind to hide from the government even when confronted with premonitions of their imminent fate. If Mercury had been an anthropologist he might have been hailed for his work of observing the various tribes of meth heads and other assorted addicts he encountered on a daily basis.
The lowest of the low in this city were a life form of their own, for better and for worse. The legion of human detritus that littered this particular area fascinated Mercury singularly. They were all martyrs for a cause much greater than themselves. Selfless heroes who submitted to an international conspiracy bent on fucking with their brains. The missing teeth, the needle scars, the rampant whoring for a next hit, they were all symptoms of the ultimate sacrifice. In an odd sort of way Mercury felt proud whenever he saw a young homeless girl standing below a streetlight, her good looks ravaged by whatever poison she preferred to ingest. He knew he should feel disgusted at the level of human misery he contributed to but he could not do that. He felt like a father watching his children grow up. In his private moments he even managed to admit to himself that he loved every junkie he met. They were, he thought, american heroes, every one of them a great patriot and they didn't even know it.
He rounded a corner plastered with layers of old torn posters and saw a a group of people huddled around a trash can fire for warmth.
He strode past them quietly but one broke from the group and trailed after him.
"Hey mister. I'll suck your cock for ten"
Mercury turned around slowly to face him and smiled.
He was young, very young, clearly hadn't been on the streets for much more than a few months but the effects of his addiction were developing nicely. His face was pockmarked and his bare arms were raw from constant scratching.
Mercury inspected his face carefully. He could sense something about him, a certain long buried force that was starting to push up above the surface.
This man was a psyker, he wasn't activated yet, but he was on the cusp of becoming one, and it wouldn't take much to push him over the edge. He could tell from the mans eyes, it was always in the eyes. Mercury smiled more broadly and reached into his jacket and produced a fold of bills amounting to five hundred dollars.
"Here you go take this and buy yourself something nice"
The man took the money wide eyed before stammering "s-sorry mister I'm not into whatever freaky shit you've got in mind" and he moved to hand the money back.
Mercury chuckled warmly.
"No no no I don't want anything from you" he said pushing his hand back gently "I just want to know something"
"Have you heard any rumors lately about a girl around your age who can do things with her mind?"
The addict looked away nervously. Normally a person would consider this a weird question but Mercury knew that these people understood when a psyker emerged from within their ranks, they feared psykers after all.
"She lives by herself now." he said.
"Really? Where about?" asked Mercury kindly.
The addict hesitated, he was afraid, for good reason too. If the rumors were to be believed then this girl was powerful enough to control the people near her, possibly even powerful enough to inflict permanent neurological damage with a single thought.
"It's ok son" said Mercury "Im here to help her. I will make sure she gets the help she needs"
The addict looked up into the warm eyes of the CIA agent.
"warehouses by the river, she lives in one of the abandoned ones"
Mercury smiled broadly and produced another hundred dollars and handed it to the man.
"Make sure you buy yourself something nice with that." he said and turned around and walked away.
Mercury rounded a corner and surreptitiously looked behind him to see if he had been followed.
He knew perfectly well that several drug lords were currently looking for him. The long years he had spent escorting convoys had made him a target. He always managed to shake off the more persistent ones. But he had an unsettling feeling for the past week that he was being watched.
Mercury crossed over to the long line of red brick warehouses by the river. He found the one the girl was living in quite easily. He knew which one it was because it seemed like a blanket of silence had been spread out from a central point within, obliterating the sound of the city.
Mercury pushed a mouldering wooden door open and entered the darkened hall within.
There she was, sitting cross legged on the floor beneath a shaft of light from the broken window above.
He approached her slowly and silently, it was not a good idea to agitate her, especially when he had no protection from her mind.
As he drew closer he could discern that she was mumbling something to herself.
"...Approaches... death from within an antediluvian cavern... the hand of god approaches... a terrible vengeance will consume us in nuclear fire..."
Mercury felt elated, he had found his target.
The girl began to tremble and her mumbling became jagged and rose in volume.
"Approaches the one who... who will rain death... gatekeepers slaughtered... the choir will sing no more...in the silence the hand of god will reach through..."
Mercury lay a hand on her shoulder, she didn't notice it. Taking this as a sign to proceed he reached into his jacket and produced a syringe filled with a clear liquid. Slowly, with a well practiced hand, he pierced a vein and pressed the plunger down all the way.
The girls mumbling instantly grew faint and she slumped forward, unconscious.
Mercury reached into his jacket for his phone to contact Central but the cold steel of a pistol was suddenly pressed into the back of his neck.
"Get on the fucking ground" ordered a cold texan accent.
Mercury shut his eyes and blind fury gripped his body.
How could he have gotten caught like this? This was such an amateurish mistake.
He slowly lowered himself to his knees beside the passed out meth head.
A figure walked in front of him. Mercury recognized him as one of the leaders of a local group that was related to a much larger distribution racket further west. They were fairly minor players in this city though.
"Gentlemen" spoke Mercury evenly "Surely a compromise can be arranged" There was a flash of light and Mercury keeled over dead, shot in the back of the head.
It would not be until much later that Mercury's body would wash ashore on a beach in the early hours of the morning. By then the damage was done. The information on how to access Containment Station Amadeus was stolen. The group that had taken this information was indeed an enterprising one. In one fell swoop they would hijack the biggest suppliers of Cocaine, Heroin and Meth for miles around and make it their own. They would have a monopoly on supply, they would rule this city.
Sheen, who's real name was Emil Cornelio, and his brother Matías had plotted this hostile takeover of what they thought was a rival gang for months.
Mercury had been slippery to keep a tail on but he was only human, an aging human at that.
Infiltration had been easy. There were only two security operatives guarding the gas station, they could be dealt with quickly.
Emil approached his brother, not quite knowing how to put what he was about to say.
"Well?" demanded his brother.
"One guy left"
"So lets do this"
"No. Change of plan"
Matías squared up against his younger brother, he hated being contradicted.
"Change of plan eh?"
"This place is no lemonade stand. Its owned by the government. These guys you've killed are CIA. We will never be able to hold this place. I say we just take what we can and trash the place"
A dangerous look crossed Matías' features, a look that had been the last thing several people had seen on this earth before a sudden and violent death.
"Are you shitting me right now?"
"No. Theres a shit ton of coke down there, must be worth millions. Lets just take that and get the fuck out of here while we still can!"
Matías screamed suddenly and punched the bonnet of the van, leaving a fist shaped dent behind.
The men leapt into action and restrained the elder brother.
Matías roared and kicked out his legs.
"I am not loosing money again because of you!"
Emil approached and moved closer to his brother.
"There is more coke down there than we could sell in a year and you call that loosing money?"
Matías stalled slightly, intellectual pursuits had never been his forte.
"Well if that isn't enough for you then I have good news. These guys are hiding something. Something big at the very bottom. Might be a weapon of some kind but its related to what that guy was doing kidnapping the meth head"
Matías stopped struggling completely.
"A weapon you say?"
"Maybe" grinned the younger brother.
It didnt take much after that to convince his brother to take action.
Emil, Matías and their henchmen stormed the elevators and descended level by level, mowing down everyone they came across. Several of their number were left behind in the storage section to secure the trucks filled with cocaine while the rest descended to the labs.
As each instillation was destroyed Emil felt a growing sensation of anticipation and dread.
Each step was one closer to the choir. A shudder ran down his spine at the very thought of the forbidden knowledge that lay below his feet.
A heady mixture of fear and adrenalin coursed through his veins as he exited the meth labs and re entered the elevator with his brother and their men.
His thumbed the button for the generator and armory but nothing happened. He jabbed it repeatedly but the elevator would not respond. The generator had been locked by someone and Emil had a feeling he knew who that someone was.
All that remained was the final button.
The eighth floor.
The doors shuddered closed and the elevator descended once more.
A palpable silence filled the enclosed metal box and all sound seemed to become muffled.
The elevator seemed to be traveling forever, down towards infinity. And then suddenly it came to a halt and the doors opened with a bing.
They found themselves inside a colossal cave deep underground.
Before them lay an artificially lit plateau filled with neatly organized rows of machinery set in a radial circle about a central point. Above them massive stalactites of quartz glinted at them and pointed menacingly.
A path led from the elevator down a twisting mound of carved rock towards the plateau.
The men exited the elevator cautiously. No sooner had they done so than the doors slammed closed and the box began to ascend once more.
"Can you hear that?" asked Matías quietly.
"Someones calling my name" he whispered.
The other men strained their ears but none of them could hear anything. Matías however didn't seem to care. He turned and began trotting down the path, his eyes glazed over.
The others followed after him as he wended his way down over the stone cut steps towards the first rows of machinery.
A low droning humming sound was starting to become audible, it sounded like coursing electricity.
Matías was now striding briskly towards the machines as the others jogged behind him when suddenly he broke into an all out run.
"Hey! Come back here!" shouted Emil but the man seemed suddenly possessed. The younger brother chased after him but ground to a halt upon reaching the first bank of machines.
A horrifying spectacle greeted him. The machines were all separate units, about a hundred units per row, and each unit contained a long glass pod. The particular pod that Emil was looking at contained a desiccated corpse, a mummy, its mouth hanging open as if screaming into eternity.
With trembling limbs Emil approached the containment unit. A clipboard bung from a string attached to the central console of the machine. Emil picked it up and read the first page.
'Containment Station Amadeus. Psyker No: 121589. Interred: 1969. Psy Level: 6. Average production: 1.28 psy/yr. Average rate of decay: 0.2 psy/yr...'
"Jesus fucking christ" gasped Emil "They're sucking the bastard dry..."
Emil turned to examine the other units around him. Each one contained a person in suspended animation and in varying states of decay. He could hear the men behind him gasping and wondering aloud what the fuck was going on here but they all seemed so far away, even though they were just a few steps behind.
Up ahead the containment units terminated at a large platform surrounded by strange pulsating contraptions that transmitted an otherworldly energy towards the centre of the platform.
And then Emil saw it, the most incredible thing he had ever seen in his life, a fissure suspended in mid air. A blinding silver tear in the fabric of reality that could only be seen briefly from certain angles. It was this tear that the psychic energy was directed towards.
Standing beneath the fissure, gazing at it with worshipful eyes, was Matías.
Emil called his name but he did not move. He just gazed longingly at a fixed point.
Everyone whipped around to see Jericho standing behind them all with a shotgun in his hands. He was livid, his face was contorted in terrified rage.
"Drop your fucking weapons or I swear I'll blow your fucking heads off!" he barked.
Emil swore internally, in the distance he could see the elevator had touched down again and light spilled from its open doors.
Before he could do anything though Matías roared with fury and produced a pistol of his own and fired it blindly at Jericho. The bullet pierced a containment tank and rancid smelling fluid spurted forth. The body within crumbled to dust and a red light lit up on top of the unit reading 'catastrophic breach'.
Jericho jumped out of the way behind a row of tanks just in time as another shot was fired at him followed by a volley from Emil and his goons.
"Stop!" Screamed Jericho at the top of his lungs "I told you idiots to fucking stop! You don't know what your doing!"
They did not listen. More and more tanks were burst open by stray bullets and soon the foul smell of rotting corpses began to fill the ancient cave.
Jericho kept screaming from behind his cover for the drugs gang to cease firing for one minute but his pleas were cut off by an even louder noise than gunfire. A sort of primordial groan permeated the chamber, shaking the bowels of every man present. They all turned to witness the source of the sound. Matías stood at a console by the platform, his eyes completely blank, on the screen a red wall of text flashed. It read 'PURGE SYSTEM'.
The rising sound of bolts popping from their locks approached them like an incoming wave followed by a flood of pungent life preserving fluid and semi dissolved bodies.
A desperate shriek of elemental horror rose from Jericho who turned on his heels and began running away from the gang and the central platform.
Emil could now see what he had been so afraid of. The fissure was widening. An etherial silver glow radiated out of it, filling the cavern with an eerie beauty.
Matías fell to his knees and raised his hands above his head as if in worship.
A thin tendril snaked out from the fissure and touched Matías' finger and began coiling around him.
Emil watched dumbstruck as his brother was cocooned by darkness and dragged into the fissure.
He began backing away while the other men drew closer. Suddenly a piercing roar that almost burst Emil's eardrums erupted from the fissure and he turned and bolted for the elevator.
Jericho was already in it jamming manically at the button like a man possessed when Emil pushed himself through the closing doors. The cold steel shut and the two men could hear the others outside banging their fists on the doors desperately. The elevator began to rise and a series of unsettling noises reverberated inside the metal box. Something was scratching hard at the floor beneath them. Claw indentations began to rise up on the solid steel floor, long jagged ridges.
More identifying noises of a nameless horror echoed outside the ascending frame and more dents began to appear inside.
Emil began to panic but then the elevator stopped and the doors slid neatly open. They were on level seven, generator and armory.
Jericho grabbed Emil by the scruff of the neck and hauled him bodily out of the would be tomb and along a gangway over a live nuclear reactor. He wordlessly pulled the man through a thick threshold and pushed a vault door closed behind him. Sealing himself and Emil within.
The two men gasped gor air as the sound of scuttling appendages outside the thick metal door.
Jericho finally slumped against the far wall of the armory, his head in his hands and his body racking. He was laughing to himself, a hollow mirthless laugh.
"W-what the fuck is so funny!?" demanded Emil.
Jericho looked hp from his lap, tears streaming from his eyes and a manic smile plastered to his face.
"Ive finally gotten what I always wanted! Ive always wanted to teach Central that theyre playing a dangerous game here in Amadeus. Some weirdo could bypass security some day and kill us all. And look I've been proven right. By you, you stupid fucking cunt!"
The floor shuddered and plaster and dust crumbled from the ceiling.
"Somehow I knew last night when I saw the tear grow by fifty percent that my time was nearly up" whispered Jericho.
"What are you talking about!?" demanded Emil.
"Don't shout" reprimanded Jericho "No need to get agitated in your last few minutes on earth"
"We are going to die soon" stated Jericho bluntly "Reactor will be overloading in response to the system purge any moment now and a meltdown will follow. And if all goes according to plan the government will be sending a bunker buster nuclear warhead any minute now to make doubly sure we are all dead"
Precious seconds ticked by as Emil struggled to find the words to contradict Jericho but none came to him.
The CIA agent stared into space and absently murmured "Ive wasted my life" to himself.
"W-what the fuck happened out there man" said Emil finally.
"Hmm? Oh well I suppose it doesn't matter if I tell you now. This place is a containment facility. It means we contain God, as in God from the bible. Thats what the Choir was. Just a big battery of psychic power directed at keeping a single tear shut and the hand of God out. There are lots of tears and lots of containment stations. Psykers are the only way we can keep them shut for sure"
Jericho trailed off once more and resumed staring into space. Emil didn't know what to make of what he had just been told.
"Are we really going to die?"
"Yep. Id say we have about two minutes or so, were lucky really, at least we get to die, its a fate much better than what your friends are going to suffer."
Silence once more as the urge to panic fought hard to process itself through Emil's brain.
"I'm- I'm so sorry man... I had no idea..."
Jericho turned to look Emil dead in the eye.
Two minutes passed in silence and then there was light followed by darkness.
Donald Trump strode through the halls of the white house on the day of his inauguration, flanked on either side by applauding staff.
Before him lay the doors to the oval office. They were opened for him by two marines and shut quickly behind him. The din of applause was cut off. President trump stood at the threshold confused. Before him was the director of the CIA and the last person he thought he would speak to today, Pope Francis.
The two men stood up upon Trump's arrival and nodded curtly at him. Ever the businessman Trump smiled and strode forward to shake the hands of both pontiff and director, neither of whom moved.
"Mr President" began the Pope "Please sit down. We understand you have had a long and exciting day but we would both like to explain something to you that must never leave this room."
Trump cautiously obeyed and sat behind the desk.
The director of the CIA opened the lid of a laptop on the desk and turned the screen towards Trump while hitting the play button.
What played before him was full colour footage of a parade, not just any parade but the last motorcade of President Kennedy. Trumps blood ran cold as he realized where the footage was shot from. It was an over the shoulder view pointing out a high window, the Texas book depository.
In the bottom right corner of the frame a nondescript man with a rifle took careful aim and began firing. The director reached over and pressed pause.
"He was about to go public with the information we are about to impart unto you Mr President" said the Pope gravely.
"You must understand the severity of the secret you are about to be told. If you do not wish to hear it or if you feel keeping this secret would be too much to bear we can arrange to have your death faked"
Trump shook his head furiously in rejection of that idea.
"Very well" sighed the Pope "Mr President. Almost two thousand years ago the Romans put to death a man by the name of Jesus Christ. However that is not what truly happened."
The director reached over the laptop and tapped a button and a picture of a Roman fresco appeared depicting three crosses and nailed to each cross was a hideous inhuman monster of unnatural proportions.
"This" said the pope "This is the true Jesus Christ. He was in fact a daemon beast from a different dimension who crossed into our word to destroy us. Fortunately the Romans defeated him and his horde of monsters. But ever since then the catholic church has established itself as a bulwark against the encroaching darkness. There is a God Mr President and he hates us. Every minute of every hour of every day he is trying to break down the walls of the material universe and cross over with the singular purpose of destroying us. We have kept this a secret for millennia and even made people worship the same god so that if ever that terrible day should come the people of this world could go meet their doom thinking they were meeting their salvation. This is why I come to you Mr President. This is why every pope has met with every world leader for centuries. To induct you into this ancient and noble order. Will you pledge your loyalty to the cause Mr President? Will you devote yourself to the defense of humanity from the God of death?"
"Well Mr President?" asked the director.
Trump leaned back in his chair for a moment before leaning forward with arms outstretched.
"Gentlemen. I appreciate your concerns and believe me. Nobody is more committed to defending humanity than me. Believe me. Nobody. My guarantee! Let me tell you something. We will build an inter-dimensional wall that is so big it will keep all manner of..."
The pope groaned.