About Me

Chapter XXVII


            Diamond Dog tried to memorize the path Guru took them through in the poorly lit underground tunnels, but was lost after the sixth turn and second interchange.  There was officially no going back now.  As they went further into the unknown, he found himself slowing down.  Soon he was at the rear of the procession.  He didn’t know if it was intentional, or if he was just too tired to keep up.  A part of him just wanted to stop and be lost in the maze of darkness. 

            DD realized then, that it was the former. 

            It was all gone.  Everything he had been trying so hard to get back was gone.  Family.  Friends.  A life.  An emotional connection with a female.  All gone.  Now he was stuck with starting all over again.  Or, was he?  He could just give up now and save himself years of anguish and torment.  Believing that everything was getting better, only to have it all come crashing down again. 

            “Was this his life now?”  DD wondered.  Normally after that thought came the question, Why?  He didn’t ask that this time.  The “why” didn’t matter.  It had happened.  The next question was, “What was he going to do now?  Fight, or quit?”  They both had their pros and cons.  The outcome of both were unknown.  And, much to his regret, they both took as much energy to do. 

            Diamond Dog realized that he had stopped walking, and was standing in the waning light of the stone corridor contemplating.  He looked ahead at the others as they trudged on.  His eyes fixed on Blue. 

            Blue walked autonomously with the others.  She hadn’t spoken to anyone, or done anything but follow behind Guru, carrying Little Ghost’s body.  As DD watched her move further and further from him, he saw her head lift up slightly.  She turned slowly and looked back at him standing alone in the shallow light.  Her eyes blinked, and she turned back around.  Her head lowered again and she continued on. 

            DD felt his legs moving before he had even decided that he was going.  He started walking towards the group, and picked up his pace to catch up. 

            No, he wouldn’t give up.  He didn’t know if things would get better or not, but he wouldn’t give up. 

            The group travelled until they came across a large metal door hidden in the darkness among the damp bricks and mildew.  Guru held a hand against the right side of the door, opposite the hinges. 

            “Stand back, children.” He said, his soft relaxed tone reappearing. 

            Everyone took two steps back.  Blue bumped into Diamond Dog as she moved backwards with the others.  He reached out and placed his hands on her waist to steady her and let her know it was him.  Blue didn’t say react to his touch, nor did she pull away.  DD let one hand fall away, but held on a bit tighter with the other. 

            Guru closed his eyes and took in a deep breath.  He blew the air out slowly and pushed his hand forward.  The force of his power butted against the door pushing it in and activating the lock release. 

            For almost a decade, the door had been sealed; hidden away from everyone.  For almost a decade Guru pretended that it didn’t exist.  He wasn’t trying to hide what was on the other side away from the world, he was trying to hide it away from himself.  For almost a decade the door was closed and abandoned; and now, it was being opened for the third time in a week. 

            Guru stepped back as the door unlocked and slowly slid open.  Light streamed from inside the hidden room, blinding the children whose eyes had become accustomed to the dark. 

            “Hurry.” said Guru.  “Step inside, children.” 

            The children fought against the blinding light and made their way into the room.  The footsteps of the orphaned residents of the Factory echoed off the metal floor.  Many of them looked around in desperation, confused by the feel of cold steel under their bare feet and the metal bars of the cage they had just entered. 

            Diamond Dog was the last to enter.  He had stopped just short of the “cage”.  Guru extended a hand from inside. 

            “Please.” Was all the elder mentor said.  DD took his hand and entered the cage. 

            The large metal door had begun to swing closed.  Guru waited until it locked.  He reached over his head and pulled a large metal door down over the entrance to the cage.  The door was solid metal on the lower half, with a diamond grid pattern on the upper half. 

            DD realized before Guru pushed the button that they were on a freight elevator. 

            A push of the fourth button, top of the row, made the elevator whine and begin carrying them up. 

            The children’s eyes had adjusted to being out of the dark by the time they reached the third floor.  Guru opened the door and ushered them out. 

            The group stopped a few feet outside the elevator and stared at their new surroundings. 

            They weren’t at the Factory anymore. 

            The floor outside the elevator was a shiny and slick oak.  The hardwood flooring led into the kitchen and to some rooms along the back half of the building.  The kitchen was large and fairly state-of-the-art.  Some of the appliances were a little outdated, but nothing compared to what the kids had been using back at the Factory.  Boxes of groceries, that had yet to be put away, lined the counters.  On the other side of the open kitchen was the living room and den.  Together, the room was twice the size of the Pit.  It was divided by a wall of multi-colored glass squares. 

            The living room had an air of tranquility about it.  It was clear that the room was used for quiet thought and relaxation.  A modest stereo system was centered in the bookcase of the far wall.  The bookcase was virtually empty, with only a few select books remaining, scattered across the dozen shelves.  Two unframed art pieces dangled from the ceiling over the handcrafted sofa, chaise longue, and glass table. Next to the bookcase was a fully stocked bar. 

            On the den side of the room, things were nearly the living room’s opposite.  Across from the bookcase wall was a projection screen and an audio system that would bust every glass in the building if turned up to its max.  A library of movies flanked the projection screen.  Unlike the bookshelves, the movie shelves were packed.  An abnormally large, plush couch was parked directly in front of the projection screen with only a wooden coffee table separating the two. 

            The two rooms shared a large floor to ceiling window that was covered with a heavy dark curtain. 

            It was Crash who made the realization of their new home.  He ran across the room and threw open the curtains.  The heavy fabric flew back and the early morning light flooded into the room.  It was like the dawning of a new age.  For a brief moment everyone forgot the pain and misery they had suffered hours before. 

            Outside the window people were already moving.  Some were headed to work to begin their day, while others passed by them, heading home from a night out.  The bright lights of neon letters and LED signs were fading away against the early morning sunshine.  Even at such an early hour, the traffic of people on the streets was steady and constant.  For every person that stepped inside a building, another was stepping out.  For every car that parked, another was pulling into traffic.  It wasn’t the city that never slept, it was the city that never stopped living.   

            Across the street from the window was the green grass and manicured trees of the greatest city park in North America. 

            Diamond Dog stepped forward, coming to stand next to Crash.  In the far distance, across the park, he could see the familiar cornice of the building that housed Cockrum’s Café. 

            Crash looked at DD with a huge smile. 

            “We’re in Future City.”

            Blue wanted to join the others in their moment of awe and wonder, but the pain she held in her arms stopped her.  She looked down at Caroline’s body and started to cry again.  It wasn’t fair.  She would have gladly given her own life so that Caroline could live. 

            “Why wasn’t she given that choice?  Why was it decided that she had to die?  Why did she have to die and leave her feeling so useless?  Helpless. Empty.” 

            Guru approached Blue with his arms outstretched.  The teenage girl looked up into his eyes. 

            “Let me take her.” Guru said in a voice even softer and more serene than normal.  

            Diamond Dog saw Guru and Blue’s reflection in the window and hurried over to them. 

            “It’s okay, Celia.  It’s okay.” Guru said. 

            Blue stared in the older man’s eyes.  She didn’t want to let her go.  There was nothing she could do for Caroline, but she couldn’t bring herself to let go of her body.  Blue was afraid of letting her down again.  She promised to protect her, and she broke her promise. 

            Guru cautiously moved closer to the teenager.  He slid his arms under Caroline’s body and lifted her out of Blue’s arms.  The feeling of the weight of Caroline’s body being lifted off of her was like losing the young girl all over again.  Blue collapsed. 

            DD had gotten across the room just in time to catch her.  He helped lower Blue to the floor, and knelt beside her. 

            “Where are you taking her?” Blue asked.  Her voice was cracked and dry. 

            “The hospital.  They’ll reunite her with her family.” 

            DD brushed Blue’s cheek and tried to smile.  Looking at the pain in her face, he couldn’t really find a reason to smile, but he tried anyway. 

            “I’ll be right back.” DD said. 

            Diamond Dog hurried over to Guru as he walked towards the elevator.  He stepped between the two of them and got in Guru’s face. 

            “What is this place?” DD demanded.  “Who are you?” 

            Guru looked around at the posh home, and his breath caught in his throat. 

            “This is a place I tried hard to forget.  It’s someone I tried to deny existed.” 

            He locked eyes with younger man, then looked over at Blue lying on the hardwood floor.  DD’s eyes followed. 

            “I promised you that I would explain it all later.  Right now, you have more important things to deal with.”  Guru tilted his head to the right, away from the living room and den.  “There are bedrooms back there.  Blue needs rest.  The others need food.  And you need water.” 

            Guru stepped around Diamond Dog and left him standing there.  He stepped inside the elevator and turned around to face the teenager. 

            “Take care of them.  We’ll talk when I get back.” 

            DD turned slowly.  He looked at the man who had been his mentor for almost a year.  Never had he steered him or any of the others wrong.  He took him in and taught him how to control his abilities.  Never once did he ask for anything in return.  He promised to explain, and DD owed him that.  In truth, he owed him more. 

            “Yes sir.”  DD said.  He grabbed the overhead gate and pulled it down so the elevator could start.  “I’ll take care of them.” 

            Guru looked up at the teenager as the elevator began its descent. 

            “I know you will.” 



            Killzone punched the walls of the rooms on the fifth floor of the Hell Spawn lair.  He grabbed a nightstand next to the bed and threw it through the wall.  He was intent on destroying everything in his path. 

            The night had been planned to perfection.  It was the first step in Killzone’s glorious plan.  How could it have gone so wrong, so fast? 

            The other members of the Hell Spawns had seen fit to stay out of his way.  They’d seen their “leader” in one of his moods before, and knew that they didn’t want to be anywhere near him tonight.  The others went their own way soon after returning to their home.  It could prove deadly for any of them to be within his line of sight. 

            Killzone continued to rampage, tearing up everything he had given to Brutal.  It was easy to blame the newest member for their failure, but Killzone knew it wasn’t his fault.  Hell, he had succeeded where the others had failed and actually killed one of the kids at the Factory.  He also paid for that victory with his own life. 

            That was what really bothered him.  Beneath his ego and bravado, Killzone was glad that he hadn’t killed any of them.  Not if it meant he would end up like Brutal.  The other thing that bothered him, was what Guru had tried to teach him.  Control.  Killzone was all power and fury, with no true guidance or direction. 

            What bothered him the most, was that Guru was right all along. 

            He couldn’t accept that.  His way had to be right.  Look at everything he had accomplished.  His crew ran Yesterday Town.  Any other gang that tried to move in on their turf was dealt with quickly and severely.  They had even garnered the attention of the big man in Future City.  They were on their way up.  How did they get beaten by a group of kids? 

            Guru couldn’t be right.  He couldn’t be. 

            Even worse, what if the big man found out?  If he knew the Hell Spawns had been beaten by a bunch of kids and barely escaped with their lives, Killzone’s dreams of living big in Future City were over. 

            Killzone ripped a sink out of its base and chucked it at a wall.  The porcelain basin lodged itself in the papered covered drywall.  He stomped over to the wall and shoved the sink the rest of the way through. 

            “Quite the temper you have there.” Came a voice from behind Killzone.

            The Hell Spawn’s leader snapped around to see who was behind him.  He wanted to see who he was about to kill. 

            His fist was cocked and ready to release a punch strong enough to pulverize a normal man’s head.  His arm quickly lowered at the sight of the man behind the voice, and he tried to compose himself. 

            Number Five, bodyguard to the kingpin of Future City, stood before him.  He was dressed in the same black suit that he had worn that night at the rail yard.  What Killzone didn’t see was the big ugly gun that had been shoved in his face twice that dark night.  He didn’t doubt for a minute that Number Five had it on him. 

            “Number Two, right?” Killzone said, being snide. 

            “Don’t pretend like you don’t remember exactly who I am.  It’s not cute or funny to disrespect a friend.  Or an enemy.” Number Five said.  His tone was well rehearsed and professional.  He spoke with an attitude that would be powerful in a boardroom, and deadly in the street.  There was much that Killzone could learn from him on how to operate within Future City, and how to work with his boss, but those eloquences would be lost on someone like him.  After all, Guru had tried and failed. 

            Number Five looked down at Killzone with disgust.  He would never question any plan orchestrated by his boss, and followed all orders to the letter, but his dislike for working with the Hell Spawns was evident in his mannerisms.  He would have to work harder to hide it.  Later.  

            “Let’s get something straight here.” Number Five said flatly.  “I don’t like you.  You or your ghetto crew.  You lord over a town of people that have been left behind and ignored.  Anyone can rule over the downtrodden.  You have broken these people.  They were broken before you got here.” 

            He stepped closer to Killzone.  The two were a little more than an inch apart.  Number Five was only a few inches taller than the gang leader, but held his chin against his chest to over dramatize the height difference. 

            “Two.  I know all about you. You and your crew.  There’s nothing you’ve done your entire life that I don’t know about.  From you wetting your bed at age 10, to the beating you and your gang took last night.” 

            Killzone tried not to show his surprise at Number Five’s knowledge.  A blind man could have read his expression. 

            “He knows, too.  Lucky for you, he still thinks you can be useful.  I, on the other hand, have my doubts.” 

            “Who are you?” Killzone said, puffing out his chest.  “You’re just the chump after number four.” 

            Number Five smirked.  “Stupid kid.  You want a piece of me?  You want to show me how bad you are?  Knock me down and strike an Ali pose over my body.  That what you want?” 

            His eyes lit up with excitement.  He wouldn’t go against his boss’s orders and start trouble with the gang leader, but he could certainly defend himself, and put the punk in his place at the same time. 

            “After all, I’m just a guy in a suit with a gun, right?”  Number Five took a step back.  He unbuttoned his suit jacket and pulled the frightening gun out of its holster.  He turned his back to Killzone and laid the gun on what remained of the bathroom countertop. 

            “Be careful, I’m not a hotel room.  I fight back.” 

            As Number Five turned back to face his opponent, Killzone tried to catch him off guard with a cheap shot.  The bodyguard ducked the punch and swooped up around the incoming fist.  His body moved with the speed and agility of a snake.  In the time it took for Killzone’s arm to extend, Number Five had slid behind him and delivered an open palm attack to the back of his head.   

            The gang leader was thrown off balance by the unexpected attack and his body pitched forward.  Five more blows were delivered before the headstrong powerhouse hit the floor.  He felt two sledgehammer punches to his lower back, followed by an elbow to his right kidney, a sidekick to the back of his right knee, and a shin kick to the inside of his left thigh. 

            Killzone toppled over like a freshly chopped tree.  He wanted to stop his descent, or at the very least break his fall, but his body wouldn’t respond.  He crashed to the ground face first, defeated and humiliated. 

            The winner of the five second battle stood over his fallen opponent and snorted. 

            “I hope you learned a lesson just now.  It’s the same one you should’ve learned the other night.”   

            Number Five picked his gun up and slid it back into its holster. 

            “The plan is set for three days from now.  You and your crew better be ready.” 

            Number Five buttoned his jacket and stepped through the hole in the hotel room wall. 

            “I’ll be – in touch – again before then.”


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