Chapter I: Requiem Aeternam - Sixth Instalment
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING STORY CONTAINS THE DEPICTION OF VIOLENT SCENES AND ALSO ADULT LANGUAGE. READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.
This is the continuation of Madness Serial: The Hand of Madness Chapter I: Requiem Aeternam - Fifth Instalment
Meanwhile, south of New London, a man’s spooky shadow moves impetuously between the Brixton’s murky alleys. Over the drenched pavement, the reflection of some large and old blinking neon signs can be seen. It’s possible to read the word "Motel" written in red in one of these until it is suddenly warped when the man steps on it.
In the background, a shrieking siren of a G.C.U.N. Police patrol car is heard drawing away from the district emitting a sound that resembles a dying animal.
This man walks in one of the most recognised marginal areas of England; places which barely know the order.
In his path, the man treads some small puddles splashing his shiny boots. The hard soles of these sound rhythmical and dulled as their echoes reverberate amid the quiet alleyways. The man goes dressed from head to toe in a vermilion suit, almost purple, which has a cloak on the back that flies subtly with the cold night breeze and the movement produced by his bustled steps. On his face, he wears a golden mask, radiant mostly, but it has some scratches. Discerning the countenance of this man is impossible. All can be observed is the indecipherable expression of a long face with a prominent nose and sharp cheekbones which protrude as drawing a smile even when the mask has not a mouth.
The man in the golden mask is escorted by two guards of the Black Watch, the paramilitary security organisation at the service of the G.C.N.U. Both are dressed entirely in black suits, including their armoured helmets, which have two polarised round-shaped lenses on the eyes not only to protect them but also to improve their night vision. At the bottom of the mask, there’s a grilled nozzle used as a vocoder settled between two cartridges which in turn work as air filters. The helmet’s design is reminiscent to the anti-gas masks used by the Third Reich.
—Sir, we have arrived —an escort indicates with the harsh, choppy voice produced by the vocoder.
When the escort says it, the three men stop in front the facade of an old abandoned building, which, after giving a slight glimpse upwards, the man in the golden mask calculates has about five floors. When he looks up, the hollow eyes of the mask he wears reflect the moonglare for a fleeting moment showing that, like the escorts, his eyes are also covered by polarised lenses.
—Is this the place? —Golden Mask asks the escort.
—Yes, sir. Here’s where the surveillance drone-bots identified the faces of several alleged Resistance’s Wolves —he confirms unfolding an omnipad to show him some aerial photographs. In the photos, several outlaws can be observed entering the old building.
—You mean Resistance’s hounds —he replies scoffing—. Well, what are you waiting for? Knock the door down! Or should I do it myself? —he orders them with his always calm but ironic voice.
The escorts immediately proceed to kick the compound’s rusted metal doors to knock them down. These are so old that fall to the ground raising a thin dust cloud, which makes it difficult to see inside the building, even with the lamps incorporated in their helmets. When the cloud disperses, the man in the golden mask enters the place with the two escorts behind him. From within, only their dreadful backlit silhouettes are visible moving among the dust particles due to the external light.
With their weapons in hand, the escorts move forward behind their leader; they peer in all directions with the expectation of finding someone hiding inside the smelly and musty build. Suddenly, an enormous rat crosses in front of them emitting a chilling screech that causes one of the escorts to startle from fright.
—It’s just a rat —Golden Mask jeers as he barely flinches.
Having entered the building, the man in the golden mask gives them the instruction to send each one a reconnaissance drone-bot to examine every corner of the place. Both take out small beetle-shaped units from their bags. They place them on the palms of their hands while these lie with their limbs clenched. By pressing a button on their wrist omniwatches, the escorts activate the devices and these immediately deploy two pairs of legs, which in turn, extend one propeller each. A pair of red LED lights light up on the front of the devices, and then the propellers start spinning causing the drone-bots to fly producing a bumblebee-like sound. The robotic insects begin to sweep the perimeter stealthily while one of the escorts monitors on a screen what the infrared cameras incorporated in these glimpses. The drone-bots split up until they explore the entire ground floor, and finding nothing, they head to the next floor up the stairs to scan it too.
Meanwhile, Golden Mask and the escorts continue advancing and knocking down door to door inside the enclosure to inspect the areas the drone-bots couldn’t access. They reach the last door on the ground floor, and when they kick it, they find nothing but a bunch of stacked boxes.
Suddenly, a gunshot is heard on one of the building’s upper floors. The escort with the omnipad gets ready immediately to monitor on the screen what the drones have found, figuring that one of the two channels on the split screen no longer displays anything. Then, he shows the screen to the man in the golden mask, who immediately tells them to follow him to the next floor to find out what the drone-bots have encountered. The old wooden stairs creak as the three men begin to climb these. After a few moments, an alarm is activated on the omnipad screen indicating that the remaining drone-bot has found something on the third floor. This makes the three men hasten their steps, omitting the second floor when they reach it, and going directly to the third. When crossing the entrance, they’re greeted by a series of shots coming from behind some file cabinets, and when they notice this, one of the escorts throws an immobiliser bomb in the direction the shots come from. The escorts lit up with their helmet’s lamps and they see three men’s silhouettes trying to flee between the darkness and the smoke produced by the bomb. Golden Mask along with the escorts begin to chase the men to capture them while they toss boxes, furniture and everything they find in their path to hinder the way of their persecutors. One of the outlaws stumbles and falls to the ground in the middle of the chase, and immediately, the escorts threw over him to capture him. The fugitive tries to put resistance, but the escorts being much stronger than him, submit him without a major problem. They take him by the arms to kneeling him down against his will. The man in the golden mask approaches and then, he realises the criminal hides his head and face under a hooded sweater and a mask shaped like a wolf's skull that would cause shivers to anyone, except him. When observing this, the other two fugitives stop to think about coming back and rescuing their partner. Golden Mask orders one of the escorts to remove the mask from the head of the hooded man, and in doing so, they realise it is only a boy not older than sixteen years. The look of his eyes irritated by the gas of the bomb is a mixture of anger and terror.
—We have your friend! —the man in the golden mask shouts out to the other two outlaws—. Throw down your weapons and surrender if you want him to stay alive! —he says pointing at the boy's head with a gun.
Noticing this, the two men resolve to surrender looking to save the boy's life. They approach cautiously raising their hands and dropping their weapons to the ground. Next, the escorts go to them to register them and make sure they don’t carry any more hidden weapons. The pounding heartbeats and panting breath betray them from afar. Without an escape, the Wolves wait resigned for their captors to go for them.
—Put your hands on your head! The hands on your head! NOW! —the escorts admonish them removing the hoods from their heads and the skull masks from their faces.
Both men, whose appearance is vagabond, wear a beard. One of them has long dark hair that covers his ears, while the other, has short gilded hair. Both seem in their thirties, but their faces look emaciated.
—Who are you?! What are you looking for here?! —The man with the short, gilded hair asks nervous, breaking the silence while one of the escorts searches him from head to toe.
Having registered the two outlaws, the escorts drag them with tremendous strength to where Golden Mask is, so that he can proceed to interrogate them.
—Let me go! —exclaims the Wolf of short, gilded hair—. Who the fuck are you?! What do you want from us?! —he asks Golden Mask with great rage.
—Hush! —the man in the golden mask answers by lifting him up to his neck—. You will speak when I tell you that you can open your filthy mouth —he says looking at him with his hollow eyes while the Wolf only notices the reflection of his terrified face on the lenses.
—Name? —Golden Mask questions pulling him forward violently.
—Are you— Are perhaps— —he replies coughing and almost unable to breath—. Are you from the Great Confederation? —finally asks.
—I asked your name —he says insistently to the man, punishing him with a punch in the stomach that leaves him breathless.
—Frank— Frank Nilsson —he responds with effort, coughing and trying to catch his breath.
—He tells the truth —an escort confirms, having made a biometric scan with his omnipad to corroborate his identity.
—Well, Frank Nilsson, tell me, where is he?
—Where is who? —Nilsson responds nervously, avoiding to look him at his hollow eyes for fear of receiving another punch.
—Kyle Wolff, where is he? —he asks insistently.
—I don’t know who you are talking about. I don’t know any person by that name.
—I'll help you a little to refresh your memory. Kyle Wolff, the leader of the ominous subversive insurgency laughably called the “Resistance” —Golden Mask expresses strutting around him—. He has in his possession something that belongs to me: The red book. Have you heard about this among your nasty pack of hounds? Does it sound familiar to you? Think hard about it before answering me. I know exactly who you all are and if I receive one more lie, I will rip your tongues out. I will start with the youngest, and I will make you witness each second of his suffering while his mouth gorges on his own blood until he drowns with it. He will want to scream, to ask for help, but the only thing that will come out of his mouth will be blood. It’s beautiful. Isn’t it? —he says laughing—. Then I will do the same with you two.
—No, no, please! Don’t hurt my brother! Do whatever you want with us, but let him go, please! —the man of the long dark hair replies immediately, holding the cloak of the man in the golden mask from behind with desperation.
—Let go of me, hound! —he orders in a prepotent manner—. What's your name? —he inquires turning back to see him.
—My name’s Leon Woźniak. Do you belong to the Great Confederation? We— I— I could give you valuable and confidential information about the Resistance —he says stuttering, making a vain attempt to persuade him.
—I don’t. I belong to something more significant than that ineffective and disastrous order which the thing that less provides this society is precisely that. They’ve been unable to eradicate these districts which are nothing but holes that attract hounds like you. Migrants, poor, sick, beings of defective genetics who, like you, hide in plain sight to plan their anarchic acts against authority. In essence, your enemy is the same as ours, but our goals differ from yours. These are purest. We will provide real order to the coming new world. We will end insurrection, hunger, disease and wars. You only crave anarchy —Golden Mask utters.
—Kyle Wolff is just a myth —Woźniak elucidates to him—. None of us has ever seen him. He’s a ghost. Maybe just from another world. There are emissaries of him throughout the Great Confederation spreading his message of union, freedom and hope. However, he is instead a thought, an ideal —Woźniak replies.
—You can spare me your profane propaganda. Myths are nothing but fairy tales. Only the result of the excessive imagination and collective idleness. So, tell me: do you suggest you’re also a figment of my imagination? If so, can you feel this? —he asks, stabbing him lightly and quickly in the ribs while Woźniak only writhes moaning in pain.
—Sir! It is verily all we know! We don't have the slightest clue of the whereabouts of that man Kyle Wolff —the youngest Woźniak utters immediately standing up as the guards push him back to the ground.
—Do you see it, boy? —Golden Mask asks the boy, showing him the bloodstained knife that protrudes from his glove with which he just stabbed his brother—. It’s blood. Impure blood. Do you know what the only way to purify it is? —he asks the boy, who scared, just shakes his head—. Certainly, you don't. You are just an ineligible, impure and ignorant. The only way to purify your blood, boy, is to spill it to the last drop. Some of our people like to use modern devices developed by our scientists, which extract all the blood from the body. Fast, clean and painless. Modern science knows no boundaries. But, where is intimacy and recreation in making a sacrifice if you don’t get your hands a little dirty? Therefore, I prefer to use more traditional methods. I’m a classics fiend, come to think of it. A small cut on the subject's neck and then you put it head-down. The blood will begin to flow until the last drop under the influence of gravity. Of course —he adds, making an explanatory gesture with his hands with a joyful voice—, it’s messier and much more brutal, as you can imagine, but it’s also sumptuous and solemn. My father, let me tell you, he never approved I did it this way. It seemed right to him if my younger brother did it, but not me. He has always had the privileges in our family. You remind me a lot of him when he was your age, by the way. So impulsive and dominant. However, he had a flaw: he showed feelings when he killed, and feelings are only supposed to make you weak. Tell me, have you ever had privileges in your family?
—I don't have a family, sir. My parents were killed during the war. All I have is my brother and his— and Frank. They take care of me now —he reveals by looking at both of them.
—Of course, how blind have I been! Lovely! They’re husbands. They’re your parents now. May I ask who is top and who is bottom? No. I think that would be a bit rude on my part. I never know what to say in these situations. But by the grace of the Highest, we will end all degeneration, so that I no longer have to feel uncomfortable with oddities like you. Tell me, boy, would you do anything for your brother?
—Yes. Absolutely, sir —he replies without hesitation.
—Then, take this —Golden Mask says handing him a blade—. Kill your brother's husband. Kill him now.
Continues in Seventh Instalment