God Machine Chronicles: Session 8: Encroaching Madness and Men

Written by Chris (alcoholandaphorism)

Car alarms are blazing left right and centre, pulses of light flash from Sanjiv’s house. His house where they left the clockwork dead man that attacked them. Ryan’s dead car still beside them, with Sanjiv’s house mate Michelle shaking by its side, shell shocked and trapped in the cacophony of light and noise. Seeing Sanjiv trying to calm Michelle, Ryan grabs his shoulder “Run!”

The three hurtle headlong away from the building, concentrating on away rather than where to.  Their flight is nearly cut terminally short as they sprint across the street, a car speeding out from the corner, seemingly from nowhere, pushing easily ten miles past the thirty mile per hour limit of the street.  The small panicked group managed to come to halt just before the car speeds past them, impact narrowly averted. Oxygen debt suddenly catching up with her, Ryan slows to a halt on the other side of the street, bent over at the waist, hand balanced on knee, taking in deep breaths to her lungs.

The morning is starting around them now, commuters stepping out from their doorways, taxi cabs and buses filling the streets, the normal seeming surreal and abnormal compared to the experiences they just faced. Michelle’s eyes are still wide, her words garbled, shock shutting down her thought processes.  Sanjiv speaking soothing platitudes unheard to her, trying to keep her grounded. Joined them Ryan tries to engage her, tries to snap her out of the darkness settling around her.

“Michelle, can you hear my voice? This is Ryan, are you ok?”

Michelle’s eyes flicker to the source of the sound, something in the tone reaching through to her. Her breathing slows, becoming more regular, words and sentences start to form in her babbling, still disjointed but coming together slowly. She is far from out of the woods, but, with enough therapy, Ryan thinks she has a chance of coming out of this ok.

“So, Sanjiv, where do we go from here? Do we go back to my police car? I have no idea what we do from here”

Sanjiv takes a moment, recovering from everything that has happened then speaks “We need to go into town. We need to get the group together again. If we lie low we should be able to catch Milosh back at work, we can send messages to the others”

“Sounds like a plan, I’ll send a text to the others arranging to meet back at the underground, at the place we used to get us through after the incident. Listen, I’m going to go back for the police car, we need transport. You can wait here, I won’t be long”

“Is it safe to do that?”

Ryan shrugs “I have no idea. You got a better plan?”

Sanjiv pauses, quiet, takes a deep breath and releases it “We should go together”

Ryan nods mutely, the three walking silently back the way they came. Hoping that the resumed normality holds.

In Brixton Gwil sits on a park bench, a metal sculpture rising organically from the ground. The arranged meeting place with the faith. The edges of his vision are going dark, the head wound taken from a police officers baton taking its toll. His body screams from within. All that isn’t what caused fear in Gwil though. No that honour is reserved for the seemingly normal man sitting beside him.

The man, at the same time an everyman police officer of undistinguished features, and yet something else. Something half seen, static, clockwork and cabling wound around a pulsating something unseen.  His faith holding him together Gwil sees the demiurge of his faith, static in an ill fitting suit. Mr Grey

“You said you see me for what I am” Mr Grey says “Do you know what I am?”

Biting back pain and the static filling his skull Gwil spits “You are everything I stand against. Everything wrong with the modern world, and you think I will accept your offer?”

“Gwil , I am a servant of the being you call god. The prime mover, the clock of eternity. I am an angel and a triumph. I will reunite you with Dave…”

Grey’s words trail away as a painful, hysterical laughter breaks from Gwil. His grasp on reality barely held, this things utter lack of understanding of him, of his faith forces him to laugh. This so powerful being so misunderstanding him is both terrifying and yet surreal that Gwil chokes trying to hold back the manic terrified laughter.

“Thus was not in our expected paramaters” Grey says “Why are you responding with this laughter?”
“You’re the servant of god, you tell me”

“That is not in my mission. I am here to bring you to the fulcrum point. So Gwil, what do you say?”

“Let me guess. I walk away I hear static and collapse. I attack you I hear static and collapse. I…”

“Gwil, this is for the best. There are other angels, ones that would take this to greater extent than I would. It was my choice to show you this. I have erred in this”

“Right” Gwil says “Guess I don’t have a choice do I? I’m going with you one way or another. Well this is what will happen. I’m going to sit here. I’m going to write a note. Then I will walk with you, don’t mistake that for buying what you are selling. I’m going to help Dave, that’s all I’m doing”

Grey looks at Gwil, in the same way a child would look at an ant “For whatever reason you come, it is all about choice. Seeing if there was a purpose, something that moves you. I have no time for your writing. No time to delay. Prepare yourself”

“Screw you” Gwil says, the static rising “I’ve walked all this way, pushed so hard for nothing. Screw you!”

Grey says nothing but stands, tattered leather and shredded skin unfurling from his back, rising in the shape of wings. He reaches out his hands, two fingers extended on each in benediction, clamping to the side of Gwil’s head like steel.

Gwil sees everything around him in that moment. An island of calm in the midst of people walking around them all, an island surrounded by the benches. No one sees them, no one bats an eyelid. An old church opposite, its clean sandstone walls scrubbed clean of the soot from air pollution. A weatherspoons opposite, people drinking and eating, unaware of the conflict outside.

Then Gwil sees it, sees with appalling clarity. Something watching, something alive that has no place in this world.  Something so familiar, yet an atrocity against nature, an absence of all hope and decency in a merciful universe.

The image first in hallucination overlays the creature with the symbolism of the crucified Christ, but the clarity of image soon does not allow that mind illusion of reassurance. A tree, moving. Seen in glimpses between the movement of lorries and cars. Closer each time. A child, crucified, the tree rupturing up through its legs and rib cage, the child’s head back at impossible angle, jaw dislocated around branches that grow forth. One lack of  eye focusses on Gwil, an empty socket that locks him more than the pressure on his skull. Maggots show a trail of the tree and child’s path, maggots dripped from where its genitals once were, trailing behind it.

Gwil knows it. Knows the maggots that he vomited for it before the root. Knows it from the vision.  It is closer now, moaning. Mewling painfully in the back of Gwil’s mind. It is the emblem of filth, holy and a sign of everything wrong with the world.  Gwil screams, on his knees, his cries interrupted by an upsurge of filth and maggots from his maw that spill onto the ground.

His head raises, eyes unfocussed, a blurred image of it, closer. The angel Grey has not seen it yet. Tears pour from Gwil’s eyes and as he blinks them clear it is closer still. Moving like stop motion film footage, wooden roots erupting from the ground where they cannot be. His body bucks in rebellion again, blood in his mouth now as he voids his stomach again, spilling writing maggots everywhere.

It is crooning to him now, a sexless child’s voice, speaking Gwil’s name. Saying that it belongs to Gwil and Gwil to it.  As the angel watches him, unaware of the presence behind, Gwil tries to drag himself away, writhing on his belly, unconsciously mimicking the motion he used to approach the root in ritual.

The angel Grey, steps forwards, his hands lowering to touch Gwil’s shoulder. The fingers bare brush Gwil’s skin before a wind picks up from the air and Grey flies through the air, crashing through the door’s of the Weatherspoons, the impact tearing them from their hinges. Screams erupt from within, the Angel Grey still unseen, but the damage caused breaks the occupants from their reverie.

The child thing is within ten feet of Gwil now, Screams running through his mind as he crawls from it. He can hear it, the beating heart of the tree, the insects crawling within. A final breath, corrupt, ancient and angry.

Through the wrecked bar doors  Inspector Grey steps out again, and the crowd see him as he is for the first time. The man and angel, his body racked now with lesions and stigmata. Both shapes collapse, blood pouring from his mouth, boiling insects and lava spilling loose.  The crowd screams at the sight of the clockwork angel, flame burning from within, struggling to his feet.
The root child won’t let Grey escape though, an other wave of invisible force crunches down upon him. The man’s skull collapses, black liquid spilling out, for a moment the angel is visible in all its glory and power, spilling out from the human shell, and then it is gone.

Panting Gwil rolls onto his back, lying on the cold concrete, the tree and corpse moaning, looking over him.  Branches reach down, touching his chest, leaves pushing through his skin and wrapping around Gwil’s heart. Gwil can feel it, something sick and dark seeping into his soul. He feels on the cusp of life and death, can feel as his soul is pushed loose and…

A breath enters his lungs, light shining down, light, alive. His body, physically whole and well, shivering with a mix of religious epiphany and absolute terror. The root child has gone, but still Gwil shudders with fear, his mind far from as healed as his body.  A hand grabs his shoulder, dragging him forcibly to his feet.

Light headed and gibbering Gwil stares into the face of the Druid, others of the faith spilling from the crowd that has gathered around him.  The Druid stares at him with contempt bordering on sheer hatred

“Gwil! What the hell have you brought down upon us? Come with me”

A manic grin on his face, Gwil dips, lifting a handful of maggots and offering them to the Druid Steven.  Steve smacks the hand away, spilling them upon the ground. Lifting them again Gwil proffers them once more

“Take them, they are holy”

Steve smacks the hand away again “You are rapidly reaching the end of your usefulness. Take him away”

As two men grab him by his arms and bundle him into a nearby car Gwil mutters “To think I never asked, where the sins I ate went. I couldn’t eat them all. Where did they go?”  laugher breaks from Gwil as those of the faith look at him with a mix of dread, fear, disgust and anger. He laughs to spare his pain, laughs to deny the reality of what he has seen but also as a pinprick of pride grows deep within him as he realises. None of them know, none has seen what he has seen. None have seen the Child Of All Sin.

That is the future, this is now. Half past nine in the morning. Sanjiv and Ryan stood by Ryan’s police car, looking at the front door of Sanjiv’s apartment. Michelle behind them in mute silence. They all look, remembering the clockwork police officer that assaulted them in there just a short while ago. Ryan still tries to make sense of it and failing, Sanjiv torn half between a wish to investigate and a wish to run screaming.

“If there is anything you need. Food. Supplies. Now is a good a time as any to get them” Ryan says, without waiting for a response she flips the as baton loose and steps towards the door. The door opens easily and she steps through, eyes and body moving in, in a room clearance pattern.

Upstairs there is a creak, a sound like the movement of cogs and pistons. As the small group move up, something reflects in the frosted glass of the window of the door to Sanjiv’s apartment. A silhouetted figure deep inside. Kicking hard, Ryan throws the door open, busting straight into the room, asp ready.

Empty. The room is empty. Throwing fully open the door to the kitchen, Ryan sees what cast the odd shadow, Not a person, every tin can, knife, fork, pot, pan, utensil and more  stacked upon the kitchen table, flowing outwards like a system of cogs moving against each other. Orbiting each other. They stand imprinted on her vision for a bare moment the collapse, spilling and rippling outwards from the point of impact and filling the floor.

Ryan just steps back, glancing around the apartment where Sanjiv and Michelle now stand just outside There is no sign of the fight that happened here just thing morning.

“Sanjiv, it is safe to come in now” Ryan says

Sanjiv quickly scoops up what he needs. Cash, clothing, food and his passport. That done they quickly depart once more, leaving the silent department behind. Reforming back at the Police car Ryan looks through responses to the messages sent out earlier, mostly everyone is ready to meet up tonight.

“Good” Sanjiv says “We need to meet in safe location, tell them to meet in the area under Waterloo Station where we have been having our meeting”

“Sure” Ryan says “I’m taking the police car back, if I see anything out of the ordinary on the way I’ll let you know. Do you want a lift?”

Sanjiv shakes his head “I’ll make my own way”

and so Ryan makes her way back to the promise of a long shower and time to forget, then to try and meet with Mark Daniels to try and find out what the hell is happening with the information she leaked.

Meanwhile Sanjiv pauses before heading to the Bus stop, instead taking a moment to talk with Michelle trying to find out what support she has to get her through this.

“Michelle, do you have somewhere safe to go? Anywhere you can lie low? You can join with the rest of us who have run into things like this if you wish, but I will warn you we are in over our heads. We probably aren’t safe people to stay around”

Michelle looks down at a cup of tea in her hands, looking lost, as if she doesn’t know what world she is living in.

“Do you have family nearby?” Sanjiv asks

Michelle keeps her eyes on the tea, staring at it, then after a long pauses nods “Yeah. Yeah, my boyfriend. He has a place near Chingford. I can go up there”

As she talks Sanjiv spots a trickle of blood from behind the back of her ear, coming out from her scalp, Michelle seems unaware of it as it runs down her cheek and drips down into her tea.

Michelle looks up Sanjiv questioningly, opening her mouth to speak, but a cough comes out instead. The teacup shatters on the floor as Michelle collapses holding her ribs. Bloodied coughs come up into screams as she lies there. Sanjiv reacts on instinct, moving her into the recovery position, blood pouring from her mouth.  Painful wheezes come from her lungs. A contusion on the back of her skull as if struck by an object. Her rib is broken.

Holding the phone to the side of his ear Sanjiv dials 999, praying for response as static holds the line for a moment, then a woman’s voice answers

“Hello, what is the nature of your emergency?”

“I have a seriously injured person, head wound, we need an ambulance here now”

As Sanjiv gives the address details Michelle’s skin starts going ashen, a green grey colour blotching on the skin  and thick blood now coughing from the mouth. Sanjiv has seen the state before, she is going into full on cardiac arrest.

In the long minutes while they wait for the ambulance Sanjiv is with her constantly, using what first aid he knows to stem off the worst of the attack, and it works, her condition starts to stabilise.

As he starts to relax, the worst over, Sanjiv looks in response to a gurgle from Michelle. Her lips parting, beetles clawing their way out followed by a stream of maggots that spill onto the ground, terror fills her eyes as she starts hyperventilating, spraying the small creatures everywhere. The air chills, and Michelle’s eyes lock in terror on a space just behind Sanjiv’s shoulder. Swinging around Sanjiv finds nothing but a black wall, and when he turns back Michelle is dead.

Barely holding himself together, Sanjiv heads to the sink, tries to clean the blood from himself. The cry of ambulance sirens now audible in the distance. Too late. Before they can arrive he opens the emergency exit and slips out through back alleys and gardens, away from this cursed place. Away from where Michelle died of exactly the same wounds that Gwil had when he came here before.

At the sanctuary of the root, Gwil is shacked and zip tied to a chair. Alone in the darkness, in a small room below the earth. He can feel the root, feel the pulse of life from it. How did he ever miss it before, he can feel the Child Of All Sin, can feel the inevitability of meeting it again, but not now. Now he is alone, not even able to mark out the door in the dusty darkness before him. There is a smell of mould and rat droppings, the taste of earth and decomposed leaves filling his mouth.  He pulls against the restraints, but finds no slack.

Then, light fills the doorway, silhouetting the figure of Head Druid Steve, flanked by muscle at each side, stripped down to galoshes and weightlifting vests. The heavies arms are marked by tattoos of the faith, of allegiance, and their hair cropped down to the bone. Between the two they unfold a chair and table, allowing Steve to sit facing Gwil. Tired, anger showing on his face, Steve asks
“Gwil, why, why why, why have you failed us again? I, we, know about what happened outside Waterloo. We know about the police officers and the charge brought against you. Why have you brought so much attention to yourself? To us? If it wasn’t already too late I would consider ensuring that you were erased permanently, the function you serve not withstanding. So, what am I to do with you?”

Gwil stares out through bloodshot eyes, his words tumbling forth with no inner monologue checking them first “What to do? The Child Of All Sin struck down the demiurge to save me. You say you  do not know what to do? You know nothing” Gwils voice shifts to a hard snarl at the end from the panicked rush that came before. Steve looks back with cold steel in his eyes.

“What happened with the girl Gwil? What happened at UCL? You had an altercation with the uncle that resulted in the accusation being brought”

“I lost my temper. I went there to make things right, but the demiurge had him. The demiurge has him. I wasn’t ready and I lost my temper. We fought. The demiurge had pushed him to the breaking point”

Stave shakes his head “The demiurge does not exist, he is an allegory and…” Steve’s words are cut off by hysterical laughter from Gwil.

“I saw him” Gwil shrieks “I saw him, the demiurge! The demiurge has him and he will break, we have to move quickly if we are to catch him. We have to protect him, he is important to the demiurge so he is important to us”

“Gwil, we, the demiurge is a term we use, you don’t understand the background, the development…What happened to you Gwil? You serve a useful function and you serve it well. You don’t understand the theology, the” Gwil’s laughter cuts him off again, pained frantic laughter.

Steve stares “Hurt him. Now.”

“Go on” Gwil shouts “Go on, didn’t you hear, the police hurt me. Smashed me with a baton. Where is it  now? Wounds don’t heal that fast. WHERE IS IT? That man nearly killed me and look at me now.”

Gwils head recoils back as the nearest muscle slaps him across the face.

“You are still obviously mortal” Steve says in the silence “Where is the girl? What am I to do?”

“What do you mean where is the girl?” Gwil says

“She has not been seen since the argument. The rumours are that you abducted her, and I wanted to find out if that was the case. I hoped you had worked on her enough to build up a trust with her. So tell us where she is so we can bring her into the fold”

“The uncle has her”

“You keep saying that Gwil and..

“The uncle was going mad. When I saw him. The things the demiurge sent him, they were sending him mad. Information about power from another world. Listen its all connected, Lisa is connected to her Uncle, she is connected to the root. If she is important to us then she is important to them.”

Steve looks at Gwil levelly, disappointment in his eyes “Why did you come back to us Gwil? Why did you want to speak to me?”

“Because we have to get her, and the uncle, we need to move fast but I…”

“I don’t care about that, I don;’ care about the uncle. Hit him again”

Suddenly realisation hits Gwil, seconds before a raised fist is about to “I KNOW WHERE SHE IS. DRUID I KNOW WHERE LISA IS”

The heavy pauses mid wind up of his swing and Steve asks “Explain?”

“The warehouses, where Dave went missing. She must be there, must be with the other missing”

“I don’t care about the others missing. I care about recruiting Lisa to the fold”

“I can get her! We can, there is a group of us” Gwil stammers “We can get her out of there”

“I see, then we will go to this group. We have been keeping an eye on some of them already, we shall see which of them are ready to be brought into the fold, the rest we have no need of”

“No. You can’t go there. If you do, its eye will be on you. You can’t escape. You can’t go there”

Steve frowns at this unexpected obstinance “I am your druid and you will speak with some fucking respect”

“And you haven’t seen the Child of all Sins”Gwil says with contempt “You haven’t even seen that” manic laughter bursts free from him again, unnerving laughter. The bouncers look at each other then back to Gwil unsure of what to do

“Gwil” Steve says “you were a waste of fucking space before, you were never going to have a true place in this sect. Now…the faith is going to chew you up and spit you out. This girl is worth more than you know and she will be brought in if it is the end of everything”

“Yeah, and you think the demiurge is an allegory” Gwil laughs again, years of swallowing down abuse freed by the tearing down of his mind before what he faced today “You think the fucking demiurge is an allegory. You haven’t seen the angels”Through all his fear he cannot stop laughing.

Steve stares long and hard “All of you, we need to prepare for tonight. Lock him up”

And with that they are gone, sealing the door and shutting the light out once more, and in the dark Gwil heaves dryly, no air for the laughter, just shaking at the nightmares to come.

In Ryan’s apartment Ryan Winters heads out the door, hair still sightly damp from the shower, and feeling more human once more. It doesn’t take her long to reach Liverpool Street Station where her contact Mark should be waiting for her. Pressing through the crowd of people she surveys the lower floor of the Weatherspoons they had arranged to meet at, seeing nothing.  Alert to potential danger she stars up the spiral staircase to the second floor, glancing over the days drinkers.

Mark sits in the corner, in dark business attire and running his hands through his thinning hair as he reads  a novel, seemingly unaware of the world. As Ryan steps closer though he greets her without looking up “Ryan. Good to see you again. Drink?”

“Sure. A pint of something please” Ryan says as she sits down

“They have a nice IPA on tap here, I’ll be right back” As Mark pushes down on the table to stand up his fingers brush against Ryans, slipping a usb stick into her grasp. Slipping the memory stick smoothly into her pockets Ryan waits for Mark to return with a pint. She doesn’t like the setup here, too open even tucked in the corner by the air conditioning as it is.

Mark, seemingly reading her mind says “I’m sorry for bringing you to this place, too public I know” as he presents her with her pint  “My e-mails are compromised and I wanted to do this in person.  I don’t know how they got on me, I only did face to face with one journalist. Another disappeared, the rest aren’t returning my calls. It is like the bad old days of the D-Notice. No one wants to touch this. Thing is, you know journalists, I thought at least one would pull their fingers out after all the favours I did them over the years”

Mark sighs before continuing “Listen, I woke up this morning and their was a manilla envelope by my bed. My girlfriend saw it, saw a headline dated next week saying she had been in a fatal car crash. I don’t know who these people are but they are dangerous. They could make this happen. I’m starting to see shadows everywhere. Part of me thinks I should pull out, this is the sort of thing that got me into law in the first place, to do good, but this is way too big. I’m seeing connections to nudge psychology and that Snowdon stuff. They are making people vanish Ryan, not just a warehouse in Romford. This is the entire country, or even further afield, and it has been going on for a long time.”

Ryan shakes her head “Listen, it sounds like you have too much to lose Mark, You can get out of this”

“Too much to lose, yes,  its called life, the same as yours”

“Pfft” Ryan replies with a curved smile “I dunno, some times I feel like I haven’t got much left

“Well, I’ve taken steps” Mark says “ Journalists in South America who can get it into the hands of Wikileaks, problem is after Assange their touch is black death to a story.  I contemplated leaking it to this web group called anonymous but I don’t know what effect that would have. We don’t have the means in this country to feasibly hurt them any more,

“Move away to somewhere safer then” Ryan says “If you have had your e-mail compromised then I am going to be burned and soon”
“I didn’t mention you”

“No, but they will trace the documents back to me sooner or later”

“Yeah, I guess, every time I dig deeper there seem to be a link to something else”

“It’s almost so big as to not be remotely plausible isn’t it?”

“That’s pretty much it” Mark says “I’m seeing tales of Vampires in the Vatican. Kids vanishing in a field under thorn-bushes, a crackpot claiming to have made a Frankenstein monster in Sheffield. They are all demented, some of them would seem demented even if I hadn’t seen what was in the media”

“We can’t change the world with two of us” Ryan says “We need to find just one small chunk we can bring down, some impact”

“Then find hard evidence for these warehouses. The Minister of Work and Pensions has his fingerprints all over the initiative. That should be enough”

“Yeah, but you know how well connected politicians are” Ryan says as she downs the rest of the pint “Let me know if anything comes up, I’ve got a meeting to get to. Not related…or maybe it is somehow. Huh, I thought leaking this information would do something. Maybe I was just naive”

“It’s like we’ve learned nothing from history” Mark says “Or maybe they’ve learned everything. From the Nazis to the Stazi, an experiment that is down to fine tuning now.  I’ve made precautions in case something happens, if it does everything will be leaked on the internet. I need to head off as well, check if the other half is all right”

Ryan nods “I’d recommend the two of you take a holiday, somewhere nice and sunny. I hear Brazil is nice this time of year” With one final glance around the bar, Ryan walks out of the bar, and on to the meeting, of all who were present at the incident.

Sanjiv has been down in their meeting room for a while. The place they chose to meet, the place where they not be disturbed, deep below Waterloo station. It’s a forgotten set of rooms off from one of the long silent lines of old underground deep in the dark. It was here that they told their half held memories, and shared their fears and nightmares.  A Spartan room, with dragged in old sofas amongst the adverts of decades long past. Old Fries peppermint signs alongside classic underground logos. It is here that Sanjiv has been setting up his laptop and projector, setting up notes and handouts to pass around, agenda and risks listed, brewing up tea and coffee ready for the crowd to come. He is fairly sure he wasn’t seen as he came in,  moving from the bus line to the tube station, slipping in through an old service entrance.  With everything ready he settles down on the sofa and waits for the rest to come, amongst the glow of lampshade lacking bulbs that throw out their coronas of light.

Above, in Waterloo Station by night Gwil shuffles along, a heavy close behind, unsheathed blade close to his ribs, hidden from the public’s sight by the heavies jacket. Members of the faith stalk by his side, Head Druid Steven himself watching over as Gwil is pushed forwards. As they reach the entrance to the service hatch they push Gwil down into the dark, trusting that he will be no difficulty to follow.

They thought wrong. Gwil’s loyalty, his subservience that allows him to survive his daily degradation, is to the faith. Steve just declared himself to not believe in the Demiurge, in an element of the faith. He has always been the one to obey, but recent encounters have left him far from the person he was before.  In the familiar dark of the tunnels it is easy to slip away, maybe just because they never expected him to do so. So, alone in the dark, he makes his way towards the meeting room. He heard that recent events have caused a power vacuum in the faith, he wonders through his cracked mind at what will happen next.

Ryan arrives at the sealed doors that mark the outer limits of their meeting room, stab vest and full uniform on, it may come in useful in what comes next. She left her car parked safely away from the site, nothing to tie them together.  As the doors are drawn back she sees Trisha, Milosh and Sanjiv huddled inside on the sofas. Milosh happily demolishing a six pack of obscure Polish lager that he seems to favour.  Stepping in Ryan spies another figure brooding in the corner, Nate, hands wrapped around his knees, haggard and ill shaven. Nate says nothing, brooding silently. Turning to close the doors behind her, Ryan sees Gwil standing in the doorway.

“Hey” Gwil says, louder than necessary “Milosh, I’ve brought you some water since you’ve given up drinking”

“What the hell Gwil?” Milosh says, can in hand “I’ve n..”
“We don’t judge you” Gwil interrupts “Ya know, like we didn’t judge Sanjiv when he converted to Christianity” Sanjiv looks bemused as Gwil continues “Or ya know, how me and Nates are always mates and never argue” Gwil finishes , slouching against the wall still wide eyed as he looks over the group.

Confused Trisha looks to Ryan “Ryan, love, why did you get in touch. Why did we have to keep Dave out of it?”

“We’re fairly certain that isn’t Dave” Sanjiv says.

“Sanjiv, luv, what is up with you? Dave is doing fine, better than ever.. He’s given up on all those conspiracy theories that..” Suddenly Gwils inappropriate laughter breaks over Trisha’s words. Once the laughter dies down Trisha looks over “Gwil. Gwil, do you want to sit down. Gwil are you ok?”

“Heh. Heh. Sanjiv. Sanjiv” Gwil says “How did I look this morning?”

Sanjiv looks Gwil up and down “Concussion, blunt trauma to the head resulting in a skull fracture. Broken rib. Possibly internal bleeding. Pretty much the same injuries my house mate developed at ten o clock this morning” Sanjiv finishes with steel in his voice “Her name was Michelle. She’s dead now”

Ryan blinks and looks the nearly unharmed Gwil up and down, disbelieving “Well” She says to the room. “We have a serious issue and we are in over our heads”

“Yeah, of course” Milosh says between swigs of lager “Gwil thinks I’m teetotal“

with a scratchy voice Gwil shouts “Yes! I was trying to subtly indicate that a bunch of very powerful people above us are trying to tell us what to do and say, and they don’t believe when I tell them not to and they, and ,and subtlety isn’t worth A FUCK”

Trisha, disturbed by this outpouring turns to Sanjiv “You said Gwil had a head injury today. Could that..Should we look him over?”

Ryan shakes her head “From the injuries Sanjiv described he wouldn’t even be conscious”

“We should still check” Sanjiv says, and with ill manner Gwil allows himself to be looked over, revealing nothing but some contusions from impacts around his mouth.  At this Trisha seems to deflate, rubbing her palms against her forehead “It’s the incident again isn’t it”

“Is no one caring that there are people with fucking knives trying to…” Gwils words are cut off as Ryan slaps him across the face

“Pull yourself together Gwil. We’ve all hard a hard time of it

“Hard Time? Hard Time? I saw it. I saw an Angel with wings of fucking clockwork and..”

Nate’s head finally rises “You saw it too? Gwil. I’ve been trying to hold it together since they came. I’ve been trying to explain it with theoretical physics, been reading the Kabbalah, Gwil I’ve been reading some fucked up shit in light of the those e-mails. I always though religion was, was”

Walking across the room Gwil leans in close, whispering “I can help. I am a servant of the root, you can..”

Nate shoves him back ”No. It’s all, all maths and energy. I’ve been working it out. We can set up and EMP and deal with these cunts. I’ve been reading on the internet how to exorcise these demons. Its omen shit but it looks like it works. If you can set up a negative feedback loop in their manifest wave field then you can disrupt their whole pattern”

Trisha watches with growing horror on her face “Ryan, there is something wrong with Gwil. What is wrong with Gwil?”

“I don’t know” Ryan says “Whatever it is it is real and it is serious. We need to stick together and keep together as much as we can”

“What we need to do is get my niece back” Nate says

Ryan nods “You reported your niece missing to the police. Has anything happened with that?”

“I rang the police to find out and all I got way my own number. Lisa’s gone and I can’t, I can’t, they are in my head.”

Pulling Nate close and staring straight into his eyes Ryan says “We are going to get her back”

Nate struggles loose and collapses shaking and crying “It’s all my fucking fault. I never should have opened that e-mail. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, it wasn’t you Gwil, you didn’t do it. I know that now. It was them, they made you do it. They even got to Dave. We all thought he was mental but he was right”

“It is not your fault” Sanjiv says, laying a hand on Nate’s shoulder “None of us could know what we were getting into.”

“Well, there are some warehouses we need to stomp down on” Ryan says

“First we need to run through our experiences, find out what we all know so we can plan” Sanjiv says to nigh unanimous nods.

“Hey the fuck?” Milosh says as he pops the tab on another can “I’ve had a quiet time.”

“Then let me start” Sanjiv says, and he does, explaining everything that has happened to him, about what they say at Dave’s room, at his absence and the creature in his place, of the static and Mr Grey, and finally of the phone call from what seems to be the real Dave “He said, he said they had taken his eyes”

A gasp fills the room, then a silence no one seems to want to break.  Finally Ryan speaks “Well, guess I’d best go next. Do you have a computer I can use in this place?”

Sanjiv waves to the laptop “Right” Ryan starts “So I did some digging into Dave’s disappearance. Got a lot of pressure from above as well, telling me to cover it up. So, I decided to leak it all to the press”  In the minutes that follows Ryan runs through all she found, the links to Edutech, to the Work and Pension Minister, the Government think tank, the work under Bush and Reagan era, the NSA experiments in the 40’s and 60’s. “The current Minister for Work and Pensions is up to his elbows in it. The work program identifies people with certain psychological conditions and then they are disappeared. I had a friend of mine in CPS that tried to feed it to the press but no one wants to deal with it”

Trish’s mouth is wide open, but Milosh just laughs and swigs again” Fucking hell, Russia and Poland this was happening all the fucking time. Now it is here, who needs the Stazi when you have people worse than Stalin”

“and no-one cares “Ryan says

“Fucking hell man, my grandfather fought against these fucks. You saw what the Nazis got up to in Poland. Then you fucking English, you let this happen with your eyes wide open. And of the free? You are all fucking serfs. Free fucking press pussies”

“Nice high horse” Ryan says “You are in as deep as the rest of us”

Milosh shakes his head “Fuck me, I don’t know what to do. Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow you die and then they will go through your e-mail”

“It could be a mistake, couldn’t it?” Trisha says, looking to Ryan with pleading in her eyes “No..it’s all true isn’t it? If we go to the warehouse like you say how do we know it wont happen to all of us?”

Ryan says nothing, but Saniv looks to Nate “Nate, you said you had a way to fight back, how hard is it to pull off?”

Nate shakes his head, trying to clear it “I don’t know. I’ve been reading some crazy shit, there a lot of stuff I’ve been reading that seems close to quantum entanglement, like affecting like. That crazy bastard John Dee called it. If you arrange things in a certain way it would, it,..its religion, its witchcraft, but it would have some effect.” Nate pauses, uncertain then goes on “I don’t believe half this shit but the maths backs it up. If this is right we are dealing with things that are alive, and there are things that are key to their energy frequency. That can disrupt it, it is like it flat-lines their waveform and they are gone. I don’t know if it is permanent”

“It’s something” Ryan says

“It has taken me a month to pull together enough for even one. The one I saw, that came to talk to me. He looks just like some random bloke, police”

“Detective Chief Inspector Grey” Ryan says, with long held breath.

Laughter echoes again from Gwil at this as Nate continues “My theory is that they are always here, next to us but on different frequencies. It is like gravity, it is so feeble, it should be stronger, but if there is a multiverse it makes sense.  They are always here but if we can jam the frequency we can stop them dicking us around”

Ryan nods “It is like we are microbes on a petri-dish to them, well lets fuck them up a bit”

“What I’ve worked out with Inspector Grey I stumbled across by accident. I asked to see its warrant card. It couldn’t do it, it left. Its like if you ask this shit and they can’t do it they have to leave you alone”

“Interesting” Ryan says

“Well, don’t engage them in any conversation though” Sanjiv warns “They have the ability to manipulate minds somehow, a screech that makes you blackout”

“Yeah they do” Nate agrees “I had an MRI scan. There is a shadow in my brain. They thought it was cancer, but they upped the contrast. Its a mechanism. They put a device in my fucking head and I don’t know what the fuck it does. If I try and remove it, it will probably kill me, but I can hear them. Right now.. they’re coming! He’s here”

Gwil snaps out of the strange trance he was in and shouts “Move then. FUCKING MOVE”

The computer monitor screen pixelates then collapses to black. The lights drop, and deep down the tunnels a luminescence rises. Coming closer, Footsteps, a single pair start echoing in the tunnel, every other step comes with the sound of something dragging through the gravel. Ryan realises she has drawn her ASP baton that now weighs down in her hand. The room is lit by light flickering on and off around them and Ryan takes a single step towards the approaching figure, ready to face it.

Sanjiv goes to grab the laptop, ignoring Gwils shouts to “Leave it. Leave it”. Nate shouts “Remember the warrant card.” Ryan takes another step forwards

“Ryan, luv, please come with us” Trisha says, holding a hand outpouring

A man shaped figure is visible in the distance silhouetted by flickering energy across the line.  Swallowing her pride, Ryan starts backing off, keeping rear guard as Sanjiv leads the others out through the previously secured door. As Ryan reaches the door, she pauses, holding in the doorway, an obstacle before the coming figure

“Come on Ryan” Sanjiv says “No point standing and fighting if you don’t have to”

With a grit of her teeth, Ryan finally turns and flees with the others, Sanjiv barricading the door behind them “We can fight later”

Taking advantage of Sanjivs distraction, Gwil suddenly grabs for the laptop, trying to smash it against the walls. Off balance Sanjiv stumbles away, hand grabbing to his bag, holding it firmly

“It’s touched it” Gwil screams “It knows it. It will track it. Get rid of it”

As if to answer, the lights above flicker off one by one and, arguments forgotten, they run. Blood pumping in their ears, and hearts racing they run as the lights drop, one by one, until none are left.

Then they run into the dark

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