The boy glared at the line he currently stood in. These gatherings were getting incredibly frustrating. An entire waste of time if anyone bothered to ask him. But no, their government continued to waste the money on things they deemed more “Worthy of their time.” Rolling his eyes as an officer passed him, he waited to be checked before he passed through a metal detector and down the steps of the City Hall. Some distance ahead, people were getting pulled and separated. Although it wasn’t the people themselves, they were being divided into groups. Test subjects, he thought, assuming that what he was currently observing was more towards the experiment stages.
Lately though, many of his friends had disappeared… They were activists; a large aggressive and sometimes of a lemming-esque mindset. It worried him that he had no heard from them since they left for their most recent excursion. From what he heard, it was something along the lines of a protest against the government. Dom always out spoke against the government, but never at a public protest. He wanted to do something, but it seemed to him that getting arrested was not the best way. As of late, he had been working on other ways one could strike down the government and attract very little attention to one self.
His eyes scanned the crowd, searching for a familiar face. So far, no sign of any of his friends. It was as if they were wiped off the face of the planet. Just as he thought that once more he was on his own, he caught sight of a mentor and close pal that had taught him many things about protesting.
“Whale! Whale! Wait up!” He shouted, moving through the crowd until he reached his friend. “Where have you been? I’ve been wondering what happened to you,” Dom said, grabbing Whale’s arm. The man blinked several times, staring at the male grasping his arm. The look on his face was of confusion, and as if he was maybe a bit constipated.
“What can I do for ya, boy-o?” The man asked him, patting Dom on the head.
“Whale… come on, it’s me, Dom. What, do you have amnesia? This isn’t some lame soap opera!”
Still staring at him as if he were trying to remember, the man shook his head.
“I’m sorry. I wish I could remember you,” he said, patting Dom’s shoulder now. “Were we lovers?” Dom’s whole face fell, almost literally as he released Whale and watched his mentor continue with the crowd.
It was terrifying for him to think his own mentor that was practically his father—if you asked his mother, Whale was suspected to being the young man’s father—didn’t recognize him. Something happened at that rally. That something changed, Whale, and I’ve heard it’s changed others too, he thought, slamming a determined fist into his open palm. Turning and practically swimming with the rest of the crowd, Dom headed back to his home.
All these problems had provided his brain with plenty to gnaw on. Now it was a matter of discovering a solution. Taking a glance at his watch, he picked up his pace as he knew he had plans to meet someone at his place. And from what the resume said, a woman no less. Passing through the chain linked fence, Dom headed along the rows to his warehouse. It was his work, and also his home. Unlike most people, he kept to himself now-a-days. With all his friends acting strangely and the government kidnapping rebellions leaders, he had to be careful with who he spoke to. The warehouse was quiet, and rather dim as of late.
Currently he was trying to cut down on money by allowing the workers to remain home for a few days a week—especially since many were nervous to travel. Whenever one moved about the city they were forced to undergo brainwave scanners. Conspiracy theorists thought it would make your brain glow and the government would slip in a probe to track you at all times… or a host of other things. Really, Dom didn’t care. He just laughed mostly.
But ever since the new group had been elected into power, things had changed startlingly fast. Taking the last few strides to the center of the storage place, he stopped on a sewer lid and opened his phone. The light made his face bright in the dark. Entering several digits on the keypad, he closed it firmly and waited a moment. An engine sprang to life somewhere, followed by several others sounds and suddenly he was descending through the floor. Rarely did he actually do this when his workers were here. Most of the time he was up in his office before they arrived, and remained there after they all left. If his workers were there, he just made sure to pretend to come out of the sewer using the ladder instead of the lift. Above him, another lid slid into place as he rode down on the current one. Stepping off as it just landed in its pad, he glanced around searching for his new hire… or who he hoped might be his new hire. Lately, he had a hard time finding a new assistant. No one was quite up to par with what he needed from a person. Moving to his home office, he passed through the work bench and up to the final resting spot of his desk.
It was quite clean compared to the rest of the place. To Dom, it was no wonder he was still single. He lived underground and in a rather large space to maintain cleanliness. Checking his messages on his answering machine, he nodded, seeing that he had none; as it should be. So far he had succeeded at cutting off any ties to those he thought might have been taken already. Sometime soon his appointment would arrive.
Someone had called about his ad in the paper for a new assistant. She had sounded nice, rather charming. He had been hoping she wasn’t some blonde bimbo that kissed ass and wanted to worm her way into the pants of her boss. If she was, she’d be back outside in a nanosecond. Dom wasn’t the kind of guy looking for a good screw. He wanted someone he could depend on and know he could turn to if he were to fall ill or be taken captive. Either way, this was the thirteenth person to respond. Looking at the video feed on the television across from his desk, he watched as she approached the location they were to meet at.
Dom had researched her background thoroughly to make sure she wasn’t an extremist protestor that might already be bugged by the Feds and having her every move tracked. His eyes watched as he saw her turn down the alley he had specified. Without these cameras, he wouldn’t have been able to track her through the current maze he wanted her to reach in order to enter his current lair. If she did blow his cover, he could easily terminate her… So far he hadn’t found any relatives that would search eagerly for her return. Reaching the dead end he had hoped she would, he moved to a different location in his home and stood in a small elevator that took him to the surface. This time though he was at a back corner of the warehouse. It was an area that was darker and easier to get to if you didn’t know the warehouse district quite so well.
Stepping from the lift, he peeked out. She was standing, just as he asked. Pushing open the door roughly, he looked at her. They stared at each other for several moments in silence.
“Are you D00m?”
“Yeah, but I assumed we were going to do this during the daytime,” she said, crossing her arms.
“Well, I would, but I’m allergic to the sunlight,” he said, standing with the doorknob in his hand. She stared at him a few more moments before walking towards him.
“That sucks. Don’t you miss the spring and summer?” Dom shrugged in response to her question.
“Come on in,” he said, turning and leading her in. She followed, reaching to shut the door. “It’ll close on its own. Don’t worry.” Her hand in mid air, she glanced at him, and then followed. Hesitantly she watched him several times, and then the door, seeing it indeed closed and locked on its own.
Dom noticed the bag over her shoulder. He had given her the option to stay and prove that she was fully capable of the job. They walked in silence before reaching stairs that led downwards. Their feet echoed on the old metal steps as they descended and entered the basement. Several duffle bags lined the wall to their left, oddly making her feel more comfortable that others might be there. Moving to drop her bag to the pile, Dom glanced over his shoulder.
“Not there. Those are from the others that tried out for the job,” he said, stopping at a keypad and entering in several numbers; the door slid open revealing the gigantic space that was his home.
“What happened to them?” D00m asked, not worried but mostly curious. She was going to be the cat curiosity killed. His shoulders shrugged as they continued inside. Behind them the door sealed itself.
A barking noise was heard somewhere in the basement. Whistling Dom sat at a work bench and waited several moments before a dog came sprinting up to greet him. D00m could tell there was obviously something wrong with this pet. Or maybe she figured that out since it currently was carrying its own leg in its jaws.
“Good boy, Uno! You brought your leg to me,” he said, taking it from the dog’s mouth and pulling out a needle and some thread. Sitting obediently, the dog sat happily as Dom reattached the limb. Blinking several times at the site, she suddenly beamed.
“He’s so cute!” She squealed, dropping to her knees and petting him happily.
“Hmm. Well, that’s one thing off my list,” he thought aloud. Many of the other interns had been moderately disturbed or incredibly weirded out that Dom had a zombie puppy running about. Clearing his throat, he looked to D00m.
“You’re number thirteen. That’s what you’ll answer to until I hire you. At that point I will call you by your name. For now, your main duty is to attend to the tasks I give you and don’t ask questions. Your room is down the hallway over there,” he gestured to a large hall with several doors down it. “Any questions?” Staring at him blankly, D00m didn’t know if that was rhetorical.
“No. It’s self explanatory,” she said, petting Uno one last time before standing. Nodding, Dom grabbed a list off his desk and handed it to her. Grasping the paper, she started to read it over. The tasks were menial; odd jobs and busy work that a secretary would do… At least until she read father down and realized that attending to a zombie puppy and shining masonry and other sharp, pointy objects in a file room. This is not a normal job, she thought looking up from the list.
It was already pretty late, but Dom didn’t look like he was going to sleep anytime soon. Going off to find her room, D00m dumped off her stuff and began on her list.
* * * * *
Two AM. Two fucking in the morning and here she was still chiseling away at that God-forsaken list. So far she had done the laundry, checked the news, retrieved the mail, answered and made several phone calls… and fed the dog. Or rather, attempted to. She wasn’t quite sure what you feed a zombie puppy in the wee hours of the morning. When she dumped a cup of kibble in his bowl, all he did was stare at her with an incredibly blank look on his face.
If he didn’t eat kibble, why was it even half-gone and down here in the first place? Grumbling something about the next few items on her list, she glanced over to see that Dom was at a different work bench building something. His face mask lit up as he began to weld something that looked vaguely like a gun.
Frowning, she skimmed through her list to find where she left off. There seemed to be no particular order that things needed to be done, so D00m was currently working on the easier items, or at least what sounded easier. Either way, she wanted to tend to the more dangerous items when she was more conscious; Or maybe with some Rockstar pumping through her veins. That might work.
Shuffling to the fridge and rather well equipped kitchen, she found this one was full of food. Not quite feeling hungry, she looked to see that there were two other fridge units that stood next to this one. Forcing their doors open, she found one contained purely frozen food while the other had every kind of drink she could imagine. Taking two cans, she downed both of them easily. She could feel the caffeine spread through her bloodstream. It made her feel rather giddy and energized her. Feeling fully awakened, she found where she left off and immediately rushed off in a crazy blur.
Dom shut off the torch and waited several moments for it to cool. Turning to see where his current intern was, he blinked not able to find her. She couldn’t have left already, could she? He thought, unable to track her. Suddenly out of nowhere, she appeared with the hazmat suit on and heading towards the cooling room. Compared to others, she was catching on much faster. Taking off the welding mask, he moved back to where his desk was. Grabbing his jacket, he waited until she returned… which was surprisingly only a five minute wait.
“Come on, Thirteen. Let’s go,” he said, slipping it on. Divesting the suit, she hung it properly and followed after him up the stairs.
“It’s another mandated public gathering. We have to at least make an appearance… Otherwise we’ll face arrest,” he said as they walked down the streets. People were being hustled and forced about into lines. Some were even being hauled into large paddy wagons. Both of them watched as these people got led away.
“Why are they being led away?” He asked casually, hands in his pockets as they continued. Waiting several moments, D00m glanced at him and then straight ahead as another caravan pulled out full of people. She was in debate whether it was a test, or a truly honest question.
“They spoke out against the government. And despite a warning, they continue to protest,” she answered. Between them they worked on looking as inconspicuous as possible.
“This world is becoming a rather odd place, Thirteen. Mephanie Styer’s takeover is what is leading many to fear the government. What do you think happens when these people go away?” These questions were getting quite serious… and they were in public too.
“I’m sure it’s a warning, maybe some torture. Jail time… and then they get sent back I suppose,” D00m answered, shrugging. It all seemed pretty routine; minus the torture of course.
“They get brainwashed. All of them. Every person gets tortured and forced to believe that this takeover is a good thing for the country. When they return, they won’t remember who you are, or what their life is about,” he stated matter-of-factly.
“How do you--?”“I’ve seen it happen. Many of my friends have disappeared and when I met up with them again, I’m barely remembered,” he paused as they came to the corner of a street. As they waited for the light to change, Dom looked at his intern. “Working for me you have to make sure this is all kept confidential.” They crossed the street and joined the large crowd as the parade began.