“Is he dead?”
“No I think he is just asleep.”
“Cas, that’s a horrible thing to say.”
“Pat I know he isn’t dead, it’s a joke.”
“Doesn’t hurt to check though,” Jacob kneels beside Solace and checks for a pulse. “Yeah he’s asleep.”
“I’m not asleep, just resting my eyes.” Solace slowly sits up, his mouth is dry and his head ponds. It feels like a hangover without the happy memories of drinking himself unconscious. The image of Jacob lying on the floor dead flash in his mind. Tears fill his eyes and the dryness in his mouth worsens.
“Hey, are you ok?” Jacob holds his friend tenderly, taking a water bottle from Cas and holding it to Solaces mouth.
He drinks deeply before sputtering words of thanks. Slowly he is helped to his feet, “I lost my cane.”
“What cane?” Jacob asks.
“I had cane before I went into the house.”
“Orin’s. Talia took me there because I needed to see him.”
“Who’s he talking about?” Cas asks.
“I dunno, there ain’t no one named Orin or Talia in Kal.” A stranger’s voice says.
“She’s the mayor and he’s the guardian of… I can’t remember.”
“Son, I’m the mayor.” The woman’s face comes into focus. She is much older than she sounds, her pale skin glows in the moonlight.
“Talia said her gran died, she cried and I understood.”
“We should get him inside.” Patricia says, Cas and Jacob help him off his feet and carry him away from the guard tower he climbed.
They take the shortcut through the pool area and down the street towards the house he woke up in. The rest of the group are waiting on the front porch talking to Dahlia Fox. Her off the shoulder shirt falls over her shorts, she glides around barefoot refiling cups. The flower tattoo on her left ankle flashes in his mind, she was his nurse. He remembers her hair being less purple but that could be the haze talking.
“Where was he?” Andy asks, he gets out of his seat and helps put solace in it.
“He was by the East tower, must have been there for a while.”
“Don’t you have guards up there?” Allan demands.
“We are sort of stretched thin, it’s either in the towers or patrolling. Since half the town was watching the games, it was safer to have them walking around making sure no one broke in to any houses.”
“We understand,” Jacob says looking daggers at Allan.
“I don’t.” Solace says. He looks around at his friends and watches as the film playing in his mind blows out and returns far grainer than any western. Their faces distort and settle somewhere between merriment and misery.
He closes his eyes but the images continue. He watches as Cas Stands on a chair and loops a rope around his neck. Jacob and Patricia sit in a garage with their family van running, the little ones playing in their car seats. Allan and Edgar crying over the edge of a bridge as a police officer waits patiently for his turn. Then he sees teller pleading with Andy to put the gun down, and watches as he points it at her and then to himself.
“Solace, its ok, you’re ok. Someone get the fucking doctor!” Jacob holds solace down but his thrashing topples the chair and they both painfully fall onto the porch.
“I’m fine, let me go.” Solace pushes Jacob away and gets to his feet. “I don’t know what came over me, I’m fine.”
“What a show, I think this is my favorite channel”
“Orin shut up and do your job.”
Solace turns and finds Orin and Talia standing amidts his friends, all apparently frozen in place. Behind them he can see Teller and Doc Fin in mid run. He gets dizzy and uses the statue of Cas to steady himself.
“Sorry about that, the freeze can make some a little dizzy,” Orin walks over to him, he smiles as he helps him over to the railing.
“You have a face now.” Solace says.
“Yeah, I thought this would be less creepy.”
“I’m just glad your both real.”
“As real as any fictional character I suppose.”
“Stop confusing him.” Talia says, she places a hand on Solace’s shoulder. “The dizziness will pass, just give it a minute.”
“Is time frozen right now?”
“If I say yes will you freak out?” Orin asks.
“Then no, your friends are just really good actors.”
“Fine, we’re here to help you out. Apparently my little cavern show unsettled you and Talia here is worried you didn’t get the information you needed.”
“Well, everything I showed you will happen if the Master Plan goes as… planned.” Orin shakes his head, “that sounded stupid, who edits this crap. Anyway it’ll happen if you and your little gang of saviors don’t do something about it.”
“If I say that there won’t be any need for, like half a dozen stories.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Forget him, listen to me Solace.” Talia turns him so he faces her. “There is a group of people known as the Masters, they want to get rid of everyone they don’t deem worthy to live in their version of paradise. Years from now they will send satellites into orbit that will help detect and stop many natural disasters. But this is all a guise for project Elimination, they will use the satellites to infect our atmosphere with a Suicide inducing pathogen known as Pritoxic.”
“It’s a synthesized version of an alien drug known as Pridon. It’s a biological dust produced by the Luminites, which eventually becomes too expensive for the dealers and pushers. Pritoxic was supposed to be a cheaper product but instead of the same euphoric hallucinations it causes suicide. It is outlawed all over the universe but its creator and all his notes are lost to the Masters.”
“And where do I fit in?”
“Hundreds of years from now you will be one of many that the Last Master will look for. Orin and I are two of the ones he found.”
“How are you here?”
“We are younger versions that haven’t been abducted yet. Our leader found us and sent us here to ask you for help before you too are harvested from time. We need you to kill Byron before September first three years from now.”
“Wouldn’t that mess with time and space?” Both Orin and Talia laugh, “Look I’m new to this, no need to be dicks about it. Anyway I was going to do that.”
“Yes but you have a deadline now. If you kill him after September, as its meant to be, he will have met the Luminite Cranfo who sparks the idea of using Pridon to control others. This in turn allows Project Elimination to become a reality.”
“Talia, we need to get out of here.” Solace looks around and sees his frozen friends coming back.
“Wait I have more questions.”
“I’m sorry Solace, we can only meet once more and its best we save that for later.” Talia and Orin walk down to the side walk and wave back at him. Orin hold up his hand releasing a black orb from his fingertips. The two walk towards it and vanish.
“Buddy I got you… what the fuck?” Jacob jumps up from the floor. Every one stares at Solace who in an instant went from the floor to standing next to Andy.