Landon walked and walked, through the dimly lit musky corridor Leera had just left him in. The sounds of the moving of furniture and shouting dwindled as he went further into the dark abyss. He felt bad for leaving Leera but thought if he wasn’t there, maybe they would leave her alone or the police would come in time to stop anything from happening. Though dimly lit, Landon could tell that the walls were makeshift metallic parts plastered and welded together to make one long tunnel through the middle of the bottom section of the Juncture.
The Juncture was made into three levels, the bottom level was the residential area. Everyone lived there, he could remember wiggling in through the crowds of people overwhelmed by a million tiny sights, smells and sounds. A rat running over the pipes overhead, the smell of piss and food intermixed in the area from sellers looking to making extra cash, and thousands upon thousands of voices speaking at once in such a torrent of noise, that it was no wander people decided to sleep on their ships. The middle level was the commercial district, and the top portion was the industrial district. the commercial district held everything that there was to do in Juncture, though it wasn’t much, and the industrial district was nothing but shipment detail and manufacturer plants. Each plant powered by nuclear reactors. If Landon hadn’t have gotten a job on the Jutkiss, yes, that was the name of the ship he worked on, then he would’ve ended up working 12-15 hour days there.
Landon hated living there. It was hard to move, it was harder to breath without having to gag, it was just a miserable place to be. there were no sanitation standards so everything was dirty and the floors were sticky. This corridor beat those streets any day, thought Landon. He just wanted to leave and go find adventure elsewhere. He wanted to go planet side and visit all the major moons of Centauri seven. He heard the terraformed worlds are all full of life and color. There were wide open spaces further than the eye could see. Animals as tall as spaceships roamed the worlds in graceful strides. streams and oceans of water deeper than any thing he could ever imagine. He was tired of living six inches from metal at every turn. He wanted more. To be free.
But he was not free. His stepfather’s debt had reached such an egregious amount that he was going to have to work for decades to clear it. His mother too. He hated that his stepfather put them in such a terrible position. He just wanted to take his mom and leave and never come back. Considering the circumstances, it didn’t look like that was going to happen anytime soon.
After what seemed an eternity, he finally made it to the end of the passageway. A vent blocked the entrance into what seemed a small building. With a grunt he kicked it open and entered a small room full of beds tossed and turned every which way. The room looked abandoned and dirty and smelled like musk and rot. It seemed to have housed quite a few people. But what was it for, he wondered. Why would Leera have the makeshift tunnel in the first place. Could she have seen something like this happening? But, why then the room? He stepped on something plushy and when he went to pick it up realized it was a dirty stuffed bear with the name Alvin on it. This had to be for refugees of some sort, he thought. Putting the stuffed bear down gently, he made his way across the room to the only door he could see. He pushed on it as hard as he could but it didn’t budge. He kicked on it once, twice and on the third time it broke free and in came the bright light, the artificial sun. It took his eyes some time to adjust.
He entered an alley, where a homeless man missing a shoe lay sleeping under a piece of cardboard. Landon held his nose and walked over the man careful not to disturb him any more than he already had. Sorry, he thought. Heading out the alley and into a mob of people, he flipped on the navigation on his AR set. His glasses began to read out his exact location. He was near the docks in the commercial district right by the warehouse Leera had set up for him.
Within five minutes he was rounding the corner of a street leading straight to the warehouse, when he noticed the door was slightly ajar. “Crap,” he said and tiptoed on over to get a peek inside.
“He was never ‘ere, said a man with a deep voice. Landon took cover behind the door and covered his mouth.
“He’s probably on his way then, we just gotta sit her patiently mate, why don’t you crack that bottle of buzz up and wait for him,” said another man with a squeaky voice.
“You sure this is the right location?” said the man with a deep voice.
“Has to be, they beat the crap outta that lady. there’s no way she would lie. It’s even got the bag of stuff she left out for him,” said squeaky voice.
“Leera,” breathed Landon face contorting in pain. It was all his fault. He should’ve stayed to help. He shouldn’t have froze. Maybe she let him go because she saw how useless he would be, he thought. Landon clenched his fists and rubbed them on his face. Ugh, it was so frustrating. He felt utterly useless. All this people suffering around him, because of whoever these guys were. Why were they after him? He was a nobody.
“hey close that doo’ or else he’ll see someones home, stupid ” said squeaky voice. Landon straightened up and as quietly as he could, got up and ran off. He heard the door shut behind him as he rounded the corner. A quarter mile down the road he stopped off in a small Cafe called, Ponte de la toilette. It was the stupidest name for a cafe but because of that it only attracted a certain group of people, most people felt repulsed by the name. There was no way any one would think to check in here. He sat down in the corner with his hoodie over his face and tried to act relaxed. He needed to think of something or else who knows who else might get hurt. he closed his eyes and thought.
Why would someone come after him. First it was the Fortunist, they were always nutcases but they never did any harm to anyone I knew, and now these guys running around shooting up Leera’s place? It just didn’t make any sense. Just then he felt someone brush up against him and when he opened his eyes he saw a kid running out the door. He grabbed at his jacket pocket and realized his chip was gone. He bolted upright.
“Hey!” he yelled so forcefully his voice cracked and sprinted after him. Just as he got outside he saw the kid turn a corner, down an alley. “Hey, get back here,” he yelled. Enraged he bolted over two tables and slid underneath a stall accidentally knocking into someone who was getting their plate of food, knocking it over. “Sorry,” he said looking back but not losing speed. He turned the corner to see the kid by the dumpster looking over the chip. “Hey, give that back now kid or I’ll..” the kid stuck his tongue out at him and made a face, straightened up and sprinted hard around the next corner. Landon sprinted harder jumping over a homeless man laying on the floor.
“I don’t have the time for this, so give me ba…” he stopped when he realized he made a terrible mistake. The kid stood there, with a wide smirk, with four guys in suits behind him carrying batons. there was a buzz in the air as the batons lit up like a flashlight. The kid tossed the chip into the air and laughed,” looking for this? hehehe.” he stuck his tongue out at him and Landon did likewise then looked at the men as they inched forward. He was going to turn to run when another guy came up from behind wearing a smelly robe and grabbed him. It was the guy he jumped over earlier who he thought was homeless. Stupid idiot, Landon thought to himself. He was so distressed that he didn’t think how this might have been a trap. A man with a scar over his left eye stepped forward. Unlike the other guys he held his jacket off his shoulder and flipped the baton up and over his hand. he wore a bowler hat tipped at an angle half hiding a scar that ran about the side of his head. a small pipe came out from the corner of his mouth and bobbed up and down as he spoke. His green eyes shone with something devilish hiding underneath. He spat as he got close.
“Boss has been looking all over for you. We almost thought, you didn’t exist. looks like it’s our lucky day right boys,” All the men around him grunted.
“Alright, pay up,” said the boy, sticking his hand out to the head honcho.”” I did everything you asked, so I want my money, now.” the boy did not hesitate. Scarface didn’t take his eyes of Landon, and after a while he smirked and turned to the boy. Landon felt a shiver go down his spine. something didn’t feel right. The man’s eyes held something sinister in them.
“Ahh yes, the nuisance, here you go pup.” he reached into his pocket and held out a gold coin. The kids eyes shone in wonder at the coin. The man flipped it in the air and the kid followed it up. He didn’t see when the man looked straight at Landon and with an evil smile took his knife from his belt and slashed it at his throat. The blade flashed through the air so fast that he didn’t even see it as it tore through the kids defenseless throat. Still smiling and eyes shining the kid slumped over not realizing what had befallen him.
“Nooo!” Landon yelled, horrified at the sight. “He was just a kid!” he yelled, spit coming out from his mouth. He hadn’t realized it but his eyes were streaming tears like a waterfall. What in the world was going on, he thought. That kid didn’t know anything. Didn’t do anything. How could he just take his life like that.
“What? did I not show him a mercy, he died beholding something beautiful.” his voice rough and sinister. Almost like he was upset that he had questioned him. No, he WAS upset that he questioned him. The man stared at him in revulsion. he picked up the chip from the kids dead and bloody hands.
“This boy was going to live the rest of his days, begging and stealing until one day, someone, more cruel than I, would have done the same in a less graceful and merciless way. He would’ve died not knowing true happiness. Joy at its ripest. Look at the joy in his face, isn’t it not the most beautiful thing.” Landon was going to be sick, he couldn’t look. The man slapped him across the face, and grabbed his jaw and directed it toward the kid. “Look at it,” he whispered. Landon stared at the eyes of the kid, now lifeless and dull. What about his mom, he thought. She would never know what happened to her child. Then, just as he was about to spit more ridicule at the man, something hit him in the back of the head and everything went dark.
He woke up later with a massive headache and ears ringing. The taste off blood lingered in his mouth and his right eye was swollen just slightly enough to notice a difference. His first thoughts were on the kid. He was so young. and yet it was because of cruel and crooked people like the men who took him that everyone suffered. He noticed his hands were cuffed to the crated floor and on a rail just above him and that he was slumped over one of its pegs. How long had he been out? Where had they taken him? he wondered. When he gathered the willpower, he pulled himself up in a more comfortable position. Each movement rattled his brain with pain. He had to have had a pretty bad concussion.
“Finally awake aye? I was starting to wonder whether my lackeys had rocked you into oblivion. I was going to have to have a talk or two about how we treat our guests.” He groaned sitting up straighter and squinted up at the man with some effort. He had a round greasy face and stubble all the way down his neck where hairs poked out from underneath his buttoned shirt. Though he was big he looked heavily muscled and intimidating. He wore slacks and a dress shirt over his round belly with one of the buttons undone at the top or missing. He coughed and it sounded as if he had something stuck in his throat. The man bent down in front of Landon and grabbed his chin, turning his face side to side. Landon grimaced at the flashes of pain from the abrupt movements of his head. Then he dropped it and looked him in the eye for a while making Landon feel really awkward.
“Well, well, well, this is what all the noise is about? this kid?” he laughed, stood up and started walking around. He was surrounded by a bunch of his goons all laughing, whether forced or not he didn’t know. Landon’s headache finally subsided enough to notice he was an old warehouse. There were rows upon rows of conveyor belts as far as the eye can see. Landon was actually quite shocked at the immensity of it all. They were perched atop one of the overseeing platforms near the center. Below him there was a thermal nuclear reactor. It was probably an old decommissioned reactor because it looked like an abyss. no light penetrated the bottom. To his right he noticed an access panel with all types of buttons and ports. to his left a shuttle hovered above unmoving. he noticed movement in the distance from a reactor that was currently operational. These things were dangerous. if one blew then it could cause a chain reaction that could cause all of them to blow. that’s why they decommissioned some of them because of how much of a risk it could be.
The man turned to Landon after the hearty laugh and glared, noticing that Landon was giving them no attention at the moment. Landon swallowed.
“What do you want from me?” Landon asked trying to sound defiant. His voice cracked near the end, he hoped they had not noticed. whether they did he did not know as the man walked toward the panel on his right. He took something out of his pocket and placed it in the access board. the Chip. the one the kid had took from him earlier. At the thought of the kid his headache came back. He thought he was going to be sick.
An image of his mother popped out from over the access panel in a frozen state. She looked distraught. It must be a recording she had set into the chip before giving it to him. He noticed she was wearing an outfit
“Landon,” her voice was shaky and she looked like she was on the verge of tears. “There’s no easy way of saying this so you’ll have to bare with me.” she paused again seeming to want to catch her bearings. she breathed in and looked up once more. “Landon your father is alive… He was never killed like I told you he was when you were younger… im sorry…” she paused again trying to catch another breath. Landon gulped, his palms were sweaty. What did that mean? His father, alive?
“You probably have a lot of questions but unfortunately I can’t answer them for you right now. He had to leave, there was too much at stake and he had to throw your grandfather off your scent. Your grandfather did something to you, to your DNA. Your blood is a key to some unknown power. He brought you to the fortunist when you were two, to put it in. Then he had all those involved killed, but at the time, the coup was already underway. He had to leave you behind and your father was to take you to him when everything settled down but instead he chose to leave us behind.. to protect us.. because he loved us. I haven’t heard from him since…”
Landon gawked. There was so much going on, along with the concussion. He wasn’t sure how to handle all the information. His head spun, his pulse raced, and he felt as if this was all some kind of prank. What did it mean that he had something in his blood? Was that why everyone is after him? What was in it? His dad.. ALIVE? Where could he be?
She went on, ” look Landon I need you to get out of here as fast as you can, go somewhere no one can find you, I have saved some money to get you places. I Love you. That’s all you need to know. If someone comes looking for you, run. It’s your best bet.” this time she was crying, tears flowed down her cheeks in torrents. she wiped her tears and smiled. she mouthed “I love you” one more time and then the hologram blipped out. A small robotic voice said “End of message” then some analytics came up too small from his distance to see what they said.
“That’s it?!” the man yelled out incredulously. “auuugh!” he yelled and kicked the access panel. ” After all that hard work and I get nothing? She said it was with the boy! She lied!”
“Who..” Landon said quietly. The man looked at him and turned around to one of his goons.
“Get the ship ready and blood analyzer, we are gonna make a visit….”
“WHO said that?” Landon said louder, his pulse beat within his ears, hoping against all chance that he wasn’t going to say what he thought he was going to say.”
“I don’t take orders from you boy!” the man rushed him with speed unbefitting someone his size and girth. He grabbed him by the shirt and lifted him close to his face. Landon’s head swum once more, vision blurred. “If you would like to know..” a wicked smile crossed the man’s face. Landon recognized him immediately. “It was your dear ol mum,” he said it in his ear and dropped him. Landon hit the floor hard, grates rattling underneath him.
“Horrowitz. You’re Horrowitz. One of the counsel members of the Juncture.” Landon could tell using his name threw him off. Supposedly this man should’ve been dead or in prison at least. He had organized much of the coup that occurred years ago only to be seen as a public menace and ousted by the counsel after the first year. He had ordered the executions of many families in line for the head seat in the counsel so he could take control. When he was found out, he should’ve been locked away forever but here he was, standing there. Landon had only ever seen him in pictures. He had a distinctive crooked smile. he was also much thinner before that’s why it had taken him a while to match his face.
“Shut up!” he looked crazed. he turned to one of his goons, ” Get rid of him. all we needed is his blood. we can get the code from the mother or fortunists, it doesn’t matter. we’ll make them talk.” At the last word he turned and smiled wickedly once more in his direction. What code was the man talking about, Landon thought.
“If you hurt her, I’ll kill you, you hear me!” Landon shouted, kicking and rattling the cuffs as hard as he could. his head was throbbing again. He was seeing red now. he couldn’t stand the thought of his mother hurting. Horrowitz turned and laughed, “threatening me when you are clearly incapacitated, you’re a dumb kid.”
“I would say it was nice knowing you, but it wasn’t.” he walked over to the edge of the platform when a small shuttle appeared not a second after from above and he climbed in. His goons started surrounding Landon and his heart raced yet again. He tried to prepare himself for what was to come.
“Why? what’s in it for you?” Landon shouted out to him.
“Power of course, this pile of filth is mine, before it was stolen from me. Gaining this new power gives me leverage over the counsel leaving me in control. Even your old Grandpa won’t be able to stop me. Well, Bye, I’ll tell your mom that you said goodbye. hahaha” The shuttle began to lift back into the air. Landon seethed. he was not going to to die like this. The next few moments happened in slow motion.
A bright light shot through the sky, curving through the air and piercing the thin metal shuttle. then an explosion rocked the crates as shrapnel sprinkled all around him. Horrowitz was dead? Landon’s mouth gaped. His goons covered their heads as they got pelted by flaming balls of metal. some were immediately crushed by larger pieces. Landon cringed inwardly. Some shrapnel smacked him on the side of the head and he could immediately feel some blood running down the side of his face. the heat causing him to sweat. the crated floor underneath began to rock and break off as the heat began to melt the metal.
Then there came the fight. a shuttle came rushing through with more men on it as they rained fire on the rest of the men who hadn’t been hit by the debris. Landon stuck himself against the railing and turned his face away from the heat produced by the blasters. An alarm went off as the fire began to spread underneath and the lights went out over all the facility. Landon knew what the alarm meant. there was some kid of critical malfunction of one of the reactors. His heart dropped. there’s nothing he could do.
in the distance he noticed more shuttles dropping into the dark and expansive warehouse by way of engine heat. He saw blasters crossing this way and that and the screams of men as they were shot. There were a couple more explosions and shuttles dropping from the sky. Another alarm went off. This meant that an immediate evacuation was being ordered throughout Juncture.
“Idiots, why would you have a fight in the most unstable of areas!” Landon yelled as he pulled at his cuffs. Sweat was rolling off his back now. The heat was beginning to choke him along with the smoke. More gunfire erupted from outside and another shuttle exploded and went zooming down onto the conveyor belts further down. Landon looked around for some kind of tool to get himself free. Even if he could get himself free there was nobody who he could count on to get him out of there. He was alone. He only hoped that his mother could get off Juncture safe before one of the reactors went critical. He hoped Leera was alright too and even his stepfather, though odds were he was probably so drunk he hadn’t even noticed the blaring alarm.
He noticed a gun that had fallen out of the hands of one of Horrowitz’ goons just a few feet in front of him. there was a chance he could stretch himself out long enough to maybe grab it with his feet. He stretched himself as far as he could, only just tapping it with his shoe. He righted himself and this time took off his shoes. He reached again, now barefoot and got a grip with his big toe but the gun was so hot that he flinched and kicked it again out of reach.
“AAuuugh” Landon yelled throwing himself as far as possible flipping the gun closer with his foot. This time he was able to reach it and started pulling it closer when he heard another explosion just overhead. Another shuttle came through sailing down straight on to the side of the abyss rocking the entire area. His body was lurched upwards from the floor and he slammed back down. His ears rung and his head hurt so bad his body felt numb. the gun was tossed too far from his reach. The metal was being eaten away from the heat now.
A third alarm blared, this one sounding more urgent and repeated in faster succession. This time the gunfight subsided. whoever was left got smart and left. He knew what this alarm meant. nuclear explosion eminent.
Defeated he stood up and looked at the flames surrounding the warehouse. the industrial district had to now be ablaze. there was a chance still that the nuclear reaction would be self contained and it would not cause a chain reaction but that was slim. There was nothing he could do now.
there was no hope for Landon, even if he did get free. So he stood there, watching everything burn. he thought of his mom, his dad who he never got to see alive. He only just found out and now, all that would be taken away from him. He thought of Leera, hoping she was still alive and taking care of his mom. he thought of his friends from work, Tim, and Justin. thought he didn’t really consider them close he still hoped that they would get far away from here. He never got to go out for drinks with them because of the whole money issue.
He looked up beyond the ceiling through the massive holes protruding through the roof and saw the stars. He sighed, he would never be able to travel through them and visit worlds he had never seen. There was so much he never was able to do. He would never own his own ship, see animals grazing over large rolling hills, the ocean. he would never be able to meet a girl, take her on adventures and fall in love. all his careful planning. all his work will be for nothing. he never really lived before this and now he would die with so many regrets.
Then everything went dark. a blinding light and a powerful force rushed through the air knocking him off his feet and blowing out the fires around him. he was nearly knocked into the abyss below had it not been from the cuffs securing him to the floor.
Then, it came. a small pinpoint of fire turned into a larger raging inferno speeding towards him. A myriad of colors had Landon in awe. It was beautiful. The lights danced around him, encircling him and consuming him. the moved faster and faster around him disorienting him. the heat dissipating any and all the sweat from his body. He closed his eyes welcoming the end. His last thought was of his mother and everything went dark.
A speck of light appeared in the distance. Curious, Landon willed his way forward. He couldn’t feel himself moving but the speck slowly but surely got bigger. a few moments later he found himself surrounded by the light. it was warm and comforting. It felt as if he had fallen into a pillow and was being held on all sides. then the whiteness began to change and scores of colors began to shoot around him and through him. His whole vision was now engulfed in colors and the colors spun faster and faster until, finally, it stopped.
Then he woke up.