The gun shot had thrown Alex Pak into a deep dark silence; or maybe he wasn’t grounded; he went on falling down a tunnel of unconsciousness. What could be on the other side? Anything horrible could be; to give human goose bumps of death or afterlife. Surprisingly there was no pain; but who could have time to get surprised in such situation anyway. Moments passed, minutes, and God knows how many hours of that breath drenching darkness.
At last he had hit the light; and even before that there were sounds that woke him up at somewhere. This little finger tip unconsciously tapped on a hard surface; muffled voice tones grew louder to bring him to consciousness and then orange light appeared on his shut eyelids, forcing him to open them somehow.
Was he in the heaven or the hell? First thing he saw over him was concrete ceiling with round swirls and fixed energy savors at equal distances. It still seemed the world. Alex tried to get up, and as he did, he found there were no more wires or computers or door-less mysterious room. He was in an empty hall, lying alone on a hard sheet, abandoned completely. It took him a while to figure out the whole situation; his breaths went upset due to the weak force he was applying on the hard table; and after a few moments, he could hear his heart still beating; in a way his fatigue was telling him that he hadn’t been on the journey to afterlife but only to be awake in the real life.
How thrilling was the idea! He wished hard to find Christy from somewhere and hug her like anything, and tell her how much he wanted to scream and cry like a baby to celebrate his end of nightmares.
But, yet there he was, alone.
Alex carefully stepped down the hard wooden sheet and felt gravity embracing his weight on feet. He could walk, barely, but he could. He continued taking small steps towards the window from where sunlight peeked in. There were unclear sounds outside the hall, he hid beside the window and secretly looked out.
The world was spread in front of his eyes; he noticed the streets were deserted but people in their homes and lawns were walking in routine, doing their routine stuff; some were sitting in corners and some were lying asleep on benches.
Alex went on watching them through the first floor; he could realize that he was in a NYSO facility from where the city started. Something was wrong about the people; just like it was wrong when he had walked through the city market with Christy. Instead of making wild guesses from the distance, Alex preferred to move away from the window and walked with same small steps towards the staircase. There was no one to stop him there; it wasn’t weird because Alex knew the facility was like a dead end of the David Block’s company.
Soon he was down among the parked cars and the people indoors who sometimes showed up like normal workers, still Alex was at once able to find out the unnatural aspect of the people: nobody talked to each other.
Alex knocked at doors and stepped in few homes to talk to few people; asking them about where to find a bun shop; but nobody answered him. They stopped, listened to him and moved ahead without response. Their eyes were open and reflexes working but they were not present.
Alex felt tired after a little walk; he sat on a nearby bench and stared at the deserted streets. As he concentrated more, some flashbacks hit consciousness.
“They will not talk…” someone from the black corners of his brain spoke, “to each other. They sleep…”
Alex tightly shut his eyes and tried hard to recall more
Bingo! The word was enough; it was “Karma” being played on the city people. Alex stood up anxiously; and walked fast through the empty roads as if trying to swallow what he had just found out.
Karma was a game of dreams; as a projection of vaccination against the self created infections, people were forced to play the game of Karma. By doing so, they could sleep without sleeping and that helped them survive. But it was as painful and exhausting like the dreaming experience Alex had been through.
Alex was walking with his head down, kicking stones away from his path; at once he heard a loud laughter and carefree chatters. Alarmed, he got to a side and took careful steps towards a home from where the sounds came from. Chatters meant that there were some people who weren’t sleeping like the rest.
He secretly peeked through a ventilator, it was a gang in rough attire that was looting the home and throwing useless things aside while laughing together. The house dwellers were totally unconcerned about the robbery and behaved like they didn’t know of the damage being done. Their dreams seemed to have captured their senses; only the eyes were open that couldn’t see their surroundings.
While Alex looked through the sleeping fellows of the home, he realized that the laughter sounds grew near him fast. Alex hurriedly hid himself towards the opposite wall and let the gangsters go away. Luckily, no one noticed his wide awaken presence.
Alex slowly followed them by hiding himself properly behind walls and cars. They went on looting home to home, bank and casinos; a disturbing sight to experience but Alex wasn’t sure what he could do alone against them.
He bent on knees behind a car and noticed a golden tag on their leather jackets that said “House of the Yellow Moon”. It seemed like a local gang. At once a voice from behind nearly made him jump at his place
“Look what we got here” a huge dark man with big golden moustaches held a long wooden stick in his hand and spun it in air around the lengthwise axis.
Alex instantly figured that he couldn’t fight that amount of gangsters together; he tried to run but the other moment the wooden stick hit his legs from behind. A nerve of sheer pain ran through his legs and he nearly fell back on his knees with a painful groan. With blurring vision he saw the gangsters circling him with different sorts of handful weapons. He turned around and tried to crawl away but he was captured and beaten severely. Sticks, boots and fists; he couldn’t count where and how many had he received.
A knife had clicked open and his chest was forcefully exposed to an ultimate attack; just before the knife could get into the killing motion, a couple of gun shots in the air dispersed everyone. With blood dripping down his lips, Alex barely turned head to see the gunmen; they were few suited men from the NYSO Company who ran to all of them fast, knocked the others down with their trained sharp moves, and nearly dragged them into an empty container bus. Alex wasn’t in any position to resist; for the rest of the journey his eyes were shut into half unconsciousness whereas the other bleeding gangsters kept banging on the container doors like wild men.
As Alex had expected, the destination was David Block’s office.
When Alex resumed his senses again, he saw himself in line with other gangsters and David Block was busy shouting at the captured gangsters.
“You… useless pieces of shit, if you now do not tell me who the leader…is” David Block loaded his gun, “Who is competing my drug deals… tell me or all of your lives mean nothing to me but of infectious mosquitoes and cockroaches”
Saying so, he targeted the first gangster and shot him in the centre of his forehead without a moment’s hesitation. The gun shot stirred distress among the others. It was obvious that David Block didn’t recognize Alex due to his numerous injuries and dried blood on face. He moved to the next, and then the third.
Alex was on fifth place and there was death approaching again. As David Block pointed to the head of the fourth gangster, he cracked and shouted crazily
“Don’t kill me, don’t kill me please. I tell you, I tell you please don’t shoot me. It’s X-scar.”
The gangster shivered like a kid, David Block stopped and kept hand on his shoulder, smiled and whispered “Thank you so much my friend”
The gangster took a deep breath in relief but it was the last breath he took; David Block hadn’t spared his life too.
He had never spared lives once they were for his to take.
Alex turned head and looked at the dead gangster; he knew that he was the next because this man with the gun, whom he hated the most, was now pointing the gun to Alex’s head.
Alex prepared himself for the coming death. He closed eyes; following a moment’s silence, there was a bang_ not of the gun but the office door. A slender presence broke in the office and before David Block and his pets could understand anything, a hand grenade was thrown at them to disperse the whole setting. Alex spontaneously threw himself to a side before the grenade blasted out gases.
A chaos of dust, and broken furniture fragments filled the air within seconds. Out of chaos, Alex could still recognize the veiled bomber.
Those bright eyes with curled lashes were of no one but Christy. A light smile appeared on Alex’s lips as she met eyes with him again.