Kodek awoke in the cell on a hard cot. His back ached, his shoulder ached. At least he wasn’t in Bedlam.
No, he thought, much better… fucking prison.
Well, technically, it was only a prison cell. He wasn’t in prison proper because he hadn’t been tried or sentenced. Sitting up on the cot inside the cell located in the basement of the local cop shop, looking straight at the bars – IIIIIIIII – and the darkness beyond (how moody), he tried to remember if he’d even been officially charged with any crime.
In fact, scratch that – Multiple homicide.
<<<The SHOTGUN MARY’S aftermath<<<
Detective Richardson stepped around the coagulating pile of blood and gore. He was itching to light up a smoke, but instead he kept his hand in his tweed-jacket pocket where his fingers were fidgeting with the blade of his Swiss Army knife. He knew from experience that the likelihood of his hand emerging with blood-stained fingertips was roughly 65%. What the hell, it kept him calm, and kept him from smoking, which he;d have to cut out completely pretty damned soon because his wife Milly was withholding sex until he was smoke-free. Or in her words, stink-free.
“Detective?” The M.E. Officer grabbed his attention and Richardson turned to him, taking his hand from his pocket.
“There are no organs here.”
“No organs,” the M.E. repeated. Richardson glared down at the gory mess that had once been a Latino tough guy named Johnny who had done some freelance work for the Morimoto Corporation. Yeah,, this kid had a file. And now he looked like someone had pushed him through an industrial meat-grinder.
“Tell me, how the fuck can you know that?” Richardson said, obviously pissed (or stressing out from the lack of nicotine this morning) “The fucker’s been shredded by a couple of chainsaws. Shredded! Most of him is gut porridge!”
“Yes, well, actually, his guts are still here. I was meaning the vitals. Liver, kidneys, his heart, lungs… all…” The M.E. motioned over the pink mess on the diner floor with a wave of his hand… “…gone.”
“Hmph,” Richardson contributed, and finally glanced at his fingertips. They were clean.
What do you know…
<<<ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK PIZZA (Haight Street, San Francisco)<<<
Kodek was sitting in the booth, seemingly half-in and half-out of consciousness. They had a name for that, he knew.
He opened his eyes and saw the yellow waitress sitting across from him. Well, she wasn’t painted yellow, or anything, her name was Lizzie (still wearing Anna’s nametag) on her cut blood-spattered yellow waitress uniform from Shotgun Mary’s. She was also a hitman for the Corporation, and in that getup, she was highly graphic-novel cliché. Kodek smiled anyway.
“You think I’m cute?” She asked.
Sort of, he thought, only I have this nagging feeling that you’ve tried to kill my wife.
And then: Where the fuck did that come from?
She slides a manilla envelope across the table to Kodek. Also cliché. He takes it anyway, and looks back at the large Greek waiter smoking inside the restaurant. What time is it anyway? Kodek wonders, then decides it doesn’t really matter. What matters is the envelope.
He knows he has to get to Berlin-
-And he wakes up on the same cot in the cell in the basement of the cop shop. He’s sitting up, so he knows he really just nodded off. Plus, the whole joint is still bathed in darkness. How much time could have passed?
The darkness is also why he can hear the footsteps but not see the person approaching. As the person gets closer, Kodek can make out the silhouette of the figure – definitely a guy – but no discernible features, save for his gait, which looks familiar to Kodek even though he can’t place it right now. The guy’s carrying something in his hand, close to his hip.
Clomp… Clomp… Clomp… Clomp…
Clomp, clomp, clomp…
Not a bag.
Without speaking at first, the guy presses it against the bars of the cell – IIIIoIIII – definitely not a bag.
“Zarana?” Kodek whispers.
Well, not her, just her head. Not a clean sever, either, stringy flesh hanging from the stump of the neck. Milky eyeballs, like the cow’s in 8th grade science class the needed to be dissected – something black dripped from the stump and hit the concrete floor with a tiny splat that would have been unnoticed if the whole joint hadn’t been so deafeningly quiet right at that point.
“Kiss it,” the shadow says, and Kodek shakes his head – no thanks.
“It’s the only way you can get out of here,” the shadow tells him. “It’s the only way you got out of Bedlam,” the shadow reminds him.
Doesn’t matter – Kodek won’t kiss it.
At least, he doesn’t remember kissing it.
When Kodek woke up this time, the cot was harder than ever. He purely ached. His eyes blinked open – or tried to. They were sticky, tacky… When Kodek tried to get up, he realized he was on the cement floor of the jail cell. The floor was tacky too. Of course it was. His bare hands were covered in blood.
When his eyes opened all the way, he saw red. Lots of it. His cell floor and the hard-as-nails cot were painted in blood. The two cop uniforms were in shreds. Heads were not only decapitated, they were crushed, smashed, destroyed, bits of hair on a jigsaw-puzzle piece of skull. Intestines everywhere. The place smelled like shit and blood and bile. Kodek pushed himself up. He glanced over to the cell door. It was ajar.
He walked towards it, his feet sticking to the blood-tacky floor.
He left the station, and his crimson footprints, behind.
It was still dark outside.
>>>OUTSIDE LARRY THE BRAIN’S LABORATORY>>>
Petersen, Kodek and Lizzie were all running as the building went up in a mushroom cloud of fire and brick behind them.
When they got to the edge of the property, they found themselves negotiating thick underbrush in the forested area lining the outer grassy edge. They all though they would be breaking out onto roads and civilization, they could hear sirens in the distance – but all they ran into was thicker forest. They pushed on through the dusk, as the sun went down, slowly, they still hadn’t reached the any signs of life or roadway. Or even a pathway.
Personally, Kodek was a little bit grateful. The longer they could lose themselves in the woods, the more distance they could put between themselves and the lab explosion. Although he had a sneaking suspicion that the Security Department at Morimoto Corp might already have an idea of the parties responsible, even if only but associate and sheer bad timing.
“Brain was using that woman’s corpse as an inter-dimensional portal to track someone down. A mission not authorized or approved by Derrikson,” Lizzie explained.
“Yeah,” Kodek said, “I know.”
“Oh, so you did read the documents, then,” she said.
All this was news – and somewhat confusing – to Petersen, who was, up until now, completely outside the loop, though he had helped both of them on several occasions, he’d always thought they were all acting in the interest of the Corporation. He was now starting to see another side of things… What was on the other side, he was still in the dark about.
“I did,” Kodek affirmed.
“What documents?” Petersen asked. The propaganda department had not yet been brought up to speed with the Corporation’s intentions – there was no need, they were years away from actual implementation of the contract policies. Petersen’s department was simply there to: a) Keep tabs on the politicians and lawmakers, aka “the news”; and b) to start paving the way for the eventual implementation by creating positive angles on the fact that the Morimoto Corporation was systematically taking over the hospitals and universities. In fact, one of the universities was just a few miles behind them with one wing a now a smoking pile of exploded rubble and hot bricks.
Lizzie ignored Petersen’s question. “It just that you’ve seemed really confused lately,” Lizzie told Kodek.
“Yeah,” Kodek agreed,” this shit will mess with your mind.
“Uh-huh,” Lizzie agreed.
“What shit?” Petersen asked, becoming more thoroughly confused with each passing line of conversation.
“The dark mass,” both Lizzie and Kodek answered in unison.
Petersen remembered the night they were all forced to outrun those hell-creatures. Leading them directly into…
The back of Brain’s laboratory freezer.
“Holy shit,” Petersen said.
“I think he’s starting to get the picture,” Kodek said. “But Petersen, about your confusion right now… Believe me, I know exactly how you feel.”
“I think we should all go and get a cup of coffee,” Lizzie said.
That’s when they finally broke out onto the road.
“Good idea,” Kodek said.
Behind them, Brain watched as they trod off onto the edge of the freeway and started to go, on foot, Westward. He decided to leave them be for now. He might not have Zarana anymore – she’d been the most powerful host he’d ever designed – but he still had the technology. Fuck the laboratory, let it burn and crumble. By now he owned the entire floor of his apartment complex, and he’d already started building his hew lab. Besides, he had bigger fish to fry tonight, bigger fish that could potentially stop all this before it even begins…
Brain made his way Eastward, through the forest, and he walked for miles, comfortably, because he knew the way. He hadn’t memorized it, but it was familiar enough. And he had his weapons…
After a couple of hours, Brain made it to the edge of the forest where it opened up to a grassy property leading to a mansion. He was so quiet, moving around the edge of the property until he found the car. Bear and Kodek were fucking around with the body of Brain’s father, stuffing him into the trunk of the car.
Good. Right on schedule.
Brain took one of the darts, loaded with the black mass, placing it into the gun.
He aimed it at Bear and pulled the trigger.
He had to start shorting this shit out before the inter-dimensional fabric really started to shred, like a body against a pair of revving chainsaws.