Alex Compton was no different from any other worker drone in the city, barely hanging on to a mid-level position that could easily be filled by any one of a thousand applicants waiting in the wings. Accountant and financial journeyman, his days were spent in abstract math and the fundamentals of profit and loss. Dollars were tallied in volumes most people could barely comprehend. His savvy with numbers defied explanation when contrasted against his social ineptness. Effectively outcast and alone, most nights were spent cocooned in the latest combat game seeking his equal in the online world. Competence for killing cyber foes was matched only by his fiscal prowess. Over the past month, Alex had taken up shooting at the local firing range. He purchased a TEC-9 machine gun from a black-market dealer. It fit nicely into his briefcase.
Each day started like the one before it. The six blocks walk to the Seven-Eleven, the seven-fifteen train to city center, elevator up to the fourteenth floor, and eight hours of crunching numbers. This day was different. Three blocks away from his apartment, walking past the Sugar and Spice Bakery, a crack in the time-space continuum opened immediately in his path. Momentum carried him into the rift, propelled by an unseen inertia. Suddenly, he was falling through the vast expanse of space. Not falling in the context of plunging from a rooftop to thud on the ground below, but falling like an oak leaf caught in an afternoon breeze. Stars whizzed past with the illusion of great speed; explosions of sight and sound pushed his senses into overdrive.
And then he was here, sitting on a cold colorless floor — shirtless and afraid. Random thoughts careened through his consciousness like meteors flashing past in the evening sky. Where am I? Why am I? What am I doing here? Who is watching me? His body ached with each breath of chilled air along his pale white skin. He shivered in response to the silent probing of thought and telepathy from the unknown being curiously watching from the edge of the chamber. He folded into a fetal position on the floor seeking relief from the frigid surroundings and screamed, “Why is it so cold?”
Alex slowly turned to look at the imposing being blurred by the translucent material separating them. He felt unfamiliar thoughts entangling themselves in the deepest part of his mind. They connected in thought and began to converse.
“Who are you?” Alex asked.
“I am you.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I am your pain.”
Alex mentally indexed through each event that brought him to this moment. The abuse he and his mother endured at the hands of his alcoholic father that ended when he took his own life. The mental torture inflicted by his older brother and the succession of one bully after another as he fought his way through the public school system; the women who shunned him and the men who held him back, badgered him since he joined the firm, all played a part in his path to this place.
“You were there?”
“Will you protect me?”
Alex smiled, “I think I am going to like it here.”
Lieutenant Travis slid under the crime scene tape surrounding the maze of cubicles on the fourteenth floor. He watched as a parade of gurneys carried the dead to the freight elevator for the journey to the morgue. The smell of burnt gunpowder hung in the air and the hallway leading from the elevators to the cubicle farm was littered with spent brass cartridges and empty magazines. Thirteen dead and twenty six more critically wounded from the methodical advance of an accountant… go figure.
He looked over at Alex Compton sitting cross-legged on the floor, his arms pulled behind him and bound with cold steel cuffs. Officer Teddy Mangrum stood guard over the suspect.
“Has he said anything?” Travis asked.
“Not much,” Mangrum replied and delicately handed the detective the small machine gun used in the slaughter. “He shouted something about being cold and then a minute ago he asked if I would protect him.”
The Lieutenant looked down and asked, “Mister Compton, why did you do this?”
The accountant slowly turned his head and looked Travis directly in the eyes and said, “I think I am going to like it here.”
Mickey Mills has been writing over twenty years as a motor-sports freelancer. His recently completed first novel, HAUNTING INJUSTICE, a fast-paced paranormal suspense/ghost story, was published at CreateSpace and is available on Amazon. Currently, he is elbow deep in the second book of the series. He hosts a writer’s group at Multiply.com. When not writing, Mickey can be found exploring the country on PEARL, his Harley Davidson Electra-glide, or researching his next project. An engineer by education — a writer by passion.