their trip to the Battery City turned out to be a little more eventful that they planned it to be.
After that encounter we were led to the same room we slept in, by the same guy as before. Two of us sat on the edges of our beds, but for example Jet Star again opened the window, probably to once more experience the blow of almost unbearably hot air on his face. It appeared he couldn’t comprehend it was really summer 2019, not December 2017. Not that any of us could.
Party Poison, on the other hand, was pacing in the little space between our beds, probably to let these new pieces of information sink in.
Me and Kobra Kid were looking at each other tentatively, though I was perfectly still and he, in contrary, was shaking his leg and somehow I knew that if he had enough space he would start to walk around the room just like his brother.
My mind stopped for a second.
I had no idea where my brain took that from. I felt my heart skip a beat and suddenly I couldn’t breathe properly. Somewhat in panic I looked at Party Poison and then back at Kobra Kid, only to realize that even though my first impression was that they have nothing in common, now I could notice that their eyes had exactly the same color and shape, also they had almost identical chins and the same way of moving around. They must have been related to each other, I thought.
„Fun Ghoul, you OK.?” it was Poison ho stopped my train of thoughts. He was looking at me frowning.
„Are you two… brothers?” I asked quietly. They seemed confused, so I decided to precise my thoughts „You and Kobra”.
Firstly they looked at me with growing confusion on their faces and then glanced at each other. I could almost feel the thick atmosphere and tension in the room.
„How do you know that?”
„I don’t, to be honest… It kinda popped to my head. I can’t explain. I was just thinking about something and my brain called you brothers and it seemed so natural, if you know what I mean…” I tried miserably.
Poison sighed and stopped walking. After a moment he sat next to Kobra, giving him a small smile.
„It’s ridiculous” he suddenly said turning to him. „I don’t even know your real name.”
„I don’t know that neither” he laughed nervously and then asked way more seriously „Do you think we will ever remember?”
„I have no idea. Maybe we will remember something from time to time, just like Fun Ghoul did. It gives some hope, doesn’t it? Maybe some things will remind us of others… Really, no idea how it would work.. And no fucking idea why we actually have to wonder about shit like this! Do you trust this Dr. D. guy? It all seems ridiculous to me.”
That was it. Jet Star stated what we all have been thinking. We nodded in agreement. He was absolutely right. In the other room, when Dr. D. explained this all to us, it somehow made some sense, but now, when we had a moment to actually think about it and we weren’t being showered with new pieces of information/lies, it didn’t look that trustworthy. I mean, this building looked quite normal and solid to me. But that was all about it. We haven’t seen anything outside yet.
„You know, I could actually believe this entire story. I mean, sooner or later we will finally find out if what he had said was right or not. But I really have no freaking idea what makes him think that we can fight against this BLI or whatever it was. No offence guys, but we don’t exactly look like some kind of superheroes” I said and Party Poison rolled his eyes and laughed. I think it was really the first time since we woke up, when we were actually smiling about something, even if it was something stupid I said. My mind, again, told me I was sort of clown.
„No. No, we don’t. But for now, we have nothing to lose, you know. No friends, no families…”
„Oh, thanks” said Kobra and we all giggled again.
„Sorry. Gotta get used to it, brother!” he laughed, pulling him in only seconds lasting hug.
„Yeah… But what makes me wonder the most is how the hell we missed that 1,5 years of our lives” sighed Jet Star. It seemed he couldn't get over it.
„We were in coma or something. Dr. D. said that they, whoever they are, found as half dead with our memories erased” I said.
„And what, we all of sudden woke up at the same time in these bunks?”
„No” said slowly Poison. „I got my consciousness back a bit earlier, yesterday evening I guess. We were at some kind of hospital or laboratory… Hard to say. We were driven here, after they stopped dozing us some medication… I don’t know more, sorry.”
“Okay… It gives us some more information, that’s a fact. But hell, now it looks even worse. Were they drugging us? I mean… Oh my, it looks like a scene from some shitty action movie” said Kobra and again, we laughed a little.
“You know what? We have to somehow check if what we heard here is real or not. We gotta organize little trip to L.A. No one can fake it, right?” suggested Jet Star and we had to agree with him.
„ARE YOU CRAZY?!” Dr. D. yelled at us.
Okay, I must admit, we were a tad naïve about our brilliant idea of going to L.A., because if he was right, then… Well, that could be a bit dangerous.
“Does one not simply walk into the Battery City!” he exclaimed.
“Then how we are supposed to believe you? Excuse me, but for now this entire story is a bullshit to me” said Poison and then continued “We woke up here, after some drugs induced coma, with our memories erased and some wild guy tells us that the U.S. government is down and some control freaks from that Better Living something took over and they give people some magical fucking drugs and we have to fights against them. I mean, SERIOUSLY? How does THAT sound to you?”
He couldn’t put that better. That was exactly what we were thinking. All we heard so far was fucking ridiculous. It all seemed so surrealistic, that I would say that I was really… but REALLY high, if only I didn’t know my imagination simply couldn’t come up with something that fucked up.
“Okay” said Dr. D.
“Okay?!” shrieked his assistant. “No one got there in months!”
“If they won’t see it, they will not help us. They are our last chance” he said calmly.
“Exactly. And you, D., want to send them to fucking die.”
“They are not fucking retards, they will manage to survive couple of minutes there.”
“Ekhem, actually…” Poison started, but he was immediately cut off.
“SHUT UP!” yelled D. and Pony in unison. For a moment they looked like a married couple or something.
“Wanna have them dead? Well, whatever. I’ll go for equipment and you explain everything” said Show Pony and disappeared.
We fell into awkward silence and I swallowed my saliva loudly. Okay, these little exchange of words scared me.
“Are you really up to do it?” Dr. D. asked again. I could hear worry in his voice.
We looked at each other and slowly nodded.
“Today is already too late to head off there. I don’t want you to wander there by night. It’s way too dangerous and too suspicious” he stated. “Also you will have some time to think this over.”
We nodded in understanding. “So… what do we need to know?”
We sighed and took out a map and placed on the table. We gathered around it.
“As you can see California is divided into 8 zones. We are in zone 6, which is considered as the safest, or the emptiest as BLI says. Battery City is in zone 1.”
“There is quite a distance between them” I said.
“That’s why there is no sense in going there now” he answered. “All zones are patrolled by Korse’s people. All, except for zone 6. We’re quite good at exterminating them.”
“How many people works for you?”
“No one works for me. I’m no boss here. We all have some function, but we are equally important.”
“You didn’t answer my question.”
“Twenty five, by now” he said.
“Oooh” I sighed. Honestly I thought he would give us bigger number. Like, way bigger.
“Excuse me, do you think that with help of 20 people you can get down government? I bet this Korse guy has entire army!”
“This is not about number” he said calmly. “If it was, I would just go there and took the pill, because this fight wouldn’t make any fucking sense. Coming back to the topic, arriving there will take you approximately 4 hours. Of course, if you won’t have any troubles on your way. Here” he said pointing with his finger at some dot on the map “is the entrance to our web of tunnels. It opens automatically after giving right password. You leave there you car, so it won’t be noticed. The rest of your way you have to cover by foot. 40 minutes of quick march, I guess. Follow the map, I will give you. Some walls are mobilized, you can change their positions. It comes in handy when someone chases you. The gate to the city looks like a drain. You move the lid and get out. Please, first watch out if no one is there. Gate is placed on quite an empty street, but you can never be too cautious. Don’t spend there more than 20 minutes, because someone will finally notice you.”
“Oh god, how? Do we have written on our faces that we are not drugged?”
“No, but you will act differently. Someone may get suspicious. And also your hair…” he murmured, looking at Poison.
“And what’s wrong with it? I mean, it’s L.A., I’m sure people look worse than I do.”
“It’s not L.A., you better remember that. Korse’s greatest idea was to make one, uniform mass from U.S. citizens, by killing any slightest sign of originality. His world is black and white. No one stands out.”
It really shocked me and somewhat hurt me to the bone. Why? I had no idea. But a vision of black & white world with no art in it was almost unbearable for me.
“Do not talk to anyone, not even to each other. Don’t stare at anything” he added. “And stay away from draculoids.”
“From WHAT?” we asked in unison.
“They are sort of Korse’s soldiers. You will not miss them, that’s for sure. They wear specific masks on their faces. But when they appear – nothing good is going to happen.”
“We have to run?” I asked stupidly.
“If you manage to.”
Soon after that conversation Show Pony brought us a suitcase with some stuff and dinner.
Food was disgusting, but we were so hungry that we really didn’t care about it. When we finally somewhat filled our stomachs, we took a look at the suitcase.
Inside we found clothes for all of us, some awful white jeans and tees, along with white sneakers. No idea why, but I just hated the white sneakers. There was also striped hat for Poison, to cover his hair.
“I have the impression that we will be kind of out of fashion” he giggled.
The night passed really quickly. It took me some time to fall asleep, though, I was overloaded with information, didn’t know what to think. But oddly enough, I didn’t feel any real fear about doing it all. I just really wanted to have that figured out.
Early in the morning we were woken up by Show Pony. We ate some toasts which smelled odlly, but we didn’t complain. He gave us keys to the silver Pontiac Trans Am, and soon after we were on our way. We were solemnly following the directions given by Show Pony. Party Poison was driving, his brother on his left on the passenger seat, me with Jet Star at the back. Next to the door I found a map of the Battery City and surroundings. It seemed that originally it was produced by BLI, but now it was covered with colorful marks, pointing at different places, with some suggestions next to them. I started to study it and it helped me survived the ride, because the silence between us was rather awkward.
Thanks God we had GPS, though. Without it we would NEVER find the gate. It was in the middle of the desert, next to a miserably looking tree. At first looked like a little hill, but when came closer you could see something like a garage's door. Poison drove there, not slowing down until we were in front of that door when he finally pressed the brake.
“Jeez!” I squeaked a little and Poison turned to me to roll his eyes at me.
Very fucking helpful.
Soon we noticed a door big enough to let the car in. Poison got out, typed the password on the little keyboard next to it and it opened. He got back to a car and we drove in. As soon as we did, the light turned on automatically and we sighed in relief. I really didn’t want to walk in darkness.
„Nice. I was expecting it to be more dingy” said Jet Star and we smiled in agreement. We tried act as light as possible, but the atmosphere between us was really tensed. Really, nothing to be surprised about – inspite of everything Dr. D. told us, we had no idea what to expect.
„Hey” I said suddenly. „Do you guys think that we knew each other before that… disaster? Or whatever it was? Except for you two” I added, pointing at Poison and Kobra.
We slowed down a little to look at each other and think.
„I have the strong feeling that we did” said finally Poison.
„Me too” I agreed. „I’m just really curious what kind of relation was between us.”
„Probably something really close. Friendship, perhaps” said Jet Star. „I mean, we decided to escape from that hospital together. We had to trust each other.”
„That makes sense… It’s good to know I’m not with complete strangers” mumbled Kobra, more that himself than anyone else, but we all started to laugh.
„Yeah… I’m really pissed off that we know we miss something really important about our lives, but we have no idea what the hell it could be. I’m angry that I know almost nothing about myself and…”
„You like coffee” I split out.
„You’re obsessed with coffee. God damnit, don’t ask where it came from!”
He just smiled. „Oh, Fun Ghoul, you appear to be a fountain of information about us.”
„Yeah, and it all comes in handy, doesn’t it?” I answered, rolling my eyes.
„Well, fact that I’m brothers with Kobra was kind of important, you know” he said. „And that we all are friends.”
I nodded. Maybe he was right.
„Well, my point was that these things alone make me want to exterminate BLI” he continued.
„Though I have no idea how we could do this.”
„Let’s just first check out what we have to deal with” said Jet Star.
We nodded and kept walking, with the map of tunnels in Kobra’s hands. Dr. D. was right telling us that the map does not exactly cover the actual tunnels, but we soon found out that the walls were really mobilized and we could pushed them from our way.
„And by the way… I think we are exactly on the spot” Kobra said pointing at the ladder leading up to yet another exit.
„Okay… So are we going to get out… Just like that?”
„If you have any other brilliant idea, share it now” said Poison and started to climb the ladder. Soon after he was wrestling with the metal lid. „Jeez! It’s really fucking rusted!”
“Pony said no one was here in months” I explained.
Finally he managed to move it. He opened it slightly, just to peek outside. „It looks like normal fucking city… It’s clean. I’m going out. Stay here until I tell you it’s safe” he said and removed the lid completely. Soon after he was gone.
After a minute, what felt like eternity, we saw his head peeking inside the hole.
„Out guys! It’s time for a little trip” he answered and beamed to us.
I swear, sometimes he looked like a child to me.
We all jumped out of the tunnel, checked out if we still look like proper human beings and decided to start to explore. The weather was horribly windy and some clouds started to gather on the sky. I just really hoped it wasn’t going to rain. We took a look at the map I brought from the car and agreed that we shouldn’t go far from there, for our own safety – firstly because we didn’t want to get lost, secondly we had to come back to our car to send a message to Dr. D. We walked across the street and passed the corner, to discover that we were mere steps from one very busy street. I panicked a little, because I really didn’t know what to expect.
Party Poison, on the other hand, walked straight forward like if there was no tomorrow, looking rather self confident. I tried to follow him, look after the rest of guys, glance around to absorb everything like a sponge and in the meantime, not appear too fucking suspicious. That’s enough to panic, isn’t it?
Poison turned a little to glance at me and he smiled with the corner of his mouth to encourage me. This time he helped, I must say.
I started to observe.
My first impression was that everything seemed normal and that Dr. D. was at least exaggerating. But then I started to notice that it was more of a mock-up city than a real one. I mean, I have never seen anything near as neat as Battery City, or whatever it was. Not even one tile on the pavement was broken, all the shop windows were sparkling, mannequins smiling creepily at us. People, though there weren’t as many of them as you would expect in city as big as Los Angeles, were dressed in smart black & white suits, but what scared me about them was fact that they all looked… pleased. All of them. Everyone had the same fucking blunt face expression.
As we walked, I started to notice little advertisements from BLI with slogans Dr. D. talked about. They said different things – starting up with „All for better living” and finishing with „We can fix you”. Also I could see some weird red buttons, placed on street lamps and I started to wonder what they were for.
We stopped for a second near to something looking like a vending machine, with huge smiling face on it. Soon we discovered is a distributor of the pills we heard about. We saw not only people our age and older coming to them, but also children spending their pocket money to get pills! It just looked like some super popular candy, but from what we knew it was a really strong drug. It shocked me to this point that Jet Star had to poke me in the ribs with his elbow to get me going.
Kobra approached himself to a kiosk to buy some newspapers and magazines. It was actually great idea - we couldn’t gather much information only by staring. Especially since we didn’t have that much time.
Later on we noticed helicopters circling over the city. All of them had well visible BLI logos on them and to be honest, they made me feel watched. As we were looking at the sky, something more caught our attention – huge screens placed on some skyscrapers. Some of them were showing normal commercial with BLI logo appearing in between them. On the others we could see one bald man talking.
„That… That must be Korse” Jet Star whispered.
„Yeah” we agreed.
Along with his mute words appeared subtitles, big enough for everyone to see. One word came to my mind: propaganda.
„I think it’s time to go back” said Poison after a moment.
I took one more glance at the screens, to remember this man’s face.
We turned on our heels to go the same way we came here. We spent already more time in the city than we probably should and we really didn’t need to get lost.
All of sudden wind blew harder than before and pulled a hat from Poison’s head, unrevealing his bright red locks. He tried to catch it, but it fell on the ground and he had to run a little to pick it up and put it back on his head. It was just seconds, but people around us stopped walking and stood in a circle around him, staring at him like of he was on some kind of exhibition. Poison took a deep breath and tried to free himself and keep on walking, but it was too late. Someone pushed one of those mysterious buttons I wondered about before, but now I knew that they were to start an alarm. Within seconds a black car with BLI logo appeared on the street and when 3 man get out of it and I knew, that there was nothing good going to happen. Before I did anything I noticed that they were dressed in some kind of uniforms – white suits, with black shirts underneath them. What caught my attention for a longer moment were masks they were wearing – huge rubber masks, with white wrinkled faces, red creepy smiles and enormous black hair. The final trigger to get me going were guns they were carrying. For sure they just didn’t popped in to say hello.
I glanced at Jet Star and Kobra and from the look on their faces I could tell they had similar idea to mine.
Thanks to my shortness I managed to crawl between people around Poison. I grabbed his hand and literally had to give him a pull. It took him a second to finally register what was going on and follow me. I pushed people in front of me aside and started to run as fast as I could, still holding Poison’s sweaty hand in mine.
I turned my head a little and in the corner of my eye I saw Kobra and Jet Star running behind our backs. In the same second something looking like flash bullets missed my side and I heard those men screaming something to us.
“Fuck!” I yelled, but didn’t slow down. Quite reverse actually, I would never thought that my short legs could carry me that fast!
After a while running like hell we were on the street, where was hidden our tunnel. Luckily we left the lid slightly ajar, so I just kicked it, hurting myself in the meantime, and pushed Poison inside. I jumped in only second later and fell on him. We rolled aside to leave some space for Kobra who appeared moment later, along with Jet Star who immediately started to shut the entrance. But before the lid was fully covering it, the same bullets as before hit him on the shoulder and he hissed in pain.
I immediately got on the ladder and fastened the bolts, so they couldn’t get in.
It was hard for me to catch my breath, but I asked Jet Star if he was okay.
He nodded. “Yeah, yeah… It’s just… burned a little. The fuck was that?!”
“Dunno. But it’s better to keep going!” said Poison and we had to agree.
We marched quickly through the tunnels, changing position of some walls and shutting doors so they couldn’t find us, in case they managed to get into the tunnel.
Minutes later we got out and quickly took places in our car. We looked in the direction of the Battery City and saw a group of helicopters circling over the other side of town.
“I think tunnels led them to other entrance” said Jet Star. “But it’s probably just a matter of time when they figure it all out.”
“I’m sorry, guys” whispered Poison after a moment, biting his lower lip.
“If not my stupid hair…”
“Oh shut up, shall you? Not your fault” I said quickly. “At least we got what we wanted. This shit is real.”
“But… But you could die, I…” he tried to argue.
“Damnit, bro. From now on there will be numerous opportunities for us to die. So enjoy the fact that Fun Ghoul literally dragged you to that tunnel” said Kobra.
I laughed. “I was just trying to save my own ass!”
“Oh yeah. That’s why the first thing you did was diving for this dumbass over there” teased Jet Star, pointing at Poison.
“We have to work as a team” I answered simply, but id made me wonder a little why I jumped with no sign of hesitation to save this red-haired man. “So now, let’s go to our base, to think over what just had happened. Shall we?”
I turned on the radio and waited for the signal. “Pony? We’re coming back” I said and Poison started the engine.