JASON SHULER - ERASURE
The sun blazed amidst the orange sky, nearly burning my skin as I walked along the edge of the winding road. I savored it, since I was responsible for accelerating the sun’s temperature. My work would save the world. Within moments, a wheezing truck settled beside me.
“Do you regret what you did?” Olun, my driver, said.
I stepped inside the truck. “No.”
“And why are you wearing that long shirt?”
“All things have their purpose.”
“Bah. Look, there’s no turning back from this,” Olun said. “Not this time.”
I adjusted my shades, reclined in my seat and smirked. “I expect to be admonished. But one day, I’ll be heralded. You’ll see.”
“Eh. Doubt I’ll live to see that,” the old man said.
I chuckled. “You probably won’t. But fret not… I’ll find a way to bring you back.”
The truck limped down the highway, its old and brittle frame shaking from miasmic pulses that rippled from underneath the burning building in the distance. An explosion suddenly erupted, reflected in the truck’s rusted visor, as the smell of oil and fire permeated the atmosphere.
I sighed. “I do enjoy destruction.”
The old man shot me a contemptuous look.
I shrugged. “I enjoy warranted destruction, sir. Consider it… an acquired taste.”
Our truck immediately halted with a smoky screech. Two black cars blocked the road as four men wearing shades and suits emerged, each armed with semi-automatic weapons.
“And so the fun begins.” I glanced at my driver. His hazel eyes were fixated on the blockade, with both hands fastened to the wheel. I patted him on the shoulder. “This won’t take long. Stay here.”
The men immediately pointed their weapons at me as I approached. With a smirk, I slowly lifted my hands in the air. “At rest, gentlemen. I come in peace.”
A short, portly man stepped out of one of the black cars. He lit a cigar, puffed twice, then dropped the cigar to the ground and stomped it.
I grimaced. “A Mayan Sicar? G, that’s far too valuable to waste.”
“You’re a waste!” G patted his well-trimmed suit and approached until his stomach nearly touched my belt. “What you did wasn’t the plan.”
“You jest. What I did was save you. I saved you all.”
“It. Was. Not. The. Plan!” He bellowed. “Moron. Do you have any idea what you’ve cost us? Now those devils are coming for me!” He wagged his stubby finger in my face with hot breath and a grim voice. He then turned his back to me and muttered under his breath that sounded like, “We’re all gonna burn.”
“Talking to yourself again? You really should shake that habit,” I said.
“You used that research facility to raise the sun’s temperature and then blew it up,” G said. “Why would you doom us like that?”
“Because my boss, my real boss, is a lot scarier than you,” I said. “And he’s not from this world. There’s always been a bigger plan, but you could never see it.”
G’s mouth hung open. “You’re a crazy son-of-a—”
“Wait for it,” I said.
A moment later, a phone rung. G fumbled in his pocket and raised the smartphone to his ear. He drew his breath after several moments, gazed idly at the phone and ended the call. “Forty-seven,” he whispered.
“Forty-seven research facilities across the globe, gone!” G roared. “That’s all of them!”
“Now you get it,” I said.
He shot me an incredulous look. “You’re finished.”
My eyes widened. “Finished? Nah, this is simply the beginning.”
G waved dismissively. “You’re beyond redemption. Consider yourself scrubbed.” He glanced at my driver and scoffed. “Too bad your father has to see this.”
I cocked my head to the side. “No, it’s actually good that he will.”
G shook his head. “Kill him.”
“No!” My driver cried.
I narrowed my eyes as the four men aimed their weapons. But what came next were clicks, not bullets. G paused midstride and turned around. He removed his shades to reveal striking, purple irises. “The hell…?”
“As I said, this is simply the beginning.” I patted my shirt, which was inlaid with ancient technology. I adjusted my cuffs as the men wrestled with their guns. “And as you said… consider yourself scrubbed.”
I snapped my fingers as a flying drone appeared in a blur. It blasted two pulses before vanishing as quickly as it came. The men crumpled without any sign of a struggle. G collapsed, clutching his heart. “What are you..?” he asked.
I approached him, smiling. “If only you’d lived to find out.” I knelt, reached inside his coat pocket and grabbed the metallic cigar case. “Only one Sicar left? A lone survivor… fitting.”
As G took his last breath, I lit the cigar, tapped ashes on the ground and turned, blowing smoke into the sky.
“You almost gave me a heart attack!” the old man shouted.
“I gave you more than that.” I patted the side of the truck. “Let’s go.”
Olun mashed the accelerator, swerved around the blockade and drove into the setting sun. He turned to me. “You knew they were coming.”
“Yes. What better way to solve a problem than by erasing it within the same breath?” I flicked ash out the window. “More importantly, I wanted to show you a glimpse of the future.”
“The future?” my father mumbled. “Eh.”
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